Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Make Art" Says the Irish Folksinger

Did you ever go to a concert and were disappointed because the musician/band just didn’t sound as good as they do on the CD?

Yeah, that so didn’t happen last night when we went to go see The Swell Season at The Moore Theater.

(The Swell Season is an Irish band fronted by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the actor/musicians who starred as Guy and Girl in the movie ONCE. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, you should totally go out and rent it. Their song, “Falling Slowly” won the Academy Award for Best Song. Not bad for some scrappy Irish folks making a movie on the fringe.)

Some people just have a presence on stage that is not always easily captured in any fixed medium.

It’s sorta like when you tell someone a story or a joke and then say, “I guess you had to be there…”

(Unless you’re a crappy storyteller, then that’s just an excuse.)

As a performer, Glen has immediate presence and connection with the audience. As does Marketa.

Maybe it has something to do with trusting your self. Or with trusting your material. Maybe its confidence.

Maybe it's indefinable.

Of course, this idea of presence is not just something related to music, but also to theater. Joseph Chaikin wrote a whole book about it (which everyone in theater should read). Some actors have immense presence and charisma while others are practically invisible. It’s not just talent or the fact that they are a star. It’s something else. It's awareness of the present moment. It's joy. It's focus and conentration.

It’s why when you videotape a theatrical show, it’s just not as good as the live version.

Oh, and on a personal note…

Last weekend I found out some disheartening news from my mom. Turns out all this time I’ve been thinking I was part Irish, but I’m not in the least bit Irish. My redheaded, firecracker of a grandmother is part Welsh. Not Irish.

That’s just not as much fun. You can’t call yourself “one of the fightin’ Welsh” or say that you’ve got “the luck of the Welsh”.

I’m still going to keep on celebrating me St. Patty’s Day, though!

1 comment:

Isorski said...

Nice! Sorry about the Irish thing.

I caught The Swell Season Monday night in Portland. Posted a review at - and also some videos from the show. Check it out. You’ll have to scroll down a bit.