Ayn Rand and Dick Whitman’s dropped Zippo

Daniel J. Rowe

This one almost ended the reading list before it got out of the gates.

Bertram Cooper calls Don into his office in S01E08 (The Hobo Code), tells him to take his shoes off and then offers him a huge bonus ($2,500).

Then he says the following:

“Have you read her? Rand. Atlas Shrugged. That’s the one… When you hit 40 you realize you’ve met or seen every kind of person there is, and I know what kind you are because I believe we are alike. By that I mean you are a productive and reasonable man and completely self-interested. It’s strength. We are different; unsentimental about all the people that depend on our hard work.”

-Bertram Cooper

Well great.

I had no interest in picking up another Ayn Rand book after ploughing through The Fountainhead (because a friend insisted I “had to” read it), and I certainly didn’t have a tonne of appetite for Rand’s final novel: the “dramatization of her unique vision of existence and of man’s highest potential,” her 12-year project, her longest book (1,168 pages), the tome of tomes: Atlas Shrugged.

Continue reading “Ayn Rand and Dick Whitman’s dropped Zippo”

Misogyny, mavens, misconceptions and the typing pool

Daniel J. Rowe

Throughout Mad Men, books appear that are a direct reflection of characters or the period they live in. There are books characters are reading in which, in a real meta moment, characters feature that are the templates of themselves.

Mad Men is, in essence, a period piece, and props in any period piece are essential. Viewers will turn on a show if a character glances at a digital wristwatch, is leafing through a copy of Game of Thrones or a is wearing a pair of Jordan VIs.

Just check out the list of goofs people spotted if you’re unsure. Gotta respect the how much people care. Heck, I’m one of them, so I ain’t complaining.

Continue reading “Misogyny, mavens, misconceptions and the typing pool”

Israel, community, utopia and the other

Daniel J. Rowe

There are two books in this episode, and I am starting with the one that comes second in the episode: Exodus. Am I the only one that cares enough to mention that? Probably.

Anyway…

Exodus, by Leon Uris is the book that started the Mad Men reading project for me. The book was, as I’ve written before, sitting on my bookshelf when I was watching the episode (S01E06, Babylon) for the second time, and because it played such a prominent role in the episode, and I hadn’t read the book, I stopped watching, read it and continued on. Continue reading “Israel, community, utopia and the other”

Bedtime stories, Betty the princess and an error

Daniel J. Rowe

After delving and diving into D.H. Lawrence in episode three of the first season, we get a quaint bedtime story in episode four read by Betty Draper (January Jones) in her sultry and soothing voice I dare anyone not to drift off into a lovely dream after hearing.

We have, ladies and gents, our first fairytale in Mad Men.

“Church bells rang out and the air was full of flying birds.

What a joyous parade it was back at the palace.

No king could command anything finer.”

– Betty (S01E04, New Amsterdam)

Bobby is crashed out and Sally is wrapped in attention as Betty reads the final lines of a story in Nursery Friends From France (translated by Olive Beaupre) in S01E04 (New Amsterdam). One thing, I read the entire book and never found those lines. If anyone knows what nursery rhyme this comes from, I’d love to hear where it came from. I never found those specific lines in the version I read. Continue reading “Bedtime stories, Betty the princess and an error”

Introducing the Mad Men Reading List

This is the book I’m currently reading:
The Goodbye Look

Before looking the book up at the library and taking it out, I had not heard of the author or title, and had never before thought of reading it.

So why am I reading it?

It is the final book on the Mad Men Reading list and appears in the final episode of the series (S07E14). I have not finished the episode or series because I have not finished the book.

The whole thing started when I was re-watching the series before the final season came out. In S01E06 (Babylon), the character Lily Meyer (Irene Roseen) hands Don Draper (John Hamm) a copy of Exodus, by Leon Uris, and told him he needed to read it. I looked at my bookshelf and noticed I had a copy of that book and I’d never read it.

I stopped the show, started reading and then finished the book. I went back to the episode and was blown away by what reading the book did for the episode and greater understanding of the particular story arc that was progressing.

I decided then to continue the process. Thankfully, the New York Public Library had compiled a list, so I could anticipate books and verify titles.

The Mad Men Reading list project works like such:

  • Watch the series Mad Men
  • Wait until a book is spoken about or seen on screen
  • Stop watching
  • Read book
  • Continue

Simple right?

It has taken me a long time to get through the series.

Here is where I’ll talk about it. I welcome your thoughts as always, and thank you for joining.

DJR.

Language, colonialism and sword fighting vibrance in All’s Well That Ends Well

Bard on the Beach’s All’s Well That Ends Well takes the audience back to post Second World War India and the lead up to Indian independance. (Edmund Stapleton & Sarena Parmar; photo: Tim Matheson)

 

 

 

Kathleen Rowe

All’s Well That Ends Well, a ‘problem play’, as it is often described, does not fit easily into any classification.

Bard on the Beach‘s 2019 production is set in 1946/47 India and leading up to independence from English rule, which were indeed problematic times for the country. There are moments of comedy, but also tragedy and civil unrest.

Issues of colonization, privilege, identity, culture, race and gender are evident in the production, and sometimes uncomfortable to watch.

The production starts with a very British feel both in the sets and costumes, but moves into the colourful, warm and vibrant Indian culture as the play progresses.

The second half starts with beautiful colour, dance and music and thoroughly livens up the atmosphere.

What starts in cold Britain travels to vibrant and colourful Indian in BOB’s All’s Well. The sword fighting scenes are awesome. (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Why Helena (Sarena Parmar) would love Bertram (Edmund Stapleton) when he is such a pompous British snob and doesn’t want to marry her because she is beneath his station is not quite believable. Then again, she wouldn’t be the first girl to fall for a dud if we’re being honest. That said, I was not fully convinced even at the end when Helena reveals herself to Bertram.

The use of a second language (Hindi and Urdu) without interpretations was tough to comprehend for those, like this reviewer, who didn’t understand. Props to BOB for acknowledging, however, the large southeast Asian population in Vancouver and giving those so often left out of Shakespearean productions a prominent space in the play. Some audience members were enjoying the dialogue, but it was lost on those who only understand English, and Shakespeare’s English at that!

The scenes in Hindi and Urdu were lost on those audience members, but it was a bold and exciting choice, and credit to the producers for acknowledging the west coast’s large and vibrant southeast Asian population. (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Co-directors Rohit Chokhani and Johnna Wright have taken a bold approach in this adaptation of All’s Well that Ends Well.

The sword fight and dancing are highlights of the production and give life and energy to the stodgy British actors.

The subplot with Bertram’s companion Parolles (Jeff Gladstone) does not seem to fit with the rest of the play and reflects badly on Bertram’s lack of charisma. I just didn’t see where he fit in.

The play ends with Indian and Pakistani flags unfurled and the fighting continues with Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs brawling. Another mess left by the British Empire.

The play, for its complicated language and sometimes confusing subplots, is unique and still one worth seeing. I continue to commend BOB for always making the plays interesting and relevant. They never fail to take a chance, and should always be checked out.

BOB’s production of All’s Well That Ends Well takes a series of chances, and captures the essence of British colonialism and the mess it left in India. (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Taming of the Shrew and a patriarchal shootout

Andrew McNee & Jennifer Lines, The Taming of the Shrew (2019) Photo & Image Design: Emily Cooper. (Courtesy Bard on the Beach)

“If I be waspish, best beware my sting.” – Katherine

 

 

 

 

A.D. Rowe

My never-ending quest as a high school English teacher is to persuade other teachers, often much younger than myself, to read, teach, live Shakespeare with their students. My argument for doing so is always the same; he knew what it meant to be human, not only in his time but through all time. That is why the themes in his plays inspire everything from The Lion King to Game of Thrones (minus season 8. Don’t get me started.).

The Taming of the Shrew is no different even if the perceived controversy of the content raises the ire of some once again. The players at Bard on the Beach have done a masterful job of displaying a story not for controversy’s sake, but to contravene conventions that are prominent in many parts of 21st century society.

Continue reading “Taming of the Shrew and a patriarchal shootout”

Summer is here, time to catch some Shakespeare

Daniel J. Rowe

The sun is shining for the most part, and that must mean the thespians are out and about ready to put together the various productions of Bard on the Beach, Shakespeare in the Park, Willy in the Parking Lot or Bill under the stars. Okay, those last two I made up, and you might not want to go if someone invites you to them until you’ve checked that they are in fact productions of William Shakespeare, playwright (maybe?), actor and producer.

Here are a few that the Brawlers have either attended in the past, or ones we think you might like.

Bard on the Beach, Vancouver BC

Bard on the Beach is one of my favourites of them all. It’s the first festival I made a point of going to when I lived in Vancouver, and it’s one I’ve seen about 20 or so plays at. The crews out at Vanier Park always do a very good job with their productions and rarely have I left thinking it a bad idea I caught the play.

This year, they’ve got Western-style Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well That Ends Well in India, and dang if they aren’t doing a Bard Brawl favourite and putting on a gender-bending version of Coriolanus. Dang. Of all the years I’m not going back west.

BOB is also putting on one of the Bard Brawl’s favourite Shakespeare-themed movies in theatre form in Shakespeare in Love, so double dang that I won’t be out west this year.

Look forward to Bard Brawl reviews of as many of these fine plays as we can get a reviewer to the beach for.

Repercussion Theatre, Montreal

Amanda Kellock is directing this year’s set of free Shakespeare in the Park productions of Measure for Measure this year, and the Bard Brawlers will for sure be in on this one.

Repercussion did a great job with gender-bending R&J last year pushing the quality of the play to feature a lesbian love affair between the titular characters, which worked perfectly and was thoroughly enjoyed, and I’m excited they picked M4M to do this year. It’s a great play, and I get all nerd pumped whenever a company does a less well-known play.

Plays start July 11, so find a park near you and go go go.

Canadian Stage, Shakespeare in High Park, Toronto

If Raptors fans ever come down from their collective high and decide they want to do something with their summer aside from sitting in Jurassic Park crying with joy, check out a couple of gems from the Shakespeare in High Park festival.

Like Montreal, TO, the Six, Drakeville or whatever you’re calling it these days, is putting on M4M and also doing one of the top comedies in the cannon: Much Ado About Nothing.

Plays start July 4

Shakespeare in the Ruff, Withrow Park, Toronto

This could be fun. Shakespeare in the Ruff is putting on a Winter’s Tale this year, which is a pretty awesome play, but also a very tricky one to pull off.

There’s a bear, there are sheep and there’s a pretty epic ending on this one, so you might want to bring a picnic and check it out.

Plays start August 14.

Public Theatre, Shakespeare in Central Park, NYC

Dang again. Public Theatre is putting on, yep, Coriolanus. This I may need to make a special trip down to Manhattan to check out.

That starts in July, and Much Ado About Nothing is entering its final week.

Central Park is a pretty awesome place to check out the bard, and this bard brawler loved the version of Cymbeline they put on a few years ago.

You can get tickets via lottery for these or book well in advance. It’s worth it either way.

Shakespeare Kelowna, Kelowna, BC

And just to ensure that one play is being put on in the completely wrong time of year, Shakespeare Kelowna decided to stage the Christmas production Twelfth Night this summer.

The idea that this play is a Christmas play has lost all relevance, so the purists can just settle down at this point.

Jokes aside, this can be one of the funniest plays of them all if done right, and will be a delight for those people in the Okanagan up for a night at the Spearhead Winery.

Locale on this one can’t be beat, so get a ticket and check it out.

Productions start July 17.

If there are any other Shakespeare productions you feel the brawlers would enjoy, send us an email or message us on Facebook anytime.

Enjoy the sun, enjoy the Shakespeare.

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sonnet 18

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