(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/20.  Photo Lucy Tregear as Meg Page, Richard Cordery as Sir John Falstaff and Claire Carrie as Alice Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Old Vic, London, in 2003. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian.)

Set for revival at the RSC, this perfectly structured revenge comedy has an earthy vitality that no aristo or scholar could have created

I have a question for those theatrical luminaries (and I’m looking at you Sir Mark and Sir Derek) who doubt the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Do they seriously believe that a capricious aristo such as the Earl of Oxford or a legalistic scholar like Francis Bacon could have written The Merry Wives of Windsor? In case they have forgotten, this brilliant comedy – about to be revived by the RSC – shows the middle classes getting their revenge on a knightly predator, Sir John Falstaff. It could only have been written by someone who understood the intricacies of a close-knit, provincial community.

What strikes me about the play is its quintessential Englishness, and you see this in myriad ways. One is in the earthy vitality of the language. There is a classic example when Anne Page, offered the prospect of marriage to a preposterous Frenchman, says: “Alas, I had rather be set quick i’th’earth / And bowled to death with turnips.” It is an extraordinarily vivid image and one of the play’s rare excursions into verse: 90% of it is in prose. But the language throughout has a localised vigour that stems from a writer steeped in English life. At one point Mistress Ford urges her servants to take the buck-basket containing Falstaff and “carry it among the whisters in Datchet Mead.” The “whisters” were the bleachers of linen who could be seen by any English river bank including the Avon.

That Englishness also takes the form of running gags at the expense of language-mangling foreigners: something today we may find mildly offensive but, if we are honest, a constant strain in English stage, film and TV comedy. In The Merry Wives, Dr Caius is the archetypal funny Frenchman who, invited to join a small, select twosome, blithely announces: “I shall make-a the turd.” Shakespeare, who had a fascination with the Welsh – think of Fluellen and Owen Glendower – here creates a voluble parson, Sir Hugh Evans, finally dismissed by Falstaff as “one that makes fritters of English”. A reminder that even today we use the language as a test of assimilation.

But how to represent this Englishness on stage? Broadly, there are two approaches. One is to treat the play as a realistic slice of Elizabethan life: the other is to find modern equivalents. Terry Hands – who deserves credit for putting the play back on the map and who directed it for the RSC in 1968 and 1975 and at the National in 1995 – and Trevor Nunn who directed it for the RSC in 1979 were both slice-of-life men. From Nunn’s production I remember half-timbered houses, mullioned windows and choirboys playing conkers. But both directors realised that it is the jealous bourgeois, Ford, who drives the play as much as Falstaff. In Hands’s RSC productions Ian Richardson displayed a sustained frenzy that made the jealousy of Othello and Leontes look like very small beer. In Nunn’s version Ben Kingsley exuded a wheezy jollity in the scenes where he accosts Falstaff in disguise, only to let out a manic scream of rage the second the fat knight left the room.

(Read more)


The New York Drama Critics’ Circle has unveiled its annual awards, and this year’s ceremony promises exciting winners. David Adjmi’s “Stereophonic,” a play that premiered at Playwrights Horizons before swiftly transferring to Broadway, won the prize for Best Play. Described as a deep dive into the pressure cooker of a recording studio, “Stereophonic” follows a fictional rock band on the cusp of superstardom as they grapple with creative tensions and the perils of success.

Meanwhile, the musical “Dead Outlaw,” with music and lyrics by the duo of David Yazbek and Erik Della Penna and a book by Itamar Moses, took home Best Musical honors. “Dead Outlaw” is a darkly comedic exploration of the bizarre afterlife of a failed outlaw, whose mummified body becomes a carnival sideshow attraction. With the ever-inventive Yazbek’s involvement, one can expect a captivating and perhaps unconventional musical experience.

The ceremony, to be held on May 21st, will be a night of recognition beyond these two top awards. A joint special citation celebrates the revivals of “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Purlie Victorious,” a testament to the enduring power of classic productions. The ever-illustrious Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders, both gracing the stage this season, received a joint lifetime achievement award. Writer-composer Heather Christian’s “Terce: A Practical Breviary” also received a special citation, a nod to innovation on the downtown scene.

Mark your calendars, theater aficionados! This year’s Drama Critics’ Circle awards promise a fascinating glimpse into the vibrant tapestry of New York theater.

For more information on the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, please visit A full breakdown of this year’s voting will be posted tonight on the organization’s website.

Written by Gemini

Press: Don Summa, Richard Kornberg & Associates


“PARTY CLOWN OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS,” written & performed by Stan Baker. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The first act, at Theater for the New City, features Stan Baker, a man with a treasure trove of tales from the fringes of fame. Baker’s one-man show, “Party Clown of the Rich & Famous,” delves into his 1980s stint entertaining the city’s elite. Imagine, if you dare, rubbing elbows with Salvador Dali, swapping jokes with Bob Hope, or perhaps even encountering a pre-presidential Donald Trump dispensing dubious financial advice. Baker promises a hilarious, and likely cautionary, tale of the allure and emptiness of easy money amidst the excesses of the privileged few.

Act Two, “The Hungry Mind Buffet,” is a thought-provoking smorgasbord of short plays by a quirky ensemble. Playwright Peter Dizozza takes a comedic operatic swipe at Dante’s Inferno, while Richard West offers a man’s pointed, and no doubt humorous, conversation with a possibly exasperated God. Georgia James explores the darker side of indulgence through a woman whose weapon of choice is a decadent dessert. Finally, Lissa Moira, the production’s director and a known champion of the avant-garde, delivers a stark but powerful commentary on war with “The Colonel and the Woman Take Tea in the Rubble.”

L-R: Violinist Susan Mitchell, Mia Sasson as the food-loving Woman, Alisa Ermolaev as the waitress in “YUM” by Georgia James, directed by Lissa Moira. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Moira, whose eclectic sensibilities have long graced the downtown theater scene, promises a production that’s both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. Think a theatrical amuse-bouche followed by a philosophical espresso. Those seeking a theatrical adventure, which lingers long after the curtain falls, need apply.

Theater for the New City presents

“Party Clown of the Rich & Famous and The Hungry Mind Buffet,” an evening of cuckoo playlets on subjects from celebrities to the celestial.

Program includes works by Stan Baker, Peter Dizzoza, Richard West, Georgia James and Lissa Moira, all directed by Lissa Moira.

May 30 to June 16, 2024

Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave.

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM

$18 general admission; $15 students & seniors

Box office, (212) 254-1109

runs 2:05 with intermission

Press: Jonathan Slaff




A one-person play about the visual artist and activist Claudia Bernardi, who grows up in Argentina under the military junta, and her subsequent work digging up the past . . .

The sensuous braiding of desaparecidos’ stories through the lens of a survivor . . .

A kaleidoscopic play of histories woven together, which depicts how both families and justice may be reconfigured . . . 

Time travel, subverting and countering realities . . . 

The fight for excavation, the archeology of a lifetime–of lifetimes . . . 

Filloux’s narrative of Bernardi in “How to Eat an Orange,” directed by Elena Araoz, accentuates justice and hope, the subterranean world, and Argentina’s Dirty War.

Above (l to r), Paula Pizzi (the actor in How to Eat an Orange) and playwright Catherine Filloux at La MaMa. Photo credit Karen Oughtred.

FILLOUX: What will inspire you in my new play is how justice and hope are won. The military junta during Argentina’s Dirty War were not held accountable for their crimes but our protagonist displays a stunning new solution with “juicio politico.” This visual artist and her family time travel in a lush, colorful theatrical symphony where new ways of seeing abound. Claudia shows you a subterranean world, where ants are as interesting as flowers–and her epistolary spans generations. Unexpected action heroes change our landscape, when letters are mailed and show up decades later.

Filloux’s most recent play reunites her with Suttirat Larlarb, James Bond No Time to Die costume designer, who also designed her plays Selma ’65 and Eyes of the Heart, and Elena Araoz, the director of her play Kidnap Road about the hostage Ingrid Betancourt

WHERE: the Downstairs Theater at La MaMa (66 East 4th Street New York, NY 10003), May 30-June 16, 2024. Tickets ($30) are available for advance purchase at to Eat an Orange is a New Georges Supported Production. 

La MaMa ETC. will present the World Premiere of How to Eat an Orange, written by Catherine Filloux (Kidnap Road at La MaMa; Turning Your Body Into a Compass with CultureHub), directed by Elena Araoz (Alligator with New Georges/The Sol Project; Architecture of Becoming with WP Theatre), and performed by Paula Pizzi (underneathmybed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater; Where’s My Money? with Manhattan Theatre Club/LAByrinth Theater Company).

Press: Emily Owens


(Alex Ross’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 5/13; Zemlinsky, once regarded as a weak-willed eclecticist, is attracting modern admirers. Illustration by Romy Blümel.)

The Musica Non Grata series, in Prague, explores the glittering, elusive world of Alexander Zemlinsky.

Alexander Zemlinsky, who composed several of the most subtly entrancing operas of the early twentieth century, embodied the cosmopolitan chaos of the old Austrian Empire. His father came from a Slovakian Catholic family; his mother was a Sarajevo native of Sephardic Jewish and Muslim descent. Born in Vienna in 1871, Zemlinsky apprenticed there under Gustav Mahler; had an illustrious stint conducting at the New German Theatre, in Prague; and later landed at the radical-minded Kroll Opera, in Berlin. His mature works draw, variously, on Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Rabindranath Tagore, and Langston Hughes. To what nation or tradition does such a polymorphous figure belong? A sorcerer of orchestration, Zemlinsky wrote music that glimmers ambiguously in the air, and his life seemed to do the same.

In April, I went to Prague for the final installment of a four-year series called Musica Non Grata, which focussed on German-speaking Jewish composers who thrived in the First Czechoslovak Republic, between 1918 and 1938. The principal venue was the Prague State Opera, as the New German Theatre is now known. The German government provided support, memorializing the Germanophone culture that once flourished in Czech lands. Two of Zemlinsky’s operas, “A Florentine Tragedy” and “Kleider Machen Leute” (“Clothes Make the Man”), were presented on the final Musica Non Grata weekend. As it happens, I had recently seen Zemlinsky’s “Der Zwerg” (“The Dwarf”) at L.A. Opera, whose music director, James Conlon, is a tireless advocate of composers who lost their careers—and sometimes their lives—to the Nazis.

Efforts to recuperate artists who were victims of prejudice might be seen as special pleading. Would the music of the historically oppressed—whether the composers are Jewish, Black, or female—compel our attention if we knew nothing of their struggles? Aren’t we rewriting history to compensate for past misdeeds? Such questions suffer from the dubious assumption that the core repertory has emerged from a purely organic process unaffected by sentimental factors. Consider how the cult of Mozart dwells on his early death, or how that of Beethoven emphasizes his deafness. In any case, no revival of a forgotten composer can be rooted in anything but love, and Zemlinsky’s circle of devotees, while not exactly vast, is steadily expanding.

His musical gifts were never in doubt. Recordings of his work as a conductor are meagre, but his contemporaries praised him as an expert, elegant interpreter of modern and classic repertory alike. Igor Stravinsky, not one to hand out compliments freely, recalled a Zemlinsky-led performance of “The Marriage of Figaro” as the “most satisfying operatic experience of my life.” In Prague, Zemlinsky selflessly promoted not only his fellow-Viennese, like his brother-in-law Arnold Schoenberg and members of the Schoenberg school, but also Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, and Weill. Having begun as an acolyte of Brahms, Zemlinsky brushed against atonality, neoclassicism, and popular song. His openness to myriad influences caused him to be perceived as a weak-willed eclecticist. But Theodor W. Adorno, in a beautiful defense of Zemlinsky’s music, questioned the belief that “force is an integral part of greatness,” arguing that there is genius in sensitivity, empathy, and reticence.

“Der Zwerg” (1919-21), an adaptation of Wilde’s story “The Birthday of the Infanta,” has long been the most often performed of Zemlinsky’s eight operas. I had previously seen productions at the Spoleto Festival, in 1993, and at the Komische Oper, in Berlin, in 2002. The story, in which a dwarf falls in love with a cruelly teasing princess, has autobiographical dimensions: throughout his life, Zemlinsky felt like a freakish outsider. In 1900, he became smitten with the composer Alma Schindler, who found him at once “horribly ugly” and “touchingly sweet.” (She dropped him in favor of Mahler, who was neither.) The omnipresence of antisemitism in Vienna must have shadowed the opera’s conception.

(Read more)


(On Democracy Now!, 5/10.)

The play Grenfell: In the Words of Survivors, which is being staged this week in Brooklyn, tells the story of the 2017 apartment fire at Grenfell Tower in London that killed 72 people. It was the worst fire in Britain since World War II, and survivors blamed the government for mismanaging the public housing block and neglecting maintenance. The play tells the story of how the residents of Grenfell Tower, from the Caribbean, Portugal, Syria, Morocco, Ethiopia and Britain, created a thriving community even as their homes fell into disrepair in the years before the fire. Playwright Gillian Slovo says she was moved to create the play after watching “in absolute horror as that building burned,” wondering how such a tragedy could happen in one of the richest neighborhoods of London. We also hear from Grenfell survivor Ed Daffarn, who barely escaped the inferno with his life. “I’m here. It’s like a million-to-one chance,” Daffarn says. Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on over 1,500 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream at Mondays to Fridays 8-9 a.m. ET.  Support our work:…

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Interview with playwright Gillian Slovo below:



(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/10;  Photograph: Geraint Lewis.

The theatre director, now teaching at Oxford after years running the RSC, thinks The Two Gentlemen of Verona is perfect for a young cast to argue over. We go into rehearsals

Which is Shakespeare’s least loved play? The Two Gentlemen of Verona would come high on many people’s lists. It is clearly apprentice-work. It has had few significant revivals. And it also raises problematic issues since the treacherous Proteus threatens at one point to rape Silvia who is betrothed to his best friend, Valentine. For these and other reasons it is no one’s favourite play.

This could, however, be about to change. Greg Doran – now officially Sir Gregory – is staging a production at the Oxford Playhouse with student actors. After 35 years as an actor and then director with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Doran is this year’s Cameron Mackintosh visiting professor of contemporary theatre at St Catherine’s College. It is a seductive post – whose previous occupants include Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Deborah Warner and Adjoa Andoh – which involves giving lectures and workshops. But Doran has had the bright idea of using his tenure to direct the one play in the First Folio that has so far eluded him: The Two Gents. After spending time watching him at work, I have a hunch that he may have cracked some of the problems posed by one of Shakespeare’s early works.

“It is an ideal play,” says Doran, “to do with students. It is about young people leaving home, falling in love, discovering their identities. It even brings back memories of my own experience of leaving Preston to study at Bristol just as Shakespeare’s characters quit Verona to go to Milan. But working on the play has been genuinely collaborative. It’s been a funny old couple of years since the death of my husband [Sir Antony Sher]. I’ve filled it with various displacement activities such as going round the world studying existing copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. What this production enables me to do is get back into a rehearsal room and to pass on what I have learned to the next generation. They are also teaching me. There’s a scene where Launce and Speed, two comic servants, discuss the attributes of a milkmaid. One of the actors said to me that it was exactly like a Hinge profile. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about until he explained that it was a dating app.”

How, though, do you cast a play when you are unfamiliar with the students’ work? “Well,” says Doran, “80 initially sent in videos. I saw 40 of them in person and cast 20. What is extraordinary is the range of experience. Half the cast are undergraduates: the other half are doing DPhils or master’s degrees in subjects that include neuroscience, the history of art and professional theatre in the Soviet gulags. Three of the cast I’ve discovered also do drag acts.”

(Read more)




May 16 to 20, 2024

The Segal Theatre Center,

The Graduate Center, City University of New York,

365 Fifth Avenue, at 34th Street

FREE – First Come, First Served

Some screenings are in-person, some are online only (for three weeks beginning May 16), and some are both.  For all info including screening schedules, descriptions and trailers, visit the festval’s website,

NEW YORK — The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center of CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave. (at 34th Street) will hold its eighth international Segal Film Festival on Theatre and Performance (FTP) Thursday, May 16, Friday, May 17, Saturday, May 18 and Monday, May 20, 2024, at The Segal Theatre Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY in New York City.  This year’s Festival program features films, short films, performance art and documentaries, including several US and world premieres. Screenings are afternoons and evenings–see the complete schedule at

FTP presents films that deal directly with the themes of theater and performance. Its mission is to invite experimental and established theater makers to present work created for the screen – not filmed archival recordings – to audiences and industry professionals from around the world.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Segal Film Festival had evolved into the premier US event for new film and video work focusing on theatre and performance. After a brief hiatus during the pandemic, the 2022 FTP Film Festival presented over 100 screenings from over 60 countries, where many theatre artists engaged in Zoom and DIY projects created from home or outside theatres.

Now, it is once again time to share an overview of some of the most compelling works created for the screen by theatre artists during the last two years – in person.


The festival is co-curated and co-produced by Frank Hentschker & Tomek Smolarski of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.

Some screenings are in-person, some are online only (for three weeks beginning May 16), and some are both.  For all info including screening schedules, descriptions and trailers, visit the festval’s website,

The FTP 2024 will present the following works: Juggle & Hide by Wichaya (Japan)Genocide And Movements by Andreia Beatriz (Brazil), Hamilton Borges dos Santos and Luis Carlos de AlencarSchlingensief: A Voice That Shook the Silence by Bettina Böhler (Germany)Talk to Us by Kirsten BurgenThe Making of Pinocchio by Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill (Scotland, UK)Nightshades – Veronica Viper by Ellen Callaghan (USA); Chinoiserie Redux by Ping Chong, Kristina Varshavskaya (Canada)Die Kinder der Toten by Kelly Copper & Pavol Liska / Nature Theater of Oklahome (Germany)Film mon corps virtuel et mon double by Bruno Deville Simon Senn (Switzerland)Queendom by Agniia Galdanova (USA/France)Book of Jacob by Krzysztof Garbaczewski (USA/Poland)Snow White by Dr.GoraParasit (Lithuania)Next… II (Mali/Iceland) by Janne Gregor (Island, Mali, Germany); Making of the Money Opera by Amitesh Grover (India)Dancing Pina by Florian Heinzen-Ziob (Germany)Maria Klassenerg by Magda Hueckel i Tomek Sliwinski (Poland) ; The End Is Not What I Thought It Would Be by Andrea Kleine (USA)The Utopians by Michael Klien & En Dynamei (Greece)I am not Ok by Gabrielle Lansner (USA) ; Aeschylus’ Oresteia by Carolin Mader (Germany)Roll Call: The Roots to Strange Fruit by Jonathan McCrory/National Black Theatre (USA)Elfriede Jelinek – Language Unleashed by Claudia Muller (Germany/Austria)The Hamlet Syndrome by Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski (Poland/Syndrome)Muse by Pete O’Hare USA)Swing and Sway by Fernanda Pessoa and Chica Barbosa (Brazil)Revolution 21 by Martyna Peszko (Poland) ; Conference of the Absent by Rimini Protocol (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel) & Expander Film (Lilli Kuschel, Stefan Korsinsky) (Germany)Who is Eugenio Barba by Magdalene Remoundou (Greece)Living Hans-Thies Lehmann by Christoph Rüter (Germany)Women of Theatre, New York by Juney Smith USA)Interstate by Jennie Mary Tei Liu (USA)Red Day by Besim Ugzmajli (Kosovo)Objects in Black by Jacqueline Wade (USA)Wo by Jiemin YangNewcomer “H” Sokerissa by Aoki YuukiLove by Alexander Zeldin – Schaubühne Berlin (Germany)

For all info, trailers, times, details and RSVP for the entire festival, including the complete schedule of in-person screenings, please visit:


Thursday, May 16:

Queendom by Agniia Galdanova (6:00-7:00 PM)

Maria Klassenberg by Tomasz Sliwinski and Magda Hueckel (World Premiere) (7:50-8:50 PM)

Friday, May 17

Genocide and Movements by Andreia Beatriz, Hamilton Borges dos Santos and Luis Carlos de Alencar (6:00 – 7:00 PM)

Swing & Sway by Fernanda Pessoa and Chica Barbosa (7:00 – 8:00 PM)

Making of Pinocchio by Cade & MacAskill (8:00 -9:30 PM)

Saturday, May 18

Who is Eugenio Barba by Magdalene Remoundou (10:00 – 11:00 AM)

Love (Schausbuhne) (11:05 AM -12:05 PM)

Schlingensief: A Voice That Shook the Silence by Frieder Schlaich (12:10 – 2:15 PM)

ELFRIEDE JELINEK – LANGUAGE UNLEASHED by Claudia Muller (2:20 – 3:50 PM)

Dancing Pina by Florian Heinzen-Ziob (4:00 – 5:51 PM)

Monday, May 20

Die Kinder der Toten Kelly Copper & Pavol Liška – Nature Theater of Oklahoma (2:00 – 3:30 PM)

Viewing of selected short films from the festival lineup (3:35 – 5:15 PM)

Chinoiserie Redux by Ping Chong, Kristina Varshavskaya (5:20 – 6:40)

Revolution 21 by Martyna Peszko (6:45 – 7:45 PM)

The Hamlet Syndrome by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski (7:50 – 9:30 PM)

Some of these can be streamed online as well.  See for full info.



Thirteen other films are screening online only.  For info & links to these, see:



Tomek Smolarski is Film and Performing Arts Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York, with over 20 years of experience in production of international cultural events and extensive knowledge in cultural diplomacy. He has initiated and executed projects with partners all over the US such as BAM, MoMA, Film at Lincoln Center, Museum of the Moving Image, Anthology Film Archives, NYU Skirball, Abrons Arts Center, Martin E. Segal Theater Center, La Mama Theater, Joe’s Pub, RedCat, Odyssey Theater, Berkley Arts Museum and Pacific Film Archives, Chicago Cultural Center and many others.

Dr. Frank Hentschker (Executive Director, The Segal Center) holds a PhD in theater from the now legendary Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany. He came to the Graduate Center in 2001 as program director for the Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center and was appointed to the central doctoral faculty in theater in 2009.

The festival’s web presence is by Gaurav Singh.


The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center (MESTC), The Graduate Center, CUNY, is a non-profit Center for theater, affiliated with CUNY’s Ph.D. Program in Theater. The Center’s primary focus is to bridge the gap between the academic and professional performing arts communities by providing an open environment for the development of educational, community-driven, and professional projects in the performing arts.

(Via Jonathan Slaff)


(Solene Clausse’s Olivia Salazar-Winspear’s, Jennifer Ben Brahim’s Marion Chaval’s, Magali Faure’s and Clemence Delfaure’s article  appeared on France24, 5/7. Photo: arts24 © FRANCE 24)

Her powerful performances give voice to some uncomfortable truths. Lebanese playwright and director Chrystèle Khodr wades through the ruins of a society in her latest play “Ordalie”, exploring the social, political and physical wreckage of her homeland and its history. She tells us more about the quest for justice in contemporary Lebanon, why 19th-century playwright Henrik Ibsen is a fitting contemporary inspiration and how making theatre in a crisis-ridden country is a constant endeavour of creativity and solidarity among artists.