‘Tosca,’ and ‘Manon Lescaut’-J. Kent -sometimes the best applause is a boo

20 Jun

Three days past I saw Brown and Kent’s production of ‘Manon Lescaut’ with Oplais and Kaufmann.

I had never heard ‘Boos’ from a British audience till Mr. Kent and Mr. Brown went on stage at the encore. Clearly, the audience was unhappy. The ‘Vegas’ type sleaze design of ‘Manon’ did not go over well.

Last night 19 June I attended ‘Tosca’ also designed and directed by Mr. Kent. The audience loved the production which has been  on for some time at the ROH. Tradition in gowns and scenery ruled and made me reflect on the struggle to create and recreate in general and in particular. This traditional ‘Tosca’ took me back to Kent’s  ‘Manon.’ I began to ask myself, what do you create as an artist, a designer, a singer and actor? How should you create?

Do you play to your audience desires? To what you think they desire? Or do you push them to rethink with you?

Do you go ‘middle of the road’ classic or do you throw out history and re-focus anew on the text?

How do you see, treat, live with a text? What space do you give it and does it give you?

Jonathan Kent tired to take a text in ‘Manon Lescaut’ and rethink it. I believe he wanted to create a vision for the actors/singers,  orchestra, and especially the audience. Perhaps it doesn’t ‘work’ because it swings too far as a pendulum from ‘Tosca’ in ‘Manon.’ But at least it moves.  But this production of ‘Manon’ swings.  And as enjoyable as ‘Tosca’ was last night, it was not memorable. Kent’s ‘Manon Lescaut’ I will remember. Jonathan Kent tired. For me at the end of the day in this production, that is enough.

At a recent workshop in London director Debroah Warner spoke of  fear: ‘My great fear is to go in (into a show) and see what I expect.’

I want to see; create; see anew; and be recreated. This is what  I ‘go in’ to see and do. 

I don’t, I never see,  what I expect. No one really does. We glance over expectations. We have seen this already.

 I see when I am in, when I am all the way in.

 All in is all. There is nothing else. Kent went in with this production of ‘Manon.’ Sometimes the best applause is a boo. It means people saw. See.


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