I’m waiting for my train to Bratislava at the moment … hoping to catch “Romeo and Juliet” (the ballet) at the Slovak National Theater tonight before coming back to Vienna.
I wandered around Vienna yesterday. Didn’t really spend any money on museums, but took a personal walking tour (the city center itself is basically a museum) and got to see the Vienna Boy’s Choir rehearse in the big cathedral here (they had a concert last night with the World Doctors Orchestra, or something like that). I would have gone to that … but I already had tickets for Swamp Club.
Swamp Club was performed in a theater at a big museum complex. The show was conceived by a French theater company, but it was about 75% in English (there was also some French, some German, and some other languages, maybe Dutch?), so I easily understood what was going on. That said, it was more of a living art installation than a linear show, so it probably would have been equally enjoyable without understanding the limited dialogue. It was relatively long (1h40m without intermission) and very deliberately paced, so a few audience members couldn’t take it and left part-way through, which was certainly understandable, but I loved it. Very creative, surreal, and mesmerizing. One of those shows where time seems to be manipulated and 30 minutes can pass without you realizing it. It was a fantasy piece about a strange arts commune, of sorts, located in the middle of a swamp. Kind of hard to describe beyond that. The design was like nothing I’d seen before – most of the action took place in a closed unit with clear walls, which created an interesting sense of observing creatures in a zoo.
Maybe if I actually lived here or had a better sense of day-to-day life I would change my tune, but it seems like there are a lot of things that the US could learn from Europe. Every time I’ve come to Europe, I notice the same things. Public services here, in general, are amazing: public transit is affordable, efficient, and convenient, public bathrooms are plentiful and generally clean, and there’s free wifi everywhere, just to name a few things. Also, of particular relevance to me, art is affordable, of high quality, and well-attended. New York has a lot to offer in terms of world-class art and performance, but here you can see shows of comparable quality for $4-10. I only spend money on a show in the US if I have a compelling reason to go (friend in the show, great reviews, etc), but here you are more likely to sample new things and take risks, since the cost is so low.