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Acute Naturalism

Milton Glaser has some fascinating thoughts:

I think this idea first occurred to me when I was looking at a marvelous etching of a bull by Picasso. It was an illustration for a story by Balzac called The Hidden Masterpiece. I am sure that you all know it. It is a bull that is expressed in 12 different styles going from very naturalistic version of a bull to an absolutely reductive single line abstraction and everything else along the way.

What is clear just from looking at this single print is that style is irrelevant. In every one of these cases, from extreme abstraction to acute naturalism they are extraordinary regardless of the style. It’s absurd to be loyal to a style. It does not deserve your loyalty. I must say that for old design professionals it is a problem because the field is driven by economic consideration more than anything else.

Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often. So every ten years or so there is a stylistic shift and things are made to look different.

I also find truth in what Milton Glaser said about lying:

Lies erode your ability to act. Ultimately the lie is an instrument of power.

An Open Letter to eKaterina

I was disappointed you so easily let go of your brilliance. It is important for you as an artist to not compromise, to not give in to lesser ideas, and for you to fight for your aesthetic.

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An Analysis of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

by Lydia Jones Kerkhoffs

“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” written by Tennessee Williams is a brilliant play about a dysfunctional family that is forces to deal with hidden deceptions and hypocrisy. It has won a Pulitzer Prize and the Drama Critic Award. This powerful play was first produced in 1955 at the Morosco Theatre, and it was directed by the great director Elia Kazan. The issues that this play revolves around transcend time and region; Williams uses his craft to entertain, enlighten and bares men’s soul.

There was some contention between Williams and Kazan over the first written version of the play. Kazan praised work but he wanted him to revise the third act. Williams wished to appease the director but he did not want to compromise his art. (Williams, 124) He states,

The gist of Kazan’s reservations can be listed as three points. 1) He felt that Big Daddy was too important to disappear from the play. 2) He felt that the character of Brick should undergo some apparent mutation as a result of the virtual vivisection that he undergoes in his interview with his father in Act Two. 3) He felt that the character of Maggie, should be, if possible, more clearly sympathetic to an audience. (Williams, 124)

Furthermore, Williams and director Elia Kazan debated over some of the cast members in the first 1955 production of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”

Kazan saw the young Barbara Bel Geddes as a perfect Maggie The Cat, but Tennessee did not concur. As for the director’s choice for Big Daddy, Burl Ives, Tennessee could only observe, “He’s a singer, isn’t he?” (Smith, 17)

Set Apart Also, what sets the first production of Williams’s play apart from his earlier works is the fact that the play’s foundation is based on conversations the characters have that appear to be “real”, vital as well as entertaining. They do not preach and condescend. An audience can recognize elements of the characters in friends, family and in themselves. Williams appears to have creatively evolved as a playwright in his quest to unmask man’s illusions. He and Kazan have created a compelling drama with an uncomplicated set and a talented cast of performers. (Akinson)

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Working the Boards in Buffalo

by Steve Gaines

In a back street…looking for seven dollars
(one of life’s little theatricals…outside the proscenium)

in December of nineteen ninety-eight I was working the boards in Buffalo

the Studio Arena … Main and West Tupper
a long gray building adorned with large gold stars on its side
anchoring the northeast corner of the theatre district
playing a Polish bartender eight shows a week
just returned to the Muse back from my old day job
fresh from retirement out of academia
without wheels and walking to and from my apartment between shows
about a half a mile eighteen times a week back and forth in that western
New York weather
where I met up with a “woman of the streets” along Virginia Place
a street too narrow to allow a casual avoidance without turning back in
a panic
knowing I was about to be “approached” hoping to avoid it

“never show fear in the face of the confrontation”…I had learned that somewhere
Continue reading → Working the Boards in Buffalo