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Good Art Slaps Us In The Face

I enjoy your magazine immensely and I follow many of your writers every month, especially Mr. Michael Bettencourt. This column is another one of his penetrating and very well-written articles. He is as good an article-writer as I see anywhere including here in London. But I must strongly disagree with him, this time, when he admonishes playwrights to forego character descriptions in their plays. A good drama can be a good piece of literature and a good drama can be as good a reading experience as a good book of fiction. I know that William Shakespeare did not include "character descriptions" in his plays but no one knows for sure if he did and, after all, he wrote his plays for his own actors and he managed them. George Bernard Shaw never shied away from detailed character descriptions which is why his plays remain the wonderful reading experience that they are and are of great assistance to actors who take on his plays. I was born in Asia and educated there and in America and in Europe. I am an avid theatre-goer and I even have some experience working in the theatre myself. I think that European playwrights tend to be writers first and "scripters" second and American playwrights tend to be "scripters" first and maybe writers second. read the column

Anee S. Waterson

School House - Home Grown Theatre

How refreshing! A theater that values its community, and a community that values its theater! This review showcases an organization with a special mission. Bravo!
Shoshana Wolfe
read Ned Bobkoff's article

Scene4 Readers Respond

To answer Nathan Thomas' question: I've been reading Scene4 for many years and I especially like Nathan's column because of his personal one-on-one style and off-beat insights. All of the columns and articles are good and follow a course of interesting, informative and enjoyable journalism.
Martin Moore, Producer
read Nathan Thomas' column

Community Theater

Nathan Thomas article brought the words "community theater" into a more enlightened context than the one usually associated with the words "community" and "theater". His broadening of the scope of community, suggests a broader landscape for theater artists to work with. In the August, 2007 issue of Scene4, titled "Homeown Grown Theater", I wrote about the efforts of the 4TH Line Theater in a Canadian rural community, developing stories that frequently leap frog over parochial concerns, into a shared and cognizant sense of the overall human community. For the most part, Community theatre in the United States simply copies what has succeeded elsewhere in order to appear up to date and "professional" with the right kind of recipe. I am not talking about merely exploring the "experimental" aspects of theater; that has been done to death and has limited appeal. I am talking about rediscovering community theatre from the ground floor up, where the real demand for a fresh approach needs to succeed.
Ned Bobkoff
read Nathan Thomas' article

Scene4 Readers Respond

I have been an avid reader of the magazine since its inception and I've always look forward to Nathan Thomas' commentary.
Anee S. Waterson, Writer, Director-UK

Actor
Tim Forman

Playwright and actor-US
Mary Scott-Raines

Theatre lover and community theatre participant
Pearl Berg

Actor and Poet-Denmark
Karl Mendik

I love the arts, especially theater and opera
Suzanne Seibring

Filmmaker
Peter Johns

Producer, Director-US
Toro Sanchez

Just an arts lover and reader
Karen Moreland

read Nathan Thomas' article

Cirque du Soleil - "O"

Nice review--makes one want to rush out and see it. Does anyone know how one can see this spectacle without making the pilgrimage to Vegasland and pay the exhorbitant ticket prices?
Will
read Karren Alenier's article

Cirque du Soleil -"O"

Fantastic review of Cirque Du Soleil's "O". I recently forked out the dough earlier this year to see this show and while it was well worth the price, your article captured the experience for those folks who either can't or won't make it to Vegas for this show.
Lia Beachy
read Karren Alenier's article

Steiny Road To Operadom

Karren Alenier takes us to another time, another era, another life, another appetite we did not know before. And let us have more.
Grace Cavalieri
read Karren Alenier's article

Don't Hate Me Because Of The Way I Speak

It seems to me that actors in movies spoke a lot better years ago than those today. I suppose in the "Golden Age" of talkies during the big studio system, there was a lot of training including in speech. Then along came the mumble guys and you're so right - the difference between English and American actors is like the difference between people who can sing songs and the ones who can only scream and shout.
Melanie Spyren
read Lia Beachy's article

Don't Hate Me Because Of The Way I Speak

I agree entirely. A recent poll named Marlon Brando as the greatest ever movie actor, yet I could barely understand a word the man said in any of his movies! Nowadays it is mainly American movies and TV series with which I have issues, though I have experienced similar problems with British shows, including theatre performances. There seems to be a tendency for many actors (and, presumably, their directors) to think that in order to maintain "pace" the lines have to be delivered at high speed. The resultant cacophony of mangled vowels and stifled consonants is not pleasant on the ears of the audience, who are left baffled as to what is being said (or should I say "mumbled"). "Pace" is about picking up cues (with due consideration of the demands and effects of the dramatic pause) and keeping the action moving, but not at the expense of presenting the dialogue in an understandable form of the language. It is perhaps indicative of the times in which we live, that in our regular lives we perceive that no-one has the time to listen to what we are saying, as we anticipate (and are all too often vindicated in that anticipation) that we will be interrupted before we reach the end of our sentence if we take so much as half a beat to grab a breath. Is it any wonder, then, that people gabble their words in order to circumvent the premature termination of their sentence by the expected rude interruption? The gabbling actor will simply claim that he is being "true to life" in his high-speed delivery of the lines. How many excellent writers, having agonised over their choice of words, and crafted their works with great skill and wit, are then sold short by this slovenly speech pattern which defies comprehension? Actors are supposed to be the interpreters of a story, and we need that story told with understandable dialogue as well as meaningful action.
Geoff Goble
read Lia Beachy's article

The Artistry of Graham Greene

Thanks for this fine look at this fine actor. He's what theater is all about.
J.J.
read Carole Levine's article

What Is/What If

And hope the revolution comes soon, indeed! Bravo Mr. Bettencourt, lead the charge.
Stein
read Michael Bettencourt's article

Who's in charge here?

Bravo, Mr. Thomas! Insightful commentary about our times (and theatre)! If only more people allowed live plays to wash over them rather than re-runs of Desperate Housewives.

Lia Beachy

read Nathan Thomas' article

My Perfect Face - A love like this?

Love has no tangible definition, elucidated meaning or solid recognition. It is an inescapable feeling that can cause a series of emotions, be it unsought, in one's life. Modern day love cannot compare to Love in the past. Today, unfortunately, people have grown to be selfish, inconsiderate, and at many times oblivious to reality. "True Love" stays candid and ingenuous through hardships, misunderstandings, distance and time. Characteristics that we lack and all of which are rare in today's society. Society in whole has decreased their expectations in order to be able to adapt to what they think love is. We find ourselves settling for someone second best and having to compromise and disregard things that should not have to be dealt with in that manner. Additionally, many are just in love with being in love and have no true emotional connection to their "significant other." So how do we distinguish love from lust and infatuation?

Mariya

read Eric Eberwein's play

Scene4 and the 4th wall

Do I need you? Do I need to be an audience? I have television. I have alcohol. I have a job, perhaps a vocation with no ambition in the arts, and no theatrical ass to kiss. Sounds like a suicide note. Of course we need each other. I need you like I need to read, think, dream, and have a reason to live.

Kenneth Boe

read Iri Kopal's play

Graham Greene at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival - 2007

I concur with everything that the author said in her story. I saw Graham Greene in those two plays in September and he was awesome!
Lana Boldi

read Carole Levine's article

Great Comment on Graham Greene

Graham Greene is the most under-appreciated actor I have ever met. Those of us who have been his long time fans have watched his excellence in his craft get little recognition or few greatly admired alocades. As for those of us who recognized his immense talent in Dances with Wolves, we have had nothing but wonderful preformances time and time again. He has been worth every ounce of praise we have given him.
AngelofLight
read Carole Levine's article

Raising Consciousness

I like your perspective on the subject. You may enjoy my blog at worldscape.blogspot.com
Ronn Parker

read Michael Bettencourt's article

It's All About The Hair

Oh how I sympathize (empathize?) with you. You get it and you get it so right especially when you deal with the nightmare on stage. Makes one want to go bald and just use wigs and hairpieces. It's all about staying strong and being yourself, right? That's how I get it.
Ms T.B.
read Claudine Jones' article

Mr. Bobkoff's The Playwright

A "Lofty" article, Ned.
Chuck Cobb
read Ned Bobkoff's article

On Jody Thomas

I wonder if also that there were some who didn't want to have this indictment of the prison system at that time. I know that there have been a number of movies that were hard-hitting on the subject but I wonder if yours was just too hard. It sounds like the play-story is just too overwhelming and as you say too unrelieved. I hope we get to see it some day.
rjs
read Arthur Meiselman's article

The Story Of Jody Thomas

Arthur Meiselman carefully elicits the dilemnas a playwright goes through when he or she tries to get beyond the tried and true, or the acceptable "experimental play". How the playwright "sees" the world of his or her creation is essential to the truth and power of a work on stage. I also agree that dramaturgs, literary managers and the rest of the mess are calibrating, to some extent, what goes on in the regional theatre. Operation MFA is in full swing. As to whether these arbiters of what works have enough life experience under their belt is another story altogether. Being inside a theatre in an office all day long is frequently gratuitous to head on, knuckle down and do it experience. A pox on these mouse traps!
Ned Bobkoff
read Arthur Meiselman's article

A Definite Daring Leap-Dramatically

For sure, this is the answer to the everlasting misery and misunderstanding and lack of respect for the writer, especially the playwright. Cardboard cutouts with words coming through their frozen faces and hardly moving worth a damn. But wait a minute, we already have it. It's called--a Hollywood movie!
David F.
read Ned Bobkoff's article

Link to Playwrights Forum?

Michael Bettencourt great article! It's great when people take a chance and bring your work to life. I'd like to read your Emma Goldman piece or better yet see it. Is there a link to this mysterious risk-taking playwrights forum?
Conan Moats
read Michael Bettencourt's article

Thank you, Michael

Your comments about what it feels like to be an "unknown playwright" hit home. I've been lucky to have three of my plays done here in Denver, Colorado, but two of them are readings, and the group that is working on "new scripts" here is now committed to doing only readings, and it is very unsatisfying to me as the author. I know what it sounds like; I want to see what it LOOKS like! The feedback that one gets from a reading is valuable, but a play is so much more than the sound of a script; it's what motivates the characters to do the role, it's what the real sounds and sights are. I must get together with this group in Tennessee to see if they are remotely interested. Thank you for being on my side of the fence, even if we're often standing in something in this particular field that we're, well, standing in. Thank you.
Gary Webster
read Michael Bettencourt's article

Maggie Smith

It's a shame that most people only see great acting artists often in inconsequential movies and never see them as the shining stars they are and at their most brilliant on stage, in the theatre. Maggie Smith is as bright as they come and as magnificent as any who have ever trod the boards. I love her.

Orin Richards

read Lia Beachy's article

Artist to artist

Well written, Thank you. Artist to artist, I must admit that some of the most talented people I've ever known, cut hair, drive cabs, bar-tend and wait tables. We cannot afford to live within the "starving artist" niche of glory days past. We eat, sleep, drink, dream and prepare for our art of choice, before work. Most do not have the monetary support to realise their dreams, due to life as it is. I believe if you love your art, in your soul and feel you may die without doing it, you are an artist.

Dione Emerson

read Lia Beachy's column

Mary Zimmerman at Play

Thank you for your insightful article. Mary Zimmerman is a genius plain and simple.

Tadya Korin

read Catherine Conway Honig's article

Theatre Images

This display of the photography of Kfir Bolotin is beautiful. I realize that the lighting and poses are already present on stage, but the eye of the photographer is amazing especially the composition of the second photograph called, "psychosis-cr." I would really like to know what theatre production it comes from.

Shelley Hazig

view Kfir Bolotin's images

Theatre Images

Many thanks for your compliments. You've touched a long-discussed issue in photography by highlighting the existence of the subject versus its new representation by the photographer. The phrasing of your comment hints to the problem arising from the fact that the camera simply records what is in front of it, and if all pre-exists and is simply mirrored - is it really re-presented and contributed to by the photographer? You said yes and I naturally agree, though it is true that in stage photography much more of the image pre-exists than in other fields of photography. The photo you asked about is from the play 4.48 Psychosis, and photographed here is the Polish theatre company 'TR Warszawa', directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, as they performed in the 2008 Edinburgh Festival, Scotland.

Kfir Bolotin

view Kfir Bolotin's images

Ergo Nathan Thomas

Indeed the play is the thing and Nathan is the great purveyor of what remains good in theatre. Many, many thanks.

Burton Rubens

read Nathan Thomas' column

Bobkoff on Sylvia Plath & the "Edge"

Beautifuly written response to the production, both informative and evocative.

Frank Kuhn

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Talk to the Dead

Trying to get inside another's poet's pain is probably one of the hardest and most courageous acts a reader can perform, especially when the poet has prevented you from ever learning whether you've grasped the meaning of the pain that caused the stuffing of rags into the windows......the sweet gas and killing sleep that Sylvia Path finally found. Mr. Bobkoff took his conversation with the dead poet to a new depth, when he tried to learn the meaning of it through a playwright's efforts. His own sensitivity to the reasons behind the suicide of a beautiful and gifted person seems heightened by what he has probably gone through in living with his own conversation with his brother's suicide.
The interplay of Ned's conversation with Sylvia Plath, his own family pain and what he learned through the action of an actress finishing out the puzzle of Plath's enormous reluctance to live out her story is told with great sensitivity. What a shame Ted Hughes didn't take the time to do more than profit from the poetry of a life lived too briefly, and too publicly.

June Zaner

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Talking to the Dead

Bobkoff, groping for the right handle into Plath's life and suicide, engages in a piercing conversation with Ms Plath: reality is not at all the "nebulous" thing she is quoted as saying. For Bobkoff, it is the piercing bullet, the lung-clutching gasp, that gives the truth to her life, and his words. What a powerful statement he gives, powerful and arrow-straight to the heart. Thanks, Ned, for this; it will live for a long time.

Richard Zaner

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Talking to the Dead

Ned Bobkoff has the rare quality of writing very much as he speaks. His is such a natural, easy-reading style, almost ingenuous. Ned's review of EDGE, the play about Sylvia Plath, makes me wish the production would come to Portland, Oregon where we have some good theater, but not enough experimental theater. Well done, Ned!

Gordon Magill

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Talk to the Dead

Thank you Ned for that article -- right on! And thanks for mentioning a new theater in Rochester I hadn't heard about as yet. I will definitely be checking it out.

Joy Bennett

read Ned Bobkoff's article

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

If it were up to you, I would be barred from acting at all because I don't even meet half of your requirements. But my success as an actor is not based on your damn elite requirements-it is based on what my audience wants, sees and appreciates. I suppose you will become "she, who's name may not be spoken" and create an "artsy" theatre art-form instead of the wonderful open entertainment that it is. I'm glad that will never happen.

Pier Harrington

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

No, "she" would not tolerate that. After all, "she" is "she"! What "she" might grant me is to be the Commissioner of LCD (lowest common denominator) and in that exalted position I would gladly grant you a license to be wonderful, open and entertaining (along with everyone else and their mothers).

Arthur Meiselman

read his article

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

If speaking well and moving well and having a literate mind are considered "artsy" and "elite requirements" for being an actor, then so be it. Ring the bell, close the book and quench the candle. Acting as an artform has officially lost its soul.

On another note... does it not strike a chord with anyone else that when the word "artsy" is used, it has the same implied dirty derogative connotation that "socialism" or "feminism" or "liberal" has taken on by "those who shall remain nameless"?

Lia Beachy

read Arthur Meiselman's article

101 Question from Tomas in Tucson

I can't find the answer to what I think is a pretty basic question. After I've completed my play, how can I estimate how much time it will require to stage it? Thank You!

Tomas DeMoss

Ned's Beginnings

Having worked with Ned for many years, I am thrilled he has put his life in theater on paper. Stay tuned eveybody!

David Casiano

read Ned Bobkoff's article

One Tramp in Dirt Time

As a fellow writer for Scene4 Magazine I always found Nathan Thomas' articles pleasing and to the point. "One Tramp in Dirt Time" was especially direct and touchingly straightforward in its insights regarding big time corporation abuse of democracy. Thanks Nathan.

Ned Bobkoff

read Nathan Thomas' article

A****R

Somehow I get the strong impression that Mr. Meiselman doesn't like James Cameron and likes "Avatar" even less. Cameron is truly an "Animating Life Giver" and "Avatar" is a g*d-like creation that is creating g*d-like billions of dollars. Isn't that a miracle?

Perry Silverstein

read Arthur Meiselman's article

Avatar

No, it's not a miracle, it's a wonder, a brilliantly merchandised video game. I don't dislike James Cameron. How could I? He's going to bring God on to the stage of my next production. It's called: "Time Out for Ginger" and it all takes place in an IPhone.

Mr. Meiselman

Ned's Beginnings

I appreciate reading Ned's history before we worked together. I understand now the awakening of his passion for truth in everything we did, everytime we did it. The respect and thoughtful listening to young actors challenged us to grow.

Marianne Giardini

read Ned Bobkoff's article

The Lives of Others

Who said "the simpler a work of art becomes, the more beautiful it is"? I'm glad someone still recognizes cinema at its purest and simplest. Thank you for that.

Aaron Klein

read Arthur Meiselman' column

3-D with or without Avatar

You won't be impressed for long, I promise, when you put on those glasses. The effect is no big deal; less impressive than the I-Max next door -- at least in Avatar. The effect is that one gets used to it so fast it's hardly worth losing ink over it. The weirdness of foreground distortion reminds you every now and then, oh yes, this is 3-D, isn't it? Clumsy. Like filming a puppet stage and getting hit by the flat cardboard bushes at the stage edge. Bob Wilson on the theater stage used it (sparingly!) to much better effect than Cameron did. Anyway: Very enjoyable article on Oscar contenders and acting. I wonder if you would find Polanski's new Ghostwriter more adult (in the European way) and find some acting in it, too? I did.

Renate Stendhal

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Theater - Ned Bobkoff

I found Ned's reminiscences remarkable. His recollections of the names of plays and the actors who performed them, after all these years, is impressive. Having experienced Ned as a director and friend, I find his memoirs refreshing as well as nostalgic.

Richard Dolce

read Ned Bobkoff's memoir

Auditioning

What a hoot and at the same time kind of sad and scary. Thanks. I'll stick to watching.

Rad Bennett

read Les Marcott's column

Ned Bobkoff's Memoirs

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Ned's memoirs. Although, I have not been lucky enough to meet the great writer, director, producer and educator, I am immensely grateful to him for his support and positive influence on new, young writers, such as myself.

James Dimelow

read Ned Bobkoff's memoir

A Theatre Memoir by Ned Bobkoff

Ned Bobkoff was my very first director - in MacBird - and I suppose he sparked my interest in an acting career, which has now spanned over 40 years. Most of my work has been done in the United Kingdom, where I now live, but I'll always remember Ned and his vitality and creative energy. If it hadn't been for him, I probably wouldn't have been an actor. I developed a writing career alongside the acting, and now most of my energies are spent producing books. But Ned - Houston - those were the days. Back in the 60s, both of us fighting in the civil rights struggle, producing bizarre, surreal adventures which are scarcely believable these days. Hats off to Ned and all he's given to the theatre, along with his enthusiastic encouragement of his actors. Perhaps few know he is himself a fine actor capable of transmitting 100 watt energy to many roles. Be well, Ned. And long may you continue.

Bill Bailey

read Ned Bobkoff's memoir

Michael Bettencourt considers a new business model

Michael, I suggest you look at other dying forms for guidance on how to make a living as a playwright. Opera has been dead for over 50 years, so creaters of "new music theater" have been experimenting with new business models - one's that have nothing to do with the traditional roles of composer/librettist submitting work to artistic director/opera company in the hopes of workshop/production. Granted, theater has a longer tradition of devotion to contemporary work, but so many works are, like new music theater, being developed in collectives, now, and I am amazed that you, this late in the game, would still seek that brass ring of "legitimate theater" validation. So, the point is not so much to self-produce, as to collaborate with others, to form a company in which the hat of "playwright" is not so explicitly defined. If you give up that dream and that ego, you may get more chances to play in the theatre, and see your plays become reality.

Barry Drogin

read Michael Bettencourt's column

Theatre - The Shared Experience

Audacious to call great sports great theatre? Not in the least. It has everything: entertainment, players, and the art of the playing. Along with theatrical performances, some of the most "dramatic" experiences I've ever had have come from a sporting event. And I too would like to be in an audience that cheers and whoops and leaves me achingly moved the way it once was in our, ahem, "polite" English-style theatre and the way it still is in many other parts of the world. I'll see you there.

Murray Gissin

read Martin Challis' column

...and see his other commentary in the Scene4 Archives

Great Sports Great Theatre

Great sports as great theatre--one of the greatest was Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" in baseball, his playoff winning homerun in 1951 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. As dramatic as they come. There are lots of others in lots of other sports. As he said, it's all entertainment and the art is in the playing.

Bernie Hoffman

read Martin Challis' column

Black Box Badness

I agree wholeheartedly with Nathan Thomas and his lament in "Thinking Outside the Box." But I am willing to go one step further and say I despise the Black Box. Not for it's origins or intentions, but for what it is now. There are rare, and I mean, rare exceptions, but in general, and especially in Los Angeles, the people who run and/or rent Black Boxes have no right to call them theaters and the productions they do in them theatre. Besides the lack of color and design, there is no thought to fixing all the small flaws such as dangling cords, crappy sound systems, faded paint, worn-out bathrooms or lobby carpeting. Too often actors are in the lobby talking to their friends right before the show starts. And the front of house staff is dressed in their worst just-rolled-out-of-bed duds and their best coat of apathy. There is no suspension of disbelief created for the patrons once they step through the front doors. And this is reflected in the fairly lame and not very daring productions themselves. I place much of the blame for this laid-back, amateur approach firmly at the worn-out, sad floors of the tiny black box. There is definitely crap being done in grander spaces, but more often than not, they require the people who use them to rise to the occasion. And at least they know how hide the loose cables.

Lia Beachy

read Nathan Thomas' column

Earth, Air, Fire, Water by Ned Bobkoff

Ned Bobkoff's deep humanity and theatrical intelligence illuminate the essential elements of this production. Although I have not seen the performance - and travel distance makes it impossible - I can almost taste it from Ned's passionate description and his inevitable kindness and understanding of theatrical performance art. Highly recommended!

Bill Bailey

read Ned Bobkoff's article

'November' by Ned Bobkoff

You can't do better than have Ned Bobkoff review your plays! His comments bristle with theatrical accuracy. Many years ago Ned's enthusiasm and amazing creativity inspired me into a sucessful acting career in London. Since then I haven't had the pleasure of working with him again, but - believe me - I've read hundreds and hundreds of other reviews. No one compares with the acuity, passion and sheer humanity of Ned's reviews. He writes about the PLAY, the ACTORS and the combustible tension of the DRAMA itself. He highlights the theatrical event, rather than just dribbling out a brief description of the plot, unpleasant comments about the acting and a tiresome opinion. His words are vital, like the man himself. His love of theatre pervades every observation. Hats off. This is a tip-top review, and it makes me dearly regret that I missed seeing the production.

Bill Bailey

read Ned Bobkoff's review

Earth, Water, Wind, Fire

A work of uplifting beauty! Kudos to Rosalie Jones for her spectacular vision and to Ned Bobkoff for transmitting the sensation to Scene4 readers.

Arthur Kanegis

read Ned Bobkoff's article

...and check the Archives for more of his articles!

Karren Alenier on Ruhl

What a fine coverage of a play no one seemed to report accurately enough for my taste before.

Grace Cavalieri

read Karren Alenier's review

North American Badger

This is a wierd and wonderful play. Has it been produced somewhere? If not, I hope it will be. David Alpaugh is "not" a wierd but "is" a wonderful poet.

Marjorie Thome-Luntz

read David Alpaugh's play

Two things about the May issue

First, I feel incredibly pleased and gratified by Renate Stendhal's kind and generous letter about my reviews. To receive such praise from a writer of her stature is an honor indeed. Second, I loved Nathan Thomas' appreciation of the great Sir Derek Jacobi. I hope Mr. Thomas enjoyed Sir Derek's performance as Lear (I can't imagine otherwise). I myself have been fortunate enough to see Sir Derek four times in the flesh: on stage in "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Breaking the Code," and "A Voyage Round My Father," and as himself at a speaking engagement at The National Press Club. Sir Derek was as charming, witty and self-deprecating as one could wish. He spoke of just barely losing the role of Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" to Anthony Hopkins: "Tony was brilliant, damn him, but I should have liked to have a go at it!" He also told the tale of being approached meanicngly by an extremely intimidating U.S. Customs official. The official's demand? "Show us your limp!"

Miles David Moore

read Nathan Thomas' article

Copy Rights and Epubs

Okay... let me ask you this. Can I rewrite some of your dialogue, here and there? Can I delete some of your dialogue and add mine instead? Can I rewrite most of the play and put my name on it, maybe with a tinge-of-guilt disclaimer that this is " based in part on a play by M. Bettencourt"? Can I copy your website and substitute my name for yours?

Arthur Meiselman

read Michael Bettencourt's article

Copy Rights and Epubs

You still have controls over your work and permissions to others to use it.  As it says on CC website about this license:
 
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to "copyleft" free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
 
A Creative Commons license is based on copyright. CC licenses apply to works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example. Software programs are also protected by copyright but, as explained below, we do not recommend that you apply a Creative Commons license to software code.
 
Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights--such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright--including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing--nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.
 
We'll see how it works.

Michael Bettencourt

read Michael Bettencourt's article

Copy Rights and Epubs

The commanding operative is: "We'll see how it works."

As I'm sure you're well aware... put it on the internet, make it downloadable, and there is no license!

The mechanics of all of this doesn't trouble me. Disrespect, misuse, and outright stealing has been a fact of publishing since before Gutenberg. It's the principle... it's the implication of "work by committee". And in the theatre, it's the 'facebook' of workshopping and the rise of the chief 'tweeter", the Dramaturg.

My pre-luddite stride is--I write for readers and the actors and their audience. Change not a word without me. I'd rather burn it.

Arthur Meiselman

read Michael Bettencourt's article

Copy Rights and Epubs

You had me at the "chief tweeter, the dramaturg" -- I was at a reading the other night at the Public Theatre, and the literary manager came out to introduce the piece -- she had to be older than 18, but not by much, and all I could think was, "I'm screwed."  She and I live in different universes, she of the Facebook workshop, which is not for me.  I understand the Luddite feeling completely.

Michael Bettencourt

read Michael Bettencourt's article

Copy Rights and Epubs

Michael,
I understand the necessity and depth of your feeling regarding copyrights of your work, yet your offer to let people use your work whenever they want to without financial remittance, is a giveaway that works against your own best interests. Passing around your work to theater people you know, or even those you don't know out of trust or admiration is one thing. Yet an open door policy for all comers sets you up as either a flunky or a desperate writer without credibility. I wish you the best in your efforts for recognition.

Ned Bobkoff

read Michael Bettencourt's article

The paradox of two Steins

The problem is that Edith Stein died and Gertrude Stein hasn't. Edith Stein was a "saint" before the Poppa in Rome made her one. She was a special woman who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her "specialness" is what makes her amazing and perplexing life and what she did with it so important, so meaningful. She has been an influence to women everywhere even though so many of them are unaware of it.
Gertrude Stein was in the right place at the right time. She was a mean, self-indulgent keeper and user of other artists work, an accomplished self-promoter who sold her clumsy, deconstructed writing as if she were the scribe of the gods. Today generations of buyers revel in her self-made image and keep her alive. It's a paradox.

Stephanie Anschel

read Renate Stendhal's article and Celine Nally's play

Copy Rights and Epubs

Luddites unite! All you have to lose is your place in a digitized world!

Laird

read Michael Bettencourt's article

Europe Theatre Prize

Kudos and bravos to Ms Renaud on a wonderful review of this wonderful event. I was so happy that she took me along with her. Her writing is so expressive and the details are so rich that I felt as if I were carrying her luggage. There doesn't seem to be anything quite like that festival anywhere else in the world and if there is I'm sure she will be there and ought to be there. She has the perception and the words and the good humour to capture the width and breadth of this colossal kind of arts event. I hope to "travel" with her again.
Once more bravo and thank you.

Peter B. Wenzel

read Lissa Tyler Renaud's article

Up the Carriage Trade - Up Anyone

Congratulations and good luck. You can't even get actors to respect other actors by showing up on time, so I don't know how you can expect audiences to be any better. Being late isn't just being rude, it's the sign of a small mind running backwards.

Laird

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Great Performances

Add to your list, Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind. Muni was a prime example of a major acting talent who was nurtured and developed by what is historically the oldest, most productive acting training "method" -- working in rehearsal and on stage with successful actors and directors. He had no formal training, never took a class nor set foot in a studio. He learned from anyone who would talk to him, show him, work with him. Beginning as a child-actor in New York's Yiddish Theatre, Muni went on to become a "star" on Broadway and in Hollywood. He earned many awards including an Oscar. He was admired for his self-developed discipline and detailed character preparation and a strong influence on many other actors including Marlon Brando, who had one of his earliest stage experiences with Muni. For a "star", Muni was incredibly introverted and shy. He rarely gave an interview and was reputed to have never seen his performances on the screen for fear that he would lose his internal acting p.o.v. Inherit the Wind was a culminating performance in Muni's theatrical career. After the play's successful launch in 1955, Muni was forced out because of a cancerous tumor in his eye. Melvyn Douglas replaced him. Muni's eye was removed and the cancer stopped, and later in 1955, he returned to the Broadway hit. That night, when he first appeared on stage, the audience rose in unison as if rehearsed in a chorus of applause and cheering. Muni stopped at his entrance, looked at the audience, turned away, and delivered his first line. It was a stunning moment. Never to be forgotten, since I had the good fortune to be in the audience on that night.

Arthur Meiselman

read Nathan Thomas' column

Great Performances

Alan Bates in the title role of Simon Gray's BUTLEY turns in one of the greatest performances I've ever had the pleasure to view. I did not see Bates onstage in London or New York (where Clive Barnes called his 1972 performance "perhaps the single greatest he had ever seen on stage"). Fortunately, Ely Landau's American Film Theatre adapted it to film in 1974 (with Harold Pinter directing) and though unavailable for many years, it was released on DVD in 2003 and is now available on Netflix. I've watched it with awe a half dozen times. Bates, who said Ben Butley was a more demanding role than Hamlet, manages to play this charismatic English Professor, whose career, marriage, friendships are all crumbling, with wit, anger, pathos, and vindictiveness that one would think more appropriate to larger than life figures like Hamlet, Antony, or King Lear. I'm not sure how Gray's play would fare with any other actor; Bates brings it as close to tragedy as any 20th century drama I've seen.

David Alpaugh

read Nathan Thomas' column

Great Performances

Arthur's story of the great Paul Muni reminded me of an important omission -- the Marx Brothers. They honed their skills out on the vaudeville circuit and then wowed audiences in "I'll Say She Is," The Cocoanuts," and "Animal Crackers." Evidently to see them live was far funnier than seeing them on the screen. And more than that, they took ethnic humor out of the tenement and into the mainstream that led to, among other folks, Woody Allen's films.

Nathan Thomas

read Nathan Thomas' column

Why don't you speak better?

Thank you for this interesting article. I don't disagree with you at all, but surely there is also an issue about simply making our speech clear and understandable to an audience on stage. When characters in a play speak with a particular regional dialect, perhaps we need to "cheat" that dialect slightly in the direction of a "standard" speech ("generalized Iowan": is that how you put it?) in order to ensure that the whole audience can understand the speech; while hopefully retaining the quality and character of the dialect.

Michael Elliott

read Nathan Thomas' column

Kopal's Illusions

I don't know if this is drama or poetry or as Kopal calls it: a self-dispossessed illusion (great phrase!). What I do know is it kept me up last night!

Laird

read Iri Kopal's writing

Marco Millions

It's almost as if O'Neill wrote this play last year. His indictment of the military-industrial complex and corporate politics is scathing and so very timely. It would make a blockbuster movie today. I also agree with the writer's opening indictments of our "dumb" presidents but I love Bob Dylan. He is the great poet of the 20th century.

Maria Einhorn (truthsayer)

read Arthur Meiselman's column

Authoritarian Musicals

A couple of points--there was a rise of the kind of musical theatre that you and Barker seem to endorse alongside the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's, a glorious and provocative rise of the form that attracted large audiences along with the marvelous Voksbuhne (People's Theatre) in Berlin. If it hadn't been exterminated by the Nazis, the musical theatre in the post-war U.S. would have been markedly different even for Agnes deMille and her groundbreaking "Oklahoma!"

Your citing of Sondheim--a second-rate composer and second-rate lyricist who egged his way into the vacuum left by the demise of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins. His success and popularity is a stinging example of what happens when the press adulates and creates an idol, just like Lady Gaga.

Michael Aptrow

read Michael Bettencourt's column

Touring Tales

One point--you talk about touring as a "young person's game". It's truly an "actor's game" young and old. The bus&truck, the roving Band of Players, even the circus and carnivals--these marvelous adventures for both performers and audiences have been lost in the U.S. not just because of the swamp of mall-entertainment but also because of the overreach of unions and the tax-man. You should advise your young actors--if you want to tour and tour you should, go to Europe, go to Canada, even Australia. It's still there!

Michael Aptrow

read Nathan Thomas' column

Feminism and the Method

I can't begin to tell you how important Nathan Thomas' words are regarding the gender-stricken "Method". Since acting and the creations of acting on the stage and on the screen have such a profound effect and influence on the behavior of persons and what they do with their lives and the lives of others,Thomas gets to the heart and core of it and opens it up. It needs to be dug into deeper and further.

Michael Aptrow

read Nathan Thomas' column

The Man Who Came to Dinner

I believe Christopher Blake's advice to young people, should apply to the Steiny Poet, as well. Read the play, and review it. It can't hurt a 91 year old, underappreciated American playwright to have his work critiqued, especially on the Internet. Best of luck, Citizen Blake!

Robert Wrynn

read the Steiny Poet's column

Article About Christopher Blake

Thanks for the cogent article on Christopher Blake. Very well done. I am in the process of getting ready to mount a reading of Mr. Blake's "5 Rue Christine" with a full production scheduled for a later date. I am also writing a play about Ms. Stein called "Willing Shadows". Both plays will be read October 5 & 6th. Barbara Will, author of "Unlikely Collaboration", put me in touch with Mr. Blake and he has been an invaluable resource. Your interview with him also helps me a great deal, thank you!

Michael H. Arve

read Karren Alenier's column

Ashland Forever

I love the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It's everything a great theatre festival, a great arts festival should be. Thanks to Catherine for giving those of us who can't be there a rich review of its current experiences.

Judy Moritz

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

Captain America

A Fever Dream is just that, a dream of fever. In this case it comes from a country founded on the blood of indigenous people, with an economy created on the backs of slaves, and perpetuated by that judeo-christian nightmare called Manifest destiny. We have what we have earned and deserve, don't you thinK?

Michael Aptrow

read Michael Bettencourt's column

Ashland

This is a great photo spread with some fine writing in its review. You do Ashland proud!

Michael Aptrow

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

La Marquise du Chatalet

Outstanding review of an outstanding woman. Thanks for encapsulating the facts and giving us a view.

Marti Bensinger

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

Why Do They Muck Around With Shakespeare?

Do you really want to know why they muck around with Shakespeare? Just go see "The Hunger Games".

Michael Aptrow

read Nathan Thomas' column

The Lonesome Death of Janis Joplin

This is a hard-nosed and at the same time a moving piece. Almost begging to be a film which it should be. Has it been staged anywhere? The playwright knows his craft and he uses language like paint. Janis would be proud.

Michael Aptrow

read Atar Hadari's play

Owless of Santa Clara

I like this play. The playwright has an ear for language and her characters are strong in a broad poster-stroke sort of way. But I have a couple of problems. The story, the flow of action is unnecessarily twisted. I understand the idea of a "discarga" but I don't quite get the push of it as it unfolds, as it discharges. The other thing is I can't find the playwright. In every good play, the playwright is there somewhere even if she is a chair or an emotional moment. Here, I can't find Rosebud Ben-Oni anywhere. I want to find her but she hides from the characters and the audience. She is uncommitted.

Michael Aptrow

read Rosebud Ben-Oni's play

I Like the Quiet

It's amazing isn't it that after all these years there still is no good solution to one of an actor's great nightmares, laryngitis. Most of the time it's viral, some times it's psychological, and other times what? Metaphysical?

Natalie Rosen

read Nathan Thomas' column

Bettencourt reads... and writes

Enjoying Mr. Bettencourt's video and audio broadcasts. I have always enjoyed his column so very much, he is such a perceptive writer. I hope these broadcasts make their way around the internet. They deserve a very wide audience.

Marjorie Paverness

read Michael Bettencourt's column
view the contents page to link to his broadcasts

Theatre Thoughts

Didn't think I could sit still anymore for a listen to an essay amidst the clamor of the internet. But Bettencourt is pithy (not a misspelling) and he reads like a pro. Very enjoyable.

Michael Aptrow

listen to Michael Bettencourt's Theatre Thoughts

About King Lear

I did Lear twice, but not Lear. I played the Fool. It was a joyous experience as it obviously was for you. Thanks for sharing. I'll be more ready for the next time.

Tomas Boornin

read Nathan Thomas' column

The Giving Lear

Nathan Thomas' insights to playing Lear as a "giving actor" awakened a sleepy part of the playwright within me. When we deal with art, whether it's on the page or on the stage, I'm delighted to be reminded that it is in the giving that we have the opportunity to make the work sing. When I return to my newest project, I will approach my characters and ultimately the audience with a more giving heart.

Elizabeth Appell

read Nathan Thomas' column

Musical Theatre

It was Andrew Lloyd Webber who elevated the non-song style of musicals and in the process diminished the treasure trove of popular songs that was American Broadway musicals. It used to be that musicals provided the songs we loved and sang. Not any more. Webber couldn't write a singable tune even if he stole it from Gershwin.

S. Bintman

read Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's article

Walking with Claudine

I so enjoy following Claudine around in her ever-changing comic and sad personae as actor, cook and "nammie". Her joy of life is spiced with a healthy cynicism like the good cook she is. Time for a reality show? If not in America how about in the U.K.?

Susan Swift Terrell

read Claudine Jones column

Comedy Gets Some Love

Thanks a lot for the tribute to Elaine May. She's at the heart of what American comedy is all about and her medal is righteous and well-deserved. If anyone is a national treasure, she is.

Ricki Cohen

read Kathi Wolfe's column

The Old Diva of Hypatia

Thanks to Scene4 for running Griselda Steiner's continuous series of dialogues from her musical "Hypatia". It's an unusual way to display her work but she is such a good writer that it is both entertaining and satisfying.

Margaret Bolce

read Griselda Steiner's dialogues

Stanislavsky and the Avengers

Mr. Thomas has a special way of weaving his humanism into his views of theatre. I too am an actress and I too love comic books. If I were younger and more adventurous, I would go and study with him. As it is, I will have to settle with continuing to enjoy his personable and instructive articles.

Francine Bledsin

read Nathan Thomas' column

Theatre Thoughts

I love Michael Bettencourt's Theatre Thoughts. He speaks so beautifully and his voice reminds me of a brother or a father reading to someone late at night. Though his short stories and comments are entertaining they are also thoughtful and informative and his experiences are valuable to hear about on many levels. I want to ask about the earlier records that were published. Are they still available in an archive somewhere?

Maria Stipensi

listen to Michael Bettencourt's Theatre Thoughts

re: Theatre Thoughts

You can always find the rest of the published Theatre Thoughts recordings by going to the Scene4 Archives at: www.archives.scene4.com or, go to Michael Bettencourt's web site at: http://www.m-bettencourt.com/podcast.html

The Editors

Good Night, Sweet Prince

Thanks to Griselda Steiner and Scene4 for the moving and intimate view of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He was truly a Prince and many of the eulogies and tributes didn't quite bring him back to us. Yours did. Very special. Thank you.

Andria Jacobs

read Griselda Steiner's article

Bettencourt and Thomas

Try as I may and try as I might, I can't get over the feeling that both Mr. Bettencourt and Mr. Thomas are 'sweet' cynics. Cynics after their years in the theater and sweet to be in Scene4. It's a refreshing encore but only when you're in the mood.

Stanley Bergas

read Michael Bettencourt's column
read Nathan Thomas' column

Observations

Nathan Thomas' exploration of men in a women's world (April 2014) not only strikes a chord and a hurrah for bald men but for all men, and boys, who plumb the mysteries of how and why women costume themselves and the resentment they encounter when they affect an answer. I have yet to feel comfortable "shopping", "wandering" in a women's lingerie department. The silent accusations thrown at me by the darts of raised eyebrows loudly resonate as: "he's looking for an enticing gift for his girlfriend, but it's really to dress her up in his latest fantasy;" "he's a cross-dresser shopping for his latest affectation;" "he's a pervert looking for handjob gloves;" "he's his wife's mama's boy." Even if Mr. Thomas wore a large badge that proclaimed him as "Costumer for Such&Such Production" he'd never escape the little stabs in his back. Used to be a time when store detectives would usher a man out of women's lingerie unless he were accompanied by a woman and even then they watched for any deviant looks on his face. Today, women are liberated and men are too, I think, maybe.

Paul Kevlin

read Nathan Thomas' article

George Carlin

George's list got really expanded way beyond 7 dirty words. With political correctness it's probably in the 100s. And George didn't die, he faked a heart attack and ran away to a hill somewhere, maybe Montecito, California or New Jersey. No, as George would say, fuck that! As a hip cartoonist, Elliot rules!

Brother Bone

view Elliot Feldman's cartoon

Acting and its methods

Nathan Thomas is an articulate proponent of Stanislavsky and I have always enjoyed and appreciated his essays and analyses. He is obviously a successful teacher, so I wonder if he isn't distracted by the process in favor of the craft. I, for one, have left the emotional-truth psychological approach to acting and adhere strongly to this credo by director Joe Wright: "To me, naturalism is the death of drama. Lee Strasberg came along and the Method fucked everything up. I find people like Celia Johnson are my favorite actors. I was brought up on films like Brief Encounter (1945) and, for me, they expressed enormous truth. Marlon Brando does not have the monopoly on truth!"

Doug Henshall

read Nathan Thomas' column

On Pairings

Thanks to Ms Honig for an outstanding review of the Paris coming together of these great artists' work. There's an overall "pairing" to be gleaned from her review -- the sculptor, the photographer, the choreographer, the dancer. Actually many "pairings" and many insights.

M. Madeiros

read Catherine Conway Honig's review

How Now Copyright?

I read, with interest, Arthur Meiselman's piece on copyright. My response to the writer, since I am cited by him as a spur to his article is this:

I am not against copyright, that is, not against having some form of protection for created work, for the "property" of the creator.  I would just dial back the protections to the original terms of the Copyright Act of 1790, which gave a creator 14 years of protection, with an additional term of 14 years if he or she was alive at the time of the renewal.  (The original law only protected books, maps, and charts; other items, like music and paintings, were added later.)

I also don't have a problem with copyrights being treated as commodities and passed along/sold to other parties, as long as the time limits don't reset during the exchange: If my father in his will passes along to me the copyright to his wildly successful book, and thus its profits, in the 27th year of its copyright (renewed after 14 years), I get the profits for one more year only, and that's it.  Then the book goes into the public domain.  (Whatever publishing rights companies have do not trump the copyright term limit -- once the property passed into the public domain, they no longer have exclusive access to it.)

I would also support a provision that doesn't make copyright automatic once a work is created.  Copyrights would have to registered, with a small fee to do this, in order to start the clock ticking on the first 14 years.  If a copyright is not registered, then that work does not have copyright protection and is automatically added to the public domain.  (We'd have to work out some window during which a creator can register so that the created work has a provisional or contingent protection, a "pre-copyright" protection, in case they're on walkabout in Australia when the inspiration comes.)  This would also allow people to forego copyright if they didn't want it (today known as "copyleft") without having to go through the hoops of the Creative Commons licensing procedures (but this would also mean that the creator would have no say in how the work gets used in the public domain).

The logistics of this are too complicated for this limited space, but they are mostly legalistic in nature once the umbrella concept of a time-limit for a registered copyright is established (e.g., can someone "own" something in the public domain, such as a Picasso painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum, or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in its new Japanese manga version?).  This doesn't make them easy but it does make them doable and possible.

My desire is to get as much material, actual and virtual, into the public domain as possible as quickly as possible without too much interference from the dead hand of the past or the greed of corporations and creators -- as the original act said, in order "to encourage learning."  Twenty-eight years seems enough time for a creator to make his or her money.  My desire is to cut back all the kudzu that has smothered copyright to the point where, now, anything after 1923 is out of bounds, with absurd restrictions like a book not going into the public domain until 70 years after the death of its author.  To me, that's racketeering.

Of course I will not win this argument -- there is too much money at stake.  But it's an argument that still needs to be made.

Michael Bettencourt


I agree with most of Michael Bettencourt's arguments. But the implication of his strong desire toward "public domain" is what concerns me. I don't care about the financial provisos of copyright: protect the creator and the creator's heirs, all for a reasonable time, and then the hell with it... let the bucks be made by the buck-makers. What I do care about is the content, the creation as the creator conceived it. Within most current copyright protection, while the creator is alive, his/her permission is required to change one comma, one note, one choreographic movement, one anything. Once the creator has been de-created, my admonition is that the permission is no longer available. Nothing should be changed. If a creation is to be adapted, write a new version based on the original, but do not, do not use the original words or notes or strokes. If you want to do "Rome&Juliet" Mr. Luhrman (after you find actors who can speak English), write your own. I cite George Bernard Shaw who sent a sheriff with a cease&desist court order at the Broadway opening of one of his plays: do it the way he wrote it or don't do it. If you want to do a Balanchine ballet, do it as he conceived it, or choreograph your own. The argument against my argument is: hey, that's not the way show business works. My answer: Tough shite! Shaw understood the business of show better than almost anyone alive today. Of course, he's dead and his creations? Unprotected.

As I calm down here, I'm fully aware that it is the Internet which has unleashed an irrevocable shattering of copyright protection. The "mashup" is the worse thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball. And, as Rebecca Solnit noted in Harper's: The Internet will also "create elaborate justifications for never paying artists or writers." She also notes: "...2014 has turned out quite a bit like [Orwell's] 1984."

Arthur Meiselman

Michael Bettencourt's earlier column: "Dear Mr. Beckett"

Arthur Meiselman's current column: "On Copyright And Cats"

How Now Copyright? - A Response To A Response

Response to Arthur's Response

Citing the "mashup" as "the worst thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball" is to forget that the "mashup" is how any art gets made.  No inventor creates something in the way that Athena burst forth from the head of Zeus when Hephaestus cracked open his skull, that is, something without antecedent, without an origin story, without some debt to (dare I say it?) to the "public domain."

This is precisely the point Nina Paley made in stripping her wonderful work, Sita Sings The Blues, of all copyright restrictions: "From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes."

For me, the more things there are to mash up into new forms, the better off everyone will be, not just in the arts but in all aspects of intellectual study -- "mashup" is just a synonym for "the free market of ideas," and the public domain, where everybody has a library card to borrow the materials, is where this market can play out the trading that results in new ideas, new practices, new directions.

This fertility -- its power to nourish and propel -- is why we can't follow my colleague's advice and do only "archival performances" (my term, not his) of past work.  Shaw had every right to issue his cease-and-desist then, but I don't think anyone can make a defensible aesthetic argument that his work is well-served by issuing one now on his behalf, and there's certainly no legal basis for it either.

Perhaps Shakespeare is more to the point here, since competing versions of some of his plays defy citing any one manuscript as definitive, Arthur's "the original words."  (Kenneth Branagh, for his film version of Hamlet, simply mashed together every version he could find into one script, which is why the film runs for four hours with an intermission.)  There is no ur-Shakespeare text, and certainly no ur-Shakespeare performance (we have no settled picture of what happened on an Elizabethan stage), and thus no ur-Shakespeare to which we must always remain faithful.  

And even if such a thing did exist, doing R&J in 2014, even following every jot and tittle, will not be the same as a production done in 1614: we can mimic the practice but we can't access the spirit and mind-set of that time.  We are different people living in a different world, and our R&J will be an automatic betrayal of the original.

Rebecca Solnit's point about "the Internet" is a good one in terms of its effects on artists' livelihoods.  However, it's not "the Internet's" fault but the way people use and abuse this vast infrastructure for sharing information -- a subject too large to parse here but one which touches upon the ethic of the public domain and a regulated commons.

But it certainly has thrown into disarray old notions of ownership and control and property and contract, which, to me, is a very good thing since many of these notions were restrictive, exploitative, and rent-seeking, and needed to be challenged.  Going back to a situation where "the permission [to change things] is no longer available" is to go back to the very practices that "the Internet" has up-ended.

The "mashup" is how stuff gets made.  The source material for the mashup is both the universe of all created artifacts and the cultural "air" we all breathe as citizens of some collective.  Given the capitalistic way we have chosen to arrange our current collective, it makes sense to define creation as "property" and afford it some of its protections.

The debate is over the extent and power of those protections, and my contention is to give them a statute of limitations that balances inventors' abilities to make some money off their efforts and the public domain's need for new stuff to mash up.  I believe this is a fair trade, given how the public domain seeds everything of value created by anyone who lives in its midst.

Michael Bettencourt

Gérard Philipe

He truly was one of the most beautiful men to ever appear on screen as beautiful as anyone in Hollywood including Tyrone Power. If the quality of his acting in film is a judgment, then he must have been wonderful on stage. How sad his career was cut so short.

Terence Bittern

read Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's article: "Le Grand Prince"

Pro-99 Status Quo supporters are misguided

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Salyers and other Pro-99 supporters who think theatre in LA will die if small theatres are required to pay minimum wage. One major issue not being brought up is the law. The California Labor Commission has turned a blind eye to the 99-Seat theatre world for decades but is now receiving pressure to enforce minimum wage because of the national outcry regarding labor practices in general.
Equity has to cover their butts. If the state enforces minimum wage requirements and Equity hasn't gotten in front of this mess, small theatre owners and producers could turn around and sue Equity for the monies claiming they followed what the union advised. Litigation will happen. Also, there are dozens of small theatres that have been using the 99-Seat plan for years. If your company can manage to produce plays regularly, then you should be making the effort to raise funds to pay everyone involved, not just tech directors, directors or writers. Vocal proponents of maintaining the status quo, such as Tim Robbins or Ed Asner, are the very people who should be trying to improve working conditions and helping setup funds and lobby wealthy LA patrons to support theatre.
You know why the Geffens and Ahmansons and all the other wealthy benefactors support large theatres, LA Opera, LA Master Chorale, LA Philharmonic and  LA Museums, but not 99-Seat theatres? Because most, not all, but most are a jumble of dilettantes throwing together mediocre fare at best.
The term "Los Angeles theatre scene" is an oxymoron. Yes, there is lightning in a bottle on a occasion being produced in these small venues, but most prove the adage, "You get what you pay for." Unfortunately too many actors over the years drank the Kool-Aid and believe that great art equals great sacrifice and that volunteering to work for nothing is honorable or a way to work the acting muscles. I call bullshit. Value artists' work and give them a wage. This isn't even a living wage, but it's a start. And maybe changing the plan will shut down a bunch of theatres or maybe those theatres will work smarter and harder to find the funds they need. Hollywood is full of rich people who throw their money away on countless things. No one can say that the money isn't around, they just haven't worked hard enough to acquire it. 

Lia Beachy

Nathan Thomas' column: "The Ninety and Nine Seats"

Holocaust Terror

I cannot begin to express the horror, the pain that comes from reading "The Jew in the Box" and Celine Nally's stirring portrayal of Edith Stein. My family was there and their memory is part of the heritage I pass down to my children, as terrible a memory as it is. Both of these should be preserved forever in a recording or on film. They should never be forgotten.

Harriet Sherman

Arthur Meiselman's column: Second Reunion

Celine Nally's play: Into the Light

Hanging Out With Chekhov

It's amazing and wonderful how Chekov the man and his writing has endured for so long and is yet so influential. There are problems with translating some of his work, but isn't that true of many writers, great and small? Mr. Thomas gives us a thorough and resounding view of what that all entails. Thank you for that.

Pierre Benedette

Nathan Thomas' column: "Vanya"

That Frikkin Thing

I always enjoy Claudine Jones' monthly columns in Scene4. This one takes the cake, literally, and she bakes it. Her views on the world around her and on her life hit me right in the mind and heart. Her style is an art form in itself and belongs in this arts magazine. My only regret is that I don't live next door to her. Thanks Ms Jones for sharing what you have to say.

Dianne Lange

Claudine Jones' column: "Sometime"

Legacies

What do Ted Williams, Billy Jack, Black Eagle, HAL, the great Yuan Yuan Tan, and Edward Curtis have in common? They're all in this issue of Scene4 (June 2016) and the title of this issue should be: "Legacies". Seems like we're spending an awful lot of time lately "legacying" and forgetting as soon as we remember. I don't know about the "we".

Michael. Aptrow

The Wafer

Cliche praise--this is a timely and gripping play. It may image the Hispanic world but I can see it in Africa and Asia as well, especially Africa. Sadly, it could never make it on television or even Netflix. The portrait of a conflicted revolutionary is too reminiscent of "Him" that was and still beguiles a huge congregation. I don't think anyone would touch it for film either. It's a drama for only the theater and the writing is magical.

Louis Laird

Arthur Meiselman's play: The Wafer

The Wafer

Beautiful. A classically constructed drama with modern trappings. Very E. O'Neillian. It would be fascinating to see a Part 2, a sequel that shows us what happens to a self-immolating leader. Does he become a saint, a savior, the next Christ? We Atheists would like to know.

Michael Aptrow

Arthur Meiselman's play: The Wafer

Red Emma

Thank you for reviewing this play. In your concise writing, you bear down heavily and rightly so on the infuriating parallels between Emma Goldman's time and our Trump-time today. I hope this production will be available soon and also published. There are so many people who need to be awakened before November.

Emily Osterman

Karren Alenier's column: Red Emma

Hello and not Goodbye

A wonderful play. I saw it when it was originally staged in Seattle (and mangled in LA). HIV is a character, a metaphor reminiscent of Camus' The Plague. The characters are heartfelt, beautifully drawn and inside the humor the theme of reconciliation is still so relevant today.

Lou Laird

Arthur Meiselman's play: Hello And... Goodbye!

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