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

A Hunger Artist: Franz Kafka

More and more today’s world is looking Kafkaesque, so I thought this week we’d go back to the original. The Franz Kafka’s short story, “A Hunger Artist,” was published in final form in 1924. In it, Kafka tells a tale that almost any artist today can identify with. Kafka edited the story on his death bed as he lay dying from tuberculosis at the age of 40.

Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story, which I adapted and performed, broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

“A White Heron” by Sarah Jewett

This September we celebrate the birthday of author Sarah Jewett, who was born September 3rd, 1849. Her short stories and poetry were infused with local color and country life, but there are deeper themes running through her work as well: feminist critics have championed her writing for its rich account of women’s lives and voices, and ecologically minded critics have praised her works for her deep love of the natural world.

I adapted and performed on the radio one of her most famous stories, “A White Heron,” in which a young girl has to decide what’s most important to her in life.

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

The Legendary Arturo Brachetti

There are not too many living performers I would call geniuses. Brachetti is one of them.

Here’s a small clip extolling “The Great Magicians” but it’s just a small snippet from his 2016 full-length theatrical show, “SOLO”.

Brachetti makes me gasp with amazement.

More at Arturo Brachetti – The legend of quick change

“Sneaking Out”

We were happy to bring on a new contributor to Arts Express radio, storyteller David Lepelstat. David is a storyteller who has appeared twice on The Moth Radio Hour podcast telling original stories from his childhood. Here in an Arts Express exclusive, he tells a story of youth and the lure of New York City, written and performed by himself.

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

The Voyage

“Why I came here? Start the machine. I’ll tell you everything…Because the olive trees were bare, because the date trees gave no fruit…”

For the week of Father’s Day, A Fathers Day Fatherly Story. Performed by myself and Linda Shalom, as adapted from my novel, The New World, which begins with a Syrian-Jewish immigrant’s journey to this country at the turn of the 20th century.

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