Yes, friends, I finally made it to “The Rain Room” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Is it art? A feat of engineering? An amusement park-style attraction?
All of the above. It’s wildly popular, that’s a fact. But what is the Rain Room? It’s a space in which a continuous stream of water falls through holes in a ceiling grid but when you walk through, the rain stops. Eight people are allowed in the space at a time for a total of 15 minutes and admission is timed.
At one end of the room is a bright and nearly blinding light (perhaps mimicking the sun after a storm?) and the rest of the room consists of falling rain.
3D sensors in the ceiling will “see” you – with the proviso that you are not wearing dark clothes – and as you walk through the space, the falling water parts for you. If you do choose to wear dark clothing make a point of rolling up your sleeves and hold your arms out in front of you, zombie style so the sensors can find and not soak you.
The art house studio known as Random International constructs large installations specializing in light and movement. The Rain Room originated in 2012, became a phenomenon in London, had people waiting for hours at MoMA New York and now resides at LACMA through March 6.
What’s the point of The Rain Room? Ostensibly it’s an immersive environment, aided by technology that engages us to think about our relationship to natural wonders such as rain and our ability to control it (or not). It’s a think piece that allows you to consider our place and effect in and on the environment.
Go ahead and think if you wish, but if you just want to have fun, that’s OK too. And, of course, it’s ripe for selfies and videos, which I took plenty of. Reserve your place now at http://www.lacma.org/node/21938. Bad news: public tickets are sold out but if you become a member of LACMA you can still get in.
Love and the farm
“Outside Mullingar” is the latest sweet offering at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. This gentle, slight story about farmers in rural Ireland quietly manages to cover life, love, heritage, commitment, the stubborn nature of past wounds and their effect on the present, along with some very hearty laughs.
Pulitzer Prize, Tony and Academy Award-winning playwright and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (“Moonstruck”) wrote this one-act, 90-minute play, which he says, after resisting the label “Irish American writer” for decades, was inspired by his real Irish family, after whom the male characters are named.
The play opens with Anthony (Jarlath Conroy), and his son Tony (Dan Donohue) trading barbs and embarrassment about the condition of their farmhouse kitchen, to which they’ve invited their neighbor, the widow Aoife Muldoon (Robin Pearson Rose), for tea and comfort following her husband’s funeral.
While Aoife guarantees that daughter Rosemary (Jessica Collins) will inherit her farm, Anthony is struggling with the idea of leaving his to his son, which opens a well of wounds in Tony. Not least among the wounds is a long-simmering dispute between Tony and Rosemary, starting in childhood, that has marked their relationship ever since.
Tony has devoted his life to the farm, but Anthony feels he doesn’t truly “love” it and suggests he may sell it to a distant American cousin, something Aoife argues against. Rosemary, who’s been outside in the rain smoking (a non-stop habit with her), finds her own way to influence Anthony and Tony to change that outcome. She and Tony have supposedly been at odds all their lives, but their relationship takes a surprisingly romantic twist.
“Outside Mullingar” is amusing and poignant, the performances are strong and believable, set design is terrific. And when the rain in this room stops, the sun comes out and all is resolved.
“Outside Mullingar” runs through Dec. 20 at the Geffen Playhouse www.geffenplayhouse.com in Westwood.
Women respected and reviled
This Saturday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. join author Barbara Kraft at the Santa Monica Public Library’s intimate Ocean Park branch for a discussion, “The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt & Mary McCarthy.”
Kraft will discuss the friendship between the two iconoclastic writers, Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy, one known for her books on Watergate and Vietnam, the other for “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.” The talk focuses on the book “Between Friends – The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 1949-1975” by Carol Brightman.
McCarthy, the American author of “The Group,” which enraged the friends upon whom the book was based, and German-born political theorist Arendt, who coined the phrase “the banality of evil” and took a controversial position regarding the trial of Nazi concentration camp mastermind Adolf Eichmann, wrote letters for 25 years. From 1945 to 1979, these two celebrity intellectuals shared ideas on politics, literature and morality.
Kraft is the author of “Anais Nin: The Last Days” and “Light Between the Shadows: A Conversation with Eugene Ionesco.” Books will be available for sale and signing, the event is free. For more information about this event, please contact the Ocean Park Branch Library: (310) 458-8683 or go to the Santa Monica Public Library website: http://www.smpl.org.
Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications.
Photo by Michael Lamont; L-R: Jarlath Conroy, Robin Pearson Rose, Dan Donohue