Monthly Archives: August 2022

AUTHOR SALMAN RUSHDIE STABBED ON LECTURE STAGE IN NEW YORK ·

(Joshua Goodman’s article appeared on the AP, 8/13.)

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (AP) — Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.

A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was likely to lose.

Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. He was arrested at the scene and was awaiting arraignment. Matar was born a decade after “The Satanic Verses” was published. The motive for the attack was unclear, State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the attacker confront Rushdie on stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stab or punch him 10 to 15 times as he was being introduced. The author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was arrested.

Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”

Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a hospital, police said. He and Rushdie were due to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.

A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the decades of threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million for anyone who kills him.

Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the roughly 2,500 people in the audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered out of the outdoor amphitheater.

The assailant ran onto the platform “and started pounding on Mr. Rushdie. At first you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten,” Savenor said. He said the attack lasted about 20 seconds.

Another spectator, Kathleen James, said the attacker was dressed in black, with a black mask.

“We thought perhaps it was part of a stunt to show that there’s still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became evident in a few seconds” that it wasn’t, she said.

Matar, like other visitors, had obtained a pass to enter the Chautauqua Institution’s 750-acre grounds, Michael Hill, the president of the nonprofit education center and resort, said.

(Read more)

 

 

‘I’D CRAWL OVER BROKEN GLASS TO WORK HERE’: CBEEBIES TAKE ON SHAKESPEARE ·

(Catherine Shoard’s article appear appeared in the Guardian, 8/9, via Pam Green.)

The BBC kids’ channel is known for its wit, invention and credo of inclusivity – but can its take on As You Like It captivate children? Just throw in a property developer baddie and some non-binary casting …

 

Steven Kynman leans forward to show me his arm. “Look! All the hairs standing up! And that’s just from thinking about being on stage at the Globe.” Yesterday, when he actually rehearsed there, “I swear to God, those hairs didn’t go down the whole time.”

He leans back. He’s just had Covid, he says, still feels a bit emotional. His eyes shine. “I believe in the spirit of spaces. The wood is from Shakespeare’s time. It’s like a musical instrument; like standing in the middle of a guitar. I have never in my life felt more giddy about working somewhere.”

Kynman is 46 and looks on the anonymous end of a young Derek Jacobi. He’s not much recognised. Working recently with a famous actor, Kynman mentioned that he knew Justin Fletcher, the CBeebies star who has popularised Makaton, a sign language for children with special needs.

The actor began to cry. “He said, ‘Can you please tell Justin I learned to communicate with my son because of him?’” Then he asked Kynman what he did. “I said: ‘Oh, I’m Robert the Robot.’ He just repeated ‘Oh my God’ for about 30 seconds and then said: ‘I have to call my wife.’”

(Read more)

THE 388-YEAR-OLD PLAY THAT’S STILL GOING ·

(Laura Studarus’s article appeared on BBC 4, 8/9.)

Once a decade, ever since 1634, German village Oberammergau has staged a remarkable, epic play about Jesus Christ involving thousands of residents. Laura Studarus gets a front-row view.

 Visiting Oberammergau, a small village located in Germany’s Bavarian Alps, feels like stepping into a Disney film. From the rolling mountains that frame the village, to the wooden houses covered with swirling folk art paintings and carvings – a practice that dates back to the 16th Century there – the words “quaint”, “cute” and “postcard-worthy” come easily. It doesn’t even seem outrageous that the area has its own wine and cheese vending machine… because why wouldn’t they encourage visitors to enjoy this setting as much as possible?

Located near the centre of the village is St Peter und Paul, a baroque Catholic church. It was here, in 1634, in the Rococo-style church, that the villagers first made a historic pledge. In a turn of events that feel eerily resonant now, the black plague had come to the village and decimated almost 20% of the population in only a few months. In an attempt to turn the tide, the residents promised that they would perform a passion play – aka a dramatic retelling of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – once every 10 years, if God spared the rest of the city. The first productions were performed in the church graveyard, just above the bodies of those taken by the disease, and – as the story goes – no one else died. 

Since those first performances, plenty of events have conspired to stop the plays, which are typically performed at the beginning of every decade, including the Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish Flu – and yes, Covid-19, with the 2020 production postponed until this year, when it is running as usual from May to October. Historically, it’s experienced mixed support: in 1770 the Duke of Bavaria Maximilian III Joseph tried to ban it, claiming “the theatre stage is no place for the greatest secret of our holy religion”. However, in 1900, entrepreneur Thomas Cook found such a value in the performance, he compelled the city to build a 4,400-seat theatre so that he could sell foreign audiences on the idea of seeing a five-hour play (with an additional three-hour dinner break) in a language they didn’t speak, a move that effectively introduced tourism to the region.

A group effort

Now in its 388th year, the passion play influences nearly every aspect of the life in the village. Nearly 2,000 of the Oberammergau’s 5,000 residents take part both in front and behind the stage. Main actors commit to taking almost a year off work for rehearsals, a group trip to Israel, and the six-month play performance schedule. And every man commits to growing out his hair for the year leading up to the show, and keeps his shaggy do until it’s cut during the wrap party. (Their hair is later displayed in ropes in the Oberammergau Museum, a building covered in blue denim costumes from 2000 and 2010 Passion Plays.)

As Frederik Mayet, one of the two actors alternating in the role of Jesus this year, says, all group sacrifices are in service of what they see as the greater good. They’ve been literally training for this their entire lives.

(Read more)

 

TOM STOPPARD’S ‘LEOPOLDSTADT’ BEGINS BROADWAY REHEARSALS ·

(via BBB, Adrian Bryan-Brown / Michelle Farabaugh / Angela Yamarone )

★★★★★

“Magnificent!

Sir Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece. GO!”

The Independent

Leopoldstadt,

Stoppard’s 19th Production on Broadway,

Begins Rehearsals

Full Casting Announced

Previews Begin Wednesday, September 14

Opening Sunday, October 2

In a Limited Engagement at the Longacre Theatre

 LeopoldstadtPlay.com

*********************************************************************

Broadway rehearsals have begun for Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard’s Olivier Award-winning Best New Play, directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Patrick Marber and produced by Sonia Friedman ProductionsRoy Furman, and Lorne Michaels.

 

Leopoldstadt’s full 38-member company, which includes several members of the original West End company and 24 actors making their Broadway debuts, will feature Jesse Aaronson* (The Play That Goes Wrong off-Broadway), Betsy Aidem (Prayer for the French Republic), Jenna Augen* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Japhet Balaban* (The Thing About Harry on Freeform), Corey Brill (“The Walking Dead,” Gore Vidal’s The Best Man), Daniel Cantor* (Tuesdays with Morrie off-Broadway), Faye Castelow* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Erica Dasher* (“Jane By Design”), Eden Epstein* (“Sweetbitter” on Starz, “See” on Apple TV+), Gina Ferrall (Big RiverA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Arty Froushan* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Charlotte Graham* (The Tempest at A.R.T.), Matt Harrington (Matilda The Musical), Jacqueline Jarrold (The Cherry Orchard), Sarah Killough (Travesties), David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs,” Oppenheimer), Caissie Levy (The BedwetterCaroline, or Change), Colleen Litchfield* (“The Crowded Room” on Apple TV+), Tedra Millan (Present LaughterThe Wolves), Aaron Neil* (Leopoldstadt in the West End), Theatre World Award winner Seth Numrich (TravestiesWar Horse), Anthony Rosenthal (Falsettos), Chris Stevens*, Sara Topham (Travesties), three-time Tony Award nominee Brandon Uranowitz (Assassins, FalsettosBurn This), Dylan S. Wallach (Betrayal), Reese Bogin*, Max Ryan Burach*Calvin James Davis*, Michael Deaner*, Romy Fay* (“Best Foot Forward” on Apple TV+), Pearl Scarlett Gold*, Jaxon Cain Grundleger*, Wesley Holloway*, Ava Michele Hyl*, Joshua Satine*, Aaron Shuf*, and Drew Ryan Squire*.

 

* indicates an actor making their Broadway debut.

 

Leopoldstadt’s limited Broadway engagement begins previews Wednesday, September 14 ahead of a Sunday, October 2 opening night at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street).

 

Perhaps the most personal play of Stoppard’s unmatched career, Leopoldstadt opened in London’s West End to rave critical acclaim on January 25, 2020. A planned extension due to overwhelming demand was curtailed due to the COVID-19 lockdown seven weeks later. In late 2021, the play returned for a further 12-week engagement. Both runs completely sold out and Leopoldstadt received the Olivier Award for Best New Play in October 2020.

 

Leopoldstadt will mark Tom Stoppard’s 19th play on Broadway since his groundbreaking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead opened 55 years ago. Stoppard has won four Best Play Tony Awards, more than any other playwright in history.

 

Set in Vienna, Leopoldstadt takes its title from the Jewish quarter. This passionate drama of love and endurance begins in the last days of 1899 and follows one extended family deep into the heart of the 20th Century. Full of his customary wit and beauty, Tom Stoppard’s late work spans fifty years of time over two hours. The Financial Times said, “This is a momentous new play. Tom Stoppard has reached back into his own family history to craft a work that is both epic and intimate; that is profoundly personal, but which concerns us all.” With a cast of 38 and direction by Patrick MarberLeopoldstadt is a “magnificent masterpiece” (The Independent) that must not be missed.

Leopoldstadt’s creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award winner Richard Hudson (The Lion KingLa Bête), costume design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, lighting design by three-time Tony Award winner Neil Austin (Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildCompanyTravesties), sound and original music by Tony Award winner Adam Cork (RedTravesties), video design by Isaac Madge, movement by Emily Jane Boyle, and hair, wig & makeup design by Campbell Young & Associates. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Maureen Kelleher, and UK casting is by Amy Ball CDG.

Co-producers of Leopoldstadt include Stephanie P. McClelland, Gavin Kalin, Delman Sloan, Brad Edgerton, Eilene Davidson, Patrick Gracey, Burnt Umber Productions, Cue to Cue Productions, No Guarantees, Robert Nederlander, Jr., Thomas S. Perakos, Sanford Robertson, Iris Smith, The Factor Gavin Partnership, Jamie deRoy / Catherine Adler, Dodge Hall Productions / Waverly Productions, Ricardo Hornos / Robert Tichio, Heni Koenigsberg / Wendy Federman, Brian Spector / Judith Seinfeld, and Richard Winkler / Alan Shorr.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are on sale online at Telecharge.com or by phone at 212-239-6200.

 

For 10+ Group Sales information contact Broadway Inbound at broadwayinbound.com or call 866-302-0995.

# # # #

LeopoldstadtPlay.com

Follow Leopoldstadt on TwitterInstagram and Facebook

Follow BBB on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

 

GEORGE BARTENIEFF, FIXTURE OF DOWNTOWN THEATER, DIES AT 89 ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/3/22.)

A veteran actor, he was also a founder of Theater for the New City and Theater Three Collaborative, Manhattan groups known for experimental productions.

George Bartenieff, an actor and producer who was a significant figure in the Off Off Broadway and experimental theater world as a founder of two theater groups, died on Saturday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 89.

His wife, the playwright Karen Malpede, said the cause was the cumulative effects of several advanced illnesses.

Mr. Bartenieff had credentials that might have led to a mainstream acting career. He was on Broadway before he was 15 and in the 1960s appeared there in plays by Edward Albee and John Guare. His smattering of film and television credits suggest that he could have made a character-actor’s career just out of playing a judge or a doctor on series like “Law & Order.”

But he much preferred to be involved in the kinds of socially conscious, form-bending plays staged in downtown Manhattan and, sometimes, out on the street.

When Judith Malina and Julian Beck of the Living Theater, the avant-garde repertory company they founded in the 1940s, presented Kenneth H. Brown’s scalding play about a Marine prison, “The Brig,” in 1963, Mr. Bartenieff was in the cast. He appeared in productions of the Judson Poets’ Theater, an experimental group in the same period. Later in the 1960s he worked with the director Andre Gregory at the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia. After he returned to New York, he and his wife at the time, Crystal Field, founded Theater for the New City in 1971.

That group has been presenting adventurous theatrical works, many on social and political themes, ever since. After a divorce from Ms. Field, Mr. Bartenieff married Ms. Malpede in 1995, the year they and Lee Nagrin founded Theater Three Collective. It, too, has presented numerous plays since, many of them avant-garde, socially conscious works by Ms. Malpede, with Mr. Bartenieff in the casts.

Continue reading the main story

 

HOW PHOTOS OF NAZIS PARTYING AT AUSCHWITZ GAVE RISE TO A NEW PLAY ·

(Peter Marks’s article appeared in The Washington Post, 8/5; via msn and the Drudge Report.)

It started with a photo album, submitted over the transom to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and an archivist who grasped its extraordinary historical value. In the customary story arc of such finds, the photos — of Nazi officers, their families and colleagues wining and dining and relaxing in the sun at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and killing center — would have been authenticated and put in the collection, for inspection by scholars and museumgoers.

This astonishing album, however, was also destined for the stage.

News of the photographs, acquired in 2006 by the museum and archivist Rebecca Erbelding from a retired counterintelligence officer in Virginia, came to the attention of Moisés Kaufman, an American stage director and son of Holocaust survivors who had immigrated to Venezuela. With longtime colleague Amanda Gronich at Kaufman’s Tectonic Theater Project — creators of “The Laramie Project” — he set about reframing the story behind the photos as dramatic art.

The result is the play “Here There Are Blueberries,” having its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in Southern California through Aug. 21, with New York-based Tectonic’s sights set on a East Coast debut. The 90-minute play, directed by Kaufman, features eight actors in multiple roles and, centrally, Elizabeth Stahlmann as Erbelding.

“You know, I’m not used to being a protagonist,” Erbelding said in a recent Zoom interview. “So, talking about how the Rebecca character changes became a very newsstrange, out-of-body thing.”

Imagining how 116 snapshots could be the source for anything more dynamic than an elaborate PowerPoint presentation was the challenge facing Kaufman and Gronich when they embarked on the project several years ago.

“I never thought I would write a play about [the Holocaust],” Kaufman said, adding that his Romanian-born father spent the war hiding in a basement, and sought refuge in Venezuela afterward, in an era when the United States put curbs on Jewish immigration.

It is in fact a historical event about which the most has been written in the history of literature,” Kaufman said. “So the idea of doing something about it seemed redundant. But then I was shown those photographs, and something really struck a chord. These people sunbathing next to a concentration camp, or eating blueberries. I felt that this is a discourse that has not really been addressed. How do you eat blueberries and celebrate next to a concentration camp?”)

(Read more)

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (139)  ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski: 

Our art teaches us first of all to create consciously and rightly, because that will best prepare the way for the blossoming of the subconscious, which is inspiration.  The more you have of conscious creative moments in your role the more chance you will have of a flow of inspiration. (AP) 

REVIEW: ‘CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF’ KNOWS ITS GOOD ANGLES ·

(Juan A. Ramírez’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/31; via Pam Green.)

The Ruth Stage’s production understands the violence and identity crisis at the core of Brick’s character, but other elements fail to cohere.

We know from his personal writing (and context clues) that Tennessee Williams was into trade: hypermasculine men who are just as likely to have sex with men as they are to break their necks. These seductive brutes are strewn throughout his work, just as essential and memorable as his fading belles. There is no Blanche without Stanley.

Williams would probably love Matt de Rogatis’s Brick in Ruth Stage’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which recently opened at Theater at St. Clement’s. The former football hero is still a depressive alcoholic whose drunken escapades earn him a cast, crutches and the growing contempt of his wife, Maggie. But de Rogatis, tatted up and ab-tastic from his backlit shower entrance, compellingly finds the violence and identity crisis at Brick’s core in this contemporary staging.

With the character mostly a punching bag for his bellicose Big Daddy Pollitt (Christian Jules LeBlanc) and the talkative Maggie (Sonoya Mizuno) to explode onto, he is often somewhat of a handsome blank slate. De Rogatis, who also produces, convincingly hints at a torrid inner life, congealed into an imposing physique but betrayed by the anguish he voices at the mention of his ambiguously close relationship with a male friend who died by suicide.

The performance matches the play, which like many of Williams’ works, is concerned with surfaces as much as its characters’ deeper worlds. A fine-tuned melodrama about a wealthy Mississippi family undone by its patriarch’s cancer diagnosis, the play melts down the characters’ kept-up appearances and oft-mentioned “mendacity” as they scramble for his inheritance.

This production, the play’s first Off Broadway staging licensed by the Williams estate, has several excellent surfaces, though not all the elements rise to the occasion. Joe Rosario’s direction, for example, handles the soap opera-style histrionics well but doesn’t land much of Williams’s wicked humor. His characters can often seem aimless and airless, when they should be pointedly animated.

The character of Maggie buckles most under this misfire, especially in the first act’s hourlong near-monologue, in which she breathlessly complains about the children of her snooty sister-in-law, Mae (Tiffan Borelli), then laments her own childlessness and the speculation it brings on. Mizuno, though game, lacks a clear focus in this key scene. Hers is not the determined, seductively self-assured feline immortalized onscreen by Elizabeth Taylor — a high bar, to be sure — but a frenzied kitten rattling against a cage. This does, intriguingly, transform her legendary voluptuousness into a believable portrait of an Ole Miss grad whose hard-won financial safety has started to crumble.

(Read more)

‘THE BACCHAE’ BY EURIPIDES (ON BBC RADIO 4 “IN OUR TIME”—DISCUSSION PROGRAM) ·

Listen

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Euripides’ great tragedy, which was first performed in Athens in 405 BC when the Athenians were on the point of defeat and humiliation in a long war with Sparta. The action seen or described on stage was brutal: Pentheus, king of Thebes, is torn into pieces by his mother in a Bacchic frenzy and his grandparents condemned to crawl away as snakes. All this happened because Pentheus had denied the divinity of his cousin Dionysus, known to the audience as god of wine, theatre, fertility and religious ecstasy. The image above is a detail of a Red-Figure Cup showing the death of Pentheus (exterior) and a Maenad (interior), painted c. 480 BC by the Douris painter. This object can be found at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. With Edith Hall Professor of Classics at King’s College London Emily Wilson Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania And Rosie Wyles Lecturer in Classical History and Literature at the University of Kent Producer: Simon Tillotson