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TINA HOWE COPES WITH CAREGIVING AND OTHER LATE-IN-LIFE STORMS ·

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in the New York Times, July 19; via Pam Green.)

By late afternoon, the weather was still sweltering, but in balmier conditions the playwright Tina Howe would have been hanging out a window of her 10th-story apartment on West End Avenue, shooting photos of the neighbors on their roof decks far below.

So she said the other day, and it was easy to envision. Dreamily thoughtful, with an angular, blue-blooded elegance, Ms. Howe at 79 has a disarming liveliness of spirit.

“I sort of want to set my next play on one of these decks, on Midsummer Night’s Eve,” she said, explaining that it would be “about a group of old people getting together and whooping it up. Because nobody does that. Dear Beckett has written about old age, but never a woman.”

This is the phase of life that Ms. Howe has reached: where an appalling number of sweet strangers offer her their seats on the subway, and where she sticks close to home because her 81-year-old husband, Norman Levy, has Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a phase of life that Ms. Howe is writing about in her new play, “Singing Beach.” Directed by Ari Laura Kreith in a production by Theater 167, it starts previews on Saturday, July 22, at Here Arts Center.

Continue reading the main story

Photo: The New York Times

 

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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.

 

 

ANDY BLANKENBUEHLER, ‘HAMILTON’ CHOREOGRAPHER, AT HOME IN HARLEM ·

(Joanne Kaurman’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/21; via Pam Green.)

What I Love

Sofia Blankenbuehler, while out sick from school one day, heard a snippet of music coming from her father’s studio on the top floor of the family’s brownstone in Harlem. A few seconds later, there was that same tune again. And again (and again) for the next eight hours or so.

“She finally told my wife, ‘I think there’s something wrong with Daddy,’” said Andy Blankenbuehler, a choreographer and sometime stage director.

Well, maybe. But such obsessive attention to the music that makes him dance helps explain why Mr. Blankenbuehler has three shows running on Broadway (“Cats,” “Bandstand” and “Hamilton”) and why he’s also in possession of three Tony Awards (for “In the Heights,” “Hamilton” and “Bandstand”), not to mention the two construction paper-and-cardboard facsimiles of the trophy made by Sofia, now 7, and her brother, Luca, 10.

But the stage isn’t all his world. Mr. Blankenbuehler, 47, has long stuffed boxes and file folders with photographs and illustrations of mirrors and tables and sideboards that catch his fancy. “I’ve always been very design-conscious, though my taste has continued to change,” he said.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/realestate/andy-blankenbuehler-hamilton-choreographer-at-home-in-harlem.html

TONY KUSHNER: WHY I’M WRITING A PLAY ABOUT DONALD TRUMP ·

(Tim Teeman’s article appeared in the Daily Beast, 7/19; via the Drudge Report)

As the U.K. production of ‘Angels in America’ hits American cinemas, Tony Kushner reveals his plans for a Trump play—and talks about what Roy Cohn taught Trump.

From the summer home where he and his husband, Mark Harris, live in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the playwright Tony Kushner is speaking for the first time about the play he is planning to write about President Donald Trump.

It comes during a discussion of the much-praised London National Theatre production of Angels in America, Kushner’s defining AIDS-era masterpiece set in 1985 and first performed in 1991, which is being beamed into American cinemas this and next Thursday.

(Read more)

http://www.thedailybeast.com/tony-kushner-why-im-writing-a-play-about-donald-trump

Photo:  LGBT History Month

‘THE GREAT GATSBY’ AT THE GATE: A MAGNIFICENTLY ENTERTAINING, DIZZYING PARTY (SV PICK, IE) ·

(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 7/13.)

The Great Gatsby ★★★★   
Gate Theatre Dublin 

There’s an old story in which the actor playing the doctor in A Streetcar Named Desire – a very minor character – was asked to describe the plot. “Well,” he said, “it’s about this doctor who takes this crazy lady off to an asylum.” From each perspective, everyone is the star of the show.

In The Great Gatsby, a riveting immersive production that sends F Scott Fitzgerald’s characters – major and minor – skittering throughout Jay Gatsby’s mansion, you may feel the same. In a bold bit of casting, the mansion is played by the full expanse of the Gate theatre, marvellously transformed in Ciaran Bagnall’s fastidious design.

Sheaved into groups between its shimmering jazz bar, speakeasy, and several lush private rooms, you might witness the poignant dreams of a tragi-comic Mr McKee (who barely get five pages from Fitzgerald) and decide from Raymond Scannell’s deft performance that the show is about this inebriated photographer who will never find focus.

(Read more)

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/the-great-gatsby-at-the-gate-a-magnificently-entertaining-dizzying-party-1.3153835

Photo: The Irish Times

ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY TO MONITOR HEART RATES AT ‘TITUS ANDRONICUS’ ·

(Andrew R. Chow’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/5; via Pam Green.)

Is a screening of a play just as powerful as the play itself? The Royal Shakespeare Company plans to use heart monitors to try to find the answer.

Starting Wednesday night, the company is to monitor the heart rates of 10 selected audience members at its blood-soaked production of “Titus Andronicus” in Stratford-upon-Avon, and then do the same for a cinema screening of the production in August. The theater’s aim is to measure the emotional experience of each viewing method and explore whether Shakespeare still shocks modern audience members, who are perhaps desensitized to violence onscreen.

Becky Loftus, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s head of audience insight, said that “Titus Andronicus” lends itself particularly well to this experiment, given the intensity of scenes showing the title character Titus’s hand being chopped off and the aftermath of the rape and mutilation of Lavinia, another character.

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THE WOMEN WHO STAGED THE IRISH EASTER RISING (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3—LINK BELOW) ·

(Listen at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074z972 )

Broadcaster and journalist, Marie-Louise Muir, examines the role theatre played in radicalising the Irish women who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising.

As she pieces together their largely forgotten stories through archives at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and visits key locations associated with the insurrection, Marie-Louise asks what happened to these women and their radical ideals.

Producer: Conor Garrett.

Illustrations: Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh (Irish Times)

ITALY’S ELITE LA SCALA APPALLED AT OPERA GOERS TURNING UP IN T-SHIRTS, MINI-SKIRTS AND FLIP-FLOPS ·

(Nick Squires’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/14.; via the Drudge Report.)  

As one of the world’s most celebrated opera houses, La Scala in Milan expects a certain degree of decorum, but guardians of the elite institution have been appalled at the shabby state of audiences this summer.

Instead of donning jackets and evening dresses, ticket holders are turning up as if dressed for the beach, as temperatures reach 95F or more during one of Italy’s hottest summers for years.

The worst culprits are normally foreign tourists but even Italians, who are normally renowned for their stylish dress, are not averse to arriving in shorts, mini-skirts and sandals.

(Read more)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/14/italys-elite-la-scala-appalled-opera-goers-turning-t-shirts/

 

SHAKESPEARE’S CURE FOR XENOPHOBIA ·

William Shakespeare. Portrait of William Shakespeare 1564-1616. Chromolithography after Hombres y Mujeres celebres 1877, Barcelona Spain

(Stephen Greenblatt’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 7/10-7/17; via Pam Green.)

What “The Merchant of Venice” taught me about ethnic hatred and the literary imagination.

I attended university in a very different world from the one in which I now teach and live. For a start, Yale College, which I entered in 1961, was all male. Women were not matriculated until five years after I had received my B.A. degree. Among the undergraduates, there were only a handful of students from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and very few African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Hispanics, unless one counted a couple of prep-school-educated heirs to grand South American fortunes.

The Yale that I attended was overwhelmingly North American and white, as well as largely Protestant. It was difficult for the admissions office to identify Catholics, but applicants with conspicuously Irish, Italian, or Polish names were at a disadvantage. For Jews, there was a numerus clausus, not even disguised by the convenient excuse of “geographical distribution.” And the whole system was upheld by a significant number of legacies, along with a pervasive air of privilege and clubbiness. To display too much interest in one’s studies or a concern for grades was distinctly uncool. This was still the era of what was called the “gentleman’s C.”

(Read more)

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/10/shakespeares-cure-for-xenophobia?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ShakespearePlus12Jul2017&utm_content=version_A&promo=

JAMES FRANCO SHUTS DOWN OFF-OFF-BROADWAY’S ‘JAMES FRANCO AND ME’ ·

(Joe Dziemianowicz’s article appeared in the Daily News, 7/12; via Pam Green.)

James Franco, the actor, Oscar nominee, author, poet and professor, is now a showstopper — and not in a good way.

“James Franco and Me,” a play set to run next month at the Peoples Improv Theater on E. 24th St., has been cancelled after getting a cease and desist letter from the 39-year-old star’s lawyers.

Kevin Broccoli, who wrote and acts in the two-character play seen last year in an Epic Theater Company run in Rhode Island, where the troupe is based, told Broadway World about the cancellation.

(Read more)

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/theater-arts/james-franco-shuts-off-off-broadway-james-franco-article-1.3320677

Photo: TV Guide.

 

FOR DISABLED ACTORS, MEMORIZING THE PART IS ONLY THE BEGINNING ·

(Erik Piepenburg’s article appeared in the 7/10 New York Times; via Pam Green.)

It’s not as rare as it used to be for disabled actors to play disabled characters, but they rarely are at center stage as much as in “Cost of Living,”Martyna Majok’s play at Manhattan Theater Club. Katy Sullivan, a bilateral above-the-knee amputee since birth, portrays the loudmouthed Ani, who loses her legs in a car accident. Gregg Mozgala has cerebral palsy, a condition he shares with his character, John, a testy Princeton graduate student.

Manhattan Theater Club needed only minor accommodations to mount the play, according to Stephen M. Kaus, the associate artistic producer. (There were “zero budgetary implications,” he added.) The theater installed two ramps backstage at City Center Stage 1 to help performers get from the house to backstage and from the green room to the stage level. By installing the ramps, the theater also anticipated understudies who might have different disabilities, and helped guests with disabilities who wanted to greet the cast.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/theater/for-disabled-actors-memorizing-the-part-is-only-the-beginning.html