Since 2008, a recording has been making the rounds on YouTube of Bertolt Brecht singing ‘Die Moritat von Mackie Messer,’ or what’s more commonly known as “Mack the Knife” in English, a song Kurt Weill and Brecht composed for The Threepenny Opera, which premiered in Berlin in 1928.[...]
“Merdre,” the very first word spoken in Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, needs no introduction. When it first opened — and closed — on stage in 1896, it didn’t have to do much more than that to get its audience worked up.[...]
I don’t quite know why I instinctively associate David Bowie with Bertolt Brecht, but maybe the city of Berlin has something to do with it. The English rock star moved there in 1976 and (in collaboration with Brian Eno) recorded his influential “Berlin trilogy” of albums — Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger.[...]
Are your idle moments spent inventing imaginary conversations between strange bedfellows? The sort of conversation that might transpire in a pickup truck belonging to Samuel Beckett, say, were the Irish playwright to chauffeur the child André Rene Roussimoff—aka pro wrestler André the Giant—to school?
Too silly, you say? Nonsense.
1961 saw the television debuts of The Bob Newhart Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Yogi Bear, and …um, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, famously described by theater critic Vivian Mercier as “a play in which nothing happens, twice.[...]
Other than Romeo and Juliet and possibly Hamlet, Shakespeare doesn’t exactly lend himself to the elevator pitch. The same creaky plot devices and unfathomable jokes that confound modern audiences make for long winded summaries.
Not to say it can’t be done.
Before he directed Citizen Kane, Orson Welles was already famous. He was an enfant terrible of that new medium radio — one of his plays, an adaptation of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, famously terrified the nation in 1938. He was also known as a wunderkind of the stage.[...]
Stephen Sondeim’s “Send in the Clowns,” like the much mangled “Memory” from the much maligned musical CATS, has weathered any number of ill-advised interpretations.[...]
Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, men and women alike made scrapbooks as a way of processing the news. As Ellen Gruber Garvey shows in her book Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, the practice crossed lines of class and gender. Everyone from Mark Twain and Susan B.[...]
Long before he played Gandalf or Magneto, Sir Ian McKellen was known as one of the finest stage actors in England. A stand out in the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Ian played the lead in its 1974 staging of Doctor Faustus and its 1977 staging of Macbeth.[...]