Archive for the 'from the deep archives' Category

R.I.P./From the Deep Archives: WILLIAM HURT

March 15, 2022

The great stage and film actor William Hurt died March 13, 2022, at the age of 71. He was the cover boy for CAUGHT IN THE ACT: New York Actors Face to Face, the 1986 book I did with photographer Susan Shacter. He was the only actor that Susan felt needed three images to capture, and they worked beautifully for the cover. Having admired him tremendously onstage in HAMLET and HURLYBURLY as well as on film in BODY HEAT, ALTERED STATES, and the others, I very much enjoyed talking to him. “The mask is everything.” Click here to read my interview from the book.

From the Deep Archives: performance diary 1979

November 6, 2021


saw carla bley tonight. she’s bizarre. she conducts like a witch casting a spell, with crooked fingers. very funny, too. nice stuff, melodic – both raucous & lyrical, swinging & abstract. weird. her husband michael mantler is a hunk. steve swallow*, d. sharpe** & don preston*** also played. she had 4 little boys announce the players’ names at the beginning of the show – she consulted with one 3 times before he stated into the mike, “the sousaphone player is seldom present.”

*one of the all-time great jazz bass players

**formerly the drummer for Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and alter played on Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman”

***formerly keyboard player with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

From the Deep Archives: Mabou Mines’s HAJJ

May 7, 2020

In this time when live theater is not happening, the veteran downtown troupe Mabou Mines has been posting online treasures from its archives — clips and documentation and full-length videos from its long illustrious career. This week the focus is on a 1993 piece called Hajj, written and directed by Lee Breuer, performed by Ruth Maleczech, with set and lighting by Julie Archer and video by Craig Jones. Because I wrote an article about the production and its cutting-edge use of video technology for American Film magazine, the company asked if I would talk about what it was like seeing the show in person back in the day. My comments were posted on the company’s Facebook page, which you can view here. And you can check out the history of the production on the Mabou Mines website here. There’s a link on the website to watch the show on Vimeo, which is necessarily a rudimentary document that is no substitute for the magical live performance, but it will give you a sense of the work.



From the deep archives: Jean Smart

December 26, 2019


Jean Smart just celebrated her first anniversary of moving to New York City. She spent most of the last year giving one of the season’s great performances in Jane Chambers’ long-running play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, which moved from Off-Off-Broadway’s New Shandol Theater and Westside Mainstage to its current home Off-Broadway at the Actors Playhouse. And as an anniversary present, she’ll be making her Broadway debut in Pam Gems’ new play Piaf, which opens Thursday at the Plymouth Theater.

In Bluefish Cove Smart played Lil, a funny and romantic businesswoman fighting off terminal cancer and the pity of her friends by plunging into a torrid affair with a straight woman who unwittingly wandered into a lesbian summer resort. Chambers’ script carefully steered around most of the ample opportunities for Camille-like sentimentality, and so did Smart’s performance. Yet she managed – with just an occasional abstract gaze, a nervous cheerfulness, a sudden shattering of carefree façade – to transform almost a soap opera situation into a classic story of love and life struggling against grim odds. Blond and sultry, fleshy yet petite, Smart looked statuesque, which made all the more surprising her quick, husky voice, her pealing laugh, and her utter naturalness as an actor. Then, too the role’s rapid moodswings gave her a chance to show her stuff – inf act, she endured an arduous commute to play Lady Macbeth in Pittsburgh during the showcase stage of Bluefish Cove because, she says, “I knew Lil was too good a part to give up.” It’s always difficult to follow such a spectacular performance, but the producers of Piaf must have spied Smart’s budding charisma. In that play she has one short but pungent scene playing Marlene Dietrich.

Born and reared in Seattle, Smart began her career by staking out the Northwest Territory’ she has worked extensively at such theaters as Seattle Rep, A.C.T., the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Alaska Rep. At the latter she appeared in Terra Nova, Ted Tally’s play about Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, who first reached the North Pole. “A friend in L.A. asked, ‘What do you do for a set, open the back wall of the theater?’” Still in her early ‘30s, Smart had already essayed such roles as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Eve in A History of the American Film,  and Hesione in Shaw’s Heartbreak House before making the inevitable migration to New York.

Putting off that migration gave her a chance to both learn her craft and see the world. Married for a few years to a Marine, she spent several months in japan when he was stationed there. “Another woman and I tried to start a dinner theater in the officers’ club,” she recalled. “We held auditions for You Can’t Take It With You, but nobody came. We had wanted to call it the Yes Theater. Nobody got the joke, so maybe it was just as well.”

(photo by Jonathan Postal)

Soho News, February 4, 1981

From the deep archives: Joseph Kramer — Portrait of a Sexual Healer

May 23, 2019

In the spring of 1992, I interviewed Joseph Kramer, the founder of the Body Electric School, for an article that was published in the April 21 edition of the Village Voice (“Sexual Healing: Joseph Kramer Sings the Body Electric”). I used only a few brief excerpts from the interview in the published article. But the conversation with Kramer covered a lot of territory above and beyond the “Celebrating the Body Erotic” workshop. He spoke in much greater detail about his own background, the evolution of the workshops he taught, his vision of the vocation he named “sacred intimate,” Andrew Ramer’s notion of the “consciousness scout,” and his own understanding of the erotic consciousness scout and its function in society, among other topics.

I’ve come to view this interview as a historical document, so I’m publishing the complete transcript here for the first time, edited only in order to be comprehensible.

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