Attention and Intention: Contextual Consequences and Cultural Confusion in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening Broadway Revival

Let’s agree on one thing: Deaf West’s excellent Broadway revival of “Spring Awakening” is a fine production currently showing at the Brooks Atkinson theatre in a limited run. The sets and lights are magnificent. The staging is right. The actors are completely superb. The effort is noble, but perhaps, imperfect in the execution of its essence, and it is in that vacuum of those slight flaws in amber that this review reflects — to make you think and wonder in preservation and ponder beyond the simple joy of watching a few Deaf actors on a live Broadway stage.

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Liviu Ciulei and Marlon Brando: Recoiling the Mortal Coil!

The great international stage and screen director and designer, Liviu Ciulei, and the divine stage and screen actor Marlon Brando both share something disturbing as it is true: They both believed in bringing coiled drama into an explosion on the live stage. If the purpose of the Dramatic Arts is irrevocable change, they reasoned, then coiled detritus is the user agent that propels forward the story to the tragic, if not always cathartic, end.

I was fortunate to purchase authentic photographs of both Liviu and Marlon and I appreciate this moment of sharing them with you. Here’s the caption for Liviu’s photo:

International director Liviu Ciulei has been named Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theatre beginning Sept 1. 1980.  The 57-year-old former head of Rumania’s leading repertory theatre, the Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Theatre, has earned an international reputation as a stage and screen director, actor, designer, and architect. His directing and design credits include productions throughout Europe, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

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Socialized Medicine and the Broadway Softball League

We, The Americans, like to think we’re in this world together — United We Stand, Divided We Fall — but in reality, we know in our bones we are not equal.  We understand the separatist One Percenters own 99% of us, and we live only to mew when asked for a response from our monied overlords.

However, there was a time in the history of this nation, not too long ago — when the system could be exploited for the grander benefit of the few against the many — and that moment in time was the early 1980s.

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Do You Remember Kaposi’s Sarcoma?

The other day, an old graduate school friend and I got together to rehash our old lives and new experiences, and one of the first things he said when he saw me was, “Those red marks on your face remind me of Kaposi’s Sarcoma.”  I was instantly stopped — “Kaposi’s Sarcoma” was a phrase I hadn’t heard in over a decade — and when I quickly explained the marks on my face were actually pinches of frostbite from the dermatologist to remove some overactive sebaceous gland residue, he smiled with relief. As an older Gay man, my friend knew lesions that look like that have traditionally indicated a dire diagnosis.

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A Memory of Marvin Hamlisch

I had the great honor of meeting SuperGenius composer Marvin Hamlisch many years ago when I first left Nebraska and lived in Washington D.C. for awhile on my way to graduate school in New York City.  I was stunned to learn Marvin died yesterday at the incredibly young age of 68.

In my January 11, 2010 United Stage article  — A Final Walk with Jim Brady — I mentioned Marvin’s kindness to me as a young student of the theatre:

The Victory Awards were intended to honor achievements of the human spirit. The show was hosted by Frank Langella and Marvin Hamlisch was the musical director.

Frank did not speak to any of the workers on the show while Marvin Hamlisch struck up a conversation with me backstage — I was a new transplant from Nebraska to D.C. — and he told me we’d one day “write a musical together” because “that’s just how things happen.”

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Julie Taymor as The Goat

In the past, I have written here in The United Stage of America about “On Not Becoming the Goat” —

The Goat is usually the least experienced person on the show in an important position and, unfortunately, that usually means the author gets the Goated label, and once you have that finger pointed at you as the root cause of all trouble, there is really no escape until the roller coaster everyone is riding slams into the concrete wall and kills everybody.

— and who would have ever thought that such a deep and magnificent talent such as Julie “I am the Lion King!” Taymor would ever, or could ever, become the goat of any production?

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Peter Stone and the Short Con

Peter Stone was a great writer of Broadway musicals, movies and television.  He was also prickly, an un-diagnosed INTJ personality, and a good friend and mentor.  Peter always told me I was more than an assistant.  I was his associate. That distinction with a difference meant a great deal to me.

When Peter was working on — The Will Rogers Follies — we had a lunch routine we never broke:  Tuna fish sandwiches on a roll with mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and provolone and a Martinelli’s apple cider to wash it all down.  Our time to talk about life and art and living was in that break when we’d walk to and from the corner deli to pick up our lunch.

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