Sunday, October 08, 2006

One minute left to Sunday

First up, there's a review of Possession at Book/DVD Guzzler. Nothing Ehle-specific, but it's generally enthused. Second, there are not one but two posts up at Martha Plimpton's blog, from the pre-tech runthrough and tech rehearsal. She's hugely excited and the show sounds super duper cool. So whip out your credit cards and remember to report back!

Hold on, there's more. Gotham Magazine interviews Billy Crudup, who gets points for saying "discombobulating" in a sentence.

G: Well, your moustache looks great. How are people reacting to it?
BC: It’s for the play. All of my friends are giving me tons of shit, which is totally understandable. And people I’ve never met before are thinking of me as the “moustache guy.” It comes in red… it’s awkward all around. If I weren’t playing a character who needed an awkward moustache, it wouldn’t be there.

G: How long will The Coast of Utopia run?
BC: Six-months. The performance schedule is incredibly complex. It’s a trilogy: Once we finish rehearsing the first play and put it up, we perform it for a month, then start rehearsals during the day for the next play. After a month of that, we have four performances of the first play, two performances of the second, and gradually build up to where we’re alternating. Eventually, we’ll be performing the first two plays and rehearsing the third during the day.

G: That’s a lot….
BC: Then we have a couple of days when we do all three in a row.

G: Isn’t that an extremely intimidating concept to tackle?
BC: Actors get so few opportunities to do something ballsy, and all the actors involved are excited about the prospect of this kind of marathon. There are only three Saturdays in February when we do all three, and I’m only in the first two. So, comparatively speaking, The Pillowman—which was only two and a half hours long—was much more difficult for me.

G: How is the New York theater community going to fare, committing to nine hours of Stoppard in Russia?
BC: Right now we’ve got people spending 24 hours just to see three hours of Brecht [the playwright’s Mother Courage, in Central Park]. Now, we don’t have Meryl Streep, for there’s only one Meryl Streep, but I suspect there are enough theater geeks in New York and the tri-state area to fill up three days’ worth of shows. There are the fans of Russian literature, fans of live theater, fans of Stoppard, and then all of those people who want to say they saw it.

G: Did you see the London production?
BC: No, I didn’t get over there for it.

G: Well, you didn’t know you had to.
BC: Exactly. And, actually, had I known I was going to do the play, I probably still wouldn’t have gone and seen it, because you can’t help but be influenced by another performance. For something like this, when I’m the second person playing the part, I don’t want to have a context. It’s different when playing Hamlet or Othello, when context is really important. For newer plays, I don’t see the benefit.

G: This is your opportunity to put a stamp on it.
BC: The director, Jack O’Brien, is fantastic. He did one of my favorite Tom Stoppard plays, The Invention of Love. He did such an incredible job of focusing the audience’s attention on the emotional journey of the characters. And he kept all the literary humor for the people who would enjoy it, but didn’t let it get in the way of the movement of the play—and that’s really important for the play we’re about to do now.

G: What do you think of Stoppard?
BC: When you’re a student, studying acting, you study the great actors [and writers]… and one of the great contemporary writers is Stoppard. You can’t avoid him. And, sentimentally, the first big production I was a part of in New York was Arcadia, and he was there for it… and that play really launched my career. I have an enormous amount of gratitude for that part he wrote. [more]

Also there's a bit from Tom Stoppard at the New Yorker Festival via New Yorkology:

"I've done quite a lot to the text," he said.

"It's my first chance to react to the play and do what I would have done if I wasn't up against it all the time," Stoppard said. "There was never a time to step back."

"'The Coast of Utopia,' which I used to refer to as my nine-hour Russian Trilogy," Stoppard said. "I now refer to it as my eight-and-a-half-hour Russian Trilogy -- pass it on."

Found a site with audition "sides" for Utopia which are possibly from the revised script (judging from the "US" suffix after some characters). Payment required though. Oh and for something completely random, there's a review of Pride and Prejudice en français.

Tout était réuni pour faire une adaptation réussie. Tout d'abord, le choix des acteurs. Colin Firth est imbattable en gentleman aussi élégant que fier et hautain. Il possède le style idéal pour se faire à la fois haïr et respecter par la "vive et ironique" Elizabeth Bennet. Cette dernière est jouée par Jennifer Ehle, qui parvient à transcrire avec beaucoup de justesse le mépris profond mais toujours contrôlé (en public du moins) que lui inspire Mr Darcy.

Meanwhile, we're recruiting for a third blog editor. Yours truly will be away for exams and travel rather soon, so seriously, if you're interested, pretty please drop off an email to It's not rocket science and you need only commit to 2-3 days a week. An extra hand on board for The Coast of Utopia coverage would be muchly appreciated.

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