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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, November, 2008.
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
INTRO: Why The Disconnect & Delay in Show-Notes Reports? *
STRANGE BED-FELLOWS: Between the Sheets with Gregor Samsa & Franz Kafka! *
THE ANGEL IN THE ARK:Or A Dream of Hay-Fever Transmuted Into A Revelation… *
THE DREAM THAT SAVED MY LIFE! *
Changing Dream-Channels at Mid-Night: From Bad to Worse! *
DREAMING THE FUTURE — OR WISH-FULLTHINKING? *
Imperfect Mental-Telepathy—From the Sierra Foothills to El Salvador: *
A NEW WAY TO REPORT ON PRODUCTIONS PAST & PRESENT: *
Old Musicals in Revival: *
Other Entertainments/Other Venues: *
A Very Mixed-Bag: *
Puppets at La MaMa: "KO'OLAU" & "THE DOLL SISTERS" *
Annual Arts Awards & Prizes: *
THE THEATRE HALL OF FAME: *
THE THEATRE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION AWARDS: *
THE BRENDAN GILL PRIZE: *
INTRO: Why The Disconnect & Delay in Show-Notes Reports?
It cannot have escaped the notice of Regular-Readers of these reports that nothing has been effectively posted since the relatively glowing account of the Annual Conference of the American Theatre Critics Association in & around Our Nation's Capital in mid-June.
The reason for that is that both Computer & Printer have been disconnected for nearly four months, shrouded in plastic-sheeting & hidden under layers of dust, with your Reporter physically & emotionally devastated & powerless to continue filing on either the NY Theatre Wire or Curator's Choice websites.
And why & how did this come to pass?
STRANGE BED-FELLOWS: Between the Sheets with Gregor Samsa & Franz Kafka!
Depending upon the whims of Franz Kafka's translators, his unfortunate Anti-Hero Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to discover that he had been metamorphosed into either a Giant-Bedbug or a Giant-Cockroach.
As Your [almost equally-unfortunate] Reporter has learned, it is much easier to exterminate Roaches than it is to be rid of Bedbugs.
Apparently, with Roaches you can set-off some kind of Death-Bomb in closed but infested rooms that will terminate their unwanted tenancy. Room-Sealing is essential, as you do not want to go the way of your unwelcome Roach-Guests.
Bedbugs, as I have recently learnt to my Tremendous-Cost—Financially, as well as Emotionally, Physically, & Spiritually—require far more complicated Extermination-Procedures.
When I returned—elated but exhausted—from my DC Theatre-Outing in mid-June, I debated changing the sheets before retiring. They had been in use the week before my departure to Maryland, Virginia, & Washington.
Tired, I thought: What the Hell! Like Scarlett O'Hara, I would think about it Tomorrow. Or was that Annie…
But, during the night, I awoke several times to the sensation of an unusual itching. By Dawn's Early Light, however, I discovered my arms & legs spotted with pairs of small Red-Dots, rather like the imagined bites of Vampire-Bats.
Leaping out of bed, I pulled back to top-sheet all the way to the bottom of the bed. There, in the long crevice between the top & the fitted-sheet was a horde of busily crawling bed-bugs!
I had never seen anything like this before, even though I habitually change the sheets every Sunday-Morning. Some of the bugs were tiny: others were gorged with what had to have been My Blood!
Horrified, Panicked & Instantly-Traumatized, I alerted my building's Staff. Carefully shrouding the Bedding, Mattress, & Box-Springs in immense black plastic-bags, they removed these infested-items for disposal in some Distant-Landfill.
Worse, however, was the almost three-inch-high pile of dust under the bed—also crawling with bugs—where the Sun Doesn't Shine & my otherwise-thorough Cleaning-Lady had never-vacuumed.
Although Bedbugs live only on Blood, they apparently love to snuggle-up between the pages of a Good-Book, into the seams of your Upholstery, & even into the frames & matting of your Family-Photos & Avant-Garde Artworks!
They will also climb up your Curtains, cuddle-up around the margins of your Wall-to-Wall Carpets, & make themselves at home in your folded Undies & your hanging Suits & Jackets.
Going On-Line, you can get All the Bad-News about Bedbugs by Googling.
My bedroom-walls were almost entirely clad in floor-to-ceiling Bookcases—including the bookshelf-headboard for my bed—all of them filled with Rare-Books or Archivally-Important Reference-Books on Art, Architecture, Maps, History, & the Performing-Arts.
Each book had to be minutely-examined & thoroughly-vacuumed to ensure that no bedbugs were hiding inside. Then these volumes—some very large & very old & fragile—were wrapped in clear-plastic clinging-sheetings, carefully recorded, & packed in Staples file-boxes.
All the wonderful blue bookcases—which I had built myself, bringing some of them over to Manhattan from my previous apartment in Brooklyn-Heights, where I had 16-foot-ceilings—were sawed-up into easily-disposable fragments. The carpets were sliced into small pieces & stuffed into big black bags.
I disposed of most of my sheets & towels immediately. I trashed all my shoes. Unable to sleep on the living-room floor—the infested-bed having vanished—I arose on the succeeding night to begin laundering all the things I really needed to keep.
Finishing about 11 am on Sunday morning, I lay down to rest but suddenly had the sensation of an impending Heart-Attack. As I have already survived two such Coronary-Incidents—in 1965 & 1991—I panicked anew, ending up in Emergency at Lenox-Hill Hospital.
After the bedroom had been reduced to bare-walls & repainted—with shelves & closet-doors all trashed—the Exterminator sprayed his deadly Cyan-compound all around. A week later, he returned to check, having also put bug-traps in my Library-Study, as well as the Living & Dining-Rooms.
He said: "The Good-News is that the bugs are all gone from the bedroom. The Bad-News is that they have spread to the Study & the Living-Room!"
At first, I could not believe this. I had seen nothing on my Computer-Keyboard, for instance. But in the bug-traps were tiny specks, like sesame-seeds, only smaller. These, he informed me, were newly-hatched bed-bugs!
As all the rooms are/were filled with Bookcases—crammed with hundreds & hundreds of books—once again each book had to be examined, cleansed, wrapped, recorded, & packed.
In each room were teetering stacks of Staples-boxes, later transported to costly storage in Brooklyn, where they will remain under wraps for a Year-&-a-Half, by which time, lacking Fresh-Blood, they will have perished. Or so I have been told… [You can also freeze your books & bugs, but my Fridge isn't big enough…]
The books can never return to this apartment, of course, lacking their familiar bookshelves. But they were, in any case, destined for an as-yet-to-be-funded physical ArtsArchive, to back-up the Lighting New Media website, ArtsArchive.biz.
Given the Collapsing-Economy, untenanted new City-Rental-Spaces may well want to welcome a not-for-profit Informational & Cultural Reference-Resource, including as it will all the 375,000+ Slide, Print, & Digital Photographic-Images of the Glenn Loney INFOTOGRAPHY™ physical Photo-Archive.
But that's not the end of this Traumatic-Tale.
After the hundreds of boxes of books, posters, art-works, & photo-volumes were carted-off to Brooklyn Storage, all the remaining artworks & antiques from half-a-century of World-Travel—reporting on Performing-Arts & photographing Historic-Sites & Architecture—had to be inspected, wrapped, & boxed, until all the carpets could be cut-up & bagged, more shelves removed, most furnishings discarded, & the shabby old wooden flooring sanded & sealed against more buggery.
Then—and only then—could all the walls be newly painted, lost doors replaced, track-lighting installed, & all the Surviving-Treasures re-installed.
Unfortunately, as this demanding work is being done by friends who have other Serious Professional Contracts to honor, it is not yet completed as of this evening, which happens to be Hallowe'en!
During most of the summer, unable to sleep at home, having no bed, I spent depressing nights in a bunk-bed at the West 63rd Street YMCA, costing $119 per night!
[When I first returned to America in 1960, after four years teaching in Europe, Africa, & the Middle-East, I stayed at that Y & also at the Sloane House YMCA on West 34th Street—now transformed into Condos—for something like $5 a day…]
With all the remaining furniture stacked on-end & moved from room to room as the floor-sanding progressed, I tried to do some work at my dust-covered desk, only to have a bulging bedbug or two stroll across the surface. Also on the Kitchen-Counter. And sometimes on my cap or shirt!
This so distressed me that I felt I could not visit any friends all summer, not wishing to bring them bedbugs on my clothes or New-Balance sneakers. A very Lonely & Desolate Time…
Totally-Demoralizing… Not to mention THE SHAME… THE SHAME…
Friends warned me not to mention the bugs to anyone, but this experience has been so Totally-Devastating to me that I have to survey it once again in print…
Until this moment—having finally found the connecting-cables for Printer & Computer—I have not wanted to write anything, nor work on new INFOTOGRAPHY™ photo-images. The Computer & Printer weren't Functional anyway, and they still have serious glitches, perhaps from all that floor-sanding?
Some friends insisted I must have brought the bugs back from Foreign-Travels: most recently from Jordan & Sinai, perhaps?
But when I found a big bug now & then in the bath-tub—obviously haven fallen down from the Ventilation-Shaft-Grill, surely from a floor above mine—I began to wonder…
Even though I had been repeatedly cautioned to say nothing about the Infestation, nonetheless, in shopping-around for Bug-Resistant-Replacements—I now have an all-metal Zen bed & an Air-Mattress!—I have been amazed at the number of people who are dealing with the same Problem.
It is very difficult to get an Exterminator to come & Spritz the Cyanide, as there are so many calls every day now.
On its last day of publication, the New York Sun ran a column-long report on the current Bedbug-Plague. The New York Times has also removed some of the Secret-Shame by discussing this Hush-Hush Topic.
Now & then—despite the Cyanide-Sprays—I still encounter a bug or two, but I'm not at all certain they are Blood-Gorged Bedbugs.
As I was spending much of July, August, & September sitting on dusty benches in Central Park, I realized that I had picked-up a Wood-Tick or two…
I grew up on a farm in the California-Sierras, so I know very well what they look like. The silhouettes of some of my buggy-visitors were clearly those of Ticks, surely brought home from the Park. [Don't pet the friendly Dogs!]
This was not at all reassuring, however, as Ticks—not Dogs—are carriers of Lyme-Disease, so named for Old Lyme, CT, where they were first detected. But then, the dogs do carry the Ticks. And so on & on…
Nonetheless, the Bedbugs may have been what is euphemistically-known as A Blessing In Disguise, as I am now on the brink of enjoying a beautiful all-new apartment, with gleamingly blonde-wood herringbone-flooring.
[A Floor-Sander-Sealer Contractor—contacted on the Internet—quoted $500 for fixing the bedroom-floor, now newly minus carpet & bugs. When his crew arrived, they had 220-volt equipment, which cannot work in my electric-outlets. They tried & nearly blew the fuses, as well as the Super's Temper.
[So they returned to Brooklyn—from Whence Cometh All Help—to fetch their 110-volt Sander. On their return, the Foreman informed me that the job would now cost me $1,000, although the floor-area is quite small.
[How come now so high?
["It's not ordinary flooring: it's herringbone-flooring!"
[What? Twice as much for wood-blocks laid at an angle?]
But I was so desperate to get the bed-room fixed, I caved, having been deserted by some colleagues on whom I was depending to help me complete the renovations.
But there may have been The Hand of God in all of this delay, in the Way things are Working-Out.
Almost four-years ago, I had an Angelic-Visitation—well, a Dream, actually—in which I was assured that at this time I would be "Translated."
As I will be 80-years-old on Christmas-Eve, perhaps the time is drawing near for my Fifteen-Minutes of Warholian-Fame!
When I was in Deepest-Despair over how to eradicate all the remaining Bedbugs & Ticks—as well as to renovate all the now desolate & dusty rooms of the apartment—I was invited by my former MFA & PhD student & friend, Prof. Seth Baumrin, to see his staging of Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hofmann on a Port Authority Dock over in Red Hook.
Seth quickly organized some of the Cast & Crew to remove furniture & filing-cabinets—as well as some Décor—that I would no longer need. And two of his Offenbachian Baritones volunteered to restore the apartment: at very reasonable rates, as well!
Of course we have had to work around Auditions & paid singing-gigs for Secular & Sacred-Services.
[I didn't know my apartment-building was Circumcised until I discovered we were not permitted to do any work on walls or floors on Yom Kippur!
[Well, I suppose that's only fair, as Decent Right-Thinking God-Fearing Patriotic Christian-Americans don't do floors on Christmas or Easter, do they? Nonetheless, they may well have voted for that Madcap-Lady from Alaska: on a clear day you can see Vladivastok!]
For the Record, I want to praise & recommend the aspiring young baritone, Nathan Baer, who also does walls & floors superbly. From what he has done for me in this virtually-new apartment, I believe there is almost nothing he cannot do: a real Mr. Fix-It!
In Manhattan—Nathan goes everywhere, tools & all, on his bicycle, with a bike-trailer—you can ask for his excellent services, as well as those of his fellow-baritone, Will Browning, at OldGoatRenovations@gmail.com. Or try Nathan Baer at 646-542-2694.
At the moment, Will's away, singing at the Wichita Opera, where he is also a Resident-Artist—when he is In-Residence & not in Manhattan…
Nathan & Will describe themselves on their business-card as "Opera Singers & Craftsmen, Working for Our Song."
Walt Disneys' Seven Dwarfs were into Whistling While They Worked, but Nathan & Will can enliven Apartment-Renovations with snatches of Baritone-Arias! Or how about a duet featuring Almaviva & Figaro, both baritones!
For those readers who may well wonder about the substance of an Angelic-Visitation, here is a report I drafted about this strange event only a few hours after it occurred:
THE ANGEL IN THE ARK:Or A Dream of Hay-Fever Transmuted Into A Revelation…
Way back in the Depression-Thirties, when I was young and small, I used to earn 50 cents a day during haying-season by perching on Lee Frey's hay-wagon and spreading around the stacks of hay as they were forked up onto the wagon by Lee and his hired-hands. I wasn't yet big enough to toss an entire forkful of hay onto the wagon myself.
So there I was, dazed in a haze of hay-dust, coughing and snorting, trying to keep up with the volleys of hay and spread them around on the wagon-bed. Once in a while, a live snake would get tossed up along with the hay, writhing and twitching. There was no place to run, so I'd frantically try to fork the snake off the wagon.
This wasn't the worst of it, however. Even though my eyes were itching and my face swollen, because I was the smallest on the hay-crew, I had to climb up into the haymow when the wagon reached the barn.
Scratching and sneezing, I waited for the great overhead hay-fork to loft big bundles of hay from the wagon into the barn and glide on its track to trip its load almost on top of me. Then I had to fork the hay around so it would lie evenly in the haymow.
On a very cold March night in 2004, I thought I was sneezing and coughing once again, back on Lee Frey's dairy-farm in Penn Valley, California. This was an awful scene to re-visit, so I consciously decided to move away from the hay and take a look out the barn's big upper-opening.
When I looked down, I saw an endless stream of animals, two by two, slowly serpentining out from the door below me. They were life-sized and moving with march-like precision.
But they weren't only the animals we know from the zoo or as house-pets. Among them were pairs of Fabulous-Beasts: Rocs, Griffons, Wyverns, Sphinxes, and some I could not identify in this astonishing instant.
But what was really odd was that all these animals seemed to have been carved of wood by some 19th Century German Woodcarver! And yet they moved quite naturally…
I suddenly realized that I was on the Ark. And we had come to rest on dry land at last.
The Great Flood was over: the Forty Days & Forty Nights had passed at last. Deep darkness and turbulent storms were past: Life would begin again!
At once I realized that this was a Visual-Metaphor, in Dreamlife, for an end to my many uncertainties and fears about the Future and the survival my thousands of photographs, unpublished books, and valuable arts-collections.
At that moment, I turned back toward the haymow.
I was almost blinded by the brilliance of a Radiant-Being in the center of the hay.
I thought it must be an Angel, but the brightness was so intense I could not see wings behind the pulsing white outlines of his glowing form. He held his radiant arms upwards and outstretched, fingers extended.
I felt my arms and fingers powerfully drawn up to his. When our fingers touched, I had the most overwhelming sensation of a Cosmic-Orgasm—not sexual, but Spiritual. My entire being was thrilled, ecstatic…
Then he spoke to me, but without moving his lips. His words sounded and echoed in my head: In four years, you will be Translated.
That was all. Suddenly I was wide awake.
I was certain that this was a Visitation & a Message, not an ordinary dream of a Miserable-Childhood.
I had once dreamt of a potential auto-accident, and a year-and-a-half later, this dream—instantly recalled—saved my life. Since then, I have often dreamt of places and events before I actually see or experience them.
But what did this radiant Messenger mean by Translated?
Not Taken-Out… Nor Transmuted: TRANSLATED! --Glenn Loney
So much for the Possibilities of Recognition, even Fame…
But, before we get on with a brief-survey of what has been happening in Metropolitan New York's Performing-Arts these past weeks, here's another Dream-Scape:
THE DREAM THAT SAVED MY LIFE!
I had just returned from a Theatre & Museum tour on the West Coast to have the phone ring the minute I entered my apartment. A Hollywood script-writer was calling to ask if I had read any of the letters both she & John Joseph—producer of Unsolved Mysteries on TV—had been urgently sending me?
There, right in front of me on my desk, were the opened-letters, carefully sorted by a friend, alongside other mail. I was being invited to fly out to Los Angeles—from which I had just returned—to be interviewed on film about The Dream That Saved My Life.
I was momentarily baffled: what Dream was that? And how had Joseph known where to contact me?
The Unsolved Mysteries script-writer explained that John Joseph was always on the lookout for unusual stories of The Inexplicable that could be re-enacted for the weekly program, along with an interview with the person centrally concerned in each Mystery.
Waiting for a flight, he had picked up a Bantam paperback to read on the plane. Its title was Dreams That Come True.
As John Joseph read through the many testimonies of people who believed they had had Premonitory Dreams—the script-writer explained—he thought my dream and its Real-Life Fulfillment would be the most understandable to the mass of TV-viewers.
Unlike some dreamers who had seen themselves floating over their own open-coffins just before their funerals… Or hovering over an Operating-Table, as they prepared to rush down that Dark Tunnel between Life & Death, when you review all the Events of Your Life, backward…
Still puzzled about my dream having been in-print, I called John Joseph in Los Angeles.
Who knew about my dream anyway? How had it found its way into a paperback?
I knew nothing about this—and certainly no one had asked my permission.
Joseph explained that the Bantam edition was a re-print of the original hard-cover Dreams That Come True, published by Harper's. What he wanted—and as soon as possible—was for me to agree to have my dream shown on Unsolved Mysteries, reconstructed, plus me on-camera, talking about the experience.
His Production-Company, naturally, could not pay me a fee for the use of my published-account of the dream. Nor could it pay me for doing the filmed-interview.
What Unsolved Mysteries was offering, however, was a free Round-Trip Flight out to Los Angeles, together with a week's stay at a fine hotel & the opportunity to See the Sights—even Disneyland!
I told Joseph this was a No-Starter, as I had only just come back from the City of The Angels.
Also, I was only too familiar with all the Sights—and more—as I then was a "Stringer" for the LA Times, covering Music & Theatre, especially from a Manhattan vantage-point.
Even if I had wanted to fly right back to the Coast, I could not. In five days, I had to leave for Warsaw for the annual Opera Festival at the Teatr Wielki.
Immediately, Joseph changed his plans: he & a camera-team would fly to New York & interview me in my Upper East Side apartment! Could I do this in a day or two, before boarding LOT for Poland?
I could & would do it, but I wasn't having a film-crew in my cramped, book-stuffed co-op. They'd have to find another location.
The next day, Joseph phoned to say they'd rented someone else's cramped, book-stuffed apartment for the Shoot. It was up in Washington Heights, near the Met Museum's Cloisters.
After the on-camera interview—in which I also mentioned once seeing an Unidentified Flying-Object over a Sierra meadow, not included in the broadcast!—there was still one more section of footage needed.
As I was a Professor of Theatre at Brooklyn College, Joseph wanted a few establishing-shots of me in front of an Academic-Building.
But there was no time to drive all the way out to Flatbush. Should we instead pack-up the equipment & go down to Columbia University?
No, I said. Let's just go up the hill to the Cloisters. Its Neo-Gothic Entrance could even suggest Yale!
No sooner had we set-up, than a furious guard rushed out to order us "off the property"—even though we were, in fact, standing on the Public-Sidewalk.
Apparently, the Cloisters was so sacrosanct, it could not even be used as a background… And this was long before 9/11 & The War on Terror!
The crew was flummoxed: where could we go now?
I said we should make a big show of packing-up & driving-off. Then we could go around to the Service-Port—which looks rather like the Main-Entry.
And so we did—and that is the "Brooklyn College" against which you will see me posing when next this episode of Unsolved Mysteries is re-run!
As it indeed is—every so often, no residuals, of course!—resulting in phone-calls from High-School Chums I have not seen in years: "Glenn, did you really have a dream that saved your life?"
To which I respond: "Unlike some of Our Leaders, I would never lie on Nation-wide Television!"
I had asked Joseph if—when I came back from Warsaw—I could play myself in the Dream-Reconstruction?
But there was no time for that, even though I had taught Elementary & Remedial-Acting at Brooklyn College.
In any case, he said he never used the Actual People involved in the various Unsolved Mysteries.
Joseph said they wouldn't know how to act themselves on-camera! In the event, I still believe I could have been better than the "professional" actor they hired…
Nor does the Reconstruction look anything like what actually happened, even though I described it to Joseph on camera in detail. And it is also clearly described in my own words in the Bantam paperback.
Robert Stack hosted Unsolved Mysteries, so some who have seen the re-run ask: "What was Bob Stack really like?" I have no idea: my only live-contact with the program was that afternoon in Washington Heights.
In fact, I did not see the original "Live" Broadcast. I don't have time to watch TV anyway: every evening & matinée I'm reviewing a play, musical, opera, or dance-program. I was sent a tape…
When I read my own description of the "Dream That Saved My Life" in both hard-cover & paperback, I finally understood how this got into print.
One Sunday, in the NY Times Book-Review section—in the back, where someone writing a bio of Jane Austen would like to borrow any letters Jane might have written to your great-grandmother—a PhD Candidate at the University of Georgia, in Athens, requested any accounts of dreams that had somehow turned into reality for citation in his Psychology-Dissertation.
So I jotted down what I remembered of my dream & its Near-Fatal Aftermath—which I could never forget—and sent it off to this Grad-student. And that was the last I ever heard about this Thesis…
But in the commercially-published-version of his research, it was noted that a Professional-Author had helped shape his Dissertation for the Commercial-Market.
But I—one of the book's many Dreamers—am not identified by name in the book—only as "a Professor who does not put much stock in Psychic Phenomena."
And that was largely true, until my dream came true, a year-and-half later…
But what was the actual Dream? How did it come true?
Changing Dream-Channels at Mid-Night: From Bad to Worse!
When I was very small, I used to have terrible Nightmares. Mostly about Abandonment or Loss. These probably occurred because I had been adopted at six-months from an Orphanage, and one of my mother's favorite Correctional-Threats was: "If you don't behave yourself, I'm sending you back to the Fred Finch Orphanage!"
Or she would put some underwear from my orange-crate clothes-cupboard into a brown-paper-bag, give it to me, & point toward the Marysville-Highway out in our desolate part of Nevada-County farm-country: "Go on down the road & see if anyone wants to take in a little boy who doesn't know how to behave!"
These—and other forms of Parental-Punishment—did not do much for my Self-Esteem or Sense of Security.
Then, at night, my many very Real Fears would often take Fantastic Forms. I would frequently wake screaming & shaking, only to be told to be quiet & go back to sleep.
This was always from my Mother, as my poor father—who never laid a hand on me—had to get up at 4:30 am to milk our 25 cows & then go off to work a shift in a dangerously-timbered quartz-goldmine in Smartsville.
Fortunately, I learned to fly in my sleep! When a nightmare was becoming too horrible—when I was being pushed over the edge of Devil's-Slide, or dropped into a huge Hot-Pot of Tomato-Soup—I discovered that, if I flapped both arms vigorously, I would rise up out of the Dream, looking down at it as if it were some kind of Box-without-a-Lid.
Then I found I could fly freely over Open-Landscapes, looking down into other Boxes, until I found one that looked Colorful & Welcoming! I say Colorful, because I never dreamt in Black-&-White: always in Color, even before Color-TV.
With the advent of Black-&-White TV, however, I did make an adaptation for my Dream-Life. There were few channels from which to choose & only NBC, CBS, & ABC programming. Still, one did have the option of Changing-Channels.
So—instead of Flying Up & Away from a Bad Dream—I could now Change the Channel, until I found a better dream/program in which to appear.
One dark night, however, I was into what started as a fairly bland dream, when it suddenly turned Terrible, before I could change the channel.
I was driving my beloved beat-up old blue Datsun station-wagon somewhere out in the mountains.
I was dimly conscious that there was someone on the other side of my driver's-seat, in what we used to call—laughingly—The Death-Seat.
What I did swiftly notice was that we were now driving up a fairly steep inwardly-curved Incline. It was a narrow two-lane highway, with no visibility at the top of the Curve, where the road disappeared to the left, around the mountain-side.
On my right-side, however—looking beyond the nameless, faceless passenger—I could see that there was no Road-Shoulder & no Guard-Rail.
Somehow, I could also see that there was an almost Sheer-Drop on my side of the highway, perhaps two-thousand-feet down the steep mountain-side…
Before I had time to do more than sense the danger of this unprotected road-margin, I suddenly saw a car come round the Blind-Curve at the top of the highway. It began to swerve slightly, as a two-wheeled trailer hitched behind it wobbled badly.
In an instant, the trailer-wheel—virtually on the white dividing-line of the highway—sheared its nuts & bolts & rolled furiously, shedding sparks on the road, diagonally downward toward me on the driver's-side
It was just about to hit the Datsun, when I stomped on the gas-pedal…
Then I woke up, shaking. I had never had a dream or nightmare like this, ever. It never repeated itself, as some Bad-Dreams do. In that moment, however, I knew it was a Warning.
From time to time, I thought about that dream. But Nothing Happened—despite the fact that I was, almost every weekend, driving my Datsun to Regional-Theatres all over the Eastern-Seaboard: Baltimore, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, DC, New Haven, & Hartford…
Having spent part of one summer reporting on all the Shakespeare Festivals in the US & Canada for Theatre Crafts—also resulting in the book: The Shakespeare Complex—the following summer I was checking-out all the Outdoor Historical Dramas, especially in the American Southeast.
After seeing several plays-with-music about Daniel Boone—in different places, where he'd moved to get away from other Pioneer & Settlers—I was driving my Datsun to Beckley, West Virginia, where I was to report on not one, but two Historical Dramas: Honey in the Rock & The Hatfields & the McCoys.
I had invited a theatre-professor-colleague to join me for these shows, as we had just seen The Long Road Home, in a little community in Virginia. With a Pot-Luck Supper afterward!
As we began the drive up a steep mountain two-lane highway, with the road curving out-of-sight to the left above—and a sheer drop, with no guard-rail, on Mike's side of the station-wagon—I suddenly realized: My God! This Is My Dream!
"Mike! Don't ask, but a car is going to come round that curve up there. Hold on tight! I'll have to gun the gas & hope for the best…"
At that very moment, the swerving car appeared, the two-wheeled-trailer swaying dangerously. Its tire suddenly flew off, in a shower of sparks, rolling diagonally toward my door.
Would it hit us Broadside? Would we go skittering over the edge, plunging hundreds of feet down the mountain-side?
Actually, I had no time to consider those possibilities—which, in fact, I'd already itemized after my Dream.
I rammed the gas-pedal to the floorboard, gunned the Datsun round the blind-curve, with the rolling-wheel just nicking the rear-bumper as it careened over the edge.
I didn't stop to find out what might have happened to the Endangered Car & its Occupants. I just kept on going as fast as I could until we came to Beckley.
Mike was In Shock…
"How did you know that was going to happen? How?"
"Maybe you won't believe it, but I dreamt it some time ago. So long ago, I thought it was never going to happen. But it just did!"
Looking back soon after—and, indeed, ever-after—I thought no matter what various Religions & Cults may Preach & Believe, there is Something Outside & Beyond Us that we do not Understand.
Something that may very well be Watching Us, if not always Watching-Over Us…
How else—if Everything that happens in the World is really Random, as in Chaos-Theory—is it possible to Dream accurately about Events That Have Not Yet Happened?
Is there a Guardian-Angel hovering above me? Do I hear a faint-fluttering of Wings…
This must be another one of those Unsolved Mysteries…
DREAMING THE FUTURE — OR WISH-FULLTHINKING?
The Dream of the Angel in the Ark appeared to me in the middle of the night in the early Spring of 2004. As my Translation was forecast for four years forward, I made the not-so-difficult computation that it should occur in Spring or Summer 2008.
[Did the sudden Appearance of the Bedbugs portend this Translation?]
After a Virtual Lifetime of standing on the Sidelines or In The Wings—while Interviewing Admirable Talents in the Arts & Reporting on notable Theatre, Dance, & Opera productions—I found this Prophecy was very welcome: Would I at last have some recognition for all that I had been writing about the Arts for more than 50 years?
The summer of 2006 was my 50th Anniversary at four major European Festivals: Bayreuth, Bregenz, Munich, & Salzburg. Perhaps too soon for the Fests to take note of this work, but I was at least interviewed in Bregenz, with a handsome report & photo in the leading newspaper.
Over that 50-year-period, I had amassed a production-photo archive from these festivals, consisting of hundreds of black & white images of opera and drama-stagings by some of the most famed 20th Century directors, including Wieland Wagner, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, & Günther Rennert.
Recently, my colleague, Prof. Cynthia Allen—of Gallatin College, NYU—created 4 sub-websites for these production-photos from each of these fests. They & their respective photos will be available on ArtsArchive.biz, when funding can be found for identifying, organizing, & scanning the hundreds & hundreds of images.
ArtsArchive.biz will also be home to the GLENN LONEY BOOK-SHOP, where anyone interested can read or print-out all of my Out-of-Print books, as well as previously unpublished book-manuscripts.
This will also be the Virtual-Venue for my fourteen-years of creating, writing, & photographing The Art Deco News and its successor, The Modernist. Hundreds of Performing-Arts, Architecture, & Visual Arts audio-interviews will also be available.
But my greatest hope—when the Angel appeared to me as either Dream or Vision—was that my more than 50 years of Photography of Arts & Architecture all over the world might at last be recognized. It has, of course, been used in publications & lectures, as well as being available from a photo-agency.
Now it has its own website, as INFOTOGRAPHY.biz—but there are still more than 300,000 images to be scanned, although almost all print & slide images have been computer-indexed for photo-volumes, now numbering over 350!
What puzzled me about the Ark-Dream was that the Translation was forecast for four years after, when I would be only 79.
Not for my 80th Birthday—which would seem a more striking time to Be Discovered—after decades of being told: You are not Important…
But then, just last night, 3 May 2007—again in the very depths of sleep—came another strange & vivid dream, this time without an Angelic Messenger.
Suddenly, I found myself on a large boat, drifting alone down a wide river, leading toward a great harbor-bay. On my left was a kind of closed Harbor-Enclave with signs warning the Unwelcome away.
Mysteriously, the harbor-gates opened for me, and I suddenly found myself in a rich but amorphous chamber, over which seemed to hover images of the Continents of the Earth.
A Titan of Immense Wealth had just died. He had divided his Considerable Investments into Foundations in many lands—all them furthering Education & Culture for All Mankind. But none of these funds was openly or obviously linked, so no one but his Executor knew the extent of the Fortunes or Influences involved.
The Unseen-Executor was explaining to me & the Titan's young-adult son & daughter the varied operations of the Funds and our roles in advancing the Founder's Hopes for the Future—in extending his Visions. I had mysteriously been Willed to join this Triad—not as an Inheritor, but as an Informed-Facilitator.
And then I suddenly woke up! Just as I had done from my Dream of the Angel & the Ark… --GML
Imperfect Mental-Telepathy—From the Sierra Foothills to El Salvador:
Despite the Life-Saving results of the Dream That Came True, even after that, I never thought of myself as having any kind of Psychic-Powers.
My mother certainly did, however. Whenever I would call her in California from Manhattan, she already seemed to know how my health was & how my week had been!
I had an even more striking—even chilling—demonstration of her powers when I was out of the country briefly one Spring-semester.
Friends were working in Salvador for the AID & they invited me to come down & write about the work of the Telemaestras they were training for TV, so whole Villages could be helped to Literacy & Good-Hygiene.
[This was, of course, well before the Death-Squads began their savage operations. But only shortly before the Minister for Education, Dr. Walter Beneke—whom I had interviewed—was gunned down beside his car…]
Before I left New York, I both wrote & phoned my mother to give her the US Embassy phone-number in Salvador, if she needed to call me for any reason.
Ordinarily, she would never call me—even at home in New York—as Phone-Calls Cost Money & you can always Write a Letter!
The Family-Rule was: Do not phone, when you can Write. Never send a Western-Union Telegram! That would mean someone had Died!
For Birthdays & Xmas, Cards would do very well. The Shock of a Telegram arriving might give someone a Heart-Attack, only to discover its presumed Deadly-News was nothing more than a Happy Mother's Day greeting…
But, in the middle of my visit to Salvador, one night I could not sleep. Tossing & turning in the heat, I felt something might be wrong in California, but what?
But Mother already had the Embassy phone-number, as well as the Embassy-address for telegrams…
It never occurred to me to phone her. If there was a Problem, she'd let me know in writing—as she had often done before.
When I returned to New York, three days later—on a Sunday evening—I immediately called her to find out if my restless-night in Salvador had any real cause.
When she finally answered, she sounded exhausted & stricken: also Angry!
"Where were you? I waited six days to bury your father!"
She actually thought I would have known the minute my father had passed.
Or at least that I would have understood her urgent telepathic-messages & then rushed to the airport to be with her & to bury my dear sweet long-suffering senile old father. --GLENN LONEY
A NEW WAY TO REPORT ON PRODUCTIONS PAST & PRESENT:
Considering all the space devoted above to my Recent & Continuing Insect-Traumas—as well as to my Baffling Dream-Life, all of which was recorded months & years ago—it may well seem some kind of Slacker Cop-Out to survey recent Play-Productions & Performing-Arts Events in the most cursory fashion.
But, as I am an Awards-Nominator—and, as such, not obligated to file reviews—I decided at the end of the last season that I would change the format of the Show-Notes reports: something more on the order of a Weekly-Blog, to keep comments more current.
Also—as I am fond of noting—because I am "neither paid nor thanked," I am not contractually-obligated to provide a detailed formal review for every show I see. [Actually, my webmaster, Jonathan Slaff, does from time to time indicate his satisfaction that Show-Notes exists. Still, there's no paycheck in sight…]
The Obligation that I have felt in the past has been generated by my own Experience—both as a "Techie" in theatre-production & as a teacher of Theatre—in that I recognize how sincerely & hard most people work to make a new or on-going stage-production effective on its own terms & rewarding for its audiences.
That investment of Talent, Time, Aspiration, & Expectation deserves to be noted, even Honored.
When, however, something seems amiss, or to have fallen-short of production-aims, it could be considered a Mitzvah to indicate how that might be remedied or removed…
Nonetheless, there will soon be much less of this kind of attention to detail in production-reviews as newspapers & magazines continue curtailing—or omitting entirely—professional-reviews in all areas of the Performing-Arts.
With the recent death of the New York Sun, not only has Israel has lost one of its Best-Friends, but New York producers, artists, & audiences have lost some of the Best Cultural-Coverage in the City!
Only last week, one of America's most respected newspapers ceased print-publication entirely. This was the Christian Science Monitor, for which I was an Arts-Contributor in Europe & on the East Coast for a number of years.
Until I had a Heart-Attack… I was Terminated because the Editors believed I had Not Demonstrated Christian-Science, they having urged me to sign myself out of Maimonedes Hospital & fly off to the Bayreuth Festival…
If Mary Baker Eddy—the discoverer & founder of Christian Science—were still alive, the shock of this would surely kill her. Even though she believed Death—as well as Sin & Disease—would eventually be Overcome.
Unfortunately, the Monitor's sad demise could not have been prevented by Prayer & Positive-Thinking. The Problems were Monetary…
The Christian Science Monitor continues only On-Line.
As well as for a number of my longtime-critic-colleagues who have lost their print-outlets, now Online & The Blog Is The Thing!
Your Reporter will explore a New-Format in the next filing. But, for now, this report will be little more than Listings of what I have seen since the Advent of the Bedbugs. Just to Catch-Up…
Gregory Burke's BLACK WATCH [*****]
Lee Blessing's A BODY OF WATER [****]
Adam Rapp's KINDNESS [***]
Nick Whitby's TO BE OR NOT TO BE [***]
Michael Weller's BEAST [***]
Michael Weller's FIFTY WORDS [****]
Andreas Jungwirth's OUTSIDE INN [**]
Timothy Findley's ELIZABETH REX [***]
Tarell Alvin McCraney's WIG OUT! [****]
Steven Levenson's THE LANGUAGE OF TREES [**]
The ferocious energy & split-second precision with which the dynamic ensemble of the National Theatre of Scotland performs Black Watch suggests the annual Edinburgh Festival Military Tattoo on a small scale.
This powerful indictment of the Iraq War & the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" was shown last spring at St. Ann's Warehouse, over in Brooklyn's DUMBO district—but Your Reporter wasn't able to see it until its recent return.
Its brilliant cast—skillfully deployed by director John Tiffany—also offers a rapid-fire historical-survey of this most famed of British Regiments, in which the F-Word is a component of every exclamation.
"Elizabeth Rex" by Timothy Findley, August 13-September 6, 2008 at Center stage Theater.
Elizabeth Rex goes much farther back in British history, even backstage with William Shakespeare & his fellow-actors, focusing on those who play the Women's Roles, while Queen Elizabeth is shown, in contrast, as more masculine in her character than any of the men.
Speaking of Elizabeth the Queen, Helen Mirren bought a ticket to Wig Out! on the very evening Your Reporter also saw this fascinating show about "Voguing" Trannnies, their Houses, & their Balls. Tina Landau directed a very talented cast, including the amazing Clifton Oliver as Ms. Nina or Wilson, without the wig.
It needs to be noted that almost all the productions seen recently have been distinguished by the energy & dedication of their casts—even when some players were apparently mis-cast or mis-directed. That was certainly true of To Be Or Not To Be, which was almost overwhelmed by "Production-Values."
Casey Nicholaw staged this gimmicky "re-make" of the now almost Classic movie. But it would really have been more fun to have seen a re-run of the original film.
This title, however, suggests another dilemma of the play's producers, the Manhattan Theatre Club. Should the venue have retained its Historic-Name of the Biltmore Theatre—once home to Hair? Or was it wise to re-Christen this playhouse as the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre?
The Historic Plymouth Theatre has recently been renamed the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre, while the nearby Royale Theatre has been transmuted into the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. This is somewhat self-serving, as both Gerry Shoenfeld & his dead partner, Bernie Jacobs, are/were now effectually "The Shuberts."
But who now remembers who Sam Friedman was…
Michael Weller has bested David Mamet this Fall, notably because both Weller's plays—Beast & Fifty Words—are new scripts, not re-plays, as are Mamet's Speed-the-Plow & American Buffalo.
While Beast has more metaphoric Current-Events Resonance, Fifty Words is a devastating blow-by-blow account of the collapse of a marriage, powerfully played by Norbert Leo Butz & the marvelous Elizabeth Marvel—whose lightning changes of mood could baffle the most obsequious of spouses. Director Austin Pendleton deserves full-marks for orchestrating this Take-No-Prisoners Battle of the Sexes.
"A Body of Water" by Lee Blessing, October 3-November 16, 2008 at Primary Stage.
Michael Cristofer & Christine Lahti have a rather different Marital-Problem in Lee Blessing's mystifying drama:Who Are They? & Are They Married? Is Laura Odeh their daughter, or a Psychiatrist, monitoring their Daily-Amnesia? Do we really need to know?
"Kindness" by Adam Rapp, September 25-November 2, 2008 at Playwrights Horizons.
Will it be a Kindness—at the close of Adam Rapp's Kindness, which he has also staged—if Dennis uses that hammer to smash in his mother's head? After all, she is Terminally-Ill with Cancer & she has brought him to New York for a Final-Fling, to see a Hit Broadway Musical, Survivor—which sounds like a mélange of Rent & Spring Awakening…
[The day after Barak Obama was elected President of the United States, Adam Rapp joined Tina Howe, Leslie Lee Joseph Stein & Micheal Weller for a Playwrights-Panel at Sardi's, presented by the Outer Critics Circle. When the assemble author were asked if there was anything autobiographical in their plays,Rapp noted that his mother had indeed died of cancer & that she was very proud of his actor brother , Anthony Rapp, who was appearing on Broadway in Rent, no less!]
If the Roundabout Theatre insists on using its basement-level Black-Box for a performance-space—as Wynn Handman once did years ago, when he couldn't raise enough money to produce on the American Place Theatre's Main-Stage, now the Laura Pels Theatre, in the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre—it should at least put the audience-chairs on Risers.
As it was, what I saw of The Language of Trees—which has a Lonely Lady-Neighbor coming over to cook & clean-house, just as in Sarah Ruhl's recent Clean House—was largely the Large-Heads of the three men sitting in front of me.
"I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me…"
Old Plays in Revival:
Sophocles' OEDIPUS CYCLE [***]
Henrik Ibsen's THE MASTER BUILDER [***]
Anton Chekov's THE SEAGULL [****]
JB Priestley's THE GLASS CAGE [***]
Arthur Miller's ALL MY SONS [****]
Robert Bolt's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS [*****]
Peter Shaffer's EQUUS [***]
Alan Ayckbourn's BEDROOM FARCE [***]
Leslie Lee's THE FIRST BREEZE OF SUMMER [***]
Howard Korder's BOYS' LIFE [****]
In 1960, when Your Reporter returned from four years teaching in Europe, he often wondered In-Print why New York did not have a National-Theatre—like virtually every country on the Continent—where the Great Classics of Drama & Modern Theatre Classics could be regularly played in Rotating-Repertory.
Whenever he posed this question, the most frequent answer was another question: Who Needs Theatre?
The Bottom-Line, it seemed, was actually Who Needs More Taxes?
In the late 1960s, however, the idea of just such a theatre was beginning to catch-on, notably with the founding of Regional Repertory Theatres & the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center.
Several books have since been written to explain why that finally Did Not Work-Out…
Nonetheless—very possibly thanks to the apparent Financial-Collapse of the American-Economy—both Broadway & Off-Broadway Producers are conspiring this season to provide New York Audiences with the effect & substance of Repertory-Theatre, even if some of the Plays-in-Revival are not exactly ones you may have been dying to see once again…
"The Oedipus Cycle", October 14-26, 2008 at The Pearl Theatre Company.
At the Pearl Theatre, the Birth of Tragedy is being saluted with bare-bones stagings of The Oedipus Cycle, comprised of Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonos, & Antigone. I would have preferred William Butler Yeats' translation of Oedipus Rex to that of Peter Constantine, but the power of all three Sophoclean dramas is such that even somewhat pedestrian versions can still amaze: Call No Man Happy Until He Is Dead!
King Creon buries people Alive: Did George W. Bush & Alberto Gonzales overlook a punishment more effective than Water-Boarding here?
"The Master Builder", October 10-November 30, 2008 at Irish Repertory Theatre.
You may well wonder what the Irish-Connection is between Norway's Henrik Ibsen & Charlotte Moore's estimable Irish Repertory Theatre. Apparently, it's all a Matter-of-Translation: Dublin-dwelling Frank McGuinness has "adapted" Ibsen's troubling The Master Builder. But McGuinness uses some modern clichés of speech that seem both flat & out-of-place in a Period-Production.
Ciaràn O'Reilly has worked well with his energized-cast to achieve a maximum of Obsession & Incipient-Madness: Watch out for Duty-Bound wives like Aline Solness & Architecture-Groupies like Hilda Wangel! They can be the Death of You!
Why not give Anton Chekhov's The Seagull a rest? Didn't we just have a staging last season? It would be much more interesting to have a revival of, say, Uncle Vanya, or even of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken.
But the Limited-Engagement at the Walter Kerr Theatre is a New-Version by Christopher Hampton, imported from Sloane Square's Royal Court Theatre, starring Kristin Scott Thomas as Arkadina. Although Peter Sarsgaard is also above-the-title, his Trigorin is not above reproach. Zoe Kazan, however, has every right to be "in mourning for my life."
It was a surprise to discover at the Mint Theatre, that J. B. Priestley—perhaps best-remembered for An Inspector Calls—had written a Social Problem-Play set in Toronto, of all places. The Glass Cage is aptly titled, dealing as it does with Social-Hypocrisy & Sham-Morality that constricts its central-characters' behaviours & potentials. Such strictures are now alien to most Metropolitan locales, but they live on among the Religious-Right.
In a time when Our Nation's Leaders are unwilling to accept responsibility for the Havoc & Horror they have created or abetted at Home & Abroad, Joe Keller's ultimate recognition that his criminal-culpability—in permitting cracked aircraft-engines to be shipped for installation in American fighter-planes in World War II—may seem almost insignificant. But All My Sons still resonates, if not with the Current-Occupants of the White-House.
John Lithgow's engaged-physicality in bringing Joe Keller to vibrant, if tormented, life is arresting, but some other performances appear labored, if not the result of mis-casting. Katie Holmes—Mrs. Scientology—is effective, even if Arthur Miller's vision of post-war Middle-Americans now seems quaint.
Unfortunately, director Simon McBurney doesn't appear to trust Miller's script, trying to call attention to his Théâtre de Complicité-genius with a variety of Symbolic & Special-Effects. The play's Power lies in its Simplicité, not in blowing down a small tree with an Opening-Tsunami…
Although I missed Robert Bolt's Thames-River Boatman, his Common-Man—originally played by the late George Rose—Doug Hughes' staging of A Man for All Seasons is still a potent confrontation between Conscience & Convenience.
From the original text—some of which seems to have been elided—King Henry VIII's Lord-Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, doesn't seem to have had as fiery a Sense of Righteousness as his current-impersonator, the dynamic Frank Langella.
Saint Thomas More, it would seem, simply knew the difference between Right & Wrong. And was willing to die for it…
Unlike the Current-Occupants of the White-House.
It would have been much more interesting & challenging—if New York audiences were really thirsting for a Peter Shaffer Play-Revival—to have revisited his most Epic of dramas, The Royal Hunt of the Sun. That is, Epic in the Brechtian-Sense.
In the current sparely-stylish Equus recycling, the focus of interest seems more on showcasing the admired Richard Griffiths—beloved Mentor of The History Boys—as well as the ever-popular Harry Potter. Thanks to the Nude-Scene, now it can be revealed that Harry of Hogwarts is Circumcised!
"Bedroom Farce" by The Actors Company Theatre, October 5-November 8, 2008 at The Beckett Theatre,Theatre Row.
As Time Has Passed & Alan Ayckbourn has continued to grind out new plays in Provincial Scarborough for the Stephen Joseph Theatre, his oftencutely-contrived comedies have grown progressively darker. And more interesting, as a result.
So, as with the Broadway revival of Equus, it is unfortunate that The Actors Company Theatre—tactlessly anagrammed as TACT—did not choose one of Ayckbourn's later works. Nonetheless, the three bedrooms of Bedroom Farce still provide some fun, as the clueless Trevor & hapless Susannah wreak unintentional emotional-havoc wherever they go.
"The First Breeze of Summer"by Leslie Lee, August-September 28, 2008 at Signature Theatre Company.
It was wonderful to see Leslie Uggams on stage again, in Leslie Lee's The First Breeze of Summer, this time as an ageing woman,looking backward on an eventful, stressful life. Quite a contrast to such early challenges as Hallelujah, Baby! Or Her First Roman, a Cleopatra-gig. This earnest production is the first in this season's series of Signature Theatre revivals of Negro Ensemble Company's early Triumphs.
"Boys' Life" by Howard Korder, October 2-November 9, 2008 at 2econd Stage Theatre.
The constantly-moving set-units—designed by Mark Wendland—threated to sap some of the dynamic-tension from the 2econd Stage Theatre's revival of Howard Korder's Boy's Life. This was an ingenious idea, but not really necessary to help Korder make his point about Eternal Adolescents trying to Get Laid.
Nonetheless, in a Present dominated by the antics of Paris Hilton—as well as the hilarious results of Gov. Sarah Palin's Total-Abstinence answer to Sex-Education—Korder's trio of young dudes seem like inhabitants of a Period-Piece. But it was tautly-staged by Michael Greif.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES [****]
ENTER LAUGHING [****]
WHAT'S THAT SMELL: THE MUSIC OF JACOB STERLING [****]
LIFE AFTER BUSH: A Musical We Can Believe In [***]
DREW ABER, KEVIN EARLEY, NICK WYMAN, MILES KATH, NATLIE TORO, MICHAEL HALLING in "A Tale of Two Cities", September 18-November 9, 2008 at Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Photo by CAROL ROSEGG.
Only two of the New Musicals in early Fall were Broadway entries. And neither of them broke past any Old-Barriers or introduced Stunning-Innovations in Music, Lyrics, or plain old Storytelling.
In fact, Jill Santoriello's retro-effort to condense Charles Dickens' famed novel of the French Revolution for the Great White Way looked rather like an ambitious retread/rerun of Les Miz, infused with some of the visual-effects of Lionel Bart's Oliver, yet another Dickens-inspired musical.
Nonetheless, vastly preferring Period-Pieces & Costume-Dramas to anything—dramatic or musical—celebrating Contemporary-Life & Morés, I thoroughly enjoyed myself & was duly impressed by the number of admirable singing-actors & actresses in this lively production, handsomely-designed by Tony Walton.
Some of my colleagues thought Tale of Two Cities was dealing with the same Civic-Unrest in Paris that Victor Hugo had used as an Historical-Backdrop for Les Miserables. No no no! Once the French had beheaded their King, they never looked back. Les Miz invokes a later Revolution, 1830 or so…
Then there was that Unfortunate-Uprising in 1870, when the Emperor Louis Napoleon lost his throne, but not his Head. The Days of the Paris Commune—with poor Parisians again in the streets—have inspired both plays & musicals!
If you live Out-of-Town or—as a New Yorker—are ever actually in places like Downtown-Orlando or Kansas-City, you may have seen one of the several Disney-Versions of High School Musical. These you won't see in Paris, Dieu, Merci…
With music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown—who also did the honors for the Hal Prince production of Parade—13 puts you in the Same-Territory, but this is a High-School Musical with a difference!
Not only is everyone in the cast—including the musicians—supposedly 13-years-old, but audiences are offered the novel experience of watching a 13-year-old Jewish boy from New York try to achieve his Bar Mitzvah out on the Prairies, where there are far more God-Fearing Christians than Hassids…
Actually, the kids are energetic & talented, singing songs with titles like A Little More Homework, All Hail the Brain, Hey Kendra, & The Lamest Place in the World.
Enter Laughing brings audiences back to New York, but it began life as So Long, 174th Street, based on Joseph Stein's popular Broadway comedy, based in turn on Carl Reiner's "semi-autobio" of the same name & fame. This is a Musical, not another version of the play, however, thanks to Stan Daniels' great songs.
Given a lively, if spare, revival at the York Theatre, it was so well received that the show had to extend & extend. It was so much fun, it ought to move to Off-Broadway: now we need some Good-Laughs more than ever! Plus, Josh Grisetti is a real Find as the stage-struck hero, David Kotlowitz.
I once had an Editor named Robert Kotlowitz, but never one named Jacob Sterling. Although The Music of Jacob Sterling is described as A Comedy with Vocal-Selections, it is, in effect, a hilarious Musical-Satire, with book & lyrics by David Pittu & score by Randy Redd.
The admirable Pittu is all over the place: Creator, Star, & Co-Director—with Atlantic Theatre's Neil Pepe! Although admirers of Sarah Palin & John McCain probably wouldn't get this show at all, it also ought to transfer!
Oddly enough, those two Republican Standard-Bearers were actually on-stage at HERE for several weeks before the Presidential Election! Well, actor stand-ins, in fact, but they nailed the Grotesqueries of Sarah & John: not quite Tina Fey, but all OK.
Unfortunately, amusing as Life After Bush was, it necessarily reached the end of its Shelf-Life on 2 November. But the talents of the shows creators, Noah Diamond & Amanda Sisk, will surely soon be on view again. Sisk parodied both Hillary & Sarah. With Diamond a jewel-like Rudy Giuliani & a Country-Doctor, who actually has Countries as Clients…
Old Musicals in Revival:
Unfortunately, there were No-Entries in this Show-Biz Category in September or October. In a Collapsing-Economy, producers need to think twice about mounting costly musicals, Old or New.
The Christmas-Season will be ornamented by White Christmas—talk about Retro!—as well as a revival of Pal Joey, but lovers of Classics of the American Musical Theatre will have to wait until March for the much-ballyhooed revival of West Side Story, this time with some text & lyrics in Latino, or so we are told…
Meanwhile, Broadway still hosts such Golden-Oldies as Chicago, Gypsy, Grease, & South Pacific.
Other Entertainments/Other Venues:
NIGHTS AT THE OPERA:
At the Met: John Adams & Peter Sellars' DOCTOR ATOMIC [***]
At the Met: Ponchielli & Boito's LA GIOCONDA [***]
At the Met: Verdi's REQUIEM—In Memory of Luciano Pavarotti
On Port-Authority Docks in Red Hook: Jacques Offenbach's LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN [***]
When I was an Undergrad at UC/Berkeley, Letters & Science departments had a rule: No matter how famed a professor might be, even Nobel-Laureates had to teach a section of the Introductory-Course in their Discipline once a year.
And so it was—in Physics 1-A—that I heard about the Scientist's Responsibility in the Modern World from no less a Moral-Philosopher than J. Robert Oppenheimer!
On occasion, it was almost inspiring to see Oppie—in his trade-mark Porkpie-Hat—saunter through Sather-Gate like any Campus-Regular. Then, when the storm broke—thanks in part to the envy of his Los Alamos UC Lab colleague, Edward Teller—even we students read all about Oppie's Commie-Friends, including the infamous Haakon Chevalier.
In those Terrible-Times—when I, as a working-student, was required to sign a UC Loyalty-Oath, to swear I was not planning to Overthrow the State of California—it was understandably very important not to have a "Commie-Sympathizer" or a "Fellow-Traveler" creating the Hydrogen-Bomb, which could Instantly-Incinerate thousands of the Enemies of American Democracy!
"Doctor Atomic" by John Adam, October 13-November 13, 2008 at The Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Nick Heavican.
Unfortunately, Peter Sellars' patchy libretto for John Adams' Oppenheimer-Opera, Doctor Atomic, doesn't really deal with the Political-Backgrounds & Unpleasant-Aftermaths of the Testing of the Atomic-Bomb at Los Alamos—still a UC facility, by the way…
Oddly enough, this is a Modern-Opera in which, essentially, Nothing Happens: it comes to a Close just before the first version of the Bomb is to be detonated, after a New Mexico Night of drenching rain & thunderstorms, continuously suggested by black & white rain-projections.
Having made his Reputation as a Minimalist-Composer, Adams inflects much of the pieced-together-from-real-records-&-sources character-lines with a kind of stultifying Sprechstimme, though not as riveting as in its Germanic-Precedents.
Fortunately, there are some effective musical set-pieces, notably Oppenheimer's meditation on John Donne's Trinitarian-Sonnet: Batter my heart…
Oppenheimer—also an admirer of the Bhagavad Gita—after all did name this Top-Secret Operation the Trinity Project.
Gerald Finley even looked a little like Oppie, just as Richard Paul Fink resembled somewhat Prof. Teller—with whom I never had a physics-course.
Eric Owens impersonated the Project's Military-Manager, General Leslie Groves, to whom Librettist-Sellars allots some information about his attempts at Weight-Losing Diets. Groves was amply-fleshed, but he wasn't Black. So much for Color-Blind-Casting…
Alan Gilbert conducted.
Thanks to Nixon in China & I Was Looking at the Ceiling & I Saw the Sky—my favorite Adams effort—Adams' reputation remains secure. As for The Death of Klinghoffer, it helps if you are a member of Hadassah or B'nai B'rith…
As for the Met's revival of Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda—a production originally designed to use all those mechanized-stages of the New Met when it opened all those seasons ago, with Samuel Barber's Antony & Cleopatra—this is indeed a sumptuous & complicated mounting of a work with an incredibly complicated plot—which also verges on the incredible.
Novelist Victor Hugo did Librettist Arrigo Boito no favors with the essentials of the tragic tale of the Street-Singer, known as La Gioconda. Fortunately, Ponchielli's score provides ample scope for vocal-virtuosity, notably that of the splendidly slimmed-down Deborah Voigt, in the title-role.
Although I did an interview with the opera's designer—the late Beni Montresor—all those years ago, about the fabulosity of his Gioconda sets & costumes, I now see—in this restoration & revival—that they really do not atmospherically-aid the production, but tend to call attention to themselves. They would work more effectively in an Opera-Storybook, as illustrations…
Daniele Callegari conducted.
For the Met's splendid Verdi Requiem—performed in memory of Luciano Pavarotti—James Levine conducted, with Barbara Frittoli, Olga Borodina, Marcello Giordani, & Ildar Abdrazakov as soloists.
[When I told a Theatre-Critic colleague about this impending-event, he asked: Will Luciano be singing?]
"Les Contes d'Hoffmann/Tales of Hoffmann" by Jacques Offenbach, September 5-21, 2008 at Opera on the waterfront.
Judith Barnes—the visionary Artistic-Director of the Vertical Player Repertory—recently appeared as Giulietta in her ensemble's inventive production of Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann/Tales of Hoffmann on the waterfront, on a Port Authority Dock in Brooklyn's Red Hook.
Watching stage-director Seth Baumrin's ingenious deployment of soloists & chorus, set against the twinkling lights of the Brooklyn-Bridge & the Skyscrapers of Lower-Manhattan, I was reminded of the powerful effect of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, shimmering in the desert-distance, hovering over the settings of innovative productions at the Santa Fé Opera Festival.
Barnes, Baumrin, & their talented young artists & "techies" should consider launching a kind of Santa Fé Comes to Red Hook next summer. Opera On the Docks would lend itself to A View of the Bridge, not to overlook a musical-version of On the Waterfront…
The Red Hook Waterfront is ready for Park-Development & a Big Cultural Explosion!
You could take the Wall Street Ferry [free] over to IKEA, Shop, Enjoy Swedish-Meatballs & Lingonberry-Preserves, then take a short shuttle over to the Opera-Docks!
Why not have IKEA be the Sponsor?
Barnes & Baumrin could even produce some Swedish Operas!
Sweden's own Renaissance-Man, King Gustav III, actually composed operas, presenting them in the famed Drottningholm Court-Theatre, as well as the Stockholm Opera-house, where he was murdered by a Political-Plotter, Count Angkarström.
In fact, Verdi created an opera about this very event: Ballo in Maschera: A Masked Ball… Although the Censor made Verdi move the performance-locale to Boston, where there were no Kings to Kill.
Some Modern Swedish Operas might well impress New York Opera-Lovers as well. How about Karl Birger Blomdahl's Space-Opera, Aniara? Earth is Dying as its Last-Survivors zoom off into the Vast Voids on a Space-Ship…
[Years & years ago, I interviewed Blomdahl at Stockholm's Royal Opera House, on the occasion of the World-Premiere of his then new opera, Herr Von Hancken, about a Swedish gentleman who goes off to the French-Court. The melody I most admired, Blomdahl admitted to me, was not composed by him, but by the doomed Queen, Marie Antoinette!]
Riding the NEXT WAVE at BAM:
A QUARRELING PAIR [***]
SUNKEN RED [**]
ETHEL's TruckStop™: The Beginning [****]
MEETING WITH BODHISATTVA [****]
DARWIN'S MEDITATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF LINCOLN [***]
There is always so much going on in Manhattan—drama, dance, performance-art, monologues, musicals, opera, concerts, even lectures—that it is difficult to find a Free-Evening to rush over to Brooklyn for the often-exciting events offered by Joe Melillo & his staff in BAM's Next-Wave Festival.
Thus, I have to miss both Les Sept Planches de la Ruse & Arjuna's Dilemma this coming week. But Pina Bausch is coming in December, with her noted/notorious Tanztheater Wuppertal. Their new show is called Bamboo Blues & this will be the US Exclusive Engagement!
Were it not for Pina Bausch, you would never have heard of Wuppertal. But then, there are those who have never heard of Pina, despite her memorable work, Nelken, in which her dancers trod to death hundreds of live Carnations every night. Even in Brooklyn, at BAM…
As for Bill T. Jones' A Quarreling Pair, he is keeping the memory of his AIDS-stricken partner, Arnie Zane, alive with the often-exploratory choreographies of their dually-named Dance Company.
Unfortunately—although inspired by a Puppet-Play by the very-late Jane Bowles—this proved to be more confusing than choreography. There were, however, some Shadow-Play silhouettes for diversion…
"Sunken Red", October 7-11, 2008 at BAM Harvey Theater.Photo by Pan Sok.
The parents of my late Dutch-Cousin, Corrie de Hoogt, were imprisoned by the Japanese in World War II—their gold-teeth smashed-out with Jap rifle-butts—but the experience of Netherlands' Jeroen Brouwers, imprisoned in a Nipponese Concentration-Camp in Dutch Jakarta doesn't resonate in the strange & ultimately boring Belgian-Dutch production devised by director Guy Cassiers, performer Dirk Roofthooft, & designer Peter Mossotten. Darkroom photographic-images suggested in this staging—in negative-reversals—are Sunken Red…
"Ethel's TruckStop: The Beginning", October14-18, 2008 at BAM Harvey Theater.Photo by Leslie Lyons.
As for Ethel & her TruckStop™, some irate BAM subscribers voted with their feet, but I enjoyed the free-form jamming & jiving of an impromptu collection of musicians, who seemed to spark off each other, with some very innovative—as well as Traditional—sounds.
I loved Dorothy Lawson on cello, Eva Ybarra on accordion, with some quasi-flamenco shouting, Jeff Peterson on Hawaiian slack-key guitar, & Robert Mirabel on his own Native-American flutes & drums. He even gave away a hand-made flute to a long-haired guy in the audience: Mirabel said it was for the one who felt he or she ought to play it…
"Meeting with Bodhisattva", October 29-November1, 2008 at U Theatre .Photo by Lu Ming-Hsun.
As for Drums & Drumming at BAM, there was a Plenitude of Thumping-Rhythms, as well as a Bodhisattva in athree-faced mask, descending to Earth to dance out the essences of Buddhist Self-Actualization.
And Why Not? Taoists have The Way & Born-Again-Christians will have The Rapture… But dancing like this in Meeting with Bodhisattva could lead to a Rupture…
"Darwin's Meditation for The People of Lincoln", October 29-November 1, 2008 at BAM Harvey Theater. Photo by Alison Cherry.
Pretentious-Repetition is the annoying-essence of the Spoken-Texts—as well as the endlessly moving, floating words & phrases on the back-screen—which prevent real enjoyment of the Musicianship of the Conceiver/Composer of Darwin's Meditation for The People of Lincoln, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) & his lovely Singer, Emeline Michel.
It was clear from his animated Performance that DBR has an immense Self-Regard & recognizes what a Treat the Audience is Experiencing. But it was certainly interesting to hear Creole both invoked & sung, as well as to see, however briefly, a projection of the massive Port-au-Prince Fortress of the Haitian-Republic.
Among the Linguistic-Fragments & Quotes were some from Barak Obama, Charles Darwin, & Avram Lincoln—as well as from DBR & Michel!
What Mozart could have achieved with an electronically-amplified violin like that used by DBR! But what he really needs is a Dramaturg & a Stage-Director to help him shape his shows. The Music is OK…
A Very Mixed-Bag:
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's THE GRAND INQUISITOR [****]
Ronan Noone's THE ATHEIST [****]
Gerard Alessandrini's FORBIDDEN BROADWAY GOES TO REHAB [*****]
Redmoon's HUNCHBACK [***]
As J. Christ—in Peter Brook's Bouffes du Nord Paris production of Marie-Hélène Estienne's adaptation of the Grand Inquisitor's Monologue from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, powerfully performed by Bruce Myers—Jake M. Smith is only required to sit facing Myers & listen to the Inquisitor's Indictment of Jesus' Life & Teachings.
Despite its suggestive title, The Atheist reveals no Inquisitorial-Nihilist. Instead, it is about an avid Southern-Journalist, desperate for a Scoop, no matter what the cost. Campbell Scott played the role as though it were his own Confession.
Recently, Gerry Alessandrini confessed that the current hilarious edition of Forbidden Broadway will probably be the last, possibly because—like cartoonist Gary Larsen—he's becoming exhausted. It could also be that some of the more recent Broadway fare is so soporific or predictable that it's hardly worth satirizing.
Nonetheless, the current crop of Show-Parodies—including some Golden-Oldies like Annie—are all right on Target, though more affectionate than dismissively cruel. You have to love the chutzpah of Patti LuPone & the giggling desperation of Liza Minelli—soon to return to Broadway for a Limited-Engagement.
In these Bad-Times of Collapsing-Credit, you can save a lot of money on Show-Tickets by spending an evening at what was once the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, in the company of Michael West, Christina Bianco, Jared Bradshaw, & Gina Kreiezmar. They are terrific Mimics & brilliant Vocal-Parodists, so you will run the gamut of Broadway Musicals in just one session!
But Forbidden Broadway isn't only about spoofing South Pacific or Tale of Two Cities—The Best of Shows, The Worst of Shows—it's also about mocking the Eugene O'Neill Pretensions of August, Osage County or the calculated Nudity of Equus.
Julie Taymor designed a wonderful Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney, but it was produced in Berlin in a purpose-built theatre, its stage crammed with remarkable machinery. [Blue Man Group followed.] Redmoon Theatre's Hunchback, recently at the New Victory, seemed to be all about Swiveling-Ladders…
Puppets at La MaMa: "KO'OLAU" & THE DOLL SISTERS
These were two of the three very special puppet-performances recently shown at Ellen Stewart's La MaMa E.T.C.
Unlike traditional puppet-plays in Italy, England, & America—where the unseen puppet-handlers manipulate the strings that animate their doll-actors from above, or the puppet-rods from below—the puppeteers were visibly-involved in the action, either as manipulators or as human-actors.
I first experienced such Visible-Puppeteers behind the Iron-Curtain many years ago. Why this practice should have flowered under Communism probably had less to do with Political-Theories than with the desire of the handlers to show themselves also as Worker-Performers.
In both Warsaw & East German Erfurt, I have seen charming puppet-shows with no rods, strings, or even glove-puppets: the handlers simply made stuffed dolls & animals walk about the stage, the humans dwarfing their charges.
"The Doll Sisters" (Ningyo Shimai) from Japan returned to La MaMa October 23 to November 2, 2008. Mieko Yuki (Younger Sister) . Photo by Nadia Kitirath.
"Ko'olau" by Tom Lee utilizes utilized raw, handcarved puppets in the kuruma ningyo style and live shadow and video projection inspired by Hawaiian woodcut carving. Production is presented by La MaMa E.T.C. September 18 to October 5, 2008. Puppet: Ko'olau, manipulated by Frankie Cordero. Shadow figure: Marina Celander. Photo by Tom Lee.
"Ko'olau" is an Hawaiian story, while The Doll Sisters suggests an old Japanese tale. Beautifully designed & staged by Setsu Asakura, the fable concerns two sisters who are both human & puppets. The traditions of the Japanese Bunraku Puppet-Theatre are invoked by having both puppeteers & stage-hands garbed in black—which renders them "invisible."
This is Ellen Stewart's 47th Season at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. This is an astonishing record, considering how many estimable Off-Off-Broadway ensembles & producing-companies have gasped their last after a decade or so of fighting for funding & searching for interested audiences.
I have been reporting on Ellen & La MaMa from the first, having once written an extended Salute for Performing Arts Journal, on the occasion of a decadal-anniversary. I long wanted to write a book about Ellen & the work at La MaMa, but Ellen insisted she was going to write it herself instead.
Please, Ellen, do it, even if you have to dictate it!
Jack Anderson—NY Theatre-Wire's encyclopedic Dance-Editor/Critic—can better describe & appraise the series of new Dance-Works by Leonides D. Arpon, Gerald Casel, & Max Luna III, recently shown at the Flushing Town Hall by the Yangtze Repertory Theatre.
Yangtze Repertory Theatre of American presented "Akin Amin Atin:For Me For Us For Everyone," Variations in a Foreign Land IX, September 26 and 27, 2008 at Flushing Town Hall. "Shinka" by Leonides D. Arpon.
But Your Reporter was pleased to have seen these choreographies & the able young dancers who performed them. The creative focus was Filipino, rather than Chinese, however, with the title of Akin Amin Atin: For Me For Us For Everyone.
The trip out to Flushing was visually instructive, as well, and the Flushing Town Hall is in fact an important Historical-Landmark: many rewards in one evening!
In the John C. Borden Auditorium of the Manhattan School of Music, the school's Chamber Sinfonia recently offered an eclectic program including Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto, & Marjorie Merryman's Windhover Fantasy.
In the handsome Concert-Hall of the Mannes School of Music, pianist/composer Daniel Abrams authoritatively played his Musical-Portraits from Richard Wagner's RING. It was interesting to hear the Leitmotivs of Loge, Erde, Fricka, & Brünnhilde—among others—invoked as tonal-descriptions, but almost all of them died-away, without a powerful resolution. Or they just stopped…
Wagner with full-orchestra, rather than piano-reductions, seems more effective.
In the Willy Pogany fairytale-mural-laden Heckscher Children's Theatre—now under the administration of the Museo del Barrio—the new young Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas offered a varied program of works from North & South America, notably Alberto Ginastera's Variaciones Concertantes.
As the impressive ensemble was conducted by French-Canada's Jean-Phililppe Tremblay, Pierre Mercure's Kaléidoscope & Julien Bilodeau's Québec were also stylishly show-cased.
Based in New York & led by its Founder, the dynamic young Alondra de la Parra, the orchestra has largely been drawn from young musicians trained in Manhattan Music-Schools, but they represent a wide range of talents from all the Americas.
The Heckscher/Barrio concert was soon followed by a press-conference—at the Americas Society on Park Avenue—about the orchestra's forthcoming Beyond Borders international-tour which will take it to Houston, Mexico City, & Beyond.
Its 30 October concert at the Skirball Center at NYU featured the World-Premiere of José Alberto Sanchez-Ortiz's Aztec-Inspired Ometeotl. This engaging Mexican composer is only 20 years old! Carlos Chavez's Sinfonia India—Native-American Indians, not Hindus—was also programmed, as was Dr. Antonin Dvorák's Symphony No. 9: From the New World.
Obviously—although Dvorák lived & worked in the United States for a time—he was a Czech, committed to his Native-Culture & Traditions. But he also understood what it meant to go Beyond Borders…
Annual Arts Awards & Prizes:
THE THEATRE HALL OF FAME:
Nathan Lane & Marvin Hamlisch head the roster of 2008 Inductees—the Year, not the actual number of Celebrity-Names—into the Theatre Hall of Fame, inaugurated by the late Earl Blackwell in an ante-chamber of the former Uris Theatre, now fashionably-known as the Gershwin.
As a longtime Voter for these Honors, I am delighted that Choreographer Patricia Birch has finally Made-The-Cut. I have voted for her, year after year, as well as for producer Manny Azenberg, who made it to the Gershwin-Wall as well.
Others include Brit Playwright Alan Ayckbourn—whose Bedroom Farce is currently on Theatre-Row, Richard Easton, Jonathan Tunick, & the very Posthumous Roscoe Lee Browne!
Dana Ivey [Class of 2007] is to be Mistress of Ceremonies at the January-Induction, followed by a Late-Supper at the Friars Club. Voters used to be invited to the Inductions, but my name—as a member of the American Theatre Critics Association Voters—seems to have Fallen Off the List…
THE THEATRE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION AWARDS:
The annual George Freedley Memorial Award this year went to Felicia Hardison Londré, a colleague at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
George Freedley effectively founded the Theatre-Collection of the New York Public Library, when no one else was much interested in preserving programs, reviews, photos, scripts, autographs, & memorabilia of New York Theatre.
Lee Londré's prize-winning book is titled: THE ENCHANTED YEARS OF THE STAGE: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theatre, 1870-1930.
Kansas City?, you may well ask in astonishment, but, oddly enough, Everyone who was Anyone played there in a variety of theatre-venues!
As a Middle-Western Wedding prevented Londré from being present at Lincoln Center to receive the Award, she sent instead a remarkably enthusiastic & amusing personal Video-tour of her Home & astonishing Collections.
I was touched that Lee paused to show us a handsome photograph of Dr. Patricia McIllrath, longtime Chairman of Drama at U of Missouri & Founder of the Missouri Repertory Theatre. Pat & I were classmates in the Stanford University PhD in Theatre Program in the early 1950s.
Pat had also—much later—invited me to Kansas City for the World-Premiere of the American-English version of Carl Orff's The Ballad of Agnes Bernauer, translated at my instigation—with the encouragement of Professor Orff—by my friend the late Dr. Fritz Kracht, who also staged. [Fritz also did the German-Translation of Hair.]
If the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts is preserving this video in its Theatre on Film & Video Archives, you might find it interesting to have a look at this tape. As Oscar Hammerstein once lyricised: Everything's up to date in Kansas City!
The Theatre Library Association Award was given to Jeanine Basinger, for THE STAR MACHINE, an account of the Hollywood-Studio Culture of the Golden Era of Film. Her sharing on how she did her research was fascinating.
THE BRENDAN GILL PRIZE:
As a longtime Historic-Preservationist—as was the late Brendan Gill, of New Yorker fame—I have been honored to be a Nominator for the Brendan Gill Prize for some years now. That's also because I am a member of the Municipal Art Society, which annually presents this prestigious award.
It is given to an Artist, Author, Film-Maker, Poet, Composer, Videographer, Architect, Photographer who has—in the Prize-Jury's estimation—created the most interesting work Saluting the City in some distinctive way in the past year.
My nomination was Frank Ghery, for the remarkable Barry Diller building he designed, across the street from the Chelsea Piers & near the High-Line. But both Barry's building & that of his designing-wife, Diane von Furstenberg, a few paces away, were given Muni Arts Architecture Awards earlier in the season in the actual Ghery structure!
So the Gill Prize went instead to musician Sufjan Stevens, for The BQE, a work commissioned by BAM—the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In fact, the award was presented in BAM's LePercq Space, once a theatre & banquet-venue, but now a kind of café. Small bite-sized hamburgers were served!
A Video was projected of the actual work in performance at BAM, including videography of the bustling Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway, but not lensed by Stevens himself. He composed Original-Music for the event, which he also Conceived.
In the Citation, The BQE was described as: "A large-scale performance-piece drawing inspiration from the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway that incorporates original music, dance, multimedia projections, complex staging, and sophisticated design to celebrate the diverse, mundane, and jam-packed daily experience of living in the complex physical urban environment of New York City."
Whoever drafted that should also receive some form of Citation!
The hamburgers were tasty!
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