Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Battle of the Bards

Shakespeare and Marlowe — Still a Gossip Item After all these Centuries. Also: Magazines Perused ... Pat Kingsley Praised ... and my own Stoney End.   
by Denis Ferrara

“HELL IS just a frame of mind,” wrote Christopher Marlowe.

Marlowe (Kit, as his intimates referred to him) is best known for his play “Doctor Faustus,” his early, mysterious death, his possible other career as a double agent, working for and against Queen Elizabeth I, his ribald sexual nature and was he or was he not, the author of some — or all?! — of his friend William Shakespeare’s early plays? 

Marlowe remains a fascinating character, especially in regard to his friendship/help in the matter of The Bard of Avon. 

The Fledgling Theatre Company is presenting two new plays about Marlowe and Shakespeare in its “Battle of the Bards” program. One is “The Shakespeare Conspiracy” by Ted Bacino and Rufus Cadigan.  Directed by Jeremy Karafin, this examines how the unsophisticated, untraveled Will Shakespeare produced such voluminous, erudite work — was it really Marlowe’s effort, and did Marlowe truly die when historians say he did — during one of his spying adventures? (His grave was never found.)

The other play, titled “Marlowe’s Fate,” written and directed by Peter B. Hodges is one more take on the palship between the young playwrights and it mulls their respective fates.  Both productions are being presented at the Studio Theater at Theater Row.

Call 212-239-6200 for info on “The Shakespeare Conspiracy.” And 212-947-8844 in regard to “Marlowe’s Fate.” 

I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff and I was even sorry when the not-so-good TNT series, “Will” was canceled last year. That, too, heavily featured the carrying on between Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) and Marlowe (a flamboyant, entertainingly tortured turn by Jamie Campbell Bower.)
Laurie Davidson as “Will.”
And if you want more Bard of Avon — or whomever! — on Thursday, April 26th, The David Oppenheim Music Center, at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting (31 West 27th Street) presents “All The World’s a Song: Shakespeare in Jazz” with vocalist Frederick Johnson and the Daniel Kelly Trio.  These are jazz-infused versions of songs and poetic passages from works such as “Hamlet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night”  “Macbeth” and more. (Who couldn’t be just a little curious about a jazzed-up variation on “Out, damn, spot, out I say!”)  This is free and open to all.  But a warning — be on time. No late seating.
THIS N’ THAT in Magazines:

... VANITY FAIR has a new editor, Radhika Jones, a new look and even a new “feel.” (The magazine actually feels different, somehow — a new kind of paper or perhaps that is just my imagination?)  Ms. Jones has only two issues under her belt and it’s too soon to make a judgment.  It needs time to settle, take root and flower anew.  In the current issue, with Lena Waithe on the cover, I’m afraid only the Proust Questionnaire with Cecile Richards really amused or interested me.  Among her replies—“a taco stand on every corner” in response to her idea of perfect happiness, and her greatest regret: “That my mother, Ann Richards, didn’t live long enough to be on Twitter!”  (Yes!  I happen to loathe Twitter because I think everyone over-uses and abuses it, but the wonderful Ann Richards might have Twittered with style and sass.)
VF's April 2018 issue.
... It was GQ with Sean Combs (who now goes by the moniker “Love”) on the cover that really wowed me.  The profile on Combs by John Jeremiah Sullivan, Molly Young’s article on Donatella Versace, a great piece on Tiffany Haddish by Caity Weaver, a minute-by-minute account of the “Hawaiian Missile Crisis” (Sean Flynn), as well as a pictorial on actor James Norton were all terrific. (I’ve just discovered Norton’s “McMafia” series, a tense, slow-burn crime thriller with Londoners and Russians mixing it up fatally.) 
... Entertainment Weekly is better than it has ever been — I love its “Hollywood’s Greatest Untold Stories” features, and the mag is simply packed with info. 
... And even though I want to look away from anything about the current resident of the White House, Jonathan Chait’s New York magazine piece, “It’s the Corruption, Stupid” is worth more than a glance. 

This issue of New York also contains Alex Morris’ tale of people who are raising their children “without gender.”  Except for the parents, and close relatives, they don’t treat their child as a boy or girl, and don’t reveal the gender to others — these children are “theybys.”  I am all for equality and fluidity but to me, this is child abuse.  You don’t have to throw dolls at girls or guns at boys to raise children who will grow hopefully into sensitive adults who will not diminish or objectify the opposite sex — or their own sex — or feel forced to live a lie; some standardized version of their gender.  But there really are differences between boys and girls. I can see the hate mail coming my way already.
A GREAT big shout-out and congratulations to our old friend, the formidable Pat Kingsley who in her day was the most powerful publicist in Hollywood.

A big “events suite” at the Century City PMK-BNC’s offices was dedicated to Kingsley last month. After forming Pickwick Public Relations with Pat Newcomb and the late great Lois Smith, she went on to create PMK.  Kingsley repped, elevated and mightily protected stars from Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock and Tom Cruise — you know, real stars.

All the ladies I never hear from anymore traveled out to L.A. for Pat’s honor — Catherine Olim, Heidi Schaeffer, Carri McClure, Cindi Berger, Karen Samfilippo.  (Eh, we all had the ears of one another when the business was different.) 
Pat Kingsley cuts the ribbon to open The Kingsley Room. She is flanked by Cindi Berger and Michael Nyman. Courtesy of Todd Williamson/January Images
I — and Liz — always loved Pat, who was no nonsense but never “difficult.”  At least never with us.  My last clear memory of Pat was at a screening of a movie titled “Elizabethtown” with Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom.  I don’t recall much about the movie now except that Liz and I hated it.  It seemed to go on forever and had six endings, none of them satisfying.  Without a word between us, we communicated our mutual distaste.  At last it was over. The lights in the screening room went up. Liz looked at me, I looked at Liz and we both said, “What a piece of shit!”  Before we could dissect the film any further, a slight cough drew our attention.  Right behind us was Ms. Kingsley.  Memory fails as to who she was representing.  She said only, with a rueful smile, “Try to be kind.”  And then she kissed Liz and me, and left. 

Liz barked at me, “You try to be kind; life is too short for me to try!” I think I was as kind as I could be.  In any case, I’m glad Pat is receiving her honors. She was always great to work with, and is a pleasant reminder of the good old days when press reps and columnists had much more power and almost every day contained just a bit of invigorating drama and sometimes a testy exchange of wills.
Courtesy of Todd Williamson/January Images
END STONE:  As some of you know, I had a bout with kidney stones recently.  I received here every kind of helpful advice on how to avoid getting them again, and/or how to possibly “cure” them.  I was amused and quite touched.

And while I did pass one stone without much incident — no shrieking and writhing on the floor, the other one was firmly attached to the underside of my left kidney, and had to be dealt with. (Some sort of sonic boom thing crushes the stone. To be honest I’d rather have left it to linger on my kidney and say hello to my now only very occasional margarita.)  Still, one has to be “put under” and this filled me with dread. I was assured that the combo of propofol and fentanyl was gently administered and I would wake up “wonderfully refreshed.”   With un-refreshing thoughts of Michael Jackson and Prince uppermost, I said my goodbyes to a few (that’s all I’ve got) friends and remade my will — next to nobody still gets next to nothing.

Of course, everything went well — I did wake up wonderfully refreshed, wanted to buy the comfy cotton throw I was provided, then got home and slept for two days.   The only irritant is what I am required to do now. I have to lean off the bed, kinda upside down and pound my left side to encourage the remnants of the stone to travel properly.  It’s all rather perverse and way too late.  The time for my dangling off beds and roughhousing has long passed.

I knew you’d want to know.  And if anybody has a good safe way for me to actually stand on my head — which I think would do the trick better — please write in.
Contact Denis here.