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The Loss of Nameless Things

Potential is a fearsome thing, and great promise contains the seed of great loss. Throughout the arts and literature one can find cautionary tales hinged on sudden reversals of fortune, of the eminent man brought low. But what of the man not yet fully risen?

In Bill Rose’s lauded film The Loss of Nameless Things—which will begin its weeklong run at the Spectrum 8 Theatres tomorrow (Friday)—the documentarian tells the story of Oakley Hall III, a talented actor-playwright who in the late ’70s founded an ambitious and experimental theater troupe in the Catskills, the Lexington Conservatory Theater (members of which later went on to start Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany). Hall is recalled by friends, family members and fellow actors as an overwhelmingly charismatic and prodigiously gifted young man. He is spoken of, in still-awestruck tones, as a Dionysian figure, an almost archetypal enfant terrible, brimful of drive—dramatic, creative, libidinal, hedonistic. The reverential recollections of his intimates are backed up by evidence that theater figures such as Joseph Papp, William Hurt and Mandy Patinkin all saw signs of nascent—if rough—genius in Hall. Great things were expected of him and, in 1978, hopes were pinned specifically upon the 28-year-old’s recently completed play about the final years of the explorer Meriwether Lewis, Grinder’s Stand.

Before the play could be mounted, however, Hall’s future prospects were suddenly dimmed. In the company of a “dark stranger,” Hall fell—or jumped, or was pushed—from a bridge, shattering his face and inflicting significant and permanent brain damage, which greatly affected his ability with language. The mystery surrounding the event still persists, as Hall himself has no recollection of the fall (and he possesses a very limited memory of his life before that night in 1978).

After the fall, Hall—son of artists, product of Andover and Boston College, onetime darling of the New England regional theater scene, up-and-coming playwright—drifted into assorted menial jobs, alcoholism and obscurity.

As all dedicated dramaphiles already suspect, there is a second act to the story of Oakley Hall III. It’s no Rocky-style all-or-nothing triumph; it’s no “I do believe in fairies” resurrection of things thought forever gone. Suffice it to say that Hall himself will be in attendance for the opening-night screening of the documentary about the “playwright who fell to Earth,” and leave some things unnamed.

The Loss of Nameless Things will begin its run at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, May 6), and run through May 12. Following the May 6 screenings there will be a Q & A with filmmaker Bill Rose and Oakley Hall. For more information, call 449-8995.

The Battenkill Chorale

We try to keep our eyes open for unusual programs—i.e., programs that don’t feature Beethoven—and the Battenkill Chorale’s concerts this Saturday and Sunday in Greenwich fit the bill.

The concerts will feature the music of Dvorak and Ives. We also admit to a weak spot for the music of Charles Ives, that cantankerous 20th-century Yankee who toiled away in the fields of insurance all his adult life, while writing his striking, often cacophonous compositions on the side. The chorale will feature Ives’ Theme and Variations on America, Psalms 67 and 90, and a variety of hymns, songs and marches. He was his own one-man musical tradition.

Speaking of the U.S. musical tradition, one could argue that many of the popular works of Czech-born composer Antonin Dvorak sound more “American” than European. The chorale also will perform Dvorak’s Mass in D Major, which is rooted in folk melodies from his native Bohemia, with a pronounced American influence.

The Battenkill Chorale will perform Saturday (May 7 ) at 8 PM and Sunday (May 8) at 4 PM at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (35 Hill St., Greenwich). Tickets are $12 and $7, and can be reserved by calling 692-8261.

American Stripper, Photography Now

We know what’s on your mind, because we were wondering the same thing: Do we get to see any boobies?

The answer is yes, technically, but they’re all blurry and stuff. If you’re looking for that kind of action, you’d be better off waiting for that half-second when the signal on the pay-per-view porn channel unscrambles. Rather, in her solo exhibition American Stripper, Kingston-based photographer Charise Isis captures the essence of the dancing girl. Isis has a bit of an edge on the topic, as she herself has spent some time working the pole and catwalk. Her artful images focus on “the performance aspect of this industry,” she says, “where these women express so much, making themselves into art, dressing and undressing their bodies, dressing and undressing their souls.” It’s about people, dammit, but yes, you may just get to see some boobies. Happy?

Charise Isis’ American Stripper opens this Saturday (May 7) at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (59 Tinker St., Woodstock). Opening simultaneously is Photography Now 2005, a juried exhibition featuring works selected by W.M. Hunt. Both shows will remain on view until June 19. The shows will open with a reception on Saturday from 5 to 7 PM; Isis will be on hand to give an artist talk at 5:30 PM. For more information, call (845) 679-9957 or visit www.cpw.org.


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