Monday, July 31, 2006

62% bint

That's Jennifer Ehle's rating in Bint Magazine, ahead of Cate Blanchett though Liz Taylor reigns supreme.

Best Known For:
A legion of bosoms heaved and hearts fluttered as we all wanted to be Ehle in her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She went on to win a BAFTA for her performance

Most bintish achievement:
She was plucked from obscurity to star in TV mini-series The Camomile Lawn and immediately got her kit off for the part

Least bintish achievement:
She was raised in America but adopted a British accent, Madonna-style

"With great power comes great responsibility"

Thought this was interesting.
With the June 30 release of Spider-Man 2, the Animal Welfare Institute proudly recognizes actor Rosemary Harris-Peter Parker's "Aunt May" - for her deep commitment to relieving the suffering of animals confined on factory farms. Ms. Harris, a Broadway legend and winner of a Tony, an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for her work on stage, television and in film, was a close friend of AWI's founding President, Christine Stevens, and her husband, former AWI Treasurer, Roger Stevens. A Broadway producer and Kennedy Center Chairman, Roger produced a number of the plays in which Ms. Harris starred. Recently, Ms. Harris and her husband, North Carolina author John Ehle, accompanied AWI staff to several farms raising pigs according to AWI's pig husbandry standards, which she strongly supports. She expressed her appreciation to the farmers for their willingness to raise pigs in ways that permit them to live more natural lives. Speaking in a video that AWI prepared for the Waterkeeper Summit on Sustainable Agriculture held in New Bern, North Carolina, Ms. Harris eloquently expressed her concerns for the welfare of one of the most severely and widely abused of all animals-breeding sows:

"What concerns me and moves me more than anything is the plight of the animals in these factory farms....Particularly, the predicament of the sows who are incarcerated in their crates for the duration of their pathetic lives. After all, they are mothers and not production units and machines. Please pause and think about the animals who are causing, through no fault of their own, the horrendous environmental problems that we are suffering now. Insist on products from animals raised on animal-friendly family farms. Not only for the sake of the animals but because all our troubles are rooted in the way that we raise the animals now-denied the light of day and the basic needs of movement and motherhood."

AWI is delighted to acknowledge such a distinguished and compassionate actor.

And from a 2001 newsletter:
Actress Rosemary Harris, winner of a Tony, an Emmy and a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nominee, spoke on behalf of animals in a video presentation recorded in Los Angeles where Ms. Harris was filming the movie “Spiderman.” Ms. Harris called on consumers to insist on meat from humane, family farms, saying that it is the plight of the sows confined to crates, unable to walk or turn around, that moves her most. A North Carolinian herself, Ms. Harris urged North Carolinians to take the lead in prohibiting animal factory practices, just as Sweden has done in Europe.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pride and Glory spoiler + more

Colin Farrell accidentally gave away some of the storyline of Pride and Glory in his interview with Regis and Kelly. Although some argue that it wasn't that big a secret anyway. Read it at IMDB.

Quotage from John Ehle in an article about the artist, Ted Potter.
"I am always very pleased to see him again," said John Ehle, a Winston-Salem writer who helped found the N.C. School of the Arts. "He is an excellent human being."

BlacknBlueSharpies reports meeting Rosemary Harris and getting her autograph.
Rosemary Harris - Spider-Man's Aunt May! She was attending "Awake & Sing!" and after the show I caught her at the stage door and she signed a 4x6 index card for me. She was in a hurry so I didn't aske for more, but man is she a nice lady - looks exactly in real life as she does in the Spidey films;

Friday, July 28, 2006

Family update

Rosemary Harris
  • IMDB says she is currently filming Before the Devil Knows You're Dead which also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei and Ethan Hawke.
  • You can watch The Royal Family via Google Video for $0.99 for a day pass ticket or download the program for $19.99.
  • Word is that Spider-Man 3 is going to be released worldwide on May 4th 2007, at IMAX as well.
  • Wireimage has a bunch of Spidey on-location photos including some of Rosemary Harris.

    John Ehle
  • The press conference for The Land Breakers is tomorrow (Fri 28th). The book is already in stores (signed copies at Borders).
  • Article in the Winston Salem Journal about the book being chosen for On the Same Page reading project.

    Jennifer Ehle
  • Go Sahila.
  • Summerfolk program on eBay.
  • TheaterPro reviews Macbeth:
    Moises Kaufman sets the action not in ancient Scotland but in the early twentieth century – also a period of war, bloodshed and deception -- with the result that Mr. Schreiber and his co-star, Jennifer Ehle as Lady Macbeth, are in more intimate contact with the political environment and the audience. As the hero and his wife, Mr. Schreiber and Ms. Ehle begin as fashionable opportunists, but grow deeper and darker as Macbeth sinks into despair. He delivers the big soliloquies with an emotion that thrills and chills, but is always in control, while her sleepwalking scene combines guilt and heartfelt remorse.

    The production achieves the classical aim of pity for them both and their plight, and fear of the abyss that awaits the over-ambitious.
  • Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Assorted news

    Two new cast members have been added to The Coast of Utopia: Amy Irving and Jason Butler Harner.

    From Playbill News:
    Jason Butler Harner will play the novelist Ivan Turgenev ("Fathers and Sons"). Harner has been a constant presence on the New York stage in the past two seasons, appearing in The Paris Letter, Hedda Gabler, The Ruby Sunrise and Orange Flower Water.

    Amy Irving will play two characters in different parts of the play, Varvara Bakunin (the mother of Ethan Hawke’s character, Michael Bakunin) and Maria Ogarev (the estranged wife of Josh Hamiton’s character, the poet Nicholas Ogarev). She was recently seen Off-Broadway in A Safe Harbour for Elizabeth Bishop.

    Here's a review of "In Character: Actors Acting"- the book that featured Rosemary Harris.
    Curiously, by more than a 3-to-1 margin, there are far more men than women. Very few of the latter qualify as glamour queens; kudos especially go to Ellen Burstyn and Rosemary Harris for participating in all their elder yet elegant glory.

    Whether the stage is purely an escape or a form of progressive therapy for an actor is not clear. “I think a lot of actors, myself included, act so that we don’t have to know ourselves,” Melissa Leo declares. “It’s awfully tempting to change your personality, to become somebody else,” agrees Rosemary Harris. (*Where does that sound familiar?*)

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Ehle Library 2.0

    In the past, there used to be a lending library that was run through EhleNews. This collection included all of Jennifer Ehle's rarer works as well as videos of interviews and the like. Unfortunately the lending library shut down several years ago, but we'd like to resurrect it. Holdings would probably include:

  • TV movies: Beyond Reason, Pleasure, Self-Catering and The Maitlands.
  • TV appearances: Mierella Folstrup interview (1999), Late Lunch (1999), Variety awards, Tony Brunch, Charlie Rose, BBC America for Possession, BAFTA awards (1996) and Tony awards (2000).

    Are you interested? There needs to be a critical mass for this project to be worthwhile.

    Ehle Library 2.0 would differ in several ways from the original. Firstly, we want to get the VHS tapes converted into DVDs, since they're durable, copiable and easy to post. Secondly, we want to make the library global, not just restricted to the US as it was previously. Third, whereas the version 1.0 library lent out items on a request basis, in version 2.0 the entire collection will be circulated as a set of about 6 DVDs. The idea is that from the master set, a number of lending sets would be dispatched to each region, eg. Australasia, UK/Europe, US/Canada, rest of the world. Postage would work on a "pay it forward" fashion: each person would post the set to the next person in line from their region, within a deadline. Each region would have its own queue. As with the old library you would be required to share your views on the work.

    Ok. So if you're interested, e-mail us at with the following information:

    Subject line: "Ehle Library"
    1. Your name or alias:
    2. E-mail address:
    3. City/state and country:
    4. Would you contribute $5-10 USD to help set up the library, if it meant you had priority in the queue?
    5. Other queries/suggestions:

    This is not signing-up for library membership; we just want to find out the numbers and regions to see if the project is viable. Your answer to #4 isn't binding.
  • Monday, July 24, 2006

    Had enough Macbeth yet?

    Just say when.

  • TransArt:

    Grade: B
    A fine outdoor outing for "the Scottish play." Liev Schreiber delivers the Main Thane with the requisite angst and bombast; and Jennifer Ehle, probably best known as Elizabeth Barrett in the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, cooks smoothly as Lady Mac, though the actress doesn't completely suppress an inner sweetness that doesn't seem Lady-Mac-the-Knife-like. Or perhaps that's just the reviewer's prejudice after her flavorful Prejudice turn. The now traditional use of a nontraditional setting places us in a drab-looking circa-World War I European country, which seems arbitrary if not a miscalculation, given that that era saw the last convulsions of monarchism and Macbeth is about its early convulsions, at least as experienced on those bleak highlands.

  • Entertainment Weekly:

    As the sleepwalking Queen, Jennifer Ehle (The Real Thing) is probably the most put-together Lady M you've ever seen — graceful, polished, and impossibly elegant in Michael Krass' haute-couture-style gowns. She's a Martha Stewart-like ice princess, and a worthy foil for Schreiber's King.

  • A letter to the editor at AM NY:

    I beg to differ with your review of Macbeth at the Delacorte Theatre, especially with the assessment of Jennifer Ehle's performance as Lady Macbeth as a 'train wreck' because her character was feminine, ingratiating, mature, and was still so easily seduced by ambition.

    Your writer missed the point of the production, which was also clarified by the depiction of the weird sisters as very aged camp followers (prostitutes).

    This was that when women are whores to male aggression (and men demand that they be such), basic decency disappears and evil triumphs.

    --Judith N. Newman, Manhattan

  • NC lit blogger Sue Kimball:

    What reminded me of all this was reading today that MACBETH closed on Sunday in the park. And the female star, Lady Macbeth herself, was beautiful Jennifer Ehle, North Carolina born. Jennifer was fifteen when her father John Ehle brought her to my house, and that can't be over fifteen years ago. That means she is a quite young Lady Macbeth, but she really did get a good review full of compliments in THE NEW YORKER.

    And an earlier post by Ms Kimball:
    Jennifer was allowed to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, prohibited to Americans, which she is, because of her distinguished mother. About five years ago, the two of them, mother and daughter, were nominated for England's highest stage prize, the equivalent of our Oscar. And Rosemary was nominated for best supporting actress in this country.

    (Actually CSSD not RADA).
  • Macbeth recorded

    Missed Macbeth? The New York Public Library recorded the play for their Theatre on Film and Tape archives and limited access will be available. This is the same collection as the vids of The Real Thing and the Neil Simon benefit.

    The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival production of Macbeth starring Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle was videotaped by the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) on July 13*, 2006 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

    1) The videorecording will be available for viewing after July 26, 2006 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, by qualified researchers. If you would like to arrange an appointment to view this production, please call our screening room directly at (212) 870-1642, and we will be glad to assist you. Our hours are Tuesdays through Fridays 12 PM to 6 PM and Saturday by appointment only from 1 PM to 6 PM. We have walk-in slots available first come, first served on weekdays beginning when we open at 12 PM. If you have any further questions regarding our holdings, please email us at

    2) TOFT is a restricted archive and in order to view a tape, you must be working on specific professional or scholarly research. The Archive is available for use by theatre professionals, students, scholars, journalists, and other researchers with a valid reason to view a particular title. The videotapes must be viewed on-site, in our screening room at Lincoln Center. We do not lend, copy, sell, or distribute any of the videotapes physically or electronically in accordance with our contracts with the various theatre unions and guilds that allow us to tape live theatrical productions.

    Researchers are required to have an ACCESS card to use materials on the third floor of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, where TOFT is located. To learn more about the ACCESS card and apply online, please visit and click on the "Access Card" icon. When you visit the Library, Copy Services, also located on the third floor, will process your card.

    *Actually July 6th.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Stoppard Reviews

    Now the Macbeth excitement has died down, we anticipate The Coast of Utopia. Here are some review excerpts of the trilogy from Complete Review.

    "Voyage, which opens at the Bakunin country estate, has a melancholy, Chekhovian lilt, as the anarchist Bakunin and his friends speculate about life, love and whether progress will best come to their country by way of western or slavic ideals. (...) Voyage is the one work in the trio that looks likeliest to have its own onward separate life." - The Economist

    "Each play in the trilogy, dealing with 19th-century Russian revolutionaries, has its own style. Voyage, the first and best, focuses on the anarchic Bakunin and the critic Belinsky and seems like a tonic combination of Gorki and Chekhov." - Michael Billington, The Guardian

    "Voyage, the first part of the trilogy, is by far the most artfully arranged and judiciously edited of the three." - Ben Brantley, The New York Times

    "But if you want to sample a single play, I think the finest is Voyage, which starts in a genially Chekhovian style, introduces key characters, and gives you a sense of the intellectual hurly-burly of an age in which dissident aristocrats or "repentant gentry" were leading the opposition to a serf-owning society and a monstrously oppressive Tsar." - Benedict Nightingale, The Times

    "The liveliest piece" - J. Yeh, The Village Voice


    "Shipwreck, the most tumultuous of the three plays, focuses on the failed European revolutions of 1848. To be crude, you could call this one Les Misérables for intellectuals" - The Economist

    " Shipwreck, the least satisfying, deals with the impact of the 1848 French revolution on a group of nomadic intellectuals, including the libertarian socialist Alexander Herzen and the westernised Turgenev." - Michael Billington, The Guardian


    "Salvage (...) offers a Dickensian portrait of the fractious émigré community." - Michael Billington, The Guardian

    "Only in the last play, Salvage, is it possible to start really caring about his central characters and their families, as people start to take over from politics and we are shown the cost in lost lives and loves of all this revolutionary fervor." - Sheridan Morley, International Herald Tribune

    There are also reviews on Stoppard's The Real Thing, some have been blogged and some haven't, but most aren't from Ms Ehle's version.

    River King UK release

    The River King is coming out tomorrow (July 24th) in the UK and it has a different cover to the other release.

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Alpha Male screenings, etc

    The Curzon Mayfair is showing Alpha Male at 6.30pm and 9pm from August 11th to 14th. It's getting a longer run at the Barbican, til the 24th. Distributor Verve Pictures says that the film will also be screening at Cineworld Haymarket and Fulham Road, although Launching Films indicates that it'll be showing at "Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave. & Nationwide".

    On the blogs it's back to the old chatter about Pride and Prejudice. Manasi Subramaniam on the leads:

    Colin Firth as Darcy - possibly the most attractive literary character created at least until the appearance of the sordid, brooding Edward Rochester in 1847 - is so deliciously morose, that you actually forgive him, at some point, for being Colin Firth. But the stealer of the show, without doubt, is, more than Ehle herself as Elizabeth, the ever-laughing, perpetually amused pair of eyes that Ehle possesses, eyes that were alluded to by Darcy at the ball in Chapter Six. If for nothing but those eyes, Ehle is brilliant casting.

    More praise for said eyes at UnNatural History, in Possession this time, though the romantic plot touches on some sore points for the author.

    Continuing with the Macbeth scraps, John Heilpurn of the NY Observer gives a thumbs down. And Terry is outed.

    John Ehle will be attending the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival on September 15th-16th.

    PS. The Alpha Male trailer has just been rated by the BBFC so keep an eye out.

    Kimiko's report

    Many thanks for sharing this, K.

    I saw Macbeth on Friday of the closing week. Thursday was the travel day from LA to NY. Friday, I left my hotel at 6:00am arriving at Central Park at 6:30am, There were two lines at the box office, one for the regular people and the othe for seniors. I got my ticket at 1:00pm without any problems. There were many people for both lines who were turned down. Some of the senior citizens who were in the line were so knowledgeable. I didn't have to explain about JE. One person even said that it would have been so nice if JE's mother played the mother in The Philadelphia Story. I didn't even think about it. Another who already saw the play before said that the show was wonderful and she didn't understand some negative comments. She said the play was interrupted several times because of the rain and JE's pretty dresses were wet. Leiv thanked the audience saying that he would never forget those who stayed until the end sharing the plastic rain covers.

    I enjoyed the play very much. I saw Macbeth in London (the Barbican) several years ago, and in San Diego (the Old Globe) last year. Lady M. in London looked like a nun in gray costume, and the one in San Diego looked ordinary. Neither one made much impression on me. JE' Lady M. was very impressive, and I think I would have felt the same way even if I were not such a crazy JE fan. I saw Kaufman's Gross Indecency in LA and also Laramie Project in San Diego both a few years ago. I knew he was a capable director. With this director and JE and Leiv performing, Macbeth should be a first rate play, and I thought it was. But, I'm neither a theater authority nor Shakespeare purist; I'm only JE purist.

    The curtain call went only once abruptly. If at the curtain calls in The Philadelphia Story Kevin Spacy made it clear that JE was the star of the play, JE made it clear Leiv was the star applauding him after her own bow. The amazing moment for me arrived when Macbeth was told that Lady M was dead. Leiv was alone on the stage sitting in the chair. His eyes welled with tears. I could see it from my front seat. His eyes glittered like diamond. And, do you know what I felt at that monent? Instead of "What an actor Leav is!" I felt "What a wonderful actress JE is making her leading man cry in his role!" I thought he might choke in his next dialogue of, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow---" He didn't. It was such a brief special theatrical moment for me as an audience. My disappontment was that Leiv didn't give any speech at the end. I guess he had nothing special to thank for as everything went without hitch: no rain, no interruption, no technical mishap and a full house.

    I hurried to the Gate 1 stage door. JE came out, but two not-so-youg-looking guys greeted her hugging her and escorted her quickly into the crowd arm in arm. I recognized her because of her cropped hair. Others didn't recognize her because of her hair. Nobody Asked for her autograph, and I didn't dare. She was wearing a pale blue cotton blouse with matching mid-calf pants. Casual looking attire. Macbeth was worth the trip from LA, but I couldn't help feeling that this park evnt was for New Yorkers.


    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    "Lizzie's Levi's"

    We've already heard the paraphrased version in The Interview (question 76), but this peice of quotage came from The Observer in 2000. You can read the full text (behind the scenes info) at the Jane Austen Centre website.
    These costumes were a hit with both audiences and the cast. Jennifer Ehle, who won the 1996 Best Actress BAFTA award for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, raved about the selection of dresses she was given, as well as the flexibility she had to choose what she wanted to wear. "There was one little dress that I used to wear a lot--just as today you would pull on a favorite pair of Levi’s or a well worn T-shirt", she says, "You don’t often get the chance to have a choice like that, and I was very grateful. My daily mix and match became part of the pleasure of making the series."

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    One more

    From Lydia and Kevin:

    Who doesn't love Macbeth? It really is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays - I suppose that's because most high school english programs make you study it inside and out - and my high school was no different. But it's even better when this show is performed outdoors at the Delacorte theater for the Public's Shakespeare in the Park.

    I'm a little late in posting, and the show has already closed - but it was a nice production. Liev Schreiber starred as Macbeth and features Jennifer Ehle (from A&E's Pride and Prejudice) as Lady Macbeth. I thought the two had great chemistry - not to mention great costumes. The three weird sisters were delightful - a nice new take on some of the imagining of the sisters that I have seen before. Some of the staging could have used a little work - and more elaborate sets would have been appreciated. However, some of the last scenes, especially as Macbeth is about to die were really powerful - the director, Milos Forman, gets credit for that - but if only we had seen some of that same imagining towards the beginning of the show. Suffice to say, this was a well done production of a great play and a beautiful night in the Park.

    Thought this from IMDB was kinda funny.


    Not quite finished with the Macbeth stuff yet. Here goes.

  • From BroadwayWorld:
    I thought the peice was brilliant, a masterpeice if you will. Leiv blew me away. Even before he became king, you could tell he was carrying so much weight on his shoulders. Completly internal. Then Jennifer as Lady Mcbeth! Wow! So....Human...I know she didnt get the strong reviews like Mr.M, but i found the character so real- Not related to other performances (RSC version and almost all others) where she is played strong with no emotions- practically another witch. I really was concerned about the couple- not just the war...>A real emotional experience....kudos to director (Moises Kauffman)-- The set- brilliant....

    A great show, with great a time where it is needed....

  • From Catherine Elizabeth:

    I read Macbeth in high school, and have never seen it, so I was very happy to let Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle act it out for me.
    Overall, I enjoyed the production very much. It had been edited, so it felt very fast moving. I thought both Jennifer and Liev did a very nice job. Two of the fight sequences were remarkably beautiful.
    That being said, here are a few problems I had. The Public's theme for this years Shakespeare in the Park is war. I feel that there are many Shakespeare scripts to choose from that would work nicely. Macbeth isn't one of them. Yes, there is war in this play, but I feel the main themes of Macbeth are on a much more personal level (ambition, greed, destiny, consequences, etc.) It seemed unnatural to try to make it be about war.

  • From Glamourite:

    While the cast as a whole was strong, only two members really stood out of the canvas: the incomparable Liev Schreiber as Macbeth and the graceful yet forceful Jennifer Ehle as Lady Macbeth. Acclaimed stage and screen actor Liev Schreiber has been performing in productions at the Public Theater for the past decade; in this time, he has established himself as the premium Shakespearean actor of his generation in America. According to the New York Times, Schreiber has “consistently won acclaim for the vocal beauty and subintelligence of his performances as Hamlet, Iago, and Henry V, among others.” His Macbeth was so captivating that you cannot help but sit on the edge of your sit and listen to his every word and watch his every movement. Almost as equally impressive was Jennifer Ehle as Lady Macbeth. Acting opposite Schreiber and not fading into the scenery is an incredible feat in itself; however, Jennifer Ehle succeeded in providing a credible counterpart to Schreiber’s Macbeth.

  • Foreign language reports: Toni in German and er, someone else in Japanese. Babelfish for the brave.

  • Some "saw it, liked it" reports: Cory and Annie, lobolance, eerabaum, Dona, damedroiture, DrunkBunch, Rachel, amrita, okyoufiends, Jenni Leigh (who spots Spiderman's aunt and Julia Stiles in the audience), Laughing Wild (mildly critical).

  • Notables but not quotable: Ed describes the show quite evocatively, Terri has a photo from behind the Delacorte, Kirstin writes about the final show (spots Voldemort)

  • Views from the queue: Brooks Lampe gets philosophical, Stacy blackberry-blogs from the queue.

  • Star-spotting: Toby Shuster went to the gala and was dumbstruck by Naomi Watts, Cindy also attended and was similarly awed by the celeb-density, Isaac describes the afterparty like so: "just imagine standing in the middle of a castle in eighty-degree heat at midnight, basically in five hundred people's way". Heh.
  • Sunday, July 16, 2006

    "You have displaced the mirth..."

    Kosin's Chocolate Box was linked in an earlier post as KH. She has since updated:

    My favorite line in the play is actually delivered by Ms. Ehle. In Act III, Lady MacBeth is trying to persuade her dinner guests that MacBeth often goes off in crazy tirades and that it is a "thing of custom." But MacBeth continues his feverish rambling and goes absolutely nuts speaking of murder and seeing the ghost of Banquo. Finally, MacBeth sobers up and tells everyone to resume the frivolity of dinner conversation. A moment of silence passes and Lady MacBeth, with raised eyebrow and an "oh-geez" air of sarcasm says...

    "You have displaced the mirth..."

    It was Ms. Ehle's deadpan delivery that made the entire audience laugh out loud. Forget all the famous lines in this play...that was the one that made me enjoy the show. She was great throughout - the type of scheming woman I'd imagine that would be running her own company as CEO...a worthy counterpart to Larry Ellison. In any case, a good portrayal of Lady MacBeth lends the sentiment that she is indeed the woman we all love to hate. And that, Ms. Ehle certainly did deliver.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Janice's report

    Thanks Janice.

    I had a great time at the Friday eve performance of Macbeth. I always felt that the setting should give a feeling of glumness and despair. The rain and pending storm was perfect (from my perspective as a spectator). I thought your performance was excellent. I have always thought that Lady Macbeth is a juicy role but have seen other performances with weak actors, or maybe it could have been the director’s fault. I always felt that Lady Macbeth was a force to be reckoned with and really directed her husband’s actions but as we all know, the powers of the mind can afflict anyone and Lady Macbeth was not immune to that. I look forward to your future projects. Hope you’re enjoying the show.

    The last time I saw Macbeth was in Seattle at their Shakespeare in the Park series last summer. My husband played Ross and Porter. It was fun to see a larger scale, more funded production, although I must admit, there are some fantastic regional productions out there!

    It was silly to use for the blog, but alas, what's done cannot be undone. Mail to that address does not reach Ms Ehle but us eds, mere fans. See the FAQ for her agents' details.

    PS. Sorry about Friday, confusion on my part.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    New revival of The Real Thing

    According to Playbill News, a new production of The Real Thing has been cast and is set to play the Guthrie Theatre in August.

    Complete casting has been announced for the Guthrie Theater's upcoming production of the Tony-winning play The Real Thing.

    Directed by Joe Dowling, the Tom Stoppard play will begin performances at the Guthrie's new McGuire Proscenium Stage Aug. 5 with an official opening Aug. 11. The limited engagement will play through Sept. 24.

    According to the Guthrie's official website, the cast will feature Jay Goede as Henry, Jonas Goslow as Billy, Kathryn Meisle as Annie, Lee Mark Nelson as Max, Mike Rasmussen as Brodie, Elizabeth Stahlmann as Debbie and Sally Wingert as Charlotte.

    "How do you know if it's really love?" the Guthrie notes ask. "A play within a play illustrates the confusion in Stoppard's razor sharp take on marriage, art and the art of marriage. You’re never sure what’s real in this play until it hits you in the heart."

    The Real Thing opened on Broadway in January 1984, playing 566 performances at the Plymouth Theatre. The original cast featured Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Christine Baranski, Peter Gallagher and Cynthia Nixon. The production won five Tony Awards, including Best Play. The 2000 revival at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre co-starred Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle and won Tonys for both Dillane and Ehle and for Best Revival of a Play.

    Macbeth leftovers

  • The bad: J Gatsby.
  • The good: Timmy, Danika.
  • Drawing of the set.
  • The beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    Oh, we passed the 1000 posts mark recently (it's up to 1020ish now). Hip hip hurrah!

    PS. Minor bits on Coast of Utopia: Martha Plimpton talks about it at the end of her Downstage Center interview - not much new info, just that rehearsals start in September. There's an article about Tom Stoppard's trip to Russia in the Moscow Times. The Russian version of the trilogy set to preem in April 2007.
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Hurlyburly's done

  • David Barbour for Lighting & Sound:

    ...In a production by Moses Kaufman that is both bloody and elegant, Macbeth proves to be a very, very good idea indeed.
    The Baldwin production was almost entirely stolen by the Banquo of Liev Schreiber, who was just beginning to make his reputation as one of our best Shakespeareans; here, he provides a fresh look at the Scottish soldier king. Most Macbeths, in my experience, have been rationalizers, turning the idea of murder around in their heads, jumping through logical hoops to convince themselves that they act rightly. Schreiber will have none of this; his Macbeth goes with his gut, reaching for Duncan's crown almost instinctively--and, later, as the bodies begin to pile up, recoils from his deeds in an equally visceral fashion. At moments, he almost seems to be physically sickened by the blood he has spilled. (When he says, "Macbeth shall sleep no more," you really believe it.)

    Offering the sharpest possible contrast is Jennifer Ehle's coolly beautiful, supremely rational Lady Macbeth. Every inch the political wife--dressed by Michael Krass in a white strapless gown seemingly lifted from Eva Peron's closet--she positively beams with warmth and good will, even as she plots the death of Duncan. Clearly convinced that only one violent deed will purchase her the world, she convincingly disintegrates as one murder leads to another, and then another. In one of the evening's most striking images, after the killing of Duncan, she enters, her arms stained with blood up to her elbows, looking for all the world like gloves to go with her evening dress. ...

  • Robert Fuller for Edge gives a so-so review:

    Jennifer Ehle as Lady Macbeth also has mixed success. She has the stern and beautiful bearing of the popular girl nobody really likes; she’s the first Lady Macbeth I’ve seen who made me think of how complicated her relationships with all the other wives around town must be. But her hunger - for the crown, a child, or whatever - never seems alive to us. The character’s calculation is played so relentlessly that anything else there might be is choked off. Like all those pretty popular girls, Ehle mostly just makes us feel indifferent in the end.

  • Marc Pitzke for Spiegel (see Babelfish):

    Dann verwischen die Jahrhunderte. Macbeth und seine stählerne First Lady (Jennifer Ehle, Tochter der britischen Theaterlegende Rosemary Harris) kommen in dieser Inszenierung als Glamour-Paar daher, wie frisch den Klatschblättern entsprungen: jung, elegant, Champagner trinkend und immer sexy, selbst mit Blut an den Händen. "Brad und Angelina geben Interviews - in iambischen Pentametern", schrieb der Kritiker Charles Isherwood dazu.

  • Star-spotting by Jügi and David Patrick Columbia - the latter has photos, but none of the leading lady.

  • What's a roundup without naysayers? Disappointment chez Helen (but from early previews), Heather and Elisabeth Vincentelli. Mixed review from Karen, who wasn't so keen on the updating thing. However, this production has succeeded in turning people on to live Shakespeare, including Britt ("It was a very powerful and thrilling performance...I was in awe through the entire five acts"), KH and Ivy. barbarienne loved it (likewise amme) and was even infected by Shakespearese. Also, there's a response to the New Yorker's review at newyorkette about the menstrual blood interpretation of the "unsex me here" speech.

    So, Macbeth has now closed. What a month! No doubt there will be leftovers about it trickling in, but we'll be returning to regular programming soon. Get ready for bi-daily posting of ancient news and eBay roundups.

    Thanks to everyone who's contributed reports, reviews, links, tips, photos, scans, moral support and other useful things. Special thanks to the folks at the Public Theatre for being super helpful and friendly.

    PS. Looks like John Ehle's The Land Breakers will be in stores on July 21st according to Press 53. There will be a press conference at Borders.
  • Monday, July 10, 2006

    Macbeth stills

    Photographer Michal Daniel of Proofsheet has the largest collection of Macbeth production stills found so far, 27 beautiful photos.

    Have a look at Film Magic's coverage of the Macbeth afterparty too. The photos including Jennifer Ehle we've posted before.

    Macbeth miracle

    Knew the fates couldn't be that cruel! We've found a transcript of the ABC feature on Macbeth broadcast a couple of days ago, with Jennifer Ehle, Moisés Kaufman and Lynn Cohen. Still can't find the video although it is probably lurking online somewhere via ABC's subscription video-on-demand service.

    This is just the beginning, you must read the whole thing.


    (OC) Let me start with you, Miss Ehle. You look a little bit different when I saw you a few nights ago. You don't look like Lady Macbeth at all. How in the heaven's name did you prepare for this part? I don't suppose this is one of those parts were you find your inner Lady Macbeth to speak of it and bring that out.


    Well, you follow the story. So, I guess, she does emerge. I never wanted to come at it as a applying a Lady Macbeth. I had received ideas about who she was, even though I hadn't ever really paid much attention to the play. I didn't believe in what I, I had read it and I had seen it. But, I never found her very interesting. Because, she'd always seemed like not quite a real person to me. And, then, when I knew that Moises was doing this at The Public. I sat down and read the play and found that I really, really liked her. And, that she wasn't at all who I had ever believed her to be.


    (OC) You liked her?


    I do. I like her.


    (OC) You made, you made her very interesting, I must say. What did you, was there a psychological key to this famous monster?


    No, well, I don't think, I mean, I think, she is a monster. Of course, anybody who kills another human being and cold blooded is a monster. But, I don't think that, you should be able to be in the room with her and not be aware that she's a monster. I think, that's a true monster, isn't it?


    (OC) That's what makes it so frightening?





    (OC) There wasn't some thought like, this is one who has to be in control or just has to have...


    She just, if they just can do this one little thing then, life would be okay.


    (OC) Ah.


    It's just, just one little thing. And, it's a horrible thing. And, she knows it's a horrible thing. But, just, if we do this, then, for the rest of our life, we will be so happy. And, we will have...



    (OC) Just a little murder. And, then...


    Just a little murder and then, we'll be fine. And, it, unfortunately, I think she would be capable of doing that. But, he is not. And, so, since he is not, their marriage falls apart, everything falls apart. And so, she loses everything because he can't live with the guilt.



    (OC) So, she made that little mistake in logic?




    (OC) How to live a happy life?


    And, she believed that he wanted. I mean, he's the one who first broaches it. And, she believes, she knows that he doesn't have the backbone, the spine to kill. And, so she says, 'I will back you up. I will give you the result that you need. Wherever you have gaps, I will fill it in." And, she makes that vow and she follows through and does it. And, it's a terrible, terrible mistake.

    Read on, I say! We've also got a transcription of the Charlie Rose interview with Liev Schreiber, which can be viewed via Google Video for free.

    To the roundup. David A. Rosenberg of Backstage sees the Macbeths as a "chic power couple", modelled on the Bushes. Theatrescene's Jenifer Braun also picks up on the "smooth, WASPy" element. The Playgoer thinks the politicising of Macbeth is appropriate, cf the NYT review. But he's ambivalent about the glam approach to Lady M. In contrast, Robert Cashill of Live Design finds that "the hair color, and the pink and purple gowns designed for her by Michael Krass, softened the actress in a surprising way, and made her turn toward plotting and conspiracy all the more chilling". He calls her an "iron butterfly". longdeadturkey liked her "deliberately odd" interpretation, though opinions among his companions varied. astamate admires both leads' "nuanced performances" though he would've liked more spookiness, while Boulon Jones says that this Macbeth was "by far the best Shakespeare production" ever seen, and gives a lovely description of the ambiance. Finally, darklyscarlett's review is too good not to quote:

    Lady Macbeth always reminded me of a calculating society wife who feeds her husbands ambitions then is completely ill-equipped to handle the violent practicalities of political scheming, mayhem and murder. She expends so much energy throwing a rug over abyss of his madness in public that it's inevitable that she falls into her own with a wail. In a PR sense, they're pretty savvy, but not too astute.

    On stage, Lieve Schrieber and Jennifer Ehle did look the consummate power partnership; Charles Isherwood of The New York Times, in his review, compared them to a highly-groomed Hollywood golden couple, "Brad and Angelina granting interviews in iambic pentameter."

    Absolutely loved her. Thought that, especially during an uneven first act, she blew Liev right off the stage. Though this was a very different portrayal; there wasn't an undercurrent of malevolence and rage in her character as she goes insane ("Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!" comes out in grief and disbelief, more than anything). But in the end, it didn't matter. She's got an indelible stage presence, no pun, and a beautiful delivery. Didn't hurt that, with the strawberry-blond hair in gorgeous gowns, she looked like an amalgam of Kate Winslet, Gillian Anderson, and Meryl Streep.

    Oh yeah, up-and-coming Canadian actress Laura Regan is one of us.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    "Gods and Monsters"

    A Macbeth review from Gay City News.

    Given the extent to which many of our contemporary political leaders, notably our president, claim to receive guidance and approbation from the realm of the supernatural, one could only wish that they evinced a shred of the questioning, doubt, or introspection of Macbeth. That is what makes the Scottish king human and prone to tragedy. This is the riveting subtext in the sumptuous yet intimate production of Shakespeare’s play getting a fantastic mounting in Central Park with a powerful and revelatory performance by Liev Schreiber in the title role. The sustained tension and dramatic irony of Moisés Kaufman’s production accepts that supernatural forces may not be wrong, but Macbeth’s demise is due to his egomaniacal misinterpretation of them. At the height of his power madness, Macbeth believes himself invincible because the Weird Sisters tell him he cannot be destroyed by “one of woman born.” Only then does he shed the insecurity that has wracked him—just to be cut down by Macduff, born, as it turns out, not technically by woman, but by C-section. Those pesky details get you every time.

    As directed by Kaufman, Schreiber is the definitive Macbeth for our time. Lacking any real conviction or even passion to be king, he and Lady Macbeth (the sublime Jennifer Ehle) are nonetheless the consummate opportunists who once they see that supreme power is just a little murder away abandon all morality to achieve it. Power for power’s sake is the aim. After all, who doesn’t want really nice clothes and the ability to go to war on a whim to show who’s in charge? Schreiber exhibits a command of the stage that is truly extraordinary, and the dichotomy between the actor’s powerful stature and the character’s insipid vacillations is striking. Schreiber gives us a Macbeth so devoid of moral footing that he can be had and manipulated by his beliefs, by his wife, and by his lust for power.

    Ehle is a wonderful Lady Macbeth. It is she who wants the power and works through her husband to get it. Unbridled by the doubts that slow Macbeth, she dives headlong into evil to achieve her ends. That it should lead her to madness is quaint by modern standards—today Lady Macbeth would probably turn into Ann Coulter and make millions—but Ehle abandons herself to the role and makes it rich and real.

    Kaufman has staged the production with cinematic fluidity, which propels the action while maintaining absolute clarity of the narrative—no mean feat with Shakespeare’s epics. The exceptional design with sets by Derek McLane, costumes by Michael Krass, and lighting by David Lander would seem to set the production in the destabilized Europe of the 1940s, but despite Lady M’s magnificent clothes, the overall look of the show evokes a video game more than a movie; whether or not that was the intent, it’s brilliant. In video games, epic stories often combine with relentless mayhem to create a world of unending battles, persistent tension, and little—or short-lived—resolution. If only such things weren’t so real.

    Last chance

    Only two more performances of Macbeth left! Don't miss out. Sunday's performance is Sign-interpreted by the way.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Macbeth and miscellany

  • has photos from Macbeth's opening night. Jennifer Ehle's in the first with Liev Schreiber and the 13th photo with Julianna Margulies. Thanks Kate!
  • Writing with Zest has a handful of Livejournal icons from Macbeth production stills.
  • Limmy's World Tour has a couple of photos, one of the stage and one of singleted Liev Schreiber.
  • Gawker has a sweet stagedoor story with Liev Schreiber.
  • Early buzz for The Coast of Utopia in the Poughkeepsie Journal:

    Coming in October: Put Tom Stoppard's "The Coast of Utopia" on your calendar for the fall. This is his three-part epic that spans a 30-year period as it tells the panoramic story of a group of Russian writers who strive to create a new political system using only their minds as weapons. You'll be able to see the show in three separate showings or in an all-day marathon — if you can stand it.
  • Friday, July 07, 2006

    Aux armes, citoyens!

    Agent E has suggested that we storm the New York Public Library with requests to film Macbeth for the archives. So it is the 11th hour, but what do we have to lose?

    Here are the generic contact details:

    Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
    40 Lincoln Center Plaza
    New York, N.Y. 10023-7498
    Phone: (212) 870-1630

    And e-mails for relevant collections - tis always more effective to write to real people rather than generic addresses. Their phone numbers are at the above link. (Theatre Collection) (Robert Taylor, curator of the Theatre Collection) (Patrick Hoffman, director of Theatre on Film and Tape Archive)

    The Real Thing can be seen at NYPL's archives as well as a tape from the Neil Simon benefit.

    Barbican Alpha Male tix

    You can now book tickets for screenings of Alpha Male at the Barbican, running from August 11 - 24.

    They've got this blurb from Anton Bitel of Total Film:

    "Subtly written, beautifully performed, and moving without being mawkish... it’s 'Three Birthdays and a Funeral' but without a trace of Hugh Grant's comic bumbling"

    Can't wait!

    Oh yeah, the Google HTML cache of El Interview is back up (original's in PDF format). Here: Part 1 (career & profession), Part 2 (specific works), Parts 3-5 (motherhood & family; geography, nationality & accent; interests & personality), Parts 5-6 (misc & silly questions; Colin Firth/Kevin Spacey fangirl questions). The formatting's still funky though.

    Google provides

    Voila, the Charlie Rose interview with Liev Schreiber is online thanks to Google Video. It's not very dialup-friendly but apparently has two clips from Macbeth. Word from ATC is that it's repeating at 1.30pm today (Thursday).

    Still can't find the ABC feature for free anywhere, so you might have to sign up for a trial subscription. Only for Windowsers though, curses.

    To the roundup - nothing very exciting. Reviews from Village Voice and blogger Jaime aren't very enthusiastic. Elsewhere in blogland, chelseagirl147 digs the Macbeths' chemistry and is surprised at Ms Ehle's American accent while delancey reckons Mr Schreiber's accent goes Deep South when he's emoting.

    Whatever, you have only a couple of days left to make up your own mind about Macbeth! It closes on July 9th.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    ABC TV feature

    Have just received word from the Public Theatre that there will be a 22-minute segment on Macbeth featuring Jennifer Ehle, Lynn Cohen and Moisés Kaufman. It's airing at 7.35pm EST "tonight" on ABC's digital cable - not sure if that means Wednesday night or Thursday night. If the former and you've missed it, it will also be on broadcast ABC stations from 3.05 to 4.30am EST. Apparently it can also be watched online at the ABC site but can't find it.

    Sorry about the late notice.

    [edit: crapola, there was an interview with Liev Schreiber on Charlie Rose as well, Wednesday night. Hopefully it'll go up at Google Video]

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    More Macbeth video and reviews

    Check out WCBS-TV's video from Macbeth. It has a little less yak than the NY1 so that we get to hear a bit of the "all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand" speech (and an impressive yowl). The review is a little lukewarm though. In contrast, Hilton Als of the New Yorker finds freshness in the gender-bending theme and depiction of the Macbeths as a "fractured political family".

    In Ehle, [Kaufman] has a willing collaborator. At the start of the play, Lady Macbeth receives a letter that her husband, a legendarily fierce Scottish general, has sent from the front, where he has helped save Scotland from a hostile takeover by the King of Norway. Macbeth tells her of the Weird Sisters’ prophecy that he will one day be king. As she reads, Lady Macbeth finds herself dreaming of the blood yet to be spilled—of the rivers that will flow if only she can guide Macbeth to power. The blood that will stain her husband’s hands is less offensive to her than her own menstrual blood—the symbol of her femininity. “Unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty!” she says. “Make thick my blood; / Stop up th’access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose.”

    While delivering this speech, Ehle runs her fingers lightly up and down her midsection, in order to make it clear to us that she is speaking of Lady Macbeth’s womb. This graphic, almost cartoonish gesture passes in a flash. And yet it manages to stick in the viewer’s mind, if only because of its awkward charm: Ehle’s interpretation of the role stresses not Lady Macbeth’s cold focus but her odd vulnerability. Dressed like a nineteen-fifties sitcom mom—her skirts are big and full, her blond curls clean and tight—Ehle is the very image of sweetness. As Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice,” and as the star of István Szabó’s underrated 1999 film “Sunshine,” she projected a similar flowerlike tenderness. While Ehle’s Lady Macbeth is a stretch—and an act of defiance against the standard casting of the role—you root for her, if only because Kaufman is rooting for her, too. Rather than downplaying Ehle’s decency and beauty, he folds that honey into Lady Macbeth’s malevolence and bile. Ehle, in the role, becomes the kind of old-fashioned woman who is happy to step back and pass the canapés because she knows she’s got her husband by the balls.

    There are sure a lot of bloggers in NY. Bethany is starstruck from opening night, having had the opportunity to meet the whole cast "including the gorgeous and so supremely nice, Jennifer Ehle", while redhotchilli007 squees at meeting fellow Hampshire alumnus Liev Schreiber. A Gawker rep was also at the opening. Pisicutsa spotted Rosemary Harris the night she went and greatly enjoyed the show, as did tiburon512. trueoriginali and Amy liked it too, despite some problems in the queue and with synopsis-glued acquaintances. Trinityvixen likes pre- but not post-breakdown Lady Macbeth.

    Financial Times Review

    Nice and positive

    Closing one’s eyes at the theatre is usually taken as a sign of fatigue, or boredom brought on by the performance. It can also be a useful exercise. With Shakespeare, especially, to focus on the sound is to gauge the success of the evening, even when a severe directorial concept has been applied.

    With the Public Theatre’s Macbeth, free in Central Park until July 9, the deliberately blinkered approach would lead you to the conclusion that Liev Schreiber alone, in the title role, knows what he is doing. The verse-speaking is smooth, the baritone timbre sufficient to suggest the role’s standard depravity as well as the thwarted nobility that Schreiber tries to bring to the part.

    Sound by itself, on the other hand, would yield a more severe verdict for Jennifer Ehle, the production’s Lady Macbeth. Her voice, denuded of visual cues, tends to fade like a mobile telephone in the mountains. And yet, eyes wide open, she kept compelling my attention. She looks spectacularly chic in Michael Krass’s costumes, the staging’s constant reminder that the director, Moises Kaufman, has chosen to set the Scottish play, variously, in the first half of the 20th century.

    Schreiber and Ehle have been criticised for the fastidiousness of their interpretations. This is a story about murder and revenge, madness and superstition. How can that be conveyed without more obvious, melodramatic evidence of the darkness without as well as the demons within? Yet there is no shortage of blood, and the decaying palace set, designed by Derek McLane, corrodes in keeping with the narrative’s accumulating horrors. If this is not a memorable Macbeth, neither is it a standard-issue al fresco offering. The supporting players, drawn partly from the Public Theatre’s Central (Park) Casting, could be stronger, and Kaufman’s pacing slackens in the second half. But as an illustration of foul play this evening is first-rate.

    The Arts Review provides a (much) less enthusiastic response.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Good and bad news

    Ann from EhleNews says that the show was rained out on the night she went (Sunday?), but received ample compensation. Membership of EhleNews is required to read the message.

    Meanwhile, to American readers, happy 4th of July!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Macbeth video, Utopia books

    Malcolm Johnson of the Hartford Courant gives descriptive report of Macbeth. In CurtainUp's review Les Gutman admires the leads' elocution but finds their marital passion lacking, and William Wolf doesn't feel it either. But look, there's video! NY1 has a RealPlayer-format review with clips from the play. Roma Torre doesn't get Ms Ehle's interpretation though. Luckily Michael Criscuolo of does:

    As for the performances, Liev Schreiber is a blessing as Macbeth. His is not a flashy performance, just a solid, grounded one, in which he reveals a deep understanding of the role. His Macbeth is not ambitious or power-hungry—he's just a good soldier who makes a bad decision (albeit, one that triggers a domino effect from which he cannot extricate himself). Schreiber plays him as a once strong man who breaks himself. Indeed, the Thane of Cawdor shall sleep no more, as Schreiber uses Macbeth's foretold insomnia to escalate his deterioration.

    He's the perfect antithesis to Jennifer Ehle's businesslike, social-climbing Lady Macbeth, who urges her husband on to bloodshed. She turns ruthlessly practical after Duncan's murder, dismissing her husband's grief as if he were an overwrought child, while Macbeth starts falling apart immediately. When he is crowned king, Macbeth looks fearful and small, while she, on the other hand, looks radiant and luminous; as if that were the moment she'd been waiting her entire life for. It isn't until her final scene, when she proclaims “What's done now cannot be undone,” that Lady Macbeth realizes the gravity of her actions. It's a moment that Ehle nails perfectly, capping a splendid performance.

    I should add that what's best about Schreiber and Ehle is that they don't rush. They take their time with everything—the language, their scenes together, the play's big moments. They invest in them, make sure everything's clear, and make playing Shakespeare look like the easiest thing in the world. Inspiring.

    Naysayers will, no doubt, have something snarky to say about this Macbeth (as all Shakespeare snobs usually do). Don't listen to them. Led by Kaufman's commanding direction, and Schreiber—who is one of the great Shakespeareans of our time—this production of Macbeth is Shakespeare for the people, not the critics or scholars. Just as the Bard would have wanted it, I'm sure.

    Amen to that. And here are the views of some of those people. April, a friend of a cast member, got to go to the gala and rub shoulders with the beautiful people. Zak and Devon find the show "incredible". Chance1729 more or less concurs with the NYT reviewer and thinks the leads carried the play well. tyger finds parallels between Lady Macbeth and Volumnia in Coriolanus. Aaron Riccio says the play's not to be missed.

    Looking ahead to The Coast of Utopia, Google Books has previews of all three plays which you can browse through. Amazon has hardcover and paperback versions of the omnibus, and also sells the plays singly: Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage. In the acknowledgments Tom Stoppard talks about The Romantic Exiles by E.H. Carr and Russian Thinkers by Isaiah Berlin, which might be worthwhile background reading.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Macbeth bits

  • Toby Zinman for the Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Jenn: initially digs the show, then changes her mind.
  • AnnLynn: digs the Macbeths' chemistry.
  • thelineofeld: digs.
  • teddyann: digs Mr Schreiber's hotness.
  • O'Brien on Coast of Utopia Trilogy

    From Rob Kozlowski's blog.

    Lincoln Center has settled on start and finish dates for the fall 2006 U.S. debut of Tom Stoppard's ambitious series of plays known as The Coast of Utopia.

    The trilogy will begin on Oct. 10 with the first performance of the first play, Voyage. All three works will have opened and concluded their runs by March 3, 2007. The plays will open separately, one after another. They will begin to play in rep later in the schedule.

    Jack O'Brien, the Broadway director of Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Henry IV and The Invention of Love, will helm the New York bow of the nine-hour Coast of Utopia triptych. The works first appeared under the direction of Trevor Nunn in 2002 at the National Theatre in England.

    The Coast of Utopia is centered on the political and philosophical idealism and debates of mid-nineteenth-century Russia, examining the movements that excited artists and thinkers in those days. The show moves chronologically on from the 1830s, when the great Romantic poet Pushkin was still alive and his epic poem "Eugene Onegin" was all the rage in educated circles.

    The main characters are the anarchist Michael Bakunin (played by Douglas Henshall in London) who was to challenge Marx (played by Paul Ritter) for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev (played by Guy Henry), author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky (played by Will Keen); and Alexander Herzen (played by Stephen Dillane).

    LCT has produced Stoppard's Hapgood and Arcadia.

    Stoppard, O'Brien previously told, "is doing an enormous amount of work on the script, and he's been wonderfully collaborative about that. Don't forget, they were staging it while he was writing it. It's a trilogy…so it really does need a little distance by everybody, including Tom. I think he, in his own words, was ready to what he called 'take it back' and rethink it. He's done a lot of that."

    "I'm very excited about it," O'Brien told "I've been lucky with Tom's work because I've had the advantage of going to school on great directors like Richard Eyre and Trevor Nunn and seeing what they've done. Tom's pieces always take a lot of time to absorb and sift down. He's arguably the greatest writer of our century, for the stage. Doing them off the top of your head, it's very hard to conceive that. So I'm very grateful that I've got this time to sift it down and work with [designer Bob] Crowley [of The Invention of Love] again and sort of see what we can come up with."

    O'Brien said it was accurate to view the planned New York staging as the world premiere of the revised version of the works. "It won't be the nine hours [it was in England]," he said. "I'm hoping to get at least an hour out of it. It's three evenings. The 'marathon' [of all three together] will only be able to be done once or twice. In a week, I don't think you can sustain that much."

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    "With Best Wishes"

    Quick, buy this signed card for 2.25 GBP. It says "With best wishes, Jennifer Ehle". Just over 7 hours left.

    Alpha Male production notes

    Verve Pics now has full production notes on Alpha Male on their website in PDF and Word format. It includes a synopsis, cast/crew biographies and full credits. Here's the synopsis with spoilers.

    Alpha Male is a story of family life. It is a film about the force of personality, about family politics, repressed emotions, great love and devastating loss. Jim Ferris is the archetypal “alpha male”. Warm, charismatic, ambitious and successful, he is the driving force of his business and the linchpin of his family life. He is the consummate provider for his wife Alice and for his children, Jack and Elyssa, both in terms of material comfort and emotional support. It feels as though nothing can touch the idyllic world he has created, so that his sudden illness and death come as the most profound shock. Alice and the children are left stunned and adrift in the limbo of bereavement and loneliness.

    The young Jack, charged with the task of being the man of the house, takes his new responsibility very seriously. Elyssa, already a sensitive and perceptive girl, becomes increasingly withdrawn and derails in a myriad of disturbing ways. Alice, lost in her grief and relying too heavily on the support of her envious sister Brede, seems to give up all influence over the household. Finally Elyssa reaches crisis point, and only then does Alice pull herself together and resume her role as caring mother. Brede is sent away, and Alice does her best to cope as a single mother.

    When Alice meets widower Clive Lamis, she finds in him a steady companion and someone she imagines can share the responsibility of bringing up her children. But Clive finds himself cast in Jim’s long shadow and struggles to emerge from it as the family’s new patriarch. Jack is indignant and takes an instant dislike to this pretender in his house. Openly disdainful of Clive, and feeling betrayed by his mother, Jack embarks on a course of grim silence and obstinate refusal to accept the new household arrangements. Instead, he focuses all his energies on studying hard, preparing his escape to university. When Alice and Clive have a child of their own, Nathan, Jack cuts himself off completely.

    When Jack turns 21, Alice somehow manages to persuade him to return home so that she can throw him an extravagant birthday party. All the family are brought together once again, their conflicts and deep resentments all still fresh and ripe for expression. Jack, Alice, Clive, Elyssa and Brede – even Jim’s presence is felt over this hot Summer weekend. In a climax of mounting tension and complex emotional interplay, all the old wounds are reopened and everything that has been simmering for so long finally comes to a head.

    On the site there are also extremely high-res photos from the film including a couple with Jennifer Ehle. They're the same as those on Nicola Dove's site (in fact there are more on her site).

    PS. The Lincoln Center site says that non-member tickets for The Coast of Utopia will be for sale on September 10th, member tickets on August 7th.

    Macbeth print reviews

    Excerpts contain summaries of the review and bits about Ms Ehle.
  • David Rooney of Variety:

    The complexities behind Macbeth's surrender to evil and to overpowering destiny are compellingly embodied in Schreiber's contained performance but less so in other aspects of Moises Kaufman's intermittently forceful Shakespeare in the Park production. It takes more than a commanding lead to make this most brutal and brisk of tragedies resonate fully.
    The doomed antihero has a glam ice queen in Jennifer Ehle's Lady Macbeth, and the sexual chemistry between her and Schreiber adds spark to their scenes. Looking like she's stepped out of the pages of a vintage movie magazine, Ehle works hard to override her natural softness; she plays the role about a decade later than Kaufman's time frame, coming across like a steely '40s film noir manipulatrix. The approach works even if Ehle is more persuasive when summoning "direst cruelty" to galvanize her wavering husband to action than when later succumbing to her own demons.

  • Joe Dziemianowicz of the NY Daily News:

    Director Moisés Kaufman ("The Laramie Project") takes a largely straight-forward route, shunning anything too experimental, which, in the past, has hobbled some productions in the park.

    The result is a fine time up at the old castle, marked by a few creative tweaks.
    As Lady Macbeth, Ehle is too measured and mannered to register deep impact. Her fever for the throne seems low-grade, which undermines her push for power and her descent into madness after the murders. Her choice? Director's orders? Ask an oracle. But she might have borrowed some heat from Florencia Lozano, who boils a bit too high as the doomed Lady Macduf

  • Elysa Gardner of USA Today:

    If you're up for less dainty, more seasoned turmoil, the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park series is presenting Macbeth through July 9, with the excellent Liev Schreiber in the title role. Jennifer Ehle, eschewing the sweetness and light she has lent to other stage and screen roles, makes a coldly efficient Lady Macbeth. Teagle F. Bougere, Sterling K. Brown and others add rigorous support.

  • John Simon of Bloomberg:

    "Macbeth" is Shakespeare's shortest play, yet its Central Park production by the Public Theater seems, even with considerable cuts, overlong.
    Moises Kaufman, an inconsistent director at best, has elicited performances that only rarely rise to mediocrity. Liev Schreiber, as Macbeth, displays none of the hero-villain's charisma, or even much conviction in his line readings. His baritone roams from shouts to whispers arbitrarily situated.

    As his Lady, the inveterately charming Jennifer Ehle plays a modern society hostess whose careful finishing-school upbringing hardly allows her cultivated soprano to stray beyond the limits of good breeding.

  • Frank Scheck of NY Post:

    Unfortunately, there's little to distinguish this production other than the presence of its starry leads. This is Kaufman's first attempt at staging the Bard, and it feels a little tentative.

    Although filled with ominous touches, including portentous sound and lighting effects, there's little dramatic urgency - no small detriment, considering that is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and his most breathless work.
    His co-star is equally disappointing. Although Ehle has proven herself wonderfully capable of comedy in such stage productions as "Design for Living," her Lady Macbeth lacks the fierceness of a woman bent on murder. Although she well conveys her character's ardor for her husband - you can really feel the heat between these attractive performers - she's less successful at making her machinations believable.

  • Terry (!) Teachout of the Wall Street Journal:

    ...Yet Mr. Kaufman, for all his political preoccupations, is also a true showman, and he has somehow managed to turn these week-old leftovers into a thriller full of sumptuous pageantry and drenched in buckets of stage blood.

    Liev Schrieber's too-mellifluous Macbeth reminded me of the similar performance he gave three years ago in Mark Wing-Davies's Shakespeare in the Park production of "Henry V." Now as then, I found him boringly smooth in the first half, passionate and convincing in the second. Jennifer Ehle, by contrast, was wonderful from start to finish. Though she is chiefly known in the U.S. as the best of all possible Elizabeths in the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" miniseries, Ms. Ehle's theatrical quiver contains other equally sharp arrows, and her Lady Macbeth -- now venomous, now terror-stricken -- is worth standing in line to see. excerpts reviews from various sources, all of which we've covered here. Today's NY Sun has an article by A.L. Gordon about the opening night revels:

    "Bad Shakespeare in Central Park would be great. But great Shakespeare? What a fantastic night," real estate developer Joseph Rose said after the opening night performance of "Macbeth." The play had ended, and Mr. Rose and a few hundred others had climbed up to Belvedere Castle for the cast and crew party, an event full of Falstaffian mirth for those who could handle the humidity.

    Also, in the NYT, artistic director Oskar Eustis discusses the Public's war theme for this season. There's a profile on him in NY Magazine.

    Bloggers and LJ'ers too must have their share of the conversation. In general, they dig the park experience but many are unimpressed with the production. Open Firefox and go: apythia, milkdropcoronet, WTF NYC, Sam, Sammy, sixandthecity. The latter gets points for calling Ms Ehle's Lady M "flawlessly flawed" and us a "rather intense fan blog". (US, INTENSE?!?!?!! NO WAY!!)
  • Brainwashing works

    Ok not really, Factiva works. The press review onslaught continues and will be blogged later, but for tonight read Jennifer Ehle's intentions for her Lady Macbeth in Women's Wear Daily.

    Elisa Lipsky-Karasz
    27 June 2006
    Women's Wear Daily
    Copyright 2006 Fairchild Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    NEW YORK - Jennifer Ehle is one of those rare creatures whose ethereal beauty almost blossoms more from having her head shaved. But though her high cheekbones and sparkling blue eyes may benefit from the crop - for a part in the upcoming film "Pride and Glory" - it's probable her self-effacing personality doesn't appreciate the extra stares that result. For Ehle, despite her many accolades, is shy. So shy, in fact, that when she was a drama student in England in the late Eighties, the North Carolina native adopted an English accent "to camouflage myself," she says.

    Ehle is not one to shy away from a challenge, however. So after a nearly four-year break from acting, she finds herself in front of a nightly audience of 1,800 as Lady Macbeth in Moiss Kaufman's production of the play for The Public Theater's annual Shakespeare in the Park, opening Wednesday. It's a role that not only has been performed by "thousands of women," as Ehle notes, but is also one that portrays one of the most loathed characters in the history of theater.

    "I had never been very interested in the play," Ehle admits softly, "or in the received ideas I had about Lady Macbeth. I always thought that she was sort of this Elvira vamp, and an evil, manipulative, melodramatic, ball-busting creature. But then I read it and I didn't see any of those things in her at all."

    So a wig-wearing Ehle (no stranger to fake hair, she jokingly dedicated her 1996 BAFTA for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" to her wigs) takes the stage at the Delacorte opposite Liev Schreiber and humanizes what is one of Shakespeare's best-known, if briefest, female leads.

    "I saw her as an incredibly greedy, determined human being who, if she has any real insanity, has sort of an obsessive love for her husband. I don't think the play has any interest if she is capable of killing someone at the beginning," Ehle says. "Unfortunately, you only have about two pages to become somebody who can kill. It's fascinating to do - like a puzzle."

    Acting has not always held such interest for her. Though it runs in her blood - Ehle's mother is actress Rosemary Harris, and her father is author John Ehle - she has until recently been on hiatus, living a quiet country life in Dutchess County with her husband Michael Ryan, her son George and her dog, Joe Pie.

    "Even when I was at drama school, I was thinking, 'This isn't what I want to do, this isn't what I want to do,' but I never stopped," says Ehle. "When I was 30, I just thought, 'As soon as my schedule is clear, I'm going to not do this anymore and see how it goes.'

    "I'd always wanted to see if I would miss it," she continues. "And actually I didn't really miss it."

    She eventually decided to stick her toe back in, however, and headed off to London last summer for "The Philadelphia Story." "I felt that our wee family was ready, and I was very, very curious," the 36-year-old explains.

    Now she's in up to her neck. Besides "Pride and Glory," there's "Michael Clayton," costarring George Clooney, due out later this year, and come September she'll star in Tom Stoppard's trilogy "The Coast of Utopia" at Lincoln Center alongside Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke and Martha Plimpton.

    "I really was not planning on doing any more theater this year," she says. "I'm torn. Part of me just wants to be a mom and stay at home. It's daunting to look ahead and think that I am going to be working until next March. I should really probably be doing movies and trying to make money.

    "But what are you going to do?" she laughs, shaking her head. "They are three beautiful parts, and it's awfully hard to walk away."