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FIRE SCENE: BEHIND ‘BURNING DOORS’ AT LA MAMA WITH NATALIA KALIADA AND MIA YOO (INTERVIEW) ·

(c) Alex Brenner. Belarus Free Theatre presents Burning Doors.

NATALIA KALIADA, founding co-artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre, and MIA YOO, Artistic Director or of La MaMa, talk with SV’s Bob Shuman about their creative partnership, the U.S. premiere of ‘Burning Doors’, and how two companies set the world on fire.

The underground Belarus Free Theatre is in New York, at La MaMa, with Burning Doors, a production that examines how art persists under oppression. The troupe is everything Ellen Stewart wanted for her stage: illustrative and imaginative, their sacred theatre powerful, transformative, and moving.  Those who have read about the company know that they perform in apartments, cafes, at weddings and birthdays, and in the forests in their native country, stealthily hiding from established power, the situation so dangerous that founding members were forced to find refuge in England. They are beacons of resistance, bravery, morality in a world of human rights abuses, censorship, and brutality.  Stewart  found ways to bring them to the United States at the Under the Radar Festival, in January 2011, in a triumphant run—but it is here also where she died, leaving an unrecoverable emotional hole in her organization, as well as in the world’s theatre.  Six years later, Artistic Director, Mia Yoo, continues on at La MaMa, producing 60-70 plays a season; for two years prior to Stewart’s death, she was communicating with the founder daily on programming, as well as running the East Village-based company’s day-to-day operations. On the evening of Stewart’s passing, Yoo, gracious, smart, a stabilizer at the center of the madness of art, ensured that La MaMa’s signature cowbell rang, as it has since. Belarus Free Theatre took to the stage–an indelible image from Being Harold Pinter, one of its plays performed at the time, is of a young girl inside a plastic, transparent globe, trying to be recognized by punching her way out.  Two companies, from opposite ends of the earth–both reckoning with their own tragedies–entwined.

Today, just after humidity has broken in a warm October, Yoo recalls the first time she saw Belarus Free Theatre, at a Theatre without Borders conference, in 2009.  She didn’t know the company and was watching their play Discover Love, a true story of the Belarus opposition movement, finding herself moved not only by strength, but by vulnerability.   She found the work of the group intellectual and emotional—also of the body, about the body.  Unlike most theatre lovers, however, Yoo cannot simply praise:  she has to find production funding.  Around her, financial backing is drying up, particularly with the president’s destruction of the NEA, one of her theatre’s main national funding sources. 

Natalia Kaliada, founder and artistic director of Belarus Free Theatre. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

A group of singers for Simchat Torah is dispersing on the street below La Mama’s Fourth Street, third floor office. Natalia Kaliada, the founding co-artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre–and the co-author of Discover Love—is here to discuss Burning Doors, which, with Nicolai Khalezin, she co-directed and supplied Dramaturgy for.  She explains that the three dissidents her play highlights “put their voices on the front line, using their art to challenge the system”: Maria Alyokhina, of Pussy Riot  (she acts in Burning Doors and gives testimony regarding her nearly two-year imprisonment in the Russian system);  Petr Pavlensky (a radical actionist who sewed his lips shut after the Pussy Riot conviction, wrapped himself in barbed wire, and, as “a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society,” nailed his scrotum to Red Square); and Oleg Sentsov (a Ukrainian filmmaker, fallaciously accused of terrorism, who has served three years of a twenty-year prison sentence). Kaliada herself may be accused of being a dissident, for her involvement in spearheading her theatre group.  When asked about Belarus Free Theatre, however, the Minister of Culture in Belarus responded by saying: “those people do not exist.”

Intense, visceral, and true to Yoo’s observation, Burning Doors is about the body.  Naked, sweating,  heaving, exhausted:  bodies as power, bodies as strength, bodies isometric, bodies scatological,  kicked, slammed, propelled, hit, choked, hanging, twisted, smashed, violated, betrayed, tortured.   The result is extreme-action dance, physical theatre, circus, combat training; a documentary of perception; an artistic expression of desperation and systematic violence, living unnoticed, unheard, under unknown totalitarianism (Burning Doors is performed in Russian and Belarusian with English surtitles). Kaliada and Khalezin are making a powerful statement on the horror of the failed state, a failed economy, the failure of justice, and the failure of democracy and freedom. The theatrical techniques used to produce such effects include use of the absurd, mime, dense sketch material, nonlinearity, existentialism, the appeals of the silenced, the folksongs of the deep past, cultural masterpieces by Dostoevsky, and philosophy by Foucault.  Kaliada calls her system:  Total Immersion. “We don’t talk about classics,” she clarifies. “We are not interested in them because today’s life is more challenging and interesting.”  Kaliada was not allowed to become an actress, her first calling at age sixteen, she explains, because her father was a former vice-Chancellor of the Academy of Arts in Belarus, and her name would stop her from advancing.  Her brother recommended that she become a diplomat, instead, because they also “pretend all the time.” She was hired by the American government, moving nuclear weapons from Belarus, but believes that had they not been transferred, Belarus would be more widely known today.  (Countries with nuclear weapons, as Kim Jong-un proves, have a way of getting noticed.)  “We do what we do because we believe in it. We have enemies. We also have families, mothers and fathers.”

Kaliada wonders what her children would think about her if she did not resist. Pausing for a moment, thin, her hair cut short, she says that, coming from Eastern Europe, she does not seem very polite, compared to those in the West.  “In a dictatorship, knowing that your friend has been killed, when death surrounds you, you become direct.  Belarus Free Theatre travels around the world. We work in illegal refugee camps in Africa and you understand that if people have a chance to access some arts and some money it would really help the world find solutions, peaceful solutions, nonviolent-resistance solutions.  My fear is that companies, like ours, may disappear.  We really tackle society.  You go to see other shows and there are so many jokes.  Human beings do not matter anymore! No one is connecting.  Humanity and the morality in politics are completely lost.  All the talk that the fourth wall was destroyed in theatre—that’s not true: It’s much stronger.”

When played, the recording of the discussion with Yoo and Kaliada reveals the insistent sound of the city’s voice: sirens, jackhammers, horns, traffic,  ringing and buzzing devices, which were not apparent during the focused interview.   These artistic partners—Yoo considers Belarus Free Theatre a resident company–one from a presenting organization, the other from a theatre company that’s creating vivid, critical theatre, work together, with missions that are aligned.  They are attempting to sustain and support what Yoo believes is “one of the most important theatre companies in the world today.”  She is not alone in her estimation.
“I hate to say that art has to come out of suffering,” Yoo comments, “but there is something to that, when you must push up against and challenge. There is a rigor and a boldness that comes out in the work that might not surface otherwise.  A different kind of theatre emerges.  There’s urgency.”

Urgent.

A theatre of urgency.

Burning Doors continues at La MaMa until October 22.

© 2017 by Bob Shuman, Mia Yoo, and Natalia Kaliada.  All rights reserved.

Photos: Mia Yoo (The New York Times); Burning Doors–men (Evening Standard); Pavlensky (widewalls.ch); Sentsov (the Voice Project). 

Visit La MaMa: http://lamama.org/

Visit Belarus Free Theatre: https://www.belarusfreetheatre.com/

Read the Stage Voices review of the work of Belarus Free Theatre from 2011: http://stagevoices.com/2011/04/19/belarus-free-theatre-in-repertory-review/

 

BELARUS FREE THEATRE

Returns to La MaMa with

NY premiere of

BURNING DOORS

October 12-22, 2017

 Cast includes Maria Alyokhina from PUSSY RIOT

 Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) – the internationally acclaimed troupe known for its stage works that confront some of the most urgent issues of the day – returns to La MaMa (66 E. 4 St. in NYC) with the NY premiere of BURNING DOORS:  previews are set to begin October 12 prior to a press opening Oct. 16.  La MaMa presents BURNING DOORS in association with Belarus Free Theatre, the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds.

 Devised and performed by Belarus Free Theatre, BURNING DOORS is directed by Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada.  DOORS is written by Mr. Khalezin, with dramatury by Mr. Khalezin and Ms. Kaliada, choreography by Bridget Fiske and Maryia Sazonava and original testimony is by Maria Alyokhina. 

 The cast of BURNING DOORS includes guest performer and collaborator Maria Alyokhina of PUSSY RIOT, the Russian feminist punk-rock group, along with performers and co-creators Pavel Haradnitski, Kiryl Masheka, Siarhei Kvachonak, Maryia Sazonava, Stanislava Shablinskaya, Andrei Urazau and Marnya Yurevich.

 As governments clamp down and walls go up, BURNING DOORS examines how art persists under oppression, and how artists living under dictatorship illuminate complacency in democratic societies, reminding us of the true cost of freedom and the danger of passivity.  BURNING DOORS draws from the personal experiences of three dissidents who were arrested and imprisoned by the government of Vladmir Putin of Russia – Ms. Alyokhina, Petr Pavlensky and Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian national who has been imprisoned in Russia on terrorism charges after Russia invaded Crimea.

In the case of Mr. Sentsov, who has served three years of his 20-year sentence, his experiences are depicted as told to the creators of BURNING DOORS by members of his family, who have been allowed rare visits and received one smuggled correspondence from him during his time in prison.

BURNING DOORS debuted last year in London, where critics called it:

            “A scorching piece of theatre:  uncompromising, urgent and angry.  4 stars.”

                                    Financial Times

            “A spiky, furious mosaic.  4 stars.”  The Sunday Times

 

Belarus Free Theatre is the leading refugee-led theatre company in the UK. BURNING DOORS draws on the company’s own experience of political oppression and continues their campaign to stand up to artistic freedom and human rights across the globe.

Belarus Free Theatre has previously performed at La MaMa:  TRASH CUISINE, BEING HAROLD PINTER, DISCOVER LOVE and ZONE OF SILENCE.

BURNING DOORS is dedicated to Pavel Sheremet, Oleg Sentsov and all the Kremlin hostages.  The production features the following contributions: 

            –“Fear” and “Russian Contemporary Artist in a Russian Jail.” By Petr Pavlensky

            –“Final Statement” by Oleg Sentsov

            –Extract from “How to Start a Revolution” by Maria Alyokhina

            –“Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault

            –“The Idiot” and “The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

            –“Lonely” by Boombox

            –Russian and Belarusian folk songs

BURNING DOORS was created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne; Developed at Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA), and funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.

La MaMa’s 56th season highlights artists of different generations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, who question social mores and confront stereotypes, corruption, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in their work.  Our stages embrace diversity in every form and present artists that persevere with bold self-expression despite social, economic, and political struggle and the 56th season reflects the urgency of reaffirming human interconnectedness.

Scheduled October 12 to 22, BURNING DOORS will perform weeknights at 8 pm (no performance October 17), Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm.  Tickets are $30 ($25 for students/seniors) and can be purchased by calling 212-352-3101 or online at www.lamama.org

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SPRINGSTEEN TICKETS ROCK BROADWAY– AROUND $1,500 FOR MOST PERFORMANCES ·

(Charles Passy’s article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, 10/16; via the Drudge Report.)

Tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s one-man Broadway show are going for as much as $12,500 on the resale market, putting the musician into “Hamilton” territory.

The New Jersey-born rocker’s “Springsteen on Broadway” show, which opened Thursday to mostly positive reviews after a brief preview period, is sold-out for its entire run through Feb. 3. Seats on StubHub, the resale site, start around $1,500 for most performances, with select tickets costing five figures in a few instances.

The original prices ranged from $213.50 to $875, not including 26 tickets made available for every performance through a lottery for $75.

Last week, the show took in $1.9 million at the box office, according to figures released Monday by the Broadway League, a trade group. That puts “Springsteen on Broadway” almost in the same league as such sales juggernauts as “Hamilton,” “The Lion King” and “Hello, Dolly!”

(Read more)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/springsteen-tickets-rock-broadway-1508201625

Photo: Backstage

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SPRINGSTEEN’S BROADWAY DEBUT IS DISSOLVING THE AUDIENCE IN TEARS ·

(Hardeep Phull’s article appeared in the New York Post, 10/12.)

When legendary record producer and talent scout John Hammond signed Bruce Springsteen in 1972, the scraggly Jersey kid was envisioned as a lyrically intricate singer-songwriter, who might be New Jersey’s answer to Bob Dylan.

Now, after 45 years of tearing up stages all over the world with the E Street Band, the Boss has returned to the stripped-down sound that first got him noticed. On Thursday, Springsteen began his residency at Broadway’s 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre and, in a sense, went full circle on his career.

(Read more)

http://nypost.com/2017/10/12/springsteens-broadway-debut-is-dissolving-the-audience-to-tears/

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REVIEW: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S BROADWAY SHOW IS AN INTIMATE TRIUMPH ·

(Andy Greene’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, 10/12; via The New York Times.)

‘Springsteen on Broadway’ takes the audience on a journey through the singer’s life story using many of his most iconic songs

A little over four minutes into Bruce’s Springsteen‘s Broadway show, he stops playing the opening song, “Growin’ Up,” and speaks to the crowd, his voice entirely unamplified. “I have never held an honest job in my entire life,” he says in a near-shout. “I’ve never worked nine to five. I’ve never done any hard labor, and yet is all that I’ve written about.”

With last year’s myth-shattering, deeply evocative memoir Born to Run, Springsteen introduced readers to the real, vulnerable, complex human being behind his larger-than-life persona. Springsteen on Broadway, at the 975-seat Walter Kerr theater, is in many ways a live version of the book, even if reports that he’d be “reading” from it aren’t quite right: Most of the extensive spoken-word segments are brand new or heavily altered from the book versions. It’s clear from the beginning that this is nothing like a typical latter-day Springsteen concert, where set lists can vary wildly from night to night and Bruce often has little to say between songs. There’s no room for his usual athleticism here – Springsteen just shuffles a few feet between a piano on stage left and a microphone at center stage. The intensity is, instead, emotional, as Springsteen digs hard into the bedrock of his life story, and ours: childhood, religion, work, death. The performance is hard to categorize. It’s not a concert; not a typical one-man-show; certainly not a Broadway musical. But it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory.

(Read more)

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/live-reviews/review-bruce-springsteen-on-broadway-is-a-triumph-w508674

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ADELHEID ROOSENZ: US PREMIER OF ‘NO LONGER WITHOUT YOU’ (FROM THE NETHERLANDS) ·

Starts on 12 Oct 2017,
Ends on 15 Oct 2017

This fall Le Skyroom is hosting the US Premiere of “No Longer Without You” as part of Crossing the Line Festival. The show is a searing, outrageous, hilarious conversation between a real-life mother and daughter. Havva Oral is a traditional Muslim immigrant living in the Netherlands; her westernized daughter Nazmiye Oral is a journalist and modern Dutch woman. In the intimate circle of a staged living room, they confront each other’s faith, sexuality, and values, with both love and anger. Directed by Adelheid Roosen and set to live music by Seval OkyayNo Longer Without You is a theatrical look at an important rite. 

Buy tickets here.

“No Longer Without You”

Out of love for her progressive daughter Nazmiye, the Islamic, traditional, headscarf-wearing mother Havva Oral (68) goes on stage week after week to talk through, in the presence of the audience, everything they haven’t spoken about with each other for years: the hymen, marriage, sex, children, faith and homosexuality. “My mother is prepared to risk the condemnation of the Dutch Islamic community to fight with me, her daughter, in public. There is nothing I wouldn’t dare tell my mother anymore. Saying everything to each other on stage has become a kind of experiment, the exploration on no two nights the same. To me, this is a majestic act of her love”, says Nazmiye.

Brave residents share their story! In every town that Zina plants itself, the team goes in search of people who carry a No Longer Without You story within themselves. So too in New York, Zina sought out stories about things such as homosexuality, so-called honor killings, love, generational conflict, shame, vulnerability, and freedom. These New Yorkers don’t just open debate behind closed doors but join the public mother and daughter conversation by sharing their story as part of the performance.

Nederland, Amsterdam, 20-6-2015
Adelheid Roosen, carabetiere en programmamaker.
FOTO : Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

About Adelheid Roosen

Dutch filmmaker, actress, and director Adelheid Roosen has been making theater about “unspeakable” topics since 1989. Her mission is to shift perspectives about what we see as “other” and whom we call strangers. Roosen uses theater to lay bare some of our most sensitive social issues, and to deepen public discussion.

About Nazmiye Oral

Dutch writer and actress Nazmiye Oral has an extensive theater career in the Netherlands and abroad. She is a co-founder, with Adelheid Roosen, of Zinaplatform, a theater company that travels to different neighborhoods throughout the Netherlands and stages performances based on the lives of locals in the community. Her collaborations with Roosen on the plays The Veiled Monologues and No Longer Without You have met with great success. Since its creation, No Longer Without You has toured extensively throughout the world. It was presented during the prestigious Holland Festival in 2015 where Nazmiye won the Audience Award for her performance. In 2016 she won a Golden Calf Award for her role in the film In Vrijheid (In Freedom).


About Crossing The Line Festival 

Crossing the Line is an international arts festival for New York City produced by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with leading cultural institutions. 

France has a long history of supporting national and international cultural practices, welcoming and nurturing new ideas and influential perspectives from around the world. FIAF, as the leading French cultural institution in the US, critically maintains that practice through the Crossing the Line Festival, presenting leading-edge artists from France and the US alongside their peers from around the world. 

Since its inauguration in 2007, Crossing the Line has cultivated an increasingly large and diverse following, and received numerous accolades in the press including “Best of” in The New York TimesWall Street JournalThe New YorkerTime Out New YorkArtforum, and Frieze. Festival performances have earned Obie and Bessie awards.

Oral photo: Aicha Qandisha

Via Selman Aqiqi, Toneelgroep Amsterdam; Dutch Culture U.S.A.

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“TARTUFFE” OPENS AT PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE OCTOBER 27 ·

PREVIEW PERFORMANCES

OCTOBER 21-26

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble announces the opening of Moliere’s great comedy Tartuffe in the New York premiere of a sizzling adaptation by David Ball . . .  Tartuffe will begin previews on October 21st and open on Friday, October 27st and will run for 22 performances only through November 12th at The Wild Project in NYC. 

PTE Producing Artistic Director Craig Smith directs the Ball adaptation, which was developed originally for Theatre de la Jeune Lune . . .  The production cast will feature Phoenix Theatre Ensemble resident actors,  Matt Baguth, Alicia Marie Beaty, Ariel Estrada, Eileen Glenn, Oscar Klausner, John Lenartz, Morgan Rosse, Wes Spencer, Elise Stone, and Josh Tyson as Tartuffe (pictured).

The design team for Tartuffe includes Debbi Hobson for period costumes, Ellen Mandel for original music and sound, Attilio Rigotti for projection and video design, Tsubasa Kamei for Lights.  Karen Case Cook is assistant director, Carrigan O’Brien is dramaturg, and Meghan McVann is production stage manager.

The story of Tartuffe concerns a wealthy man, Orgon, who brings home a religious con-man, Tartuffe,  who systematically arranges a wedding with Orgon’s daughter, seduces Orgon’s wife,  convinces Orgon to sign over to him Orgon’s house and fortune . . . It is a comedy about religious hypocrisy.  Smith states “PTE’s Season 2017-18 is ‘the year of the charismatic’ – we’re asking why seemingly smart people often lose their way, their moral center, and blindly follow bad people or dogmas.  Orgon thinks he has found a charismatic messiah in Tartuffe and brings him home, an action that disrupts the entire household and chaos ensues. But in our production, we see Tartuffe through the eyes of Orgon, and perhaps, just perhaps Tartuffe might be miraculous.” 
What:   Tartuffe by Moliere; Adaptation by David Ball

When:   Previews:  October 21-26; Opening October 27 and playing through November 12; performances Tues-Sat @8:00 PM; Sunday matinees at3:00 pm;  and special  Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00 pm Oct 25, Nov 4 & 8.

Full Schedule: Sat 10/21 8pm; Sun 10/22 3pm; 10/24-28 8pm; Sun 10/29 3pm; Nov 1-4 8pm; Nov 5 3pm; Nov 7-11 8pm; Sun Nov 12 3pm; Wed matinee 10/25 & 11/8 2pm; Sat matinee 11/4 2pm.

Information: http://www.phoenixtheatreensemble.org/;   212-465-3446

Tickets:   Tickets are $18.50 for previews and $30 each regular performances; Call 212-352-3101 or visit www.PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org.

Where: The Wild Project @ 195 East 3rd Street (Avenue A and Avenue B)

Transportation: By Subway: F Train to 2nd Avenue; M Train at Essex and Delancey; by Bus A14 to 4th Street and Ave A; 8th Street Crosstown.

Photo Caption:  Josh Tyson cast as Tartuffe at NY’s Phoenix Theatre Ensemble 

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble is a non-profit theatre company now in its 14th season of presenting new and classical works.   The 2017-18 season includes  American Moor by Keith Hamilton Cobb (July/August @ Boston Center for the Arts); Tartuffe by Moliere (October/November in  NYC), The Cult Play, world premiere of a serialized drama by Topher Cusumano (January/February in NYC); and Mephisto, world premiere adaptation of Klaus Mann’s novel (April/May in NYC).  The reading series for 2017-18 will be rarely performed plays by Pirandello.  www.PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.

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SHAKESPEARE IN SWAHILILAND ·

 

(from the Folger Shakespeare Library; via Pam Green.)

Two literary scholars discuss Shakespeare’s influence on the politics, history, and literary culture of East Africa. 

Edward Wilson-Lee, the son of white wildlife conservationists, spent his childhood in Kenya and now teaches Shakespeare at the University of Cambridge in England. Over the past few years he has spent extended periods back in Kenya, as well as in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, researching his book, Shakespeare in Swahililand

Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, the renowned Kenyan playwright, novelist, dissident, and social activist, grew up in Kenya when it was still a British colony and is now a Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. His most recent work is the memoir Birth of a Dream Weaver

Ngũgĩ and Edward were interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

(Read more)

https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited/shakespeare-in-swahililand?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ShakespearePlus4Oct2017&utm_content=version_B&promo=

Photos (top to bottomg)

Edward Wilson-Lee: YouTube 

Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o: Face2Face Africa

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‘RICHARD III’ * THOMAS OSTERMEIER * BAM * OCT 11–14 ·

Reimagining SHAKESPEARE’s rabidly ambitious king with a confrontational interpretation, THOMAS OSTERMEIER returns to BAM with RICHARD III. THE INFLUENTIAL GERMAN DIRECTOR and artistic head of BERLIN’S SCHAUBÜHNE THEATRE turns Shakespeare’s study of EVIL into a gritty, unflinching spectacle.  THE FULL-THROTTLE ADAPTATION is set in A MUD-SPLATTERED ARENA, designed by JAN PAPPELBAUM, where GLITTER FALLS FROM THE SKY as a club-footed sociopath STALKS THE STAGE. Playwright MARIUS VON MAYENBURG converts SHAKESPEARE’S POETIC PENTAMETER TO FORTHRIGHT PROSE and LARS EIDINGER portrays the antihero as part ROCK STAR, PART GHOULISH COMEDIAN. The production isn’t restricted to the demonization of one man––it is also a portrait of A POWERFUL ELITE TORN APART BY INTERNAL STRIFE, out of whose midst A PERVERSE DICTATOR EMERGES. Ostermeier contends that Richard’s monstrosity is not exceptional, but rather REPRESENTATIVE OF OUR MOST BASIC HUMAN INSTINCTS. “The true horror of watching Richard III” says Ostermeier, “SHOULD BE THE RECOGNITION THAT WHAT WE SEE IS ACTUALLY A VISIT TO OUR VERY OWN INNERMOST ABYSS.”

 

Influential German director Thomas Ostermeier returns to BAM with Schaubühne Berlin’s production of Richard III, Oct 11––14

“Lars Eidinger stars as a mesmerising, rapping, swearing Richard; an outsider who seizes centre stage with relish, caressing his microphone like a rock star gone to seed.” –The Guardian

Bloomberg Philanthropies is the Season Sponsor

Richard III By William Shakespeare

Translation and adaptation by Marius von Mayenburg

Schaubühne Berlin Directed by Thomas Ostermeier

Set design by Jan Pappelbaum

Costume design by Florence von Gerkan in collaboration with Ralf Tristan Sczesny

Music by Nils Ostendorf Video by Sébastien Dupouey

Dramaturgy by Florian Borchmeyer

Lighting design by Erich Schneider

BAM Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St.)

Oct 11—14 at 7:30pm Tickets start at $35 In German with English titles

Iconic Artist Talk: Thomas Ostermeier In conversation with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Oct 12 at 6pm BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave) $25 General Public; $12.50 for BAM Members

Visit BAM: https://www.bam.org/theater/2017/richard-iii

Photos: Arno Declair

Press: Christian Barclay/BAM

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BELARUS FREE THEATRE: ‘BURNING DOORS’ (OCTOBER 12-22 AT LA MAMA, NY)—NEXT ON THE STAGE VOICES CALENDAR ·

Belarus Free Theatre presents Burning Doors from La MaMa on Vimeo.

BELARUS FREE THEATRE

Returns to La MaMa with

NY premiere of

BURNING DOORS

October 12-22, 2017

Cast includes Maria Alyokhina from PUSSY RIOT 

Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) – the internationally acclaimed troupe known for its stage works that confront some of the most urgent issues of the day – returns to La MaMa (66 E. 4 St. in NYC) with the NY premiere of BURNING DOORS:  previews are set to begin October 12 prior to a press opening Oct. 16.  La MaMa presents BURNING DOORS in association with Belarus Free Theatre, the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds.

Devised and performed by Belarus Free Theatre, BURNING DOORS is directed by Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada.  DOORS is written by Mr. Khalezin, with dramatury by Mr. Khalezin and Ms. Kaliada, choreography by Bridget Fiske and Maryia Sazonava and original testimony is by Maria Alyokhina

 

The cast of BURNING DOORS includes guest performer and collaborator Maria Alyokhina of PUSSY RIOT, the Russian feminist punk-rock group, along with performers and co-creators Pavel Haradnitski, Kiryl Masheka, Siarhei Kvachonak, Maryia Sazonava, Stanislava Shablinskaya, Andrei Urazau and Marnya Yurevich.

 

As governments clamp down and walls go up, BURNING DOORS examines how art persists under oppression, and how artists living under dictatorship illuminate complacency in democratic societies, reminding us of the true cost of freedom and the danger of passivity.  BURNING DOORS draws from the personal experiences of three dissidents who were arrested and imprisoned by the government of Vladmir Putin of Russia – Ms. Alyokhina, Petr Pavlensky and Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian national who has been imprisoned in Russia on terrorism charges after Russia invaded Crimea.

 

In the case of Mr. Sentsov, who has served three years of his 20-year sentence, his experiences are depicted as told to the creators of BURNING DOORS by members of his family, who have been allowed rare visits and received one smuggled correspondence from him during his time in prison.

BURNING DOORS debuted last year in London, where critics called it:

            “A scorching piece of theatre:  uncompromising, urgent and angry.  4 stars.” Financial Times

            “A spiky, furious mosaic.  4 stars.”  The Sunday Times

Belarus Free Theatre is the leading refugee-led theatre company in the UK. BURNING DOORS draws on the company’s own experience of political oppression and continues their campaign to stand up to artistic freedom and human rights across the globe.

Belarus Free Theatre has previously performed at La MaMa:  TRASH CUISINE, BEING HAROLD PINTER, DISCOVER LOVE and ZONE OF SILENCE.

BURNING DOORS is dedicated to Pavel Sheremet, Oleg Sentsov and all the Kremlin hostages.  The production features the following contributions: 

            –“Fear” and “Russian Contemporary Artist in a Russian Jail.” By Petr Pavlensky

            –“Final Statement” by Oleg Sentsov

            –Extract from “How to Start a Revolution” by Maria Alyokhina

            –“Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault

            –“The Idiot” and “The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

            –“Lonely” by Boombox

            –Russian and Belarusian folk songs

BURNING DOORS was created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne; Developed at Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA), and funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.

La MaMa’s 56th season highlights artists of different generations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, who question social mores and confront stereotypes, corruption, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in their work. Our stages embrace diversity in every form and present artists that persevere with bold self-expression despite social, economic, and political struggle and the 56th season reflects the urgency of reaffirming human interconnectedness.

Scheduled October 12 to 22, BURNING DOORS will perform weeknights at 8 pm (no performance October 17), Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm.  Tickets are $30 ($25 for students/seniors) and can be purchased by calling 212-352-3101 or online at www.lamama.org

BURNING DOORS is performed in Russian and Belarusian with English surtitles.

(Photos, top to bottom:  Alyokhina, Oslo Freedom Forum, Kaliada and Khalezin,  moc.media; Pavlensky, widewalls.ch; Sentsov, the Voice Project. 

 

 

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***** MOUKARZEL/KIDD/SHAKESPEARE: ‘HAMNET’ (SV PICK, IRE) ·

 

 

Hamnet
Peacock Theatre, Dublin
★★★★★

Who haunted Shakespeare when he wrote Hamlet? A play so steeped in death, full of demanding fathers, hapless sons and restless ghosts, it was completed just three years after the death of his young son, Hamnet. If the name of the Dane was intended as a memorial, it backfired: Shakespeare’s overwhelming legacy and pitted biography have reduced poor Hamnet to the status of a typo.

“You haven’t heard of me,” apologises the 11-year-old boy who arrives onstage alone with a hoodie and a backpack – although, like any contemporary kid, he knows he shouldn’t talk to strangers.

That we are the strangers is made obvious. The expanse of the backdrop to Andrew Clancy’s design holds, as ‘twere, a mirror up to the stage, a live projection from the rear wall that affords us two images: the boy before us and his video apparition.

(Read more)

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/hamnet-is-a-child-frozen-in-time-to-devastating-effect-1.3240986

Photo: Dead Centre

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PETER BROOK: ‘TO GIVE WAY TO DESPAIR IS THE ULTIMATE COP-OUT’ ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian 10/3.)

Sixty-five years ago, Kenneth Tynan identified the qualities of a young Peter Brook as “repose, curiosity and mental accuracy – plus, of course, the unlearnable lively flair”. Now 92, Brook may walk more slowly than he did but those gifts are still abundantly there. He is as busy as ever, with a new book full of aphoristic wisdom, Tip of the Tongue, and a new stage project, The Prisoner, due to open in Paris next year.

When we meet in London, he has just caught up with a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre, which he calls “one of the greatest musicals I’ve ever seen – a perfect combination of palpable emotion and dazzling spectacle”. To those who think of Brook as some kind of theatrical monk, dedicated to empty spaces and a refined austerity, his rapture over Follies may come as a shock. But Brook’s early career embraced everything from Shakespeare and boulevard comedy to opera and musicals. He directed Irma La Douce in the West End and Harold Arlen’s House of Flowers on Broadway.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/oct/02/peter-brook-tip-of-the-tongue-the-prisoner-battlefield-olivier-gielgud

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SAM SHEPARD: ‘SIMPATICO’ (SV PICK, PRINCETON) ·

(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/26; via Pam Green.)

PRINCETON, N.J. — It’s hard to imagine a more exuberant wake for Sam Shepard than the party being thrown — and I mean thrown, like a beer bottle in a bar fight — at the McCarter Theater Center here. That’s where A Red Orchid Theater’s revival of his strange “Simpatico” is running — and jumping, stumbling, falling down drunk, writhing on the floor and gleefully reminding us of the fierce and anarchic humor of Shepard, who died in July.

Though Shepard is, in my book, a great American playwright, “Simpatico,” first staged at the Public Theater in New York in 1995, is not a great play. On the page, at least, it finds its author awkwardly trying to shoehorn his fabled sense of a melting American identity into the intricate plots and counterplots of the genre known as noir.

But as lyrical as Shepard could be as a prose writer, he is best experienced not on the page but the stage, where the raw physicality of his brand of theater can be given space to roam wild. That’s the space so jubilantly occupied by this production out of Chicago, directed by Dado and starring the off-center film star Michael Shannon in expertly demented form.

(Read more)

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/theater/review-sam-shepard-simpatico-michael-shannon.html

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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY: A SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT SPOILER ALERT   ·

 

(Christ Jordan’s article appeared on app., 9/28; via the Drudge Report.)  

So Bruce Springsteen of Freehold, whose “Springsteen on Broadway” begins previews  Tuesday, Oct. 3, and opens Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, should feel right at home.

“He’s the greatest living storyteller because of how he connected with everyone at his shows, all the way to the last row” said Matt Pinfield,  former host of MTV’s “120 Minutes” and author of the new book “All These Things That I’ve Done: My Insane, Improbable Rock Life.” “There’s such a human element with his storytelling and his songs. He’s always been able to tell stories in between songs, that in itself is an art form.

(Read more)

http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/09/28/bruce-springsteen-broadway-spirit-night/704050001/

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ALBERT INNAURATO INTERVIEW WITH STAGE VOICES (SUMMER, 2015) ·

Albert Innaurato Gives an Exclusive Interview with SV’s Bob Shuman: Part I appeared 8/26/15 and Part II appeared 9/2/15

Innaurato’s short play Doubtless, produced by John McCormack, appeared at 59E59’s Summer Shorts series in 2014. Gemini, winner of the Obie Award, became the fifth longest-running play to appear on Broadway: premiering Off-Off-Broadway in 1976, and moving to Broadway in 1977, it ran for four years (1, 819 performances).  The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie won a second Obie in 1977. Other plays include Passione, Magda and Callas, Coming of Age in SohoGus and Al, and Dreading Thekla. While attending the Yale School of Drama Innaurato wrote The Idiots KaramazovI Don’t Normally Like Poetry but Have You Read Trees, and Gyp, the Real-Life Story of Mitzi Gaynor with Christopher Durang. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Vera: U.S.O. Girl; additional television credits are: The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and short plays for PBS, including Death and Taxes.  Innaurato has directed many operas, premiering new work as well as interpreting classics, for a small company in Philadelphia, where he moved to work at the Prince Music Theater. Adjunct at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Temple University, essayist, and cultural critic in The New York TimesVanity Fair, and very frequently in Opera News, Innaurato blogs about serious music and opera at: http://mrsjohnclaggartssadlife.blogspot.com/.

What’s the nicest thing that someone ever said to you about a play you don’t want to be remembered for? 

I am so amazed when people remember that I wrote plays that I’m thrilled for a minute or two. I don’t expect to be remembered as a person, let alone as a playwright. I’ve written some lousy plays, God knows, but really, people who remember the good or the bad, are so rare and so sincere, I’m grateful.

Read Part I of the Stage Voices interview: http://stagevoices.com/2015/08/26/two-time-obie-winner-albert-innauratos-exclusive-interview-with-bob-shumanpart-ii-will-be-published-september-2-inn/

Read Park II of the Stage Voices interview: https://stagevoices.com/2015/09/02/albert-innauratos-transfiguration-the-two-time-obie-winner-on-arts-police-the-transsexual-movement-b/

Photo:  The New York Times–Albert Innaurato is (l).

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ALBERT INNAURATO, REST IN PEACE (1947-2017) ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/27; via Pam Green.)

Albert Innaurato, a playwright who enjoyed spectacular success for a time in the late 1970s, including having a play run on Broadway for more than four years, has died in Philadelphia. He was 70.

His cousin Stephen Paesani said Mr. Innaurato was found dead in his bed on Tuesday, and had probably been dead for two days. The cause was not clear, Mr. Paesani said, but Mr. Innaurato had had heart problems recently.

Mr. Innaurato’s biggest hit, written while he was still in his 20s, was “Gemini,” a comic drama about a Harvard student who returns to his blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood for his 21st birthday and has to confront, among other things, his sexual orientation. It opened on May 21, 1977, at the Little Theater on Broadway and ran for 1,819 performances.

A few months before that, another of his plays, “The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie,” had an acclaimed Off Broadway run at the Astor Place Theater.

(Read more)

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/theater/albert-innaurato-dead-playwright-who-had-hits-on-broadway-in-70s.html

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10 LITTLE KNOWN PHOTOS OF ANTON CHEKHOV THAT SHOW THE PLAYWRIGHT IN A NEW LIGHT ·

 

 (Alexandra Guzeva’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 9/20.)

A lover of dogs and long walks, Chekhov was also a practicing doctor and married a beautiful young actress who worked at a theater that was later named in his honor.

Where you’ve got art, where you’ve got talent, there’s no room for old age, there’s no room for loneliness or being ill. Even death is only half itself.

Can you imagine that this young man is the great Russian writer, Anton Chekhov? Without his famous pince-nez, and with long hair, he is hardly recognizable. The photo was taken in 1883 when Chekhov was a student at the Medical Faculty of Moscow State University.

(Read more)

https://www.rbth.com/arts/326207-10-little-known-photos-chekhov

Photo: Russia Beyond the Headlines

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YEATS BY HEART: FIONA SHAW, JOHN BANVILLE, FINTAN O’TOOLE, PAUL MULDOON, PAULA MEEHAN ·

Listen at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xq6b0

The Essay, WB Yeats at 150 

Winner of the Nobel Prize in 1923, William Butler Yeats is a commanding presence in 20th-century literature and has inspired, and occasionally infuriated, successive generations of readers, writers, and performers ever since.

Marking the 150th anniversary of his birth on 13th June 1865, five of Ireland’s leading cultural figures reflect on their relationship with his work. The authors include novelist, John Banville, writer Fintan O’Toole and poets, Paul Muldoon and Paula Meehan.

In this edition, celebrated actor and director Fiona Shaw explains the lasting impact of her childhood introduction to the work of WB Yeats.

Producer: Stan Ferguson.

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HOW ACTOR ANNE BANCROFT BEAT OUT AUDREY HEPBURN AND ELIZABETH TAYLOR FOR HER TONY-WINNING ROLE ·

(Harry Haun’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 9/4; via Pam Green.)

Anne Bancroft: A Life

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Anne Bancroft’s star started its ascent on February 7, 1957—simultaneously on both coasts.

In New York, she sauntered into the office of producer Fred Coe and wasted no time getting down to the pressing business at hand. “Where’s the john?” she barked. (It’s called “coming on as the character you’re going out for”—in this case, Gittel Mosca, the brash bohemian who amorously collides in New York with a sad, marriage-broken Nebraskan in Two for the Seesaw.) Coe was certain she was his Gittel—an opinion soon shared by the play’s director, Arthur Penn, and writer, William Gibson, both of whom were in Los Angeles on that first day, steering Teresa Wright and Patty McCormack through the roles of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller in the Playhouse 90 premiere of their play The Miracle Worker.

Anne Bancroft: A Life

Gittel Mosca got Bancroft a Tony Award—as did Annie Sullivan, and an Oscar, too—when Gibson’s scripts moved to Broadway. Topping the brilliance of both those performances was her iconic Mrs. Robinson, the older woman out to seduce her daughter’s boyfriend in The Graduate. A half-century later, that’s how the world still remembers Anne Bancroft, now the subject of a richly detailed and definitive biography by Douglass K. Daniel out September 1.

(Read more)

http://www.playbill.com/article/how-actor-anne-bancroft-beat-out-audrey-hepburn-and-elizabeth-taylor-for-her-tony-winning-role

 

View Anne Bancroft: A Life on Amazon:  https://tinyurl.com/y9slvf7x

 

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RACE, MONEY AND BROADWAY: HOW ‘GREAT COMET’ BURNED OUT ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/29; via Pam Green.)

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” is closing on Broadway after a racially charged and distinctly contemporary conflagration. CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

The young, flamboyant and unusually diverse collective of actors and musicians who brought “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” to Broadway enjoyed the giddy highs of theater’s most glamorous perch — a run at the grand Imperial Theater, a season-topping 12 Tony nominations, a spotlight shared with the pop star Josh Groban.

For most of the performers, it was their first time on a Broadway stage. Costumed as punkified peasants and aristocrats in a bold musical adaptation of Tolstoy, they danced down the aisles, handing out pierogies and creating an unusually immersive musical experience.

Now they are seeing the sharp edge of Broadway. The show is collapsing after a conflagration that was racially charged and distinctly contemporary: a social media uproar prompted by the financially motivated decision to bring in a white actor to replace a black actor who had succeeded a white actor.

The result: Investors will lose most of the production’s $14 million capitalization, and more than 100 people will be out of jobs after the final performance on Sunday.

Even in a flop-prone industry, the sudden crash of the musical stands out, reflecting competing challenges for commercial theater: the benefits of star power, the hunger for diversity and the high costs of producing on Broadway. Add in Twitter, and things can get messy.

Continue reading the main story

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JANUSZ GLOWACKI, POLISH PLAYWRIGHT OF TERROR AND DARK HUMOR, DIES AT 78 ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/22; via Pam Green.)

Janusz Glowacki, a Polish playwright, novelist and screenwriter who mined the ferment of Communism and its collapse in his country to create darkly humorous works about totalitarianism and the émigré experience, died on Saturday while vacationing in Egypt. He was 78.

The exact cause was unclear, but his daughter, Zuza Glowacka, said he had experienced shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Mr. Glowacki was already a well-regarded writer — his credits included the screenplay for Andrzej Wajda’s 1969 film “Hunting Flies” — when he traveled to London in December 1981 for a production of his play “Cinders” at the Royal Court Theater. While he was there, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland’s Communist leader, cracked down on the country’s budding Solidarity trade union movement and declared martial law.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/theater/janusz-glowacki-dead-polish-playwright.html

Photo: Culture.pl.

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PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE: CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR MOLIERE’S HILARIOUS ‘TARTUFFE’ ·

PTE’s 2017-18 season is dedicated to “The Charismatic”–why do we often quite unreasonably follow certain people, faiths or ideas.  We start off with Moliere’s brilliant comedy! Tartuffe is a charismatic who has been touched by God. He is a visionary. He practices religious devotion and self-sacrifice. He has fits. He converses with the divine. He can be very scary. Orgon invites him home to live with his family and introduces him to his beautiful wife Elmire…. what could possibly go wrong? Join us for Moliere’s brilliant comedy….

 TICKETS NOW ON SALE
or call 212-352-3101
Low Price Previews: 10/21, 10/24-26; NO TDF for This Show

Josh Tyson
Tartuffe
Ariel Estrada
Cleante
John  Lenartz
Orgon
Oscar Klausner
Laurant
Alicia Marie Beatty
Marianne
Elise Stone
Elmire
Morgan Rosse
Dorine
Adapted by David Ball; Directed by Craig Smith; Costume Design by Debbi Hobson; Music and Sound Design by Ellen Mandel; Video Design by Attilio Rigotti, Stage Management by Meghan McVann, Assistant Director Karen Case Cook.
Wes Spencer
Valere
Matt Baguth
Damis
Eileen Glenn
Pernelle
ORDER YOUR TICKETS NOW
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Great restaurants & Bars just steps away in the heart of the East Village.

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JERRY LEWIS, MERCURIAL COMEDIAN AND FILMMAKER, DIES AT 91 ·

(Dave Kehr’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/20.)

Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by John Katsilometes, a columnist for The Las Vegas Review Journal, who spoke to family members.

Mr. Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.

Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after World War II with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Mr. Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Mr. Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

Continue reading the main story

Photo: NY Daily News.

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A ‘NIGHT MUSIC’ OF HEIGHTENED HARMONY, AND PUB THEATERS THAT PUT ACTORS FIRST ·

(Matt Wolf’s article appeared in The New York Time, 8/10; via Pam Green.)

NEWBURY, England — Devotees of the love-struck Swedes who populate “A Little Night Music” may recall the cello solo in the song “Later,” played by the smitten depressive Henrik Egerman, who has fallen hard for the child-bride, Anne, of his father, Fredrik.

Now, along comes the perennially bittersweet 1973 Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical in an utterly beguiling production, directed by Paul Foster, that gives everyone an instrument, and sometimes two.

And if you associate that actor-musician approach to Sondheim (and others) with the Tony-winning British director, John Doyle, well, you’ve come to the right place. “Night Music” is running through Sept. 16 at the same entrancing theater — the Watermill Theater in Newbury, Berkshire, two hours’ drive west of London — where Mr. Doyle’s career-making “Sweeney Todd” was first performed in 2004. The West End and Broadway soon beckoned.

Whether this “Night Music” will follow the same path — and this Sondheim title has been revived recently on both sides of the Atlantic — it’s worth beating a path to this leafy address. The staging not only sounds different from any “Night Music” I’ve come across but also looks startlingly fresh. The burnished elegance of David Woodhead’s design makes cunning use of a two-way mirror and manages to couple distressed chic with a reminder of the theatrical environs that mark out the story of Desiree Armfeldt (a satin-cheeked Josefina Gabrielle) and her motley gathering of aristos and amours.

Continue reading the main story

Photo: Playbill.

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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN IS BRINGING HIS MUSIC AND HIS MEMORIES TO BROADWAY ·

(Ben Sisario’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/9; via Pam Green.)

MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J., can accommodate well over 50,000 people for a concert. The Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway is a fraction of that size, with room for just under 1,000.

What they have in common is Bruce Springsteen, who sold out MetLife three times last year and is coming to the Walter Kerr in October for eight weeks of solo shows that he wants to be “as personal and intimate as possible.”

“I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind,” Mr. Springsteen said in a statement. “In fact, with one or two exceptions, the 960 seats of the Walter Kerr Theater is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years.”

The show, “Springsteen on Broadway,” will run five nights a week, Tuesday to Saturday, at the Walter Kerr, the rose-and-gold-decorated jewel box on West 48th Street that last housed the short-lived “Amélie: A New Musical.” The official opening is set for Oct. 12, and the run is planned through Nov. 26. Preview performances begin on Oct. 3.

In addition to his music, the show will feature Mr. Springsteen, 67, reading excerpts from his 2016 autobiography, “Born to Run,” and performing other spoken reminiscences written for the show.

Continue reading the main story

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CHILTON WILLIAMSON AND THE STRENUOUS LIFE:  ‘CHRONICLES’ EDITOR AND AUTHOR ON WYOMING OUTBACK, HIS NEW NOVEL, ‘JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM!’, AND CHARACTERS WHO DON’T GO AWAY   ·

Author, columnist, and editor, Chilton Williamson, Jr. has published works of fiction, narrative nonfiction, and books on politics and history.  He was formerly history editor for St. Martin’s Press and literary editor for National Review.  For 26 years, he served as senior editor for books for Chronicles:  A Magazine of American Culture before being named editor in 2015.

Born in New York City, he was raised in Manhattan and on the family farm in South Windham, Vermont.  Since 1979, he has lived in Wyoming, except for two years spend in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Besides Jerusalem, Jerusalem!, his fourth Chronicles Press book, Williamson is the author of four published novels and six works of nonfiction.  With his wife, Maureen McCaffrey Williamson, he lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

CHILTON WILLIAMSON talks with SV’s Bob Shuman, about his new novel, set in the contemporary West: Jerusalem, Jerusalem!  The final part, of this two-part interview, will appear, 9/6.

View ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem!’ on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yb7o4x5c

Jerusalem, Jerusalem! is not only a novel that can be read on its own, it’s also related to other books.  Could you tell us about it—and also give a background for the Fontenelle trilogy? 

The Fontenelle Trilogy began with my first novel, Desert Light (St. Martin’s, 1987, https://tinyurl.com/ycuutqjt), the story of a wealthy and successful New York City attorney who defended a murderer whom he got released from prison only to kill again. Disgusted with “civilization,” Caleb Richardson moves to southwestern Wyoming and becomes a breeder of Arabian horses near the coal, oil, and gas town of Fontenelle in the Green River Basin country.  Following a gruesome murder along the I-80 corridor, he agrees to help prosecute the three people charged with the crime, one of them a young Mormon woman.  After visiting her in jail, he becomes convinced of her innocence and withdraws from the prosecution team, led by a famous Jackson attorney, to defend her against it.

The middle novel, The Homestead (Grove Weidenfeld, 1990, https://tinyurl.com/ybr4fjap), continues to track Desert Light’s principals, while introducing new ones: Houston Walker, scion of a local rancher who moved to Africa to become a professional big-game hunter, who is summoned home to Wyoming to help his family after his brother is arrested on a charge of murdering an oilfield roughneck, and his incestuously inclined sister.

Was it always your intention to write a Fontenelle series?  

After finishing the first book, I had no intention of beginning a second connected novel, much less envisioning a third.  I discovered, however, that I couldn’t let the characters and the story drop, so I went ahead with a second installment.  The same thing occurred after The Homestead was finished.  In this final volume, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!, set in 1992, the Richardsons and the Walkers remain part of the story, while being joined by two other major characters, a Catholic priest who is involved in a minor car crash–when he is called out late one night after inadvertently drinking too much wine–and a parishioner of his, a quadriplegic woman kept alive in an iron lung.  She, nevertheless, coordinates people and events from her bedroom to resolve several conflicting situations, in a more or less satisfactory way, at the end of the book.

 

One of your characters, in Jerusalem, Jerusalem!, Father Hillary, a Catholic priest, says, “For an Easterner, Wyoming does take some getting used to, but I find myself feeling more at home here all the time.”   What takes getting used to in the West—and what starts to make the priest feel at home? 

The American West, in many ways, is still the frontier.  It has, of course, been considerably urbanized in the past several decades, and the numerical majority of “Westerners” live in cities.  But the cities are very far between, and separated by vast stretches of nearly empty country, much of which is, indeed, wilderness.

In addition to the physical isolation are the extremely harsh weather (60-75 mph winds that subside but never quit, often stalling at a constant 20 mph or so, which will still carry your Stetson away), temperatures as low as 50-75 degrees below zero, and heavy snows and ground blizzards that make travel impossible for days at a time. Take all this into account and you will begin to understand what Father Hillary had in mind when he spoke of the need to accustom oneself to the West, after life in Paris and New York. 

The priest in Jerusalem, Jerusalem!  also encounters the desert, a Biblical image in the New Testament that represents a healing, cleansing, inspiring, and mystical withdrawal from the distractions of the “real” world, although by the end of the novel Hillary is only beginning to come to terms with it, with the help of a native priest, Fr. Bonney.

How have you acclimated to Laramie, as an Easterner yourself?  You note that Teddy Roosevelt thought that Wyoming was “the strenuous life, and he had Oyster Bay to go home to.”  Tell us about the most strenuous thing you’ve done in the last week—and when do you find time to write novels?

I moved first to Kemmerer, Wyoming, population about 3000, and arrived 20 years later in Laramie for a number of reasons, the chief one being that property here is both affordable and holds its value on account of the presence of the University of Wyoming.  (Kemmerer, founded in 1897 by a New York family with interests in the coal business, is a classic Western boom-or-bust town that fell into the bust pit 20 years ago and has never climbed out of it–it’s the model for Fontenelle in the books.)  As for Wyoming, I saw the place first in 1977, came out here two years later, and never looked back. (I did continue to commute every couple of months to Manhattan, where I worked as the literary editor for National Review.)

Out here, people drive 120 miles roundtrip to see a movie (it won’t be something you’d see at Cannes) and think nothing of it.  If comfort, convenience, availability, cosmopolitan culture, and lots of people are what you crave, the West is not for you.  You have to like to hunt and fish, ride horses, and camp in the outback, 50 or 60 miles from the nearest small town.  If you want “activities,” dislike solitude, and self-sufficiency; if hundred-mile vistas with “nothing” in sight but sagebrush and antelope desert buttes, rugged mountains, and lonely plains make you “want  to cry” (as a woman from New York once told me it did her), then drive as fast as you can across I-10, I-40, I-70, I-80, and I-90 until your reach the comfort and safety of the West Coast.

Life on the frontier is always strenuous, whether you’re a rancher, an outfitter, a lumberman, a miner, an oilfield roughneck (as I was for a year), and so on. Just now it is summer, and life is relatively easy here.  I explore on foot and on horseback, camp in the outback, climb in the mountains to fish.  Fall is the really vigorous time, when I go into winter camp and slog through a foot of new snow in wilderness country to track, shoot, field dress, dismember, and pack 700-pound elk out of the mountains with horses.

How did you decide on the title, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!?

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem” are Christ’s words, as He stands gazing down upon the city before His Passion:

“still murdering the prophets, and stoning the messengers that are sent to thee, how often have I been ready to gather thy children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; and thou didst refuse it!  Behold, your house is left to you, a house uninhabited.  Believe me, you shall see nothing of me henceforward, until the time when you will be saying, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”

In this novel, some of the characters refuse to be gathered, and others–the fewer of them—accept the invitation.  This is pretty much the theme, in fact, of the trilogy, each volume of which commences with an epigraph taken from Dante’s Commedia Divina: the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso

The novel seems to have a mosaic-like structure, perhaps comparable to a film like Nashville by Robert Altman.  Did you realize you were dealing with a complex structure, while you were writing—and how do you keep so many intersecting characters in perspective, while still telling the story?

Evelyn Waugh once urged a young novelist, “Go to the cinema. It’s the modern way to write a story.” Also, it’s a flexible way of handling many characters and subplots in an orderly and comprehensible fashion.

What are optimal conditions for your work?

When I had stepchildren I wrote in the mornings when they were at school.  Since then I’ve written between three and seven in the afternoon. That way, when I knock off work, I have no responsibility beyond shaking and drinking two stiff martinis for myself and my wife. Once I begin a book I almost never abandon it.  I agree with Raymond Chandler that if you start on a writing job, it was always for a good reason, and your job is to rediscover that reason. 

Thank you so much.  We’ll look forward to the second part of your interview.

View Jerusalem, Jerusalem! on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yb7o4x5c

Visit Chronicles Web site: https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/

Read Part 1 of this interview at: https://tinyurl.com/ybpzyos4

(c) 2017 by Chilton Williamson, Jr. (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

 

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ACCLAIMED SINGER AND ACTRESS BARBARA COOK HAS DIED AT 89 ·

(from the Associated Press, 8/8; via the Wall Street Journal.)

NEW YORK — Barbara Cook, whose shimmering soprano made her one of Broadway’s leading ingenues and later a major cabaret and concert interpreter of popular American song, has died. She was 89.

Cook died early Tuesday of respiratory failure at her home in Manhattan, surrounded by family and friends, according to publicist Amanda Kaus. Her last meal was vanilla ice cream.

Throughout her nearly six decades on stage, Cook’s voice remained remarkably supple, gaining in emotional honesty and expanding on its natural ability to go straight to the heart.

 Read at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/AP59f517ab57704f3e893191a3d97ff3ed

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THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ARTHUR MILLER  (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 4—LINK BELOW) ·

Listen at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06gqh7y

Arthur Miller would have been 100 years old on October 17th this year. To mark the centenary BBC Radio 4, LA Theatre Works, and a stellar American cast have come together to produce four new dramas by MikeWalker and Jonathan Holloway.

As a writer Miller felt that to create a character, you had to understand how family, circumstances and events had shaped that character. ‘The fish is in the water and the water is in the fish’, as he famously put it. These specially commissioned plays recreate some of the experiences that shaped Miller himself, throwing light on how he would become one of the most influential playwrights in American literature.

  1. Beginnings
    Arthur Miller is born in New York on the 17th of October 1915 to a prosperous family in the clothing business. A poor school student, he loves making things with wood and dreams of becoming a crooner. But when the stock market crashes and the Millers face ruin, Arthur contemplates a different future. By Mike Walker.

Producer for LA Theatre Works: Susan Loewenberg
Associate Producers: Anna Lyse Erikson and Myke D Wysekopf
Sound by Mark Holden, Wes Dewberry, and Catherine Robinson

A BBC/Cymru Wales and LA Theatre Works Co-Production, directed by Kate McAll

LA Theatre Works is a non-profit audio drama company based in Los Angeles that records classic and contemporary plays. They have been collaborating with the BBC for nearly 30 years, beginning with a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible that starred Richard Dreyfuss and Stacey Keach.

Photo: The Telegraph.

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THE GENIUS OF SAM SHEPARD WAS RELENTLESS, WITHOUT A BREAK ·

(Isaac Butler’s and Dan Kois’s article appeared in Slate, 7/25; via Pam Green.)

Here’s how I discovered Sam Shepard:

In the ’90s, back before Giuliani and co. broken-windowed the last vestiges of seediness from Times Square, the Drama Book Shop lived above some kind of adult emporium. I was there, looking for plays. The highest honor in my high school was directing a one-act your senior year. It was the brass ring, and even though I was only in eighth grade, I was planning how I would clutch it.

This was my first ever visit to the Drama Book Shop, but it would become an annual pilgrimage, largely due to the moment when, after asking the clerk for some good one-acts, I was first told about Sam Shepard. A minute or two later, he had placed Fool for Love and Other Plays in my hands, and he was evangelizing about the bizarre virtues of a play called Suicide in B Flat. I remember thinking: Who is this gorgeous man on the cover, and how did he come up with a title like that?

I read Suicide in B Flat, entering Shepard’s be-bop nightmare in which a jazz musician may have killed himself, or may have committed murder. I didn’t get it, but I was beguiled by it. I immediately tore into Fool for Love, which opens with maybe the greatest stage direction of all time: “This play is to be performed relentlessly, without a break.”

He wrote without the brakes on, or perhaps he cut them.

Relentlessly and without a break is a pretty good way of describing both the feeling of Shepard’s work and his prolific genius itself. From 1964 to 2014, Shepard wrote more than 40 plays and 10 films. He wrote without the brakes on, or perhaps he cut them. The myth of Shepard has always been in part fueled by his writing some of his early plays under the influence and never revising them. But as his career went on, he became a meticulous craftsman of language, even while always experimenting with structure. He pursued the limits of the form, the limits of language, the limits of what the word could do on stage, and then he pushed these limits ever further out, creating an expanded imaginative space that the rest of us are lucky to be able to play in.

(Read more)

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/07/31/the_genius_of_sam_shepard_dead_at_73_remembered.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_em_ru

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A BILL FUNDING ARTS AND HUMANITIES ENDOWMENTS PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE ·

(Graham Bowley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/20; via Pam Green.)

Four months after President Trump proposed eliminating the cultural agencies altogether, a bill to continue to finance the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities won approval this week from the House appropriations committee.

The House bill, part of the process of thrashing out the federal budget for fiscal year 2018, includes $145 million for each endowment. The amounts represent a cut of about $5 million to each agency, but is a stark contrast to President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the endowments entirely as outlined in his first federal budget plan he announced in March.

That proposal was a political statement about the president’s wishes; Congress writes the federal budget, and those line items are now being thrashed out in the House and Senate.

The cultural funds — a small part of the broader interior and environment appropriations bill — may eventually receive a vote by the full House, perhaps as one part of a bigger omnibus bill after the summer recess.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/arts/nea-neh-congress-budget-trump.html

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***** MCPHERSON: ‘GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY’—DYLAN’S SONGS ARE DEPRESSION-ERA DYNAMITE (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/26.)

This is the second time in a week I’ve seen an Irish writer create a remarkable fusion of text and music. Woyzeck in Winter at the Galway arts festival unites Büchner and Schubert. Now Conor McPherson has written and directed a play incorporating 20 diverse songs by Bob Dylan. Set in Dylan’s home town of Duluth, Minnesota, in 1934, the piece uses the songs to reinforce the mood of desperation and yearning that characterised America in the Depression era.

It was the Dylan team who approached McPherson with the idea and they knew what they were doing since his work, from The Weir onwards, has been marked by a sense of unfulfilled longing. Here, that is located in a run-down guesthouse where everyone is staring into a bleak future. Nick, the owner, has to deal with crushing debt, a wife with dementia, a layabout son, and he is trying to marry off an adopted, pregnant, black daughter to an elderly shoe salesman. His guests include a ruined family, a fugitive boxer, a blackmailing preacher-cum-Bible salesman and Nick’s lover, who is awaiting a legacy that fails to mature. Yet for all their failures they still manage, gloriously, to sing.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/jul/27/girl-from-the-north-country-review-bob-dylan-conor-mcpherson

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ROME STREET THEATRE:  THE MYTH OF PERSEPHONE ·

 

 

By Marit Shuman

There’s a fountain in the Piazza Trilussa, in the Trastevere, where people can sit and watch live performance. 

The fountain is called fontana di Ponte Sisto, which refers to the bridge right across from the piazza.

 

 

Generally, there is music being played at all hours or events like this one, which was filmed on Sunday, June 18, 2017.

 

The story of Persephone is being reenacted, using dancers on stilts and plenty of pyrotechnics.

 

The ancient story tells how Persephone is abducted by Pluto, the god of the Underworld.  

 

Her mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, heartbroken at the loss of her daughter, plunges the world into darkness. 

 

Finally, Persephone is found and allowed to resurface on earth, bringing spring. 

But, because she has eaten the food of Hades, pomegranate seeds, she must return again every year, as the seasons change to winter.

 

 

Photos:  Fountain: Starhotels; Ponte Sisto: Wikipedia.

 

 

$998 TO SAY HELLO TO DOLLY? THAT’S THE PRICE FOR SOME FRONT ROW SEATS ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/8; via the Drudge Report.) 

Broadway is breaking another price barrier.

Producers of “Hello, Dolly!” are now charging $998 for front row seats at many performances between late November and mid-January, when Bette Midler leaves the cast, according to a review of ticket prices on the Telecharge website. With fees, each of those seats will cost $1,009.

The price is a record for a non-holiday performance on Broadway. “Hamilton” is the only show that has reached that level before, charging $998 for some seats during the Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks last year.

The high “Dolly” ticket, which is for weekend performances, reflects strong demand to see Ms. Midler’s Tony-winning turn before her run ends on Jan. 14. And the front row provides an opportunity for fans to be quite close to her: She performs the title song on a passerelle, a walkway that arcs in front of the stage, and she often reaches out toward audience members, sometimes shaking their hands.

Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for “Hello, Dolly!” producer Scott Rudin, declined to comment on the show’s premium prices.

Although $998 for a Broadway ticket remains exceptional, prices overall are rising: thus far this season, the average ticket price on Broadway is $116. Last season it was $109.

Continue reading the main story

Photo: Gay Times Magazine