Category Archives: Current Affairs


(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/23.)

An almost unknown sonnet in the playbook or script of a 1603 play by Ben Jonson could be a “lost” work by William Shakespeare, according to two leading scholars.

Beyond “compelling” stylistic evidence, the sonnet, titled To the Deserving Author, is signed with the mysterious pseudonym Cygnus, after the mythical figure who was turned into a swan – evoking Jonson’s very own tribute to Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon as the “Sweet Swan of Avon”.

Dr Chris Laoutaris, an associate professor of Shakespeare and early modern drama at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, told the Guardian: “This is how Jonson referred to him in his long poem in honour of the playwright in the first folio mourning Shakespeare’s ‘flight’ as the swan, whose living presence shall never again grace England’s stages.”

The sonnet is within the playbook of Jonson’s Sejanus: His Fall, a tragic play set in ancient Rome, in which Shakespeare had acted.

It shares a page with a ditty by Hugh Holland, who also dedicated a commemorative verse to Shakespeare in the first folio.

Laoutaris said that while both sonnets paid tribute to Jonson, they were “very different”. For example, Holland addresses Jonson with the more formal “you” throughout, whereas Cygnus uses the informal “thou”, the form favoured by Shakespeare in his sonnets.

He said: “It’s tantalising. There are so many parallels with Shakespeare’s style that it must surely make even the most hardened sceptic pause and think.”

(Read more)


 (via Michelle Tabnick PR)

 La MaMa presents 

in association with Overtone Industries 


a re-Creation Myth

an interdisciplinary opera theater work by O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley

Executive Producer of the Iceland Project, Michael Harris 

March 24 – April 2, 2023

(Photo credit: Stacia French; Performers (L to R) Angela Yam as The BIRD & Nancy McArthur as Vala)

Overtone Industries presents the World Premiere of ICELAND, a re-Creation Myth, an original multidisciplinary work of opera theater by O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley from March 24-April 2, 2023 at La MaMa, 66 E. 4th Street, 2nd floor, NYC. Tickets are $35 (students/seniors $30). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

A contemporary love story that plays with the ancient mythology of the country itself, ICELAND begins with a seemingly chance encounter between Vala, a disillusioned architect in search of answers, and Mundi, a dispirited wilderness guide mentally scarred by a climbing accident some years before. The heroine and hero embark on separate journeys across the physical and emotional terrain of a glacier, which catapults them into the realm of The Hiddenfolk and the Mythic Beasts. Through Vala and Mundi’s opposing trajectories and eventual union, ICELAND explores – using movement, music, and design – how longing, courage, and the transcendent power of love create a vibrant relationship between the intimacy of human life and the vast dynamic life of the earth.

The piece features an ensemble cast of 14 and an 11-piece chamber orchestra. Jones’ music scores the Hidden World, home to the Huldufólk or Hiddenfolk, beings who live in a parallel world to humans. Tinley’s songs – based in a singer-songwriter folk tradition – give voice to Vala and Mundi’s human desires. The two composers’ styles weave together to create a rich texture in which the Human and the Hidden coexist.

“When I heard Emmett’s song ‘Come to Life,’ it connected with a song I’d written many years before, and the initial idea for ICELAND appeared with a visceral jolt,” said O-Lan Jones, who marks her return to both New York and La MaMa with this production, after first appearing on the La MaMa stage in 1968. “One of the most exciting things about putting ICELAND together is creating a contemporary story permeated by another reality – a parallel world inhabited by the timeless Hiddenfolk. It is also exciting to give voice to Mythic Beasts in a way that is grand, yet personalized enough, to make The Bird, The Giant, The Bull and The Dragon engaging characters. Emmett and I have worked together to develop the story while keeping The Hiddenfolk’s mission alive: their wish to remind us there is a Hidden World of magic and possibilities, which seems so appropriate to the times we live in, when so many people are looking for meaning and connection in the externals provided by the contemporary culture, rather than the mysterious world alive inside. Live theater is a unique way to experience this story, through the depth and presence of the performers. We cannot imagine a better place to present ICELAND than La MaMa – and give audiences a reason to get out of the house and back into live theater spaces!”


“When O-Lan contacted me about collaborating on ICELAND, I was on the lookout for a writing challenge,” said Emmett Tinley. “Although I’ve provided songs for dance performances, most collaborative projects I’ve worked on were studio recordings or concert performances. The challenge in this instance is to compose songs specific to ICELAND that will carry their share of the story but which must integrate with all the other elements of this interdisciplinary work. My interest in anthropology had already led me to some studies of Iceland so when O-Lan outlined the story and setting I was immediately excited by the possibilities. Iceland is a very modern country which remains deeply attached to its rich mythology and this provides a powerful backdrop for the telling of Vala and Mundi’s modern, yet mythic, love story.”


Ariel Andrew, Marieke de Koker, Oliver Demers, Perri di Christina, Clayton Matthews, Nancy McArthur, A.C. “Ace” McCarthy, Matthew Moron, Matt Mueller, Carlos Pedroza, Isabel Springer, Andrew Wannigman,                                      Angela Yam, Daiyao Zhong

Creative Team:

Composer/Librettists: O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley

Director: O-Lan Jones

Music Director: Robert Kahn

Assistant Director: Livia Reiner; with production support from BARE opera

Lighting and Scenic Design: Matthew Imhoff

Costume Designer: Matsy Stinson

Projection Content Design: Melody (Mela) London

The piece is arranged for two leads with a contemporary singer-songwriter sound, four classically trained operatic vocalists, and an SATB ensemble. It is orchestrated for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Harp, Keyboards, French Horn, English Horn/Oboe, Flute, Guitar and Percussion.

…groundbreaking new opera… ingenious use of movement…Jones has gotten a lot of talent to do a lot of disarming things on a grand scale.”

– Los Angeles Times


Overtone Industries has a penchant for…creating an enduring experience that balances beauty of landscapes and soundscapes with thought-provoking theater.”

– Stage and Cinema


Beautifully experimental…perfectly translated for modern ears, ideals, and sensibilities. They are dark, full-bodied, delicious, and potent.”

– BroadwayWorld

O-Lan Jones (Composer, Writer) is an award-winning composer, sound designer, writer, and actress who has been consistently involved in experimental theater, music, and opera since the age of sixteen. The press has referred to her as an “uncategorizable legend.” She has created original sound designs and scores for over fifty productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London and New York, in collaboration with Padua Hills Playwrights, LA Woman’s Shakespeare Company, the Taper Too, Playwrights Horizons, and Bay Area Shakespeare Festival among others.

As an actress, she has originated roles in productions and readings of over 100 plays including

those of Sam Shepard, Julie Hébert, and Beth Henley. Her screen credits include iconic works like Natural Born KillersThe Truman Show, “Seinfeld,” “The X-Files,” “Shameless” and three of Tim Burton’s films including Edward Scissorhands.

Since 2015, Miz Jones has been working with Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio as a composer as well as conductor of the Metabolic Choir weekly singing practice. During the pandemic she conducted the offshoot Interdependence Community Choir using the improvisational methods she invented for The Spontaneous Combustion Choir. This year-and-a-half long project culminated in Lauren Bon’s film, Satellite Radio Choir, recently shown by Brooklyn Rail.

O-Lan founded Overtone Industries in 1980, to develop and produce original opera-theater. Their work has been performed in traditional and non-traditional settings such as La MaMa, The Magic Theater, RedCat, The Kurt Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles and a 25,000 sq’ empty car dealership in Culver City. In 2021 she directed 3 short opera films created in an Overtone workshop where she and Overtone’s Executive Director, Fahad Siadat, guided three teams of composer/librettists in the development of scenes from their original operas for the launch of Overtone’s new mentoring program, Original Vision. Her aim is to make lasting works of art.


Emmett Tinley (Composer, Writer) is an Irish singer-songwriter. Through the 1990s he fronted the critically acclaimed Irish band The Prayer Boat before striking out on his own to forge a solo career. He signed to Atlantic Records in New York in 2000 and went on to re-release The Prayer Boat’s final album Polichinelle in the US in 2001 (Billboard Magazine Album of the Year). This was followed by his first solo album Attic Faith in 2005 which garnered rave reviews (“Up there with the albums of Rufus Wainwright or Jef Buckley…Truly sublime.” – Irish Times; “Tinley’s first solo album, (is) filled with beautiful soundscapes, lush strings and vocal harmonies…. it’s not contemporary rock, pop or country – it strikes one as a gentle and delicate attempt at beauty….” – Sunday Tribune). The album was also nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Best Irish Album of 2005.

2011 saw the release of a second solo album Emmett Tinley through Mass Market Recordings/ V2. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and Denmark and features one of Tinley’s most popular songs, “Takes A Long Time To Heal.” Shortly afterwards Tinley took some time away from recording and touring to pursue university degrees in anthropology and Middle East studies. It was also around this time that he began his collaboration on ICELAND with artistic director O-Lan Jones, initially writing original songs for the music theater production and eventually becoming involved in co-writing the story. The first act premiered at the New Original Works festival at REDCAT in Los Angeles in July 2014. A concert reading of the production premiered at the Ford Amphitheater in October 2016, with Emmett also making his stage acting debut in the leading male protagonist role. A second concert reading of ICELAND took place at the Boston Court in Pasadena in November 2018.

Tinley has since returned to recording and touring, and a new solo album originally planned for

2020 has been rescheduled for release in early 2022.

About Overtone Industries

Overtone Industries develops and presents new multidisciplinary operas and music theater, bringing to life vivid, original stories and myths. Founded in 1980 by Artistic Director O-Lan Jones, Overtone Industries is dedicated to creating original work of mythic proportions. Overtone Industries has produced more than twenty original works across the country at such lauded venues as La MaMa in New York, The Met Theater, and the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles, and the Magic theater in San Francisco. Overtone Industries is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bay Area Critics Circle Award for Original Score, the Dramalogue Award for Best Overall Production, the Ovation Award for Best Costumes, and two Emmy Awards for best Original Score and Design.

For more information, visit


About La MaMa

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theater. La MaMa’s 61st “Remake A World” Season believes in the power of art to bring sustainable change over time and transform our cultural narrative. At La MaMa, new work is created from a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and disciplines, influencing how we think about and experience art. The flexibility of our spaces, specifically the newly reimagined building at 74 East 4th Street (La MaMa’s original permanent home), gives our local and remote communities access to expanded daytime programming. The digital tools embedded in the space allows artists to collaborate remotely, and audiences worldwide to participate in La MaMa’s programming. 

A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O’Horgan, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa’s vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.



(via David Gibbs, DARR Publicity,

Molière in the Park, in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, will present the English language world premiere of Molière’s TARTUFFE OR THE HYPOCRITE, reconstructed by Georges Forestier, translated by Maya Slater, and directed by MIP’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien.

The show runs May 6 – 27 (opens May 11) at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center in Brooklyn – enter at 171 East Drive between Ocean Avenue & Lincoln Road. Tickets are free.

For more info visit

Presenting a never seen before “Tartuffe” seems unimaginable. Yet, that’s what audiences will get a chance to see in Prospect Park this May when Molière in the Park stages the English language world premiere of Molière’s original “Tartuffe,” written in 1664, and immediately banned by the King of France.

Lost to history, this original play was reconstructed by Georges Forestier, a renowned French historian, through a process of historical genetics, and premiered at La Comédie Française in Paris in 2022. Now, it will be presented in English for the first time ever on the Molière in the Park stage. Join MIP for a more confrontational but just as hilarious TARTUFFE OR THE HYPOCRITE, censored and lost because it dared to expose the willful denialism and folly of extreme religiosity.

Photo: Moliere in the Park co-founders Garth Belcon & Lucie Tiberghien – photo by Russ Rowland

Lucie Tiberghien states, “I never thought I’d be able to say Molière in the Park is presenting a new play by Molière. Yet this is what we’re doing, at a time when the two factors that led to the banning and disappearance of the original script have re-emerged in the U.S. with furious energy: censorship, and willful denialism. Theater for all, as free entertainment, as a catalyst for empathy in our communities and as a conduit for political and social discourse is what we set out to offer when founding Molière in the Park. This English language world premiere, penned 359 years ago, gives us a distinct and immediate chance at providing all 3; an exciting AND terrifying prospect because… how exactly have we evolved in those 359 years?”

Cast to be announced at a later date.



(From RTE, 3/21; Photo: Sean O’Casey with Irish actress Siobhan McKenna in March 1953.)

Druid Theatre has announced plans to stage three landmark works by Seán O’Casey later this year.

The Galway-based company will present ‘Druid O’Casey’, featuring the trilogy of The Plough and the Stars, The Shadow of a Gunman and Juno and the Paycock.

The plays cover the period from the 1916 Rising, through to the Civil War, detailing a key period in the country’s history, as seen through the eyes of characters and families living through those times.

The production will have its premiere as part of this year’s Galway International Arts Festival, running for the entire duration of the two week event at the Town Hall Theatre.

Druid says the undertaking will allow audiences to experience O’Casey’s work like never before, with the three plays performed together in one day.

A number of single-play performances will also be staged.

The production will be directed by Garry Hynes and will feature a cast of 18 actors.

Members of the Druid ensemble will be joined by actors including Bosco Hogan, Hilda Fay and Zara Devlin.

After the July premiere in Galway, the plays will tour to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Ms Hynes said it had been a long held ambition of hers to combine the three O’Casey works into one theatrical saga.

(Read more)



(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 3/16/2023; via Pam Green; Photo: Stephen Sondheim’s long-in-the-works Luis Buñuel musical will be staged in September at the Shed.Credit…Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times.)

His long-gestating final show, now titled “Here We Are,” is coming to the Shed; it is inspired by two Luis Buñuel films.

Stephen Sondheim’s long-in-the-works Luis Buñuel musical, which he described as unfinished just days before his death, will be staged in New York this fall, giving audiences the chance to see the final show by one of the most important artists in musical theater history.

The musical, now titled “Here We Are,” is inspired by two Buñuel films, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “The Exterminating Angel.” Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics; the book is by the playwright David Ives (“Venus in Fur”), and Joe Mantello (“Wicked”) will direct.

The show, scheduled to begin performances in September, will be a commercial Off Broadway venture, produced by Tom Kirdahy (“Hadestown”) in a 500-seat theater at the Shed, a multidisciplinary arts venue in Hudson Yards. The Shed, a nonprofit, is being described as a co-presenter.

It is not entirely clear when Sondheim began working on the show, but he first discussed it publicly in 2014, and there were delays and setbacks in the years following. He talked about it occasionally during public appearances; for a time it was called “Buñuel,” and then “Square One”; it was backed at various points by the commercial producer Scott Rudin and by the nonprofit Public Theater. And there were workshops over the years, including one in 2016, and one in 2021 featuring Nathan Lane and Bernadette Peters; casting for the production at the Shed has not been announced, but there are no indications that Lane and Peters have remained with the project.

In an interview days before his death in late 2021, Sondheim described it this way: “I don’t know if I should give the so-called plot away, but the first act is a group of people trying to find a place to have dinner, and they run into all kinds of strange and surreal things, and in the second act, they find a place to have dinner, but they can’t get out.”

Sondheim described the show as incomplete, as did some of his collaborators in the days following his death. It is not clear what state it was in when he died, and what kind of work has been done to it since.

(Read more)



(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/18; via Pam Green.)

The acclaimed actor – who is to receive a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Olivier Awards – says the demise of repertory theatre is putting paid to the vocal prowess

The demise of repertory theatre, where young actors once learned their craft in a resident company, has taken its toll on vocal technique with words “becoming less important” in live performance, according to one of the nation’s most acclaimed stars of stage and screen.

Sir Derek Jacobi told the Observer that “the use of voice, the magic of voice, has all but disappeared [in the theatre]”.

He called for actors and directors “to bring back a sense of vocal expertise, to make the words more important than the sight”. He said: “One of the magic things in the theatre – the uniqueness of the theatre – is the sound. The voice that can fill an auditorium from the front row to the back of the gods is thrilling.”

He added: “It’s the use of voice to express feeling and to lift the words off the page and inhabit them and give them a soul and a sense of feeling and a life.”

Jacobi, who honed his craft with the Birmingham Rep, is about to receive the lifetime achievement award at this year’s Olivier Awards, Britain’s most prestigious stage honours.

Organised by the Society of London Theatre, the ceremony takes place on 2 April at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

It pays tribute to Jacobi’s “remarkable” 60-year career on stage and screen, with acclaimed performances in Shakespeare, both in film and theatre, on the small screen – including I, Claudius and Last Tango in Halifax – and in films such as The King’s Speech.

Jacobi won Olivier Awards for Cyrano de Bergerac and Twelfth Night, and in 1994 was awarded a knighthood for his services to theatre.

He was a founding member of the Royal National Theatre, enlisted by Laurence Olivier himself.

People think they can enter the world of acting by the back door … without putting in the basic groundwork

“He saw me at the Birmingham Rep. The first job he gave me was playing Laertes to Peter O’Toole’s Hamlet, and I stayed with him for the next seven years,” Jacobi said.

He joked that Olivier could also be “a bugger”, even making him cry in one rehearsal. “I was taking over from Albert Finney, a big star. Olivier came to watch the rehearsal. and was vitriolic to me. He hated what he saw and told me so. I was no Albert Finney and I needed to be told that.”

Asked whether Olivier gave constructive criticism, he recalled: “At the time, I thought no. I went away and cried. But of course it was. He wouldn’t destroy just for the sake of destroying. He was better than that. If he destroyed, he created at the same time.”

Of his three years with the Birmingham Rep, he recalled: “We [performed] a new play every four weeks. When I first went, I was absolutely the complete amateur. I was surrounded by very good professional actors and it was a great learning experience.”

(Read more)


(Ray Furlong’s and Golnaz Esfandiari’s reporting appeared on Radio Liberty, 3/14.)

Five Tehran girls were reported to have voiced contrition after posting a dance video that went viral among Iranian social media users. It’s illegal for women to dance in public in Iran, but the video has inspired others across the country to post similar videos with the same song, in a potentially dangerous act of open defiance toward the regime.

(Go to Radio Liberty)


(Michael Bulley’s letter appeared in the Guardian, 3/14; Photo: the Guardian.)

We ruin, waste and trivialise human life by ignoring that, writes Michael Bulley

Charlotte Higgins is right to see Medea, in Euripides’s tragedy, as heroic (Greek tragedies like Medea are an ethical nightmare. That’s why we need them, 11 March). Euripides presents Jason, Medea’s husband, as blind to the power of Aphrodite, and therefore doomed to suffer horribly.

There is a vital speech from Medea, when, having decided to kill her own and Jason’s children, she says: “Yes, I know what sorts of evil things I am going to do, but passion, which is to blame for the greatest evils for mortals, is greater than my considered thoughts.”

Euripides does nothing to justify Medea’s infanticide. It simply stands as a measure of her passion: she loved Jason enough to kill her own children. It is hard to imagine a greater or worse love.

(Read more)


(Jessica Murray’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/8; Photo: Patsy Browne-Hope and Frank Hickman in rehearsals for The Lotus Eaters, the first episode of NT Public Acts’ new five-part Odyssey, at Restoke in Stoke-on-Trent. Photograph: Jenny Harper.)

In episodes developed with communities around England, the production aims to tell ‘a story of resilience and healing and hope’

In his opening monologue for The Lotus Eaters, the first episode of the National Theatre’s forthcoming multi-location production of The Odyssey, actor Tony Dudley enthuses about a statue of Perseus in Trentham Gardens on the fringes of Stoke-on-Trent. It’s one of many ways the production is rooted in the place it was created, in order to reimagine the Greek epic for audiences across England.

“We love doing impossible things, and we wanted to do something we’ve never attempted before,” said Emily Lim, director of Public Acts, the National Theatre’s community arts programme, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary with The Odyssey, presented in five episodes. “The idea of telling one story across the whole country, with lots of different communities living in lots of different places, but ultimately coming together through shared purpose and shared imagination, felt really exciting.”

Dudley, 37, a local amateur actor who has long held a passion for Greek mythology, is a narrator for the play, which sees the Lotus Eaters’ island replaced by a nightclub. “It’s remixing the Odyssey for modern culture,” said Dudley. “It’s about being brave and saying ‘Let’s make something of this, and put a spin on it for the modern age.’” He is part of arts organisation Restoke, one of a number of partner groups the National Theatre has collaborated with on the project

After the performances in Stoke-on-Trent, the story continues in Doncaster, Trowbridge and Sunderland, with each community taking on a different episode of the tale, before performers from all groups unite at the National Theatre in London for the final instalment.

“If you’d have told my 18-year-old self one day you’re going to be on the stage at the National, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Stoke resident and former theatre technician Charis Jones, 50, who plays part of Odysseus’s crew. “It’s been a wonderful experience, and our episode feels very much ours, with all our stories. With a different cast it would be a completely different show.”

(Read more)




(Kerrie O’Brien’s article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, 3/6/2023; Photo: Sydney Morning Herald.)

What David Hare wants to write about at the moment is pretty simple: the fact that two billion of us are doing well in this world and six billion are not.

Often referred to as our greatest living playwright, the 75-year-old Englishman has written 39 plays, many about current events including conflict in the Middle East, media moguls and COVID-19. He received two Academy Award nominations for best-adapted screenplay for writing The Hours in 2002 and The Reader in 2008.

Sir David Hare is only now turning his attention to writing about men.

Speaking ahead of a talk in Melbourne this week, Hare says the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots is the issue of the 21st century. “Global capitalism is not currently delivering an equal way of living,” he says. “So we have this massive disparity between the rich and the poor, which gets greater all the time and makes societies demonstrably unhappier. That, of course, is what I would write about, but god knows how you write about it.”

To his mind, the best writers express something that needs to be said but which has not yet been articulated. What they should do – and what he aims to do – is find the gaps and challenge our preoccupations as a society. All the great playwrights – Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov and Moliere – were way ahead of what society was thinking.

Hare argues a lot of theatre produced today is pious. “I’ve never written the kind of play in which people are told what they already believe,” he says. “I’ve never written ‘rally around the flag’. I would rather not write than write stuff which confirms people in what they already believe.”

When Cate Blanchett starred in his play Plenty in London in the late 1990s, in the part made famous by Meryl Streep in the 1985 film adaptation, some audience members couldn’t cope.

(Read more)