Showing posts with label 10024. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10024. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Richard Grayson's THE EIGHTIES DIARIES published as Amazon Kindle E-book

Dumbo Books today published Richard Grayson's The Eighties Diaries as an e-book available at the Amazon Kindle store for $1.99.
The promo stuff says in part:
Richard Grayson has been keeping a daily diary compulsively since the summer of 1969, when he was an 18-year-old agoraphobic about to venture out into the world -- or at least the world around him in Brooklyn. His diary, approximately 600 words a day without missing a day since August 1, 1969, now totals over 9 million words, rivaling the longest diaries ever written.
Despite the crackpot nature of his lifelong project, the diarist actually did become a writer of sorts. Starting in the mid-1970s, he began publishing his stories in literary magazines and anthologies, and later in webzines. His articles have appeared in PEOPLE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE MIAMI HERALD, THE SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, NEWSDAY, THE NEW YORK POST, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL, and many other newspapers and magazines. He won four state arts council grants for his fiction writing, and in addition to being a lawyer and political activist, has taught writing in colleges in six states since 1975.
ROLLING STONE called Grayson’s first short story collection, WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK (1979) “where avant-garde fiction goes when it becomes stand-up comedy,” and NEWSDAY said, “The reader is dazzled by the swift, witty goings-on.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL called LINCOLN’S DOCTOR’S DOG (1982) “excellent” and said of I BRAKE FOR DELMORE SCHWARTZ (1983) that “Grayson is a born storyteller and standup talker.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW said Grayson’s I SURVIVED CARACAS TRAFFIC (1996) was “entertaining and bizarre” and “consistently, even ingeniously funny.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY called Grayson’s THE SILICON VALLEY DIET (2000) “compulsively talky and engagingly disjunctive,” and THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, reviewing AND TO THINK THAT HE KISSED HIM ON LORIMER STREET (2006), said, “Grayson has a fresh, funny voice.”
THE EIGHTIES DIARIES runs nearly 300,000 words, chronicling his life and the lives around him from 1981 to 1989, in Manhattan and Miami and a few places in between.
It includes all of six volumes previously published separately: SOUTH FLORIDA WINTERS, 1981-1984; LATE SPRING IN SUNRISE, 1982; WEST SIDE SUMMERS, 1984-1987; INDIAN SUMMER: PARK SLOPE, 1985; SPRINGTIME IN LAUDERHILL, 1986; and EIGHTIES’ END: AUTUMN, 1987-1989.
Grayson has already published his first book of diary entries, BOY MEETS BROOKLYN: 1969-70, and the next six volumes of the diaries of his late teens and twenties as THE BROOKLYN DIARIES, featuring SUMMER IN BROOKLYN: 1969-1975; WINTER IN BROOKLYN: 1972-73; SPRING IN BROOKLYN, 1975; AUTUMN IN BROOKLYN, 1978; MORE SUMMERS IN BROOKLYN: 1976-1979; and A YEAR IN ROCKAWAY, 1980.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Night on the Upper West Side: Hudson Warehouse presents "Richard III" at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park

We waited too long, until the last performance last Sunday night, to see the Hudson Warehouse's production of The Rover, so we made certain to be at opening night for the company's spectacular debut of a stirring, bloody Richard III, directed by Nicholas Martin-Smith, whose coherent, seamless melding of character and action give the complex historical drama a stunning depth of meaning.
Having seen a number of excellent Hudson Workshop shows over the last few years, we're always amazed at the high consistency maintained by producing artistic director Martin-Smith (who also played the blithely deluded Hastings tonight), assistant artistic director Susane Lee (who seems to be a master of details), and all the cast and crew, but Richard III is one of the best productions we've been privileged to enjoy.  This is Hudson Warehouse's ninth season, and they've been staging three shows each summer -- two Shakespeare plays in June and August, and another classic play in July -- more than any other of the many fine summer free outdoors troupes out there, and they're always a pleasure to watch.
One of those pleasures is repeatedly seeing the same talented actors in a variety of disparate roles, as in the kind of old-fashioned repertory company that we used to hear about when we were kids in the 60s.  To watch performers like Amanda Renee Baker, Nick DeVita, David Allison DeWitt, Valerie O'Hara and Margaret Catov in different plays makes one appreciate more how demanding the craft of the actor is.
Vince Phillip, so good as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, here gives a controlled, subtle and chilling performance as Richard III.  It's interesting to see his Katherine from Shrew, Amanda Renee Baker, interact with him here as Lady Anne; the scene where Richard, ahem, woos her over her late husband's corpse is usually a highlight of this play, and it's done with style, wit and pathos in this production.
The first and only other time we've seen Richard III was on August 8, 1990.  We know that from our book Summer in New York, in which this diary entry appears:

Thursday, August 9, 1990
10 PM.  Yesterday at 5:30 PM, I decided to walk over to Central Park and see if I could get tickets for Richard III.  As it turned out, I could have arrived just before the show, but I didn’t mind waiting; instead of standing at the end of the line, I just sat on a bench finishing the Times and got up when they started giving out tickets.

I walked back home via Central Park West and 85th Street, and after a quick dinner, I returned, walking just as briskly. 

Shakespeare in the Park is always a treat, but after seeing Denzel Washington in Mo’ Better Blues and now Richard III, I think he’s an overrated actor.  He played Richard in a very traditional way – a hunchback, limp and all – and though the play’s performances were good (especially Mary Alice as old Queen Margaret), the staging wasn’t that interesting.

I liked the battle scenes, and of course, Richard’s seduction of Lady Anne over her father-in-law’s coffin, but my remembered knowledge of the War of the Roses is sketchy enough so that it took me too long to catch onto the dynastic maneuverings.
At this point we're a lot more savvy, having read the play several times more, so part of our enjoyment here came from that better understanding of the plot.  But we appreciated Vince Phillip's interpretation of the protagonist: Richard comes on as suave and all smiles, and they manage to appear sincere at first, and he remains amiable and ingratiating for a surprisingly long time before darkening, and with each triumph, becoming more and more sinister.
This is the bloodiest production we've seen from Hudson Warehouse, and the blood may be a little thin but it spurts out shockingly and forcefully enough that it made us cringe.  The machinations of the royals and nobles and their minions here play out like a good Sopranos episode.  Margaret Catov plays a sprightly Queen Margaret, whose craziness and revenge fantasies (or prophecies) seem to make her more agile and energetic than anyone else, and a nice contrast to the physically slow-moving Richard III.
The other women in the cast also give standout performances.  As Queen Elizabeth, Roxann Kraemer, who we saw as Arkadina in last season's The Seagull, maintains a core of dignity and strength even in her plotting, rage, and terrible grief.  Valerie O'Hara is a doughty Duchess of York, never letting go of her usual grip of her handbag, very reminiscent of the late Queen Mother Elizabeth in her later years.
The scene where she gives her youngest grandson, the Duke of York (played by a bratty, charming Matt Ebling) two lollipops to suck on is priceless.  And when a lollipop appears late in the play, sucked on by the psychotic James Tyrrel (a terrifying, charismatic Myles Kenyon Rowland) after he's delighted in the murder of the boy and his brother, who  stand in their uncle Richard's way towards the throne, the result is devastating.
There are too many wonderful performances to name, but we especially liked R. Scott Williams' bewildered Duke of Clarence, and even more, his flouncy Lord Mayor of London); Nick DeVita as the accommodating Catesby, who seems to know that with a boss like Richard, it's best to look busy and keep moving fast at all times; the pedantic, fussy Lord Rivers played by Jonathan William Minton;
Thomas J. Kane as the rather enigmatic King Edward IV, who has a wonderful turn in his wheelchair; Bruce Barton as an unctuous Archbishop; David Allison DeWitt, as the bland, not-so-loyal commanding general Stanley; and George K. Wells, who emerges from the margins to become a forceful, charismatic and powerful Earl of Richmond, who will dispatch the ultimately undone Richard ("My kingdom for a horse!" is pathetically hollow indeed), and end the play as King Henry VII, who unites the Houses of Lancaster and York, ends the long War of the Roses and begins the Tudor dynasty.
The play must have been satisfying to Queen Elizabeth and her supporters, of course, in making her family's rise to the throne both legitimate and necessary as Shakespeare hinted that the Tudors were divinely sanctioned to rid England of Richard's evil and all the scheming and killing (which, in historical truth, he was just but another player in).
But it can be read in a variety of ways, and the current Hudson Warehouse production, playing this weekend for the next three weeks, provides a lot of food for thought -- on such subjects as the abuse of powerless women, the sanctimony behind establishment religion, the kind of political schemer who will say and do anything to achieve power -- and generally, about the meaning and relevance of Richard III.  We're grateful we were first-nighters.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Night on the Upper West Side: Hudson Warehouse presents Aphra Behn's "The Rover" at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park

Tonight we had the pleasure of seeing most of Hudson Warehouse's exquisitely staged production of Aphra Behn's The Rover, a raunchy, rollicking, racy Restoration comedy.
Despite its lurid excesses and elaborate, complex plotting, in the hands of an effective ensemble, The Rover's genuinely funny moments are frequently evident and the play's radical feminist riot grrrl polemic is nicely hidden in plain sight.
We say "most" of the performance because, most regrettably, a hard-hitting thunderstorm in the middle of act four of this five-act play brought everything to a halt, with four or five narrative threads still quite unresolved as cast, crew and audience all needed to leave the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park as soon as possible to avoid getting more drenched than we did (and we guess getting hit by lightning isn't fun, either).
This will teach us not to wait until the last performance to see the next Hudson Warehouse production, Richard III, starting next weekend. But we still got much enjoyment from director Jesse Michael Mothershed's version of The Rover, which transforms the English soldiers seeking sex and fun in Spanish-controlled Naples at Carnival time to American soldiers of the South looking for pleasures at Mardi Gras in New Orleans circa 1902, where the 17th-century swordplay, wildly divergent attitudes regarding female sexuality, and the tension between sophisticated cosmopolitanism and brutal feudalism seem perfectly at home.
The play opens as two sisters, Florinda and Hellena, talk about romance and relationships. Florinda pines for Colonel Belville, an English gentleman whom she admires. Helena speaks of her wish to experience romance before she is sent to a nunnery. Their brother, Don Pedro, enters, telling Hellena to banish foolish thoughts from her head. He reminds her that she will soon be a nun, and there is no place for romance in her life.
He then turns his attention to Florinda. He tries to persuade her that Don Vincentio, the man her father wishes her to marry, is a good match because of his wealth and social status. Florinda thinks Don Vincentio is too old, and has her heart set on the youthful and gallant Belville. Pedro, in an effort to insure that his sister make a good marriage, suggests that Florinda marry an esteemed friend of his instead. The friend, Don Antonio, has expressed interest in Florinda, and Pedro sees this pairing as an opportunity to help both his friend and his sister. Having said his peace for the moment, Pedro leaves. With her overprotective brother out of the room, Hellena convinces Florinda and Valeria, their cousin, to find costumes and go to Carnival. Helena is determined to have a taste of excitement before her liberty is confined by convent life.
In the streets -- this is where we came in -- Mardi Gras celebrations are underway. Belville and several bachelor companions have come to New Orleans for the festivities. Belville's friends, Blunt and Frederick, are wondering why Belville is melancholy in spite of the festive atmosphere. Belville admits that he is thinking about Florinda, whom he met several months prior and has not seen since. He pines for her, but fears he lacks the wealth and status to pursue her.
In spite of his romantic troubles, Belville's spirits rise when he runs into his old friend Willmore. Willmore, a nomadic flirt (nicknamed "the rover"), is taking a short break from shipboard service to relax and enjoy the fun of Mardi Gras, especially the ample opportunities for romance.
While this reunion unfolds, Florinda and Helena arrive with their cousin Valeria, costumed as gypsies, to join the party in the streets. Florinda is delighted when she spots Belville, the object of her affection. Helena is quickly intrigued by the handsome stranger (Willmore) she sees with Belville. Helena and Florinda separate to pursue their respective interests. Helena, in her gypsy garb, engages Willmore in conversation. He is enchanted by her wit and intrigued to know her real identity. Helena preserves the mystique for the moment, but promises to meet him at the same spot later in the day on the condition that he does not fall for another lovely lady before their date.
While Helena carries on her flirtation with Willmore, Florinda tries to set up a late-night rendezvous with Colonel Belville. She has to be careful because Callis, governess to Florinda and Helena, is keeping a watchful eye on her. Taking advantage of her disguise, Florinda pretends to be a fortune-teller and reads Belville's palm while quietly revealing her true identity. Just as Belville realizes who she is, Callis announces the arrival of Pedro. Florinda slips Belville a note that instructs him to come to her garden gate later that evening. She wants Belville to help her escape her brother's control and her imminent arranged marriage. Helena rejoins Florinda and they exit with Callis to avoid rebukes from their brother for being out at Carnival against his wishes.
After the sisters leave with their governess, Belville shares Florinda's note with his friends, including Willmore, and asks them if they will meet at Florinda's garden gate later that night to help her escape. They agree to help. This settled, talk turns to Angellica Bianca, a famous courtesan (okay, high-class prostitute), who has come to New Orleans and who will be "entertaining" gentlemen at Mardi Gras. The men have heard that her charm and beauty are worth the high fees she commands. While the others talk of the revered courtesan, the less-than-dashing Southern rustic Blunt is delighted to find a costumed woman named Lucetta paying attention to him. Blunt is quickly seduced by Lucetta, and as Belville and his companions exit to dine and see more Mardi Gras sights, Blunt and Lucetta leave together for an amorous liaison.
And that's our adaptation of a summary we found of just Act One! There are still four acts to go, but the complications are funny and they moved fast in the Hudson Warehouse production, with especially good performances by Amanda Renee Baker - whom we've enjoyed in a variety of roles over the past few years -- as Lucetta, Chris Behan as Willmore, Christopher Travlos as a hapless Ned Blunt,
Sydney Stanton as Hellena, Elizabeth Alice Murray as Angelica Bianca, and Amber Bogdewicz as a sprightly Florinda. But the Hudson Warehouse performances are always tight-knit ensembles with even the "minor" roles being played well, and perhaps the best moments of The Rover include not just the comic romantic interludes but the wonderful fights and group set pieces where there are half a dozen or more actors interacting onstage.
Also, as usual, the productions use the north portico and its steps, balconies and ledges fluently. Even those of us in the back were sometimes in the "front" of the action as the characters stood nearby. We're sorry rain interrupted the last act and a half, but we still enjoyed The Rover and at home we read the rest of the play (and skimmed the first three acts).
We've often assigned to classes something we first read about 40 years ago, Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. This 1929 polemic set into motion ideas that would forever alter the reception of texts written by, for and about women. Yet as many times as we've gone over it, we'd never understood fully before tonight why Woolf proclaims Aphra Behn to be the figurehead of gendered equality within the literary profession:
All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.
Now we do, thanks to Hudson Warehouse's fine adaptation of The Rover. (Video courtesy blueparrotable)