- Acting as Jane Austen in "Cheer From Chawton" at the National Arts Club, New York City on Monday, February 11th directed by Susan Pilar & Amy Stoller.
- Playwriting: My new 10 minute play, "All Roses" will be read at the next Blue Roses Winter Shorts Series on Tuesday, January 29th. At the Abingdon Theater Company Spaces, New York City.
- Directing 4 plays for 3 evenings also through Blue Roses: Monday, January 28th, Not To Be Ignored Series, "Careful What You Wish For by Judy Stadt starring Louisa Cabot and leslie Shreve. Tuesday January 29th, Winter Shorts "The Last Holdout" by Judd Silverman starring Frank Anderson and Blair Sams. Monday February 4th, Blue Roses Celebrates Alaskan Playwrights, "Better Than The Alternative" by Mollie Ramos starring JoAnn Yeoman and "From Afterlife" by Carolyn Roesbery starring Linda Selman and JoAnn Yeoman.
- Speaking on a Technology Panel for Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU) on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. Wish me luck!
- Improvising: Will appear as Aphra Behn with Women Stage the World again on Monday, March 4th, 2013.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Getting more than three things ready at once:
Friday, September 21, 2012
In my stacks of "must-read" periodicals and books, I unearthed Persuasions, Issue #31, 2009 and I came across a wonderful and thought-provoking article written by Maggie Lane called "Brothers of the More Famous Jane...". Besides being a remarkably easy read for a scholarly article, the information provided in the essay was for me a revelation. Here are some of the sentences that most intrigued me:
More to come...
- "In the case of Sense and Sensibility, it seems probable that the sum of about £180 had to be paid upfront for printing and advertising - in which case Henry surely advanced the money, for such a sum massively exceeded Jane Austen's slender means. Sales of about 420 copies were needed to break even. In the "Biographical Notice" of 1818, Henry tells us "she actually made a reserve from her very moderate income to meet the expected loss." She had no such reserve; Henry was both concealing her poverty and lauding her modesty, but we can read between the lines her fear of debt and of increasing the huge obligations she already felt to her brothers. The appearance of Jane Austen's first novel owed everything, in my opinion, to the force of Henry's confidence and calculations as well as to his cash and his contacts. From this point Henry was totally involved in Jane Austen's publishing life."
More to come...
Thursday, September 06, 2012
American Theatre Magazine has been posting astonishing plays lately and I just finished reading "Pilgrims Musa..." over the weekend. Again I only meant to skim the piece and again I was drawn in. Mr. Guindi manages to capture and speak to all of us when his character, Abdallah, says, "The everyday pilgrimage you make when you open your mouth to a stranger and hope to God you are understood." How many of us have felt this way each and every day. Everytime I audition or make a submission or try to talk to another member of the Moms Club. Every day. Later the same character says, "The way you have to open up and travel to the place someone is coming from." How many of us resist doing this? How many times have I judged ahead of time. The world continues to surprise me. As hard as it is to be my age and continue performing, writing and so on. Even thinking. Sometimes I feel judged for that. But here I am admonished from the pages of this play, to continue to grow and continue my quest for a theatre that will be all inclusive, environmentally sound, promoting the rights and the literature of women. This kind of work forces a person to be more, to stand up for what you believe in. Thoughts for the day!
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
"I could not believe these fish were so huge. They looked like sculptures - polished marble sides, glistening steel backs, fins like blades of metal, eyes like miniature Earths with atmospheres and seas and forests and deserts." Just finished reading an article about artist and conservationist James Prosek. The guy looks like a young Mel Gibson. Besides having an amazing work ethic (up to 14 studio hours per day), he is making a conservation statement about Atlantic fish. Sometimes you wonder how art and making any kind statement mix. You have to decide who you are, what you want to say. This guy is a modern Audubon, the paintings are remarkable, he experiments with metallic powder, powdered mica, etc. to record exactly what is in front of him. The article says for the canvas, "Prosek used 60 inch tall rolls of paper cut to size and dyed with up to 20 bags of tea." Apart from some magnificent descriptive language, I find this gentleman the real thing. What is engaging to me is the way he sees these fish. His experience of them is so intense. One might look but not see. That is the job of any artist, theatrical or otherwise, to really see, intensely, profoundly with complete clarity. I wish I could say it better.
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
On a recent trip to Chicago, I took a short cab ride to Profiles Theatre Company on North Broadway. They have a new and rehabbed space which I found intimate and wonderful. The ceiling is high and looks like a tin ceiling, plenty of space for lighting equipment, excellent sound system. Richard Nelson calls "Sweet and Sad" one of his "disposable" plays because of the precision of the setting (September 11, 2011). But I was glad to see this play produced. First off, there was Joe Jahraus' deft direction. I would have to look at the text for the play but I loved the fact that the audience entered to an empty space and then the actors put the entire space together. They brought a rug out, laid it down. They entered with the dining room table which seemed mythic in its own way. They brought a cart table in, dishes, silver ware, food. They served themselves like so many family dinners. Robert Breuler as Uncle Benjamin Apple was a piece of genius casting. Kate Harris and Darrell Cox inhabited their characters to the core. I admit I had some troubles with the supporting cast but some of that had to do with the writing. For example, there is a middle sister...who is she? Why does she want to turn her actor-boyfriend into a full-time waiter? What does she need the money for? The woman playing this character was dressed like a sober matron. The text says she's divorced, maybe several times, I would have dressed her more provocatively suggesting that she's the sister who gets around. As it stood, I did not buy that relationship with her bald actor boyfriend for a moment. The pacing of the production, the use of overlap was executed perfectly by all. I enjoyed the way the ensemble worked. They clicked. I did not think all the characters were defined enough and the program was confusing. It lists only Robert Breuler as Equity and yet the ticket price was $40 so I found myself wondering who is union and who is not, were some actors paid and some not? Would explain some of the uneveness of the acting but it seemed from the program like all the actors had won awards, done loads of work, etc. Loved seeing the family dynamic up there. Very important to see this play in relation to Belles. Thought provoking. Making me think and write and re-write! Thank you Richard Nelson!
Friday, August 24, 2012
Writing facilitates thinking. I am writing about the things I read because it helps me to think about them. Just finished reading Steven Karam's Sons of the Prophet published a few months ago in American Theatre Magazine. As is my usual mode, I had just planned to skim the play given mommyhood provides me with limited reading time but I was drawn in. I found the play universal and profound. The fellow is not afraid to stop and reflect. Gloria's line "Manhattan is fabulous but...I'm not sure there's anything more...invisible in that city than a single, 60 year old woman." He underscores this with humor by having the male character respond with "A single, 70 year old woman?" This observation took my breath away. Performers frequently get sidelined after 40 - an acting career - the hardest thing ever to decide to do - becomes hard in ways that were unimaginable when one was twentysomething. Yet, I've always felt most actors don't realize their full potential in terms of emotional depth and thinking until after 40. The other line that really grabbed me (there were many) "...no one's life should be about finding stability..." "Yes, but whose life isn't?" These words in terms of a life in the theatre. Yes, I agree, this young writer is compassionate and profound and understands well beyond his years. Steven Karam was discussed at a producer round table at the Roundabout that I recently attended. Todd Haimes said he gave this young man a chance because he felt he would drop out of theatre if he did not receive immediate encouragement. Though I felt the punishment of this remark, I can understand too. However at the time I felt like shouting, "What about the rest of us, Mr. Haimes? Those of us who keep going in spite of receiving very little encouragement, very little major recognition? You feel you need to encourage yet another white male?" But I didn't. Any remark like this would make me seem ungrateful, bitter, unhappy. So I look to this script as inspiration for my own work and hang on to that. I like the idea that Karam allows characters to observe profoundly on life, on what it's like to be alive. A play isn't just about true to life dialogue, it must contain those universal hooks, else why write? These hooks must be woven into dialogue so that the characters HAVE to say them. That makes the work truly remarkable. Thank you, Mr. Karam.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Thoughts are flooding in fast and furious. The purity of this production staggers me. I have to go back and read the other translations I have of this play. Part of the poetry of this production was embedded in the entrances of every single character. What was being said onstage before any character entered either reflected on that particular character or provided a stark contrast to that character. I cannot count how many entrances were like this but one in particular I vividly remember: Sonia is complaining about how plain she is and Yelena enters just at the perfect moment to counter-pose the two. This was like sculpture to me. It was truly great art. Unforgettable art. In a world of corruption, and it's everywhere, there was no corruption here. Nothing was ruined. And it was so simple. The actors played clear, clean intentions unmuddled by garbage. The whole vision of the production true to Chekhov. If I could challenge myself to clean up the entrances on "Belles" in this way and to simplify the language where it needs it in the way this production has done, I would have a shot at something real. So I throw down the glove to myself. Thank you Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton and Tamas Ascher. On Ascher's website, it says his productions of Chekhov have run 5 to 7 years in Hungary where there is still a repertory system. I well know how shows and actors improve with time, having performed as Aphra Behn from 1996 to 2011 and as Jane Austen from 2005 and still going. Why, why can't we go back to this system in the United States? It is our loss. http://lincolncenterfestival.org/index.php/2012-uncle-vanya
Pitch-perfect production last night at Lincoln Center - stunning emotionally - the acting, the directing, the adaptation - all faultless: http://lincolncenterfestival.org/index.php/2012-uncle-vanya. Makes me want to get to work on everything, inspiring, stirring, can't stop thinking about it!