Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nighthawks have Landed!

Finally available after many delays and difficulties, neoNuma Arts is quite pleased to present to the world a trade paperback edition of the play, Nighthawks by Evan Guilford-Blake. Above is the front and back cover, the latter so you can see for yourself the type of reviews this fine play gets when it is produced. Below are two blurbs that were given to me but I ended up not using. They are longer recommendations from previous directors of the play. After you've read them, please consider adding Nighthawks to your drama library, either from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Our theatre department produced Nighthawks by Evan Blake in 1999. Several factors influenced our selection of the script, but most important was the acting work it provided for our students. This one-act offers four fine roles, which are challenging, yet within the range of freshmen and sophomore actors. An added benefit was the cross-disciplinary connections our production made with art history and humanities students on campus, who had studied the works of Edward Hopper. Our set reproduced the buildings and the cafe in the Hopper's painting; the faculty had their students write about our three-dimensional version of the painting, how art (Hopper's) inspires art (Blake’s), and provided a springboard for diversity discussions.

Sheilah A. Philip
Professor of Theatre, Academic Coordinator for Theatre
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS

I found this play to be a heartbreaking evocation of isolation and loneliness at the center of every human heart. Evan painstakingly delineates his wounded midnight characters reaching out to connect with one another, sometimes violently, sometimes yearningly. His ultimate lesson? Reach out, hold on; none of us can traverse this journey of life alone; our emptiness can only be filled by others of our kind through mutual caring. We must shoulder each others' burdens.

The action moves from the dark, stormy, early-morning hours of despair to a slow-breaking dawn of hope.

Glenn Meche
Theater Director
New Orleans, LA
(see more about Meche's production of the play here.)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lament of a Dance Fan

My day job is in a bookstore. One phenomenon you can count on is that when a famous person dies, You'll be asked for books by or about that person. Not a lot, not enough to put a book on the best seller list, but a few. Even the books about Michael Jackson haven't done all that well. Better than most, perhaps, but not outrageously well (to the disappointment of the buyers who decided we all need mountains of some books). When E. Lynn Harris died, his books, especially his latest (last?) novel, Basketball Jones. Walter Conkrite's memoir picked up in sales. Again, these are small jumps in sales, but there is acknowledgment of someone passing. I think part of being American is mourning famous people through books and magazines. (Or, if not mourning, living vicariously the crazy media circus a celebrity death can be.)

This past summer, as I was at the American Dance Festival, it was impressed upon us how precarious is the existence (i.e., the funding) of the arts in general and of dance in particular. This left me in a funk for some weeks afterward.

A couple of months ago, I read a review of a new book of photography by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Merce My Way. Working in a bookstore, I ordered in two copies. It is a lovely book, really. The photos are of the Cunningham company in motion. These are not the photos of someone like Lois Greenfield, with her stunning, crisp moments captured in mid-air. Baryshnikov's clarity comes not in the focus but in the blur. He captures a path the dancers travel. So, you can't see every detail of the dancer's face or body. You do see every detail of how they're moving.

Over a month ago, when Merce died, I put those two copies on display, hoping that someone will see them, want to mourn Merce with these photos. A major, giant of a dancer and choreographer had just died and I thought surely someone would come in asking about books on him. Some one.

But it hasn't happened. And the books sit on a display. They'll probably be returned to the warehouse soon.

I'm not sure what I want to say about this. Maybe I just want to say it. Maybe I've said enough.

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