Archive for August, 2007

Interview: Sherry Kramer

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Photo: Sherry KramerSherry Kramer’s plays have been produced extensively in the United States and abroad, and include Things That Break, What A Man Weighs, and The Wall of Water. She is a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as a McKnight Fellowship. She has received the Weissberger Playwriting Award and a New York Drama League Award. Her one-person play When Something Wonderful Ends: A History, A One Woman, One Barbie Play was performed at the 2007 Humana Festival.

In this podcast Sherry talks with us about being a playwright turned performance artist, the importance of not preaching to the choir, and the translation of When Something Wonderful Ends into Japanese.

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Finely Tuned Festival

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Jools Holland's Big band at Cropredy

Photo by Bill Tyne — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

A festival can be at its best when the expression is natural, the relationship to an audience immediate, and the development organic.

This formula has been the magic behind Fairport’s Cropredy Convention outside of Oxfordshire, England. The annual festival is a genuine gathering of the old and young coming together for three days of joy, comfort, relaxation, listening and dancing. For almost forty years, Cropredy is one of the best examples of what a festival can and should be.

As with many of the great festivals, Cropredy began as a simple gathering of fans and friends — this one for the followers of the group, Fairport. As you may recall, Fairport is credited with creating folk rock. Their influence is so much more than the joining a violin and electric guitar onstage. “Meet on the Ledge” is still an anthem for coming together on the other side.

True to Fairport’s spirit, placing them in history is always done with a wry smile. As noted on their site, “Fairport did for real ale what the Grateful Dead did for LSD.” Or, from David Pegg, the group’s bassman, “You could say the Stones have played a hundredth of the gigs for ten thousand times the dosh.”

Honest and direct, the music is played for the simple joy of playing. The festival continues to welcome all from the oldest to the youngest. Kids can work on their circus skills, have fun improvising a play, or chase after large balloons. Dogs get to meet each other. Friends who come together once a year, get to catch up, laugh, sing and hang out. The festival even boasts the cleanest toilets of any music festival.

The festival holds the spirit of a small pub that comes to life outside, and in the village. Everyone feels safe, accessible, and a part of a genuine community.

So, happy birthday Fairport Cropredy Convention.

Don’t you wish you were there?

- Bill Reichblum

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Interview: Alice Tuan

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Photo: Alice TuanAlice Tuan is a playwright based in Los Angeles. She is the author of monologues, plays and screenplays, including the hypertext play Coastline, and the short plays F.E.T.C.H. and Coco Puffs, which were both presented at the Humana Festival in 2002. Humana commissioned Tuan to work with Whit MacLaughlin (featured in an earlier podcast) and New Paradise Laboratories to develop BATCH: An American Bachelor/ette Party Spectacle, which premiered at the 2007 festival.

In this podcast Tuan extolls the benefits of winging it and then writing it down, and how the process of creating BATCH was a lot like a marriage.

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Ingmar Bergman’s Blog

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Persona
Photo by Mallol — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Ingmar Bergman was one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century — not only for his films, but also as a master of the theatre and the novel. To have accomplished so much in any one art form is amazing; across three different artistic disciplines is astounding, and unparalleled. His theatre productions and novels were as insightful, complex, intimate, and immediate as his films. Bergman also left us an unique record of an artist at work, in his books Magic Lantern and Images. Bergman provides us with his own inspirations, points of view, practical approaches, and dreams. He was an artist determined to let us see, search, understand and question.

To honor him, his own words:

from an Interview with Michiko Kakutani

I have maintained open channels with my childhood. I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it was “” with lights, smells, sounds and people … I remember the silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the tension between my father and mother.

from The Magic Lantern

I read ceaselessly, often without understanding, but I had a sensitive ear for tone: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Balzac, Defoe, Swift, Flaubert, Nietzsche and, of course, Strindberg.

from Images — on The Seventh Seal

What attracted me was the whole idea of people traveling through the downfall of civilization and culture, giving birth to new songs.

from Sunday’s Children

Erik Bergman was thin-skinned and suspicious, nor did he forgive easily. He never forgot a real or imagined injury.

Even in those days, I had difficulties with reality, its limits unclear and dictated by adult outsiders.

from Best Intentions

I possess fragmentary notes, brief tales, isolated episodes. Those are the numbered dots. I draw my lines in what may well be vain hope of a face appearing. Perhaps a glimpse of the truth of my own life. Why should I otherwise take so much trouble?

from The Magic Lantern

When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside.

from his introduction to the printed Scenes from a Marriage

This opus took three months to write, but rather a long part of my life to experience. I’m not sure that it would have turned out better had it been the other way round, though it would have seemed nicer. I have felt a kind of affection for those people while I’ve been occupied with them. They have grown rather contradictory, sometimes anxiously childish, sometimes pretty grown-up. They talk quite a lot of rubbish, now and then saying something sensible. They are nervous, happy, selfish, stupid, kind, wise, self-sacrificing, affectionate, angry, gentle, sentimental, insufferable, and lovable. All jumbled up. Now let’s see what happens.

from The Magic Lantern

In all the theatres I have worked in for any length of time, I have been given my own lavatory. These conveniences are probably my most lasting contribution to the history of the theatre.

from Sunday’s Children

And Pu asks once and, when he gets no answer, once again: When shall I die? The watchmaker thinks, and then Pu seems to hear a whisper, which is unclear and blurred because of that bloodstained mouth and those still lips: Always. The answer to the question is: always.

from The Best Intentions

Try to understand that God is part of his creation, just as Bach lives in his B-minor mass. You’re interpreting a composition. Sometimes it’s puzzling, but that’s unavoidable. When you let the music sound — then you evince Bach. Read the notes! And play them as best as you can. But don’t doubt the existence of Bach and the Creator.

from The Magic Lantern

On the Sunday, Erland Josephson and I were in my room at the theatre talking about Bach, who had returned from a journey to find that his wife and two of the children had died during his absence. He wrote in his diary: “Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.”

All through my conscious life, I had lived with what Bach calls his joy. It had carried me through crises and misery and functioned as faithfully as my heart, sometimes overwhelming and difficult to handle, but never antagonistic or destructive. Bach called this state his joy, a joy in God. Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.

from Images

To be an artist for one’s own sake is not always pleasant. But it has one enormous advantage: the artist shares his condition with every other living being who also exists solely for his own sake. When all is said and done, we doubtless constitute a fairly large brotherhood, which thus exists within a selfish community on our warm and dirty earth, beneath a cold and empty sky.

- Bill Reichblum

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Interview: Whit MacLaughlin

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Photo: Whit MacLaughlinWhit MacLaughlin is the Obie award-winning artistic director of the Philadelphia-based New Paradise Laboratories. New Paradise develops work using a collaborative creative process grounded in physical theater. NPL and playwright Alice Tuan (featured in an upcoming podcast) were commissioned by the Humana Festival to create BATCH: An American Bachelor/ette Party Spectacle, which premiered at the 2007 festival.

In this podcast MacLaughlin talks about the unique process by which BATCH was developed, and how Humana helps new work come to fruition.

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