Featured post

MICHAEL ANTHONY INTERVIEW, PART II: ‘CIVILIANIZED’–FROM PULP/ZEST BOOKS ·

Michael Anthony is the author of Civilianized, “an intense memoir” (Kirkus) about his return to the U.S. from a combat tour in Iraq. He is also the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He has written for the Washington Post blog, the Business Insider blog, as well as several others, including a year-long stint as a feature writer and the editor of the “War and Veterans” section of the Good Men Project. He lives in Boston and can be contacted through is website: MassCasualties.com.

Michael Anthony Gives Part II of an Interview, regarding his new book, with SV’s Bob Shuman.  (Read part 1:  http://stagevoices.com/2017/02/05/michael-anthony-is-back-from-iraq-in-his-new-memoir-civilianized-from-pulpzest-books/ )

Back at it:

Name two books on war, other than your own, that you would put in a time capsule.

All Quiet on the Western Front and Catch-22. Both of those books are the most amazing books on war I’ve ever read. They’re novels, but they capture the heart and essence of war better than any other books, memoirs, or novels, that I’ve ever come across.

I’ve given Catch-22 to many people to read, veterans and civilians, and it’s interesting because I’ve had a handful of civilians all say something similar to me about Catch-22, which was something along the lines of “I wasn’t too crazy about the book; it was too absurd, not realistic enough.” And on the reverse, all the veterans I’ve given a copy of Catch-22 to all comment that it’s “Hilarious, and such an accurate portrayal of the ridiculousness of the military and war…” Both books show the true reality and absurdity of war:

Do you worry about the U.S. becoming involved in another war—and have you become a pacifist?

I’ve come to believe, unfortunately, that war is a part of human nature. The bible talks of wars against good and evil, and Jane Goodall, the famed primatologist, speaks of our cousin chimps and apes fighting wars over territory and supplies. On both sides of this issue, creationists, religious people, scientists, and evolutionists seem to believe that we’re here to fight. Whether it’s in our DNA, through evolution or part of our souls, it seems like it’s something that’s here to stay. I think that at the end of the day all we can do is hope that we’re on the right side of the war and that history will be kind to our version of things.

What is the best way to support someone coming back from deployment?

I think the best way to approach someone isn’t in a veteran vs. civilian conversation, but more as just two people having a conversation.

Asking questions such as “Seen anyone die?” and “Almost die yourself?” are very personal questions.  They could be the equivalent of asking, in a sense, “When’s the last time you masturbated?” or “How much money do you make?” and so on. War, and the feelings and experiences that comes with it, are very personal. We’ve glorified it and pacified it, though, in movies and TV shows, so it makes it seem okay to just go up to a vet, just back from the war, and ask these questions.  Maybe he or she did see someone die and maybe it was a friend, or maybe someone was killed and the death is still haunting him or her. My suggestion would be just to have a normal, caring, honest conversation, but don’t push the boundaries unless it seems as though the veteran is the one looking to talk about those things. 

What’s the best review you ever received from someone who was sent to Iraq or Afghanistan? 

The best reviews and notes I receive from veterans are always when they say that my writing has helped him or her in some way. That’s it. Clear and simple. Whether they’re saying I inspired them to write a story about their experiences, or whether my writing helped them make sense of their own experiences, or whether it helped them to reach out to friends/family, or anything in-between, that’s what matters. The best notes that writers get are just those that let them hear that their work moved and inspired a person, and when I hear that my work has inspired a veteran to go seek help, to reach back out to a friend, to think more deeply about things, or even to write a story themselves, those are always the notes that make it all worthwhile.

How do you stay involved in veteran affairs?

 Throughout the years I’ve volunteered and worked with and reached out to many different veterans and groups so that there’s always a contact who’s looking for help in some way. Whether it’s to help fundraise for a veteran group or charity, help build a house for a disabled vet, or just meeting up to talk, there’s no shortages of ways to help out veterans.  Unfortunately, there’s also no shortage of veterans in need of help, so instead of sticking with one charity and helping in one way, I’ve gone the route of volunteering at dozens of different types of veterans charities. I think the novelty of volunteering with different groups has kept me from burning out after all these years. 

Thank you, Michael.  Good luck with your book.

View Civilianized on Amazon: Civilianized

(c) 2017 by Michael Anthony (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

Featured post

MICHAEL ANTHONY IS BACK FROM IRAQ, IN HIS NEW MEMOIR, ‘CIVILIANIZED’–FROM PULP/ZEST BOOKS ·

Michael Anthony is the author of Civilianized, “an intense memoir” (Kirkus) about his return to the U.S. from a combat tour in Iraq. He is also the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He has written for the Washington Post blog, the Business Insider blog, as well as several others, including a year-long stint as a feature writer and the editor of the “War and Veterans” section of the Good Men Project. He lives in Boston and can be contacted through is website: MassCasualties.com.

Michael Anthony Gives Part I of an Interview, regarding his new book, with SV’s Bob Shuman.  Part II will be published February 14.

Do you think your experience reintegrating into American life, as told in Civilianized, is fairly representative?  

I think there are parts that will be universal to some or most veterans and other parts that won’t be as universal. I think what’s universal is that all veterans, who return from war, have a reintegration process, whether it’s two days, two weeks, or two years–that’s the big difference. The process is smoother for some, rougher for others. Over 20 percent of returning veterans are diagnosed with PTSD; between 20 and 22 veterans kill themselves every day in the United States; and veterans represent the largest minority group in the homeless population. There’s definitely something that’s “happening,” for veterans, as they’re making the transition from “war,” to “peace,” Civilianized is just the beginning of a conversation of what that might be.

Tell us about the book—and how it was harder and easier to write than your first memoir, set in Iraq, Mass Casualties.

For both books I had journals from the time period to utilize, which made it a lot easier. But with my second book, I also have the benefit of having an MFA from Lesley University, which I didn’t have with my first. So I think writing the second one came a little bit easier (though it took a longer time) than my first one. In general though, I think memoir is the easiest prose to write. All it really takes, in my opinion, is to close your eyes and try in the best way possible, to describe what you see/feel/remember. The hardest part, I think, in memoir, isn’t in the actual writing; it’s in finding the strength to be honest with yourself about what the story really is, and what needs to be told.

What don’t non-military U.S. citizens understand about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

I think the biggest thing people don’t understand is that these are real people fighting these wars (on both sides). We often demonize our enemies and put our own soldiers on a pedestal and, after a while, it no longer reflects the true human reality of war. When veterans come home from wars it’s hard to understand why they’re struggling so much when our only experience of them is as manly, stoic heroes in movies and TV shows. I worked with one woman in Iraq who held a job at a strip club before we were deployed.  Another woman was a police officer and one guy was a cashier at a grocery store–one was a firefighter, another was a tax accountant, another was a cab driver, and another was an English teacher. Real people fight wars and then real people come home from wars, and I think that’s what people don’t really grasp: the person who’s risking his or her life for you isn’t some romanticized, idealized person. It’s your brother, your sister, your neighbor, your coworker.  He or she can be that annoying kid from next door, your high school crush, that guy who dated your sister, that girl who dumped your brother.

I think that once we see that returning soldiers are real people again, with real problems and issues, which are and can be compounded by the stress and trauma of war, that it becomes easier to understand and empathize with what they went through–and are going through–on their return from war.

What did serving in Iraq give to you that you would never give back?

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with someone, and she asked if “the military/war changes you?”–and she was implying in her question that military service and war change a person.

I, on the other hand, told her that I actually believe the opposite: That the military/war doesn’t change a person; rather, it shows him or her who they really are.  In war you get to see who you “truly are.” Not just who you are as a regular Joe Schmo, working forty hours a week, who gets eight hours of sleep a night, three meals a day, and spends his weekends golfing. I’m talking about who you are when the tides are turned against you. Who you are when you’ve only had four hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight, when you haven’t had a day off in months, haven’t had a good meal in just as long, and you’ve got someone dying in your hands. I fully believe that it’s only in those moments that a person realizes who he or she really is. Joe Schmo may have the makings of a badass hero inside him, but he’ll never know it because he’s never been tested in that way.

So I think what Iraq and fighting in a war has given me is a perspective of who I really am, as a person, and what people are really capable of when pushed to their limits.

Knowing what you now know, would you have enlisted?  Would you have become a writer if you had not served?

I would’ve absolutely done it all again. I worked in a hospital over there, helped save hundreds of lives, and was there looking out for my friends. Although my deployment wasn’t perfect, and there was a lot of crap that went along with it, there’s an allure to the power and purpose and passion that war offers.

Towards the end of my deployment, I volunteered to stay another six months, but I was the only one in my unit who had done a year straight, and the commanders wouldn’t let me do an additional six months. A year after returning from Iraq, too, I volunteered for a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, but a friend of mine got his packet in before me so he went instead.

If I had never gone to Iraq I probably still would have been a writer, since I’ve written since I was a kid. But I definitely wouldn’t be published, or as good, or as successful, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford to get an MFA without a little help from my Uncle Sam.

What person, on the national scene, do you think should read Civilized and Mass Casualties—and why?

Anyone who works in the VA system, I think, should check out Civilianized. So many veterans are out there, hurting, and there are so many amazing, caring people who work in the VA, but they’re being thwarted by the politics and bureaucracy involved. So, I think, that if we can get some of the people at the top to read stories of our veterans, it will remind them that veterans are real people.  They’re people who served their country and are not just numbers or dollar bills, and, I think, that would have the potential to help the system.

View Civilianized on Amazon: Civilianized

(c) 2017 by Michael Anthony (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

‘KING KONG’ – THE AFRICAN TOWNSHIP JAZZ MUSICAL ·

DM2002061223:SAED:SPORT:BOXING:PERSONALITY:FEB1959 – The Life And Death Of King Kong – Ezekiel &aposKing Kong&apos Dlamini – King the heavy weight, the simple son of nature, confused by the roaring modern world. King Kong the love-killer, the self-killer. It is only two years since he drowned himself. But already he&aposs a legend – and an opera round his life is opening shortly in Johannesburg. The &aposSpice Smasher,&apos the &aposKing Marshal&apos – Mandlenkosi Dlamini if you want to be official – met his boyhood days in the district of Vryheid, Natal around the year 1925. He attended the Roman Catholic school for two years only. Only about fourteen, according to his brother he went to work in Vryheid in a farm. From there he went to Durban, but Durban was too quiet for this tall, Tarzan-youth. He took his exit from Durban off to the wild, stabbing, over-populated Johannesburg. He found his way to the sparring rooms at the Bantu Men&aposs Social Centre – a den for the hard hitting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Listen  now on BBC radio 3 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08f4pxd )

The award-winning alto saxophonist Soweto Kinch uncovers the story of ‘King Kong’, an extraordinary musical collaboration that took place in apartheid-torn South Africa inspired by the life and tragic death of the heavyweight-boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini. The show defied the colour bar and lead the way as part of a cultural renaissance; it became Nelson Mandela’s favourite musical and proved, beyond doubt, that co-operation and respect make indomitable bedfellows. Its creators consciously intended it to be a model of fruitful co-operation between black and white South Africans in the international entertainment field, and a direct challenge to apartheid.

Lewis Nkosi wrote, ‘The resounding welcome accorded to the musical at Wits University Great Hall, in Johannesburg, on Feb 2nd 1959, was not so much for the jazz musical as a finished artistic product as it was applause for an Idea which had been achieved by pooling together resources from both black and white artists in the face of impossible odds.’

Starring Miriam Makeba, ‘King Kong’ toured South Africa for two years playing to over a quarter of a million people, two thirds of whom were white. It then arrived in London’s West End in 1961.

Singer Abigail Kubeka talks about the infamous township of Sophiatown and her memories of Ezekiel, whilst Hugh Masekela recalls the show and its composer Todd Matshikisa. We meet Irene Menel, anti-apartheid activist and philanthropist who, with her husband Clive, put the show together against all the odds. Lyricist Pat Williams talks about the difficulties of writing under the shadow of apartheid. A revival of ‘King Kong’ is scheduled for 2017; Eric Abraham, its producer, comments on its timelessness and relevance in today’s South Africa.

HILLARY CLINTON GOES TO BROADWAY ·

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/20; via the Drudge Report.)

In many ways she is the typical Broadway audience member: a woman of a certain age, affluent and highly educated, living in suburban New York.

But there’s one big difference: She was almost president of the United States.

In the weeks since losing the election, Hillary Clinton has gone to four Broadway shows — often enough that industry wags joke about making her a Tony voter. And she’s even been spotted at theater district haunts — last week, just before seeing a revival of “Sunset Boulevard,” she had dinner at Orso with Kate McKinnon, the “Saturday Night Live” cast member who memorably portrayed her during the campaign.

At each theater appearance, Mrs. Clinton is greeted as a vanquished hero — standing ovations, selfies, shouted adulation.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/theater/hillary-clinton-broadway-shows.html?_r=0

PUSSY RIOT FOUNDING MEMBER AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST MARIA ALEKHINA’S MEMOIR TO METROPOLITAN BOOKS ·

(from Publishers Lunch, 2/10.)

Pussy Riot founding member and human rights activist Maria Alekhina’s memoir of her time in the Russian prison system, to Riva Hocherman and Sara Bershtel at Metropolitan, in a pre-empt, by Melissa Flashman at Janklow & Nesbit on behalf of Claire Conrad at Janklow & Nesbit UK.
UK rights previously to Helen Conford at Allen Lane, by Claire Conrad.
French rights to Adrien Bosc at Seuil, in a pre-empt, by Rebecca Folland at Janklow & Nesbit.
Translation: Rebecca Folland at Janklow & Nesbit

 

CARYL CHURCHILL: ‘ESCAPED ALONE’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/16; via Pam Green.)

Fear festers, burrows and blooms in Caryl Churchill’s “Escaped Alone,” a short and wondrous play that plumbs the depths of 21st-century terrors, large and small. These range from the eccentrically personal (as in being uncomfortable around cats) to the sweepingly historic — as in, well, the end of the world as we know it.

Now if you yourself are in an apprehensive state of mind these days (and I’d wager, somehow, that you are), you might think a show about what scares people would be the last thing you’d want as entertainment. Yet this British import, which runs through Feb. 26 at the Harvey Theater of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has the effect of a restorative tonic, and you may find a new bounce in your step as you leave it.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/theater/escaped-alone-review.html?_r=0

‘THE NEW YORKER’ THEATRE LISTING, 2/27 PLAYDECK ·

Opens March 1.

All the Fine Boys

Abigail Breslin stars in Erica Schmidt’s play at the New Group, in which two teen-age girls in nineteen-eighties South Carolina pursue their crushes and grapple with adulthood.

READ MORE »

Pershing Square Signature Center

Midtown

Opens March 1.

Bull in a China Shop

Bryna Turner’s comedy, directed by Lee Sunday Evans for LCT3, follows forty years in the lives of the women’s-education pioneer Mary Woolley and her partner, Jeannette Marks.…

READ MORE »

Claire Tow

Uptown

 

In previews.

Come from Away

The Canadian duo Irene Sankoff and David Hein wrote this new musical, about a tiny Newfoundland town that was forced to accommodate thousands of stranded passengers on September 11, 2001.…

READ MORE »

Schoenfeld

Midtown

 

Through Feb. 26.

Escaped Alone

The Royal Court Theatre’s production of the Caryl Churchill comedy alternates between scenes of women chatting in a back yard and monologues recounting apocalyptic disasters.

READ MORE »

BAM Harvey Theatre

Brooklyn

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 21.

Everybody

In Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s latest work, a modern spin on the fifteenth-century morality play “Everyman,” the actor playing the main character is assigned by lottery each night. Lila Neugebauer…

READ MORE »

Pershing Square Signature Center

Midtown

 

In previews.

The Glass Menagerie

Sally Field plays the redoubtable Southern matriarch Amanda Wingfield in Sam Gold’s revival of the Tennessee Williams drama, opposite Joe Mantello, as Tom.

READ MORE »

Belasco

Midtown

 

Previews begin Feb. 23.

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage

Lincoln Center Theatre stages Sarah Ruhl’s play, featuring Lena Hall, Brian Hutchison, and Marisa Tomei, in which two married couples take an interest in a polyamorous woman.

READ MORE »

Mitzi E. Newhouse

Uptown

 

Opens Feb. 22.

If I Forget

The Roundabout presents Steven Levenson’s play, directed by Daniel Sullivan, about a professor of Jewish studies who clashes with his sisters on their father’s birthday. With…

READ MORE »

Laura Pels

Midtown

 

In previews.

Joan of Arc: Into the Fire

David Byrne and Alex Timbers follow up their Imelda Marcos disco musical, “Here Lies Love,” with this rock-concert retelling of the rise of Joan of Arc (Jo Lampert)…

READ MORE »

Public

Downtown

 

Opens Feb. 22.

Kid Victory

Liesl Tommy directs a new musical by John Kander and Greg Pierce, in which a teen-ager returns to his Kansas home town after a mysterious yearlong absence.

READ MORE »

Vineyard

Downtown

 

In previews.

The Light Years

The Debate Society’s latest piece, written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and directed by Oliver Butler, is set at a theatrical spectacle at the 1893 Chicago World’…

READ MORE »

Playwrights Horizons

Midtown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 28.

Linda

In Penelope Skinner’s play, directed by Lynne Meadow for Manhattan Theatre Club, a senior executive pitches a radical idea to change how women her age are viewed.

READ MORE »

City Center Stage I

Midtown

 

Previews begin Feb. 27.

The Moors

Jen Silverman’s play, a dark comic spin on Victorian novels, follows two sisters in the English countryside whose lives are upended by a governess and a hen; Mike Donahue…

READ MORE »

The Duke on 42nd Street

Midtown

In previews. Opens Feb. 19.

On the Exhale

Marin Ireland plays a professor whose life is upended by gun violence in Martín Zimmerman’s play, directed by Leigh Silverman for Roundabout Underground.

READ MORE »

Black Box, Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre

Midtown

 

Previews begin Feb. 23.

The Outer Space

Ethan Lipton wrote this musical, directed by Leigh Silverman and performed by Lipton and his three-person “orchestra,” about a couple who leave Earth in search of sustainable living in space.…

READ MORE »

Joe’s Pub

Downtown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 27.

The Penitent

Neil Pepe directs a new play by David Mamet, in which a psychiatrist faces a professional and moral crisis when he refuses to testify on behalf of a patient in…

READ MORE »

Atlantic Theatre Company

Chelsea

 

In previews.

The Price

Mark Ruffalo, Danny DeVito, Jessica Hecht, and Tony Shalhoub star in the Roundabout’s revival of the 1968 Arthur Miller play, about a man who returns to his childhood…

READ MORE »

American Airlines Theatre

Midtown

 

Previews begin Feb. 17. Opens Feb. 21.

See Reverse

Broken Box Mime Theatre presents short works of modern mime, covering everything from political protest to film noir.

READ MORE »

A.R.T./New York Theatres

Midtown

 

In previews. Opens March 2.

Significant Other

Joshua Harmon’s angsty comedy moves to Broadway, starring Gideon Glick as a gay New Yorker searching for a life partner as his female friends keep finding husbands. Trip Cullman…

READ MORE »

Booth

Midtown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 28.

The Skin of Our Teeth

Theatre for a New Audience stages Thornton Wilder’s 1942 comic allegory, which traces humankind from prehistory to twentieth-century New Jersey and beyond. Arin Arbus directs.

READ MORE »

Polonsky Shakespeare Center

Brooklyn

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 23.

Sunday in the Park with George

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the pointillist master Georges Seurat and Annaleigh Ashford is his muse, in a limited run of the 1984 Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical.

READ MORE »

Hudson

Midtown

 

Previews begin Feb. 28.

Sundown, Yellow Moon

WP Theatre and Ars Nova present Rachel Bonds’s play, featuring songs by the indie duo the Bengsons and starring Lilli Cooper and Eboni Booth, as twins who return home…

READ MORE »

McGinn/Cazale

Uptown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 9.

Sunset Boulevard

Glenn Close returns to the role of Norma Desmond in the 1993 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on Billy Wilder’s classic portrait of Hollywood desuetude. Lonny Price directs.…

READ MORE »

Palace

Midtown

 

In previews.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet…

London’s Tooting Arts Club transfers its version of the Stephen Sondheim musical thriller, staged in an immersive pie-shop environment where the audience is served pie and mash.

READ MORE »

Barrow Street Theatre

Downtown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 28.

The View UpStairs

This new musical by Max Vernon, directed by Scott Ebersold, revisits the New Orleans gay bar that was the site of a deadly arson attack in 1973.

READ MORE »

Lynn Redgrave

Downtown

 

In previews. Opens Feb. 27.

Wakey, Wakey

Michael Emerson (“Lost”) and January LaVoy star in the latest existential comedy by Will Eno (“The Realistic Joneses”), directed by the playwright.

READ MORE »

Pershing Square Signature Center

Midtown

(Read more)

http://www.newyorker.com/goings-on-about-town/theatre/

 

WHY THORNTON WILDER MATTERS IN THE TRUMP ERA ·

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Time, 2/16; via Pam Green.)

When Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” had its Broadway premiere in 1942, directed by Elia Kazan and starring a dream cast led by Tallulah Bankhead and Fredric March, the critic Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times called it “one of the wisest and friskiest comedies written in a long time.” When it returned in 1955, with Helen Hayes and Mary Martin, Mr. Atkinson deemed it simply “perfect.”

After that, though, the play’s fortunes fell. On its third and most recent Broadway outing, José Quintero’s 1975 revival starring Elizabeth Ashley, the Times critic Mel Gussow dismissed it as “simplistic.” Boundary-breaking in its day, it has long been scarce on professional stages.

So Arin Arbus’s new Off Broadway production for Theater for a New Audience, in previews at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, is a rare chance for re-evaluation. With a cast of 35 (!) and original music by César Alvarez (“Futurity”), it follows the members of the Antrobus family of suburban New Jersey through the ice age in Act I (their pets are a mammoth and a dinosaur; freezing refugees clamor at the door) and into a great flood in Act II. The third act opens amid the ruins of a war. With each calamity, the Antrobuses have to figure out whether and how to survive.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/theater/the-skin-of-our-teeth-thornton-wilder-trump.html

Photo: The New York Times.

‘BEING ORSON WELLES’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3—LINK BELOW) ·

Orson Welles (1915 – 1985), American actor, producer, writer and director. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Listen at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05s3k88

Five essays by five enthusiasts that follow the rise and fall of Orson Welles, the controversial Renaissance man who was an actor, film director, radio producer and theatre impresario. Essayists include film critics Peter Bradshaw and David Thomson and Sarah Churchwell.

Simon Callow, Welles’s biographer, tracks the transformation from schoolboy to prodigy and unpicks what really happened during the six months Welles spent at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.

Produced by Gemma Jenkins.

 

BLACK MOUNTAIN ARTS COLLEGE: THE EXPERIMENTERS ·

Box 90 Folder 2 – for blow up

Listen on BBC radio 4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08dnjh0

British playwright, actor Kwame Kwei-Armah now artistic director of Center Stage, the state theatre of Maryland, in Baltimore, uncovers the artistic laboratory that was Black Mountain College in North Carolina (1933 – 1957). In this faculty-owned college that built itself, students and teachers included John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning and Buckminster Fuller. It was unconventional, democratic, collaborative and un-bureaucratic. Students attended meetings that had to reach a consensus and students and teachers worked on the property and farmed. Always short of funds, this was a dynamic community that believed creating art was central to the development of a good citizen.

Kwame discovered Black Mountain because he admires the work of the black artist Jacob Lawrence, who taught at Black Mountain in the summer of 1947. Lawrence said the experience left him with more intellectual insight into the making of art. As Kwame guides a group of production interns at his Baltimore theatre, he shares his discoveries about this remote experimental college in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He’s especially fascinated by the risks they took to welcome black students and faculty, as early as 1944, in the segregated South.

The interns consider what learning at Black Mountain would have been like. There was poverty and isolation but no grades, you didn’t have to graduate, you had constant access to professors and the opportunity to perform almost every night. Together with some Baltimore actors, they re-imagine the first ever Happening that John Cage devised, one hot June night in the dining room in 1952.

Helped by curators, archivists and alumni, Kwame ponders the legacy of this extraordinary, unique educational establishment and artists colony.

Actors: John Lescault
Brandon Rashad Butts
Kristina Szilagyi
Susan Rome

Producer Judith Kampfner.

Photo: Hammer Museum.

HARVEY LICHTENSTEIN, WHO LED BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC’S REBIRTH, DIES AT 87 ·

(Robert Berkvist’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/11/17; via Pam Green.)

Harvey Lichtenstein, who transformed a moribund Brooklyn Academy of Music into a dynamic showcase for cutting-edge performing arts and its Fort Greene neighborhood into a cultural hub during his 32 years there as the executive producer, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

His son John confirmed his death. He said Mr. Lichtenstein had a stroke about seven years ago, and had been in declining health over the past few months.

When Mr. Lichtenstein arrived at the academy in 1967, its stately building on Lafayette Avenue, erected in 1908, needed extensive and costly renovation. Portions of it had been rented out, and there had even been talk of tearing down the building and using the site for tennis courts. Many members of Mr. Lichtenstein’s target audience, especially Manhattanites, viewed the neighborhood — the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn — as undesirable.

“It was a risky business, and we often landed in the soup,” Mr. Lichtenstein wrote in a reminiscence in The New York Times in 1998, after he had announced his retirement as the president and executive director. “For all the excitement, audiences and money were hard to come by.”

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/arts/music/harvey-lichtenstein-dead-led-bam.html?_r=0

Photo: Absolutewilson.com

***** ‘THE WINTER’S TALE’ ADAPTED BY JAMES ROBERTSON (SV PICK, SCT) ·

(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/15.)

John Michie’s Leontes has a bad case of confirmation bias. In his personal echo chamber, he hears only what he wants to hear. Sporting a clean-cut suit and golden tie, this avuncular figure sees himself as the reasonable type; used to having his own way, yes, but genial with it. So if he says his wife, Hermione, has been having it off with his best friend, Polixenes – well, he’s obviously in the right and everyone else must be deluded.

It’s hard to know whether the feeble smile that crosses his lips whenever he is challenged is a sign of patronising indulgence or a mark of vulnerability. When he shoves his hands into his pockets and lollops casually about the stage, is he displaying smug self-confidence or concealing his doubts? The degree to which it is the latter makes the first-half tragedy and second-half reconciliation all the more moving.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/feb/15/the-winters-tale-review-royal-lyceum-edinburgh-scots-james-robertson