Monthly Archives: July 2020

THE HOMEBOUND PROJECT ANNOUNCES LINEUP FOR FIFTH AND FINAL EDITION AIRING AUGUST 5–9 ·

(Via John Wyszniewski, Everyman Agency.)

Laurie Metcalf, Kelli O’Hara, Brian Cox, Austin Pendleton, Daniel K. Isaac, and More Premiere New Work by Craig Lucas, Lena Dunham, Sylvia Khoury, Stephen Karam, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Among Others, with Guest Directors Pam MacKinnon and Scott Ellis

Over $100,000 Raised To Date For No Kid Hungry – Can Help Provide Up To 1 Million Meals For Children In Need

Anonymous Donor Matching All Donations for Series 5 Up to $20,000

Following an “ambitious” (New York Times) debut on May 6 with an “extremely impressive roster of leading actors and writers” (Time Out New York), The Homebound Project is pleased to announce the lineup for its fifth and final edition of new online theater benefiting hungry children affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Co-creators Catya McMullen and Jenna Worsham, along with their all-volunteer team, are also pleased to announce that over $100,000 has been raised to date for No Kid Hungry, a national campaign working to end childhood hunger. Through No Kid Hungry, this amount can help connect kids in need across the country with up to 1 million healthy meals. For this fifth and final edition of The Homebound Project, an anonymous donor will be matching all donations, dollar for dollar, up to $20,000.

The playwrights in the fifth edition of The Homebound Project, airing August 5–9, 2020, have been given the prompt of “Homemade.” Participating actors, playwrights, and directors include:

Brian Cox and Nicole Ansari-Cox in a work by Melis Aker, directed by Tatiana Pandiani;

Joslyn DeFreece in a work by Lloyd Suh, directed by Colette Robert;

A work by Lena Dunham, directed by Maggie Burrows, performer TBA;

Ryan J. Haddad in a work by Christopher Oscar Peña, directed by Jaki Bradley;

Daniel K. Isaac in a work by Sylvia Khoury;

Andy Lucien in a work by Donnetta Lavinia Grays;

Laurie Metcalf in work by Stephen Karam;

Kelli O’Hara in a work by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis;

Austin Pendleton in a work by Craig Lucas, directed by Pam MacKinnon;

Cesar J. Rosado in a work by Basil Kreimendahl, directed by Samantha Soule;

Amanda Seyfried in a work by Catya McMullen; directed by Jenna Worsham; and

Johnny Sibilly in a work by Korde Arrington Tuttle, directed by Jenna Worsham.

The fifth edition of The Homebound Project will stream online beginning at 7pm EST on Wednesday, August 5 until 7pm EST on Sunday, August 9. View-at-home tickets are currently on sale at homeboundtheater.org and begin at a donation level of $10. Complimentary viewings for first responders and essential workers have been made possible by an anonymous donor. Each collection from this independent theater initiative is available to stream over a strictly limited 4-day period.

Founded by playwright Catya McMullen and director Jenna WorshamThe Homebound Project is an independent online theater initiative created to help feed hungry children affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Each edition features a collection of new theater works written by homebound playwrights and recorded by sheltering actors.

The Homebound Project features costume consultation by Andy Jean, original music and sound design by Fan Zhang, and video editing and design by Jon Burkland/ZANNI Productions

“The child hunger crisis needs our attention at this critical and traumatic national moment,” says co-creator Jenna Worsham. “We are monumentally grateful for the exquisite work of our volunteer artists and generous support from audiences around the world. As The Homebound Project draws to a close for now, our shared mission to help those most vulnerable during this crisis should and will continue.”

“Hungry children in our country are facing one of the worst crises we’ve seen in our lifetime. But thanks to generous partners like The Homebound Project and its donors, they’re not facing it alone,” said Billy Shore, executive chair of Share Our Strength, the nonprofit behind the No Kid Hungry campaign. “We’re truly grateful for this support that will help feed children during this pandemic and the long recovery ahead.”

“1 in 4 children in the U.S. could face hunger this year because of the coronavirus – and that includes many in New York City,” said Rachel Sabella, director of No Kid Hungry in New York. “The Homebound Project is proof that everyone can play a role in helping these kids, whether you’re an actor, producer, writer, director, viewer or otherwise. Kids need whatever strength we’re willing to share in this fight.”

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THE SHOW MUST GO ONLINE: ‘HENRY IV, PART I’ ·

THE SHOW MUST GO ONLINE: HENRY IV PART I

 

PLAYLIST: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… SUPPORT THE CAST AND CREW: https://patreon.com/theshowmustgoonline HOMEPAGE: https://robmyles.co.uk/theshowmustgoo… Follow: @TSMGOnlineLive on Twitter | @TheShowMustGoOnline on Facebook/Insta TIME IN AWARDS: bit.ly/2UYLQCu ENTER: The Show Must Go Online – Shakespeare for everyone: a global movement creating new productions of the Complete Plays, performed live every Wednesday, free forever CAST: HENRY PERCY “HOTSPUR” – Mark Laverty HENRY “HAL”, PRINCE OF WALES – Seb Yates-Cridland @seb_wyc KING HENRY IV – Andy McLeod @AndyMcleod09 THOMAS PERCY, EARL OF WORCESTER – Gillian Barmes SIR JOHN FALSTAFF – Jack Baldwin @JonJackBaldwin OWEN GLENDOWER – Leo Atkin SIR RICHARD VERNON – Sakuntala Ramanee EDMUND MORTIMER, EARL OF MARCH – Naila Mansour @NailaMansouroff LADY PERCY – Natalie Ann Boyd @natalieannboyd ARCHIBALD, EARL OF DOUGLAS – Julie Martis @juliemartis SIR WALTER BLUNT – Callum Lloyd @CallumLloydT EARL OF WESTMORLAND – Shamiso Mushambi @ShamisoMushambi EDWARD POINS – Duncan Hess @TheRealMrHess HENRY PERCY, EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND – Simon Balcon RICHARD SCROOP, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK – Henry Jenkinson @henryjenkinson BARDOLPH – Daniel Cordova @dancordova ENSEMBLE – Rhiannon Willans @rnwillans, Jason Blackwater @JasonBlackwater, Philippa Hammond @philippa_uk, Sasha Wilson @_sashawilson SWINGS – Danny Adams @dannyeadams, Phoebe Elliott @phoebeelliott96 GUEST SPEAKER: Eric Rasmussen Eric Rasmussen is Foundation Professor of English at the University of Nevada. He is the co-editor, along with Sir Jonathan Bate, of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of Shakespeare. PRODUCTION TEAM: Director: Robert Myles @robmyles Producer: Sarah Peachey @PeacheyLDN Casting Director: Sydney Aldridge @sydneyamee Stage Manager & Master of Props: Emily Ingram @EmilyCIngram Fight Direction/Stunts: Yarit Dor & Enric Ortuno @YaritDor @EnricOrtuno Sound Design: Adam Woodhams @AdamWoodhams1 Guest Speaker Curation: Ben Crystal @bencrystal Associate Producers: Natalie Chan @NatalieNat_Chan Matthew Rhodes @RhodesTheatre Social Media & Patreon Manager: Ruth Page @ruthfpage Infrastructure Support: Dr Ed Guccione, Dr Kay Guccione PR: Kate Morley @KMorleyPR Welsh Translations: Lynwen Haf Roberts

FORGOTTEN PLAYS: NO 9 – ‘THE WORDS UPON THE WINDOW-PANE’ AND ‘PURGATORY’ BY WB YEATS ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian,  7/27; Above, Yeats’s masterpiece … Peter Cormican as the Old Man in a 2009 production of Purgatory at the Irish Repertory Theatre, New York. Photograph: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)

A drama in which the spirit of Jonathan Swift haunts a seance and an astonishingly brief update of the Oresteia confirm the poet’s remarkable skills as a playwright

Few plays are more forgotten than those of WB Yeats. Revered as a poet, he’s ignored as a dramatist yet he deserves to be remembered for a number of reasons. He cofounded the Abbey theatre in 1904, he put Irish legend and history on stage, and he sought to create a drama “close to pure music”. His output was huge – his Collected Plays runs to more than 700 pages – and I’ve plucked out two of his works that, while vastly different in style, show his fixation with death, expiation and eternal recurrence.

The Words Upon the Window-Pane (1930) is in many ways exceptional: it is Yeats’s only play with a realistic modern setting. Its subject is a seance held by the Dublin Spiritualist Association in rooms once occupied by Jonathan Swift’s Stella. Yeats has much fun at the expense of the visitors – one of whom wants advice about setting up a teashop in Folkestone – but the main concern is to expel an evil spirit who has been haunting past sessions. It turns out to be that of Swift whom we hear – through the medium, Mrs Henderson – bitterly rejecting offers of love from the two women who most adored him.

What is astonishing is the way Yeats pulls off a double trick. Far from being an attack on Swift, the play is a defence of his refusal to beget children because of his dread of the future. But, rather like David Mamet’s The Shawl about a phoney clairvoyant with psychic gifts, the play suggests that the money-grubbing Mrs Henderson may actually have conjured up the crabbed spirit of Dublin’s celibate dean.

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READ ‘REAGAN’S COWBOYS’ ALONG WITH MAUREEN DOWD ARTICLE IN NY TIMES, 8/8 ·

MOB RULE:  JOHN B. ROBERTS II ON THE 1984 REELECTION CAMPAIGN’S SECRET OPERATION AGAINST GERALDINE FERRARO, THINKING OUTSIDE THE BALLOT BOX, AND HIS NEW BOOK  ON MORNING IN AMERICA:  “REAGAN’S COWBOYS”

In the run-up to the 2020 election, Reagan Political Strategist John B. Roberts II looks back at 1984—only  to find a highly controversial president, a terrible economy, and mass protests in the streets.  The parallels go on . . .

Interview with Bob Shuman, Stage Voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is an issue from the 1984 Reagan campaign that is also important to a millennial–and why?

The economy. Until 1983, America had a terrible economy for a decade. It began with an oil embargo and gas shortages. We waited in long lines to try to fill our cars, at prices that spiked more than 150 percent.  I was a college graduate in 1973.  Jobs were impossible to find, and when you did find them, wages couldn’t keep up with double-digit inflation.  I vividly remember how hard it was to land a job and how it seemed impossible to ever buy a home.  It was really dismal, a lot like it has been for millennials.

Reagan was a highly controversial president, it should be recalled.  There were mass protests in the streets, a difficult economy, Russian interference in elections; the parallels go and on.  For those who do not remember that time, this look backward may reveal that no matter how bad things seem, they can turn around for the better.

Why hasn’t the story of the 1984 reelection campaign’s secret operation against Geraldine Ferraro been told before–and do you think reasons had to do with protecting participants?

By design, only a handful of us knew the full extent of the operation, even when it was happening.  We had lots of people working on the investigations, but they didn’t know everyone who was involved or what people outside of their cluster were doing.  It was a compartmented operation and only I, my colleague Art Teele, and the Reagans’ closest advisor, Stu Spencer, knew the complete story.  In late 1984, an editor at Knopf told me he was interested in publishing a book about the press coverage of the campaigns, which would have included the Ferraro operation.  Stu Spencer asked me not to write it because he thought it might embarrass the Reagans, especially Nancy. So we kept silent for decades.

 

Besides yourself, name the first Reagan Cowboy to come to mind–and who was he or she?

Mac Baldrige.  He was Reagan’s Commerce Secretary and although he was an Ivy Leaguer and successful businessman, he grew up on a ranch and had been a professional roper, a real rodeo cowboy.  In 1988 he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame.  He and Reagan shared a love of horses and often went riding together.  Baldrige died from injuries in a freak riding accident.  Of course, the second name that comes to mind is Colonel Oliver North, who was a principal in the Iran-Contra affair. He was one of Reagan’s cowboys, whether they went horseback riding or not.   

 

Why was it worth staying with the campaign as you found yourself involved with organized crime?

That’s a really good question.  My mortgage was definitely a factor. But the main thing that kept me on the job was that Reagan declared war on organized crime in 1983.  Attorney General William French Smith ordered U.S. attorneys and the FBI to make the Mafia and other crime groups a top priority.  At the same time Reagan created a high-profile presidential commission to publicly spotlight the dangers.  One question Art Teele and I could never answer was this: was it just a coincidence that a relatively unknown politician with extensive connections to organized crime was picked to run for vice president? Or was the Mafia trying to put someone they could coerce into doing their bidding into the White House?  Because we couldn’t discount that possibility, we stuck with our investigations until the Mondale-Ferraro ticket was defeated.      

 

What do you see as major differences in opposition research then and now?

The dossier of derogatory information British former spy Christopher Steele developed on Trump in 2016 embodies the differences.  Even though the FBI and CIA could not verify the chief allegations in Steele’s dossier, it was used to justify secret surveillance.  The report became part of a counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and was shared with the press, senior officials in the intelligence community, and in the Justice Department. Each and every one of those actions would never have happened in 1984, at least not on my watch or on Art Teele’s watch.  They violate every important principle of a democratic election, from abuse of executive authority to potentially introducing Russian propaganda into a presidential campaign.    

We verified the information we uncovered about Geraldine Ferraro before we disclosed it to anyone.  We then required the main news organizations we worked with to independently verify our leads, as a condition of our sharing the information.  We refused to involve Executive Branch agencies in our investigative work, and the one time we found out someone, on our side, had tried to do so, we shut him down.  Without subpoena powers, without court warrants, without FISA court approved eavesdropping, we nonetheless uncovered politically damaging information.  Some of that information led to a congressional investigation, unanimously approved by every Republican and Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, into Geraldine Ferraro’s compliance with the law.  Unlike in recent years, where the Steele dossier’s allegations remain unproven and investigations into Russian collusion have come up empty-handed, the 1984 investigation into Ferraro found numerous violations of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978

The second part of the Stage Voices interview with John B. Roberts II will appear next Tuesday.

Reagan’s Cowboys by John B. Roberts II, available now from McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers 

View on Amazon

Visit the Web site of John B. Roberts II

Read Part 2 of this interview

Photos: North, Guardian; Steele, Business Insider

Interview (c) 2020 by John B. Roberts II and Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

MAUREEN DOWD NY TIMES ARTICLE, 8/8

No Wrist Corsages, Please

Has America grown since 1984, or will the knives still be out for Biden’s running mate?

Has America grown since 1984, or will the knives still be out for Biden’s running mate?

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — On the cusp of Joe Biden teaming up with a woman, I am casting back to my time covering the first woman who was a serious contender for veep.

The feminist fairy tale — which began with women crying and popping champagne on the convention floor in San Francisco in 1984 — had a sad ending. Cinderella with ashes in her mouth.

It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him. To use Geraldine Ferraro’s favorite expression, “Gimme a break!”

After Walter Mondale picked Ferraro, a Queens congresswoman, the first man and woman to share a ticket had to consider all sorts of things: Could he kiss her on the cheek? (No.) Could he call her “dear” or “honey”? (No.) Could they hug? (No.) Could they tell jokes, as Johnny Carson did, about how angry Joan Mondale would be when her husband kept coming home late and saying he had been in private sessions with the vice president? (No.)

They wanted to be seen as peers, more TV anchor team than suburban couple. Mondale could not seem paternal or patronizing or use phrases like “a ticket with broad appeal.” Ferraro, who walked faster, had to stop bounding ahead of her running mate.

They knew that the way they conducted themselves would forever recast the perception of men and women in politics. So they were wary in the beginning.

As one Democratic consultant put it at the time, “He looked like a teenager on the first date with that ‘How in the world do you pin the corsage on her?’ problem.’’

Before a fund-raiser in New York once, a Democratic official presented Ferraro with a wrist corsage. She refused to put it on. “That I will not do,’’ she told the man politely.

Sometimes, the introductory music for the petite blonde was the 1925 ditty, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.” One magazine hailed her as “America’s Bride.”

When the ticket headed South, Jim Buck Ross, Mississippi’s 70-year-old commissioner of agriculture, called the 48-year-old Ferraro “young lady” and asked if she could bake blueberry muffins.

Ferraro’s historic campaign was full of images never before seen on the presidential trail. As she went onstage, Gerry, as she was universally known, would hand off her pocketbook to an aide. Her charming press spokesman, Francis O’Brien, sometimes ironed her dresses — as her main foreign affairs adviser, Madeleine Albright, looked on.

It was fascinating to see age-old customs through the eyes of a woman candidate.

“People hand me their babies,’’ Ferraro marveled. “As a mother, my instinctive reaction is how do you give your baby to someone who’s a total stranger to kiss, especially with so many colds going around? And especially when the woman is wearing lipstick?”

It was the first time a candidate running for the White House had talked about abortion using the phrase, “If I were pregnant,” and about foreign policy with the phrase, “As the mother of a draft-age son.” The “smartass white boys” around Mondale, as many feminists called them privately, got nervous when she talked about being a mother. How could she be tough and a mother, they wondered, not seeing the obvious: Mothers are tougher than anyone. Fearing white male backlash, they tried to control her bouncy Queens persona.

Ferraro walked the same tightrope that tripped up Hillary Clinton when she wondered if she should wheel around in that debate and tell the creeping Donald Trump to scram.

If she got angry, would she seem shrill, that dread word, and turn off voters? The Mondale inner circle wanted Ferraro to play the traditional running-mate role of hatchet man. But Gloria Steinem warned, “Nothing makes men more anxious than for a woman to be masculine.”

George H.W. Bush excitedly proclaimed after his debate with Ferraro that he had tried to “kick a little ass”; his press aide called Ferraro “bitchy”; and Barbara Bush said Ferraro was a word that “rhymes with rich.”

What started as a goose bump blind date with history curdled, as Ferraro got dragged into a financial mess involving her husband’s real estate business.

Right after the Reagan landslide, Democrats began muttering about returning to white Anglo-Saxon men on the ticket and not having any more “feminized” tickets that didn’t appeal to them.

I called women across the country for a magazine autopsy I was writing and was shocked to hear how ambivalent women still were about a woman running the country.

A 36-year-old mother of three from Bristol, Tenn., told me: “I put myself in her shoes. Could I sit down and logically make decisions for everybody without cracking up? I think women in general are weak. I know that sounds awful. But we women know we have our faults.’’

The next year, Ferraro put out a memoir talking about how depressed and paranoid she got, and how much she cried, admitting that she was not “prepared for the depth of the fury, the bigotry, and the sexism my candidacy would unleash.”

She said that Mondale’s male aides were so condescending that she instructed them to “pretend every time they talk to me or even look at me that I’m a gray-haired Southern gentleman, a senator from Texas.” (In her memoir, Sarah Palin aimed her sharpest barbs at John McCain’s aides.)

We don’t know whom Biden will choose but we do know the sort of hell she will endure at the hands of Team Trump. Even after the #MeToo revolution, even with women deciding this election, have the undercurrents of sexism in America changed so much? Hollywood, after all, only just began forking over major budgets to women directors, after years of absurdly stereotyping them.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, Kellyanne Conway, Kayleigh McEnany, Lara Trump and Jeanine Pirro — the Fox Force Five of retrograde Trumpworld — will have the knives out. Conservatives will undermine the veep candidate with stereotypes. She’s bitchy. She’s a nag. She’s aggressive. She’s ambitious. Who’s wearing the pants here, anyhow?

I asked Francis O’Brien if he thought, three and a half decades after he watched the sandstorm of sexism around Ferraro, whether her successor would have an easier time.

“I think it’s the same, in many ways,” he said. “This is a white Anglo-Saxon country founded by white Anglo-Saxon men for white Anglo-Saxon men. Sexism is like race. It’ll pop out. It’s in our DNA. We’re one of the few Western countries where women have never made it to the top.”

But on the bright side, when Chuck Schumer wanted to call Nancy Pelosi a lioness on Friday, referring to her negotiations with Republicans on the relief bill, he checked with her first to see if she would prefer lion.

The Speaker chose lioness.

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Credit…Diana Walker/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

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AUDRA MCDONALD INTERVIEW: “THEATRE CAN’T MISS THIS MOMENT” ·

(Michael Schulman’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 7/26; Illustration by Nhung Lê.)

Audra McDonald came out of Juilliard in 1993, a twenty-two-year-old with a lyric soprano as pristine as sterling silver, and quickly forged one of the most celebrated careers in Broadway history. A year out of school, she was cast as Carrie Pipperidge in a Lincoln Center revival of “Carousel,” in what was hailed as a breakthrough in “color-blind casting,” and won her first Tony Award for the role. More Tonys followed, for “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” And then more, for “Porgy and Bess” and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” in which she played a broken Billie Holiday. She remains the only performer ever to win six Tonys and the only one to win in all four available categories.

McDonald’s plan for this summer was to play Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” but, like all live theatre, the production was derailed by the pandemic. Instead, she’s been quarantined at her home in Westchester, with her husband, Will Swenson (her co-star in a 2007 production of “110 in the Shade”), their four children (three from previous marriages and a toddler, Sally), plus their eleven-year-old dog and “about five hundred frogs on the outside,” McDonald said recently. Nevertheless, she has not been idle. In April, she appeared, along with Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski, in a memorable rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” as part of an online concert for Stephen Sondheim’s ninetieth birthday. This month, she performed a virtual concert from a space off her garage which she calls the “Chill Room.”

And then there’s the racial reckoning that has spilled over from the Black Lives Matter protests into the theatre world. In June, McDonald co-founded Black Theatre United, along with performers such as Phylicia Rashad, Wendell Pierce, and Billy Porter. At its inaugural town hall, McDonald moderated a conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill, of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund. When I reached McDonald by Zoom, she was in her teen stepson’s bedroom; the “Chill Room” was undergoing an emergency chimney repair, and Sally could be heard singing in the hallway. “As much as we try to stay energetic for her, we just can’t replicate a three-year-old’s energy,” McDonald said. “Although we did just find some caterpillars in our garden, and we’re going to watch them turn into butterflies.” Our conversation—about her own metamorphoses, from a demoralized student at Juilliard, where she survived a suicide attempt, to a Broadway eminence to a community advocate—has been edited and condensed.

The theatre, like many industries, has been thrust into a big, belated moment of racial reckoning. As one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, Black theatre artists in America, how have you been thinking about what your role should be?

You need to do what you can to make more space. Every time that we are able to get into the room, I think it’s your job to create more space. I can’t tell you how many young African-American women, students or whatnot, come up to me and say, “I watched you as a kid, and I remember thinking, If she’s doing Broadway, then I can do it. And I can do it as a soprano. I don’t have to do it in the way that society would mainly see me—a sassy beltress.”

Did you have people like that growing up?

For me, Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll, of course. Ella Fitzgerald. Obviously, she never did Broadway, but that was Ella’s voice. That was no one else’s voice except Ella’s. And, then, Lillias White I just adored. I had the album of “The Wiz,” which I listened to over and over again. I never thought that I would have the career that I ended up having, but I could at least be there. There was at least space to be taken up by Black women.

I’ve always used my voice to call attention to issues that I thought were important. I’ve been on the board of Covenant House for four or five years now, doing work with homeless youth, trying to give them shelter and education and food and dignity. With Black Theatre United, it’s about all of us saying, “We can’t sit on the sidelines. We can lament everything going on, but how can we as a group effect change in some grander way than just on our own?” As Sherrilyn Ifill said in that town hall, “Everybody has to use the tools in your hand.”

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OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND, ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ STAR, DIES AT 104 ·

(Tim Gray’s article appeared in Variety, 7/26; photo: Associated Press; via Pam Green.)

Olivia de Havilland, one of the last remaining actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, two-time Academy Award winner and star of “Gone With the Wind,” has died. She was 104.

Her publicist Lisa Goldberg confirmed the news to Variety, saying de Havilland died from natural causes on Sunday at her residence in Paris.

De Havilland’s former lawyer Suzelle M. Smith said, “Last night, the world lost an international treasure, and I lost a dear friend and beloved client. She died peacefully in Paris.”

Numerous Hollywood figures paid tribute to de Havilland upon the news of her death. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris extended her sympathies, saying, “Olivia de Havilland was not only beautiful and talented, she was a courageous visionary and an inspiration to generations. She was a marvel and a legend. Rest in peace.”

The striking brunette won best actress Oscars for “The Heiress” and “To Each His Own” in the late 1940s, and was Oscar-nominated for “Gone With the Wind,” “The Snake Pit” and “Hold Back the Dawn.”

She was known for her sincerity, fragile beauty and beautiful diction, and for bringing dimension to sympathetic characters. When she made a rare foray into villainous roles, she was expert. But the public preferred her as a heroine, which suited her well, since she said it was harder to play “a good girl” rather than a bad one.

Described as “the last surviving star” of “Gone With the Wind” for more than 50 years, after Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard and Clark Gable died much earlier, she rarely capitalized on that fact, staying mostly out of the limelight and preferring to live a quiet life in France.

De Havilland was beloved in France, where she received the prestigious Legion of Honor in 2010 from then President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Thierry Fremaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival, paid homage to de Havilland on Sunday, noting that she was the first female president of Cannes’ jury in 1965.

“At a time when we question the place of women in cinema, we must remember Olivia de Havilland for her strength in facing off the studios to liberate actors from contracts which exploited them,” said Fremaux. “Strength and courage which she never stopped demonstrating through her career and her life. As for the rest, she was a queen of Hollywood and will also be revered as such in the history of cinema.”

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BLACK PLAYS ARE KNOCKING ON BROADWAY’S DOOR. WILL IT OPEN? ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/22; Photo: Adrienne C. Moore, center, in the Public Theater production of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf,” which has its eye on Broadway.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times; via Pam Green.)

Calls for diversity grow louder, and there are shows in the pipeline. But many are being shepherded by newcomers, not the powerful industry regulars.

The slate of shows scheduled to be staged on Broadway next spring — or whenever large-scale indoor theater is allowed to resume in New York — includes just three with Black writers. All of them are jukebox musicals.

But what if theater owners and operators, mindful of this year’s roiling reconsideration of racial injustice, wanted to present more work by Black artists?

Interviews with artists and producers suggest that there are more than a dozen plays and musicals with Black writers circling Broadway — meaning, in most cases, that the shows have been written, have had promising productions elsewhere, and have support from commercial producers or nonprofit presenters.

But bringing these shows to Broadway would mean making room for producers and artists who often have less experience in commercial theater than the powerful industry regulars who most often get theaters.

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CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (87) ·

I felt so pleasantly and comfortably on the stage because . . . [I] centered my attention on the perceptions and states of my body, at the same time drawing my attention away from what was happening on the other side of the footlights, in the auditorium beyond the black and terrible hole of the proscenium arch. In what I was doing I ceased to be afraid of the audience, and at times forgot that I was on the stage. I noticed that it was especially at such times that my creative mood was most pleasant. (MLIA)

ENTERING A PARIS THEATER, WARILY, AND FINDING A WEIGHT LIFTED ·

(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/16; Photo:“Ionesco Suite,” directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota at the Espace Cardin in Paris. Credit…Jean-Louis Fernandez; via Pam Green.)

Audience members seemed to be asking one another, “Are we really doing this?” But the over-the-top physicality of “Ionesco Suite” was worth it.

After three months of coronavirus-related restrictions, the anxiety doesn’t go away readily. Setting foot inside a Paris theater for the first time in late June, I worried that it was too soon. The audience sat on three sides of the Espace Cardin’s smaller stage — with appropriate gaps — and many people looked at one another furtively, as if to ask: Are we really doing this?

Yet about midway through “Ionesco Suite,” a medley of absurdist scenes by the French playwright Eugène Ionesco, something gave. Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota’s production, first seen in 2005 and much revived since, piles on a series of eerily over-the-top characters, and on this occasion, the seven actors contorted their faces as if their lives depended on it. From feet away, their physical freedom was so tangible that I found myself laughing and wanting to cry; a weight was lifted that no amount of at-home live streams could have made lighter.

French artists are relatively lucky. Performers around the world are at the mercy of infection levels and public policy, and the spread of Covid-19 has been curbed enough in France, for now, that all theaters were allowed to reopen from June 22. Additionally, government funding for the arts means that playing to smaller audiences isn’t a ruinous proposition, even though viewers must leave an empty seat between themselves and other groups.

Still, only a small number of venues have opened their doors. Nearly all summer productions and festivals had been canceled because of the lack of rehearsal time and uncertainty, so many producers have elected to wait until next season.

The Espace Cardin, administered by the Théâtre de la Ville, was first. “Ionesco Suite” was part of “The Wake,” a 48-hour event that comprised performances, concerts and readings at all hours in and around the building. There is no telling who, exactly, emerged from lockdown with a pressing need to listen to Dante’s “Divine Comedy” at 3 a.m., but perhaps that was the point: At last, we could do something unnecessary.

Outside this celebration, small-scale productions are understandably getting the bulk of programmers’ attention. Through the end of July, the Théâtre de la Ville is putting on family-friendly plays with tiny casts at two venues, the Espace Cardin and Les Abbesses, while the Théâtre de Belleville opted to present one-person shows.

Under normal circumstances, all would very likely be overshadowed by more extravagant projects. Theater for young audiences, especially, tends to get short shrift. “Venavi or Why My Sister Isn’t Well,” a penetrating play about grief at Les Abbesses, was first performed in 2011 and has toured extensively since, yet it isn’t nearly as well known as it should be.

Its author, Rodrigue Norman, was born in Togo, and the plot is based on the belief there that twins are sacred beings, feared and celebrated as demigods. The only actor onstage (the highly likable Alexandre Prince) plays Akouété, who dies as a child, leaving his twin sister Akouélé behind.

A soliloquy from beyond the grave sounds grim on paper, but “Venavi,” directed by Olivier Letellier, delicately explores the need for closure after such a loss in terms that the many children in attendance could understand. Since Akouété’s parents don’t acknowledge his death, his sister’s growth is stunted as she waits desperately for him to return from “the woods,” where she is told he has gone.

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FORGOTTEN PLAYS: NO 8 – ‘SAINT’S DAY’ (1951) BY JOHN WHITING ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/20;  photo: Pioneer … John Whiting, right, with CE Webber and Enid Bagnold at the Arts theatre in 1951. Photograph: Bentley Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images.)

The critics howled derisively but this challenging story of the violence lurking beneath

 Where does it all begin? Is there a moment that marks a radical shift in style and tone in postwar drama? The textbooks tell us that the London premieres of Waiting for Godot (1955) and Look Back in Anger (1956) are pivotal landmarks. I would argue, however, that John Whiting’s Saint’s Day (1951) erected a decisive signpost to the future. Critically trashed in its day and rarely seen since, it contains themes and ideas that were to become staples of modern drama.

The play’s history is extraordinary. It won a new play competition, organised by Alec Clunes at London’s prestigious Arts theatre, to celebrate the Festival of Britain. Staged at the Arts in September 1951, it was greeted with the howls of execration that theatre critics traditionally reserve for anything truly innovative. “Of a badness that must be called indescribable,” thundered the Times. That same paper published a letter from leading theatrical lights – including Peter Brook, Tyrone Guthrie, Peggy Ashcroft and John Gielgud – that passionately defended the play. But the damage was done and although Whiting went on to write other plays, including Marching Song and The Devils, he never acquired a secure foothold in British theatre.

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