By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Getty publicist Mike Winder explained that Getty security contacted “the authorities” — that would be the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department — who found the offending neighbor and persuaded him/her/them to turn the thing off.
Twenty-four hours later, at the Geffen Playhouse, pianist-actor Hershey Felder was in the midst of his one-man showcase about Ludwig van You Know Who — Beethoven, as I Knew Him. The act features a small grand piano center stage, at which Felder settles in, sometimes midsoliloquy, to plunk out another in a stream of Ludwig’s greatest hits. Just as Felder was easing into the “Moonlight Sonata,” off went somebody’s cell phone. It’s not just that it went off. It went off at the very moment Felder’s hand was descending onto the piano keys. I saw Felder’s face blanch with frustration and fury, but he continued, undeterred, while that cell phone rang, and rang and rang, competing with the comparatively pristine tones of Beethoven performed live.
So noise wins twice in two nights. Radios have been around for more than 80 years, and it’s true that, like TV, they often unify the society by broadcasting sporting events, political speeches or coverage of major crimes and natural disasters. But like iPhones and iPods, radio and TV are designed to make their money by serving mass markets composed of small groups and individuals, rather than in public forums, like the theater. It’s the technology of individuation, leading to new dimensions of loneliness and solipsism in our culture, particularly among the 20-something generation, a phenomenon widely reported by The New York Times and the Guardian.
Live theater is the attempt, however feeble, to counter such isolation by speaking collectively, communally, primarily through human instruments rather than technological ones. And the war of noise versus sound on the Westside was really an allegory for the ever-louder cultural intrusion of the private arena, and its technologies, upon the public one — actors in a space, just trying to be heard.
AGAMEMNON | By AESCHYLUS | From a translation by ROBERT FAGLES, directed by STEPHEN WADSWORTH | At the GETTY VILLA, 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu | Through September 27 | (310) 440-7300.