Tag: Drama

RIP – Peter Brook

By then Mr. Brook, who took delight in “shaking up terrible, stultifying old conventions,” as he put it, had become a thoroughgoing iconoclast. Some mark that change at his 1960 Paris production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony,” a work considered boldly subversive at the time. For Genet’s scenes of exotic life in a Paris brothel, Mr. Brook used striking-looking amateurs, found in Paris bars, as well as professional actors and dancers. But a radical revival of “King Lear,” staged for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London in 1962, was more significant.

Not only did Mr. Brook encourage Scofield to play the titanic hero of tradition as a painfully flawed human being, but just before the production’s opening, he threw out the set that he himself had designed, ensuring that the plot unfolded on a bare stage under plain lighting. The resulting epic unforgettably exposed the cruel absurdities of humanity.

Peter Brook, Celebrated Stage Director of Scale and Humanity, Dies at 97
He was called “the greatest innovator of his generation,” leaving an indelible mark with plays, musicals, opera and a relentless curiosity.

“There are three kinds of audiences [for Shakespeare]: a normal audience, an audience with Peter Brook in it, and you lot.”
— Patrick Stewart (former Royal Shakespeare Company member) speaking to the 18th International Conference of Shakespeare Scholars at Stratford-on-Avon

The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups
Ron Rosenbaum

Capsule History of Broadway

While Broadway theaters are colloquially considered to be “on Broadway”, only two active Broadway theaters are physically on Broadway (the Broadway Theatre and Winter Garden Theatre).[5][a] The Vivian Beaumont Theater, located in Lincoln Center, is the furthest north and west of the active theaters, while the Nederlander Theatre is the southernmost and the Belasco Theatre is the easternmost space. The oldest Broadway theaters still in use are the Hudson TheatreLyceum Theatre, and New Amsterdam Theatre, all opened in 1903, while the most recently constructed theater is the Lyric Theatre, built in 1998. The largest of the Broadway theaters is the 1,933-seat Gershwin Theatre, while the smallest is the 597-seat Hayes Theater.

The beginning of Broadway theater can be traced to the 19th-century influx of immigrants to New York City, particularly Yiddish, German and Italian, who brought with them indigenous and new forms of theater. The development of indoor gas lighting around this same time period allowed for the construction of permanent spaces for these novel theatrical forms. Early varietyburlesque, and minstrelsy halls were built along Broadway below Houston Street. As the city expanded north, new theaters were constructed along the thoroughfare with family-friendly vaudeville, developed by Tony Pastor, clustering around Union Square in the 1860s and 1870s, and larger opera houseshippodromes, and theaters populating Broadway between Union Square and Times Square later in the century. Times Square became the epicenter for large scale theater productions between 1900 and the Great Depression.[1]

There is no standard date that is considered the beginning of Broadway-style theatre.[8] A few landmarks that are considered the beginning of the Broadway era include the 1866 opening of The Black Crook at Niblo’s Garden, considered the first piece of American style musical theater,[9][10] the 1913 founding of the Actors’ Equity Association, the union for New York Theater performers, and the 1919 Actors’ Equity Association strike which gave actors and performers the recognition of a “fully legitimate professional trade”.[8] Mary Henderson in her book The City and the Theatre breaks down theater on the street Broadway into three time periods. “Lower Broadway” from 1850 to 1870, “Union Square and Beyond” from 1870 to 1899, and “Times Square: the First Hundred Years” (1900–2000).[8] The current official Broadway/Off-Broadway division began with the 1949 Actors’ Equity agreement.[2][3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Broadway_theaters

Hamlet and Radiohead – Fat Ham Review – NYTIMES

…James Ijames’s outstanding transformation of Shakespeare’s tragedy into a play about Black masculinity and queerness, both echoes “Hamlet” and finds a language beyond it.

So I’ll start with a scene that especially evokes this production’s charms: In the middle of a backyard barbecue, a group of family members and friends sitting around a table covered with plates of ribs, corn on the cob and biscuits is suddenly bathed in a blue spotlight. They break out into an impressionistic dance (choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie), curling forward and arching backward in slow motion, arms fanning out, then they slump down into their seats and begin headbanging. All the while, our hero, Juicy (Marcel Spears), whom Ijames characterizes in his script as “a kinda Hamlet,” mournfully croons along to Radiohead’s “Creep.”

This is Ijames’s tongue-in-cheek style of wit: Of course the melancholy prince would have sung “Creep” had Thom Yorke and his band been around in 17th-century England. Without undermining its drama, “Fat Ham” pokes fun at the theatricality of Hamlet’s anguish.

‘Fat Ham’ Review: Dismantling Shakespeare to Liberate a Gay Black ‘Hamlet’
James Ijames’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, set at a Southern barbecue, gets its first in-person production at the Public Theater.
Maya Phillips

Who’s More Real – The Character or the Actor Playing the Character – Pirandello Quote

FATHER …On the contrary, I was inviting you to come out of this game [with a warning look at the LEADING LADY]—of art! Art!—which you play here with your actors; and I ask you once again quite seriously: who are you?

DIRECTOR [turning to the ACTORS, astonished and also irritated]. Well, what a bloody nerve! Someone who claims to be a character comes and asks me who I am!

FATHER [dignified, but not overbearing]. A character, sir, may always ask a man who he is. Because a character really has a life of his own, marked by his own traits, which means that he is always ‘someone’. But a man—I’m not talking about you, but about man in general—a man may well be ‘nobody’.

DIRECTOR Maybe. But you’re asking me, me the Director, the boss! Have you got that?

FATHER [almost under his breath, modestly soft-spoken]. It’s a matter of knowing, sir, whether you, as you are now, really see yourself … in the same way, for example, as you see in retrospect what you once were, with all the illusions you then had; with all those things within and around you, as they then seemed—and indeed truly were for you. Well, sir, when you think back on those illusions which you now no longer have, on everything that no longer ‘seems’ what once for you it ‘was’—don’t you feel, not the boards of this stage, but the earth, the earth itself, give way beneath your feet? For you must conclude that in the same way all ‘this’ that you feel now, all your reality of today, as it is, is destined to seem illusion tomorrow.

DIRECTOR [not understanding much and stunned by the specious argument]. So what? What are you trying to prove?

FATHER. Oh, nothing, sir. Only to make you see that if we [indicating himself and the other CHARACTERS] have no reality beyond the illusion, then maybe you also shouldn’t count too much on your own reality, this reality which you breathe and touch in yourself today, because—like yesterday’s—inevitably, it must reveal itself as illusion tomorrow.

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Luigi Pirandello

How I Learned to Drive – NYTIMES Review

It’s rare to encounter the kind of breathless silence I experienced during an unnerving hotel room scene in the unforgettable revival of Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive.”

On the night I saw the production, hundreds of audience members listened with rapt attention — I didn’t hear anyone unwrap a mint or fumble for a tissue. I didn’t even hear a whisper break the stillness in the air. There was just the steady buzz of the lights, suddenly deafeningly loud, as if they were performing their own monologue.

If I could direct a scene representing why I love theater, it would look something like this: Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse delivering crushing performances — both sentimental and horrific, utterly complex — of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play to an enthralled audience.

‘How I Learned to Drive’ Review: Many Miles to Go Before a Reckoning
Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse have returned to Paula Vogel’s 1997 Pulitzer-winning play about sexual abuse for its Broadway debut.
Maya Phillips

Harvey Fierstein Interview – Village Voice

FP: After downtown celeb Harry Koutoukas’s apartment caught fire, in 1972, you authored In Search of the Cobra Jewels, a show about his attempt to help clean up the mess. You played Koutoukas. Your memoir recounts that Village Voice culture writer Arthur Bell “was arrested for holding another man’s hand as they crossed the street” from the theater. Progress has been made, but with record-breaking trans deaths and a Conservative backlash, are we moving backward on queer issues?

HF: I don’t believe it’s possible to move backward. We must allow each generation to find its way. What we see happening now with MAGA is the death throes of a generation that can’t stop progress. Conservatives want to move back to a time when they felt more comfortable. But that time is coming to an end.

FP: But there’s such a strident push to recreate the past.

HF: There’s a saying in the antique business—“You can’t go broke by selling people their childhood.” Hucksters are selling back to MAGA a picture of America that no longer exists. Think of it as the difference between weather and climate. The weather changes (MAGA arises) but not the overall (political) climate of ongoing, unstoppable change. That makes them all nervous.

FP: Hyperbole abounds while critical thinking skills evaporate.

HF: My “eBay theory” helps to explain. A postage stamp for sale is displayed in a 3-by-4-inch screen image. A Rolls Royce is presented in the same image size. Over time, Internet and social media technologies have us believing all things are equal.

FP: As in, my opinion is as legitimate as your evidence-proven fact?

HF: Yes. The idiot next door is a COVID expert because he says he is. If everything is equal, then what are critical thinking skills for? As the COVID pandemic progressed, we learned new ways to treat, what/what not to do regarding transmission. It’s a constantly moving target. What was true last month may not be true today, so we adjust our perceptions. We evaluate with critical thinking skills. Many have lost the ability to do that.

Harvey Fierstein Cleaned Off His Desk During COVID
The actor, playwright, and screenwriter talks about his memoir, sobriety, women in politics, and what’s next
by FRANK PIZZOLI

God and Lou Reed

Well, let me tell you something: my God – I believe in God – my God is a capricious little fucker. Or should I say “big fucker”? I mean, here’s a guy – we’re all clear here on who God is, right? The most powerful being in the universe! Has to be, if He weren’t, if there were some other being more powerful than Him, well then . . . he’d be God wouldn’t he?

My God is all powerful. He can do anything. My God could feed every hungry person on the planet Earth – like that (Snaps fingers) – tomorrow! He could rid the world of disease – like that. All those little bald children on the Cancer Channel? Gone, healthy, in great shape! (Snaps fingers) God could do that.

He could give us an extra hour of sunshine every day. Create a few more parking spaces. But noooooo! That would be too easy. He doesn’t want to do that! No, my God doesn’t like to do the easy stuff, it’s boring to Him. He doesn’t want to do what everybody wants Him to do. Kind of like Lou Reed, He does what He wants to do. He’s got integrity. He’s not going to sell out.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Eric Bogosian

Charlie Munger and Major Barbara – Life Imitates Art

‘I’d rather be a billionaire and not be loved by everybody’: Charlie Munger shrugs off controversy over $200M donation for nearly windowless dorm

News of McFadden’s resignation sparked the latest round of criticism of elite philanthropists and their sway over public projects. “It’s one thing to put your name on a building, [and] it’s another level of egomania to condition a gift on accepting the donor’s architectural plan entirely without modification,” wrote Stanford political scientist Rob Reich, author of “Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better,” on Twitter.

Munger shrugged off charges that billionaires are too influential. “You’ve got to get used to the fact that billionaires aren’t the most popular people in our society,” he told MarketWatch. “I’d rather be a billionaire and not be loved by everybody than not have any money.”

Marketwatch
Leslie Albrecht

SHIRLEY [angrily] Who made your millions for you? Me and my like. What’s kep us poor? Keepin you rich. I wouldn’t have your conscience, not for all your income.

UNDERSHAFT. I wouldn’t have your income, not for all your conscience, Mr Shirley.

Major Barbara
George Bernard Shaw

Major Barbara is a three-act English play by George Bernard Shaw, written and premiered in 1905 and first published in 1907. The story concerns an idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft, who is engaged in helping the poor as a Major in the Salvation Army in London. For many years, Barbara and her siblings have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, who now reappears as a rich and successful munitions maker. Undershaft, the father, gives money to the Salvation Army, offending Major Barbara, who does not want to be connected to his “tainted” wealth. However, the father argues that poverty is a worse problem than munitions, and claims that he is doing more to help society by giving his workers jobs and a steady income than Major Barbara is doing to help them by giving them bread and soup.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Barbara

Taglines

Tag lines seek to express the essential appeal of a movie in a phrase which pithily encapsulates its theme, its interest and its mood. This form embraces a number of techniques:

The Rule of Three, including: ‘Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas’ (Army ofDarkness); ‘Small town, big crime, dead cold’ (Fargo); ‘Movies were his passion. Women were his inspiration. Angora sweaters were his weakness’ (Ed Wood); ‘For better. For worse. Forever’ (Tom and Viv).

Wordplay, as in: ‘His Majesty was all-powerful and allknowing. But he wasn’t quite all there’ (The Madness of King George); ‘Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he’s writing to stay alive’ (Misery); ‘They overcame the impossible by doing the unthinkable’ (Alive).

Contradictions, such as: ‘They’re having a secret love affair. Only 50,000 people know about it’ (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter); ‘Fifty million people watched. But no one saw a thing’ (Quiz Show).

Twists, like: ‘In the Wild West a woman had only two choices. She could be a wife or she could be a whore… Josephine Monaghan chose to be a man’ (The Ballad of Little Jo).

How Plays Work
David Edgar

10 Gallon Bucket – August Wilson Quote

And in 1979, I was visiting Pittsburgh and one of the old men called me over to him. He called me, Youngblood. He say, ‘Youngblood.” I go, ‘Yes, sir.” He said, “I heard you moved.” And I said, “Yes sir, I moved to Minnesota.” He said, “Well how often do you get back to Pittsburgh?” And I said, “Well, I get back about twice a year.” And he said, “Well, I ain’t going to be here when you come back. But, I want to tell you this. I’ve been watching you for about six or seven years now. See, and you going through life carrying a ten-gallon bucket. And if you go through life carrying a ten-gallon bucket, you always going to be disappointed. ‘Cause it ain’t never going to be filled.” And he said, “Don’t you go through life carrying no ten-gallon bucket. Get you a little cup and carry that through life. And that way somebody put a little bit in it and then you have something.” And I go, ‘Yes, sir.”

I do want you to know that since then I have been working on it and I have got it cut down to about a gallon bucket. But, I do want you to know this also. That it ain’t never going to get down to that little cup. See, and it ain’t never going to get down to that little cup because I deserve more.

How I Learned What I Learned
August Wilson