Monthly Archives: September 2009

*****‘THE MYSTERIES – YIIMIMANGALISO’: MEDIEVAL BIBLE PLAYS + “ZESTILY CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICAN TANG” IN LONDON ·

(Henry Hitchings's article ran in the Evening Standard, 9/16.) 

The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso is an exhilarating sensory feast

The medieval mystery plays are steeped in Christian imagery, yet their emotional charge means they communicate powerfully to a secular audience. And whatever one’s religious affiliations, Mark Dornford-May’s adaptation of the Chester cycle of mysteries is utterly captivating.

Dornford-May has imbued these dramas — a legacy of the age of Chaucer — with a zestily contemporary South African tang. Part of the excitement of his production, in which English rubs up against Latin as well as Xhosa and Afrikaans, is its bold physicality.

At times we are linguistically baffled, but the tenor of the action is clear. Drawing on familiar stories, ranging from Genesis to the Resurrection, The Mysteries enacts the highlights of Christian myth (and its baser moments) in a manner at once savoury and scandalous.

(Read more)

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/show-23620831-details/The+Mysteries+-+Yiimimangaliso/showReview.do?reviewId=23744625

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THOMAS BRADSHAW INTERVIEWED BY MARGO JEFFERSON ·

(The following appears in the fall 2009 issue of BOMB.)

Thomas Bradshaw

by Margo Jefferson

“But what exactly is a black? First of all, what’s his color?” Jean Genet prefaced his incendiary 1959 play, The Blacks: A Clown Show, with those words. I’m happy to appropriate and apply them to Thomas Bradshaw, for his plays (published by Samuel French, Inc.) also invade dangerous, treacherous territories. I interviewed him at the Lark Theater this past July. He was preparing for a workshop of his latest play, Job, at Soho Rep, which gives that sacred biblical text some seriously profane and welcome revisions. Thomas Bradshaw is a “distinct shade of brown,” to use a phrase uttered by the father of Marvin Gaye in a Rolling Stone interview conducted after he had murdered his son. (“Negroes” calling themselves “blacks” were one of Reverend Gaye’s many grievances.)

These are the kinds of lethal facts and ironies that Bradshaw cherishes. His plays are full of high-achieving suburbanites—college profs, corporate lawyers—cheerfully gripped by sexual, racial, and religious manias, and often set on ignoring the fact that they are alcoholics and cokeheads. The first one I saw was Prophet, which began when a well-groomed, well-spoken man any woman in the audience might have mistaken for a decent prospect, clasped his hands together and prayed: “Lord, I have failed to be masculine. I am not worthy of my penis.” To become worthy, he is instructed by the Lord to time-travel back to 1865, that deadly year when slavery ended and the women’s movement was reinvigorated. His mission was to marry a “Negress” and re-enslave her.

(Read more)

http://www.bombsite.com/issues/109/articles/3329

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LIZA’S AT THE PALACE/LIZA’S ON TV ·

(Gordon Cox's article appeared in Variety, September 17.  Thanks to Billy Stritch for the heads up.)

Liza's 'Palace' to get TV reprise

Tony-winning production to be filmed in Vegas

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are among the exec producers of a filmed version of Liza Minnelli's recent Broadway show, "Liza's at the Palace," to be aired on public television later this year.

"Liza's at the Palace," which played Broadway last December and picked up a Tony for special theatrical event, will be filmed during reprise performances set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Las Vegas at the Hollywood Theater in the MGM Grand.

Matthew Diamond ("So You Think You Can Dance") will helm, with Zadan, Meron and JoAnn Young — producer of "Johnny Mathis Live: Wonderful, Wonderful!" among other specials, as well as a writer of "Broadway: The American Musical" — exec producing.

"Liza's at the Palace" includes performances of the singer-thesp's signature numbers as well as a tribute to Kay Thompson, the performer, writer, musical director, arranger and vocal coach who was Minnelli's godmother.

(Read more)

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118008782.html?categoryid=15&cs=1&ref=bd_legit?ref=sharethis

Liza as part of the 2009 Tony Award opening number: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cr6h5fFEjI&feature=PlayList&p=503065DA7A256B92&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

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BECKETT, HAVEL, PINTER, GIELGUD–‘CATASTROPHE’ (YOUTUBE LINK), ‘MISTAKE’: THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF COMMUNISM IN EASTERN EUROPE ·

(Jo Glanville's article appeared in the Guardian, 9/15.)

'Godot is here': how Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel changed history

Samuel Beckett wrote a play for Václav Havel when he was in jail. On being freed, Havel returned the favour. It was the making of a great dramatic double-act

In 1982, Samuel Beckett dedicated a new play, Catastrophe, to Václav Havel, then a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, serving a four and a half year sentence for "subversive activities". He had been asked to write the play by the International Association for the Defence of Artists, who were organising a night of solidarity for the Czech playwright at the Avignon festival that summer. Although Beckett had never met Havel, he was concerned by the persecution of artists in eastern Europe and was horrified to hear that Havel had been forbidden to write in prison.

(Read more)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/sep/15/vaclev-havel-samuel-beckett-catastrophe 

Watch Beckett's 'Catastophe' with Harold Pinter and John Gielgud on YouTube :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJreL3ozfDI&feature=PlayList&p=69F43CD284C8037D&index=0&playnext=1 

 

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‘AFTERMATH’: THE CHAOS OF IRAQ (REVIEW) ·

(Ben Brantley's review appeared in The New York Times, September 16.) 

Exiles With Harrowing Tales From the Chaos of War-Torn Iraq

The snapshots are thrust at us urgently, as if they were passports being shown at a border crossing, official proofs of national identity. Mostly, they are prosaic pictures of family members or houses. Sometimes a diploma will be offered up instead, or theater reviews clipped from newspapers or a membership card to a duck-hunting club. Later, other, more frightening, pictures will be shown, but they all serve the same function.

For the men and women assembled in “Aftermath,” the smart and sobering documentary drama that opened on Tuesday night at the New York Theater Workshop, these flimsy objects have more than sentimental value. They are confirmations that all of the characters onstage are citizens of a country called Iraq, a place that they haven’t visited recently, but one that they love and that still exists. Or does it?

Assembled by its creators, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, from interviews with Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, “Aftermath” might be said to be set in limbo. Its performers, first seen sitting rigid on benches with their backs to us, seem to exist in an eternal waiting room.

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/theater/reviews/16after.html?hpw

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JOHN FLECK AND CULTURE CLASH: ARISTOPHANES HITS L.A. (REVIEW) ·

(Charles McNulty’s article appeared September 14 in the L.A. Times.)

Theater review: 'Peace' at Getty Villa 

The comedies of Aristophanes—so sanely rebellious, so tastily profane—are perhaps more tantalizing to us moderns than the ancient Greek tragedies. They are also more theatrically elusive, loaded with topical references that require either heavy annotation or radical adaptation. And the gamboling lyrical intelligence that encourages metaphors to come to life makes it difficult for our prosier sensibilities to keep pace with these hilarious Dionysiac fever dreams.

In the wrong hands—like the stodgy academic translation I read before attending the Getty Villa's new production of Aristophanes’ “Peace”—the zaniness can have a musty, archaeological aroma.

Let’s enjoy, then, for the time being this giddy reworking by John Glore and the Culture Clash trio of Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza, which may give short shrift to the playwright’s admittedly distant poetry but succeeds in forging a direct and exceedingly jokey connection with a local audience.

Sure, a phallus is worn by male actors in good old classical form. And there’s a valiant attempt to capture (within more demure 21st century limits) the ribald lunacy and satirically snapping spirit of the play, which was first done in 421 BC, 10 years into the ruinous 27-year-long Peloponnesian War, when a truce seemed like a not-so-distant possibility. But the production, resourcefully directed by Bill Rauch at the Villa’s heavenly outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, is pitched expressly to contemporary Angelenos.

(Read more)

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/09/theater-review-peace-at-getty-villa.html

(John Fleck's work is represented in One on One: The Best Men's Monologues for the 21st Century, available now from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)

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‘PUNK ROCK’ IN LONDON (REVIEW): “SIMON STEPHENS’S CRACKING NEW PLAY” ·

(Benedict Nightingale's article appeared in the Times of London, September 10, 2009.)

Punk Rock at the Lyric, Hammersmith, W6

Hearing that a teacher has had a heart attack, one of the Stockport sixth-formers who gather in the library where Punk Rock is set isn’t at all surprised. “They wander round like trauma victims,” she says of the staff. “They sweat, they’re getting ulcers, they’re terrified.”

To which the proper response is: no wonder, given the atrocity that comes at the close of Simon Stephens’s cracking new play. Sadly, I mustn’t reveal what this is, only say that it echoes sensational incidents reported from other countries, notably America.

The rationalist in me says that Stephens doesn’t prepare for it too well. Yet the rationalist in me should probably take a walk, because his point is that irrationality, unpredictability, confusion stalk the places frequented by those about to take their A-levels. And that’s why his play might be summed up as The History Boys meeting Spring Awakening, Wedekind’s tale of adolescent alienation and angst — and both of them meeting Stephen King.

(Read more)

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article6827673.ece

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CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE: ‘EDWARD THE SECOND’–LISTEN ON BBC RADIO UNTIL SEPTEMBER 20 (LINK BELOW) ·

Christopher Marlowe's notorious portrait of a weak king in thrall to his passions, who pays the ultimate price for choosing his heart over his political responsibilities.

Listen now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mm0l3

Edward II …… Toby Jones
Mortimer …… Patrick Kennedy
Kent …… Paul Hilton
Isabella …… Anastasia Hille
Pembroke/Coventry/Leicester …… Nigel Hastings
Lancaster/Matrevis/Sir John …… David Hargreaves
Gaveston/Lightborn …… Benjamin Askew
Spencer/Gurney …… Stephen Hogan
Prince Edward …… Ryan Watson
Warwick/Howell …… Paul Rider
Canterbury/Spencer Snr …… Malcolm Tierney
Arundel …… Philip Fox
Lady Margaret …… Lizzy Watts

Directed by Jessica Dromgoole.

 

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LARK PLAY DEVELOPMENT GROUP: PLAYWRIGHTS’ WEEK 2009—A FESTIVAL OF FREE STAGED READINGS OF NEW PLAYS (WED., SEPT. 30—SUN., OCT. 4) ·

Playwrights' Week 2009

Join the Lark for these exciting works-in-progress!

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 30

8PM-MEET THE WRITERS hosted by Morgan Jenness

(Hear the 8 playwrights read excerpts from these new works)

THURSDAY, OCT. 1

4PM-THAT MEN DO by Chad Beckim

8PM-MISS LILY GETS BONED by Bekah Brunstetter

FRIDAY, OCT. 2

4PM-THE OLD SHIP OF ZION by Natalia Naman

8PM-LUTHER by Ethan Lipton

SATURDAY, OCT. 3

4PM-FUTURE ANXIETY by Laurel Haines

8PM-NILA by Jen Silverman

SUNDAY, OCT. 4

4PM-THE ATLAS OF MUD by Jennifer Fawcett

7PM-SWEET NOTHING: A Grim (Fairy) Tale

by Stephanie Timm

8:30PM -CLOSING RECEPTION

hosted by Indo-American Arts Council

RSVP NOW!

http://www.larktheatre.org/

212-246-2676 x24

All events are FREE,

however RSVP's are REQUIRED

@ Lark Studio

939 eighth avenue, 2nd floor (bet 55th – 56th Streets)

a,b,c,d,1 to columbus circle

n,q,r,w to 57th street

Stay Tuned For Interviews

With The Playwrights…

Washington Jefferson Hotel is the official hotel sponsor of Playwrights Week 2009. washingtonjeffersonhotel.com/

http://www.larktheatre.org/

LARRY GELBART REST IN PEACE (1928-2009) ·

(The following obituary by Dennis McLellan appeared in the Los Angeles Times, September 11.) 

 

Larry Gelbart, the award-winning comedy writer best known for developing the landmark TV series "MASH," co-writing the book for the hit Broadway musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and co-writing the classic movie comedy "Tootsie," died this morning. He was 81.

Gelbart, who was diagnosed with cancer in June, died at his home in Beverly Hills, said his wife, Pat.

Jack Lemmon once described the genial, quick-witted Gelbart as "one of the greatest writers of comedy to have graced the arts in this century."

Gelbart's more than 60-year career began in radio during World War II when he was a 16-year-old student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. He wrote for "Duffy's Tavern" and radio shows starring Eddie Cantor, Joan Davis, Jack Paar, Jack Carson and Bob Hope, with whom he traveled overseas when Hope entertained the troops.

He moved into television with Hope in 1950 and spent the next few years writing for the comedian as well as for Red Buttons' comedy-variety series.

In 1955, Gelbart joined the fabled writing staff of "Caesar's Hour," Sid Caesar's post-"Your Show of Shows" TV comedy-variety series. Among his fellow writers were Neil Simon and Mel Brooks.

In the writers' room, as colleague Carl Reiner later told Time magazine, Gelbart "popped jokes like popcorn."

Indeed, after Gelbart went to work for "Caesar's Hour," Hope contacted Caesar to say, "I'll trade you two oil wells for one Gelbart."

During his time on Caesar's show, Gelbart shared three Emmy nominations for comedy writing — in 1956, '57 and '58 — and earned the admiration of Brooks, who once described him as "the fastest of the fast, the wittiest man in the business."

 

(Read more)

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-larry-gelbart12-2009sep12,0,2812430.story

 

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