My wonderful music theory teacher Lew Spratlan was in the New York Times on April 11th. I took his theory class at Amherst while I was at Hampshire. We went from really basic theory to third species counterpoint and being able to transcribe 8 bars of Bach in one semester. Lew won the Pulitzer for Music in 2000 for his opera "Life Is a Dream" (based on the Calderon play; James Maraniss wrote the libretto), but it has never been performed in its entirety. Finally, this summer, Santa Fe Opera is going to produce it. Photo credit: Chad Batka for the New York Times
My play at Open Source Gallery came off very well. All the comments that I heard were positive (director Nicole A. Watson said so as well). Here are the photos that I took to commemorate it. The young man is Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum; the blonde woman is Cotton Wright; and the dark-haired woman is Parker Leventer. Great work from all of them!
There are many tunnels in New York City. On Sundays, I often see people lined up outside the Brooklyn Trader Joe's to tour the 19th century railroad tunnel. But last week Gothamist (link above) had a story on tunnels for cows in Manhattan. In the 1870s, cows were brought in from a Hudson River dock at the end of 34th Street, and traveled through block-long tunnels to reach the slaughterhouse. Who knew?
My friend Cheryl Davis and I saw "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" at the Public two weeks ago. I bought the tickets even before I knew that Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum was the fight director (they are fantastic, by the way; certainly on a par with the work he did on "Sailor Man"). I had really enjoyed Les Freres Corbusier's "Boozy," a singular re-imagining of Robert Moses (Mr. Grigolia-Rosenbaum) and Jane Jacobs that was very funny. But I think "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" is even funnier, while at the same time those half-remembered snippets from AP American History class come to the fore of your brain. The Battle of New Orleans, the Trail of Tears, his wife married him before she was divorced from husbands number one, his supporters tearing up the White House at a reception. It's all on stage. Michael Friedman's songs are wonderful (I like them much more than the stuff he's been writing for The Civilians); in particular, there is a pretty mean but hilarious song about Susan Sontag and "Illness as Metaphor." I wasn't the only one laughing hard, either. Alex Timbers' libretto and direction keep everything moving (no easy feat). The fantastic set is by Donyale Werle is part Raccoon Lodge, grandma's attic and taxidermy museum (with a big KFC bucket wedged into a chandelier). I did wonder if the ending needed a bigger bang, but when Cheryl and I discussed it afterward, we couldn't come up with anything. Benjamin Walker inhabits Jackson as if he was born to play him. All the other actors play multiple roles exceedingly well. I can't recommend it highly enough. Photo credit: Sara Krulwich for the New York Times
I have been blog-quiet lately, because I'm in rehearsal, and finished rewriting yesterday. Monika Wuhrer and Gary Baldwin, the founds of the Open Source Gallery, were kind enough to commission me (we like commissions!) to write a place based on a painting of Rachel Youens' (Construction I, as pictured) for the opening reception of her solo show, Cornucopias. The play will be performed in the gallery on Saturday, April 10th at 7:30 and 8:30. It should run about 20 minutes. Nicole A. Watson is directing. We have known each other for a few years, and talked about working together, and I'm pleased that now we are finally able to. Nicole is a joy to work with, and loves history as much as I do (which would be a lot). She's brought in Parker Leventer to play Emma, who's on my list of actors I want to work with more. The lovely Cotton Wright is playing Trudy (I do believe she can play anything), and the always challenging (in the best possible sense) Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum is playing Max. These three characters are thrown together in the aftermath of World War III, in a much destroyed U.S. city on a river. Admission is free, and there should be wine.