Christmas Treats From Cate Blanchett

THE PRESENT

She swept the entire New York City.  I was sort of relieved when I realized I certainly wasn’t the only one who is obsessed with Cate. I ran into people everywhere (with all kinds of accents and ages) talking about her and her works, in lines, outside the restrooms, and crossing the stairs.  I was absolutely fortunate to catch her during this special season: her first Broadway show “The Present” with the entire Sydney Theater Company crew brought along at Barrymore Theater for only 13 weeks.

Everything started with Carol back in this past November, then I haven’t been able to pause exploring her works and her interviews. Intelligence, earnestness, and wisdom have always attracted me, and she is perfect with these traits. I adore how she elaborates her roles, and her unique vision of seeing the insides of the characters she plays. I learned she started her performance on real stages, so I was exhilarated and incredulous when I found out I had the chance to come to see her show, a live show, in person. Even though I did get lost in this complicated-ish plot without knowing the background of the story (and I was too thrilled to pay attention to the conversations at the opening that she stood right in front of my eyes; took me a few moments to calm down), but still later I was deeply moved by her lead in all those emotion switches as the actors continued to unfold the events in the story.

Good live shows can be very addicting. They may not be able to contain as many details as movies do, but they definitely offer something we can’t get watching movies. I could feel the suspension tightened up when audiences really became part of the shows, and our emotions combined with the actors’ on the stage. After all, who wouldn’t fall for Cate in her husky-voiced glamour and the way she moves around and gives gestures?

MANIFESTO

I lost some sleep the very last night in New York. The air in New York City at night is definitely too dry for me. I had been wide awake since four in the morning reading several letters (again, relating to Carol) I randomly found posted by a wonderful writer, the letters which was set to happen about sixty years ago right in this city where I was, during this same season. When I saw the foggy light of dawn through the curtains, I went downstairs and fixed myself a plate with toasts and scrambled eggs, and came back in the room finishing reading those letters while eating.

I had had a brief impression in the back of my mind that there was a display of Cate somewhere in New York City, but I wasn’t planning on visiting until Nico returned to Taipei and I was all alone. After searching Instagram hashtags, I found it was at the Park Avenue Armory right next to Central Park, and the event time fit perfectly to my schedule, just a few hours “spare time” before taking my flight back to Dallas. Upon the information, I immediately packed up my things, and took the metro outbound toward uptown.

“Manifesto” is an exhibition produced and directed by Julian Rosefeldt which Cate plays 13 different characters (in a very wide range, amazingly, including a factory worker, a news reporter, a CEO, a punk, a scientist, a choreographer, a widow, and even a homeless old man) on individual screens all at the same time. Those clips create a series of striking monologues from all sources of declarations, sometimes they speak out loud, and sometimes they are just the inner voices of the characters. I learned a quote from New York Times which made me smile to myself. It says, “Most people probably wouldn’t rush to read a lot of philosophical declarations by artists from the past century. But if those statements — known historically as Manifestoes — were delivered by the actress Cate Blanchett, playing distinctly different characters, audiences might be more likely to pay attention.”

When I walked into this room with all thirteen screens, I felt both lost and found… it was hard to believe that all roles were solely played by her. Because they all look so different, not only the way each role dressed, but also the facial expressions and tones made it hard to recognize as the same person. She especially blew off my mind when I learned that she shot all those clips in merely 12 days. That’s real talent, because such tight time frame for this amount of works means it only allowed very little room for improvisation. She must thoroughly research and understand the sociological and psychological aspects of each character to result such fabulous outcomes.

She is indeed pure art. Mesmerizing.

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