When I heard that Adrienne Kennedy had written her first new play in nearly ten years, I knew I wanted to see it. I met Ms. Kennedy a number of years ago and was in awe. Of course I studied Funnyhouse of a Negro in theater history classes a million years ago and you may remember I was thrilled by a revival of it at the Signature Theatre (remind yourself HERE). A lot of what I said in that review is completely true of her newest piece He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box: "...spectacularly staged and horrifyingly, thrillingly theatrical and surreal...", "...but it's also mesmerizing and like a nightmare you can't stop looking at...".
He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box is a brief (just under an hour) rumination on life and love in the Jim Crow-South, on the cusp of World War II. But it's also so much more. We meet Chris, a young white man who is the son of one of the town leaders, and Kay, a mixed-race girl who goes to the school for 'coloreds' that Chris' father has endowed. They are, of course, star-crossed lovers and they make plans to marry. There are...complications.
|photo credit: Emon Hassan|
I highly recommend you go to see He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box - how many more new plays from Adrienne Kennedy will we see? She's 86 and is truly an American original, telling tales that others are afraid to tell. Did you see the story about her in the NY Times? You should read it (Click HERE). I also can highly recommend the fresh peanut butter cookies they're selling in the concession area - there's sea salt on top AND they put them in the oven for a brief minute to warm them up.
Because I saw the NY premiere of Jordan Harrison's play Marjorie Prime at Playwrights Horizons a couple of years ago, they were kind enough to invite me to a screening of the film last Monday night. The movie is actually already streaming on Amazon Prime, and I watched it New Year's Eve. I liked it well enough, though I liked the play better. But when I got the invitation for the screening, it also mentioned there would be a Q & A afterwards with Lois Smith (among other people), so I couldn't RSVP fast enough. You all know how much I love Lois Smith! I think she's remarkable. Here's my review of the play when I saw it a few years ago: REVIEW.
Playwrights Horizons did a nice job with the screening - we all had reserved seats and when we came in, we got an old-fashioned popcorn box with popcorn, candy, and a one-sheet about the journey of the play. It was very interesting reading before the film started. And I have to say that seeing the film for a second time, and seeing it on a bigger screen, really made me enjoy it more. I could experience more fully the ways the screenplay opened up the play, plus the difference in tone and mood was more apparent and more positive for me. I was quite moved by the film seeing it for the second time and I found the acting to be even more terrific. Lois Smith is a treasure and seeing that beautiful face on a big screen was a wonderful experience. But, really, everyone was good; I was especially taken with Tim Robbins.
To top everything off, I actually went to BroadwayCon last weekend. Billed as the "premier Broadway fan convention," BroadwayCon is to the Broadway set what Comic Con is to the comic book set, I guess. I had never been before, but my company had a vendor table that I manned for the weekend, and I also participated in a panel discussion. Wow, what a thing is BroadwayCon! There were people dressed up in costumes, there were singalongs, ribbons, cardboard cutouts of Lin-Manuel Miranda and so much more. It was quite overwhelming. Part of me wishes something like this had been around when I was a kid and part of me thought it was a little bit ridiculous. But so many people were having fun, it's hard to pooh-pooh. The Javits Center is enormous, well-laid-out and monstrously expensive. But it was a good experience, I think, and it was good to meet so many theater-loving children. I believe the children are our future. Or something like that. The gent in the vendor booth next to ours was from my hometown, which was the tiniest bit creepy, but in talking to him about the fun I have living here, I was reminded yet again that I am one of the most fortunate people in the world, to live and work in a great city, filled with talented, passionate, committed folks, and that I get to take part in many thrilling things. Even though work is exhausting me at the moment, I have to admit that I filled up my 'happy jar' over the weekend and was glad to do so...