The place is the Deep South. 1948, just prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Daisy Wertham, a rich, sharp-tongued Jewish widow of seventy-two, is informed by her son that she must now rely on the services of a chauffeur. He hires a thoughtful black man, Hoke, for the job. In a series of absorbing scenes spanning twenty-five years, the two grow ever more dependent on each other despite their mutual differences. It becomes evident that a vestige of her fierce independence and sense of position still remain — but also that they have both come to realize they have more in common than they ever believed possible.
On a cool spring night Opera Memphis and members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra presented outtakes from Puccini's Madame Butterfly at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. It was Michael Ching's last public performance as Opera Memphis' Artistic Director. This is what it looked and sounded like.
From The Guardian:
Katori Hall's surprise win at the Oliviers last night is a big moment for black theatre. Set in civil rights-era black America, the 28-year-old's play The Mountaintop beat heavy-hitters Enron and Jerusalem to the best new play award. The playwright's victory should, as Michael Billington says, provide "a significant boost to black playwrights" — and open the doors a little wider for those trying to sustain a career in theatre. Although Hall was born in Memphis, her play was made in the UK, starting its life at Theatre503 in Battersea, south London.
Hall's work has been receiving favorable notices in the New York press for some time. Her previous efforts include Saturday Night/Sunday Morning,The Hope Well, and Hurt Village, a play about a soldier from Memphis returning from the conflict in Iraq and discovering his childhood home, the once infamous housing project called Hurt Village, has been torn down and replaced with more upscale housing.
More to come
This week's Jacques Brel review contained not one, not five, but two (count them) two errors that need to be corrected. The photo is of Esther Gray not Laura Stracko. And "Ne Me Quitte Pas" is beautifully sung by Renee Kemper not by Nicole Renee Hale.
Free Opera at the band shell in Overton Park! How cool is this?
Featuring modern yet traditionally Japanese costumes by renowned ceramic artist Jun Kaneko, the principal cast will perform excerpts from Giacomo Puccini’s MADAME BUTTERFLY
Things get underway at 7:00 p.m.
When you've got a show like Jacques Brel is Alive & Well & Living in Paris where performers can simply be themselves and develop a personal relationship with each audience I can't imagine why someone would choose to throw up a fourth wall* and try to impose characters and a narrative. But that's what's happened with this Circuit Playhouse production and I've got mixed feelings about it. When it's good it's very good. When it's bad it's usually the result of trying to make something very simple harder than it has to be.
*Yes, there can be a functional fourth wall even with audience members seated onstage.
Ashley pulled in 78,000 of the 300,000 online votes.
This isn't the first time the Hattiloo has performed this gospel musical and the show has a reputation for selling out fast. As much as I'd like to be in that number, I suspect I'll probably be hauling my 7-year-old twins out to Germantown to take in GCT's production of the children's classic Charlotte's Web. You see the wife's name is Charlotte, her mother's name is Charlotte and the first born twin is also Charlotte. So there doesn't seem to be any getting around this.
UPDATE: In an unexpected turn of events the weekend turned out completely differently. I took in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at TheatreWorks. More on that shortly. I'd love to hear from folks who've seen Mahalia or Charlotte's Web.
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres—described as "artsy" in the press — will be available for your snacking pleasure. Beverages will flow throughout the auction to aid in your appreciation of the work. Admission is $25 at the door but that amount is deducted from the price of any art you may buy.
So join the "pARTy" at the all new Playhouse on the Square. And cover up that nastiness already.
For more information call 901-725-0776.
Intermission Impossible: Are you funny?
Kerry Crawford-Trisler: I've been told I'm funny, and funny lookin'.
Okay I guess. Can you maybe say something funny right now? Just to show us that you can?
Kerry Crawford-Trisler: If you were here, I could play "You Shook Me All Night Long" on my ukulele. It's not a particularly funny song, but the raunchy lyrics coupled with my tiny girl voice tends to make people giggle.
Actually You Shook Me All Night Long reminds me of riding the Himalaya at the Midsouth Fair and riding the Himalaya at the Midsouth Fair always made me throw up. But thanks. Last question: How did you hook up with a bunch of clowns like the Wiseguys?
Kerry Crawford-Trisler: They invited me to do "Storytellers Unplugged," and I rarely say no. Sometimes, I probably should.
Admission is $5. The show gets underway at 8:30
Shortly before that production was scheduled to open Mike became seriously ill and it was clear he couldn't go on. Sidney looked at me and I held my hands up in surrender. I wasn't that kind of singer and even if I was there was no way I could learn all those amazing songs so quickly. Calls were made, drinks were drunk and hands were wrung. That's when Jim Ostrander did the most amazing thing I've ever seen. He told Sidney not to worry. He'd done the show before and knew every note. He could sing Michael's songs too. And so he did. It was a superhuman effort and I must have watched him do it ten times at least. It's not just one of my favorite shows it's one of my favorite memories. That's why I am so pleased to present right here in one epic blog post every damn song from Jacques Brel is Alive & Well and Living in Paris as performed by Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, David Bowie, The Dresden Dolls, Marlene Dietrich, Marc Almond and of course, Jacques Brel. Annotated for your pleasure.
It begins like this...
Marathon: If there is a better song about the relentlessness of time I don't know it
We must dance because the Thirties scream
The Thirties scream because the Horsemen ride
Orphan Annie lives, Daddy Warbucks dies
Breadlines, shanty towns, Frankenstein's bride
Adolf Hitler and the Siegfried follies
Joseph Stalin and a bag full of jollies
Call your broker and buy marzipan
While we keep on dancing, dancing on and on
By describing the storytellers' readings as "unique art" I don't mean to imply that the league is carrying on some extraordinary literary tradition. In fact there's no trace of snobbishness at an STL meeting. The writing certainly isn't what one might call ambitious. The tales— original autobiographical creations and popular favorites alike— are submitted simply because they brought pleasure to someone in the club. And so the group's extensive archive functions as a kind of secret, sentimental history of Memphis, passed down from one generation to the next.
To attend a meeting of the Memphis Storytellers' League is to step back in time to a quaint world where ladies wear fancy hats and everyone is uncommonly civil. The unadorned performances are a charming, unpretentious example of what we talk about when we talk about the relationship between art and community. Whether you're interested in sweet stories about Easter bonnets or not, there's an awful lot of emotional history collected here.
Click on to see a short video from the Storytellers' lunch at Jim's Place.