Friday, October 31, 2014


“The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why, and how it is said.”
Václav Havel

Thursday, October 30, 2014

God Works For King

In a rare and lengthy question and answer session published in the print edition of Rolling Stone, Stephen King laid out how he “grew up in a Methodist church”, but how he “had doubts” about organised religion ever since he was a child, and how “once I got through high school, that was it for me”. Nevertheless, said the bestselling novelist, he chooses to believe in God “because it makes things better. You have a meditation point, a source of strength”. He told Rolling Stone: “I choose to believe that God exists, and therefore I can say, ‘God, I can’t do this by myself. Help me not to take a drink today. Help me not to take a drug today.’ And that works fine for me.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nero's Domus Aurea Reopened

The remains of the gigantic Domus Aurea, or Golden House, the opulent villa that the Emperor Nero built for himself in the center of Rome, will reopen to guided visits on Sunday six years after it was closed because of collapses and safety concerns. The visits will take place only on weekends so that archaeologists and restorers can continue to work on the four-year project, which will open new areas of the monument. Visitors can tour the work site and learn about techniques used in the restoration, which can be followed online. Culture Ministry officials on Friday announced a campaign to help raise the 31 million euros ($39 million) needed for the restoration.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bad Stuff

“There’s a lot of mortality in the world. I’m very Russian Jewish in that way. Like, even when I was very young that was always in my head . . . time, life, death. I was very excited and smiley – like I am now – but you definitely have a lot of worries as a kid and you develop magical thinking to deal with it, to prevent the bad stuff from happening. As life goes on you accept there’s a lot you can’t control, that things just happen.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Regina Spektor

1980 Regina Ilyinichna Spektor was born to a Jewish family in Moscow, and became is a Russian American singer-songwriter and pianist. She learned how to play the piano by practicing on a Petrof upright that her grandfather gave her mother. The family left the Soviet Union in 1989, when Regina was nine. She attended a Highschool in New Jersey. Her career as a singer-songwriter started in 2004 when she was signed by Warner Brothers Records. Her music is associated with the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village. I think she's extraordinary.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lucretius On Extraterrestrials

"It is in the highest degree unlikely that this earth and sky is the only one to have been created ... Nothing in the universe is the only one of its kind, unique and solitary in its birth and growth ... You are bound therefore to acknowledge that in other regions there are other earths and various tribes of men and breeds of beasts."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

About Fear

Nam veluti pueri trepidant atque omnia caecis
in tenebris metuunt, sic nos in luce timemus
interdum, nilo quae sunt metuenda magis quam
quae pueri in tenebris pavitant finguntque futura.
hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
non radii solis neque lucida tela diei
discutiant sed naturae species ratioque.

For as children tremble and fear everything
in the blind darkness, so we in the light sometimes fear
what is no more to be feared than the things children in the dark
hold in terror and imagine will come true.
This terror therefore and darkness of mind must be dispelled
not by the rays of the sun and glittering shafts of day,
but by the aspect and law of nature.
Lucretius (De rerum natura, book II)

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Play Has To Work

In the long term, critics don't matter at all. In the short term they give an extra push, or conversely give you more to push against; but favorable reviews won’t save a play for long if the audiences don’t like it, and vice versa. The play has to work. It has to be truthful. The audience must believe. But the play is also a physical mechanism. Getting that mechanism to work takes an awful lot of time and preoccupation. The way music comes in and out, lights vary, etcetera. When you’ve got all that right you can get back to the text. Otherwise, the fact that it seems right on paper won’t help you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Real Thing

Tom Stoppard is the Bob Dylan of playwrights. No wonder he controls my top five list of dramatists. His clever and imaginative works, starting with the ingenious “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (1966), are entertaining, intellectual and extremely well structured. My favorite Stoppard play is "Arcadia", brimming with difficult questions in physics, biology and higher mathematics. Almost as good is “The Real Thing”, a complicated drama about marital infidelity and the question of what constitutes “real” love. “The Real Thing” premiered thirty years ago, and will be shown for at least another hundred years. A new production will open next week at the American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street in New York starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor. Did I mention that Tom Stoppard and I have something in common? We both were born in the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This Is Not Work

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Broadway Charts

Top-grossing Broadway shows for the week ending October 12th:

1. The Lion King
2. Wicked
3. The Book of Mormon
4. Aladdin
5. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
6. Kinky Boots
7. It's Only a Play!
8. Motown: The Musical
9. Matilda the Musical
10. The Phantom of the Opera

Monday, October 20, 2014

Need Of Change

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Steve Jobs

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Different Demands

Of one thing there is no doubt: if Paris makes demands of the heart, then Munich makes demands of the stomach.
Rachel Johnson

Saturday, October 18, 2014

French Air

There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does good – a world of good.
Vincent Willem van Gogh

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Heart Of Paris

The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay, I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café.
Oscar Hammerstein II

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Eager To See Something New

I make the most money, I think, in Russia and Paris, for the people of those countries are so willing to be amused, so eager to see something new and out of the ordinary.
Harry Houdini

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

That's It!

I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, 'There's no place like New York. It's the most exciting city in the world now. That's the way it is. That's it.'
Robert De Niro

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Paris is always a good idea.
Audrey Hepburn

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Showing The Invisible

"I’ve said continually that in the theatre we have to stage the visible, and through it, show the invisible, what’s behind it. In practice, I find when speaking about this in front of an audience, I can say, `And the...', and offer a silence and a gesture, which already speak more than the visible. Here, in Eleven and Twelve, the scenery is simple, and the playing and the words are also simple, and lead to gaps, and the gaps are what are behind the visible. What must have led me so long ago to choose a theme of the empty space is that that's where the perfume, the taste, the sense of something more can appear in the everyday. In every play I’ve done, all that’s interested me - and this is why I’ve never wanted to be a real `theatre director', running, say, a national theatre and feeling that I have to have a career where, at the end, I can I just tick off all the different things I’ve done - all I've wanted to do is explore by doing everything in every direction for the sake of its energy: energy and physical excitement and participating in all the different forms. Gradually, that has reduced itself into looking closely, within many, many different themes, and behind the themes, at what more could be there."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thoughts On Death

"I have lived more of my life than is to come: That is an interesting place for an artist – more interesting than writing about your first girlfriend. It is kind of serious. . . In our sixties, how do we face this imponderable idea that we are not going to exist anymore? We make art. We tell stories. We have to face it, to tell it. I am certainly not ready for death. Do I fear it? Well, I fear sudden death. I want to die consciously. I want to see the process. I suppose I already do."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sting's Last Ship

Sting, most famous for his time with the Police, wrote the music and lyrics for an autobiographical musical titled The Last Ship. It is set in the shadow of the Swan Hunter shipyard of Sting’s youth, and is sort of a folk-­influenced song cycle featuring characters drawn from the songwriter’s past, and from his imagination. Jackie, the foreman. Jock, the singing welder. Gideon, the kid who fled for the horizon 14 years previously and who, at best, has “an ambiguous” relationship with his home town and, at worst, “he hates the place”. Adrian the riveter, the yard’s intellectual and agitator, who’s gifted “with rhyme and metre”. Peggy, the barmaid. Davey, the drunk. After a UK premiere and a Chicago theatre run, Sting’s musical  has made it to Broadway. Last week it weighed anchor at the Neil Simon, ringing up a healthy $533,382 for seven performances and filling about 72% of the Nederlander-owned theater’s 1,344 seats. Since some years it has become pretty usual for recording artists to try to branch out into musical theater.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Straight Play By Alain Boublil

Alain Boublil, a co-creator of “Les Misérables” and “Miss Saigon,” will bring the premiere of a new play, “Manhattan Parisienne,” to 59E59 Theaters in New York from Dec. 18 through Jan. 4. The play will be directed by the choreographer and director Graciela Daniele and star Mr. Boublil’s wife, Maria Zamora. The play, set in New York, tells of two struggling artists and will include “excerpts of songs from the classic French and American songbooks by songwriters including Jacques Brel, George and Ira Gershwin, Michel Legrand, Cole Porter and Charles Aznavour,” according to a news release.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Enjoyable Time

For me the rehearsal period is the part I most enjoy. It's the creating of the story.
Damian Lewis

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Economic Affluence

“A progressive policy needs more than just a bigger break with the economic and moral assumptions of the past 30 years. It needs a return to the conviction that economic growth and the affluence it brings is a means and not an end. The end is what it does to the lives, life-chances and hopes of people. Look at London. Of course it matters to all of us that London's economy flourishes. But the test of the enormous wealth generated in patches of the capital is not that it contributed 20%-30% to Britain's GDP but how it affects the lives of the millions who live and work there. What kind of lives are available to them? Can they afford to live there? If they can't, it is not compensation that London is also a paradise for the ultra-rich. Can they get decently paid jobs or jobs at all? If they can't, don't brag about all those Michelin-starred restaurants and their self-dramatising chefs. Or schooling for children? Inadequate schools are not offset by the fact that London universities could field a football team of Nobel prize winners.”
Eric J. Hobsbawm

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Eric Hobsbawm

One of the books that made me want to become an academic historian was Eric Hobsbawm's The Age Of Revolution. It wasn't his fault that I reconsidered. Hobsbawm died in 2012. He was a Marxist scholar trying to explain all his life why and how things happened. His last book, Fractured Times, is a posthumously published collection of lectures and reviews in which he argues that the high culture of the European bourgeoisie is shriveling, swamped by today’s deluge of permanent, round-the-clock electronic entertainment, “the great simultaneous circus show of sound, shape, image, color, celebrity and spectacle that constitutes the contemporary cultural experience.” Addressing the Salzburg Festival, he cites as an example “the crisis in classical music, whose fossilized repertoire and aging public” mean that a once vital form is now reduced to a handful of great works repeated as if on a loop, performed in lavish but subsidized opera houses to a rich but diminishing audience. With a knack for the telling fact, he reports that the core public for live classical music in New York is estimated “at no more than some 20,000 people.”
With sentences like this Eric Hobsbawm is bidding farewell to a culture that has vanished over the course of his lifetime. This is not just an old man's cultural pessimism, but a very personal regret. Hobsbawm, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1917, grew up in Austria and Germany. He was a schoolboy witness in Berlin the day Hitler was sworn in as chancellor. His departure from Germany was not solely a relief. It was also a loss. “Only those who have experienced the force, the grandeur and the beauty” of German culture, “which made the Bulgarian Jew Elias Canetti write in the middle of the Second World War that the ‘language of my intellect will remain German,’ can fully realize what its loss meant.”

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Trailer Des Vampires

The new Paris production of my and Jim Steinman's musical Dance Of The Vampires is currently in rehearsals and a new promo video is now available to view. Directed once again by original helmer Roman Polanski, the new Paris production of the horror-themed musical stars Rafaelle Cohen as Sarah and Stephane Metro as Count Von Krolock. I look forward to the openening which is slated for October 16th, 2014.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Architect's Art

The art of the dramatist is very like the art of the architect. A plot has to be built up just as a house is built--story after story; and no edifice has any chance of standing unless it has a broad foundation and a solid frame.
Brandner Matthews

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Listen To This Collaborator!

The last collaborator is your audience ... when the audience comes in, it changes the temperature of what you've written. Things that seem to work well -- work in a sense of carry the story forward and be integral to the piece -- suddenly become a little less relevant or a little less functional or a little overlong or a little overweight or a little whatever. And so you start reshaping from an audience.
Stephen Sondheim

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What A Play Can Do

If you string together a set of speeches expressive of character, and well finished in point and diction and thought, you will not produce the essential tragic effect nearly so well as with a play which, however deficient in these respects, yet has a plot and artistically constructed incidents.
Aristoteles, Poetics