Clean-up in the Shakespeare Aisle

There is nothing wrong with Shakespeare that couldn’t be fixed by getting rid of all the violence, and, oh! those sad endings. So many of his plays end with a pile of bodies on stage and no detective to sort it all out for us and arrest the bad guys. No one leaves the theater smiling after seeing one of those productions.

For the first few generations of critics and theater producers that followed Shakespeare, this was a common attitude. The audiences loved Shakespeare from the start, the 1590s, when his plays started to be performed in London, even if they missed some of his … finer points. There were a lot of entertaining murders, after all.
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Meeting Spalding Gray

“I began to realize I was acting as though the world were going to end and this was helping lead to its destruction. The only positve act would be to leave a record. To leave a chronicle of feelings, acts, reflections, something outside of me, something that might be useful in the unexpected future.”—Spalding Gray, 1970, The Journals of Spalding Gray

Two friends and I started a theater company in the summer of 1990. Perhaps you have not heard about it; it was kind of a not-at-all-big deal in Poughkeepsie, New York, for almost two entire weeks. Call it ten days.

Our endeavor yielded one sell-out summer night’s performance in the open-air back porch of a bar, a bad review in our local daily newspaper, yet one more (mostly unattended) performance, and a bunch of t-shirts. With grad school beckoning we shut it down, and with time and many residences I lost our newspaper clippings and even eventually forgot the name of the “company” we had started.

My one t-shirt wound up in Spalding Gray’s hands. Spalding Gray was born 75 years ago today, which prompted this recollection of one of my more awkward moments with celebrity.
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Masked & Anonymous

I am a self-conscious actor, yet I sometimes work at it half-heartedly. Now and again. Half-hearted and hesitant—I blush easily, which makes radio the perfect venue for the experiment (and if you write for that type of character, a blushing, stammering sort, I’m your man).
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