Words & Music

Daily doses of creativity

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twelfth Night by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

The last time I saw Twelfth Night, Mark Rylance played both Viola and Sebastian. It's an understatement to say that's a tough act to follow but in the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's production there is nothing missing from Kerry Warren's Viola. This is her debut season with the HVSF and her talent is sure to shine through in all her subsequent performances. From Michael Broadhurst's opening speech and intermittent guitar playing, to Stephen Paul Johnson's yellow-stockinged Malvolio, to the string section of Maryn Shaw and Serena Ebony Miller who materialize whenever the food of love is required, the entire cast sparkles as individuals and ensemble. 

The performance that stuck in my head the next day was Sean McNall's Sir Andrew. From his entrance, gesticulating like the long-lost cousin of Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin's Festrunk Brothers, to the broad physical comedy of his sword-play and hose-play, Sean McNall's Sir Andrew keeps the spirit of the 16th Century playwright alive while reinforcing his relevance to 21st Century audiences. Some jokes never get old. Among them are cases of mistaken identity, knocking the high-and-mighty from their pedestals, ridiculous displays of unrequited love, and the buffoonery of a man who speaks like a warrior but acts like a coward.

Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs this delicate but hearty work with great skill. He takes full advantage of the benefits of staging Shakespeare in an open tent where actors have the freedom of movement impossible on a stage, giving the audience a preview of each characters' entrance as they come strolling, charging, or tumbling across the great lawn.

For New York City dwellers there is a bus from Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center leaving 4:00 on Saturdays for a round-trip fee of $28. You can also take the Metro-North from Grand Central to the Cold Spring stop and pick up an $8 round trip shuttle bus. Better yet, get there in the afternoon and take a picnic lunch and bottle of wine to the luxurious grounds overlooking the Hudson. When it's showtime they ring a bell and have secure shelves to store your supplies while you watch the show.

For more info visit the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival website at hvshakespeare.org.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017

Cut Flowers


Not in blue vases these
Nor white, cut flowers are seen
But in the August meadows
When the reaper falls clean —
And the shining and ridged rows
Of cut stalks show to the eye
As if some child's hand there
Had ranged them, and passed by
To other rows, other swathes,
Moondaisies, pimpernel,
Eyebright, sorrel, the paths
Are shining, the heaps as well.
Violets in spring, are
In vases, a sweet heap
Better leave them by far
Under hedgerows or banks to keep.
Daffodills, wallflowers, Daisies
Of Michaelmas Time let still
Also, no gathering-crazes
Should spoil the sweet Spring-time's will
Daisies best left alone,
Chrysanthemums of chill
Evenings of Autumn, gone
Soon to cold Winters will.
At the full garden-folk
Leave in their beds, but if
Under the steely yoke
They must be gathered, With
Cruelty of no need.
Then lay them in wide pans,
Or open jars; agreed
Best pottery that is man's,
Wall-flowers, violets
Sweetest of flowers bring in
To the four walls, the china-sets
And table clean as a pin.
By books and pictures lay
These wild things cruelly tamed
Taken from the blowing day
Exiled, uprooted, hurt, lamed.
That the hedgerows miss and the copse —
O if flowers must be cut
To spoil an earth-plot's hopes.
Take them with eyes shut.
Or give a small coin or two
To Children who may not care
So much as grown-ups should do —
Cut flowers in vases rare —
Pottery rounded with these
(Best of all) or with no care
Ranged in may-hap degrees
In wide pot or any jar —
Gather them, pluck not, please.
                                               Ivor Gurney (1890-1937) 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's only water in a stranger's tear

This song, from Peter Gabriel's third album is another of those depressingly relevant songs that keeps popping up these days. The album was the third in a row to be titled Peter Gabriel and it is also known as Melt due to its cover photo of Gabriel's melting face. The sleeve's designer Storm Thorgerson said: "Peter himself joined with us at Hipgnosis in disfiguring himself by manipulating Polaroids as they 'developed'... Peter impressed us greatly with his ability to appear in an unflattering way, preferring the theatrical or artistic to the cosmetic."

The first line is a perfect encapsulation of the ignorance underlying bigotry. It could also be the tag line for Trump's Muslim ban.

It's only water in a stranger's tear
Looks are deceptive but distinctions are clear
A foreign body and a foreign mind
Never welcome in the land of the blind

You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is
You're not one of us

Not one of us
No you're not one of us

There's safety in numbers when you learn to divide
How can we be in if there is no outside?
All shades of opinion feed an open mind
But your values are twisted, let us help you unwind

You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is
You're not one of us
Not one of us
No you're not one of us