Pulitzer Prize-winning author Professor Stephen Greenblatt has visited Iran during the First International Conference on Shakespeare Studies at the University of Tehran, Press TV reports.
“I never thought that Shakespeare would become my magic carpet to the land of Persia, where I wished I could have seen someday,” said Harvard scholar Prof. Greenblatt when he expressed his enthusiasm for Iran and Persian cultural and historical heritage during the conference.
One of the world’s most celebrated Shakespearean scholars, Greenblatt took part in the conference and delivered a keynote speech on November 26.
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/29.)
Harold Pinter was a born letter writer. In later years his communications, at least to me as his biographer, largely took the form of cryptic postcards. Often they accompanied the text of a new play, or poem, and would simply say, in his boldly assertive hand, “Here it is.” But, in his 20s, Pinter wrote long letters to the close friends of his Hackney youth and a tranche of them has been acquired by the British Library from Henry Woolf and the estate of the late Mick Goldstein. From a brief sampling of them several things emerge: Pinter’s enduring capacity for friendship, his instinctive appreciation of Samuel Beckett and his passionate love of cricket.
None of this may surprise us, but it is fascinating to have it so richly confirmed by the letters; and the mere fact of their existence is testament to Pinter’s life-long devotion to his Hackney pals. In the immediate postwar years, a gang of them – including Pinter, Woolf, Goldstein and Moishe Wernick – would sit in Hackney cafes, endlessly argue and exchange ideas and go on whatever cultural jaunts they could afford. Although it was a democratic group, Pinter instinctively assumed the role of leader of the pack. As Woolf wrote in a moving essay in the memorial volume of the annual Pinter Review: “Without a penny in his pocket, he still lit up the world like a glow torch: when he wasn’t introducing us to Beckett or Henry Miller, he was dragging us off to see avant-garde movies like Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou and we roamed around Hackney spouting Dylan Thomas or John Webster’s The White Devil.”
(Tom Ward’s article appeared in Esquire Weekly, UK, 11/4, via Pam Green.)
When I was 25, I wish I’d know how easy it is to be out. I think my life started when I was 49. It was like discovering religion and being born again. The person who encouraged me to do so was Armistead Maupin, author of Tales Of The City. It was the best advice I've ever had, for my life and my career.
Some relationships get easier as you get older, depending on what sort of person you are. I don’t think I’ve got any better at them.
I like sleeping a lot. I was asleep half an hour ago. My friend said I enjoy it because I don’t want to face up to the world.
Self presentation is something we all care about. Once human beings start wearing clothes or cutting their hair – neither of them particularly natural things to do – then you are making decisions as to how you look and how you want people to think.
Anne Elliott, who contributed to our ONE ON ONE: THE BEST WOMEN'S MONOLOGUES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, e-mailed to say that she is happy to announce the publication of her first standalone title, brought to you by Ploughshares Solos. At the moment, Anne tells us, it is exclusively available for Kindle (or Kindle app on your tablet/smartphone/computer), but in the future, Ploughshares will also publish a print omnibus edition with this and other stories.
We’re huge fans of Anne Elliott’s work here at Stage Voices, and it’s such an honor to tell you about her new publication.
About the story:
Meet Clay, a Brooklyn performance artist who is sick of being broke. Sporting a row of stitches from his last show, and severely in debt to both family and girlfriend, he decides to do the unthinkable: get a straight job. "The Beginning of the End of the Beginning" is a bittersweet romp through the innocence of 1999 New York City, a time when heartbreak was still heartbreak and broke was still broke, but the city itself felt unsinkable.
(Phoebe Taplin’s article appeared in ‘Russia Beyond the Headlines, 11/26.)
Biography wrestles with the filmmaker’s remarkable life
Glagoslav Publications has published “Andrei Tarkovsky: Life on the Cross,” a work by author Lyudmila Boyadzhieva detailing the life of this Russian director who could be as difficult personally as he was brilliant professionally.
The metaphor underlying Lyudmila Boyadzhieva’s fictionalized biography is the image of revered Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky as Christ. With his messianic approach to creativity – “for me making films is a moral activity,” she quotes him saying – and his ideological persecution by the Soviet authorities, Tarkovsky is ripe for hagiography.
Boyadzhieva does not flinch from portraying his human failings, too. Tarkovsky may have been a genius and cinematic pioneer, but clearly he could also be a very annoying man. He was misogynistic – “a woman does not have her own inner world” – stubborn, insecure, naïve, irritable, intolerant and “provocatively direct.” His observational skills, Boyadzhieva remarks dryly, lay more in “a refined perception of the smallest manifestations of the outside world, than in knowing how to relate to people
(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/28.)
Other plays – notably Tom Stoppard’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour – have been written about the cruel absurdity by which the Soviet system subjected political dissidents to psychiatric imprisonment. Eve Leigh, in her first full-length play, gives the situation a new twist by showing how the need for stories subverts the relationship between interrogator and prisoner.
Because Leigh’s play is based on an incident in the life of activist Vladimir Bukovksy, one has to accept its plausibility. What we see is a captive writer, Gavriil, given access to a prison library of books that are forbidden to the inquisitive Yurchak, who is in charge of breaking down his resistance to Soviet authority. Gradually, Yurchak’s desire to explore Gavriil’s personal narrative turns into a hunger to know the stories of such famously banned literature as Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and Yevgeny Schwartz’s The Dragon. It’s a situation fraught with paradox, which Leigh examines with some subtlety, as Yurchak’s attachment to the forbidden is matched by Gavriil’s reluctant complicity with a despised political system.
(Jeremy Egner’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/20, via Pam Green.)
Mike Nichols, one of the few directors to achieve commercial and critical success in Hollywood and on Broadway, died on Wednesday. He was 83.
Mr. Nichols oversaw an impressive array of films, plays and television programs, including “The Graduate” in 1967, the Neil Simon play “The Odd Couple” in 1965 and the HBO adaptation of “Angels in America” in 2003. As recently as 2012, he won a Tony for directing a celebrated revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”
(Jennifer Schuessler’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/25.)
First folios of Shakespeare’s plays are among the world’s rarest books, intensely scrutinized by scholars for what their sometimes-minute variations — each copy is different — reveal about the playwright’s intentions.
Now a previously unknown folio has surfaced at a small library in northern France, bringing the world’s known total of surviving first folios to 233.
“This is huge,” said Eric Rasmussen, an American Shakespeare expert who traveled to France over the weekend to authenticate the volume. “First folios don’t turn up very often, and when they do, it’s usually a really chewed up, uninteresting copy. But this one is magnificent.”
YES, AT THE DRAMA BOOK SHOP, SAT., DEC. 29, BOB SHUMAN (FROM STAGE VOICES) WITH JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY, CRAIG MCNULTY, ROBERT Z. GRANT, PETER CARROZZO, LISA KICIELINSKI, MARK BORCKOWSKI, DAVID CAUDLE, LUCY THURBER, LISA KRON
FOR THE INDIES FIRST CAMPAIGN, THEATRE PROFESSIONALS WILL WORK AT THE DRAMA BOOK SHOP—AND HELP YOU BEGIN THE HOLIDAY SEASON THE RIGHT WAY
ADDRESS FOR THE DRAMA BOOK SHOP:
250 West 40th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
(Feingold’s article appeared on Theatermania, 11/21.)
I am not a disaster collector by nature. I go into every show hoping it will succeed, and hoping even more that it will succeed in pleasing me. But some shows please nobody. They arrive; they get darkly dour reviews; they meet cold, silent audiences in three-fourths-empty houses; and quickly they depart. The puzzle is often how they got there in the first place: Eric Bentley, reviewing New York theater in the 1950s, said the existence of life in the universe would probably be easier to explain than how certain plays got to Broadway. And the more time you spend in the theater, whether as practitioner, critic, or audience member, the more such enigmas you confront.
We call them "turkeys." The name comes from the holiday season's traditional dinner entree, which makes November the appropriate time for this column. Producers used to put up cheap, hastily mounted shows, built to run only between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night. They tapped into the holiday time's enlarged audience — kids home from school, visiting relatives — and trusted the seasonal good cheer to help playgoers overlook the shoddiness of the work onstage. The technical and artistic standards for holiday shows have improved, but the term has stuck, now meaning anything that is shoddy, sloppy, pointless, or artistically ineffectual enough to appeal to no audience and to close quickly.