GLENN LONEY'S ARTS RAMBLES
THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS…
This year, June was not exactly "bustin' out all over," as that Landmark Broadway Musical Comedy has it.
Rather, Thunderstorms soaked Manhattan & even threatened Flag Day, on 14 June.
So much for the "Myth" of Climate Change, a Republican Mantra.
Once, we said April Showers Bring May Flowers, as well as Rough Winds do shake the Darling Buds of May…
No More. Nothing is certain except Death & Texas. Oh, oh! Taxes, Taxes…
As in May--when Arts Rambles offered Separate Reports on Alice Walton's wonderful new Crystal Bridges Museum & Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Branson--so, in June, is the Report on the Annual Conference of the American Theatre Critics Association [ATCA], in Chicago & Milwaukee, posted on its own.
Looking ahead to July & August, both Your Roving Arts Reporter & our Web Editor, Magister Scott Bennett, will have a Lot of Free Time at the Salzburg Festival.
Early in this Year of Our Lord 2012, both the Bregenz & the Munich Festivals responded warmly to our Annual Joint Requests for Press Tickets.
Despite the Fact that I have been reporting on Salzburg since at least 1960--there were No Tickets Available…
It could be argued that, as I will be 84 Years Old on Christmas Eve 2012, I have seen Enough of Salzburg Opera Productions.
But there must be More to It than merely Age Discrimination?
Although Press Tix Requests were sent to Salzburg as early as December 2011, no response, Positive or Negative, was forthcoming as late as the End of May.
The Bayreuth Press Ticket Request was sent-- via Registered Mail--in December & it was Signed for.
Subsequently, both Salzburg & Bayreuth Requests were re sent several times, via E Mail.
Because one has to make Room Reservations very early--January or February is not too soon!--it is good to know by April or May, at least, if one is going to be sitting in one's Room, alone, or actually sitting in an Opera House…
Finally, after all those E Mails, I heard from the Salzburg Festival Press Office, on 10 June:
"Dear Mr. Loney:
"Thank you for your interest.
"We are very sorry to tell you that, due to the vast requests worldwide, we are forced to tell you that this summer we will not be able to accreditate [sic] you.
"It is not easy to write you this negative answer and thank you very much for your understanding.
That was the Unkindest Cut of all.
The Salzburg Festival has been around for a Long Time, having been founded in the early 1920s by the great Viennese Stage Director Max Reinhardt, among others.
As I have been reporting on this Magnificent Music Fest for some Five Decades, how did its Fame suddenly blossom Worldwide in 2012?
Thank you, Mozart Stadt Salzburg, for all those years when I was very welcome at the Festival, reporting for a variety of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Opera News, Opera Monthly, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Crafts, Western European Stages, & Opera, among others.
Do Not Get Old!
If you succeed in reaching That Destination, they no longer can "accreditate" you.
Nonetheless, as in many years past, I'd already reserved my usual room at the Schwarzes Rössl, a University Student Hostel used for Culture Tourists in summer.
Last Summer, 2011, the Bayreuth Press Office insisted it had never received my Request, although it had been sent & re sent.
Already last Autumn, the Bayreuth PR Office had made tickets available for 8 to 10 North American Music Critics-- who had never ever been to the Famed Festival before.
This generous Gesture came about through the Good Offices of our NAMC Secretary, Jean Jacques Van Vlassalaer.
I did not ask to be part of that Group, as I thought I was already an Old Timer in Bayreuth.
I first went to Bayreuth on my own ticket in 1956…
Finally, on 23 June, an E Mail arrived from the Bayreuth Press Office: I will have tickets to see the Productions of Flying Dutchman, Tristan & Isolde, Lohengrin, & Tannhäuser!
The Very Welcome Letter--from Fr. Friederike Emmerich--read, in part:
"In recent months, the Card Allocation Practice has been reformed.
"Surely you have heard about it.
"The Final Details could be clarified only recently. Therefore, we were able to process your order only now…
"We ask for your understanding for our difficult situation!
"See you in Summer!"
If No Tickets were to be forthcoming, I feared that this summer would be my Final Farewell to the splendid Baroque City of the Margravine Wilhelmine, who had Francesco Bibiena create an 18th Century Court Theatre for her, where her own Plays & Operas could be performed.
It was this very Theatre that first attracted Richard Wagner to Bayreuth, where he would found his World Famous Wagner Festival, in 1876.
More about the Problems in Ticket Allocation when I've talked to the Experts!
Even if one has no Press Access to Salzburg's Dazzling Stagings, there's always that Huge Siemens Screen behind the Cathedral, where you can watch the Operas Live & even Larger than Life!
Also, at Twilight, a Stroll through the Ancient Streets of Mozart's Home Town is always a Benediction!
Fortunately, there's always Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, & Bucharest to visit…
Great Opera, Ballet, & Drama Theatre in all of them!
PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:
•Brit "Old Boys" Seek Writing & Publishing Careers Beyond the Hallowed Halls of Cambridge…
At Potted Potter, there's a Lobby Sign warning the Audience that Herbal Cigarettes & British Accents will be used in the production.
The same sign might well be used for Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit, produced by Roundabout at the Laura Pels Theatre.
Varied British Accents are signifiers of the Social Origins of some able young men who have made it into Cambridge University.
There's one, however, who seems to be coughing himself to death: Watch that Nicotine!
They have come together to found a "Little Magazine," which will be a Literary Philosophical Journal, with High Standards & a Signature Name of The Common Pursuit.
Gray's Anatomy of their Rise in the World of Authors, Publishing, & Media Exploitation is carefully tracked, with increasingly Good Furniture.
There are the Usual Betrayals, both of Trust, Friendship, & Sexual Relationships.
Still, although The Common Pursuit is branded as "Elitist," by some potential Arts Council Funders, no one is accused of CIA Backing, as was Encounter, under Stephen Spender.
As a Writer who has had some disastrous experiences with Cambridge University Press & other British Editors & Publishers, Your Roving Arts Correspondent could certainly respond to certain Characters & Situations in Gray's play.
Moisés Kaufman directed an admirable cast, in Collegial & London Settings by Derek McLane.
•Surreal Swedish Cirkus Cirkör Returns to BAM with Wear It Like a Crown.
As I beheld the Great Frame that is the Strength & Support of the various Aerial Wonders in Wear It Like a Crown, I had, once again, the Sense of Déjà Vu.
Had I seen Sweden's Cirkus Cirkör at the Edinburgh Festival?
Possibly… They do Tour.
But, as I perused the BAM Program, I realized I had seen the Second Part of their Performance Trilogy at BAM way back in 2009, when they presented Inside Out.
Rebekka Karijord has provided the Title, from a Track on one of her Albums. All the Music & Lyrics in this show are her Creations.
The Characters are almost Surreal Clowns & Circus Acrobats & Jugglers.
There is a strange, Dream Like Quality to most of the Action, until some really dazzling Juggling, Knife Throwing, or Aerial Acrobatics explode on stage.
Initially, the BAM Audience savored these Feats in Silence, perhaps afraid to Applaud High Art.
But finally they gave in, astounded by the Physical Daring & Expertise.
Director Tilde Bjöfors deftly orchestrated this Circus Symphony…
•Rangoon Is Not Really About Rangoon, Which, in any case, Is Now Called Yangon.
Playwright Mayank Keshaviah suggests that Rangoon is an Amer Asian Version of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
That's perhaps pushing the envelope a bit, as the Hindu Dad of the Patel Family ends up in Handcuffs.
Not Dead on the Highway…
The Patels of Indian Gujarat were once wealthy & respected in their Homeland.
One of them--who now haunts the transplanted Dhiraj Patel [Faizul Khan]--invested in Burma, only to be ejected twice, losing everything.
Hence, the Title of Rangoon, for Keshaviah wants to reference the Gujarati Experience Abroad apparently.
But Myanmar is not America & Rangoon is not Yangon.
Not anymore, for both Chinese & Indian Merchants are no longer Welcome there.
Dhiraj's Problem is that he is Rigid & Unyielding in his Attitudes toward his Wiser Wife, Athlete Son, & Americanized Daughter.
Running a Seven Eleven, Dhiraj is delighted by a Frequent Customer, to whom he unwittingly sells what's needed to manufacture Crystal Meth.
But this is a Set Up, a Sting. So he's led off in Cuffs…
Not exactly a Willy Loman…
Praying to Ganesh, the Elephant God of Impossible Outcomes is no longer an Option.
Nonetheless, the play is interesting, dealing with the Adjustment Problems of New Americans from the Asian Sub Continent.
Tisa Chang is to be congratulated for producing this drama in this, the 35th Season of the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre.
Your Roving Arts Reporter was there, at Ellen Stewart's LaMaMa Theatre, when Tisa Chang first produced a drama introducing New Yorkers to a World unknown to most of them.
•Ellsworth Kelly's Outline Drawings of Plants, Flowers, & Leaves Leave Nothing To Be Desired…
In a time when many Major Artists of the Abstractionist Collagist Installationist Videoist Persuasions probably could not draw a simple Outline of a Tree, it is refreshing to discover that a Major Abstractionist, Ellsworth Kelly, can indeed draw Outlines from Nature in a clean, clear Line of Ink or Graphite.
Oddly enough, some of Kelly's 75 Drawings on view at the Met Museum--until 3 September 2012--are so simple that they hardly draw attention to themselves.
There is no Cross Hatching, Stippling, or Shading. Just the Fine Line…
But some of the Outlines are filled in with bold Colors: Yellows, Blues, Reds…
See Seaweed as Kelly sees seaweed!
•Harold Clurman, Stella Adler, & Lee Strasberg Remembered: Group Theatre at CUNY.
Mel Gordon [UC/Berkeley Prof] is the Expert on The Group Theatre & he has a Computer crammed with Old Photos, Movie Clips, & Interviews with the Group's Luminaries.
The Group Theatre Afternoon & Evening--Co Curated by Gordon & Ronald Rand--reminded Oldsters in the CUNY Grad Center Audience of the Glory Days of Depression Era Realist Theatre.
Gordon's Nominal Thesis is "How the Group Theatre Transformed American Culture."
That may be overstating the case for the Group's Influence, but Lee Strasberg's Method certainly left its mark on many, many Actors of Stage, Screen, & Radio.
Nonetheless, a number of the Group's Fugitives from Second Avenue Yiddish Theatre sincerely wanted to build a Better World, using starkly Realistic Drama as a Tool.
Clifford Odets made his mark, then went to Hollywood: "Odets, where is thy sting?"
But, when the Red Scare suddenly loomed in the late 1940s & 1950s, some, like Elia Kazan, Named Names.
Among the many Memory Crammed Group Groupies & Descendants were John Strasberg, Ellen Adler, Fritz Weaver, & Laila Robins.
Among the Participants was my long ago PhD Candidate, Joanna Rotté.
When Joanna came to me with Fourteen Years of Notes that she'd jotted down during that long Stretch as an Acting Student of the eternally glamorous Stella Adler, I regretfully had to point out that all those Notes didn't really constitute a Dissertation.
Joanna's detailed descriptions of the various Acting Exercises Stella had prescribed were, indeed, fascinating. But, by themselves, they gave no Clue to the Adler Overview.
Actually, Stella was more Inspirational than Organized.
So I helped Joanna devise a Structural Outline into which the Exercises could be logically fit.
When Dr. Rotté was finished, she had, in effect, created an Adler Overview.
When she took the results to Stella--Stella! Stella for Star!--Adler was surprised at what she had wrought.
As for Harold Clurman--who once was married to Stella--Ronald Rand is a One Man Clurman Band.
He even impersonates Clurman, somewhat in the manner of Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight.
Harold once had an Office next to mine at the CUNY Grad Center, when it was on West 42nd Street. We were both Professors in the CUNY PhD in Theatre Program.
But I already knew Clurman as one of America's Greatest Drama Critics from my own UC College Days. His Lies Like Truth is still a kind of Critical Bible…
My first actual contact with Harold was when he came to the offices of the Long Defunct Theatre Arts Magazine. He had brought in a Rough Draft of a Meditation of the Future of Broadway Theatre.
Because Clurman was not only a respected Broadway Critic, but also an Award Winning Broadway Director, he was uniquely qualified to comment.
But our Editor, Leota Diesel, wanted me to help polish the piece…
How could I dare to improve on Clurman Commentaries. So I only Cut It To Fit.
As for Lee Strasberg, his Unpaid & Free Will Press Rep called me to ask if I'd interview Lee for a Series I was doing for Cue Magazine: In the Words of…
Lee even wanted me to come to his Apartment so I could see the Hundreds of Books he had stuffed into the seemingly endless Bookcases: Theatre, Stanislavksi, Theatre History, Stanislavksi, Drama, Stanislavksi, Acting, Stanislavksi, Directing…
We got on so well that Lee invited me to drop by the Actors Studio anytime I was in the Neighborhood, to watch Broadway's Great & Famous perform Short Scenes, which Lee would then dissect in detail, without Anesthetic.
These Sessions he had taped for Posterity!
I had never before seen Mel Gordon in action. I think it would be an Exciting--as well as Inspirational--Experience to take a Class with him!
•Chimichangas in the Google Building: Atlantic Theatre Also Provides Zoloft…
Oddly enough, the demanding, exacting, furious father, Alejandro Lopez [Alfredo Narciso], in Chimichangas & Zoloft, is rather like the Rigid Dad in Rangoon.
But there are some Differences…
His haunted Wife, Sonia [the excellent Zabryna Guevara], has run off from Home, Hearth, Husband, & Daughter.
Zoloft is not really enough to deal with her Alienation & Fears…
Of course, their Union was somewhat doomed from the Outset, as Alejandro is at least Bi Sexual.
It's unfortunate for Daughter Penelope [Xochitl Romero] that the Father [Teddy Cañez] of her Best Friend, Jackie Martinez [Carmen Zilles], is the Passionate Object of Alejandro's Violent Affections.
Fernanda Coppel's Hispanic American Family Drama is brilliantly Structured, with the Agonies of the various Characters sensitively--even amusingly--explored.
The Drama is set in Los Angeles, California!
But this fascinating Atlantic Theatre Production takes place in the Sub Basement of what's now the Google Building on West 16th Street.
Jaime Castañeda has staged the swift moving scenes with Wit & Brilliance. The Interactions of the two Teen Age Girls seems especially Authentic.
The necessarily repressed Passions of the Two Dads is explosively astonishing…
•Strange Man in a Strange Landscape: Will Eno's Title & Deed at the Signature.
New Yorker Drama Critic John Lahr raved & raved about this show.
That may be because the Monologist, Conor Lovett, is essentially a Clown.
Something like Lahr's famous Father, Bert Lahr, who said of Lay's Potato Chips: "I'll only eat one more."
Although Will Eno is extravagantly admired by some Playwriting Mavens, he is no Sam Beckett.
Nor is Title & Deed anywhere near the circuitous insightfulness of Krapp's Last Tape…
•My Kin, Sir Winston Churchill, Demonstrates His Rhetorical Genius at the Morgan.
Of the Rhetorical & Oratorical Gifts of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, the famed Broadcast Commentator Edward R. Murrow once said: "He mobilized the English Language & sent it into Battle!"
Even before the Battle of the Blitz, when Nazi Bombers destroyed Coventry & laid waste of much of the City of London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was rhetorically rallying the British People to the defense of their Historic Liberties.
The handsomely designed exhibition now at the Morgan Library is simply titled: Churchill: The Power of Words.
But it is not all Faded Manuscripts or Printed Texts.
There are two Visual Centerpieces. One is the Two Page Illuminated Citation for Sir Winston's Nobel Prize for Literature. Complete with the Nobel Gold Medal…
Both the Morgan's Director, William Griswold, & Allen Packwood--Director of the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge--agree that the Morgan is the Right Venue for this exhibition.
Many of the Morgan's remarkable First Editions & Rare Manuscripts contain Ideas & Verbal Formulations that inspired Churchill, both as a Man of Action & an Author of much admired Histories.
The second Visual Centerpiece is the Award of US Citizenship, created by Act of Congress & signed by President John F. Kennedy in April 1963.
Churchill's Special US Passport is also on display.
The former Prime Minister of Great Britain was the First Foreign National to be so honored.
But many people may not know that Churchill was at least Half American, for his Mother, Jennie Jerome, was born in Brooklyn!
Jerome Avenue in the Bronx is named for her Wealthy Dad, Leonard Jerome, who is buried in Brooklyn's Green Wood Cemetery…
Jennie was one of those American Heiresses, married off by Rich & Socially Ambitious American Parents to European Titles.
Like Conseulo Vanderbilt, who was married to Churchill's Illustrious Relative, the Duke of Marlborough.
An outstanding Media Feature of this exhibition is an Audio Visual Space, where you can see Vintage Photos, as well as Major Churchill Texts on three screens.
Because Churchill--as a Young Man, launching a Career--had No Money & No Real Title of Nobility, he resolved to make himself financially independent through writing Books.
So, as a British Army Officer, he got himself posted to such far flung Outposts as Cuba, what's now Pakistan, & he fought in the Boer War in South Africa.
The Title of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, did not pass to him when Dad died. Churchill was, instead, "The Honourable" Winston Churchill.
Even after Hitler was defeated, Churchill declined being made a Lord. He wanted to sit in the House of Commons, where he had always proved a pugnacious & witty Debater.
The Exhibition is divided into what could be called The Eight Ages of Churchill: The Child, The Soldier, The Young Tribune, The Locust Years, The Finest Hour, The Grand Alliance, The Elder Statesman, & The Twilight Years, when Churchill painted Landscapes & was often a Guest on Aristotle Onassis' Yacht…
The various Artifacts in this show come from Churchill's Country House, Chartwell, in Kent & more importantly from the Churchill Archives Center, in Cambridge.
This is, of course, the Real Cambridge, not that one near Boston…
In fact, the Archives are lodged in Churchill College, of Cambridge University, where the genial Allen Packwood is also available for Questions about Churchill & Requests for Research in the Churchill Papers.
Log on to DiscoverChurchill.org, a Website jointly created by the Morgan Library & the Churchill Archives Center to generate interest in Churchill, especially for Educators & a Younger Audience.
Churchill's most famous American Address--in which he invoked the Image of an Iron Curtain descending across Europe--was made an a small, virtually unknown College in Fulton, MO.
"Why in Fulton?" I asked Allen Packwood. "Why not at Harvard or Yale?"
"Your President, Harry S. Truman, with whom he'd developed a close personal friendship, invited him. Truman, after all, lived in Independence, Missouri!"
Well! I should have figured that out for myself.
When I went to Independence, to visit Truman's Presidential Library, I also went into town to look for Truman's Family Home.
There he was, out mowing the lawn! Bess called from an Upstairs Window: "Harry, don't miss that grass in the corner!"
Or did I just Dream this scene…
Incidental Intelligence: Nonetheless, as I am Related by Marriage to Sir Winston, I'd like to share the following Memoir, made for members of my family in California, who had No Idea about where we came from…
MY KIN: WINSTON CHURCHILL!
NOTES ON DANGERFIELD BUSHER FAMILY CONNECTIONS!
BY GLENN LONEY
©GLENN LONEY 2008
[RECORDED IN RESPONSE TO FAMILY REQUESTS FOR GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION!]
Through Grandma Alice Dangerfield Busher--who was Mother & Uncle Fred's step mother--we are related to George Cornwallis West, a direct descendant of General Cornwallis, who surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown.
Called "the handsomest man in Europe," George was Alice's first cousin. He married Brooklyn born Jennie Jerome, widow of Lord Randolph Churchill.
This made him Sir Winston Churchill's step father, even though he was ten years younger & Sir Winston disliked him intensely.
Because of this tenuous Family Connection & Sam Wanamaker's intervention, I was allowed to photograph the great portrait of Sir Winston which graces the 400 year old Speech Hall at Harrow on the Hill.
This is the historic Public School where both Sir Winston & George Gordon, Lord Byron, were "Old Boys" & had carved their names in the wall of an ancient classroom, which I was also permitted to photograph.
When Jennie tired of George--who was apparently something of a "Lounge Lizard," sleeping around, as the Married Edwardian Elite so often did--he then married the celebrated Actress/Manager, Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
"Mrs. Pat" was famed for her dictum about Sex: "It's all right, as long as you don't do it in the street & frighten the horses!"
When Mrs. Pat tired of George, she divorced him, but he was still in play, so he married a teen age heiress, Georgette Hirsch.
She was not Jewish, but had married a very old Jewish Financier, who promptly died, leaving her very rich.
George used some of this dowry to restore the Cornwallis Family Castle, in Denby, Wales.
I would never have found out our Cornwallis West Connection had I not needed to have a Xerox copy made of one of Mrs. Pat's Prompt Scripts, preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum's Theatre Collection.
It was a play by our celebrated American Novelist, Edith Wharton, which I discovered Mrs. Pat had virtually re written for London, after its failure in New York.
I needed to document her revisions, but the Curator said the Manuscript was too fragile to put on the machine.
Defeated--although they would have permitted me to copy it out by hand over several weeks!--I went up to Yorkshire to visit Uncle Arthur & Aunt Margaret Dangerfield.
Uncle Arthur was Grandma Alice's brother: his health having been adversely affected by his Medical Studies at the University of Edinburgh, his Professors had advised him to emulate Theodore Roosevelt, author of The Strenuous Life.
President Roosevelt had recovered his own health by going out West to work on a Cattle Ranch in Montana.
Uncle Arthur became a "Limey Cowboy"--he used this title on a BBC Broadcast about his romance with the State of California!--on the Black Brothers' High Sierra Summer Cattle Range.
Curiously, the Black Pastures were next to the Loney Brothers' Summer Range & the Blacks were also our cousins.
But at that point, Uncle Arthur could have had no idea he'd eventually have a kind of family connection with the Loneys!
He returned to Britain, but he had no money to "buy a practice," as young doctors had to do at that time: see AJ Cronin's The Citadel for background…
So he came back to California, taking the first day of the State Medical Exam on 17 April 1906.
That evening he went to see Enrico Caruso as Don José in Carmen, at the San Francisco Opera.
In the middle of the night, the front wall fell off the rooming house where he was staying.
It was the Great San Francisco Quake & Fire!
He was immediately certified as a Surgeon & appointed by General "Black Jack" Pershing to serve at the Presidio of San Francisco, overseeing the Chinese Refugee Camp there.
[I have given Pershing's Orders in Chinese & other Dangerfield Artifacts to the Bancroft Library at UC/Berkeley, but I also deposited some California Items in the American Museum, in Bath, England. These include his Western Saddle & Bridle from the High Sierras!]
Subsequently, Uncle Arthur set up a Surgery in North San Juan, above Nevada City.
Aunt Margaret actually came out to California to see her Intended Mate, but she had to return to England to care for her aged mother.
So Uncle Arthur also had to go back to Britain, to marry his sweetheart.
But his Tombstone--in the Parish Churchyard, in Sinnington, in the Yorkshire Dales--records him as a Citizen of California!
On my annual summer visit to the 18th Century "Overbeck Cottage" in Sinnington that was the Dangerfield's home in retirement, I mentioned my Problem with the V&A Xerox machine.
"Now that Stella is dead, you are as close as anyone in the family to Mrs. Pat!"
I was astounded: "I am related to Mrs. Patrick Campbell?"
"Yes," Aunt Margaret said. "George Cornwallis West was your grandmother's first cousin!"
Neither Uncle Arthur nor Grandma Alice had ever mentioned Cousin George.
"He was a cad! An embarrassment to the family…"
"But, if I had known that, I'd have asked Sir Winston for an interview!"
"Yes, we were afraid of that. So we said nothing at all about this relationship."
The next summer, when I arrived in Sinnington, I was reading the sad memories of Princess Daisy, officially known by the Style & Title of Princess Henry of Pless.
She was married to Queen Victoria's son, Prince Henry of Pless, who was the Nominal Ruler of a Principality somewhere in Germany.
Princess Daisy was a Belle of Aristocratic Victorian/Edwardian Society, but her goatish husband treated her swinishly. Or so it was said…
Her painful marriage was rather like that of her American Counterpart, Consuelo Vanderbilt, who had been married off to the piggish Duke of Marlborough, Sir Winston's cousin.
Consuelo freed herself eventually, to marry an admirable Frenchman, Jacques Balsan, becoming Consuelo Vanderbilt Marlborough/Spencer Balsan!
When I told Aunt Margaret how moving I found Princess Daisy's memoire, she told me that Daisy was George's sister!
The next summer in Yorkshire, i was reading about the Duke of Westminster's yacht, in a scene from Noël Coward's comedy, Private Lives.
I shared this with Aunt Margaret, who said: "George & Daisy's sister was Constance, Duchess of Westminster!"
So our remote relatives, the Cornwallis Wests, seem to have done very well for themselves in the Edwardian Marriage Market!
In addition to the Cornwallis Connection, the Dangerfields were also related to Sabine Baring Gould, who is most famous for writing Onward, Christian Soldiers!
Then there's our Edinburgh Barrister Cousin, Nigel McVicar, who was a Queen's Counsel, or QC.
During World War II, as a British Paratrooper, he helped liberate Greece from the Nazi Occupation!
Subsequently, he married the lovely Marina, whose late father had a Castle on the Island of Corfu!
[When I was teaching Classic Drama in Athens in 1958, I went to visit Marina's mother, Madame Roussaki--she had divorced Marina's dad--who lived on a Santa Barbara Style Estate, complete with Pool, in Psychico, the most exclusive suburb of Athens.]
When I came down to London from the Yorkshire Dales, the Xerox copy was waiting for me!
I didn't have to invoke my family connection with Mrs. Pat.
The reason was that the two most important Trustees of the Theatre Collection were my friends, Ray Mander & Joe Mitchenson, who had edited that Collection of Coward Plays!
In which the Duke of Westminster's Yacht had a Small Role…
End of notable family connection tales!
•Anyone Seen a Giant White Rabbit Around Here? Jim Parsons & Harvey Delight Jaded Playgoers
It may look easy to play a Guileless, Open Faced, Generous, Simple Man, but Jim Parsons' impersonation of Elwood P. Dowd is on a level of Charm that's hard to match.
As for the Performance of his almost Constant Companion, it is difficult to asses the Talents of the Pookah, Harvey, as he is invisible to the Audience & most of the large Cast on stage.
Pookahs--as most Rabbit Raisers may already know--are Giant White Rabbits, who cannot be seen by those who do not have Pure Souls. But they are sometimes Visible to people who are a little bit Crazy…
Elwood--who does like a Drink or Two or Three--inherited the Magnificent Mansion in which he lives with his Frantic Sister, Veta Louise Simmons [an hilarious Jessica Hecht], & her Boy Friend Starved Daughter, Myrtle May [a supercharged Tracee Chimo].
Veta Louise conspires to get Elwood committed to a Local Clinic/Asylum, so she can sell the Mansion & launch Myrtle May properly In Society, with a View to a Good Marriage.
But she acts so completely Unhinged when she arrives with Elwood--plus the Unseen Harvey--that she's immediately Processed…
The Entire Cast acts with such Outrageous Bravado that they all seem to be contending for Tonys.
Notable are Charles Kimbrough, Larry Bryggman, Carol Kane, Morgan Spector, & Holly Fain.
Also a Star of the Show is the remarkable Three Turntable Setting of David Rockwell, who designed the New & Improved FAO Schwartz Shop.
From the Handsome Victorian Dowd Drawing Room, the Turntables silently revolve to reveal an equally Handsome Art Deco Clinic!
Kudos also to Costumier Jane Greenwood, as well as to Tom Watson for Wigs & Hair Styling…
When Elwood explains to the baffled Psychiatrist that he made a Choice between Reality & the Way He Lives Now, a Laugh & a Sigh emerges from an Audience that may well wish it could make the Same Choice
In its day, Mary Chase's Harvey was a Big Hit.
Her next play, Mrs. McThing--even starring Helen Hayes--was a flop. Go Figure…
The apparent success of the new, somewhat re tooled Harvey suggests that in these Bad Times, it may be a Good Idea to revive some other Comic Masterpieces of American Theatre History?
How about Life with Father?
Or Gene O'Neill's only comedy: Ah, Wilderness?
You Can't Take It With You, anyone?
•Not Spamalot, but Medieval Play, Written & Directed by Kenneth Lonergan…
If you are a Devout Catholic, Ken Lonergan's Vision of the Middle Ages may not be Your Show…
Even as a Lapsed Methodist, I was both surprised & shocked to hear the word Motherfucker emerge from the Sainted Lips of St. Catherine of Sienna!
Indeed, it's a bit unsettling to watch Two Brave Knights in Armor discuss their Knightly Obligations to Rape, Pillage, Burn, & Murder for the Greater Glory of a Papal Faction.
If you have ever read any of the Magnificent Illuminated Medieval Texts in the Morgan Library, nowhere will you find--even in Vulgar Latin--such words as Shit & Fuck.
Nonetheless, in Longergan's Medieval France & the Italian Papal States, these are Common Currency.
Thanks to the Comic Book Scenes of Walt Spangler, we are Morgan Libraried to such Famous Places as Avingnon & Rome.
We have Popes & Anti Popes, as well as Corrupt Cardinals, with their Sexy Wenches…
Both Popes & Cardinals are Hilariously Outfitted by Michael Krass, who is also to be congratulated on achieving Bulky Medieval Armor that will permit not only fierce Sword Play but the occasional Jig.
Unlike the Monty Python Funsters, Lonergan is not mocking Our Received Idea of what the Middle Ages must have been like.
He is really trying to cram Several Hundred Years of Military & Social History into the Two Hours & Forty Five Minutes Traffic of the Signature Stage.
But it's really Too Much.
We don't need to hear the Advice of a Medieval Venetian Emily Post on Table Etiquette.
Especially when Our Knights are going to end the Feast by Raping & Slaying their Hostess & Host…
Still, it is amusing to hear one Valiant Soldier--or was it one of those Peasants the Knights were always Slaying--ask plaintively: "When is this Hundred Years War ever going to be over?"
Ken Lonergan--who also staged, so no one at Signature could tell him to cut, cut cut!--has obviously read Too Much about the Middle Ages.
It's rather like Peter Shaffer with The Royal Hunt of the Sun.
When Peter first let me read the Unproduced Script, it was about Eight Hours Long in Playing Time.
Peter confessed: "I put in everything I'd learned from Prescott's Conquest of Peru!"
Nonetheless, Lonergan has been blessed with a Marvelous Fun Loving Cast, led by Josh Hamilton & Tate Donovan as Two Comely Knights, with Anthony Arkin--among other Roles--as Pope Urban VI.
John Pankow is both Villainous & Hilarious as the Blood Thirsty Cardinal Robert of Geneva, later Pope Clement VII, as well as a badly blowing Horn Bearing Herald.
What a shame Signature cannot take this production intact to Vatican City, so Pope Benedictus could savor its Message…
•Two Pairs of Siblings--One Female, One Male--with Serious Problems about Home…
Alberto Bassetti has crafted two Two Handers about Siblings with Problems: Two Sisters--Two Brothers.
The Really Big Problem about the Sisters Play is that they seem to be Stranded Actresses who are Infected by Chekhov.
Notably by his Uncle Vanya, but also with overtones of The Three Sisters, The Seagull, & The Cherry Orchard…
Director Mark Schneider keeps his Two Sisters--the admirable Nicole Lowrance & Lindsey Gates--in constant, frenetic Action, but the Play is mostly about what has happened in the Past. Not a Conflict or Inter Action generated by a Present Problem.
Although one Sister seems to have lost the Family Home to Loan Sharks…
Cut down those Cherry Trees or Move to Moscow!
Valentina Fratti has sensitively staged the Two Brothers Interlude, with moving performances by Joel Repman & Jeffrey Parrillo.
Here, a Family Home has almost been stripped of Furnishings, to provide for the Needs of an Out of It Dad who hasn't the decency to die.
The Stay at Home Brother despairs of his Foot loose Younger Sibling, who has been to India & other Fabled & Mythic Lands in the Search for Enlightenment.
Also, possibly Pot & other Substances to achieve the Nirvana Sensation…
•Give Me That Ole Time Religion! Praying In John Patrick Shanley's Storefront Church…
This is the Third & Final Drama in John Patrick Shanley's "Church & State Trilogy."
Doubt was doubtless the Best out of Three: it was even a very good Film!
Unfortunately, Shanley--who also directed for the Atlantic Theatre, in its newly renovated HQs--has constructed a Confrontational Drama which seems, finally, Contrived…
A really taut play about Sub Prime Mortgages has still to be written, although it's at the Center of Shanley's Religio Socio Political Bronx African American Latino White Guy Banker Tsurris.
At the Close, almost everyone seemed to have Got Religion…
The excellent cast included Tonya Pinkins, Bob Dishey, Zach Grenier, Jordan Lage, Ron Cephas Jones, & Giancarlo Esposito!
•Stop the Presses! Women War Correspondents on the Italian Front in World War II.
Even in the midst of a Very Dangerous Situation--in which American Troops are besieged by the Nazi Wehrmacht--there's Time for Romance in the Allied Press Room at the Front!
War Reporters Virginia Cowles & Martha Gellhorn long ago crafted a charming World War II Formula Comedy--Love Goes To Press--which has been wonderfully recreated, with Period Details, at the Mint Theatre.
Outstanding among the Strong Cast are the Three Central Women: Heidi Armbruster, Angela Pierce, & Margot White.
Also admirable are Brad Cover, Curzon Dobell, & Rob Breckenridge…
Among the Newspapers represented by War Correspondents are the San Francisco Dispatch, the New York Bulletin, & the San Francisco World.
Whether Male or Female Playwrights, they don't write Sure Fire Comedies like this anymore!
Hurry off to the Mint for some real Theatre Coinage!
That Martha Gellhorn was once married to Ernie Hemingway--also a Noted War Correspondent--adds a certain Frisson to the Proceedings.
[Walter Gellhorn--the Son of that Famous Match--was once in one of my English Classes at Stanford.
[Our Prof--wanting to Show Off--asked Walter if he'd heard from his father recently?
[Annoyed, Walter replied: "Oh, he's probably in Pamplona, running with the Bulls, or something. Maybe the Matador will give him Two Ears from the Bull…"]
•Do You Really Want Back the Man Who Got Away? Gina Gionfriddo Offers Some Warnings!
Previously, I've admired some of the dramas of Gina Gionfriddo, especially her After Ashley & Becky Shaw, both shown at the Humana Festival in Louisville.
But Rapture, Blister, Burn--shown at Playwrights Horizons--failed to Enrapture or even raise a Blister.
An Ex Alcoholic Housewife long ago stole the Boyfriend of her Chum, now a Single College Professor. With a Very Wise Old Mother…
Getting that Lazy SOB back isn't worth the Effort, as he has No Ambition Whatsoever.
It was an Interesting Idea to have a Feminist Grad Seminar with only Two Students--fortunately, both Female--taught in the Prof's Home…
Do you get MA Credits for such Studies?
Good Cast, directed by Peter DuBois. Cleverly designed Scooting Settings by Alexander Dodge!
•Gourmet Cooking in Bethlehem, Under Israeli Occupation: Food & Fadwa…
Lameece Issaq--who wonderfully anchors Food & Fadwa, at the New York Theatre Workshop--began this fascinating Family Drama, co authored with Jacob Kader, as a film audition for Be The Next Food Network Star.
As Fadwa Faranesh--the Family Caregiver for their Demented Old Baba [Laith Nakli]--she charmingly welcomes the Theatre Audience into her Arab Christian Kitchen in Bethlehem, where she is Cooking Up a Storm of Hummus & other Arab Goodies.
This is, of course, the Real Bethlehem--in the so called Holy Land--not the one in Pennsylvania.
Old Baba's beloved Olive Grove was cut down by Israelis & Life is very Difficult for both Christian & Muslim Arabs who must, somehow, manage to live with Israeli Walls & Multiple Checkpoints & Body Searches.
America seems to offer the only Avenue of Escape for these Disenfranchised Palestinians.
But Fadwa believes that she cannot live a Fully Arab Palestinian Life outside the old Family Home in Bethlehem, despite frequent Israeli Imposed Curfews, Food Rationing, & Israeli Snipers, who are desperately trying to protect New Settlers from Arab Terrorists.
The fact that Arab Palestinians had been living in the Holy Land for hundreds & hundreds of years does not protect them from the current Zionist Israeli Expansionism, in which even Super Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn are welcomed back to Biblical Lands left hundreds & hundreds of years ago.
The Mantra is that "You cannot live a Fully Jewish Life outside Israel!"
But where does that leave the Palestinian Arabs, be they Christian or Muslim?
Food & Fadwa is not confrontationally about such Questions. It's more of a Family Problem Play.
Love & Betrayal, plus lots of Good Food! Stuff like that…
The fine tuned Cast has been stunningly directed by Shana Gold!
•Slowgirl Inaugurates the Brand New Claire Tow Theatre on Top of the Vivian Beaumont!
The Slowgirl in question does not actually appear onstage in Greg Pierce's peculiar tale of Hiding Out in Costa Rica.
This Retard has been the Fatal Victim of a Teenage Prank, urged on her by Becky [Sarah Steele], who encouraged her to believe that she could fly on Gossamer Wings.
No Way, José!
So the anguished & fearful Becky has fled to her Alienated Uncle Sterling [Zeljko Ivanek], now living in Isolation in the Jungles of Costa Rica, owing to a Long Ago Scandal & Disappointment in Love.
The most Interesting Event of the Evening occurs when his Makeshift Shack rises into the air, to reveal a Maze, or Labyrinth, into which Sterling likes to Penetrate & then Meditate.
This Odd Adventure--staged by Anne Kauffman--opens the new bare bones LCT3, or Claire Tow Theatre, atop the Vivian Beaumont, which is, itself, atop the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre.
This is essentially a Black Box Theatre, which works OK.
What do not work, however, are the Brass Seat Numbers, deeply embedded into the front edges of the Plushy Seats, where they cannot easily be deciphered…
These all need to be removed & screwed into the Tops of the Seats, where they can be read!
•Going Crazy at MAD: New Shows Feature American Indian Art & Elegant Jewelry!
Sited on the South Side of Columbus Circle--facing that Conventional Columbus on a Column--MAD, or The Museum of Arts & Design was once the Huntington Hartford Gallery.
But that's Another Story: How this Rich & Feckless Heir squandered Millions on Personal Pecadillos & Arts Fantasies…
In fact, Hunt so loved the Performing Arts that he founded a magazine devoted to them: SHOW, it was called, during its all too brief Life. Indeed, Your Roving Arts Correspondent was one of SHOW's Contributing Editors.
For a time, as no one seemed to know what to do with this Odd Shaped Structure--with a bizarre Real Estate Footprint on the Circle--it was the Foster Child of New York City's Cultural Affairs Department, giving Office Space to the Former Miss America, Bess Myerson.
Bess--who then lived in my Co op--was appointed Cultural Commissioner by Mayor Ed Koch, whose Campaign she had aided by demonstrating that he, although a Confirmed Bachelor, was Not One of Those Guys…
When MAD took over the Premises, an ingenious re design finally made the Gallery Floors viable.
A handsome Restaurant is now on the top floor, with Magnificent Views of Central Park, Broadway, & the Twin Towers of Time Warner!
On the floor below, the Sixth, open Artists' Studios invite MAD Visitors to watch Art at Work…
Special Shows are attractively deployed & displayed on the floors below. Two are especially worth a visit:
Changing Hands: Art without Reservation 3…
Once, on the Road in Arizona, I saw a Sign that read: FRIENDLY INDIANS BEHIND YOU!
With Arizona's Drastic Immigration Policies, you certainly do want to Watch Your Back out there!
When I turned the Volkswagen around, I found Shack festooned with Indian Banners & Native Artifacts.
These Navahos--or were they Apaches?--were indeed Smiling, ready to exchange my Gringo Wampum for Beaded Moccasins & Many Feathered Charms.
Now, right here in Manhattan, you can also see some Beaded Moccasins, but they aren't from the American Southwest, nor are they For Sale.
They are among the many Fascinating Creations--not all of them directly inspired by Sacred Rituals or Ancient Traditions--of Contemporary Arts by American Indians of the Northeast & the Southeast.
Off the Reservation, indeed! Not quite the same thing as Without Reservations…
Here are some Stunning Examples of Works on View!
[Insert Parade of Dazzling Images here!]
If you are unable to visit MAD for this colorful, imaginative show, do get the handsome colorfully illustrated Catalogue: Changing Hands: Art without Reservation 3.
It has a Foreword by Holly Hotchner, Director of MAD, as well as an instructive essay by Ellen Taubman, who--with David Revere McFadden--curated this Magnificent Exhibition.
The Catalogue costs $42.95. It can be ordered from MAD: Google their Website!
Space Light Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta…
As an Old Timer at the Oakland Museum--on hand for its Opening all those years ago--Your Roving Arts Correspondent was both surprised & pleased to note that this splendidly mounted show originated at what's now known as The Oakland Museum of California!
Possibly, this Re Naming will prevent it from being confused with any similar Institution in, say, Oakland, Michigan?
But the remarkable Jewelry, Ceramics, & Flatware that Margaret De Patta designed--when she was at the Height of her Powers in the Bay Area--are Not To Be Missed!
De Patta was what we Art History Students at UC/Berkeley used to call a Bay Area Artist.
She was Bay Area Based & best known to Museums & Collectors there.
She had an unusual Home in the Napa Valley & her Archives are now located in Point Richmond!
What is especially notable is the Influence that the Weimar German Bauhaus & the Chicago Bauhaus had on her transformation from an Easel Painter into an Innovative Designer of Rings, Brooches, & Pendants who transformed Translucent Stones & Silver Mountings into Works of Art, rather than mere Adornments.
Laszlo Moholy Nagy--a fortunate Bauhaus Fugitive from Nazi Germany--captured her Imagination, so much so that she even went to Chicago to study the Bauhaus Aesthetic.
Fortunately, Moholy Nagy came to the Bay Area, teaching at Mills College--where French Composer Darius Milhaud was also in residence.
But his Examples & Exhortations were also enlarged by De Patta's interest in Soviet Constructivism, which offered her New Inspirations.
Margaret De Patta was, in effect, a Modernist--even a Post Modernist--before any Art Pundits began to use the term.
I was at UC/Berkeley from 1946 50, so I missed Moholy Nagy, but not his wife, Sybil, who kept the Sacred Flame burning at the Bauhaus Altar.
Although I worked with Milhaud on some French Drama Productions at UC & came to know some Outstanding Bay Area Artists, I regret that I never got to know Margaret De Patta.
This may have had something to do with the fact that she & her second husband were viewed as "Lefties."
She was teaching at the Tom Mooney Labor School, renamed the California Labor School.
With the Post War Rise of McCarthyism, anyone connected with such Socialist Experiments was immediately tainted. De Patta & hubby were Blacklisted!
This was a Time of Terror at UC.
Even working as a Classroom Janitor while a Student, I had to sign a Loyalty Oath that I would not Overthrow the Government of the State of California!
UC Profs who refused to Sign were summarily dismissed…
But De Patta's Marketing Problems with some of her stunning designs had little to do with her Politics.
She was too far ahead of Received Taste…
Finally, at the Dawn of the 1960s, things were not going well for Margaret De Patta.
Deeply Depressed, in 1964, she ended her Life.
Here are some Outstanding Examples of De Patta's Designs:
[Insert Parade of Dazzling Images here!]
If you are unable to visit MAD for this colorful, imaginative show, do get the handsome colorfully illustrated Catalogue: Space Light Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta.
It has a Foreword by Holly Hotchner, Director of MAD, as well as instructive essays by Ursula Ilse Neuman, Glenn Adamson, & Julie M. Muñiz.
The Catalogue can be ordered from MAD: Google their Website!
•Moments at MoMA: Everything You Always Wanted To See of Alighiero Boetti's Artworks!
If you feel you have been deprived of Arte Povera in recent years, you may well be amazed at the Profligate Plethora of Artworks by Italy's Alighiero Boetti, now on view on the Sixth Floor of MoMA.
But there's even More!
In MoMA's Great Atrium--where Marina Abramovicz [sp?] once sat for hours & days, challenging Museum Visitors to Break Her Concentration--you can now behold, on the Great Floor, what looks like a Middle Eastern Carpet Show…
These are Original Designs by Alighiero Boetti which bear an Uncanny Resemblance to those Scan Patterns you see everywhere, available for Cell Phone Snapshots, making them then Apps on your iPhone [©™©™©].
There seems to be No Art Form--or Potential Art Materials--that Alighiero Boetti has not tried out.
My Favorite is his Mappa, which exists in several editions.
The many Nations of the World--encased in their Respective Continents--are not shown in terms of Geology or Geography.
Rather, they are blanketed by their National Flags!
There is a Catalogue, but I did not receive a Press Copy because they Cost Money & I am not working for the New York Times…
•The State of the European Union: Wise Words from Denmark, at CUNY Grad Center…
This is the Year of the Danish Presidency of the European Union…
So anyone who has some Euros left over from a recent Trip to Europe would have been interested in what Ambassador Jarl Frijs Madsen had to say at the CUNY Graduate Center at the end of June.
All is not yet Lost, but Hard Working, Tax Paying Germans are determined Not to inflict Inflation on their Economy.
Which is a Distinct Possibility if Troubled European Economies are Bailed Out…
Austerity is not the Answer!
A Central Problem with the so called European Union is that it is not a Federation of States, as is the USA, where Rich States can help Poor States through the Federal Government.
Nor can Uniform Bank Regulation work in a Confederation of Proud Nations…
This was yet another Session of the European Union Studies Center at CUNY, where more such Programs will be offered in the Autumn.
Your Roving Arts Reporter--as a Prof Emeritus of the Grad Center's PhD in Theatre Program--is a Sponsor of sorts, as well as a Regular Attendant…
•The Forest of Arden in Central Park: As You Like It Seems To Begin at Fort Apache…
Lily Rabe--as Rosalind/Ganymede--is the Dynamo that Powers Dan Sullivan's Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It…
She seems a Force of Nature & then some!
But the Banished Ros is well partnered with the lively Celia of Renee Elise Goldsberry
She's also well matched with the Doting Lover, Orlando [David Furr], also banished.
This Famous Tale of Usurping & Banished Dukes--both played by Andre Braugher--has been handsomely imagined by Designer John Lee Beatty as taking place not in the Forest of Arden nor in La Forêt d'Ardennes, but somewhere out in the Wild West!
A Log Fort serves for the Court of Duke Senior, opening to reveal a verdant Forest Paradise, with Musicians in the Trees!
Hey! The Music was composed by no less an Expert than that Banjo Toting Comedian, Steve Martin!
As this Summer's Shakespeare Fest features both the Bard & Steve Sondheim--with Into the Woods--will the Arden Trees also serve for Steve's Woods?
You won't need Hearing Aids for this show as the Miking & Overhead Speakers make it seem as if all Orations originate from some Central Point on stage.
There are No Mumblers in this excellent Cast. Every Word, Every Phrase, Every Poetic Image or Simile or Metaphor is deliberately & clearly Articulated.
This tends to draw out the Performance Span, as well as to make some of the more Memorable Set Speeches into Oral Gems, set somewhat apart from the Narrative Action.
Among the Excellent Orators are Stephen Spinella, as the Melancholy Jacques, & Oliver Platt, as Touchstone, the Clown.
Kudos for Jane Greenwood's Western Impelled Costumes & the Lighting of Natasha Katz…
STARS IN THEIR CROWNS:
This Month's Rational Ratings--
Simon Gray's THE COMMON PURSUIT [***]
Cirkus Cirkör's WEAR IT LIKE A CROWN [****]
Mayank Keshaviah's RANGOON [***]
Fernanda Coppel's CHIMICHANGAS & ZOLOFT [*****]
Will Eno's TITLE & DEED [**]
Mary Chase's HARVEY [*****]
Kenneth Lonergan's MEDIEVAL PLAY [***]
Alberto Bassetti's TWO SISTERS--TWO BROTHERS [***]
John Patrick Shanley's STOREFRONT CHURCH [***]
Martha Gellhorn & Virginia Cowles' LOVE GOES TO PRESS [****]
Gina Gionfriddo's RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN [***]
Lameece Issaq & Jacob Kader's FOOD & FADWA [*****]
Greg Pierce's SLOWGIRL [***]
Chris Marlowe's, or Francis Bacon's, or Will Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT [****]
Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.
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