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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alex Ross makes my day

The New Yorker music critic mentions both Albert Fuller's Rendezvous Lounge and Apparition of the Eternal Church in this most gratifying of blog entries.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

photo essay: Americans in Paris































































































Albert Fuller obituaries

photo: James Estrin, New York Times


Albert's obituaries appeared this morning in the New York Times and the Sun, along with paid notices from Juilliard and the Helicon Foundation. Jim Roe posted an entry with links to all of the above on the Rendezvous Lounge.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Albert Fuller, 21 July 1926 - 22 September 2007

photo by Christian Steiner

Albert Fuller died this morning at his home in Manhattan. He was eighty-one, and leaves his circle of students and friends, among whom I was privileged to count myself, with many lifetimes' worth of personal and artistic gifts.

I love you Albert!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Best Sex Writing 2008


I've just found out that my Nerve essay "How Insensitive," about my participation in a study to determine sensitivity loss in the circumcised penis, is going to be included in the anthology Best Sex Writing 2008, which you can pre-order on Amazon now (buying it through that link will get me a small commission). Release is scheduled for December 2007.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

from Boonville to Berkeley: Bulrusher

Eisa Davis's play Bulrusher, which was nominated for a 2007 Pulitzer, is coming to the Ashby Stage in Berkeley Sept. 19 to Oct 21. I'm going Thursday night with a Mendocino friend--it's pay what you can the first weekend.

The play is written partly in the Boonville dialect known as Boontling. You don't have to be able to harp the ling to get the play, but here's the playwright's glossary in case you want to bone up beforehand (click images for larger versions):


photo essay: Twelfth Night

this is actually the Titus afterparty







MaryBeth encourages us to show compassion for each other's weaknesses.







One face, one voice, one habit, one orthodontist.








Val gets religion at our opening night party.









Words fail.
















































































his Cs, Us, 'N' Ts.








the lighter people in this production actually float



































Oy, Novato is so buggy







the playwright visits the set


























theatrical landscape (Camille)








assistant associate director








Saturday, September 8, 2007

another rave review for Twelfth Night

This from the September 7th edition of the Pacific Sun, which I would not reproduce here if I had a modest bone in my body. (Here's the pdf link--the review is on print page 33.)
...Bay Area theater veteran Worsley is superb as the deluded and delusional Malvolio...

Director Mary Beth Cavanaugh succeeds with some bold chances in this modern-dress production. On a wide empty stage—the only props are some gold-painted chairs and a few swords—she combines contemporary dance, pop music, slapstick comedy and Shakespearean dialogue to delightful effect. The show moves along briskly, with a great performance by Karrick as the perpetually intoxicated Sir Toby. The athletic Hernandez is his perfect counterpart as the volatile, hip-hop attired Sir Andrew. The ephemeral Kalli Jonnson does a marvelous interpretation of Feste, the wandering jester who manages to always be in the right place at the right time to propel the plot, tweaking the curiosity of the main characters with entertaining riddles and extracting fees for doing so.

In many ways the most astounding performer of all is Paul Festa, in the minor roles of Curio and the Priest. At key moments in the production, the multi-talented Festa (essayist, novelist, filmmaker, actor, musician) strolls about onstage with his violin, playing either unaccompanied or with recordings. It’s a brilliant, evocative bit of theater that helps lift this show to an unusually high artistic level.

North Bay Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a funny, entertaining and artistically adventurous production. It heralds a bright future for the company, Hamilton Amphitheater Park and the Marin County theater community.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

12th Night rave review

Here, from the Marin Independent Journal, is a review of our production of 12th Night.

As I mentioned to friends via email, if you can't shell out for the seats, there's the whole perimeter stone stairway of the amphitheater where you can watch and see the play from a little more distance. The producers are fine with this, but hope you'll make a pay-what-you-can contribution after the show.

While I like this review in general, I must take issue with the reviewer's characterization of me as "mute." In my roles as Curio and the Priest, I speak--count them--forty-two words.

Oh, what a 'Night' for the Bard at Hamilton
Mark Langton

LIKE A FUNNY, surrealist, Kabuki ballet, the North Bay Shakespeare Company has christened its new venue and inaugural season with an undeniable winner in its lusty, new interpretation of "Twelfth Night," William Shakespeare's most sexually subversive of plays.

The Artists Formerly Known as Shakespeare at Stinson, under the direction of MaryBeth Cavanaugh and the ongoing artistic direction of Jeffrey Trotter, have pulled off an across-the-board triumph in their spacious new home, which opened last weekend at the Hamilton Amphitheater in the former Hamilton Air Force base in Novato.

...

Clearly drawing on her five seasons as a choreographer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, director Cavanaugh tells her story in modern dress with a cast that moves almost as one - with fight scenes out of "West Side Story" and love scenes like "Swan Lake" - fully disclosing the heavy breathing and wistful sighs often hidden in this play's wildly beating heart.

...

The masquerading servant with the identity crisis in this case is the shipwrecked Viola, strongly played by Valerie Weak, who washes up on the shores of Illyria to disguise herself as a boy to find employment as a servant to Orsino, the lovelorn duke of Illyria, admirably played with great dignity and operatic flair by Chiron Alston.

...

As if to take away his audience's pain, Shakespeare wisely provided the raucous comic relief of Sir Toby Belch, an aptly named drunken rogue, played by Kevin Karrick like a lusty Brendan Behan; Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Belch's idiot-in-waiting, played with delightful manic energy by Gendell Hernandez; and the mad steward Malvolio, hilariously played by Clive Worsley, whose preening, prancing and vocal gymnastics bring to mind those of Ed Grimley, the early Martin Short character on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

This is a wonderful cast with fine performances across the board. Nearly every exit receives an ovation and every entrance a delight. Weak's thoughtful rendering of Viola/Cesario makes her as much the watchful conscience of this play as Jonsson's Feste, who tops his harrowing portrayal as King Richard (from a past SAS production of "Richard II") with this mocking, darkly comic fool.

When Feste sings the famous "come away, come away death" soliloquy (made all the more surreal last Saturday by the fortuitous tinkle of a Good Humor truck that happened to pass by), several members of the audience were audibly moved to tears. Conversely, the chorus of "Smile (Though Your Heart Is Breaking)" - written by Charlie Chaplin as his theme music for "Modern Times" and sung by Feste and several members of the cast - could use a little rehearsal.

As Viola's long-lost brother Sebastian, Bergin gives a surprisingly sophisticated performance for one so young. The same is true for Cara Burgoyne, whose libidinal Maria fills the air with one of the most wicked and authentic stage laughs you've ever heard. Also, Thornton-Alson is quite funny as the fussy, nearly frenetic countess Olivia. Hers is a much more comical take on the role than the usual, dark, scheming variety - a many-layered performance that is at once vulnerable and sly.

Honorable mentions should also go to G. Randall Wright's Antonio, an oddly noble Spanish buccaneer, and violinist Paul Festa, whose mute presence as the violinist (doubling as the priest) often set the production's tone - as did the ideal music selection of Elvis Costello's work with the Brodsky String Quartet, "The Juliet Letters," which ended Act One, and the starkly miniminalist set design by Rick Ortenblad, drawn from a palette of black, red and gray.

This is some of the most haunting, powerful, funny and engaging North Bay Shakespeare performed in recent memory. Director and cast were either born to it, achieved it or had it thrust upon them - whatever the case, this is one great "Night."

IF YOU GO

What: William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" by North Bay Shakespeare Company (formerly Shakespeare at Stinson)

Where: Hamilton Amphitheater Park, Main Gate Road, Novato

When: Through Sept. 30; 7 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. weekends, 10:30 a.m. matinees Sept. 14 and 28

Tickets: $16 to $30; matinees $12 for students and $16 general admission; Sept. 14 and 28 are Family and Friends Nights when groups of three or more are $14 per person.

Information: 868-1115, www.nbshakes.org

Rating: 5 stars

More: A benefit to support North Bay Shakespeare Company will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 9, followed by the play at 6 p.m. $40.

About Me

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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