Archive for June, 2012

Cooper’s London

June 28, 2012

Stompin’ at the Savoy

During all the razzle-dazzle of the Diamond Jubilee, it seems the Queen was not the only monarch on display at the moment. Several generations of theatre royalty were on view last month at the Strand in London. I was invited by a very generous friend to pay court to them all at the Old Vic’s Annual Fund-Raising Lunch in the Savoy’s grand dining room. There was entertainment before each course that included several brilliant routines that somehow turned into the offering of prizes for which you bid and games for which you put £10 or more into an envelope.

Judi Dench did a brilliant Q and A with Celia Imrie and Peter Eyre that was the hands-down hit of the day. A celeb sat at each and every table. Ours, and the ones next door, included cast members and the director (Jamie Lloyd) from the Old Vic’s current production of The Duchess of Malfi. They were charm itself and told some lovely insider anecdotes about embarrassments behind the scenes. There were standup comics of British TV fame doing the auctions, “roasting” celebrities in the audience, and always making you feel you were part of a really good show.

We got to spend time with Eve Best–the Duchess herself-(see my post of April 23); Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the BBC Sherlock series and, I think, one of the most intensely promising actors of his generation); Tim Pigott-Smith, Mark Rylance, and Stephen Fry, among the familiar faces everywhere. Well-heeled contributors were mixing and mingling, and agents and directors were working the room with gusto. But host and Old Vic director Kevin Spacey was missing in action, filming House of Cards with David Fincher across the pond.

It was definitely the upper echelon event of the week and you literally couldn’t move an inch without seeing A-list faces from TV, film or stage. There were a few celebrated TV presenters and newsreaders in the room, and even some well-known playwrights. The entertainment was first- class, the conversation was scintillating and the food and wine were pretty terrific, too. For a few hours, it seemed almost like the real world. And by the time it was over, two hundred thousand pounds had been raised for Kevin Spacey and his theatre.

What recession??

Apollo’s Girl

June 26, 2012

Juxtaposition is a 13-Letter Word.

It’s a kind of cerebral dumpster-diving: finding new meanings in things we’ve seen, heard, touched, felt because we suddenly encounter, or imagine, them side-by-side. Whatever worlds they originally reflected, they will assume a new, and entirely different, meaning in your mind.

For instance: you would have thought, after Savage Beauty – the Costume Institute’s stupendous Alexander McQueen spectacle of 2011, an explosive synergy of performance and art — that nothing could even come close as an eye-opener. Think again. This year’s contender is the Institute’s Schiaparelli and Prada: a Conversation between the two icons, conceived and orchestrated by director Baz Luhrman.  Although far more modest than McQueen’s pyrotechnics, the show highlighted clothes that were not only wearable, but infinitely desirable.

The opening fusillade (a row of exquisitely worked and detailed jackets covered in passimenterie) inspired fantasies of crafty after-hours theft and subsequent expand-the-seams tailoring to contain one’s own corporeal reality. Your very own Night at the Museum, and your very own stunning morning after. The dresses continued the theme. And if the McQueen show was about exploring the boundaries of clothing and accessories as cosmic theater, the current display is about relishing the idea of clothing as sculpture; spare, simple, inevitable. Perhaps you’d settle for a gown or two…

Or just watch one of Baz Luhrman’s several videos of imaginary conversations between Schiaparelli (played here by actor Judy Davis) and the “real” Muccio Prada discussing everything under the sun. And, as you traverse the exhibition, be sure to also watch the videos in the vitrines–of historical models and actresses seemingly inert, until their eyes blink in the slowest of slow motion to prove them alive.

While the imaginary conversations seemed a little arch, there is no denying that putting the clothes of one designer directly next to the clothes of another allows those conversations to suggest new life as well as art, to translate ideas about fashion into realities. They are not only eye candy, but food for thought. The juxtaposition (of necessity, in the mind) says, to this long-time non-fashionista, that there’s a lot more to getting dressed than I’d ever imagined. If McQueen took it into outer space; Schiaparelli and Prada take it to an earthly art gallery, using fabric, thread and the human body. (Only regret: there was too little of Schiaparelli’s stunning jewelry.)

At MoMA, there was eye candy of another color: James Rosenquist’s iconic F-111 and (since closed) a roomful of Eugene Atget‘s views of post-fin-de-siècle Paris. Both offered mini-worlds contained by the walls of their galleries.The Atget  (it was ravishing) invited us into the familiar street scenes and shop windows, the people of the city then, and views of a park (Sceaux) that Atget knew well, filled with crumbling marble and statuary. It conjured up not only the context of early 1900s France, but of the classical antiquity that inspired the park’s nooks and crannies. Sceaux has since been cleaned and repaired, but has lost much of the mystery in the ravaged stone captured in Atget’s images. It’s almost as if a scrim of forgetfulness has come between camera and landscape.

On another floor, Rosenquist’s F-111 has been installed to surround a smaller gallery, as it was in its original exhibition at Leo Castelli in 1965. All hard-edged bright Pop colors and cartoonish images, its fighter bomber plane and connection to “consumerism, the media, and advertising” (as the artist described it) mirror the Vietnam war years as they were experienced in the United States. Suddenly, a dime dropped: the same France that produced Atget’s nostalgic images also produced the war in Vietnam three decades later, drawing the United States down a rabbit hole from which it never fully emerged. Without seeing these shows together, the connection would have remained buried by the decades. Perhaps it’s just as well….

This one was a real trip: an exhibition at the Cloisters (for which a magnifying glass was the perfect accessory) of carved walrus ivory chess sets—dug up by a Scottish farmer on the Isle of Lewis in 1831, but made, and deposited there, by Norwegians in the 12th century. Rough and vigorous emissaries of Viking culture, the mannikins offered proof that anxiety and military fervor were thriving in the mid-Middle Ages; except for their robes and armor, they looked like us.

There was another miniature, though, that I had made the trip to see again: an ivory Madonna and Child by Anonymous, carved in France as the Middle Ages were drawing to a close. It was as refined as the chessmen were rough. And instead of reflecting dystopia, it emitted light. The carving was exquisite, but it was the bond between mother and child, made palpable by Anonymous’ skill, that survived in their gaze. After decades in its vitrine in the Mediaeval Hall at the Met, it was moved last year to the Cloister’s Treasury. It’s worth the journey (including several sets of stairs). As interesting as the chessmen were, seeing them first was the right thing to do; the Madonna and Child anoint the viewer with peace, and time and space are required to digest it. Although made centuries before Atget’s photographs, it seemed connected to them.

Finally, there is a show at the Morgan that connected not two subjects, but two sides of one artist. I’ve always associated Dan Flavin with the fluorescent sculptures for which he is famous. The knockout was seeing an adjoining show of his letters and drawings, revealing his passions for landscapes, seascapes, and the human face. Combined with his letters (often wry, often idealistic) they revealed a profound humanity, completely obscured by the colors and shapes of his light sculptures. In fact, the inner man was as warm as his work was cool. (Thanks to the Morgan for the curated insights!)

Cogito: John Branch

June 21, 2012

Emery LeCrone: In Motion

With dance, sometimes it’s the music itself that gets me, sometimes it’s the movements (the opening of Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements or the closing of Tharp’s In the Upper Room), sometimes it’s the geometry as patterns form and reform, and sometimes it’s a depiction of drama (Robbins’s The Cage, for instance). This may too schematic, but it has its uses. With the dances of the young New York–based choreographer Emery LeCrone, what I like most is often the drama: a sense of dancers as people suggesting social positions and relations.

Sometimes I don’t see it right away. She made a duet this year called II. (the period is part of the title), in which the man and woman move in unison for what seems like a long time before their partnering finally begins. In mid-April, when I saw it on a Columbia Ballet Collaborative program, I didn’t know how to take it. When I saw it again, in LeCrone’s showcase at a City Center studio at the end of May, it made more sense because a dramatic analogy occurred to me: this is a couple whom we see mostly in public, where they face the world perfectly in sync, but sometimes they get a private moment–and then their roles diverge, each enabling the other to do what he or she does best.

In Unchained Melodies, which I saw first in a Barnard program this spring and then in LeCrone’s showcase, there’s a stronger sense of social roles being assumed or abandoned. Set to seven popular songs of the 60s―Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” etc.―it uses seven women in long, solid-color dresses (and complementary heels for part of the work), but it doesn’t depict the affairs of the heart that the music suggests. It’s more about the constraints imposed on middle-class American women of the Far from Heaven or early Mad Men period. They sit in chairs and perform semi-mechanical gestures, as if practicing lessons in deportment, or they get up and do some ballroom-style dancing with each other, maybe rehearsing a part they’ll play with men. Sometimes they get to cut loose in a solo; more than once they go sprawling to the floor as if life has, for a moment, nearly wrecked them. Their melodies, to put it simply, are seldom unchained.

LeCrone’s most complex and compelling work (among those I’ve seen) was a dance she made for a Works & Process presentation at the Guggenheim last October. The program’s idea was simple: give the same difficult music―five knotty, unrelated pieces by Elliott Carter―to two choreographers, LeCrone and Avichai Scher, and see how they respond. Using five dancers and employing some modernized ballet vocabulary, LeCrone’s piece, With Thoughtful Lightness, responded to the music’s moods without trying to track it closely. Highlights: romantic moments in the first trio, including some swooning lifts of NYCB dancer Megan LeCrone (Emery’s sister); a duet in unison in which Megan LeCrone and Gabrielle Lamb didn’t echo each other so much as harmonize; and a solo for Lamb that was rather a knockout.

One of LeCrone’s strengths is solos like that. She seems quickly to grasp a particular dancer’s best qualities and to choreograph for them. What she did for Lamb last fall, she did for Drew Jacoby in a solo crafted for the APAP Showcases in January. Among other qualities, Jacoby has killer legs, and we sensed their tensile strength in this solo. Using your dancers well, making them look good (and not just your dance), is one of the many things that’s expected of choreographers, but LeCrone does it better than some young dancemakers do.

The May showcase was one result of a City Center fellowship that includes studio space and other resources over the course of a year. Another result was a dance premiered that night called Við Vorum, for an ensemble of men―seven men, as it happens, making this a parallel to the seven-woman Unchained Melodies. In contrast to the restraint and overall gentility of that work, this one unleashed its dancers in a display of male strength and athleticism. It also seemed to unleash LeCrone, reminding me a little of the men’s parts in Paul Taylor’s Cloven Kingdom (minus the satire), and maybe even of the propulsive energy often seen in Jiři Kylián’s works.

I’m unsure whether she has much taste for the musical past. She’s used a surprising number of contemporary composers: the eternal modernist Carter; many of the minimalists and post-minimalists, such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Adams, Arvo Pärt, David Lang, Julia Wolf, Michael Gordon, Michael Nyman; the wide-ranging Joby Talbot, kind of a neo-Romantic in what I’ve heard; and some electronic types such as Zoë Keating, Max Richter, and Chris Clark. The Dead White Guys of classical tradition haven’t gotten much attention: a little Bach, plus Mendelssohn and Glière. Will that change? We’ll see.

LeCrone seems to be driven: 38 works in eight years, including 12 in the last nine months. So when I asked her, after her May showcase, what was next on her schedule, I expected some reference to a break. Instead, she answered, “Juilliard,” which has commissioned her to make a work for a program in late fall.

I’ll be watching.
Emery LeCrone  Web site
Emery LeCrone  Videos

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Cooper’s London

June 15, 2012

London is Hot, Hot, Hot….

Well, of course, if you can get tickets, you might want to try the Olympics. They are the biggest show in town for a couple of weeks. Personally I figure you can see it better on TV – but if you’re in town in July, you might want to share the experience live. I suspect there will be returns and standby seats if you aren’t ticketed already. On the other hand, I predict that London will be hot and overcrowded and that this might be a very good time to explore the Highlands of Scotland or the mountains (well, large hills) of Wales.

If you’re interested in the visual arts, consider seeing  Damien Hirst at Tate Modern. Even if you hate his work, the building itself is a pleasure; and you’re right next door to that wonderful facsimile, Shakespeare’s Globe and can sneak into Henry V or The Taming of the Shrew, if you get lucky. Meantime, the Hirst show rings my bells because it’s the first-ever retrospective, I believe, and you can see that shark in formaldehyde and the bisected cow live, as it were.  The show runs til 9 September.

Meantime, free, gratis, no charge, you should go visit places like the British Museum and the National Gallery. The permanent collections are wonderful. They always also have good exhibitions to pay for; but in the case of the National, for instance, there is also an interesting free exhibition. The current one is focused on a work by Titian, The Flight Into Egypt, probably his first masterpiece, painted when he was about fifteen or sixteen and still studying/working in the studios of Giovanni Bellini. It’s in a large room surrounded by works of the period, mainly from the gallery’s own collection, which are simply stunning to see all in one place; and the painting itself is so relatively unknown because it’s been hanging in The Hermitage for two-and-a-half centuries. I had never seen even a reproduction of it before, and I’m now in love with it. It’s large, brilliantly executed, and you can see both the flat-planed layouts of a Bellini-style approach and the more adventurous loosening of technique that will lead, one day, to those final works by Titian that are almost the precursors of Impressionism. And then there are those colours! Relevantly, from 11 July to 23 September, there will be an exhibition of new works inspired by Titian, which I think is a really interesting concept. Meanwhile, if you slip around the corner to the National Portrait Gallery, until 21 October you will be able to see 60 images of the Queen’s 60 years of sitting on her throne. It’s a pleasure to examine how painters, photographers, photojournalists and ordinary Brits have seen her over six decades! And, in the same building, you’ll be able to experience the BP Awardwinners for portraiture from 21 June to 23 September. Like the Royal Academy show every summer, it’s one of those London fixtures; but it’s always one that I get a big kick out of. Some of the portraits are laughable in technique and approach; and some are simply breathtaking, always.

The theatre in London, of course, is still full of those old standbys that everyone wants to see – the musicals that run for 250 years, the plays that are revived every decade or two and called contemporary (though they are at least half-a-century old). I feel that London theatre is more of a cultural museum, these days, than an evolving community of artistry; and I fear that most of the new plays, despite ridiculous and hysterically positive reviews, often leave me feeling “so what?” about the actual texts. But, as usual, the staging and acting are superlative, and even if you don’t collect a new text to think about, you almost always come away riveted by the style and professionalism of the production.

If you’re here with family, especially youngsters, the idea of attending one of the musicals is pretty irresistible and naturally you’ll be trying to book into The Wizard of Oz, say. Well, it does have a yellow brick road and lots of familiar songs; and it is very slickly done. And you get to experience being in the famous London Palladium. This production’s been going for around 500 performances, now; and there will be a new Wizard (Des O’Connor) who should be good. The show is very spectacularly mounted. You’ll certainly recognize quite a lot of the songs!

But more interesting, perhaps, is the musical of Matilda, based on the novel by Roald Dahl and that film by Danny de Vito, who is in town (live), in The Sunshine Boys and very worth seeing, even if you’ve seen the film on TV 400 times). It’s a real romp and the production pays homage to the British Pantomime tradition with a man in drag hilarious as the headmistress. The music (by Tim Minchin) is quite good, too.

The Young Vic is soon mounting a new production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that should be worth seeing. Simon Stephens, who wrote the highly-regarded Punk Rock, is adapting it and he’s usually very interesting in his perceptions. I also like the work of director Carrie Cracknell and will be curious to see how she deals with this classic text.  It runs 29 June till 26 July; and will be followed in September by a new production of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters that also sounds promising.

And, speaking of classics, there is a very fine production of Noises Off by Michael Frayn, playing at the Novello Theatre until 30 June. The brilliant Celia Imrie and Janie Dee head a superbly drilled ensemble cast  that really makes you ache with laughter, as long as you’re patient about Act One–a set-up that will pay off as the play progresses. Trust it! The same director, Lindsay Posner, has also just shaped a fine production of Mike Leigh’s iconic play Abigail’s Party with the inestimable Jill Halfpenny in the main role. It’s at Wyndham’s Theatre in the Charing Cross Road until at least 1 September (and originated at the Menier Chocolate Factory). The classics at the Donmar Warehouse will be Durenmatt’s The Physicist and Brian Friel‘s Philadelphia, Here I Come. I want to see the first simply because it’s rarely done and I like Durenmatt; but mainly because Sophie Thompson is in it. She is the equally talented sister of the better-known Emma. I’ve never seen her give a bad performance, ever.  She is incapable of being anything but intelligent, witty, convincing, and utterly heart-rending and adorable. In fact, I think I’m falling in love with her. Josie Rourke is directing the new adaptation.

The Stratford Season seems to me a bit weak so far, but I wouldn’t miss the Julius Caesar. The cast is exceptionally interesting and, of course, it’s being directed by my hero, Gregory Doran – Stratford’s new Artistic Director Designate for the RSC. I will review this one anon. It only plays till 7 July – and you must book tickets immediately!

And then there’s “our” Porgy and Bess (see my post of June 4)! A production from the Cape Town Opera, South Africa, is coming to the Coliseum for only 14 performances, from 11 to 21 July. It’s 75 years since Gershwin died, 78 since Porgy was first produced on Broadway, and this is still one of the most innovative, tuneful and moving shows you can see. I think it’s splendid to have an opportunity to see the original opera version of the show anywhere, any time. This production shifts the action to Soweto in the period of apartheid. Not a huge stretch!

There’s more. I will deal with as much of the rest as I can soon! Meantime, England is basking in brilliant summer weather at last and I have to take my dogs for a walk in a nice park.

Apollo’s Girl

June 6, 2012

Claire Tow Theater
(La Boite Sur le Toit)

In real life, architects and institutions seldom get to repair the errors of the past, or to learn from them to build anew. Except at Lincoln Center. Whatever missteps dogged the original structures, the recent makeovers (Alice Tully Hall and the plaza) and newbies (Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center) have exceeded expectations and been worth the wait. The Claire TowLCT3’s new rooftop theater (above the Vivian Beaumont) is no exception. Although almost invisible from ground level, it’s a simple glass box with a cunning program; an ingenious paradigm of less is more, and more. On a recent house tour, its virtues were everywhere apparent, created with an eye wide open to the future. Lincoln Center Theater wants to encourage upcoming artists, needs a stage suitable for mounting their work, and plans to attract the younger audiences who will find it relevant (and, at $20 a ticket, affordable). They have actually pulled it off. How? By building an intimate complex that includes a cafe/bar to continue conversations during intermissions and after hours, by having rehearsal space, offices, dressing rooms and green room right there, and by surrounding the entire enterprise with walls of glass that bring light into every corner. The effect is more than good design – it promises that great things will be taking place. And, as a finishing touch, there’s an outdoor garden and a roof deck overlooking the plaza and the surrounding cityscape, with a stereo viewer for closeups.

Architect Hugh Hardy has put the Claire Tow together with the craft of a master theater designer, whose experience goes back to working with Eero Saarinen on the construction of the Vivian Beaumont itself in the 1960s. He recounts some of the decade-long story with a dry wit. It was all about permits and permissions. “Lincoln Center is a tenant on city-owned land; the Lincoln Center Library is above (stacks of books) and the Vivian Beaumont is below. That was an architectural challenge.We needed elevators – outside the building? Through the Beaumont lobby? Where to put them without imposing on buildings and employees already in place?” But, like the seasoned negotiator he is, Hardy resolved the problems, impasse by impasse. To put it simply, no trace of them remains. Only the new house with its 112 new seats, waiting for the season to begin.

Paige Evans is LCT3’s Director. She creates and oversees a calender crammed with the playwrights, directors and casts of tomorrow, beginning with Slowgirl, by Greg Pierce, directed by Anne Kauffman (June 4 through July 15); a special event: We’re Gonna Die, written and performed by Young Jean Lee, with music by Future Wife (September 13 through September 15); and Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar, directed by Kimberly Senior (October 8 through November 18).   And, while you’re waiting, stop by to see 4000 Miles—a real gem of a play developed by LCT3 last season, now transferred to the Mitzi Newhouse Theater. It’s won an Obie (Best New American Play) for writer Amy Herzog, and for Performance (actors Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson). Part of LCT3’s past and present, it will show you what you can hope to see in LCT3’s future. To find out what’s coming down the road: web site

Fearless Predictions

June 4, 2012

We Loves You, Porgy!

I firmly believe that there will be standing ovations for the Porgy and Bess at the Coliseum in London between 11 and 21 July this summer – and elsewhere.

Where New York’s current production has taken a controversial Broadway Musical approach and some liberties, the Cape Town Opera, which is touring the UK at the moment, is committed to the opera, using the 1935 score and orchestrations. The action, however, has been moved from Charleston, South Carolina, to Soweto in the 1980s during Apartheid. The dramatic parallels and reasoning are clear.

Michael Williams, the managing director of the company, said in an interview for South African radio before leaving for the UK: “Porgy and Bess was George Gershwin’s attempt to write an opera that showcased the true depth and range of African-American voices. Despite the beauty of his music, the concept challenged both white and black audiences alike, and for many years the opera was presented in a watered-down ‘musical’ format. Even by Gershwin! He wrote the piece to give black singers an opportunity but when it turned out that it wasn’t cutting it with the opera glitterati – the mink and pearls brigade – Ira Gershwin tried to make it into a Broadway show.” Happily, insists Williams, Porgy and Bess is now such a stalwart of the operatic canon that “people know they shouldn’t tamper with it.” At least not with the music. Transferring the setting is another matter, says Williams, insisting that the South African relocation is faithful to the themes and spirit of the opera.“If you pick up any newspaper in South Africa, you’ll see the issues we deal with.”

Tsakane Maswangany, who played the title role in last year’s Winnie the Opera (about Winnie Mandela) , and who sings Bess in this tour, agrees. “However, we are a nation of singers,” proclaims the 32-year-old soprano, based in Italy but back on home turf for Porgy and Bess rehearsals before heading for the UK. “There is something very familiar about singing this music,” she says. “I heard my own African music from when I was a tiny baby and here I am singing with my people and my nation again. It reminds me of where and who I am. It takes me back to being young and the reasons why I’m a singer.”

CTO is South Africa’s only full-time opera company – and its nearest competitor is almost a continent away in Cairo – but it works hard to spread the gospel of opera as widely as possible. “We do a national tour every year to 10 different cities and the kids who do our workshops are the same kids who say, ‘We want to come and sing and audition for you’,” reports Williams. “We did La Bohème and every one of the soloists came through our programme. The average age on stage was 23.”

The company aims to present at least one new African work each season as well as a classic of the repertoire. Recent successes include Poet and Prophetess, a NorrlandsOperan co-production with a libretto by Williams, and the Mandela Trilogy, which will be performed twice at the Wales Millennium Centre before Porgy’s Cardiff dates.

“What we strive to do is not only the European classics,” says Williams. “Do foreign audiences really want to see our version of La Bohème, or is that taking coals to Newcastle? We want to represent the miracle that is South Africa: look at what we can do here, look at the art we can produce.”

And people are taking notice. This September, the CTO Opera Voice of the Nation Ensemble will travel to Berlin at the personal invitation of Sir Simon Rattle for three concert performances of the complete Porgy and Bess with the Berlin Philharmonic. To learn more about the CTO and its mission: CTO site. Meantime, you can see it for yourself in the UK:                                             —MC

Wednesday 6 – Saturday 9 June 2012
Birmingham Hippodrome
web site Box Office 0844 338 5000

Friday 15 – Saturday 16 June
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
web site  Box Office (0)131 529 6000

Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 June
Wales Millennium Centre
web site Box Office 029 2063 6464

Wednesday 27 – Saturday 30 June
Canterbury Marlowe Theatre
web site Box Office 01227 787787

Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 July
Southampton Mayflower
web site Box Office 02380 711811

Wednesday 11 July – Saturday 21 July
London Coliseum
web site Box Office 0871 911 0200

Mandela Trilogy

Wednesday 20 June – Thursday 21 June
Wales Millennium Centre
web site Box Office 029 2063 6464

Fearless Predictions

June 2, 2012

Uncle Vanya (June 7–July 15, Soho Rep): Chekhov’s 1897 play is being presented in a “new version,” adapted by Annie Baker. Baker is in the unusual position of having shared an Obie award with herself, for two plays produced in New York in 2009: Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens. The director who helped shape her work in those plays, Sam Gold, is staging this one. Baker’s widely praised skills with natural dialogue and lost-soul characters make this a good bet. Incidentally, in Uncle Vanya Chekhov illustrates his oft-repeated maxim: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired” (though in this case it’s fired even later). Information on the production and related events here 
(‘Tis the season for Vanya productions—one earlier this spring by Target Margin preceded Soho Rep’s. And there’s more.)

Uncle Vanya,  Sydney Theatre Company (July 19–28),
Lincoln Center Festival):
In midsummer, yet another will arrive, delivered by the Sydney Theatre Company, with co-Artistic Directors Cate Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton. Here, an adaptation by Upton is performed by a cast that includes Blanchett as well as Hugo Weaving. The production won acclaim when it played at the Kennedy Center last August. Tickets are now on sale; but be warned that this is the kind of show that sells out.

The Lathe of Heaven (June 6–30, Untitled Theatre Company #61, 3LD): Ursula K. Le Guin, author of the SF novella about a man whose dreams can change reality, has authorized this stage adaptation by Edward Einhorn, which the UTC61 website suggests will contrast Western and Taoist themes. The novel does much the same, and Le Guin’s title nods to a Chinese Taoist who fashioned the conundrum of the butterfly dream. conundrum

Maybe we don’t need a third version, after WNET’s in 1980 and a less-successful one by A&E of 2002? Ah, but we always need reminders of the uses and abuses of power, which is one way of viewing Le Guin’s story. 6_The_Lathe_of_Heaven.html                                                           —JEB

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