New York City in August 2019

Yesterday I made another inspiring trip to New York City. The main goal on this trip was to see a Broadway play. This was not my original intention but now I receive flyers and postcards in the mail for major Broadway shows and one showed up that I could not resist.

Unfortunately I forgot to pack my headphones so I spent the bus ride to New York City reading a novel on my Kindle. I’ve been reading The Brownstone by Ken Eulo, a horror novel. The only interesting aspect of this novel is that the protagonist is a theater director and the brownstone is in New York City. I still have an hour’s of reading time left to finish this novel. I like how the Kindle gives you that kind of information. Instead of stopping at McDonald’s for a breakfast break, the bus stopped at a Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey. There was a bit of a mix up with my order since I was not given a receipt.

The Susquehanna Trailways bus arrived in New York City at 10:00 p.m. and had to drop us off at the Times Square Church since 8th Avenue was closed for a street festival. This put me close to the sunken plaza for the 50th Street Station for the 1 line which I intended to take downtown to the 18th Street Station. I decided to head directly downtown rather than wander around Times Square to photograph some establishments. This put me in the vicinity of the Rubin Museum of Art before it opened at 11:00 a.m. So I walked to the Poster House museum on West 23rd Street to take a photo of the entrance to this new museum. Along the way I photographed a few interesting buildings along 6th Avenue. There was a Housing Works Thrift Shop across the street from the Rubin Museum of Art so I went in there to browse through the small selection of used books and DVDs before going to the museum.

I visited the Rubin Museum of Art promptly at 11:00 a.m. when it opened and explored all six floors in only a half hour. I saw relics from an ancient stupa on floor 2. On floor 4 I saw the shrine room. On floor five I saw prayer wheels. The sixth floor was the least interesting since it featured contemporary art on acts of resistance. Frankly, I’m getting disgusted with the obligatory virtue signaling of progressives. I don’t mind it when it seems genuinely organic but nobody even attempts to hide the fact that they are pandering to some precious marginalized community, even when it does not apply in any obvious way to their mission. This museum dedicated to Himalayan and Tibetan art could obviously be expected to address issues related to the Chinese invasion of Tibet, but the art on the sixth floor was mostly irrelevant.

The Rubin Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum of Art

My next destination was the Poster House, which I had previously located. The Poster House is a new museum in New York City for poster art. There is no telling how long this museum is going to last since most people aren’t too keen on seeing posters. But posters are a legitimate form of advertising art and there is a long history of innovative design in posters. The museum isn’t really big enough to do the subject justice but I saw a major exhibit on Bauhaus posters and the Art Nouveau posters of Alphonse Mucha. Alphonse Mucha artwork is extraordinary and seeing a large collection of his posters made this museum worth my while. I especially liked his theatrical posters of Sarah Bernhardt. I’m thinking of getting a print of his poster of Sarah Bernhardt for Hamlet. This would make a nice addition to my wall of theater promotional photos which I’m designing for the sake of inspiration. I didn’t spend much time at the Poster House because I wanted to get uptown in time to see my Broadway play.

Poster House

Poster House

The 23rd Street Station for the F line is near the Poster House so I took that train uptown to the 42nd Street – Bryant Park station. I immediately headed for the HBO Shop thinking I’d buy season 4 of Silicon Valley before the play started but I found this store closed for asbestos removal. I was carrying the Rubin Visitor Guide around in my hand so I wanted a shopping bag to put it in. Since the HBO Shop was unexpectedly closed, I went to BookOff on West 45th Street instead. I didn’t find much in their shelf of plays but eventually I settled for a Dramatists Play Service script for Gizmo Love by John Kolvenbach. I also found a Skyscraper (Dwayne Johnson) Blu-Ray for only $7.00. Some of their prices were ridiculous, like $45.00 for a DVD of Adaptation, which was on my shopping list. The sales clerk was extremely rude to me although I don’t know what set him off.

Now that I had a shopping bag for my stuff I proceeded to locate the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre and took a few photos of its advertising for the play Betrayal by Harold Pinter. There didn’t appear to be a line forming for the show yet so I went off to photograph a few establishments in the theater district. The only one I had time to locate was St. Lukes Theatre, an Off Broadway venue that has escaped my notice. When I returned to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre there was a huge line down the street which must have formed in the few minutes I was away. I was kind of pissed being so far down the line but eventually somebody came to ask us to form a second line which placed me closer to the doors.

The highlight of my trip was seeing the play Betrayal by Harold Pinter on Broadway. I have to admit that the big draw for seeing this show was Tom Hiddleston. Tom Hiddleston plays Loki in the Marvel Thor and Avengers movies. In fact, I joked that this play was about Loki betraying Thor once again. But I’m actually familiar with Harold Pinter’s play Betrayal. This play is familiar to all aspiring playwrights since it is frequently cited for its unusual handling of time. The events of the play go backwards in time, making the play a little hard to follow, but it is done brilliantly. Most modern playwrights have studied this play. While that alone may have made it worth seeing, I’ll admit that I just wanted to see Tom Hiddleston live on stage. Tom Hiddleston is a respected Shakespearean actor so I’m not entirely to blame for being too much of a pop culture nerd.

Betrayal

Betrayal

The play was 90 minutes without intermission and we were warned that we would not be allowed back to our seats if we got up to use the restrooms. I was seated close to the stage, but far to the left. I was able to hear the dialogue perfectly well although it was a little low. There was no stage set except for some chairs and a back wall. However, the stage did rotate so the characters would be turned around like dolls on display. They frequently cast shadows on the back wall that were so perfectly rendered by the lighting that it must have been deliberate. I kept my eyes on Tom Hiddleston who is quite tall and lanky. He looked very distinguished looking, like a male model. While the other two actors were doing a scene he was lurking in the background looking aggrieved. The other actors did the same when they were not part of the scene. This kept the presence of the character on the stage as they were being betrayed by their spouse or friend. Without a stage set I think the drama was a little abstract. This was a great play which I would probably see if our community theater or college theater did it, but I only paid $169 to see it on Broadway because it featured a major movie star like Tom Hiddleston. Charlie Cox is also a movie star but I’m less familiar with his work.

After the play I had about an hour to kill before my dinner reservation. I used the time to photograph a few obscure establishments that my relentless research had turned up. First I located Hell’s Kitchen on 9th Avenue. Although this appears to be only a restaurant, on the fourth floor of the building is NuBox Theatre and John DeSotelle Studio. I have submitted a 10 minute play to NuBox Theatre but it probably won’t be selected. Next I located a rare art gallery in Hell’s Kitchen, Jadite Galleries, but they were closed and shuttered with a security gate. Finally I photographed Theater at St. Clement’s, a church which offers a performing venue for the Red Bull Theater, a classical theater company that I’m interested in. I still had time to go to Best Buy on 5th Avenue where I bought a pair of cheap Neon brand headphones for $20.00. I needed headphones since I had forgotten to bring my good headphones on the trip. Before leaving the store I was forced to show a security guard my sales receipt, which was annoying because I was in a hurry to make my dinner reservation.

The Algonquin

The Algonquin

Fortunately I had plenty of time to make it to the restaurant. I chose the Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel for its literary associations. This is where Dorothy Parker and other witty writers would meet for lunch. Other members of her “vicious circle” were playwrights like George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood and theater critics like Alexander Woollcott. I was not seated at the round table, but I sat nearby with it in view. I don’t think they like to seat anybody at the round table. I ordered the Grilled French Cut Chicken Breast which comes on a bed of spring peas, fava beans, artichoke roasted sunchokes and maitake mushrooms with a whole grain mustard jus. It took a long time for that to come, in fact, it took an entire hour for me to complete dinner. Before my entree arrived I drank a glass of ice water and ate a single bread bun which they eventually gave me. I asked to use the restroom which was downstairs. There was a steep winding set of stairs to get to it. On the way back to my table I took a photo of the painting A Vicious Circle by Natalie Ascencios. The chicken breast was excellent and not too much to eat so I also had some ice cream for desert and a cup of coffee. My entire bill came to $52.26 and I left a tip of $5.00 for a total of $57.26. The service was excellent and the food was great so I think it was worth it.

Times Square Betrayal

Times Square Betrayal

After leaving the Algonquin Hotel I walked to the Kinokuniya Bookstore on 6th Avenue to do a little more shopping. I did not find any Japanese movies on DVD to buy since they seem to only carry manga now. But I did buy a book, The Changeling by Victor LaValle. I had added the novelist Victor LaValle to my notes as a New York City writer the day before my trip. I was hoping to find one of his earlier novels but I settled on this one. My final goal was to take a better photograph of the bar, Characters, on 54th Street for my notes. I walked though Times Square on my way there and stopped for several minutes waiting for a digital screen to cycle back to advertising for the Betrayal Broadway play. I also came across the HOPE sculpture on the way. After taking several photos of the Characters bar I walked back to the Times Square Church to wait for the bus that would take me home. On the ride home I watched the movie The Black Hole on my smartphone using my 128GB USB OTG Flash Drive. My new headphones were not as good as the headphones I forgot but they worked well enough. We stopped at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center at Delaware Water Gap on the way home for a rest stop. I bought a bottle of coke from a vending machine but it caused me terrible indigestion when I drank it all.

In conclusion, this was another successful trip to New York City which was as inspiring as previous trips. A few minor things went wrong but nothing serious. Unfortunately, the inspiration I get from these trips does not last long and does not appear to be enough to counter the discouragement I get from my play rejections. Still I will soon be writing a significant play and I’ve come across a few more promising opportunities. I’m considering spending a solid week in New York City this month as my next vacation, but the only things left for me to do are some nightlife stuff.

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