Monthly Archives: November 2014

This is Not a Political Statement

It’s just back of an envelope arithmetic, and a bit of rambling thought.

Also, the tone of this item is a bit … discouraged … What I mean is … I was young when The Greatest Generation had settled themselves back at home. Things seemed to be going well. There was a belief that we had done it.

Now, not so much. Environment, government, corporate, endless war … etc.

I hesitated to post it, but if you do go ahead and read it, please also visit the fresh new page called But Wait! There’s This … for a brief and particularly inspiring item. A counterpoint to this one. Anyway back to my (mildly) gloomy theme …

Consider a trillion dollars

$1,000,000,000,000

A 1 with 12 zeros after it. To see that in graphics go here.

Meanwhile I’m reading a book.

It’s called Amnesia.

Book cover, courtesy Amazon

Book cover, courtesy Amazon

I’m reading it aloud. I’m doing this professionally for Recorded Books in New York City.

It was written by Peter Carey. Peter Carey is a multiple Booker Prize winner. He is one of Australia’s leading writers. The book is not yet on general release.

(To me) The most interesting part, given that Peter Carey has superior prose and story-telling skills expertly deployed throughout, is the bit that tells the story — interwoven with a discouraging but plausible hypothesis of what really happened — of the 1975 deposition of the Australian government by the Queen’s representative in Australia, the Governor-General.

It was a new perspective to me. … And yet, now you mention it …

Gough Whitlam was a great Australian. He passed just last month. He was Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975 which was when he got the Royal Elbow. His government instituted some basic civilized minimums: universal healthcare, equal pay, significant support for the arts, the end of conscription … and … free tertiary education.

Yes, that’s right. Let me just say that again: FREE college.

College is no longer free in Australia, nor in the UK, and not in the USA. But $1 trillion would pay for more than 20 million US college years.

If 20 million 6’ males (perhaps drawn proportionately from those nations currently engaged in warfare) were stacked lengthways end to end they would just about girdle the earth at the equator. That might not be a comfortable posture. But they wouldn’t be able to fight many wars.

Australian actress Cate Blanchett makes an eloquent thank you speech here.

Oh, and …

German universities have recently extended their free university education for German nationals to overseas students.

My college was paid by the British taxpayer (whose ranks I later joined). Personally, I would prefer that my tax coin went to fund education rather than trillions of dollars worth of armed conflict, or some forgotten media/security complexity.

Just saying …

I wonder what could be done with a trillion dollars (or two) in the way of: clean energy, organic vegetables, cleaning up the oceans, universal health care?

Our Town Is A Play Like No Other

Alicia Donnelan

Alicia Donnelan

 

Part slice-of-life, part tone-poem, shyly spiritual.

I play the Stage Manager in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production, a role like no other.

Well Paul Newman (whom I once had the privilege of playing for and meeting after the performance), and Spalding Grey, and Helen Hunt and numbers of distinguished others have played that Everyman, the Stage Manager. None of whom I am like. And yet we’re all actors.

And there is Dylan Thomas’s poetic masterpiece written in 1954, Under Milk Wood.

 

 

Do you know that poem by that good man of New England, Robert Frost, Trial by Existence?

Emiley Kiser and Joe Ferrarelli. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Emiley Kiser and Joe Ferrarelli. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

And from a cliff-top is proclaimed

The gathering of the souls for birth,

The trial by existence named,

The obscuration upon earth.

 

 

 

But For sleight-of-the-eternal in the guise of the everyday, Our Town has it, I think.

 

Emiley Kiser, Joe Ferrarelli and the company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Emiley Kiser, Joe Ferrarelli and the company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

What could be more quotidian than delivering milk or making breakfast or even getting married?

And what more metaphysical than:

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it, every, every moment?

– No, the saints and poets maybe. They do some.

 

Memory, Presence, the Ephemera that is theatre, the forward march of time …

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting …” — William Wordsworth

Or … “What’s that unforgettable line?” — Samuel Beckett

The company, opening tableau. Photo: Robin McGee

The company, opening tableau. Photo: Robin McGee

 

Kenneth Kay and Josh Stoughton. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Kenneth Kay and Josh Stoughton. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

“Some say that the art of the theatre, born for and bound to the moment, must, like a soap bubble or nocturnal meteor, dazzle, then burst to leave no trace. Free yourself from this dark thought! The very fact that your art is a child of fragrance, of the spirit, of a mood, of personality and imagination, and not something of wood or stone, or even a thought fixed in black and white, but a sprite forever swinging free on beauty’s vine, the fact that it lacks tangible form, renders it immune to the gnawing of time’s worm. And that is what life truly means: to live in memory …. to rest in people’s minds free of the mildew and rust of age …. and this lot has been granted to you.” — Henrik Ibsen

 

Dan Leonard, Patti Gardner, Emiley Kiser. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Dan Leonard, Patti Gardner, Emiley Kiser. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

 

“To live vividly in the memory of others seems to be a great thing. In terms of art, it always seems to me that there is something unique and electric about an artist connecting with an audience in live performance. The memory of these moments get parked in a different part of our mind. People speak of them with real reverence and clarity even many years after the applause has faded. To be remembered like that, in any aspect of life, is probably the nearest we have to time travel.”  Jonathan Pytell — pytell.com

 

 

“We all come here and we don’t know why. We all go in our turn and we don’t know where. And if you’re a bit better off, be thankful. And if you don’t get into trouble and make a fool of yourself, well be thankful for that, because you easily might.” — Henry Ormanroyd in When We Are Married by J B Priestly

The company at the funeral. Photo: Robin McGee

The company at the funeral. Photo: Robin McGee

Kudos to my fellow actors in our production like no other. Cast list here. It has been quite a ride. Company members have come and gone, rehearsals and performances have been fraught with incident. All borne with good humor and grace by that fine collection of human beings, the cast and crew of Our Town. Theatrical companies become families within three days. But in a company of this size we are a community.

The company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

The company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

“Backstage was chaos distilled into a very small space.” ― William Alexander, Goblin Secrets

Robin McGee

Robin McGee

Note to self: this is one where the less ACTING the better …

N.A.R. (No Acting Required)

— John Voight …

“The most exciting acting tends to happen in roles you never thought you could play.”

― John Lithgow …

“When you most succeed, you do so by seeming not to act at all.”

― Stella Adler, The Art of Acting