viernes, 31 de enero de 2014

Antonio Gramsci: a still valid tool for understanding social processes

        Mussolini's fascist regime thought that Antonio Gramsci could be dealt with by sending him to jail for twenty years in the lugubrious San Vittore prison. But it was there that he wrote some of his most noteworthy works, including "Notebooks from Prison," in which he refined his concepts concerning hegemony.
     In the context of a capitalist system of production he believed that the hegemony of the dominant group was not just a result of the control of the State's repressive system; it likewise involves the control or leadership of intelectual and moral institutions in the society. That is,  cultural hegemony achieved by subordinating the mass media, educational and even religious institutions.
     In order to maintain its power the dominant sector must get the support of intellectuals, he reasoned, so that their views be filtered down among subordinate sectors of society, uniting all social clases around the views of the dominant group.
    Considering the present financial crisis, the struggle for power in outlying areas of the world's power centers and the obvious role of the mass media in acting as spokesman for those on top it is clear that Gramsci's ideas are reference points in any analysis of the world situation today. Economic and financial power concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the mass media that acts as the slogan bearer of the rich--appropriately clothed in order to disguise from the uninformed reader the real intentions of the dominant power structure.
    Whether or not you agree with Gramsci's concepts, it is clear that he could not be bought off by the fascists imposters. Mussolini offered him freedom if he would renounce his ideas. "The pardon might preserve my body," he declared "but would kill my soul." 

Roger and Nancy and the Police Officer

Roger was late. He needed a car to get to the train station but his father had taken the Ford to work and his mother had gone shopping in the station wagon. 

"I've got to get there on time," he mused to himself, "she'll dump me if I don´t show up on time."

Nancy was her name, blond, green eyes and a character of sugar and fire. Roger was madly in love with her. They had met two months previously at the skating ring. It appeared to be love at first sight. Roger had had little experience with women. But with Nancy it was as if he were an experienced lover. His memory was still fresh of that date a few days after they met. He had invited her to see his collection of exotic butterflies and she had accepted! God! How he remembered that day! But what was he going to do now? They had promised to meet at the train station at 8 p.m. and it was already 6:30.  He didn't want to be a minute late. It was going to be an important encounter, he was sure of that.  He could take the bicycle to the station. True. But neither a fool nor a big-time cyclist could make 20 miles in half an hour. So he decided to hitch hike.

                When she knocked on the door that evening he was still half dressed. With the straightforwardness of youth he opened the door. The girl retreated a little.

                “I’m sorry. I haven’t finished dressing…why are you running away? Please come in.”

                “I’m a bit ashamed,” said the girl in a not very convincing tone of voice.

                “If it’s because I don’t have my shirt on maybe you could take off your blouse. Then we would be on an equal standing.”

                Then they took off their clothes in silence, piece after piece until they were completely naked. They embraced. He felt her heart pounding. There they were entangled in a monumental embrace, like some piece of heroic sculpture. A stroke of lightening brought out the curves and minute details of each of their bodies.

                “Oh God!  What a woman!” Roger mused, coming out of his daydream.  “I’ve got to get to the train station on time!”

       Sunset Place, smack in the heart of an affluent Los Angeles suburb, was not the ideal place to get a lift. One after another the cars passed by without slowing down even for the red light that was blinking at the corner. Big empty cars with bored looking middle aged women zoomed by. The male drivers, dressed to kill, did not even spare a blink. No screeching brakes were to be heard, no shouts, nothing but the dull whir of engines.

       "God damn it!" In a burst of anger Roger picked up a rock and threw it across the road. Then another flew through the air, and another. He was lifting a third rock when he heard a sharp screech and the sound of a car pulling to a stop.

       "Hey buddie! Whatcha think your're tryin' to prove?" shouted the loud deep voice of a policeman. Roger swallowed hard. He seemed to have lost his tongue.

        "I´m talking to you. Has the cat got your tongue? Don´t you know how to address an officer of the law?"

         Roger slowly advanced towards the officer, trying to organize the thoughts that were racing through his head.   

         "I'm sorry, Sir, really, it's just I'm late and nobody wants to give me a lift."

         "So you figured you'd throw rocks at the cars? Is that it?"

         "Nobody would stop!"

         "What kind of an excuse is that? They have no obligation to stop..."

         "I know but it´s just, I got impatient."

         "Impatient? You think I don’t get impatient with punks like you who break the law for no good reason?"

         "I wasn't breaking the law, Sir." Roger had become deadly calm. "I have a very good reason. If I don't get to the train station, I'll arrive late and Nancy will kill me!"

           "Nancy? Who is she?" Roger did not answer but inside he was struggling for words. How could he explain to a policeman why it was so important to see the woman? 

            "Did you say she is going to kill you?"

            "Not literally but, you know, she's very temperamental."

            The officer smirked, the way he usually did when he had to pick up teenagers.
                “It looks like both of you are temperamental. OK. Get in. I´ll take you this time but the next time you mess with the law you’ll regret it.” The officer waved Roger into the car and then got in himself and off they went speeding down the highway, lights flashing, and siren still hooting. Roger closed his eyes and hoped and prayed they would get to the station on time. The officer drove in silence, pushing the car in an out of the traffic with a masterly touch. He knew the way by heart. The last time he had raced to the train station he was hot on the tail of the First National Bank robbery. He arrived late. The robbers left no trail and were not apprehended. However, a witness asserted that the thieves were two men and a woman. Half a million dollars and assorted jewelry in the safe boxes. Sgt. Jonathan Williams felt humiliated by the escape of the robbers and had sworn to himself that he would get them sooner or later.

                As the patrol car pulled into the parking lot in front of the station, the train screeched in and passengers hustled off to their destinies. Roger dashed past the ticket office, and then looked around towards a newspaper stand where Nancy was standing reading the headlines. The officer still followed Roger, as if he were his pet dog. He peered intensely at the girl. She was young, sandy blond hair, a slender figure, inviting hips; dark sun glasses covered her green eyes. There was something about her that called the officer’s attention. Policemen are like that. They register people’s faces as if their eyes were digital cameras.

                “Nancy! Nancy my love! I’m here!”

                Roger rushed up to the woman and embraced her.

                “I was afraid I wouldn’t arrive on time. Didn’t have a car and nobody would stop to pick me up. Oh, I’m so glad to see you!”

                “Keep kissing me my love,” said Nancy. Roger felt her body suddenly stiffen. “Quick, let’s get out of here. I can’t stand train stations.” She began running towards the taxi stand, dragging Roger by the hand.

“What’s the hurry? We’ve waited so long. I just want to be with you, feel your heart beat. Hey, why don’t you take off your glasses? I want to see your eyes.” She paid little heed to his request at first but lowered the glasses just slightly when she flagged the first taxi that stopped.

“Where to?” asked the driver.

“Holiday Inn,” replied Nancy.

The car was idling, ready to begin the trip. The Sgt. Williams peered into the car.

“Haven’t I seen you somewhere?” he asked Nancy.

“That’s none of your business! To the Holiday Inn!”

“Your license please,” demanded the officer, not taking his eyes off Nancy for a second. He was stalling for time.

“Look you helped me arrive on time,” put forth Roger, “now let us go. You have no right to hold us up.”

“We’ll see about that. Your ID Miss.”

Nancy bent over and seemed to fumble in her handbag but with a sudden lurch she jerked open the door and bolted in between the passengers streaming out of the station. A bullet resounded above their heads.

“Stop in the name of the law or I’ll fire!”

Nancy stopped. Sgt. Williams approached her and removed her sun glasses.

“Now will you show me your I.D.?”

“You don’t have the right to do this,” screeched Roger.

“Yes I do. It’s my duty. Miss Nancy Barrymore I hereby arrest you under suspicion for the robbery of the First National Bank. You may consult your own lawyer. If not we will provide a defense attorney for you at the offices of the district Justice of the Peace.”

Roger stared at Nancy in silence, unable to move, much less utter a word of protest. Could it be true that Nancy, the love of his life, a bank robber? 

lunes, 20 de enero de 2014

Script Writing: seminars in February

You read the script, you like your character, work out the physical actions, link up with your fellow actors, map out the movements on stage, maybe ask the director if you can smooth out some heavy phrases that you can't handle too well, maybe even hack others down to size, that is if it is not going to be a commercial performance, maybe played just once at a school...

Then you get a bright idea! What if you or your group were to write the script? That what we plan to tackle in our February script writing seminars. If you are interested, give us a buzz at 4342 3588 or 1562521028 or write
us at,

Shivering in the Heat of Time, a verse

I shiver in the desert heat,
   gazing as the poet at the echos
      rebounding from the memory chest,
               touching with sweet pleasure
                     our downy surfaces, our violet whispers.

You are right here near my bony left elbow
     seven thousand miles away, so close
              that your skin rubs mine into silk
                          and causes my few hairs to sing cantatas in mandarin chinese.

Rilke sits nearby composing sonets to lost doves,
            And your voice pierces the air wrapped ´round my heart,
                  And your hands caress the wind as cummings chews on roasted blue berries
                       And you caress the wrinkes on my fingers,
                              as if they were but puppy fur, 
                              your, vast eyes of red blue.

And so we hear each other eeking and creaking
          And so we feel each other clicking and clacking
                     And so we touch each other sobbing and laughing
                               And so we await each other as we wait for the bacon and eggs
                                          next morning, with love in our toes and joy in our hearts.

Locked in the dear crevice of my heart
           I look up awaiting the night´s hidden light
                       so as to ask  you how we should speak to that hidden star,
                                 how we should memorize the caresses our gods have bestowed on us
                                so indulently, so surprisingly, with so much inner music.

viernes, 3 de enero de 2014

"Fences" by August Wilson to be staged in Princeton January 10

If you just happen to be near Princeton, you might like to go to the McCarter Theater Center in Princeton, New Jersey, where on January 10 reknown playwrite, actor and director August Wilson's "Fences" will be staged. Wilson,  Afro-American, is one of the leading theater pundits in the U.S.A.

"Fences,"  will be staged at the McCarter Theater Center from January 10 to February 9.  This is what the director of the play, Phylicia Rashad, told "Gem of the Ocean" in 2007:
“There is much to be said about August Wilson. In him we find the rare combination of poet, playwright, philosopher, historian, humanitarian, musician and spiritual seeker. My first observation of August Wilson was that he was a man of purpose, specificity and deliberation. When we listen as carefully as he did, we discern meaning in every aspect of his work. He understood the power of sound and rhythm inherent in words, speech and music. He worked in alignment with that power. As an actor, I became increasingly sensitive to these rhythms and aware of their importance. August’s characters are defined by speech – the rhythms of speech serve as emotional building blocks that support the progressive movement of the play. If a word is changed or a phrase interpolated, the rhythms are altered but never to the good.”

Producer Emilia Mann has this to say about the show:

"Fences is not only one of my favorite August Wilson plays, but one of my favorite—and I think one of the finest—plays in the American theater canon. A father-son play as relevant today as when it was written in 1987, it is a story about generations, legacy, and survival. Originally a poet and a great lover of the blues, August had a tremendous gift for creating character and composing dialogue. Whether this is your first time attending an August Wilson play or one of many, I am confident that it will be an experience you will not soon forget.
For all of these reasons, I am thrilled to be producing Fences at McCarter. This particular production has been especially rewarding because it involves some of my dearest friends and colleagues. It is not only a co-production with the esteemed Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, but it marks the return of many members of McCarter’s artistic family.
Phylicia Rashad made an indelible mark on this organization and our community during her performance as Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean in 2004. To have Phylicia, who knows and understands August’s work so well, in the director’s chair for Fences is an extraordinary event. I hope you will consider joining us for a conversation between Phylicia Rashad and special guest moderator Melissa Harris-Perry on January 19.
To collaborate with her on the physical production of Fences, Phylicia has assembled a dream team of designers that includes a number of McCarter alums. Before he became an Emmy award-winning production designer, John Iacovelli was a scenic artist and painter in our scene shop. John Gromada, the sound designer, has worked on several McCarter productions, including Fiction and Humpty Dumpty. Also returning is ESOSA, who began his professional theater career as a costume designer on McCarter’s 2002 production of Crowns. He has since experienced a range of well-deserved successes, from a Tony nomination for his work on Broadway’s The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to his accomplishments on Project Runway.
I hope you enjoy this performance of Fences. As with any of our Theater Series productions, I welcome your thoughts and impressions, which you can send me at"