Friday, July 01, 2005

Going Fourth

So how are you going to celebrate Independence Day? Back in 1820, a few bold lads from Cairo and Catskill marked the occasion by hiking to the head of Kaaterskill Falls. There, in the words of author Eric Posselt (The Rip Van Winkle Trail, 1952), they “proceeded to execute an extraordinary bit of mischief.” “From time immemorial, a great boulder weighing some 50 tons and estimated to be about 175 feet in circumference” had “rested precariously on the very lip” of the falls. “With much heaving and pushing, huffing and puffing,” our vandals “managed to topple the boulder into the mighty abyss. “The effect…was awful and sublime, the crash tremendous, exceeding the loudest thunder—the tremulous motion of the earth and the long murmuring echo rolling from point to point through the ravine gave the scene an indescribable degree of grandeur. The rock was shattered in a thousand pieces. “Toasts were then drunk and volleys of musketry fired.”

MEANWHILE REHEARSALS for “The Seagull,” the famous Anton Chekhov play to be performed in August at Catskill Point, are well under way. Veteran director (and GreeneLander) Joseph Capone, has again lined up top local talent to perform in spaces that is not a regular theater but is extraordinarily right for the story. Back in 2001, Capone staged Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” inside and outside Catskill’s Beattie-Powers House. This year, thanks to a $2500 grant from the GreeneLand Arts Council’s allocation from the State Arts Council’s Decentralization program, “The Seagull” will flutter inside and outside the Point’s Old Warehouse. Action unfolds on a putative Russian country estate (Catskill Point Park), with a lake (played here by the Hudson River) as backdrop. The comedy, as described by the author back in 1895, has “five tons of love in it,” with each character offering, seeking or receiving love in the wrong places. Medvedenko, the local schoolteacher, adores Masha, the estate manager’s daughter, who loves but is spurned by Konstantin Treplieff, who in addition to angst-laden playwriting loves Nina, a neighbor and aspiring actress who falls for a visitor, Trigorin, who is a renowned author and is the lover of Arkadina, who in addition to being a fading famous actress, is the mother of Konstantin and the sister of Sorin, who owns the estate and secretly loves Nina, who (remember?) loves Trigorin. There’s more. The estate manager’s wife (Paulina) loves the local physician (Dr Dorn); her husband (Shamraeff) has a hankering for Arkadina. That’s just what gets established or intimated in the first act. In the ensuing three acts, Trigorin lusts after adoring Nina, but Arkadina refuses to release him. Nina flees to the big city in quest of theatrical fame, leaving Konstantin distraught. There Nina becomes Trigorin’s mistress, bears his child (who dies), is dumped by Trigorin, tours in plays, returns to the old neighborhood. When Sorin takes ill, Arkadina returns to the country estate with retrieved lover Trigorin. Masha, meanwhile, has married Medvedenko and borne a child, but she still adores Konstantin, who still loves Nina, who has slipped back to the village and who still loves Trigorin. Having confessed that to Konstantin, she dashes off into the wintry night. Having been told that, he rips up his manuscripts, exits. Gunshot. Curtain. That much story would take three years to unfold in a television soap opera. Playing the plum role of vivacious, narcissistic Arkadina (Meryl Streep did it in Manhattan) will be Jean Walker, an off-Broadway veteran, cabaret performer, alumna of the 2001 “Cherry Orchard,” and Haines Falls resident. Existentially anguished, oedipal Konstantin will be Stephen Hansel, a Sienna College student. Talented, love-blighted Nina will be represented by Lora Lee Ecobelli of Carmel NY. Charles Neighbors of Lexington, who by day is a writer and editor, plays woebegone Sorin. David Fanning of Millbrook NY will be Trigorin. Richly represented in the production, moreover, are GreeneLand artists of distinction: Tina Chadin (Paulina), Keith Muller (Shamraeff) and Patrick Milbourn (Dr Dorn), along with set designer Kico Govantes. Catskillians Joseph Matula and Gretchen Mallory also will perform. The costume designer is Karine Mason of Chatham. Performances will be given on successive Friday and Saturday nights, August 5-6 and 12-13. To inquire about block bookings of tickets--a really good idea, club members—call 943-2680.

TRASH TALK. Village officials were more than a mite peeved at failure of Catskill school administrators (food service director Bill Muirhead, especially?) to remove trash created by their big Dutchmen’s Landing picnic last Thursday. The amount of throwaway, we understand, was far above normal, because participants spurned the organic hot dogs and got their own, ignored the 6 bushels of clams, and left behind all 150 pounds of fully roasted pig meat. Every bin was crammed full—and left that way, although the Village’s regular Music in the Park program came right on heels of the schools party.

DAFT RAFTS. Winners of last Sunday’s glorious Wacky Raft Race, from Athens to Catskill Point, were “The River Cats,” captained by our new Catskill Central Schools superintendent, Kate Farrell. According to Leigh Hornbeck of the Albany TimesUnion, the winners’ power came from the efforts of two school administrators and two teachers who “peddled a pair of tandem bicycles aboard their raft.” But in fact they were not selling; they were pedaling. And, according to usually reliable sauces, they functioned as a machine that was well oiled

FAKE LICENSES. Two clerks in Kingston’s Motor Vehicles Department office took bribes in return for issuing drivers’ licenses to people (mostly illegal aliens) who presented fake documents. This came about in consequence of an elaborate Federal and State investigation. In contrast, staff in GreeneLand’s DMV office alerted authorities to illegal applicants, thereby helping in the capture of would-be recipients of licenses based on phony documents. During April 18-24, 18 out-of-towners, suspected of offering false instruments for filing, were arrested.

DAILY MAUL. According to headline and first paragraph of a 6/27 story, crash victim Evalyn Thomas was a Catskill resident. According to sub-head and second paragraph, she lived in Leeds. And according to a 6/29 obituary, survivors of late Abbey N. Brown of Cairo “include her mother…and her [mother’s] finance.” And according to a 7/1 sports page story, “The Greene County Volunteer Fireman’s will be hosting their second annual golf tournament” on July 10th; “The coast to enter… will be $75 per person”; “The coast” covers most everything; and reservations should be made on or before 7/1 (=on or before publication date).

NIMBY COURTHOUSE NEWS. Plaintiff’s attorney: “What is the date of your birth?” Blonde witness: “June 10th.” “What year?” “Every year.” “And at the time of the collision, what gear were you in?” “Gucci sweats and Reeboks.”

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