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Sunday, December 23, 2007

I was completely engaged by a performance last night at Theater for the New City. I was attempting to connect with my southern Italian druid roots by attending the solstice dance of the Tarentella. The existence and Italian nature of a spider dance was news to me. News to me now is the memory of making passing reference to the word after a visit to Mama Leone’s in 1982. Mama Leone’s was a theater district restaurant featuring a hodgepodge pageant of Italianate cooking and traditions where, after a visit there, I equated the Tarentella with the Mexican Hat Dance. I remember now coming from a Broadway Production called Marilyn which I saw because Debra Dotson was somewhere in the ensemble.

By the way, last night I was coming from an open house at the Ferencz residence. George, the director and his wife, Sally and son, Jack, extended their hospitality to family and friends and I spoke with a few of the Experimenta playwrights, Kim Merrill, Michael Zeitler (Waiting for Mert), and Yasmina Rana (The Warzone is My Bed) as well as the author of the upcoming White Whalers show, Mark Gorman. A fellow named Brian Johnson was moving from helping costume "Is He Dead?" to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas where Bette Midler takes over for Celine. Meanwhile, Julie Rosier is joining forces with Grace Lee Boggs, and I suppose with Julie's sister, too, to leave New York, to clean up Detroit and spread the good news (which goes well beyond the transition at Caesar's Palace).

This was a night of enjoying old friends directly and indirectly, beginning with Yasmine’s update on Kenny Nowell and Justin Lambert, and their two daughters. Justine’s Looking Glass Theatre was one of Yasmine’s first producers in New York. She heard from Justine that Kenny and I were roommates. Remember, in one of these other posts my mention of Kenny’s adaptation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening.

I arrived at TNC at 8:30... the 8:00 curtain rose forTarentella in the Johnson Theatre to a packed room with additional chairs already added so Angelina sent me into Queens of Heart by Sabura Rashid, and I'm grateful. There is an important element of salvation there and the voice that comes through to the main character, a voice that is often supressed under the term schizophrenia, is of an acknowledged savior, an elder, a grandmother. The piece includes a therapist's hilarious acknowledgment of spirituality behind and beyond professional therapy, and a general sense that the voice of the playwright is aggressively healing.

At the end of the piece I met Fred (Fedele) Spadafora again. His oil painting of Sabura is in the Theater Lobby along with a few other still life canvases from photographs. He is a photographer and designer who has worked in publishing. For example, he designed the Pro-Choice on Mental Health CD and the privately released Prepare to Meet Your Maker Soundtrack Recordings. He also took photographs for The Marriage at the Statue of Liberty. We went to Otto's Shrunken Head, a Trader Vic bar with music programming by DJ Shred...

While there I got a message from Jeff Marino that he and his family were near and I joined them at an Indian Restaurant. They had just seen The Golden Compass. They came by the apartment. It was a surprisingly eventful evening.
इ वास कोम्प्लेतेली एन्गागेद। वहत'एस गोइंग ओं हियर?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I was entirely engaged by a work in progress last night, a reading of "Ribbons" at Theater for the New City. This play is a fantastic ensemble piece of naturalistic interaction and bonding occurring under a perfect absurdist catch-all for disabilities. It builds to a rioutous comedic sequence, and continues from that to show the joy of people allowing themselves to connect with one another.

Then I joined Bob for dinner at the Frank restaurant. Earlier that evening Bob had marked a cel phone message for me as urgent because my myspace icon wasn't loading. I hope I was able to transfer to that dinner meeting a fraction of the glow I gained from attending the reading.

Welcome to Haiti! The most generic bit of information I have to relate is that before falling asleep at 11:30 I watched a 1/2 hour of a dvd on my computer of a 1932 independent film called "White Zombie." Waking up at 4:30, I saw the other 45 minutes. Bela Lugosi makes a familiar appearance...familiar if you've seen Robert DeNero play horror.

This achievement of masterful filmmaking probably required the minimalism of its budget.

One scene of dialogue runs 5 minutes without a cut, even when the Dr. character fumbles a line.

The matt montages are awe-inspiring.

The ocean cliffs, the castle, the piano room, are spectactular.

Three soundtracks run concurrent throughout the film.
One: The synched dialogue.
Two: The continuous music, percussion, chanting or crickets.
Three: the synched sound effects.

And it's the first Zombie film!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Anyone who enjoys accelerated storytelling has a fondness for cartoons, I suppose. "The Boy Who Would Be Queen," an episode of the Fairly Odd Parents cartoon is basically the premise of 2.2.2, Hermaphroditism Through the Ages. Both explore gender switching between couples of the opposite sex.

The cross-over of Fairly Odd likings includes skull crusher comics and goo goo love soaps. I turned on the TV show because the "Fairly Odd" term had already become part of my consciousness when it appeared in my short play about the retired electric train engineers... That play featured Rosa and David, a lovely couple.

The Fairly Odd cartoon episode included a brief voodoo moment of a girl in a mall ripping up another girl's photo and the other girl on a perhaps not too distant escalator, suddenly stricken as if by an invisible lightning bolt, i.e. suffering a stroke. (Strokes are thus named because suffering one is like being struck by lightning?)

In addition to turning the boy into a girl, the Odd Parents have to switch their own genders for the time, apparently at the whim of that boy; is he their son?

In the Fairly Odd Parents, oh it's a mutation of Grimm's fairy godmother...The two sexes with their two languages are called geeks and girls.

This morning I made a reverse discovery. I have another cartoon to credit (Porky in Wackyland inspired "The Last Dodo"), but this latest one is completely after the fact. I continue to write with broad strokes.

The execution of the basic idea is another step in the creative process.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Recent review of events.

I wrote 2.2.2 (Hermaphroditism Through the Ages) to offer a cure for war. The opening lines of Orpheus expanded a quote from George Bush, that "we will not leave until victory is achieved." The additional lines are, "until then I return to my home and my family. Thank you, good-bye..."

Zeus says, "To forestall armegeddon I will turn them into hermaphrodites."

There are three depictions of this metamorphosis, an exchange of plugs for sockets, sockets for plugs, between three couples on three different islands, in three different time zones. The transformation is more than a distraction, it is a defusing of inner tension and turmoil. There is a definition of yoga that it unites the male and female energies, that the practice of yoga is the process of moving toward hermaphroditism.

The mole king calls for the marriage of the three couples before a fresco from Pompei. That artwork indeed graphically depicts the lovemaking implied throughout the piece. I looked closer at this accomplished creation of artist Richard Scott. Incredible. Now what am I supposed to do with it?

The backdrop for the entire play, painted by holographic artist Sam Moree, which is a 10' 6" x 7' canvas, currently hangs across the back wall of my home office.

The mole king character is an independent force. He is a little mole, the recipient of people's calls to the dead.

This is a relatively upbeat and encouraging new musical combined with Ballistic by Ed Malin and Aphrodite by Maria Micheles in "Oh Happy Three," a production of Manhattan Theatre Source for their summer series, Straight from the Source! Directed by Sarah Marck, it ran for eight solid performances.

More fringe update: A stage adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman film Cries and Whispers?

Sharon Fogarty's contribution to the Straight from the Source summer series is "Portrait of the Artist as a Dumb Blonde, a musical in one stupid act." It ran for five performances and received a review last Tuesday from the New York Times, and it was not even a favorable one. Why did they bother saying they didn't enjoy it, especially during the Fringe Fest when they could have used the space to draw attention to something they DID like?

Blinded by Blondeness...After seeing Sharon's show I saw Nelly McKay's show at Joe's Pub. She was at the piano with her piles of music, making that instrument sound great, playing as well as any piano player around. Her casual pure ennunciation and the pitches of her voice were both abrasive and joyous.

I also saw Walmartopia which has mighty fine material. (My typically clueless remark about never having been to the Paris Hilton applies here.)

I read some of Marc Eliot's 1993 Disney bio. (I didn't realize until Mr. Eliot's website alerted me of a controversy that his publisher added a Max Shreck shadow to the book jacket's cover photo of Mr. Disney.) Am I mistaken or does Mr. Eliot ultimately admire Walt Disney's maverick tendencies? In case we're concerned our children are missing out on voyeuristic yearning, there's something out now called High School Musical, which probably uses the same musical theatre gestures found in Walmartopia... Help! I'm just trying to add to what's out there.

Oh, in keeping with my attempt to post useful observations, there was a big building block, it was a former Deutsche Bank building, made entirely of asbestos, opening the boulevard of Hamburg's Reepabahn. I remember walking by it on my way to the Dom back during the early nineties. It couldn't be torn down because of its materials so it just blackened the skyline. I wonder if it's still there.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Fringe Fest play, Dirt, was misleading. Is the production an Austrian import? Transferring an illegally immigrated Basra roses peddler from 1992 Hamburg where white faces break glass upon him, to New York City where he yells over the sound of the subway trains, did not resonate fairly... hopefully Hamburg's population is not that hostile either. I kept thinking of Mahfouz's The Theif and the Dogs, and also of Lawrence Durrell's culture shock in his Alexandria series. I hope, anyway, that Dirt or Dreck, by Robert Schneider, did not accurately portray the personality of this City.

This is the second European import I've seen in this festival. The other, Baaah, was also something of a repackage. It is The Suede Coat, by Stanislav Stratiev (1974). Felipe Bonilla, who originated the role of Gormin Dials in TentagatneT at La Mama was the lead.

One more, dare I call it, repackaging... Dan Fogler's Elephant in the Room... based on Rhinocerous by Eugene Ionesco.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Welcome to the world of blogging... I saw Mac Rogers Hail Satan last night, tone perfect, plenty of writing on it in addition to in it. Such mixed feelings on the dry, light, unwaveringly satirical presentation. Here, from one comment (I think it is Mac's...)... "But a playwright who only writes plays like Ruins or Hail Satan is essentially telling lies by obscuring part of the truth, the truth that the human race is genuinely capable of compassion and empathy and companionship and the accumulation of wisdom. "

Keep up the good work. Yes, I want to see more. This material, engaging on a basic level, establishes your newer, better Omen series. Do you actually want to write more here? The source material is devries bible? (Anton LeVey's Satanic Bible) It's hard for me to distinguish the book from the play. Everyone did such a great job.

I'll write the sequel if you want...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Promise of tens of billions of dollars in us weapons and military aid to fight back extremism at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, by Sue Pleming and Andrew Gray. Before leaving for the middle East, Rice announced military aid to Egypt of 13 billion of 10 years, the same level as for at least the last six years. But Washington is offering Israel an increase of about 25 percent to 30 billion over 10 years. Defense officials saidArabia and other gulf states would get at least 20 billion in arms sales and other help over the next decade but final figures had not been agreed yet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You can't get away from those Sopranos. "It was sometimes hard to bear the encomiums" (Alessandra Stanley). Skimming the post-last-episode newspaper writings from AM New York and the New York Times, I was moved. Did you know that the black-out scene was a "hit" from the victim's point of view? And as any death should be, it is followed by credits. Can we get some credits rolling?

I credit Tony Hightower for getting my apartment hooked with a cable maybe six months before September 11th, 2001 because when the TV antenna went down with that tragic landfill complex from the 70's... we still had reception (which supplemented our view from the roof), which became an essential part of my life almost up to the present day.

Yes, I watched television as a child... the re-broadcasts of the Flintstones and Lost in Space and those late night screenings of Peter Medak's "Negatives"... and then I watched regularly, from September 2001 until December 2006, favoring (while attempting to follow the news progression from Afganastan to Iraq) first South Park, then Curb Your Enthusiasm, then The Daily Show, then The Colbert Report, and finally, ultimately, Sponge Bob, which leads back to an appreciation of our own nightmares... ever savoring my digital access to The UN Channel by manually entering the number "78" into the cable box.

Media content is still provided to my apartment at a hunderd a month including internet access which I don't even use because I just get it from the air...


Anyway, so at only a hunderd a month I mustv disconnected premium which means I'm missing out on "movies," and hit series like The Sopranos, so my channel serfing led me to watching a Mandarin ballet montage from 8 minutes of Kill Bill...The Tony's were also on... (I love Kenny Nowell's adaptation of Wedekind's Spring Awakening)...

As for not getting away from the Sopranos, last night one of its castmembers, Dominick Chianese, contributed his acting (and singing!) skills to a benefit stage reading of "Nightingale" part of a one act festival that included a clear rendition of my own "Associative Behavior," complete with song, "Somewhere Under the Radar."

And watching Larry Pine in horn rimmed glasses during Mark Mitchell's sci-fi piece that closed out the night, I couldn't help but remember how fond I was of his performance in John Turturro's staging of "A Spanish Play."

With kindest personal regards! pd

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One thing I could remember for next performance is to thank the audience for the accompaniment. Thank you, you are a great audience!

And before they reset my compuserve password, my new answer to the secret security question, "What's your favorite band?" is

"Urban Barnyard."

Today, May 20th, Mary Help of Christians closed to become a Chapel of Convenience. Father Mark sees himself next in Ohio. The R&B guy who moved with the weekend flea market from the MHC yard to the public high school yard said the MHC yard was sold to NYU.

Howard said the funeral home on A and East 12th is not selling.

The parochial school with the Chico Mural will become college dorms?

At least keep the church as a Turino landmark.

The church has steep steps, a tradition in Manhattan. During the packed service, some attendees were pulling the bell rope. At first one of the priests was doing it. You couldn't hear anything. I thought, wow, that's a sound proof entrance, but then some of the bigger fellows came along and, yes it rang and rang until the rope broke. I went upstairs. Howard had gone from the alter to the top floor by the organ. We went to the bell tower, one of two. I climped up to the rafter and attached the frayed horse-hair with my usual knot that pulls against the lower knot, and slipped the rope, which begins as a ribbon through one hole, then downstairs through another then looking from downstairs tieing a little knot in the ribbon, through a hole in the crawl space then someone pulled from below, pulling the length of the rope down. That's a heavy bell.

Cardinal Eagen's name came up today.

Try to remember you have a beautiful jewelbox over there (East 12th Street between 1st and A). The interior colors are a pale gold beige with light blues, it's such a light fresh air church. It's your chapel of convenience. Anyway, I, understatement, recommend you allow for the maintainenance of this charming legend. It never looked more beautiful than today, and thanks, Salesians, for being friends to the friendless. Good point about the batteries that look the same but only some power the flashlight.

Howard heard me play war-is-over songs on WBAI last month. Bob Fass must have rebroadcast his Phil Oches tribute.

Today's service incorporated many beautiful musical moments. They played a lovely recording, "si signore" and during "The Lord's Prayer" sang what I believe was the "our father" words in Spanish to the tune of "Sounds of Silence."

One of the attendees, who usually attends the church on 12th between Avenues C & D said that Bishop Sullivan, who led this service, was a priest to watch.

Mary Help of Helpseekers!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I recommend the writing of Pearl S. Buck. Her book, "Voices in the House," is a riotous clash between the compassionate civilized landowner and his sense of intrusion which extends beyond his own extending family to grandfathered servants in his employ. This attorney married the daughter who grew up on the Manchester, Vermont estate. He commutes to the city to at least give counsel to the indicted mobsters in their constitutionally preserved right to assert their defense. Meanwhile people are growing up around him and finding their own way, and one of them has dreams of inclusion that are denied, which creates her imbalance as daughter of the cook.

I remember standing in the dark peering into some diaramas of turn of the century New York, and would have remained there, in fact, did so in my imagination. This girl, of course, truly fits the part of leaving the servants' quarters and luxuriating about the main house. She also learned to speak well and receives favorable verbal descriptions of her general aura of lovliness.

Ms. Buck's reserved and curiously objective descriptions extend to all parties. At some point she pulls back from the main family, the husband and wife, to suggest this is all we can expect from them. Ultimately they explore and acknowledge their part in the bizarre turn of events...

Truly high level bizarre material has transpired by this time, involving a large protective attack dog and even sewing needles ???...

"We didn't just -- let her into the house."

Good idea! Welcome her. We grow from our dreams when we explore them in reality.

At the time of this book's publication, 1953, Ms. Buck was writing under the pseudonym of John Sedges.

To convey the pleasures and insights to be found within, here is an exerpt from the book which illuminates the meaning of Adam's Rib:

"Eve, made from the rib of Adam, was only the legend of the perverse and female moon torn from the side of the newly created globe of billions of years ago, and the gaping wound of the Pacific basin, raw basalt at the bottom, was still unhealed as man himself. And here was the moon as he had seen it last night, whirling above the yearning earth, remote and unreachable, never again to be joined, and yet pulling the earth's tides toward herself, only to reject them again and again in the ceaseless rise and fall of the rhythms of untiring creation. "

I read the 35 cent 1960 paperback Cardinal Edition with a cover that looks like it was painted by Darryl Green.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I will write an opera, even after seeing the greatness of The Magic Flute and Therese Raquin. Never mind the composers, consider the challenge to the performers. The breath control is strenuous. Their diaphram muscles must be well toned. Both productions, The Met's and Dicapo's, exercised creative staging, capturing the tone and content of the operas, content which is made crystal clear through concurrent titles. I like English language titles to supplement not only German but even English language operas. I'm searching my recollection for an exciting moment of music. When did I recently hear one? I do think Adam Green is inspired, with his oratorio style. I saw him last Sunday at SideWalk. His chords supplement his melodies rather than guide them, and of course, melody guides Tobias Picker's opera, and Mozart's as well. Audiences grant opera drama the time needed for exceptional musical moments to develop. I suppose there was a 2nd act Mozart moment when the Mason members were at rest, contemplating wisdom and beauty. Good heavens, there's actually little I remember from that opera except the hazing, and the fact that the wicked queen night witch was the one to provide the magic of flute and chimes, indirectly perhaps, via her three handmaidens. She also provided the three heavenly soprano boys. And with regard to the sun king, our first impression of him is through his prison guard, who did not represent his master's temperence in the kidnapping perpetrated for purposes of getting someone to join the masons. I can be pretty clueless. Let's see what other indiscriminate demonstrations of incomprehension I can display herein.

The Magic Flute: It's a mathemetician's air display by Ms. Taymor. I only THOUGHT I knew the content of that yogic journey, watching the three hour triumph of the spiritual male triumph over the chthunic female, at least until nightfall.

Therese Raquin: The Postman Always Rings Twice with a Place in the Sun/Leave Her to Heaven drowning. I suppose the opportunity to musicalize a paralyzed mother watching justice self-inflicted by and upon her son's murderers is reason enough to musicalize one of the Zola stories exposing the underbelly of the urban middle class.

My third opera came in the form of the score to The Most Happy Fella, which I took from the Performing Arts Library today. Oh, you were looking for it? Yes, it was me. I'll return it on March 10th. Anyway, it's another opera of sorts and a great series of beautiful character songs. The notation is pristinely playable.

Back to the drawing board. I have some corrections to make on my own scores so that through them the first time player will easily breeze.

(I heavily revised the above today, March 3rd. I just returned from John Turturro's actor's actors Spanish Play. The moment I loved was when the couple (Denis O'Hare and Linda Edmond) lay on the floor watching while another of the five characters (Katherine Borowitz) searched her bag for her melodious ringtone celphone. I liked seeing the two of them laying there enjoying what was going on before them (And since CSC is a theatre with seating against three of the four walls, it may have been only my wall saw it.). Robert Thurman reminded us to love others, like a mother loves her child, and keep learning.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


LEIMAN-Eugene A., died peacefully in his sleep at age 92 on January 20th, 2007. Gene was our law partner for many years and retired as counsel only two years ago. A graduate of City College and NYU Law School, he practiced law for over 65 years, including almost 50 years in insurance litigation at this firm. Gene served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County under Thomas E. Dewy and Frank S. Hogan, and was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force in World War II. A former Chair of the Admiralty and Entertainment Committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Gene was also the principal lyricist, song writer, and musical director of the Associations' Twelfth Nights and annual shows for over 50 years. His beloved wife Betty Ann predeceased him; a brother, Harmon, age 83, of Scottsdale, Arizona is his only immedate survivor. Memorial Service will be held at 5pm, February 9, NYC Bar Association, 42 W 44th St, New York, NY.
Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass

LEIMAN-Eugene A. The City Bar Entertainment Committee mourns the loss of its beloved songwriter, lyricist and music director. For five decades, Gene was the guiding force behind our annual musical revues. "The song is ended but the melody lingers on." A memorial service will be held at the Association, 42 W 44 St. 5pm, February 9th.
Peter Dizozza, Chair

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Four people read from four copies of the same script and the drama was intensely and hilariously involving. A reading can be the height of theatre... I loved seeing the free reading of Augusta, by Richard Dresser, directed by M. Z. Ribalow at the Players Club (presented by the Players Playwrights Workshop in association with New River Dramatists). I'm writing this to urge the Mr. Dresser to arrange to see this cast working together.

Christopher Ceraso read the part of Jimmy; Patricia Randell, Molly; Laura Heisler, Claire, with Narrative by Rosalind Rita. The play's setting is immediately visualizable... A National Chain Service Provider employs the near-unemployable to clean mansions using the bureaucracy of a self-monitoring hierarchy (everyone pointing fingers at everyone else in a cutthroat climb to an imaginary top). A new supervisor's appointment of a cleaning crew team leader turns out to involve a team of two. The pettiness of the three-person power plays means that a near-cold reading of the script is probably the most effective way to present it.

The actors are perfectly cast, both individually and as an ensemble.

This is one of my favorite evenings at the theatre (memory accessible other two: Elizabeth Ashley, Kier Dullea and Fred Gwynn help perform Mr. Williams original "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" script at the Connecticut Stratford Theatre, Philip Bosco does Macheath at the outdoor Delacorte Public Theatre 2nd try of the 3P Opera). Thank you.