Playwright Harold Pinter dead at 78

From Broadway.com:

©2008 Dave M. Benett/Broadway.comNobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter died of cancer on December 24, according to the Associated Press. He was 78.

The highly influential and political scribe was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born on October 10, 1930 in the London borough of Hackney. In 1948 he was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He published his first poems in 1950 and by 1951 he was accepted at the Central School of Speech and Drama. That same year, he won a place in Anew McMaster’s Irish repertory company, renowned for its performances of Shakespeare. Pinter toured again between 1954 and 1957, using the stage name of David Baron.

He wrote over 30 plays, making his playwriting debut in 1957 with The Room, presented in Bristol. Other early plays were The Birthday Party (1957), The Dumb Waiter (1957) and The Hothouse (1958). His first big breakthrough came in 1959 with The Caretaker. His subsequent plays include The Homecoming, Night School, The Collection, The Lover, The Homecoming, Landscape, Silence, Old Times, No Man’s Land, Betrayal, Family Voices, A Kind of Alaska, One for the Road, Mountain Language, The New World Order, Party Time, Moonlight, Ashes to Ashes, Celebration and Remembrance of Things Past. He also wrote over 20 screenplays, including The Servant, The Go-Between and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Pinter was also a director, poet and essayist.

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Looking at Pinter’s political views, this via the DailyKos:

The provocative Nobel laureate Harold Pinter died December 24. Although his work in the theater over the course of 32 plays was broadly praised, his political views drew savage attacks, including one from fellow Brit and neo-conservative Christopher Hitchens, who wrote in 2005 that giving the Swedish award “to someone who gave up literature for politics decades ago, and whose politics are primitive and hysterically anti-American and pro-dictatorial, is part of the almost complete degradation of the Nobel racket.”

Evanston-Native Jeremy Piven ends Broadway run because of ill health

JeremyPivenJeremy Piven, born and raised in Evanston, IL, (and whose mother founded the Piven Theatre) has abruptly ended his run in Broadway’s Speed-the-Plow, (by playwright David Mamet, also originally from Chicago) after missing Tuesday evening’s performance and a Wednesday matinee

Piven, 43, has told producers that he hasn’t been feeling well due to a “high mercury count.”

But playwright David Mamet is skeptical.

“I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury,” Mamet said. “So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”  (Aside: no, Mamet did not say that!!  David’s got his claws out!!)

The show will still go on through February, Mamet said.

“The good news is that some really great actors will be helping out and stepping in, which to me is a sign of great heroism and friendship,” he said.

According to the New York Post, about 300 theater patrons requested about 300 theater patrons requested refunds after it was announced that Piven was MIA.  (which I guess tells you how much star-power makes a difference on Broadway).

[hat-tip: Us Magazine)

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Aside: This Chicago ticket broker offers a great selection of tickets in the city – Purchase tickets for Wicked in Chicago and nationwide theater events like Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets – a favorite during the holiday.

The Mime Company on WTTW last night

There was a nice feature on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” yesterday evening, and I thought I’d post it today.  (hmmmm…I think that’s the first time that I’ve ever written “tonight”, “yesterday” and “today” in the same sentence).  Unfortunately it wasn’t posted on either www.wttw.com nor YouTube.  So you’ll have to *settle* for this clip that was posted on YouTube less than 24-hours ago:

"The Screwtape Letters" – New Years Show with champagne!!

"The Screwtape Letters", playing presently at The Mercury Theater on Southport. THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the hit play based on C.S. Lewis’ classic novel, now playing at The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue , will feature expanded holiday performance schedule to include December 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. and a special New Year’s Eve performance on December 31.   After the New Year’s Eve 8 p.m. show, there will be a champagne toast in the theater lobby followed by a special talk-back with Max McLean (co-creator and star) and Jeffrey Fiske (co-creator and director), who will foster audience discussions about the show’s provocative themes and answer questions about how they adapted C.S. Lewis’ classic novel into a hit stage production. 

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS is directed by Jeffrey Fiske and stars Max McLean as Screwtape and Yvonne Gougelet as Toadpipe.  Scenic design is by Cameron Anderson, costumes are by Michael Bevins, lighting by Tyler Micoleau, and sound is by Bart Fasbender.  For more biographical or production information, visit www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com.

Theater tidbits….Freud, Reinventing Seattle, and an Evening of Holiday Mime

Village Players of Oak Park will present the new musical Far From Freud, by Phil Riegle and directed by Christopher Pazdernik.  Running for 2 weekends, January 17th – January 25th, Far From Freud will feature Stephanie Foster, James Gavin, Sydney Genco, Michael Jeija, Jennifer Noble, Laura MacGregor, Erin Marie O’She, Andrew Toniolo, and Joe Zordan.  Production team includes Dominic Clemente and pianist Kimberly Widmer.   More info here.

 

Reflect. Reinvent. React. Reconnect:  Join more than 1600 arts professionals to learn and reflect in 50 educational sessions, reinvent with eight Innovators, react to one of 17 ARTventures, and reconnect with colleagues across the country for three days in Seattle, all part of Americans for the Arts 2009 Annual Convention.  All info can be found here.

 

A_Holiday_Evening_of_Mime

 

 

The Mime Company is extending their A Holiday Evening of Mimeat the Raven Theatre studio space.  Receiving glowing reviews, the show will now continue through December 28th.  More info here.

McCullough on Women Playwrights

Mia McCullough, a playwright for Chicago Dramatists, has written a provocative piece on the website for Chicago Artists Resource, entitled “On Women in Playwriting” about sexism in theatre, and how this shapes the works and output of women playwrights.  It’s really worth a read.

Personally, I believe that this theatre sexism is a reflection misogynist  American culture in general, rather than just theater (to be fair, McCullough is only focusing about the theater world in this article).  My sister, Lisa, who is a lieutenant-colonel in the Army, actually teaches a course for military women on how to assert themselves and be noticed.  She mentioned to me that women are “trained” early to be much more reserved.  Even those women that are leaders in the community unconsciously possess traces of subserviency.  Examples she has given me: when men sit in a chair they spread themselves out, taking over the arm rests, while women sit with their hands inside the armrest, keeping their stature much more restrained and small; in meetings men tend, when speaking, to lean forward and confidently express their opinions, while women keep themselves sitting back in the chair, and can seem apologetic when offering their input, as if they’re interrupting the meeting.  Lisa also repeats McCullough’s observation that women also tend to apologize for silly things that men would never apologize for.

Here’s an excerpt from Mia McCollough’s article:

…. we are, still, programmed to be polite. We apologize for things, and censor ourselves far more than men do; and unfortunately this transfers to our art, and it shouldn’t. Art is not and should never be about politeness. Raw or refined, it should be a true expression of feeling. This will lead to another problem, I expect. When women stop being polite and really delve into the experience of being a woman, a whole lot of unpleasantness tends to rise to the surface.

 

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Aside: This Chicago ticket broker offers a great selection of tickets in the city – Purchase tickets for Wicked in Chicago and nationwide theater events like Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets – a favorite during the holiday.

Mary-Arrchie’s "Our Bad Magnet" extended thru Jan. 18th

Due to popular demand, Mary-Arrchie Theatre will be extending the Jeff Recommended US Premiere of Our Bad Magnet, by Douglas Maxwell, at Angel Island Theatre, 735 W. Sheridan .

Currently, the final dates for 2008 will be December 18th – 22nd. The extension, then, will begin January 2nd and run through January 18th, 2009.

Kevin V. Smith, John Wilson, Layne Manzer, Daniel Behrendt

L to R: Kevin V. Smith, John Wilson, Layne Manzer, Daniel Behrendt

Press accolades:

“well-cast American premiere…features some breathtaking moments…one of the most effective and surprising endings I’ve seen in a while…” – Chicago Tribune

“For anyone who wants to experience joy, sadness, and the potential to be moved to tears in their holiday theater-going experience, don’t miss Our Bad Magnet.” -Edge Chicago

“Maxwell’s play is rich, moving, funny and real, and well served by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia’s direction, which keeps the right balance of tension and humor. All four actors are excellent” -Centerstage Chicago (Must See Show)

Layne Manzer, Daniel Behrendt, John Wilson

L to R: Layne Manzer, Daniel Behrendt, John Wilson

More accolades:

“drama’s U.S. premiere is helped by Garcia’s note-perfect cast” -Time Out Chicago

“the amorphous ending is a thing of almost transcendental beauty, a surreal and unknowable benediction from some vast, benevolent god.” -Windy City Chicago

“This cliques with me” CheekyChicago.com

Visit the theatre company’s website for more info: www.maryarrchie.com/now.html

 

Daniel Behrendt, John Wilson, Layne Manzer

L to R: Daniel Behrendt, John Wilson, Layne Manzer