Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News from Arnie and Debby Johnston

Debby and I are in sunny Florida (Fort Myers Beach) for the next week or so. Before leaving for the South we just got back from a January 20 NYC reading of our full-length Detroit play, Small Slam. We stayed at Debby’s brother Lee’s place (he’s off in LA editing a movie for HBO) and had a great time. The reading—at Workshop Theater—went very well. People said the kind of things about the play one could only wish for, and the company wants to move it on toward production. We spoke with Le Wilhelm the artistic director at Love Creek Productions, who has done a lot of our stuff there, and he wants to do both Out in the 45 (our play about the Jacobite rebellion) and another Brel revue (he did one back in 1995). We also spoke with attorney Bob Perlstein, who used to represent Mme. Brel but now represents me, and he had good advice about approaching the Brels again; he also asked to see several of our other pieces with a view to pushing them here and there.
When we got back from NYC we learned that our one-act, Banana War, is a semifinalist in the Tennessee Williams competition and that the Attic Theatre Center (LA), which has produced our one-act But If It Rage (remember the car plays?) a couple of times, wants to sell copies of and license the play for production through its online store. This also caused Greg Siers at IntroSpec Films to reemerge with plans to film Rage.
I just got a copy of the cover design (attached) for my Robert Burns novel, The Witching Voice, and it looks very good. The 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth is coming up on January 25, 2009, which will be the official pub date. The publisher—Wings Press—is very enthusiastic and plans to include illustrations in the form of period engravings to dress up the book. I’m really happy with the design, and the distributor for Wings is really good, international, and very active. The New Vic, where the play version of The Witching Voice was premiered 1n 1973, is thinking about a production for the 250th anniversary. We’re also sending copies of the WV play around the country and to Britain, hoping to capitalize on the anniversary and the novel, as well as on my ability to perform Burns’s songs and poems.
I’ve been getting lots of emails about my Jacques Brel translations (and orders for my CD) thanks to the Wikipedia entry on Brel that identifies me as the best translator of his work. Meanwhile, the Whole Art Theatre is thinking about a Brel revue, and Theo Ubique, the company in Chicago that ran my Brel revue to raves for six months, is definitely planning a new Brel revue for this coming June at the newly-enlarged No Exit Cafe. The new Play N Well Players (in Plainwell-Otsego) will produce our one-act Love Is Strange as part of an upcoming one-act festival. All in all, it’s been an interesting few weeks. We’re hoping to get a radio adaptation of Hansel and Gretel (for All Ears Theatre) substantially written while we’re in Florida—we’ll see!

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