Bella Merlin, co-author of When Action Is Eloquence, talks with Michael Miller about Shakespeare and Company

In her interview about the book she has co-authored with Tina Packer, When Action is Eloquence, the distinguished actor and teacher Bella Merlin reflects on how she came into contact with Shakespeare & Company and her three year progression through the completion of a manuscript based on her own deep knowledge of acting and her participation in the Company’s month-long intensive course. 

A Singer’s Notes 58: Music in the Theatre

“We Are Women: A Bernstein Cabaret”, a concert of Leonard Bernstein’s songs in The Colonial was one of the two or three best things I have heard this summer. Many thanks to the Berkshire Theatre Group for giving this to us. Here were four singers – here were four actors. I have rarely seen such a finished understanding of how one kind of vocalism becomes another. With the excellent Michael Barrett on piano, Alan R. Kay on clarinet, and John Feeney on contrabass, we heard a great deal of one of the maestro’s finest compositions, “Trouble in Tahiti”, and a superior selection from other shows. The songs were introduced by Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein. There was not too much talking. All was natural as if the songs were new-minted. Each of the singers made a comprehensive narrative of the material and seemed to be singing it before they made any sound, and long after. This concert wasn’t a succession of excerpts, but searing moments that also had naturalness. I wish each of my students could have heard this concert.

A Singer’s Notes 57: Just Plain Good

Sometimes you want to go into the theatre to have fun, to have sweetness, to hear a song you know, to listen to the ease of the artists. I saw this in three splendid evenings late in the summer. Two of these were at Barrington Stage. “See How They Run” was technically superb. The hijinks and gags worked like a well-oiled machine, never a hitch. This farce is particularly endearing if you know Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”. Bitter-sweet references to Coward’s play keep it grounded in some kind of reality which is lyrical. I love a good gag. A gag well-executed is an artistic triumph.

Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Season Preview (2012) and Concert Schedules (UPDATED)

Last November Mark Volpe, Managing Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator, and members of the orchestra presented the 75th anniversary season of the festival in a low-key event, which, as relaxed and friendly as it was, brought back memories of old Boston in its restraint. No one attempted to hide his pride in this important anniversary of what is undoubtedly the key music festival in North America, but nobody did anything that would be out of place at the Somerset Club either.

Jacob's Pillow: the outdoor stage. Photo from jacobspillow.org.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Turns 80: Preview and Schedule for the 2012 Festival

That Ted Shawn founded the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 80 years ago speaks to how old the art form is. Of course it is difficult to speak of ‘modern dance’ as an art form or even an art movement, when its main characteristic and initial need to exist, a need going back to Nijinsky’s and Diaghilev’s to create Le Sacre du Printemps in 1913, is a highly individual self-expression through movement, though it seems that from year zero as important as this honest self-expression of the choreographer and dancer(s) are common qualities such as a sense of theatre, for like ballet this is theatrical dance, and a degree of training, a technique, even a theory (however batty). Also as important is a company for the choreographer to work with and a school attached to the company, perhaps because of the difficulty to communicate the new choreography and its ever changing styles to the dancers. But one doesn’t want to be too rigid about it. What does “Self-expression” even mean in a cooperative performing art involving many “selves”?

Joanna Gabler’s Transcapes at the Milne Public Library, Williamstown, until early December

Joanna Gabler will be exhibiting her most recent works in the David and Joyce Milne Public Library in Williamstown during the month of November.

Joanna Gabler is a painter, photographer and digital artist who has lived and worked in Williamstown over the past 9 years and exhibits online as well as locally, in New York, and in Warsaw, including her most recent exhibition of Orchid Mandalas in Warsaw University Botanical Garden this past September.

As an avid walker and photographer she became totally immersed in the beauty and splendor of the Nature in Berkshires and spends many happy hours walking in the woods and taking pictures. The result comes as a several thousands of photographs in her archive and a new way of working on her art, which she developed.

She describes it as painting with photography and calls her images “transcapes,” or transfigured landscapes.

Paula Robison

Paula Robison talks to Michael Miller

On the day following her amazing recital with Katherine Chi at Jordan Hall, Paula Robison and I met at the house she shares with her husband, Scott Nickrenz, with its bird’s eye view of Frederick Law Olmsted’s house and garden. In the hour or so we talked we covered a lot of ground: the concert, her preparations for it, and some of the music she played…we talked about Sidney Lanier, the poet, linguist, and self-taught flute virtuoso, who died at 39 of tuberculosis contracted as a Confederate prisoner of war, and Charles T. Griffes, who died at 35 of the same disease, leaving behind a remarkable body of exploratory compositions, Paul Taffanel, the founder of modern flute playing and the teacher of Ms. Robison’s teacher, the great Marcel Moyse.

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