Monthly Archives: August 2013


(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 8/30.)

Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" is, surely, the greatest Chicago play.

Oh, there are other contenders — "The Front Page," this town's namesake musical, even "Clybourne Park," a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama that riffs on Hansberry's 1959 masterpiece. But viewed on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s declaration of "I Have a Dream" in an immersive, intimate, visceral, local, emotional, superbly acted production from Ron OJ Parson at the TimeLine Theatre, there really is no contest.

There is no great body of Hansberry work that would have made this daughter of Chicago a beloved civic treasure in the way that August Wilson forever will be the poet of Pittsburgh. Hansberry died at 34; a crushing loss for American literature. Aside from a second minor drama, she left behind only this play.

But what a piece of work.

It ripples with the complexities of all that is Chicago: It references its street corners; the promise of freedom and economic progress it held for southern blacks of a generation barely removed from slavery; the civic glue of its families; its many heartbreaks; the pride of all its citizens in their neighborhoods and their communities; and the huge possibilities and crippling dangers thereof.,0,4214570.column

(Lorraine Hansberry's writing–To Be Young, Gifted, and Black–is included in One on One: Playing with a Purpose, Monologues for Kids Ages 7-15. View on Amazon:




(from the Irish Times, 8/30.)

Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who has died aged 74, was described by Robert Lowell as “the most important Irish poet since Yeats”. 

Widely acclaimed for his many notable achievements, during his lifetime he undoubtedly was the most popular poet writing in English, and the only poet assured of a place in the bestseller lists. His books sold, and continue to sell, in the tens of thousands, while hordes of “Heaneyboppers” flocked to his readings.

His earliest influences, Robert Frost and Ted Hughes, are reflected throughout his work, but most especially in his first two collections, where he recollected images of his childhood on the family farm in county Derry.

Other poets, especially Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Wordsworth, and Thomas Hardy, as well as Dante, influenced his work.

Heaney did not confine himself to poetry. A respected critic, he also was a distinguished academic and his translations from Greek, Latin, Italian, Irish and Anglo-Saxon reflect the extent of his learning. As a translator he sought to remain true to the original text, and disliked the modern practice whereby a poem is “smashed and grabbed rather than rendered up”.

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(from France 24, 8/8.)

A newly discovered letter between philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, better known for their feud rather than their friendship, reveals they were on talking and socialising terms in the mid 1940s.

Philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus are better known for their feud rather than their friendship. But a newly discovered letter has shed light on their early friendship, before they fell
out over the need for “revolutionary violence”.

The handwritten note was found in an original edition of Sartre’s writings, of which only 60 copies were published, by two booksellers in Orléans.



(Lyn Gardner’s review appeared in the Guardian, 8/26.)

Written for TV in 1965, Samuel Beckett's 30-minute play – about a man endlessly forced to confront his past – has shades of Krapp's Last Tape, a role already excavated with ravaged power by Michael Gambon. This is the crueller piece. In Atom Egoyan's staging for Dublin's Gate theatre, Gambon plays an elderly man alone in a bare, monastic room, who is clearly afraid of something unseen. His hands tremble as he moves about the cell-like space, enacting a well-worn twilight ritual. He locks the door and checks in the cupboard. He peers under the bed like a nervous child looking for monsters. Only when satisfied that he is safe does he perch on the bed.

But he's not safe. In sealing the room he has created a prison, and locked himself into a past from which there is no escape. And he is not alone. A disembodied voice (Penelope Wilton) attacks him with insidious, predatory intent. It is the voice of a discarded lover taking a quiet, measured revenge for her own betrayal and for all the other women whom Joe once sweet-talked into his bed, lying that "the best's to come" even as he abandoned them.




(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/26.)

As perhaps suits a tale of the sea, Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie” is encrusted with layer upon layer of barnacles. The last, daring word in modern theater and modern subject matter when it opened on Broadway in 1921, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of a prostitute’s redemption now seems all but buried in quaintness, myth and exotica.

Many people remember it — if at all — as the play that became the movie in which Greta Garbo
first talked
(opening with “Geef me a viskey”), or perhaps the source of those much-parodied lines, in a Swedish accent to boot, about “dat ole devil sea.” The last Broadway revival, which won a Tony 20 years ago, is principally recalled by many as the occasion when its glamorous stars, Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson, fell in love.



Openings and Previews 



Venue: 59E59 Theatres

Ken Urban wrote this play, in which three people discover
that they . . .

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Venue: HERE

Colt Coeur presents a comedy of manners by Nikole
Beckwith, in which . . .

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Event: Fetch Clay, Make Man

Venue: New York Theatre Workshop

New York Theatre Workshop presents a play by Will Power,
directed by . . .

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Venue: Peter Jay Sharp Theatre

Rachel Chavkin directs this Playwrights Realm production, a surreal romantic comedy by . . .

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Event: The Hill Town Plays

Venue: Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

The Rattlestick presents a play cycle by Lucy Thurber, about a young . . .

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Event: Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play

Venue: Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons begins its season with the New York première of a . . .

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Event: The Old Friends

Venue: Signature Theater Company

At the Signature Theatre, Betty Buckley, Veanne Cox, Hallie Foote, and Lois . . .

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Event: Philip Goes Forth

Venue: Mint Theater

The Mint presents a comedy by George Kelly, from 1931, in which . . .

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Venue: Flea Theater

The Flea premières a play by Jonathan Caren, which explores the limits . . .

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Event: Romeo and Juliet

Venue: Richard Rodgers Theatre

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad star in the first Broadway production of . . .

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Event: Stop. Reset.

Venue: Signature Theater Company

Signature Theatre Company presents a play written and directed by Regina Taylor . . .

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Venue: Atlantic Theatre Company

Atlantic Theatre Company begins its season with the world première of a . . .

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Venue: Pearl Theatre

The Pearl, in a co-production with the Gingold Theatrical Company, presents this . . .

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(From BBC News 8/25.)

US actress Julie Harris, a star of stage and screen who won five Tony Awards, has died at the age of 87.

Harris was best known for her roles on Broadway, where she jointly holds the record for the most Tony Award wins.

Her breakthrough came in the hit 1950 play The Member of the Wedding, which led to an Oscar nomination for a big screen adaptation three years later.

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(Michael Coveney’s article article appeared in the Giardian, 8/22.)

Although he spent his final years in France, and has died aged 83 in Nice, Sławomir Mrozek was always recognised in Poland as one of the country's greatest dramatists. A consistent critic of state communism from his earliest years as a journalist and cartoonist, he had emigrated to France in 1963 and condemned Poland's part in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.  His most famous play, Tango (1965), was a modern-day Hamlet, with the central figure, Arthur, an ironically conservative adversary of his parents' "avant-garde" lifestyle of promiscuity and complacency.

Its first British performance, translated by Nicholas Bethell, with an added polish by an unknown Tom Stoppard, and directed by an equally unknown Trevor Nunn for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in May 1966, was a notable component of a European season under Peter Hall's artistic direction which included plays by Peter Weiss, Marguerite Duras and Friedrich Dürrenmatt, as well as the Peter Brook anti-Vietnam war production, US.



(Kerry Reid’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 8/22.)

"If you think this is going to be a history lesson, you've come to the wrong place," says a character at the top of Alex Paul Young's "Pink Milk," a highly imaginative and wrenching vision of the life (and ultimate suicide) of Alan Turing. The pioneering British mathematician and computer scientist famously broke the Nazis' Enigma code in World War II but was broken down by the same barbaric laws against "gross indecency" that destroyed Oscar Wilde.

Given a choice between jail and chemical castration, Turing initially chose the latter. But the man who saw "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" more than a hundred times killed himself by eating a cyanide-infused apple two weeks before his 42nd birthday in 1954. He was finally "pardoned" by the British government this summer for breaking the laws against homosexuality.,0,3388273.story




Uri Geller’s career has been of interest to a multitude of fans the world over—Stage Voices even saw one of his live shows in the ‘90s.  Now–with a new documentary out, as well as a book from Watkins—the scope of Geller’s life as a secret agent, for several governments, is being revealed. From Mexico to Britain, 9/11 to the raid on Entebbe; the U.S. State Department to the Mossad, The Secret Life of Uri Geller challenges the idea that Geller is merely a psychic superstar.

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