Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"brilliant, sprawling...a rich pageant"

It has just come to my attention that the Lincoln Center Theater version of The Coast of Utopia, published by Grove Press, is scheduled to be released on October 10. The book, which includes all three plays in a single volume, will feature an introduction by Tom Stoppard. Here is how it is described at Amazon.com:

Tom Stoppard’s magnificent trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, was the most keenly awaited and successful drama of 2007. Now “Stoppard’s crowning achievement” (David Cote, Time Out New York) has been collected in one volume, with an introduction by the author, and includes the definitive text used during Lincoln Center’s recent celebrated run. The Coast of Utopia comprises three sequential plays that chronicle the story of a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I, and for whom the term “intelligentsia” was coined. Among them are the anarchist Michael Bakunin, who was to challenge Marx for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev, author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky; and Alexander Herzen, a nobleman's son and the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russia, who becomes the main focus of this drama of politics, love, loss, and betrayal. In The Coast of Utopia, Stoppard presents an inspired examination of the struggle between romantic anarchy, utopian idealism, and practical reformation in what The New York Times calls “brilliant, sprawling . . . a rich pageant.”
Go to Amazon.com to pre-order your copy today.

Speaking of The Coast of Utopia, the Chicago Sun-Times has an interesting article about "Broadway's Golden Guy," Jack O'Brien.

[...] Though O'Brien has won Tony Awards for directing "Hairspray" and "Henry IV," he seems most proud of this year's win for "The Coast of Utopia," Tom Stoppard's massive three-part epic steeped in Russian history and philosophy. He is known as a director actors love to work with.

"I find him wildly inspiring," said actor Ethan Hawke, who worked with O'Brien on "Utopia" and "Henry IV." "He's a master craftsman but he's not an intellectual. He doesn't approach things in a heady way but rather from the gut with a lot of compassion. And that's what made him such a good combination with Stoppard."

O'Brien is currently workshopping a new musical based on the Tom Hanks-Leonardo Dicaprio movie "Catch Me If You Can." Chicago is reportedly in the running as a tryout city if and when the musical gets to a pre-Broadway run. [...]

And, at BroadwayWorld, Jewishboy counts Jennifer Ehle's performance in The Coast of Utopia as one of the best performances he's seen.

Moving on from The Coast...

A short interview clip of Colin Farrell on the set of Pride and Glory can be found at Youtube.

And, here's a reminder to all Jane Austen fans that the movie Becoming Jane will be released in the US on August 3 (limited) and August 10 (nationwide). See IMDB for the international release dates and more information about the film. You can also find photos, trailers, cast information, etc at this website, and some on-the-set interviews and clips have been posted at Youtube. Also at Youtube, Bettielover posts another trailer and proclaims, "I long for Jennifer Ehle (the only possible Jane)." Ah, if only...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Umm, news shortage

Nothing new to report, but Santosh Sivan, director of Before the Rains, was recently interviewed by Suruchi Mazumdar. Here are a few of his responses, found at Express India:

What kind of exposure will Before the Rains get at the Toronto film festival?
It is a great platform. Festivals like Toronto open up American and European markets for films. Apart from that, the best of film critics assemble at the Toronto fest.

Does Before the Rains romanticise India?
It is set in the 1930s when roads were being constructed through hills for spice trade. The story revolves around a Britisher who falls in love with his Indian housemaid (played by Nandita Das). He seeks the help of his farm assistant (Rahul Bose), who belongs to the woman’s tribe. It isn’t a typical Raj film but more of a human drama — it is about the farm assistant and his dilemma.

Are you targeting the international audience?
I will definitely want the film to be released in India as well. The date will be announced at the festival. It’s not a big-studio production but we want to reach out to mainstream audience. I think Before the Rains has a lot of new things to offer to the Indian audience.

India Interacts has another article about Santosh Sivan with some interesting quotage:
[...] Jointly produced by Hollywood studio Echo Lake and Sivan, the film revolves around the planter, played by Linus Roache, his wife (Jennifer Ehle), his lover (Nandita Das) and his assistant (Rahul Bose). "I was approached by them with a script set in a colonial background. I thought it was a story that could be set in the hills of Kerala. I often wondered as a kid as to who made these long winding roads through thick jungle. So writer Cathy Rabin spent time researching and adapted it to those times," Sivan told IANS. Though the Hollywood producers wanted to shoot the film in South Africa, Sivan was very keen on Munnar. And he had a valid reason. He said: "It is one of the places that seems as if it's like the Brits left it, especially the Tata Estate and their buildings, and our sound recorder Paul Scwartz found it silent enough to do live sound."
. . .
"Before the Rains", which was earlier titled "Road to the Sky", is relevant in today's time, feels Sivan."Though it's a period film set in 1937, it has human drama. It has a very contemporary and compelling story," said Sivan, who had earlier made a period film with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan titled "Asoka".
. . .
On the release of "Before the Rains" in the country, Sivan said: "I guess it will be only after the Toronto festival that everything will be finalised." [...]
Just for kicks: Red Coast created her own Pride and Prejudice Awards on livejournal, and guess who won the prize for Best Elizabeth? Of course, of course.
A little more "sweet" than "arch," one could take the position that Jennifer Ehle never embodies Elizabeth's bite. That's valid. However, she wins by default, because her performance is the only one that I like (and I do like it a lot.) She's the only Elizabeth who I didn't want to hit over the head with a tire iron.
Here is a list of the movies that were eligible for the 'competition':

  • Pride and Prejudice, Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson, 1940
  • Pride and Prejudice, or First Impressions, Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul, miniseries, 1980
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, miniseries, 1995
  • Pride and Prejudice, Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale, 2003, which I will be calling LDS because most of the characters are Mormons
  • Bride & Prejudice, Aishwarya Rai, 2004. I'll be calling this B&P.
  • Pride & Prejudice, Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, 2005
Visit Red Coast's Livejournal to see her other picks and the reasoning behind them. And, if you're interested, there are also some video clips from each of the six movies.

Lastly, the August 1996 edition of Tatler Magazine, featuring Jennifer Ehle on the cover, is available for purchase at ebay.

Out of town until Sunday, everyone, so tata for a few days.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Before the Rains in more ways than one

Hence the mini-post!

  • IndieQuill briefly discusses Before the Rains director Santosh Sivan's previous work, including Asoka, Halo, Malli, and The Terrorist. It also notes that Before the Rains is Sivan's first English language film.

  • Tickets can now be purchased for the Toronto International Film Festival 2007. Here is the relevant section of the TIFF website. During the festival, some of the screenings will have same-day tickets available. Details will be available on the main website from September 5.

  • Playbill announces that Utopia's understudy extraordinaire is returning to NYC from November 1 to December 2. He will be performing in Off-Broadway's Crime and Punishment on East 59th Street, which is being produced by the Chicago Writers' Theatre:

Scott Parkinson, fresh from a run in the triumphant The Coast of Utopia trilogy at the Lincoln Center, reprises his brilliant performance as Dostoevsky's tortured Raskolnikov.

  • With the anticipated arrival of Rock 'n' Roll on Broadway, Variety.com have a short piece on London-to-New York transferals, which are divided into three categories: worse than original, equal to original and much better than original. Utopia is in the latter!

  • Lastly, for a very loosely-related bit of fun, evidence that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is not quite as well-known as one might have hoped!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Quickie Post

  • Reelz Channel is already stirring up some Oscar Buzz for Before the Rains and the other films that will be premiering at the Toronto Film Festival:
    The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF), which takes place in September, is heralded as the beginning of the annual Oscar race. That is to say, studios often save up the films they think will be contenders to release in the fall (they don't trust the Academy's memory to reach back more than a few months come nomination time), and often debut said films at the TIFF. [...]
  • At The Hindu, director and cinematographer Santosh Sivan addresses some of the difficulties involved in shooting a movie in Kerala and he briefly mentions Before the Rains.
    [...] Quizzed about his ongoing projects, Mr. Sivan said he had completed principal filming and post production for a Hollywood film ‘Before the Rains.’ Shot in Munnar, the film takes a look at life during the colonial era in 1937. “I have tried to maintain a flavour of Kerala in the film, which is all about human drama. The language is a mix of English and Malayalam,” he explained. ‘Before the Rains’ has been selected for the Toronto film festival in September this year. [...]
  • DNA India has a short article about Rahul Bose, Jennifer Ehle's co-star in Before the Rains.
    His social initiatives definitely get more news coverage than his movies. However, that doesn’t mean his acting skills go unnoticed, at least not among the international movie buffs. While Time magazine may have given Rahul Bose the recognition as ‘the superstar of Indian art house cinema’, a South Asian Arts festival ‘Masala!Mehndi!Masti!’ in Toronto has a retrospective planned of the actor this year. “I have two kinds of reactions. Firstly, I was flattered by the recognition that I was receiving, complimenting me on the various genres of cinema that I have been associated with. Secondly, it was bit strange to get a retrospective at 39, which means it’s a warning that at the most I have five more years to go before I retire!” says Rahul laughing. [...]
  • For Nostalgia's sake: Dennis Grunes has posted an in-depth review of Paradise Road, comparing it to other films such as Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun. Here is what he has to say about the cast:
    [...] The lead performance is also an asset; Glenn Close is excellent as Pargiter, an unpleasant person with an immense gift. Even better are Pauline Collins as Daisy “Margaret” Drummond, a missionary, and young Jennifer Ehle as Rosemary, the wife of a soldier, who recounts their courtship in one of the film’s most moving passages. [...]
  • Finally, to fans of the other J. Ehle, Press 53 has announced that they are auctioning a limited edition signed collector's copy of John Ehle's The Land Breakers. See their blog entry for more details or go to the Press 53 website to place your bid.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Secret of Utopia: artfully hidden zippers!

  • Precious little on the news front, so below are the Utopia-related bits from Catherine Zuber's interview about her work as a costume designer for Downstage Center.

About the process from idea to finished product:

[...] There were 600 costumes, and I did a sketch for every costume. ... I had to, I had to know what was going on. ... If I didn't have a sketch then I really would be lost. I needed to see where we were going with the images. Maybe if there were three soldiers, I'd do a sketch for one soldier, but for the most part, every idea had a sketch. ...

I choose all the fabrics, I supervise the construction, we have fittings in the costume shops, we have a muslin fitting which means it's in white, inexpensive material just to get the shape and fit, and then we go into...what they call the 'fashion fabric' and add the trims and it's a more complete structure. ...

On the necessary considerations when working in the theatre:

It [a costume] has to last quite a long time, and ... about Coast of Utopia, what's so fascinating is that people have to change clothes quite quickly, so we have these period garments, that really have a lot of historical accuracy to them, except they have a big old zipper down the back - artfully hidden - in order to make the quick changes. ... There are just certain times in a text when you really do need to make a change...when someone is moving through time, from summer to winter, if they've gotten older, or if they've got a change in their circumstances - that needs to be reflected in what they wear. ... In a play like The Coast of Utopia with so many scenes, and an ensemble company, there were so many zippers in those clothes! ...
On the closing of a production:
I love when it goes away actually and becomes a memory...I love it when it's a reality, but there's something about a project like Coast of Utopia - which is now closed - that's wonderful. ... What you take away from that experience, and the art form of that experience, is the memory. ... What you brought to all the audiences that went to see it, and how it is also a memory for them, is very moving for me - more so than I could ever hope to experience from doing fine art. [...]

Amazingly however, The Coast of Utopia was not Ms Zuber's largest project to date -on a production in Switzerland in 1999, she had 6000 costumes to deal with! вот те на! (Goodness gracious!)

  • Meanwhile another exciting project is soon to make an appearance. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - which opens in October - stars not only Rosemary Harris, but also Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne! Although this of course preceded Utopia, still, what are the chances!

Gregg Goldstein of Reuters has a little info on the project:

ThinkFilm has picked up all North American rights to Sidney Lumet's crime thriller "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. Hoffman, an Oscar-winner for "Capote," will play a drug addict who hatches a plan with his brother (Hawke) to rob a jewelry store owned by their parents (Finney, Rosemary Harris). As the web of betrayal extends to the wife of Hoffman's character (Tomei) and an accomplice, things begin to go terribly wrong.

The 83-year-old Lumet describes the film, which jumps back and forth in time, as a Rubik's Cube of unfolding plot twists and emotional relationships. Several indie distributors were circling the $10 million-plus feature, in part because of its Oscar winners (Lumet, Hoffman, Tomei) and nominees (Finney, Hawke, Harris), but the director said he felt most comfortable with ThinkFilm because of U.S. theatrical head Mark Urman.

The film opens October 17 in Los Angeles, New York and possibly Toronto before expanding to the top 40 urban markets.

  • Lastly, if you are suffering from Utopia Nostalgia and have already read Russian Thinkers from cover to cover, an interesting book called Motherland by Lesley Chamberlain includes yet another discussion of our favourite men: Herzen, Belinsky, Bakunin, Stankevich and Turgenev.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

News! 'Before the Rains' to debut in Toronto

It's definite! NewsPostIndia reports that Before the Rains will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, which will take place between September 6 and September 15. (Boree in Toronto anyone?!)

The world premiere of ace cameraman and film maker Santosh Sivan's first Hollywood film 'Before the Rains' will be held at the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival in September this year. Sivan told IANS that his film would be screened along with eight other films as part of two gala presentations and six special presentations at the festival, to be held from September 6 to 15. 'I am extremely delighted. More so because my film has Malayalam actors in it and will be screened on a world platform,' he said. 'Before the Rains' is a period film set in 1937 and has a cast that includes actors from the US, Britain and India. Malayalam actors Thilakan, Lal and Indrajit are in the movie. The film has been shot in the picturesque Munnar hill station of Idukki district and focuses on the dilemma of people who straddle two worlds. The US-based Echo Lake Productions, Adirondack Pictures and Santosh Sivan have produced the movie jointly. 'It is about a British planter (Linus Roache), who wants to commercially tap the produce of Kerala's high ranges, mainly spices, and he is assisted by an Indian (Rahul Bose). It also delves into relationships of his wife (Jennifer Ehle), his lover (Nandita Das) and his aide,' said Sivan. British actor Linus Roache who attracted media attention in the BBC television series 'Seaforth' (1994) has gone on record saying that his work in 'Before the Rains' is his best ever in his two decades in the film industry.

The Hollywood Reporter has a bit more information about the other films that will be shown at the festival. Note that Michael Clayton is among them; it will be making its North American debut there. The Star has a short article about George Clooney's role in Michael Clayton, and the Variety.com blog has a preview of the movie (courtesy of YouTube) and a description of all the films that will be taking part in the festival. Here is how they describe Before the Rains:

[...] The English language debut of acclaimed Indian director Santosh Sivan (THE TERRORIST, ASOKA), set in 1930s India. When a married British colonialist (Linus Roache) is caught having an affair with his beautiful housemaid (Nandita Das), he convinces his trusted farmhand (Rahul Bose) - a member of the housemaid's tribe - to help find a solution to the potentially deadly situation. [...]

The Indian Express also has an article about A. Streekar Prasad, the film editor of Before the Rains. He has this to say about director Santosh Sivan:

[...] “Santosh, high on energy and bursting with ideas, has a penchant for experimentation,” says Sreekar. “He comes up with six different ideas in one go and lets the editor play around.” [...]

In other news, the Drama Desk winners, which were announced last May, will be receiving their trophies at a cocktail reception on July 17th. Tom Stoppard, Jack O'Brien, Martha Plimpton and many other members of the Utopian gang will be among them. See Playbill for a list of the nominees and winners.

The New York Sun has an article about the potential the internet has for building theater audiences. It makes mention of The Coast of Utopia website and blog that were created by Lincoln Center Theater:

[...] The nonprofit theater world is looking closely at the possibilities the Web offers, too. The director of marketing at Lincoln Center Theater, Linda Mason Ross, said that to attract young audiences to Christopher Shinn's "Dying City," which played in the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater earlier this year, LCT experimented with advertising on Web sites such as theonion.com, thelmagazine.com, and hopstop.com. LCT also created a custom Web site for Tom Stoppard's "Coast of Utopia," which included a blog by a theater critic. Ms. Ross said the company would also be redeveloping its main site in the coming year, in order to offer more information about its productions, with video and other multimedia features.

(What? No mention of our wee blog?!)

And, one more little tidbit: According to the New York Social Diary, Rosemary Harris was part of a starry crowd that attended the premiere of Away From Her at a Cinema Society screening. Scroll down towards the bottom of the article to see a photo of her.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Engrossing Blinibake

  • Mark Lawson of BBC Radio 4's Front Row interviews Tom Stoppard amid Rock 'n' Roll rehearsals. See 'Editor's Pick' on the right-hand side or scroll down to the download and podcast links. Topics discussed include Rock 'n' Roll, Czechoslovakia, Englishness, parallel autobiographies, and how a play is like a diagram on the back of an envelope.

  • More thoughts, this time from Playbill, on Mark Bennett's incidental music score and its ability to recapture 'the dizzyingly-supreme heights' of the production:

[...] To call this incidental is inapt; the music, in Jack O'Brien's New York production of Tom Stoppard's monumental trilogy, was as integral to the whole as the sets and lighting and performances. Stoppard and O'Brien, both, offer Bennett encomiums of praise in the liner notes, and they are well deserved. The rewards of listening to The Coast of Utopia will perhaps be greater for fans of motion picture soundtracks than standard Broadway cast albums; there are no songs here, after all. (Well, not quite; Felicity LaFortune sings "La Marseilles," and joins David Pittu for three Italian arias. ...) But people who like to listen to show tunes, and only show tunes, are advised that there are none here.

The most famous incidental music from plays, perhaps, are the scores by Felix Mendelssohn for A Midsummer's Night Dream and Edvard Grieg for Peer Gynt. (Shakespeare, Ibsen, Stoppard. . . . interesting combination.) In both earlier cases, the numerous music cues were far more accessible once joined into suites. That might well be the case with The Coast of Utopia as well; listening to 38 tracks — many less than a minute long — makes for a somewhat disjointed experience. Even so, Mark Bennett's original music for The Coast of Utopia is quite as engrossing as the whole eight-and-a-half hour clambake. Or, rather, blinibake.

  • Judith Newmark of STLtoday discusses the relevance that The Coast of Utopia and Spring Awakening have for the modern world:
[...] Historical plays sometimes speak most eloquently about the present - and the future. With their exceptional backward view, they position us to note the key, cultural transitions that we might have missed reading our daily papers. That's precisely what Sater and Sheik, in a musical, and Stoppard, in plays, put us in position to see in 2007. Both of the acclaimed productions doff a hat to old-style conventions: charming period costumes, lowly serfs silently schlepping furniture in "Coast," autocratic schoolmasters berating their pupils in "Spring Awakening."Furthermore, both plays acknowledge their periods' mores. The brainy aristocrats of "Coast" ice-skate, attend balls and, to change the world, write newspaper articles. The teenagers of "Spring Awakening" become object lessons in the tragic consequences of an unplanned pregnancy or of a kiss between boys. There's no notion of therapy or tolerance; calamitous action breeds calamitous consequence.

... Herzen's intellectual sons fomented the Russian revolution, an
event that, regardless of its hideous consequences, played a large part in shaping our modern world.

... In both plays, the characters are moderns, almost by definition. We know who they are and what they are worried about, even when we encounter them, onstage, in worlds that ended long ago. But they still sound and look like us, albeit in different clothes.

... That's precisely the strength of theatrical art. It doesn't need to be real to be true. It may even seem truer if it hasn't been real for a long time."The Coast of Utopia" and "Spring Awakening" both profit from that gap. Their remote, historic underpinnings allow a contemporary audience to keep its distance and, simultaneously, to recognize that the characters onstage — whether nascent revolutionaries burning for an egalitarian society or nascent flower-children burning for each other — live very close to home. It's just that smart theater artists have had the wit to change the addresses.
  • Rock 'n' Roll is now up on BBC Radio 3, but only for another six days. Listen out for Bill Paterson of Melissa and Sunshine fame as Max. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is scheduled for Sunday July 15, 21:40-23:30 (British time) on Radio 3. Until then, Night Waves (available for three more days) explores the play's origins and legacy with those that have been involved in bringing it to the stage, including the director of the very first production, Derek Goldby.

  • To mark the fantastic Billy Crudup's birthday, Hollywood.com are drawing our attention to their biography of him, which lists his professions as 'Actor, waiter and parking valet'. Nice to know Tony Award winners started somewhere. Unless acting earns one even less roubles than we thought...Billy's blinibakes, anyone?!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"

Martha Plimpton has just been cast as Helena in Shakespeare in the Park's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. (A brilliant bit of casting if you ask me!) According to Playbill, "She replaces the previously announced Missi Pyle, who has withdrawn due to a scheduling conflict." The play will begin performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on August 7th and continue through September 9th. See Playbill for more details or visit the Public Theater site for more information about Shakespeare in the Park.

Boston's Edge has posted a lovely review of The Coast of Utopia CD.

[...] Bennet’s narrative progressions (Moscow) are surging dervishes reminiscent of Michael Nyman. They come complete with richly painted cultural markers, and with descriptive saloon pianissimos (The Telescope). Some old-salt sea melodies ("Riverboat Farewell") float in and out of this score, with the barnacled tonal poetry of, say, a Tom Waits, but the seafaring ambience never becomes thematically bloated. The regional ballades of songs like "Bella Nice" contrast the straightforward theatrical fanfares of "Paris," and vocal histrionics of "The Revolution" and "Le Marsailles" retreats to the tragic drum retreats of "The Failed Uprising," with the scarred vocal fading away. This recording has many interesting moments, and if you were lucky enough to see the plays, it is undoubtedly more than a show souvenirs. [...]

For more Utopian nostalgia, read Katherine's Fourth of July post, dedicated to Alexander Herzen. She includes some good quotage.

Press 53 has just republished The Free Men, John Ehle's book about the Civil Rights Movement. The Legal History Blog posts the following description of the book:

[...] In The Free Men, John Ehle presents an intensely emotional issue in astonishingly balanced prose. Out of print for four decades, it is now reprinted in order to shed light on an obscured portion of North Carolina’s, and America’s, history. The Free Men is a portrait of those men and women, both young and old, who were caught up in a struggle greater than any individual to achieve equal rights for all. [...]

Finally, for lack of any other news, here is an article about Jane Austen from last week's Newsweek.

Monday, July 02, 2007

You say Kakegoe, I say Curtain Call

Just a few little tidbits today:

  • Zachary Pincus-Roth of the New York Times has a very interesting piece on the uniquely American phenomenon of entrance applause. Whilst flattering, the consensus seems to be that it is a hindrance theatrically. While most of the discussion centers around well-known faces prompting applause, The Coast of Utopia is singled out as an example where the set was the cause of the claps:

[...] Billy Crudup and Ethan Hawke did not usually get it when entering amid an ensemble in “The Coast of Utopia.” But the sweeping opening of the first play in the trilogy — when an ocean effect of swirling curtains is transformed into a stage full of serfs — frequently elicited applause. [...]

There is also mention of the Japanese tradition of kakegoe, whereby anything resembling a curtain call is replaced by sporadic shouting at the cast throughout the performance. The Coast of Utopia without a curtain call? Not a happy thought indeed!

  • Cinematical has a (little) more info on Ethan Hawke's directorial debut with Jonathan Marc Sherman's Things We Want:

It's a dark comedy about three brothers who have to deal with the suicides of both their parents. The production will be part of New Group's 2007-08 season, with previews commencing on October 7.

Writer Monika Bartyzel is curious about how he'll handle directing the stage, but has a 'sneaking suspicion that he could whip up some great theater'. Me too.

  • The links are up for BBC Radio 4's broadcasts of Albert's Bridge and Arcadia. They are only available for seven days after broadcast, taking us up to (depending on where you are) 5/6 and 6/7 July respectively. BBC listeners seem to be getting very excited about all the Stoppardian attention; one calling Arcadia 'the best thing Radio 4 has done for ages'. Happy listening!

  • According to All That Chat, Catherine Zuber's Downstage Center interview will be available as streaming audio and podcast from www.americantheatrewing.org beginning Monday afternoon today, July 2.

Three-time Tony Award-winning costume designer Catherine Zuber talks about the process of costume design and the nature of the collaboration between designers and a director; explains how she chooses her projects -- and how many she takes on each year; recounts the challenge of creating 600 costumes for the Lincoln Center Theatre production of The Coast of Utopia; describes the development of the costumes for the multiple incarnations (and changing cast members) of The Light in the Piazza; shares how she made the career transition from photographer to designer; and dispenses some tips to aspiring designers about how to develop their skills.

  • Should your rouble balance be on the high side at the moment, eBay is auctioning a package for the opening night of Rock'n'Roll in New York this Fall. The winner receives two tickets for the performance plus two cast party passes to the post-show shenanigans. The current bid is $985, but all proceeds do go to The Actors' Fund. You have until July 5 to get bidding.

  • Last but not least, a very Happy Birthday to the genius that is Mr Tom Stoppard, who turns 70 tomorrow, July 3, and to the fabulous Billy Crudup, who turns 39 on July 8. S dniom roždenija!