(Vanessa Thorpe’s article appeared in the Observer, 5/29.)
This country may be the birthplace of Chaucer, Milton, Austen, the Brontë sisters and Dickens, but Britain has only one dominant calling card on the global cultural scene: William Shakespeare. It is now clear that the Bard and his works will loom large in the British arts festival that is planned to run alongside the Olympic Games in London next year.
(Anita Gates's article appeared in The New York Times, 5/27.)
Jeff Conaway, the personable actor who won television fame on the sitcom “Taxi” and movie success in the musical “Grease” three decades ago and who later publicly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 60.
He died of complications of pneumonia at Encino Tarzana Medical Center after being taken off life support on Thursday, a talent representative, Phil Brock, said.
Performances begin at 8PM Performed in repertory for 8 continuous weeks
MEASURE FOR MEASURE Directed by David Esbjornson
Measure sweeps from the corridors of national power to the intimate confines of the bedroom and from the convent's chapel to the executioner's block. It is Shakespeare at his grittiest: a bracing and bawdy glimpse of what happens when those in power allow their basest human impulses to range unchecked.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL Directed by Daniel Sullivan
A fairytale for grown-ups, this beguiling fable follows the low-born Helena, one of Shakespeare's most resourceful heroines, as she inventively surmounts obstacle after impossible obstacle in order to win the love of the aristocratic and haughty Count Bertram.
Featuring Kristen Connolly, John Cullum, Carson Elrod, Joe Forbrich, Danai Gurira, Michael Hayden, AndréHolland, Jordan Lund, David Manis, Dakin Matthews, Caitlin O'Connell, Annie Parisse, Tonya Pinkins, Lorenzo Pisoni, Reg Rogers, and Lucas Caleb Rooney
(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 5/23.)
Gunner, the memory-challenged central character in Bruce Graham’s new play “The Outgoing Tide,” is slowly losing his grip on the ebbs and flows of life. But whereas it must be tempting to play an elderly man suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s, or severe dementia, as a timid, nervous fellow, there is not a hint of that in John Mahoney.
Mahoney — whose performance in director BJ Jones’ superb world-premiere production is, I think, the best work I’ve ever seen him do on stage — understands that the agony of suffering from progressive memory loss is not best reflected theatrically through trepidation and confusion. On the contrary, it is best expressed through strength. Only then do we understand what is being lost.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/25.)
In 1746, Carlo Goldoni wrote a classic comedy normally translated as The Servant of Two Masters. Richard Bean has used it for a riotous farce combining the original's structure with a particularly Anglo-Saxon verbal and physical humour. The result, a kind of Carry On Carlo, is one of the funniest productions in the National's history.
The plot almost defies description. But Bean has set the action in 1963 in Brighton, and the key point is that Francis Henshall, a failed skiffle player, finds himself working for two guvnors. One, Rachel Crabbe, is disguised as her dead gangland twin, and, in her brutal mop-like wig, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ringo Starr.
(Elaine Sciolino’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/24.)
PARIS — Yasmina Reza is one of the world’s most successful playwrights, but she wears her fame with discomfort. She can talk at length about her red leather Prada coat. She can relate stories with biting humor about her year on the road shadowing Nicolas Sarkozy in his 2007 campaign for the French presidency. But ask her about herself, and the anxiety of the writerly persona takes over.
A blend of fragility and steel, Ms. Reza wavers between extremes: a determination to be judged by her work alone and a desire that it be understood and appreciated. The publication of her new play, “Comment Vous Racontez la Partie” (“How You Talk the Game”), has propelled her, once again, to face a reporter.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/20.)
What to do with this endlessly problematic play? Directors such as Peter Zadek and David Thacker set it in the stock exchange. But Rupert Goold, as is his wont, goes for broke by transporting it wholesale to modern Las Vegas, where showbiz fantasy meets speculative capitalism; and the result is, by turns, brilliant, outrageous and excessive.
At first I had difficulty working out the logic of the setting: why, in particular, should Patrick Stewart's multi-millionaire property-owning, semi-assimilated Shylock feel an "ancient grudge" towards the local Christians? And could we really believe they would void their spittle upon him in the wide streets of the US gambling capital?
(Gutmann’s address, written for the University of Pennsylvania’s 255th Commencement, was published 5/19; via The Nelson Agency.)
Chairman Cohen, Trustees, honored guests, families, friends, and alumni: Welcome to the 255th commencement of the University of Pennsylvania! Let's hear it for the amazing Class of 2011!
Graduates, you've passed your final exams and handed in your dissertations. You've survived Walnut Walk. But I know you will always remember everyone who helped you arrive at this moment—first and foremost—your parents and families, your professors, and, of course, your Penn friends.
You know that your education doesn't end today. You know there will always be more to explore…always more to discover…always more to learn.
Because I'm a movie buff…because we're inspired by the presence of Denzel Washington…and because the very first Academy Awards ceremony was held on this exact date in 1929, I'm reminded that there's a lot you can learn from the movies. And so…