SING FASTER: THE STAGEHANDS' RING CYCLE
"Gods are out on stage singing about the great problems of the world…We're doing all the hard work…all the small stuff. We're just mere mortals." So says Ken "Spike" Kirkland, principal stagehand for the San Francisco Opera. In this unusual treatment of Wagner's "Ring Cycle," the story is told solely from the viewpoint of the San Francisco Opera's union stagehands as they perform astonishing feats of stagecraft and trade off-stage banter, offering a contemporary, insider's perspective on a strange and complex 19th-century operatic tradition. The film condenses Wagner's 17-hour epic into 60 minutes as the stagehands operate the tricky, snapping jaws of a huge, hydraulic dragon; wade through currents of fog, smoke and darkness; and maneuver looming, thousand-pound sets. During lulls in their fever-pitched work, crew members balance checkbooks, knit sweaters and gather for a ritual poker game in the grips' lounge, just below the stage, where the talk ranges from the antics of the Wagnerian gods to Michael Jordan's hamstring. In juxtaposing the opera's physical machinery with its metaphysical meaning, this documentary reveals the dynamic relationship between life and art. DIR/SCR/PROD Jon Else. U.S., 1999, color, 60 min, digital presentation. NOT RATED
AFI Member passes accepted.
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