DA, revival: Del Rosso Review

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 10.44.34

It is difficult to write a memory play, complete with ghosts and younger selves, without a shred of sentimentality. Yet that is exactly what Hugh Leonard achieved with his 1978 Drama Desk, New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Tony-award winning “Da,” presented in a beautiful revival by the Irish Repertory Theatre at the DR2 Theatre right off Union Square in Manhattan.

Charlie (Ciaran O’Reilly), a middle-aged writer who has lived in London for many years, comes back to Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin, for his adopted father’s funeral. Hoping to put the memory of his Da behind him, instead he finds his childhood home (a well-designed mixture of the quaint and the shabby, by James Morgan) filled with the ghosts of his parents, his first mentor, the exacting Drumm (Sean Gormley, very fine), and various incarnations of his younger self.

“Da” could have been a tidy play where Charlie comes to terms with his past and moves on. But that would have been both typical and too easy. Instead “Da” is uncomfortable, in the same way Charlie feels with his father. As played by Paul O’Brien, his Da is infuriating, impossible and likeable, all at the same time. Seen in flashbacks, he refuses to take anything from Charlie, including money sent from London, is too good-natured (“a sheep” accuses Charlie the younger, played by Adam Petherbridge) and is literally and figuratively an overpowering presence. Charlie will never be able to pay him back nor stop feeling indebted; but unlike his adopted mother (Fiana Toibin), Da never made himself out to be a savior. Da is a man of the earth; it is no accident he was a gardener for 54 years, and an underappreciated one at that.

It amuses me that “Da” is described, in terms of genre, as a comedy. It is not, though it does have its funny moments, many of them supplied by John Keating’s hilarious Oliver, Charlie’s old friend and general nuisance. The ensemble of actors, down to the smaller but not insignificant roles of “The Yellow Peril” (Nicola Murphy) and Mrs. Prynne (Kristin Griffith), is terrific.

But mainly, “Da” will not comfort those who believe that the past belongs firmly in the past. In Charlie’s case, and for most of us, the past is not something we will ever be able to escape, no matter how hard we try.

del Rosso review: Blessed Unrest’s LYING

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 12.11.06

On 52nd Street in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, The Interart Theatre Development Series is presenting Blessed Unrest’s production of “Lying,” a stage adaptation by Matt Opatmy of Lauren Slater’s metaphorical memoir of the same title.  Going in, I knew Blessed Unrest to be an exuberant, adventurous company. I also knew Director Jessica Burr was a Lucille Lortel Award winner in 2011.

“Lying” is the coming-of-age of Lauren (Jessica Ranville)  – wait, the fourth wall is broken, so it’s really a meta-metaphorical adaptation of a metaphorical memoir.  Jessica the actress plays Lauren the writer though Matt did the adapting. Jessica playing Lauren’s coming of age is told through the prism of epilepsy – wait, but the real Lauren may not have had epilepsy; she may be “Lying.” Then again, the details about the auras and regarding the ground as a crash pad are spot-on, and I should know, because I have epilepsy, and I am not lying. So if the real Lauren did not have epilepsy, then she did an inordinate amount of research, including but not limited to what it feels like to be conscious during a brain operation.

My question is: Why?

Published in 2000, the book “Lying” was Lauren Slater’s fourth memoir; perhaps the words “fourth memoir” should give one pause.

Out of the mouth of Jesus, beautifully played by actor Nathan Richard Wagner, comes this: “Patients with Munchausen’s Syndrome use fake illness as a conduit for conveying real pain. They pretend or exaggerate not for money but for things beyond weight, beyond measure.

Many choose epilepsy.”

Near the end of the performance, Jessica the actress playing Lauren says, “I am not an epileptic. I am really really not an epileptic. I have had many serious psychiatric and neurological problems in my life, but epilepsy has not been one of them. I have a fitful, restless brain, I feel I have several selves. I have had auras all my life and I take anticonvulsant medication daily. The metaphorical world and the material world blend and blur, become each other; believe me, I have suffered seizures.

Jessica Burr is a fascinating director: endlessly inventive, visually exciting. She is an innovator when it comes to combining music and choreography, and the results can be transformative.

Why choose this material?

If Lauren’s truth as well as her journey is mercurial, Burr can go meta-crazy: she can break the fourth wall at will; she can tease as much humor and fun out of the script without sacrificing poignancy. She can cast brilliantly -Charise Green, Nathan Richard Wagner, Sonia Villani, Rich Brown- who play up to eleven roles each, including Lauren’s three-headed mother, her small father, nuns, Jesus, a neurosurgeon, a therapist, AA members, and a sexually-addicted famous writer. And that’s not even half. Jessica Ranville is equally adept at the various incarnations of Lauren. Burr can evoke emotions through the use of music and employ an industrial-sized fan in a witty, olfactory way. In short, she has a lot of room, and knows how to use every inch.

It’s interesting to like “Lying” yet find the source material for this devised work distasteful. Then again, that could be my epilepsy talking. I thought Act I was superb and Act II less successful. On the long but pleasant walk home from Hell’s Kitchen to the Upper West Side, I tried to figure out why. There was less humor. It seemed to be full of desperate people. Or maybe, instead of running out of ideas (not something Blessed Unrest could ever be accused of), it had too many all at once.

When Jessica the actress playing Lauren finally learns how to fall (in Act I), I was genuinely moved. That is a testament to Director Jessica Burr and her talented cast. “Lying” may actually be about a liar, a thief, a manipulator, a sociopath: Burr made me care about her. And that is no lie.

Folliet Poetry: Pips & Quips



we can’t govern our affections”

Washington Square-Henry James

hungry for the one thing everybody loses-

young loving”

Jazz-Toni Morrison

Which is it, Aphrodite?

What say you, John Keats?

Beauty & Truth?


Beauty & Youth?

Just asking….



-for CAT-

a toke at 10 for one

a taste at 11 the other

cool libations at lunch for 2

together or alone

smart girls know what to do



Youthful yearning?


Yearning for youth?

Which years are more fun?



Attack the didactic

All right & yet

Who better than the poets

To light the way

Toward elusive

Beauty, truth, peace?



A quippy girl is equipped

For life


Its assaults

Sexist or otherwise

del Rosso Reviews: “Port Authority”

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 13.59.51

In 2008, I saw “Port Authority” by Conor McPherson at The Atlantic Theater Company (it was first staged in London in 2001). The extraordinary cast comprised John Gallagher Jr., Brian D’Arcy James, and Jim Norton (a McPherson stalwart). Once again, (having seen “The Weir,” “Shining City” and “The Seafarer,” all on Broadway), I was mesmerized by McPherson’s language, the shimmering ordinariness and passivity of these three Dublin men, and their stories of lost loves. I thought the production peerless.

Now “Port Authority” is back in New York, this time staged by The Irish Repertory Company (at the DR2 Theatre off Union Square, while their main stage undergoes renovations) and directed by Ciaran O’Reilly.

The play’s protagonists represent the three ages of man: young Kevin (James Russell) has moved out of parents’ home for the first time into a dump shared with three other equally aimless youths. Dermot (Billy Carter) is a middle-aged, arrogant, deeply insecure man who has inexplicably been hired as a money manager for a glamorous firm. Joe (Peter Maloney) is in an old-age home run by nuns, where a trip to the shops for betting and beer is considered the height of rule breaking.

Ghosts loom large in McPherson’s plays, and “Port Authority” is no exception. Each man is haunted by the specter of regret: a love that could not be, a love squandered, a love deliberately denied. These seemingly ordinary men, who never acknowledge each other on Charlie Corcoran’s spare yet beautiful set, are imbued with sadness as they stand and deliver their own stories, in chapters, in succession. So though the construct is theatrical (the Author’s Note reads: “The play is set in the theatre.”) the regret is palpable, recognizable. Human. As Dermot says, “Don’t ever try to work anything out. Because you don’t know—and you never will.”

As Kevin, James Russell is all angles and angst, a totally believable young man head over heels without a clue. Billy Carter has all the swagger and bravado of Dermot, but I would have liked him a bit more hang-dog, a bit more embarrassed rather than comedic, so that when he comes back to his wife, his response to her is defeated, overwhelming need. And Peter Maloney is masterful as the conflicted Joe, wrapping his wife’s rosary beads, like honor and duty, around one hand, and his desire for an unknown woman, framed and clutched, in the other.

This ”Port Authority” is very fine, with all involved working at a very high level. You will suffer no regrets for the 90 minutes you are in their company.

del Rosso Review:

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 19.32.37

It is not often I see a flawless production of a brilliant play, one which transports me in time and space. One where I stop taking notes and just give in because I have no choice. “Indian Ink” by Tom Stoppard, finally getting its New York premier courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company at the Laura Pels Theatre, is a flawless production. It is brilliantly acted, beautiful to look at, compelling, moving, and smart.

The play alternates between 1980’s England and 1930’s India with Eleanor (the estimable Rosemary Harris) reading her younger sister’s letters to Eldon Pike (Neal Huff, appropriately irritating). Her sister, Flora Crewe (Romola Garai, very fine), was a poet, famous only after her death, and Eldon, who has already published her poems, is now publishing her letters. But he wants more than that; a biography of Flora is in the works, and he believes Eleanor does not know this. He is wrong. Not only does Eleanor know, she disapproves. As she says, “…biography is the worst possible excuse for getting people wrong.”

With only a few props against a vibrantly colored set, the play shifts elegantly and effortlessly in time (take that, Broadway), and begins just as Flora arrives from the UK. She is there ostensibly to work, but really for her health, which she believes no one else knows about. An Indian painter, Nirad Das (Firdous Bamji, superb) asks her to pose for a portrait, and she obliges. Despite some cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications (Das admires everything British, much to Flora’s dismay), their artistry – painter and poet – creates an erotically charged bond between them.

Stoppard interweaves the personal with the political: there is the generational defense of “The Empire” by Eleanor and the long-term effects colonization had on India. There is a search for identity by Das’s son Anish (Bhavesh Patel, terrific), and he is not the only one. There is a learning curve on Flora’s part, about art and the rich cultural and spiritual history of India. There is the shifting meaning of the word “home.” And there is inevitable loss.

Director Carey Perloff’s production is nuanced, and beautifully, achingly realized. Nothing here is heavy-handed. “Indian Ink” is one of the best things I’ve seen, and has stayed with me. In this busy, bustling Manhattan world, that’s saying something.

del Rosso Review: MAN IN THE MOON

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 19.22.43

Two people faced with the exact same circumstances – debt, depression, divorce – could react in completely different ways. One muddles through, and the other commits suicide. As for the latter, who knows why?

One of New York’s 7th annual Origin’s 1st Irish Festival Theatre offerings, “Man in the Moon” by Pearse Elliot, wisely does not try to answer that question. Instead, Elliot gives us one man, Sean Doran (Ciaran Nolan, brilliant), who recounts scraps of stories and bits of histories of people he has loved who have taken their own lives: two brothers, a local vagrant, a woman he admired from afar. He tells us his own story as well, from a bench by Half Moon Lake in Belfast, Northern Ireland: a favorite spot of suicides.

Reviewing “Man in the Moon” is a little bit tricky because come to find out, it was a full- length play complete with intermission, but was necessarily cut down by 45 minutes to fit the festival’s running schedule. However, as it stands, this play has some hilarious parts: there is an Edinburgh film premier mix up; a lion living it up in a forest, and at one point, Elvis is in the house. There are poignant moments of memory, and the selection and use of music is terrific. Tony Devlin has directed beautifully; he gets movement, fluidity and atmosphere just right.

But the star here is Ciaran Nolan’s Sean.

Nolan is truly extraordinary. Every emotion his character feels registers on Nolan’s face; from the moment he walks onto the stage, you know exactly what kind of man he is and where he’s at, which is the opposite of the cheerful song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys that ushers him in.  Energetic, funny, all rubbery limbs and crotch-grabs, he runs from sad sack to misogynist to lost in a world he no longer wants to be a part of but can’t escape. Or, chooses not to.

There are missteps. Sean needs a more credible job than street hawker of a questionable charity, particularly when there are solid ones like Oxfam around. That part reminded me of volunteers with clipboards on New York City sidewalks for any given cause, “volunteers” being the operative word. Sean may eschew the responsibilities of adulthood, but he lived with a woman and had a child: he had to support them somehow, albeit temporarily.

Also it is not necessary for Sean to tell us that he is lonely and has got nothing to go home to. Why? Because Nolan does such a good job showing this already: in his comportment, and in that expressive face.  The words are redundant.

I would have liked more stories about the people we don’t see – Joe, for example – in order for that connection to make more of an impact.

But please, for God’s sake, don’t let that stop you from seeing this terrific play with this performer. “Man in the Moon” deserves to go further than this festival, and reach a wider audience. And I hope it does.


del Rosso Review: Gertrude — The Cry

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 22.27.46


Gertrude – The Cry

In the first scene of “Gertrude – The Cry” (a reworking of “Hamlet” focusing instead on the complex Queen Gertrude and her appetites) presented by the PTP/NYC Theater Project in their 28th season down at the Atlantic Stage II, Claudius poisons Polonius, Gertrude (Pamela J. Gray) strips naked so Claudius  (Robert Emmet Lunney) can see what he’s getting for killing his brother, Gertrude shouts “Fuck me!” and they fuck over her dead husband’s body.

Welcome to the world of playwright Howard Barker, who can always be counted on for sex, violence, nudity and foul language.

Barker is smart and doesn’t offend me as a woman. Does that sound like backhanded compliment? It’s not. Along with the in-your-face theatrics, he has a great depth of feeling for Gertrude and does not punish her for exploring her sexuality. Yes, she makes mistakes, and her maternal instincts are lacking. But so many playwrights, both male and female, choose to punish their female characters for enjoying sex and then put them through a degrading set of paces.

Not Barker.

Gertrude chooses when, where and how to have sex, and she is, for the most part, entirely in control. She remains self-possessed to the end, despite the chaos she helped create. It is a credit to the play that the immoral characters are the ones to root for, rather than the moral ones. The moral, Gertrude’s son Hamlet (David Barlow) who in this version becomes King Hamlet with absolute power, and his eventual wife Ragusa (Meghan Leathers), conclude that the best way forward is to exterminate the immoral, even if that means targeting his mother in the process.

The cast is uniformly excellent, including the loyal servant Cascan (Alex Draper) and the horny, panty-sniffing, toy-boy Duke Albert (Bill Army). Director Richard Romagnoli has squeezed every drop of humor and pathos evident in Barker’s script. It is part romp, part filth, part fun, and oddly moving. The production also looks beautiful, achieved with a stripped down set by Mark Evancho, effective lighting by Hallie Zieselman and gorgeous costumes and hats by Danielle Nieves.

Go. Be enlightened. Be entertained. Be surprised, hopefully. You certainly won’t be bored. As we left the theater, my companion said to me, “I loved it. But I don’t think it would work as a first-date night.”

That is correct.



EXIT 13 ENTER 14* — New Year Haiku by Mary Folliet



Exit, pursued by a bear.” “The Winter’s Tale”


what is the word” Beckett


how shall we know it

tragicomic calendar

year of the sonnet

del Rosso Review: The Clearing, by Jake Jeppson

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 21.03.07

Let me tell you about the very fine, courageous acting going on in a play called “The Clearing” by Jake Jeppson at St. Clements Church on 46th Street in mid-town Manhattan. Spoiler alert: if you do not want to know the BIG EVENT of the play and other secrets, stop reading now.

For everyone else, I will begin with the mother, Ella Ellis, played by Allison Daughtery. Think of her as Everymother. At one point in the play, an intrepid photographer asks to take some pictures of her in the nude. I thought, Oh no. That would be like watching my mother, who is in her 60’s, get naked onstage. Excruciating. So as Ms. Daughtery disrobed, I braced myself. And then a funny thing happened: as Ella, Daughtery became not only physically naked, but emotionally naked. Open. Vulnerable. Honest. To me, that scene was the highlight of the play. And folks, it is a long scene. It is also one of the bravest performances I have ever witnessed in a theater.

Brian McManamon as Les Ellis, Brian P. Murphy as Chris Ellis, his brother and Gene Gallerano, as Peter, Les’s lover who is also the photographer, are also wonderful but have to wade through a convoluted script with many holes and much signaling of what is to come a mile away.

I did not believe for a second that Les and Chris were brothers, or that they were remotely close; in the age of GPS and cell phones, I do not believe a father could jump off a cliff to his death and never be found; if Chris was schizophrenic, did no one think to perhaps get him on meds or institutionalize him instead of giving in to “arrested development”? Chris sees ghosts and hears voices; he has night terrors. He is also loud enough so his mother could hear him in the same house. Arrested development? Really? And once Chris told Les to go get Peter a stick for his marshmallows, I knew that Peter was going off the cliff by his hand. If I knew, Peter should have known. His character wasn’t stupid. The harder choice for the playwright would have been to let Peter live, and see how Ella and Chris fare alone. Will Chris have a breakdown? Will he finally tell his mother what he should have 18 years previously? Will Chris jump off the cliff himself (which would be more plausible)?

But those are rhetorical questions, as that was not the play I saw. “The Clearing” should be seen for these four magnificent actors. They deserve your time and attention. They also deserve a better play.



del Rosso review: Brendan at the Chelsea

The terrific Irish actor Adrian Dunbar is appearing off-Broadway on Theatre Row 42nd Street, with a very fine cast that he also directed, in “Brendan at the Chelsea.” The play has come in from the Lyric Belfast, and is working alongside Origin’s 1st Irish Festival. read more —>

“Ingenius” Bekah Brunstetter in ‘Welthy Holliday’

The usage of Buddy Holly’s music by playwright Bekah Brunstetter in Welthy Holliday Productions beautifully realized version of “Be A Good Little Widow” is ingenious. The music is lively, happy, yet the listener knows Holly was doomed to die in a plane crash. So too is Craig (Matt Bittner), who is married to Melody (Aamira Welthy); Melody is destined to become a widow, which will link her, for better or worse, to Craig’s widowed mother, Hope (Chris Holliday).

These two women are wildly different people, separated by class, age and mores. Hope is an uptight, rigid Connecticut type, who sticks to “rules” of widowhood: mourning is to be done in private, with no tears or tantrums. Mourning should not be messy. Melody, at 26, was still trying to find herself at the time of her husband’s death, and was not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster it would take her on. In some respects still a child, she reacts viscerally, while Hope suggests she get a grip. Instead, Melody drives to the crash scene, gets drunk, and dances wildly with Craig’s colleague, Brad (the superb Robbie Tann), who in many respects is a reflection of herself.

I often say, out loud, to anyone who will listen, that New York City boasts the most gifted actors, but often they outshine the play that they are in. Not here. Welthy and Holliday are incredible, and give beautifully believable, finely calibrated performances. They will both break your heart. The men are equally fine, with Bittner’s Craig a warm, lovely presence and a constant in Melody’s life; Tann’s loose-limbed, off-kilter Brad is just outstanding. Elena Araoz’s direction was spot-on.

But without Brunstetter’s writing, it wouldn’t much matter. She understands that grief and indeed relationships are messy yet necessary parts of the way we live. She also knows that sooner or later, we have to confront what we’d rather forget. I have a couple of quibbles: some of the music later in the play was unnecessary and the Hope/Melody relationship resolves a little too tidily. But Brunstetter gets all the details right: the scene where Craig proposes is both awkward and sweet. The Parmesan-crusted sleeved sweatshirt. The Skittles. Don’t know what I mean? Then you must get down to East Village and see this production, these gifted actors, this terrific play.


review: Barker’s “The Castle”

Manhattan in summertime is humid, sweaty and gross. Did I mention smelly? It’s that, too. To make yourself feel better, and smarter, you could take in one of the annual summer theater festivals: The NYC International Fringe, Under the Radar at The Public, or, you could avail yourself to the 27th season of PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) at The Atlantic 2 in Chelsea, where Caryl Churchill’s “Serious Money” and Howard Barker’s “The Castle” are playing in rep.

Barker’s “The Castle” is set in 12th century England: soldiers have returned from the Crusades after many years to find their patriarchal society obliterated, the women in charge, and in no hurry to have them back. At the forefront are Ann (Jennifer Van Dyck), who is now a changed woman, and Skinner (Jan Maxwell) her confidant, lover and also, a witch. Ann’s husband, Stucley (David Barlow), a knight, is not pleased by that which he cannot control, and in his impotence, decides to have a castle built with the help of an Arab engineer, Krak (Thom Christopher). That decision sets events in motion, with disastrous consequences.

If you don’t know the work of British playwright Howard Barker, “The Castle” is a good place to start. The words “set in 12th century England” can terrify the average theatergoer, but Barker dispenses with the period language and adds humor, violence, liberal usage of the words “cunts,” and “cocks” plus swearing as well as descriptions of copulating. There are no barriers to understanding, and it is clear how Barker feels about war (hell), sex (necessary) and relations between men and women (it’s complicated).

This production of “The Castle” is first-rate, with a top-notch cast and electrifying central performances by Van Dyck, Maxwell, Barlow and Christopher. The supporting cast is also terrific. Richard Romagnoli’s superb direction concentrates on a cohesive ensemble, on the relationships between the characters and less on special effects and set pieces.

It was a pleasure to be sitting in that theater on a hot, summer, city night. If you find yourself in need of sweet relief, watching PTP/NYC’s production of “The Castle” at The Atlantic 2 is where you want to be.

review: RADIANCE • LAByrinth Theatre Co look into the mind of 1955

LAByrinth Theater is a company that has produced acclaimed productions and collaborations with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Glaudini (who are also the founders) as well as playwright Stephen Aldy Guirgis (“The Motherf**ker with the Hat). Since their move from The Public Theater across town to the new Bank Street location near the Hudson, LAByrinth’s mission has been to showcase new playwrights and new work, which in the current economic climate is both difficult and admirable.

“Radiance” an unwieldy play with good intentions, is set in 1955 in a wonderfully dilapidated bar (courtesy of scenic designer David Meyer) and begins with an unhappy, blowsy blonde, May (Ana Reeder ) an accountant who is having an affair with the proprietor, Artie (Kelly AuCoin). It takes a good thirty minutes for something to happen, and it does: a man named Rob (Kohl Sudduth) walks in. But he is not just any man.

Robert Lewis was the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb. Playwright Cusi Cram uses real-life facts: Lewis, the only crew member to ever express remorse, was scheduled to go on the television show This is Your Life; he panicked then fled to a bar where he got extremely drunk until he was found by one of the producers. Cram builds tension in the flashback scenes between Lewis, NY Times reporter William Laurence (Kelly AuCoin) and Tibbets (Aaron Roman Weiner), his superior; she also nicely details the arrogant, cocky Lewis before the A-bomb trip, to the person he morphs into afterwards, the Lewis whose tortured, tormented soul will give him no peace.

Beautifully directed by Suzanne Agins, the performances are first-rate, with AuCoin (unrecognizable from the philandering Artie to the accented, inquisitive Laurence) and Weiner (also unrecognizable from the nebbishy Waxman to the iron-fisted Tibbets) double cast, and the moving, anguished Sudduth, who resembles a young Jeff Daniels. Ana Reeder’s Nurse Evelyn was a beacon of light in a dark place, but I didn’t understand why an accountant would be dressed like a femme fatal in the middle of the day, even in 1955 Los Angeles.

Which brings me to the female characters. With such rich material at hand, I actually don’t believe the parts of May/Evelyn were necessary. To have a love interest tacked on as a framing device seems exactly that: tacked on for no reason. Without the female characters, the play could have been re-worked as a one act, or expanded as a three-hander.

Be that as it may, there are fine reasons to see “Radiance”: the actors, the set, and the compelling, troubling story that lies at the center.

OCTOBER’S REALITY CHECK Poetspace: Mary Folliet


(autumn 2012: the post-fall fall)


topaz tree tops flash

warning winter’s white expense

some greens yearn for spring


flaming forward fast

amidst lemon, crimson, rust

topaz tree tops flash


jeweled mums abound

albino pumpkins astound

topaz tree tops last


autumn breezes blow

topaz tree tops flash then fall

while October goes

ONE contributor Elliott Murphy to be awarded Medaille Vermil by the City of Paris

Congratulations to Elliot Murphy:
Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is bestowing the Médaille de Vermeil of the city of Paris to an accomplished musician and writer.
Mon 1 Oct 18:00
Salon Hotel de Ville

Excellence is still key.



‘The Exonerated': Guilty as Charged ‘STUNNING’

If you did not see the multi-award-winning ‘The Exonerated’ ten years ago, now is your chance. Culture Project, on 45 Bleecker Street in the Village, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the play in special association with The Innocence Project. Written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, directed by Bob Balaban, ‘The Exonerated’ is a stunner.

To say the play is an epic is an understatement. Six characters, only connected by the fact that they were all wrongly convicted and sat on death row for years, and then exonerated. What they lost is irreplaceable. Irrevocable. Their youth, livelihood, family, husbands, brothers, children. And time. So much time.

But none of this epic is fictional; Blank and Jensen have used only the words, interviews, court transcripts of the people involved, and made up nothing. That is what makes this evening in the theater, listening to these stories, so compelling. The words. The truth of what happened.

This is not a re-enactment. The stage is bare, except for a row of chairs and black stands holding scripts. The words of the six are entrusted to a rotating cast of formidable actors: Stockard Channing, Brian Dennehy, Delroy Lindo, Chris Sarandon, JD Williams, Curtis McClarin.

The vagaries of the US judicial system are explained succinctly by Sarandon’s Kerry Max Cook, who spent twenty-two years on death row, was raped, sodomized and branded in prison, lost his brother and was then blamed for the death by his mother, and was not compensated (none of the exonerated in this play were) for any of Texas’s error: “I came from a good family. If it happened to me, it could happen to anyone.”

But perhaps the saddest story was Channing’s Sunny Jacobs, who was at the wrong place, wrong time, and only trying to protect her young children. Her husband, Jesse Joseph Tafero, also wrongly convicted, was executed in Florida, and made headlines because the electric chair malfunctioned and it took an inordinately long and painful time for him to die.

Exonerated? Yes. But the loss these people suffered is immeasurable.

The night I saw “The Exonerated” the real Sunny Jacobs was in the audience. After the performance, Channing brought her onstage, supported by a cane and walking unsteadily. Jacobs thanked the cast, thanked Channing, and thanked the audience for listening. She thanked the playwrights for “giving a voice to those who have none.” Then she cried.


GORE VIDAL 1925—2012

The editors, contributors and friends of ONE Magazine join the literary world in mourning one of the greatest writers and essayists of the 20th century. It’s going to be very quiet without Gore Vidal, 1925—2012. May he invigorate the next world as well as he did ours.


Theatrespace Review: De-boning Miss Lily • ‘Miss Lily Gets Boned’

At the tail end of the fourth heat wave of this increasingly unbearable 2012 New York City summer, I was looking forward to a bit of relief at the 19th annual Ice Factory Festival down in the West Village. This is largely due to the talented Bekah Brunstetter’s new play, and the collaboration between Studio 42  (known for producing “unproducible” plays), Ice Factory and their new space, in the New Ohio Theatre.  With a juicy, provocative title like ‘Miss Lily Gets Boned’ how could one go wrong?

Well, the message of the play is, we’re all animals, and we are all doomed.

Which is a little bit passé, and if you have observed the climbing crime rate here in conjunction with the heat (hit and runs, shootings, stabbings, overloaded boats capsizing, with children the victims) you already knew we were doomed.

But back to the play.

TheatreSpace Review: Lisa del Rosso • Time to get CLOSER THAN EVER


I went into the recent off-Broadway revival of Maltby and Shire’s musical “Closer Than Ever,” presented by The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s on the East Side of Manhattan, blind, as it were. I had little knowledge of their music, and did not see the 1989 original New York production. So I was ready for anything.

It was opening night. The crowd was supportive. The cast, Jenn Colella, George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll, and Sal Viviano, were exceptional. Directed with assurance by Richard Maltby Jr., with musical direction by Andrew Gerle, they teased every bit of humor out of each and every Maltby and Shire song. Jenn channeled her inner feminist Dolly Parton for You Wanna Be My Friend; Christiane was moving and thoughtful for Life Story; Sal, a perfectly reasoned stalker in What Am I Doin’? and George, the picture of patience in I’ll Get Up Tomorrow Morning.

And yet…

TheatreSpace Review: Lisa del Rosso gets MASSACRE(d) by Jose Rivera & Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

If you take seven bloodied murderers, four male and three female, and put them in a room together right after they have plotted and killed the town “devil” – a man who was a murderer and worse himself – one would think this set-up would yield interesting results, at the very least.

Yet, at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater down in the Village, read more —>

THIS IS ‘IN': TACT’S LOST IN YONKERS Theatre Review by Lisa Del Rosso’

I am not an enormous fan of Neil Simon, and this opinion is largely based on the recent, unsuccessful revivals he has had on Broadway and off. However, after watching the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lost in Yonkers,” in a beautifully rendered production presented by TACT (The Actors Company Theatre) on Theater Row 42nd Street, I am well on the way to changing my mind. read more —>

From the Editor: Hey Glassholes: ‘This American Life’ – IS DAISEY IS PROTECTING THE GIRL?

From the Editor:

In regards to the controversy surrounding MIKE DAISEY, I write to express my full support for THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS as a creative work.

Theatres are not courtrooms, no matter how the monsterous public relations companies, recently hired by the parties involved, will now attempt to make them appear. Daisey is not the ultimate target — theatre, the arts, free expression is. As-is creative license and our ability to communicate critical ideas in a public arena.

The New York Times, and BBC documented the lion’s share of agregious faults in our new culture of slavery-by-proxy, highlighted by Daisey’s monologue. Second, it’s not rocket science to connect the dots: FoxCOnn hires Burston Marstellar • Apple Launches iPad • Daisey sandbagged by the glassholes.

But in this real world of corporate espionage, coercion, conspiracy and fraud, I predict this: Mike Daisey might be protecting the safety of the girl in China. Just a creative hunch.

Martin Belk, editor, ONE Magazine

BELK: A Ballad of Reading in Gaol (full version of essay published in Scottish Review of Books)

A Ballad of Reading in Gaol

(Full version of Scottish Review of Books Essay.)

By Martin Belk

A young woman hangs back after my writing seminar at the new City of Glasgow College with a question: “What’s it like, ya’ know, in there?” For a second, I’m thrown, forgetting that in the preceding class I’d alluded several times to my prison writing workshops. Before I could respond, huge, heavy tears welled up and fell from her eyes, falling down to her denim jeans. She didn’t say anything more, she didn’t need to – she has a loved one on the ‘inside’. I didn’t quite know what to tell her: a ‘modern place of rehabilitation’, to reassure her, or, a ‘bona-fide prison’, to confirm and confront her worst fears? Neither is entirely true, there are problems in the narrative.


Poetspace: Mary Folliet Hard Times Encore • Good Times Ahead 2012


Hard Times Encore

~a Café Loup haiku~

what a see-saw world

these turbulent trying times

no exit in sight

Good Times Ahead

~a New Year’s wish~

peace & love maybe

but please first fair play for all

then we’ll rock ’n’ roll

—Mary Folliet

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace Review: Nina Raine’s TRIBES: Get your ticket! “You Might be Missing Something”


“You’re not missing anything,” is repeated like a mantra throughout the first act of Nina Raine’s brilliant and provocative “Tribes” by various members of Billy’s upper-middle class British family. Born deaf into an intellectually rambunctious, argumentative hearing clan, Billy (Russell Harvard), was raised reading lips and not taught sign language on principle, “so he would not be part of a minority,” according to his stubborn, retired academic father Christopher (Jeff Perry). Also currently living under the same roof are Billy’s mother, Beth (Mare Winningham), a novelist; his college-age sister Ruth (Gayle Rankin), a singer; and the insecure, older brother Dan (Will Brill), who is not quite sure what he wants to be, other than a creative person like everyone else in the family. But in truth, the family argues at such a pace that it is impossible for Billy to keep up, leaving him in silence; until Billy falls for Sylvia (Susan Pourfar) who was born hearing into a deaf family, learned sign language and is going deaf herself. Sylvia introduces Billy to a new world where fits in. Now he wants to tell his own stories his way, and asks his family to learn how to sign, refusing to speak to them until they do. When they balk, he leaves them.

The North American premiere of “Tribes” is at the Barrow Street Theatre down in the Village in New York City; it has already had a successful run at The Royal Court in London, 2011, won an Offie Award and was nominated for both Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for best new play. “Tribes” is playing currently in Australia and productions in Germany and Hungary are in the works.

“Tribes” explores notions of conforming or not, of love and possession, and of belonging. The profanity, intellectual arguments, sibling rivalry and egotism are all completely believable in a high-octane, competitive household. There are pithy one-liners, like when Ruth asks why no one in her family can’t say a word without shouting, and Christopher replies, “Because we love each other.” Ruth replies, “Yes, like a straight jacket.”

The production of “Tribes” at the Barrow Street Theatre is impeccably directed by David Cromer and beautifully acted by a first-rate ensemble. Raine’s moving, funny and shattering play demonstrates the limits and benefits of the tribe one comes from, and also, finding a new one. After Billy leaves and Dan is reduced to a gibbering wreck, he finally asks, “What is the sign for love?” The answer is both an affirmation, and an enormous step forward.

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace Review: “imitation should be avoided at all costs”


It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to the great, early plays of Sam Shepard,  read more —>

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace Review: The Picture Box “Needs Some Gray”

Picture Box

If “The Picture Box,” a new play by Cate Ryan presented by The Negro Ensemble Company (celebrating their 45th season) at the 42nd Street Beckett Theater, were instead a painting, it would be only in the colors black and white. What it needs are shades of gray. read more —>

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace Review: JAMES X: a BRAVE theatrical Experience!


How does society deal with a juvenile delinquent? An “abandoned boy?”

In the case of “James X,” written and performed by the astonishing Gerard Mannix Flynn, at the age of eleven he was sentenced into Ireland’s industrial school system, run by congregations of nuns and brothers. On his way to the first, St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Letterfrack, he was orally raped in the car by a brother, and sodomized by another once he arrived. From there, a succession of schools followed, then prison, and the abuse never stopped: physical, sexual, mental. No matter how many times James X complained, nothing was ever done.

The Culture Project, Gabriel Byrne (who also directed) and Liam Neeson are to be commended for bringing to New York a brave, wrenching theatrical experience. Byrne has been very candid about his own abuse at the hands of a priest, and how he tried to come to terms with it included a very public letter of apology written for TheIrish Times in the 1980’s, which was met with a thunderous silence.

Finally, times have changed, with hundreds of victims coming forward and telling their stories, blame being apportioned, and amends being made by the Catholic Church. These are small steps, but in the right direction.

“James X” is the pseudonym on his file, for confidentiality, when he testifies before the Report of the Commission to inquire into Child Abuse. Now a middle-aged man, James X sits outside the room waiting, nervous, jittery. For most of the 85 minute play, Flynn goes at a clip, and puts on quite a stream-of-consciousness, rolling on the ground, sometimes funny, animated song and dance account of his life. No sexual abuse is mentioned until, just before the end, Flynn confesses his “show” was a lie. The lie he “invented to make his life tolerable.”

Flynn reads his statement. He reads out the litany of his sexual abuse, the physical abuse that landed him in the hospital for an operation, his incarceration in the prison for the criminally insane. He was betrayed by the system, and tells the tribunal, “You said you would cherish us and take care of us. And you didn’t. This is your file, not mine. It is your shame. And I’m handing it back.”

© ONE Magazine 2011

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace Review DERBY DAY by Samuel Brett Williams

23 (L-R): Jared Culverhouse as Frank Ballard (sitting), Jake Silbermann as Johnny Ballard (standing), Beth Wittig as Becky and Malcolm Madera as Ned Ballard - photo: Paul Gagnon

Midway through world premier of “Derby Day” by Samuel Brett Williams in the 42nd Street Clurman Theater, I wrote in my notebook, “The waitress will get the winning ticket.” And she did.

The deserving waitress in question, Becky, played by the brilliant Beth Wittig, not only wins, she steals the show out from under the three volatile male characters. Becky is the only one not trapped, who knows who she is, who has any dignity. read more —>

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO / MARY FOLLIET – Theatrespace Review & Panel Report – The Agony of The New Yorker: MIKE DAISEY TRIUMPHS!

Mike Daisey in The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, running at The Public Theater NYC. photo: Joan Marcus

There has been much press about Mike Daisey’s one-man show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” down at The Public Theater on Lafayette Street in the Village. Much of it is good (a rave in The NY Times, and a three-week extension); bad (a rather poisonous, anonymous blurb in The New Yorker); and unwanted (Daisey has received both hate mail and death threats, apparently for his unwillingness to participate in the post-mortem deification of Steve Jobs).

But the anonymous blurb in The New Yorker interests me most, not because the writer was too much of a coward to sign his or her name to the objection, read more —>


“the black idea of winning”
–Bertolt Brecht

there is no contest
no opponent
no side to take
no stakes to risk
no prize to win
no victory to hope
only moments to kill
& longing to live


Mary Folliet NYC 2011

ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: VIEWS FROM THE PEN 2

'Family' by Jule_Berlin/Flickr

 Family Visits
by Alexander Morrissey

I am just back from visits. My son and partner were up today and it was good. I had been looking forward to it for two weeks.

We were talking about what changes both of us have made since becoming parents. My partner seems to have made loads of changes but when she asked me what I have changed, I couldn’t think of anything. Then I thought about it and realised that I have in fact: stopped taking drugs, started attending courses to manage my anger and I have really improved my attitude.

I said to my partner that although I have changed these things there is still a long way to go. I said that I realise there are always things that go the wrong way in life and things don’t happen as you would like. I believe that you have to be strong and face these situations head on, rather than jumping over them or just pushing them to the side. If you tackle the issues you can overcome them.

This is all we talked about through the visit. My son was smiling and having him on my lap brought a tear to my eye. I was so happy yet so sad at the same time as I knew I had to leave them.


ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace – review: “Kaddish” (or “The Key in the Window”) NY Theater Workshop


Less than halfway through “Kaddish” (or “The Key in the Window”), a version of Allen Ginsburg’s poem at The New York Theater Workshop in the East Village, I had to put my pen down, so mesmerized was I by Donnie Mather’s extraordinary performance. That “Kaddish,” which was not only performed but also adapted by Mather himself, coincided with the Jewish holiday of Roshashana was total luck, according to Director Kim Weild, and opening night ended September while ushering in the melancholy of autumn. A perfect backdrop for “Kaddish.” read more —>



fall lineups galore

fashion, fiction, Broadway, art

fall back time hour saved

back to school, work, home routines

rousing us to our fixed fate

—Mary Folliet, NYC Autumn 2011

ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: ViEWS FROM THE PEN

 And So We Begin

By Bash Wallace

 Today was a gainful day. I left my cell and walked the enclosed pathway to my creative writing class. This pathway, referred to as the route, is six feet wide however us, the prisoners, are restricted to two feet of this, making out walk more like a march. In single file and all sporting short back and sides we resemble soldiers and I suppose in a way, we are. Street Soldiers. read more —>

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – Theatrespace – review: Tape

“Tape,” by Stephen Belber is playing at the June Havoc Theatre on 36th Street in mid-town Manhattan. “Tape” is a pitch-perfect study of the perpetual adolescence of the American male. I am not sure if there is a European male equivalent or even one a European will understand, other than the Scottish writer J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and the “I won’t grow up” syndrome it inspired. read more —>

ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Culture Change And Intellectual Decline

When the last world war ended in 1945, Europe was gutted, short of all the means of maintaining a normal existence, except that, pre-war, the lower classes had rarely shared normality as the middle-classes knew it. Suddenly there was an equality of diet, dull but not unhealthy, a shortage of clothing, houses and all luxuries, but a general sharing of what there was, and only the rich, taxed to the hill, really complained. Anything was better than war and that had ended. At the same time there was a flowering of high culture. Concerts were packed. So was opera and ballet, new literature was eagerly discussed, art exhibitions were full, and the BBC had started the Third Programme, which enabled everyone to hear on the radio good music, interesting and educational discussions and talks for a small license fee, and generally there was an interest in education, the higher levels of which had become available to all who could pass exams. read more —>

ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Lies, Corruption and Conspiracy

We are living through an age without shame, when corruption is endemic throughout society from the highest elected officials down through the guardians of our laws to those who want a little more of the desirable possessions of life, whether they have much or little. The Murdoch scandal has exposed the lies and cover-ups, the bribes to keep quiet, police attempts to stop the Guardian’s investigations, Cameron’s weak brushing over Coulson’s reassurances that he had known nothing, which even a loyal dog would not believe, while offering no “second chance” to misguided but deprived youth that finally revolted against a society that offered it nothing while removing whatever hope had been there when we had a welfare state. read more —>


Modern communication technology is effecting events that is involving the forgotten segment of society internationally in a way that no-one foresaw. And that segment is the youth of today, not only the teenagers and early twenty year-olds, but also those younger ones who have to share all the miseries of hard times and the indifference of the affluent middle-age bourgeoisie. The rich get richer and not only do the poor get poorer, but they get far more numerous. And the speed of communication, through all the electronic media, together with the universal spread of mobile phones – nothing is easier to steal – is bringing that generation together internationally as never before. read more —>

ONE blogs – LISA DEL ROSSO – review: Territories, Splatters and Victories: Potomac Theatre Project 2011

At the Atlantic II, in New York”s Chelsea, three plays ran in rep this summer, produced by the 25 year-old company PTP (Potomac Theatre Project, from Middlebury College, Vt.)/NYC. Three playwrights: Steven Dykes, Neil Bell, both Americans, and Howard Barker, English. Running in rep, while usual for many theatre companies in the UK and regionally here in the US, it is not done so much in New York City. read more —>


The unfolding of the Murdoch saga brings surprise after surprise, and the whole evil empire shows signs of eventual collapse. How can a press mogul wield so much power that a supposedly democratic country like Great Britain, run by a three hundred year-old party system, can come to believe, at least as far as its leading politicians are concerned, that an election cannot be won without his support?



Historians will have such a wealth of material to deal with then they come to writing up the first decades of the twenty-first century, that may well drown under it. Around the world there is deepening depression unbelievably incompetent government and administration of industry. This of, natural resources (all dwindling fast) and all social institutions, with widespread corruption that is not even disguised, and a culture of greed, tyranny, and power-lust that is demolishing all the products of civilised rule-of-law, individual and group rights, and decency that it has taken centuries to establish. read more —>


There is much current discussion about the reform of the House Of Lords and whether it should be elected or not. It should be elected, but not by the general public that periodically elects one set of mediocrities after another, including some corrupt enough to claim large fictional expenses to add to their already over-sufficient salaries. A new set of Lords (and they do not necessarily have to be titled) should consist of four groups, numbering about a hundred in all and required to be there every day. read more —>

ONE 9 • Scatpack must see

My first encounter with a member of the ‘Pack’ known as ‘Scat’ was on the street, last Thursday, when I noticed a thin young man walking ahead of me wearing an outfit similar to a bumble bee: bright yellow and black. On the back of his jacket was the company name emblazoned for all to see. He pranced with pride down the street, chatting vigorously with his mates – all of whom carried themselves with an infectiously high spirits one would expect on the pavements of a performing arts festival, as opposed to the loathsome air of Hollywoodania put on by so many these days. I took notice, imagining the group to be some odd mix between the American 1940s TV show ‘The Little Rascals’ and characters from an older John Waters movie. read more —>



The Sky is falling! No, It’s just the I.Q. of television content.



The Future of Property Among most tribal societies private property does not exist, other than a few utensils and weapons. Everything belongs to the tribe or the group or the society to which the group belong. With the growth of civilisation and national identity much private property developed, with wars and conquest create classes that owned property, land, houses and other things. read more —>


History…Today…And Human Destiny How much can one say in a few words? There are certain historical dates: 1914, 1917, 1939, 1945, 1989—and 2011 looks as if it will be another one—that has been fixed in historical memory. Recorded history, other than the mythical texts that try to explain the reason for the presence of intelligent life in the universe, go back not much more than the 3000 years and the events recorded are best known through the literature of great poetry, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, down to Beckett in our own time.



The last century could hardly have been more eventful, although we have become too accustomed to some of its better moments. 1911 was a high point for Edwardinian optimism, the hey-day of expressionism in painting and the European arts, especially music. Der Rosenkavallier, perhaps the most popular opera of the 20th century, emerged that year, Picasso was already famous, much great literature was appearing or being written, while history was getting ready to plunge the world into a catastrophic world war. read more —>

ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – ‘The Worst of Times’ MONDAY MAN RETURNS!

Dickens was referring to the depth of the French Revolution, but the words are very apposite to 2011, not only in Britain, but nearly everywhere. This will be a year of revolution in many places, to chaotic trouble in most other places and to decline, suffering and misery almost everywhere else. read more —>


The President of the United States gave a major news conference yesterday. The same President who controls the fate of US and British forces in Afghanistan, as well as a large part of the world economy. The number of viewers online was just over 450.

The US spin-machines of infotainment chose to focus on the looney in Florida who wants to barbeque Korans, and kept their spew foaming about how Obama faces a ‘blowout’ in Novermber mid-term elections. The UK, even the publicly funded BBC, continued the farce called blow – reporting the earth-shattering Koran story.


ONE 10 • The Grumpy Chef: Cook Like a Kid!

The Grumpy Chef: Cook Like a Kid! Mason Douglas

Good god…being a chef can be boring at times… It’s not the hours or the getting changed 8 times a day or even the laborious meetings with officious officials from the FSA. (Damn killjoys banned unpasteurised foodstuffs and are proceeding to bring down the culinary elite by forcing us to microwave and to cook things “well done” the bastards…).

ONE 10 • Hello Berlin!

I love cities. Being in a place where my surroundings constantly buzz and I have little to no idea of what could happen next. So far, this drive took me from a small village in Scotland to its biggest city, Glasgow. And then to study in the city that they say never sleeps, New York. Now, having explored Paris and Prague, and visited friends in London, this time — Berlin.

Hello Berlin!
–Jonathan Pryce


ONE 10 • Polmont YOI Writers

ONE 10 prison states of mind contributions from Polmont Young Offender’s Institution Writers


ONE 10 • New York Notes: Sirloin Senator


At the upscale New York City restaurant where I work as a waiter, the Rail consists of six tables with roomy armchairs across from six booths lined up along a wall of windows facing a side street near Central Park.

New York Notes: Sirloin Senator — Watching Tables & Keeping Tabs
–Mark Lawitz


ONE 10 • Hollywood Notes – inside the gilded cage

Learn how to write a screenplay for the low price of only $299.99! — or at least that’s what the Hollywood establishment would like you to believe. As an aspiring screenwriter, my email overflows every single day with offers and claims from various ‘pros’ pitching their latest book or workshop: Learn the Syd Field Method! Experience the Robert McKee Way! You too can sell your first screenplay for $750,000! Three Act Structure, Twelve Stages of Story Development, Twenty-Two Steps to Become a Master Storyteller – and so on. Apparently, you’ll need to be in tip-top shape to mount the thousands of steps required for success, and have a superb financial plan to manage the millions of dollars that will soon be rolling in.

Hollywood Notes: inside the gilded cage
–Cheryl Compton


ONE 10 • Paris Notes: inside the Women’s Prison

In the summer of 1978, a telephone call from Rosalie Gomes, an editor at the English-language Paris newspaper, Paris Metro, was to lead to an out of the blue bizarre correspondence with a young woman. The newspaper had received a letter from an American woman who was an inmate in the Women’s Prison in Rennes, about three hours southwest of Paris. From New York City, Jill Diamond had no family or friends in France and Rosalie, who was a friend of mine, thought that I was a possible candidate to befriend the woman. I readily agreed, took Jill’s address and wrote an immediate letter to her. Little did I suspect when I posted this letter that I had opened the door to a two-year deeply intense and passionate correspondence.

Paris Notes: inside the Women’s Prison
–Jim Haynes


ONE 10 • Mexico Notes: Both Sides of the Border

It was utter coincidence that while the immigration debate began raging anew in the US media and tighter restrictions along the US-Mexican border were being called for, I visited Mexico in June for the first time.

Mexico Notes
–Geraldine Sweeney


ONE 10 • Edinburgh Notes: Reflections on Gaza

Edinburgh Notes: Reflections on Gaza
Flotilla Day, 31 May 2010
–Charlie Graham

Remember the Boxes for Bosnia? When you were at school, or sending your kids to school during the recent times of war in the former Yugoslavia? You’d send the young ones off with a box and you’d think they’d get there. Let’s go back to Aramana.

ONE 10 • Notes from El Salvador

Peace in La Paz
During the week I recently spent in El Salvador, the only time I felt truly clean was the day we went to the beach at La Paz (Spanish for peace). The poverty and violence of the city ebbed away as we watched a small fishing boat come ashore at sunset with its day’s catch. These men were very happy. This is the El Salvador the tourists see.

Notes From El Salvador
–Anna Graham


ONE 10 • Central Park Notes

In 1811, by municipal decree, Manhattan Island, between 14th and 155th Streets, was cordoned off into a carefully plotted rectilinear street grid — avenues run north and south, streets east and west.
The first New World city to adopt such a plan, New York was ripe for commercial expansion north from the oldest settlements at its southern end, where the burgeoning maritime and trade economy was poised to rocket the metropolis into the Industrial Age. This street plan also made it almost impossible for adventurous adolescents to get lost, at least geographically, which I happily discovered in the autumn of my 16th year.

Central Park Notes
–John Moore


ONE 10 • Sydney Notes: Carnivals and Corrections

On the eve of my public conversation with the Premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally, as part of a Sydney Writers Festival event on the topic of Forgiveness, I felt nervous but prepared. It would be my first time moderating panels at the Festival, now the third-largest in the world behind the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Hay Festival. My usual way of alleviating nerves was to prepare thoroughly. But as the event showed all of those involved, you can’t prepare for the unexpected.

Sydney Notes from the Writers Festival
–Virginia Lloyd


ONE 10 • The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending
–MSP Christopher Harvie

I have been grateful over the past few years for the hospitality of the Guardian’s ‘CommentisFree’, until its self-editing system was changed and new-style gatekeepers made it clear that freedom stopped around Watford Gap: not just my contributions but anything from too-far-north of London would not be welcomed. I wrote to other Guardian illuminati, but in Germany they say ‘Keine Antwort ist auch eine Antwort.’ – ‘No answer is also an answer.’ The terms of the New CiF dialogue were all too clear: liberty for vox metropolis, let the rest twitter in the wings.


ONE 10 • This is Mine: ‘ME-2′ (moi aussi)

This is Mine: ‘ME-2’ (moi aussi)
–Martin Belk

Glasgow, May 2010
I get frustrated, searching for ways to outwit, outsmart, outfox the ubiquitous ad campaigns for booze, drugs, soulless Pop music, computer games and mobile phones that too often possess the minds of the new ‘ME-2’ generation.


ONE 10 • Four Year Stretch

Four-Year Stretch: Reflections of a 21st Century Graduate
–Peter Simpson

You may ask yourself, ‘How do I work this?’…
You may ask yourself, ‘Where does that highway lead to?’…
And you may ask yourself ‘My God, what have I done?’

—Talking Heads, 1981


ONE 10 • Prisons Inside and Out

On May 17, 2010, the justices of the US Supreme Court, in a miraculous decision, barred life terms for young offenders who haven’t committed murder. Miraculous because the current court leans decidedly to the right, and also because we in the US are very good at locking up and throwing away the key, rather than figuring out what to do with ex-convicts once they are released. In short, what we do is next to nothing, (apart from a train fare and a ride to the station) and “rehabilitation” has become a curse word, as well as perceived as a financial drain.

Prisons inside and out
– Lisa Del Rosso


ONE 10 • Poetspace

We huddle, peer through
the pane of glass at our feet
pebbled with raindrops

as a large man crouches down
with a folded tissue, gently
wipes them away

revealing more to us
than bare shelves
and missing books.


One 10 • … How did you get there?

1. Where are you from?  2. Where are you now?

3. By way of?     4. Would you do it all again?

5. Describe your last memory of leaving what you consider ‘home’ or where you’re from.

6. What’s your profession?


disclaimer: We wanted a quick survey not a research project — photos quality from the ‘net so there. And

we can’t help more boys answered than girls. That’s the situation, but enjoy the stories. read more —>


Someone in the West Coast of Scotland is reading the wrong web sites. As if a visit by the Pope might not be divisive enough, somebody, with the best of intentions, has invited none other than Ex-New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani to address the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s International Awards dinner on 19 November 2010. I’d like to remind the powers-that-invite something my grandmother taught me years ago: Good intentions pave the road to hell. And, if anyone thinks Rudy’s ideas will do anything positive for Scotland and/or Glasgow, get ready for a lot of division, fire, and brimstone. I’m an expat New Yorker, I was forced to endure King G’s iron fist.



At last a little truth and reality is beginning to emerge from a long period where politicans have treated those who elect them as fools to be gulled with lies and impossible promises, while always careful to feather their own nests. For decades they have become increasingly ignorant and philistine, caring for little other than being leected and living an easy, privileged life. Never having learned much history, treating economics as doctrinal religion and with no general culture or interest in knowledge, they have become the worst body of parliamentary rulers for centuries. At least the new coalition is telling us that our descent into debt and chaos must be regulated as far as possible. It is only thinking of those with enough income to survive a period of increasing austerity, ignoring the plight of those without jobs or even a legal right to live here, and giving no thought to the strong possibility of revolution because that is not part of the British tradition. read more —>

ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Man for Monday: AND NOW … REALITY

The UK election is over. The bombast is past. Now, not only Britain, but most of the world is facing a future that will become ever more difficult even in the richer countries, and catastrophic in the poorer. While politicians, most of whom are profoundly ignorant about the realities of the world and the period they live in, will will continue to make statements about ‘recovery’, ‘back to propserity’, etc. — thinking people and the few public voices that are honest as well as aware will have to come to terms with the single choice that lies before us: either accept a long regime of austerity, that will include rationing of the essential things we need to live, or, sink into a new dark age where hunger, thirst, famine, anarchy and tribal warfare will be the norm. read more —>


Politics have always been corrupt, although there have been corrupt, although there have been historical periods when a few individuals have brought up the moral and intellectual tone. One think of Burke, Disraeli, Parnell, Nye Bevan and a few others, often defying their party to say what had to be said. It is the party system that is corrupt and always will be, because all that matters there, is automatic unquestioning obedience to the leader who can distribute patronage, favours, wealth and promotion to eminence and fame. read more —>


Every so often a book comes along of such importance that everyone who cares about the world we live in, and the state of modern society as it affects our lives and well-being, should read. Such a one is ‘Freefall’ by the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who prior to becoming an academic was Chief Economist at the World Bank. read more —>




I thought of Nora Jones tonight as I sat in the audience for Rufus Wainwright’s Glasgow show: a lot of people love her, flock to see her, but I’m not entirely sure why. That’s not to suggest the attention is not well-deserved, but to characterize — if Norah Jones were a whispering soothsayer, Rufus Wainwright is the shamanic voice of a cello. But I don’t entirely get either, yet.



The newspapers for several weeks now have been full of stories about the abuse of children. On the one hand there have been all the scandals about the Catholic church, paedophile priests and bishopal cover-ups, on the other of children killed or damaged by terrible parents, guardians or authorities that should have been alert and active instead of turning a blind eye to whatever got in the way of being well-paid for doing as little as possible, and, in the wider world, there are tribal massacres, suicide bombings and terrorist acts that effect all ages at random, and in abundance. read more —>


This is not a good time to be making prophecies. What will happen on the 6th of May is very uncertain, but it seems likely, given the general disgust with the greed, corruption, mismanagement and attempts to cover up bad behaviour, common to at least the two major parties, that the poll will be low, probably the lowest since the franchise was universalised, and that reform of our electoral system must then come at last. Here are some suggestions for that reform. read more —>

ONE 9 • Scotland Beware Giuliani


Someone in the West Coast of Scotland is reading the wrong web sites. As if a visit by the Pope might not be divisive enough, somebody, with the best of intentions, has invited none other than Ex-New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani to address the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s International Awards dinner on 19 November 2010. I’d like to remind the powers-that-invite something my grandmother taught me years ago: Good intentions pave the road to hell. read more —>

ONE 9 • TheatreSpace: 45 and a Half Miles

45 and a Half Miles
by Edward Neville
[excerpted and edited for ONE]

ONE 9 • Twittering Home

Twitter is one of the latest tech toys to take the world by storm. With its A-list celebrities, politicians, musicians, actors and writers comprising only a small part of its 30 million users, we come from all walks of life. Columns in the daily newspapers list celebrity tweets, and companies advertise their twitter locations, breaking news is out as it happens on twitter’s trending topics.

ONE 9 • Down & Out Between Glasgow and Edinburgh

Kenny MacAskill, Orwell, arts funding and some fresh angles of an old question.

“Poverty is what I’m writing about.” -G.O. —

When George Orwell voluntarily submitted himself to a life on the low, he discovered two distinct stories in two major cities: Paris and London. In the former, while struggling for day



The short reign of Gordon Brown will come to an end on the 6th of May, and looking back, there can be no question of it having been anything other than a disaster. Following in the misguided footsteps of Tony Blair, who simply continued the Thatcherite policy of deregulating as much as possible in order to let rampant greed and civic irresponsibility go wherever it wanted, Gordon Brown swallowed the old line that if things appear to be going well, then they will continue to go on for ever, thereby ignoring all history that, as everyone with common sense knows, says that what goes up in the air must sooner or later fall down. read more —>

ONE 9 • Notes from New York and Ireland

Notes from New York and Ireland
Home (noun) 1. residence 2. native habitat 3. place of origin 4. safe place
December 2009—Geraldine Sweeney

ONE 9 • Leaving New York

By way of Havana, Miami, San Francisco & soon Barcelona


–Jorgé Soccaras
As a native New Yorker, leaving this place has been a marker for certain periods of my life. My first distinct memory of leaving New York was in1959 when I was seven years old. read more —>

ONE 9 • Hollywood Notes: Let Them Eat Cake


–Cheryl Compton

ONE Editor Martin Belk issued me a challenge for this edition of the Hollywood Notes:
“I would love to know what’s really going on behind the scenes out there. It’s amazing that they throw zillions at bad movies while everyone else eats cake.”

ONE 9 • Paris Notes: Auto Bios & A Lady Named Betty

In the summer of 1982, while visiting my son, Jesper, in New York City, I decided to call my friend, Betty Dodson, to see how she was doing and to plug into her amazing energy and intellect. She answered the phone and reported she was writing her autobiography, that I was in it and that I should come over for tea and she would read the passage concerning us. I replied that I would like nothing better than to visit her and have a cup of tea, to catch up with her projects, but I had no desire to check-up on what she was writing about me. I trusted her completely and would read the book when it was published. We then agreed that I would come to her Madison Avenue apartment later that afternoon.

Paris Notes: Autos Bios & a Lady Named Betty
–Jim Haynes


ONE 9 • Kansas City Notes: Down by the River (Missouri That Is)

Kansas City, Missouri is uniquely American. This is the place that gave us aviatrix Amelia Earhart, saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, outlaw Jesse James and artist Thomas Hart Benton. While standing on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, seriously dwarfing in size its more famous cousin, the Mississippi, one can readily imagine a riverboat paddling along as it did a hundred years before.
Like with most of the developed world, office towers and suburbs have now risen across this epic landscape. But the horizon looking over the state line into Kansas is remarkably unchanged. Sunrise and sunset are meaningful when you can actually view them without craning your neck.

Kansas City Notes: down by the river (Missouri that is)
–Blair Schulman



ONE 9 • American Notes: Confessional Celebrity Culture Running Wild

It has been nearly a half-century since American film critic Pauline Kael wrote that celebrity in the modern world provided its own raison d’etre.


It didn’t matter why you were famous or if you deserved to be famous, she said, but just that you were famous.

American Notes: confessional celebrity culture running wild
–Lee Lowenfish


ONE 9 • Legal Notices: This is Not a Circular

In response to the ‘Digital Economy Bill’ announced by the UK Government on the 20th Nov, 2009.


ONE 9 • Poetspace

Vestibul med perspektiv Swedish
Cecelia Johanna Kopra
inte här, snälla
akuten är runt hörnet
nej, inte här
piccolo på röda mattan, två bagagevagnar i mässing

ONE 9 • Theatrespace

by Lisa del Rosso

ONE 9 • Wheels Within Wheels: The Perpetual Motion of Political Spin

During the Crimean war, the first—and greatest—war correspondent, W.H. Russell, revealed the scandal of under-equipped troops serving at the front to readers of The Times. Such was the outcry following his article that a special debate was held in parliament, and new equipment dispatched to the troops in theatre within weeks.


Wheels Within Wheels – the perpetual motion of political spin
–James W. Wood


ONE 9 • In Defence of Plagiarism: Mashing up Pop Culture’s Past

In a contemporary world of political and social cycles, with the same mistakes made time and time again, the one area of our lives where repetition is not only welcomed but encouraged is pop culture. read more —>

ONE 9 • New Fiction: Cancer Party

‘1992. Winter.’
It was a celebration; it was a mourning.
The rain spat down on the frowning tartan umbrellas and ill-fitting trench coats gathered at the graveside. Adam had to strain to release his hand, a tiny bug locked in his father’s fist. He knew he should have been concentrating on the words, the ceremony, the celebration the family had tried so hard to make the occasion, but Adam couldn’t fathom this turning over of soil on top of a wooden box. read more —>

ONE 9 • Conversations: Kirsty Gunn & Martin Belk

Kirsty Gunn is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Dundee. Her novel ‘The Boy and the Sea’ was awarded the 2007 Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award.

ONE 9 • Conversations: Suhayl Saadi on Writing, Publishing & Identity

ONE: What is the background to Joseph’s Box? How long did you spend writing it?
SH: I got the idea around 2000, and started doing research, then started physically writing it in the early part of 2002 when I received a bursary from the Scottish Arts Council, and blasted through it before I ran out of money. I left it to work on Psychoraag, until I had more time. I wrote the second two thirds between 2006 to 2007. I don’t how long it took, if you were to add it up to a fulltime equivalent, I think it would be probably about 18 months.

ONE 9 • A Journey Far from Over: ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ by Shlomo Sand

“I could not have gone on living in Israel without writing this book. I don’t think books can change the world- but when the world begins to change,
it searches for different books.”
— Schlomo Sand

ONE 9 • Two Deaths of Liberalism: ‘First as Tragedy, Then As Farce’

Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian Lacanian Marxist and provocateur of the Left, shows no sign of abating in his quest for the revival and return to the Communist spirit in his latest offering, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce. In this compelling work, Žižek performs his own particular analysis of the first ten years of the twenty-first century, taking as the starting point the attacks of 9/11 and finishing with the recent financial collapse. While these boundaries prove to be arbitrary in the subsequent thrust of his arguments, it is in his effortless switch from the complexities of Lacan to unashamedly popular cultural references such as the children’s film Kung Fu Panda that Žižek performs a stunning critique on the bankruptcy of liberalism and liberal democracy.

ONE 9 • The Grumpy Chef: Food of the Fat Gods

We all have vices and habits, they’re human nature. They get us through our day and make us happy. Unfortunately now, one too many of my happy habits have been ruined by the ever expanding universe of food marketing which has become flooded with jumped up, opinionated oinks dictating what we should eat. Frankly, I choose to care not whether many processed products will increase my chances of getting some form of Cancer — my smoking, alcohol consumption and stressful working environment will take care of all that in due course.

ONE 9 • Footnotes: Remembering Postcard Records

Postcard Records, with just 13 singles released over a period of 3 years, helped forge the sound of indie pop and radically changed the musical landscape of Scotland. Dubbed ‘The Sound of Young Scotland’ by label head Alan Horne, the music remains vital and exciting to modern ears. Run from a tenement flat on West Princes Street, the label has proven to be an inspiration for young musicians and has shown that important music made from modest means can be produced in Scotland. Postcards Records is little known outside of Scotland, and among post-punk indie fans around the world, but its influence is easily discernable in much of the main-stream indie music that has been produced in Britain over the past few years, most notably in Franz Ferdinand.

ONE 9 • Why The Best is Off

Early 2010 is packing a theatre scene punch in, unlike the fall of 2009, which promised a bang and delivered a whimper. The best of the best right now is off-Broadway, and will leave you thinking and turning questions over in your mind long after the actors have taken their second bows (which they deserve, by the way). read more —>

ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Man for Monday: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Anyone with a serious interest in history knows that there is no such thing as steady progress. There are times when things go forward and life improves, but always there is a counter-force that comes along, stops the advance and pushes human progress back. The golden age of fifth century Athens (BC) ended with the Persian wars, civil wars and then the growth of the Roman Empire, which itself was brought down partly by invasions from Germany and the East and its own internal upsets, but mainly by the rise of Christianity, anti-intellectual and anti-progressive, it always tended to support royal tyranny which was meant to reflect heavenly tyranny. read more —>