Another Vimeo resource to like; watch and listen to it all.
Category : Theatre/Drama/Plays
Friday nights in the fall mean high school football. But that wholesome slice of Americana also contains a dark undercurrent”“a marked rise in the use of human growth hormone by high school aged students.
In a recent survey of 3,705 kids, 11 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 reported having used synthetic human growth hormone without a prescription. That means that at any high school football game, it’s likely that at least two players on the field will have tried human growth hormone.
And it’s not just athletes who reported having used HGH. The survey, carried out by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and funded by a grant from the MetLife Foundation, found no statistically significant difference in the athletic involvement between synthetic HGH users and non-users.
It isn’t hard to figure out what made Mr. Nichols so competitive. Born in Berlin in 1931, he got out of Germany at the age of 7, mere steps ahead of the Holocaust. After that, nobody had to tell him that Jews got no favors. Characteristically, he claimed that it was an advantage. “The thing about being an outsider,” he said in 2012, “is that it teaches you to hear what people are thinking because you’re constantly looking for the people who just don’t give a damn.”
Mr. Nichols made his name in the ’50s by improvising supremely sharp-witted comedy routines with Elaine May. The lightning-quick timing that he cultivated on nightclub stages served him well when he took up directing in 1963. During a rehearsal for the Broadway premiere of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” he got into a shouting match with Walter Matthau. “You’re emasculating me!” the actor shouted. “Give me back my balls!” “Certainly,” Mr. Nichols replied, then snapped his fingers to summon the stage manager. “Props!”
Mr. Nichols’s work was unshowy, even self-effacing. “It’s not a filmmaker’s job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can,” he said. Hence no one will ever think of him as a groundbreaker, a radically original creative artist. He was, rather, an interpreter, and in the studio he almost always did his best work with familiar material like Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (his first film) and the TV version of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” both of which clearly convey the visceral impact of the plays on which they were based. Few of his other films will be as well remembered. Even 1967’s “The Graduate,” which vaulted him into the pantheon of Hollywood superstars, now looks like a period piece, a carefully posed snapshot of a key moment in postwar American culture.
But the fact that Mr. Nichols did make films means that he himself will likely be remembered longer than any other American stage director of his generation.
So delighted to see”A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” win Best Musical. We saw it and recoomended it last year BEFORE it opened. Do please put it on your list and check out the other winners.
Kate Haugan was standing backstage early that afternoon about three weeks ago, waiting to be fitted with a wireless microphone. In less than an hour, she and the rest of the cast members would take the stage at the Jewish Community Center here for the final performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The play was adapted, of course, from Harper Lee’s classic novel about the confrontation between bigotry and tolerance in 1930s Alabama, and it fit into this particular Jewish Community Center’s taste for drama with a conscience: “The Laramie Project,” “Next to Normal,” “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Even more than the others, “To Kill a Mockingbird” had proved a roaring success, nearly selling out the five previous shows.
Just then, the stage manager, Jayson Chandley, raced past Ms. Haugan, shouting: “There’s a shooter out front! Stay out of the hallways!”
…there have been losses and disappointments along the way. Sirman highlighted the three biggest:
Artists and creators have lost their collective voice, the Canadian Conference of Arts. It predated the Massey Commission by four years. In its heyday it spoke for 400,000 artists and creators. Two years ago, it closed its doors. “It would be unfathomable (to Massey) that Canada’s cultural well-being is not sufficiently supported to sustain a national advocacy organization,” [Robert] Sirman said.
The second is Ottawa has lost interest in nurturing and showcasing Canadian culture. “We are living through an era of Own the Podium, not welcome the world,” he noted sadly.
The third is that Canadians don’t seem to care. “Canada has become a materialistic society.” The desire for a balance between what Massey called spiritual assets and economic assets no longer exists.
Read it all (my emphasis).
(If you EVER get a chance to get near New York and see this play DO NOT MISS IT! We saw it last year and rolled in the aisles–KSH).
Jefferson Mays, leading man of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, has died 1,000 times on stage — faster than any lead actor in Broadway history. His fellow actors marked that deadly landmark outside the stage door at the Walter Kerr Theatre on West 48th Street.
[Donald Margulies’s play “Dinner With Friends'”]…underlying subject is the mysterious way in which all relationships ”” friendships as much as romances ”” can evolve on a deep level as people grow and change, while, on the surface, things appear to remain stable. Life is sailing smoothly by, then one day the familiar face on the other side of the bed, or across the dinner table, or maybe even in the mirror, looks utterly strange.
–Charles Isherwood in his NYT review of the play in Friday’s print edition, quoted by yours truly in Adult Sunday School class this morning on Revelation 2:1-7
“When I saw ”˜All My Sons,’ I was changed ”” permanently changed ”” by that experience….It was like a miracle to me. But that deep kind of love comes at a price: for me, acting is torturous, and it’s torturous because you know it’s a beautiful thing. I was young once, and I said, That’s beautiful and I want that. Wanting it is easy, but trying to be great ”” well, that’s absolutely torturous.”
–Philip Seymour Hoffman as quoted in the New York Times.
In the first hours and days that followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an apparent overdose of heroin, there was an outpouring of grief on Facebook, on Twitter and in columns by recovering addicts and alcoholics like the journalist Seth Mnookin and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin about their own struggles with sobriety and the rarely distant fear of relapsing back into the throes of active addiction.
There was also a palpably visceral reaction in the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, where, according to some in attendance, many discussions since last Sunday quickly turned from the death of a great actor to the precariousness of sobriety, and the fears of many sober people that they could easily slip back into their old ways, no matter how many years they have been clean.
The outpouring of grief all around the country, but especially in the environs of New York City where “Phil” lived and worked, has been extraordinary and has, perhaps, taken some observers by surprise. The acute pain of my own grief has not abated for days; indeed, it has grown. I loved this actor beyond all others. There was a core of sensitivity and empathy at the heart of everything he did, even when playing the most unattractive characters. I was collecting his films, but in a desultory way, assuming that there was no particular urgency. Like many others who knew his work but not his personal story, I had no idea of the struggle he’d had. The idea that there will be no more performances is almost unbearable. He wasn’t just a “character actor,” though he certainly played a lot of characters; he had a range that, the more I think about it, was Shakespearean in its humanity. I can’t even name a favorite performance; it was true of him across the board (or boards). I was looking forward to whatever he did next; now we can only play his old movies and suffer our loss. Now we will never see him play King Lear, a dismal thought that has occurred to several theatre critics who have lamented in print.
James Lipton, dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City, widely known as the creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo, was interviewed by CNN (I think it was). I don’t remember ever seeing a scheduled television appearance at the time of a death that was so ferociously in the moment, not studied, not thought out ahead of time, just pure rage and grief. He seemed to be gripping the table (he may not have been, but it seemed that way) as he almost spat out his fury at “god-damned drugs.” He was liberal on most things, he said, but when it came to drugs he felt nothing but implacable opposition and hatred. It was good to hear that. We don’t hear it often enough. I remember when Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning after years of drug abuse. Someone said, “She made bad choices.” As if a person in the throes of addiction has a choice! This isn’t about choices or “free will.” This is about the bondage of the will by demonic powers.
Read it all (my emphasis).
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman hurts like few recent celebrity passings I can think of. Well, like one of them: the death last summer of James Gandolfini. Both Hoffman and Gandolfini were fantastic actors, the sort of faces who’d make you say, “Hmm, maybe I’ll have to see that,” when they popped up in trailers. Both doted on their young children, and it stings to think about them right now.
But Gandolfini, for all his greatness, will forever be linked to one role. He spent eight years playing Tony Soprano, and that was after a couple years of typecasting as Italian-American Tough Guy No. 6. If you comb through social media today, you see movie fans tearing up over Hoffman and rarely focusing on any one role. The man could play psychopathic toughs (Mission Impossible III), frustrated artists (Synecdoche, New York), sociopathic intellectuals (The Master), gay intellectuals (Capote), gay spazes (Boogie Nights) slobs (Along Came Polly), and jerks (Hard Eight).
Everyone knows that Indian Partition was a very bloody affair, but how many of us can name the man given the responsibility of laying the groundwork for it? In July 1947 Prime Minister Clement Attlee appointed Cyril Radcliffe, a barrister, to the task of drawing the boundary lines between the two new sovereign states of India and Pakistan. There had been riots in the country and the British were looking for as orderly an exit from empire as possible.
The guiding principle, crudely, was that as many Hindus and Sikhs as possible should remain within India’s redrawn borders, while the newly created Pakistan would be home to the majority of Muslims. There was the additional problem of populous Calcutta and Bengal in the East. Radcliffe, absurdly, had five weeks to accomplish this: Independence was set for August 15.
Howard Brenton’s new play Drawing the Line, which has been playing to full houses at the Hampstead Theatre (the curtain comes down with a live-stream performance this Saturday, available on a certain newspaper’s website), focuses on Radcliffe as he struggles with an impossible assignment in a country he has never until now visited, pulled in different directions by representatives from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Congress Party and Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League
To some extent, Elizabeth Jordan’s depiction of Eugene O’Neill’s world as sunless and sinister was quite accurate. He suffered and saw the sins and suffering of others. Dorothy Day recounts the day when she and O’Neill witnessed O’Neill’s friend Louis Holliday inject enough heroin to kill himself in a Greenwich Village bar in 1918. The incident affected both Day and O’Neill deeply. Soon after Holliday’s death, Day left the Village and became a nursing student, and Eugene left for Provincetown. The death haunted O’Neill all his life.
Because of his illness, O’Neill was unable to grip a pen and write anything during the last seven years of his life. Having moved to Marblehead, Mass., he became isolated. He did not want to see others, nor did anyone wish to see him. In 1950, O’Neill’s son, Eugene Jr., committed suicide. The event was especially gruesome; some time after his son had slashed his wrists and one of his ankles in a bathtub, he tried to save himself and died on the floor of his house near the front door. O’Neill did not attend his son’s funeral. He was also estranged from his daughter, Oona, after she married Charlie Chaplin. Another son, Shane, was a heroin addict also disowned by his father. Shane O’Neill committed suicide in 1977. In the last years of his life, O’Neill made his third wife sole executor of his estate and made no mention of his children.
This was a dark world that was saturated with death and desire for death. But it is not, as Elizabeth Jordan pointed out in 1928, a world confined to Eugene O’Neill.
The drama program ”” at Harry S. Truman High School ”” opened this year with one more deficit: its galvanizing teacher, Lou Volpe, retired in June after more than 40 years showing students in an economically slumped, culturally narrow community how to strive for excellence, grapple with challenging ideas, empathize with people different from themselves and enlarge their notions of who they might become. And he brought their theatrical achievements glowing national attention. Under Volpe’s direction, Truman students presented pilot high school versions of “Les MisÃ©rables,” “Rent” and “Spring Awakening” ”” premieres that would determine whether these shows would become available to high schools generally. (All three triumphed.)
Being available, however, hasn’t made all the plays Volpe directed popular Âchoices at other schools. Part of his success ”” pedagogical and theatrical ”” Sokolove suggests, comes from his “edgy” repertory. Not for the sake of sensation, but to engage kids in urgent contemporary social debate, he often selects works that raise the eyebrows, and even occasional ire, of local conservatives who object to frank representations of adolescent sexuality (hetero and homo), addiction, rebellion ”” the usual flash points in the old culture wars. Of the 25,000-plus high school theater programs in the country, fewer than 150 have produced “Rent.” At Truman, 300 kids ”” about one in five students there ”” auditioned for it. As one student tells Sokolove, confronting issues that make people uncomfortable is “one of the big reasons to do theater, right?…”
Sokolove, [once a Harry S. Truman High School student himself] landed in a literature class Volpe taught at the time. “Everyone in life needs to have had at least one brilliant, inspiring teacher,” he states. In Volpe, he found one. Read it all (emphasis mine).
What Falstaff represents is nothing more or less than life: life itself, life as such, the sheer indomitable fact of being alive. That is why Falstaff is so fat – he is larger than life, more human and more alive than ordinary mortals. When Hal points out that the grave gapes for Falstaff “thrice wider than for other men,” it is true symbolically as well as literally. No ordinary grave could hold Jack Falstaff, for he is no ordinary mortal. He is large, he contains multitudes. When old Falstaff condescendingly tells the Lord Chief Justice, “You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young,” we feel the truth of it in our very bones. Falstaff’s body might be “blasted with antiquity,” as the Chief Justice replies, yet nobody is younger than he. He is young because he is youthfulness itself, the very energy and drive of life.
Nonetheless, in the final scene, a scene that has scandalised generations of playgoers and critics, Hal banishes his friend Jack Falstaff. Our minds recoil from the thought of it – even though, objectively speaking, Falstaff deserves everything he gets. It is not just that we like Falstaff and want things to turn out well for him. It is that this rejection of Falstaff seems like a rejection of life – an incomprehensible, nonsensical act. As Falstaff himself has intimated, to reject him is to reject everything: “Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.”
But perhaps the point of this difficult scene is just to show that Falstaff can be rejected. For all his irresistible charm, it is still possible to turn him away. The significance of the last scene is that it makes comedy more vivid by revealing its limits.
The Hollywood success of blockbusters like “Passion of the Christ” and “The Blind Side” has faith-based groups and entertainment executives looking to capture segments of the American audience eager for openly religious fare. Mr. Burnett’s “The Bible” has more mouths watering: In its first week of home video release last month, it became the top-selling TV miniseries of all time, selling 525,000 units, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But theater presents different challenges. “Hollywood is in the business of catching lightning in a bottle twice,” says Jonathan Bock, president of Grace Hill Media, a marketing firm that has helped several Hollywood studios target religious audiences. “With movies, you can toe-dip with small releases or direct to DVD. On Broadway, you swing and hit or miss.”
The Broadway shows about religion that have been the most successful are the less-than-reverent ones….
…surely some things should be left to the imagination? The ancient Greeks knew the meaning of the word “obscene” and obscene acts ”“ castrations, rapes, beheadings and the like ”“ were not depicted in the theatre, but had to be imagined as having taken place offstage, the literal meaning of “obscene.”
Unfortunately for us, we live in the age of blatancy. Everything must be seen in all its disgusting horror or squalor ”“ and usually both. We have been taught since Freud to think that this is somehow good for us. But all it has done is corrupt our morality and obliterate our powers of imagination. We live in an age where every image is an advert. Now I’ve gone and said it: we have forgotten the prohibition on the making and worshipping of images.
Twelve actors have played the Phantom on Broadway: Michael Crawford, Timothy Nolen, Chris Groenendaal, Steve Barton, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Davis Gaines, Thomas James O’Leary, Howard McGillin, John Cudia, Jeff Keller, Ted Keegan, Brad Little, Gary Mauer and Hugh Panaro.
I count it a joy that I was able to see it with the whole family. Read it all.
Fans of “Les MisÃ©rables” on film or stage may be surprised to know that not everyone in France was of good cheer when Victor Hugo published the book in 1862. The anticlerical set was especially offended by the pivotal role of the Bishop of Digne, who helped determine the course of the novel by resuscitating the soul of Jean Valjean.
As Hugo worked on the novel, his son Charles, then in his 20s, objected to the reverential treatment of the bishop. He argued to his father that the portrayal gave undeserved respect to a corrupt clergy, bestowing credibility on a Roman Catholic Church opposed to the democratic ideals that he and his father held. Charles instead proposed that the catalyst for Jean Valjean’s transformation be a lawyer or doctor or anyone else from a secular profession.
The pushback didn’t work. Not only did Hugo hold his ground, but he amplified the importance of Charles-FranÃ§ois Bienvenue Myriel, affectionately known in the novel as Monseigneur Bienvenue (Bishop Welcome). The book’s first hundred pages or so are a detailed chronicle of Myriel’s exemplary life, showing that his intervention on behalf of Jean Valjean was part of a long track record and not a singular aberration.
In spite of tepid reviews from some film critics, “Les Miserables” is booming at the box office, and that financial success can in part be traced to a group of its biggest boosters: Christians, particularly evangelicals whom NBC Universal went after with a microtargeted marketing strategy.
The story in “Les Miserables” is heavy with Christian themes of grace, mercy and redemption. The line everyone seems to remember is “to love another person is to see the face of God.”
NBC Universal looked to capitalize on those components and promoted the film to pastors, Christian radio hosts and influence-makers in the Christian community.
When did nuns become funny?
Was it in 1967, when Sally Field first donned her absurd cornette and took flight in the ABC comedy “The Flying Nun”? Maybe it was 1985, when the musical “Nunsense” made its Off Broadway debut ”” soon to procreate, paradoxically, many sequels. Certainly nuns were safe sport by 1992, when Whoopi Goldberg appeared in “Sister Act,” a movie that later became a play in the West End in London and on Broadway.
Americans began laughing at nuns just as the nuns lost the power to defend themselves. In the early 1960s, Catholic nuns were plentiful, working in schools, hospitals and orphanages, and visible, wearing the habits prescribed by their orders. Today their numbers are diminishing, and many of them wear civilian clothes.
“We have this myth that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. It’s not a very American thing to say, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s true for a lot of people, but you need other things to succeed. You need luck, you need opportunity, and you need the life skills to recognize what an opportunity is.”
–Playright David Lindsay-Abaire.
When ‘Scandalous,’ a musical about Canadian-born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, opened on Broadway this week, it became the latest entry into the risky category of religious musicals.
With the exception of “The Book of Mormon,” which swept the Tonys in 2011 and continues to play to packed houses, many Broadway musicals with evangelical themes have had dubious track records in recent years.
Perhaps hoping to tap into audiences that loved “Godspell” or “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Leap of Faith,” based on the 1992 Steve Martin movie, ran only 19 performances at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. “Sister Act,” based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie, was more successful but didn’t break any records.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the plot?
Son of a Gun presents an interesting mashup of music and narrative. And, from a story perspective, it’s funny. It’s a dark comedy with a serious arc to it. It addresses this question of family and how to hack your way through a life that can be filled with pain, and it asks where the redemption is in the midst of all of it.
Is it autobiographical?
The story emerged from my own life experiences. There are plenty of times where we would hit a roadblock in the narrative, like, What should we do next with this character or this thing? And I would say, “Well, here’s what happened to me.” And that would be the best dramatic solution to the problem. So there’s times it’s stunningly true to my own life, but, of course, I did not grow up in a family band. We were not from Appalachia. My dad didn’t play guitar or sing. There were no duels anywhere. And so on….
So let’s get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it’s because nobody has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons.
Here’s what else we learned this week about the emerging liberal consensus: That it’s okay to denounce a movie you haven’t seen, which is like trashing a book you haven’t read. That it’s okay to give perp-walk treatment to the alleged””and no doubt terrified””maker of the film on legally flimsy and politically motivated grounds of parole violation. That it’s okay for the federal government publicly to call on Google to pull the video clip from YouTube in an attempt to mollify rampaging Islamists. That it’s okay to concede the fundamentalist premise that religious belief ought to be entitled to the highest possible degree of social deference””except when Mormons and sundry Christian rubes are concerned.
The more specific you can be the more helpful it will be for the rest of us. We are especially interested in material others might not be aware of that you have found moving or interesting. What specifically brought this to mind is an off handed reference in my most recent sermon to my wife and I particularly liking English and Scottish mysteries. I was then asked about by several parishioners which mysteries and how did we get them–KSH?
On stage in a church on Detroit’s east side, Myra Morrison thrust her right fist down in front of her body and pulled it up slowly – as if she was yanking out her soul and delivering it to God. She was dressed in a white robe, wearing white paint on her face like a mask.
With a flip of her wrist, she glided her hand up, her furrowed brow melting into a face of bliss.
“I give myself away, so you can use me,” a gospel singer sang on a recording, as the Farmington Hills, Mich., woman acted out the words to the song.