Saturday, March 29, 2014
I am fifty pages from the end of Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. I had a hard time getting into it (I started it and put it aside last fall). But about 75 pages in, it takes off. The author is remarkable in her ability to go from the real to dream world and back again, and making it look completely effortless. The two main characters, Ava and Kiwi, are equally compelling in their individual ways. It also reminds me very much of a playwright I knew at La Mama Umbria who had a day job as a mermaid, and referred to her tail as "the uni-fin."
Illustration: Blexbolex, via the New York Times
Saturday, March 8, 2014
"The Skull Beneath the Skin" is back by popular demand next weekend- Saturday, March 15 at 5:30 and 7PM at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Admission is free. It features Cotton Wright and Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum, pictured above, as Bertha Roentgen and Dr. Wilhelm Roentgen, the man who discovered xrays and won the first Nobel Prize in Physics.
The play is written by me, directed by Christie Clark and the costume design is by the illustrious Meganne George. It's being produced by Ellen Chuse, as part of her solo show of drawings and paintings, Finding the Root.
Photo by Tom Bovo.
I am reading this wonderful, touching novel by Elizabeth Jenkins. It's not mentioned in her Times obituary (she died in 2010). It's the story of the unraveling marriage of Evelyn and Imogen Gresham. Evelyn is a successful lawyer, Imogen is a housewife and mother, about to pack her only child off to school. They are temperamentally diametrically opposed. Evelyn become distracted by and besotted with their neighbor, the heiress Blanche Silcox.
There is a harsh introduction by Helen McNeil, which denigrates Imogen's character as a passive doormat. But I don't see her that way. She knows that her marriage is falling apart, and there really isn't much she can do about it, other than watch it happen; Evelyn is not the type of man to respond well to a "Modern Woman," whatever than meant in 1954. Imogen is a sad case, not a victim.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tom Bovo has a solo photography show, Genius Loci, at 440 Gallery (440 Sixth Avenue, near Ninth Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn). He commissioned me to write a play for it.
Performances are Saturday, November 16 at the gallery at 4:40 and 6 PM. Admission is free. Wine and seltzer provided.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It's late in the day, but I wanted to commemorate Julius Henry Marx's birthday. Groucho would be 123. Is there any movie moment so great as his "Captain Spaulding" dance?
Monday, September 16, 2013
There are still places left in my Playwriting 2 class. It meets every other Monday night, 7-10 PM, starting Monday, September 23rd. Students are expected to complete a long one-act, or an act of a full-length play. There are five sessions, and tuition is $200.
All classes are at Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th floor, in New York City. For more information, contact Studio Manager Tish Brandt at 646.409.8033 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I'm tidying up the dramaturgy handout for the first show on Sat. Here's a timeline of important dates for Olmsted and Vaux (pronounced "Vawks").
April 26, 1822 Frederick Law Olmsted born in Hartford, Connecticut to John and Charlotte Olmsted
December 22, 1824 Calvert Vaux born in London, England
August 1825 John Hull Olmsted (brother) born
February 28, 1826 Charlotte Olmsted dies, age 25, from an overdose of laudanum; speculation that it was suicide
1827 John Olmsted marries Mary Ann Bull; they have six children
1840 Olmsted moves to Brooklyn; goes to work for a silk importer at 53 Beaver Street in Manhattan
April 24, 1843 Olmsted sets sail on the Ronaldson to China as an apprentice sailor; at sea for 104 days
1846 Olmsted enrolls at Yale College as a “special student”; then, decides to become a farmer
1847 Father buys Olmsted a farm at Sachem’s Head, Connecticut, on Long Island Sound
1848 Olmsted persuades father to buy him a farm on Staten Island
April 27, 1850 John & F.L. Olmsted travel to England; Olmsted fascinated by the landscape, and in Birkenhead Park, first park built with public money
1851 Vaux moves from London to Newburgh, New York to work for Andrew Jackson Downing; by 1852, Vaux & Downing are partners
1852 Andrew Jackson Downing dies in the Henry Clay steamship explosion in the Hudson River near Yonkers at age 36
1853 John Charles Olmsted born to Mary & John Hull Olmsted
NY State Assembly passes bill creating the Central Park, from 59th to 106th Streets
1854 Vaux marries Mary Swan McEntee
1855 Charlotte Olmsted born to Mary & John Hull Olmsted
1856 Vaux becomes US citizen; joins the National Academy of Design and the Century Club
1857 Vaux is a founding member of the American Institute of Architects
Olmsted & Vaux create and submit the “Greensward plan” for Central Park
Owen born to John Hull & Mary Olmsted
November 24, 1857 John Hull Olmsted dies of tuberculosis in Nice, France
1858 Julia Vaux born
December 11, 1858 First part of Central Park, the Lake, opens for skating
June 3, 1859 Aunt Marie Olmsted (father’s sister) dies; she kept house for Olmsted
June 13, 1859 Olmsted marries his sister-in-law, Mary Olmsted, in Central Park; adopts her three children Charlotte, Owen & John Charles; together with the Vaux family, they move into Mount St. Vincent convent, in the Park at 109th Street
Summer 1859 The Ramble opens in Central Park
June 14, 1860 John Theodore Olmsted born, Mary & Frederick Olmsted’s first child
August 6, 1860 carriage accident, in which Olmsted breaks his leg and nearly dies; one leg is shorter than the other for the rest of his life
August 14, 1860 John Theodore Olmsted dies of cholera
June 20, 1861 Olmsted takes appointment as administrator of the US Sanitary Commission (forerunner of the US Red Cross)
1861 Marion Olmsted born to Frederick Law & Mary Olmsted
1864 Marion Vaux born
May 29, 1866 Olmsted & Vaux appointed landscape architects of Prospect Park
November 24, 1866 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. born; lives for 6 hours, dies
1870 Charles Olmsted (called “Boy”) born to Frederick Law & Mary Olmsted; at age 6, he is renamed Frederick “Rick” Law Olmsted, Jr.
October 18, 1872 Olmsted and Vaux dissolve their partnership; Olmsted’s first solo job is McLean Hospital
January 25, 1873 John Olmsted (father) dies at 81
March 14, 1874 Congress appropriates budget for Olmsted to landscape design US Capitol
October 15, 1878 Charlotte Olmsted marries Dr. John Bryant at Trinity Church in Boston; they have three boys, Olmsted’s first grandchildren
November 21, 1881 Owen Olmsted (stepson) dies of tuberculosis
1883 Olmsted and Vaux landscape design Niagara Falls (NY)
August 1892 Mary Vaux dies in a carriage accident
November 19, 1895 Calvert Vaux drowns in Gravesend Bay; speculation that it was suicide, though his children deny it
September 1898 Olmsted committed to McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
August 28, 1903 Olmsted dies at McLean Hospital
1908 Charlotte Olmsted Bryant dies in an insane asylum in Norwood, Massachusetts