Thursday, November 13, 2008


...another in an occasional series mentioning current events which caught my interest this week...

It looks like Jane Fonda is returning to Broadway after 46 years. During that brief hiatus, she won two Oscars, an Emmy, and the enmity of a lot of folks who called her Hanoi Jane. Even she now admits those photos of herself yucking it up with the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War were ill-advised. After a long period of self-imposed retirement, during her marriage to Ted Turner, she has returned to prominence as an elder stateswoman of the arts. I run hot and cold on Fonda, and not because of her political stances, upon most of which I agree with her. I'm not really sure she's as strong an actress as she's given credit being. Back when she was rebelling against her sex-pot image, she was trying to stretch herself (The China Syndrome comes to mind), and no one can argue with her Oscar winning work. Although I enjoyed her in Julia, the fact is she vanished in her scenes with Vanessa Redgrave, with Jason Robards, and even in her short scene with Meryl Streep (Streep is fabulous in her cameo appearance in the film). I admire her for snagging the film rights to the stage play On Golden Pond for the express purpose of appearing in it with her father. But here again, though she won an Oscar nomination for her work, she just couldn't keep up with her co-stars. Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn wiped the screen with her; even the little boy in the film fared better.

Speaking of actors who are well-known (and often ridiculed) for their political views, I was amused by the story of Tim Robbins on Election Day. There was some foul-up at his polling place in New York, but instead of giving up, Robbins pursued the error all day, ending up in court, where a judge ordered that he be allowed to vote. I'm loving that determination, particularly since we all know for whom he was voting, and New York was clearly going to Obama anyway. His particular vote was not going to make any difference, but he persevered. Democracy at work.

There was some sad news from the regional theatre front last week. Robin Farquhar, the long-time executive artistic director of the Flat Rock Playhouse in North Carolina, committed suicide. This sorry event happened just a day after the theatre had dedicated its new building which houses its educational wing. Farquhar took over the reins of the theatre from his father Robroy Farquhar, who himself had founded the theatre in 1952. I can't claim to have known Robin, though I met him once years ago, at a large cattle call audition in New York. I did not let him know at the time that the Flat Rock Playhouse held a special spot in my life. Back when I was a pre-teen, I spent several weeks every summer with the grandfolks in Hendersonville, NC. For reasons which escape me now, my grandmother one day announced that we were driving "down the mountain" to see a matinee at the Flat Rock Playhouse. I had never seen a play before. The show was Look Homeward Angel, and it made a lasting impression on me. In short, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to have a career on the stage, and I owe that realization to the Farquhar family of director/producers.

Finally, this tidbit gave me the giggles and the icks at the same time. Last week, a packed house at the 9:30 club (a rock club featuring live music here in DC) was treated to an indoor shower. In the midst of a concert by a Grateful Dead tribute band, several patrons started to feel liquid streaming down on their heads. Looking up, they saw a grinning man leaning over the balcony, pissing on them. The man was arrested, and it was discovered that he was a Jersey City councilman. Spokesmen for the council assured reporters that Steve Lipinski, the Urinator in question, was a caring human being who always put the needs of others above his own. Lipinski himself apologized several days later, claiming to be an alcoholic who had fallen off the wagon at the concert. He was arrested for simple assault.

I'm sure it's not the first time a crowd got pissed by a politician.