Time to take a world view
We are now all citizens of the world and don’t we just love it. Our new-found status is exciting in small but significant ways, such as how we watch television.
Once we would wait a year after overseas screenings of new seasons of Bonanza and Perry Mason. Today, with streaming and subscription services, we rightly expect the latest episodes as they go to air anywhere in the world. Even network TV has “fast-tracked” shows such as Homeland and Fargo. Knowledge is power. Back when, unless it was a big event (and I mean big, like the shooting of JR in Dallas or an Alexis-Krystle slap-fight in Dynasty) we had no idea what was on its way. You could rely on a penfriend (remember them?) but an aerogramme took weeks. Bloggers today keep fans aware second by second.
Likewise with shopping. Once, indulging in the fabulous big brands was the preserve of an overseas trip. Online shopping changed that, but also in bricks and mortar our capital cities now boast luxury boutique streets, and Armani is not a word amiss in suburban malls.
My favourite “world” experience is to keep up with the best of London and New York theatre through NT Live and The Met: Live in HD performances screened in cinemas. While not strictly “live” they are current productions recorded flawlessly at a single performance. Think Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench in a remarkable The Winter’s Tale, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in Of Mice and Men, Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge and Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet.
I have not been a lifelong opera fan, I confess, but have enjoyed expanding my skills set with performances from the Metropolitan Opera, staged on its magnificent fivestorey proscenium stage in New York’s Lincoln Centre. If I lapse into a “reverie” once in a while, so what? There’s no one to gasp or prod me, and it’s at movie prices.
My “participating cinema” is the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, on the NSW central coast. We suffer for our art as single weekend screenings begin at 9.30am on a Saturday. But here’s my favourite part: during intermissions, instead of stepping out of the auditorium into the crisp night air of the northern hemisphere, here I am in delicious sunshine only a thong’s throw away from a beautiful beach. It’s bikinis and boardies rather than Balenciaga and bow ties, and I relish a swim after the show.
So, in these world-on-our-doorstep times, is there less reason to travel? Two words: as if. Nothing excites me more than being in a Broadway or West End theatre waiting for the curtain to rise (well, not literally these days), a joy born when I bought standing-room tickets to Jesus Christ Superstar on my first visit to New York in 1971. And just let me at those “global flagship stores”, particularly when they’re in festive-season mode, on the great shopping streets of London, Paris and New York or the markets of Marrakech and Delhi. But don’t fret, picture theatres and shopping malls of Australia, I’ll be back.
Susan Kurosawa is on assignment.