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Posts Tagged ‘actor’

Here’s a great story from the Japan Times about a theater group for people over 60. Where do I sign up?

Nobuko Tanaka writes, “At the age of 91, Saitama resident Izumi Noguchi is speaking at his first press conference — at least as an actor anyway.

“ ‘When I saw an advert in April inviting anyone aged 60 or older to audition for a new project called 10,000 Gold Theater, I just felt like challenging myself to do something I’d never had a chance to try before,’ he says.

“Noguchi is the oldest person to join the 10,000 Gold Theater ensemble. …  ‘Gold Symphony, my dream, your dream’ [is] a staging on an unparalleled scale that features some 1,600 performers (not 10,000 as the name suggests) who are all volunteers and almost all amateurs …

“Arts promoter Taneo Kato came up with the idea [when] he was watching a performance of ‘Hamlet’ in which stage icon Yukio Ninagawa directed members of the Saitama Gold Theater and Saitama Next Theater — troupes made up of older and younger actors that he formed in 2006 and 2009, respectively, after becoming artistic director at Saitama Arts Theater in 2006.

“ ‘Out of the blue, midway through “Hamlet,” veteran enka singers the Komadori Sisters — who are actually twins — appeared and sang “I Want to be Happy One Day,” ’ Kato says, recalling how striking a moment it was to see the women, born in 1938, sing those words.” More here.

I wonder how big an issue memorization is for the performers. My friend Dorothy started a group of older amateur actors in Concord, but they do readings and don’t have to memorize. I have many memorized stories, Bible verses, and poems in my head and can trot them out at a moment’s notice. Not sure if I could acquire new ones to the same extent.

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa
Massive undertaking: Seiji Nozoe directs elderly actors during rehearsals for the play ‘Gold Symphony, my dream, your dream,’ performed in Chuo-ku, Saitama City, December 2016.

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The world’s oldest working actor has died at age 101. And good for him to have worked at something he loved for so long!

Shaun Walker wrote recently at the Guardian, “Vladimir Zeldin, believed to have been the world’s oldest working actor, has died aged 101, after appearing for 71 years at the same Moscow theatre.

“The Russian actor appeared on stage as recently as [September], using a walking stick due to a broken hip, to appear in the play The Dance Teacher by the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega.

“He had appeared in the play more than 1,000 times, Tass reported. The theatre had planned for him to appear again next February, to mark his 102nd birthday. …

“Zeldin was born in 1915, when Tsar Nicholas II was on the Russian throne. He shot to fame when he appeared in the film They Met in Moscow, on which shooting began shortly before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. …

“When the war finished, Zeldin joined Moscow’s Red Army Theatre, where he was part of the troupe from 1945 until his death. The theatre is now known as the Russian Army Theatre. Fellow actors at the theatre described him as full of energy until the very last.” More.

I think the actress who played 104-year-old Great-Great-Grandmaw in All the Way Home (the stage version of James Agee’s A Death in the Family) must have been nearly as old as Zeldin. I remember her voice came out as kind of a croak. But that may have been because she was acting.

Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/AP  
Vladimir Zeldin on stage in Moscow.

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Actor Finn Wittrock wrote recently at the New York Times about helping to start a mini Shakespeare company in the 1990s to entertain his parents and other theater professionals. He recalls with wonder his young self’s confidence of success.

“I was born in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. I lived there until I was 6, then moved to Evanston, Ill., and later to Los Angeles. But every summer for most of my youth, I would go back East with my brother, my mom and my dad, who most summers was acting or teaching for Shakespeare & Company. I would often be cast as a page or an altar boy in one of the professional productions.

“I went in lieu of a summer camp; I went to romp in the Berkshires, see old friends, get out of the city. But mostly I went for the Very Young Company.

“Starting at the age of 8 and until I was 16, my oldest friends and I would get together every summer: Rory, Reilly, Wolfe, and later my brother, Dylan, and Wolfe’s brother, Tiger (yes, their real names) would arrange five or six scenes from Shakespeare, rehearse them on our own time in the sun-drenched Berkshire afternoons and perform them for the adult company after one of their Mainstage shows. We began the company ourselves and it ended when we were no longer ‘very young.’

“For a kid, it was an epic undertaking; an outlet for pre- and post-adolescent energies. We were totally self-motivated; nobody told us to do it, which was in itself an incentive. We’d choose a scene based on our own criteria: Had the company done it before? Could we make fun of them for it? Could we put Reilly in a wig and have him play a girl? And, most important: Did it end in a sword fight? …

Sometimes I yearn to have the boldness of one who knows nothing, who jumps onstage for no other reason than because he is young and has a loud voice.”

Later in his essay, Wittrock recalls something the celebrated director Mike Nichols once said about his own early years: ” ‘Why was I so confident back then? I had no business being that confident.’ And yet he attributed most of his early success to that unreasonable confidence. …

“No one gave us permission to do the Very Young Company; no one ordered us to do it, and no one had to boost our confidence to do it. We just did it. We were just kids howling Shakespeare to the Berkshire trees, and our readiness was all.” More at the New York Times, here.

At one point in my  childhood, I, too, was confident. I thought, if my parents would only call the movie theater and set it up, four of us kids — the Gordons, one of my brothers, and I — would be a smashing success performing our version of “Snow White and Rose Red” before the feature. The grownups didn’t quite believe in it.

Some neighbors and I did perform an original play about a snowman for family members. One of the actors returned a copy of the pencil-scrawled script to me at my aunt’s funeral in 2002, decades later.

Photo: Lauren Lancaster for the NY Times
Finn Wittrock, right, and Rory Hammond, enacting the killing of Lady Macduff and her son in a mini-“Macbeth.” The young actors formed their own company more than 20 years ago to entertain their parents and other professionals at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.

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Maura Judkis of the Washington Post blogged recently about an actor who wants the opportunity to perform in your home and will throw in a surprising service.

Judkis writes, “Fringe Festival audiences have opened their homes to Brian Feldman. He has met their families and friends, admired their art, eaten their food, handled their precious china. …

“The premise for Feldman’s show, ‘Dishwasher,’ is this: He will come to a person’s house, wash all of the dirty dishes, perform a monologue of the audience’s choosing and then conclude with a single question: ‘Am I a better actor or dishwasher?’ The answer can depend on the monologue that he cold-reads — and on how crusty that casserole dish in the sink has become. The show — the first Fringe show to take place in private homes — has sold out its entire run. …

“His [work] follows in the tradition of great performance artists such as Tehching Hsieh and Marina Abramovic, but it’s more playful — and in his opinion, more theatrical.

“ ‘It’s hard to define — I’m straddling the middle, and I’m always pitching it as theater,’ he said. ‘I was always more interested in theater that had a concept that was hard to define, or things that didn’t have an ending, and didn’t necessarily have a beginning.’ …

“In the week of performing the show so far, he’s dealt with messes big and small. There was the Cleveland Park home with the too-small sink.

“ ‘It was hard to wash anything,’ he said. ‘They had a door that you could enclose yourself in the kitchen. I used it to comic effect, it was almost like “Noises Off.” ‘ …

“So far, five of his hosts have told him he’s better at acting, one has said he’s better at dishwashing, and two couldn’t decide.

“ ‘I’m trying to do as good a job dishwashing as I am acting,’ he said. ‘It’s subjective, just like art.’ ”

Read how Judkis and her friends got him to read “the character of Mrs. Pringle, who is fretting about a disappointing party, from the play ‘Fourteen’ by Alice Gerstenberg. ‘This is my last dinner party — my very last — a fiasco — an utter fiasco!’ ” here.

Photo: Maura Judkis/The Washington Post
Brian Feldman performs a monologue in the writer’s home.

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John found a sweet little video clip of the 1955 Danny Kaye film The Court Jester featuring my favorite lullaby.

I often sing “I’ll Take You Dreaming” to my grandchildren, and I sang it to John when he was a baby and to Suzanne. (A pre-verbal Suzanne used to make a squeaking noise when I came to the word “dreaming,” and I finally figured out she thought the word was “screaming.”)

The YouTube video refused to embed, try as I might, and as I poked around the web for another video, I came on some information about Danny Kaye, who was hilarious in that movie. I never saw my mother laugh so hard. The lullaby was one of the few quiet places.

“Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in Straw Hat Revue, but it was the stage production of the musical Lady in the Dark in 1940 that brought him acclaim and notice from agents.”

Oh, boy, I saw a production of Lady in the Dark in the 1980s at the Boston Conservatory. What a show!

“Samuel Goldwyn had been trying to sign Kaye to a movie contract for two years before he eventually agreed. Goldwyn put him in a series of Technicolor musicals, starting with Up in Arms (1944). His debut was successful, and he continued to make hit movies such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and The Inspector General (1949). In 1954, he appeared with Bing Crosby in White Christmas (1954), which was based on the Irving Berlin song of the same name. In 1955, he made what many consider his best comedy, The Court Jester (1955). …

“He also worked tirelessly for UNICEF.” More at IMDb.

You can find the lullaby scene on YouTube. I thought the sound quality was best here.

Studio publicity photo of actor and comedian Danny Kaye. 

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In 2010, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher published a book of remarkable images that captured the honeybee in an entirely new light. By using powerful scanning electron microscopes, she magnified a bee’s microscopic structures by hundreds or even thousands of times in size, revealing startling, abstract forms that are far too small to see with the naked eye.

Now, as part of a new project called “Topography of Tears,” she’s using microscopes to give us an unexpected view of another familiar subject: dried human tears.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-microscopic-structures-of-dried-human-tears-180947766/#UBkOIVzILZd8kaLc.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

In 2010, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher published a book of remarkable images that captured the honeybee in an entirely new light. By using powerful scanning electron microscopes, she magnified a bee’s microscopic structures by hundreds or even thousands of times in size, revealing startling, abstract forms that are far too small to see with the naked eye.

Now, as part of a new project called “Topography of Tears,” she’s using microscopes to give us an unexpected view of another familiar subject: dried human tears.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-microscopic-structures-of-dried-human-tears-180947766/#UBkOIVzILZd8kaLc.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

A Smithsonian article by Joseph Stromberg about photographs of tears is resonant on so many levels one doesn’t know where to start.

Stromberg writes, “In 2010, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher published a book of remarkable images that captured the honeybee in an entirely new light. By using powerful scanning electron microscopes, she magnified a bee’s microscopic structures by hundreds or even thousands of times in size, revealing startling, abstract forms that are far too small to see with the naked eye.

“Now, as part of a new project called ‘Topography of Tears,’ she’s using microscopes to give us an unexpected view of another familiar subject: dried human tears….

“Scientifically, tears are divided into three different types, based on their origin. Both tears of grief and joy are psychic tears, triggered by extreme emotions, whether positive or negative. Basal tears are released continuously in tiny quantities (on average, 0.75 to 1.1 grams over a 24-hour period) to keep the cornea lubricated. Reflex tears are secreted in response to an irritant, like dust, onion vapors or tear gas.”

Oh, but I knew that tears from different causes are different. I learned that from a fantasy I was exposed to at age 10, when the future star of stage and screen René Auberjonois, age 13, played the wicked uncle in a production of James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks.

The wicked uncle requires jewels to release his lovely niece, the Princess Saralinda, from captivity.

Although you really will get a kick out of reading the whole book, all you need to know for present purposes is from Wikipedia:  “Zorn and the Golux travel to the home of Hagga, a woman with the ability to weep jewels, only to discover that she was made to weep so much that she is no longer able to cry.

“As the realization that they have failed sets in, Hagga begins to laugh inexplicably until she cries, producing an abundance of jewels. Hagga informs them that the magic spell that let her cry tears was altered, so whereas ‘the tears of sadness shall last without measure, the tears of laughter shall give but little pleasure.’ Jewels from the tears of happiness return to the state of tears a fortnight after they were made.”

(Fortunately, that was enough time to trick the wicked uncle.)

Photo: Rose-Lynn Fisher/Craig Krull Gallery
“Tears of Timeless Reunion”

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One thinks of Iran as repressive, and having watched the doomed 2009 revolution unfold on twitter, I believe it is. But Iranian theater people seem to be managing to squeeze in some fun.

I blogged before about the Tehran production in a taxi, here. Now Studio 360 has a story on what might be called extreme improvisation. I take that back. There’s a script. But the actor doesn’t get to see it in advance.

“Actors face stage fright all the time,” says Studio 360, a radio show. “But consider this scenario: you show up to perform a one-person show, and you’ve never seen the script. You don’t know what it’s about because you promised not to do any research. It’s your first performance, and the only one you’ll ever have. The theater’s artistic director hands you a fat manila envelope with a script. And go.

“Also, the audience will decide whether you drink a glass of water that appears to have been poisoned.

“This is the premise of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. ‘I did not know what was in front of me inside that envelope,’ says actor Gwydion Suilebhan. ‘What if this script is going to require that I disrobe? Or insult my mother? Or be rude or self-debasing?’ …

“Soleimanpour pulls his strings from afar, because — although the play has been performed in Toronto, Berlin, San Francisco, Brisbane, Edinburgh, London, and now Washington, DC — he really is in a cage. He doesn’t have a passport and can’t leave Iran, so he has never seen his play performed. ‘Nassim has given up the kind of control that is customary for playwrights,’ says Suilebhan, of working with actors and directors to realize the play. ‘At the same time, because he has put all of these restrictions on how it is to be performed, he has seized certain kinds of control that playwrights normally do not have. So he is literally embodying the ideas of control and submission and manipulation that he’s baked into his script.’ ” More.

Photo of Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour found at the HuffingtonPost

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