Are you familiar with the writer Paula Vogel? I wasn't.
Turns out this esteemed author and university professor won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She used to chair the Playwrighting Department at the Yale School of Drama. She also penned the stage production "Indecent," which in 2015 earned her the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. "Indecent" went on to be produced on Broadway and nab the director of that run, Rebecca Taichman, an Obie Award for her efforts.
"Indecent" is based closely on "God of Vengeance," a controversial play from the Golden Age of the Yiddish Theatre circuit (yes, there was once a thriving Yiddish dramatic and comedic stage scene - look into it), which itself played on Broadway in the 1920s to no small amount of furor and controversy. "God of Vengeance" was shuttered after a little over a month and its cast was thrown in jail on charges of obscenity.
Now, almost a century later, Vogel's play grapples with the same issues of anti-Semitism, homophobia and the Communist threat that fueled the persecution of that Yiddish work. March 1, for one show only, the Lucas Theatre will screen a high-definition digital film of a performance from that 2017 Broadway run through its state-of-the-art audio-visual system. Admission prices range from as little as $5 for students to a high of just $15 for the general public. Interested in cutting-edge dramatic writing and acting? Give it a try.
'Dunkirk' on Tybee
Out on Tybee Island that same night, the cozy, restored 200-seat Tybee Post Theater begins a two-night second-run engagement of the latest cinematic triumph from acclaimed visionary director Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Interstellar," "The Dark Knight Trilogy"). "Dunkirk" stars One Direction singer Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy cq("28 Days Later") and Tom Hardy (TV's "Taboo") in a fictionalized retelling of Operation Dynamo, in which hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers evacuated from the French harbor and beaches of Dunkirk in the spring of 1940.
Shot in an esoteric manner on expensive 65mm film stock, it's been hailed by critics across the globe as one of the finest films about military conflict ever made, while frustrating viewers who feel a little uneasy when presented with anything other than straightforward, linear storytelling (not one of Nolan's passions). If you've yet to see it, or would simply like to catch it again on the big screen, consider supporting a small, historic theater in a tiny town, rather than a typical corporate multiplex. One showing each night, at 7 p.m. Admission prices for this and all other bookings mentioned in Film Scene can be found in the sidebar listings.
Speaking of corporate-owned multiplexes, Fathom Events has two special engagements coming up over the next seven days at both the Regal Stadium 10 behind the Savannah Mall and the Cinemark in nearby Bluffton, S.C. First up, on March 4, is a live, digital simulcast of the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet Co.'s revival of choreographer Alexei Ratmansky's adaptation of "The Flames of Paris," an action-packed tale of wartime romance set during the French Revolution, with music composed by Boris Asafiev.
Based on the original 1940s choreography by Vasily Vainonen (who in 1947 received the prestigious Stalin Prize of the First Degree for his work on that ballet), this new production is said to be a fiery and ebullient show that stretches (pun intended) the legendary skills of the Bolshoi company's corps and soloists. It runs just a bit over two hours in length, and starts at 12:55 p.m. at both venues.
A few days later, on March 8, both the Regal Stadium 10 and the Cinemark play host to an encore screening of the British National Theatre Co.'s celebrated 2015 stage production of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," starring Sherlock Holmes himself, Benedict Cumberbatchcq. Back when this filmed performance was originally shown in cinemas, it drew over 750,000 people across the globe. Just think about that accomplishment for a minute.
I have it on good authority that virtually anything with Cumberbatch in it tends to draw large crowds in this area, as he apparently appeals equally to both women and men (and everyone in between). Expect a strong turnout for this intense family drama that has withstood the test of time and enthralled audiences for centuries. However, be aware that if you choose to see this 7 p.m. show at Regal or Cinemark, you're gonna pay $19.26 admission no matter how old you are. However, if you can wait a few weeks, the Lucas Theatre downtown will show the same high-def production on April 24, and tickets at that venue will cost $15, or as little as $5 for students. Can you dig it?
Heading out on Abercorn toward the Southside, the Jewish Educational Alliance just north of DeRenne Avenue plays host on the afternoon of March 4 to the latest booking from local film organization CinemaSavannah. You may recall they utilized the JEA's auditorium a few weeks back for a one-show-only presentation of the Oscar-nominated feature "The Florida Project"?
Well, that screening was extremely well-attended, and convinced CinemaSavannah to return there for a spur-of-the-moment offering: a two-hour collection of short films (both live action and animated) from around the world - all of which are nominated for this year's Academy Awards, which take place just a few hours after the conclusion of this screening.
Since the overwhelming majority of short films mentioned on Oscar night have not been seen by the majority of television viewers, this is a great opportunity to see just what all the fuss is about immediately before that ceremony. Imagine being able to actually root for your favorite filmmakers in those unfortunately marginalized categories!
Now, for those of you who attended "The Florida Project" at the JEA, as I did, you may still be grumbling to yourself about the disappointing quality of the sound reproduction during that screening. As I had already seen the film once before in a traditional cinema, I was able to make out about 40 percent of the dialogue, but I am fully aware that folks who had not seen it before likely could only understand about 10 or 20 percent of what the folks onscreen were saying at any given time.
I could go into great detail about the technical reasons why the film sounded so unintelligible during that particular show, but suffice it to say the combination of lower-than-ideal volume, rather poor room acoustics and the movie's own unusually murky sound mix all contributed to the problem. Tomasz Warchol, who runs CinemaSavannah, says he is aware of the frustrations many patrons had at that event, and he intends for the sound reproduction for these short films to be much clearer. Here's hoping that is the case! The compilation of numerous shorts (which run from as little as five minutes to as much as 29 minutes) starts at 4 p.m. sharp, with cash only accepted for admission.
And last, but certainly not least, the Psychotronic Film Society's long-running weekly series of underappreciated feature films from around the world continues March 7 at The Sentient Bean with a very special 30th memorial tribute to the late, great transvestite actor, singer and LGBTQ icon Divine.
Born Harris Glenn Milstead in Baltimore, Md., Divine (as she was known publicly) was a truly unique comedic and dramatic performer who became a counterculture superstar based on her gleefully perverse and gloriously campy roles in a number of low-budget films written, produced and directed by the often-imitated-but-never-equaled John Waters, including "Pink Flamingos," "Female Trouble," "Polyester" and the original (non-musical) version of "Hairspray."
One of the most influential and genre-busting drag queens who ever lived, Divine sadly passed away from an enlarged heart in 1988 at the age of 42. Her full-throated embrace of what came to be known as "trash culture" was embodied in her outlandish, provocative demeanor, thrift-store garb and fondness for using obscenity and blasphemy to shock her audiences into fits of laughter and self-reflection.
To celebrate the enduring legacy of this one-of-a-kind artist, the PFS will host a rare public screening of one of Divine's lesser-known feature films. It's a low-brow comedy that is far too often overlooked when her career is discussed, yet it remains one of the most entertaining and well-made efforts she was ever involved in. Come prepared to laugh heartily at some deliciously inappropriate and politically incorrect situations. Showtime at 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the movie. Hope to see you there to raise a glass for the Filthiest Person Alive!
Until next week, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don't forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs the Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah.
IF YOU GO
What: BroadwayHD: "Indecent"
When: 7 p.m. March 1
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
When: 7 p.m. March 1-2
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
What: Bolshoi Ballet Live: "The Flames of Paris"
When: 12:55 p.m. March 4
Where: Regal Stadium 10 and Cinemark Bluffton
What: Oscar-nominated short films
When: 4 p.m. March 4
Where: Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St.
Cost: $10, cash only
What: Special 30th memorial tribute to Divine
When: 8 p.m. March 7
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
What: National Theatre Live: "Hamlet"
When: 7 p.m. March 8
Where: Regal Stadium 10 and Cinemark Bluffton