Things Are Not What They Appear To Be

Wherein your correspondent talks of propaganda, faulty perception, the art of magic, Whit Haydn’s theory of conjuring, suspension of disbelief, deception, Buddhist philosophy, and the need to doubt.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the commentary as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Ain’t Misbehavin’: Joe Pass

I like Joe Pass because he always has such taste. You know that he could do whatever he wants to do on the guitar, but he holds himself back just a bit, restrains himself from showing off too much.

When I was a teenager I worked on a play as a stage manager with a very good professional older cast who I looked up to. I remember one actor, Gene, who came off stage into the wings where I was, after playing a very emotional scene. He was still crying from the scene, and I was impressed by the real tears. I congratulated him on how powerful the scene was. But he shook his head, and said to me, no, he didn’t get it right; he didn’t want to cry at that point in the play, it didn’t serve the playwright. I never forgot that.

The Company Way

One more lesson in obsequiousness from How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. The late Robert Morse rings every bit of humor from the song. The clever lyrics and music are by Frank Loesser.

Thanks to YouTuber Movieclips

“Who Would Believe Me?”: Measure For Measure

It’s April 23rd, and for us it marks the anniversary of both the birthday of William Shakespeare and the day he died. In celebration of the date, we have produced a new radio version of one of the most intriguing of Shakespeare’s plays, Measure for Measure. I call it Shakespeare’s #Me Too play, and with its up to the minute Me Too themes of sexual harassment and hypocritical Puritanical seeming lying politicians, it couldn’t be more relevant to today. Of course, we couldn’t broadcast our entire play in our Arts Express time slot, but we are happy to present to you a key scene featuring two of our Arts Express stalwarts, Mary Murphy and KeShaun Luckie.

So let’s set the scene: We’re in 16th century Vienna and the newly appointed interim Mayor, Lord Angelo, has just declared a new Puritanical ban on out-of-marriage fornication, punishable by death. A young woman, Isabella, learns, just as she is about to take vows to become a nun, that her poor brother Claudio has run afoul of these laws and is about to be executed. She runs to Lord Angelo to beg him to spare her brother’s life, but Angelo insists that the law must be done. However, Angelo is secretly enamored by Isabella and he wants to see her again, so he tells her to come back the next day and maybe he will reconsider. And so, Isabella returns to Lord Angelo to plead again for her brother.

And now what happens next, from Measure For Measure.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

And If you’d like to listen to our entire production of the play, you can hear it here:

https://artsexpress.podbean.com/e/shakespeare-s-measure-for-measure-an-arts-express-special/

How to Tell A Story In One Sentence

Have you ever had this experience, as I have had many times? I’m at a friend’s house and inevitably someone asks what’s new, and what have you been working on, and though I may have a project that I’ve been working on, I suddenly become all muckle-mouthed and it just becomes a trail of, “Well, it’s kinda hard to explain…”

To the rescue: a book that I thought I would hate, but turned out to be a really interesting and useful book…

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the rest of the story as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Shakespeare Gets A Vaccine

Illustration by Paul Gonzales/Los Angeles Times based on 1623 engraving by Martin Droeshout.

Nurse: Which arm?
Shakespeare: As you like it

Nurse: Was that painful?
Shakespeare: Much ado about nothing.

Nurse: Did any of your family or friends have the virus?
Shakespeare: Oh, lots: Two noble kinsmen, Antony and Cleopatra, and Troilus and Cressida

Nurse: You will have to have a second jab.
Shakespeare: Measure for measure?

Nurse: So, how was the experience?
Shakespeare: A midsummer night’s dream!

Nurse: So what do you think of the govt handling of Covid?
Shakespeare: it’s a Comedy of errors.

Shakespeare: There’s been a recent surge in the virus?
Nurse: Alas, The winter’s tale

Shakespeare: When will my quarantine end?
Nurse: On the Twelfth night.

Shakespeare: Who will foot my quarantine bill?
Nurse: The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare: Where will I be put up for my quarantine?
Nurse: In a Hamlet.

Shakespeare: Thank you for helping me!
Nurse: All’s well that ends well.

Thanks to Pearl Shifer for sending me these (with a few of my own additions)

“We Are Plain People”: Sidney Poitier

The great Sidney Poitier died this month.

Here he is in one of his most masterful performances as Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

The play was originally directed on Broadway by Lloyd Richards, the first Black director on the Broadway stage. In their lean days as struggling actors, Richards and Poitier would pool their money to buy and split a hot dog. They promised each other that if one got an opportunity, they’d bring the other along. When Poitier got Hansberry’s script, he insisted that Lloyd direct the play. Lloyd worked intensely with Hansberry to shape the play and then cast and directed the play perfectly. The stage cast, many of whom were also in the film– and who you can see in this clip from the film–included Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Claudia McNeil, and John Fiedler.

Thanks to YouTuber The aesthetic of the Image: [world] cinema clips

Marionette Land

There’s a long history of actors and variety performers who have had their first taste of theater with a basement childhood puppet stage. But actor Robert Brock of Lancaster PA was determined to make good on his childhood dream of building a marionette theater for the public and living in an apartment upstairs. Now in a new documentary, director Alexander Monelli brings to life the joys and woes of Robert’s single-minded adult pursuit of his childhood dream in Monelli’s new film Marionette Land.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Alexander Monelli, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

A Brotherhood of Man

Daniel Radcliffe in a non-Harry Potter-ish role, insists on the unity of us all, as his corporate brethren in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying agree. Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick who both played the same role, introduce the high-spirited number at the Tony Awards.

Who knew that Radcliffe was such a great song-and-dance man?

Thanks to YouTuber The xNYr

Audition

Monday morning, put the oxygen tanks on standby.

That’s Graeme Henderson putting the chorus gypsies through their paces in the London West End revival of 42nd Street

Thanks to YouTuber Great Performances | PBS

Tonight

Monday morning, as the 1961 vs the 2021 West Side Story movie buffs argue, let’s go back to the glorious original Broadway theater cast of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert. Certainly no one better than they were. Here they are in a tv appearance on Ed Sullivan, about 1958. Unfortunately, this YouTube version ends early, but some is better than none…

Thanks to YouTuber The Ed Sullivan Show

Everybody’s F**king But Me

The remarkable Geraldine Turner, Australia’s number one musical comedy star, equivalent to Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Angela Lansbury rolled into one, belts out her lament in her club act.

Definitely Not Suitable For Work or those offended by sexual content.

Thanks to YouTuber Brian Castles-Onion Ms. Turner’s husband

The Furnished Room

A romantic ghost story of the transients from O Henry, adapted and performed by myself.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

How We Gonna Pay…?

Monday Morning, waking up hyperactive, the power is out and last year’s rent is due.

The frenetic choreography is over the top for me, but the music and lyrics as sung by the 2008 Broadway cast of Jonathan Larsen’s Rent are still zippy.

Thanks to YouTuber BroadwayInHD

Covid Crime

John Bernos and Dominique Xi during the Sunday performance of “Covid Crime” at Richard Tucker Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Photo Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times  

This is a play by Lionelle Hamanaka concerning the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes that have occurred in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The play was performed live on the streets of NYC. The cast also got together to do a radio version which I helped put together. This radio version was heard yesterday on WBAI FM.

You can hear the radio version of “Covid Crime” by clicking on the triangle or mp3 link above.

Seventh Inning Stretch

Party On!! The worldwide staff at Shalblog® Industries is taking a moment off from their usual Culture Conveyor Belt activities in order to select twenty of their favorite original interviews, reviews, stories, and poetry from the past year that you may have missed as we approach our seventh blog anniversary:

Letter From Brooklyn

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story

Thanksgiving

“Tried To Suffocate Us, But We Are Air”: Louise Dessertine

Dancing Through Tap History: Rusty Frank

David And The Recruiter

Denial

“Oh God, And This Is Only A Metaphor!”: Molly Peacock

The Lost Family: Part One

Everyone Was Beautiful: Paul Hostovsky

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

Memoirs of a Misfit Ruler

The Voyage

The People Vs. Agent Orange

The Poems of Denise Levertov

The Joy of Sweat!

Fireboys

“A White Heron” by Sarah Jewett

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster

I Digress

2121: A Tale Of The Near Future

For Halloween, an original update of an old-time radio show, we call 2121: A Tale of the Near Future.

In a world where efficiency must be maximized, are poets and artists non-essential workers to be imprisoned and exterminated?

Featuring Mary Murphy as Caroline, Rick Tuman as the Guard, Julius Hollingsworth as the General Manager, and myself as James T. Randall. With music from Kojiro Miura.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

Acting Up: A Deeper Dive

There have been many enjoyable memoirs about an actor’s life in theater and film– the autobiographies of Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando come to mind–but one of my favorites is David Hare’s Acting Up. The British-born David Hare is not a professional actor, but rather an acclaimed playwright and director who talked himself into taking the main–and only–role in his play Via Dolorosa. He kept a diary of his rehearsals and performances, and published it. Here’s a radio piece I did recently, expanding on a brief essay I had written previously.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the piece, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.

No Business Like Shoe Business: Hobson’s Choice

A delightful dance from The Birmingham Royal Ballet in David Bintley’s Hobson’s Choice, about the three daughters of a shoestore owner. With Stephen Wicks as Albert Prosser and Chenca Williams as Alice Hobson.

Thanks to YouTuber Ballet archive