“If Ever I Would Leave You…”-Lerner and Loewe

 

“Everything that has been will be, everything that will be is, everything that will be has been.”-Eugene Ionesco

Several people with voices that were surely heard and will never leave us and continue to be heard, were born today, 11/26. First of all, the great Romanian playwright, Eugene Ionescu was born in Romania in 1909 and is associated with Theatre of the Absurd, which as an undergraduate who minored in Speech and Theatre, I studied. When I went onto grad school and got an MA in Educational Theatre, I once again read Ionescu. I probably read him even before entering college since I’m sure my mom also introduced me to him as she was going to night college as I was growing up for 10 years. Robert Goulet, a great singer and very handsome, whose albums my father loved, played Lancelot in the Broadway show, Camelot, was also born today in 1933. I would swoon when I would see him on TV singing If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot. Beautiful song, beautiful voice. The ever-great Ms Tina Turner, still around, still kickin’, was born today in either 1938 or 1939, I saw both dates listed at various sites.

All three voices had something to say to us. Robert Goulet sang to our hearts, told us he’d never leave or that On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.  Ionesco’s words spoke of justice and non-conformity and he criticized governments. In his drama Eugène Ionesco focuses on the question of human existence as well as the trivia of everyday life. His most renowned play in Germany “Die Nashörner” (1959) is based on his own experience in Romania. This induced Eugène Ionesco to always oppose conformism, to act against totalitarianism, which changes humans and turns them into “Nashörner”.http://www.ionesco.de/

Tina Turner’s life story spoke of strength and inner strength one gains through difficult times. She once said, “I didn’t have anybody, really, no foundation in life, so I had to make my own way. Always, from the start. I had to go out in the world and become strong, to discover my mission in life.”

Tina Turner, Eugene Ionesco and Robert Goulet all loved their careers and lived for writing, for performing, for reaching out to their audience. As Robert Goulet said, “I like being on this stage because it keeps me thinking.”

I know when I hear Tina singing or listen to an old Goulet LP or read Ionescu, “…it keeps me thinking.”

 

“ATTENTION Must Be Paid.” –Arthur Miller

Of course “Attention Must Be Paid,” NOW more than ever when we have people in our society that would like to truly do away with minimum wage, Medicare, supposed “entitlement” programs which help people…how dare people need help from their government of the people, by the people for the people!Lincoln, Gettyburg Address

 

This post started as merely a recognition of the great American playwright, Arthur Miller, born today in NYC (like yesterday’s Eugene O’Neill) in 1915. Oh how I loved his plays!!!!   Arthur Miller may have gotten a bad rap when he divorced Marilyn Monroe, but, let’s face it, it doesn’t seem like she would be the easiest person to be married to and that’s not a criticism of Monroe, she was very talented and very smart. Like all artists, you are inspired by what you know, what you experience and after Miller came out with “After the Fall,” there were fireworks about how denigrating the play was to Marilyn. Have you seen the film, My Week with Marilyn?  Loved that film!

In 1947, Miller appeared before HUAC and refused to name names. “A story is told that in 1955, after Arthur Miller had finished

A View from the Bridge, his one-act play about a Sicilian waterfront worker who in a jealous rage informs on his illegal immigrant nephew, Miller sent a copy to Elia Kazan, who had directed his prize-winning smash Broadway hits All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman (1949), but had broken with him over the issue of naming names before HUAC. “I have read your play and would be honored to direct it,” Kazan is supposed to have wired back. “You don’t understand,” Miller replied, “I didn’t send it to you because I wanted you to direct it. I sent it to you because I wanted you to know what I think of stool pigeons.”Victor Navasky, Naming Names, Viking Press, 1980, Chapter 7

In what is probably Miller’s most famous play, Death of a Salesman, salesman, Willy Loman’s wife, Linda pleas with her sons in Act I that, “Attention Must Be Paid.” I’ve used that phrase numerous times in my life whenever it was apt. It remains an iconic phrase that must be acted out in real life. Our elderly, our young, our immigrants…our vulnerable citizens, whether legal or illegal…vulnerability is vulnerability…attention must be paid. Elderly must be taken care of; Head Start and Universal Pre-K must be mandated for every young child…the earlier we begin interventions and education, the less we’ll feed the penal system with human bodies.

I remember reading Miller’s plays seeing his plays, and just being moved by the great emotion they evoked. Arthur Miller’s back story is great and if you can, read about him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Wrote a Sonnet to Her Eyes,”-Eugene O’Neill, “Sentimental Stuff” poem

 

“The past is the present, isn’t it? It’s the future too.”-EUGENE O’NEILL, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

 A real New Yorker was born today in 1888, playwright, Eugene O’Neill! I used to love reading all of his plays and I do remember seeing quite a few on Broadway with such stars as: Colleen Dewhurst, Liv Ullmann, Cherry Jones, Jason Robards. Many of the plays I saw were directed by the great Jose Quintero who was dedicated to O’Neill. Quintero had met O’Neill’s widow, Carlotta to ask permission to stage a revival of one of his plays. Here’s how the meeting went: “Dressed all in black, as was her custom, Mrs. O’Neill received Quintero and led him to her room. “She almost performed a ritual, a strange ritual, with her hats,” Quintero, who has been teaching at Cal State Fullerton for the last several years, recalled last week. After modeling one hat after another–all of them black–Mrs. O’Neill asked Quintero’s opinion of one in particular. “That one is the most beautiful of all,” he told her. It was the hat she had worn for her husband’s burial less than 3 years before. “That was the reason she gave me the rights to do ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ ” Quintero said. “It was almost like passing some kind of test.”Rick Vanderknyff, Los Angeles Times, 5/21/89

Both playwright Eugene O’Neill and director Jose Quintero had illness in common. O’Neill couldn’t write for the last 10 years of his life due to tremors and Quintero developed cancer of the throat; also, their birthdays are one day apart.

If you’ve seen O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night then you know his dad, James, was an actor and theater was the family’s life. I’ll never forget the film version starring Katharine Hepburn as Eugene’s mom and the great Sir Ralph Richardson as the ever-domineering presence, James O’Neill. “Eugene, who was born in a hotel, spent his early childhood in hotel rooms, on trains, and backstage. Although he later deplored the nightmare insecurity of his early years and blamed his father for the difficult, rough-and-tumble life the family led–a life that resulted in his mother’s drug addiction–Eugene had the theatre in his blood. He was also, as a child, steeped in the peasant Irish Catholicism of his father and the more genteel, mystical piety of his mother, two influences, often in dramatic conflict, which account for the high sense of drama and the struggle with God and religion that distinguish O’Neill’s plays.” © 1999-2000 Britannica.com and Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

I also was fascinated with O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, who married a much older Charlie Chaplin…that’s another interesting story as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IleneOnWord’s Stream of Consciousness

Education…What is it good for? (Now when I thought, “Education…What is it good for?” I sang it in my head to the tune of “War” recorded by both The Temptations and Edwin Starr circa 1970.)  As I took my walk through the park this morning and out loud expressed gratitude with “Thank you” to the boats, the water, the blue sky and white clouds, the park workers, the benches, the trees, the seagulls, ducks and Canadian geese, I felt like Emily in Wilder’s gorgeous play,  “Our Town.”  Emily’s monologue, “Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?”  John Masefield’s Sea Fever also sprung from the recesses of my mind as I strolled…”I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky…” All this is going somewhere…to Education…What is itgood for?  I know I was lucky having a mom who loved to read and encouraged me to read and write since forever. She also modeled the importance of education in so many ways, especially when she returned to college when I was about 6 and finished her B.A. after 10 years going to night school. Mom and Dad wanted me to be an educated person, a compassionate person, a well-rounded person and college and academics opened me up to worlds beyond my family, school and neighborhood. That’s what my husband and I wanted for our children…an education that would add to their humanity, not prepare them for a job. We never said don’t major in this or do major in that as a means to getting a career or a job. We just wanted them to love learning and continue learning after college & post-graduate degrees…to learn every day and spread the joy of learning. So, as I’m walking and I think of “Our Town,” or Thornton Wilder or John Masefield or “Sea Fever,” I wonder…who knows what I am referring to?  When my husband and I hear dialogue in a movie or a TV show that is nuanced and we get it and know that it’s referring to a book or a tidbit of history or some famous person or a song or a poem or whatever, I wonder, who knows what this is in reference to? As I do my own version of “stream of consciousness,” I know I am heavily influenced by the writings or films by filmmaker Alain Resnais or writer/filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet or writer Gertrude Stein,  again…thanks to education. Many times we move through our days, months, years, lives without a conscious thought to who, what, where, when or why we think of certain things; or think in a certain way; education is always there for us. It makes an experience a better experience; a movie, a better movie; a conversation, a better conversation, a book, a better book; an interpretation, a better interpretation. Education doesn’t leave us and as we age, we may forget things, but somehow, they dig their way up again. Education is integral to every part of my life and I firmly believe in a strong academic, liberal arts education.  Thanks, Mom…Thanks, Dad and thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way who in their own unique way added to my education. Walt Whitman, in the 1800s, got it right in his poem, “There Was a Child Went Forth:” (Only an education would bring that poem to the forefront of my mind…Education…What is it good for?..but you have to sing it!)…

There was a child went forth every day,

And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,

And that object became part; of him for the day or a certain part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

 The early lilacs became part of this child,

And grass and white and red morning-glories,

and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,

And the Third-month lambs and the sow’s pink-faint litter,

and the mare’s foal and the cow’s calf,

And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-side,

And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there,

and the beautiful curious liquid,

And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads, all became part of him.

 The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him,

Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,

And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms and the fruit afterward,

and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road,

And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse

of the tavern whence he had lately risen,

And the schoolmistress that pass’d on her way to the school,

And the friendly boys that pass’d, and the quarrelsome boys,

And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls, and the barefoot negro boy and girl,

And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents, he that had father’d him and she that had

conceiv’d him in her womb and birth’d him,

They gave this child more of themselves than that,

They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

 The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table,

The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a

wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by,

The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust,

The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,

The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the yearning and swelling heart,

Affection that will not be gainsay’d, the sense of what is real,

the thought if after all it should prove unreal,

The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time,

the curious whether and how,

Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?

men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes and specks what are they?

The streets themselves and the facades of houses, and goods in the windows,

Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves, the huge crossing at the ferries,

The village on the highland seen from afar art sunset, the river between,

Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and

gables of white or brown two miles off,

The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide,

the little boat slack-tow’d astern,

The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,

The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint

away solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in,

The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud,

These became part of that child who went forth every day,

and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Never Be Afraid to Sit Awhile and Think.”-Lorraine Hansberry, American Playwright

For Societal Sunday, let’s think of: What can you and I do to help our country, our society, our neighborhood, our families?  We can take small steps to make a difference in the life of one person.  Last night, my husband, my daughter and her boyfriend, my son and his girlfriend and my mom got together to celebrate my daughter’s 30th birthday.  Mom so enjoyed being surrounded by her family and to see her enjoy her meal and her company at 89.5 years of age when most of her friends and her dearest loved ones have departed, heartened me and I’m sure heartened all of us assembled at this joyous occasion. I’m not taking any kudos for taking care of my mom, but I know I am making a difference in her life just as she did in mine (and myfamily’s) and continues to do so. We love her so very, very much. As Isit awhile and think,” what if more people tried very hard to keep their elderly out of nursing homes and assisted living facilities (if possible…I know it isn’t always possible), how would that affect the quality of life of their elderly? I can only speak from my experience, thus far…mom’s quality of life is so much better being extremely close to her daughter distance-wise (and emotionally)  and having the opportunity to interact everyday with her family. Right now, our situation is such, that mom can still live independently with us taking care of her and her needs everyday. If the situation changes, we’ll be there…we’ll always be there for this wonderful woman I am proud to call my mom! Being there does and will make all the difference in the world.

By the way, today is the birthday of playwright, Lorraine Hansberry who was born 5/19/1930. Her play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” which was also a great movie with Sidney Poitier (and has had other reincarnations) was a favorite movie of mine. She died too young from cancer, age 34, but left a body of work still relevant to the times we live in. “A Raisin in the Sun” relates the dreams of a family and was the first play by an African American playwright to be presented on Broadway in 1959. It opened with the lines from a well-known poem by the great Langston Hughes, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?  Lorraine Hansberry’s quote that titles this posting, “Never Be Afraid to Sit Awhile and Think,”  is a great way to start this Sunday…just thinking, reflecting…By assisting our elderly in any way that we can, we encourage them to use their minds and bodies and still have dreams and not give up or become “…like a raisin in the sun.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.”-August Wilson, American Playwright

Playwright, August Wilson’s quote is just right for “Simple Saturday” and he proved that his belief in himself outdid anyone’s doubt.Gone too soon from this life, August Wilson lives on in his characters and the insightful, heart-wrenching plays he wrote. He was only 60 years old when he died in 2005 leaving behind timeless words and a timeless body of work such as: Fences(Pulitzer Prize & Tony Award, NY Drama Circle Critics’ Award), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Prize), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and other plays. “In his work, Mr. Wilson depicted the struggles of black Americans with uncommon lyrical richness, theatrical density and emotional heft, in plays that gave vivid voices to people on the frayed margins of life: cabdrivers and maids, garbagemen and side men and petty criminals. In bringing to the popular American stage the gritty specifics of the lives of his poor, trouble-plagued and sometimes powerfully embittered black characters, Mr. Wilson also described universal truths about the struggle for dignity, love, security and happiness in the face of often overwhelming obstacles.”-Charles Isherwood, NY Times, 2005

August Wilson would’ve been 68 years old today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Definition of a Friend?

“Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.”-Tennessee Williams

When I retired, I was so relieved not to have to drive over 80 miles per day back and forth to and from work. Upon hearing that, there are many (and I’ve heard them) that take it upon themselves to boast, “Oh, that’s nothing…I had to fly daily to my job….I had to drive 4 hours to my job….blah, blah, blah.”  Good for them. My distance in horrible weather, especially on the heavily congested Belt Parkway, without any promise of a parking spot, was my personal hell.  Getting to work was my first job, getting a parking spot my 2nd job; my actual job of teaching was a calling, I loved it. When my traveling days were over, I breathed many sighs of relief for several years, even now as I’m writing this.

Ending work brought an end to the daily companionship of women I became close friends with. We’d share stories on our families, movies we loved, recipes, politics and various topics of the day. Also, women I became friends with who moved away, are still friends today, mainly through email. I love technology and am quite grateful for it!

 I believe Tennessee Williams definition of a friend; time and distance doesn’t take away from the friendship.

My friends and I email daily. Once in a while we may call, but it’s most email. They read my blog! One time, about 2 years after I retired, they drove to see me in one car. It was a beautiful visit! But…really…who wants to shlep?  I know I don’t, so I am happy just to email. Recently, I’ve sent them morning videos with my hair sticking up sideways, sleep still in my eyes, wearing my raggedy red plaid robe and drinking my coffee in my Princeton mug. I just say, “Good morning, Friend!”  

Oh, btw, today is the birthday of Mr. Tennessee Williams, a favorite playwright of mine, who was born March 26th, 1911. Oh his plays were/are great: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, and more, including movie scripts.  I watched his productions all the time and I was fascinated with his life, read biographies/autobiographies and remember seeing him several times on TV interviews. He had a difficult life…an understatement…but what a writer!

Can you still hear Marlon Brando bellowing, “HEY STELLA!!!!”     I can!