Category Archives: Events

ALBERT FINNEY, LEGENDARY STAR OF TOM JONES AND MILLER’S CROSSING, DIES AGED 82 ·

(Andrew Pulver’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/8; via Pam Green.)

Albert Finney, who forged his reputation as one of the leading actors of Britain’s early 60s new wave cinema, has died aged 82 after a short illness, his family have announced. In 2011, he disclosed he had kidney cancer.

Albert Finney: the most almighty physical screen presence

A publicist told the Guardian that Finney died on Thursday of a chest infection at the Royal Marsden hospital, which specialises in cancer treatment, just outside London. His wife, Pene, and son, Simon, were by his side.

Having shot to fame as the star of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Finney received five Oscar nominations, but never won, and refused a knighthood.

Speaking to the Guardian, Daniel Craig – who starred in Skyfall, Finney’s final film, in which he played a gamekeeper from James Bond’s childhood – said:

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Albert Finney’s passing. The world has lost a giant. Wherever Albert is now, I hope there are horses and good company.”

The director of that film, Sam Mendes, added: “It is desperately sad news that Albert Finney has gone. He really was one of the greats – a brilliant, beautiful, big-hearted, life loving delight of a man. He will be terribly missed.”

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Photo: Mumby at the Movies

ECLIPSES GROUP THEATRE NEW YORK:  ‘HERCULES:  IN SEARCH OF A HERO’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Eclipses Group Theatre New York (EGTNY), a nonprofit that “serves as a cultural bridge between Greece and The United States,” is presenting  Hercules:  In Search of a Hero, inspired by EuipidesAlcestis and Hercules until February 10 at Abrons Arts Center.  The evening offers singing, dancing, film sequences, and two plays, by the “the most tragic of all poets,” translated by Demetri Bonaros, edited, and spliced together.  The texts present Hercules as he, first, makes the decision to bring back Alcestis from Hades (she has sacrificed herself for her husband) and, second, as the demigod inadvertently kills his own family, which may remind of The Bacchae.  But is the audience meant to interpret the latter act as retribution for the former?

As a cultural project for Greek artists, as well as others, Hercules appears a worthy locus for investigation and experiment, but talking beyond the community, to a larger audience, without the knowledge base of the company, viewers need ballast to stay centered in a cold theatre, in winter. According to director, Ioanna Katsarous, Hercules: In Search of a Hero is asking what heroism is in our times:  “Is an act heroic if it involves violence?  Where is the place of women in the modern mythology of heroism, and do we need to create new mythologies and eventually a new concept of the world?”  These inquiries may or may not be critical to considering Euripides, but would many actually reject the idea that women display acts of heroism? Was not Athena a warrior Goddess? Sometimes revisionism can seem only a caterpillar sentenced for not being a butterfly. Purely from a nonacademic, nonfeminist standpoint, though, the evening’s clarity, linearity, and meaning are what are at stake: we are in the past and present, as well as in the worlds of two plays. Aristotle would probably look at this piece and say that unity is lacking.  What’s a quick fix for that?  Study the ancient Greeks.

‘HERCULES:  IN SEARCH OF A HERO’

The cast includes Luisa Alarcón (Lonely Leela at HERE), Demetri Bonaros (The Caucasian Chalk Circle at Theatre at 45 Bleecker), Luke Couzens (Macbeth at Stages on the Sound), Helena Farhi (what she found at Frigid Festival), Alexandra Skendrou (Carnegie Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium) and Taj Sood.

The production team includes Christos Alexandridis (Set Design), Christina Watanabe (Lighting Design), Marina Gkoumla (Costume Design), Alex Agisilaou (Video Design), Ioanna Katsarou (Dramaturge) and Anastasia Thanasoula (Production Stage Manager).

Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm with an added show on Sunday, January 27 at 6pm. Tickets are $25 and $20 (students and seniors). Purchase at http://www.AbronsArtsCenter.org or by calling 212-598-0400. The running time is 75 minutes. For more info visit https://www.egtny.com, Like them on Facebook at /egtny (https://www.facebook.com/egtny), and follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/EclipsesGTNY) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/eclipsesgtny) at @eclipsesgtny.

Photos by Selim Cayligil: Luke Couzens as Hercules.

Press: David Gibbs | DARR Publicity

© by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

HENRIK IBSEN: ‘ROSMERSHOLM’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3—LINK BELOW) ·

HENRIK IBSEN: ‘ROSMERSHOLM’

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Rebekka West, the visionary, passionate heroine of ‘Rosmersholm’ inspired the English novelist to adopt that name. Ibsen’s most complex play sees a society in turmoil through the lens of pastor John Rosmer and Rebekka, his social-revolutionary companion. Rosmer is recovering from the suicide of his unstable wife, Beata. Now Rebekka, replacing her in his affections, urges him to surrender his privileged place in conservative Norwegian society. A local elite plot to make him hold to the status quo. Can Rebekka prevail? Translated by Frank McGuinness and featuring music by Norwegian composer Marius Munthe-Kaas.

Music composed and arranged by Marius Munthe-Kaas
Music supervisor, Giles Perring
Gro Hole Austgulen (violin), Elin Kleppa Michalsen (violin), Anna Cecilia Johansson (viola), Olav Stener Olsen (cello)

Translated by Frank McGuinness
Adapted and directed by Peter Kavanagh

‘Rosmersholm’ premiered at the National Theatre, London, in 1987.

Credits

Role Contributor
Author Henrik Ibsen
John Rosmer Nicholas Farrell
Rebekka West Helen Baxendale
Professor Kroll Ronald Pickup
Ulrik Brendel Karl Johnson
Peder Mortensgaard Philip Jackson
Mrs Helseth Christine Absolom
Composer Marius Munthe-Kaas
Adaptor Peter Kavanagh
Director Peter Kavanagh

KAYE BALLARD, INDEFATIGABLE COMEDIAN AND ACTRESS, DIES AT 93 ·

(Neil Genzliner’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/22; via Pam Green.)

Kaye Ballard, whose long career as a comedian, actress and nightclub performer included well-regarded runs in “The Golden Apple” and “Carnival!” on Broadway and a classic turn as a television mother-in-law, died on Monday at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 93.

Her death was announced by her lawyer, Mark Sendroff.

Ms. Ballard wasn’t a top-flight singer, an Oscar-caliber actress or a drop-dead beauty — she once played one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters — but she made up for any shortcomings with determination and a sheer love of performing.

Even after she became well known, Ms. Ballard was not above taking parts in touring shows and regional theaters, and she rode the nightclub circuit for years, though she found the pace exhausting. In 2000, in her mid-70s, she brought a cabaret show to Arci’s Place in Manhattan called “Another Final Farewell Appearance,” but there was nothing final about it: Later in the decade she was still hard at work, including in tours of “The Full Monty” and “Nunsense.”

For the last 40 years or so of her performing career, wherever she was appearing people would mention one particular item from her lengthy résumé: “The Mothers-in-Law,” an NBC sitcom in which she and Eve Arden played neighbors whose children married, turning the newly minted mothers-in-law into partners in meddling.

Ms. Arden’s character was a haughty upper-crust type; Ms. Ballard’s was brassy and very Italian. The show made its debut in 1967, and, as with many sitcoms in that era of only three networks, its characters seared their way into the public consciousness with a disproportionate vigor: The series lasted only two seasons, but the mother-in-law personas acquired a certain immortality.

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KATHRYN HUNTER ON JERZY GROTOWSKI ·

(Chris Wiegand’s interview appeared in the Guardian, 1/14.)

They never met but the brilliant Polish theatre-maker and theorist had a huge influence on Kathryn Hunter. On the 20th anniversary of his death, she celebrates his radical methods

When I left Rada, some of the other actors went straight into West End plays but I couldn’t have been happier that I worked with an extraordinary lady called Chattie Salaman. Chattie ran the theatre company Common Stock. She knew Jerzy Grotowski’s work thoroughly and trained us in his vocal and physical exercises, which were really demanding on the body. It meant forgetting this notion that the actor stands upright and delivers lines. It was more about exercises like finding the shapes and sounds of different animals, in order to bring out a more ancient part of ourselves.

We performed mainly in community centres and small-scale theatres. The thing I remember very strongly is the idea that a performance is more than delivering a set of words – albeit by a very talented playwright – but that there is a sense of ritual to it. Sometimes we performed in really grubby places but it didn’t matter – the preparation remained the same. Once you began and committed to a piece of work, you did so totally. I’ve carried that with me always.

Grotowski believed that theatre can be a vehicle to access another level of perception of the world. For him, the “poorer” the style of theatre the better because it falls back on the actors and what they have to bring, rather than sets or costumes or designs. It’s going back to the original instrument, which is the actor.

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Photo: Alexander Street

ON PARIS STAGES, GAY ARTISTS LOOK BACK ·

(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/17; via Pam Green.)

PARIS — Two related scenes are currently playing out in theaters here. In “Les Idoles” (“The Idols”), at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, the actress Marina Foïs recounts in detail the death of the philosopher Michel Foucault, in 1984, of an AIDS-related illness. At the Espace Cardin, Foucault’s homosexuality is seen through the eyes of his first biographer, the sociologist Didier Eribon, in “Retour à Reims” (“Returning to Reims”).

In both productions, prominent French gay artists reclaim their pasts with striking honesty. “Retour à Reims,” staged by the German director Thomas Ostermeier, is based on Mr. Eribon’s 2009 memoir-cum-essay about his working-class roots, while the writer and director Christophe Honoré looks back at the artistic heroes — those “idols” — he lost to AIDS in his youth.

Mr. Honoré may be better known for films including “Love Songs,” but his theater work is in some ways more ambitious and original. His recent plays have brought real individuals back to life and imagined, with the benefit of hindsight, how they might have interacted: “Nouveau Roman,” in 2012, focused on the 20th-century French literary movement of the same name; “Les Idoles” brings together six writers and filmmakers who died between 1989 and 1994.

Extensive research clearly went into the play, but Mr. Honoré doesn’t strive for truthfulness. He isn’t preoccupied with physical likeness, for starters, and regularly casts women in male roles onstage. In “Les Idoles,” Ms. Foïs plays Hervé Guibert, whose autobiographical novel “To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life” evoked Foucault’s last days, while the part of the filmmaker Jacques Demy is taken with gusto by Marlène Saldana, in a fur coat and heels.ADVERTISEMENT

Some of the characters in “Les Idoles” enjoy more public recognition than others. Mr. Demy is one of them, and the playwrights Jean-Luc Lagarce and Bernard-Marie Koltès are both revered names on the French stage. A creation about them might easily have turned into a series of reverential obituaries, but Mr. Honoré gives “Les Idoles” a welcome lightness of touch.

The men are portrayed as witty, imperfect individuals rather than austere icons to be worshiped. They are as likely to launch into a dance number as they are to debate the attributes of the ideal lover: Ms. Saldana’s rendition of “Chanson d’un jour d’été,” from Mr. Demy’s musical film “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” is an unlikely highlight.

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Photo: From left, Marina Foïs, Youssouf Abi-Ayad and Marlène Saldana in “Les Idoles” at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe.CreditCreditJean-Louis Fernandez

 

LET’S GO:  ‘IONESCO SUITE’ AT BAM (ONLY JAN 23—JAN 26, 2019) ·

Visit  BAM

Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
Based on texts by Eugène Ionesco
Directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota

Cake, hilarity, and interpersonal follies abound in this feat of repartee and wordplay from acclaimed director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota and Théâtre de la Ville, Paris. Seven actors enliven the tragicomic stylings of playwright Eugène Ionesco—who made light of life’s shadows as one of the leading figures of the Theater of the Absurd—in this mashup of five texts: The Bald Soprano; The Lesson; Frenzy for Two, or More; Jack, or The Submission; and French Conversation and Diction Exercises for American Students. Staged as an unruly dinner party, ensemble members don hats and wigs, debate over whether a snail and a tortoise are the same thing, and gradually lead one another quite astray.

Texts from Jack, or The Submission, Delirium for Two, The Bald Soprano, The Lesson, and Conversation and French Speech Exercises
Music by Jefferson Lembeye & Walter N’guyen
Set and lighting design by Yves Collet
Costumes by Fanny Brouste

Jan 23—Jan 26, 2019

Performance dates & times

LOCATION:

BAM Fisher

RUN TIME: 1hr 20min

LANGUAGE: In French with English titles

FULL PRICE TICKETS START AT  $25

Photo:  Jean Louis Fernandez

 

SAMUEL BECKETT (‘IN OUR TIME’ ON BBC RADIO 4) ·

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989), who lived in Paris and wrote his plays and novels in French, not because his French was better than his English, but because it was worse. In works such as Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Molloy and Malone Dies, he wanted to show the limitations of language, what words could not do, together with the absurdity and humour of the human condition. In part he was reacting to the verbal omnipotence of James Joyce, with whom he’d worked in Paris, and in part to his experience in the French Resistance during World War 2, when he used code, writing not to reveal meaning but to conceal it. With Steven Connor Professor of English at the University of Cambridge Laura Salisbury Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Exeter And Mark Nixon Associate Professor in Modern Literature at the University of Reading and co-director of the Beckett International Foundation Producer: Simon Tillotson. 

Photo: British Library

CAROL CHANNING DIES AT 97; A LARGER-THAN-LIFE BROADWAY STAR ·

(Enid Nemy’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/15; via Pam Green.)

Her performances as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” made her a Broadway legend.

Carol Channing, whose incandescent performances as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” made her a Broadway legend, died early Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 97.

Her death was confirmed by her publicist, B. Harlan Boll, who said she had two strokes in the past year.

Ms. Channing was bringing audiences to their feet night after night in a revival of “Hello, Dolly!” when she was 74, singing, “Wow, wow, wow, fellas, / Look at the old girl now, fellas,” resplendent in her scarlet gown and jewels, her platinum hair crowned with red plumage.

Ten years later she was still getting applause, this time for a cabaret act. Nine years after that, just a few days before her 93rd birthday, she appeared at Town Hall in Manhattan as part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the night “Dolly” opened.

“Performing is the only excuse for my existence,” she said during her last Broadway appearance, in the 1995 revival of “Hello, Dolly!” “What can be better than this?”

Ms. Channing was one of the most recognizable presences in the theater world. Her tousled hairdo, headlight-size eyes and exaggerated mouth were the subject of countless caricatures. For many years her real hair, damaged by bleaching, was covered by a wig.

Her false eyelashes, worn at a fantastic length since she was a teenager, posed a more serious problem. The glue that was used to attach them gradually pulled out her natural lashes, and Ms. Channing began painting on the long spikes.

By then her vision had become impaired, but she was philosophical about her somewhat hazy view of her fellow actors. “I know what they look like,” she said.

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Photo: ABC 7NY