Monthly Archives: October 2012




(Feingold’s article appeared 10/24 in the Village Voice.)

To celebrate her 85th birthday, Barbara Cook gave a singing lesson in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium on October 18 (a week before her actual birthday, which is the 25th). That hadn’t exactly been the great Broadway singer’s intention—she thought she was simply giving a concert—but Cook, in her maturity, has become such a quintessence of what singing at its best can be that every performance she gives is a role model and an instructive example to the young.

And the young, her willing pupils, turned up there, in the guise of the “surprise” celebrity guests, from all walks of musical life, who gathered onstage, after Cook had finished her own substantial set, to pay vocal homage to the birthday girl. They made up a distinguished lot: from the jazz-and-cabaret world, the marital duo of guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli and singer Jessica Molaskey; art-song recitalist and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Susan Graham; pop tenor Josh Groban; and, from Cook’s own generation, the beloved Broadway lyricist (and occasional composer) Sheldon Harnick


(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/26.)

I spy a danger for the theatre in a new form of chic exclusivity. Because everyone wants to see Jez Butterworth's first new play since Jerusalem and because space is limited at the Theatre Upstairs, tickets are hard to come by. You either have to go online or queue at the box office first thing. Although that may preclude potential customers, Butterworth's play undeniably gains from intimacy. At 80 minutes, it is strange, eerie, tense and, on a single viewing, slightly unfathomable.

At first, all looks reasonably clear. As in previous Butterworth plays such as The Night Heron and The Winterling, the setting is rurally remote. We are in a wooden cabin on the cliffs above a river. It belongs to The Man (Dominic West) who is playing host to The Woman (Miranda Raison). The West figure is a dedicated fisherman who goes into ecstasies about sea trout, which can be caught in profusion on a moonless night once a year. This is just such a night and the capacity to share his excitement becomes a moral test for Raison's character, who appears to be his new girlfriend.

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(Gemma Tipton’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 10/27.)

A MAN DRESSED in a crisp white shirt and black trousers flings himself into the muddy waters of a peat bog; a couple spend their honeymoon in bed, inviting the world’s press to join them; and a trio of women gently drool down their fine blue silk dresses. Of all the art forms, performance can be the hardest to understand. Attracting confusion and derision, or simply ignored, performance – and its close cousin video – might sum up all that’s wrong with art that is, at its worst, esoteric, pretentious and deliberately difficult.

But when a performance artist, Spartacus Chetwynd, and a video artist, Elizabeth Price, are shortlisted for the Turner Prize, perhaps it’s time to start taking more notice. And with Remnants showing the work of Amanda Coogan, Dominic Thorpe and Aideen Barry at Ballina Arts Centre, and the Dublin Live Art Festival opening on Tuesday, it is possible to explore what goes on when art happens in front of you.

Performance art, or live art, began at the turn of the last century, with Dada, the Futurists and events at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich exploring how art could be made to do something different. Fast-forward a decade or two and the action paintings of Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning saw a painting as a record of the processes of its making. What you see on the canvas – the gestures, marks, lines and splashes – are as much about the mental energies of the artist made physical as about creating the perfect, finished product.



(Kerry Reid’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/17.)

As befits a company dedicated to stories of diaspora, Silk Road Rising (formerly Silk Road Theatre Project) always seems to shine brightest with plays that traverse years and continents, yet still find their greatest strength and solace in the twisted DNA of family connections.

If you saw Silk Road Rising's magnificent production of Wajdi Mouawad's "Scorched" a couple of
years ago, you might uncover some similarities with Adriana Sevahn Nichols' "Night Over Erzinga." Both move backward and forward in time to tell a sorrowful story rooted in war and atrocity, and both require a fluid ensemble in which actors play multiple related characters, such as a young mother in an earlier time and that same mother's grown daughter later on.,0,7059140.story



(Maximilian Popp’s article appeared in Der Spiegel, 10/24.)

Berlin used to be Germany's hippest city, but the once scruffy capital has long since succumbed
to gentrification. The latest city to attract the creative class is the former East German industrial seat of Leipzig. Moving in by the thousands, they are lured by the euphoric buzz of cheap rent and youthful ingenuity.

Before the sun sets, it pierces the clouds once again as a glowing red orb. People stream from turn-of-the-century villas and communist-era concrete apartment complexes and rush to the park. Adventurers and hedonists, painters, students, punks and Internet entrepreneurs come alone and in groups, on bicycles and skateboards, with guitars and cases of beer tucked under their arms.


(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/24.)

As a major of revival of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey opens in Sheffield, it's time to remember the debt owed to the playwright, who died last year, by many writers – even the songwriter Morrissey.

A major dictionary of theatre on my bookcase, dating from the mid-1990s, doesn't even mention the Salford-born Delaney, who can seen here in Ken Russell's 1960 Monitor film on the writer and her

The lack of recognition from the theatre world is probably partly because, after 1960, she largely turned her attention to screenplays, eventually writing the 1985 film Dance with a Stranger, in which Miranda Richardson played Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged for murder in England.


(Miriam Elder’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/22.)

Two members of the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot have been sent to remote prison camps to serve their sentences, the group has said.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, will serve the rest of her two-year term at a women's prison camp in Perm, a Siberian region notorious for hosting some of the Soviet Union's harshest camps. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, has been sent to Mordovia, a region that also hosts a high number of prisons.

"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter
on Monday.



Openings and Previews

Event: Annie

Venue: Palace Theatre

James Lapine directs a revival of the 1977 musical, with music by . . .

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Event: Bad Jews

Venue: Roundabout Underground

Roundabout Theatre Company presents this comedy by Joshua Harmon, about a Jewish . . .

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Event: Checkers

Venue: Vineyard Theatre

Set in 1952, this play by Douglas McGrath follows Richard Nixon as . . .

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Event: A Christmas Story, the Musical!

Venue: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

John Rando directs a musical adaptation of the 1983 movie, set in . . .

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Event: Dead Accounts

Venue: Music Box Theatre

Katie Holmes, Norbert Leo Butz, Judy Greer, Jayne Houdyshell, and Josh Hamilton . . .

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(Tim Walker’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 10/12.)

The curtain rises on Cabaret to reveal the German word for welcome arranged over three lines in a gigantic Bauhaus typeface: Will-kom-men.

Given that this production represents Will Young’s stage comeback, it is a clever conceit, but, of course, it commits the producers to keeping the Pop Idol winner as Emcee for the duration of the run, or at least until such time as they can find another actor called Will.

His is a difficult part to get right, and, at the outset, I have to say I had rather assumed that it wouldn’t be too long before they would have to start hunting for a good Will. Young’s stage debut as Nicky Lancaster in The Vortex at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester had not, after all, been portentous: the young man conveyed the lines well enough, but precious little of the inner turmoil of the character.