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Spinning into Butter

by Rebecca Gilman

Has anyone seen the movie they made of this play? I checked out the trailer on IMDB - not impressed. I would be interested to hear people's thoughts on the stage-to-film adaptation..

I like Rebecca Gilman as a playwright but this is not my favorite of her plays. A while back I mentioned that mysteriously, I end up reading plays that have similar themes (or perhaps I just find things in common about the pieces I choose) .. apparently this week the theme is unsympathetic characters!

Sarah is the newest Dean at a small college campus in Vermont. She is brought on specifically to deal with issues of diversity and when a student begins to get threatening notes because he is black, Sarah is quick to defend. Gilman sets us up to fall in love with Sarah - her empathy for the students, her open mind, her ability to stand up to the other Deans.. and then we find out that it's sort of all an act and that Sarah, the voice of the minority student, the champion of diversity, is actually a secret racist. It's a big letdown. And yet, somehow realistic and human in a sad way. I think this play raises important questions and certainly reminds us that racism is still a hot-button issue and not a thing of the past.

When Sarah reveals her struggle to Ross, her ex-lover, he tells her that she is being a coward and that, "Even if you can't find the perfect solution, you should find the best you can and at least give it a try." She acknowledges that what she is feeling is wrong, she even tries to talk herself out of judging people unfairly but she just can't stop. When Ross tells her to open up a dialogue, she responds:
Public dialogue is never real dialogue. Nobody will admit to anything in a crowd. I mean, I can't believe that I'm the only person that feels this way.
She brings up a good point here - it's easy to say the right thing in public, when you're under pressure to do and be good. To tell the truth, as Sarah has, no matter how ugly, is the more difficult thing. They say the first step in solving your problem is admitting you have one. At least Sarah can admit that she is wrong, rather than saying one thing to a person's face and another behind their back.

There is a Yeats quote that is brought up during this conversation that rings so true to our political climate at the moment:
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
In my opinion, the best have conviction, the question is whether they can be heard over the screaming ignorance of the worst.

Enough of that.

Gilman blends nice moments of lighter fare throughout so that the piece is not bogged down by the weight of its subject matter. When speaking of a student's home, Meyers, Sarah's only friend on campus, comments:
The bathroom was nice. I guess it was a guest bathroom. They had the liquid soap in the dispenser, though, so you could really wash your hands. Sometimes people put little special soaps in the guest bathroom. Little soaps shaped like roses or something. I never know if I'm supposed to use them or just look at them. 
Yeah, but they're so pretty!

Tomorrow's Play: Iphigenia by P. Seth Bauer


Blood Wedding

by Federico Garcia Lorca in a version by Ted Hughes

All poets are not alike. Not all poets impregnate every woman they come into contact with.. (if confused, see my previous post). Thank you Ted Hughes for your beautiful version of Lorca's shocking Blood Wedding. This piece is so effective - it spoke to my soul and to my heart in a heightened way that felt both classical and modern.

It's a story of tortured love - a bride is set to marry.. but Leonardo, the man she truly loves, is married to another. They try to contain their passion for each other but Leonardo tells the young bride:
We cannot punish ourselves worse than to burn and stay silent. What good did my pride do me - not seeing you, and knowing you were lying awake night after night. None! It only poured blazing coals over me. You think time heals and that walls shut away but it's not true, it's not true. When things have pierced to the centre nobody can pull them out.
With such deep passions and such heavy words we know this can't end well...

Their love is so strong and so secret that naturally, everyone in town knows about it. The day of the wedding comes but Leonardo and the bride ride away together on horseback. Happy ending, right? Too easy. The lovers (who aren't lovers, as the bride remains chaste) escape into the woods and share a few moments together, all the time knowing that they will be caught. Three woodcutters discuss their flight, saying that "the blood cannot be denied."

          First: When the blood chooses a path it has to be followed.
          Second: But blood that sees the light is swallowed by the dust.
          First: So? Better be a bloodless carcass than alive with the blood rotting in your body.

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? ..I believe this to be true. Though it hurts, I'd rather feel the extremes than live a life of numbness.

The groom is furiously searching for his runaway bride (unintentional endorsement) and when he finds her with Leonardo, the two men fight and are both killed. The mother of the groom is heartbroken but instructs her neighbor:
Will you be quiet. I want no weeping in this house. Your tears are just tears, they come from your eyes. My tears will be different. When I'm alone my tears will come from the soles of my feet. From my very roots. And they'll burn hotter than blood.
The bride comes to her, alone and desperate, having witnessed the death of the two men in her life, wanting only one thing. She asks the old woman:
Stop talking. Take your revenge. Here I am. Here's my throat. You see how soft it is. Easier than cutting a dahlia in your garden. 
The bride is alone with her grief and sees no release from it other than death. She insists that she is pure and has never betrayed the old woman's son. The woman will not draw blood and the bride is left alone to sob in the corner.

Admittedly, this play could be a bit of a downer. Unless you're drawn to the grand, dramatic stories, as I am. I relish in the language and the elevated emotions. Hughes' poetic tendencies ebb and flow throughout, adding beauty to a gruesome story based on a true event.

Tomorrow's Play: Spinning into Butter by Rebecca Gilman


All This Intimacy

by Rajiv Joseph

I've been putting off writing this post. I thought a LOT about how I feel about this play. I liked it. And I didn't. In a nutshell, the play is about a man who gets three women pregnant in one week - his girlfriend, his next door neighbor, and his student. Now, this man is not a stud. He is just vulnerable. That doesn't make him less of an asshole, however. I struggle with the play because I don't sympathize with the main character - Ty, who is a poet (of course). And before you say that I just hate him cause I'm a woman and what girl wouldn't think he's awful, let me go on to say that I also do not side with any one of the women. From the text, I don't feel emotionally connected to any of them. So, I'm left with lots of feelings and none of them good. But it's Thanksgiving and I'd like to feel happy things today so I'll mention some moments in the play that I did connect to.

Jen is Ty's girlfriend who, when we first meet her, is breaking up with him. She tells him:
When it comes to figuring out what to do with my life, I've been seriously claustrophobic. Because choosing things narrows down your life, it limits you and it freaks me out. I'm not kidding. Every time you make a decision, you narrow your life more and more...
I responded to this moment because it reminded me of a conversation I had with an agent a little while ago about how sometimes you have to limit yourself temporarily in order to expand your options in the future (for more on that conversation, buy me a drink). It can be hard to make those big decisions. For Jen, her path was pretty much revealed when she found out she was pregnant. It's funny how life will hand you something wonderful just when you need it. Or just when you can't have it. Or just when you least expect it. Or, or, or...

Becca is Ty's student who won him with her wistful words.. When speaking of his new book of poetry, she encourages him:
It doesn't matter how many you sell. If your poetry affects one person, then that's all that matters. That's how you change the world. You're changing the world with your poetry.
This could easily come off as cheesy, but the romantic in me believes that art can and does change the world. Poems speak right to the heart, just as songs change minds, and theatre drives you to action.

The other mother of his child is his neighbor, Maureen. Ty decides to host the most awkward of all dinner parties - including his three baby mommas, his ex's sister and her fiance, who also happens to be his best friend. At this "party" all of the women find out about each other and.. well, it's dramatic. Ty tells the audience:
I wanted this. I wanted everyone to converge. I needed it to happen. I mean, breaking this kind of news to a girl... THREE TIMES... and having to deal with the fallout three times and I'm telling you: I just couldn't handle that. I'm weak. So... Dinner. Everyone at once. Three birds with one stone. 
And herein lies my main issue. I think that he should have to go through that three times. Each woman is unique and deserves to hear the truth from him individually. I don't think it was weak of him, I think it was cowardly (ultimately more dramatic for play purposes? yes, but still). I just can't feel bad for a guy who takes the easy route. And don't think you'll win me over with your heartfelt soliloquies.. that didn't work for Richard III and it won't work for you, Ty.

I should note that this play is very funny. If the female characters were expanded a bit more, it would grow in my esteem.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow's Play: Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, in a version by Ted Hughes


Henry IV, part 1

by William Shakespeare

Firstly I must say that this is the 100th play that I have blogged about. Yes, I'm a little behind, but hey, sometimes life interrupts. Regardless, I'm pretty proud that I've kept it up this long. So thanks for being a part of the journey.

Second, it's no mere accident that my 100th play is a Shakespeare play. If I'm gonna celebrate, I want Will with me.

Thirdly, I'd like to take a sec to plug the Globe's travelling production of Merry Wives of Windsor that I saw this past weekend. Hilarious. So fun. If you missed them this year, be sure to catch them next year when they're back in town!

And now. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

Where to start? Well, after seeing Merry Wives I have Falstaff on the brain. And all through reading this play I kept picturing the actor from the Globe's production (the brilliant Christopher Benjamin) playing Falstaff in 1HenryIV. There are so many brilliant Falstaff moments - mostly jokes made of his behalf but certainly he has plenty of his own. The very first time we see Falstaff, Hal is making fun of him. Falstaff merely asks Hal the time, and this is the response he gets:
Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
A simple 'ten o'clock' would have sufficed. This sets up Falstaff's role in the community and also lays the ground for many a fat-joke throughout the rest of the play. This is also the first scene where we meet Hal, the prince and heir to the throne. His 'loose behaviour' is set up here, showing him drinking and carousing with his friends -- not very princely. In the previous scene his father, the King, was telling us how he wished that his son had been switched at birth with the noble warrior Percy. Ouch. That's rough. But then comes this brilliant speech by Hal (and one of my favorite male monologues in Shakespeare.)

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be a tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

And in about two hours, that's exactly what he'll do.

This next quote comes from the pompous Own Glendower as he's speaking to the hot-headed Percy, aka Hotspur. He tells him:

                                       Give me leave
To tell you once again that at my birth
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
These signs have marked me extraordinary,
And all the courses of my life do show
I am not in the roll of common men.

Okay, so put away the measuring sticks boys. I like this speech because he gets to say ex-tra-or-di-na-ry with all of it's syllables and that's not the way we hear that word very often. It makes me smile. Also, it's funny to hear a guy talking about what happened on the day he was born, as if he would know. Also, was he born in a field? Why were the goats so scared? Anyway.

In this play Falstaff gets caught in many a lie and more than one sticky situation. You'd think he would learn, but no. Earlier, he fell asleep behind an arras and is now accusing his hostess of picking his pocket. This infuriates Hal and Falstaff is quick to make good:
Dost thou hear, Hal? Thou knowest in the state of innocency Adam fell, and what should poor Jack Falstaff do in the days of villainy? Thou seest I have more flesh than another man and therefore more frailty. You confess, then, you picked my pocket?
Oh, is Falstaff overweight? I hadn't realized. I'm glad he told us. Seriously though, how many Falstaff=fat jokes do we think are in the play? 100? More?

Falstaff makes for many a merry scene but the driving action of the latter half of the play is the epic battle of the rebels versus those in power. Both sides are hurting for men, rest, and strategy, but Hotspur and his noblemen are down a few major players. He gets the news that his father will not be joining him, as he's in poor health. Needless to say, Hotspur isn't happy:

Zounds, how has he the leisure to be sick
In such a jostling time?

It seemed to me slightly suspicious that he was sick at this critical moment. That may just be the cynic in me, but perhaps we'll learn more about that in 2HenryIV.

I cannot honestly imagine Falstaff fighting in a war. I just feel like he would hide behind a tree and get out his flask and make up insults for the soldiers passing by. Perhaps he would narrate the fights - the world's first commentator. Apparently, he will fight, and he's not happy about it:
Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honour? A word. What is in that word 'honour'? What is that 'honour'? Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died o'Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon. And so ends my catechism.
Wise words. When he uses his wit, he sometimes says things worth hearing. And yet, his honor does lead him on to fight, and he must not be half bad either, because he lives to see another day. Though, not without some trickery. More on that later.

I was cheering for Hotspur all the way through. That may just be because I'm partial to that scene between he and his wife, but I sorta fell in love with him. He's damaged but he's only human and he know what he's good at. Yes, he has a temper, but he's a WARRIOR. Hello. As he rouses his men to fight what will end up being a losing battle he tells them:

An if we live, we live to tread on kings;
If die, brave death when princes die with us. 

To tread on kings. What an image. Whether he is speaking metaphorically or literally, the idea is a strong one and his men fight bravely. Alas, Hotspur is killed by Prince Hal in a moment where Hal reveals his true colors. We see the man who may be King and he has earned the honor. He is even gracious in his win, complimenting Percy after death:

When that this body did contain a spirit
A kingdom for it was too small a bound,
But now two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough.

That certainly puts things in perspective. Hotspur was a man that was feared; the very mention of his name brought with it an air of honor, courage, fierceness, and yet all men must die. As Hal says, "thou owest God a death." He died in battle, as he would have wanted. And the stories of his conquests will always live on....

Perhaps my very favorite moment of the play was when Hal mourns the loss of Falstaff, exits, and then Falstaff pops up, alive as ever. Of course he would fake his own death in order to escape death. Brilliant. Lucky for him, Douglas didn't give him an extra stab in the gut after he fell to the ground. That would have thrown a wrench in his plan. Thank you Shakespeare for not killing off so brilliant a character.

The best part about finishing a history play is knowing that there are more to come..

Here's to the next 100 ... *cheers*

Tomorrow's Play: All This Intimacy by Rajiv Joseph


The Four of Us

by Itamar Moses

In my most recent trip to the Strand (seriously, I should get an endorsement deal), I found this gem. After my love of Moses' Bach at Leipzig, I was eager to read more of his work.

The story centers on best friends and writers, Benjamin - a novelist, and David - a playwright. Though the driving motivation throughout the play is David's jealousy of Benjamin's recent success (in the form of a two million dollar book deal), the most interesting moments to me came out of the guys' less heated exchanges. The love/hate friendship between the guys reminded me of Adam Rapp's characters in Red Light Winter.

The scenes jump around in time, showing the writers from ages 17 to 27 "though not in that order." We are first given a glimpse into the 'present' - Benjamin, having received his book deal is treated to a congratulatory lunch by David, and it is here that the green-eyed monster begins to show his head.

A few scenes later we jump back in time, when the guys were in Prague, where Benjamin began his book that would become his meal ticket and David spent most of his time at the bar, picking up ladies. Here the roles are slightly reversed, in that we see Benjamin's slight jealousy at David's ability to take a girl home whom he barely knows. His jealousy is masked in friendly concern (well, more like judgement), as he argues with David about the benefits of a relationship vs. random hook-up. He prefers to come home early and read letters from his girlfriend. "Love letters," David mocks. Benjamin responds:
Well: all letters are love letters.
In a way, I suppose they are. Especially these days, if someone is going to take the time to hand write you a letter or a card, there is more than likely some love behind it. There is a certain intimacy in seeing someone's handwriting.

David is not convinced as to the merits of relationships. He struggles with them, finding only the beginning to be satisfying, and the rest somewhat trying. He suggests:
..why not just have a series of very very beginnings, and if that isn't better, then why does it feel so much better?
The trick is finding someone who makes you feel like every day is better than the last. I think.

A big topic in the play is the public nature of writing. The difference between writing something just for yourself and writing something for the public... and potentially, writing something just for yourself that then becomes something for the public. Benjamin and David have differing points of view on this, even though both mediums - fiction and drama - are intended to be widely experienced. Benjamin, in a moment of frustration caused by speaking about the merits of graduate school, tells David:
Look, all I'm saying is: I think the thing to be afraid of is not that you will never publish, or whatever, but that you will never write anything good. And I think if I did write something good, if I knew that I had done that, I would be satisfied to let it just sit in a drawer forever. And I think that if that's not true, then the things I write probably won't be any good anyway.
That's easy to say, but if you wrote a masterpiece, no matter how humble you may be, I'm pretty sure you'd want to share it with someone. Probably lots of people. Preferably who give you money.

Here's where things get crazy. We learn that David has written a play, a successful play about his friendship with Benjamin, who has come to see the play and is upset about it. In their confrontation we learn that David has exaggerated moments that were in scenes that we saw, causing us to wonder if all of the previous scenes were the "show" or what really happened? It's a fun twist that makes the ending more poignant. The guys come to a point of reconciliation as David expresses the challenges of the workshop/preview process:

         David: People keep telling me to change it.
         Benjamin: Well, don't.
         David: Cool. Thank you.
         Benjamin: It's just what I think. (Beat.) People?
         David: Yeah, random people who insist on terrible ideas. It's called "collaboration."

I still prefer Bach at Leipzig, though apparently Charles Isherwood prefers The Four of Us, so there's that. Whichever you prefer, you won't be disappointed. I can't wait to see what Moses does next.

Tomorrow's Play: Henry IV, part 1 by William Shakespeare


by Sarah Kane

Okay. I'm not going to presume to know what Kane intended for this play to be. I think she left certain things purposely vague, which is incredibly trusting and creative. So I will simply speak to my own interpretation of the play.

For me, this is the style of play that is difficult to read. Because most of the dialogue could be directed to any of the characters, it becomes a kind of nonsense without any sort of direction placed upon it. In performance, the actors and director must make choices about the relationships, but the text itself has no stage directions to clue the reader in to what's going on. That being said, I started to imagine what I would do with this play. In articles I've read it's been suggested that the four characters - C M B and A - represent four different parts of humanity, or that they are two pairs of lovers.

I imagined that this play took place inside the mind of someone who is dreaming. Each character could morph into different beings and take on different roles within the dream. I often have dreams that are difficult to put into words because they don't make logical sense. This is the world of the play, in my creation. It can be argued that in dreams, your subconscious raises issues and ideas that your conscious mind may not be able to handle. More than once I have woken myself up out of fear or grief in order to stop myself from living the dream I'm having. This dream-like world is attractive to me as a setting for Crave because truly anything can happen.

When she wrote Crave, Kane regarded it as the "most despairing" of her plays, created at a time when she had lost "faith in love." Each character is distressed and vocal about the reasons why. Some of the lines stood out to me more than others - what they say about my current state of mind would be revealing, I'm sure. Feel free to imagine:
Because love by its nature desires a future.
I have a black black side I know. I have a side so green you will never know.
You look reasonably happy for someone who's not.
You get mixed messages because I have mixed feelings. 
 I won't settle for a life in the dark.
What I sometimes mistake for ecstasy is simply the absence of grief. 
Reading Sarah Kane makes me feel that I have things easy. Even my darkest moments cannot compare to the despair in her writing. I hope she has found peace.

Tomorrow's Play: The Four of Us by Itamar Moses


The Zig-Zag Woman

by Steve Martin
In the beginning of something, its ending is foretold.
What would we not do for love? This is the tale of a young woman who wants to catch a certain beau's eye so she places herself in a magician's box that allows her middle to be separated from her head and feet - thus, the zig-zag woman. "Maybe now he'll notice me," she says.

Before we meet the object of her affection, we meet an older man, who tells her, "It's really nice the way your head is separated from your body like that." He imparts wisdom to the Zig-Zag Woman about his dearly departed wife, declaring that "love is a promise delivered already broken."

Next, we meet a middle-aged man, who brings his own sort of wisdom:
Tough debate. Married or single. Single brings a sadness, but sadness has its own perfection. Marriage brings a misery of a rare kind, the kind that loves company.
Finally, we meet the object of the Zig-Zag Woman's affection. He is a young man who has had a "brilliant flash of insight." He doesn't notice the Zig-Zag Woman but he tells the other men:
Every emotion is consumed by its opposite. Every ounce of pleasure is balanced by an equal amount of disaster. Generosity breeds contempt; power breeds weakness. Agony leads to a greater appreciation of bliss. You love your friends, they start dying; when your friends start dying, you take more chances with your own life. Every ache you feel makes its inverse more possible. And that is the ecology of joy and pain. 
Why do we constantly fall for the Hamlets of the world? I suppose there's something beautiful about pain.

With a little help from the aptly named "middle man," the young man does finally notice the Zig-Zag Woman. "How do you think they will end?" the middle man asks.

I hope the older man is right when he says, "Just when you think love is dead, it is waiting for you like a crouching panther."

Tomorrow's Play: Crave by Sarah Kane


Patter for the Floating Lady

by Steve Martin

Do not be fooled by the length of this play. Martin has packed it full of emotional depth and despair.

This play shows that even in the most magical of worlds love is never simple, never easy. A magician is in love with his assistant, Angie who, though mean on the surface, does actually love him in return. The magician plans to levitate Angie, and by doing so, give her something in return for all that she has given him. He thinks she will appreciate it, even if it's done by trickery because:
She understands, as I do, that with the exception of a few profound and fleeting moments in our lives, everything we say is a lie.
I could not love a man who felt this way. Or, rather, lived this way.

The magician's plan backfires, for once under the trance Angie has the power or freedom to say how she truly feels about him. Essentially, she leaves him because he is not strong enough. He is needy and jealous and read her diary:

          Magician: A moment of weakness.
          Assistant: More like a lifetime of weakness revealed in a moment.

There is always a darkness living in the best comedians. I like seeing this other side of Martin.

Tomorrow's Play: The Zig-Zag Woman by Steve Martin

The Farnsworth Invention

by Aaron Sorkin

I heart Aaron Sorkin. The quality of his writing is such that I know I will never be disappointed. I was super excited to read this play, since I didn't get the chance to see it when it was on Broadway a few years back. As expected, I was not disappointed. Sorkin's quick-witted dialogue is right up my alley. Admittedly, this could just as easily be on the big screen, and perhaps should be, but that doesn't make the story any less entertaining.

The Farnsworth Invention is television. This title leads you to think that there is no doubt about who actually invented it but the action of the play revolves around the competition between two men - Philo Farnsworth and David Sarnoff - to be the first to put TV on the map. Sarnoff is mostly in the radio business but he has men who are working on TV, albeit slowly. Farnsworth is a guy from rural Idaho who just happened to be a genius.

It's not just about two men battling it out. The play also touches on media ethics. In reference to the surge in advertising on the radio, Sarnoff argues that time on the air shouldn't be sold. He feels that radio should be a platform for education and reforming cultural taste. He is asked:
Who gets the final call on what public taste should be, to say nothing of education and information?
These sorts of questions should still be asked. We take for granted that what we see and hear around us - on TV, in advertising, on the radio - is informative and beneficial. We know in the back of our heads that regulations are in place and that people follow rules and therefore all that we see is fair, and true. UH. We also know that this is NOT true. One only has to watch certain entire networks to know that bias is out there. It is up to us to educate ourselves from multiple media outlets and then determine what is the truth.

By the end of the play it almost doesn't matter who invented television, what matters is that it exists. Sarnoff explains to his wife:
It's gonna change everything. It's gonna end ignorance and misunderstanding. It's gonna end illiteracy. It's gonna end war. By pointing a camera at it.
If only.

For the West Wing fans in the house, Sorkin recycles (well, slightly changes) a quote from an episode about travelling to the moon. On WW it was Sam Seaborn, here it is Sarnoff who tells us:
I don't understand people who say what business do we have going to the moon when people around the world are starving. First of all, people aren't starving because we went to the moon, one doesn't have much to do with the other. But you go to the moon 'cause it's next. We came out of the cave, went over the hill, crossed the ocean, pioneered a continent and took to the heavens. We were meant to be explorers. Explorers, builders and protectors.
Just thinking about West Wing makes me feel patriotic. So, remember to go out and VOTE!

Tomorrow's Play: Patter for the Floating Lady by Steve Martin


by LeRoi Jones, aka Amiri Baraka

I cannot even begin to imagine the impact this had when it hit the stage in '64. I was shocked reading it now, over forty years later!

The play is set on a subway car in NY and consists of an entire relationship, beginning to end, of two strangers - a young black man and a slightly older white woman. What starts as an innocent flirtation quickly progresses to a violent encounter..

Lula enters the car and spies Clay. She is not shy about coming on to him. Hers is a cruel provocation and I couldn't help but wonder if Jones' divorce from his first wife had influenced this play at all. Lula says to Clay:
I lie a lot. [smiling] It helps me control the world. 
She certainly attempts to control Clay, publicly dancing and asking him to "rub bellies" with her. Clay has maintained his cool but Lula's harsh words become too much for him and he snaps:
Don't you tell me anything! If I'm a middle-class fake white man ... let me be. And let me be in the way I want. [Through his teeth] I'll rip your lousy breasts off! Let me be who I feel like being.
I won't reveal what happens at the end because I hate when things are ruined for me, but I will say that Lula came on that train looking for trouble.

What I took away from this play is that history repeats itself. Race conflicts may not be quite so prevalent in 2010 but people are still judged and hurt for being "different." When Clay says, "Let me be who I feel like being," he could easily speaking for his generation. I could find a million people who would ask the same thing today. The best gift we can give others is our acceptance. We should all feel free to be true to ourselves.

I received this suggestion from a friend who runs a great organization here in NY called The Shakespeare Forum. It's a great, affordable place for actors with a passion for the Bard (or not) to get together and PLAY. Check it out - we're having a workshop tomorrow night from 8-10! I'll be there. Will you?

Here are the details:

The Forum on Tuesday, November 2nd will be at SPACE ON WHITE at 81 White Street.

Once a week, actors, directors, producers and artists from all walks of life come together to work and play with the words of Shakespeare. Okay, so sometimes it’s not Shakespeare, but the spirit of exploration is ever-present as we delve into the text, challenging ourselves and each other to grow and change. 

This is a donation-based class. It’s not about the money, it’s about resurrecting the true artist spirit- an open heart, a sense of humor and a belief that we are stronger when we are together.

The closest subways are Canal Street (J,M,Z,N,Q,R,W,6), Canal-Church Sts (A,C,E)

Hope to see you there! Check us out on Facebook!

Tomorrow's Play: The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin


' (1) absurdist (1) american (68) British (17) chekhov (1) classical (33) comedic (49) contemporary (108) dramatic (44) fairy-tale (1) farce (8) helen keller (1) impediment (2) Irish (1) musical (2) no role (3) nudity (1) one-act (9) pulitzer (4) role (117) serio-comedic (43) shakespeare (4) Shaw (2) thriller (1) tragedy (4) translation (3) war (2)