News & Updates

Comedy and the Turn of Culture

July 24, 2018

It will be a wonderful day when comedy shows once again become comedic, rather than ironic; 

joyously spirited, rather than resentfully mean-spirited; 

clean and decent, rather than perverse and profane;

politically unobservant, rather than propagandizing as shills on a soapbox.

We had it once, before the destructive generation of 1968, now ebbing and soon to pass, who have destroyed so much culturally in our country.

And we will have it again.

Cannes 2018 and The Right Ideas in Aesthetic Work

May 15, 2018

Seeing the brahouha at Cannes, may I remark in this way: when self-proclaimed “artists” fling their own brand of tortured misery, resentment and profanity into the world, only a hack will claim it to be “Art.”

Such has been the result of the teachings of the post-modernists this past century, in the universities, especially the Ivy League, where I learned this nonsense from them. We see the results of their nihilism all around us and its worthlessness is patent.

These are people who are unable to see. The vision of Truth and Beauty has always been the province of the Artist. (And there are precious few of them.) That is why their discoveries, like diamonds in an otherwise inaccessible coal seam, have been so valuable.

In this direction — backwards to the Grand tradition — is where we need to go as aesthetic craftsmen, to relearn and propagate the right ideas.

“Authenticity” — The Right Ideas in Aesthetic Performance?

May 8, 2018

I never knew, until today, that the rubric that one must be “authentic” — repeated ad nauseam these days — derives from Heidegger.

I have always repudiated the concept of “authenticity,” especially in aesthetic matters, as solipsistic, unimaginative and even destructive, but now, knowing its origin, it is far darker and more poisonous than ever I imagined.

One must be wary of the ideas circulating in the zeitgeist (should I even use a Hegelian term?). Dust off your intellectual sh**kicker and kick out the worthless ideas, and do it today!

New Narration Completed: Become the Expert the Wealthy Want

April 11, 2018

I’ve just finished recording the audiobook of the title, “Become the Expert the Wealthy Want” by Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen, Jr., for CEG Worldwide and Deyan Audio.  I’ll share the link once it’s in distribution.

This book could very well become the standard, if it isn’t already, for wealth managers who want to develop new business through thought leadership.

Comedy and That Which is Not Comedy

April 5, 2018

The salient difference between comedy and what calls itself comedy nowadays (but is usually just irony) is this: comedy is loving.  Today’s “comedy,” to the contrary, denigrates its object, ridicules it, encourages us to call it inferior.

The greatest practitioners of the former in the 20th c. are Laurel and Hardy; of the latter, George Carlin.  We laugh at Laurel and Hardy — yes, they are dumb — but we love them nonetheless.  Carlin hates the subjects of his monologues and encourages us to as well: the obese gluttons walking through the mall, etc.    They are beneath him.

The temptation is that his masterful delivery persuades us to go along with him, as once I did.  Then I realized what he was doing.  No, thanks, not going to go there anymore.  I’m sticking with Laurel & Hardy.

More on the Great Micheál Mac Liammóir

February 6, 2018

Micheál Mac Liammóir, one of the great stage actors of the 20th century, entirely unknown in this country (the U.S.). Here in his stage play, The Importance of Being Oscar, filmed in 1964.
From lights up to final curtain, as close as one can ever get to meeting Wilde himself, that is my impression. Even were that not so, I am convinced that it might be, such is this actor’s persuasive ability.
So skilled, so subtle in every facet of his enactment of character, with a pure, resonant voice of great beauty, expressing the intelligence and wit that few even in the Victorian age could match, and details of the character created in the movement of the body, down to the graceful moments of the actor’s fingers.
No special effects, no music, no action, sparse props, because none is needed. There is so much worthwhile in this film that any performer might learn a good deal from even 5 minutes with it.

Ugliness and Art

February 4, 2018

One has to remember that you can and should reject a work of intentional ugliness, misery and profanity offered by someone claiming to be an artist. That is the furthest thing from Art there is, like the North Pole from the South.

Rather, look for revelation of discovered Beauty and Truth. They await your discovery just, in fact, beyond the shadows and dirt of the everyday. But you have to posit that they are there to be discovered and then search diligently despite appearances. When discovered, WOW!

The Utter Emptiness of Verbatim Theatre

February 1, 2018

I’m reading about what appears to be a minor trend in the UK, called “verbatim theatre.”

The premise:

By giving actors only the actual words of real people, verbatim theatre is the closest that theatre can get to objective truth – no dramatic licence required.”

This utter flatulence comes from the same mindset that employs the term” narrative” — the nihilist. “Authenticity guaranteed” is like saying Taco Bell is real Mexican food. Rather than having to craft a plot, create character, write engaging imaginative scripts that demonstrate the development of ideas from premise to conclusion, the “playwright” here becomes a curator of found phrases. How easy! Anyone can do it! These people are so far off the mark, it’s not funny. It is more deconstruction — which is the destruction of that which makes writing worthwhile and turns it into the mere shaping of that which is not worthwhile.

“Theatre will never entirely rid itself of ‘opinion’ or ‘agenda’. And why would it want to?”

“Relevance” — a concept which has no place in the arts, least of all to Theater — makes a political soapbox of the stage. Just like Clifford Odets. the Communist for whom the stage was a platform for his invidious ideals. Read some of his scripts and see just how perverse his writing was.

“…in the majority of cases it’s the playwright’s truth that is being reflected: truth filtered through their imagination, metaphor and craft.”

The fundamental misunderstanding of the post-modernists is precisely this: that there is no Truth. “Co-equal narratives” and “authenticity” are the lies that these misguided pseudologists employ to replace the Truth and Beauty they, unlike the great artists of the Western tradition, have never been able to discover. Their starting point, to the contrary, is: emptiness and meaninglessness of everything outside of themselves. But man is small — if we rest on man, we rest on virtually nothing. This is their catastrophe: the postulate that leads them nowhere.

There are far higher ideals in the Theater than the mere regurgitation of one’s mundane personal experience. Verbatim indeed.

Read it for yourself here:

‘Authenticity guaranteed’: Robin Belfield on why verbatim theatre is so important right now

Marius (1931) and Character Acting

January 19, 2018

A clip from Marius (1931, dir. Alexander Korda), which, even if you don’t understand French, demonstrates the inestimable portrayal of character that radiates from the core ideas of the character’s (fictional) consciousness, not from external, laid-upon quirks. The language is almost like window dressing — one knows immediately the context and the meaning from the ideas expressed through the body.
In this clip, we see Marius (Pierre DeFresnay) tending bar, jealous. Fanny (Orane DeMazis), devoted since childhood, to the love of Marius. but seeing he is obsessed with the romance of going to sea, toys innocently with Panisse (Charpin), a widower, who wishes to marry her.
Whoever definitively averred that one can’t act ideas had no idea what he was talking about. What is acting, but the portrayal of ideas in human form?

Everyman Redux

January 16, 2018

Reading Wilde again. LIke standing in the open country in spring next to a burbling brook and breathing fresh air.

Just now saw a casting notice for a play about “tolerance.” Gosh, we are back in medieval times with the Everyman morality plays. Yawn. How tiresome!

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”