kottke.org posts about plays

How to play "Wolf Hall"Mar 31 2015

Mike Poulton adapted Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the stage. The play premiered last year in the UK and just began its run on Broadway here in NYC. There's a book version of the adaptation that contains some notes that Mantel wrote for the actors playing the various characters. The New York Review of Books has an excerpt of Mantel's notes; here's Anne Boleyn:

You do not have six fingers. The extra digit is added long after your death by Jesuit propaganda. But in your lifetime you are the focus of every lurid story that the imagination of Europe can dream up. From the moment you enter public consciousness, you carry the projections of everyone who is afraid of sex or ashamed of it. You will never be loved by the English people, who want a proper, royal Queen like Katherine, and who don't like change of any sort. Does that matter? Not really. What Henry's inner circle thinks of you matters far more. But do you realize this? Reputation management is not your strong point. Charm only thinly disguises your will to win.

The BBC aired a six-part TV version of Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies that finished up a month ago, and PBS will start showing it this weekend. I've watched all but the last part and it's really well done.

A play for oneDec 01 2014

When I Left the House It Was Still Dark was a three-month long play performed in 2013 by Odyssey Works for the benefit of one person, author Rick Moody.

It began one evening when Rick's priest gave him a children's book titled "The Secret Room," to read to his daughter. This book, which appeared to have been written in the fifties, was actually a creation by Odyssey Works.

Shortly after this, Rick was given an invitation to visit Sid's, a vacant hardware store in downtown Brooklyn. The store became his own secret room, and he continued to visit it weekly for the rest of the summer. In the space, he encountered a variety of objects foreshadowing moments to come in his odyssey. Among these was a notebook detailing the story of a man searching for a cellist whose music deeply moved him, a recording of string music, and a photograph of a prairie. One day after visiting Sid's, Rick was brought to the airport and given a plane ticket to Saskatchewan, Canada. When he arrived, he was driven to the prairie in the picture where he found the cellist from the story performing a variation of the music he had been listening to for weeks.

I would love to hear about this from Moody's perspective. Here's an interview with the artistic director of Odyssey Works; they specialize in grand performances for very small audiences. See also a recent Bob Dylan concert for one fan.

Infinite Jest, the playJun 18 2012

A German experimental theater recently put on a production of Infinite Jest. They turned the 1079-page book into a 24-hour play that took place all over Berlin.

The play is Infinite Jest. Yes, the 1,079-page David Foster Wallace novel. Germany's leading experimental theater, Hebbel am Ufer, had the gall not only to stage the world theatrical premiere of an Infinite Jest adaptation, but to play it on the grandest stage possible: the city of Berlin itself. Over the course of 24 hours, the shell-shocked and increasingly substance-dependent audience is transported to eight of the city's iconic settings, which serve as analogs for the venues to which the discursive novel continually returns.

But so we're at this AA meeting in a Boston school cafeteria, which in this case is the cultural center of a city quarter that was drawn up from scratch in the 1960s in the far, far north of Berlin, like practically halfway to the Baltic, this sticks-of-the-sticks-type section of town. And the actor sharing his history of teen addiction to Quaaludes and Hefenreffer-brand beer is droning on far too long and starting to give me the howling fantods.

Every internet article about Wallace is required by law to include footnotes and this one is no exception. (thx, paul)

Careers in thermometricsDec 19 2008

David Mamet, speaking on Jeremy Piven's decision to leave Mamet's play, Speed the Plow, in the middle of its run because of mercury poisoning:

My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.

Piven's elevated mercury levels came from eating too much sushi and other fish.

List of lines from Shakespeare plays that have become cliches.Jun 05 2006

List of lines from Shakespeare plays that have become cliches.

Everything and Nothing rounds up a listOct 06 2005

Everything and Nothing rounds up a list of searchable versions of the work of that most famous of English wordsmiths, William Shakespeare. The public domain rocks.

Shakespeare put coded messages about Catholicism intoAug 30 2005

Shakespeare put coded messages about Catholicism into his plays that, due to the "Protestant, Whig ascendancy", have not been decoded until now.

Tags related to plays:
books William Shakespeare

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