“SIX GUN JUSTICE” WITH PAUL BISHOP PODCAST: ROBERT DWYER & AUSTIN WRIGHT ON THEIR BOOK: ‘THE SHERIFF’ (FROM TWODOT BOOKS) ·

Listen

Hang out around the Six-Gun Justice water cooler for another Six-Gun Justice Conversation segment.  Co-host Paul Bishop talks with Western writers Austin Wright & Robert Dwyer, whose debut Western novel, The Sheriff, was released in April.

 

View The Sheriff on Amazon 

Reviews

I think that THE SHERIFF by Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright has a chance to be judged one of those rare modern Western fiction classics. The authors somehow manage to be both traditional and surprising on every page. … The town of Three Chop, grizzled Sheriff John Donovan, assorted outlaws radiating real menace, women just as desperate and cunning as any of the menfolk—there’s damned fine storytelling here.– Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral―And How It Changed the American West

THE SHERIFF is the debut novel from authors Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright, and a strong debut it is. There are definite echoes of the traditional Western here but a more literary sensibility to the writing and plotting. It’s a bleak but impressive yarn and well worth reading if you’re looking for a Western that’s a bit offbeat while retaining a fondness for what’s gone before.– James Reasoner, New York Times bestselling author

About the Authors

Robert Dwyer is a history buff with an abiding interest in the West, which looms large in the American psyche–a canvas for big stories and big ideas. He lives with his wife and dog in Alexandria, Virginia.

Austin Wright started watching John Wayne movies with his dad before he was old enough to talk–and he’s been hooked on Westerns ever since. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Annandale, Virginia.

Read their interviews on Stage Voices:

Part 1 

Part 2  

 

REJECTED BROADWAY POSTERS ON SALE TO HELP THEATER COMMUNITY ·

(Mark Kennedy’s article appeared on the AP, 4/19; via Pam Green.)

This combination of photos shows rejected theatrical poster art from “Cabaret, from left, “Equus,” and “Matilda The Musical,” designed by Frank Verlizzo and available for purchase. All proceeds go to the aid organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. (Frank Verlizzo via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Letting the world see your failures is usually something most people try to avoid. Not for theatrical poster designer Frank Verlizzo — he hopes you’ll put his on your wall.

Verlizzo is selling prints of his rejected posters for such shows as “Cabaret,” “Equus” and “Matilda” with all proceeds going to the aid organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

“It’s exciting for me because it’s work that I particularly loved that I didn’t think anyone was ever going to see,” says the artist. “So it’s kind of wonderful that they’re now out in the world, for better or for worse.”

The 16 posters included in the series — each goes for $399 with a frame — were either rejected, never pitched or part of a group of submissions that Verlizzo made that allowed only one winner.

One highlight is an alternative poster for “The Lion King.” Disney, of course, went for Verlizzo’s stark animal mane stamp that has become iconic. But now people can mount an unpublished design of his which uses paw prints from King Mufasa and newborn Simba to illustrate both the past and the future.

“There are a million reasons why a poster gets rejected for a show,” he explains. “It’s a room full of people. It’s like one big beauty contest. Everybody has their favorites.”

The offerings include an intriguing one for “Matilda” that uses letters of the alphabet to make up a graphic portrait of the imaginative heroine. Verlizzo created it for the Broadway run of the musical but producers decided to keep the previous West End campaign.

(Read more)

THE BRIEF, BRILLIANT AND RADICAL LIFE OF LORRAINE HANSBERRY ·

(Parul Sehgal’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/14; via Pam Green. Photo: The playwright Lorraine Hansberry in 1959. Credit…David Attie/Getty Images.)

The curtain rises on a dim, drab room. An alarm sounds, and a woman wakes. She tries to rouse her sleeping child and husband, calling out: “Get up!”

It is the opening scene — and the injunction — of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play “A Raisin in the Sun,” the story of a Black family living on the South Side of Chicago. “Never before, in the entire history of the American theater, had so much of the truth of Black people’s lives been seen on the stage,” her friend James Baldwin would later recall. It was the first play by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway. When “Raisin” won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for best play, Hansberry — at 29 — became the youngest American and the first Black recipient.

How often the word “first” appears in the life of Hansberry; how often it will appear in this review. See also “spokeswoman” or “only.” Strange words of praise; meretricious even, in how they can mask the isolation they impose. Hansberry seemed to anticipate it all. At the triumphant premiere of “Raisin,” at the standing ovation and the calls for playwright to take the stage, she initially refused to leave her seat. “The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all,” she later wrote, “is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.”

Hansberry died in 1965, at 34, of cancer. The fact still feels intolerable, almost unassimilable — her death not merely tragedy but a kind of theft. “Look at the work that awaits you!” she said in a speech to young writers, calling them “young, gifted and Black” — inspiring the Nina Simone song of the same name. Look at the work that awaited her. She goaded herself on, even in the hospital: “Comfort has come to be its own corruption.”

(Read more)

STEPHEN SONDHEIM & JOHN WEIDMAN’S ‘ASSASSINS’ GATHERS A KILLER ROSTER OF PERFORMERS ·

(Charles McNulty’s article appeared in the LA Times, 4/16; via Pam Green.)

Members of three “Assassins” casts perform “Everybody’s Got the Right” during the Classic Stage Company’s filmed benefit.

(Classic Stage Company)

“Assassins” is a hard musical to love, but maybe even a harder one to forget.

This show by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman is built around a rogue’s gallery of infamous Americans who tried, in some cases successfully, to kill the president of the United States. As a description, “audacious” seems far too tame for a musical that searches for the pep in pathological and even makes treason tuneful.

Cognitive dissonance is built into a work that saves some of its prettiest melodies for the most murderous maniacs. Frank Rich, in his review of the 1991 off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons, called it “an antimusical about antiheroes.” The show was a hit off-Broadway, but it took 13 years for this disturbing vaudeville to make it to Broadway.

A planned 2001 Broadway production, directed by Joe Mantello, was postponed because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With the country still smoldering, how could audiences be expected to turn out for a musical that includes one attempted assassin who wanted to hijack a plane and crash it into the White House?

If history always seems to be bumping into “Assassins,” it’s probably because the dark cultural currents that give rise to John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and their copycat kind are continually being replenished in a nation that enjoys dividing its citizens into winners and losers.

The tumultuous history of “Assassins” is recalled in “Tell the Story: Celebrating Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s ‘Assassins,’” a vibrant recorded benefit for New York’s Classic Stage Company, conceived and directed by artistic director John Doyle, one of Sondheim’s most inventive contemporary interpreters.

Doyle was in rehearsal with “Assassins” last year when New York performance venues were forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show will reopen the off-Broadway theater later this year, and this documentary (available till Monday) is both a salute to the musical and to the scrappy brilliance of theater artists, whose survival is being tested like never before.

How will the show play after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol? Possibly no longer as an exhibition of deranged, fame-seeking extremists but as a window into widespread American grievance. “Everybody’s Got the Right,” the musical’s opening (and closing) number, looks at what can happen when the government is blamed for standing in the way of a disaffected citizen’s pursuit of happiness.

In her preface to the documentary, Hillary Clinton calls attention to the dire situation of theaters, like CSC, which are struggling to resuscitate themselves after being dark for so long. If anyone has the right to be unsettled by “Assassins,” it’s the former secretary of State, senator and first lady, who, despite all the obstacles thrown in her path, came within a hair’s breadth of becoming our first woman president. But with the authority of someone who knows the dark underbelly of American politics, she makes the case for a musical that “dares its audience to see our country and assess our national myths through the eyes of our villains instead of our heroes.”

(Read more)

MOLIERE IN THE PARK’S PEN/MAN/SHIP LIVE VIRTUAL PERFORMANCES ·

(Via David Gibbs, DARR Publicity)

Molière in the Park to present 7 live virtual performances of Christina
Anderson’s pen/man/ship, the company’s first contemporary American play, directed by MIP’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien Previews begin April 16, Opens April 18, Runs through April 24

Brooklyn, NY – Molière in the Park, in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, will present a full virtual production of Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship, directed by Molière in the Park’s Founding Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien, running April 16 – 24, 2021. Previews begin April 16 for an April 18 opening.

Molière in the Park is thrilled to be returning to the screen with Christina Anderson’s riveting maritime drama. Beloved by their audience when it premiered last winter this is the last chance to catch it performed live for seven shows only. Elisabeth Vincentelli of The New York Times wrote, “Moliere in the Park’s virtual productions make imaginative use of video filters and effects, and this new one does not disappoint. The impressive cast includes Crystal Lucas-Perry and Kevin Mambo.” Don’t miss this immersive visual and audio experience that will transport you to the heart of a stirring, turn of the twentieth century tale.

1896. When Ruby, a young Black woman fleeing the American South, boards a ship bound for Liberia, she finds herself at odds with her companion’s domineering, God-fearing father and his mysterious expedition. Unwilling to sit passively below deck, she befriends the crew, becoming entangled in a mutinous uprising that threatens them all. Performed live with breakthrough technology and expansive visuals that put the audience aboard the troubled vessel, pen/man/ship is a heart-pounding story of truth-seeking at all cost and a powerful reminder of the dangerous limits of self-righteousness. 

The returning cast features Lucille Lortel Award winner Crystal Lucas-Perry (JQA with San Diego Rep, A Bright Room Called Day & Ain’t No Mo’ at the Public Theater), Kevin Mambo (“Marvel’s Luke Cage” on Netflix, Fela in Broadway’s Fela!, Mlima’s Tale at the Public Theater), Jared McNeill (HBO’s “We Are Who We Are,” Battlefield at BAM, The Valley of Astonishment at Theatre for a New Audience) and Postell Pringle (Broadway’s A Free Man of Color, FX’s “Rescue Me,” The Urban Retreat at the Public Theater).

The production team includes Garth Belcon (MIP Co-Founding Executive Producer), Thyra Hartshorn (Production Manager), Rocco DiSanti (Video Design/Engineer), Lina Younes (Production Design), Ari Fulton (Costume Design), Marie Yokoyama (Lighting Design), Victoria Deiorio (Original Music & Sound Design), Ursula Echeverria (Head Animator), Daniel Williams (Sound Engineer), Madison Lane (Production Stage Manager), Kaliswa Brewster (Community Liaison) and Lisa Lewis (Advertising & Marketing).

Performances (all ET) are Friday, April 16 at 2pm, Saturday, April 17 at 7pm, Sunday, April 18 at 7pm, Wednesday, April 21 at 2pm, Thursday, April 22 at 7pm, Friday, April 23 at 7pm, and Saturday, April 24 at 7pm. The running time is approximately 2 hours including a 5-minute intermission. Tickets are free. Reserve at www.moliereinthepark.org.

To appeal to its French speaking audience and language learners, MIP is offering closed captions in French, translated by Chloe Noble and Lucie Tiberghien. Molière in the Park is an inclusive and antiracist theater organization. Their mission is to bring high-caliber English language productions of Molière’s timely masterpieces, as well as carefully chosen contemporary plays that focus on language and question today’s world through the lens of history, to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park annually, and the online theatergoing community, free of charge. For info visit www.moliereinthepark.org, like MIP on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/MoliereInThePark, follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MoliereBKPark and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/moliereinthepark.

Christina Anderson is a playwright, tv writer, educator, and creative. Her plays have appeared at The Goodman Theatre, OSF, The Public Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Rep and other theaters in the United States and Canada. Her awards and honors include 2020 United States Artists Fellow, MacDowell Fellowship, Lily Awards Harper Lee Prize, Herb Alpert Award nomination, Barrymore Nomination and New Dramatists Residency. Her work has appeared multiple times on the annual Kilroy’s List, an industry survey of excellent new works by female playwrights. She is also the winner of the Lucille Lortel Fellowship. Christina’s plays include How To Catch Creation, The Ripple, The Wave That Carried Me Home, Man In Love, Pen/Man/Ship, The Ashes Under Gait City and Blacktop Sky. She taught playwriting at Wesleyan University, Rutgers University, SUNY Purchase College and served as the interim Head of Playwriting at Brown University. Christina recently worked as a television staff writer on the CBS drama “Tommy.” Her current projects include producing an album of instrumental hip hop music titled The Montage Flow and writing her first tv pilot “The Only Isaac.” A Franco-American Brooklynite, Lucie Tiberghien was raised in France and Switzerland and moved to New York in 1995. Specializing in the development of new plays, Lucie has directed world premieres at Second Stage, MCC, The Cherry Lane Theater, Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Rattlestick Theater Company, MaYi Theater Company, The Humana Festival, Labyrinth Theater Company, Pan Asian Rep, New York Theater Workshop Next Door, and Arena Stage. She has developed new plays at Playpenn, Sundance, Ojai, The O’Neill, MTC, The Roundabout, Primary Stages, among others. In the fall of 2018 she founded Molière in the Park to act on her desire to democratize access to theater and bring free productions to Brooklyn on a regular basis.

NEXT PROBLEM FOR THE ARTS IS GETTING AUDIENCES TO TRUST THE VACCINE ·

(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 4/15; Photo: The Chicago Tribune.)

On Monday, the Washington Post arts critic Peter Marks announced a grand slate of live 2021-22 attractions at the Kennedy Center: a dozen musicals like “The Prom” and “Hamilton,” Broadway plays like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” variety shows like “Riverdance” and Blue Man Group. All playing at full capacity, beginning in October.

We’re back after 18 months in the wilderness! Finally! Hurrah!

The reaction on Twitter was as bizarre as it was swift.

“How are they dealing with keeping the cast safe? That sounds like, potentially, a huge viral load facing you.”

“It’s irresponsible.”

“Dear God, no social distancing?”

“How can you build trust this way? Save the pretending for the stage.”

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. is not doing anything any differently from other entertainment entities. Broadway is planning a fall return and some shows have begun selling tickets. Arts presenters in cities from Cleveland to San Francisco are planning to restart in the fall, too. And in the entertainment business, you have to sell tickets in advance, meaning the shows have to be announced now. Otherwise they cannot go ahead.

After all, October is still six months away. The supply of vaccines in many areas of the country already either matches or even exceeds demand and rapidly is catching up elsewhere; in New York and elsewhere, particular efforts are being made to vaccinate arts professionals. October will be long after President Joseph R. Biden has said vaccine supply will be sufficient to vaccinate every American who wants one and there is no hard evidence to suggest that won’t happen as planned.

(Read more)

 

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (115) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

People who meet daily in the nervous atmosphere of the stage cannot establish those close and friendly relations which are necessary for true co-operation in art. But, if besides meeting on the stage, they met in nature, in common work on the soil, in fresh air, in the light of the sun, their souls would open, their physical labor would aid in the creation of unison among them. (MLIA)

FRANCE: POEMS! SONGS! DEMANDS! IT’S NOT THEATER, BUT IT’S … SOMETHING ·

(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/8; via Pam Green.; Photo: Improvised choreography on Sunday in front of La Colline, one of the first theaters in Paris to be occupied by workers.Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times.)

Performing-arts protesters locked out by the pandemic have occupied playhouses across France, but drama is not allowed. Cue the “agoras.”

Dozens of French theater workers walk into a room and occupy it. What happens next? A month later, not nearly as many performances as you might expect.

Since early March, the performing arts sector has been in the grip of protests across France, where cultural institutions have been closed since October because of the coronavirus. After trade union representatives in Paris entered the shuttered Odéon Theater, a movement to occupy playhouses spread rapidly. Even as the country has entered a third lockdown, the occupations have shown no sign of diminishing: The number of venues taken over by artists, workers and students has remained around 100.

Yet public actions are needed to rally support. As a result, the occupiers have walked a fine, often awkward line amid art, safety and their political demands.

The main point of contact between the protesters and the public has been “agoras,” a form of outdoor assembly halfway between a political rally and an open-mic session. The Odéon has staged daily agoras since early March, and some have drawn hundreds of bystanders; elsewhere, they are weekly or biweekly. Anyone wearing a mask is welcome.

What happens at an agora depends on the luck of the draw. Prepared political statements read from smartphones are a recurring feature, with protesters from other economic sectors joining in to detail their own demands. The floor is generally open to anyone who wishes to put two cents in. Poems, songs and the odd flash mob or group improvisation bring a little motion to the proceedings.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

On Sunday at La Colline, one of the first Paris theaters to be occupied, a three-hour agora started with an art-therapy session. Protesters and visitors were directed to draw on a large white canvas on the ground in front of the theater. Later, during the open-mic portion, three students recited a poem they had written, starting with the question “What do we live for?” Another participant read a text that employed swans as a metaphor for the current situation, asking the powers that be to “let us fly.”

After attending half a dozen agoras, I can say with some confidence that the rewards are slim from an audience perspective. The format is barely even agitprop, as occupiers are trying hard not to do anything overtly theatrical — a necessary compromise, perhaps, yet one that makes for arguably limited visibility.

(Read more)

 

‘HOWLING ANGER’: HOW ANGELS IN AMERICA AND THE NORMAL HEART CONFRONTED THE AIDS CRISIS ·

(Ryan Gilbey’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/5; Photo: The Guardian.)

‘You couldn’t phone it in’ … Andrew Garfield and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in the National Theatre’s 2017 revival of Angels in America. Photograph: Helen Maybanks

The pandemic inspired many works of art but two furious, turbulent plays written at its onset still tower over the rest. As both return, we explore their enduring power

On 3 July 1981, a single-column item appeared on page 20 of the New York Times under the headline: “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” In the four decades since, the cultural response to Aids has spanned every art form. It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies’s Channel 4 series, is only the most recent entry on a very long list. But even now, after all those works, the conversation about Aids is still dominated by two American plays that arrived in the early days of that pandemic.

In The Normal Heart, which opened off-Broadway in April 1985, playwright and activist Larry Kramer dramatised his own struggle to force politicians, doctors and the gay community to confront a disease many were treating with scepticism or indifference. In front of a set on which the rising fatalities and the names of the dead were scrawled and updated with each performance, Kramer’s crusading onstage alter-ego Ned Weeks ranted, raged and fell desperately in love. He was played by Brad Davis, the star of Midnight Express and Querelle, who died of Aids six years later.

Fantastical … Nancy Crane and Stephen Dillane in Angels In America at the NT in 1993. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Angels in America adopts a more expansive, fantastical approach. Tony Kushner’s two-part, seven-hour epic, which was commissioned in the late 1980s and opened in its entirety on Broadway in 1993, mixes fictional characters with real-life figures such as Roy Cohn, the ruthless lawyer who died of Aids, and Ethel Rosenberg, the woman he sent to the electric chair for spying. The play’s settings range from Central Park cruising grounds to Antarctica and the afterlife. In place of Kramer’s rawness and austerity is spectacle: Marianne Elliott’s 2017 revival at the National Theatre in London featured neon, puppetry, roaring flames, and Andrew Garfield as the dying New Yorker visited by an angel crashing through his ceiling.

Neither play looks likely to fall from favour. Angels in America is currently streaming on NT at Home, while The Normal Heart – which reached Broadway in 2011 and was adapted for TV in 2014 with Mark Ruffalo – is to be staged at the National, directed by Dominic Cooke.

Back in 1985, however, when the actor DW Moffett was cast as Ned’s lover, the material was seen by some as taboo. “A gay friend told me, ‘Don’t you fucking go near Larry Kramer, that guy is toxic!’” he recalls. “I was like, ‘But it’s all about Aids.’ He said, ‘I know what it’s about! How we can’t fuck one another any more, and all that puritan bullshit.’ Even in New York, people were not ready to digest either the rage or the amount of doomsday information Larry was downloading on to American society.”

Kramer had decried gay promiscuity in the 1970s on moral grounds. Although his argument acquired, with Aids, an existential imperative, those who were enjoying hard-won freedoms were in no mood to curb their desires. “It’s Cassandra, isn’t it?” says Dominic Cooke. “He knows what’s coming and he’s not being listened to. Larry was saying that promiscuity is a choice, but it shouldn’t be the destination. The destination is that we should feel worthy of love.”

(Read more)