Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category
John Banville talks to Michael Miller about Love in the Wars, his English adaptation of Kleist’s Penthesilea
John Banville and Michael Miller discuss Love in the Wars, his free English adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s play, Penthesilea, with a digression about the rest of Mr. Banville’s work, before returning to the play, which will receive its world premiere at Bard College Summerscape. Kleist’s theatrical ambition was to fuse Greek tragedy with Shakespearean “burlesque.” The work shows his pessimistic world view spiced with black Prussian humor.
Sacrilege! Impertinence! Brigadoon, that beloved 1947 Golden Age musical about a Scottish town that awakens only once a century, has been rewritten! Ignoring silent protests and fears of Brigadoon fans everywhere, the Goodman Theatre of Chicago is presenting a new production with a new book.
Hold on to your bagpipes—they made it even better.
One of the odd and unique interesting qualities of King Lear is its fantastic and vague setting in prehistoric Britain, that Shakespeare chose a tale of a king you couldn’t find in a list of the Kings and Queens of England, even while he gave the play something of a history play shape, with British Kings and princes, crises of succession and fighting with each other and France. But it isn’t a history play, it’s based on a britannic myth that was already a myth in the middle ages, and the play is set around about some time in the misty, undocumented bog before Ethelwulf, Egbert and Offa, and after Arthur, but perhaps not, maybe it predates the Romans, maybe even the Celts? It’s in a parallel timeline no doubt.
The amazingly talented Alexandra Zelman-Doring’s latest creation is a comic investigation of identity that brings three actresses, three musicians and three composers together for an engaging hour of music and verse. From Ms Doring — “The search that ensues when “we wake to find we have been living in a dream we chose to call “reality.” Why are we as we are? Who is the “persona” that builds up in and around us?”
John Douglas Thompson’s Magnificent Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf — Last Performance June 29!
John Douglas Thompson’s brilliant performance as Louis Armstrong in Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf was one of the great moments of Shakespeare and Company’s 2012 season. As we rose from our seats after the performance, my companions and I were emotionally drained, that is, deeply moved, and we agreed that the play and its message were important. With John Douglas Thompson on stage the whole experience seemed overwhelming and beyond criticism. Yet shortly after the performance, an encounter with some of those responsible brought me down to earth and forced me to enunciate the flaws I’d noticed in as succinct and helpful a way as possible. The lighting needed polishing, mostly simplification, as did the play itself. Satchmo just got a little too busy with his tape recorders at points, symptomatic of a deeper problem in the narrative process of this extended monologue and the protagonist’s relation to the audience. There were and are other problems, which I’ll discuss later. Thompson’s acting was so powerful that one had to dig beyond it to get at these. There were only a few moments when it was tangible on stage.
Once upon a time Broadway theater-goers’ mantra was “bring on the girls,” and shows were mostly opulent costumes, engaging settings and pure, unadulterated fun. Ever since Oklahoma, ostensibly the first big hit with a thought-provoking book and integrated musical numbers, writers and directors have searched, sometimes in vain, for ways to raise the stakes and engage audiences minds as well as their hearts.
The Austrian Cultural Forum in New York (ACFNY, or Österreichische Kulturforum New York/ÖKF), apart from the recent events mentioned in our account of the “Vienna, City of Dreams” Festival centered at Carnegie Hall, hosts a lively series of concerts and exhibitions in its clean, if somewhat edgy, modernistic structure on 51st Street, just East of Fifth Avenue—the design of Raimund Abraham, a Vienna-trained architect from the Tyrol, who has practiced in New York since 1971. As this example suggests, the Forum takes care to balance cultural initiatives from Austria with local creativity, often collaborating with the equally progressive Czech Center, housed in its equally up-to-date facility on East 74th Street.
Of all the places frequented by humankind, the theater must surely be the one where we are most vital. Forget playing fields, museums, churches, mountain tops, bedrooms, and all that. One might say the proof is that they are so often inhabited by ghosts, as Sir Donald Sinden is always careful to note in the delightful series of documentaries about the theatres of London’s West End he and his son Marc are in the process of creating. (Ten have been finished so far. There will be forty in all.) The thing is that even if there is no haunting, one should take due note and make some attempt to identify the personage—usually an actor or manager, or both in one. Or perhaps all we need to do is be aware of how we feel, body and soul, after a truly excellent performance on stage. Never have I felt more alive than after a great evening or afternoon in the theatre. There words, gestures, and humanity become lifeblood.