Dana Fradon in The New Yorker
I’ll let the Smithsonian Folklife website describe this extraordinary five-minute performance:
“The mysterious art of bian lian or face-changing originated in Sichuan Opera, and has long been a closely guarded secret of Chinese performers. Hu Dongxiao of the Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe performed the most complex style of face-changing at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, switching between colored masks that represent different emotions in a dramatic story.”
Western magicians will smile at the breakaway fan used in the middle of the performance. As for the how of the instantaneous face-changing? No clue.
Click on the video to play; this one is best at full screen, which you can access by clicking on the lower right hand corner of the video.
Look through Paul Simon’s rainbow-tinted glasses on a pre-digital photography Monday. What a clever lyric! In Simon’s best work he combines a strong musical riff with an evocative scenario, specific enough to trigger memories, yet vague enough to allow the listener to fill in the gaps with his or her own experiences.
Thanks to YouTuber atimetoremember
A first artistic mentor can be like a first love. Everything seems new, extraordinary, larger than life. Your brain, body, soul, emotions are expanding so rapidly that you endow the other with superhuman powers, even if on looking back, you understand that what you had been exposed to were, perhaps, the usual lessons of life. Nonetheless, memories are formed and the lessons learned take on an importance that stay on, years later.
The following story came to my mind today, of a day many years ago that made a large impact on me. It didn’t even directly involve me, but it was something I witnessed. I had just performed a scene in my college acting class with my scene partner, a talented young woman named Dena. We had a wonderful teacher, Lloyd Richards, not only an excellent acting teacher, but one of the finest teachers I have ever had for any subject. Dena was a very good actor, probably the most accomplished in the class, but on this day, after class, she was very upset about something. She went up to Lloyd, and she was obviously a little shaken and embarrassed, and said to him, “I had this awful dream last night. I dreamt that I was having a big argument with you, and I was telling you that every thing that you’ve ever taught us about acting was completely and utterly wrong.”
And Lloyd, whose physical manifestation was similar to a plump Buddha, with great repose and a Cheshire Cat grin, replied, “Congratulations, Dena. You’ve just passed the class.”
Click on the video above for more of Lloyd Richards and Chekhov’s advice.
I’m not a big fan of “story” magic, but this close-up magic piece by Dr. Hiroshi Sawa with shells and sand is very charming. The conception and execution are really lovely. Click on the video above to watch.