Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Idea of Original Material and Replica; and The Amazing Theaters - and Hamlet, With Richard Burton, in 1964

1.  The Idea of Original Material and Replica

The beginning of autumn, 1964, saw the public release of the Warren Report on the Kennedy Assassination.  Part of this report discussed images made at the scene.  In November would be the first anniversary of the Assassination.  As a beginning high school student I thought of this part of the time.  In a class we studied the Kennedy inaugural address. 

Associated with the Hamlet ticket I have from 1964 was my assumption:   by “live” I thought they meant the play would be presented on live television the way the new year’s eve ball dropped on live television each year for us, in Tacoma, at nine in the evening.  I misunderstood.  Hamlet was performed live at a theater and recorded on video cameras.
The idea that an original work of art, extracted from experience or pure imagination by an artist, differs from some replica or some adaptation occurred in the 2013 movie, Saving Mr. Banks, about the author of Mary Poppins. Mrs. Travers flew to Los Angeles from England in 1961 and tried to prevent Walt Disney from using her character in a typical Disney movie.  Walt Disney, who put her up in a plush Beverly Hills hotel room filled with plush Disney animals, got his way, she did not.  She did not like the movie, Mary Poppins, when she attended the opening in 1964.  However the movie and the money encouraged her to write more stories. The end credits show across a reel-to-reel tape recorder, the sound of her voice and the Disney worker voices are surely a digitally recreation of the tape. 
2. The Amazing Theaters
Electronovision and Hamlet in 1964 was a product for American theaters to offer.  If it had caught people’s interest, it might have meant economic opportunity for old iconic American theaters.  Electronovision also did 1964 rock production.  Regarding opportunity for theater owners:
“Record dealers in cities where the T.A.M.I show will be screened should experience record sales by the dozen artists highlighting the film. Many excellent tie-ins should be advantageous as well between the dealers and the theater owners. Both could stand to gain. The only showings to be made, except the premiere, will be during the holidays, December 19 through January 3, 1965.”
Iconic American theaters, along with churches and Masonic-type lodges did face competition with music concert performance because the quality of large amplifiers was on the increase.  Good sound could also be found on stereo record players.  Entertainment could also be found on televisions.  However I think competition was not the only difficulty.  Earlier post-war experience was a boom economy, in which people had money to spend; people compared that time with the way the growing urban population spent money in the early 1960s.  The excellent possible advantage may have been reminiscent of other times. 
I saw Mary Poppins and liked it.  A scene late in Saving Mr. Banks recreates the festive opening at an amazing Los Angeles movie palace.  A part of the internet search I have done about Hamlet included looking up a few of the theaters listed in the New York Times with their Hamlet ad.  About fifty-six theaters in New York are and New Jersey showed the film.   Some of these theaters exist today, restored and showing movies.  Some have been demolished.  Some are now churches, some are beautiful Community Live Theaters.  It has been very lovely to view some of these iconic special places on the internet screen, and some have interesting stories. From the internet,  About The Oritani Theater, in Hackensack, NewJersey, listed as showing Hamlet:   “Erected in 1926, the Oritani — named for Oritam, chief of the Achkinheskcy Indian tribe in the 17th century — quickly became a local landmark…” 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Drama, Aesthetics, Military and the Term Theater Of War

Once again I visited Google Translate and found information.  This time, while I have been interested in theater, it was about the term, Theater of War.  The use of the term Theater of War by military was borrowed from Voltaire, who used the term descriptively and satirically.

At, at a blog Commentairesdefrancais, I learned in an entry called La Satire De La Guerre: Candide de Voltaire, that the term Theater of War, used in World War Two broadly, along with the term European Theater of Operations, originated in Voltaire’s Candide.  (The term theater of war translates directly from the French in Candide's narrative description.) The writer at the entry interprets the paragraph from Candide:
War is characterized primarily by its aesthetics…This view of war is filtered by the internal perspective of Candide attending war as we witness a spectacle…

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Sounds of Chlorine

Water Adjustment in the 1950s was at the YWCA pool in Tacoma.  The city pool was larger, the pool at Wilson was larger. The pool I took swimming classes in at the U. of Washington was larger.  Last Wednesday I did some microfilm research at the U. of Washington in Seattle.  At the desk they explained one of my references was in the stacks at the Drama Library beyond the quad, at Hutchinson.  The black design on the map among the other designs was clearly Hutchinson, the women's physical education building where I participated in, apart from the swim lessons, The Swim Marathon, in a small pool, a pool like the YWCA in Tacoma.   

So at Hutchinson after visiting at the Drama Library stacks, I asked if the pool was still there.  Then if they could show me to an exit where the pool used to be.  This was nearby, and as the library worker showed me through the hallways, he explained which part had been the pool, which part had been the locker room.  However, as he explained his voice sounded into the ceiling with resonance, it was as though the pool were still there. 

That sound to me, in those spaces, the Y, the city pool, the Wilson pool, and at Hutchinson, always had meant there was a pool there.  Can I have to accept that, instead, the sound had something to do with the ceiling?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Reports Four and Five for The Summer Reading Club

Over the past two days I have found time to read books of poems.  I reported on two books of poems for the library summer reading club, King Baby, by Lia Purpura, and Appalachia, by Charles Wright.

Along the library shelves I found King Baby, poems by Lia Purpura.  Her narrator finds an object and so begins her meditations to the object.  The front cover illustration resembles the object as the narrator continues:  “It comes to me, amid all the abundance:/I almost passed you over/I almost said, No, leave it there whatever/It is – brown bag of air, round, frozen/Melon left from summer.”  I reflect people make idols of things they treasure, but King Baby, an object originally crafted as a small instrument, speaks of the opposite idea.  
One poem in Appalachia, by poet laureate Charles Wright, What Do You Write About, Where Do Your Ideas Come From? Begins, “Landscape, of course…” and as it reaches the center, “The missing word and there you have it,/ heart and heart beat,/Never again and never again,…” Each poem is about a page long and they are about landscape, often in a backyard.
An announcement started to race along the top of the computer page as I finished entering the short reports.  I have reported on five books and have won a prize.  Last year I won a green tote bag with Groundbreaking Reads printed on it.
The cover illustration of King Baby, which I find it difficult to include, reminds me of Ernst Barlach's Man Singing, which I saw in Cleveland years back.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

From Emily Walker's Tacoma News Tribune Column, about Richard Burton's Hamlet on Electronovision 1964

"...three hours of watching Richard Burton's superb performance had left me in pieces...when the curtain fell...tears were rolling down my face, out of my nose, I couldn't see what I was doing, and I couldn't stop...I stumbled out, with the others...You who didn't see Burton's Hamlet at the Temple missed something wonderful...Here is a man who may be long remembered as the greatest Hamlet of them all."  These are quotes from Emily Walker's review in the News Tribune, printed the Sunday after the "Electron-o-vision" (as she called it) show on Wednesday and Thursday, September 23 and 24th 1964.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Review of Hamlet, the Electronovision Movie, in the Tacoma News Tribune

In research, I found a discussion about Hamlet at the Temple Theater by Emily Walker, Tacoma Columnist.  “Emily Impressed By Showing of Hamlet”, it was headed.  She explains that she began to cry and that she compares it to a movie called "One Night of Love" that starred Grace Moore. 

Emily Walker wrote from Washington D.C. for a time to the Tacoma News Tribune. wrote about attending Hamlet at the Temple Theater.  She wrote that she was weeping as she left the theater for the snacks provided for their group.  She said, “It reminded me of a…movie starring Grace Moore, I think it was One Night of Love. ..the more she sang, the more I wept…”  She then described the process of Electronovision.   Sunday, September 27, 1964, Second Section

A Third Summer Reading Book Report

A summer reading book report about Essays On Shakespeare, Edited by Gerald W. Chapman.   I read a book of six essays published in 1965.  One author, Robert Heilman, was professor for a class I took at the University of Washington in 1971.  His essay was about the many ideas the public brings to Shakespeare, including our approach like religion, with special hymnals, religious places, and festivals.  One essay was about the elevated language of Shakespeare, and one about his nomenclature – the importance of naming places, people, animals.  Three essays in the book treated plays – Love’s Labors Lost, Hamlet, and King Lear.  The author of the Lear essay argued for this play as the best Shakespeare for the world after World War Two because of the confusion and violent suffering.  The essays developed the topic of Shakespeare with a lot of thought.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Clue to Hamlet Emerges

In previous posts the ticket to Hamlet, Electronovision, 1964, and my fragment of remembrance of the occasion brought me to read the book about the play with Richard Burton that became a Theatrofilm for over a thousand movie theaters in September, 1964, for two days with four performances only.  In old letters I found a reference on a postcard (of Elsinor) to high school and Hamlet - the postcard, recreated here as a posterized replica,
Posterized replica of postcard I received in 1966
was from a high school friend who was in Scandinavia.  In the message she mentioned the teacher from Composition Literature, and the message specifically that Hamlet should remind me of her.  Perhaps I can query her or others from my high school who might remember Hamlet.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saw Hamlet, Directed by John Gielgud, on a video player

Shocked and unable to communicate, Ophelia struggled, and as time went by, her father's death became an event to discuss with songs.  Hamlet's Ophelia, when it was directed by John Gielgud in 1964, played by Linda Marsh, received only mildly good responses.  According to the diary of rehearsals, John Gielgud had Ms. Marsh develop Ophelia's part, then chose ideas she had that he liked, so he was responsible for the character.  Ophelia must have been a strong reason Gielgud wanted the play performed in rehearsal clothes.  Ophelia has been a favorite theme of the wonderful Pre-Raphaelite painters who think her insanity makes her radiant.  Gielgud preferred an Ophelia whose liveliness is dull and chill with shock. 

This critical disinterest in the part of Ophelia may lead me to think that critics were quite stereotyped in their work in 1964, and that they had limited preparation to write about ideas that were different from a norm.  Theatrovision may not have gotten response from critics because of their own limitations.  If we can remember viscerally what it was like for there to be a Christmas tree in the 1960s, for example, perhaps some difficulty with change is not change, but remembering viscerally what the past was like.  I hope to search farther for some writing from 1964 about the Theatrovision Hamlet.  I found an article that September, before the event, in Senior Scholastic.

Today I watched the whole restored movie of the 1964 Theatrofilm, Electronovision Hamlet, directed by John Gielgud and starring Richard Burton.  It was interesting, I read the play recently.  I saw it on a video player with a medium-large screen.  If there were moments that called forth memories of the movie from the evening shown on my saved ticket, the only memory I still retain is a slight recollection of Richard Burton wearing the dark simple clothing.