QUENTIN TARANTINO: HOW SPAGHETTI WESTERNS SHAPED MODERN CINEMA ·

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(Tarantino’s article appeared in the Spectator, 3/30.)

The movie that made me consider filmmaking, the movie that showed me how a director does what he does, how a director can control a movie through his camera, is Once Upon a Time in the West. It was almost like a film school in a movie. It really illustrated how to make an impact as a filmmaker. How to give your work a signature. I found myself completely fascinated, thinking: ‘That’s how you do it.’ It ended up creating an aesthetic in my mind.

There have only been a few filmmakers who have gone into an old genre and created a new universe out of it. I really like the idea of creating something new out of an old genre. To some degree, Jean-Pierre Melville did it with the French gangster films. But those Italian guys — Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessari and Franco Giraldi — did it best. They mostly started off as critics and worked their way up to screenwriters. And then they became the second unit guys, the guys that deliver the action. You have to go to the French New Wave to find a group of men who loved cinema as much as they did — except Leone and the others had a thriving film industry they could work their way into.

Leone’s movies weren’t just influenced by style. There was also a realism to them: those shitty Mexican towns, the little shacks — a bit bigger to accommodate the camera — all the plates they put the beans on, the big wooden spoons. The films were so realistic, which had always seemed to be missing in the westerns of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, in the brutality and the different shades of grey and black. Leone found an even darker black and off-white. There is realism in his presentation of the Civil War in The Good, the Bad and the Uglythat was missing from all the Civil War movies that happened before him. Wild and grandiose as it was, there was never a sentimental streak. Every once in a while he would do a sentimental thing like when the Man with No Name would hand a smoke to a dying soldier in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but that’s just about as close to sentimentality as he got.

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2,000-YEAR-OLD MARBLE HEAD OF GOD DIONYSUS DISCOVERED UNDER ROME ·

Photo © EPA-EFE/MUNICIPALITY OF ROME

(Nick Squires’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 5/28.)

The head of a deity emerges during excavations under Rome Town Hall

Archeologists in Rome have stumbled on a large marble head of Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, the ancient Roman god of wine, dance and fertility.

The discovery was made during excavations in the heart of the city, near the remains of the ancient Roman Forum.

The head would have belonged to a large statue of the god dating back to the imperial era.

The archaeologists were digging around the remains of a medieval wall when they found the marble head, which they believe represents Dionysus, who the Romans knew as Bacchus.

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AT 11, I SAT IN SEAT D8. NOW I’M ONSTAGE IN ‘BEETLEJUICE.’ ·

(Rob McClure’s article appeared in The New York Time, 5/6; via Pam Green.)

When did “sentimental” become a bad word?

I’ve always felt the opposite. I became an actor because I enjoy being moved, and therefore strive to move others. I don’t know how one pursues a life in the arts without sentiment. And yet that word has been discredited, or even weaponized, to mean “cheap” or “trite.” It’s as if we don’t want to get caught feeling too much these days.

At the end of April, I opened my seventh Broadway show, “Beetlejuice,” at the Winter Garden Theater. I am immensely lucky. Yes, there are two decades of hard work behind me, thousands of “Nos” for every “Yes,” and I had the goods to stick with it.

But let’s be real. I’m also lucky. My successes are not wholly my own. I share them with those who provided me the millions of nudges, inadvertent and purposeful, that helped me. So when I noticed a small, sentimental moment of serendipity last week, I decided to celebrate it with a stranger.

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FULL LIST OF THE 2019 TONY AWARD NOMINEES ·

(from The New York Times, 4/30; via Pam Green.)

The Tony Award nominees were announced Tuesday. Below is a list of all the nominees.

  • This morning’s announcement held a few surprises, including the 14 nominations for “Hadestown.” Read our Tony Awards briefingto catch up.
  • Who was left out of the nominations? Here’s a guideto the day’s snubs and surprises.
  • Our chief theater critics spent the season with these shows. Get their take on the nominations in this conversation.
  • Heidi Schreck said she was “in shock” after being nominated as a writer and actress for her Broadway debut, “What the Constitution Means to Me.” Read more reactions from the nominees.

Best Musical

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations

Beetlejuice

Hadestown

The Prom

Tootsie

Best Play

Choir Boy

The Ferryman

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Ink

What the Constitution Means to Me

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SEAN O’CASEY: ‘THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN’ AT IRISH REP–NOW THROUGH JUNE 22 (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Bob Shuman

In The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), now being splendidly revived at Irish Repertory Theatre, until June 22, Sean O’Casey describes his central character, a poet named Donal Davoren, as “attracted in thought towards the moon.”  The same might be said for director Ciarán O`Reilly, who has worked so well under cover of night—his 2009 production of The Emperor Jones was a revelation in pitch black, true to an experimental O’Neill, whom many had never envisaged.  The Shadow of a Gunman, set in Dublin in 1920 (one of O’Casey’s three early plays, collectively called the Dublin Cycle, all of which are being presented by Irish Rep this season), inhabits an overcrowded mise en scène, following daily life in a tenement, which does not allow for differentiation between “bombast and bombs,” to use a phrase from Kenneth Tynan. O’Casey also sees “ideological extremis” as a “spreading stain that distorts idealism and destroys individuals,” a point biographer Patrick McGilligan has made in comparing the overlapping themes of the playwright’s work and the late films of Alfred Hitchcock (the movie director’s early screen version of Juno and the Paycock–his roots were Irish–was made in 1930, and he continued to think highly of O’Casey’s characters, even if the two did not always get along). 

In the new production, there is excitement in seeing Michael Mellamphy playing the spoon peddler, Seumas Shields, the tenant who owes eleven weeks of back rent, a man caught in a country’s political mechanisms (which only allow for cowards or the annihilated).  He’s a roaring Bert Lahr (“[the Irish people] treat a joke as a serious thing and a serious thing as a joke”), an absurd Ionesco cipher, who perfectly matches O’Casey’s intentions: “a heavily built man of thirty-five . . . in him is frequently manifested the superstition, the fear and malignity of primitive man.” His roommate, a sensitive Shelley wannabe, writing in an ancient country of poets, now a radicalized population, is a strange selection for Shields to lodge with. Davoren (James Russell, a dead ringer for a young Sam Waterston, in both looks and voice) does not seem to be much of a bard—but, more importantly, he apparently does not have any money, either. They are Felix and Oscar at the revolution, an Odd Couple, on the way to a beheading. Their housing is packed, with singers and drunks and gossips and itinerants; their lives so slack and slovenly, there is no way of differentiating between minutia and danger, for the characters or the audience.  Such blurring might have been of interest to Hitchcock, in terms of precedent and suspense creation—North by Northwest, for example, is also the unclarified story of a misidentified innocent man involved with a compromised heroine. In The Shadow of a Gunman, the young working girl, Minnie Powell (an unpretentious Meg Hennessy), is romantic as well as mixed up;  confused enough to believe that one of the roommates is an IRA hit man.

The second act, set under lighting designer Michael Gottlieb’s evocative moonlight (the scenic design is by Charlie Corcoran, with costumes by Linda Fisher and David Toser), is right for the Romantics, but piercing enough for the play’s stark militaristic underpinnings. When people say they like theatrical realism, this is what they are talking about—highly idiomatic writing, full and specific, even repeating.  O’Casey weaves in the mystical and paranormal, too, besides Catholic iconography, by the discussion of supernatural wall tappings (in Juno and the Paycock, one of the characters is involved in theosophy). David Lean, another famous director, also tried to juxtapose Ireland in dark and light, in romanticism and realism, in fantasy and tragedy, in a story set during the same historical period (an adaptation of Madame Bovary, really), only to produce a bomb of the cinematic kind (Freddie Young’s photography did win the Oscar, however).  Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was too expansive, too big for its story and went into filming without Marlon Brando, maybe someone who could have saved it.  Whether or not the movie has achieved greater estimation over the years, Lean, on reflection, thought it might have worked if he had added a single line for his young heroine, in Robert Bolt’s screenplay:  “Rosie, you’re looking at the world through rose-colored glasses now.”  Maybe a harsher insight to come by is that it is the rare Irish person who could ever see Ireland as rose-colored, even in love, given its history.  Although Casey explains, “The Irish people are very fond of turning a serious thing into a joke,” he refutes the idea in The Shadow of a Gunman, instead considering, along with O’Reilly, the dark costs of war and fervor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN by Sean O’Casey

Directed by Ciarán O`Reilly

With

James Russell, Una Clancy,  Terry Donnelly,  Rory Duffy, Meg Hennessy,  John Keating,  Robert Langdon Lloyd, Ed Malone,  Michael Mellamphy, and Harry Smith

Scenic design by Charli e Corcoran, costume design by Linda Fisher and David Toser, lighting design by Michael Gottlieb, sound design by Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab, and properties by Deirdre Brennan.

Visit Irish Repertory Theatre 

Photos: (cast) Carol Rosegg; Tripadvisor.com

HOW THESE BLACK PLAYWRIGHTS ARE CHALLENGING AMERICAN THEATER ·

(Michael Paulson’s and Nicole Herrington’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/25; via Pam Green.)

Jackie Sibblies Drury, Jeremy O. Harris, Antoinette Nwandu and Jordan E. Cooper, on influences, gatekeepers and helping “the young black theater nerd find work that looks like them.”

They are the talk of the theater world: a generation of black playwrights whose fiercely political and formally inventive works are challenging audiences, critics and the culture at large to think about race, and racism, in new ways.

With a mix of fury and outrageous humor, their work conveys concerns that have long challenged this nation, including persistent inequities and the legacy of slavery. Yet they are specifically informed by both the political whiplash of the Obama to Trump transition and the deaths of African-American men and women in encounters with the police.

Many of the plays also confront the white gaze prevalent in the theater world. Two works this season even invited white patrons to relocate, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Fairview,” by leaving their seats and being observed on the stage, and in “What to Send Up When It Goes Down” by leaving the auditorium during the final minutes of a work about black grief.

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SHAKESPEARE: ‘THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

 

Listen

This and the Two Gentlemen of Verona are the least performed of the Shakespeare cannon and I wanted to see the progression between the first and the last. It is for this reason that I have given this production a modern feel in terms of sound and music. I wanted to record them with the same actors entirely on location to give the sense of a strolling company, making the most of the countryside around enabling them to be as honest to the story as they possibly could be.

On the day planned for his wedding to Hippolyta, Duke Theseus of Athens is petitioned by three queens to go to war against King Creon of Thebes, who has deprived their dead husbands of proper burial rites. In Thebes, the ‘two noble kinsmen’, Palamon and Arcite, realize that their own hatred of Creon’s tyranny must be put aside while their native city is in danger, but in spite of their valour in battle it is Theseus who is victorious. Imprisoned in Athens, the cousins catch sight of Hippolyta’s sister, Emilia, and both fall instantly in love with her. Arcite is set free, but disguises himself rather than return to Thebes, while Palamon escapes with the help of the Jailer’s Daughter, who loves him. Meeting each other, the kinsmen agree that mortal combat between them must decide the issue, but they are discovered by Theseus who is persuaded to revoke his sentence of death and instead decrees that a tournament shall decide which cousin is to be married to the indecisive Emilia and which is to lose his head. The Jailer’s Daughter has been driven mad by unrequited love, but accepts her former suitor when he pretends to be Palamon. Before the tournament Arcite makes a lengthy invocation to Mars, while Palamon prays to Venus and Emilia to Diana – for victory to go to the one who loves her best. Although Arcite triumphs, he is thrown from his horse before the death sentence on Palamon can be carried out, and with his last breath bequeaths Emilia to his friend.

JAILER’S DAUGHTER ….. Lyndsey Marshal 
EMILIA ….. Kate Phillips 
PALAMON ….. Blake Ritson 
ARCITE ….. Nikesh Patel 
THESEUS ….. Ray Fearon 
HIPPOLYTA ….. Emma Fielding 
JAILER ….. Hugh Ross 
PIRITHIOUS ….. Daniel Ryan 
WOOER ….. Oliver Chris 
QUEEN 1 ….. Susan Salmon 
QUEEN 2 ….. Sara Markland 
QUEEN 3/DOCTOR ….. Jane Whittenshaw 
COUNTRYMAN 1/FRIEND ….. Sam Dale 
ARTESIUS/COUNTRYMAN 2 ….. Carl Prekopp 
COUNTRYMAN 3/BROTHER ….. Pip Donaghy

Music composed and performed by Tom Glenister and sung by Emma Mackey and Tom Glenister

ALIEN THE PLAY FULL SHOW NORTH BERGEN NJ HIGH SCHOOL 4K ·

ButtonSmasher

Published on Apr 27, 2019

Alien The Play Full Show North Bergen NJ High School 4K including introduction and thank you from Sigourney Weaver #AlienThePlay #Alien #AlienDay #SigourneyWeaver #NorthBergen

Category

Gaming

Music in this video

Song

The Covenant

Artist

Jed Kurzel

Album

Alien: Covenant (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Licensed to YouTube by

Believe Music, WMG (on behalf of Editions Milan Music); SOLAR Music Rights Management, and 8 Music Rights Societies

Song

The Alien Planet (From “Alien” Soundtrack)

Artist

Jerry Goldsmith

Licensed to YouTube by

UMG (on behalf of UME Custom Premium); UBEM, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, Warner Chappell, ARESA, LatinAutor, and 2 Music Rights Societies

Song

13 Ghosts II

Artist

Nine Inch Nails

Album

Ghosts I-IV

Writers

Óli

Licensed to YouTube by

Audiam (Label) (on behalf of The Null Corporation); UBEM, Kobalt Music Publishing, Adorando Brazil, UMPG Publishing, LatinAutor – UMPG, LatinAutor, and 14 Music Rights Societies

‘TOOTSIE’: THEATER REVIEW ·

(David Rooney’s article appeared on The Hollywood Reporter, 4/23; via the Drudge Report.)

Santino Fontana steps into Dustin Hoffman’s Spanx in this contemporary musical update of the classic screen comedy about a gifted but unemployable actor who goes incognito as a woman to land a role.

Alongside a sparkling script and a situation that was pure comedy gold, the key element that made Sydney Pollack’s 1982 movie Tootsie such a warmly pleasurable farce was the fact that Dustin Hoffman’s frustrated actor Michael Dorsey doesn’t just slip on a dress, wig and heels and assume a female voice to pass himself off as actress Dorothy Michaels, he creates a three-dimensional character. She’s the fanatical actor’s greatest role. Sure, the insufferable perfectionist that blew a thousand auditions is still in there, but Dorothy also is a fully realized individual. She thinks and acts with her own instincts, experiencing the realities of working in a demoralizingly sexist industry in a way Michael never could.

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Photo: The New York Times