Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thurs, Jan 7 at 6 PM: Introduction-Demonstration in the Eric Morris System & Strategic Planning for the Actor

Time: Thursday, January 7, 2010, at 6:00 p.m.
The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Introduction-Demonstration in the Eric Morris System & Strategic Planning for the Actor

Admission: $10. Payable in advance or at the door.

Anthony Vincent Bova will facilitate an actor (volunteer) though the Eric Morris System. If you would like to be considered as one of the Actors who volunteer to work, please mention it to Anthony and have a monologue prepared.

The Strategic Planning for the Actor segment will focus on solutions to the unique challenges actors face in their career.

Ending with a Q&A

“When I read a book by ... Eric Morris called No Acting Please, it put it all in perspective for me” --Johnny Depp, on “Inside the Actors Studio”.

Irreverent Acting
by Eric Morris
Ermor Enterprises, 1992
Paper: $13.95

No Acting Please
by Eric Morris, Jack Nicholso and Joank Hotchkis
Ermor Enterprises, 1995
Paper: $13.95

Being and Doing: A Workbook for Actors
by Eric Morris
Ermor Enterprises, 1985
Paper: $15.95

Acting from the Ultimate Consciousness
by Eric Morris
Ermor Enterprises, 1992
Paper: $12.95

Acting, Imaging, and the Unconscious
by Eric Morris
Ermor Enterprises, 1998
Paper: $18.95

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Intermission Talk: Spend the Holidays with Will Shakespeare

bu Tony Vellela

So you missed Jude Law in "Hamlet." Pity - it was a riveting production, worthy of being filmed by HBO or PBS or ... I guess those are the only options, even though there are about two hundred million cable channels. After seeing this great play, I decided to star in my own [slightly updated] Shakespeare production, "Two Gentlemen IN Verona."

During a recent trip to Italy, my photographer Simone Martelli and I spent some time soaking in the aura of Will Shakespeare's fantasized home away from home - Italia. While this city's name appears in the title of the Two Gents comedy, it is the most famous love story of all time - "Romeo & Juliet" - that lives here.

Simone Martelli, photographer

Yes, they are fictional characters in a play, but evidence exists that they are based on young lovers from the fifteenth century whose tragic romance evolved into a much-beloved folk tale of its day. Many Shakespeare scholars refer to Arthur Brooke's 1562 moralistic narrative poem "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet" as the Bard's source, but Veronese locals filled us in on the real scoop. About thirty years earlier [1531], a short novel by Luigi Da Porto gave the kids their first names, and the following year a Veronese poet named Matteo Bandello expanded on the same story. It was translated into French and then into English, which may be how the scribe heard the word. These incarnations placed some blame on the doomed lovers, for being hasty and impulsive and rash and all the other kinds of behavior that moralistic adults think teens should be punished for. Shakespeare's lovers, however, do not fit into the traditional patterns of tragedy - their fate is visited on them because of exterior events beyond their control. But you knew that.

This you may not know, unless you've also been there. When approaching 23 Via Cappelo, you will see that the short arched street-level underpass is plastered with notes affixed to its walls, messages of thanks to Juliet for sharing with the world her tale of love. This three-story stone building, which features the Cappello family crest inside the tiny courtyard, was the home of that real-life family, and operated as an inn. Their political 'rivals' in the 13th and 14th centuries were the San Bonifacio family, and the story goes that R & J were in truth, young members of these clans. The San Bonifacios were kin to the Montagues, who were loyal to la Scala familia [yes, THAT Scala, as in La Scala Opera House].

Inside 23, a quaint museum houses cultural and historical artifacts connected to young Julia, called Giulietta [like Masina, who was born nearby, outside of Bologna]. And on the side of the building, a balcony juts over the courtyard from the second floor, providing today's [doomed?] young lovers the best photo op of their lives.

Yes, they died - the Shakespeare girl and the Cappelo girl - and a short walk away, the tomb where the Verona lass laid in state is kept below ground in an earthen dimly-lit crypt at the Capucine convent. You can take pictures, but you can't do it lying down, and you can't touch. We may have Lord Byron to thank for that - he reportedly stole a chunk of marble from the tomb because he was so enamored with Verona.

Even in Byron's day, the well-preserved Arena, one of Italy's best surviving Roman amphitheatres, hosted crowd-pleasing performances, and from July through September of every year, opera events continue to be held. If you stand at the rear of the stage area, and your friend sits off to the side, in the uppermost row of seating, he will hear you, unless the twentieth-century roadway behind you drowns you out. However, a trip inside the rooms above the Arena will acquaint you with the details of this marvelous piece of antiquity, its walls and display cases replete with drawings, sketches, sculptures and other fascinating examples of life among the ruins, before they were.

Veronese in the know will tell you that tourism connected to Shakespeare is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it dates back at least to the 1700s, when Grand Tours guided the literari with the wherewithal, to hit the road on excursions that brought the locales of the fictional favorites to life - a much earlier version of those bus tours that point out the exteriors of the New York places where Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer hung out. Today, visitors can do much more than pound the fabled pavements, although that alone is worth the trip, where you can savor the feel, the colors, the sounds and the atmosphere of Fair Verona. Locals will eagerly direct you to a side street or alleyway, where you can settle comfortably in at a family-owned trattoria or taverna, serving traditional fare such as roast leg of wild boar, pumpkin soup served in a bowl scooped from half a loaf of brown bread, pear cake and toasted barley coffee, that the feuding families would have partaken. Perhaps strolling minstrels strumming lyrical melodies and harmonies on their girondas would have tempered tempers.

On Book

And if creating harmony with a loved one is on your wish list for the coming holidays, up to and including Valentine's Day, consider a Shakespeare gift. If you feel shaky about Shakespeare, there's Cynthia Greenwood's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Shakespeare Plays," a compendium to launch anyone into the world of the Old Globe.

For those more at home on the lit-up side of the footlights, John Basil's "Will Power: How to Act Shakespeare in 21 Days" walks you briskly from day one of rehearsal through opening night, with stops along the way to explore definitions, pronunciations, punctuations and recommendations. The Royal Shakespeare Company's complete collection of his plays serves as a worthy companion.

And different versions of the individual playscripts offer different special features. The Arden volumes are heavy on detailed information and notes, sometimes taking up more than half of every page, to make absolutely sure you understand every little thing. The Folger versions are often thought to be the best acting texts. And compilations of soliloquies and monologues ordered by gender provide any actor of any age with audition material that has survived through the ages.

Finally, former RSC artistic director and chief executive Adrian Noble will introduce his newest work, "How To Do Shakespeare" at a special event at the Drama Bookshop on Tuesday, January 12 from 5 to 7 PM. His credentials include a prior stint at the Bristol Old Vic, and he will discuss technique, performance styles, Shakespearean language and the place of wit and humor in the timeless canon.


TONY VELLELA wrote and produced the PBS series about theatre, "Character Studies." His award-winning play "Admissions" has been published by Playscripts. His feature reporting has appeared in dozens of publications, including the Christian Science Monitor, Parade, Reader's Digest, USA Today and Rolling Stone. Mr. Vellela is on the faculty of HB Studio in New York City.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Bridget Carpenter

With all the furor in the news this year created by fantastic flights (Pixar's Up and Balloon Boy), Bridget Carpenter's new/old play by the same title couldn't be more timely. Originally written and produced in 2002, Up has sprang to prominence this year with its first publishing and a production at Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre. Centering on the Griffin household, Up is a taut family tragicomedy that floats above the earth as the family struggles to leave the ground.

Walter Griffin is failed inventor whose claim to fame is an unauthorized balloon ride in a lawn chair. Carpenter has based Griffin on real life amateur balloonist Larry Walters, whose 1982 jaunt made headlines after he attached 45 helium filled weather balloons to a lawnchair and soared 16,000 feet above San Pedro, California. As the actual Walters took his own life as he sought reclaim his glory, Carpenter's Walter also struggles to find his next flight to greatness. Stuck in the obsession with his past, Walter's relationship with the spirit of famed French high wire walker Philippe Petit has overpowered his relationships with his family. His son Mikey struggles with the rigors and social niceties that come with being a high school sophomore, while his wife Helen strains to keep the family balance, both emotionally and financially, despite Walter's flighty-ness. When Helen forces Walter to take up a 'real job,' something all actors can relate to, and Mikey brings home a pregnant friend, the ties that bind are severely strained as we wait to see if the family will rise above their past.

Full of scenes and monologues for actors young (mid-teens) and older (late 30's-early 40's), Up pulls the pathos into the stratosphere with emotionally charged dialogue and a strong sense of the theatrical (especially the scenes with Petit). For all who've dreamed about soaring above the earth, begin your flight with this play.

Cast: 3M / 3F

Scenes/Monologues: Lots of them.

Recommended by: Ben

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tues, Dec 15 @ 5.30 PM: Free discussion and book signing at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 5:30 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: The Play That Changed My Life:: America’s Foremost Playwrights on the Plays That Influenced Them

The American Theatre Wing presents The Play That Changed My Life: America’s Foremost Playwrights on the Plays that Influenced Them. A discussion with Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the American Theater Wing and Ben Hodges (editor), followed by a signing.

The American Theatre Wing presents The Play That Changed My Life: America’s Foremost Playwrights on the Plays that Influenced Them. The 200-page paperback, edited by Ben Hodges (Theatre World), will be released in December 2009 and features an Introduction by Paula Vogel and essays and interviews from nineteen of America’s most distinguished playwrights on the plays that transformed their lives. Contributors, who have a combined total of some 40 Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes and Obies, include Jon Robin Baitz, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Horton Foote, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley and more.

From Edward Albee’s 1935 visit to New York’s Hippodrome Theatre to see Jimmy Durante (and an elephant) in Rodgers and Hart’s Jumbo, to Diana Son’s twelfth-grade field trip in 1983 to see Diane Venora play Hamlet at The Public Theater, from David Henry Hwang’s seminal San Francisco encounter with Equus to a young Beth Henley’s epiphany after seeing her mother in a “Green Bean Man costume,” The Play That Changed My Life offers readers a unique peek into the theatrical influences of some of the nation’s most important dramatists on stages both professional and amateur, in New York, across the country and overseas.

The 200-page book is filled with tributes, memories, anecdotes and other insights that connect past to present and altogether make this volume an instant “must have” for anyone who adores the theatre. Other contributors include David Auburn, Charles Fuller, A.R. Gurney, Tina Howe, David Ives, Donald Margulies, Sarah Ruhl, Regina Taylor and Doug Wright.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thurs, Dec 10 at 5.30 PM: FREE Talk, Reading and Book Signing with David Henry Hwang, Edward Albee and Francis Jue: YELLOW FACE at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Thursday, December 10, 2009 5:30 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: FREE Talk, Reading and Book Signing with David Henry Hwang, Edward Albee and Francis Jue: YELLOW FACE

David Henry Hwang in conversation with Edward Albee, and reading from YELLOW FACE with the playwright and actor, Francis Jue. A book signing will follow.

The event is free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

David Henry Hwang is the author of the Tony Award–winning M. Butterfly, a finalist for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. Other plays include Golden Child, FOB, The Dance and the Railroad, and Family Devotions; his opera libretti includes three works for composer Philip Glass. He was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928, and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include THE ZOO STORY (1958), THE AMERICAN DREAM (1960), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1961-62, Tony Award), TINY ALICE (1964), A DELICATE BALANCE (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award), ALL OVER (1971), SEASCAPE (1974, Pulitzer Prize), THE LADY FROM DUBUQUE (1977-78), THE MAN WHO HAD THREE ARMS (1981), FINDING THE SUN (1982), MARRIAGE PLAY (1986-87), THREE TALL WOMEN (1991, Pulitzer Prize), FRAGMENTS (1993), THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY (1997), THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? (2000, 2002 Tony Award), and OCCUPANT (2001). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council, and President of The Edward F. Albee Foundation. Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.

Francis Jue has had the great honor to appear in David Henry Hwang's Yellow Face (receiving Obie and Lortel Awards, plus Drama Desk and Drama League nominations), and M. Butterfly. In NYC, Francis has originated roles in Coraline, Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Language of Their Own, Victor Woo, and No Foreigners Beyond This Point. He has won awards for performances in Miss Saigon, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Into the Woods, The Illusion, Red, and The King & I.

About the YELLOW FACE:
“It’s about our country, about public image, about face,” says David Henry Hwang about his latest work, a mock documentary that puts Hwang himself center stage as it explores both Asian identity as well as race in America. The play begins with the 1990s controversy over color-blind casting for Miss Saigon, before it spins into a comic fantasy, in which the character DHH pens a play in protest and then unwittingly casts a white actor as the Asian lead. Yellow Face also explores the real-life investigation of Hwang’s father, the first Asian American to own a federally chartered bank, and the espionage charges against physicist Wen Ho Lee. Adroitly combining the light touch of comedy with weighty political and emotional issues.

“Hwang’s lively and provocative cultural self-portrait lets nobody off the hook” --The New York Times.

Yellow Face
by David Henry Hwang, Frank Rich

Thursday, December 03, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom
by Enda Walsh

Modern Irish theatre enthusiasts who haven’t already will want to check out Enda Walsh’s new two-play collection, The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. Walsh’s keen talent for witty, absurd dialogue (and monologues) makes these plays a delight and a challenge for the reader and audience member. They both explore Irish mythmaking and creative interpretations of the past.

The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom were both produced by The Druid Theatre in Galway and moved on to win Edinburgh Fringe First Awards in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Both made their American debuts at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.

The Walworth Farce revolves around Dinny, an Irish man, and his two sons in a subsidized apartment in South London dramatizing the heroic tale of his departure from Ireland. Their daily ritual of cross-dressing, carrying around cardboard coffins and playing old Irish ballads is interrupted by a change in routine and a fourth member of the cast unwillingly joins their farce. These changes also cause the sons to question the truth behind Dinny’s story. A humorous and exhausting tale of male bravado and the crippling fear of change, subverts the legacy of Synge, Yeats, Friel and even McDonagh in a surprising and disturbing way.

Cast: 3m, 1w

A companion piece to The Walworth Farce in theme and structure, The New Electric Ballroom is set in a "poxy harbour town" in the west of Ireland. Three unmarried sisters live together in the family house and relive their glory days of adolescence leading up to one night at the New Electric Ballroom that shattered their dreams of romance and escape. Their charade is occasionally interrupted by Patsy, the lonely fishmonger, with his own stories of life in the village and social anxiety. The play is equal parts Three Sisters and Beauty Queen of Leenane with a gorgeous lyricism that turns universal heartbreak and disappointment into a funny and bleak exploration of storytelling and the inability to move forward and take risks.

Cast: 3w, 1m

Scenes/Monologues: Lyrical monologues for men and women (40s, 60s), funny and bizarre scenes for men and women (20s, 40s, 60s).

Recommended by: Kate

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Intermission Talk

Intermission Talk

by Tony Vellela

"Fela!'" "Let Me Down Easy" and

"In the Next Room, or the vibrator play"

It's not unprecedented to have the performance space play a critical role in what an audience experiences. Think of the chilling 1998 revival of "Cabaret," when the revamped Studio 54 was transformed into the sleazy Berlin Kit Kat Klub, or the Fifth Avenue Theatre, where Clifford Odets' revolutionary "Waiting for Lefty" electrified the country in 1935. So it is again - this time it's the Eugene O'Neill, where "Fela!" is shaking down the walls eight times a week.

©Monique Carboni

Americans notoriously know or care little about foreign events or history. In the mid to late 1970s in Nigeria, the reigning oppressive military dictatorship found itself threatened by an organizing, spiritual middle-aged woman named Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti, who they threw from a second-story window to her death. Her son, called Fela, at first resisted the pull to take up the mantle, preferring instead to follow his musical talents. A trip to the U.S. of A. in 1969 radicalized him, and he moved back, to combine both callings. Director/choreographer Bill T. Jones ["Spring Awakening" choreography Tony], with Jim Lewis, has written the book for this bone-shaker of a show, using the music and lyrics of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Jazz musicians the world over know this music, because its composer lays claim to creating the infectious drums-and-brass based Afrobeat sound.

Trying to relate this tale, or these tales, would require the story-telling finesse of Odets, Joe Masteroff ["Cabaret" book] and John van Druten ["I Am a Camera," the play "Cabaret" is based on, which came from Christopher Isherwood's book]. Despite their combined credits, Jones and Lewis do not meet this challenge.

But what they do accomplish is a ravishing spectacle, set on the final night, in the Shrine nightclub in Lagos, in the summer of 1978. The entire theatre is meant to be that club, and the O'Neill fairly sags with posters, masks, clippings, projections, artwork, graffiti and corrugated tin, covering nearly every inch of the interior walls. A catwalk extends through the audience for performers to extend their reach, and the aisles are often filled with dancers. And what dancers! If the energy could be harnessed from these gyrating, mini-mini skirt-sporting, hip-swiveling, foot-pounding, butt-bouncing, shoulder-shuffling beauties, and their corresponding hunky honchos, the O'Neill would have no Con Ed bill for the length of the run. Fela's heart-stopping rhythms grab at your throat, furrow your brows, and tell you you, too, can dance. Get UP!!!

This is a serious-minded party, marking the end of the club as the eye of the rebels' hurricane. Politically-inspired crimes against opposition leaders and followers rip the city apart, day and night. Corruption has eaten away at the country's body, heart and soul. And Fela, arrested hundreds of times and beaten even more often, is to Nigeria what America experienced if Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale, Bob Dylan and Grace Slick co-habited in one sensuous, super-confident body.

Instead of a linear series of plot-lines, "Fela!" presents its elements as if each one had been carefully written on a loose-leaf notebook sheet, with the pages thrown up in the air, and then collected at random and replaced in the binder. The show leafs through the pages, stopping on some longer than others, with little regard for relative significance or chronology. And some pages - such as the one that reports how Fela died of the HIV virus - never fell to the ground.

©Monique Carboni

"Fela!" will be the buzz show of the winter, and the performances defy logic in terms of how these folks can keep moving and moving and moving and ... for 2 1/2 hours. [Lilias White, as the fallen mother, shines in the show's final moments, delivering a rousing anthem titled "Rain," not a Fela composition, but created by composers Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, with lyrics by Jones and Lewis.]

"Passing Strange," with a more personal story to relate, did so with a nearly bare stage, and also shook up musical theatre conventions, and still covered its messages thoroughly And there was the shattering "Serafina!," about schoolchildren fighting apartheid in South Africa. No doubt about it -"Fela!" creates new excitement and marries performance to space in stunning ways. Perhaps having a dancer at the helm tipped the balance in favor of movement and away from words.

Words, the celebration of how they are spoken and how they can have shifting meanings, are the province of Anna Deveare Smith. Her newest piece, "Let Me Down Easy," [which could be the plea of some audience members at the O'Neill] examines a topic - health, bodies, and living and dying - instead of an event, such as her masterful "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," about the racial strife that ripped through LA following the Rodney King incident. Deveare's stage works pull excerpts from hundreds of hours of interviews she has conducted, from dozens of people. She then literally morphs into those people, gliding from one to the next effortlessly [so it seems], to weave together a big, sort of clearer picture of what is and was on everyone's mind. It is the work of a certifiable [MacArthur] genius, combining journalism, social commentary, acting, writing and stamina.

Her interview subjects vary widely, from the well-known [film critic Joel Siegel, actress Lauren Hutton, former Texas governor Ann Richards], to those who are memorable more for their actions rather than their names [the minister of the Memorial Church of Harvard, the director of a South African orphanage dealing with AIDS cases, a public hospital doctor in service during Hurricane Katrina]. Smith does not intend to come to some neat 'conclusion,' or fashion a relevant 'message.' Her skills serve a chronicler's mission. Your mission should be to experience this peerless artist, a Halley's Comet among so many, many lesser on-stage flashes of light.

Don't buy into it. You may promise yourself not to be tricked into enjoying an easy snicker or two "In The Next Room," because its subtitle is "...or the vibrator play." But you will fail.

Sarah Ruhl's new piece, at the Lyceum, presents itself as a look back to the time [the 1880s] when women knew their places - the home, the nursery, the church choir - and kept to them. The rigors, the stress of holding in their emotions and their ambitions and their sex drives led many to exhibit serious signs of unwellness, as it were. And to the rescue comes Dr. Givings [Michael Cerveris], whose ingenious invention relieves them, at least temporarily, of this condition, called here 'hysteria.' His contraption? A hand-held wand the size and shape of a - banana? - that is geared up to shoot electric shock currents into a woman's vagina. A Victorian-era vibrator.

Now, like that banana, this premise can be ripe with potential, much of which is realized. Mrs. Dr. Givings [Laura Benanti], a new mother unable to produce breast milk on her own, gravitates to the sounds coming through the door of her husband's 'operating theater.' His most ardent patient, a chronically bored and senses-sensitive Mrs. Daldry [Maria Dizzia] finds this cure literally uplifting - her body rises in agony/ecstasy whenever this magic mechanical finger lingers under her skirts. The Good Doctor [who is based on historical accounts from documents of that period] has focused so wholly on proving the usefulness of his invention to women [and men, who receive it in a different locale], that he all but ignores his wife, who is already bereft from having to hire a wet nurse to nurture the new baby.

Ruhl is giddy with choices to take with this idea, and she seems to have tried to take all of them. At times, "In the Next Room" lets us snicker at the ignorance that assumed females have no physical ability to enjoy sexual experiences, their bodies built for more practical purposes, including the responsibility of satisfying their husband's sexual needs. This is comedy. At times, it reveals the sad loneliness and weary resignation women endured, often without sharing their feelings with anyone else. This is drama. And at times, as patients and visitors and others bounce in and out, the doorbell rarely given more than a few minutes' rest, the heightened characterizations and overreaching plotting take us out of the story entirely. This is farce.

Benanti flits around the living room, and sneaks into the operating room, like a wide-eyed Pollyanna, except when she is acknowledging her own unhappiness. Cerveris keeps a steady hand on the proceedings, never, at least until the snow-and-starry ending, showing any crack in his resolve. And most winningly, Dizzia holds on to her britches as she rides one roller coaster after another. The genuine discoveries that this treatment has revealed to her, register even more poignantly, and more hilariously, than what is happening in the Givings household.

Many, many more laughs are hiding inside this premise, but Ruhl has not mastered the fine art of comedy writing - see early Neil Simon, or the stand-ups of masters like Jack Benny or Joan Rivers or Phyllis Diller - where the very specific rhythms of the words and phrases of human speech are carefully deconstructed and reassembled for maximum punch. Some do land. But so many more are waiting to be operated on, in the next room.

On Book

To get the full picture of how "Cabaret" turned the former Studio 54 inside out, the event was photographed and matched with the text and songs, in "Cabaret: The Illustrated Book and Lyrics," from Newmarket Press. The Odets landmark production, "Waiting For Lefty," is always part of any collected works book, and Grove Press published "The Time is Ripe," containing Odets' personal journals.

Anna Deveare Smith's remarkable word studies read almost as beautifully as they sound in performance. You will learn from, and be moved by "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," "House Arrest: A Search for American Character In and Around the White House, Past and Present," and "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities."

And last time, writing about the Kaufman and Ferber classic "The Royal Family," not enough attention was paid to the distaff side of the team. In "Ferber - Edna Ferber and Her Circle," the life and times of this eccentric, gifted wordsmith, known for withering candor, lethal wit, temper-fuelled outbursts and boundless generosity are joyfully and engagingly told.


TONY VELLELA wrote and produced the PBS series about theatre, "Character Studies." His plays include "Admissions," Best Play winner at the New York International Fringe Festival [published by Playscripts]. He has covered theatre for dozens of publications, including Dramatics Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor, serving also as its Broadway critic. He teaches theatre courses at HB Studio in New York.