Posted in #Macbeth, based on a film, based on a Shakespeare play, classic, Classic Stage Company, DruidShakespeare, Richard III, Shakespeare

How Many Ways Can You Say Macbeth?

RICHARD III Druid: Aaron Monaghan, Garrett Lombard,John Olohan, Jane Brennan.Photo credit: Robbie Jack

Three versions of the Scottish play are on stages in New York City right now.

One, a more or less straightforward rendering, is at Classic Stages with Corey Stoll in the lead role and his wife, the actress Nadia Bowers as Lady Macbeth. CSC’s Artistic Director, John Boyle directs and is the scenic designer for the production. Opening night was October 27th. For tickets, go to the CSC website.

Using a quote from the Lady**, The Brick Theater presents a gender fluid version of Macbeth. The play, directed by Maggie Cino, is Unsex Me Here: The Tragedy of Macbeth, opening on November 8th. Moira Stone takes the lead, and Mick O’Brien plays the treacherous Lady.

Roundabout Theatre has a reimagined modern day McBeth presented, at the Laura Pels through December 8th, as Scotland, PA, based on the indie film of the same name. Set in a diner in the eponymous town, “Mac” is having a meltdown seeing hippies while our lady schemes at Duncan’s hamburger joint, girding her loins for a power play. Scotland, PA is a musical version of the Shakespearean tragedy, with book by Michael Mitnick and lyrics aind music by Adam Gwon.

Meanwhile over at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival the focus is on another of the Bard’s tragedies of power gone amok. DruidShakespeare: Richard III , opens November 9th, from Ireland’s Druid theater company and Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes, starring Aaron Monaghan.

**Act 1, Scene 5, Lady Macbeth speaks, conjuring the spirit of manliness and resolve: “… Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!  …”

Posted in Uncategorized

So unfair, folks

Reprinting because, alas, still true and working towards another election cycle. From February 2017:

I am writing a drama about a failed businessman, who sees himself as a great visionary. One day he walks into a bar, and sits on a stool, pronouncing that he knows he could do a better job than the “so-called politicians.” The guys at the bar perked up and listened to him as he went on to prove how much he could do for them.

You know, I could get you your jobs back, he tells them. The world is not treating any of us fairly, he points out. I get that all the time. It’s so unfair. It’s hard being a white Christian. I got audited. Can you imagine? It’s so unfair.

Sad when a smart person like me isn’t appreciated, he goes on. Let me tell you, I am very smart. I can get your jobs back from China. It’ll be huge.

The plot goes on from there, where the trial balloons of his “campaign” which seem destined to unravel are picked up by news media. He becomes something of a media darling because what he says is always outrageous. He entertains. He’s a headline grabber.

He tells tall tales, some would call lies, but for now the media just laps it up. His lies don’t worry the press, because at every turn, it looks like his progress will be thwarted.  His supporters do too.

They love him, despite the disparity of their circumstances with his. They like that he says he can do anything and still win at the polls. They believe him, and they make it come true.

The plot is easy, although motivation and dialog are more of a challenge.The story has a storybook ending for our central character. For others it is the stuff of true nightmare and horror films.

The beauty of my drama is that it relies on a fact in the new America: Lying has become an art form for a segment of our society. One with faithful and believing acolytes.

Satire is an ineffective tool that only acts as an irritant to those in power and a balm to the rest of us. What is actually going on, the reality is already unbelievably absurd.

The actions of our leaders, sometimes extra-legal, unAmerican, anti-democratic, unpatriotic are already beyond the pale. They cannot be mocked. They are mocking us.

Diversions diverge from the democratic. Divisive cries deviate from the democracy.
Demonic acts dictate a dictatorial regime.

Never has preaching to the choir expressed the state of the union more completely. The New Yorker has a cartoon (by Sipress) in which there is a weather forecast for Dems and another for our friends across the aisle.

While art ofttimes adds clarity to life issues, life, on many an occasion, is a mere imitation. This is certainly true of the farce in which we are living now.

These days we are not playing out a great Shakespearean history, or even one of the Bard’s lesser comedies. We are thrown headlong into theater of the absurd. The pseudo- patriotic disruptors give us the chaotic spectacle of performance art.

There is hint of Macbeth, and a whiff of Tamburlaine, too, in some of the actors, of course, but the plots are thin melodrama. We have embraced Pirandello, accepted Ionesco, mimed Beckett. We are in the midst of a Brecht dystopia, without his or Kurt Weill’s humor.

They–the lead actors in this vaudeville– speak in barely disguised code, and catch-phrases. The language could be Mamet, if the f-bombs were race-baiters. The text is bombast, full of sounds, and fury, and signifying. The play, on the other hand, is… nothing.

The emperor has no conscience. Exit the king. The enemy within. The theater will answer the despair this reality show puts forth, not only with panels and forums, but with new works and new art. Artists will “speak truth to power” as they usually do.

Before he became the President-Elect, Trump was still a blowhard and a bully. Now he has the ultimate “bully pulpit” from which to trumpet his ideas and plans and build more of his own empire. As he would tweet, SAD.

His ego was truly stroked when Taiwan called to congratulate him. Not content with taking the call against US interests and precedents, DJT had to tweet about it. (New developments: December 2, 2016.)

Believe me when I tell you he can certainly blow his own horn. In fact, he’s famous for it, but when the man with the yellow face and huge ego comes out, give him a trumpets-blaring welcome. …

Source: His Trump(ets) Red Blare

Vox Populi

Posted on November 5, 2016 •Edit”Vox Populi”

This election year is reality TV, or, perhaps, unreality theater, unscripted and unwelcome in so many ways. The circus atmosphere in no way diminishes the importance of the choice we make on November 8th:

(c) Tamara Beck
(c) Tamara Beck

The people have spoken. Who says no one listens to you. You said you did not want professional politicians running the country.  Congratulations. The tea party congress has consistently acted most …

Some of us are saying, this can’t be happening. Others are pleased to see it unfold as it has.

Source: Vox Populi

Posted in #Macbeth, Classic Stage Company, dark drama, drama, Shakespeare

The Scottish Play

A portrait of William Shakespeare,

There is a superstition about one of Shakespear’s bloodiest dramas which bans theater folk from uttering its name. Let’s hope that telling you about the Classic Stage Company’s production of the Scottish play (in previews now, opening the evening of October 27th) will have no dire effects. The play is, of course, Macbeth, and in this production Corey Stoll plays the lead and Nadia Bowers his Lady. Some would say it is really her play, and I am inclined to agree that she has the more delicious evil to deliver.

John Doyle, CSC Artistic Director, directs and is responsible for the scenie design. The cast also features , along with Tony Award nominee Mary Beth Peil, Barzin Akhavan, 
Raffi Barsoumian, N’Jameh Camara, Erik Lochtefeld, Antonio Michael Woodard, Jade Wu.

Does the fact that Stoll and Bowers are married contribute to the dynamic between Lady Macbeth and her husband? They play the parts of plotters in a plot filled with machinations and double-dealing.

The intrigues that bind its characters are tinged with a touch of the mystical and more than just a soupçon  of the rough and tumble. Macbeth is about political ambition, revenge, and madness.

Macbeth is a personal favorite from the Bard’s canon, just behind King Lear, which I consider his best.

For tickets for Macbeth, go to the CSC website.

Posted in Charles Grodin, drama based on real events, new work, New York City, Playroom Theatre, real estate, Richard Curtis

Keepin’ it real (estate)

A segment of New Yorkers speculate over real estate, not in the buy-sell, fix-and-flip sense, but out of a prurient inquisitivity. These folks are fascinated by how much their neighbors paid, the size of their acquisitions, whether there is a space for storage. Our curiosity is piqued by all things realty.

Judging by what can transpire when facing a coop board as witnessed in Richard Curtis’ new play Quiet Enjoyment we are right to wonder. The behaviors of those tasked with protecting their building’s integrity can prove, to put it delicately, very difficult.

Some years ago, Charles Grodin also explored the relationships of a upper east side board of coopers in The Right Kind of People. Mr. Curtis, a multi-talented literary agent and author of a myriad of plays, a novel, a column in a publication called Locus. and some non-fiction about the publishing industry, picks up the subject and its endless fascination in his newest work.

Quiet Enjoyment runs from October18th through November 3rd at The Playrrom Theatre. For tickets click here.