(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/27.)
One of the damaging accusations levelled at Terence Rattigan (1911-77), contributing to the decline in his reputation, was that he was a dishonest writer. He was a homosexual, but never publicly admitted it, even when homosexuality was legalised. And though The Deep Blue Sea was inspired by the suicide of a former male lover, Rattigan transformed his play into a heterosexual story about a judge’s wife having an affair with a former RAF hero who cannot return her ardent passion.
Emmy-nominated actress Sally Kellerman's TINY TOWN, the story of a Hollywood that is no more, drawing on personal friendships with countless entertainment luminaries – Jack Nicholson and Jennifer Jones – but also leading thinkers of their time – Dr. Milton Wexler and Henry Kissinger – pitched as part THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE by Robert Evans, part LIFE by Keith Richards; the story of a time when black and white turned to color, safe hilltop homes turned to slaughter houses, and fun highs turned into lifestyles of addiction; the archetypal story of what it meant to be an actress in the Twentieth Century, to Weinstein Books, at auction, by Yfat Reiss Gendell at Foundry Literary + Media. Foreign: firstname.lastname@example.org
Actor Frank Langella's memoir DROPPED NAMES, including his personal encounters with Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, William Styron, Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others, to Jonathan Burnham at Harper, for publication in 2012.
(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 7/26,)
The Patsy (the Duke on 42nd Street) is one of the most remarkable, and one of the most peculiar, theater events I've ever witnessed. Precedents exist for it: The 1927 musical Show Boat, in its complete form, actually contains two segments in which something of the kind occurs. But these and similar virtuosic stunts were only meant to divert audiences for a few minutes. The Patsy is, quite literally, something else: a complete, 70-minute performance, by one actor, of a multi-character three-act play, in compressed form, more for the purpose of conveying the play's substance than to show off the actor's skill.
Naturally, the skill is also to the point. An actor lacking the virtuoso flamboyance to make the audience "see" all the characters wouldn't convey the play's substance. A visionary element, akin to surrealism, is also involved. The event amounts to a questioning of the elements of theater: To transmit the essence of a traditional play, how much of anything do you really need? How many actors, how much scenery and lighting, how many physical exits and entrances? King Lear thought he needed a hundred knights to affirm his kingship; his harsh but practical daughter asked him, "What need one?"
(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/26.)
In the preface to his entertaining new book about being Ian McKellen’s understudy, the author David Weston asks: “Why should anyone be interested in reading the meanderings of a relatively unknown old actor, when so many memoirs and biographies of the famous go unread?” The answer – and one that Weston is too modest to declare himself – is that Covering McKellen is a hugely enjoyable read that often put me in mind of The Diary of a Nobody. Imagine Mr Pooter serving as an understudy in the RSC’s troubled double bill of King Lear and The Seagull, which toured to four continents in 2007, and you will get some idea of the comic delights on offer.
(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/22.)
Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise – but the most gripping contribution to Eurepica. Challenge, a showcase of a dozen one-act dramas mapping the state of play in Europe today, comes courtesy of a founder member of the company presenting it (for too short a season) at the Almeida: Nikolai Khalezin of Belarus Free Theatre.
Of all the many problems afflicting the former USSR satellite nations – as well as the richer countries in the West, thanks to debt mountains as high as the Alps – are any more acute than those currently experienced by the citizens of Belarus?
The cult of Shakespeare is one of the weirdest and most persistent in literature. This spring, Arthur Phillips and Stephen Marche each published books on the obsession. Phillips’s novel The Tragedy of Arthurportrays the son of a con man who attempts to establish whether a quarto of a lost Shakespeare play—reproduced in stunning convincingness in the book—was actually written by Shakespeare. Stephen Marche’s How Shakespeare Changed Everything confronts the various ways that Shakespeare has affected everything, from sex to the English language, the assassination of Lincoln, and the mania for skulls on clothing. They discussed their various journeys into the heart of this cult by e-mail.
(Bennett’s article appeared in the London Review of Books, 7/28.)
I have always been happy in libraries, though without ever being entirely at ease there. A scene that seems to crop up regularly in plays that I have written has a character, often a young man, standing in front of a bookcase feeling baffled. He – and occasionally she – is overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that has been written and the ground to be covered. ‘All these books. I’ll never catch up,’ wails the young Joe Orton in the film script of Prick Up Your Ears, and in The Old Country another young man reacts more dramatically, by hurling half the books to the floor. In Me, I’m Afraid of Virginia Woolf someone else gives vent to their frustration with literature by drawing breasts on a photograph of Virginia Woolf and kitting out E.M. Forster with a big cigar. Orton himself notoriously defaced library books before starting to write books himself. This resentment, which was, I suppose, somewhere mine, had to do with feeling shut out. A library, I used to feel, was like a cocktail party with everybody standing with their back to me; I could not find a way in.
Six violent, polyamorous radicals are trapped by imperialism, racism and bourgeois mores. But they are also trapped, somewhat more literally, in the secret lair from which they plan their guerrilla revolution. And the Collapsable Hole — a converted garage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that barely contains this explosive new show — throbs with their claustrophobia.
‘SAVAGE WORLD’ by STEPHEN FIFE (Playwright/Writer/Screenwriter)
Steve’s plays have been produced in NYC at The Jewish Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages, Circle Rep Lab, La Mama, Theater for the New City, the Samuel Beckett Theater, others. Plays include Mickey’s Home, a suspenseful 3-character drama, and New Day, a dystopian satire about a future in which the attempt to eliminate the gene for violent behavior has had unexpected consequences. His drama about racial strife in America, Savage World, was produced at the Met Theater in Hollywood, where Backstage West named it one of the Best Productions of 2008. His evening of romantic comedies, This Is Not What I Ordered, was produced in Los Angeles and published by Samuel French. The Jewish Repertory Theater commissioned him to do a new adaptation of Sholem Asch’s play God of Vengeance and produced it at Playhouse 91 in NYC, where the production received 17 rave reviews. The play was later produced in Tel Aviv (in Hebrew) and in Atlanta as a joint production of 7 Stages and Jewish Theatre of the South, where it was directed by the late great Joseph Chaikin. Steve wrote about this experience in his memoir, BEST REVENGE: How the Theater Saved My Life and Has Been Killing Me Ever Since, published by CUNE Press and hailed by American Theatre as “coming from deep inside the heart and mind of a struggling artist.” A graduate of Sarah Lawrence & Columbia’s School of the Arts (MFA), Steve was the first literary manager for the Off-Broadway company Primary Stages and is currently on the Board of Directors of the West Coast Jewish Theatre. He has written feature articles on theater, film, and painting for The New York Times, New Republic, Village Voice, New York Newsday, American Theatre, many others. He is very proud of his work with kids and teens in New York and Los Angeles, including in his drama group, The Young Actors Workshop, where he has written, directed and produced several original musicals.
(Stage Voices highlights playwrights and performers–and their work. If you have had or been in a professional production, we will consider a 4-5 minute demo or audition tape for inclusion on this blog. Please e-mail: Bobjshuman@gmail.com/ with an easily uploadable file or link–YouTube is best. Also send a short, written biography (a paragraph or two with info on how someone can reach you via e-mail). If we determine that your background/materials meet our qualifications, we will contact you within several weeks–our decisions are final. Help us alert others to your talent(s) today!)