Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.

Eying the red carpet

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I have to admit, the first star struck thought that came to mind was –‘..it really is red..’ –And there really was a scrum of photographers, crammed on step ladders, huddled shoulder to shoulder, shoved along a “red carpet walk-way”, down the center of a very white tent, affixed to the entrance of the Ziegfeld theater.

Arriving early –an irritating habit I have- I got to watch the smooth pre-celebrity activity in precision; a corps of ‘special security’ had been hired, each of them imposing, well mannered, tall, and definitely able to take any pushy souls off at the knees!

Simon had been terrific; my tickets were for seats in the Orchestra, row P, center. He had also given me two of them. I’d not been able to use the second one, and so gave it back to him. Needless to say the seats were like gold dust; he was able to use it for another creative soul he’s working with: Patrice Regnier.

..sometimes, the greatest fun is in the complete unexpectedness of connection; as Patrice had my second ticket, I, effectively, became her date for the evening. And I suddenly found myself not the only one with a ticklish, overwhelming urge to giggle, at sight of the red carpet; at sight of the gaggle, and swag; we shared a reverence for film, and were in awe of being at a premiere –in a space that had Colin Firth in it –no more than mere yards away from where we sat!

And as the crowd hushed, after Harvey Weinstein had initiated an address to us by the film’s director, Tom Hooper, the lights dimmed, and silence, pure, religious, uninterrupted by cell phones, or other adult toys, swallowed up the theater; the screen’s gold curtains parted, and, without previews, without annoying reminders not to annoy those around you, the Weinstein Company logo melted up out of darkness, and the film proceeded.

The buzz about Oscar nominations, and BAFTA awards, is, by the strength of the two central performances [Colin Firth & Geoffrey Rush], utterly apt; their ability to bring us into the claustrophobic world of “Bertie”, as “Lionel” assists in creating a way to grapple with moving beyond his stutter, and encouraging the connection with a larger world, full of duty and leadership, as King George VI, is a marvel of nuance and characterization, and commits us, from the very first, to holding our hearts open to the story.

The visual narrative, constructed by Tom Hooper, is both powerful and unrelenting; it keeps us focused on the nerve at the center of this tale, and the strength of relationships; whether fully nurturing, or calculatingly helpful.

The roster of British talent in front of, and behind the camera, is a complete lesson in both theatre, and film. This is storytelling at its best, and most lush.

The audience was involved with every frame; cultural differences were no impediment to empathizing with the very human dynamics of struggle that Bertie, and those who supported him, endured.

The “after party” was a true celebration; didn’t get to shake hands with Colin Firth, or Helena Bonham Carter, but was part of the cheer that went round at their entrance.

…by 1:30AM though, it was time to head uptown for a quick drop on the bed, to be up at 4:30AM, and make the 6:05 train!

I would like to say that I continue to savor the images of celebrity and synergy of my adventure.. but school and welcome projects here at home, have pulled me forward to other business –the most incredible of which is working with Toni Ford, and the Double Nickels Theatre group, to create a narrative program of celebration, that will be presented on the 9th December, at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

At the center of this program is fruit of the work that Double Nickels is doing with the veterans there –taking “oral history” to a whole new level by engaging the vets to participate in a project more interactive, and cross generational, called “reminiscence theatre”.

For this program, in collaboration with the Washington National Opera, stories of the vets are fashioned into lyrics and presented as songs.

Surrounding this will be a pageantry of service and honor that will include reminiscences by personnel, as well as ranking officials from every branch of the armed forces, relating connections of friendship and courage around the world.

The program is being called Songs For The Unsung.

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