The Proverbial Basque
Thanks for the hilarious article on "Basque Proverbs". It was a terrific hoot and at the same time, sad that Steve Esquerrè is no longer with us. He was an original and there's a lot more in his writing than meets the eye.
Jerry Reinstein, Cheyenne, WY
Time and Thailand
Your view of Thailand was right on the mark and your experience with Thai theatre was heartening. In our third-world country that is rushing itself into first-world status it is our rituals of people facing people in ceremony and celebration and theatre that keeps our culture alive.
Sophon Jindarat, Chiang Mai, Thailand
On Billie Holiday
In regards to Arthur's article on Billie Holiday: yes, she was everything you said she was - actress, singer, liason for the soul - in many ways, Sarah Vaughn took up where Holiday left off. But the fact of the matter, the sad truth, is that much of her late songs she was on heroin - from "Strange Fruit" through "Lover Come Back" the politics of her song was to survive. That penetrating cry is a cry for help - the romance of performing is secondary.
Ned Bobkoff, Rochester, NY
A Soiree Invitation
If Jonathan Hardy is anything, he's a hell of a conversationalist. I'd love to be there when he's "deep in his cup" and totally "gone".
Marty Migdal, Miami, FL
Mr. Hardy does not drink! (or so his publicist says).
A Wider View
I especially enjoy Andrèa Carvalho's articles. Her interviews of Brazilian theatre are very stimulating. I wish those people toured. And I wish you had more writing from other parts of the world.
S. Karis, London, UK
Attention NY Times
Bravo, Scene4, for the insights of Anthony Tomassini. With all of its recent tawdry journalism, the NY Times needs all of the Tomassini it can get. When they are ready to.replace their Executive Editor, he has my vote.
Analee Trent Jacobs, New York, NY
Just this evening I've had a moment to begin the joy of reading the current issue of Scene4. What a delight: the new format is right down my alley, and I loved walking down it with the vibrant, gutsy truth of Ms. Zachai. I suppose I just prefer hearing the personal truth spontaneously expressed without the necessity of the didactic proof of the expert's quotation.
Ed Sorrell, Los Angeles, CA
Bravo, Bobkoff, Banff, Bear Mountain
Thanks so much for Ned Bobkoff's survey of the Summer Arts Festival at Banff Centre. It's one of Canada's proudest events and he captured the thrill and spirit of it all. I only wish he had had the time to explore the rest of its rich program.
Elaine Mortensson, Toronto, CANADA
On The Road
I enjoyed the latest installment #5 of Karren Alenier's "The Steiny Road To Operadom". She keeps it interesting and informative. My special favorite was #4 for the verve and sense of community she brought into the telling. Thanks, and keep it up.
Hilary Tham Goldberg, Arlington, VA
Here's The Beef
Your content is often superlative, but digging it out of your impossible web designer's clutches is seldom worth the effort. Most pages take forever to load and when they finally get there half of them are in bizarre stringbean thin type on black background that makes the text almost impossible to read. Consider adopting the age old adage that "less is more" and think about making your opening pages clean, fast, and immediately legible. You are now graphically ingenious but audience alienating to folks without the advantage of their own personal T1 connection.
Jim De Young, Monmouth, IL
The Impossible Web Designer replies –
We really do test the magazine on a number of platforms and different access formats. With dialup, naturally some of the pages load much slower than with broadband, but they do load and everything is there for the read. If you're using the Netscape or Opera browser then you'll definitely have problems, but, hey, you're in a less than 1% minority that is very difficult to accommodate. You might also want to check your browser settings, especially the text size setting. As for the white type on the black background, you'll have to hound the Editor. He's a little eccentric with a strong graphics bias but occasionally he's a reasonable bloke. js
Regional Theatre In The Region Of Canada
Many thanks to Ned (Bobkoff), who snuck into The Hudson's Bay Boy under the guise of audience and wrote about it in the April edition of Scene 4. His review was unexpected, refreshingly sensitive and incredibly supportive of a story which was organic in it's conception, development and production. I have one observation in his piece though, and that is his last comment about "regional" theatre. We suffer badly from this designation in Canada. Good stories are good stories. They are everywhere and it takes good people to make those stories come alive. I choose, as many of us in this country, not to live permanently in the abyss of Toronto because it is not my home and it does not hold my stories. As David Rotenberg once advised me when I asked him whether I should go back to Yellowknife or go to Toronto after my training, he replied, "go home, write those stories, make them your own and then come and share them with the rest of the world". He was right. Regional theatre is a matter of perspective. If there is a region in my world, then it is Toronto, for the centre of my art is the North.
Ben Nind (Stuck in a Snowbank Theatre) Yellowknife, NWT, CANADA
Black and White - a followup
Just a small thought from over one ocean. Your Hannah seems to be saying 'If you're not for us, you're against us'. Who rang that bell before? A known fact from the apes: whatever alpha does drips down to the crowd. Now, I'm wondering whether the group stopped its nightly offending (your description) a member of the audience after your published letter - just another small thought. The great ideas of what one should have done when the fatal incident occurred, sadly, come afterwards only, if at all, to most of us. At the time your letter struck me as a bit of an overkill, addressing the agencies and trying to stop the funding, even though you made a clear case. Would Americans, in general, be somewhat more aggressive these days?
Jona Oberski, Amsterdam, NL
Black and White
Back in the sixties I had the opportunity to see the Negro Ensemble Company's ground breaking production of Genet's "The Blacks". The cast was superb: James Earl Jones, Arthur French, and a host of other equally fine performers. Michael Bettencourt's reaction to the Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of "The Blacks" intrigued me. After reading his reaction to an audience member being subjected to embarrassment and manipulation, a white person made to feel that she was part of the establishment perpetuating racism, I hope I would have had the courage to slap the actor taking advantage by improvising off him with wit and endless good will. He would then be in the same place I was. I would be standing up, facing him squarely, and he would be on stage, facing me squarely. In the strange and wonderful environment of the theatre, we would be, finally, after all these years of separation and discrimination between audiences and actors, EQUAL. Wouldn't that be great? He would have to break out of his appointed role as a performer, and I would have to break out of my appointed role as an audience member. We would be both be taking risks together; improvising as one. We would be improvising on equal ground for the job of working on stage and getting paid for it. And if I beat him at it, and if I won, based on the audience's applause, if I did his job better than he did, I might get his role - finally getting the break, I've been looking for all my life. He'd be out of a job, and I'd have the opportunity to step in and replace him. And I wouldn't be ashamed about it either. I'd cover my face with grease paint. I'd do his job in black face. Wouldn't that be a clown show? To paraphrase Kipling: If you can keep your wits when all about you are losing theirs, why not?
Ned Bobkoff, Rochester, NY
Jean Genet is not dead, you know. Like Elvis and Saddam, he is constantly spotted, most recently in Las Vegas swimming in a Soleil fish tank. And to Michael Bettencourt's and Ned Bobkoff's responses, he smiles. Their responses are precisely, exactly what he wanted in "The Blacks" and in most of his work. He was and is a provocateur, and they were provoked. He once said that he hoped to compose a piece that drove the audience out of the theatre and brought each of them back the next night. Now that would be a "clown show"!
Arthur. Meiselman, Baja North
See No Evil, Hear And Speak Okay (re: April 2003)
Cancel my subscription to this anti-American rag. You people are a disgrace. Besides, what does this have to do with theatre and film!
Name withheld to protect their anonymity - 1 of 11
Ramble On "Winter Ramblings"
Mr. Meiselman rambles wrong. The French and Chinese are RIGHT: sex, drugs and rock&roll are the "satanic menace". That's why there are no MacDonald's, Starbuck's and Disney in France and China. And if Uma Thurman is our greatest film actress then Quentin Tarantino is our greatest action hero, which he is!
J. Mayer, New York, NY
Creatively Speaking, Mr. Challis
Out of a life of divergent careers, the "play" and its art have seduced and captivated me -- I cannot, nor do I wish, to escape. For its here that I have found that one place to be truly me -- and free! In the beginning I thought this was so because I could hide behind the character and could not be judged nor blamed. But what a joy to discover that's an illusion. The very richness of the art is the "informing" of the character with my own history. I hesitate to name or label the almost-infinite incidents of that spiritual psychology --whatever it's appearance -- because, I feel, naming so often "judges". And for me it has always been the judgement that restricted the expression. The truth sets one free and humanizes the characters we play. The applause is a recognition that we, as actors, have shared the truth of some part of our history and it's vibration has touched the soul of the audience. Thanks for your thoughts.
Epstein On Meisner On Stage Directions
I don't know where I got it, but somewhere along the way I was told that stage directions in the printed script were from the the production's first stage manager. True or false, no difference: I ignored them. But recently I had the extraordinary privilege of playing James Tyrone in LDJ. I ignored the advice of yore , and savored every stage direction, feeling they were given from the raw, exposed nerves of Eugene's wrenching memories. If, indeed, the directions are not his, they were expressed by a kindred spirit. Your articles are very helpful and meaningful to me as an actor. Thanks.
Ed Sorrell Boston, MA
'Yea' to Nathan Thomas - "Too Cool For School"
(You) asked: "If a group of actors truly showed the depths of tragedy, would the audience be receptive?" I'd answer yes. That's why I love the theatre so much. It's all about the truth.
Tara Melinsky, London, UK
An Encouraging Word
Since subscribing to Scene4, I've enjoyed reading about the Boston theatre scene in your monthly perspective. Before reading the March edition I was all set to see ART's "Mother Courage". Now I'll just wait to see if I can experience something better, or at least more challenging. I've failed to check the archives, knowing I'd have to reopen the wound: your failure to see "Long Day's Journey".
Ed Sorrell, Boston, MA
On "The Matador And The Mouse"
Very interesting story. I hope some day you'll reestablish your studio and I and other developing actors can have that same experience!
Ed Sorrell, Boston, MA
I've seen that Israeli mouse somewhere. I know, at Actor's Studio West. Only in L.A.!
Larry Levitz, Los Angeles, CA
Teixeira Moita's Work
Thank you for publishing these wonderful plays. Moita is a unique talent and we hope to to get the rights to produce them at our local theatre group.
Rachel Portman, Santa Fe, NM