Here’s a production I don’t think I have ever shared.
(Listen with the audio player at the bottom of this post).
“Gone with the Wind.” Well, really gone! I do the voices in this parody meant for the stage, but delivered in audio.
The scene is a small theater in a mid-sized third tier town, run by a superannuated and usually drunken producer, Maury Mishpucha, whose last good credit was in 1946. His cousin owns the theater, which he keeps only because he can’t sell it. Assorted has-beens and hacks populate the stage, playing to an audience of bums. They don’t get far into the production, when Wally the Wino perks up and starts heckling, Larry the Lip offends Sir Prolix Verbose (ask me to do him for you when we meet) and all hell breaks loose.
Featuring my characters:
Miss Verity Take
Dr. Ruth as Ruth Gordon
Jimmy Stewart impersonator Stewart Jimmy
Dalek the Alcoholic
Toshio Mifune’s Third Cousin twice removed
Festus from Bonanza
Lady Bracknell (in pumps)
Lenny in the Grapes of Wrath (as done by Mel Blanc)
and many more…
The sound design is by John Colucci, with whom I worked at scifi.com when they had a budget for internet theater. Ages ago. But you will enjoy it.
A few delightful images of myself and fellow cast members in the SAG-AFTRA staged reading of Norry Niven’s, Six Painted Ladies, at the Margo Jones Theater, Dallas, TX.
In the staged reading of Norry’s short film, I played Valfierno, a French con artist, who plays with the fulcrum of the ingenue to lever out the dough from her oil baron father. Having sold the Eiffel Tower any number of times, he is confident that he can sell the Mona Lisa. The film is set in Texas in the early 20th century.
In this first image, Valfierno pushes on the fulcrum of the ingenue Mrs. Waggoner in order to lever the dough out of her oil baron husband (bourbon-napping upstage center).
Shondra Marie, Doug Jackson, Tommy Habeeb, Wendy Pennington, Wyntner Woody
I am tempted to caption this, “Cher Madame Waggoner, do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?
Photography courtesy of John R. Strange and the Selig Polyscope Company.
I’m very pleased to say that I will read the role of Valfierno (a Frenchman and a con man), in Norry Niven’s Six Painted Ladies, set in early 20th century Texas, at the SAG-AFTRA Script-to-Screen in Dallas on Sunday, May 7.
I do smile to myself when people call me Woody. (Rather than Wynt.) Happens a lot. The first name gives them some trouble, I am sure.
Of course, my dear father, Wellington Woody, and my mother, Wisteria Woody nee Womble, (Wiscount and Wiscountess of West Worcestershire) would not find it amusing.
As mother was wont to say, “Weawy! One wishes a wittul bit mow wespect.” Father would just stand there and twiddle his monocle.
I was watching a marketing video produced by the National Theatre (the actors on stage looked fantastic) and to my surprise heard the speakers use the term “relevant” several times, i.e., the work is “relevant.” I caught my breath each time with a larger intake of air (and the air has to go somewhere, you know).
“Relevant” is just another way of lessening the blow of “deadly dull.” (Sounds like something Noel Coward might have said, appending phrase-end “old boy.”) But the implication is you must still watch because there’s a moral in here somewhere for you. “I want to show you what life really is (and how miserable it is)!” But “this is how you must live instead!”
Evidently, the Everyman plays weren’t just a phenomenon of the Middle Ages.
On the other hand, when I see something like this, I am most heartened. (The young dancer is Emma Rubinowitz — I don’t mean the music.) I have met more than a few talented young performers, mostly in the South, whose aesthetic expression is focused upon revealed Beauty (I get to cap one noun in each post, otherwise, you’d think German my first language). Amoral and apolitical — and delightful and meaningful in every respect.
Here, in just under 6 minutes, is everything in theater that is valuable to me. And to those of you who understand this as I do (and there are many of you, I have come to learn).
And to think, at one time in this country, only two generations ago, this kind of fare could be seen every week on network television, nationwide. Shall we ever see its like again?
I’ve watched the Orson Welles “Othello” (1952) several times with increasing admiration. As a fan from earliest youth of Welles’s film and radio work, I’d not had the chance to watch his film discussion of the making of that film until it popped up on YouTube. It’s lo-fi, but the best we have at present.
“Filming Othello,” (1978)
In much of the film, Welles speaks into the camera. His body is almost entirely still; the camera angle changes only infrequently. Yet his manner is engaging, his stories regale. I found it rather incredible that I did not wish to turn away, such was his skill and presence. Nor any less important is the subject of his monologue.
The tit-bits regarding the production behind the scenes illuminate and inspire: they demonstrate the perseverance and genius that made excellent use of unfortunate (which they turned to happy) accident. For example, after months of preparation, the cast and crew hired, the producer’s bankruptcy interrupted filming on location in Morocco. Costumes were suddenly unavailable. They ordered costumes to be made locally, taking 10 days. But what was the cast and crew to shoot without costumes? They were all to be paid during this period, of course. “We will shoot the murder of Rodrigo in a Turkish Bath!” was the resolution, arrived at by means of great genius. For there were Turkish baths in Cyprus at the time of the setting of the play and towels alone were required to shoot the scene.
But, for me, the most intriguing section of the film is the conversation over lunch Welles has with Hilton Edwards (Brabantio) and one of my stage idols, Micheal MacLiammoir (Iago), on the ideas that undergird the theatrical expression of character in the play. Micheal MacLiammoir can be seen in the 1960 television production, The Importance of Being Oscar.
This is an endearing one man show that one can’t watch too often, so fertile is his work that one can mine it over and again to learn from. The two men are the subject of this wonderful biography, The Boys (2002), by Christopher Fitz-Simon, which I recommend to anyone interested in the Irish theater. Or, for that matter, more broadly, the underpinnings of English language theater, which I would posit are very much Irish, such has been their literary and theatrical influence.
Without giving away too much of “Filming Othello” the level of the conversation about theater and acting on stage is thoroughly literate, profound and engaging. Well worth your time.