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Archive for the ‘Plays & Playwrights’ Category

sontag“Authorities in Sarajevo plan to name a city square after the late U.S. author and activist Susan Sontag, who, during the Bosnian war, staged Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot there. . . .

“Sontag’s insistence on staging the existential play in the besieged city drew attention to the country’s civil war. The Washington Post dubbed Sontag’s production ‘Waiting for Clinton.’

“‘Beckett’s play, written over 40 years ago, seems written for, and about, Sarajevo,’ noted Sontag at the time.

“The writer died in 2004 at age 71 from leukemia.” (more @ CBC News)

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amherst250logoAs part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Amherst, Massachusetts, home to the Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst College, Hampshire College and the University of Masachusetts, a number of literary events are scheduled for the month of April. Events include a “Children’s Literary Scavenger Hunt,” an “Emerging Young Writers Event,” and “A Reading by Poet, Essayist, Editor and Translator: Martin Espada,” to name a few.

A complete schedule of events in the “Amherst Lit Series” can be found here.

Additional information “About Amherst 250” can be found here.

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bookfairArguably the most important annual book fair in the United States will be held this coming weekend, April 3-5, at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street) in New York City. General information (hours, entrance fees, etc) about the 49th annual event, organized by Sanford L. Smith and Associates and sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America can be found here.

The list of international exhibitors can be found here.

The annual New York fair is well worth the admission price even for those uninterested in writing large checks – as an exhibition of incunabula, rare and unusual books, periodicals and literary ephemera, the New York event is unrivaled in the United States, and probably the rest of the world as well.

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purdy2James Purdy, whose dark, often savagely comic fiction evoked a psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence and isolation, died Friday in Englewood, N.J. He was 94 and lived in Brooklyn Heights. . . .

“Wayward and unclassifiable, Mr. Purdy, the author of the novels ‘Malcolm’ and ‘The Nephew,’ labored at the margins of the literary mainstream, inspiring veneration or disdain. His nearly 20 novels and numerous short stories and plays either enchanted or baffled critics with their gothic treatment of small-town innocents adrift in a corrupt and meaningless world, his distinctive blend of plain speech with ornate, florid locutions, and the hallucinatory quality of his often degraded scenes. . . .

“If Mr. Purdy made limited headway against what he called, in an autobiographical sketch, ‘the anesthetic, hypocritical, preppy and stagnant New York literary establishment,’ he was proclaimed ‘an authentic American genius’ by Gore Vidal and admired extravagantly by writers like Angus Wilson, John Cowper Powys and Edith Sitwell, who, reviewing the stories and short plays collected in ‘Children Is All’ (1962), wrote that Mr. Purdy would ‘come to be recognized as one of the greatest living writers of fiction in our language.’ (more @ NY Times)

RelatedWho is James Purdy? Edward Albee Tells

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shakespearebooksIn The Guardian, Jeanette Winterson, after a recent visit, recounts a bit of the history of Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned Left Bank bookstore, first opened in 1913 and since 1962 owned by George Whitman. No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to this venerable literary institution which always recalls for me New York’s recently closed literary landmark, Gotham Book Mart 

“Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l’Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

“Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. . . . It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ‘No one that I ever knew was nicer to me,’ he said later, rich, famous and with a Nobel prize.

“But after the war, Beach was older and tired. She didn’t reopen the shop that had been forced into closure by the occupation. It was George Whitman who took over the spirit of what she had made, but not the name – until 1962, when Beach attended a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore and they all agreed that it should be renamed Shakespeare and Company.

“George took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers’ room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George’s bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.” (via Books, Inq.)

A New York Times article offering a brief history of Gotham Book Mart can be found here:

PHOTO: A December 1948 party at for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of bright lights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)

RelatedThe Gotham Book Mart’s Final Chapter?

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“It opened nearly three years ago at an army drill hall in Edinburgh and has toured the world from New York to Sydney. But the play Black Watch only reached London last year – allowing it entry to the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards. Last night it walked away with four.

“The National Theatre of Scotland‘s story of the now amalgamated regiment came away with the most Olivier awards for an individual production, including best new play and, for John Tiffany, best director. . . . An unforgettable play based on interviews with soldiers who served in Iraq, it also won for sound design and choreography.” (more @ The Guardian)

A complete list of 2009 Olivier Award winners can be found here.

The New York Times review from the first of Black Watch‘s two runs at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn (2007) can be found here.

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[As much as I admire Black Watch — which I saw during both of its New York runs — I was disappointed that Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County, which I also attended twice, and which won both the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, did not win the Olivier best new play award. My sense is that the war-tested Scottish regiment enjoyed a bit of a home field advantage in London over Letts’s dysfunctional and hard-drinking Oklahoma family.]

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PD*27420284“Professor Stanley Wells, Chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and one of the world’s leading experts on Shakespearean studies, today announced the discovery of a portrait of William Shakespeare, which he believes is almost certainly the only authentic image of Shakespeare made from life.

“The newly discovered picture has descended for centuries in the same family, the Cobbes. It hung in their Irish home, under another identification, until the 1980s, when it was inherited by Alec Cobbe who was a co-heir of the Cobbe estate and whose heirlooms were transferred into a trust. In 2006 Alec Cobbe visited the National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘Searching for Shakespeare’ where he saw a painting that now hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. It had been accepted as a life portrait of Shakespeare until some 70 years ago, but fell from grace when it was found to have been altered. Mr Cobbe immediately realised that this was a copy of the painting in his family collection. . . .

“Up to now only two images have been accepted as authentic representations of what Shakespeare may have looked like. One is the engraving by Martin Droeshout published in the First Folio of 1623. The other is the portrait bust in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon; the monument is mentioned in the Folio and therefore must have been in place by 1623. Both are posthumous – Shakespeare died in 1616. The engraver, who was only in his teens when Shakespeare died, must have had a picture, until now unidentified, to work from. Professor Wells believes it to be the one he has revealed today and that it was done from life, in about 1610, when he was 46 years old.” 

The portrait will be on exhibit at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon beginning April 23 (which may be both the anniversary of his birth in 1564 and of his death in 1616). (via NY Times)

A video report on the painting’s discovery was featured on the CBS News “Early Show” and can be found here.

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UpdateShakespeare Unfound(ed)?

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