Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For me, Sam Shepard starts off the 2012 New York theatre season!

The 2012 New York theatre season is starting, and I have a long list of events to check out this year, and some of my tickets have already been purchased. I'm more excited about this season than I've been in a long time. I think there's some interesting stuff being circulated, and despite my sometimes negative attitude toward the state of the American theatre, I'm optimistic about the chances being taken on established and new work. I'll admit, I feel a change.

I saw this last night, and the style, themes, language, direction, and presentation had such a huge impact on me. It's some of the best Sam Shepard work that I've experienced.

My Fringe play has been over for about a month, and I've been trying to regroup and figure out how to proceed with my work and career, but after experiencing HEARTLESS, I'm motivated to write. I want to write. I want to sit alone and revise and start new projects and create worlds and moments and characters and stories that have meaning. This production confirmed a few things in me, and this artist is ready to proceed. Thank you Mr. Shepard and to everyone involved with this powerful production.

What motivates you? What direction will you move into as we settle into the fall?

I've also decided to slowly start broadening my theatre horizons; I want to start experiencing productions that move out of my comfort zone or away from things that I naturally like.


With that said, I saw this last weekend, and I was truly amazed by this theatrical, entertaining, inspiring, and great production.

Here's what's coming up for me:


Steppenwolf's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? by Edward Albee

Chaplin The Musical

Mamet's GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS with Al Pacino and an all star cast

What are you seeing next?

...the center of the universe.

The mind, body, and soul are the only true things that we have. These are the only things that we can really count on. I give and receive with my mind, body, and soul. There is nothing else. The human being may very well be the center of the universe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Desolation Row

Desolation Row

"They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row"

-Bob Dylan

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



"Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
Hollow man lookin’ in a cottonfield
For dignity

Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity?

Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin’ to find one circumstance
Of dignity

I went to the wedding of Mary Lou
She said, “I don’t want nobody see me talkin’ to you”
Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew
About dignity

I went down where the vultures feed
I would’ve gone deeper, but there wasn’t any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn’t any difference to me

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
For dignity

Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues
Said he’d give me information if his name wasn’t used
He wanted money up front, said he was abused
By dignity

Footprints runnin’ ’cross the silver sand
Steps goin’ down into tattoo land
I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light
In the bordertowns of despair

Got no place to fade, got no coat
I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
About dignity

Sick man lookin’ for the doctor’s cure
Lookin’ at his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
For dignity

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin
Bites the bullet and he looks within
For dignity

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity"

-Bob Dylan

Friday, September 7, 2012

...Facebook in the dictionary...

If you look up Facebook in the dictionary, it is defined as:

A social network. A network that people rely on but offers no real human contact, friendship, or help. A place to collect friends that you really do not know and never will. A place of isolation that gives you a false sense of belonging. A place to expose your soul with no true return. A form of technology that provides a place to post news and events that you are interested in and for you to write about me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"...where truth might live."

Eugene O'Neill.

Today, the American theatre is not willing and prepared to embrace such heavyweights. And that is sad. Times have changed, and any creation that represents real value and meaning are ideas and feelings that live in the past. Present society, as a whole, is nervous and scared to take a long, hard look at the truth, and as a result, theatre producers are unsure about taking chances on new, interesting, unique work, people, and voices. And this stifles the creative process and our chances of positively changing and progressing humanity. Eugene O'Neill, as great as his work and contributions, would have never made it in 2012. And it is sad that today's artist is not given the same opportunity to grow, evolve, and make a difference.

In the July/August 2012 issue of AMERICAN THEATRE magazine, Wendy Smith wrote an article titled "From Sea-Chanties to the Moon: A spate of intense new productions shows how Eugene O'Neill's theatrical vision deepened as his canvas tightened." Here are a few highlights from the article that inspire me and capture what O'Neill left behind. And as a result, I make the choice to not bend or brake when it comes to creating what is in my heart. I will continue to think, feel, explore and present the truth even if most of society feels it necessary to turn away as a result of fear.

"EUGENE O'NEILL TOWERS OVER THE AMERICAN STAGE THE WAY SHAKESPEARE TOWERS over the english: He virtually invented our national drama, forcing a juvenile theatre to grow up just as America was facing the political, social and spiritual challenges of maturity. No truly ambitious actor can shirk the challenge of his soul-exposing roles, and no one who cares about the theatre wants to miss out on the key entries in his exhausting yet exhilarating canon.

An evening of O'Neill can be exhausting and exhilarating for the same reason: He never settles for less than the most the theatre has to offer. He disdains cheap laughs, easy emotions and comforting nostrums-all the facile tricks of the "show shop," as he sneeringly called Broadway. He demands of his audiences the same stern willingness to look at life whole and without flinching that he demands of himself, and he expects them to sit still for as long as that look takes.

O'Neill sometimes failed to achieve his titanic ambitions, but he never compromised them. Toward the end of his life, as he gained perspective on the nightmarish family drama that shaped his dark view of the world and humanity's place in it, his work became more personal and also more universal. There are no greater American plays than THE ICEMAN COMETH, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, yet they came after nearly three decades of game-changing achievement that included such other seminal pieces as ANNA CHRISTIE, DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS and MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA. Familiarity with O'Neill's entire body of work merely makes those final masterpieces more astonishing: How could he have given so much and yet still have more to give?...

O'Neill was the first great American playwright in large part because he was the first to challenge audiences with a genuinely tragic vision of the human condition-a vision that consistently presents death as the only lasting peace achievable.

O'Neill's quest to present onstage life in its unvarnished reality led him to experiment with new forms for the very beginning...

It's a young man's play, sometimes crude and schematic, and O'Reilly had the good sense to encourage the Irish Rep's capable actors...not to be embarrassed by the flaws in the text. They embraced O'Neill's unrelenting pessimism and played the human particulars in which he always embeds his philosophical points. O'Reilly's thoughtful interpretation illuminated BEYOND THE HORIZON as the unjustly neglected culmination of O'Neill's apprenticeship years.

STRANGE INTERLUDE is a characteristic work of O'Neill's middle period, the decade and a half of furious creativity during which he wrote 20 plays and pressed against the realistic theatre's constraints...

Some of the humor in the play is intentional, but much is not; O'Neill's ultra-Freudian insights, considered terribly bold and risque in 1928, seem terribly obvious to a modern audience. But people are obvious sometimes, and one of this production's great strengths was the willingness of the actors to let both kinds of laughs happen. They were relaxed about STRANGE INTERLUDE'S excesses, so the audience could relax and enjoy the play on several levels.

"It's just a giant soap opera!" said a woman next to me on line at the first intermission. Indeed, promiscuity, hereditary insanity, abortion, adultery and deaths both natural and unnatural are among the plot developments O'Neill doles out with a generous hand as his angst-ridden heroine, Nina Leeds..., finds that she needs the love of three men-and the son on whom she obsessively dotes-to make up for the fiance she lost in World War I. Despite his contempt for the phony, sentimental fare of his father's generation, O'Neill shared its relish for high drama, and he imbibed an enormous amount of theatrical know-how during those miserable childhood years being carted from town to town on James O'Neill's endless national tours. He thought and wrote naturally in units of acts and scenes, expressing character development through dialogue and stage action, even as he stretched the theatre to encompass greater metaphysical depth and psychological complexity. 

O'Neill's famously detailed stage directons express these boundary-stretching intensions-and his mistrust of those executing them on stage. They describe scenery in terms of its emotional impact and its relationship to the progression of the story; they give in-depth psychological portraits as well as physical descriptions of characters; and they frequently indicate precisely how a line should be spoken and the action that should accompany it...

He was seldom happy with productions of his plays and considered the published scripts, in which he restored cuts made for performance, to be the truest versions.

In fact, O'Neill was in his lifetime one of Random House's best-selling authors, and he is among the most readable of playwrights, thanks in part to those evocative stage directions. If he had not been so irrevocably committed to the theatre, he might have been a great American novelist.

STRANGE INTERLUDE is O'Neill's attempt to write a novel as a play, covering 27 years over 9 acts. In the original production, his sprawling script took four-and-a-half hours to perform, plus a 90-minute dinner break in lieu of intermissions. With the permission of the O'Neill estate, Kahn cut the running time to slightly over three hours, including two intermissions. I have usually found it a mistake to eliminate the deliberate repetitions with which O'Neill orchestrates his themes; I've seen two heavily cut productions of THE ICEMAN COMETH, both fragmentary and oddly dull, whereas the Almeida Theatre's 1999 production, anchored by Kevin Spacey's scarifying Hickey, gripped me for every minute of its more than four hours. Goodman Theatre's recent production, directed by Robert Falls, was similarly uncut, and judging by the glowing reviews, it too lived up to O'Neill's epic demands; plans for a Broadway run may well have been announced by the time this issue is printed...

He wrote many great roles for women, and plenty of speeches that express a character's effort to find meaning in human suffering...

Kahn and his accomplished cast realized that these lovely, quiet moments couldn't be disentangled from the busy plot and facile Freudianism that make STRANGE INTERLUDE rather dated, albeit a surprising amount of fun; they struck every note in O'Neill's discordant symphony with equal deftness...

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN shares with LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and THE ICEMAN COMETH a simplicity and economy that reveal the playwright working at the deepest levels of his art. The urgency of what he needs to communicate precludes the restless experiementation that marked his work in the '20s and early '30s. A single set and a single day suffice as O'Neill uses unadorned, naturalistic speech to strip away his characters lies and force them to confront who they are and what they've done...

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN shows us people capable of delight (not something you see a lot of in O'Neill) once again shipwrecked on the shoals of the past. What makes O'Neill's perennial theme so heartbreaking here is that it isn't Josie's past; she makes the mistake of falling in love with someone whose course in life was set long before she knew him: haunted James Tyrone Jr....

O'Neill brought the character based on his brother back from LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT because he felt he'd failed to do justice to Jamie O'Neill's profound love for their mother, and May's interpretation movingly conveyed that love. Robards's final monologue was one long howl of outrage, abandonment, self-hatred and the most dreadful, desolate kind of self-knowledge. It's one of the few times in the theatre when I have felt in my bones the catharsis through pity and fear that Aristotle defined as the purpose of tragedy.

Greek tragedy was one of O'Neill's touchstones, not only in his understanding of theatre but of life itself. Depicting a world in which human beings commit crimes without intending to, driven by forces they cannot control but may at last come to comprehend, the ORESTEIA and OEDIPUS REX provided a philosophical frame that could encompass the guilt and grief of a teenager wracked with the knowledge that his birth had been the cause of his mother's morphine addiction.

But if O'Neill's embrace of the Greeks' tragic ethos quite possibly saved him from following the suicidal path of his nihilistic brother, he found no way to voice it in his own plays until he discovered his second touchstone: the revolutionary drama of Ibsen and his peers. Seeing Alla Nazimova's HEDDA GABLER in 1907, he remarked, "gave me my first conception of a modern theatre where truth might live." More than 100 years later, sampling key works from his staggering output, we can see that what HEDDA gave O'Neill is what he gave the American theatre: the beliefs that it was a place where truth might live."