Category Archives: Events

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, RESTLESS AND REVISING ·

(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/12; via Pam Green.)

Tennessee Williams’s most reliable instrument of release — and torture — glows impiously in the hushed white gallery of the Morgan Library & Museum, like a neon sign in a church.

It is only a manual typewriter, one of the many that did hard labor under the fingers of this great American playwright, who is the subject of “Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing,” a profoundly affecting new exhibition of manuscripts and memorabilia.

But the color of this sleek machine, an Olivetti Lettera 32, belies its utilitarian function. How to describe this particular shade of blue? To call it aqua or teal seems too pedestrian for the man under consideration here. Williams (1911-1983) delighted in finding names for blues — chromatic, spiritual, emotional.

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(Photo: The New York Times)

 

OSCAR WILDE BIOPIC BY EVERETT HAILS ‘CHRIST-LIKE’ GAY ICON ·

(Deborah Cole’s article appeared on Yahoo, 2/18; via the Drudge Report.

Berlin (AFP) – Gay cinema pioneer Rupert Everett said his new biopic about legendary literary dandy Oscar Wilde captures him as a “Christ-like” figure who sacrificed himself for the future global LBGTQ rights movement.

Everett penned, directed and starred in his years-long passion project about the flamboyant 19th century Irish writer, “The Happy Prince”, screening this week at the Berlin film festival.

The 58-year-old British actor focuses in the film on Wilde’s self-imposed exile after serving two years’ hard labour from 1895 on “gross indecency” charges for sex with men.

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JON FOSSE: ‘THE NAME’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC 3—LINK BELOW) ·

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Norwegian Jon Fosse, winner of the prestigious International Ibsen Prize in 2010, is one of the world’s most performed playwrights. His breakthrough came with Namnet (‘The Name’), written in 1995, and itremains one of his most widely produced plays. It tells the story of a pregnant young woman’s return to the claustrophobia of family home with the reluctant father-to-be in tow. Translated by Gregory Motton.

The Girl ….. Norah Lopez Holden
The Boy ….. Joseph Ayre
The Mother ….. Ellie Darvill
The Father ….. Philip Bretherton
The Sister ….. Isabella Inchbald
Bjarne ….. Nikhil Parmar

Directed by Toby Swift

British playwright Simon Stephens introduces the drama. His adaptation of Fosse’s play I AM THE WIND was performed at the Young Vic in 2011.

EUROPE’S FEARLESS POLITICAL PLAYWRIGHTS: “I WANTED TO CHANNEL THE ANGER.”   ·

Bruxelles 4 Decembre 2015
Conference de presse de Ismael Saidi a propos de son nouveau livre ‘ Djihad, la piece ‘
Pix…. Ismael Saidi
Credit Frederic Sierakowski / Isopix/ISOPIX_1705.017/Credit:Frederic Sierakowski/Isop/SIPA/1603231716

(Daniel Boffey’s, Constanze Letsch’s, Philip Oltermann’s, Helena Smith’s, and Kit Gillet’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/12.)

Ismael Saïdi, Belgium

A comedy about jihad? At first, no one wanted to touch it, says Belgian playwright Ismael Saïdi. “They didn’t think anyone could laugh at that.” Called Djihad, the French word for jihad, his play follows three hapless Belgian Muslims who feel compelled – for a range of tragicomic reasons – to travel to Syria, where their eyes are opened to the reality of holy war.

Echoing Four Lions, Chris Morris’s 2010 film, the satire highlights some of the absurdities of the terrorist cause and the frustrations of those drawn to it. Saïdi, whose parents are Moroccan, had plenty of material to work with. He was born in Brussels, in the suburb of Schaerbeek, an area caricatured as a breeding ground for terrorists.

“People coming from Muslim countries to Belgium was very new,” he says. “When you are young, you feel any difference in a negative way – you are afraid, you want to be like the others. You want to be the good, beautiful guy. And I was not. I didn’t know how to play soccer. But later, I felt being different was a positive, an opportunity.”

Unsure of what to do after school, he responded to a police drive for recruits from migrant communities. He expected to stay a month but, after a bumpy start, saw out 16 years. “At the beginning, we were two or three people among 2,000. Some colleagues don’t want to drive with you – they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t trust you. After three or four years, things were better.” Eventually, he left to pursue his writing.

Saïdi started Djihad in 2012, after watching French far-right leader Marine Le Pentalking about young people going to Syria. “She was saying she didn’t care about them. She didn’t want them to come back. I thought that was awful. You have to understand why people go there to fight – as they will come back to kill people. And I saw a picture on Facebook of a friend from when I was at school. He was in Syria in front of an Isis flag with a Kalashnikov in his hand. I was thinking, ‘How can this be possible? How can he be a terrorist? He was with me at school. He played with me. He went to the cinema with me. What happened?’ That’s the reason I wrote it.”

Its first performance, at a small venue in 2014, sold out without any advertising. Then, in the wake of the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo, schools started to get in touch with him. Parents who had taken their children to see the play were recommending it to teachers as an eye-opener.

Of the 250,000 who have now seen Djihad, 150,000 are teenagers. Saïdi is touring with a sequel, Géhenne, which follows one of the three Djihad characters into a Belgian prison. “People laugh at lot,” says Saïdi. “And at the end they cry.” Daniel Boffey

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THE WOKE POLICE HAVE RUINED ENTERTAINMENT ·

(Johnny Oleksinski’s article appeared in the New York Post, 2/10.)

When Tina Fey’s film “Mean Girls” came out in 2004, the comedy was lauded as a silly, satirical excoriation of modern high-school life and its cliques, cafeteria antics and materialism. “Mean Girls” was a “Clueless” for the millennial age. And it was so fetch.

Fast forward to 2018. “Mean Girls” is about to begin a new life as a Broadway musical in March. But some Broadway watchers believe the subject matter is too mean for these kinder, gentler times.

“It just might not be the moment for ‘Mean Girls,’ ” one Broadway insider told me on the condition of anonymity. “It might feel stale and tone-deaf to the critics. And while this is something that could be critic-proof, maybe not.”

The fear of offending audiences isn’t limited to musicals about bratty teens. In this oversensitive era, TV shows, Oscar-worthy movies and pop music are all under pressure to be as nice as Betty Crocker. For millennia the best art has offended, tantalized, frightened, riled up and, of course, been life-affirming. But today the American public, looking more than ever like Soviet Russia, has just one rule for entertainers: Don’t rock the boat.

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PLAGIARISM SOFTWARE PINS DOWN NEW SOURCE FOR SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS ·

(Alison Flood’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/9.)

Plagiarism software more commonly used to check student essays for overly assiduous borrowings has uncovered a long-forgotten, handwritten document from 1576 as the possible source for more than 20 monologues and passages from Shakespeare’s plays.

Independent scholar Dennis McCarthy and LaFayette College professor June Schlueter used WCopyfind software to compare passages from Shakespeare’s plays with George North’s 1576 unpublished manuscript, A Brief Discourse of Rebellion, about the dangers of rebelling against a king. They were able to trace more than 20 passages back to the essay, including Gloucester’s opening soliloquy in Richard III, Macbeth’s comparison of dog breeds to different classes of men, the Fool’s Merlin prophecy in King Lear, and the events surrounding Jack Cade’s fatal fight with Alexander Iden in Henry VI.

“Until now, no Shakespeare scholar has studied the manuscript, and it has probably remained little read. Yet, as our analysis has revealed, Discourse is not merely the only uniquely existent, evidently uncopied document to have had a substantial impact on the canon; it is one of the most influential Shakespearean source texts in any form,” they write in a new book, A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels by George North, which is published on 16 February by Boydell & Brewer, in collaboration with the British Library. “In terms of the number of plays, scenes and passages affected, the scope of the manuscript’s influence likely exceeds all other known Shakespearean sources, excepting only the Chronicles of Hall and Holinshed and Thomas North’s Plutarch’s Lives.”

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LOUIS ZORICH, FAMILIAR ACTOR ON TV AND STAGE, DIES AT 93 ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/2; via Pam Green.)

Louis Zorich, a busy actor who appeared on Broadway with stars like Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman, on television in the comedy “Mad About You” and in numerous projects with his wife, the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.

His son Peter confirmed his death.

In a career of some 60 years, Mr. Zorich played scores of roles, mostly of the character-actor variety. He was the father to Paul Reiser’s character on NBC’s “Mad About You” from 1993 to 1999 and the grandfather on “Brooklyn Bridge,” a well-regarded CBS series that ran for two seasons earlier in the 1990s.

But he also occasionally tackled the big roles. The year before “Brooklyn Bridge” made its debut in 1991, he played King Lear in a production at the Whole Theater in Montclair, N.J., of which he and Ms. Dukakis were founding members. In 2004 he portrayed the title character in an Off Broadway version of Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” by the Aquila Theater Company, opposite Ms. Dukakis’s Clytemnestra.

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Photo: Playbill

ADRIENNE KENNEDY: ‘HE BROUGHT HER HEART BACK IN A BOX’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

For those who have lived in the South, Adrienne Kennedy’s He Brought Her Heart Back in a Boxfrom Theatre for a New Audiencenow playing, until February 11,  at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, offers the recognizable.  Donald Holder’s lighting captures a Georgia morning–where there are perhaps some of the most beautiful mornings in the world–and the period drama, set in the 1940s, does not exploit racial violence (Christopher Barreca’s unit set features the utilitarian chairs, stairs, and doorway of a high school). Kennedy’s two-character play, written using the ambiguous imagery of a poet, is made up almost entirely of monologues, and the director, Evan Yionoulis, allows the audience to listen to the young actors, to want to listen and watch their fine abilities, which includes Tom Pecinka’s splendid singing. Kennedy’s story is as old-fashioned as the plot of an operetta:  a mixed-race schoolgirl (Juliana Canfield) accepts a declaration of love from a young white opera singer (Pecinka), whose family has helped build their town.  He hopes she will come with him to marry in Harlem and live in New York and Paris–but to tell more would give away too much. What can be said is that the characters are allowed innocence, unrushed, and history.  “Dear Little Café,” from Noël Coward’s Bittersweet, is heard during the evening (the score was written in 1929, although a movie was made in 1940). When this correspondent lived in Georgia, in the early 1980s, two older maiden sisters, one a lawyer, helped the poor and black in the town do their taxes, free of charge—one favorite topic of conversation for them was speaking of the beautiful voice of American soprano Geraldine Farrar.  Jazz, of course, was not the only song of the South, despite the fact that its birthplace was New Orleans, yet the great form is what is stereotypically heard on soundtracks.  Eudora Welty also talks about hymns and popular classical music in her autobiography, One Writer’s Beginnings, where, as a child, she listened, and “moved” to:  “Overture to Daughter of the Regiment,”  “Selections from The Fortune Teller,”  “Kiss Me Again,” and  “Gypsy Dance from Carmen,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and “When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam.”

 

In an interview in BOMB magazine, with Suzan-Lori Parks, Kennedy explains that she writes “little scenes” about “what’s going on in life,” yet her Georgia contains “contradictions,” which is how she describes her white grandfather in her poem “Forget”:  He  sent her African-American sister and half-sister “to college, bought them beautiful things/but still maintained the distance. They called him by his surname and he never shared a meal with them.” Part of the dilemma, in talking about the South today, remains its contradictions and “complexities” (another word that Kennedy uses in “Forget”), ones that may not be present in other areas of the country, at least not to the same degree.  Even Southern literature is a tangle of styles: gothic (Flannery O’Connor) and mythic (William Faulkner), literary historic (Alice Walker) and real (Tennessee Williams), comic (Mark Twain) and tragic (William Styron), and ideological (Thomas Jefferson) and MGM (Margaret Mitchell), to give a sampling.  Yet, someone from outside the South may believe the media: that its inhabitants are dishonest, bigoted, deplorable or worse: stereotypes repeated until they appear to be true.  Kennedy, fortunately, continues to hope, for what can be found in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, is the aspiration to live side by side. Activists may not want the South to have had its past, but instead of attempting to erase it, to take down Confederate monuments and change state flags (South Carolina did this after the Charleston church shootings of Dylann Roof), Kennedy places markers within her work, which may be used for explication:  the rise of Nazism, for example, or Segregation, the underworld in The Aeneid, and even the mass murder of the Huguenots.  Patrick J. Buchanan has written that, “Since the ’60s, there has arisen an ideology that holds that the Confederacy was the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and those who fought under its battle flag should be regarded as traitors or worse,” yet Kennedy does not seem to be advocating for retaliation, although she may be inferring that she is watching, noting.   Likewise, her opinion of the industrial North is also not without suspicion, for this is where the overt continental violence in her play takes place.  While historians may decide to write on the continued complexities of agrarianism vs. modernity in the history of America’s South and North, what theatregoers will observe, in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, is how such complex subject matter can find this kind of formal clarity and simplicity:  as simple as a Georgia morning.  

© 2018 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved. Photo (top to bottom): The New York Times; Bob Shuman 

ADRIENNE KENNEDY’S

HE BROUGHT HER HEART BACK IN A BOX

Cast

Juliana Canfield (Kay)

Tom Pecinka (Chris)

Creative Team

Adrienne Kennedy (Playwright)

Evan Yionoulis (Director

Christopher Barreca (Set Designer)

Montana Levi Blanco (Costume Designer)

Donald Holder (Lighting Designer)

Justin Ellington (Composer & Sound Designer

Austin Switser (Video Designer

Press: Blake Zidell

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AT SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK, EVERYDAY NEW YORKERS WILL TAKE THE STAGE ·

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

This summer, the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park will be both for the people of New York and by the people of New York.

From July 17 to Aug. 19, two rotating ensembles of New Yorkers from all five boroughs will appear alongside five equity actors at the Delacorte Theater in a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Ms. Taub.

This will be the first time the Public has included a production from its participatory theater program, Public Works, in its regular summer program.

“This summer, we are making a huge leap forward by presenting a full-length run of a Public Works show,” said Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater’s artistic director, in a statement. “Surrounded by a huge ensemble of community members, ‘Twelfth Night’ will reach an enormously expanded audience with the deep Public Works message that everyone is an artist, and we are all in this together.”

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Photo: Joan Marcus

LUCY PREBBLE: ‘THE EFFECT’  (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

‘THE EFFECT’

by Lucy Prebble.

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Starring Jessie Buckley, Christine Entwisle, Damien Molony and Samuel West.

“I can tell the difference between who I am and a side effect.”

Award-winning chemical romance. 

Connie (Jessie Buckley – ‘The Last Post’, ‘Taboo’) and Tristan (Damien Molony – ‘Crashing’, ‘Being Human’) are taking part in a clinical trial for a new psychoactive drug. So when they start to feel attracted to each other, can they really trust how they feel?

A profound, and funny, play about love, depression and selfhood, winner of the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play when it was performed at the National Theatre in 2012.

Dr Lorna James …. Christine Entwisle
Connie …. Jessie Buckley
Tristan …. Damien Molony
Dr Toby Sealey …. Samuel West

Composer, Richard Hammarton
Writer, Lucy Prebble
Director, Abigail le Fleming

THE WRITER
Lucy Prebble is a writer for film, television, games and theatre. Before THE EFFECT she wrote the hugely successful ENRON (2010). Her first play, THE SUGAR SYNDROME (2003), won her the George Devine Award and was performed at the Royal Court.
Lucy is an Associate Artist at the Old Vic Theatre.
For television, she is the creator of the TV series SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL. She is Co-Executive Producer and writer on HBO’s media mogul drama, SUCCESSION.

THE COMPOSER
Richard Hammarton is a composer and sound designer for Theatre, TV and Film. His work has been heard throughout the UK and Internationally. He was part of the design team that won the Manchester Evening News “Best Design” award for DR FAUSTUS in 2010 and was Sound Designer for the Olivier Award winning play, THE MOUNTAINTOP. He also worked on the Ivor Novello winning RIPPER STREET for TV.