According to our sources [here], Sir Tom Stoppard has a new play that will debut at the National Theatre sometime before March 2015. I'm sure there's more to come and I know I can't wait.
According to our sources [here], Sir Tom Stoppard has a new play that will debut at the National Theatre sometime before March 2015. I'm sure there's more to come and I know I can't wait.
Back in October 2013, Tom Stoppard was awarded the PEN / Pinter Prize and delivered a brilliant speech on writing, writing and life, writing and politics, and theatre. You will be well served to either / or / and read the speech here or listen to it here.
Here's a sample:
Honesty is seldom ingratiating and often discomfiting.
...I will spare you my rite of passage into a world that was not polarised but fractal, and my obsequies over the England we have mislaid. I'll just mark the place with a list, incomplete and in no particular order. Here goes.
Surveillance. Miss-selling pensions and insurance. Phone hacking. Celebrity culture. Premiership football. Dodgy dossier. Health and Safety. MPs' expenses. Political correctness. Internet porn. Targets as in the NHS. Managers as in the BBC. Bankers' bonuses.
We are selling the family silver, by which I mean the family honour. I began in newspapers, and I revered them. Perhaps I romanticised them. A journalist photographer in one of my plays says "I've been around a lot of places. People do awful things to each other. But it's worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark. It really is. Information is light." So my other mantra on human rights was: a free press makes all the other freedoms possible.
Celebrating forty years of Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon.
A Couple of weeks back, BBC2 aired Tom Stoppard's radio play celebrating forty years of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. A wonderful trailer was created to promote the play and, when BBC2 aired the play, the video looped behind the sound. I'm sharing with you the trailer and the full length audio of the play.
In my opinion, the radio play is "classic" Stoppard in that he tackles physics, philosophy and how one influences the other. The performances are very fine. If you are either / or a Stoppard / Pink Floyd fan, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!
We already know that,in his play Rock 'n Roll, Syd Barrett appeared off stage and played an important hinge in the story. We also know that Stoppard has written quite a bit for the BBC, both original works and adaptations of his plays. Maybe you know that this year is the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. --You can see where this is going, right?
Yes, you are correct: Stoppard has written a radio play based on Dark Side of the Moon that was commissioned by BBC 2 to commemorate the albums anniversary. According the the Telegraph, it took Stoppard four decades to get around to writing this work. (I'm a bit skeptical of that.)
Haven't heard enough to be convinced, Bill Nighy and Rufus Sewell will perform in the production that will be aired in August of this year. [more here on all that]
Now, some of you might be aksing your self, "Well that's just great, but how am I supposed to enjoy it?" Well, there are probably several options available to you.
That's right, most of Stoppard's radio work is available that way now. And, given my own enthusiasm and technical chops, I might be able to aid and abet the cause. --Of course, I wouldn't put it past the BBC just to post the file themselves for on-deman listeners.
Whatever the case, please be assured that you humble servant will keep you up-to-date on time, coordinates and availability.
By the way, if you haven't seen Stoppard's adaptation of Parade's End, do try and catch up with it. Rebecca Hall was stunning as Sylvia Tietjens and Benedict Cumberbatch was superb as Christopher Tietjens. I think that Ms. Hall outshined Mr. Cumberbatch but that's a function of the characters and the story, not a reflection on their acting skills.
And... (I feel as if I'm playing "catch up" as I haven't posted for so long) ... please make an effort to see Anna Karenina. I made the mistake of not seeing it in the theater, but even on the small screen it was very impressive. Stoppard wrote the screenplay which was excellent of course, but Joe Wright should receive special kudos for coming up with the idea of staging scenes with the White Russian Aristocracy in a theater and the scenes with Peasants in a "realistic" setting. The staging was an absolutely perfect way to highlight / communicate that the aristocracry were leading a "make-believe" or artificial life. So, given the setting of the movie and this tension created between the aristocracy and proletariat, the movie seems like a prelude to Stoppard's Coast of Utopia. As I'm prone to exageration and superlatives, you shouldn't be surprise when I writing something along the lines of: Anna Karenina is to The Coast of Utopia as Das Rheingold is to Der Ring des Nibelungen. Well, maybe a little bit.
As I've written before here, Belinsky is my favorite character from Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia. I just came across a posting on a previously unknown, to me, blog called BookSlut all about Isaiah Berlin and his chronicle of Russian intellectuals.
The post calls out Berlin's opinion of Bakunin (negative) and Belinsky (positive). Here's the quote from Berlin that the post extracts:
The original prototype of these sincere, sometimes childish, at other times angry, champions of persecuted humanity, the saints and martyrs in the cause of the humiliated and defeated -- the actual, historical embodiment of this most Russian type of moral and intellectual heroism -- is Vissarion Belinsky.
And this is from the post's author:
Belinsky is the thread that unites the disparate patterns within the tapestry of early socialism: German idealism, Russian lucidity, French decadence. Everyone, in Russian Thinkers and The Coast of Utopia alike, is perpetually debating Belinsky’s ghost. This is convenient all around, for Belinsky said many contradictory things, as prolific and impoverished writers must. This combination of humble origins and elite approval ensured his place in Russian history, and his views about the "social" criticism of literature, were the battleground for the next century of Russian thought. Belinsky’s premature death in early 1848 installed him as an icon for the next generation of "violent" thinkers like Chernyshevsky and Pisarev, officially the fathers of Bolshevism.
Overall, I'm very impressed by the post and think it does a great job of illuminating the historical figures Stoppard uses for The Coast of Utopia.
The Economist has jumped on the bandwagon that got started with the news of the revival of Arcadia and has published a Q&A with the play's director, David Leveaux. It's an in-depth interview and explores his interpretation of the play, in detail. Herewith:
First of all, "Arcadia" does something at a very high level that is evident in Tom's [Stoppard] other plays, but here it comes together in an authority of coherence. He takes elements, which on the face of it do not appear to be connected, and puts them in the same room and understands where they connect. That connection is largely coiled up in what Hannah Jarvis says: "It’s the wanting to know that makes us matter." Something I said to the company is that ‘we’re not really in the business of trying to transmit ideas'. The theatre of "Arcadia" exists as something more plastic: the poignancy of viral enthusiasm and emotions [behind those ideas]. It's people’s enthusiasm and passion that ultimately allow the characters to touch with a familiar strangeness across centuries. It’s something to do with the core of the play—it's fabulously un-cynical—the greater the curiosity, the more humanity these characters have. [more]
There is just one thing, a small nit: The fact checker for the blog post missed the name of one of Stoppard's most celebrate plays. In the post, the play is titled "The Right Thing." In real life, the correct title is "The Real Thing."
Oh, and, by the way, thank you Jimmy for making sure this was on my radar.
I've successfully resisted posting individual reviews of Arcadia, saving them for a round-up I've put together today. The one review I can't post that's the outlier is from the New Yorker which took issue with both the production and the play itself. ... Can't post that one as it's behind the big Conde Nast paywall. --Worth the read though. Anyway, here goes:
Behold the brilliance of Tom Stoppard! His genius is reason enough to see the Broadway revival of Arcadia at the Barrymore, a civilizing relief ably directed by David Leveaux, just as the culture at large focuses on another kind of theater: the wild ravings of Charlie Sheen. Set in the stately Derbyshire estate in two time periods, the Romantic era 1809, and a modern 1993 featuring literary scholars who mine archaic manuscripts and letters in search of evidence to support slim career-making theories, Arcadia takes a sly swipe at the academic world, and tells a much richer story celebrating the life of the mind. [more]
The Daily News
This is, without doubt, not a play to watch passively. It takes as much energy as it gives, demanding at least a passing understanding of, say, Fermat's theorem and chaos theory. Even so, the ideas themselves are not as important as the search for knowledge, or, as one character says, "It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise, we're going out the way we came in." [more]
The Financial Times
Valentine Coverly, the modern-day mathematician in Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia, now in an engaging revival on Broadway, celebrates science while praising the mysteriousness of infinity. Both the infinity speech and Raúl Esparza’s superlative performance as Valentine are key elements in this David Leveaux-directed production, which was staged with different actors two years ago in London. The most conspicuous difference between it and the version that premiered in 1993 is Valentine’s use of an up-to-date Apple laptop, whose access to Google et al enriches the resonance of the references to algorithms. [more]
The Times Square Chronicles
Arcadia comments about the intellectualism of the heart and our connection to its findings. Mortality is played along with reincarnation. Lightening, the turtle, has seen and survived it all and thus makes it from 1809 into the present. Directed by David Leveaux, this three-hour play seems tedious not magical but I adore Stoppard and the men’s performances are first rate, as is Margaret Colin’s. I have been spoiled by two marvelous productions and that always has one expecting more. Stoppard’s words are like Shakespeare, you either get them or you don’t. "When we have found all the meanings and lost all the mysteries, we will be alone, on an empty shore." Thankfully we are not in danger of that. [more]
The performances are all splendid, but a few actors are especially striking, among them Tom Riley and Bel Powley, both U.K.-based troupers making their Broadway debuts. Riley's briskly intelligent Septimus is as endearing as he is charismatic, particularly as his student grows older and his feelings for her evolve. Powley's exuberant, funny, touching Thomasina never lets us question Septimus' affection and admiration. [more]
The New York Observer
It's as packed with facts and ideas as any of Mr. Stoppard's works—his characters expound on English history, Newtonian physics, Lord Byron, iterated algorithms and entropy, among other things—but it's also, it seems to me, far more accessible than many of his other works. (The acclaimed Coast of Utopia exhausted me.) As the scenes alternate between 1809 and today, we watch the earlier story reveal itself just as the modern researchers discover it for themselves, allowing us to share in their anticipation and exaltation. Their curiosity becomes our curiosity; their satisfaction is ours, too.
But the pleasure of this play is not just in its ideas; it's in its boisterous humor and rich characters too. Mr. Stoppard has created a group of charming kooks, eccentrics both Victorian and modern, and Mr. Leveaux has assembled a generally excellent cast for it. [more]
Be sure to look at this. It's a video preview of the show. [more]
Perfectly lovely story this morning on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. If you want to try and understand why I'm so enthusiastic about this play and this playwrite then listen to the story I've embedded below. It's an impressively thorough story ... for broadcast ... and bothers to pull out some of my favorite quotes:
A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There's no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle's cosmos; 55 crystal spheres geared to God's crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe. I can't think of anything more trivial than the speed of light. Quarks, quasars, big bang, black hole – who gives a sh—?
And this one...
To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing! People were talking about the end of physics; relativity and quantum [physics] looked as if they were going to clean out the whole problem between them. A theory of everything! But they only explain the very big and the very small; the universe, the elementary particles. The ordinary side stuff, which is our lives — the things people write poetry about — clouds, daffodils, waterfalls, and what happens in a cup of coffee when the cream goes in. These things are full of mystery.
My heat-seeking Stoppard news robot came across this posting from a publication called Downtown Express. Review:
Oscar Wilde. George Bernard Shaw. Tom Stoppard. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Stoppard belongs right up there in that company. Anyone with any doubt is advised to see and then — doubling that pleasure — to read the “Arcadia” that’s at the Barrymore. ...
It is easy to fall in love with a play. I’ve fallen in love with hundreds of them. But falling in love with “Arcadia” was, for this playgoing journalist, exactly like falling in love with a woman. You love every part of her, everything about her, even the bad parts. The very air and everything within it seems everywhere clearer, brighter — though “Arcadia” seems to me to have no bad parts. Indeed it is an overlay of one exquisite element mixed in with another with another with another.
Love. Sex. Poetry. Scholarship. Accuracy. Dueling. Duplicity. Poetry. Landscape gardening. Time. Space. Physics. Mathematics. Poetry. Lord Byron. Sir Isaac Newton. Television. Poetry. Adultery. The Classical era. The Romantic era…and much, much more. [more]
I encourage you to read the story because it captures, for me at least, some scale and scope of the play and why it's worth your attention.
A million years ago, I helped a celebrated science writer and a semi-professional bridge player, Uday Ivatury, launch the first NYC ISP focused on consumers: The Pipeline. It was a wonderful experience.
The celebrated science writer was James Gleick and he's as justly celebrated today as he was then when had "only" publish the first two of his books, Chaos and Genius. Now, he has had his sixth book published, The Information, and the reviews are excellent. It is also going to be shelved alongside some of the books I've recently written about that address similar issues: the perils and promise of the information age.
A recent review caught my eye as it ended up being caught in the same news scan as Mr. Stoppard's clips. Here's the relevant bit:
And yet, Gleick remains relatively sanguine on the ability of systems, or networks, to sort themselves. (He writes at length about Wikipedia as a self-policing community, despite the skepticism it provokes among journalists and academics.) Or to remain unsorted, since ultimately there is so much information that "[o]ne can fairly say that even God has forgotten." Toward the end of the book, he recalls the great library of Alexandria, which, beginning in the third century BC, "maintained the greatest collection of knowledge on earth, then and for centuries to come." Among its hundreds of thousands of scrolls, Gleick tells us, were "the dramas of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides; the mathematics of Euclid, Archimedes, and Eratosthenes; poetry, medical texts, star charts, mystical writings. … And then it burned."
The point, of course, is that everything is perishable, that the universe itself is erasable — except that it's not. "All the lost plays of the Athenians!" he declares, citing a line from Tom Stoppard's play "Arcadia." "How can we sleep for grief?" The answer is simple: "By counting our stock."
This, Gleick concludes, is the great rule of the universe, and of the library, both actual and figurative, as well. "The library will endure," he writes; "it is the universe. … We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence" — just as we have always done. [more]
I wonder if Mr. Gleick has had a chance to see the Broadway revival of Arcadia? It's bound to be one of his favorites.
I love the fact Mr. Stoppard worries so much about just three minutes, what he calls "100 beats." After all this time and all those accolades about the play, he still worries about how he might be able to make it better.
The difficulty in finding lines to cut is not surprising. To many critics “Arcadia” is Mr. Stoppard’s masterwork, the perfect blend of brains and emotion, wit and heartache. Moving between 1809 and the present at a Derbyshire country house, it offers up a mystery for two academics who clumsily try to piece together whether a volatile mix of sex and poetry led to a duel there nearly 200 years earlier. During the 1990s it was one of the most frequently produced plays around the world.
Still, those three minutes trouble him. “When you write, it’s making a certain kind of music in your head,” he explained. “There’s a rhythm to it, a pulse, and on the whole I’m writing to that drum, rather than the psychological process” — the time it takes for one character to digest and respond to what another said — “which creates its own drumbeat.” [more]
I didn't know Arcadia was one of the most frequently produced plays in the 1990s. Makes me wonder about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead during the sixties and seventies.
According to me, there are too few interviews at all w/ Mr. Stoppard, much less video interviews. So, here's a link to a brand new video from The New Yorker.
PS: Does John Lahr look his father or what?!??!?!
You, dear friend, know I'm excited about the revival of Stoppard's Arcadia that's now in previews on Broadway. Apparently, The New Yorker is too as they've just published (online) one of its "casuals" that follows Mr. Stoppard through the course of an afternoon and early evening. --The especially good part of the article is learning something I neve knew before about Mr. Stoppard's work in particular and in general what works (and why) on the stage. Herewith:
“Arcadia” exists as a result of Stoppard’s having read, twenty or so years ago, several books about physics, mathematics, landscape gardening, and a Peter Quennell biography of Lord Byron. As the dialogue ping-pongs along, the audience courts the peculiar risk of listening too carefully. “If you take a speech of ten lines—and this is true of Shakespeare and true of Tom—if that becomes too slow, there is no way you will comprehend it,” Leveaux said. “Too fast and it becomes a blur of words and you retreat defeated from the effort. There’s a kind of ideal resonant tempo.”
“That fits with what I think about playwriting,” Stoppard said. “It’s about controlling the flow of information—arriving at the right length and the right speed and in the right order. ‘Arcadia’ is obviously a play that’s got interesting things in it that are perhaps quite hard to grasp. But it’s also a detective form, and designed to be a recreation. If the audience is made to do not enough work, they resent it without knowing it. Too much and they get lost. There’s a perfect pace to be found. And a perfect place that is different for every line of the play.” [more]
By the by, as a public relations professional, it would be entirely remiss of me not to congratulation Ms. Emily Meagher of the agency Boneau/Bryan-Brown on this splendid placement. So: Congratulations, Ms. Meagher!
Just in case you don't know what I want for Passover, I'll make it crystal clear: The new poster for Arcadia. For some who's lived their lives at the intersection between technology and Stoppard, there's nothing quite as compelling as the image of a white rose desolving and resolved into a length of cat5.
Playbill has published a story about Arcadia and, while I wouldn't describe the article as having any surprises, let me give you a snippets from the article:
Arcadia, according to producers, “is set in April 1809 in a stately home in Derbyshire. Thomasina, a gifted pupil, proposes a startling theory, beyond her comprehension. All around her, the adults, including her tutor Septimus, are preoccupied with secret desires, illicit passions and professional rivalries. Two hundred years later, academic adversaries Hannah and Bernard are piecing together puzzling clues, curiously recalling those events of 1809, in their quest for an increasingly elusive truth.” [more]
I'm not sure why the author of the article had to attribute the summary of the plot to the producer as if he hadn't read the play himself (oh) but that's the way it worked out.
And, really people, if you can arrange for me to get a post of the show, you would receive proper public adoration.
I was priviledged to see Mr. Crudup in The Coast of Uptopia. Mr. Crudup played Belinsky and Belinsky turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the trilogy, even though he only appeared in the first two plays.
I deeply and sincerely wish I had seen Mr. Crudup's turn as Septimus Hoge in the original Broadway production of Arcadia. Now, I sincerely wish I could see Mr. Crudup play the role of Bernard Nightingale in that same play.
Just this week, I listened to the BBC production of Arcadia and enjoyed it oh, so much. The BBC production is from 1993 with Felicity Kendal, Bill Nighy, Samuel West, Rufus Sewell, Emma Fielding and Harriet Walter. It is wonderful and I wish I could refer you to that production but am delighted to let you know that the LA Theatre Works has created a audio version of the play that is almost just as good. (I express the caveat "almost" due to the appearance of Felicity Kendall in the BBC production as I am particularly fond of her an anything by Mr. Stoppard or anyone else for that matter.)
But back to the matter.
For those who know that play, you know that Septimus and Nightingale are counterparts to one another. Septimus is a character in the 18thC part of the play and Bernard is a character in the 20th. Here's what Crudup recently said about the change of roles:
“When you’re introduced into the [Broadway] community in a role like Septimus Hodge, you get to pretend you’re this thrilling romantic figure. I was only six months out of graduate school at the time, so I got to ride on his coattails for a few years. Bernard, however, is a big, pompous buffon, so I’m hoping not to ride his coattails."
Arcadia begins previews on February 26 and is schedule to open on March 17 at the Ethel Barrymore.
From the first scene of the play.
In the meantime, gentle reader, here's a quick taste:
We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again.
Very Recently, I posted regarding the possibility of a sequel to Shakespeare in Love and my ... skepticism. Now comes the news that the movie may be turned into a ... play.
Okay, overall, I think that there are been many successful transitions from the stage to the screen and I'm trying to recall any, some, that transitioned the other direction. My concern is this: How am I going to feel about a play that assembles a cast that has to compete -- in my mind -- with this one:
I know that someone, somewhere loves Shakespeare in Love more than I do ... probably. But I feel confident letting you, dear reader, know that I've seen the movie more times than you have and, without fail, tears well up in my eyes Every ... Single ... Time.
So, why do I feel so actively ambivelant, nay, discouraged, when I read late last year that the Weinstein company has announced it is planning a sequel. I could make the jokes myself, but have the good sense to let the New York Times take the lead:
Where does one go after “Shakespeare in Love,” which ends with its title character immersing himself in the writing of “Twelfth Night” while his sweetheart, Viola, is bound for the New World? What comes next? “Shakespeare in Tears”? “Shakespeare in Bed, Eating Bon-Bons”? “Shakespeare in a Disappointing Marriage With Anne Hathaway, Running Out the Clock While Thinking of Gwyneth Paltrow“? [more]
Honestly, the only person who could possibly pull this off is the author of the original, Tom Stoppard. Only the person who can build a play out of Rosencrantz and Guilderstern can possibly stand in that small, unpainted corner of the floor and find a way to the window.
The Guardian ran a very interesting story this past week. In the article, some forty or so writers are asked which book they read this year made the biggest impression on them. And, of course, I'm writing this because Mr. Stoppard was queried.
Just based on what Mr. Stoppard writes, I've always assumed he focuses on classics and works that will, someday, end up in his plays. Instead, I learned that Mr. Stoppard is up-to-date on his non-fiction and fiction. Here's what he has to say:
I started the year by reading a dozen books on the Wall Street implosion. Even if you're bored with it all, The Big Short by Michael Lewis (Allen Lane) is unmissable: and if you're not, How Markets Fail by John Cassidy (Penguin) has the best, deepest backstory, and is as well written as you would expect from someone who covers economics for the New Yorker.
This year, too, I enormously enjoyed the last 518 pages of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (Fourth Estate), which I had put aside in 2001 to read when I had time. I am now on page 14 of Freedom. Highly recommended.
And here's a link to the entire article.
When last we checked in, Sir Tom Stoppard was penning a BBC TV version of Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End. the mamoth work that became a cornerstone for moderism. This just in: Stoppard is reportedly writing a sceenplay of Anna Karenina, also for the BBC and it will star Keira Knightley.
Here's the report from the Indie Wire:
Working Title has been developing a new adaptation, written by the great playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, and that a script’s due before Christmas. The studio’s favorite son, Joe Wright (”Pride & Prejudice,” “Atonement”) is attached to the new version, and in the spring, the director’s likely to make a decision as to whether to direct this, or the dark Abi Morgan-scripted take on “The Little Mermaid” announced earlier in the year. [more]
It warms my heart to find out that, at 73-years-old, Mr. Stoppard is not slowing down at all and that there's so much to anticipate.
In 1977, Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn delivered a multi-media production called Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. Because the production requires an orchestar and cast of actors, it is rarely performed.
Here's the synopsis from Wikipedia:
The play concerns a dissident, Alexander Ivanov, who is imprisoned in a Soviet mental hospital, from which he will not be released until he admits that his statements against the government were caused by a (non-existent) mental disorder.
In the hospital he shares a cell with a genuinely disturbed schizophrenic, also called Ivanov, who believes himself to have a symphony orchestra under his command. Alexander receives visits from the Doctor and from a Colonel in the KGB.
Meanwhile, his son, Sacha, is seen in a school classroom with a teacher who attempts to convince him of the genuineness of his father's illness.
Great news: The National Theatre (London) is mounting a production that's scheduled to hit the boards next year. Here's the story that tipped me off [link].
There is a rumor that Billy Crudup will appear in a revival of Arcadia that might open in New York early next year. Crudup appeared in the original Lincoln Center production in 1993 playing Septimus and completely stole my heart as Belinsky in Coast of Utopia.
Now you know. We can make a weekend of it and see both Arcadia and the Julie Taymor production of Tempest. It would be grand I'm sure. Who's in?
One of the more humbling experiences springing from putting so many and so many diverse opinions onto the internet is when we must admit our deficiencies. Our imperfections are usually on parade and quite clear to anyone who can parse a sentence, merely spell, or has a much better grip on the material on which I comment and opine. Deficiencies, for me, are usually confessional as in, "I've never read anything by Ford Maddox Ford but if Tom Stoppard has decided to invest a slice of his life dramatizing it for BBC2, then count me in. --I should be receiving an Everyman's edition of the work by the end of the week. But enough about me. Here's an excerpt from the article in the Guardian:
Ford's tetralogy, published between 1924 and 1928, established him as one of the country's finest novelists. He died in 1939. Stoppard is reported to be hopeful that the BBC2 drama will restore Ford's reputation, placing him alongside authors like DH Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh in the pantheon of early 20th century greats.
Ben Stephenson, head of drama commissioning at the BBC, told the Independent: "Tom Stoppard is without a doubt one of the world's finest writers and we are thrilled to welcome him to the BBC with his extraordinary, witty and hugely complex take on a complex work."
Mr. Stoppard has a long relationship with the BBC. If one casts about the internet, one will be rewarded with audio from his many radio productions including The Real Thing and Rock 'n Roll. (Remember to say your prayers for someone to produce an audio version of The Coast of Utopia.) And I can recommend all of them. The production of Parade's End will be a five-part television production.
Of course as I find out more about the production, rest assured, you, gentle reader will be informed.
PS: If you want to buy the book from Amazon, please click on the image of the cover.
The play's sharp humor, excellent dialogue and engaging story (not to mention some wonderful comments on the craft of writing) make it captivating viewing. As I watched, I got the feeling I was seeing one of Stephen Sondheim's brilliant marriage songs ("You Must Meet My Wife," "Could I Leave You?" "The Little Things You Do Together") become a play.
And what a wonderful play it is. Director Lisa Tromovitch has assembled an excellent cast to bring the show to the outdoor stage at Livermore's Concannon Vineyards. Jones and Le Blanc are stunning in the leading roles, creating memorable characterizations and inhabiting them fully. [more]
What happens when the talents of Dustin Hoffman and John Lennon's sons are combined with the notion that Hamlet is a vampire and a project title that plays on Sir Tom's most popular achievement.
According to the Los Angeles Times, nothing good really results from this potpourri. Observe:
Blood spills, a "Get Smart"-like secret society investigates (as does an obtuse detective played by Jeremy Sisto), the Holy Grail is chased and the show must go on. But the farcical elements simply pile up instead of congeal and it's suddenly a very long 82 minutes.
Of course, the other way to look at it is that the movie is only 82 minutes.
I'm a member of one of the oldest private libraries in United States, The Mechanics' Institute Library and Chess Club in San Francisco. Besides being a very nice library and an outstanding chess club, it's a terrific place to work and meet with people when I'm in San Francisco.
I just discovered that Sir Tom Stoppard is president of The London Library, founded in 1841 and home to Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot, Rebecca West and Isaiah Berlin.
I can't find out how much the London Library charges for membership but, according to the story in the Telegraph, the rise in membership is set at thirteen percent.
Now, I'm obsessed about getting back to London and spending a day at the library. And if you aren't of the same mind, then I suggest you watch the video I've embedded below.
Some time ago, I was blessed to attend the "marathon" production of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, three plays about the intellectual underpinnings of the Russian Revolution. It was another life changing event for me.
My favorite character in the plays is Vissarion Belinsky, a Russian literary critic who was a friend of Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin. In the first of the three plays, Voyage, Belinsky is vacationing at Bakunin's family estate. He's amazed by the contrast of the culture and the wealthy and the 500 serfs in service to his friend's father. Early in his stay at the estate, he's drawn out and reveals his purpose and perspective. It was a gift to receive this in the first act of the first of three plays that would stretch out all afternoon and evening. I you like what follows, I'll be posting the second monologue as soon as I get it typed up.
Mikhail Bakunin: You said we had no literature.
Vissarion Belinsky: That's what I write. We haven't. We have a small number of masterpieces, how could we not, there are so many of us, a great artist will turn up from time to time in much smaller countries than Russia. But as a nation we have no literature because what we have isn't ours, it's like a party where everyone has has to come dressed up as somebody else – Byron, Voltaire, Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare and the rest … I am not an artist. My play was no good. I am not a poet. A poem can't be written by an act of will. When the rest of us are trying our hardest to be present, a real poet goes absent. We can watch him in the moment of creation, there he sits with the pen in his hand, not moving. When it moves, we've missed it. Where did he go in that moment? The meaning of art lies in the answer to that question. To discover it, to understand it, to now the difference between it happening and not happening, this is my whole purpose in life, and it is not a contemptible calling in our country where our liberties cannot be discussed because we have none, and science or politics can't be discussed for the same reason. A Critic does double duty here. If something true can be understood about art, something will be understood about liberty, too, and science and politics and history – because everything in the universe is unfolding together with a purpose of which mine is a part. You are right to laugh at me because I don't know German or French. But the truth of idealism would be plain to me if I had heard one sentence of Schelling shouted through my window by a man on a galloping horse. When philosophers start talking like architects, get out while you can, chaos is coming. When they start laying down rules for beauty, blood in the streets if from that moment inevitable. When reason and measurement are made authorities for the perfect society, seek sanctuary among the cannibals... Because the answer is not out there like America waiting for Columbus, the same answer fro everybody forever. The universal idea speaks through humanity itself, and differently through each nation in each stage of its history. When the inner life of a nation speaks through the unconscious creative spirit of its artists, for generation after generation – then you have a national literature. That's why we have none. Look at us! – a gigantic child with a tiny head stuffed full of idolatry for everything foreign … and a huge inert body abandoned to its own muck, a continent of vassalage and superstition, an Africa of know-nothing have-nothings without a notion of a better life, or the wit to be discontented drunk or sober, that's your Russia, held together by police informers, and fourteen ranks of uniformed flunkeys – how can we have a literature? Folk tales and foreign models, that's our lot, swooning over our imitation Racines and Walter Scotts – our literature is nothing but an elegant pastime for the upper classes, like dancing or cards. How did it happen? How did this disaster befall us? Because we were never trusted to grow up, we're treated like children and we deserve to be treated like children – flogged for impertinence, shut into cupboards for naughtiness, sent to bed without supper and not daring even to dream the of the guillotine...
Yes – I've got off my track, hell and damnation … excuse me … it's always happening to me! … I forget what I'm trying to say – I'm sorry, I'm sorry … Every work of art is the breath of a sing eternal idea. That's it. Forget the rest. Every work of art is the breath of a single eternal idea breathed by God into the inner life of the artist. That's where he went. We will have our literature. What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. Our external life is an insult. But we have produced Pushkin and now Gogol. Excuse me, I don't feel well.