Tag: Anecdote

Opera in the Subway – New York Anecdote

In Sync
Dear Diary:

I was in the Times Square subway station, walking from the 7 train to the A, C and E lines. It was the evening rush hour, and hordes of people were racing to escape Midtown and get uptown, downtown or to New Jersey.

I was in full commuting stride when I heard the notes of the Habanera from Bizet’s “Carmen” in the distance. A woman soon began to sing along to the music, and I began to mouth the words.

By the time I got to where she was, we were fully in sync, singing “l’amour est enfant de bohème … ”

As I passed her, she caught my eye and smiled. I hopped onto the A with a toreador’s spring in my step.

— Nicolas Gerard


RIP Michael Gambon, Anecdote from Anthony Sher book

Michael Gambon, Dumbledore in the ‘Harry Potter’ Films, Dies at 82
After he made his mark in London in the 1970s, he went on to play a wide range of roles, including Edward VII, Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill.

Below from, Year of the King: An Actor’s Diary and Sketchbook, by Antony Sher. Gambon talking about his audition for Olivier, where he did Richard III.

Gambon: `Shall I start again?’
Olivier: `No. I think I’ve got a fair idea how you’re going to do it. You’d better get along now. We’ll let you know.’

Gambon went back to the engineering factory in Islington where he was working. At four that afternoon he was bent over his lathe, working as best as he could with a heavily bandaged hand, when he was called to the phone. It was the Old Vic.

`It’s not easy talking on the phone, Tone. One, there’s the noise of the machinery. Two, I have to keep my voice down ’cause I’m cockney at work and posh with theatre people. But they offer me a job, spear-carrying, starting immediately. I go back to my work-bench, heart beating in my chest, pack my tool-case, start to go. The foreman comes up, says, “Oy, where you off to?” “I’ve had bad news,” I say, “I’ve got to go.” He says, “Why are you taking your tool box?” I say, “I can’t tell you, it’s very bad news, might need it.” And I never went back there, Tone. Home on the bus, heart still thumping away. A whole new world ahead. We tend to forget what it felt like in the beginning.’

Umberto Eco Re-Lives First Night

Several months ago I was invited to visit the Science Museum of La Corufia, in Galicia. At the end of my visit the curator announced that he had a surprise for me and led me to the planetarium. Planetariums are always suggestive places because when the lights are turned off, one has the impression of being in a desert beneath a starlit sky. But that evening something special awaited me.

Suddenly the room was totally dark, and I could hear a beautiful lullaby by de Falla. Slowly (though slightly faster than in reality, since the presentation lasted fifteen minutes in all) the sky above me began to rotate. It was the sky that had appeared over my birthplace, Alessandria, Italy, on the night of January 5-6, 1932. Almost hyperrealistically, I experienced the first night of my life.

I experienced it for the first time, since I had not seen that first night. Perhaps not even my mother saw it, exhausted as she was after giving birth; but perhaps my father saw it, after quietly stepping out on the terrace, a little restless because of the (to him at least) wondrous event which he had witnessed and which he had jointly caused.

The planetarium used a mechanical device that can be found in a great many places. Perhaps others have had a similar experience. But you will forgive me if during those fifteen minutes I had the impression that I was the only man, since the dawn of time, who had ever had the privilege of being reunited with his own beginning. I was so happy, that I had the feeling—almost the desire—that I could, that I should, die at that very moment, and that any other moment would have been untimely. I would cheerfully have died then, because I had lived through the most beautiful story I had ever read in my entire life. Perhaps I had found the story that we all look for in the pages of books and on the screens of movie theaters: it was a story in which the stars and I were the protagonists. It was fiction because the story had been reinvented by the curator; it was history because it recounted what had happened in the cosmos at a moment in the past; it was real life because I was real, and not the character of a novel. I was, for a moment, the model reader of the Book of Books.

Six Walks in the Fictional Woods
Umberto Eco

Trumpet Player on the Roof – Flea anecdote.

I spent the most peaceful and light hours practicing trumpet on the roof. Our sweet landlady was a tripper who’d come up there to sit and listen to me play; she told me it was beautiful, and I once saw a soft tear roll down her painted face when she said it. I had two different friends later on, Maggie Ehrig and Ione Skye, both who told me they would hear the trumpet sounds flying through the neighborhood, not knowing the origin, and it brought them joy.

Acid for the Children

Note – good stuff, recommended.

Ingmar Bergman’s Greenroom in the Sky

A few years ago, when Lars Lofgren was still head of the Dramaten, he and Bergman walked past the greenroom, a spacious place full of oil paintings of the theater’s old luminaries and big pieces of well-upholstered furniture, which five it the cozy feel of a gentleman’s club. The greenroom door was open, so Bergman walked in. Nobody was there. Lofgren recalls, “‘Listen!’ Bergman said. I couldn’t hear a thing. ‘What is it?’ I said. Bergman said, ‘They’re all here.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘The actors,’ Bergman said. ‘They’re not finished with the theater.'” Lofgren continues, “He looked around the room and turned to me and very lovingly said, ‘One day, we will be with them.'”

Joy Ride – Show People & Their Shows
John Lahr

Ozzy Osbourne vs the Ice Machines

Ozzy’s second Rare Breed gig was at Aston University, where once again we were booed off and the promoter only gave us half our fee. That was the night I learned that Ozzy could defecate at will. As we were loading our gear back into the van, Ozzy pulled down his pants, crouched on the bonnet of the promoter’s Jaguar and left one of his trademark calling cards. To be fair, he refined his talent as the years went by. On future American tours, he’d shit in hotel ice machines, so that anyone who fancied a Scotch on the rocks might get it with a twist.

Into the Void
Geezer Butler

Unbeknownst to Sharon, who as usual was taking care of day-to-day business in her hotel room, Ozzy found his way to the road crew’s hotel where he drank and snorted until Sharon finally tracked him down that evening.

Upon his arrival back at the hotel, Ozzy continued his rampage by defecating in the ice machines before retiring from another full day of mischief. Due to countless incidents of day off shenanigans, I truly believe that Ozzy is responsible for the modifications that have been made to the design of today’s hotel ice machines.

Off the Rails: Aboard the Crazy Train in the Blizzard of Ozz
Rudy Sarzo

Note – both books recommended.

Living Near a Tour Bus Line

Dark Side of New Orleans
by u/choc2charmcity in NewOrleans

One time i was hungover as fuck, walking down st charels to the walgreens to get a Gatorade and the hop on hop off bus drove by me. Tourists took pictures of me. I was not amused


i would have had to pull out a titty or something


When I lived in the Quarter I used to park at a friend’s house in the Marigny and ride my skateboard a few blocks down to my place off lower Decatur.

Some Asian tourist saw me coming and SPRINTED 2 blocks down to get a few pictures of a dude with a green mohawk on a skateboard wearing OR scrubs.

Damn we really are zoo animals to tourists…


“and to your left, you can see a real life local in their natural habitat! stumbling bleary-eyed out of ms maes at 8 am on a tuesday”

One time, I was sitting outside of Elizabeth’s waiting for a friend to meet me for brunch. A group of older tourists started taking my picture & exclaiming “Look! A Southern Belle!” I was wearing a sundress from like Forever 21, didn’t look anything special, & definitely not like Scarlett O’Hara (which is what I think of when someone says “southern belle”) There were probably a dozen of them in this group & each one must have taken 20 pictures of me, as I made an increasingly confused/annoyed/disgusted face.

I just wanted some praline bacon, damn!

Growing Old Together – You and What You Fear

..here he was on Broadway, his hair iron-gray, his stare wild, his walk unsteady, his hands flailing at the air. His clothes were out of the men’s shelter, and his face so ill-looking you wanted to put him in a hospital for a month before we even discussed the situation.

My mother looked curiously at me. “Why were you afraid of him?” she asked. “You could knock him over with one hand.”

“Ma, he didn’t look like that twelve years ago. Believe me. She continued to stare after him as he shambled down Broadway, bumping into people left and right.

“You’re growing old together,” she said to me. “You and what frightens you.”

Fierce Attachments
Vivian Gornick

Mistaken Identity in the Bookstore

I was browsing in an Oxford bookshop when I noticed a display of Made Simple books – German Made Simple, Chemistry Made Simple, and so on. A friend of mine, a distinguished Oxford philosopher, was standing beside the bookstand, leafing through the Philosophy Made Simple volume. Seizing the chance of a jape, I crept up behind him and murmured into his ear, ‘That’s a bit difficult for you, isn’t it?’ He swung round in alarm, and my first thought was that he had undergone cosmetic surgery. Then I realised that it was not my friend at all. It was a complete stranger. Muttering a hasty apology, I scampered out of the store. Somewhere in the world there is a man who believes people in Oxford are so odiously elitist that they jeer openly at total strangers seeking to improve their minds.

Terry Eagleton

Alberto Giacometti Breaks Leg, Sartre quote

One evening, more than twenty years ago, Giacometti was hit by a car while crossing the Place d’Italie. Though his leg was twisted, his first feeling, in the state of lucid swoon into which he had fallen, was a kind of joy: “Something has happened to me at last!” I know his radicalism: he expected the worst. The life he so loved and which he would not have changed for any othe was knocked out of joint, perhaps shattered, by the stupid violence of the chance: “So,” he thought to himself, “I wasn’t meant to be a sculptor, nor even to live. I wasn’t meant for anything.” What thrilled him was the menacing order of causes that was suddenly unmasked and the act of staring with the petrifying gaze of a cataclysm at the lights of the city, at human beings, at his own body lying flat in the mud: for a sculptor, the mineral world is never far away. I admire that will to welcome everything. If one likes surprises, one must like them to that degree, one must like even the rare flashes which reveal to devotees that the earth is not meant for them.

The Words
Jean-Paul Sartre

Ken Tynan – Theater Aficionado Anecdote

At the last dress rehearsal, a straight run prior to the first preview, I noticed a figure sitting to the rear of the stalls with a notepad. It was Ken Tynan. Afterwards I went up to greet him and found him mopping his eyes with a handkerchief. He couldn’t have paid me a more sincere compliment because what made Ken cry in the theatre was not the sadness of the subject matter but the skill with which it was realised. Provided it matched his standard of ‘High Definition Performance’, he could be brought to tears not only by a tragedy but by a farce, by a solo comedian, by a team of acrobats. They were not easy tears to induce, but it was this genuineness of emotion that had made him such an exceptional critic, and as I was beginning to learn (and rather to my surprise) such a loyal friend.

Stage Blood: Five tempestuous years in the early life of the National Theatre
Michael Blakemore

Highly recommended book

The Power is in the Stretch

Hunter was skeptical that the music world was ready to be introduced to a new fortysomething rapper. He encouraged Floyd to stop looking for quick fixes and instead find a steady job in which he could develop some lasting skills. He tried to use a sports metaphor to get the idea to sink in.

“Every time you come up to the plate, you try to hit a home run,” Hunter said. “But sometimes, you just need to make sure you can get to first base, you know what I’m saying?”

Given Floyd’s people skills, Hunter suggested he find a service job, perhaps working at FedEx or UPS. He tried to encourage Floyd to believe that something good would happen if he just stuck to the plan—any plan—to make an honest living. Hunter was a Christian, and he recalled a church sermon about Jesus healing a man whose hand had withered. Before the Lord performed the miracle, he asked the man to take some initiative and stretch out his hand.

“It’s in the stretch,” Hunter told him. “That’s where the power is.”

His Name Is George Floyd
Robert Samuels, Toluse Olorunnipa

Rita Hayworth – Anecdote

I visited publicist Tom Miller in Mexico on the set of “The Wrath of God,” Rita Hayworth’s last completed movie, I assume the one on which Mr. Langella had the brief affair with her (not his only affair on the film). One evening we had a nightcap with Rita. (Rita’s idea of a nightcap was a vodka and tonic to which she kept adding vodka to keep the glass filled and flavored. Tom decided thought she was drinking to give herself an excuse for not remembering, for already, as he saw in retrospect, there were signs of encroaching Alzheimer’s.)

Tom staged some of the last glamor shots taken of her , but they were never used because MGM threw the film away. (It wasn’t all that great, but what Ralph Nelson film ever was? But it wasn’t all that bad either. And what with her and Mitchum in their latter years and Frank Langella playing Rita’s son (!), it really deserves a decent video release.)

One night in Mexico City Tom dined out with Rita, and when they got back to her hotel,they discovered the Mexican equivalent of the Oscars being presented in one of the meeting halls. Rita was tuned on. “Let’s go!” Rita said. Tom replied, “Rita, we don’t have an invitation!” She looked at him and said, “But I am Rita Hayworth!” Tom said, “So you are.” He spoke to an attendant at the door, who ran up the MC, who announced to the crowd the presence of a surprise guest. She went up on the stage to a standing ovation. I wish someone would discover footage of that moment.

Theater Talkback: Frank Langella Telling Tales

From the comments section.