Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Edward Albee's "The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?" on Sunday. NY Mag's "I Lost My Virginity to a Horse" on Tuesday...

On Sunday, while millions prepared to watch the Oscars hosted by Broadway darling Neil Patrick Harris, I wrapped a 3 foot scarf around my neck, donned the rest of my winter armor and braved the cold as I headed to Lincoln Center Plaza to see my very first Julliard production - Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? - by the 4th Year Drama Division.

In the minutes leading up to the start of the 2002 Tony Award winning play about bestiality, other taboos and intolerance, I flipped through the program and was struck by the following quote from the playwright:
What I wanted people to do is not just sit there being judges of the characters. I wanted people to go to the play, and image themselves in the situation. Put yourself there. "How the fuck would I react? Why am I making this judgment about those people? Because I probably wouldn't make it if it was happening to me."
After the play, as I walked back across the Plaza, I have to admit - I judged. While I think that I'm an open person, I just couldn't quite understand. 

This morning, as I enjoyed the simple pleasure of sipping my morning cup of coffee, I picked up the latest copy of New York Magazine and flipped through it - of course starting with the approval matrix and then skimming to the front of the magazine, making a mental note of the articles that I planned to read one day. It was around this time, my eyes landed on the article - I lost my virginity to a horse. Had I not seen Albee's play less than 48 hours before, I probably would not have paid much attention to such an article at that hour of the morning. But I did...

It is night now. The sun set hours ago...and because of Mr. Albee, I have returned to the article and I am now reading about zoophilia... 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violaine Huisman's "Paris Review" Article - "The Fabric of a Life: An Interview with Yasmina Reza"

While in NY promoting her book - Happy are the Happy, writer Yasmina Reza sat down with Violaine Huisman for a conversation that was published in the Paris Review. In The Fabric of a Life: An Interview with Yasmina RezaMs Reza shares a few insights on the theater... A very interesting article...Francofiles and theater enthusiasts must check it out...

On productions of her plays that lack vision... 
I’ve sat in the audience, mortified...the actors were bad, the rhythm was off, there was no intimate understanding of the lines, no vision … 
Today, related to production of her plays all around the world Ms Reza thinks -- It’s not a good idea to intervene—you have to let it be.

On the conciseness of her writing...
 ...my impatience is to blame. Nothing bores me more than long introductions, explanations of childhood, that heavy backpack of contextualization....
I feel much closer to a painter than a writer. A painter doesn’t waste any time.
 On French theater..
When I started out...there were dozens of great directors in France, but the theater landscape has been completely decimated...Today...I can’t think of a single stage director I’d like to work with in my own language.
On American and British theater...
I feel it’s too neat, too well done, too structured, there’s too much of a desire to entertain. 
And English actors are just so extravagant—they really overdo it. I kept thinking as I watched them perform, Hold it, rein it in a little!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

August Wilson - "My plays are ultimately about love, honor, duty, betrayal" and "the foundation of my playwriting is poetry"

As I grabbed a drink at the cafe bar before a performance of Signature's 2012 revival of The Piano Lesson, I chit chatted with a woman who proudly noted that she had seen August Wilson's [1945 - 2005] ten play cycle about African American life in the 20th century. Moreover, she was from Pittsburgh and was very familiar with the Hill District where all but one of the plays is set. She was definitely a fan of the famed playwright.

It is now a wintry Sunday morning in February 2015. I am placing a reminder on my calendar to watch the upcoming American Masters' August Wilson episode. I am reading a synopsis of the 10 plays. And I am remembering the Pittsburgh woman and my unmet promise to complete the cycle and read the plays I had not yet seen...    

American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand airs February 20. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, the 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month.

The Cycle

1) Jitney (1979) - Set in the 1970s - Only play not mounted on Broadway

2) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1982) - Set in Chicago in the 1920s

3) Fences (1984) - Pulitzer Prize  & Tony Award - Set in the 1950s

4) Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984) - Set in 1910s

5) The Piano Lesson (1986) - Pulitzer Prize - Set in 1930s

6) Two Trains Running (1990) - Set in 1960s

7) Seven Guitars (1985) - Set in 1940s

8) King Hedley II (1991) - Set in 1980s

9) Gem of the Ocean (2003) - Set in 1900s

10) Radio Golf (2005) - Set in the 1990s

August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand
11 Things You Should Know About August Wilson

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Quote From Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's "You Can't Take It With You"

Grandpa Vanderhof and Boris Kolenkhov in Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's You Can't Take It With You:
KOLENKHOV: How can you relax in times like these?
GRANDPA: Well, if they'd relax there wouldn't be times like these. That's just my point. Life is kind of beautiful if you let it come to you. But the trouble is, people forget that. I know I did. I was right in the thick of it...fighting, and scratching and clawing. Regular jungle. One day it just kind of struck me, I wasn't having any fun.
KOLENKHOV: So you did what? 
GRANDPA: Just relaxed. Thirty-five years ago, that was. And I've been a happy man ever since.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Song That Inspired a Novel That Became a Swedish Film and then an American Film and now a Scottish Play

Ah ... let the right one slip in 
And when at last it does 
I'd say you were within your rights to bite 
The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?" 
"What kept you so long?" 
When a piece is produced over and over in all sorts of formats, you have a classic. And that is exactly what Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist has created in his 2004 novel - Let the Right One In. The story touches on so much - including a coming of age romance, bullying, loneliness, divorce, alcoholism, etc.. And oh yeah, it includes a vampire. 

Meet Oskar, a lonely 12 year old coping with bullying and divorced parents. He befriends Eli, who has just moved in next door. Eli also happens to be a vampire, who also has her own survival challenges. Eli encourages Oskar to fight back, as the two outcasts form a close friendship and bond...

The novel, whose title is inspired by a Morrissey tune, has been made into two films. And now, a stage version by the National Theatre of Scotland has come to the New York City stage. The play is well worth the trip to the tip of Brooklyn to see. It plays through February 15th at St. Ann's Warehouse. If you can't get to Brooklyn, then check out either of the films. 

In the meantime, I await a dance interpretation of this classic...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quote From Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop"

Camae in Katori's Hall's The Mountaintop:
You have the biggest heart I done ever knownt. You have the strength to love those who could never love you back. If I had just a small fraction of the love you have for this world, then maybe, just maybe I could become half the angel you are.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

RIP Jean-Claude Baker

In the theater district just steps away from two of my favorite Off Broadway theaters - Playwrights Horizons and Signature - is the restaurant Chez Josephine, founded in 1980s by Jean-Claude Baker as homage to his adoptive mother - Josephine Baker. 

If you've been to Chez Josephine, you probably marveled at the red velvet decor, enjoyed the piano playing, checked out the memorabilia, and if you are like me dined on the pan seared calf's liver. Most of all though, you were probably taken by the buoyant host - Jean-Claude Baker. Always flashy, charming and colorful... 

Image my surprise to read in the Post that Jean-Claude Baker suffered from severe depression for years and took his life at the age of 71. You simply never know what is going on inside a person's mind, heart and soul. I am saddened by the loss.   

Other Posts  
Writing the Words Left Behind After a Suicide
RIP Robin Williams

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Fun Home", "Here Lies Love", and "The Bridges of Madison County" Top Playbill's Best Tunes of 2014

I know...while my own Playlist is badly in need of review and update, why do I have time to check out Playbill's Ben Rimalower's playlist of Best Showtunes from Cast Albums of 2014. Looking through the list, I realize there wasn't much original music on Broadway last year and interestingly, If/Then is not on his playlist...

Hmmmm....on to the list...

10. "I've Decided to Marry You" - A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

9. "Betsy's Getting Married" - Honeymoon in Vegas

8. "Four Friends" - Ghost Quartet

7. "Dead Girl Walking" - Heathers

6. "Almost Real" - The Bridges of Madison County

5. "Changing My Major" - Fun Home

4. "God Draws Straight" - Here Lies Love 

3. One Second and a Million Miles - The Bridges of Madison County

2. "Ring of Keys" - Fun Home 

1. "Here Lies Love" - Here Lies Love

Related Posts 
Condola Rashad's Juliet Playlist
Playbill's Top Summer Showtunes