The Play’s the Thing This Week

My previous blog post got lots of traffic when I strayed from my usual focus on novels to talk about poetry. Now I’m going to diverge again by discussing plays.

NO, I HAVEN’T SEEN HAMILTON — WAHHH!  🙂

As with poetry, I’m not an expert on plays, but have read and seen a number of them. Which is one appealing aspect of plays — you can enjoy them via the written word alone, or watch those words acted out by hopefully great performers collaborating in the social environment of a hopefully full theater.

Actually, at least some plays are taken from the words of novels and other kinds of previously published fiction. For instance, this April I enjoyed an excellent production of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Millburn, NJ’s Paper Mill Playhouse, a regional theater that’s near-Broadway caliber. And then there’s community theater — I just saw a wonderful version of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat at The Studio Playhouse in my hometown of Montclair, NJ.

Montclair used to have several playhouses, and one highlight at a now-relocated venue was a 2007 production of Arthur Miller’s iconic Death of a Salesman with an all-black cast. Frankie Faison was riveting as Willy Loman.

I’ve also seen Miller’s A View From the Bridge and read All My Sons, The Crucible, and The Price — intensely compelling, all.

Back in my post-college single days of the late 1970s and early ’80s, I enjoyed a ton of Off- and Off-Off Broadway shows (“The Price” was usually low then). One memorable experience was seeing a play called Rat’s Nest that featured an acting turn by Bobby “Boris” Pickett of “Monster Mash” song fame. (Bobby’s band was Boris Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, if you need to know.  🙂 ) I also recall a very nice performance of Oscar Wilde’s droll/witty The Importance of Being Earnest.

Once in a while during those years I cobbled together enough money to take in a Broadway play — including Martin Sherman’s Bent (starring Richard Gere), William Hoffman’s As Is, Paul Osborn’s Morning’s at Seven, and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Much later, a decade or so ago, I also saw a revival of Wilson’s magnificent Two Trains Running as well as the haunting The Light in the Piazza, based on Elizabeth Spencer’s novella, starring Kelli O’Hara and Victoria Clark.

Returning to the early ’80s again, I was in the audience for Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. What a thrill to attend that one-woman show and see the legendary singer and actress whose career was hindered by blatant racism. I won the tickets as a door prize at some New York City event I can’t even remember.

Other plays I’ve enjoyed on the stage or page include Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Wendy Wasserstein’s Uncommon Women and Others, Marsha Norman’s ‘night, Mother, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, Moliere’s Tartuffe, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones, Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy, George S. Kaufman/Moss Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, etc. And of course Hamlet, Macbeth, and a few other classics by Shakespeare.

Oh, I should mention that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the aforementioned monster hit Hamilton.

Tragedies, comedies, or fare that’s in-between. Musicals or straight dramas. What are your favorite plays? Your most memorable theater experiences? What do you think of plays as a genre?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’ve finished writing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson. 

108 thoughts on “The Play’s the Thing This Week

  1. DAVE!!!!!! You’re expanding…no not like dough, but in subject material. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with operas 🙂

    I have a few in mind all dealt with troubled families.

    I know it won’t be James Earl Jones but Fences ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj-ZYPVRQbc
    ) is one of my favorites. I took a ‘writing about drama’ class in college and wrote an alternate ending ( can’t say much about it now not to ruin the books) that involved Fences, A Rain in the Sun and the Day Cesar Died—my professor pulled me into the department head’s office I thought he was going to make some erroneous claim, he wanted me to give the school permission to use the extra chapter as a teaching tool—-was so easy to write because each of those works are terrific. Can’t wait to see fences.

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    • Thanks, “I love Lucille”! Ha — operas! I know so little about them that I’ll do an opera post when Trump becomes a decent human being (i.e., never). 🙂

      I’ve never seen “Fences,” but have heard it’s fantastic. And, of course, there’s the current ecstatically reviewed movie version (thanks for linking to the trailer!). What a playwright August Wilson was.

      And that’s quite an alternate-endings-project memory!

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  2. Dave, just one last comment this week. Thanks again for such another great topic; it has reawakened in me (as your post did last week on poetry) my love of musical theater enough that I went down to my finished basement where most of books, CDs and DVDs reside to find the recording of “Jersey Boys.” I never got around to sorting and organizing my collections, especially after my latest flood. It was pure luck that I found that CD, and I’ve been down a few times to get others, including “David’s Album” by Joan Baez and “Judy (Collins) Sings Leonard Cohen,” which tie into last week’s column. I just made another foray downstairs and found the “Blood Brothers” London cast recording (starring Kiki Dee, instead of Petula Clark) and “Days of Future Passed” by the Moody Blues. I’ve come to realize that the only way I can possibly survive the coming Trump presidency is to immerse myself even more in literature, poetry, music, and films. I don’t mean to be completely an ostrich, but the news sites I generally read are alternately depressing and enraging – not good either physically or mentally for me. I bought myself for Christmas a couple of bird feeders and have been enjoying watching them, which they’ve been happy to frequent after the bad weather we’ve had here. Looking forward to tomorrow’s column!

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    • Many treasures in your basement, Kat Lib! And, yes, music, literature, and other good things will be more necessary than ever during Trump’s coming catastrophic presidency. I’ve forced myself to read the news every day, but it is indeed painful and sickening — including the barrage of one horrible nominee (cabinet picks, etc.) after another.

      You’re welcome for the topic! Tomorrow’s column will return to my usual novels theme, with a focus on a certain author you and several others recommended.

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  3. Other commenters have mentioned plays by novelists, without, I think, mentioning this one

    from wikipedia:

    “The Temptation of Saint Anthony (French La Tentation de Saint Antoine) is a book which the French author Gustave Flaubert spent practically his whole life fitfully working on, in three versions he completed in 1849, 1856 (extracts published at the same time) and 1872 before publishing the final version in 1874. It takes as its subject the famous temptation faced by Saint Anthony the Great in the Egyptian desert, a theme often repeated in medieval and modern art.

    It is written in the form of a play script. It details one night in the life of Anthony the Great where Anthony is faced with great temptations, and it was inspired by the painting, which he saw at the Balbi Palace in Genoa.”

    I admit I can add nothing to this description, beyond the fact that the book is on one of my piles of aspiration, from which, should I live but long enough, I will drag it down and read.

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  4. Perhaps this a bit off-topic, but aren’t musicals a kind of play? I’d say yep, so

    Of the very few I’ve seen, fewer have received a revisit. I am, due to exposure at a tender age, fond of some Dick Powell movie musicals, but largely immune to the charms of the genre overall, though I am sincerely grateful for the existence of the American musical theater as a source for songs– they make up the core of the American standard songbook, after all.

    Still, there is one musical I’ve seen at least a dozen times, and would happily see again: The Wizard of Oz. I know your daughter, Dave, is very fond of it, so you are a veteran of many many views. For my money, she couldn’t have picked a more worthy fixation. Its lyricist, Yip Harburg, was a giant of his profession, and from what I picked up about him, an all-around mensch.

    from wikipedia:

    Harburg wrote lyrics for “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” “April in Paris,” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including “Over the Rainbow.”He was known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his liberal sensibilities. He championed racial and gender equality and union politics. He also was an ardent critic of religion.”

    He was also blacklisted in the Fabulous Fifties, like so many talented people in and around show business.

    Yippee for Yip!

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    • I agree, jhNY — musicals are definitely a kind of play! And when it comes to movie musicals, “The Wizard of Oz” is indeed my daughter’s favorite (and mine). One of those rare musicals in which the songs seem to flow seamlessly with everything else, rather than popping up in a way that seems kind of tacked on.

      While I don’t know a lot about Yip Harburg’s overall work, his lyrics and other contributions to “The Wizard of Oz” were absolute genius. I have also heard he was a great guy and an admirable progressive who paid the price in the 1950s (like my wife’s late blacklisted father, who, as I might have mentioned before, saw his brave/idealistic Abraham Lincoln Brigade service during the Spanish Civil War come back to haunt him in the McCarthy Era. The Trump Era might end up being even worse).

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      • We have a connection, in a way– while your wife’s father was serving in the Lincoln Brigade, my father, a teen, was collecting money for them here in NYC. And another relative, by marriage, came out of a family that was busy with explosives before fleeing Spain and coming to Mexico…

        Here in my very apartment building, I met a neighbor whose mother had also collected for the Lincoln Brigade– folks associated with the Brigade and fundraising for it were still meeting once in a while into the 1990’s. My neighbor showed me several of their newsletters.

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        • jhNY, nice that your father and that neighbor’s mother helped the Brigade! My wife’s father was born in 1916, so he was a Brigade member in his early 20s (and became the father of my wife in his 40s, around the time he was blacklisted).

          I’ve seen some of the recent newsletters, which still come out despite all or virtually all of the Brigade members now being deceased. Also, my wife and I attended one Brigade event in NYC, about a decade ago, for which the great Harry Belafonte emceed.

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      • This comment might get me excommunicated from the blog commenters but I feel confessional so I must say this: I have always felt that ‘The Wizard of Oz’ would have been more effective for me personally if it had been done as a straight drama without music. I am exposing my prejudice about musicals where a song interrupts the course of the story and adds innumerable minutes of screen time with production numbers, dancing, singing, all things that distract from the story. I’ve never read Frank Baum’s original ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, the first in his Oz series, but I can’t imagine that he envisioned it ever being put to music. Just my heretical two cents’ worth. Feel free to throw the eggs now.

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        • I hear you, Brian. I feel the same way about a lot of musicals (my first wife insisted I watch the film versions of many of them). But “The Wizard of Oz” songs are so witty, funny, moving, etc., that they work for me. It might help that it’s a fantasy story, so the unreal periodic bursting into song doesn’t seem as jarring as in a more realistic story.

          I’ve read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which is fine in its (non-musical) way, but I think this is one of those cases where the movie is better than the novel that inspired it.

          Ha — no excommunication or “Eggs: The Musical.” 🙂

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  5. Perhaps this is but a manifestation of proof that my heart has twisted into something unredeemable, but the last time I happened on O’Neill’s Long day’s Journey Into Night, the movie that is, starring Robards and Hepburn and Richardson, I saw it is the darkest of black comedies– a maudlin parody of tragedy.

    I know that’s not what its author or its actors or its director intended, so I stopped watching (I’d seen the movie twice before, and I’d read the play in school)– but I’ve never forgotten my impression, and it’s been years. Nor have I returned to the play since.

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    • Interesting, jhNY. I haven’t read or seen that famous O’Neill play myself, but maybe another commenter or two could respond. It’s fascinating how the response of the “consumer” can differ from the intent of the creator.

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  6. My first and best experience with live theater was going to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, originally held in a high school auditorium in Anniston, AL before moving to state capitol Montgomery after the first five years or so. It was ‘King Lear’, probably my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, and the intimacy of the theatrical experience was heightened by the entrance and exit of actors up and down the aisles between the audience seating sections. Even if you didn’t have a front row seat you still felt like you were in close proximity to the tragedy, which ratchets up to extreme intensity with the tear-jerking finale. The next year I saw ‘Hamlet’. The main thing I recall is that Hamlet got so worked up in his frenzy in the ‘get thee to a nunnery’ scene with Ophelia that I could see the spit flying from his mouth. The year after that I saw ‘Othello’ and then the last year I saw it in Anniston was when I lived there in the first few months of my first disastrous marriage and saw ‘Macbeth’. I worked at Wendy’s as a manager trainee (a career they and I mutually agreed after about four weeks that I was unsuited for) and waited on the guy that played Macbeth. Out of costume he was wearing a short sleeve shirt, shorts and sandals. He was ordering a Frosty. I was so absorbed in figuring out who he was that when I brought his Frosty and told him the price, he said, “I GAVE you a dollar.” Sheepishly, I rang it up and gave him change and a Frosty. Anyway, it moved to Montgomery and I didn’t see an Alabama Shakespeare Festival play until my second wife and I were given two tickets to see ‘King Lear’ (again, this time with mostly different actors–it WAS 24 years after I had first seen it). Powerful again. The actors in those plays were very good; maybe not quite the level of the best but they were professionals and I saw a few of them in minor roles on TV shows over the years. Actors gotta work, I guess.

    As far as readability of plays, which are intended to be performed, I suppose the one that comes to mind is Tennessee Williams’ ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’. Williams gives very detailed stage directions and backgrounds. In fact, it is in one of these long sections that he describes the gay couple that owned the land that Big Daddy worked on and later bought and upon which he established his plantation empire. The heritage of that homosexual union casts a shadow on the place with Brick’s conflicted feelings regarding his gay friend Skipper and his guilt over Skipper’s suicide. Anyway, it is not surprising that Williams wrote extended expositions in his plays, even before the dialogue of a scene begins. I know that he published at least one collection of stories that I owned once upon a time but never got around to reading.

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    • Thank you, bobess48! The Alabama Shakespeare Festival sounds great, and I also love it when stage action moves into the audience and the aisles.

      Enjoyed your descriptions and that anecdote about your awkward Wendy’s experience. Seeing performers out of costume in “everyday life” can be an interesting experience.

      Detailed stage directions have the potential to make that part of written plays a bit tedious, but they do give us a sense of the way the playwright’s mind works. Especially valuable when the playwright is deceased and can no longer explain what he or she was thinking at the time.

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      • In the case of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, Williams also wrote a preface which was very interesting as it gave the rationale for how the play evolved. This is one play that is as absorbing to read as to watch. Also speaking of fiction writers writing plays, Steinbeck attempted a novel/play hybrid with ‘Burning Bright’, which I have not read. From what I heard it was not very successful, but I do give him points for trying something a bit different. I think Faulkner also did something similar with ‘Requiem for a Nun’, a sequel to ‘Sanctuary’.

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        • Prefaces by playwrights (or novelists) can indeed be interesting and revealing!

          I’ve read the quirky “Burning Bright” — kind of compelling, but ultimately not very satisfying. But, as you say, kudos to Steinbeck for trying something different.

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  7. I was once typecast then press-ganged into service by my college’s theater cabal, for an appearance in Street Scene “an American opera by Kurt Weill (music), Langston Hughes (lyrics), and Elmer Rice (book).” (wikipedia)

    I was, under pain of lash (below which lurked the watchful eye of an imperious drama teacher), forced to drink a bottle of gin, pick up a lovely young girl and dance a tango. Somewhere in all that hubbub, I sang a song titled, weirdly I always thought, “Moon-faced, Starry-Eyed.”

    A dream part, in that I did all those things in one scene, after which I was no longer needed on stage, and could, after a discreet interval, slink from the premises to continue my normal collegiate pursuits: drinking and picking up girls, punctuated by occasional singing. Also, classes and tests.

    I believe my career lasted but a few performances– the most memorable of which was the dress rehearsal. That imperious drama queen had brought a bottle of gin from home for my use on the boards, and handed it to me immediately before my entrance. When under the lights I put it to my lips, I felt liquid, and for a terrible moment which I have regretted ever since, I impulsively drank it down.

    Milk!!! Antique, full-bodied, as in curdled, milk!! Milk, such as I hadn’t drink a glass of since I turned 16, and could act on my loathing of that white horror! Even now, after decades have passed, I can recall the taste and the moment with abject clarity.

    An actor’s life was not for me.

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    • Yikes — I can understand how all that could lead one away from the stage! Greatly told, jhNY!

      I have a vague memory of once seeing a theatrical company perform “Street Scene” literally on a New York City street. Very authentic backdrop…

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  8. Marcia and I are season ticket holders to two live theater groups in Kansas City, and I love theater much more than film. When I was in high school I was president of our Thespian group and performed in quite a few plays. Once I played Percy Vere in “Bertha the Bartender’s Beautiful Baby,” which I bet no one else here can — or wants to — say. My love of theater was given a boost when, at the start of his career, Paul Newman and his first wife Jackie lived with my family of origin for part of a year. So cheers for plays.

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    • Great, Bill, that you and Marcia have season tickets for two theaters! There is indeed something about plays (the in-person human element, of course, among other things) that movies can’t match.

      Ha — your “Bertha the Bartender’s Beautiful Baby” role! An alliteration aficionado’s dream!

      And that’s a very nice Paul Newman connection you mentioned. As you know and implied in your comment, Newman did theater before becoming a movie star.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  9. I love theater in small playhouses. My grandma belonged to a theater goers(sp?) group in San Diego. We saw some great plays and on the cheap. I remember one play in the downtown area, it was something to do with Elvis! I was all in. Once we saw “Driving Miss Daisy” with Sada Thompson at the Old Globe. Well now I want to find a group! thank you

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    • I agree about small playhouses, Angie! It’s great to be relatively close to the stage and not pay too much, while having a very enjoyable time. Also nice that memories of your grandmother are tied in with theater-going.

      Never saw Alfred Uhry’s “Driving Miss Daisy” live, but the 1989 movie with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy was excellent. (Had to look up the year of the film and the playwright’s name on Wikipedia. 🙂 )

      Thank you for commenting!

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      • I also like small playhouses Dave, in my teen years I have seen a lot of them in a small theater.
        Speaking of Driving Miss daisy, PBS showed a live program by Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones a spectacular presentation once a Broadway show.

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        • Glad you were able to see many plays in a small theater, bebe!

          Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones WERE quite an acting duo for that production of “Driving Miss Daisy.”

          BTW, I took out Walter Mosley’s second Easy Rawlins novel — “The Red Death” — from the library yesterday. 🙂 Set in the 1950s McCarthy era, I think. Have you read that one?

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          • I have not Dave…but ” Charcoal Joe” was great for the excellent easy pace excellent writing right after the disastrous election.
            Let me know how you like it.

            Yesterday I borrowed a book American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin on Patty Hearst saga.

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            • Will get to “Charcoal Joe” eventually, bebe! I look forward to it! “…easy pace” — as in Easy Rawlins? 🙂 Yes, occasional escape from the awful election results and Trump’s atrocious cabinet picks is helpful even as we feel an obligation to keep up on things and fight against what’s going to be a catastrophic presidency.

              I imagine “American Heiress” will be a fascinating book to read!

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            • bebe, I have the book “American Heiress” that I downloaded onto Nook, and I just checked that I made it to page 146 out of 420 pages. I’m not sure why I stopped because I remember enjoying it; now I’ll probably have to go and reread the book from scratch. I was telling my best friend about it, and she told me about a time when she and her then boyfriend were out in California after college and somehow ended up crashing at the home of a member of the SLA — fortunately they didn’t have to take part in any robberies! 🙂

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              • You were too close for comfort Kat Lib and came out unharmed 🙂
                I also remember those days reading daily. The book had a good review but i have four other books in my hand .
                I was unwell for two months they the election outcome in between and it was difficult to concentrate on A book.
                But disastrous Trump has happened so books are the only respite.

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  10. Hi Dave, I’m back again to discuss other plays besides Broadway musicals that I think I covered fairly well before, though I keep thinking about other things I’d love to mention and may still. However, back to more literary plays that I’ve seen or just read. First off, I must say that I’m still giggling about your reply to J.J. about the bed-and-breakfast inns and the “Richard, the third” quip you made. I’ve never read this Shakespearean play, but I have read about it from several sources, most notably the mystery written Josephine Tey, “The Daughter of Time.” See how I had to stick in here the mention of a mystery! Some of you may be familiar with it, as it’s widely regarded as one of the best mysteries ever written. I’ll try to make this as brief as possible, but Tey places her detective, Alan Grant, in the hospital recovering from a broken leg. His actress friend Marta brings him some pictures of some historical figures to study, one of which was of Richard III. After studying this picture, Grant doesn’t think the way he has been portrayed, especially by Shakespeare, as a quite ruthless hunchback who, among other things, murdered the prices in the Tower, is true. So, Grant spends his time doing an historical investigation of Richard, with the help of someone who brings him source materials to use. Very fascinating, especially for me as both a lover of detective stories and a history major. By the way, as per Wikipedia, “The novel’s title is taken from an old proverb (“Truth is the daughter of time”) which is quoted by Tey as the novel’s epigraph. Like all aphorisms this proverb has been directly quoted, paraphrased or enhanced many times over the centuries by multiple famous literate thinkers such as Aulus Gellius and Abraham Lincoln (direct quotes); Sir Francis Bacon (enhanced quote: ‘Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority’.” This somehow seems so fitting in these days of Trump when he and his supporters think that facts no longer matter.
    The only Shakespeare plays I’ve seen performed, as I think I’ve mentioned here before, was “Romeo and Juliet” at a local theater in Philly and the play “Pericles,” which I saw at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Avon-Upon-Stratford back in 1969. I don’t remember much about the play itself, but it was such a thrill to be in that very famous theatre! Other than that, I’ve read mostly the ones you mentioned, such as “Hamlet,” Macbeth,” and “King Lear.” The other plays that I’ve read are “Hedda Gabler” and “A Doll’s House,” by Henrich Ibsen; “Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller; and quite a few plays by ancient Greeks (Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes). I think I’ve read “No Exit,” by Jean-Paul Sartre and “Waiting for Godot,” by Samuel Beckett, but I wouldn’t swear to it. 
    Lastly, at least for now, I was going through a box mementos from many years ago, and there was an index card with a small safety pin, and there was a drawing of an insect or something with the words “Friend of Fenwick.” I had no clue where I got it and threw it out, but now I realize it was a play that was performed at my junior high school, “The Mouse That Roared” by Leonard Wibberley. At least I’ve solved the mystery of where that came from!

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    • Thank you, Kat Lib, for the great/absorbing comment!

      You’ve definitely seen some excellent plays of the serious and literary persuasion. And Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time” sounds fantastic! Terrific summary by you. Too bad I already made my monthly trip to the library this morning, but I’ll look for “Daughter” next month. (Which is also next year!)

      I did take out Sue Grafton’s “A Is for Alibi,” which you, Sheila Cummins, Cathy Turney, Betsy Bitner, and energywriter recommended either here or on Facebook the week of my post about California-based novels. Just started the book, and am very “into it” already. I also found a book containing several novels by Raymond Chandler, who was recommended that same California week by jhNY, Brian Bess, and Barb Best.

      PS: Glad you liked that quip!

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  11. I don’t have much experience with plays but I saw an excellently done high school production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” and a touring two-woman show “Having Our Say” about the Delaney sisters who lived from pre-Jim Crow period to the early 2000s. They had a lot to say about all the changes and how it affected them. I saw “Anna and the King” and was astounded at how well the actor made the Yul Brynner role his own. Another high school production was “The Christmas Carol” done for laughs, yet it had it’s touching moments. I’ve seen a few others, but these stick out in my mind.

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    • Thank you, energywriter, for mentioning those plays! I would especially love to see a production of “Having Our Say” one of these days. Some plays have a LOT to say about America’s depressing history of racism — and the way things have improved or not improved. (I wonder if there has ever been a theatrical version of the novel and TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”?)

      Speaking of “A Christmas Carol” (I can see the potential for a funny version of it!), Dickens wrote some plays, as you probably know. Did some amateur acting, too.

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  12. Hi Dave, I had a quite unusual case of insomnia last night and was up around 3:00 a.m. after counting plays instead of sheep! So I got up and spent a few hours writing a very lengthy comment to you, but my mind doesn’t function very well at that time of night, and I managed to delete the whole darn thing. I could have cried; in fact I probably did shed a few tears. 🙂 This time I’m going to break it up into different sections and type this in Word so that I can save it if need be. This will be my comment about my great love for Broadway musicals. The first one I remember seeing in person was when I was in London in 1969 and saw the show “Mame” at a West End theatre (starring Ginger Rogers?). Sometime during the 1970s, my mom, eldest sister and I went on a trip to New York City (paid for by my dear father) and saw the show “Chicago,” starring the great Ann Reinking. The next two nights with nothing better to do we got tickets for “Shenandoah” and “Pippin.” I was totally hooked, for one reason because of my great love for music and dancing, as well as the stories being told. I didn’t have the means or opportunity to see another show until 1990 or so, when I became friends with a woman who had the same interest I did. She was married to a man who didn’t mind her spending time with a “single lady” because he wanted the same consideration to pursue the Grateful Dead and other concerts. The first Broadway show we went to with a group was “The Phantom of the Opera.” It was totally amazing from the very moment when the chandelier came flying over our heads to the very end. Although I must admit that one of the most memorable things that happened was after the show when our group was waiting outside for the bus and an A/C unit fell from the building, many stories above, and nearly hit my friend and me; it did bounce and hurt a few people in our group, but no one seriously. After that we decided it would be safer (and more efficient) by driving from her home in Bucks County, PA, to NYC, park in the Port Authority, have a nice lunch, attend a matinee, and return home the same day.
    Over the next 20 or so years, we attended quite a few Broadway shows, which I’ll mention as many names I can recall, but without quotation marks to save time and energy. These are noted somewhat by category, but not in chronological order: The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Shrek, Phantom, Cats, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Les Miz (here in Philly), Miss Saigon, Chicago, Carousel, Show Boat, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, South Pacific, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Jekyll and Hyde, The Goodbye Girl, Rent, Jelly’s Last Jam, The Secret Garden, She Loves Me, Blood Brothers, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Laughter on the 23rd Floor (an actual play and not a musical), and I know I’ve left out some, but still quite a few. Just a few of my favorite moments:
    1) The production, costumes and masks for “The Lion King” were totally amazing in their ability to make one believe the characters were actually African animals.
    2) Kudos as well to Disney for their bringing to life the inanimate objects in “Beauty & the Beast”, as well as the sea creatures in “The Little Mermaid.”
    3) The actor who played “Jekyll and Hyde” whose make-up and hair was done in mirror images so that he could go back and forth between the two without leaving the stage.
    4) Seeing actors such as Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Faith Prince, Audra MacDonald, Sutton Foster, Patti LuPone, Rebecca Luker, Bebe Neuwirth, Petula Clark and more that I can ever name.
    5) The Phantom opening scene to “Masquerade” that caused people to gasp out loud for its beauty.
    6) My least favorite show was “Rent,” followed closely by “Cats” and “Joseph, etc.)”
    7) Most favorite personal moments were Martin Short appearing for the first time on stage for “The Goodbye Girl,” who smiled at the audience and it went nuts; the ending song of “Blood Brothers” that starred the Cassidy brothers had me in tears; and most of all, seeing Gregory Hines and Sauvion Glover tap dance (we were so close to the stage we could see the sweat pouring from them) in “Jelly’s Last Jam” and I turned to my girlfriend and said “I can now die happy that I finally saw Gregory Hines dance.”
    Sorry to go so long, Dave. I’ll have more to say about other plays later.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a spectacular history of play-going you have, Kat Lib, and what a comment! So descriptive. Loved it! You have seen a huge number of wonderful shows and performers. And survived a VERY scary moment with that falling air conditioner.

      I guess some of the performers you mentioned I’ve seen only on TV — Bebe Neuwirth (“Cheers”), Martin Short (“Saturday Night Live”), etc. I think Short’s Ed Grimley character from the 1980s is one of the best “SNL” creations ever. And I have a Petula Clark 45 rpm “single” somewhere. 🙂

      Like

      • Ha, I bet the Petula Clark single you have is “Downtown,” one of my favorites in high school. I was reading my comment again today after it posted and I hope no one is thinking that I feel somehow special or entitled because I could afford going to so many Broadway shows in NYC through the years. Just so you understand, I’ve been single all my life, and I’ve been fortunate enough to live not that far from NYC. We finally stopped going to shows because I became disabled (to this day) and couldn’t handle crowds at all anymore. None of which takes away from how much I loved these shows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It might be that song, Kat Lib! I have to dig through my modest collection of 100 or so singles when I get a chance.

          We all spend any “discretionary” money we might have on different things — travel, gadgets, theater, etc. I think spending it on Broadway shows is a very good use of that cash. 🙂

          Sorry you can’t go to those shows anymore, but what a run you had!

          Like

          • Sue and Dave, thanks to both of you for your responses to my latest comment. Actually, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford them now anyway, as the prices for tickets were beginning to go up so much even six years ago. I also remembered two other shows that were both very funny, one in NY, “Young Frankenstein. The other was in Philly, “Menopause, The Musical.” As you can guess, there were very few men at the showing of the latter, but we women were laughing through the entire show. It was hilarious!

            Liked by 1 person

            • You’re welcome, Kat Lib!

              Yes, the prices of Broadway shows have unfortunately gone through the roof. 😦

              Those two very different shows you mentioned do sound funny. The “Young Frankenstein” movie was certainly hilarious.

              And to think Mary Shelley wrote the original “Frankenstein” novel when she was only about 20 years old!

              Like

      • I neglected to mention that we saw Bebe Neuwirth in the revival of “Chicago,” and I have to say that she was an incredibly amazing dancer. I didn’t know that she was so talented in so many ways other than on TV shows.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I would have LOVED to have seen a live performance of Gregory Hines dancing, Kat Lib. One of my favorite movies is “Tap” for the very reason that it is full of his amazing talent. You describe your experiences as a theater-goer so vividly; it’s clear those are very special memories. Thank you for sharing! (I have insomnia, too. I also attempt to write when I can’t sleep. I also accidentally delete entire posts/emails/you-name-it into the black hole of lost documents).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pat, I’ve seen the movie “Tap” and loved it, but it’s been a while so I may have to check it out again. If you love Gregory Hines and tap dancing, you might be interested in old movies starring Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire, especially “Broadway Melody of 1940.” I think Eleanor was (and still may be) considered the best tap dancer ever; even Fred was supposedly somewhat intimidated by her tap dancing talent. I just re-watched them dancing to “Begin the Beguine” (Cole Porter) in aforesaid movie on YouTube, and it still blows me away. I think I read somewhere that black tap dancers very much appreciated her ability, especially because her style was more in line with their own. I also remember that you wanted to see “Jersey Boys,” and it was great, perhaps one of my favorites. Hope you can get to see it someday!
        Dave, just as a general comment, the day we saw “Jersey Boys” was one of the few times that my girlfriend and I saw two plays the same day, the other being “Mary Poppins.” I couldn’t help noticing that there was a stark contrast between the staging of each one. The Disney production was quite elaborate, what with Mary flying around and the chimney sweepers prancing around chimney stacks and whatever. Whereas “Jersey Boys” had very minimal sets and relied more on the story and the songs of Frankie Valli, which everyone in the audience knew all the lyrics to. Both were quite entertaining, but it did make me think about the difference between Broadway musicals. I adored “The Lion King” as I said previously, yet “Blood Brothers,” with nowhere near as much production, moved me more emotionally than just about any other show I’ve seen.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Two shows in one day? Fantastic, Kat Lib! That certainly does set up a comparison scenario, and it’s interesting how different the staging was (elaborate and not elaborate) in the two productions you saw. Great scenery helps, but — if the writing, story, and acting are superb — it doesn’t have to be there, as you noted.

          (Will have to check out an Eleanor Powell clip or two. I’ve never seen a movie with her in it!)

          Like

          • Dave, I was trying to do a copy & paste from Word, and I somehow didn’t get in my last note to you that I’ve been having problems with just replying to a comment. I’m not sure if anyone else has reported the same, or if it’s just a matter of (as I suspect) my aging laptop. And yet, I just typed this without any problem at all!
            By the way, the only other time my friend and I saw two shows the same day was the matinee of “West Side Story” and the evening performance was “Shrek.” Talk about differences — this time it was the extremely tragic story of the former and the extremely funny story of the latter. But again, both were absolutely great!

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            • Kat Lib, I haven’t heard from anyone else lately with problems replying. Sorry you’re having that difficulty, but glad your above comment posted easily!

              “West Side Story” and “Shrek” in one day! There’s some cognitive dissonance for you. 🙂

              I just watched Eleanor Powell in a clip from the “Broadway Melody of 1940” movie you mentioned. Wow!!!

              Like

        • Kat Lib, I just put “Broadway Melody of 1940” on my Amazon watchlist. Thank you for the recommendation. I haven’t seen a Fred Astaire movie in a long time, and I’m less familiar with Eleanor Powell than his other dancing partners. I look forward to seeing this, hopefully sooner than later. I’ll bet “Jersey Boys” was a wonderful experience for the very reason you describe: everyone in the audience already knew the lyrics 🙂 The Four Seasons was my favorite group “back then”. I couldn’t wait for their next record to come out. I think I drove my mother to distraction playing “Let’s Hang On” over and over again.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ha — “Let’s Hang On” WAS catchy, Pat! My parents did prefer that kind of song over some of the music I would listen to several years later (The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin, etc.). 🙂

            I still have several Four Seasons vinyl singles I purchased as a young kid in the mid-’60s!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Morning Pat & Dave, on a miserable day in Philly, so icy I can’t even take my dog for a walk. However, I’m in a great mood because I’m sitting here listening to the recording of “Jersey Boys.” Just as I started typing this they’re performing “Let’s Hang On.” 🙂 I hadn’t remembered that the show started off with a version of “Oh, What a Night!” in French: “Ces Soiree-La,” recorded by some Parisian group in 2000 — very cool! As the show ended and curtain calls, they were playing “Oh, What a Night!” as the audience was leaving, which was quite appropriate as it was a great night! I’ll be hearing this song in my head for the rest of the day!

              Liked by 2 people

              • It’s miserable up here in North Jersey, too, Kat Lib, though more slushy than icy. I took my usual walk, but the slush made for slow going. Hope you and your dog can (safely) get out later!

                Ah, so both you and Pat have “Let’s Hang On” on your minds today. 🙂

                Frankie Valli has quite a voice, as do the actors/singers who have played him in “Jersey Boys.”

                Liked by 1 person

                • And it sounds like the three of us are mired in awful weather! Iowa in winter is … well, just what you’d expect: bitterly cold. But now I’ve got “Let’s Hang On” AND “Oh, What A Night!” in my head as I make my way to work in a few minutes 🙂 Hope you both have a great evening.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Pat, I didn’t know you lived in Iowa; I do know the weather there can be brutal because I attended Drake University for my first two years, which wasn’t much better than Minneapolis! Then I got smart and transferred to University in Austin for my final two years.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    • My wife went to Grinnell College, and remembers the cold well. 😦 (But she did like other aspects of Iowa.)

                      Hope you’re having a great evening, too! (Sorry for the delayed response; I was “off the grid” for a few hours visiting relatives.)

                      Liked by 1 person

  13. A topic of keen interest to me, Dave. I can share a few plays. I have a dueling banjoes, theme from deliverance moment as I was also fortunate to see ” “A Light In The Piazza”” at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre with the effervescent Kelli O’Hara. Victoria Clark was excellent as well. Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman” is one of my favorite plays that I have read. “View From The Bridge” also is a good play I read recently, gritty, real characters that are relatable. I agree to see local theatre opens up new experiences, you never know what you will see and learn if you go in with an open mind. Many years ago at CW Post I saw a very good performance of Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” of which I forgot but it was well. I had read many years ago Ibsen’s “A Dollhouse.”

    “Inherit The Wind” with the brilliant actor Christopher Plummer and Brian Denehey was extremely memorable. When purchasing tickets, one had option of being part of the jury, the seats were on the stage. I do not think I will ever forget what it was like to look OUT to see the audience on a Broadway stage no less. Especially when the esteemed Mr. Plummer came out on the stage, between the jury boxes. It was like, to me, Moses parting the Red Sea and the audience rose with a standing ovation for what seemed like at least 3 minutes till he, softly, lowered his hand.

    Watching plays on PBS is a different experience but can be agreeable. Very recently, I watched Nathan Lane in “The Nance.” I had wanted to see on the stage but was able to view on PBS and I thought it was compelling, dark comedy, spoke on taboo of sexuality, being strong in a time when people could not be who they really were off stage, even on stage the dandy role was to the point of not being to overbearing for censors. What an excellent actor Lane is. Comedy is pain.

    Another one to share would be ” Come Back Little Sheba.” I have been able to see various productions through the Manhattan Theatre Club and they have all been quite good, this is one that is memorable for me. S. Epatha Merkerson was beyond first rate, she gave such a strong performance I can still feel the emotion, the longing and isolation she felt and projected to the audience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, Michele, you saw the same “A Light In The Piazza” production at that Lincoln Center theater! Kelli O’Hara WAS effervescent, and Victoria Clark as her mother was indeed tremendous, too.

      Arthur Miller at his best is riveting.

      And I agree that one can enjoy some gems in local theater — at affordable prices, and closer to the stage. When I saw “The Cat in the Hat” play yesterday with my daughter and one of her friends, the tickets cost just $8 apiece, and we were in the first row. 🙂

      “Inherit the Wind”! I read that in school, and it was gripping. So fantastic that you were on the stage as a “juror” for that production! You described the experience VERY well.

      Watching a play on a TV set IS an interesting, kind of weird experience. Live, yet not live. I saw the recent Broadway production of the devastating “A View From a Bridge” that way at a friend’s house — maybe it was a bootleg or something.

      Thanks also for your great thoughts about “The Nance” and Nathan Lane, and “Come Back Little Sheba” and S. Epatha Merkerson — who I first saw as the postal worker in the wonderfully quirky “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” show.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are your favorite plays? —

    Most likely, they number in the hundreds, with a rough sampling here (avoiding as much as possible those already mentioned by you, PatD and Sue at Work):
    • Aristophanes’ “The Clouds.”
    • Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.”
    • Euripides’ “Medea.”
    • Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off.”
    • Joseph Heller’s “We Bombed in New Haven.”
    • Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song Trilogy.”
    • Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler.”
    • Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
    • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
    • Galt MacDermot’s, James Rado’s and Gerome Ragni’s “Hair.”
    • Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
    • William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
    • George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.”
    • Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”
    • Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex.”
    • August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie.”
    • Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “Happy Birthday, Wanda June.”
    • Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan.”
    • The Great Eric Blau’s and Mort Shuman’s “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.”
    • And, of course, The Great Betty Rhodes’ “Judy.”

    — Your most memorable theater experiences? —

    Today, my most memorable theater experience would be associated with the Roundabout Theatre Co. production of Mike Bartlett’s “Love, Love, Love” I saw at the Laura Pels Theatre here in The Town So Nice They Named It Twice last Wednesday. Acting, excellent. Direction, excellent. Sets, excellent. Writing, pretty good, but the playwright may wish to revisit the third act for the revival of this sucker in about 10, 20 years.

    Most days, my most memorable theater experiences are both associated with “Jesus Christ Superstar,” one related to the original Broadway presentation, which was the first production I ever came across along the Great White Way, and the other tied to a summer-stock version, my review of which I headlined, “The Greatest Plot Ever Stole.” (It ain’t no “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” but, hey, I ain’t no Vincent A. Musetto.)

    — What do you think of plays as a genre? —

    As culture-vulture fodder, they’re quite tasty. As items on a brunch menu, they apparently are less appetizing, as my concept of a chain of a Bard-and-Breakfast inns has failed to attract much interest among investors in the theatrical community, despite the obvious appeal of great marquee titles such as “Hamlet and Eggs.”

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great, wide-ranging comment, J.J.! Thanks!

      To address just some of the plays/playwrights you mentioned, “Noises Off” is absolutely hilarious, and Neil Simon is kind of as mainstream as they come but still funny and quite good. Though I’ve never seen a theatrical production of “The Odd Couple,” I liked the Jack Klugman/Tony Randall TV series a lot. Didn’t know Vonnegut and Joseph Heller were playwrights, too. But, heck, some writers mostly known for their novels have indeed also penned plays — Alexandre Dumas, Henry James, W. Somerset Maugham, etc.

      Interesting article I just found on the Internetz: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/theatreblog/2010/jul/01/novelists-bad-playwrights

      The “Love, Love, Love” show you recently attended sounds excellent, albeit not A+.

      Ha — “The Greatest Plot Ever Stole”! Never saw “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but have always liked the music.

      And your last paragraph? Hilarious! For long-staying customers, “Twelfth Night” free?

      Like

      • — “Noises Off” is absolutely hilarious —

        I believe your assessment of “Noises Off” is spot-on: The Broadway revival the Roundabout Theatre Co. staged at the American Airlines Theatre last winter may have been the funniest production of anything I have ever seen anywhere.

        — [S]ome writers mostly known for their novels have indeed also penned plays — Alexandre Dumas, Henry James, W. Somerset Maugham, etc. —

        Among my favorite plays — not on its feet but on paper, as I have not seen a live production — is John L. Balderston’s “Berkeley Square,” which is loosely based on Henry James’ unfinished “The Sense of the Past.” I suspect Balderston did a better job with the theater piece than James would have done, given the latter’s checkered career as a playwright.

        — Interesting article I just found on the Internetz —

        Hmm. Bizarre deck. If I were the editor of “The Guardian,” then I would have a word — or three — with the party responsible for juxtaposing “Chekhov” and “novelists” in this context.

        — The “Love, Love, Love” show you recently attended sounds excellent, albeit not A+. —

        It will be interesting to see in the future whether Mike Bartlett develops into either a playwright or a situation-comedy creator.

        — Never saw “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but have always liked the music. —

        The original Broadway production at the Mark Hellinger Theatre featured a couple of showstoppers — Paul Ainsley (as King Herod) and Co. doing “King Herod’s Song” and Yvonne Elliman (as Mary Magdalene) doing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” — but, of course, Ben Vereen (as Judas Iscariot) was its driving force throughout. Almost 45 years later, it is still impossible to believe Vereen lost the Tony Award for the Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical to Larry Blyden (as Hysterium) in Larry Gelbart’s, Burt Shevelove’s and Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Larry Freaking Blyden.

        — And your last paragraph? Hilarious! For long-staying customers, “Twelfth Night” free? —

        Sure. And we would even throw in two (2) tickets to “The Tempest in a Teapot”!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chekhov was indeed not a novelist, J.J. I’ve read two of his short-story collections, and none of the tales approached the length of even a novella.

          If I’m remembering correctly, Colm Toibin’s “The Master” novel about Henry James had a lot in it about a failed James effort in the play arena.

          As for “Jesus Christ Superstar” and Ben Vereen, yet another example (when it comes to the Tonys, Oscars, Pulitzers, Nobels, etc.) of the best person/performance not winning.

          Ha — so many possible “Bard-and-Breakfast” premiums and wordplay possibilities.

          Arriving guest Richard: “What floor is my room on?”

          Inn proprietor: “Richard, the third.”

          Like

          • Colm Toibin’s ‘The Master’ did indeed focus on HJ’s disastrous and humiliating debut/flop of ‘Guy Domville’ as did David Lodge’s ‘Author! Author!’. I can’t imagine James writing a play. If you think Tennessee Williams might have included too much stage direction he would probably be a master of brevity compared to Henry James. I can imagine the actors that have to make sense out of the play and find their dialogue wading through masses of exposition to get to the point where they say something. I love HJ as a novelist and author of novellas and stories but I doubt if I will ever attempt to read ‘Guy Domville’ or any other plays he supposedly attempted.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You’re absolutely right, bobess48 — Henry James’ style of writing doesn’t lend itself to play writing. (Though one can understand how he was looking for more “public” audience love than one could get from people reading his memorable novels in their own homes.)

              Thanks for recommending the excellent “The Master” to me a while ago!

              Like

    • “As items on a brunch menu, they apparently are less appetizing, as my concept of a chain of a Bard-and-Breakfast inns has failed to attract much interest among investors in the theatrical community, despite the obvious appeal of great marquee titles such as “Hamlet and Eggs.”

      Perhaps they were leery of running afoul of an older chain of restaurants, titled Hamburger Hamlet, of which there were a couple in the DC area years ago when I was a local. I ate in one once, and dimly remember a Shakespeare ref or three on the walls and menu.

      You might be safe to re-approach your money folk now. I think the world has said ‘goodnight, sweet prince’ to the lot of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy, jhNY!

        — Perhaps they were leery of running afoul of an older chain of restaurants, titled Hamburger Hamlet, of which there were a couple in the DC area years ago when I was a local. I ate in one once, and dimly remember a Shakespeare ref or three on the walls and menu. —

        Alas, poor rich Harry Lewis! I knew neither the actor-restaurateur nor the Hamburger Hamlet chain he founded until now, but he appears worthy of mention in the context of Dave’s blog post this week, as he portrayed one of the heavies in John Huston’s film “Key Largo” (1948), which was based on Maxwell Anderson’s play of the same name (1939), as indicated by our droogies at the “Los Angeles Times” (http://lat.ms/2hzhr9c). In achieving one of his two big goals in life — to own a restaurant and to play Hamlet — Lewis batted .500, an average that would get any heavy-hitting omnivore inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with or without a choice of cheese.

        J.J.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Dave,
    I think I know as much about Plays as I do about Poetry, and it seems that you do too! Though I’m not surprised that you’re modestly knowledgeable about both subjects. Of course, when you say plays, I think The Bard, and it seemed that you were going to get through the whole blog without mentioning him, but there he was, with a little cameo at the end. I’ve read a little Shakespeare, but not with enough understanding to be able to discuss his work. I think the only other play I’ve read is “Waiting for Godot” which I had started to read many, many years ago, and then finally read in its entirety quite recently. I must say, after waiting so long to find out what happened, I was pretty disappointed.
    I haven’t read it, but I believe J.K. Rowling’s latest “Harry Potter” instalment is also a play?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sue! Yes, I certainly underplayed Shakespeare in the post. 🙂 Not sure why — maybe the importance of his work is too obvious, and, like you, I’ve only read a handful of his plays. Not an impressive total given that he apparently wrote 37.

      You’re right — “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is indeed a (London) play, with a black Hermione. Love that! I’ve heard there might be a version on Broadway. Perhaps one in Australia, too?

      Now that you mention it, I might have read “Waiting for Godot” many years ago and also wasn’t overwhelmed despite knowing that it’s considered a groundbreaking work.

      Like

      • from wikipedia:

        “Vivian Mercier described Waiting for Godot as a play which “has achieved a theoretical impossibility—a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What’s more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice.”

        I wonder if Larry David had tickets…

        On a slightly more serious note, I’ve read the play, and seen it on film, and always thought: so little to work with has led those who project much upon it to overwork.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jhNY, a VERY good take from Wikipedia and you on “Waiting for Godot” — perhaps, prior to your alluded-to “Seinfeld,” the first “show about nothing” (with perhaps more than a little something).

          Like

          • Much of the misunderstanding surrounding this venerable bit of theater derives from the choice of employment of the man named in its title: fellow had a pizza shop from which his product might be ordered for delivery. See? Clears up everything!!

            Liked by 1 person

                  • Reading my comment back now, I’m reminded of a story about Hemingway (possibly told by him) who bet somebody somehow he could write an effective short story in six words. Once the bet was made he said: “For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

                    My l’il joke, getting smaller by the minute now, was on Caligula, which was a nickname given the future emperor as a child by members of the Praetorian Guard: means, ‘little boots.’

                    Your question reminds me of 2 things: 1) Swift was also the name of a meatpacking company active during U. Sinclair’s time in The Jungle, and 2) WC Fields who when asked “How do you like children?” replied “Parboiled!” That’s the press agent’s story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve heard that six-word Hemingway “story” — definitely evocative.

                      Swift is still a meat-related company, isn’t it? If it’s the same firm, it outlasted the long-lived Upton Sinclair.

                      W.C. Fields was indeed not a people (or kid) person, though, for all I know, that could have been at least partly an acting persona.

                      Like

  16. Hi Dave … You’ve certainly seen a lot more theater than I; those sound like some wonderful experiences! In elementary school, as I (barely) recall, my class attended a production of “Peter and the Wolf”. I do remember being very disappointed that it wasn’t more exciting (I guess I wanted to see Peter being chased around the stage by the wolf, or vice versa; who knows?) I have read quite a few plays, including “The Glass Menagerie”, which you mentioned; also, “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov, “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde (Yes, I DID take an Introduction to Theater class in college, lol!) I’ve also read Shakespeare of my own volition 🙂 Certainly, if I could see a play now it would be “Hamilton!”. “Jersey Boys” is another I would love to have seen. If I lived in New York, I would probably attend a lot of matinees.

    Like

    • Thank you, Pat! Sounds like you’ve read quite a few plays and playwrights, and it’s great that you took that college class! Also, I enjoyed the way you described your youthful “Peter and the Wolf” experience. 🙂

      I regret never having seen or read a Chekhov play (if I had, I would have mentioned his work in the column 🙂 ). I think his short stories are excellent.

      It’s kind of nuts that I’m only about 15 miles from midtown Manhattan (with a New York City bus on my corner) yet don’t see a lot of theater there. Budget and time issues…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean about the proximity vs. actually taking advantage of what it has to offer. I lived in Florida for more than 20 years, and hardly made it to the beach.

        Dave, would you mind fixing my spelling of vice versa (I wrote vise versa, and I have no idea what that means)? Thank you, Dave. Have a wonderful week!

        Liked by 1 person

        • All fixed, Pat! Typos happen, and, for whatever reason, this blog only allows me to fix them. 😦 I make a number of typos in my replies, but usually correct them quickly before anyone notices. 🙂 Loved the humor in your above comments! I wonder if “vise versa” means put something backwards in that metal clamping tool thingy…

          Have a great week, too!

          Liked by 1 person

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