James’ Brand New Blog

Archive for June 1st, 2012

Cymbeline @ 2012 Stratford Shakespeare Festival

- June 1st, 2012

Cymbeline_On The Run

Tom McCamus as Iachimo in Cymbeline. Photo by David Hou. Copyright (c) Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

The best Cymbeline JBNBlog has ever seen!

Admittedly, the list is not long. It includes a v. good production at the other London’s Globe, with Mark Rylance, in 2001 . . . & that was surpassed in the joy, marvel & merriment departments with ease by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production which opened on Thursday at the Tom Patterson Thea

JBNBlog may have been dubious after hearing Antoni Cimolino’s bold words about the fest’s commitment to Shakespeare. No more.  A director who can helm a part romcom, part fairytale, part historical tragedy, part Bard’s self-aware jesting at the unlikelihood of it all: that director deserves a bow. Several bows. Hooray.

Cimolino & his allies have fun where Shakespeare is funny, are dark & mysterious when Cymbeline is so & British patriotic when the Romans (the “Eyetalians” to the cloddish Cloten) are being smote in a fine big fight scene. Was a word cut from the text? I don’t think so.

The forgiving of London ace Tom McCamus (the loathsome Iachimo) in the final scene & the wit of Peter Hutt as the talkative Dr. Cornelius are just as essential as Mike Shara’s hilariously boneheaded Cloten (& he was so suave as Gatsby on the Grand stage). & Cara Ricketts as the feisty Innogen/Imogen – great scene when she rejects Cloten’s  clumsy advances – & Yanna McIntosh as the truly evil Queen channel Snow White and her murderous stepmother.

JBNBlog used to insist Shakespeare was only warming up for The Winter’s Tale when he wrote King Lear . . . after Thursday, it may be that he was only using Lear, Othello, Twelfth Night, Much Ado, Romeo & Juliet etc. to prepare for Cymbeline, the greatest of them all.

The inevitable #ldnont connection:

Tom McCamus’s parents were in the audience Thursday . . . his mom rightly observed the pardon for Iachimo & his character’s transformation was believable as we chatted.

Like JBNBlog, Tom McCamus was born in Winnipeg in the 1950s & arrived in London in the 1960s. Following is a slightly edited Free Press story about him I wrote in 2007:

Born in Winnipeg in 1955, Tom McCamus’s family moved to London in 1965 when his father came here for a head office job with Labatt.

His film and television credits and selected awards include I Love a Man in Uniform (Genie award), Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Sweet Hereafter, Possible Worlds and Waking up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story (Gemini and ACTRA awards).

Atom Egoyan, director of The Sweet Hereafter, often attends McCamus’s stage performances. (McCamus is excellent in that film as a creepy & vile character called Sam . . . the smoothness of his Iachimo has a bit of Sam’s surface calm).

London roots: “I worked with Art Fidler at Oakridge . . . for a year after high school, I was with the Young Company under Heinar Piller” at Theatre London, a forerunner to the Grand. Alec Stockwell was the director of the Young Company. “Alec had gone to the University of Windsor and he convinced me to go to university there. The actual turning — about making a decision to become an actor — was at Windsor.”

Biggest career break: “Right out of university, I got hired by Bill Hutt’s Young Company at the Grand. That led to everything else” . . . including work at the Stratford and Shaw festivals and meeting new friends. “I’ve stayed close with them and I’m still working with a lot of them.”

Personal: Married to Stratford actor Chick Reid, lives in Warkworth. (2012 note — Chick Reid is First Lady in Cymbeline). She raises Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers.

Education: Bishop Townshend public school; Oakridge secondary school; University of Windsor (for drama).

Family: Son of John and Betty McCamus of London.

 

The inevitable triva question (with a #ldnont connection, as it turns out):

Cymbeline 2012 has Alden Adair as Jupiter making a spectacle of an interruption in the action with eagle, thunder, lightning etc. & memorable Jovian commands . . . who was Jupiter at the Tom Patterson in 2004? The same actor was also First Gentleman/Narrator & Soothsayer.

 

 

 

RIP Doc Watson (1923-2012)

- June 1st, 2012

doc watson

Musician Doc Watson poses backstage at McCabe”s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California, in this 1986 publicity photo released to Reuters on May 25, 2012. Grammy-winning folk musician Watson died May 29, 2012 at the age of 89 after undergoing colon surgery last week at a North Carolina hospital, according to his management team. REUTERS/Peter D. Figen/Handout

Played Doc Watson’s Hicks Farewell this morning as JBNBlog’s farewell to a great American.

Accompanied only  by Gaither Carlton’s fiddle, Watson’s vocal has all the eerie stateliness & other worldly immediacy you would expect from a song written by a missionary Baptist preacher, suddenly stricken & expecting to die and wanting to create music & words to send back to his wife. Watson sang this version in 1961 and in his introduction he says it dates from before the Civil War. Hearing Watson sing, it could be 1851.

Hicks Farewell is from there is no eye: music for photographs recordings of musicians photographed by john cohen (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), an amazing collection. Somewhere in the basement, there may be some Doc Watson guitar . . . so I’m going to look for that. I recall John Renbourn mentioning Doc Watson, reverentially & affectionately, at Aeolian Hall years ago, one guitar wizard saluting another.

Here’s an obituary from the Toronto Sun website, drawn from Reuters.

 

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Grammy-winning U.S. guitarist and folk singer Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson died on Tuesday in a North Carolina hospital at age 89, his management company said.

Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, following abdominal surgery last week, Folklore Productions International said in a statement.

“Doc was a legendary performer who blended his traditional Appalachian musical roots with bluegrass, country, gospel and blues to create a unique style and an expansive repertoire,” the statement said. “He was a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar.”

Watson, who was blinded before his first birthday, won seven Grammy Awards, in addition to the Grammy for lifetime achievement he received in 2004. In 2006 he won in the category of best country instrumental performance for his playing on “Whiskey Before Breakfast.”

Watson was born on March 3, 1923, in Deep Gap, North Carolina, to a banjo-playing father, General Watson, and a mother who sang traditional secular and religious songs, Annie Watson.

Blinded by an eye infection as a toddler, he learned to play the banjo first, then taught himself the chords to “When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland” on a borrowed guitar at age 13, his managers said.

He picked up some chords from a fellow student at the Raleigh School for the Blind and began to incorporate music he heard on the radio with familiar Appalachian melodies.

Watson became a full-time professional musician in the 1960s and played everywhere from folk festivals to Carnegie Hall.

For much of his career, he toured and recorded with his son, Merle Watson, who died in a tractor accident in 1985. Doc Watson’s most popular recordings include the songs “Tom Dooley,” “Shady Grove” and “Rising Sun Blues.”

“There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn’t at some point in his or her youth try to spend a few minutes at least trying to learn to pick a guitar like Doc Watson,” President Bill Clinton said when he awarded Watson the National Medal of the Arts in 1997.

Watson is survived by his wife, Rosa Lee Carlton Watson, and their daughter Nancy Ellen, his grandchildren Richard Watson and Karen Watson Norris, several great-grandchildren, and his brother David Watson.