Author Topic: London Spy: Ben Whishaw, dreamy lover/genius Ed Holcroft and sage Jim Broadbent  (Read 166726 times)

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/04/a-star-of-the-crucible-shops-for-spells


The Boards  APRIL 4, 2016 ISSUE
Bewitched
BY MICHAEL SCHULMAN



The actor Ben Whishaw pulled up in a black car the other day and popped into an East Village store called Enchantments [424 E 9th St, between 1st Ave and Avenue A], which specializes in essential oils, talismans, books of spells, and other witchy accoutrements. A black cat leaped onto the cash register. “That’s Medea,” the shop’s owner, Stacy Rapp, said. “The Greek Medea, not the Tyler Perry Madea.”

Whishaw, who is thirty-five, bashful, and from Bedfordshire, caressed the cat—he used to own several, but gave them to his grandmother when his film career exploded, eight years ago. He is best known for playing Q in the two latest Bond films: not the crusty old gadget-maker made famous by Desmond Llewelyn but a coy young tech geek with a windswept mop of hair. He is frequently cast as a writer (John Keats, in “Bright Star”; Herman Melville, in “In the Heart of the Sea”), a rocker (Bob Dylan, or a slice of him, in “I’m Not There”; Freddie Mercury, possibly, in a long-rumored bio-pic), or a lover (he pined for Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”).


Now he’s tackling a Puritan: he stars as John Proctor in a Broadway revival of “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s McCarthy-minded drama about the Salem witch trials, directed by the Belgian experimentalist Ivo van Hove. During rehearsals, Whishaw had heard about Enchantments from his co-star Tavi Gevinson, the nineteen-year-old actress and the editor of the online magazine Rookie, who goes there for candles.

“What are you interested in? Spells?” Rapp, who wore black ear studs and a skull-and-crossbones bandanna, asked. “We can’t really fly on brooms, I’m sorry to say. We do sell them, though.”

“Do you do spells?” Whishaw asked.

“Spells are basically a tool,” Rapp explained. “A spell is a tool to focus your energy in a specific direction. We do get a lot of people in your line of work coming in, saying, ‘I’m up for a big role, I have this audition, I need some luck.’ ”

Whishaw said that he does own crystals, which he bought in Glastonbury, a pagan pilgrimage site. “I have a smoky quartz, a beautiful smoky quartz, which I brought with me from the U.K. I’m going to take it to the theatre and just have it in the dressing room. I don’t know why. I like it there.”

“Quartz is cleansing,” Rapp assured him. She changed a light bulb as Whishaw looked around, the floor creaking underfoot. He paused by a shelf of ceramic skulls. He had not spent much time studying the historical Salem, he said, noting that Miller had strayed from fact. “In actuality, John Proctor was in his sixties, and Abigail was really young—she was twelve.” (On Broadway, she’s played by Saoirse Ronan, who is twenty-one.) He peered up. “What are in these bottles here?”

“These are oils,” Rapp said, and drew Whishaw’s attention to a root called Devil’s shoestring. “The Puritans were big on the Devil.”

“In the play, any sinful behavior is the Devil at work,” Whishaw said. “So if you have sinned as John Proctor has sinned, in the sin of lechery, you have been touched by the Devil. It gets very complex, because he’s also a good man, but he’s done this awful thing.”

Rapp said that she had been to Salem several times. “It’s gotten very touristy. I’m not crazy about it.”

“People going on witch tours and things?” Whishaw said. He winced. “It’s easy, because it’s so long ago, for people to go, ‘Oh, witches! Dunkings! Trials!’ But actually it’s terrifying. I mean, they were executing people. It’s barbaric.”

Rapp sat down under a sign that read “The Witch Is In” and asked Whishaw, “How does it feel playing someone like this, seeing as you seem to have some belief in magic?”

“I think what you were saying about Puritanism is very important,” Whishaw said, crouching down to stroke Medea again. “They were like Christian fundamentalists.”

“They left England because it was too relaxed religiously?”

“Yeah,” Whishaw said. “They were like religious refugees, because the Puritans were being persecuted.”

“So they turned around and did the exact same thing,” Rapp said. “It reminds me what things were like back in the day. I’m lucky I can actually own a shop like this. In certain countries it’s still illegal.” (Saudi Arabia has an anti-witchcraft police unit, and Swaziland has threatened to fine anyone flying a broomstick above a hundred and fifty metres.)

Whishaw thanked Rapp and headed around the corner to a café, where he ordered an omelette and an Americano. He doesn’t actually believe in magic, he clarified. “Of course, lucky things can happen, but I don’t think they happen because you look at a candle.” As for his smoky quartz, he added, “I just like it aesthetically.” ♦
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 05:13:05 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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THECRUCIBLEINTERVIEWBEN WHISHAW

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-suskin/interview-ben-whishaw-sta_b_9556968.html

Ben Whishaw
Staring into Miller’s Crucible
by Steven Suskin
03/28/2016 10:34 am ET



Saoirse Ronan and Ben Whishaw in The Crucible. Photos by Jan Versweyveld


British actor Ben Whishaw is making his Broadway debut as John Proctor in director Ivo van Hove’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Whishaw, a 35-year-old stage, screen and television actor who started his career at 23 as Hamlet for Trevor Nunn at the Old Vic—and recently appeared as Q in the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre”—sat with us before a recent preview in his cramped dressing room, two-flights up at the Walter Kerr.



Did you know The Crucible when you were approached to do it on Broadway?

Actually, weirdly, I had done the play as a teenager. I had this real love of the play, stemming from a young age. It’s happened a few times, now, that plays I’ve done when I was 15 or 16 have come back to me, later in life. It became like, obviously, there must be some reason why it’s come back, so I should do this. Then Ivo van Hove was mentioned and that was very exciting, because I’m a fan of his work.



And you played the same role, John Proctor?

Yes. This is just the part they gave me, I don’t know why. It was a state school that I went to, in the village down the road from the village I grew up in, it was called the Samuel Whitbread Community College. Just a small country school, in Shefford. We had a really amazing drama department.



What did you make of the role at that age? Did you understand the play?

Yes, I think I did. We had, just last Saturday matinee, a very young audience. I noticed there were a lot of teenagers, young people in the front rows, they all had their elbows on their knees and were leaning in. I think young people get the play, because the thing I remember really responding to was this notion of forcing conformity on people. It’s sort of the politics of what happens in a playground, that’s what’s going on in the play. There are kinds of brutal, basic things that happen in life, at work, in big institutions. I think in school, the same things are going on, you instinctively respond to them. The stuff about the marriage and lots of other things, I probably didn’t understand. But it’s such a rich play, there are so many things you can grasp or fail to grasp, or discover in it.



Miller’s play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Ivo remains true to the text, but he places it—scenically, at least—in a very different time and place. Where do you, as John Proctor, think the action is taking place?

I think he’s now, in the world that exists on stage. We’ve not been specific about it; Ivo is not interested, in the slightest, in naturalistic or even psychological things like that. He’s much more interested in stripping away stuff, I suppose, so you get to something more raw and basic. So my feeling is we’re in sort of now, in a community.



In terms of the staging, were there surprises that came up in rehearsal?

Not really, because Ivo gives you a kind of overview talk at the first rehearsal, and he said it is going to be set in a classroom. The whole thing is happening in this classroom, and it was all very considered, and decided before we began. I suppose the thing that is most surprising about the way Ivo works is that he does want to strip things down; he really wants, as much as possible, no acting, no pretense about anything.



Did the question of using accents come up?

We started out having American accents, the British and Irish members of the cast. About the second or third preview, Ivo scrapped it, because he felt it wasn’t necessary. If anything, it was a kind of—block. It just wasn’t required because we weren’t in any specific place, so we could be ourselves. I think because Ivo’s Belgian, some of the cast are Irish, some American, Sophie Okonedo and I are British—and since we don’t have any trappings of the original period—I think the play could be taking place anywhere. This situation the audience is looking at, could be happening all over the world. It’s not exclusively an American problem.




Sophie Okonedo and Ben Whishaw in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Photo: Jan Versweyveld



From the audience, your performance looks emotionally and physically wrenching. Is it difficult to play, eight times a week?

I think the play is so brilliant, and brilliantly structured, that it’s kind of impossible not to swept up in it, every time you do it. It requires a lot of concentration, because it’s a long play. But I wouldn’t say it feels difficult. It’s weirdly a pleasure to do it, even twice in one day; it’s so really enjoyable. I think Miller is just a wonderful writer for the theatre. He’s a wonderful writer for actors, and the play somehow generates its own energy. The audience always seems to be with you, because he sets the whole thing up so brilliantly. It’s like a nightmare. View from the Bridge had a similar feeling, I felt it when I was watching Ivo’s production. It’s like Ivo described it, that car crash you can see coming—but you can’t turn your eyes away.



How did you feel when Ivo introduced the various special elements, the effects?

One of the things that Ivo said very early on, what was important to him was that we convey to the audience that the people in this play really believe in witches, and they really believe that young girls can fly; that you really can be possessed by the devil, or the devil’s agents. And so there are little kinds of glimpses of that. Because the play is exploring belief, I suppose, and what belief does to people who are living under a very strict, moral religious value system. So the effects are kind of a cheeky, provocative way of exploring that. There are little flashes into the way these people see the world.



Do you feel like you and the cast are politically engaged by the play?

Well, what I like about what Ivo’s done is that it’s not a production that’s bashing you over the head with a contemporary resonance. I think what he is doing is something more universal. This could be any community, anywhere. I suppose what Ivo is asking us to pay attention to, is that it always begins as something so small. It begins as a private matter between two or three people, and it explodes into something that is barbaric and evil. But the seeds are tiny. That feels relevant, and frightening; because it’s frightening how very complex problems evolve out of small matters, and sweep up the domestic and the private with them.



Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, at the height of McCarthyism, when American citizens—including himself—were accused of being Communists and blacklisted. Is that period of history relevant to you, performing the play today?

I think the play speaks to other things that are happening in the world now, more than it does to the McCarthy era. That was so specific to his time. But because Miller’s such a brilliant writer, the play transcends the particular things he had in mind when he was writing it. Certainly, it doesn’t resonate with me, or I think to people in my generation. I didn’t go through that. It’s fascinating to read about the time Miller was living through and what he was suffering, but when I look at the play now, the McCarthy trials are not what I think about. And I’m sure that lots of people won’t be thinking about it. I think a great play will always speak to people, because it touches something deeper than what was happening when it was written. Miller was going underneath the surface, he was writing about something more universal.



Is it different for you, appearing on stage here in New York rather than in London.

It does somehow feel different. I don’t quite know why. I feel like a bit of an outsider. I think it’s because I don’t really know anyone here. Nobody comes backstage.




Ben Whishaw, now appearing in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 07:44:05 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
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Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
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Online southendmd

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"I feel like a bit of an outsider. I think it’s because I don’t really know anyone here. Nobody comes backstage."

How sad.  John, go visit him!
photobucket sucks

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Ben Whishaw, now appearing in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

I like this picture of him.  :)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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  • "He somebody you cowboy'd with?"
"I feel like a bit of an outsider. I think it’s because I don’t really know anyone here. Nobody comes backstage."

How sad.  John, go visit him!

Seriously, in this day and age, do they even let people go backstage?  ???
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Ben Whishaw, now appearing in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
I like this picture of him.  :)


Me too!   :)

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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"I feel like a bit of an outsider. I think it’s because I don’t really know anyone here. Nobody comes backstage."

How sad.  John, go visit him!




Believe it or not, for a moment I had the exact same thought! Unfortunately, I CAN SOMETIMES (not always) be more bashful than Mr Whishaw is reportedly to be. However, if only I had seen him walking purposely Eastward on Houston (or maybe on Bleecker?), on his way to his East Fourth Street/La MaMa rehearsal space--I would DEFINITELY have rushed him, like Danny rushed Alex on Lambeth Bridge (Albert Embankment)!

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:



Tempermental: 35% Temper, 65% Mental



Seriously, in this day and age, do they even let people go backstage?  ???
 




Well, 'Lovies' do (Lovies being London parlance for famous people--of a certain ilk) but I'm definitely not a Lovie!


 ::) :laugh:
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 10:02:22 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek »
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/broadways-man-of-the-moment-ivo-van-hove/2016/03/10/facf1940-e52d-11e5-a6f3-21ccdbc5f74e_story.html



Theater & Dance
Broadway’s man of the moment
Ivo van Hove
By Peter Marks Theater critic
March 12, 2016



Director Ivo Van at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York on March 4
(Bobby Bruderle/ For The Washington Post)




Although he has always been fond of this country’s drama, Ivo van Hove — a European vying for the mantle of America’s hottest stage director — never felt any affinity for one of our most revered dramatists, Arthur Miller.

Of course, Belgian-born van Hove, who runs a theater in Amsterdam, respected the achievement of “Death of a Salesman,” but otherwise, he far preferred to delve into the work of other American theater writers, such as Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman and Tony Kushner. Miller, by comparison, seemed too rigid, a dramatist whose determination to force his point of view on audiences stirred only resistance in van Hove.

“I never thought of Miller as a great playwright before,” he said, late one afternoon in February, another day’s rehearsal of “The Crucible” in an East Village basement space under his belt. “I thought he was too clearly moralistic. I discovered I was clearly wrong.”

It is, in fact, the playwright he long underestimated who is giving him the most prominent platform he has ever had in the United States. Because the 57-year-old van Hove has brought not one, but two Arthur Miller plays to Broadway this season, in revivals that have been among the year’s most highly anticipated. In October arrived the director’s Broadway debut, the transfer from London’s Young Vic Theatre of a rawly emotional, sexually charged version of Miller’s “A View From the Bridge.” And now, for an encore, comes his new staging for Broadway of “The Crucible,” with a score by Philip Glass and a starry international cast headed by Ben Whishaw, Tony winner Sophie Okonedo, Ciaran Hinds and Saoirse Ronan, who was Oscar-nominated this year as best actress for “Brooklyn.”

“The Crucible,” which began preview performances March 1 at the Walter Kerr Theatre and opens officially March 31, sits at the finish line of a remarkable U.S. marathon for van Hove. As “A View From the Bridge” was gearing up, his revival of Sophocles’s “Antigone,” which started in Luxembourg with Juliette Binoche in the title role, was touring to institutional theaters in New York and Washington.




“Antigone,” with Juliette Binoche.(Jan Versweyveld)



Later in the fall, he was ensconced at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop, unveiling his production of “Lazarus,” a musical by David Bowie, who was then in the terminal stages of a struggle with cancer.

Soon after the musical’s engagement ended, rehearsals for “The Crucible” began — with the expectation that on this occasion, as he has so often in the past, van Hove would take a radical and controversy-inciting approach to a classic text.

“It’s a total coincidence!” van Hove exclaimed about his eclectic, project-jammed American season. But the convergence of assignments looks more like a culmination than a matter of happenstance. Having developed a New York following after a series of off-Broadway productions over the years, starting with a 1998 staging of O’Neill’s rarely produced “More Stately Mansions” at New York Theatre Workshop, van Hove is that extreme exception these days: a European auteur who establishes an important beachhead here. Although directors from Britain and Ireland are regular guests in every major theater town in the United States, invitations to those from continental Europe tend to be confined to occasional international festivals and university residencies.

That may be because of language barriers, or differences in directorial style: Some European directors seek to exert more control over text than U.S. practitioners are accustomed to. In any event, van Hove has managed to assemble what few other Europeans do in these parts, a directorial career that combines experimental theater with Broadway.

“It’s not about commercial or non-commercial for me,” van Hove said. “It’s about, ‘Do I connect with the material?’ My life is too short to spoil it with things that don’t interest me. But what I’m not interested in,” he continued, “is a piece of theater that’s just for entertainment.”

This philosophy and the results it can generate have made him a magnet for stage actors of similar seriousness.

“Always, you take a leap of faith with a director, because it’s quite rare to work with someone more than once,” said Whishaw, a rising British stage star best known here as Q in the recent James Bond movies “Skyfall” and “Spectre.” “With Ivo, I had only seen his production of ‘A View From the Bridge,’ but I felt so overwhelmed by that production that just on instinct, I knew you could put your faith in this man and trust him completely.”




Sophia Anne Caruso in David Bowie’s “Lazarus.” (Jan Versweyveld)



“A View From the Bridge” was a dazzling example of van Hove’s intense, visually arresting style, a showcase for some of his best theatrical impulses. (The production, which ended its Broadway stay Feb. 21, is in talks to run at the Kennedy Center in the fall.) For his un­or­tho­dox concept, he took a cue from his longtime set designer, Jan Versweyveld, who, when thinking of the play’s characters, imagined lifting a rock and finding ants scurrying underneath. From that came the opening image of the production, a monolith rising to reveal the actors of Miller’s story of betrayal on the Brooklyn waterfront. What followed was the tale of Mark Strong’s extraordinary Eddie Carbone, enacted in a bare pit, an arena brilliantly suited to the primal emotions unleashed in van Hove’s version.

If the revival received some of the best notices of the fall on Broadway, the response was something of an anomaly for van Hove, whose work more commonly divides reviewers and audiences. Such was the case recently with “Antigone,” which stopped for a weekend of performances at the Kennedy Center in October. Although appreciated by some critics, the modern-dress piece, supplemented lavishly by video and evocations of wind-swept Greek promontories, struck others as odd and ponderous. The reception for some of his earlier stagings has ranged from irritated to amused. “A Bathtub Named Desire” was the label New York Times critic Ben Brantley put on van Hove’s 1999 revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which indeed placed Stanley in a bathtub. Brantley added in his review that the director evinced “the severe logic of the steely literature teacher who parses works of art into diagrams.”

Other of his off-Broadway productions have been greeted with more admiring notices, such as his 2014 stage version of Ingmar Bergman’s TV miniseries “Scenes From a Marriage.” But the swipes at works such as “Streetcar” left a mark.

“It wasn’t like I loved the hatred,” van Hove said, sitting in a windowless room in the bowels of the legendary LaMama Experimental Theater Club on East Fourth Street, where “The Crucible” was being readied for Broadway. “I immediately had a lot of fans, but I was also the man who people loved to hate and hated to love.”

He grew up in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium. He adored movies, especially the work of Italian filmmakers Luchino Visconti and Pier Paolo Pasolini, but gravitated in his 20s toward plays. “I totally fell in love with theatrical text and discovered through the mask of text, I could express myself better than in my own words,” he said. Acting, on the other hand, held zero appeal. “I wouldn’t be so interested in doing a play every night, again and again.”

Van Hove’s talents took him to Antwerp and then to Amsterdam, where in 2001 he became general director of the city’s leading troupe, the Toonelgroep Amsterdam. There he burnished a reputation for, as the company notes on its website, “dismantling theater classics” by looking at them “through the prism of our own time.” Van Hove has applied the prism to Shakespeare, Molière and Chekhov, and adapted works by such varied sources as film director Michelangelo Antonioni and novelist Ayn Rand.

“I demand a lot from my team and my actors. I have to believe 100 percent in my projects,” he explained, adding that he can require as much as a year to 18 months to plan a production. For “The Crucible,” set in the paranoid realm of Salem, Mass., during the witch trials of the late 1600s, van Hove asked actors to show up on day one with their roles memorized. “A lot is expected of us,” echoed Ronan, who is making her Broadway debut as Abigail Williams, the teenager who venomously accuses the village’s most virtuous citizens of witchcraft.

Because the technical elements are so crucial, they are integrated into rehearsals virtually from the outset, Ronan said. She recalled composer Glass sitting in a corner of the room all the time, working on parts of the score. “The music is like a character in the show,” the actress said. [FYI, Glass didn't have far to walk from his house on First Ave! JG]

As for insights into their own characters, van Hove tends to speak to the actors strictly in terms of small moments that heighten emotion. “He’ll give you a tiny thing to think about,” Ronan said, “and it opens up a whole new world.”

Whishaw, who portrays John Proctor, the central character, faced with the choice between death and falsely confessing to witchcraft, was harder pressed to define van Hove’s technique. “When you open your mouth to try to explain it, it becomes quite incomprehensible,” said the actor, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. “It’s really very difficult to say how he does what he does.”

Van Hove declined to reveal any specifics about his technical approach to the play. But it was clear that his earlier impression, of Miller’s plays as off-puttingly transparent, was now wholly obsolete. “He's writing about ethical problems and about morality, but not in an easy way,” he said. Noting the play’s allegorical links to the McCarthy era of the 1950s and Miller’s own decision at the time not to name names, the director said he found “The Crucible” a work of bountiful riches — in other words, “a play full of ambivalence.”

“It’s really written,” the director declared, “with his tears and with his blood.”


[email protected]

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. Directed by Ivo van Hove. Through July 17 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St., New York. Visit telecharge.com or call 212-239-6200.
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Well, 'Lovies' do (Lovies being London parlance for famous people--of a certain ilk) but I'm definitely not a Lovie!


 ::) :laugh:

Well, but that does tend to support what i would suspect. If you're famous--have a recognizable face--you could get back stage--but I would doubt that ordinary folk could even get past the stage door. But I suppose that's always been the case?  ???
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.