Are you planning to see Liv Ullman in "Anna Christie"? After these many years, I still have found memories of Greta
Garbo in this role. Also, Marie Dressler as the ancient alcoholic, and someone else as Anna's father. It was a great
movie. I understand that Liv Ullman's performance is being very well received in Washington.
"Dirty Linen" by Tom Stoppard, didn't fare very well with the New York critics. I didn't see the U.S. production.
Maybe the English cast was better. Anyway Alan Adelaide and I had a most enjoyable evening at the Arts Theater, in London,
where this play was put on in a most unpretentious way. The Arts Theatre is in the back of a very modest hotel building.
You pick up the tickets in the lobby of this rather shabby commercial hotel. The tiny theatre was very plain. But the cast
was superb. "Dirty Linen" is rather trivial, but good fun when well performed. The English company was fantastic
-- especially the two people in "New Found Lane." It was produced by Ed Berman, an American expatriate now living
in London. He has a company of actors, called "Dog's Troup". They perform on the streets in run-down London
neighborhoods in order to get children interested in theater.
In 1975 or 1976 the National Theater opened with a particularly elaborate production of "Hamlet". The critics didn't
care for it especially, and complained that the performance time was much too long. Accordingly, Tom Stoppard prepared a
specially edited version of Hamlet with a performance time of 15 minutes. Berman's troupe put on this playlet in front
of the National Theatre as a sort of street play. They used the concrete entrance to the theatre, with its balcony, as a
reasonably good Elsinore castle. Alan Adelaide, and I saw it one evening in August, 1976, just before going into the theater
to see a production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit". The "15 minute Hamlet" was hilarious. It retained
an amazing continuity in spite of its frenetic pace. Incidentally, I note over and over, in New York
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reviews, that the critics complain because the exported productions of the better English plays, or the New York productions,
aren't quite as good as the original English productions. After the performance of Hamlet, a fellow with a strong Brooklyn
accent went thru the street crowd, hawking 6 pence post-cards. I bought one from him, and realized only later that this
was Ed Berman.
Have you seen "Travesties"? "Jumpers"? Have you re-read "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"
lately? I enjoy re-reading Stoppard's plays.
We enjoyed "Autumn Garden". Maybe I mentioned this when I saw you at the recombinant DNA meeting the day after we
saw this Hellman play.
Comments by Leon Heppel, March 31 1977. "I was rather embarrassed that I couldn't think of anything to say at the
DNA meeting, in view of the fact that several hundred dollars were spent by NIH to bring me to Washington. I still can't
think of anything original or important to say on this difficult subject, even after several months of service on our Cornell
Rec. DNA Committee." The whole thing is a royal pain in the rump. I agree with Phil Handler that it's a kind of
"Never-Never Land" situation, a bit unreal. I felt the way I would feel if I had been selected by an ad hoc committee
covered by the Spanish Government to try to evaluate the risks assumed by Christopher Columbus and his sailors, a committee
that was supposed to set up guidelines for what to do in case the earth was flat, how far the crew might safely venture for
the earth's edge, etc, etc."