April 13, 2007
The Mark Twain of the Greatest Generation is gone. Kurt Vonnegut, a sage of the '60s counterculture, a writer of profound satires masquerading as goofy science fiction, is dead at 84. If you know just a little about Mr. Vonnegut's novels, they may sound wacky. He invented a whole religion, Bokononism. He invented a planet, Tralfamadore, which he posited had been pulling the strings on planet Earth for years. He invented a world-ending substance, ice-nine, which the Grateful Dead adopted as a trademark.
September 29, 1998 |
It's not exactly a song. It sounds more like like a speech with a musical background. But it's not exactly a speech either. It's called "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen" and, according to WXPN-FM music director Bruce Warren, "it's causing mass hysteria" among that station's listening audience. "We've gotten more requests to play this than anything else we've had on the station in the last 10 years," Warren said. "Every time it's played - and we're playing it on every show - we get an incredible number of phone calls.
November 20, 1995 |
As premieres go, "Cat's Cradle," wasn't exactly the end of the world, but by the time it draws to a conclusion you almost wish it was. Numbing, at nearly three hours in length, this Novel Stages production is billed alternately as a musical comedy and a free-wheeling apocalyptic satire (depending on where your eye falls in the press kit). Based on Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel, written more than 30 years ago, it fails on a number of levels. In case you haven't done the required reading, the novel's storyline revolves around free-lance writer Jack, a man in search of the essence of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, father of the atomic bomb.
May 22, 2008
MY FAVORITE author is Kurt Vonnegut, who died last year. In his posthumous book, "Armageddon in Retrospect," he made a poignant comment about race in America. "And now I have raised my right hand. And that means I am not kidding, that whatever I say next I believe to be true. So here goes: The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime wasn't our contribution to defeat the Nazis, in which I played a large part, or Ronald Reagan's overthrow of Godless Communism, in Russia at least.
September 17, 1988 |
The founders of the Arden Theater Company, Philadelphia's newest stage troupe, are committed to the dramatization of literary works. If the company's first outing is any indication, they know how to go about it. In Who Am I This Time?, at the Walnut Street Theater Studio 3, the troupe is presenting three short stories by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The pieces are imaginatively adapted, effectively staged and well performed, providing a thoroughly entertaining and amusing evening of theater.
November 11, 1988 |
This week, new paperback editions of books by a father and his son. The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut (Dell, $4.95), which includes a "new afterword" for this edition, is a nonfiction memoir by a 1969 Swarthmore graduate who went west to British Columbia to look for a commune and instead found the hell of mental illness. With an honesty that almost chills with its cool fierceness, Vonnegut slips us inside his skin and into the spooky world of manic-depression. (They called it schizophrenia back then.
April 6, 2014 |
Watching and reviewing Niki Cousineau's choreography and dance for more than 15 years, I have noted a certain delicacy, even reticence, coming through. She's not a flashy, over-the-top mover, but allows her intellect and commitment to craft to put her dance theater work over. It helps that in 1996 she hooked up with the precision-minded Jorge Cousineau, an award-winning set, lighting, and sound designer. As the duo that has constituted Subcircle since 1997, they unveiled their latest work Thursday at the Performance Garage for a weekend run that ends Saturday night.
September 6, 1990 |
The hero/victim of Kurt Vonnegut's new novel is writing his memoirs in a prison library, on blank pages torn from some of the 800,000 volumes that no one has ever read or is likely to. Is that metaphor or what? The year is 2001. The place is Scipio, in upstate New York. The author is named Eugene Debs Hartke, who is now awaiting trial on the absurd charge that he masterminded a blacks-only prison breakout. But, enough of the plot. Vonnegut tells a story - he always does.
September 6, 1998 |
So where did you celebrate the millennium? Oh, you didn't know you missed it? Well, in the Gospel According to Kurt - Kurt Vonnegut Jr., that is - Jesus was actually born in 5, 6 or 7 B.C. "So the actual millennial year has come and gone and attracted no more attention than a sneeze," Vonnegut said in a recent interview, discussing an essay he has written that will appear in Playboy's millennium issue in January 1999. Vonnegut mentioned the essay when asked if he was doing any writing at all lately.
November 17, 1995 |
Halfway through Cat's Cradle, Novel Stages' musical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's apocalyptic novel, there's still a chance they can pull it off. You do feel, to be sure, that Vonnegut has been doing most of the work. The music, by Kevin Francis, hasn't so much augmented the story as simply decorated it, and the evening as a whole has only fitfully evinced the kind of theatrical style that might approximate the author's novelistic voice. Still, there's fun to be had from the story itself, in which a young writer tracking down a dead atomic scientist finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a secret formula and a passel of eccentrics, including the late scientist's midget son and 6-foot daughter.