Pattie's Top Ten Cultural Hits of April 2019 (4 -10)
In no special order.
4. The publishing of Playwriting, Structure, Character, How and What to Write by Stephen Jeffreys
'What Stephen Jeffreys doesn't know about playwriting isn't worth knowing' - Stephen Daldry
At the susceptible age of 21, I lived in London. I cleaned hotel rooms and went to see plays. I did this for twelve months. This massive absorption of theatre on the other side of the pond is the reason I have favored European theater over American theater and still tend to move toward the news coming from European theater rather than my own country.
My favorite contemporary European playwrights have a favorite playwriting teacher and his name is Stephen Jeffreys. He is best known for having written the play The Libertine. First performed by John Malkovich in the United States and later made into a film starring Johnny Depp.
His book Playwriting reveals the various invisible frameworks and mechanisms that are at the heart of each and every successful play. Drawing on a huge range of sources, it deconstructs playwriting into its constituent parts and offers illuminating insights. -- Amazon
I have found bits and bobs of Jeffrey’s workshops on the internet and in other books over the years but this is the first time an entire text has been dedicated to his workshops. It is not an exaggeration to say this may be the most important publishing event in European theatre over the past decade.
Americans can only get it in Kindle now. I’ve downloaded it and will spend my vacation in May reading this likely masterpiece of a masterclass in playwriting.
Here is an excerpt of Jeffrey's book published in The Guardian: If We're All Hedgehogs or Foxes What is Shakespeare?
5. “Step into the "Friday Night" vibe on KEXP with DJ Michele Myers! Spinning dance-worthy sets of electronic, soul, R&B, hip hop, rock and more, while showcasing artists of diverse backgrounds and music styles with a deep focus on women musicians. Every Friday night from 6-9pm on KEXP.” -- KEXP website
If you go to the KEXP website and click SHOWS you can choose to listen to music from the last week that you might have missed. My favorite KEXP show is Friday Night with DJ Michele Myers. I work one of my two part-time jobs from home and I love listening to Michele. And the evening shows tend to have a lot less talk then the daytime shows.
This week the playlist included Dragons by Princess Nokia, All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar Matele Sazon by Tego Calderon, and Sha Gua Tan Ge (Victor Cheng's "Fools on the Dance Floor" Mix) by Xia Hu.
It’s so good, I’m listening to it right now.
6. Every morning I am woken by one or both of my cats walking on me. Every morning I am reminded of the opening of Robert Altman’s film The Long Goodbye where Elliot Gould’s character is woken by his hungry cat. Altman said this opening scene is a metaphor for the entire film because “You can’t lie to a cat.”
Here’s the great opening: Marlowe Tries To Feed His Cat
7. Writer and Poet Austin Kleon encourages artists to find their bliss station - a place or time of day to do their art. I’m like a cat with my bliss station, I move it about every three months from one comfortable chair to another. On beautiful spring and summer days, my bliss station is outside. I’m no Virginia Woolf but I like to think I am when I write outside.
Kleon also recently advised on Twitter:
“Gonna be a toxic election. Take care. Spend time away from screens. Cook. Draw. Write. Play music. Walk. Swim. Dance. Color. Read books.”
I’m averaging two hours a day of writing. What about you?
8. Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad (an exceptional book) tweeted this the other day.
“Between Avengers Endgame and that TV show, it’s been quite a week…You guessed it, I’m rewatching the extended TV version of Fanny & Alexander and it’s bananas! That Bergman Snap and half your soul is snuffed out.”
I’m sorry to say to all of my GoT loving family and friends, I laughed so hard when I read this because I related so hard.
9. Good Playwriting Advice from Twitter:
“Don’t take advice from people you wouldn’t ever go to for advice.” -- no source cited.
This leads me to recall playwright and screen writer David Hare’s excellent words of wisdom, “Never take advice from anyone not invested in the outcome.”
The best advice this month on Twitter was from play publishers Samuel French.
Read plays. A lot.
10. As you can tell from my list, when it comes to social media, I am mostly Twitter-focused. Here’s why - this is my tweet from 28 April.
“Spent the last hour + reading theatre articles posted on Twitter by people who are strangers to me. Articles I would not have found any other way. That’s community too.”
Here’s one of those articles: