Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elsinore


We took a day trip while in Copenhagen to visit Kronborg Castle, otherwise known as Elsinore.  Here are some pics!

































Some interesting facts:
The Great Hall of Elsinore is the largest one in Europe after the one in Versailles, but the two rooms couldn't be more different: Versailles is all mirrors and gold and bling, while Elsinore, as you saw, is pretty plain and empty and pristine.

Elsinore was a major gateway for ships, and all merchants had to pay a toll at Elsinore before moving onward, which raised a lot of revenue for the King of Denmark.

That big statue of the sleeping giant Dane is in the creepy basement of the castle.  His name is Ogier.  He's supposed to wake up when Denmark is in trouble to defend her, so it's a good thing he's still asleep, because i wouldn't want to be messing with him!

Hamlet is performed outside on the lawn in the summer (it wasn't being performed when we were there, but I saw that the Propellers were going to be there soon, to perform their Richard III & Comedy of Errors double bill which I had just seen here in Boston).

The first live production of Hamlet that I ever saw was at Emerson College, directed by Maureen Shea, who is a brilliant director (and former teacher of mine).  I auditioned for it, but didnt' get cast (though I like to think i was pretty close to getting Rosencrantz...maybe not...) so I ended up house managing the show, which was quite a job, as it was one of the first performances at the newly restored Majestic.  I used to go down to the basement and think "Wow!  This is where the Group  Theatre first read Clifford Odets "Waiting for Lefty" while they were performing "Men in White" upstairs, according to Harold Clurman in "The Fervent Years"!  I'm such a nerd!"  Anyway, I remember that the revolving Elsinore of Maureen's production looked like a spiral top that was spinning out of control, and I can see how much sense that makes now, as there were so many spiral staircases in the castle, and you did feel like you were spining while you were walking around.

The trio of dancing girls in the fountain of that last picture isn't on the castle grounds, but in the little village nearby.  The closest dancing girl is the same model for another of Denmark's famous landmarks: the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mortal Terror



I'm back from our wonderful trip to Copenhagen (with a side trip to Helsinore to see Hamlet's house.  We also saw his post office and convienence store!) and have plunged into rehearsals for Mortal Terror, a new play by Robert Brustein about William Shakespeare, King James, Queen Anne, the writing of MacBeth and the Gunpowder plot. 

We are rehearsing and performing it in Suffolk University's beautiful new Modern Theatre downtown. 
Beautiful theatre. 
Fabulous group of people. 
Having a great time so far!  Will try to blog about it as we go along...



What is really amazing, for me, about being in the Modern Theatre:

When I was in High School, I used to have a part-time job after school selling earrings on one of those carts in DownTown Crossing.  My friends' Mom made the earrings and rented the cart, and I would man it on weekends/after school.  And at night, all the vendors would store their carts in the Modern Theatre, which was an empty shell at that point.  So I really remember what it looked like in the 80s: it was just a decaying mess.  The stage was caved in, and we couldn't park our carts in certain areas, because the roof leaked like crazy.

So it's truly amazing to be in that space now, next to the brilliant Paramount, which was also empty and falling apart during that time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Farvel!


Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
'Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I'm home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me
I sailed up the Skagerrak
And sailed down the Kattegat
Through the harbor and up to the quay
And there she stands waiting for me
With a welcome so warm and so gay
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
'Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I'm home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me

                                             - Frank Loesser, 1952

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Money Bags


Remember those two adorable little twin girls on that terrible, horrible, lobotomize-me-with-an-ice-pick-unfunny TV sitcom Full House?

Well, now they're gazillionaires.  Not sure how that happened.

But they are. 

They own some sort of fashion/merchandising/straight-to-DVD/marketing/clothing EMPIRE.

They are so rich, they could have me killed and would never go to jail.

Anyway, this intrepid duo have recently come out with a new luxury item for their line: a fancy fancy handbag (below).



These bags are apparently made from the creamy, succulent underbelly of a crocodile, which - as everyone knows -  is the most desirable and tasty part of the crocodile.

But here's the thing: these handbags cost $39,000. 

That's right.  39K.  For a purse.

Now, I'm sure it's a very nice bag.

But really:

If you have $39,000 to spend on a handbag, you have too much money.

And if you DO spend it on a handbag: well, there is just something morally and ethically wrong with you.

And I guess I'm fascinated by this costly bag and the timing of its advent because it so perfectly illustrates the widening gap between rich and poor in this country. 

In a time when most people are living pay check to pay check
or are unemployed
or are losing their homes,
we suddenly also have this pointlessly expensive...thing.

Paul Krugman wrote recently that our national budget problems could be solved, completely, if we implemented two changes:

1. Fixed our Health Care system, which needlessly costs more than ANY other advanced country

and

2. increased our tax system to something comparable with international standards.  Because, in spite of what all the Republicans yell and fume about, our taxes are LOW compared to international standards.

  Especially for the wealthiest Americans.

And by "wealthy American", I mean anyone - individual or company - who can afford to purchase a handbag that costs more than what most people earn in a year.