by Colin Thomas
In 1989, Daniel Day Lewis walked off-stage in the middle of a production of Hamlet. He was playing the title role, but he never resumed that performance—and he hasn’t set foot on-stage since.
Day-Lewis had the yips, also known as stage fright, a debilitating—and only partly understood—experience. This list offers a quick peek into the stage fright of some famous sufferers including Adele, Ewen McGregor, and Laurence Olivier.
People do all sorts of things to cope, of course. Olivia Colman, an English star with a considerable rep, recently underwent hypnotherapy so that she could step on-stage in The Mosquitoes, which is now playing at the National Theatre.
And, in this expansive article from The New Yorker, Joan Acocella discusses various strategies—including using beta blockers, and doing a kind of therapy called EMDR, which she gives short shrift, but which cured my panic attacks—not to get too personal or anything.
Acocella is one of the best cultural commentators you’ll find anywhere, by the way. She writes a lot about dance, but her writing is so casually smart, and funny, that just reading her should calm you down.
Broadway superstar—and activist—Lin-Manuel Miranda has told Donald Trump that he can go straight to hell.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Trump has been dismissive of Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico, who has asked for help. Trump has accused Cruz of “poor leadership” and claimed the Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.”
Miranda, who wrote the mega-hit Hamilton, and who has relatives in Puerto Rico, addressed Trump using the US President’s favourite medium, Twitter: “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.”
Miranda is not alone in his disdain: Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, Elizabeth Warren, Cher, and even Kim Kardashian—God bless her—have also tweeted.
In playwright Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, which played recently at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, an elderly man named George dies. His ghost sits up and leaves his hospital bed, unseen by his children. Later, at the family home, George’s ghost casually observes his kids as they interact. He is accompanied by the family dog, also dead.
In this tender essay from The New York Times, Laura Collins-Hughes considers the play’s exploration of mortality in the light of the death of her own father, who was also named George.
Collins-Hughes cites “Theatre as a preparation for death”, an essay that Ruhl included in her collection, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write.
Of course, one of the most fundamental—and touching—things about the theatre is that it is about embodiment. When we watch a play, we are in the presence of living—and therefor mortal—actors.
In his review of For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, Jesse Green also refers to the essay collection. Ruhl, he explains, is a champion of what she calls the Ovidian form: “Magic is everywhere, stories don’t have arcs and nobody learns a lesson. The theater, she argues, should be more akin to poetry and pageantry than (as she sometimes despairs) legalistic argumentation.”
That’s challenging stuff and it makes me want to buy 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, but Green also argues that, in recent plays, including For Peter Pan, “Ms. Ruhl has regularly butted up against the limitations of the stage as a home for abstract thought, however nice that sounds in theory.”
I just want to go to New York and find out for myself.
It’s fall and new scripts are filling the air like aromatic leaves.
This week, we’ve witnessed two important premieres: Tetsuro Shigematsu’s 1 Hour Photo opened at The Cultch, and Hyperlink, by TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal, premiered at the Firehall Arts Centre. For reviews of both, drop by my blog.
Next week, Scott Button’s VIVA, in which two traumatized young people meet in Las Vegas, opens at the Havana Theatre on Saturday, October 14. And Thanks for Giving, by Kevin Loring, goes up on the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage on Wednesday, October 11. Loring is the recently appointed Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre for the National Arts Centre, and, in the Thanksgiving dinner at the centre of his play, colonial history is on the table along with the turkey. The cast includes heavy hitters Margo Kane and Tom McBeath.
The run of Falling Awake at Studio 1398 October 13 to 15, is a return engagement, but this mime show was one of the most charming and skilled offerings at the Fringe in 2015.
Full disclosure: Falling Awake is being presented by Theatre Wire. I am writing on Theatre Wire’s newsletter. I am recommending this show because it is genuinely worth seeing.
In my weekly newsletter, I offer the best of Fresh Sheet, plus industry-oriented material—including news about which local artists are winning awards and what’s trending on the international scene.
Any minute now, I’ll also start offering prizes, including free tickets to local shows. You’re going to have to earn those prizes, though! My favourite contest ideas so far: best (complimentary) anecdote about Bill Millerd; wittiest haiku about the Vancouver theatre scene.
Sign up! It’s free! It’s easy! There are prizes!