Archives for category: Drama

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Congratulations to Rachel Carey — author of the novel Debt (Silver Birch Press, 2013) — and her fellow playwrights Beth Jastroch and Bob Kolsby on the premiere of their collaborative play Cul-de-Sac at The Shelter in New York City. Directed by Michael Kingsbaker, the play runs from Thursday, June 5 through Sunday, June 8th and features Kelley Gates, Meghan E. Jones, Jordan Kenneth Kamp, C.J. Lindsey, Morgan McGuire, and Aaron Novak.

BACKGROUND:  In the summer of 2013, The Shelter tasked three writers with a unique, collaborative challenge: using a palette of assigned characters, meld individually written stories into a single, seamless play. Six characters, three writers, one narrative. Nine months later, Cul-de-Sac was born. Examining the lives of three couples living as neighbors on a suburban cul-de-sac, writers Rachel Carey, Beth Jastroch, and Bob Kolsby use marriage as a forum to examine the shifting gender norms, cultural expectations, and everyday realities faced by today’s young couples. They show us that what happens behind closed doors can often surprise us, challenging our beliefs about love, passion, and the fidelity of marriage.

WHEN: Thursday, June 5 – Sunday, June 8, 2014

WHERE: Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, New York City 10014 (just below Bleecker in the West Village)

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes with a 10-minute intermission

TICKETS: ovationtix.com

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Peter and Alice, a 2013 play by John Logan, is based on the meeting of 80-year-old Alice Liddell Hargreaves and Peter Llewelyn Davies, then in his thirties, in a London bookshop in 1932, at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition. The London production, directed by Michael Grandage, starred Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. The play is based on an encounter between the original Alice in Wonderland and the original Peter Pan. Find Peter and Alice by John Logan at Barnes & Noble. Watch a trailer for play at youtube.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Logan is a playwright, screenwriter, and film producer. His first play, Never the Sinner, tells the story of the infamous Leopold and Loeb case. His play Red, about artist Mark Rothko, was produced on Broadway in 2010, where it received six Tony Awards. Logan received an Academy Award nomination for co-writing Gladiator, the Best Picture-winner in 2000, and earned another nomination for writing The Aviator (2004). Other notable films include Star Trek: Nemesis, The Time Machine, The Last Samurai, and the Tim Burton-directed musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, for which he received a Golden Globe Award. Logan’s recent feature films include Rango, the film adaptation of Shakespeare‘s Coriolanus, the film adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Skyfall. In 2014, his original series Penny Dreadful premiered on Showtime.

Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) performs Hamlet’s soliloquy from Act III, Scene 1:

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
Th’ Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would these Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveler returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action…

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Congratulations to Eddie Woods — a poet and contributing editor for several Silver Birch Press anthologies — on the publication of his memoir Tennessee Williams in Bangkok.

BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM AMAZON: A playwright, a journalist, and a stunningly beautiful drag-queen prostitute. In this fascinating memoir, Eddie Woods brings all three together. And along the way graces us with countless insights into the heart and mind of one of America’s greatest dramatists. Even while paying homage to his beloved Kim, the most unique of his many lovers. As well as regaling us with numerous other tales of his more than two years in the City of Angels. Wherever he is, Tennessee Williams is smiling at this book. Now you can smile with him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eddie Woods (born 1940 in New York City) is a well-traveled poet and prose writer who variously worked as a short-order cook, computer programmer, encyclopedia salesman, restaurant manager, and journalist. In the early 1960s he did a four-year stint in the US Air Force, and since 1978 has mainly resided in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where together with Jane Harvey he launched Ins & Outs magazine and founded Ins & Outs Press. Of all the many writers and artists he has known, Tennessee Williams remains the most memorable.

Find Tennessee Williams in Bangkok at Amazon.com.

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According to Oscar Wilde

 “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Wilde kept his Victorian contemporaries laughing with his delightful play The Importance of Being Earnest. But in the midst of the hilarity, Wilde slipped in social commentary about everything from theft and domestic service to alcohol consumption and marriage.

Some of my favorite lines revolve around the era’s most popular form of entertainment — the three-volume novel. Here is some of the play’s comical and cutting dialogue:

CECELY: I believe that memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels…

MISS PRISM: Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

CECILY: Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily. I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

MISS PRISM: The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde debuted in London on February 14, 1895. The play is available free at Project Gutenberg.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Act One (Excerpt)
by Oscar Wilde

JACK [Nervously]:  Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl . . . I have ever met since . . . I met you.

GWENDOLEN:  Yes, I am quite well aware of the fact.  And I often wish that in public, at any rate, you had been more demonstrative.  For me you have always had an irresistible fascination.  Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you.  [Jack looks at her in amazement.]  We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals.  The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits, I am told; and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest.  There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence.  The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you.

JACK:  You really love me, Gwendolen?

GWENDOLEN:  Passionately!

JACK:  Darling!  You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.

GWENDOLEN:  My own Ernest!

JACK: But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?

GWENDOLEN:  But your name is Ernest.

JACK:  Yes, I know it is.  But supposing it was something else?  Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then?

GWENDOLEN  [Glibly]:  Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.

JACK: Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don’t much care about the name of Ernest . . . I don’t think the name suits me at all.

GWENDOLEN:  It suits you perfectly.  It is a divine name.  It has a music of its own.  It produces vibrations.

JACK:  Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names.  I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.

GWENDOLEN: Jack? . . . No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed.  It does not thrill.  It produces absolutely no vibrations . . . I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain.  Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John!  And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John.  She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude.  The only really safe name is Ernest.

JACK:  Gwendolen, I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once.  There is no time to be lost.

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Read this hilarious classic in its entirety at Project Gutenberg.

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Lois Smith made her film debut in East of Eden, based on the John Steinbeck novel, where she shared the screen with James DeanWarner Brothers released the movie in April 1955, about six months before Dean’s death in a car crash.

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More than a half century later, in 2012, Lois Smith starred on Broadway in Heartless, the Sam Shepard-penned drama, where she played Mable, a woman partially paralyzed because she fell out of a tree while watching East of Eden on a drive-in movie screen.

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Residents of Southern California, if you’re looking for something très cool to do on what the weather forecasters predict will be a triple-digit Saturday, June 29, make your way west, to Venice, and check out DADA IN LALA LAND — described as “a highly eclectic, disruptive performance event hell-bent on blowing minds.” Featured performers will include Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosiske, whose poetry is featured in the just-released Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY (available at Amazon.com).

WHAT: DADA LAND IN LALA LAND

WHEN: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 4-6 p.m. (doors open at 3:45 p.m.)

WHERE: Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, California, 90291, 310-822-3006

PRICE: $10 ($5 for seniors and students)

WHAT TO WEAR: Costumes recommended

MORE INFORMATION: info@threeroompress.com

To find out more about Dadaism, check out this link.

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Southern California residents have two more chances to see STARCROSSER’S CUT, a play based on the saga of astronaut Lisa Nowak (the diaper-wearing woman scorned out for revenge).

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Inspired by astronaut Lisa Nowaks 2007 arrest for the attempted murder of a romantic rival, Starcrosserʼs Cut is a cassette symphony in the tradition of Krapp’s Last Tape. Loosely based on the real-life transcript of Nowak’s police interview after her arrest, a character known only as “Lisa” listens to the playback, reenacts her interview with the detective, and attempts to rerecord it all. Through a labyrinth of tape edits and revisions within revisions, the play looks at the “crimes that can’t keep uncommitted”  — those beyond guilt. From jail cell to Space Shuttle, the mystery that emerges is not whether Lisa did it — it’s whether a crime can cease to be a crime, or can just cease to be.

Running time: 90 minutes
Written and directed by Joseph Tepperman
Music by David Dominique
Featuring Shawn Lockie & Tom Colitt
With musicians Leah Harmon, Sammi Lee,
Heather Lockie, and Alexander Noice

REMAINING PERFORMANCES:
Saturday, June 15 @ 8pm
Sunday, June 16 @ 4pm

TICKETS:
$18, general admission; $12, students/seniors

PURCHASE TICKETS: soneofsemele.org

LOCATION:
Son of Semele Theater
3301 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213-351-3507

I caught STARCROSSER’S CUT yesterday (6/13) to a standing-room-only house, the result of rave reviews and feature articles for the show in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, LA Weekly, and LA Stage Times. (Congrats to the publicist Diana Wyenn for all the press. Find her at dianawyennpr@gmail.com.)

Watching the stage depiction of Lisa Nowak (played with bravura intensity and commitment by Shawn Lockie), I thought back to my days in an all-girl Catholic high school — and the range of human behavior, from girls always in trouble to perfect girls. The most interesting thing that happened during my four years at the school occurred when brilliant Jeannie B. (A+, honor roll, student council president, etc., etc.,) went into a rage when she learned that one of our teachers Mr. C was marrying another teacher Miss D. Yes, Jeannie B. was in luv with Mr. C and cried and carried on about that #*!@ Miss D. Who knew?

So with this personal set-piece as an emotional entry into STARCROSSER’S CUT, I had no problem understanding why super-achiever Lisa Nowak flipped when she learned that her boyfriend Bill was dumping her for younger, blonder Colleen. As the poet William Congreve reminded us way back in the 17th century, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

I won’t try to summarize Lisa Nowak‘s crimes — the story is too complex to boil down into a few flip paragraphs. But if you’d like to know more, check out “Lust in Space,” an insightful article by S.C. Gwynne in one of my favorite magazines — Texas Monthly

STARCROSSER’S CUT makes frequent references to the constellation Cassiopeia, drawing a parallel with Nowak, as astronaut. In Greek mythology, Queen Cassiopeia was placed in the sky as a punishment for boasting that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids — and is now forced to wheel around the North Celestial Pole on her throne, spending half of her time clinging to it so she does not fall off. The throne/space shuttle analogy is played out to poetic effect, often with images of the constellation projected onto the stage and actors.

Original music by David Dominique — played live by Leah Harmon (accordion), Sammi Lee (flute), Heather Lockie (viola), and Alexander Noice (guitar) — takes us into the mind, jumbled thought processes, and roller coaster emotions of Lisa Nowak as she struggles to give an account of her actions during an interview with an Orlando, Florida, detective (Tom Colitt in a sincere, natural performance that flowed like a virtuoso jazz solo — a joy to witness).

If you have a chance, So Cal residents, catch STARCROSSER’S CUT — highly recommended.

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I just learned about STARCROSSERS CUT, a new play written and directed by Joseph Tepperman — and, from what I’ve read, the story offers the social satire and absurdist humor that I live for. Can’t wait to see this production, which premieres on Thursday, June 6, 2013, and runs for six performances.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Inspired by astronaut Lisa Nowaks 2007 arrest for the attempted murder of a romantic rival, Starcrosserʼs Cut is a cassette symphony in the tradition of Krapp’s Last Tape. Loosely based on the real-life transcript of Nowak’s police interview after her arrest, a character known only as “Lisa” listens to the playback, reenacts her interview with the detective, and attempts to rerecord it all. Through a labyrinth of tape edits and revisions within revisions, the play looks at the “crimes that can’t keep uncommitted”  — those beyond guilt. From jail cell to Space Shuttle, the mystery that emerges is not whether Lisa did it — it’s whether a crime can cease to be a crime, or can just cease to be.

Running time: 90 minutes
Written and directed by Joseph Tepperman
Music by David Dominique
Featuring Shawn Lockie & Tom Colitt
With musicians Leah Harmon, Sammi Lee,
Heather Lockie, and Alexander Noice

PERFORMANCES:
Thursday, June 6 @ 8pm
Saturday, June 8 @ 8pm
Sunday, June 9 @ 4pm
Thursday, June 13 @ 8pm
Saturday, June 15 @ 8pm
Sunday, June 16 @ 4pm

TICKETS:
$18, general admission; $12, students/seniors

PURCHASE TICKETS: sonofsemele.com

LOCATION:
Son of Semele Theater
3301 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213-351-3507

Break a leg, to cast and crew!