Monthly Archives: September 2019

AI WEIWEI: LETTERS FROM INSIDE (BBC RADIO 4) ·

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In 2011 Ai Weiwei was arrested without notice by the Chinese authorities and detained for 81 days. Here he writes a letter to his son Ai Lao who was two years old when he disappeared. It contains a detailed account of the rules and routines he was obliged to uphold during his detention.

It’s part of a series in which writers from around the world read letters on the theme of imprisonment, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis.

Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Reading Prison between 1895 and 1897, enduring the Separate System, a harsh penal regime designed to eliminate any contact between prisoners. Wilde’s imprisonment led to one of his last great works – De Profundis, an extended letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas written by Wilde in his prison cell.

Produced by Barney Rowntree and Jeremy Mortimer
Executive Producer: Joby Waldman

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

BLAST FROM THE PAST: SHELAGH DELANEY–PLAYWRIGHT ON PROBATION – ARCHIVE, 1960 ·

(from the Guardian, 9/20/19.)

20 September 1960 Promoting her latest play, The Lion in Love, Delaney says ‘I would rather write a terrible play than a mediocre one’

Surrounded by a clutch of journalists and looking, in a grubby white mackintosh and a hastily tied scarf, her usual determinedly unfashionable self, Shelagh Delaney was busily parrying questions about her love life and her taste in clothes.

A press conference to herald the Manchester opening of her latest play, The Lion in Love, had produced a large attendance, for to journalists Shelagh Delaney is the nearest thing to a homegrown, contemporary Garbo.

She has not, apart from the tall austerity of her height, anything like the looks but she has the same talent for creating, almost in spite of herself, racy headlines. The proscenium arch of the Palace Theatre had, for instance, chosen to collapse on the arrival of her already controversial play and it was announced that the Manchester opening would be delayed for a day.

In between denying that she was engaged to be married and defending her taste in clothes, she found some time to talk about the theatre. She does so in a modest, down-to-earth way and values herself in a different sort of language from the gossip columnists’ now hackneyed line about the “slum girl from Salford who has arrived in the West End.”

Photograph: Tom Stuttard/The Guardian

(Read more)

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EXTREME ACTION MEETS ELUSIVE LANGUAGE? ·

(Gia Kourlas’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/20; via Pam Green.)

In Elizabeth Streb and Anne Bogart’s “Falling & Loving,” dancers and actors share the stage with the Guck Machine, which emits a waterfall of food and other objects.

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The choreographer Elizabeth Streb has found herself in foreign territory. First, she is collaborating, which is not her usual way of making art. And in teaming up with Anne Bogart, a director of the theater group SITI Company, she has something else to contend with: words.

“I don’t really work with words,” she said between rehearsals at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University here. “I don’t know how to do that.”

Ms. Streb has built a repertory and a reputation creating action works that strive to defy gravity. Give her and her company, Streb Extreme Action, a platform 30 feet in the air to leap off, a sheet of plexiglass to crash into, or a mat to land on, face forward, with a splat, and they’re right at home.

But in “Falling & Loving,” which begins on Tuesday as part of the series Peak Performances, Ms. Streb isn’t the only one in charge. She has teamed with Ms. Bogart to direct the production, which features six SITI actors and six Streb dancers, who do not speak.

(Read more)

Photo: The New York Times

SUSAN SONTAG’S AGAINST INTERPRETATION ·

Listen on BBC Radio 3  

Lauren Elkin, Lisa Appignanesi and biographer Ben Moser debate Susan Sontag’s life and ideas with presenter Laurence Scott, focusing in on her 1966 essay collection, which argued for a new way of approaching art and culture. Ben Moser is the author of Sontag: Her life and work which is out now. Lauren Elkin teaches at the University of Liverpool and is the author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City. She is researching Sontag’s time in Sarajevo in 1993 when she staged Waiting for Godot during the Siege following the declaration of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence from Yugoslavia. Lisa Appignanesi is a Visiting Professor in the Department of English at King’s College London and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature Council . Her books include Everday Madness, Simone De Beauvoir, Freud’s Women. You can hear more from Lisa including her BBC Radio 3 interview with Susan Sontag if you search for the Sunday Feature

Afterwords: Susan Sontag

Producer: Luke Mulhall

 

KEVIN CONFOY NAMED PRODUCING DIRECTOR AT PHOENIX THEATRE ENSEMBLE  ·

(via Craig Smith)

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble Artistic Director Elise Stone announces the appointment of Kevin Confoy as Producing Director starting October 2, 2019. 

Confoy, who is a resident director at Phoenix Theatre Ensemble (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Creditors, Dogg’s Hamlet…, The Painting, several readings and workshops) has produced new plays by Joyce Carol Oates, David Mamet, Edward Allan Baker, Marsha Norman, John Patrick Shanley, Oyamo, Quincy Confoy (Win For Life, Winner Young Playwrights Festival), among many others. He is the recipient; OBIE Award, (Producer EST Marathon of One-Act Plays); Drama Desk Nomination (Outstanding Revival, Acting Company), grants; Arthur P Sloan Foundation, Eileen Schloss Fund for New Play Development, FLIK Fund for New Play Production.  He is a professor of theatre at Sarah Lawrence College.

Artistic Director Stone states “We are thrilled to welcome Kevin to our growing artistic team at PTE.  His work as a director at PTE is distinctive, always entertaining, and deeply rich.  Kevin will oversee the development new work at PTE and will head up our playwright intensive workshops coming in the summer of 2020, and he will continue as a resident director.”

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble is an award-winning nonprofit theatre company now in its 16th season presenting a mix of classic plays, new adaptations of classics, and new works that are language based presented by a resident ensemble of artists.  In 2018 the company expanded its NYC programming to produce works in Nyack, NY and Rockland County.   Its next offering is a reading series in NYC and Nyack titled “Women & Patriarchy” with staged readings of The Trojan Women (415BC Euripides), The Duchess of Malfi (1612 Webster), Hedda Gabler (1891 Ibsen) and Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi (Gems 1976).

Information:  PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org and NyackTheater.com  Info@PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org

 

 Photo Caption:  Kevin Confoy

 

200 East 10 Street, NY, NY 10003;  48 S. Broadway, #472, Nyack, NY 10960

212-465-3446; info@PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org

www.PhoenixTheatreEnsemble.org; NyackTheater.com

 

CELEBRATING ARTISTRY, EXCELLENCE, COMPANY & COMMUNITY

One of the Best!”  – Wall Street Journal   

 

Top Ten (American Moor) –  Boston Globe & WBUR (NPR)

Top Ten  (Entertaining  Mr. Sloane  – Theatrescene

Top Ten (Tartuffe) -Theatrescene

Top Ten  (Arturo Ui) –  New York Theatre Guide

Eight NYIT Award Nominations

Winner Two  IRNE  Awards

Winner Elliot Norton Award

Winner Best Revival NYIT Award

Winner Best Performance by a Leading Actor

Winner Best Solo Production Audelco Award

American Moor  opening production of Old Globe’s Shakespeare & Race August 2018

AFTER A RENOVATION, A STORIED THEATER HOPES TO ENTICE PARIS ·

(Rosalyn Sulcas’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/13; via Pam Green.)  

The Théâtre du Châtelet is reopening after a two-and-a-half-year makeover, with a new artistic director and an inclusive new mission.

PARIS — The workmen were everywhere. Backstage and onstage, they were hammering, banging, gluing, carrying, laying tarpaulin, shimmying up ladders and shouting, “Attention!”

In the auditorium, a team checked the red velvet seats, making sure that each was in the correct position. On the stage, performers rehearsed, apparently oblivious to the controlled chaos all around.

“Parade,” a ballet whose original production was a collaboration between Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso, premiered at the Châtelet in 1917.CreditElliott Verdier for The New York Times

It was a week before the scheduled opening, on Friday, of the Théâtre du Châtelet, one of Paris’s most famous stages, which has been closed for a two-and-a-half year, $34.7 million renovation. In one of the lobbies, a large table had been set up for a group of inspectors who had spent the morning examining every aspect of the renovation. They were deciding whether to give formal permission for the theater to open.

“It’s all going to be fine,” said Ruth Mackenzie, the Châtelet’s artistic director. “That’s what I keep telling everyone.” (She was proved right; the commission pronounced a “favorable verdict” at the end of the day.)

Ms. Mackenzie, 62, is small, forthright and cheerful. When asked about her, everyone said the same thing: She is a powerhouse who doesn’t take no for an answer.

(Read more)

Photo: The New York Times