- It's party time! Last Thursday was the opening night of the Delacorte's A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring ex-Utopian Martha Plimpton as Helena. Jennifer Ehle went along, and BroadwayWorld has some gorgeous photos of Ms Ehle, Ms Plimpton and an almost unrecognisably clean-shaven - and dashing, if I may say so - Jason Butler Harner! Scroll down the page and the pics are the 7th-13th ones in the list. (Thanks to the anonymous reader for the link).
Regarding the performance itself, Philly.com describes Ms Plimpton as 'superb', while the New York Magazine has a lovely photo of Ms Plimpton at the curtain call, plus some brief quotage relating to the apt Belvedere Castle setting:
"It's beautiful the way they've lit it up like this," Plimpton gushed, all pixielike. "It's a magical fairyland."
Journalist Justin Ravitz adds that "the misty, late-summer fête was the perfect setting to drunkenly talk about fairies, Central Park memories, romantic obsessions, performing en plein air, and iambic pentameter."
Jeremy McCarter of the same publication meanwhile argues that Helena is a part Plimpton has "long been fated to play":
[...] Plimpton gets Helena’s desperation as she chases after her beloved Demetrius, who goes to the woods seeking only Hermia. “Use me but as your spaniel,” she pleads, lovesick and funny. She also has a nice way with Helena’s speeches—the soliloquies which prove her to be more observant, more articulate, and just plain more interesting than the other lovers. [...]
Ben Brantley's opening night thoughts for the New York Times meanwhile can be found here.
- The other ex-Utopian in the news this week is the fantastic Billy Crudup, who - as Playbill announces - will be starring in the forthcoming film, Dedication:
Crudup — Tony winner of The Coast of Utopia — stars as Henry Roth, a New York children's book author who tells kids that Santa doesn't exist, and hates sleeping with anyone, including his girlfriend. He must lay on the floor, usually with heavy objects on top of him just to feel safe. His motto is, "Life is nothing but the occasional burst of laughter rising above the interminable wail of grief," according to a synopsis.
I don't know about you, but Shakespeare in Love's 'the natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster' came to my mind when I read that!
- Aside from the previously discussed relevance of the Toronto International Film Festival, The Envelope briefly discusses another Austen film that is among the TIFF's selection - The Jane Austen Book Club - starring Marc Blucas and Emily Blunt. Before you get too excited by the title however, this piece of cinema seems, according to its synopsis, much less Austen-related than the recent Becoming Jane:
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships -- both old and new -- begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.
Time will tell. In the meantime, release dates can be found here.
- For our Stoppard fans and followers, here is a little discussion of the forthcoming Broadway production of Rock 'n' Roll in Newsweek:
No contemporary playwright riffs on history like Tom Stoppard—and the journey from the 19th-century Russian revolutionaries of "The Coast of Utopia" to "Rock 'n' Roll" has a certain logic. Set in Prague and Cambridge University, from 1968 to the Velvet Revolution 30 years later, the "Rock" characters—dissidents, protesters and professors—debate communism and the transformative power of music. Rufus Sewell, Sinead Cusack and Brian Cox from the original London cast will star in the Broadway premiere.
Just to reiterate, previews begin on October 19 at the Bernard B Jacobs Theater and the official website can be found here. Cymbeline meanwhile, starring Martha Plimpton as Imogen, starts November 1st at the Vivian Beaumont, Lincoln Center. A piece relating to the aforementioned Stoppard Goes Electric can be found here. The piece is being shown Off-Off Broadway this September, and the article includes some quotage from Sir Tom.
- The Guardian meanwhile has a loosely-related piece on the storming of a theatre in Belarus last week, in which police arrested fifty people. Tom Stoppard is mentioned due to his links with the theatre and - as CBC.ca Arts report - the fact that he was due to attend that night.
The British playwright Tom Stoppard, who has supported the Free Theatre for several years, told the Guardian he learned of the raid through a text message sent by one of the theatre's directors, who was detained in the Belarussian capital, Minsk. Stoppard accused the authorities of a "grotesque" attack on civil rights.
"One had hoped that the days when artists were arrested for free expression were buried with totalitarian states, but Belarus is as close to a totalitarian state as you can get in Europe," he said.
Stoppard said the performers were "unaggressive young people who just feel that the official art available to them [in Belarus] is very limited".
- Last but not least, and on a lighter note, a scandalous comment to the New York Magazine by the phenomenal Trevor Nunn, who directed the London Coast of Utopia and is also Rock 'n' Roll-ing with Sir Tom this Fall:
On not catching The Coast of Utopia here after having directed it in England:
Having seen the play about 25 times in London, I didn’t feel that I was missing out on anything—especially since Tom told me he cut it quite a bit.
One begs to differ! Although I think Sir Trevor is so utterly brilliant that we may forgive him! Just!