Archives for posts with tag: Plays

emilia
Fairness and Wit
by Rachel Voss

Who wants to live virtuous and die vile?
I think I’d rather be liberal as the north.
“Hang me” for naivete: I like her style.
Wilt not, women of the world, but go forth,
and even die, speaking as you think.
Right the universal order with words,
use that prominent shnoz to sniff out the stink,
cleanse the palate for truth. Chaos girds
us like the ocean round an island. No
lullabies—I only play the swan. Peace
is overrated. Silence is my foe.
Wrongs made right when loyalty’s for lease.
Here, I have a thing for you—it’s a poem
in my outside voice, my refusal to go home.

ILLUSTRATION: “Emilia in Othello” by Hannah Tompkins.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece, a sonnet, is inspired by Emilia from Shakespeare’s Othello. As I say in the poem, I like Emilia’s style. She is, above all, relatably human: pragmatic, complicated, weak, but aware that she is at the whim of forces stronger than she is. Ultimately, like us all, she has the potential for redemption, and accomplishes that with the only tools at her disposal: her voice, and the truth. I imaginatively relate to that struggle as manifested in the part Emilia plays in tragedy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal PageHanging Loose MagazineBlast FurnaceThe New Verse News, Unsplendid, Newtown Literary, and Silver Birch Press’s  The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.

PHOTO: At The New York Botanical Garden. (“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”)

Photo by Lucrezia Alcorn.

henry
THOUGH A LITTLE OUT OF FASHION
by Deborah Herman

Though a little out of fashion,
There is much care and valor in the morning

I think we have no great cause to desire
the approach of day.

We see the beginning of the day, but I think we shall
never see the end of it.

A friend
Under you

A good and kind gentleman.
I pray, think of our estate
as men wracked upon a sand,
that look to be washed off the next tide.

I speak to you, but a man,
as I am.

The violet smells; the element shows;
all his senses have human conditions.

Laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man;
his affections are higher mounted,
when they stoop, they stoop with the wing.

Therefore, his fears relish in reason.

He, by showing it, should dishearten.

He may show outward courage;
but I believe, as cold a night as he could wish.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:. I have chosen for my Half New Year Poetry submission page 72 [for July 2nd, Half New Year] of Henry V. I have taken the dialogue between men out of context — they are speaking of rumours they have heard about what kind of man the king may be, without knowing he is present. I have instead turned the prose into a love poem, rather than a dialogue that takes place on the eve of war. The play as a whole is about sexual conquest — Henry must “woo” Catherine of France before forcefully taking over the country to make his leadership (and his offspring) legitimate. The play is also rife with “homosocial” male companionship: the “band of brothers” speech, and even the Harfleur speech, when Henry threatens that his army will kill all the babies and rape all of the girls of the city. So I have taken liberties with page 72 of the play and have tried to make it into something beautiful (and sexually ambiguous).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Herman is an emerging poet with previous publications in Existere, Rhythm, Transverse, and Vallum. Her poem, “Endurance,” will be published in the upcoming water-themed issue of the Motif Anthology (Vol. 4).

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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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Happy 450th birthday to William Shakespeare, born April 23, 1564. (Interesting fact: Shakespeare also died on April 23 — in 1616, at age 52.) To honor the esteemed author, here are some of his most eloquent lines…

PORTIA’S MONOLOGUE (Excerpt)
from The Merchant of Venice (1597)

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice…

IMAGE: “William Shakespeare” by Wingsdomain Art and Photography. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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BUKOWSICAL!


Book and Lyrics by Spencer Gren and Gary Stockdale 


Music by Gary Stockdale

A completely irreverent, wacko, hilarious, tuneful, and, above all, raunchy musical. 

BUKOWSICAL started life as a 50-minute one-act in Los Angeles, was revised and expanded, and went on to the New York Fringe Festival, where it won the award for Outstanding Musical, and was later produced by New Line in St. Louis. The musical traces Bukowski‘s life from obscurity to international fame.

LA Weekly called Bukowsical! “riotously funny.” The Los Angeles Times called it “an uproarious romp.” Backstage said, “The production skims along, each number wrapping appalling bad taste in a perky, upbeat melody that makes dipsomania a lighthearted romp. . . It’s terrific fun and so wrong in all the right ways.”

Original cast recording of Bukowsical! available for $17.98 at kritzerland.com.

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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.

###

Read this hilarious classic in its entirety at Project Gutenberg.

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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 have a one-volume Shakespeare that I have just about worn out carrying around with me.” WILLIAM FAULKNER

William Faulkner stated many times that William Shakespeare served as his single greatest influence. An article entitled A Casebook on Mankind: Faulkner’s Use of Shakespeare” by Robert W. Hamblin explores the connection between the two authors. An excerpt is included below.

Throughout his career William Faulkner acknowledged the influence of many writers upon his work — Twain, Dreiser, Anderson, Keats, Dickens, Conrad, Balzac, Bergson, and Cervantes, to name only a few — but the one writer that he consistently mentioned as a constant and continuing influence was William Shakespeare...In one of his last interviews shortly before his death in 1962, Faulkner said of all writers, ‘We yearn to be as good as Shakespeare.’ 

The parallels in the lives and careers of the two writers are remarkably striking.  Both were born in provincial small towns but found their eventual success in metropolitan cities, Shakespeare in London and Faulkner in New York and Hollywood…Neither received a great deal of formal education.  Both started out as poets but shortly turned to other narrative forms, Faulkner to fiction and Shakespeare to drama…

Each wrote both tragedies and comedies..A number of dominant themes and emphases are common to both writers, including the imaginative use of historical materials, the incorporation of both tragic and comic views of life, and the paradoxical tension between fate (in Faulkner’s case, determinism) and free will.”

Moreover, both writers exhibit a fascination for experimental form and language, flouting conventional rules to create new narrative structures and delighting in neologisms, puns, and other forms of word play.  Finally, both writers were acutely interested in the paradoxical relationship of life and art.”

Read the entire article at this link.