Shakespeare’s writing—all of it, poetry and plays—was repulsive to Tolstoy, who claimed that whenever he read Shakespeare he was overcome by “repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment.” As for “King Lear,” ranked among Shakespeare’s four greatest tragedies, he found it “at every step,” according to George Orwell, “stupid, verbose, unnatural, unintelligible, bombastic, vulgar, tedious and full of incredible events, ‘wild ravings,’ ‘mirthless jokes,’ anachronisms, irrelevancies, obscenities, worn-out stage conventions and other faults both moral and aesthetic.”
At the Cockpit Theatre in London: ‘His Last Cabaret’
Plus his poem, ‘When a Tower Falls,’ which carries on Heathcote Williams’s legacy, but in Erdos’s own key: When a society falls, what you notice first is the rubble, / Seen on TV, ghosted buildings give way to dust / Through bomb blast. Through the sudden heat and the haze, / You will see only the print of lost towers, fading with age: / Time’s fragmented, and your first tasted moments / Clash and mix badly with the afterburn and the bitter / Of what could well be your last. Of course, the world has seen / Towers fall through man made event, false god sanctioned, / But we seem to have made no true effort to rebuild or renew / What was lost. What we lack has been leased and sold again / To new builders who continue to falsify all around us / While tapping us still for the cost. …
So I was looking over some documents I had stored away years ago. (When you get old you start looking back, as everybody knows who has ever got old.) Well, I came across this fax from my great old friend, the late Carl Weissner. At first I couldn’t place what he meant by “O’s diary.” But then I realized that “O” was a reference to Orton, the playwright Joe Orton, whose plays I deeply admired and occasionally reviewed, and that I had sent Carl one of them, which is what set him off. As to the Raymond Chandler quotation Carl was thinking of using as a motto for a collection of magazine pieces, it turned out that he used it for his doomsday-lit novel “Death in Paris” instead, which he wrote online and which was published posthumously in paperback and as an ebook. Dear Carl, you are missed.
I see from the morning paper that Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen were on Broadway as surprise guests in an improv hip-hop comedy and that Mirren is quoted as saying, “We are so outside of our comfort zones.” Rodney Dangerfield couldn’t have said it better. The only other time they were on a Broadway stage together was in a Strindberg’s “Dance of Death”—let me take you back.
The Something Else Factor: Alison Knowles, Barbara Moore, Martha Wilson and I will be participating this evening in a panel about the glory days of Something Else Press, moderated by Hannah B. Higgins, at the Emily Harvey Foundation. It’s the first of four discussions organized by Christian Xatrec and Alice Centamore. The events are free. RSVP to email@example.com
Other works by Ligia Lewis include Sensation 1/This Interior (High Line Commission) (2019); so something happened, get over it; no, nothing happened, get with it (Jaou Tunis) (2018); Melancholy: A White Mellow Drama (Flax Fahrenheit, Palais de Tokyo) (2015); minor matter (2016), a poetic piece illuminated by red; Sorrow Swag (2014), presented in a saturated blue; $$$ (Tanz im August) (2012); and Sensation 1 (sommer.bar, Tanz im August -2011, Basel Liste- 2014).
The honorees at the 2019 NY Acker Awards made some terrific statements about the history of the Lower East Side and their commitment both to the community and to the arts, but a rap performance by Power Malu about the devastation in Puerto Rico, where people are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and from the Trumpistan government’s failure to provide proper help, was the most notable of the evening.
The Acker Awards, now in their sixth year, are a tribute given to members of the avant-garde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways. The award’s novelist namesake, in her life and work, exemplified the risk-taking and […]
“A woman trapped in domestic boredom moves toward a nervous breakdown. Institutionalized, she attempts to create a performance for a shortly expected visit from her children, but can find no words to express her feelings. She discovers she has no language of her own and recedes more and more into silence. Only her instrument can serve as an expression of her […]
Frank Scully, a long-forgotten journalist, was recalling the first time he met Luigi Pirandello in Paris in the cocktail lounge of a movie theater on the Champs Elysée. It was well before World War II, but he could have been writing about the here and now in Trumpistan. Pirandello was “on the lam from his […]
I’ve never met Jim. We’ve only corresponded by email about the strange case of Orwell’s typewriter. But I know that Jim Haynes is a man for all reasons — pleasure, food, sex, mind, books, theater, life — and that to meet him in person all you have to do is show up at his door […]
Composed by William Osborne for singer-instrumentalist, computer-controlled piano, and quadraphonic electronics, “Aletheia” is a music theater work featuring the solo performance of Abbie Conant as the title character. Osborne writes, “Aletheia is an opera singer who is delighted that she has been asked to perform for an opera gala. She only needs to go down […]
I don’t know what the late Kathy Acker would think of an award given in her name to non-conforming artists. I assume an experimental punk novelist and poet would like the idea of supporting artists who don’t conform. Although awards are besides the point especially for non-conformists, they do generate publicity. And unless I’m wrong, […]
William Cody Maher & Signe Mähler “two people who have been living together for a long time have learned how to live together with the objects and the thoughts and the feelings that they have had for each other and when the thoughts and feelings and the rooms and the objects change and even the […]
Jay Jeff Jones writes in London’s Theatre Record: Like [Jeff] Nuttall, Williams was multi-talented and constant in his espousal of utopian anarchy. He was as uncompromising as he was compassionate; an intellectual force that alternated poetry and playwriting with direct action for causes that included the homeless, battered women and the environment. His first major […]