Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Family Affair

It looks like Ivanov is going to be a bit of a Bennet family reunion. According to EDP24, Lucy Briers will also be appearing in the play this fall. (Thanks muchly for the tip, Janet R). Hopefully the Donmar will soon be announcing the entire cast so we can see if any other Bennets/Darcys/Wickhams/Lucases/Collinses will be joining them. The relevant quotage is as follows:
[...] She's bright, attractive, confident and well able to make her own way in the business. But she admits that being given a leading part in one of television's big successes gave her career a very useful lift-off.

She was Mary Bennett [sic] in Pride and Prejudice - playing opposite Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle - the one with the glasses and the dodgy singing and piano playing. In fact, Briers plays flute and piano rather well and has a good soprano voice.

I'd only been out of drama school a couple of years and it was one of my first jobs. To work with people like Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle - and learning so much from them - was fantastic.

Recently, she also figured in the BBC 1980s-style detective series, Ashes to Ashes, and shortly she's off to Broadway in her own one-woman show, Some Kind of Bliss. Then it's back to the London stage to appear with Kenneth Branagh in Chekhov's great work Ivanov. [...]
It also looks like Stanford University is the happening place for Utopia fans at the moment. The Stanford News Service reports that there will be a two-day celebration comparing the Broadway and Moscow productions of The Coast of Utopia later this week. Reasons you should attend if you are in the vicinity: 1) it is free 2) Tom Stoppard is going to be there 3) Jack O'Brien is going to be there 4) there will be video clips from both productions 5) the first four reasons are reason enough!

[...] Steven Lee, a dissertation fellow at the Humanities Center who is an "American-Russian comparativist," saw both the American and Russian productions of The Coast of Utopia. Under the aegis of the Humanities Center and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, he has scheduled two days of events this week celebrating and comparing the Broadway and Moscow productions, with staged readings, guest speakers, presentations and panel discussions. All events, which will take place at the Humanities Center, are free and open to the public.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, students from the Drama Department will produce and perform a staged reading of one scene from The Coast of Utopia. After the reading, Alexei Borodin and Tony Award-winner Jack O'Brien, the directors of Utopia in Moscow and New York, respectively, will compare several video clips—selected by Stoppard himself—from the two productions. Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater, will lead a comparative discussion of featured scenes.

On Friday, May 23, an all-day symposium at the Stanford Humanities Center will comprise four sessions. The first will introduce the trilogy through images and video of the productions, as well as overviews of public and critical responses. The second will put the Stoppard script in the context of Russian history post-socialism and the many other depictions of Herzen and his cohort. The third, featuring talks by the two directors, will examine the formal aspects of the play and its productions. The final session will juxtapose the New York and Moscow productions to consider visions of utopia and post-utopia today. [...]

See SiCa Stanford for the schedule of events.

Back to the Rains:
  • First, check out these fantastic fan reviews of Before the Rains at the Chat extension and the Forum.
  • There are also nine "Readers' Reviews" of the movie at the The New York Times. Here is a (somewhat selective) sampling of those:

    ~A visually beautiful, well written, acted and directed film. I saw the film at its TFF premiere. It's a great addition to the Merchant Ivory repertoire. Linus Roache always does great work with complex characters. Jennifer Ehle still does the best British accent (by an American). The Indian actors were really good as well. No stereotypes here. The symbolism in the story is not overwrought, the locales are breathtaking. Definitely worth seeing.- ilona81

    ~Before the Rains. As noted by others, this is a remarkably beautiful film, by a major cinematographer. Nandita Das was enormously compelling, beautiful, conveyed an uncommon realism in her portrayal of the servant.- offthemap0

    ~a visually dense film. i enjoyed it. not commercial in the american sense--the cinema was mostly empty. the actors were sterling. sometimes j. ehle;s accent would slip but it hardly mattered. the queerest thing about the film is that it is a sad story that doesn't leave you sad but hopeful. i am not sure the film is really about colonialism although the parallels between sexual exploitation and resource exploitation of india during the raj are there to be seen. this film is its own dreamworld--that's its attraction.- cinnie7

  • The Hollywood Reporter crunches some numbers for us:
    The distributor's [Roadside Attractions] drama "Before the Rains" expanded to 28 locations from a previous eight and grossed $105,308, or an acceptable $3,761 per site, with a cume of $174,015.
  • Read about the "enlightened" Linus Roache at The Washington Post, where he says:
    [...] [Before the Rains] is not just about his [Henry's] soul being dead. I represent the British Empire -- that arrogance and decline. . . . And the movie's got a lot of hope for the future, and it's a rich cultural tapestry of that time. It's very multilayered.
  • Finally, visit Mumbai Mirror for news of Santosh Sivan and John Malkovich.

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