Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm Back!

STAGES After three months of being unable to attend any dance or theater event, I returned to a theater to see BULLET FOR HITLER – and as the first act ran on incessantly with these people whom I would avoid in real life within three minutes of meeting them, I almost wished I had a bullet myself. The second act at least moved and was mildly interesting. The director used every stock trick in the book to get laughs – and the audience laughed loudly and long. The author had a few clever remarks but they almost got lost in the overdone physicality of the action. As one who hated slapstick since childhood, I found much of this production a terrible turn off. During that recuperative three months, from which I finally emerged, I read many plays, including IN MASKS OUTRAGEOUS AND AUSTERE by Tennessee Williams which I would love to see staged. I read two plays by Ayn Rand which I had seen in off off Broadway productions here in New York in the last several years Her IDEALS was cleverly cut and smoothly presented in the production I saw. It ran on and on and on in the original script. Her THINK TWICE was less well served in the rather less than professional showing I attended. She is one of my favorite twentieth century authors, as is Daphne du Maurier. SHOOT/GET TREASURE/ REPEAT by Mark Ravenhill gave me chills as I read the series of plays which are brilliantly written and certainly show a different viewpoint than Western Nations generally adopt It would be painful to watch – but that is their intention. I have been working on cutting and reshaping some plays I wrote years ago as three acts to the more acceptable one or two acts. It has probably made me more conscious of overwritten plays. PAGES Also read a series of Ayn Rand’s short stories, a number of Daphne du Maurier novels Including “The House on the Strand”, “Rule Britannia” and “Don’t Look Now.” At first I was disinterested in Sinclair Lewis’ "The Prodigal Parents” but soon got caught up in it and found it ultimately a delight. Read Art Times Journal Sept/Oct issue to see my remarks about two books about early twentieth century dance phenomena -rocj and rikk and Martha Graham. Will be on line in Sept and in print as well. I just finished editing and formatting the children’s book “Dan is not Scary” by Melissa deGenova and sent it to the printer. Maggie Cousins, who illustrated my four read-to-me children’s anthologies of fantasy stories did the front cover and the illustrations for this book as well. It is about a little girl’s birthday and how she reacts to her friends’ finding her wheel chair bound older brother daunting. It is an earnest attempt to make kids understand that differences in speech or physical capabilities should not make people uncomfortable or afraid. I am plodding along with the second part of my memoir of childhood during the Great Depression and Second World War. It seems there has been little peace ever since. “Remembering our Parents – stories and sayings from mom and dad” which will be released in September has a section from me about my dad and his reaction to the sale of my first poem. Selection was taken directly from my memoir. It’s the third book in the last two years to print contributions from me – First was “Living the Life of My Dreams” by Caryn FitzGerald, out in ebooks in 2011 and paper more recently, and “Imperfect Weddings are Best” by Dr. Sherry L. Meinberg, published by Create Space earlier this year”: My Leftovers reminiscence is the first anecdote in that book. I am now starting on a group of Somerset Maugham’s novels. It has been a long time since I read any of them, and the one I began with, “The Narrow Corner” was one I never read before. Rarely in the past did I read a number of works by one author all in succession. I find by doing so you realize how much repetition there is in an author’s work, even when each book is totally different from the others. Am ending this now with the hope that I will be back to seeing three or four productions a week and being able to report on many of them. I am walking slightly better than a two year old now, after months of having to keep my leg straight, no bending of the knee, and hope to be up to par in a few more weeks. Do post your reactionsto this blog rther then merely e mail me.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Popping Up All Over

STAGES Busy time for theater and dance. Have seen Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN revival. My memory of earlier versions too strong. Did realize for first time, however, that the brother is a totally unrealistic remembrance by Loman, as if one visit encapsulated all their lives. AN EARLY HISTORY OF FIRE absorbing new family drama by David Rabe about youth’s eternal need to fly from home – and a creative man’s double need to expand his horizons. Well done and absorbing. LONELY, I’M NOT by Paul Weitz explores the difficult task of finding oneself. Nicely acted and well staged to keep action moving. ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS brilliantly directed and performed by a stellar cast. Had audience in stitches throughout and managed to fool most viewers with various schtick. Though not a fan of commedia dell’arte, I appreciate how superbly this was done. Was fascinated by THE MORINI STRAD – a friend who saw it could not warm to the leading character, but I, having worked for years with Sonia Moore, identified with her immediately. They were two of a kind. INTERNATIONAL PERFORMING ARTISTS PRESENTS AN EVENING OF DANCE in late March had few exciting moments but was enjoyable throughout. AVI SCHER & DANCERS, about whom I wrote extensively in the May/June issue of Art Times Journal continues to present superb classical dancers in his very romantic choreography. YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX NEW YORK FINALS 2012 was a stunner. Classical Ballet has nothing to worry about in the future if the memorable dancers in STARS OF TODAY MEET STARS OF TOMORROW GALA is representative of the remarkable talents of young dancers emerging internationally today. I was particularly impressed by the male dancers who had great elevation and strong sustained performances in their solos and partnering. I will cover this event and the subsequent First Position movie in my Art Times Journal dance article on line in June. I was delighted to attend Program A of the Spring 2012 Directors’ Festival at Pace University. I went to accompany playwright Paul Dexter whose THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DOUG was first play on the four play program. His play is one of my favorites in TnT Classic Books volume of "Short Plays to Long Remember" which I compiled and edited in 2010 and which was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Awards that year. The young actor portraying Doug, Jake Robbins, did a very energetic performance of Doug. A slower pacing of the play would have done much to indicate the humiliation he needed to portray. In the second play the daughter (Claire Charland) and mother (Brooklyn Newton) were both memorable, the younger for her naturalness and innocence, the mother for her ability to appear to be a middle aged dowager despite her actual youth. My favorite production of the evening was ALL ABOUT AL which offers a humorous look at jealousy. The final presentation was ill conceived and the actresses had neither the stage presence nor the vocal abilities to pull it off. I always tell actors when I direct there are two things you owe an audience - to be seen in character and heard throughout the theater. Without those very basic abilities, no amount of “acting” can save you. PAGES Read three more books for the global ebook awards – one quite wonderful. They asked us to hold comments until all entries are judged, so no words allowed yet. Also read over half a dozen paper books – no wonder my eyes are so bad – Mysteries by Lovejoy, Marsh and Barnard -- one actually fooled me, other 2 figured out fairly early. Biography of the brilliant artist Turner by Peter Ackroyd was interesting though not compelling, being more about his art than about him. Now reading Daphne du Maurier’s "The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte" biography, which has all the dramatic power she can so readily convey. Enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Charming Quirks of Others.” Jeb Rubenfeld’s “Death Instinct”, second book with Freud as a character. was as entertaining as his first. Both are set in part in my native New York many years ago and are extra fascinating for that fact. I am working on the second part of my early years memoir, CONFESSIONS OF A DIRTY CHEW BASKET, having just left the devastating 1930s in NYC, not many years after the Rubenfeld books' time set. Also preparing a book by Melissa DiGenova for publication by TnT Classioc Books. Have a nice quote on the back cover of Norman Beim’s “Touring With Stalin.” An anecdote about my dad will appear in a forthcoming book, “Remembering our Parents” by Stuart Gustafson, and Sherry L. Meinberg sent me a copy of her book, “Imperfect Weddings” which begins with an anecdote from my own wedding. Looking forward to my interview May 22 at 1PM Eastern time on conscious discussions at We’ll discuss my current campaign to fight illiteracy by getting kids hooked on books before school sets them squirming when they have to read. Seems like I am popping up all over, but right now need to pop off and get going on supper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Will winter demand a rematch now that its spring?


I cannot believe I skipped mentioning a play I thought one of the best I’ve seen in years. It was on Theater Row,
Poetic License
by Jack Canfora– four characters, with old Greek unities, brilliant dialogue, scintillating performances, a fine set, very good direction by Evan Bergmann – should have gone to Broadway but the Times did not agree so probably it will languish until some wise producer finds it eventually. This talented playwright deserves a Broadway run soon.

A talented playwright who had his share of Broadway runs, the great Eugene O’Neill, was being well served at the Irish Rep Theater with a production of
Beyond the Horizon
that flowed as smoothly and inevitably as a river rushing to the ocean. I loved the expressionistic set by Hugh Landwehr and offer kudos to old pal Ciarán O’Reilly for his naturalistic direction.

On the dance front, enjoyed the 2012 Inaugural Performance of Kymera Dance in the spacious LaGuardia High School. More about this and New York Theatre Ballet’s 33rd Season
Signatures 12
celebration of legends and visionaries on line in April at


Rules for judges reading in the Global Ebook Awards have changed, and we are urged NOT to post opinions about books we have judged until winners are announced, so I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed several books in the historical fiction and mystery categories.

In paper books. Enjoyed Robert Barnard’s “Death of a Literary Widow” But then, I haee enjoyed most of his mysteries.

Admit I was not much taken with Gustave Flaubert’s “Sentimental Education.” Charles Finch’s “A Stranger in Mayfair” held my interest throughout even though I figured out the murderer too soon and the motive as soon as a certain fact unknown earlier was revealed. Well plotted, well written and well worth reading.

Am currently preparing a new kids book written by Melissa DiGenova for publication this Fall. It is her second book for TnT Classics, which published her first book. The book she wrote in between, “Jake is not Stupid” was published elsewhere. It was the first in a series this special ed teacher projects about children with physical, emotional or mental challenges.
Her new book, “Dan is Not Scary” is being illustrated by Maggie Cousins, who illustrated all four fo my read-to-me fantasy story books.

The great niece of the co-founder of TnT Classic Books, visited here this past week. We reminisced about her Great Aunt and all the books in the Happy Task series from TnT, which was named for Maggie Task upon her demise.

Will be at the Rainbow Book Fair on West 13th St Saturday, March 24 at the GNYIPA table on the first floor. If you get to read this in time and can make it, stop by. We are there from 10AM until early eve.
I’ll be reading a 4 minute selection from Jane Chambers’ spoof of evangelists, “Chasin’ Jason”, sometime between 3:30 and 4:00. This novel never got all the attention it deserved but seems especially appropriate in today’s religious climate. In it, a four year old declares himself the second coming – and his followers just about take over the world!
I finished the rewrite of my play about a musician who died too young, am back working on the second half of my memoir about childhood during the Great Depression and World War II. Life keeps getting in the way of my writing time – so will steal a few hours from this day and go back to work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012



I was so busy going to various staged events in February; I never got around to writing about them. So here’s a brief recap. Those with dancing involved are also covered in my March/April article in Art Times Journal and on line at
Broke my own rule about revivals and went to see “The Road to Mecca.” It reinforces why I don’t “do” revivals generally. While I am not opposed to talky plays, the talk has to dazzle or the players have to triumph. Neither was the case in this revival there just never was a moment when the play soared off the stage.
Saw “Russian Transport” which was played more for comedy than for the underlying horror of the family business. It was lively and many of the family scenes seemed very realistic. It is a disturbing play and a good attempt at real old fashioned drama.
I enjoyed Parsons Dance presentation at the Joyce. “Round my World” had some visually stunning moments. I found the music in several of the numbers so unpleasant I prayed for earplugs and just held my hands over my ears instead. A much younger musician friend who was with me had the same reaction. “Caught” should have come with a warning for those who cannot take strobe lighting, because it is a dance of light and posing and the timing must be perfect, as it was in this performance. All the dances used the stage well, and the final “Swing Shift” was a rousing one. Dancers were fluid, graceful and athletic. David Parson choreographed 4 of the 5 numbers, and Katarzyna Skarpetowska the world premiere of “A Stray’s Lullaby” which was commissioned by the Joyce Theater Foundation with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It was a perfect fit with the rest of the program.
Was at the world premiere of a new NYC dance company, Kymera Dance at the far from small Little Flower Theater at LaGuardia High School. Company foundet William Isaac choreographed two of the dances, one of which he had done in 2011 and which used LaGuardia High School Alumni Dancers to recreate it, the other was an energetic and exciting new work. Abdur-Rahim Jackson choreographed one and Karole Armitage presented excerpts form “Three Theories” which premiered in 2010.
I also saw “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” which soared on the opening nimber due to the exquisite voice of Nikki Renée Daniels. All the voices throughout were splendid, although some of the characterizations were less stunning than I had anticipated after all the great reviews. The dancing frankly left me disappointed. Still, it is a thrill to have the opportunity to see this done on a Broadway stage. Audra McDonald certainly did not disappoint.
Must mention the loss of Howard Kissel. He was top drama critic at the Daily News when I was a press agent and I found him always a gentleman and an astute critic. He shall be missed.
I have one personal memory of Howard which embarrassed him and amused me.
I was awaiting a cross town bus at 9th Ave and 34th when Howard rushed over to the bus stop. Delighted to see him after about 4 years, I greeted him and he stooped over and pecked my cheek. Then he pulled away and apologized, saying he thought I was someone else. He was blushing. Laughing I said “I’m Francine”
and before I could finish he said, Yes, Francine Trevens, I know.” I wonder for whom he mistook me?
I made a similar mistake some ten years earlier when I was rushing to a meeting on the east side and saw an actor I recognized, although his name eluded me. Having interviewed hundreds of actors in my theater reviewing days, I greeted him with a hug and said how surprised I was to see him in New York. “What are you doing here?”
I asked, struggling to recall his name. He said was filming a movie. I wished him luck with it, said how great it was to see him and hurried on. Two blocks later it dawned on me I had never interviewed him or spoken to him before in my life – it was Michael Caine. I wonder if he wondered who the h… I was?
In addition to my regular reading of books I can cuddle with before going to sleep, or read while dining, I have read three books for the Global Ebooks awards, being a judge again this year.
Of the three the first purported to be a mystery novel and I found it to be neither a novel or much of a mystery. The second blew me away – an historical novel that had me on the edge of my seat as I strained my eyes to read it on my computer. “Dr. Margaret’s Sea Chest” was thrilling – with its history of the underground railroad and the Indian wars with the charge of the light brigade all made up close and personal. I look forward to the sequel
Another good read was Ice on the Grapes by R.E. Donald. Took me a while to get into it but it kept moving and got more interesting as it went along. Well plotted mystery.
Smashwords, where I publish my ebooks for kids is having a special promotion so I have offered all four read to me illustrated fantasy books for half price now through March 10 – so if you have been wanting to read these gems Pixie Tales, “Elfin Tales,” “Fairy Tales Too,” and “Gremlins, Genies and Trolls, Oh My!”or get them for kids in your family get them now! You can download them to any e reader, or read as a PDF or an epub right on your computer.
The code for half price on any of the books is REW50. –

In paper format, have been reading several books. One mystery that delighted me was “Death at Devil’s Bridge” by Robin Paige (pen name of a husband and wife writing team). The mystery is set in the turbulent time when balloon travel was an uncontrollable new form of flight, and automobiles were considerate great dangers when they sped about at 12 miles an hour. Charming book.
“The Affairs of Forgotten Youth” is the first Alexander McCall Smith book which I have read which disappointed me. He is a favorite contemporary writer of mine and this book just didn’t grab me as have all his others.
Now, back to the pages of a full length play that I have been rewriting for the last two weeks. Hope to get it in shape this week and sent out to theaters ASAP. These things don’t do any of us any good sitting in drawers or on computers, do they?
As my 80th birthday creeps up, I know I must get a move on with all the projects I wish to get written before my final curtain!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Hope you had as happy a start to new year as did I.

If you had a choice between a box of one kind of chocolates or a sampler, which would you choose? If you went to a foreign food restaurant you had never tried before, would you prefer to order a single item or choose a buffet?
I’d go for the chocolate sampler and the buffet, because I like to try new things in small quantities to determine what I’d like the next time around.
So – attended a sampling of various dance companies at StamPede at Symphony Space again this year. Surprised how much more tap there was than I recall previously. The house was packed – the audience enthusiastic and the dancers terrific.
The footwork of the Chicago Tap Theatre was phenomenal, although the body work wasn’t quite up to par and the use of the vast stage left a lot to be desired. The break between first company and second was as long as a dance number and most annoying, especially since there seemed so little that had changed on stage! The Parijat Desai Dance Company presented two splendid dance numbers, with exotic overtones.
Darrah Carr Dance did some incredible work – their first piece reminded me of Mexican jumping beans which used to be playthings for kids when I was young. They zipped around each other so swuifrly you jeopt expecting a collision. Their step dancing had flair and interesting patterns. They moved with the speed of light! David Parker and the Bang Group had the audience in stitches. The many children in the audience were the first to laugh – and they laughed all the way through his first piece. Other companies also pleased the diverse audience.

My younger daughter was here for Martin Luther King’s weekend with her two eldest boys, and we went many places around town. I was astonished by the marvelous renovation made in the Historical Society Central Park West Building. Light, bright and lively. We were urged to see the short film in the revamped auditorium and the moment it began, I felt my eyes well with tears. It is a paean to the great love of my life, my home town, New York City. When we emerged my daughter laughingly asked me if I was sure I hadn’t written it, because it so fully expressed so much of my sentiment about the city.

Saw the film of War Horse, Found some remarkable photography and brilliant directorial choices which managed to show the friendship between the horses, the devotion of the young man to the newborn colt, the horrors of war, the reality of fear, and many other magnificent emotional moments. It,
The Artist
are all extraordinary films. What a great year for movies!


It also has started out as a great year for me. Cnildren’s Bookwatch finally got around to reviewing the second book in my now completed 4 volume series of read-to-me children story books. Its choice of Elfin Tales in the Fantasy/Sci-fi category thrilled me. Its actual review delighted even more.
Here is a long excerpt .
“From an enthralling series that promises more twinkling tales from magical beings, "Elfin Tales" weaves a special blend of traditional whimsey laced with pixie dust with matter-of fact narratives about three dimensional children and adults who are sometimes kind, sometimes not. It is a blend that works well to deliver a delicate message of the need for warmth and a compassionate heart. "Elfin Tales" will be eagerly listened to by children age 4-9, and/or read independently. This reviewer's favorite tale was Leprechaun or Can't, a morality fable and leprechaun travelogue that has little surprises sprinkled throughout. Fantastic little color illustrations add charm and appeal to these small tales.”
Of the six books I have read this year so far, I was most absorbed by E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View. There is a certain gentleness and charm on every page of the book.
I read what I called
the girl with series
last year, now realizing it is called The Millennium Trilogy
I learned this on the opening page of the other book which fascinated me, by Eva Gabrielsson with the ungainly title There are Things I Want You to Know About Stieg Larsson and Me.
While hardly great literature, it was a strong cry for fairness from one who feels herself betrayed. How much of it is absolutely true, only a detective can determine, but it is an unusual presentation of a situation equally strange.

I shall be a judge again in the second annual global ebook awards. Not sure yet which categories I will be judging, but know I will not judge in fantasy or children’s literature

More in February...enjoy early winter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Lot Like Chirstmas

Impossible – the end of this year is so close I feel incredible relief. Everything I did all this year went askew. Nothing major, despite a heart scare and other physical ills, but everything had some little pesky problem.
I got to see the play “Stick Fly” – and suspect its title will be its undoing. It took a while to warm up to the play. Finally got into it in the second act, but still found many performances unconvincing and the plot contrived. I was annoyed by the sitcom attempts at humor. Love Dule Hill on Psych as much as I liked him on The West Wing – but on stage in this? His charisma was lost.
Also noted, as I had back in the days when I helped with publicity for Eubie and Sophisticated Ladies, that the audience had very few dark faces among the white bread crowd. I still see far more black and Asian peoples attending dance than theater.
Was delighted by BalletNY performance at Alvin Ailey. Very short program but each piece beautifully done. I loved the romantic little duos more than the full ensemble dances, but all 4 pieces were well worth seeing. Catch them in later performances when you can.

Disappointing was the film much touted in all publicity about a little boy whose dad dies in the towers on 9/11, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. While it was absorbing, far from being a 4 handkerchief film as I had heard, it never touched me at all. Thomas Horn gave a dazzling performance as the young boy, but Max von Sydow stole the film for me.
A film which absolutely captivated me from its opening to its final credits was The Artist. I knew nothing about it when I went to the screening, and was so utterly caught up in it that I felt transported. I am so pleased to see charm and peaceful pleasures restored to the entertainment world which I feel has gone too far into the gaudy, gauche and ghastly.
Was delighted to lunch with Valerie Taylor-Barnes, widow of Clive Barnes, and reminisce with her about the theater/dance critic whom I had first met in the late seventies in Massachusetts. The resulting interview will appear in Art Times Journal in the January/February issue on line and in print.
Did a reading from my book IMAGICS and other family stories at an artists exhibit which featured a literary salon a few weeks back. Very attentive and enthusiastic audience of artists and their friends. I was one of 9 readers – three of which were good, two of which were a disaster, but audience polite throughout. No books sold, far as I could see, but enjoyable experience all around.
Will be reading several stories from latest kids book, Gremlins, Genies and Trolls. Oh My! at the holiday bazaar at MCCNY in Jackson Hall 446 W 36 St, Dec. 18 every hour on the hour, if I can manage to mount the steps which will be like anyone else scaling a mountain. Joys of age and a trick knee that has gotten me down for over 60 years.

Which is a perfect segue to

The Pleasant Dreams set of children’s read-to-me fantasy stories has been raking in raves from mom blogs all around the country. One of my favorites was the mom whose little kid wanted to see more pictures, so he wandered off, playing but listening. She was to tell him when another picture appeared. She got caught up in the reading and so he had to come over himself to see where the pictures were.
I am reading a three novels volume of William Dean Howells, a late nineteenth century author. Fascinating – his novels are written in great detail of the emotional and mental landscapes of their characters. They feel as current as any story today of responsibility, love and concern for others.
Also reading a series of plays by Thomas Bradshaw. After finishing the fourth, I feel as if I am reading the same basic play from various perspectives with people clothed in different names and occupations.
Each play bears the admonition that it should be played with utmost honesty and sincerity. A necessary note since the plays are so outrageously ironic it is hard to keep a straight face while reading them. They point out the self deception which permits most people to continue to function in the world today. I think they need to be taken in small doses, reading the body of the work gets one cross eyed…at least this one.
Also just finished reading Shelley’s Ghost a book about all the correspondence and memorabilia of thepoet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her parents, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and William Godwin.
This book is a unique take on the forgeries that were passed off by collectors over a century ago, and of the editing each did to maintain the image he/she hd of th subject.
I have read several dozen books of Shelley and Byron and their friends sicne I first fellin love with the poet and his work in my early teens. I even wrote a musicalplay about him which William Gison kindly read and his ain cmment was that I did ot allow anyof Shelley’s faults into the script. But when the world saw as his faults, I saw as his strengths, so it was thus I portrayed them. Yes, I too, had my prejudicial view of the unusual young man who created such marvelous poems.
On my first trip to London over 25 years ago, I wandered around and kept ending up in some place which had strong Shellyan memories. I recall reading in the guest book at John Keats; home some years later on another London sojourn, that they didn’t know if Shelley had ever been in the house or not. I said I was sure he had not because I had no visceral reaction to the inside of the house, and I did have to all the other locales I had visited.
I was such a Shelley fanatic in my High School years that my English teacher dubbed me Lady Jane, who was Shelley’s daughter in law. Lady Jane worshipped the poet whom she had never met and established many memorials to him, including two incredible life sized works of sculpture. One at Oxford University, where a British friend of mine had purchased this book for me, the other near Boscombe Mansion in Bournemouth where his son Percy and Lady Jane Shelley lived.
I have also just begun reading Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s creek which I must have read many years ago, but which I am relishing anew.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Family and other strangers


Went to see an old pal, the ever versatile John Glover, in new play with the deceptively poetic title of "The Atmosphere of Memory" at the Labyrinth Theater. Actually, Labyrinth would be a more suitable title; as the play got lost within its own structure and direction. Far from poetic, it is a raunchy, outrageous meant-to-shock farce with some juicy monologues. However, only one actor played all its farcical possibilities: diddle diddle dumpling my friend John!
The premise is a disturbed man wrote a play about his family to dispel his childhood ghosts. We see his stage family, their rehearsals and performances mixing dozens of old theatrical styles, much as the director Pam McKinnon does. His actual mother, a formerly well known and flamboyant star, plays the mother in the play. (She is portrayed by Ellen Burstyn) When the real life father (John Glover) shows up – an absolutely uncontrolled, unrefined self-satisfied man who was out of their lives for years, the real family delves through their outrageous past and makes of course, great revelations.
One scene which ought to have been a laugh riot, when real life sister asks to have her role removed from the play and playwright is caught between her and the love of his life who portrays her on stage, is performed for its drama, not its humorous aspects. In fact, most of the play is played more for drama than the outrageous farce of misfortune, and therein lies the flaw. A good play is buried under all the shrubbery in which it got lost.
Then saw the tact revival pf A.R.Gurney’s "CHILDREN" on a night when the author was there for a talk back. The mostly silver haired audience loved this production, Many of them were long time Gurney fans. The four character play was impeccably presented with the cool aloofness one expects of a wasp family – even when all hell breaks loose it doesn’t come close to an average family reunion in a Jewish or Italian family. Much of the subsequent discussion was about if this world of privilege and old family values still exists anywhere, and the consensus was, maybe in little pockets.
But the play had that charming agelessness of family drama – from "Oedipus" and "King Lear" through "Life With Father", "All My Sons" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to the hectic hateful family plays currently engorging our stages.
One person wondered where the young audiences were, which gave Mr. Gurney an opportunity to talk about his work with younger writers and actors at the Flea Theater. Most delightful of all comments was by a man who had come into the wrong theater. He and his brother were supposed to be across the hall where his brother’s friend was appearing in a play – oddly, their ticket seats were empty in this theater, they were seated, and did not realize their mistake in time to move on! Gurney acquired a new fan with this production, judging by the man’s further comments. Real life comedy of errors in the audience which we all shared!

Enjoyed the innocence and charm of My Week with Marilyn in which the author recalls his early career and relationship with this iconic film star. It is a sweet tribute and not, one hopes, a falsified portrait of a real person. Personally, although I am a fan of Kenneth Branagh, I could not relate to his Sir Laurence Olivier, and the woman playing Vivian Leigh looked less like her than I do. Maybe they think no one remembers the actual appearance of these stars. As for performance, his Olivier was nobody I could relate to the screen or stage actor I remember. Never the less, much enjoyed the film

Don’t understand all the anger over Anonymous. It’s a delightful “what if” explanation of how the Shakespeare plays might have been written. It does not pretend to be history – it is supposed to be a play, and it plays well. The cast is energetic and believable even if the story is not, and it captures your interest.
Elizabeth’s costumes are magnificent and the settings seem to have the grungy look one expects of old England. My main complaint is that Derek Jacobi had too little to do.

I am far more outraged at all the authors jumping on other people’s writing to create films and TV series of their own, as well, of course as books. GRIMM, ONCE UPON A TIME are using fairy tale plots to create TV fantasy terror these days.
Novelists are using real life people (now deceased) as well as story-created characters by famous authors such as Jane Austen’s Darcy et al to launch new tales about them. What happened to creativity from the ground up? Is it so much easier to ride on someone else’s character tails?

Lots of people in neighboring states were left electricity less for weeks due to freak snow storm - nature’s own Fall drama..
Don’t know how I could manage my biz without electricity, telephone and the all mighty computer. All my current scripts and recently printed books are on my computer. Poems in the works are on my computer. Bookkeeping is on my computer. Phone numbers are stored in my phone – don’t remember anyone’s number because never dial them. Couldn’t get check from my bank one day because computers were down and tellers did not know how to give me a bank check under the circumstances.

Thank goodness I still know how to write so I can put pen to paper and keep my brain from exploding with all the things wanting to be transcribed for my memoir, should my machine go belly-up, rather than slogging slowly along.
We are too dependent on machines. Kids use them in exams. They use them instead of thinking or working out problems. A case in point, a costume designer pal of mine, wrote me of the following incident.
“I had to visit the AppleStore yesterday to clear up a problem with the new computer and while waiting for help was fiddling around with that iPad everyone is salivating over. Clicked up "Numbers," Apple's complicated and annoying spreadsheet replacement for their former AppleWorks app, Apple's intuitive, excellent original app that I guess somebody who never did a spreadsheet felt needed improving (translation, $$$ for Apple). I spoke with 4 employees, not one could figure out how to put numbers in a couple of columns and add them together. Never mind anything more complicated. At least 40 minutes of fooling around and 4 employees' time (not to mention mine) just trying to add 2 and 2 in each of two cells and get a sum. Finally they told me they didn't know this program, based on Excel (never mind it is Apple's own software made by Apple), couldn't help, and suggested I take a workshop to find out how to input 2+2 and get a sum. I showed them a pencil and a piece of paper. So while China's young people are spending their time trying to find the cure for cancer, our engineers are creating new and exotic ways for people to attend workshops to relearn how to add 2+2. Very scary how the young people (and not just the young people) are transfixed by these gadgets to their own detriment. Pointing this out only causes blank stares with the message "unreasonable old fogey who doesn't want to learn." Does anyone doubt why America is in decline.” Judanna Lynn
I have grown grandkids who cannot tell time on a clock with hands – they expect the clock to tell them the time digitally.
Banks urge us to use on line banking. Meanwhile, in the last month alone, three pals have been hacked, and my machine’s Norton security has notified me of several critical attempts to break into mine.
I don’t want to go back to the old days – its great to take a paragraph or a page and shift it elsewhere in my manuscript with two clicks of my keyboard. But I do think our brains should store basic information, or we need paper backup. If electronics failed – could we navigate our lives?
Lightning Source is doing great business these days – couldn’t get short run book published in over two weeks. Revolting! Therefore, final and finest of my fairy tale book series, “Goblins Genies and Trolls, Oh My!” is not ready to send and orders are coming in for Christmas!
Happy Holidays to all!