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The Sex Play, Branagh’s Romeo & Juliet

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Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo? How many women throughout the ages have uttered these words with the wish of experiencing perfect love? For fair Juliet, it is a specific desired object for whom she calls out, and we all wait in the dark for HIS response.

Hero Shot (2)
Thursday evening, Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet will screen nationwide through Fathom Events, the company that brings filmed live productions of theater, opera and more. The stage show will continue to run in London at the Garrick Theatre until August 16.
Branagh gave us King Henry in 1989 and his talent was off and running. With co-director Rob Ashford, this Romeo and Juliet star Downton Abbey’s Lady Rose and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as the star-crossed lovers. Meera Syal plays the Nurse and Sir Derek Jacobi is Mercutio, best friend to Romeo.
I have tried hard not to read the reviews, though two notes could not be avoided… Lily is terrific as a teen-age Juliet and Jacobi’s command of his instrument and long experience performing Shakespeare makes for a not-to-be missed performance.
I had the opportunity to speak to Sir Jacobi moments before he was gearing up for the next performance.
His voice is soft and with perfect elocution. I asked him how he was able to capture a younger Mercutio from his revered age of 77.
He told me a story about George Orwell’s trip to Paris. There, he and his friends meet an older man sitting at the café, with his drink. The group all gets on famously and when the older man leaves, the bartender shares with Orwell, that the man, a regular, was none other than Oscar Wilde. He was just like one of the boys, witty and sharing stories from his own experiences, much like Mercutio’s reflections of his own life, where in his Mab speech, he displays all sides of himself. He sees the fun side of life and makes jokes, usually of a questionable, if not Elizabethan, sexual quality.
Mr., Sir, Jacobi’s, technique is to find his emotional anchoring in a character. He can’t start a role until he’s established this anchor, inside himself. Of course, though anchoring is different with different characters, he insists that there is only one spirit, one imagination that comes through all of his characters.
I had read that he is part of a community that believes William Shakespeare did not write any of the plays. He concurred, and though positive that the “man from Stratford” is not the author we all revere, that no one yet is certain who the real Shakespeare is.

Hero Shot (2)
Not to worry. Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful teaching of love and hate and redemption. I expect to cry for the fiftieth time while seeing this play.

http://www.fathomevents.com/event/kenneth-branagh-theatre-romeo-and-juliet/more-info/theater-locations

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Written by nancykoan

July 6, 2016 at 4:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Long Star Spirits, spirited fun

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From the moment you walk into the Fourth Street Theater to see Crowded Outlet’s LONE STAR SPIRITS, the environment makes you want to have a drink. The set is like a cross between a VFW cellar bar and a general store, run down and short on supplies, inviting in the way that all places which have served their purpose and yet stubbornly hang on, are. You know it has passed its sale by date and you like it even better because it doesn’t care.

lonestarThe characters, too, have been hanging around a bit too long. DREW, (Aaron Roman Weiner), overwhelmed in a Brad Paisley Stetson, tries to carry himself like he’s still playing tightend for the home team. (The reader will forgive if I mix up football positions) His glory days are now all tied up with raising the funds for a monument of him catching the winning play that took the local high school to state championship. Of course, he drinks a lot.

His friend, proprietor WALTER, (Martin LaPlatney), is a voice off-stage for the first five minutes and it is a wonderful voice. Filled with all the color of the locale and the wisdom that comes from selling too much whiskey to dreamers like Drew. Where Drew is short and wired, Walter enters like a long drink of Texas water, eliciting an interrogation from Drew because he is wearing a tie.

Soon JESSICA, (Amelia McClain), a single Gulf War widow with a kid to feed, buys whatever she needs to nullify both her son and her mom who’s babysitting so that she can go out and get drunk with the girls. The angry non-looks she and Drew throw each other are filled with all the mystery of small town life; a place where rumors fly so fast you have to wear a helmet to keep your head on. They are discreet.

MARLEY, (Mikaela Feely-Lehmann), long gone and living in Austin, arrives with her Eastern-born fiancé BEN, (KeiLyn Durrel Jones), in tow to visit Walter her father. They make it known pretty quickly that they have no interest in staying the night, though Ben wants to buy all the ‘authentic” rickety furniture for his online store…until one of the chairs collapses.

Jessica tries to remind Marley of their old high school friendship while Drew keeps flirting, talking about their dating days as often as he mentions the BIG GAME. Pretty soon we discover that Marley and her mom deserted the town and her father long time ago, but now Marley needs dad’s help so that she can move forward in her precisely planned future.

There is an abundance of humor, warmth and wisdom in this small show. Ghosts and guns play their part, but it is its well-drawn and beautifully played characters that make it a go see. Director Wes Grantom does a great job of bumping people into each other at just the right moment and playwright Josh Tobiessen knows how to spin a surprise like a master.

LONE STAR SPIRITS will be performed at the 4th Street Theatre (83 East 4th Street) beginning Friday, June 3rd (through Sunday, June 19th).

Written by nancykoan

June 7, 2016 at 4:37 am

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Aaron Weinstein makes Blue Monday Red Hot

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aaron Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras. It was assembled from bits approximately 300 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. Now a piece.has landed in Manhattan and though not a new kid to the hood, a relative new idea to New York nightlife

Pangea is becoming the speakeasy of yesteryears today…where great food, meets booze meets amazing talent. They have a cabaret evenings almost every night with luminaries the likes of Eric Comstock, Julie Halston and Mad Jenny and her Society Band.

The tables are intimate, the lighting flattering and the waitstaff incredibly sensitive to the performers, quietly delivering that second bottle of champagne with hardly a sound.

Last night I was privileged to once again see the Wunderkind of Strings Aaron Weinstein .accompanied by the brilliant Tedd Firth on piano. I’ve been watching Mr. Weinstein for years and his drop in your lap dry humor only gets drier…he’s a cross between Howdy Doody and Woody Allen, delivering witty and silly reflections about life, art and of course, music. His patter is only second to his virtuosity. The guy really swings on the fiddle, sneaking his way up to jazz as he dances his way through the American Songbook. He took a sit down break to play the mandolin which he insists he ‘bought at a sale at Whole Foods!’

Tedd Firth plays along beautifully and as everyone in the cabaret world knows, he is tops. When he provides as Mr. Weinstein calls it the percussion, every song is perfectly nuanced. On “I Want to Be Happy”, I actually found my feet and arms moving in glee.  The quieter honoring of Mother Rose’s songs from Gypsy teared me up and I don’t think I was alone. That’s why Pangea’s great cocktails are so helpful.

An added thrill was hearing Michael Musto do a number. I knew he was the great gossip guy but had no idea his pipes were so good. And Vivian Reed, a jazz powerhouse, honored the stage with a song. She’s a master.

I will keep following Mr. Weinstein to see where his humor and good taste next land. And Pangea, thanks for holding on through the downtown shifts. Pangea proves that life is so much more than loud drinking joints and tapas. This piece of land is separate for a reason.

Written by nancykoan

March 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Posted in music

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The Hundred We Are..3 stages of women

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threestagesofwomen

 

 

Having just spent many hours at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN and taking in so many atrocities of social injustice against my gender, I was hesitant to attend The Hundred We Are, a play about women’s issues written by a man. I shouldn’t have worried. Jonas Hassen Khemiri, a Swedish playwright, has no problem understanding the plight of women’s many life decisions and the regrets that both sexes, but women with historically less opportunity, must feel as they age. In this story, three women play different ages of one, and one speaks as the shadow.

I’ve seen many shows at the Cell Theatre and the Origin group are always inventive. For this play though, the use of projected words and the balcony space, didn’t add much to the story. I wasn’t aware of why the one actress  (Kitty Chen) wasn’t speaking, and though it may have had to do with memorization issues, her acting was so good that I appreciated her pantomime, especially as the voices of the other actors were so strong. They were all terrific; Mirirai Sithole, Caitlin Cisco and especially Orlagh Cassidy, whose range of emotions were full and honest.

I’ve not seen his other works, and though I do admire the intention, the devise of three women playing aspects of one required too much thinking for me to fully contemplate their plight. When she leaves her husband to travel the world, I wanted to know more about why she felt the need to return to a husband who among other deficits, had smelly pants.

The question of whether to live one’s life or worry about the lives of others and even do something for them was particularly timely, having just faced the plight of so many around the world. I imagine that it’s a question we may all ask ourselves as we age

The Origin (George C. Heslin, artistic director) always produces daring political shows. Directed by Erwin Maas, the play runs until April 8.

 

Written by nancykoan

March 28, 2016 at 1:15 am

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THEY WALK AMONG US

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alienBy permission of Phillip Birch, artist
Lyles & King Gallery

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If the Donald thinks he’s got problems with outsiders coming into the U.S, imagine the anxieties of Professor David M. Jacobs. After fifty years of research into the UFO phenomenon, creating the ICAR (International Center for Abduction Research) and writing four books on the subject, Jacobs is confident that aliens are here already and walking among us. And unlike Michael Rennie’s character Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still, they are up to NO GOOD. Even a wall won’t keep them out.

We may be talking about a subject many people still find incredulous, but Dr. Jacobs has solid credits. He received his PhD from University of Wisconsin in intellectual history, but finding the UFO phenomenon fascinating, wrote his dissertation on the controversy of UFOs. He’s only recently retired from Temple University in Philadelphia where his specialization was 20th century American pop culture.

With a billowy cloud of white hair, and intense bespectacled eyes, Jacobs is not exactly what one might expect in an abduction specialist. He has a good sense of humor, but then, he has to. After 900 hypnosis sessions with 140 abductee clients, he’s heard it all. One of the tenets for studying the Kabbalah is that it’s important to have reached one’s fortieth birthday before taking on the study of this mystical part of Judaism. It’s believed that by forty, a little maturity may have formed, even in men. In Jacobs’ case, it is very important that he was married for a long time as well as being more mature. The sexual goings on with the aliens and their abductees is pretty heady stuff — vulnerable subjects may be less prone to share their intimate stories as openly with younger hypnotists.

Jacobs regards hypnosis as very down to earth. He feels it’s only slightly different than normal consciousness and not an altered state. The client is relaxed and better able to remember repressed abduction situations. Jacobs is not bothered by the idea of false memories. His subjects have verifiable proof of absence from locations, time lapse and bodily marks, internally and externally.

There are many therapists dealing with the subject, but according to Jacobs, they are practicing in a New Age style camp and don’t realize what’s at stake. Since UFO super star Bud Hopkins’ death, Jacobs is one of the only people doing this kind of research. He is emphatic about the coming danger from aliens and feels has an urgent responsibility, not only to his subjects, but to the world.

I didn’t ask him for personality bios on his subjects. I’ve read enough to know that people from all walks of life have claimed to have had this experience, including Ronald Reagan and Simon Parkes, a city labor councilor from the UK who went public on British television. Jacobs says that there are abductees on every continent.

I mentioned a friend to him who claims to have seen extraterrestrials outside the entrance to the BMT subway one early morning on his way to a proofreading job. They appeared to Sam to be giant fruit flies with pointed teeth. Jacobs seriously doubted that they were real. According to him, one only sees aliens if they are actually being abducted. My friend might be an abuductee, but what he remembers is flawed. Plus, one is never abducted in a crowd. Good news for Trump rallies.

Now my own doubts started to simmer. Was the spaceship I spotted on my upper West side roof one July 4th actually an abduction and what seemed like only seconds passing was in fact a couple of missing hours? Was I swept away? Is that why I was late for the poker party?

Dr. Jacob’s subjects have memories even I wouldn’t wish on a Republican. Bug eyed aliens sticking instruments into female abductees’ navels, stealing their eggs, getting them pregnant, and then a few weeks later, getting them unpregnant. It’s so hideous that even with the claims of the occasional cosmic orgasm, many abductees are happy to have lost the memories. Still, it’s those nagging feelings and nightmares that drive them to David’s office for help.

Perhaps many of our fables are really covers for abductions. What about that flying carpet? And did Dorothy, too, eventually realize that Oz was nothing more than another galaxy and those weird cramps she had back in Kansas were symptoms of implants? Jacobs’ patients’ stories are filled with villainous activity even more despotic than the bad Witch.

What separates Jacobs’ theories from other researchers and abductees who claim that the alien experience is benevolent, is that he’s positive they are not. Based on the information given while ‘under’, the subjects insist that the harvesting of eggs is not merely an experiment to study the human body, but a dark project of immense proportions. Jacobs says that the aliens have been reproducing with humans for a long time making hybrids; now there’s a human like group called hubrids who will assist their true alien culture into moving here and taking over ours. The purpose of the long term cross-fertilization is so they can do it without ruffling too many feathers.

I asked him what these hubrids looked like and would they stand out in a crowd? “From what I can tell, hubrids have no overt physical differences between them and humans. The only differences are in brain function, e.g. the ability to control humans neurologically.’ He calls this brain scanning, something the aliens are able to do by using their big black eyes to sear right through the human psyche.

My thoughts went to artist Margaret Keane who painted faces with black limpid peepers. Had she been abducted or was she a hubrid? Was she perhaps preparing us for the onslaught?

“They might have other brain differences as well — I am not sure if they go into a sleep-like state at night or if they do not sleep at all. The best I can say is that sleep does not appear to them to be important. Also, they are very quick learners and they appear to have superior memories. If there are these differences, then there very well might be others.”

A lot of my friends have sleep apnea these days. Is there a connection?

Jacobs started receiving instant messaging on his computer from someone he suspected as being the hubrid that had been hanging out with one of his clients. It was as if the alien was spying on him or perhaps trying to scare him off. The hubrid’s questions had an innocent, socially undeveloped point of view that they was almost childlike. Actually, sounds like a lot of my own internet correspondence.

“They are still trying to learn our ways. We don’t know what happens to a hubrid after he or she breaks off from the abductees. My assumption is that they have learned enough to be confident and that they can easily blend into any human society.”

Apparently, there are a few classes of aliens. Who are the soldiers?

“I am not sure what you mean by soldiers. The top guns are insect-like and they haven’t been interested in merging with our DNA. There is no evidence that the insectalins will change form to conform to human standards. They will remain in their own form. These Insectalins have put together others to help carry out their long term plans. They are crucially important cogs in the aliens’ plans. They have created the hubrids (hybrids who are living here) to do those duties.“

Ah, a pure race of insects. So comforting. Mothra, the singing butterly from a Japanese sci fi film comes to mind. I wondered what galaxy these super bugs are from.

“They do not discuss this. In fact would be impossible to explain this to a human because if they have a name for their planet, that name would mean nothing to us. Where they come from is useless knowledge. The only thing that is important is what these aliens are here for and what they will be doing to us. “

Dr. Jacobs speaks in a neutral tone until he talks about the scary future. I’m very good with faces and begged him for more details on their look…couldn’t I pick them out at a movie line?

“Only abductees know them because they have been introduced to them on board a UFO. There might be other ways abductees can recognize them, but that is a longer story. (We never got back to that) However, non-abductees would not be able to know who they are by their physical appearance. They have been bred to look absolutely average in order to not stand out.”

He kept repeating the plan that the abductees reported to him during hypnosis. They say that the aliens refer to it as the Change. Of course, I thought of menopause what with all the sexual business and then there’s the obvious, climate change?

“No, the abduction phenomenon can be dated back to the early part of the 20th century. There wasn’t a climate change problem when the alien program was already fully established. People thought it was the atomic bomb that led the aliens to intervene. There is absolutely no evidence for that whatsoever. What they are doing in unrelated to human actions.”

Was there a time frame for this ‘change’?

“I think time is on their side. We do not know how long insectalins live. If they have been doing this since the early 20th century, time is obviously not of major consequence. My sense of it is that time means very little and they and they will finish when their project is ready to be finished.”

Ok, maybe there’s time to make a survival plan. If the one -percenters haven’t bought up all the tickets to the first voyage to Mars, we could leave the earth. The image of waves of refugees pouring into NASA with ruthless ticket scalpers hawking at the launching pad killed that idea. Clearly, there will be no place to hide what with the insects’ advanced brain scanning tricks.

Dr. Jacobs added softened the story …he said they might not be cruel, but will definitely take away our will. We will no longer be independent, but subject to the rules and philosophy of a sort of cosmic fascism. Where have I heard that before?

What of inter-species marriage? They say you never really know your partner, really. How many are already here? Did we marry them? Do they live next door? Will they rebel from the mother planet once they get a taste of Netflix and chipolte?

Invasion by another country or planet isn’t funny. If the accounts of the aliens’ shameful probings are any indication of their health care policies, I’d rather keep Obama Care. We citizens just don’t know enough to discount this information. The government may know more and aren’t saying. Dr. Jacobs hopes to continue his research and helping abductees. Perhaps one of his patients will eventually remember something…something that a hubrid or a hybrid or even a grey slipped out when they had had too much oxygen…something that we can do to save ourselves and the earth. Maybe time will be on our side, too.

Dr. Jacobs will be speaking at Contact in the Desert, June 3-6, Joshua Tree

Written by nancykoan

March 26, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Ladies of Juarez

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In honor of The Commission on the Status of Women and all the missing people, all around the planet.

 

 

 

limbonlimb

limbonlimb

 

THE LADIES OF JUAREZ

The ladies of Juarez

Have given their lives,

Back to the mother,

With deeply sealed eyes.

 

Why were they taken,

By those with brute force,

When if asked just to dance,

Would have loved to, of course.

 

The ladies of Juarez

Are broken and torn,

Back to the Mother,

She, alone, will mourn.

 

Why were they wasted

By thick heavy arms,

When flowers on offer,

Would have lit their hearts warm.

 

The ladies of Juarez,

Have given their lives,

Back to the mother,

With deeply sealed eyes.

Written by nancykoan

March 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A Wall Worth Listening to, Brit Floyd is Back

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On the heels of its hugely successful 146 concert date tour around the globe in 2015, Brit Floyd, who is considered to be the world’s greatest Pink Floyd Show, will be here, to share a journey of fifty years of Pink Floyd. They promise to play from the huge catalogue of music, performing favorites from The Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were HereAnimalsThe Wall and The Division Bell. This year they are performing their rendition of Echoes, in its entirety, from the landmark album Meddle.

I was fortunate to be in the audience at the Beacon Theater last year. As our universe opens up in all directions, The Wall symbol seems even more instructive as we contemplate Donald Trump’s plans for US borders. Then there is the subject of the Berlin Wall in the film Bridge of Spies and the highly politicized walls of old Jerusalem. With this in mind, I spoke to musical director, lead vocalist and guitarist Damian Darlington about their upcoming tour.

 

—-7_31_15_BritFloyd_Citone_Kabik_1-4277_Paul Citone

N: I loved the show last year… was blown away. What can we expect in 2016?

Damian: It’s a continuation of last year’s theme, celebrating fifty years of Pink Floyd. We’ll play a representative set list of their career, bringing in new songs and songs not done in a while, like Echo, the whole side of the original metal album.

We’re playing four songs never done before. We really want people to have the chance to experience the music live.

N: Where have you felt the greatest reception?

Damian: USA is top on the list…then there’s Eastern Europe, Slovenia, Belarus, Bulgaria… and Lebanon.  Five thousand people must demonstrate its universal appeal.

N: What makes it so universal?

Damian: Well, the quality of the songs, they’re timeless; they don’t age. The things being explored in the lyrics are truly timeless; the music is beautiful. What’s being said…like in The Dark Side of the Moon…the themes are life and death and madness. It’s not overtly political… they make general comments on life.

At this point, I brought up of Roger Waters, lyricist and co-founder of Pink Floyd. He has been political in a few arenas like UK hunting and global change and more recently making waves by backing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (DBS) movement against Israel. He has been called anti-Semitic by the director of the Anti-Defamation League and criticized Bon Jovi for performing in Israel. He insists that he is against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and not anti-Semitic.

N: So what about Roger Waters… will your show deal with his politics?

Damian: Roger Waters lost his father in the war and deals with his anti-war sentiments in The Wall and Final Cut. But that’s his own feeling of having lost a father to war. We’re about the music. I don’t think it affects our concert. I’ve had no personal experience with that.

N: One of most exciting parts of your show last year was the visuals. The art and light show were amazing…what’s happening this year?

Damian: Artist Bryan Kolupski will be on tour with us again.  Very lucky.

Bryan Kolupski, an American artist, creates the phenomenal animation and videos for the backdrop screen.

N: How do you keep your energy up …you really give the audience your all… an amazing output of musical skill, power and stagecraft.

Damian: Well, we’re toughened living on the road. And lucky for us, it’s still fun. And the music is great.

Brit Floyd will be at the Beacon Theatre on April 8 in New York City. See the sites for other dates around the country and Canada.

www.britfloyd.com

www.facebook.com/britfloydshow

www.youtube.com/britfloydshow

http://bk1productions.com/

Written by nancykoan

March 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm