September, 2012


After the rewarding--but somewhat fatiguing--Round of Opera Festivals in Mittel Europa, I have been advised to devise a simpler, shorter way of commenting on New Shows seen in & around New York City.

This is Imperative--not only because I will soon be 84 years old & need some Time to stop & take a Breath--but also because I do not even know if Anyone is reading these Reports anyway…

More to the Point: ever since I fell on my Head in San Francisco, I have been impelled to write down whatever I remember of the Past & of People I have known--most of whose Spirits are now resident somewhere in that Universal Void that defies any Orthodox Religious Explanation or Promise of Afterlife…

So, I will continue to cite New Productions--even of Old Works--with the Five Star System, followed by a Brief Comment, if it seems merited

Formerly, the Comments preceded the Stars & tended to grow longer & longer, as I felt it only fair to Honor the Contributions of so many Hard Working Theatre Artists.

But You already know who you are…

Interspersed with the Show Notes will be Brief Observations on Museum & Gallery Shows to which I have been invited--even if most of them No Longer have Muffins & Coffee


Shangri La Is Not Way Off in the Himalayas! No! It Is Just Across the River in New Jersey!

Smoking Cigarettes is Not All Bad!

The Duke Fortune that was amassed from Generations of Addicted Smokers not only made Duke University possible, but also Doris Duke's Lavish Estate, Shangri La, now Open to the Public over in New Jersey!

If you do not have an Automobile to motor over to the Estate, you can nonetheless Check It Out on Columbus Circle.

MAD Museum now has an entire floor dedicated to Huge Color Photos & Plans of the Duke Mansion, tastefully crammed with Islamic Art.

Some of Doris' Trophies are also on view…

If you live far off from the NY Metropolitan Area, there's always the MAD Website!


Columbus Shafted on His Pillar: Art Installation Atop Scaffolding…

If you can get to Columbus Circle, also check out the Heavily Scaffolded Statue of Chris Columbus.

Initially, it looked as though the City or the Italian American Community was going to do some Restoration or Preservation on the Statue & Column

Now, unfortunately, you cannot even SEE the Weathered Column or the Discoverer of The Americas!

Instead, Workers have constructed a White Box on top of the Scaffolding.

It is said to contain a Sofa & other Amenities that this Famous Genovese might want to use, were he not already stuck on his Pillar

Are we Enhancing Manhattan with Dumb But Costly Art Installations?


Yoga Fun & Body Prints Way Out in Jackson Heights! Suran Song & The Laundromat Project!

From Mid Manhattan, to get out to Jackson Heights--in Mysterious Queens--you can take the Q32 or the #7 Subway, which is Elevated by the time it reaches the Heights.

You might want to do this if you'd like a Free Yoga Class from Suran Song, but this Goodie is only available on Wednesday Mornings, from 8 to 9am

Otherwise, you can see her Yoga Tour Flags inside the JH Laundromat--@85 15 37th Ave--as Song is 2012 Create Change Artist in Residence at the Laundromat Project.

She also creates Yoga Body Prints & Mandalas with Queens Neighbors!

Your Roving Arts Reporter no longer goes out to Queens, even to see the Noguchi Garden, as it is just too difficult with the Cane & all that.

But it's thanks to the Internet that Suran Song was able to share this with me. So why not check her out at


At Galerie St Etienne: Jane Kallir Discusses Problems of Authentication & Shows New Treasures.

Even if you cannot make the journey to West 57th Street to see Jane Kallir's new show of works by Max Beckman, Grandma Moses, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Sue Coe, Egon Schiele, & Käthe Kollwitz, you may well want a copy of her fascinating Essay on Problems of Forgeries & Authentication!

[E Mail Jane Kallir at]

Just imagine anyone trying to Forge a Jackson Pollock?

Well, it has been done & maybe even Pollock wouldn't know the difference

Kallir explains that some Artist's Foundations that have formerly Authenticated Art Works by their Titular Talents have found themselves embroiled in Costly Lawsuits, when some One Percenters have bought Art on their say so, which later proved to be Fakes

Galerie St. Etienne--just as all the other important Museums & Galleries in far off Vienna, where it originated--is also celebrating Gustav Klimt's 150th Anniversary!


Horton Foote's HARRISON, TX [***]

•Three Reasons Why Texans Moved to Austin & Dallas…

This Triad of Horton Foote Mini Dramas plays without a Real Intermission.

So, before long, one wishes he could move to Dallas. Or even Pacific Palisades

But what would a Horton Foote Festival be without his Daughter, Hallie Foote, to embody the most Cloying & Annoying Characteristics of Southern Charm & Wistfulness, removed from Memphis or Atlanta to the Lone Star State?

A 1928 Blind Date is a Graciousness Disaster.

Even if you are a Pillar of the Community & a Lions Club Member, you are not safe from a Young Man who has lost his Right Arm while Ginning Cotton for you!

As for The Midnight Caller, this brought back to me the Worst Memories of Operating a Boarding House in Grass Valley, CA.

Harrison, TX, wasn't much different, either in 1928 or in 1952


Is That Red Haired Woman Being Strangled by All Those Tentacles: Yayoi Kusuma at the Whitney!

No! That Undulating Pattern in all those Amazing Ads, when seen on the Whitney Walls, is actually a Vertical Pattern, representing Trees

Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan in 1929, but it was in Manhattan of the Turbulent 1960s that she became well known as a Pop Artist, centrally involved in Happenings, & always Exploring New Materials & Ways to Make Art.

She is known for her Polka Dots & for her Stuffed White Phalluses, some of which later grew so long that they sprouted from a Roomful of White Boxes like Strange White Snakes.

Some Cynical Art Critics occasionally deride Newcomers at the Whitney--or Old Timers at MoMA--for forgetting to Take Their Meds.

In 1977, Kusama voluntarily interned herself in a Psychiatric Institution where she still resides, still Making Art & Innovating…

The amazingly Wide Range of Kusama's Art Experiments--as well as her Extensive Documentation of hr Art & Life--are fascinating.

You need to see all this for Yourselves--if possible. But it's only on view until 30 September.

But you can check out the Whitney Website for more on Kusama.

There is also a small Black Booklet outlining her Life & Work, which may be On Line. Or you could have the Whitney mail you a copy?


Andy Warhol at the Met: Campbell's Soup for the Arts Press!

Almost the Best Thing about the Press Preview at the Met Museum for REGARDING WARHOL: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years was the Campbell's Soup Goodie Bag, containing Four Cans of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup, with colorful Vintage Labels, designed by Andy!

These were available to The General Public only at TARGET Outlets in September--while the Supplies lasted…

Campbells also provided a Tasters Luncheon in the Met's Trustees Chambers to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Andy's Iconic Artwork: 32 Campbell's Soup Cans.

By the way, although some Lines of Soup have been discontinued, today Campbells boasts over 80 Different Condensations!

Heinz has only 57 Varieties, by comparison.

Yes, Virginia, it all began way back in 1962, with 32 of those Images on sale in a Gallery in LA. But only four of them sold, & for only $100 apiece!

The Rest Is, as they say, History!

When I was writing for Andy's Interview, I sometimes wondered whether some of those Over Priced Silk Screen Prints might one day end up in a Garbage Can?

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

[Speaking of Garbage Cans--or Muni Trash Baskets--on Sundays, I'd often see both Andy & JM Basquiat rummaging through the Rubbish at the Corner of Madison & East 71st Street: My Block! Did Andy ever find any Abandoned Cookie Jars there?]

Andy didn't actually make the Prints himself. He designed them.

Sometimes, he didn't even Sign some of them, leaving the task to Gerry Malagna or someone else at The Factory

He paid $25 per Published Feature in Interview, by the way.

The current Met Show uses Andy as an Excuse to raid the Storage Vaults for Scores of Works by Other Artists, the Hook being that Andy was responsible for the Pop Art Movement.

Well, his Success certainly was an Enabler, but it seems unfair to blame Andy for Jeff Koons or Cindy Sherman

Some of the Works on View must have been bought Long, Long Ago by Henry Geldzahler, who was trying to compete with MoMA in covering Contemporary Trends.

The Trendies are all here! By their Distinctive Styles ye shall know them!

Still, strolling through the seemingly endless Succession of Pop Art Chambers, one often had the Sense of a Bad Day at the Whitney

For some strange reason, Regarding Warhol is closing on New Year's Eve.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!


Double Header at the Jewish Museum:

Crossing Borders: Mss. From the Bodleian Libraries…

Even if you have No Interest in Religions or Their Sacred Texts, the Remarkably Scripted & Lavishly Illuminated Codexes now on view at the Jewish Museum & on loan from Oxford's Bodleian Library are worth a trip up Fifth Avenue.

This impressive Exhibition documents the change from Scroll Writing to the crafting of Magnificently Calligraphed Codices which could be Read on Both Sides, unlike Hebrew & Greek Scrolls.

These Manuscripts--largely bound in Ancient Volumes--are in Hebrew, Arabic, & Latin, showing how Sacred Writings & even Philosophical & Scientific Treatises were preserved & passed into Western Culture by both Scholars & Theologians.

On View, among many Bodleian Treasures, is the Kennicott Bible, teeming with Lavish Hebrew Illuminations from Medieval Spain.

Curiously--given current Low Opinions of Arab/Muslim Culture--it is thanks to Arab Scholars that the Greek & Roman Texts we now study so earnestly were preserved & passed on.

In Muslim Spain--before the Great Catholic Majesties of Queen Isabella & King Ferdinand decreed the Expulsion of Jews & Muslims in 1492--Arab Scholars were able to share with Jewish Scholars, who were able to translate such Important Works into Latin, stimulating the Renaissance!

Toledo was a Great Center of this kind of Learning.

It was also--thanks to Muslim Respect for Scholarship & Religious Tolerance--a City where No Man's Religion was an excuse for Burning Him at the Stake

The Morgan Library might want to copy the iPad Innovation in this Exhibition.

At the Morgan, you can only look at Two Pages of the Gutenberg Bible, under glass. That's also true of any of its Magnificent Illuminated Manuscripts.

But, at the Jewish Museum, an iPad right beside a famed Manuscript permits you to scan through its pages!

In addition to all the Marvelous Manuscripts, Oxford University has also lent the stunning Plimpton Portrait of Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen


IZHAR PATKIN: The Messiah's glAss

This Tulle Hung Walled & Glassy Quasi Ark of The Covenant cum Decapitated Donkey with Glass Testicles Art Installation somehow celebrates the Foundation of the State of Israel!

The Artist was Born in Israel, but now Lives in the United States…

Ghostly Scenes on the Tulle include a Shadowy Image of Theodor Herzl!

The Capital A in glAss invokes the Biblical Prophecy that The Promised Messiah will arrive riding on an Ass!

There is a Free Poster showing one of the Tulle Scenes, with Ample Information about the Artist & the Meaning of his Artworks on the verso


Kitt, Green, & Miranda's BRING IT ON: The Musical [*****]

Acrobatics Worthy of Cirque du Soleil & Racial Tensions To Animate Cheer Leading Contests!

This Show is Pure Dynamite!

Not only are all these Kids Terrific Dancers & Singers, but they are also Gymnasts Par Excellence!

The Breathtaking Acrobatic Choreography is by Andy Blankenbuehler, who also staged.

Taylor Lauderman & Adrienne Warren head an Outstanding Cast.

Just imagine a School Board Mother having the Neighborhood Re Districted so her Cheer Leader Daughter won't have to fear the Competition of a Much More Talented Girl!

Who now has to move to a Minority High School, where White Girls are not really Welcome

This lively Show opened during the Summer, so those who were Away may not be aware of what an Entertainment Powerhouse it is: A Sure Contender for Major Awards this Spring


MoMA Moves Forward & Onward & Upward in Explaining Architectural Functions:


Well, you really have to see 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political for yourself to make any Sense of it.

But there are some neat Architectural Models & some not so, as well as Flamboyant Wall Texts & Doctored Photos.

Some Areas of Curatorial Concern include: Radical Stances, Interrogating Shelter, Occupying Social Borders, Iconoclasm, Deconstruction, Fiction & Dystopia, Consuming Brandscapes, & Enacting Transparency…

How about designing some Buildings that do not Leak?


Teddy Roosevelt Lives Again as Murals are Conserved for Memorial!

If you think that Teddy Roosevelt was the Last Sane Republican President, mark 27 October on Your Calendar!

Even if you loved Teddy--as impersonated by Robin Williams, in that Night in the Museum Film Fantasy--you'll surely want to be on hand when the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial is [once again] unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Art Press was recently given a Sneak Preview of the impressive Cleaning & Conservation of the Three Immense Murals, celebrating Teddy's Lifelong Achievements in the Dinosaur Skeleton Infested Rotunda.

Here's Teddy at the Signing of the Peace Treaty for the Russo Japanese War in Port Arthur!

There's Teddy on an African Expedition! There's Teddy, saving the American Wilderness!

First seen in 1935, the Murals--painted by William Andrew MacKay & mounted in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda--had become badly grimed over the years.

There's even going to be a New Teddy Statue, commissioned for the Downstairs Entry Hall.

The Entire Façade of the American Museum of Natural History has been Restored & Re Lit, with the Heroic Statuary Group of Teddy on Horseback--flanked by an American Indian & an African American--now covered with a Rich Layer of Green Stuff, which protects the Underlying Bronze.

Teddy Roosevelt was the 33rd Governor of the State of New York & the 26th President of the United States.

He was America's First Great Preservationist. He sent the Great White Fleet around the World.

Theodore Roosevelt broke up the Trusts & the Monopolies. He would have trashed Goldman Sachs

Teddy became President when an Assassin's Bullet felled President Wm. McKinley.

But, by 1912, the Grand Old Party had tired of Teddy, so he had to form his own Third Party, the Bull Moose Party…

That didn't work, so there was No Roosevelt in the White House until America was In Receivership in the Depths of the Great Depression.

The Teddy Renovation has cost $37.5 Million!


Gethers & Okrent's OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES [*****]

Did You Hear the One About Murray's Bris?

This is an Hilarious Show.

Even Christians & Religious Others can savor the Rich Jewish Tradition of Making Fun of People, Traditions, & even of Jewish Gourmet Cooking

The wonderful Marilyn Sokol, along with Bill Army & Todd Susman, are the Titular Old Jews, ably abetted by some Young Jews, Audrey Lynn Weston & Lenny Wolpe.

Some of the more Hoary Jokes have also been offered, over the Decades, as Irish, Swedish, or Polish Jokes.

Fortunately, there were no How Many Jews Does It Take To…

When I first came to New York--from four years teaching in Europe--I was surprised to be told: "I'm Jewish, so I can tell this joke. You are a Goy, so you cannot. That would be Anti Semitic!"

What followed was often Outrageous: No one should have told such a Joke, not even about Poles!

Would it be possible for a Joke to be Anti Semiotic?

David Gallo designed the Simple Setting & the ingenious LED Videos.



This is the Second Time that Ana Tsarev has invited her Fellow Croatian, Milijada Barada, to show paintings in her Handsome Gallery on West 57th Street!

Ms. Barada doesn't Pile on the Pigments as heavily as does Ana, but her Vision of Nature does have a kind of Transcendent Impasto to it.

In addition to some of Tsarev's impressive Canvases--especially her Love Song, as a Huge Red Flower, with a Yellow Stamen waving in its Heart--she has also posted the often amusing Drawings of School Children in London & Istanbul, whom she has encouraged to Express Themselves!


Fall Show Preview at the International Center of Photography: RISE & FALL OF APARTHEID…

This amazing Photographic Record of South African Apartheid, in which the Native Tribes of that Vast Land were oppressed & suppressed by the Colonial Settlers, who imposed White Supremacy for

Decades was curated by Okwui Enwezor, famed as a one time Curator of Kassel's renowned dOCUMENTA.

It is subtitled: Photography & the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life.

The Portuguese were the first Mariner/Settlers in South Africa, but mostly along the Shorelines.

They were followed by the Dutch, known as Boers & Voortrekkers, driven from their Initial Landfalls by the Invading British who won the infamous Boer War

Not only were Black South Africans--who worked for their White Masters--treated like Second Class People, they were not even regarded as Citizens.

Fearful Whites eventually confined entire Tribes to "Tribal Lands," from which it was almost impossible to escape.

Many Photos show Signs enforcing Segregation, even at Water Fountains.

These Signs are not much different from those one could still see in the Southern United States only a few Decades ago, but Apartheid lasted much longer.

Photos documenting White Social Life are not especially admirable.

But the Boers were, perhaps, even more spiteful & vicious than the Brits, as their Version of Protestantism classified Blacks as Inferior.

Finally, the Worm Turned.

That Nelson Mandela, so long unjustly imprisoned, could emerge from Robbin Island Prison not intent on Revenge, but dedicated to Creating a New & Just Society is a Model for Anyone, Politician or Plebeian.

After Apartheid--when I first went to Cape Town--I was mugged on My Very First Day.

Three Black Teen Agers, coming from Behind to grab my expensive Leica & Nikkon Cameras

When I returned to my Hotel, the All Black Staff sympathized, but pointed out that I should have read the Instructions placed on my Bureau:

Never leave the Hotel alone!

Never go out with Cameras!

Never go out at Night!

The next day, the Downtown was teeming with Police, even Horse Mounted.

The Word must have gotten out: An American Journalist had been mugged in the City Center

Nonetheless, Successful, Well Dressed Black Africans were even more at risk on their way Home!

When you have a Large Unemployed Underclass, there will be Trouble



Both Ralph Lee & Don Marquis's Mehitabel are Toujours Gai

It could be argued that an an Admiration for the Fables of Don Marquis marks one as an Old Fogey

Nonetheless, I grew up reading the Ridiculous Adventures of Archy, the Typewriting Cockroach, & his Lady Love, Mehitabel the Cat.

But I am only 83 years old now--oh, oh! Old Fogey Time!

Ralph Lee & his Mettawee River Theatre Company Players have just concluded an Exploration of Marquis Tales in the Gardens of the Cathedral of St. John: The Divine.

As there was no real Through Line of Narrative in this pleasant show--sub titled: Archy & the underside--it wasn't exactly Divine.

But it certainly was interesting & even surprising, considering how deftly Ralph Lee had devised some of his Puppet Players!

Being a Cockroach--although a Wonderfully Articulated Insect--Archy was a rather Small Star of the Show.

As a luxuriating Puppet Cat, Mehitabel reveled in her Cleopatra Soul. As well as reminding us that she was Toujours Gai…

Among the Individual Treats in these Cockroach Communications were a Dancing Vegetable Garden & Dancing Beds that represented an Unhappy Family.

Also fantastic, at the opening, to see an Old Office Typewriter, its Keys clicking along with No Human Fingers in sight: Archy was at work!

Gerry Alessandrini's FORBIDDEN BROADWAY [*****]

Gerry's Brigadoon Moment: Look Where It Comes Again--Forbidden Broadway Returns!

When Gerard Alessandrini closed the doors on Forbidden Broadway some seasons ago, it seemed there were no more Real Musicals left to Parody.

Make Fun of Juke Box Musicals?

What's to Mock in such shows? That People actually paid Money to see them?

Fortunately, the last two seasons have given Gerry & Co a lot to satirize with Witty Lyrics & Purloined Tunes.

How can you not Howl at a Parody of both Evita & Evita Peron LuPone?

Not to forget that Flying Nanny with the Brolly or all those Newsies.

Roasting Sutton Foster, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Donna Murphy, Steve Sondheim, & Bernadette Peters is like shooting Ducks in a Bathtub for Marcus Stevens, Jenny Lee Stern, Natalie Charlé Ellis, & Scott Richard Foster--who is No Relation to…

These remarkable Actor/Dancer/Singers are also wonderful Impersonators. Of course, the Hilarious Costumes & Multitudinous Wigs help a Lot.

If you go to see & hear Forbidden Broadway, you won't have to pay all that Money to see the Actual Shows!

All the Faults, Mistakes, Pretensions, Tics, & Defaults of such shows as Spiderman & Superstar are Laid Laughingly Bare.

Matthew Broderick dancing?


Grolier Season Opens with Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, & Benito Mussolini!

In Pursuit of a Vision:

At the Book Lovers' Grolier Club, you can now see one of Paul Revere's Clock Labels, as well as Pamela, printed by Ben Franklin way back in 1742!

These are among the Many Print Treasures collected over Two Hundred Years by the American Antiquarian Society.

Puritans trembled, fearing the Fate that awaited them on The Day of Doom, here in Michael Wiggelsworth's First Edition.

How about Roger Williams protesting The Bloody Tenent of Persecution; Ralph Waldo Emerson leaving the Congregational Ministry, or Vigilantes way out in Montana?

Strangers in a Strange Land:

In James Periconi's Italian Language American Imprints--now on view in the Grolier's Second Floor Gallery--you can see Books both by & about Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.

Not every Italian Immigrant--just off the boat from Livorno or Genoa--began taking English Classes.

So there was, for a long, long time, a Thriving Market for Books & Tracts printed in the Native Language.

This small scale exhibition closes 3 November, but you can still see Paul Revere's Clock Label until 17 November. For more Info, check out


Robert Wilson, Philip Glass, & Lucinda Child's EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH [*****]

Number Counting Epic Revived at BAM: There's an Einstein, But There Is No Actual Beach

What more can one say about the Current Revival of Einstein on the Beach, an International Event with Nine Stops on Three Continents?

You can probably Google or Wikipedia to find out All You Need To Know

But it was from an Advance Report from UC/Berkeley--even before the Revival debuted at BAM in Brooklyn--that Your Roving Arts Reporter learnt of Arthur Miller's Reaction, when he saw/heard the 1976 Premiere of Einstein with Creator Robert Wilson!

Miller: "I don't get it."

Wilson: "You know, I don't get it either."

In case you didn't already know, Einstein is "widely regarded as one of the Greatest Artistic Achievements of the 20th Century."

But this Recently Completed Century was, itself, Vastly Over rated

Some Cultural Commentators reported that the BAM Performance was Five Hours Long!

Not True!

It was only Four Hours & Fifteen Minutes

I was among those who experienced the Original BAM Premiere, but I wasn't seated near Wilson or Miller.

Yes, it was an Overwhelming Experience!

All those Philip Glass Choristers singing 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 Over & Over & Over & Over again…

To the Percussive Repetitive Beat of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

In One Vignette Scene--swamped in Swirling Fogs--what appear to be a Bride & Groom are standing just inside the Pullman Car Observation Platform at the End of a Train.

For a while, I thought they were singing Bumpity Bump Bumpity Bump Bumpity Bump Bumpity Bump Bumpity Bump…

But now, Inspection of the Libretto--thoughtfully included in Blake Zidell's Press Kit--shows that they were actually singing 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 Over & Over & Over & Over again…

The Performers were all Splendid!

The Audience was pretty well behaved as well! Some, however, arrived at 8pm, although the Einstein Epic began at 7pm.

When Harvey Lichtenstein introduced Robert Wilson's remarkable Primal Dream Time Fantasies to BAM Audiences, initially in 1969, with King of Spain, I was Astounded: Here were the Landscapes of My Dreams. Of My Nightmares, as well…

With the Texts of Christopher Knowles, Deafman Glance, The Life & of Times of Joseph Stalin, & A Letter for Queen Victoria amply amplified these Effects & Affects.

As I recall, the Joe Stalin Saga lasted until 6am, as the Sun rose over Flatbush Avenue.

Major Critics--including Marilyn Stasio--had bailed out around 10 or 11pm--even though Harvey had provided a Private Press Buffet upstairs to sustain the Critical Faculties.

At 6am, as a Herd of Ostriches kept turning & turning & turning on the Opera House Stage, only John Simon, Clive Barnes & Your Roving Arts Reporter were still on hand…

As in Previous Incarnations of Einstein, now & then, the Stage Empties of Props & fills with Light, as Lucinda Childs' Dancers whirl & twirl & fling their Arms & Legs about in Abandon, again & again & again…

These Undemanding Moments provide Opportunities for visiting the Public Retiring Rooms & the Snack Bar!

Just in case you are one of those Venerable Arts Enthusiasts who remember the Late 1960s & the Early 1970s, The Secret Life of Juanita Castro was NOT a Robert Wilson Invention.

Nor was Indira Ghandi's Daring Device

These were Ronnie Tavel's Inspirations, made Flesh by the Theatre of the Ridiculous

Alas, No One is reviving them for a Three Continent Tour--even if Antarctica could be One of the Continents visited…

Nor are Critical Commentators insisting that these Tradition Demolishing Ridiculous Plays were among "the Greatest Artistic Achievements of the 20th Century."

Ah, well. They weren't ever done at BAM, you see. Off Off Off Broadway & then some…


A Swiss View to Infinity at the Neue Galerie: Ferdinand Holder…

Although Ronald Lauder's Neue Galerie is usually dedicated to Celebrating Austrian & German Expressionism, there is a Swiss Connection in the new Ferdinand Holder Exhibition.

Holder was a Great Admirer of such Austrian Greats as Egon Schiele & Gustav Klimt, who is celebrating his 150th Birthday this year, in absentia, of course.

Klimt admired Holder, in return, inviting him to show his Canvases at the 8th Secession Exhibition in Vienna, which effectively introduced this previously Unknown Swiss Painter to the World of Modern Art Enthusiasts & Collectors.

Holder even had Wiener Werkstätte Furniture by Josef Hoffmann in his Schweizer Apartement.

There are 65 Holder Paintings & 20 Drawings on view, including Majestic Alpine Landscapes & Symbolist Canvases.

He also painted His Own Portrait a lot: a Distinguished Bearded Face!

Not to overlook his Documentation of his Lover's Decline & Death

These Almost Skeletal Drawings of the dying Valentine Godé Darel are harrowing: almost a Pathological Meditation on the Impending Loss

Those Swiss! They are Something Else, altogether!


Bard Grad Center Gallery: Circus & The City, Plus Mandelbrot's Islands--Fractals & Chaos…

From Baraboo, WI, to Sarasota, FL, to Bridgeport, CT: PT Barnum & The Ringling Bros!

The three Great Circus Museums in America are located in Baraboo, Sarasota, & Bridgeport.

PT Barnum preserved his Most Famous Attractions in his Museum in Bridgeport, CT, where his handsome Victorian Mansion also stands.

The Ringling Brothers originally had their Winter Quarters in Baraboo, WI, but later moved to Sarasota, FL, where the Weather was much more Clement than in Snowbound Wisconsin.

Some of the Archival Treasures from each Museum have been brought to Bard, on West 86th Street.

But there are also many Illustrations, Posters, Programs, Artifacts, & Objects that celebrate New York City as a Circus Town, going all the way back to the Beginnings, when One Ring Circuses were The Thing.

But it was also in Manhattan that Barnum created the Three Ring Circus, followed by the Ringlings, with the Five Ring Circus & the Magnificent Costumed Spectacles: the Show of Shows…

They called it: The Greatest Show on Earth!

In Europe, however, most Major Cities still have One Ring Circuses in Permanent Circus Buildings!

This was Paul Binder's Concept, when he conceived the Big Apple Circus.

He wanted to provide the Sharp Focus of a Small Scale Show, where Individual Acts would not be upstaged by Herds of Elephants & Hordes of Showgirls…

Your Roving Arts Reporter was able to interview Paul when he was just beginning the Long Long & Adventurous Career of the Big Apple Circus.

This was for a Special Circus Issue of the now defunct Theatre Crafts


Chaos Theory, Relativity, Computer Models, Seeing & Thinking: Almond Bread Ideas!

If you have never heard of Benoît Mandelbrot--his Last Name means Almond Bread--you may also not know about Fractals & Chaos Theory.

This Challenging Exhibition is not only Visually Intriguing, but it's also an Introduction to Very Complex Ideas that are having Major Impact now.

The Digital Revolution has made possible advances in Fractal Geometry & Chaos Theory that would not have been possible before the Advent of Computers with Ingenious Software Programs.

Fortunately, there's No Chaos in the way that this small scale show has been Designed & Texted!


Allan Monkhouse's MARY BROOME [****]

Neither Shavian Nor Wildean, an Edwardian Anti Hero Gets the Maid in Trouble.

Had Playwright Allan Monkhouse been a Shavian, his Central Character, Leonard Timbrell--who is fond of Telling the Truth about his Stuffy Family & its Stifling Bourgeoise Values--would have been more Witty & Insightful.

Had the Self Important & Self Satisfied Leonard been a Creation of Oscar Wilde, he would have been even More Wittily Incisive, but Monkhouse chose to make him an Overbearing Young Boor, who gets the Family Maid--poor Mary Broome--"in Trouble" & is forced to Marry her by his Tyrannical Father.

Although this Domestic Drama bears Mary's Name, it is really not so much about her as about the Victorian/Edwardian Class Codes & Social Divisions that survived even after The Great War.

Married & living on Nothing, Leonard is neither Employable nor Seeking Employment.

For a Respite from his Shabby Married Life, he goes off Fishing, leaving Mary to bury the Infant Leonard.

But she has Spunk. She goes off to Canada

As always at the Mint Theatre, the Cast is excellent & the Satirical Family Portraits--that change as they Revolve--really do Set the Scene.

The Mint's Visionary Founder, Jonathan Bank, deftly underlined the Social Implications of Monkhouse's Troubling Script.



How Can You Go Wrong with Jake Gyllenhaal in the Cast?

What was it Tolstoy said about Unhappy Families?

Well, Nick Payne is No Tolstoy. Nor is his Dysfunctional Family remotely Russian

When George takes his Unhappy Wife & Unhappy Fat Teen Age Daughter to the Edinburgh Zoo, to see the Two Polar Bears, One of them has Died!

If this Sad Event is anything like that Flitting of a Butterfly's Wing that can set off a Tornado Thousands of Miles away, perhaps this Unfortunate Demise set off a Catastrophic Melting of the Polar Ice Cap?

How else to Explain the Fact that at the Close of the Drama, the Stage is awash in Waves of Water, swamping the Characters & draining off downstage into a kind of Aquarium, now filled with Furniture & Set Props from the Previous Segments of the Play?

Neither Parent pays any Practical Attention to their Distraught Daughter, who finally Cuts Her Wrists & Attempts to Drown in an overflowing Upstage Bathtub.

But All Is Not Lost, as the Daughter has bonded with George's Prodigal Brother, Terry, who seems to have Fried His Brain somewhere near the Golden Triangle.

When Roundabout Theatre recently revived John Osborne's Look Back in Anger at the Laura Pels Theatre, the Furniture & Set Props needed were all stacked in the Center of the Stage.

Perhaps this is to become a House Style, as that was also true of this Production.

With the Telling Difference that--as each Plot Segment was finished--all the Furniture & Props were pushed or kicked into the Stage Wide Glass Canal immediately in front of the First Row of Seats.

It is True that Water has Cleansing Power, but what made this show so Impressive was the Presence of Film Star Jake Gyllenhaal as Terry.

Indeed, Metal Barriers were erected outside the Theatre Entrance, to restrain all the Jake Gyllenhaal Fans who were dying to see him, to touch him, even to get an Autograph!

Lisa D'Amour's DETROIT [**]

From Grilling "Puppies" to Incinerating Suburban Development Houses!

Talk about Tolstoy!

But this time, it's Unhappy Couples. Fortunately, with No Children to Suffer from their Mutual Abuse

The Marrieds are Unhappy. She drinks too much & hates her job. He has been Laid Off as an Investment Advisor but is thinking about devising a Web Site for providing On Line Financial Advice.

They reach out to Two Hyper People now living in an Empty Tract House next door.

From Bar B Ques in the two Backyards, they move onward to smashing all the Lawn Furniture.

But--unlike those Unhappy Folks over in Edinburgh--they don't then push the Wreckage into a Pond.

No Indeed!

The Manic Kenny sets it all ON FIRE! Including the Crappy House of the Marrieds!

Not only does the Audience get to see the Charred Ruins of the House, but--as the Ingenious

Settings revolve--huge Open Flames are Raging Upstage!

Open Flames onstage used to be a Technical NO NO.

But Playwrights Horizons must be now trying to compete with all those Block Buster Movies that have veritable Destruction Derbies of Autos, Planes & Entire Cities?

Surveying the Blackened Ruins, the venerable John Cullum has a Horton Foote Moment…


At the New York Public Library Steve Schwarzman Building:

CHARLES DICKENS: The Key to Character

This is a handsome but Small Scale Exhibition, so it has no room for all the 3,592 Characters that Populate the Popular Novels of Charles Dickens.

Not only Hand Coloured Engravings & Prints of Dicken's Scenes & Players are on display, but also Originals by such Talents as George Cruickshank.

His Family imprisoned for Debt, the 12 year old Dickens was sent to work in a Blacking Factory, which left an Indelible Impression--certainly a Black Mark--on the Emerging Author & his Later Work.

[Charlie Chaplin had similar Trials & Torments in his London Youth…]

Dickens as a Performer & Dickens in America are both surveyed. Dickens' Marked Texts for his Popular Public Readings are also in the Library's Collections.

But the Manuscript of his Christmas Carol is in the Morgan Library, where it can be seen every Christmas Season

There is a handsome Free Brochure for Key To Character, with a number of Important Illustrations!



From Push Cart Pickles to School Lunches to the AUTOMAT…

It's all here, in one of the most Ingenious & Attractive Exhibitions ever to be offered in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall.

It's also Free, with an 18 Section Folding Brochure that covers everything from the Quick Lunch to the Power Lunch.

Apparently, there's No Free Lunch at the New York Public Library, at least not as a

Separate Section of this show…

But there are a lot of Special Programs. You can even bring a Bag Lunch to some…

This closes 17 February 2013, but Dickens will Fold His Tents on 27 January.


At the New York Public Library Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts…

MARTHA SWOPE In Rehearsal: Arresting Selections from the Swope Archives!

Want to see what Steve Sondheim, Hal Prince, & Merce Cunningham looked like when they were Young?

How about Martha Graham, always Ageless

In her Very Long Career as a Performing Arts Photographer, Martha captured many Moments that the Paying Public never got to see: She documented Rehearsals--catching Producers, Directors, Composers, & Choreographers Off Guard.

West Side Story is especially interesting: You can see that Librettist Arthur Laurents was once not only Young, but also even Cute!

Leonard Bernstein was also young, but he looks Terminally Serious, leaning against a Studio Wall with the others.

Martha's Archives are now on file at Lincoln Center, available for research. There are 1,520,000 Images on Contact Sheets, as well as 152,000 Slides & 12,000 Prints!


Alexander Dinelaris' RED DOG HOWLS [*****]

Kathleen Chalfant Brilliant & Heartbreaking!

Grandson Breaks Family Curse Incurred During Armenian Genocide!

In development since 2007, Alexander Dinelaris' Red Dog Howls was Well Worth the Wait.

The redoubtable Kathleen Chalfant was with this challenging drama every step of the way.

Horrors of the Turkish Genocide of almost every Armenian they could find in 1915 are relived in Washington Heights.

As the Lifter of The Family Curse, Alfredo Narciso was impressive as the Greek Grandson who discovers he's actually Armenian & he owes his Life to his Implacable Grandmother--powerfully inhabited by Chalfant--who made a Horrible Sacrifice to Save the Family Line.

She does Not Eat Meat for a Reason

Although Telling This Tale requires some Narration, it becomes all the more Devastating because of that.

Seen only the Night after the Set was burned in a Contemporary Drama & the Previous Night, in which all the Furniture & Props were dumped into a Grand Canal in front of the Audience, Playwright Dinelaris demonstrates how Powerful a Play can be, with Real Human Beings involved in Remembered Terror.

Dynamic Dialogue Exchanges, not Special Effects, are what are now needed…


Jeffrey Hatcher's TEN CHIMNEYS [*****]

Theatre History Live on Stage: Alfred & Lynn Rehearsing Seagull at Genesee Depot…

Time was when Great Broadway Stars like Alfred Lunt & Lynn Fontanne insisted on taking their Broadway Hits on the road across America.

There were also Katherine Cornell, Helen Hayes, Judith Anderson--bringing their Hit Shows from the Great White Way on to Chicago, Denver, & San Francisco

Thus, before Television could give Instant Identity to Great Talents, the Lunts were Nationally Known, even if they refused to appear in Films!

In the Good Old Days, the Broadway Season began in Late September & ended promptly on 31 May.

Nor were there Long Runs.

This meant that Acting Teams like the Lunts could have a real Summer Vacation, many on the North Shore or elsewhere on Long Island.

But Alfred & Lynn always retreated--for the entire summer--to Genesse Depot, in Wisconsin.

Here, at Ten Chimneys--with every room decorated in Finicky Detail--they would host such Dear Friends as Noël Coward, Helen Hayes, & Other Luminaries.

In his new Real Life Comedy, Jeffrey Hatcher has splendidly recreated a Rehearsal Summer with the Lunts--working on Anton Chekhov's The Seagull.

Not only is Sydney Greenstreet in the Cast, but a very young Uta Hagen has been cast--uncast & cast again--as the pathetic Nina, the Metaphoric Seagull.

Lynn understandably feels threatened by Uta's Eve Harrington Tendencies. [All About Eve all over again, but this time with Uta, instead of Ann Baxter…]

[Oddly enough, Constantine, the Neglected Son of the famed Actress Arkadina--the Playwright Manqué, who shoots the Seagull--does not appear in these Rehearsals.]

Although we are never inside Ten Chimneys--nor do we even see it in the Middle Distance--Hatcher certainly gives us Every Detail of Alfred's Fraught Life with his Dreadful Mother & his Siblings, most of whom he supports with Good Cheer.

The ingenious Dan Wackerman has skillfully staged his Brilliant Cast, with Byron Jennings as Alfred & Carolyn McCormick as Lynn, plus Julia Bray as an over eager Uta Hagen--whose Next Role will be Desdemona, in Othello, played by Paul Robeson, with whom she will have a Notorious Affair

Personal Note: My Mentor in Art History--at the University of Wisconsin in Madison--was Uta's Dad, Professor Oskar Hagen.

Many years later--when Opera News asked me to interview her because she was teaching Young American Opera Singers at the Met Opera to Act as well as to Sing--she told the Editor that she did Not Do Interviews.

So I wrote her to tell her that I not only studied with her Father, but that I had also earned an A.

"OK, I'll do the Interview. I've got to meet someone who got an A from my Pop!"

I never met Alfred Lunt, but when I was arranging a Drama Desk Panel, with Salome Jens, Eileen Atkins, Beverly Sills, Sarah Miles, & Nancy Marchand, all of whom were currently playing either Elizabeth or Mary Queen of Scots, I begged Lynn to join us at Sardi's, for she had starred in Maxwell Anderson's Elizabeth the Queen.

"Glenn! I'm off to Florida for the Sun. But just tell everyone you cannot have a Failure with a Role like Elizabeth!"

Oddly enough, Margalo Gilmore--who had starred in John Drinkwater's Mary of Scots--was also in our Audience…

Fortunately, I was able to enjoy both Alfred & Lynn in The Great Sebastians & The Visit, which proved their Farewell to the Stage.

Years later, however, when I'd remind my Theatre Students how quickly we forget Stars for whom some Broadway Theatres are named, they hadn't a Clue about for whom the Lunt FontannTheatre might have been named…

Helen Hayes still has a Theatre with her Name on it, but where is the Maxine Elliott Theatre, the Nora Bayes Theatre, or the Don Ameche Theatre?

Even when Gerry Schoenfeld named an Historic Theatre for his Deceased Shubert Surrogate, Bernie Jacobs, & put His Own Name on another in the same Theatre Block, he risked Eventual Obscurity

Who now remembers John Golden, for whom the neighboring Golden Theatre is named?

The Booth--which stands next to the Newly Christened Schoenfeld--is, of course, named for that Famous Actor, Edwin Booth. Not for his Brother, John Wilkes

Other Incidental Info: Your Roving Arts Reporter has visited Ten Chimneys twice, both times with Annual Conferences of the American Theatre Critics Association in Chicago & Milwaukee.

The Oskar Hagen Family had fled Hitler Germany. But when Uta was making a Name on Broadway, her Actor Brother, Holger Hagen, returned to West Germany, where he became President of West German Actors Equity.

The Joke was that Theodore Bikel, President of our Actors Equity spoke English with a German Accent, while Holger spoke German with an American Accent

Holger dubbed American Films into German.


Sam Shepard's HEARTLESS [****]

Heart Replacement--Not Brain Transplants--as Sam Shepard Revisits The SoCal Heartland…

Lois Smith is a Garrulous, Imperious, Wheelchair Bound Virago in Sam Shepard's evocation of Familial Insanity in Southern California.

Can it be True--as the Indomitable Mable Murphy insists--that they have sold off Roy Rogers' stuffed horse, Trigger?

God only knows what may have happened to Dale Evans' Stuffed Horse?

They were once an admired Roadside Attraction in Victorville, which you might pass on the way from NoCal to SoCal.

In a Free Booklet--available in the Lobby of the Signature Theatre Complex--Shepard explains why he has written & rewritten & rewritten Heartless: His Plays About Men Gig was wearing Thin, so he decided to try Women for a Change

There's only One Man in Heartless & he describes Mable & her Brood as a Nest of Wackos!

Mable seems to live on a Bluff--or Butte--overlooking the Valley of San Berdoo

Sam was wondering: What might your Life be like, if Someone Else's Heart replaced your Damaged Ventricals?

Mable's Youngest Daughter--when we first see her, arising Naked from Sleep, has a Vertical Scar down her Torso.

The Heart of a Murdered Girl has been Implanted!

She has also picked up a Middle Aged Married Man, on the Run. They are Video taping things…

Mable's White Clad Care Giver is Mute, until she begins Screaming.

Everyone gets His or Her Share of Shepardian Rants.

But this is definitely Lois Smith's Show!


Brooklyn Museum Opens Three New Exhibitions: Thomas, Lippard, & Othoniel…

Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe…

Way down in Haiti, Native Artists create glittering images of People & Gods, using Flashy Sequins.

Brooklyn based Mickalene Thomas, however, has racheted up the Glitter Factor by using Colored Rhinestones in her often astonishing Portraits of Black Women.

Thomas is also adept at adapting Famous Painterly Scenes such as Ingres' Le Grand Odalisque, as well as Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe, in which she substitutes Three Black Women for Manet's Group of Picnickers.

She is fascinated with Patterns, so some of her Interiors are Riots of Design, presented in Flattened Perspectives.

There are even Four Actual Interior Installations so you can appreciate how her Two D Visions have been inspired by Three D Simulations…

Most of the Works on View are Large Scale, so they seem intended for Museums, Galleries, Corporate Lobbies & Board Rooms, & the Private Collections of the Very Rich, who may have Walls big enough to accommodate the Thomas Oeuvre.


Materializing "Six Years": Lucy Lippard & the Emergence of Conceptual Art…

This Compact Show, ticked off in Years, celebrates the Influence that Lucy Lippard's now famous Book is alleged to have had on the Development of Conceptual Art.

Photos, Drawings, & Artifacts of Emerging Conceptual Art in the Late 1960s & Early 1970s are strewn by Years in the Long Gallery of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, with Judy Chicago's Metaphoric & Decorative Vagina Dinner Party lurking behind.

Much is made of the Fact that the Actual Title of Lippard's Intro to Conceptual Art is no less than Seventy Nine Words Long!

Longer than most of the Wall Texts celebrating Works by Alice Adams, Louise Bourgeois, & Eva Hesse!


Jean Michel Othoniel: My Way…

Beside the Entrance to this Entrancing Exhibition is a Plain White Robe, suitable for a Priest or a Celibate Seminarian, with a small Photo of the Artist so clad.

Some of Othoniel's Large Scale Necklaces of Murano Glass Globes certainly do suggest Over blown Rosaries.

There is even a Fantasy Four Poster Bed Puffed Up with these Colorful Hollow Spheres!

Indeed, some of this Young Appearing Artist's Creations would do very well as a Separate Pavilion in Disney World, even though the Show originated in Paris, at the Centre Pompidou.


Hank Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE [*****]

Norway or America, The Bad Guys Are Still Polluting the Water!

The MTC Revival of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People is Dy No Mite!

Richard Thomas & Boyd Gaines--as Two Brothers who could not be more Opposite in their Characters & Ambitions--are simply Superb.

In fact, the Energy Level of the Entire Production--thanks to the Dynamic Direction of Doug Hughes--is amazing.

But the "New Version" of Rebecca Lenkiewicz hits all the Current Topical Buttons, even with Modern Buzz Words that make it clear how Relevant this Well Made Play of Long, Long Ago remains today.

When Dr. Tom Stockmann is able to demonstrate that the Toxic Run Off from the Tannery above the Spa Springs is poisoning the supposedly Healing Waters, there's Hell to Pay

To fix things would require Thousands of Kronor--which, of course, the Spa Shareholders have no intention of paying out--so they suggest this should be paid for by the Ordinary Tax Payers!

Talk about Bail Outs!

Richard Thomas--as the Stuffy & Self Satisfied Pillar of Society, Peter Stockman--seems the Soul of Rectitude, Good Manners, & Public Morality.

He has even helped his Younger Brother escape from being almost a Country Doctor in a remote Norwegian Village.

Now, Dr. Tom--played with an almost Ferocious Intensity by Boyd Gaines--has been put in charge of Medical Oversight for the Famous Baths that are the Principal Pride & Income Source for this Unnamed Norwegian Coastal Town.

Unfortunately for Everyone--Dr. Tom included--he discovers that the supposedly Healing Waters are charged with Bacteria & harming those who come to Take the Waters.

He becomes--especially at a Disastrous Town Meeting--almost Messianic in his Determination to Tell the World of the Deadly Toxins

He is denounced--even by the Plotting Political People who planned to use him & his Discoveries--as an Enemy of the People

Naturally, his Brother & his Former Supporters all desert him, even though he has a Wife & Kids to support himself.

It does not help that he married the Daughter of the Owner of the Toxic Tannery!

Henrik Ibsen was the Originator & Master of the Well Made Play, so every Character--no matter how Small the Role--is Fully Realized & in some way Important to the Working Out of this Grippingly Realist Drama.

Although he wrote his Major Dramas from a Safe Distance--Munich, or Rome, for choice--using the Small Minded Small Town Hypocrisy of his Fellow Norwegians, as well as their Stifling Lutheran Morality & their Nefarious Political Chicanery for the Substance of many of his Plays, Ibsen was not above writing home to Christiana for Government Subsidies!

Only when he was very Old--loaded down with Honors, Degrees, & Medals--did Ibsen return to Norway, to Parade his Medals in Public, wearing a Black Top Hat & Frock Coat, & carrying a Cane

His Great Apostle in Britain, George Bernard Shaw, not only modeled his own Dramas on the Ibsen Formula, but even summarized the Dramatic Effects of the new Norwegian Dramaturgy: The Quintessence of Ibsenism…

Ibsen was--although a Man--the First Feminist Playwright:

Many Western European Men could never forgive him for allowing Nora to slam the door on her Insensitive, Patronizing Husband, Torvald.


Arts Rambles News & Notes:


Fall & Winter Programs To Include Christmas at Clayton & Gilded Age Interiors

If you are already an Admirer of the Magnificent Mansion on Fifth Avenue that houses the Remarkable Art Collection of Henry Clay Frick, you might want to consider enjoying Christmas Festivities at Clayton, Frick's handsome Old Homestead in the Vast Parkland that also includes several Museum Facilities of The Frick Pittsburgh.

Having once made the Pilgrimage to Frick's Family Home--where you can still see the Childhood Bed & Bedroom of Helen Clay Frick, when she was not in residence on Fifth--I regularly receive Press Kits from Greg Langel, to keep me Posted.

Worth a Trip to Pittsburgh will be Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay.

Surely that Edwardian Expert on Decoration of Houses, the Novelist Edith Wharton, must have been an admirer of Gay's warm, rich renditions of the Parlors of the Ridiculously Affluent

This Show runs from 6 October 2012 to 6 January 2013. Unless the Mayan Calendar is Right


Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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