Arts & Entertainment/Theater
by Nelson Sheeley, HFH
‘o the Bard
Shakespeare’s Cut Lines
excavations were made for the new Globe Theatre in London, over the spot where
Shakespeare’s Globe once stood, a box was uncovered containing some crumpled
bits of parchment. Upon close inspection it was discovered these bits were in
Shakespeare’s own hand.
Experts, after long hours of
research, have decided that these were assorted lines of dialogue the Bard
penned for his now classic plays but later decided to discard or rewrite.
Who can that be who knocks upon my door? (Opens door)
Come in, good Friar, what news of Juliette?
That handkerchief that you had given me,
The one with berries decorating it?
it is, my dear – why do you ask?
Avenge yourself! I’ve got to get my rest!
Now is the summer of our happy times.
They said that I was ‘Thane’. I’ve lost some weight
But I don’t think I’m what you might call thane!
Friends, Romans, Countrymen,
I come to tell you Caesar’s doing well.
He should be back to work by March XX
(Next week, for those of you from out of town)
Out, out damned spot (Rubs hands) There – it’s gone!
All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players.
That being so why don’t we all go home!
columnist diverts from his usual presentation of a
short-attention-span classic play to review an exciting new high-tonnage opera.
(Noway Records, 2003)
by Nelson Sheeley
A new record label based
on the success of “Nonsuch” has been launched under the name of “Noway.”
And true to the character of this ambitious venture, founder John Dice has
issued as the label's first release a 15-disc set holding no less than a full
performance of the urtext of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida.
In this rarely heard original version of Aida, the heroine was a
descendant of the Biblical character whose wife was turned to salt, hence the
working title of the piece was Aida Lot.
Never mind that the well-seasoned title was also an unfortunate play on
words that led to a somewhat excessive interpretation, Dice helps us see through
its corpulent folds of over-orchestration to discern a true expression of
But at the time, even a master like Verdi didn’t see this production as
anything worthy of his name. Lacking funds for the production the English
producer, I.M. Fullawind used the costumes and scenery from the theatre’s
previous production of Carmen cynically claiming that since it was
in Italian: “Who the hell’s going to know or care?”
Yet as one listens one has to care because it becomes
immediately apparent that Dice has done a great deal of research on the culinary
origins of Aida. And his work has not been wasted, for he
has uncovered the first ill-fated and highly caloric version performed in London
shortly before the Cairo opening.
In fact, it should be noted that Verdi, to remain anonymous, anglicized his name
to "Joey Greene" in a vain attempt to distance himself from what had
become a disastrous, and quite fattening out-of-town tryout condemned by some
reviewers as "a twisted, bloated celebration of girthful and godless
gluttony." It is indeed an
ironic turn of operatic history that what must have seemed like a prudent
professional decision then, turns out to have been an unfortunate miscalculation
of the work’s massive potential.
cast from the original program:
On the current recording, which is like
nothing I’ve ever heard, the abundant role of Aida Lot is played convincingly by the
expansive soprano, Ima Normoose. She is at her best during the well-known (but
later cut) aria, Mi Piace Il Pollo (“I like chicken”) where the
soprano devours an entire fowl while singing in a muffled larghetto.
Both sisters Amanheiress and Amnervis are sung by the very adequate
contralto, Maria Mezzomezzo. The high point of her performance is the duet (in
the Cairo version the touching Aida-Radames, O, Terra, Addio) between the
sisters, Tara Addio – where they say good-bye to their southern home.
Radames is sung on this performance by the unmarried Greek matinee idol, Q. T.
Pi. Mr. Pi, recently turned tenor from a successful career in commercial pastry
(world known for Pi’s Pies). Mr. Pi is particularly believable in his
rendition of the aria, Sono Si Caldo, Sono Si Gai, in which he explains
his attractiveness and sexual preference.
Although this aria was cut by Greene (or "Verdi,” if you prefer), it later appeared as Memories in
the Broadway consumer spectacle, Cats.
The chorus and orchestra for this
unique recording are under the baton of Warren Baiter. Despite the valiant efforts of Maestro
Baiter and L’Orchestra della Torta di Gesu, the result is bewildering and
benumbing. However, we look forward to Noway’s next release, Gounod’s Faux.
(Author's Note: A word
of warning to the high-tech audiophiles: Steadfastly believing CDs will soon go the
way the eight-track, Noway only records on vinyl at 16 rpm, though some may find
succor in the fact that they also offer a
limited- edition version on wire recorder.)
YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PINTER
(The scene is
a dreary basement apartment with no windows. Three people are seated. MEG is in
a rocker. BEN and STANLEY sit on the sofa. Nobody speaks)
He’s coming home tomorrow. (No response) Jimmy’s coming home tomorrow.
Yes. It’s his birthday.
Oh!..Oh, yes, of course. Still…
(Breaking the silence) Tea?
(quickly – suspicious) What?
Do you want some tea?
(Slowly) No…thank you. (There is a knock at the door – STANLEY stands) For
God sake, don’t open it! (STANLEY sits as the knocking continues)
(Whispering) What shall we do?
(Everyone looks at
each other suspiciously as the lights slowly fade –)
In order to write your own Pinter play,
use at least three characters who have one or two syllable names, write an
entire scene with beginning, middle and end, throw away the beginning and end,
intersperse dialog generously with meaningful pauses and title it with “THE…
followed by a single noun. Sell your play to a regional theater dedicated to
doing important new works.
How Amahl Stole Scrooge’s
Nutcracker on 34th St. in Wales
- OR -
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOLIDAY PLAYS
(Entering their tenement apartment.) Henry…Oh, Henry…(HE enters from the
bedroom) I’m so late…what time is it?
I…I….don’t know. I sold my watch to buy you this. Merry Christmas (HE
holds out a tortoise-shell comb.)
(Taking off her hat - her hair
falls down to her shoulders) Thank you, Sweetheart.
What did you get me?
Funny you should mention that….(We hear the three magi singing from Amahl
and the Night Visitors offstage.)
(Running to the window and looking out) Get
those damn camels off the lawn!
(Singing off stage) “This is my box, this is my box, I never travel without my
I don’t care who you are, you’d just better not be referring to that
crippled kid who’s sharing that hump with you!
What’s that terminally happy Cratchit boy doing on a camel?
It’s not him – it’s some little Arab. (There is a knock on the door) Now
what? (HE opens the door – revealing a small girl) Who are you?
Cindy Lou Who.
Everyone’s a comedian (Slams the door) Now about my present…
I still don’t have it. I was at Macy’s and the cops were taking out this old
bearded guy who was claming to be Santa Claus. The economy being what it is,
I’m sure he was just a street bum they hired for the season. But when he saw
me, he broke away from the cops, ran over and embraced me!
God, honey, weren’t you scared… or even worse…did it excite you?
No, it was just a blah bum hug!
NEIL SIMON YOU NEED TO KNOW – THE MUSICAL
Old Neil Simon wrote some plays
E – I – E Oy Vey
And in his plays he wrote himself
E – I – E Oy Vey
With his mother here
And his father there
Here a Jew, there a Jew, everywhere a Hebrew.
Old Neil Simon wrote some plays,
E – I – E Oy Vey.
I am the very model of a modern Broadway dramatist
Although my popularity keeps dramaturges and critics pissed
Say what they might I write and write and hold the public in my fist
On top of that it’s cheaper than a high-priced psychoanalyst.
On top of that it’s cheaper than a high-priced psychoanalyst
On top of that it’s cheaper than a high-priced psychoanalyst
On top of this it’s cheaper than a high priced psycho anal analyst.
I’ve written 27 plays from "Fools" to "Barefoot In the Park"
It’s all been light and fluffy stuff cause when I try for
The critics and the public both rise up in animosity
And claim it’s nothing more than Jewish guilt and great pomposity.
And claim it’s nothing more. . .etc.
Even when the muse is gone and no ideas come
I take my pen and paper and write any old absurdity
I admit that I could write the phone book and still have a hit
So let them bitch and let them chatter
I’m so rich it doesn’t matter!
THE ALBEE YOU NEED TO KNOW
(Entering) Jesus H. Christ (slams the door)
You’re drunk. Be quiet, you’ll wake the baby.
We don’t have one.
Oh, right. Check on Grandma, will you?
(Looking out the window) She’s still out there in the sandbox. And what’s
that? Are we raising livestock? What’s this goat doing in the back yard?
Shouldn’t that be in a zoo?
There’s a story about that…Give me a drink.
You make me sick.
Then why did you marry me?
I loved the way you spoke in extended metaphors with such elegant word choices
and imagery, so most of the time I didn’t know what you were talking about, if
anything, but it didn’t matter because you said it so well. (Doorbell) Who the
hell’s that? (Looking out the peep hole) Looks like Rosemary Harris. Her
character’s husband must have finally died. (Opens door revealing a couple
huddled together) George – it’s the neighbors. (To Them) What do you want?
We want to stay here. There’s something at home that’s scaring us.
Oh, for God’s sake. You’re adults. Go home and figure it out! (Slams the
door) Give me a drink.
(Giving her a drink) Here, now let me get a drink. Jesus, those people are
miserable. There aren’t very many happy people in this world.
None that I know of. (Chugs her drink) Give me another. What’s this all mean?
Who the hell knows?
THE BECKETT YOU NEED TO KNOW
(The stage is empty
except for a large, dead tree in the center.)
(There are two
people SR. up to their necks in sand, two people SL in large metal trash cans, a
wall upstage with a hole in it and a pair of lips sticking through it.
There is a
reel-to-reel tape recorder DC. The tape has run out and the receiving reel is
turning with the end of the tape flapping.)
(The curtain raises
-- nothing happens for 2 minutes. Then we hear a baby cry.)
(A man enters)
I’m sorry I’m
WOMAN IN TRASH
(A baby cries.)
leaves the theater confused and vaguely bewildered, taking solace in the notion
that because they didn't understand it, there is a good chance they’ve seen
something very profound and meaningful.
CHEKHOV YOU NEED TO KNOW
(A living room in a
small town in Russia. A door SL and a window SR. There is a sofa center stage.
Seated on the sofa are IRENA, OLGA and MASHA – NINA stands at the window)
I’m a seagull.
(Enters to hear this) You all need a vacation.
Let’s go to Moscow.
I’m a seagull.
(Enters with a bottle of vodka)
What’s for dinner, Cook?
(We hear the cry of
a seagull and then a gun shot)
Poultry. And cherry pie for desert. (We hear chopping. COOK crosses to the
window and looks out)
Make that apple pie.
I’m so bored! (He takes a drink of vodka)
I’m a seagull.
(SLOW FADE TO
IBSEN YOU NEED TO KNOW
room with a fireplace and a hallway off Left to the front door of the house and a
door Stage Right to the sitting room.
(On the phone) Yes, the water’s polluted – unfit for drinking or swimming.
Print it in banner headlines in your next edition.
(Entering) What are you doing?
I called the Evening Star and told them everything about the water.
No! And what’s that smell?
I’m burning the baby, Tesman.
My manuscript! (Runs to the fireplace to retrieve it.)
Help! Someone – Aase,
Osvald, Peer. . .
They can’t help you – she’s dead and he’s blind and the other one’s
out of town.
You’ve ruined my life. The truth will come out about the water, you’ve
destroyed my manuscript. I’ve
nothing to live for (looking on the mantlepiece). Where are General Galber’s
In the other room. (He runs into the other room – she follows.)
Do it beautifully – in the heart.
a shot being fired.)
(Looking) Oh dear – your heart’s higher than that (The phone rings.) Hello? Oh hello,
Judge Brock. You’re coming over?
No, I’m not doing anything. See
you soon. (Looks around.) I’ve
got to get out of here.(She exits
– we hear a door slam.)
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