“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/

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

Would You Light My Candle?

As snow and cold invades these parts, Renée Elise Goldsberry seeks some warmth from Will Chase in Rent.

Thanks to BroadwayInHD

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

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

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

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

Mike Nichols, A Life: Part Two

Here’s Part Two of our Mark Harris interview about his wonderful new biography called Mike Nichols: A Life. In this part we focused on the director’s eclectic and fabled film career, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate and Angels in America.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part One is here:

Mike Nichols, A Life by Mark Harris: Part One

The Graduate, Angels in America, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Gin Game, Hurley Burley, Silkwood, Postcards From The Edge, Heartburn, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Streamers, The Real Thing, Spamalot, Working Girl and more were all directed by the same man–Mike Nichols. In a career that spanned over fifty years simultaneously in both film and theater, Mike Nichols proved that he was one of America’s best directors. Now Mark Harris has written a comprehensive new biography of Nichols, which provides great insight into Nichols’ life and career. I had the pleasure of having a very enjoyable conversation with Mark about Nichols, who Mark knew well.

Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear part one of the interview Mark gave on Arts Express, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Part Two is here:

The Play That Goes WrOnG

And this is just the first ten minutes. A very funny farce concerning…well, a play where everything possible goes wrong. And keep a lookout at the end for the Buster Keaton house gag.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber MYSTiiC KiiNG

Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?

This April is the 457th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and I have to admit that everything I thought I knew about William Shakespeare’s life may well be wrong. My faith was recently shaken by both the film Last Will and Testament and the book North by Shakespeare. Both works posit that heresy of heresies that William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon was not the fellow who wrote the 37 plays usually attributed to him.

For the skinny, click on the triangle or mp3 link above and listen to the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM radio and Pacifica stations across the country.

The Song In Every Musical That No One Likes

The very clever Sarah Smallwood Parsons sings a truth universally acknowledged, to hilarious effect.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber CharactersWelcome

“Our Revels Now Are Ended…”

David Threlfall’s stunning rendition of Prospero’s last speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

I had never heard of Threlfall before, but with this shorter than 90 second clip, I have become an instant fan.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber Guardian Culture

AMORALMAN: A True Story And Other Lies

Derek DelGaudio, whose theater piece, In & Of Itself was an unlikely hit, has turned that audience-centric play into a film with the help of director Frank Oz. DelGaudio has just published a memoir of his life as a card mechanic, called AMORALMAN: A True Story and Other Lies and it continues with DelGaudio’s obsession with identity and reality.

Click the triangle or MP3 link above to hear my commentary on both the film In & Of Itself and AMORALMAN, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

I Want To Be With You: Sammy Davis Jr.

Monday Morning, Mr. Wonderful, as Sammy Davis’s character in his first Broadway play was called.

If Sammy Davis were only a dancer he would be known as one of the greatest tap dancers of the 20th century.

If he were only a singer he would be known as one of the greatest male vocalists of the 20th century.

He was both.

Here he is with a song from his second musical, Golden Boy, from 1964, about an African-American boxer who falls in love with a white woman.

Paula Wayne who played Sammy’s lover, Lorna, in the show, said that when the time came during rehearsals for Sammy to kiss her, Sammy was very reluctant to do so. It was the first time an interracial kiss had happened on the Broadway stage; but Paula insisted that there would be no problem. She was soon to find out otherwise—the day after the show opened there were pickets in front of the theatre from white supremacists groups denouncing the show.

But the show ran for 500+ performances and had a great, under-appreciated score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams—probably the best score they ever created.

Thanks to YouTuber varadero1839