Tag: Drama

Austin Powers as Metaphor for Change

‘This Fool’ (Hulu)
Season 1, Episode 5: ‘Sandy Says’

The closing seconds of this episode-long homage to “Austin Powers” were perhaps the most satisfying payoff I saw this year. “Sandy Says” exemplifies the tricky tone “This Fool” is able to strike, combining the structure of traditional sitcoms with the style of auteur comedies, hitting a sweet spot of goofy and clever. Luis (Frankie Quinones), newly out of prison, is in annoying-eighth-grader mode with his constant “Austin Powers” references, and the episode is packed with shagadelic Easter eggs before Luis explains part of why the movie means so much to him. “I’m tired of wasting time living in the past,” he says. “Ideally, we’ll change. The world is ever-changing, homey. I gotta change with it. That’s what ‘Austin Powers’ is all about. You know, I used to think that movie was a comedy. But now I know, it’s a tragedy.”

NYTIMES
The Best TV Episodes of 2022
TV in the streaming era is an endless feast. This year, series like “Barry,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Pachinko,” “Station Eleven” and “This Fool” offered some of the best bites.

Dinosaur Looks Back Poignantly – Best Theater of 2022 – The New York Times

Domesticated dino
The baby dinosaur in Thornton Wilder’s play “The Skin of Our Teeth” is a sweetheart, domesticated as a dog. And in Lileana Blain-Cruz’s visually extravagant Broadway production at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, he was a puppet so enormous that he counted as one of the show’s several spectacles. When he and his mammoth pal — also a puppet, also designed by James Ortiz — came in from a ferocious cold snap to warm up in their human family’s living room, they were an endearing sight, wreaking benevolent havoc on the houseplants. Then the animals were ordered back outside, into the Ice Age, and the dinosaur gave a backward glance touched with innocence and doom — a more emotionally immediate argument about climate change than a thousand position papers.

LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

Best Theater of 2022
In a time of renewed awakening, a surprising number of shows smartly reflected those changes in song.

Hamlet – Old Language vs Modern

OLD LANGUAGE ====================================
HAMLET
Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.—Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.

HORATIO What’s that, my lord?

HAMLET Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ th’ earth?

HORATIO E’en so.

HAMLET And smelt so? Pah! (puts down the skull)

HORATIO E’en so, my lord.

HAMLET To what base uses we may return, Horatio. Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?

HORATIO ’Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

MODERN LANGUAGE ====================================
HAMLET
Let me see. (he takes the skull) Oh, poor Yorick! I used to know him, Horatio—a very funny guy, and with an excellent imagination. He carried me on his back a thousand times, and now—how terrible—this is him. It makes my stomach turn. I don’t know how many times I kissed the lips that used to be right here. Where are your jokes now? Your pranks? Your songs? Your flashes of wit that used to set the whole table laughing? You don’t make anybody smile now. Are you sad about that? You need to go to my lady’s room and tell her that no matter how much makeup she slathers on, she’ll end up just like you some day. That’ll make her laugh. Horatio, tell me something.

HORATIO What’s that, my lord?

HAMLET Do you think Alexander the Great looked like this when he was buried?

HORATIO Exactly like that.

HAMLET And smelled like that, too? Whew! (he puts down the skull)

HORATIO Just as bad, my lord.

HAMLET How low we can fall, Horatio. Isn’t it possible to imagine that the noble ashes of Alexander the Great could end up plugging a hole in a barrel?

HORATIO If you thought that you’d be thinking too much.

Hamlet
SparkNotes
“No Fear Shakespeare pairs Shakespeare’s language with translations into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today. When Shakespeare’s words make your head spin, our translations will help you sort out what’s happening, who’s saying what, and why.”

Noises off – Intro, Quote from

It was during the run of my very first professional show, The Two of Us, four one-acters in which Lynn Redgrave and Richard Briers played eleven characters between them. Five of those characters were in the final farce. One night I watched it from backstage, and as I saw Lynn and Richard running desperately from door to door, doing quick changes as they went, it seemed to me that this was at least as funny as what was going on round the front. It also struck me that the overwhelming obligation actors feel to make their next entrance on time, come what may backstage, was the archetype of the obligation we all feel to keep up our appearances in the world, despite all the difficulties of circumstance and the inherent waywardness of our nature. What would happen, I wondered, if the strictly ordered disorder of a farce onstage was overrun by the real disorder of the actors’ lives off…?

Noises Off
Michael Frayn

The 25 Best American Plays Since ‘Angels in America’ – The New York Times

  1. Topdog/Underdog 2001
  2. An Octoroon 2014
  3. The Flick 2013
  4. Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play 2013
  5. Clybourne Park 2010
  6. Ruined 2008
  7. How I Learned to Drive 1997
  8. Seven Guitars 1996
  9. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 1994
  10. The Designated Mourner 2000
  11. The Humans 2015
  12. This Is Our Youth 1996
  13. Three Tall Women 1994
  14. Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train 2000
  15. Eurydice 2006
  16. House/Lights 1999
  17. The Laramie Project 2000
  18. Yellow Face 2007
  19. August: Osage County 2007
  20. The Vagina Monologues 1996
  21. Underground Railroad Game 2016
  22. The Wolves 2016
  23. The Realistic Joneses 2012
  24. The Apple Family Plays 2010-13
  25. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity 2010

That was 1993. Exactly 25 years later, the first Broadway revival of “Angels in America” started us thinking about what has happened to American plays in the meantime. Have they been as great? Is their greatness different from what it was? Is “greatness” even a meaningful category anymore?

Perhaps not on Broadway. Of the plays we’ve singled out as the best 25 of the last 25 years — dated by their first reviews in The New York Times — only nine have ever appeared on Broadway, and none originated there. No matter their size, most began on, and many never left, the smaller stages of Off and Off Off Broadway, or were developed at regional theaters.

If they have reached fewer people as a consequence, they have told more stories: the kind often ignored during the decades when theater was still a dominant but homogeneous cultural force.

The Great Work Continues: The 25 Best American Plays Since ‘Angels in America’
JUNE 1, 2018

Chekhovian – Michael Blakemore on

The sort of production I aspired to was the very opposite of what at the time was conveyed by the adjective ‘Chekhovian’. Though the plays may leave you with a sense of the sadness and bleakness of life, this is not what they describe. Chekhov’s characters are for ever on the hunt for amusement of some sort, anything to distract them from the underlying drift of their lives. They play games, stage amateur theatricals, enjoy magic shows, or just sit under the trees in the garden having long circular conversations over their tea. And they are always offering each other hospitality. The first two acts of Three Sisters are both extended parties, and the most spectacular party of all, the most absurd, is the ball given by Ranevsky in The Cherry Orchard on the day she and her brother put the family home up for auction. Her social equals who would normally have attended such an occasion have all moved away from the district or died. However, so determined is she to cheer herself up with music and company that she makes up the numbers of guests by inviting such people as the Postal Clerk and the Stationmaster. This is surely as funny as it is tragic, and suggests that the playwright was not joking when he described the play as a comedy. Walk past a London pub on a warm summer night, with customers spilling on to the pavement: the intense and jubilant buzz of people absorbed in the pursuit of a good time blocks out any thought that for some of these same people (and for all of us eventually) winter is not far away. Chekhov allows us, unlike the pub’s customers, to see both these realities at once.

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

Provocative Drama – Cassavetes on

When people were walking out of Husbands and Faces en masse I never felt bad about that because I thought that it was pain that was taking them out of the theater and I thought that it wasn’t the fact that the film was bad. It was that they couldn’t take it without changing their own lifestyles, which made both those films very successful to me. I thought at the time that Husbands was anti the lifestyle of almost everyone in America. We presented a lifestyle that went against their lifestyle. People walked out because they didn’t want to accept the fact that there could be anything wrong with the way they lived their lives.

It doesn’t matter whether audiences like it; it matters whether they feel something. I feel I’ve succeeded if I make them feel something — anything. The hope is that you don’t make it so easy for an audience that when they go to your movie they have nothing to think about except, ‘That was wonderful. Good. Next! What else are you going to entertain my great appetite with?’ I want to make you mad. Yeah, that’s going to take longer. And yeah, when we have it we’ll let you know, I mean. And we’ll put it there.

Cassavetes on Cassavetes
John Cassavetes, Ray Carney

Denzel Washington Honors August Wilson’s Legacy at House Opening

PITTSBURGH — On Saturday, crowds gathered outside August Wilson’s childhood home in the historic Hill District here to celebrate the grand opening of the August Wilson House. After a yearslong fund-raising and restoration effort, the house where the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright spent the first 13 years of his life will now be open to the public with the goal of extending Wilson’s legacy and advancing Black arts in culture.

Wilson, who died in 2005, is perhaps best known for his series of 10 plays called the American Century Cycle, which detail the various experiences of Black Americans throughout the 20th century. Nine of these plays are set in this city’s Hill District — a bastion of Black history, arts and culture — and one, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is set in Chicago.

Denzel Washington Honors August Wilson’s Legacy at House Opening
After fund-raising and restoration efforts, the childhood home of the playwright will offer artist residencies and other programming.
Ollie Gratzinger

Titanic as Musical Comedy

They called “Titanique” the show of dreams. Fever dreams. And it was, it really was.

The off-Broadway cuckoo camp-fest at the Asylum in Chelsea is, by a nautical mile, the funniest musical in town right now and is built on an unsinkable idea: It tells the story of the 1997 movie “Titanic” using the songs of French-Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion.

As the captain, hilariously only referred to as Victor Garber, an Irish-inflected Frankie Grande bops through “I Drove All Night” as he pushes the doomed ship to go faster and faster.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown, played by Kathy Deitch, after surviving the tragedy, belts “All By Myself”: “Those days are goooone!”

The situation has become beyond bonkers by the time Jaye Alexander as the Iceberg wails “River Deep, Mountain High” in a neon blue flapper wig and forces the other characters to “Lip Sync For Your Lifeboats.”

‘Titanique’ the musical review: Off-Broadway ‘Titanic’ parody is what your summer needs
Johnny Oleksinski