Month: September 2016

The Death Of Theatre

This week we lost two people important to theatre: Edward Albee and Charmain Carr. Albee was 88, Carr was 73.

Edward Albee was arguably America’s greatest living playwright, entering the world of theatre after the death of Eugene O’Neill and after Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams had released their most important work and continuing their legacy. His first play, The Zoo Story, opened in 1959 in Berlin. A year later, his work transferred to New York and was the progenitor to what we know as “off-Broadway”. His most influential work, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, came in 1962. Albee was a master of heightened naturalism that influenced generations of writers, actors, and directors. In a world of commercial, jukebox musicals, Albee’s works showed that high drama could still draw an audience, and influence them.

Albee won three Pulitzer Prizes in his career for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994). His play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize by the award’s drama jury, but was overruled by the advisory committee due to the play’s “vulgarity”. They elected not to give a drama award at all that year. The jury subsequently resigned in protest. Woolf ended up winning the Tony Award in 1963. Albee won his second Tony almost 40 years later for The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? in 2002. He was nominated for Tony Awards in 1964 (The Ballad of the Sad Cafe), ’65 (Tiny Alice), 67 (A Delicate Balance), ’75 (Seascape).

In addition to his original plays, Albee was also an adaptor to the stage of other’s works,  writing the stage versions of Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Vladamir Nabokov’s Lolita. As a writer who mixes in adaptations in addition to original work, it warms me to see that this amazing playwright did the same thing (Albee did two other adaptations; The Ballad of the Sad Cafe  and Malcolm).

This week we also lost Charmian Carr, best known for playing Liesel in The Sound of Music. Carr was primarily a film actor, but her portrayal as the eldest von Trapp daughter has influenced every ingenue to take up the role since. The daughter of vaudevillian actor Rita Oehmen and musician Brian Farnon, Carr had never taken a singing lesson or tried to act before taking the role of Liesl in Robert Wise’s 1965 film. The audition had been arranged by her mother, who did it without asking Carr if she wanted to do it. Carr agreed to do the audition, thinking her mother would consider getting a part in a motion picture more important than getting a college diploma. Carr got the role, beating out actors such as Sharon Tate, Mia Farrow, Lesley Ann Warren, and Patty Duke.

Director Wise thought the surname “Farnon” would be too long when paired with Charmian and so presented the young actor with a list of single syllable surnames, from which she chose the name “Carr”.

Carr did one other musical, the Stephen Sondheim piece Evening Primrose, which aired on ABC Stage 67 in 1966, before eventually leaving show business to start an interior design firm. One of her clients was Michael Jackson, who was a fan of her performance. But while she left acting behind, she never left Liesl behind, writing two books; Forever Liesl and Letters to Liesl. She also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey show in 2010 with many of her Sound of Music co-stars to celebrate the film’s 45th anniversary and recorded Edelweiss with the great-grandchildren of the real von Trapp family.

These two “theatrical” careers, one stretching out for decades, one very short, serve as a reminder, to me at least, that theatre, music, musicals, and performance, continue to influence and shape our culture and our society. The world of drama wouldn’t be the same without Albee and his body of work and the world of musicals wouldn’t be the same without Carr’s iconic performance.

Advertisements

Welcome Back

So, I’ve been gone for awhile. Not for lack of wanting to be, but just a lack of time. I’ve been devoting myself to my writing and to my life outside of writing and have put my website and blogging on the back burner.

So what has been happening? Well besides me listening to Hamilton obsessively?

Well first, we have a new, updated domain name. We are now a [dot]Com

3 Million.

Last October, I premiered a new play via Sherri’s Playhouse, a feature of the podcast Chatting With Sherri, called #JohnDoe. The last count of downloads I received was around 3 million downloads. #JohnDoe is a long one-act comedy about life, love and reality TV. A wealthy family, known more for their antics on television and reality TV, find themselves in a will dispute when their entrepreneur patriarch suddenly dies of cancer. What follows is a hunt for a mysterious friend of the deceased who is also a beneficiary of the estate so that they can all receive their share of the inheritance.  #JohnDoe starred Tonia Lee, Summer Patrick, Cathy Kutz, James McCollough, Everett Robert, Raymond Brent, David Koshiol, Jen Gray, Savy Gray, and Debbie Herriman.

Hays, KS

#JohnDoe was then staged on the stage with Hays Community Theater at the end of April. This production also starred me and some of the original cast members (Jen Grey, Savy Gray, Raymond Brent) but also Wendy Richtmaier, Tammy Watford, Tammy Freeman, Jerret Leiker, Brian Kingsolver.

Lawrence, KS

My short monologue, Warning Shots, was performed by EMU Theater in Lawrence, KS in November of 2015. My little play shared the stage with Will Averill, Robert Baker, Dan Born, Evan Guilford-Blake, Nick Stock, and (another Hays, KS resident) Catherine Trieschmann. Warning Shots recounts the two different attacks on Lawrence, KS during the Civil War from the perspective of a young girl who witnessed it.

Kalamazoo, MI

My new play, Thoughts and Prayers, went up this past August in Kalamazoo, MI from Fancy Pants Theater as part of their political play series. Thoughts and Prayers details several shootings across the United States over the past couple of years and how the phrase “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” isn’t wholly the answer.

What’s Coming up?

I’ve written two more short plays for Sherri’s Playhouse, one an original western and the other and adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Suicide Club.  So be looking for more information on those as they come up.

Thanks again for sticking with me and embarking on this new adventure, once again