The Fabulous Philadelphians Return

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Photo: Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphians soulful season opener

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nezet-Seguin, conductor

Yo-Yo Ma, cello

Charlotte Blake Alston, Speaker

Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra were back in Verizon Hall on October 5th for their season opener that ended18 months away from performing for a live audience. On this night playing to almost packed house for a moving concert program with cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma.

The orchestra was not already onstage as the audience filed in, but instead made their entrance together, and the audience bounded out of their seats to greet them back. In a sartorial switch, the musicians had more modern dress code, sans tails on the men for starters and even maestro Yannick had ruby studs on his shoes. Meanwhile, the crowd had on their required masks, but otherwise were decked out in celebratory outfits- sleek gowns, stylish suits, cocktail hour wraps, studded pumps- giving the evening an added sense of musical occasion.

But the most glittering thing about the night was the program that Nezet-Seguin designed to meet this unique moment. Without ceremony, Yo-Yo Ma entered with the maestro and guest speaker Charlotte Blake Alston. Mr. Ma started to play a somber solo that just engulfed the room and led to Ms. Alston’s invocation for the audience to “stand in the name of human dignity” and spoke to the need for unity in a perilous time and finishing her remarks with a poem by Langston Hughes. Then Ma launched into the Aria from Villa- Lobos’ ‘Cantilena Bachianas Brasileiras’ leading the Philadelphia strings in music that was so appropriate, so reflexive of this moment in time.

 From there, without pause, Ma glided into the musical labyrinth of Camille Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto, with its unique structure. Ma performance is completely in the service of the music, from the sustained bowing , dark sonorities, staccato riffs,  its joyous lyrical passages to its most profound musical chambers. Ma has been playing the concerto for decades, and still does so with such rapturous immediacy.

Throughout, Ma’s interplay with the orchestra musicians showcases a joyous shared artistry.

 The concert was performed without intermission, and Nezet-Seguin spoke about the role that music can play to help heal a traumatized world. And to be together again for the shared expressions of “Joy, reflection, introspection, hopes and dreams.”

He then introduced Valerie Coleman’s ‘Seven O’Clock Shout’ composed in tribute to the front – line workers that saw us through the pandemic. Coleman was inspired by the New Yorkers who banged on pots and shouted their support every evening in solidarity for health care workers, police officers, food service employees, transit workers and who kept serving their communities. The somber atmosphere of the first half of the piece shifts into an orchestral  statement of communal solidarity with the musicians shouting out and the percussion banging out a joyful noise of hope.   

The closer was Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ which never loses its luster with audiences. Even though the lead solos were sharp, this ‘Bolero’ seemed a tad disjointed in the first half of its slow build symphonics.  It all came together midway through, with outstanding solos by Peter Smith (oboe), Daniel Matsukawa (bassoon), Ricardo Morales (clarinet) and the blazing trumpet of Jeffrey Curnow.. When the full strings thundered in, their lustrous depth engulfing Verizon Hall, led by principal violinists David Kim and Kimberly Fisher.

The Fabulous Philadelphians packed their season launch with events, the following night  were in New York City for their return to Carnegie Hall performing a completely different program with soloist Yuja Wang, then were back to Philly for a three-concert weekend with a program called American Masters, with pianist Aaron Diehl performing Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.

&Poetries

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Danse Macabre

“rarely said aloud and not bound to any objective accuracy” *

Down and outward my gray heart

Gargoyle limbs and swayback plies

Wistful discords of the body in flight

Silhouettes enter like fragments of night.

 Venal lunges and lived eyes

Slips of the body

Tongues rush by

Vestiges of emotions

Or infinite redoubt

An Inner sculpture

 flung out.

 A feral image beheld

Of rebirth on  

Amniotic streams of the gods

Livid with consciousness

then

Only a trace of tethered skin

On the other figure

Walking off

Cut from the sandtides

The buried  beauty of

The untamed heart

As it searches everywhere~

As silence drowns out the lyre

*from John Loughery’s ‘The Other Side of Silence”

LGBTQ=+PridePoetries

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endlessly, from last night

    fr Right Before I Met Vincent

the pulse
blue echo

the concussive
murmurings earlier
spying my belly button
in a drawer between
with shredded  biker socks

still molting at 7:42

rusty gaze

as marble sinews pulse
from vodka/quaalude
vision

geometric ink

butterfly on your left shoulder

(THAT YOU DON’T REMEMBER GETTING WHEN
YOU WERE STATIONED IN SAN DIEGO
THE DAY YOU BURNED YOUR DRESS BLUES)

danced the night away out of our minds
lusting off
to eternity
this trail of

whispers
ending in a
glitteringly butch
shadows
dreamt only once before now hover in
diamond movement
tattoo

à l’après-midi d’un faune
Angling over a
busted wall
-when did you
share me
with candy-
from the other club last night
it is time to go out to dance, no?
is it still 3:20

1976 drowned&drenched
In sex forgotten in a flash with  all the
beautiful ones inhabiting the
Atlantis galleria
busted open

in the rumbling
strata of debris or the glorious
basilica liberated from any former crime
in faith knowing we
we are giving our bodies to each
other

resplendent sweated mighty

unlost

human havoc

sane all the same
sounds of falling onyx
& crystals
dripping
cracks below
Leaves scrapping  branches
of blue mercury

running through
Fingers onto
the temples
we hear
sonic psalms
La la la Sacre du Printemps
to escape the sound
Of the blood pulsing together

of the blood of ancestors

of the blood of ideas

of the blood of body

the blood of mind

the blood of soul

witness to live

inside a
Coldest room
waiting for scarred
voices down here

behind
Flamingotangerinefucshia
Dahliadarling ascendent
souls’ blood dancing

from the  indigo  sea

Andy-was-here-once&
Paul^Assotto
Larry&Timmy&
Keith^&Pearl&SarahVaughan&Joey&Christopher
Tommy^&Alberto&Michael&James

&Felice&JohnAnthony=et. fuckin’ al. baby
nobody walked away
empty hearted
the corners
of the rooms folded up
not inside shadow
on bluer shadow
pulsing resonance
concussive dissonance
as the body starburst

endlessly through that smashed atom
still dancing with Shiva we dance for you&we dance for with you perpetuo molto

on ink-night beholden to our rainbow warriors
                                                                                                                          so mighty real

for Sylvester & all warriors

BooksBooksBooks

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The Unquiet Englishman | A Life of Graham Greene

By Richard Greene

W.W.Norton & Company; 591 pgs; photographs

Graham Greene was one of the 20th century’s most successful novelists, from the droll theatrics of ‘Travels with My Aunt’ to his portrait of a soul-searching rebel priest in ‘The Power and Glory.’  Greene wrote characters that captivated readers for six decades.   

 The shortlist of his bestseller include– Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, The Third Man, The Quiet American, Ministry of Fear, The Confidential Agent, The End of the Affair, Our Man in Havana- but that is only half the story of his prolific and adventurous life. Graham was a war-time journalist for LOOK magazine, a part-time British M15 spy, a playwright and screenwriter (often uncredited). And he was a self-styled diplomat who inserted himself in political hot spots around the world, exploits he copiously chronicled in letters and journals.

A new biography by Canadian writer Richard Greene brings new insight and analysis of Graham’s restless nature, his relationships and his creative life. The author had access to previously Greene’s private papers and dictaphone recordings. Graham even kept a copious log of his dreams because he admitted in his sort of autobiography titled ‘A Sort of Life’ he didn’t trust his memory.

Respected all over the world for his accomplishments on all these fronts, his career rarely gave him pleasure, he was in it for the adventure. He sought out adventure in political hot spots around the world, even often flirting with the idea that he would be happier if ‘the bullet’ would finish him off.   

As RG reveals, Graham’s restlessness and insecurities drove him to dangerous parts of the world in Latin America, Africa and Indochina where he got the inside track on corrupt regimes, spy networks, military leaders, and rebel enclaves. He even spent six weeks in a leprosarium in Africa for research for his novel A Burnt-Out Case, about a depressed architect. who exiles himself to the Belgian Congo before it became a Democratic Republic.

As assured as Graham was in his professional achievements, he suffered from manic depression, and from a young age, contemplated suicide. He was a heavy drinker and at various times he was addicted to opium. His marriage to Vivien was tumultuous, even though he was genuinely but he had casual and serious affairs that eventual caused their permanent separation, but they did not divorce.

Greene had a relationship with Catherine Walston and their affair lasted years, only splitting, sort of, when he fell in love with actress Anita Bjork, a star of Swedish theater and international cinema.   

 Meanwhile, his Greene’s relationship with his son Francis Charles and his daughter Lucy Caroline remained distant. His work keeping him abroad for long stretches, with him sending letters that didn’t make up for missing key events in their lives.  His daughter Caroline eventually moved to Canada and literally build a horse ranch. And even though Greene put up the money, when he finally visited her, she told him how hard his absences and reputation as a womanizer, drinker and political instigator had negatively impacted his family.  

Greene was equally critical of political ideologies as mechanism of power and corruption whether it was in communist, socialist, democratic republics or dictatorships. Greene chronicles Graham’s lifelong commitment of putting himself in ‘harm’s way’ to bring attention to human rights abuses around the world. In Haiti to research The Comedians, his scabrous depiction a corrupt Duvalier presidency. After the book’s became an international bestseller ‘Papa Doc’ admitted that he wanted to assassinate Greene, but was ultimately afraid of suffering international reprisals that might hurt Haiti’s tourism.

 The last two decades of his life, Greene didn’t slow up, but his heavy drinking, drug use, strained relationships and ceaseless globetrotting caught up with him. He had several serious health problems, but they slowed him down for as long as it took to get back to his hectic life of traveling and writing.

Richard Greene insights into Graham’s compulsive creative process is fascinating and authoritative and gives the background on the real people Graham knew whose character and deeds were the source of his most compelling fictional characters.

The author’s methodical and illuminating machinations of corrupt regimes- the setting of so many of Greene’s best novels- bring new insights into Graham’s exclusive access to top officials around the world.   This biography is a fine line a portrait and Richard Greene’s comprehensive research and understand of Greene’s body of work, is an authoritative, wryly observed portrait of the man, his work and his daring times.

&glbtqi+pride poetries

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 Saintos

a canto fr The Music Rooms

`3am in the farthest corner, anxiety fogs the eyes above a skyline of city lights, signs, & satellites- ~~from  Wishing for Wings by Assotto Saint

Assotto Sanctus

earthly
fabulous
Haitian Émigré


Yves’ warrior glitter lives
heathened

Glamored enamored

unenslaved
dancing
orphaned
sainted

down as the saints of
2nd Ave

gayboy dance tribe street

Blackglamagloriana  revealed

light&shade&light


as night falls on sacred scars

and scarred incants

of our warriors
that must be witnessed
but not outlived

Yves sainto maria

sacred sainto

no night falls

liberated by
Assotto Saint
Once Yves Lubin, sainto
all gods Assainto

& the spells of voodoo dolls
unleashed to

our radiant warriors
Storm the gates
burn the motherfuckers down

Saintos gay
Liberators
Libertines
To exorcise
Sexual auteur
Sainto who prowled
To write in the earth

The perfect moment
luminous

in negative light

Dance in the circle of fire
bury scarred ritual
for future sainti
Kneeling with him
in ravaged
Silhouettes,
hooded eyes of Mercury
unfeared of Mars
signaling the rings of Saturn

shooting mercury

down to the clubs
Assotto Yves
Lubin lived

voodoo spells

saintosaintosainto
Was with him when
His lover died

no one else but our brethren
& he was with all the gods
When he was dying himself
Sainto
spinning voodoo doll
bound to himself
Prisms that no one
else could see

fabulous bled those crusaders
the hypocrisies
The brutalities
the unclean hypocrites

Sainto clung to
red roses
ran ashore screaming
“Seagods
I am alive goddammit
Simply, violently,

endlessly alive
as I was screaming for my Mother
All Sainto nights

Spiritus Sanctu baby”

All Sainto nights

Sainto my Maria &
my darling

So blessed upon my

disappeared body
sainted rainbow
So cast out to sea

Cantos in memoriam of writer-actor-poet Assotto Saint

&^poetries~ for jazz & poetry month~

Monk Dream

fr The Music Room

                      Same dream

   with unaccompanied piano

                            wondered in this wilderness

universal seed sounds

float trees

hammer mood

hide in the geometry of leaf

they can’t talk about

the ride

the breakdown

the vanished town

gaping mouths saying less than nothing.

bodies saying it all

on the same days that we

     play at playing

we’re here because we’re because we’re here

any chord changes?

only the one I hear from another room

because       before

after then  they are all laid out before the

dream sphere

scroll ostinato

Lilac notes quarter notes dead notes severed notes notes from

the grave tortured notes poisoned notes eaten escape notes

dead notes shotup notes radiant notes atomic notes ore notes

Oh & who was it who

said music is really between the notes?

maybe I did

well it doesn’t matter

they are all there in this

Sphere,

wanderlust

  asking what is jazz, what can

this music be and I just tell them ‘

it tells you what time it is

that’s all

and let them figure it out

No one can talk to me when he’s like this, they whisper. sounds good

to me          rhythmic space exploration

when they are expecting

swing              

   I am flying my chromatic garden sometimes on a

earthy sphere on

a chromatic cliff on Delos, no? maybe I won’t return (maybe yes)

        No time for Monk to be deeper in my dream

maybe I’ll wake up and play something that they won’t be able to hear

until we’re all back uptown.

riding on that escaped bluenote

BalletX ~ ready for their close-up

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BalletX

Philadelphia, PA

Christine Cox, artistic director

www.balletx.org

BalletX is ready for dancefilm close-up

BalletX has been confronted with an industry shutdown of theaters and venues with a slate of specific limitations to work around to train, create, rehearse and perform dance and do it safely for all concerned. But the company hasn’t paused creating new works. Artistic director and executive director Christine Cox a platform to nurture new ballets, residencies and commissions with a new generation of vanguard and seasoned dancemakers.

 They are maintaining and even reaching new audiences through the production of BalletX Films with single ticket and subscription access digital on media platforms through their website.

 Vitally, BalletX’s realized that dance on film is a separate collaborative art that requires rethinking everything to transfer the same aesthetic and energy that the dancers conjure in a live performance.

Their current Winter series features three films by choreographers Tai Hai Hung, Manuel Vignoulle and Francesca Harper, has proved to be their best so far, artistically and production wise.

The dancers are performing in the film dancing without masks in these pieces, but were sequestered or ‘bubbled’ a method being used by sports teams, during the rehearsals, and filmed performances.

Tai Hai Hung’s ‘Two X Two’ a dance duel starring Roderick Phifer and Princess Grace Award winner Stanley Glover is set in a wood panel room ensconced in Philadelphia’s historic Franklin Institute. In this scenario it evokes an exclusive academy, the dancers costumed in long silk coats and the duet punctuated with ritualized gestures. They are locked in each other’s gaze as they circle each other in an antagonistic athletic duet. pugilistic attitude and some martial arts moves are laced with balletic turns, jumps and arabesques. Are they friends, adversaries, competitors, intimates or simply dance duelers?

In Manuel Vignoulle’s ‘Heal’ a neo-baroque chant underscores a trilogy of scenarios simultaneously. Dancers Shawn Cusseaux and Skyler Lubin in a hypnotic duet in a hillside where they tumble, collapse, and vault into elegant lift sequence conveying support, commitment and resolve. Meanwhile, on a rocky outcrop Roderick Phifer is prone in a black suit, writhing and unwrapping surgical gauze from his face and torso. Then, a flash cut to Blake Krapels, cowered in a corner of a mirrored cell, in corrosive postures and anguished backbends. Then, in another part of the forest, Krapels does the earthiest dance imaginable in a mud pit. All of these primal screams in dance, and their resolves, linger.

The longest of the films is Francesca Harper’s Thaw, with six dancers- Shawn Cubbeaux, Savannah Green, Blake Krapels, Chloe Perkes, Ashley Simpson, Richard Villaverde, Andrea Yorita- was filmed at BalletX studios in South Philadelphia. Harper created the work with the dancers via zoom, not easy, but the choreographer is already an accomplished in the dance-film genre. 

With themes of social activism, a pas deux of about a bi-racial couple and reaction to the events of references of the violent politics around the election. The ballet also evokes what dancers have faced in a year of pandemic and industry shutdown. Now a negotiation with a virtual world as the new normal stage in which to perform.

They use their mobiles as their images of their bodies float off of their screen in the air around them. In an effect that is so seamless effects that don’t upstage the dancers or deflate the energy of the performance. Credit Daniel Madoff, a former dancer with Merce Cunningham and now a filmmaker working in several genres filmed these works with a dancer-centric sensibility, and vitally, a masterful skill for editing, so crucial in filming dance.

They line up along the wall with no barre, they lock into mechanicals, but are automatons, their eyes blank. Yorita moves with an illuminated tech wire wrapped around her body. Chloe Perkes, many months pregnant, oscillates her body with in protective determination. They write words SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE. The music is metallic and dissonant; Yorita slashes her arms around in a primal dance out.

 The dancers pantomime protecting their faces with their hands up protectively from something unknown. The music becomes more propulsive and they break out in liberated expression. Richard Villaverde flies into some slam ballet phrases that etch a sharp ballet line as he presses against the wall. A voice over poem with piano accompaniment in an intimate & choreographically inventive love duet between Simpson and Krapels.

All three works evoke a cathartic dance in passionate ways and each with moments of a choreographic primal scream. Dance artists who display their art in the ways they have trained for, in the studio culture, the necessary lab and exchange of creative energy and over this extended period, without the alchemy of the energy of live performance with an audience. BalletX is proving that live, or virtual, they are ready for their close-ups and so much more.  

 BalletX Beyond is available- www.BalletX.org/Beyond:

^&poetries

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From Days of Mercury

prelude in transit

~”wordless darkness that underlies all verbal truth~Perhaps something only music could suggest”   -Timebends  by Arthur Miller

spiraling dissonance
escape out of the ice basilica

Sutured behind a wing
vanished into sky

escaping through hands
Unwritten unspoken unseen

swallowed illusions
an unmourned infinity

retold
in vanquished time
Secreted away
witnessed at azimuth

catapulted at horizon

saved in vaulted alorithms

unbanished from consciousness
but not lost finally
in the
precision of this music

at midnight
conjured from the fallout
Of  profane air

foretold by the wings of mercury

blessed godless runes

sacred to nothing

a prelude in transit
Riveted to his tracks
pulverized or

bleeding in flight
then returned

this night

where these souls & these hearts

will sing ^ dance ^ love again

The Inimitable Barbara Weisberger, t’amo & farewell

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She was a ballet dancer, ballet master and visionary, the one George Balanchine chose to be founding artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet. Equally legendary as a gifted teacher and over six decades a dance guru for generations of dancers ~ Barbara Weisberger was an indelible advocate and architect for contemporary ballet in Philadelphia and beyond.

Mrs. Weisberger died on December 23 at the age of 94, but her legacy lives on in the lives of danceartists and dancemakers.

~

Barbara Weisberger, a Former Balanchine Protégée, Still Champions Ballet -  The New York Times
Barbara Weisberger setting the barre for generations of dancers in studio (courtesy PABallet)

Here are a few personal remembrances of her remarkable legacy and her radiant generosity she extended to everyone who was fortunate enough to know her.

The first time I met Mrs. Weisberger was at the company’s longtime studio home at the Rock School building on Broad & Washington.  It was many years after Barbara had resigned as director and when I saw her coming out of the studio’s office and speaking to the receptionist, I introduced myself, telling her it was a thrill to meet her.  She said something to the effect that she was laughed and said something about being surprised that “anybody remembers me.” Of course the exact opposite was true- who could forget her.

Barbara was not only chosen by George Balanchine to teach Balanchine’s post modern/neoclassicism for his School for American Ballet, when the Ford Foundation underwrote the funding for Balanchine to establish eight regional American companies, he wanted Barbara to establish the Pennsylvania Ballet, citing her not only as a gifted ballet instructor, but trusting her to set the highest artistic classical standard.

Throughout the 60s, Weisberger not only established the Balanchine syllabus, he also gave her license to stage his most popular, and defining ballets.  Barbara’s artistic relationship with the legendary Balanchine started when she was 8, the youngest student in the 30s, when he first emigrated to the US and formed his first company, before establishing New York City Ballet. Weisberger established the training and Balanchine aesthetic, but also championed a new generation of choreographers during the 60s and 70s that was giving PABallet its own distinct artistic identity.

‘Flash forward to 2014, when Angel Corella, current director of PABallet re-established the PAB school, with director Arantxa Ochoa, they gave their first performance at the Annenberg Center. After the student showcase performance of the senior class performed Serenade , scored to Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece synphonic and Balanchine’s first ballet made in America. It was full circle moment for Barbara- In the 30s, as he was creating the ballet, Barbara was his youngest student, age 8, sitting under his grand piano watching him choreograph on the dancers and absorbed everything. After the performance Corella came into the audience to talk to Weisberger, later she mentioned to me how thrilled she was to see the school re-established, which was always part of her vision for the company.

~From her creative directorship starting in 1961, to her resignation from the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1982, Weisberger made PABallet one of the top ballet companies in the US, setting a high bar of technical artistry for a new generation of dancers. She was candid about the breakup in the New York Times, noting she was forced to resign when the board wanted to diminish her position as artistic director. She also pointed out that that she was running the company, which toured then, with a completely underfunded fiscal budget compared to other ballet companies.

She recalled those events with me in a phone conversation in 2010, without bitterness “When I left Pennsylvania Ballet he called me into his office. It was a terrible time for me and he took my hand and said “no…no…don’t cry. We will start all over again.”

And that she did, if equally meaningful ways as an educator and innovative standard bearer for ballet training locally and nationally. Among her many initiatives, Weisberger created the Carlisle Project for emerging ballet choreographers and was to become a legendary teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Mrs. Weisberger organized an outreach program as a hands-on artistic advisor, commuting back and forth from her home in Kingston, Pa. She developed the program with Carol Bartlett, dean of Peabody Dance at that time. Together they have assembled a network of ballet stars to work with the students.

In 2013 at Peabody Preparatory school in Baltimore, where Weisberger had organized auditions for black and brown youth.  Seeing her in her 80s and moving around the students so nimbly, her style was encouraging and intimate, and you could feel the energy in the room as she worked with these the young men. Seeing her in action was always a distinct privilege and always instructive to dance writers lucky enough to see her in action. She reached out to me to report on this program and I was so honored.  The scholarship program she guided had such an auspicious beginning, that it is receiving Diversity Recognition Award from John Hopkins.

PABallet founder Barbara Weisberger & soloist James Ihde
Barbara Weisberger with Principal dancer James Ihde after his farewell performance in Balanchine’s Diamonds (courtesy PAB)

The last time I saw Barbara was in the lobby of the Academy of Music in 2018, in for Corella’s revival of Balanchine’s Jewels trittico, she was with her daughter and as we greeted each other Barbara said with a huge smile “you know I’m 92 Lew.” and said I could call her anytime (she famously did not use the internet) I had tears in my eyes seeing her back in the Academy, where her company made ballet history for so many years.

I always recorded our conversations, because no matter how granular she was with vivid details of the people, places and events in her years in New York as a dancer, teacher, and in Philadelphia as the founder of Pennsylvania Ballet, she spoke of student dancers, and dance educators with the same passion and commitment to arts education.

Aside from Barbara Weisberger’s knowledge about dance technique, expression and foundational artistry, there was always something more she gave. A personal connection and philosophy that she taught by doing not telling.

Her influence was summed up this week by PABallet principal dancer Jermel Johnson sums it up best as he paid tribute to Barbara on social media this week and expressing what many dancers who has professional and personal relationships with her, in studios and on the dancestage where she nurtured-

Image may contain: 4 people, including Jonathan Stiles, people dancing and people standing
(photo courtesy of Jermel Johnson

A bond few will understand and even fewer will be blessed enough to experience. This is a photo of the incredibly loving and inspiring Barbara Wiesberger and me having a conversation. A conversation without words but with love and the exchange of energy. I feel what she is saying with her heart. And for anyone who doesn’t understand, she is telling me to be strong. To love and respect all the way I was taught. To use that love and respect and joy and pain I feel and put it into my dancing.


Godot revisited or (Well,this is a fine mess…)

W                                                                         D      

       A    T                                                     R          O         H

             I       N                                  O U                  U   G

                  I         G       F  O        Y

                                                 R

A comedy in one reel

By LJWhittington

~cast~

LAUREL&HARDY& LUCKY

Setting:  Nola bordello

Enter L&H in ragged suits & bowler

Shambling in under their theme music

Laurel: Boy, that was close!

Hardy: (huffing) You can say that again!

L: Ollie…what do you suppose made them so angry?

H: You have a lot of nerve asking a stupid question like that.

L: Well I was only trying to help.

H: Help….HELP! You almost got us killed.

L: (tearing up)  well…you….yes, but I didn’t.   (long pause) So there!

H: That’s hardly the point is it.

L: Oh. Says you…..well, what is?

H: what is what?

L: the point.

H: (incredulous) offering to hold the bag while those crooks robbed the bank. Indeed.  I have half a mind         to leave you to your own devises. Then you’ll get yours brother!

 L: (taking this in) Well Ollie… you don’t have to be nasty about it. She was an old woman.  What was I supposed to do, she was tipping over. How was I supposed to know it was a stick up?

H:t (shouts) She was holding a rifle.

L: I thought it was a cane. (starts to cry)

H: (exasperated) OHHHHH, just forget it.

L: Anyway, I made a profit because of it. And boy do we need it.

H: (looking around the room, distracted) You what?

L: The old lady slipped me a dollar (holds up the bill). And she said that if I played my cards right there’s more where that came from.

H: (deadly look) Give me that!  It’s just lucky for you I know how to keep my head.  I still don’t know why you were standing in that line anyway. You haven’t got any money in the bank.

L: Do Too!

H: (withering) You most certainly do not. I know everything that you’ve got down to the holes in your pockets and the newspaper headlines in your shoes.

L: Do too Ollie. I’ve got exactly 22 dollars and 78 cents left from the interest left over in my father’s chicken feed stock.

H: (steaming) Stanley, you very well that I take care of all of our finances. Well where is it then? We haven’t eaten in two days for God sake.

L: ( not wanting to tell him) Well, Ollie I don’t have it.

H: Why not?

L: They didn’t give it to me.

H: Why’s that?

L: They don’t have it either.

H: (losing patience) Well—- who—-(shouts) DOES?

L: (plays with his hair) Nobuddy.

H: Just as I thought. Well, what happened?

L: (starts to cry) They told me I lost all of my interest was swallowed up in the crash of 19 hundred and 29.

H: swallowed..

L: Up. Hep. Whole. Gulped was the financial term they used.

H: You mean to tell me you didn’t realize this before now? You imbecile. You half-wit. You, you…

L: pauper?

H: Nincompoop!

L: Well, that not a very nice thing to say Ollie. It’s not my fault I haven’t had time to keep up on all of the economic news

(Laurel smiles & nods a ‘So There’)

H:(deadly, after pause) All the economics news eh! Indeed.

L: Nothing to be done.

H: (fussy) What?

L: There’s nothing to be done about it now.

H: You can say that again.

L: There’s nothing to be done about……

H: (cuts him off, exacting) I heard you muttonhead. You don’t have to repeat it.

L: Well I always like to do what you say Ollie.

H: I know what I said. It was merely a figure of speech. Forget it.

(10 seconds with L&H in private moments, each actor can choose silent characterization)

H: Anyway, we’ve got more important things to worry about now. (Ollie looks around furtively). I wonder where they could be? (to himself) I wish I were alone.

L: What did you say Ollie?

H: I said, I wish I had a loan. I wish someone would lend me some money.

L: So Do I

H: (bugged again) Now what in the world would you do with it?

L: Well, I would start a business.

H: (mocking) Well, what kind of business?

L: A chicken-feed business

H: (just stares at him)

L: My father always said there was a fortune to be made in chicken feed. Feed.

H: Oh he did, did he? Well you don’t, so there isn’t!

L: (hurt but resolute to audience) Well, I can dream can’t I?

H: Not now. We’ve got things to attend to here. I think we must be too early. Perhaps we should have come last night.

L: What for? You still haven’t told me what we’re doing here. Are we waiting for someone?

H: (after a long stare) Do you mind not talking for a while.

L: (casually) Not in the least.

The actors move around the stage. this silent scene an be filled with light physical comedy

Ollie with sneaky curiosity. Stan trying not to be interested.

Stan opens a closet door & finds a robe, he puts it on takes off his bowler and sits in a chair; picks up a book and finds a pipe in the robe pocket, puts it in his mouth and settles in. Ollie has been watching him by now- lurches over him, takes the pipe out of his mouth and swats him with his hat. Stan sits passive, but ends up in tears; but quickly recovers as he smooths out his hair, only to finger it back to a question mark. They stare at each other, then Ollie turns in a huff and rushes off.

L: (addressing him in the wings) Ollie, do you now where we are?

H: (offstage) Well of course I do.

L: Well aren’t you going to tell me? (whispers) bet we’re lost.

H: Are you insinuating that we’ve come to the wrong place?

L: (brave) Well I thought you said this was a cat house?

H: (Icy) It ’tis!

L: Well….where are they?

H: Where are what?

L: The cats!

H: Will you keep your voice down. (whispers) They’re here.

L: Well I haven’t seen them.

H: Well you’ are not suppose to yet.

L: When then?

H: When then what?

L: Am I supposed to see them.

H: (sweaty) after we’ve been introduced. Naturally. They happen to be a very speacial breed. Seen by appointment only. They are always extremely busy.

(uses the Ollie bit with his hands~ the me/you gestures on these lines) And since this your first time, you only get to watch! I’ve me them. YOU have not So….so there!

L: (lost) Watch what Ollie?

H: Us talking. Us waling. Just us. Observe and learn. (gives up). Just remain perfectly still and maybe I’ll introduce you.

L: Oh goody. I’ve never et talking cats before. How big are they? Will I have to bend down or will they jump up?

H: Oh, I’d say they…. How big are what?

L: The cats, what were we just talking about. Seems like they’d be pretty big cats to have a place like this.

H: Well what difference would that make?

L: Because, when we’re introduced should I be standing or should I get on the ground? First impressions are very important, they come in handy later on, especially if the police arrive. Maybe I should just bow.

H: (done in by this) Just stand there like a statue. Don’t move. Not one word. Got it! I will do all of the talking for both of us. Understand? And that is the end of that. (they simultaneous nod their heads- a classic bit)

L: (fidgeting, indicates a thought)

H: What NOW?

L: Would it be allright if I purr? Then at least they would know that I was friendly.

H: (furious) WILL YOU KEEP QUIET! (quietly) Now, how much money have we got?

L: (digs into his pockets and turns all six inside out. Looks puzzled and takes his hat to scratch his head and a billfold drops out. They both bend over to get it and smash heads. They tussle over the money with Ollie taking charge but so distracted that he keeps counting the money but can’t figure out the amount. Finally they say together

L&H: six dollars and 47 cents.

H: That’s impossible.

L: Not it’s not. Count it again.

H: All right. How you managed. Well, I’ll be.

Now, listen, when you see a lady come out from behind that curtain, I want you to pretend that you are my valet and that you have stupidly forgotten to bring my purse with you.

L: Ollie…what’s a val-LET?

H: A servant. A manservant. You’ll be my man after all.

L: Gee Ollie, I didn’t know you felt this way about me.

H: What way?

L: The Piccadilly way.

H: oh, OH,….not a Piccadilly man you fool. A man, not my man. The idea! You’ll be A MAN.

L: (proudly) But I already am.

H: Not that kind of man.

L: Well what kind of man then?

H: The kind of man who keeps his mouth shut! A man that is paid to do his duty, without complaint.

L: Oh, so I get paid then. I didn’t know that I’d be getting paid. Ollie, can I have my money back first?

As Stan says Lucky, in a silk flora wrap strolls onstage. Stan looks blank. Ollie plays with his tie.

LUCKY: (to Laurel) Zoh, you zee von, no? Vell, come vis me.

LUCKY: (barks to Hardy) NO YOU, yes? Get back!

Stan (whispers to Ollie) Is she the cat lover?.

H: (ignoring him) Good evening Madam, we were just about to…KY: Silenceo! I am not madame isch Sera. You, I say come vis me, no. Over here first. Let me look. turn around- valk- look back- turn, shoulder, twillr, deadstare. Think. Gutt. now come vis me., no.

L: (goes past Ollie with a flourish) So there, no!

H: (dodges around stage, finally settles on the chair, impatiently, starts fooling with a book of matches until he burns his fingers) Now where is that numskull. You can’t trust hi to do anyting right. One simple thing I ask him to o and it turns into another disaster.

Laurel enters dressed in 20s flapper drag. No make-up, but a heart shaped beauty mark. He looks confused, but not embarrassed, sashaying a bit. .

H: (incredulous) What are you doing now? Why have you got that absurd outfit on.

L: JWell, Lucky said I wouldn’t look good in the other pink one.

H: You’re going to get us both arrested. Who told you to that on. (Ollie shoves him) What are you trying to do to me.

L: (befuddled) Well, I was only trying to do what I was told. I don’t know. They told me to put this on and to wait outside with the other girls and to not speak till I’m spoken to and to get rid of the fat one in the parlor, but get your money back first, if I know what good for me if I want to keep my job here.

H:(offended) Well, I never!

L: Well, neither have I.

H: The nerve of some people. You might think I wasn’t a paying customer.

L: That’s what I said.

H: What?

L: That you weren’t a paying customer.

H: Now why would you say a thing like that?

L: It’s the first thing they asked me.

H: Well Stanley, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.

(then distracted by a noise) Stan, what are they doing with those weapons?

LUCKY appears: Oh, did I forget to mention- now you can’t leave after all. Sera won’t let you out. You’re stuck here. No escape darllink. The scene continues to continue. Viola. No intermission, no pause baby. Because, you know that…no matter who you are…or what you do..you know…that …they are always.. Vaiting for your dough.

LAUREL & HARDY JUMP UP AND RUN OFF STAGE MUCH LIKE THEMSELVES.

fin