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Friday, November 18, 2011

"Machine" Set to Occupy Zuccotti Park

Multi-million-dollar stage equipment comes to lower Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Opera and the Mayor's office have come up with a plan to cut the costs of the company's troubled production of Wagner's Ring. At the same time, the city will solve the problems posed by Occupy Wall Street, the two-month-old protest movement in Zuccotti Park.

The City has arranged to borrow the "Machine" set, which has been used (up until now) for the Ring. The 45-ton set, which has been in storage at the Metropolitan Opera House since the last run of Siegfried, will be transported to lower Manhattan and set up at Zuccotti Park for eight weeks.

Designed by director Robert Lepage, the "Machine" is a sophisticated device, consisting of two dozen mechanical planks that spin around a central axis by computer control.  During the operas, the planks are repeatedly reconfigured to create a projection surface for computer graphics, meant to represent the rivers, mountains, and castles of Wagner's mythological dramas. 

In its new role, the huge 45-ton contraption will be set up in Zuccotti Park, the private recreational space owned by Brookfield Properties. Its mechanical planks will be set to "spin" mode, and used to literally and permanently sweep the park clear of protestors, pedestrians, and other undesirable types.

Starting on November 31, the city will embark on its Phase II plans for the park. This includes the opening of Zukotay!, a holiday-themed entertainment set on the site of the former Occupy Wall Street encampment. With help from a 12k Lumen Projector mounted on the nearby Joie de Vivre sculpture, the Machine will be used to project falling snow, magnificent mountain vistas and even the festive visual of a burning Yule log. 

"We plan to make this a family-friendly entertainment vector where there used to be homelessness and drumming." said Cirque du Poivre representative Alvin Tamias. "Passers-by and hard-working Wall Street professionals will be able to enjoy the show before being suddenly whacked in the head with a large plank."

The contraption will remain in round-the-clock operation at Zuccotti Park through the Christmas shopping season until Jan. 18. Then it will be returned to the Met to begin rehearsals for Götterdämmerung, the final chapter of Wagner's Ring opening on Jan. 27. Addressing concerns from local residents about the noise made by continually spinning planks, Mr. Tamias said: "We've been assured that the Machine's operation is whisper-quiet."

Deputy police commissioner Michael J. Czech claimed that this is a breakthrough in law enforcement. "Forget the L-Rad Sound Cannon," Mr. Czech crowed to the press. "This is the future of law enforcement--huge permanent technological structures that can keep a plaza free of protestors or occupiers with minimal expenditure on manpower and per diem, the expense of sending flak jackets to the dry cleaners."
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.