Sunday, July 30, 2006

Martha (not mine) is in the Globe today!

The Arts section of the Boston Globe today has a big article about Annette Miller opening at Shakespeare & C. in Lenox as Martha in Jodi Rothe's play, Martha Mitchell Calling. I wish it were about me starring in Martha Mitchell Musical, but let's see what Globe writer Mark Feeny and Annette have to say about our mutual Martha the Mouth, and how Rothe's version differs from the solo one act by Rosanna Alfaro that I'm performing.....
From the Globe:
Outrageous and courageous, she's a natural for the stage (on that we agree)
The theatrical Martha Mitchell gets her due in a new play
By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff | July 30, 2006
Long before there was Desperate Housewives, the nation thrilled to an even more outrageous series. Call it Desperate Cabinet Wife.
The star was Martha Mitchell . She was the wife of Richard Nixon's first attorney general, the famously tight lipped John Mitchell , a key figure in the Watergate scandal. Martha was famously loose-lipped, and her flamboyant outspokenness -- on everything from the Vietnam War to Supreme Court nominations to Nixon's criminality -- made her a quasi-folk hero in the early '70s. (ditto)
On Tuesday , the world-premiere production of Jodi Rothe's play, ``Martha Mitchell Calling," begins previews at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox..... It's paired on a double bill with Normi Annette Miller plays the title character, and John Windsor-Cunningham plays her husband...

(Ah ha! A two-hander, not a solo show. Well, I have my pianist Joan Faber, and 12 songs...)

....."I always liked her," Miller said of Mitchell, recalling how she'd followed news accounts of Mitchell during her loose-cannon heyday. "She was fun. She liked an audience. She was a little bit of an actress."
(Oh, yes. But I never liked Martha -- reading about her during Watergate she was the kind of colorful charmer who never wasted her time charming bookworms like me in high school. It's only after Rosanna wrote a play and told me I was the right actress to play it that I began to see Martha the Storyteller from a different perspective.)

....Rothe said she got the idea to put Mitchell onstage a few years ago, when she came across a 1975 book called Dateline: White House, by political correspondent Helen Thomas . ...
(Rosanna began collecting Martha material during Watergate-- she rather thought she'd write a book, but decided in the 1980s to turn it int0 a solo play... with music)

"I had thought she was this wacky woman," Rothe said of Mitchell. .."This was a completely different person. I started doing research and found this amazing story of how in love she was with her husband -- that she was very smart, and funny, and, yes, outrageous." (ok, outrageous)
Mitchell's innate theatricality -- right down to having a trademark prop, a pink Princess telephone -- makes her a natural for the stage. ... (that's why there have been at least 3 other plays about her, besides these 2 long one acts by Alfaro and Rothe)

...In the play, Mitchell compares herself to two other famous stage characters: the prophetess Cassandra and Caesar's wife, Calpurnia . Like them, she did not flinch from speaking the truth to power.... (In Rosanna's, she compares herself to Joan of Arc)

...."Telling the truth is an ideal we're all drawn to," director Varon says, "but it's easy to forget the cost of it. She paid, and paid deeply. She lost everything: her status, the man she loved, her daughter wouldn't speak to her, her son... On the one hand I admire that, on the other it's a cautionary tale.".....
... "I couldn't help but read this play and think, `My God, if someone could tell the truth now,' " Miller said, referring to the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. (Martha was Swift-Boated into ineffectuality when the technique was simply called smearing, but she was an easy target because she told different versions of events to different people. What all the versions had in common was that she was the heroine of the story.)

"... She was a player, she loved being a player. She loved the spotlight.... She couldn't lie. She was one of those people who spoke what she felt -- words went straight from her heart to her mouth...."
( Martha would invent when the facts were at odds with her feelings about how things ought to be. As she admits in Rosanna's play-- "When people ask about my father, I say, Oh, he died of a heart attack when I was about five. But the truth is I was 25 when he -- you won't believe this!-- he put a bullet through his head." )

I can't wait to see Annette's Martha-- but I hope a lot of people will be curious to see mine, too. It's the role of a lifetime!


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