Coriolanus Comes to DC
Mar. 28-June 2, Washington, DC: Shakespeare Theatre Company stages Coriolanus, about a banished Roman war hero who allies with an enemy to take revenge on Rome. Patrick Page plays Coriolanus "with a voice that rumbles and quakes like an avalanche" (Washington Post). For more details, click here.
Streetcar Stops in Ashland
Apr. 17-Nov. 2, Ashland, OR: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, in which unstable Blanche DuBois visits her sister, Stella, whose new husband’s ruthlessness towards Blanche turns to violence. For more info, click here.
Enchantment at London’s Globe
Apr. 23-Sept. 19, London, UK: Shakespeare’s Globe stages The Tempest, featuring Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan on a magical island. Also showing is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, about four lovers enchanted into a happy ending. For performance details, click here.
On the Razzle at U Tennessee
Apr. 25-May 12, Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre stages Tom Stoppard's On the Razzle. When two country clerks go "on the razzle" (a drinking binge) in big-city Vienna, chaos ensues. Click here for details.
Much Ado in an Atlanta Park
May 1-5, Atlanta, GA: Georgia Shakespeare presents the Bard's Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy that juxtaposes two pairs of lovers: young, innocent Claudio and Hero and older, more cynical Benedick and Beatrice, who are engaged in a war of wit. For more info, click here.
An Iliad in the City of Lakes
May 4-26, Minneapolis, MN: Guthrie Theater performs An Iliad, the ancient tale retold by Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson, and Denis O’Hare. The poet Homer relays tales of grief and glory in the battle for Troy and connects it to present-day violence. For details, click here.
Fairleigh Dickinson U’s Butler
May 8-11, Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University presents What the Butler Saw, Joe Orton’s bawdy comedy (complete with cross-dressing) about a psychiatrist and his attempts to seduce a prospective secretary. Click here for details.
Cell Phone at Stanford U
May 16-18, Stanford, CA: Stanford University performs Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, in which a woman in a café feels compelled to answer an incessantly ringing cell phone, whose owner is dead. For performance details, click here.
Titus Andronicus from the RSC
May 16-Oct. 26, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK: The Royal Shakespeare Company performs one of the Bard’s most violent plays. Returning from a 10-year-war to bury his sons, a Roman general becomes enmeshed in a bloody chain of revenge. For more details, click here.
Disgraced, Exported to the UK
May 17-June 22, London, UK: Hari Dhillon stars as Amir; Kirsty Bushell, as Emily in this British production of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winner about Pakistani assimilation (see article on the right for story). For performance details, click here.
Ireland’s Playboy in New Jersey
May 29-June 23, Madison, NJ: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey stages John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, about a country lad who claims to have killed his father, and wins praise and romantic interest from women for his story. Click here for details.
WRITING CONTESTS Prose Poems and Short Shorts
June 1 deadline; Bowling Green, OH: Mid-American Review at Bowling Green State University invites submissions (500-word limit) to its Fineline Competition for Prose Poems and Short Short Stories. The prize includes publication and $1,000. For further info, click here.
North Korea Examined: 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Announced April 15, this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction goes to Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master's Son, a North Korean bildungsroman set during Kim Jong-il’s leadership (1994-2011).The novel's Jun Do (a homonym for John Doe) is the son of an orphanage manager, who weeps drunkenly over his beautiful lost wife’s photo. Beauty in the provinces ensures a woman’s being shipped to the capital of Pyongyang, and so it goes for Jun Do’s mother. Thereafter, days becomes difficult for the motherless son. He suffers for her loss, in large part because he has a face that brings his mother to his father’s mind. The boy gets locked in the rabbit warren if it’s dirty, and he has to chip away at the frozen piss on the floor if another orphan wets the bed. Life changes when Jun Do is sent into the military. There he trains to work under zero-light conditions, to intercept American radio messages, and to kidnap Japanese citizens. Bound for a mission in Abilene, Texas (which he botches), the young man receives a mini-lecture on American customs (Women are "free to smoke in America and should not be confronted" about the custom, which is taboo for North Korean women). Ultimately Jun Do falls in love with the famous actress Sun Moon and gains a chance to redeem his life.
Horrific images abound, featuring prison camps that work people to death, or drain them of blood, or lobotomize them with a nail through the skull. Johnson, a professor of English at Stanford University, explains that he based many of the shocking aspects on sources in the real world—the narratives of North Korean defectors. He calls Orphan Master’s Son "a trauma narrative."
In North Korea your primary relationship is with the state. Your loyalties must lie with the regime first and your family second, which makes an orphan of everyone to some degree, and the Kim regime the true orphan master.
For a list of remaining 2013 Pulitzer Prize winners click here. For this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama, read the article below.
Adam Johnson and his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Publisher Settles on Penalty for E-book Price-Fixing
Macmillan, one of five publishers sued for E-book price-fixing, agreed this April to pay $20 million for consumer compensation, $3 million litigation and investigation costs, $2.475 million for plaintiff's attorney fees, and $1,000 for each of the named consumer plaintiffs as a "service award."
Muslim America Onstage: 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
It’s one of literature’s greatest feats, isn’t it? Spun masterfully, story can express the nearly ineffable, can bring out the nuances of love, ambition, angst, prejudice. Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced certainly does. Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the one-act play (90 minutes) takes us into the plush Upper East Side apartment of Pakistani New York attorney Amir Kapoor (played by Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). Amir has it all—the upwardly mobile job as a corporate lawyer; the smart, blond wife, Emily (Heidi Armbruster); $600 shirts with superfine thread counts. Turning his back on his Pakistani Muslim heritage, he’s disavowed it to the point of letting colleagues think he is Indian (less threatening, less prone to terrorist stereotyping). Amir’s employers are Jewish—one-time outsiders, now the establishment—which makes him and his African American colleague Jory (Karen Pittman) the firm’s "new Jews." Also intermarried, Jory has a Jewish husband, Isaac (Erik Jensen), a museum curator who’s interested in showcasing Emily's Islamic-influenced paintings. Amir's loved ones, it seems, are making it difficult for the lawyer to disavow his heritage. Aside from his wife, he has a teenage nephew, Abe Jensen (birth name—Hussein). Abe is championing the cause of a local religious leader, an imam said to have been unfairly arrested and persecuted. Nephew and wife drag Amir into the case, despite his misgivings. "If it's something that actually might affect my livelihood," he bristles, "you don't even want to believe there could be a problem." Amir's fears are realized. His career flounders, and his personal life too. Everything comes to a head at a dinner party that he and Emily host for Isaac and Jory: the Pakistani American lawyer; his Caucasian, Christian wife; the Jewish American curator; his African American wife. Superb dialogue, critics agree. But the quartet is too contrived, some say, the play, a bit too tidy, especially in view of the adultery that surfaces. Even so, they concede, Disgraced is stimulating in the manner of great drama (the story was in fact inspired by a group reading of Shakespeare's Hamlet). It’s discomfiting, for example, when Amir evinces pride at the advances of Islam in today’s world, even at the cost of violence, or when he and Abe are reduced to the very stereotypes they’ve been combating. In fact, there’s a disturbing beauty to this last turn of events, enough to make one wonder if fifty years from now, the play’s tidiness will seem a strength, a metadramatic plus that we’re too close to perceive.