Archives for category: Favorite Plays

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Cervantes and Shakespeare occupied almost the same lifespan. In fact, they both died on the same day, April 23, 1616, by the Gregorian calendar. Don Quixote was published in 1605, and the first edition of Hamlet was probably published in 1603 or 1604. It is as if the two men stood back to back, Cervantes looking backward and Shakespeare looking forward. Cervantes pointed his genius backward and illuminated the medieval consciousness that was just ending in Europe…Shakespeare, in Hamlet, looked forward and made a statement about the modern man who was to come.” ROBERT A. JOHNSON, in Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness

Illustration: “Ecce Cervantes” an entry by Brazil‘s Gustavo Berocan in The Cecilia Prize, a contest honoring amateur art restorer Cecilia Gimenez. To date, the contest has received about 4,000 entries. View the gallery here.

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I am a huge Sam Shepard fan, but am I the only one who thinks it odd that his photo appears so prominently on the poster for his new play? (Wouldn’t his name over the title have been enough — and infinitely more tasteful)? Did Tennessee Williams or Eugene O’Neill ever appear on a poster? (Granted, they were not as handsome as Sam Shepard.)

Shepard’s new play Heartless opens August 27, 2012, at the Signature Theatre Company in New York City. The official website describes the play this way: Sally lives with her mysterious family in a cavernous home overlooking Los Angeles. When a visitor arrives, Sally’s dark secrets —  and the secrets of those around her —  threaten to come into the light. 

Back in the day, I attended the first preview of  Shepard’s comic masterpiece True West — produced by the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago — which starred John Malkovich, Jeff Perry, Laurie Metcalf, and Francis Guinan. It remains the most engaging, stunning, engrossing, dramatic, hilarious play I’ve ever seen. I wish I were in New York — my very favorite city — right now with tickets to Heartless in my hands.

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Excerpt from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams:

JIM. Aw, yes, I’ve placed you now! I used to call you Blue Roses. How was it that I got started calling you that?

LAURA. I was out of school a little while with pleurosis. When I came back you asked me what was the matter. I said I had pleurosis — you thought I said Blue Roses. That’s what you always called me after that!

JIM. I hope you didn’t mind.

LAURA. Oh, no — I liked it. You see, I wasn’t acquainted with many people. . . .

The Glass Menagerie made its debut in Chicago during 1944 before moving to Broadway the following year and winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Photo: Noumenon

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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.