(Anna Tims’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/8.)
David Hare on Tennessee Williams
Loved and praised as a young man, by the end of his life Tennessee could barely get his plays on, certainly not in Manhattan, where, he said, the animus of the New York Times shut him out. But every morning, however badly the previous day had ended, Tennessee got up and wrote, way beyond the point where he believed anyone was listening.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/8.)
Either because of a paucity of good new plays or an urge to rediscover the recent past, this is proving to be a summer of revivals. Now it is the turn of Arnold Wesker, whose 1958 play, the first part of a theatrical triptych, comes back to the Royal Court in triumph. It reminds us of Wesker's rare gift for generating strong emotion while encompassing big ideas.
Flare Path is a play by Terence Rattigan, written in 1941 and first staged in 1942. Set in a hotel near an RAF Bomber Command airbase during the Second World War, the story involves a love triangle between a pilot, his actress wife and a famous film star.
The title of the play refers to the flares that were used to light runways to allow planes to take off and land but the flare paths were also used by the Germans to target the RAF planes. In writing the play, Terence Rattigan drew on his experiences as a tail gunner in the RAF Coastal Command.
Peter Kyle ….. Rupert Penry Jones Patricia Graham ….. Ruth Wilson Teddy Graham ….. Rory Kinnear Doris Skriczevinsky ….. Monica Dolan Mrs Oakes ….. Una Stubbs Count Skriczevinsky ….. Tom Goodman-Hill Dusty Miller ….. Justin Salinger Swanson ….. Julian Wadham Percy ….. David Hartley Maudie Miller ….. Kelly Shirley.
Exec Producer: Catherine Bailey Directed by Jeremy Herrin (Deputy Artistic Director of the Royal Court) For Catherine Bailey Ltd.
(Stryk’s article appears in the June 2011 issue of The Brooklyn Rail.)
I bump into my favorite professor from grad school, Marvin Carlson, in the lobby at this year’s Theatertreffen—the festival of German-speaking theater held annually in Berlin each May. His first Theatertreffen was in 1985 (it began in 1963), but he’s been flying in from New York to see it with regularity for 15 years and writing about it for just as long. And yet, he says, casting a bemused expression my way and scratching his head, “How do you describe German theater to Americans? It’s like another planet.”
(Summer Banks’s interview appeared in Exberliner, 5/31.)
Three of the prolific formalist’s productions are currently in repertoire at the Spree-side Berliner Ensemble, the most recent of which, Frank Wedekind’s Lulu with music by Lou Reed, was met with both adoration and confusion at its April premiere. From its 19th-century costuming to 67-year-old Angela Winkler as the title character to the blend of English and old-fashioned German, the piece is unlike any Lulu you might have seen before, or are likely to see again.
(Jasper Rees’s article appeared 5/31 in the Evening Telegraph.)
Has a play ever had a longer gestation? Ibsen first started thinking about Emperor and Galilean in 1864 during a three-year sojourn in Rome. It was not performed until 1896 in Leipzig, then in Oslo in 1903. At nine hours, the play – set in two continents across a dozen years of the fourth-century Roman Empire – makes Peer Gynt look like a pigmy with agoraphobia. It has never been staged in English. Which is why the National Theatre can make the eye-catching claim that this month it will be premiering a new play by Ibsen.
Mamet had been brought to campus by Hillel, and the subject of his talk was “Art, Politics, Judaism, and the Mind of David Mamet.” There wasn’t much talk of Judaism, however, at least not explicitly. He arrived late and took the stage looking vaguely lost. He withdrew from his jacket a sheaf of papers that quickly became disarranged. He lost his place often. He stumbled over his sentences. But the unease that began to ripple through the audience had less to do with the speaker’s delivery than with his speech’s content. Mamet was delivering a frontal assault on American higher education, the provider of the livelihood of nearly everyone in his audience.