Monthly Archives: July 2014

MARIT E. SHUMAN: “WHY I LIVE ON MARS” (REDUX) ·

(Shuman’s writing has won a Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; her work is also included in One on One: Playing with a Purpose from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

In the land of America, held within the confines of the sphere Earth, the lowest sector of human laborers is further divided into color-coded occupational groups—the blue/pink-collar workers and the white-collar workers. Much like the violent and non-violent race wars this country has battled throughout its existence, the so-called “Color Wars” of the 21st century have left the United Sates at a civil impasse. The white-collars, or the middle men, control the blue and pink-collars, though they themselves are subjugated by the higher forces that run the country—the money movers and the politic shakers. The Chief Executive Officers make the decisions for blue, pink, and white-collars as they own a majority of America. In addition, these CEOs (the acronym is more widely accepted on Earth) have a great deal of influence when it comes to the red, white, and blue shirts. The two main political factions of the state, the Republicans and the Democrats, each need money every year to launch their campaigns to rule the United States. Therefore they choose a collar, blue or white, and find a CEO whose company relies on that color group’s business. On Earth they call this Capitalism.

Because of America’s inclination toward a hierarchical system of employment, the governing officials of the commonwealth coined several terms regarding this inherent order: separate but equal (in reference to race; has since been repealed by aforesaid officials), equal pay (wages for men = wages for women), and “All men are created equal” (quote from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson; considered inaccurate). This country’s fascination with equality and ensuring that every comrade receives it has brought about the use of other vocabulary to refer to matters found lacking in equality: segregation, discrimination, and prejudice. In the American workplace, the white-collars typically earn more than the blue-collars who typically earn more than the pink-collars. White-collar jobs, however, tend to be less physically demanding than the other two though they do require higher levels of education. Blue-collar jobs (ones that get white collars dirty) are manual labor for men. Pink-collar jobs are manual labor for women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau report for 2012, pink is not the new blue—women earned only seventy-seven cents to a man’s dollar. Similarly, black is definitely not the new white, with non-white Americans earning considerably less annually than white ones. A year on Earth, interestingly enough, consists of 365, twenty-four hour long days (an hour in the Milky Way contains sixty minutes, which contains sixty seconds). As a side note, once every four years the humans receive one more day. The Interplanetary Association of Housing Development for Aliens or IAHDA as the humans would call it (pronounced yä-də, as in yada yada), has released the following statement regarding the lifestyle of an earthling.

IAHDA: EARTH 2013

The following report will attempt to describe the pecuniary allocations necessary for sustainable life on Earth. The apartment is located in Riverdale, the Bronx, on the land mass known as the United States of America. The human earns twelve hundred dollars per month in compensation for its labor. The rent is eight hundred dollars per month and includes a washer and dryer and heat and water. However, electricity is not included. Assuming that the human will have to commute to his/her job, public transportation fees are five dollars per day resulting in total of one hundred dollars per month. In addition, utilities are approximately sixty dollars per month; however, the human cannot afford internet or a phone. The human also cannot afford health insurance, but there are several hospitals with emergency rooms located within a five mile radius. A Public Library with free Internet is six hundredths of a mile away. There is a shopping center within walking distance of the apartment, and the food allowance for the human is estimated to be two hundred dollars per month–$6.66 per day. The human retains forty dollars per month for miscellaneous needs.

            IAHDA’s data shows the day-to-day (once again Earth’s solar time measurement is being used) cost for a basic life-form. These creatures usually work in eight-hour time frames, during which their pay stays consistent. In order to receive this stability, the humans had to fight the Union Wars. Approximately a century ago, these blue-collar workers fought for the right to a standard length of work day. They believed that their “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” (Thomas Jefferson, see above) was encumbered by too much work. However, instead of returning to the nomadic or agrarian means of life, the humans fought wars for the “eight-hour workday” (brought down from the twelve-hour workday, eleven-hour workday, and so forth). The humans view their jobs as a direct corollary to their success in living. They receive special educations so that they might excel in their chosen career and beat out the competition, and those who disagree with this primal practice are labeled Socialists (a term with negative connotations in America; often discussed alongside communism and healthcare). The blue-collar humans, those who do not properly learn how to live in the United States, still strive to defeat all other blue-collar humans and make their way up the food-chain to white-collar status. In doing so, they break this valued “eight-hour workday” so that they might work two or more jobs to earn more money. In America, wealth is a sign of competence.

            There are times when the CEOs and white-collars pretend to be blue-collar workers (which the Socialists would call “the proletarian” or “second-class citizen”). The nation is so invested in understanding the daily life of these specimens that popular culture has been manufactured for the consumer. Television (TV) programs like “Undercover Boss” and books like Nickel and Dimed and Fast Food Nation have been mass produced. But who is the consumer? Is it the one-per-centers? The middle class? Or is it the blue-collar worker himself?

This is why I live on Mars.

Copyright © 2014 by Marit E. Shuman.  Used by permission. All rights reserved.

SAMUEL BECKETT, MORTON FELDMAN AND THE ANTI-OPERA OF ‘NEITHER’ ·

 

(Derek Scally’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 7/19.)

The inauspicious meeting leads to an auspicious outcome. It was 1976 and Samuel Beckett was hard at work in Berlin’s Schiller Theatre where, a year previously, he had caused a theatrical sensation with his directorial debut of Waiting for Godot. Now he was working on the German premieres of That Time and Footfalls.

On September 20th about noon, the dramatist-turned-director was visited in the Werkstatt rehearsal space by the American composer Morton Feldman.

“I was led from daylight into a dark theatre, on stage, where I was presented to an invisible Beckett,” said Feldman later, who had poor eyesight and thick glasses. “He shook hands with my thumb and I fell softly down a huge black curtain to the ground.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/an-irishman-s-diary-on-berlin-s-tribute-to-samuel-beckett-1.1871104

****ENA LEMONT: ‘MEN SHOULD WEEP’ (REVIEW PICK, CHI) ·

(Chris Jones’s article appeared 7/18 in the Chicago Tribune.)

Ena Lemont Stewart's "Men Should Weep," the warm-hearted but unstinting story of a Scottish family enduing grinding Glaswegian poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s, is one of those plays that few people on this side of the Atlantic have seen. Even dedicated theatergoers. A closely observed play about women desperately trying to hold their families together, "Men Should Weep" has been overlooked and marginalized.

Is this due to the gender of its playwright? Likely so. A consequence of the limited appetite for social realism in the post-war era, when people needed cheering up and preferred the likes of "Brigadoon"? For sure. And, to be fair, Stewart did not exactly come up with a smash-hit title for her play back in 1947. One can imagine the conversation — or what potential producers across the years have imagined the conversation to be. "Let's go see this play called 'Men Should Weep' tonight, darling." "Let's not."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/reviews/ct-men-should-weep-review,0,951329.column

JOHN LAHR’S NEW BOOK ON TENNESSEE WILLIAMS–AND A SPECIAL PHOTO FROM FRANK GAGLIANO ·

TennesseeAudreyFG

Above: Florida State University. Circa 1971: Left: Frank Gagliano; Next: Audrey Wood, Tennessee's agent; Next: Tennessee Williams; Right: Henry Hewes, Critic, Saturday Review. (Photograph courtesy of Frank Gagliano.  All rights reserved.)

From Frank Gagliano: "John Lahr tells me that his years-in-the-making massive biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, will be out in a few months (http://tennesseewilliamsbiography.com).  

"To all who love Tennessee Williams, and who know Lahr’s critical work and his level of theatrically charged prose, this is exciting news, indeed. I’ve pre ordered the book.

"Re the photo: I was playwright-in-residence at Florida State University then, around the time of the Kent State massacre, when FSU was hosting the first non-opera play by opera composer (and Founder of the Festival of New Worlds), Gian Carlo Menotti. The name of his play was, The Leper. Half the American and world theatre Swells were there. My play, Big Sur also premiered there, then — in the Studio Theatre, of course. I recall Williams being very kind and supportive to me — and he did, in fact, laugh a lot. I guess Audrey was getting some kind of an honorary doctorate." Best, FG

(Visit–http://www.gaglianoriff.com )

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com – See more at: http://www.stagevoices.com/#sthash.JqRdXGT2.dpuf
Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com – See more at: http://www.stagevoices.com/#sthash.JqRdXGT2.dpuf

ALAN JAY LERNER ON SIR CAMERON MACKINTOSH’S PRODUCTION OF ‘MY FAIR LADY’: “LET IT SAIL INTO LONDON AND SINK” ·

 

(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/15.)

He is the most powerful musicals producer of all time, but in his early career Sir Cameron Mackintosh faced harsh criticism from one of the world's greatest song-writers, according to previously unpublished letters.

Long before the global success of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, his stage adaptation of My Fair Lady was condemned in 1979 as "tasteless and vulgar".

The criticism came from none other than the original show's legendary lyricist, Alan Jay Lerner, who begged Mackintosh to improve his production, making it "more exciting, more romantic" and closer to Shaw's original drama, Pygmalion.

My Fair Lady had lyrics by Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe and sent audiences home humming classics like "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "Get Me to the Church on Time".

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/15/my-fair-lady-cameron-mackintosh-alan-lerner-letters

BERTOLT BRECHT’S POEMS TO MARGARETE STEFFIN, ‘ONE OF HIS GREAT LOVES’ ·

(Sasha Dugdale’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/10.)

 In 1931 German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht met a young actor, a woman called Margarete Steffin, with whom he was to become both intimately and intellectually involved. They met at a play rehearsal and she subsequently acted in Brecht's The Mother, then became a collaborator in his writing. Steffin typed up his work, corrected it, made suggestions, translations and drove him to greater efforts. In a late poem Brecht called her his "little teacher".

 

Steffin, who was from a proletarian Berlin family, could also supply for his political plays the details of real working-class life, of which the more comfortably raised Brecht had no direct experience. The composer and Brecht collaborator Hanns Eisler wrote of Steffin: "She was Brecht's most valuable collaborator. I have to say that Fear and Misery of the Third Reich – the working-class scenes – could not have been written without Steffin."

 

But Steffin was already suffering from tuberculosis, the terrible collateral of such knowledge, and over the next decade Brecht paid for her treatment at sanatoriums across Europe as her health declined. They also began a relationship, and the two lovers exchanged passionate, touching and lustful letters and poems, a selection of which are being presented by Modern Poetry in Translation and performed by actors on 19 July as part of the Southbank Centre's Poetry International and Festival of Love.

 

(Read more)

 

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/10/bertolt-brecht-poems-to-great-love-come-to-life-festival-of-love

 

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com

 

 

 

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com – See more at: http://www.stagevoices.com/#sthash.KYusVO2A.dpuf
sssVisit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com – See more at: http://www.stagevoices.com/#sthash.KYusVO2A.dpuf
Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com – See more at: http://www.stagevoices.com/#sthash.KYusVO2A.dpuf

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SITI COMPANY PLUS MONICA BILL BARNES & COMPANY AND IRA GLASS ·

 

John Wyszniewski, Blake Zidell & Associates, emailing about the SITI Company announcement that Michelle Preston has been named executive director . . .   Preston joined SITI in July of 2012 as Deputy Director, where she oversaw fundraising, external communications, strategic plan implementation, and board development–and has served as Interim Executive Director since January of 2014. She succeeds Megan Wanlass who served the Company for 19 years . . . Founded in 1992 by Anne Bogart and Tadashi Suzuki, SITI seeks to redefine and revitalize contemporary theater in the United States through an emphasis on international cultural exchange and collaboration . . . Over the past five years, New York-based SITI has been in residence at the Getty Villa in California delighting and challenging audiences with re-visions of Antigone, Trojan Women and readings of The Bacchae and Ion. Visit: http://siti.org/

Also, let’s talk about hoofing . . . Since April 2013, Monica Bill Barnes & Company and Ira Glass, host of This American Life, have been on a 30-city national tour with their show Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host. This fall, the show comes to New York for a three-night-only run at The Town Hall, September 10–12 at 8pm.  The show combines two art forms that – as Glass puts it – “have no business being together – dance and radio.” The result is a funny, lively and heartfelt evening of dance and stories that has brought down the house wherever it’s been performed, starting with its first test run at Carnegie Hall in 2013.

For more information, please visit 3acts2dancers1radiohost.com.

Following The Town Hall engagement, Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host will resume its national tour, including these cities:

September 20, Society for the Performing Arts, Cullen Theater, Houston, TX.
September 28, Center for the Arts, Produced by Days and Nights Festival, Carmel, CA
October 11, Mesa Arts Center, Ikeda Theater, Mesa, AZ
October 18, University of Iowa, Presented by Hancher Performances, Iowa City, IA
November 1 & 2, Washington University, Edison Theater, St. Louis, MO
December 6, Carpenter Performing Arts Center, California State University Long Beach Saturday, Long Beach, CA
January 17, The Smith Center For the Performing Arts Saturday, Las Vegas, NV
January 24 & 25, Citi Shubert Theatre, Boston, MA
February 7, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa, CA
February 28, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Saturday, Pittsburgh, PA
March 7, Weber State University, Ogden, UT
March 14, Anchorage Concert Association, Atwood Concert Hall, Anchorage, AK
March 28 Mondavi Center for the Arts, Davis, CA
April 11, Seattle Theatre Group, The Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA
April 18, Michigan State University, Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, East Lansing, MI
April 25, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
May 2, 2015, in Cleveland, OH
July 11, 2015 in Dallas, TX
December 5, 2015 in Austin, TX

XOXX

Bob

*****ARTHUR MILLER: ‘THE CRUCIBLE” (REVIEW PICK, UK) ·

 

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/4.)

Productions of Arthur Miller's re-creation of the Salem witch hunt tend to be as flinty and hard-edged as the author's prose. But the South African Yaël Farber, director of an acclaimed Mies Julie, has come up with an extraordinary production that preserves the integrity of Miller's language while investing the action with a raw, visceral power I've never witnessed.

You sense from the dark, dreamlike opening that this is a community on the edge of disintegration. Panic and fear pervade the first-act set in Reverend Parris's bedroom. Neighbours accusingly eyeball each other, the 17-year-old Abigail grapples tenaciously on the ground with her ex-lover, John Proctor, and we realise that the upright Mrs Putnam has used the Barbadian Tituba to commune with the dead.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/04/the-crucible-review-old-vic-london

DAVID WOOD: ‘CHILDREN’S THEATRE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THEATRE’ ·

 

(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/3; David Wood’s work appears in One on One: Playing with a Purpose, Monologues for Ages 7-15–order copies on the left side of this Web site.)

David Wood is used to people asking him if he is jealous of the success of Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the West End. Before the arrival of those mega-musicals, Wood was the premier page-to-stage adapter of the novels of Roald Dahl, with seven under his belt including very successful versions of The Witches (which gave magic consultant Paul Kieve one of his early jobs long before Harry Potter), The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.

Long before Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin teamed up for Matilda, Wood had a stab at transferring the story of Dahl's super-intelligent poppet with kinetic powers to the stage with musical duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe of Betty Blue Eyes and Mary Poppins fame. It didn't work out, but Wood has no regrets. He hasn't even seen Matilda, although he did slip in to see Charlie, and wasn't entirely impressed by everything he saw. But jealous? He shakes his head.

"Of course not. I do what I do, and they are doing something completely different. I may be seen as very old-fashioned, but when I write or adapt I'm always thinking of the children. I don't think what the grownups might want. I don't see that as my job," says Wood, whose Olivier-nominated adaptation of Judith Kerr's classic picture book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, returns to the West End this week for another summer season. It's a show that really has been a roaring success. "Even now when I watch it, I have a silly grin on my face," Wood confesses. "It's got all the things children love in stories: animals, food and a touch of magic or the surreal." They are clearly the things that Wood also loves. He may have recently turned 70, but there's a still a touch of the overgrown schoolboy about him.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jul/03/david-wood-the-tiger-who-came-to-tea-west-end