31 January 2009
I'd like the thank Jim Long, author of Between Wings: Poems, for letting me know about the publication date.
Harold Bloom's newest series, "Bloom's Guides", a comprehensive research and study guide, features Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar . At $30, this is likely a title you'll find in public or academic libraries, rather than in personal libraries. Nevertheless, Bloom - whose disdain for Plath is well-documented - has done it again, and succombed(?) to the popularity of Plath. I received a review copy, which I hope to start reading shortly. Look for a review on this same, identical blog in mid-to-late February.
Larry Nevin and Jerry Pournelle have joined forces in their forthcoming Escape From Hell. The blurb on this one may prove interesting to some: "Allan Carpenter escaped from hell once but remained haunted by what he saw and endured. He has now returned, on a mission to liberate those souls unfairly tortured and confined. Partnering with the legendary poet and suicide, Sylvia Plath, Carpenter is a modern-day Christ who intends to harrow hell and free the damned. But now that he's returned to this Dantesque Inferno, can he ever again leave?" Look for it on 17 February.
24 January 2009
From Italy comes "Raccontando Sylvia " ("About Sylvia") by Lorenzo De Feo. On 26 January, at Bibli Library, Rome, there will be a preview of the play "Raccontando Sylvia" ("About Sylvia"). The play - a monologue written and interpreted by Rita Pasqualoni and directed by Lorenzo De Feo - talks about some of the most important moments of Sylvia' life as a woman in a very intimate way. From De Feo, "We enter the Plath's world in the most soft way to highlights her emotions and sufferings without being never disrespectful or vulgar." This is neither a reading nor a presentation of research on Plath the poet-artist but, above all, on Plath the woman, with all her resolution and weaknesses but also her feeling of inadequacy about the society in which she lived. This is still a real situation in which many women can find themselves.The play, after this preview, will be performed at Teatro dei Contrari (Via Ostilia 22, Rome, near Colosseum) - an intimate theatrical place thanks to its warm welcome - in February (8th, 9th, 15th, 16th and 22th).
All these international goings-on! Three Women continues its run at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London through 7 February.
Something for everyone: This spring, HarperPerennial will publish Stonepicker and The Book of Mirrors by Freida Hughes. Stonepicker was originally published in 2001; look for a single volume of The Book of Mirrors this fall.
21 January 2009
Defending his production of Sylvia Plath's Three Women, Shaw picks apart Lyn Gardner's 9 January review. Not having seen the production leaves this blogger at a loss to comment further.
Also on the Guardian's website, Shaw discusses his production in a video feed.
18 January 2009
*"Death & Co", written five days earlier, was the last poem she included in her original manuscript of Ariel.
14 January 2009
Koenig picks up on the poetry of Three Women, and some of the consistenices of language and imagery. She like the stage design and Tilly Fortune, and I think the work itself, but little else.
Simon Collings at The Oxford Times also reviews Three Women today. (added subsequently to the Koenig review and link)
Collings points out Plath's mastery as a writer, and compliments the director who ensure that "Each [voice/speaker] is in a self-contained world."
Anyone in England who has seen Three Women, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I'd love to read more opinions on this from people not necessarily being paid to criticize. Thank you in advance.
Three Women publicity photo.
L-R Elisabeth Dahl, Tilly Fortune, Lara Lemon. Credit Marilyn Kingwill
13 January 2009
Cavendish gives a coolish reception to Three Women. He is more critical of the price of admission than just about anything else... At least he seemed moved by the words Plath penned (or typed), and contributes "[Robert] Shaw's lucid, uncluttered staging" which allows for "the work's spellbinding qualities."
11 January 2009
Claudia Pritchard at The Independent reviews Sylvia Plath's Three Women today.
Pritchard acknowledges Plath's distinctive voice, but is somewhat critical of Lara Lemon's "Third Voice", saying it is "possibly the most sketchily drawn role." This might be because Plath did not actually experience giving a baby up for adoption, so she could not draw from the storehouse of emotions necessary to pull this voice off. She does compliment director Robert Shaw and Lucy Read's set, which allows for the color of Plath's writing to emerge and be the focus.
09 January 2009
Lyn Gardner at The Guardian (9 January)
A mixed review: while Gardner recognizes the power of Plath's poetry, it's translation from a radio drama to stage doesn't work for her.
Benedict Nightingale at the Times (9 January)
A more enthusiastic review, though Nightingale wishes there was more acting.
Ian Shuttleworth at the Financial Times (8 January)
Shuttleworth's title says it all, "The words do all the work." His review concludes, "Three Women resonates soul-deep, regardless of one’s experiences or one’s sex. But the power is all Plath’s, and nothing to do with the staging."
Fiona Mountford of The Evening Standard at This is London (8 January)
Mountford also seems more optimistic about the text of the poem, versus its being performed. She says, "there can be no getting around the fact that this isn’t a work crying out to be performed in a visual medium."
Heather Neill at Stage.co.uk (8 January)
Neill is also critical of the performance, saying, "This lyrical piece - intimate, luminous and fearless in its imagery - does not, despite the director’s assurances and the actors’ commitment, prove her a dramatist."
Sarah Blissett at Whatsonstage.com (8 January)
Blissett find Three Women to be "thought-provoking." Ultimately, however, she "was left disappointed at the attempt to present a world that Plath had intended for the imagination."
Overall, Plath's Three Women receives praise. Especially when they are looking at the poem, the words. They are more critical when it comes to assigning the title of dramatist to Plath (when even she called this a poem). Most of the reviews make special note to compliment Tilly Fortune's performance as the "Second Voice" who miscarries. Blissett quote just above seems to sum up the feeling of these reviews best.
If any Sylvia Plath Info Blog readers have seen the performance, please submit comments or a review to me via email and I'll post it here!
07 January 2009
The review is as good as I was hoping it would be. While I am envious of those who are in attendance, at least the text is available for reading and consideration at any time.
03 January 2009
I first came upon the text of Sylvia Plath's verse play Three Women in summer 2006, while I was on holiday in Croatia. I didn't know she'd written a play, so for a theatre director always on the lookout for projects, the best ones that give you that heady buzz of excitement when you think of them, it was like a gift. As soon as I read it, I realised that this was a text to uplift and inspire readers and audiences. I had what Peter Brook calls that instinctive knowledge that this is the play that has to be done and it has to be done NOW.
The word now, of course, is relative… It wasn't that quick to get permission. The final agreement only came through in June 2008. I was really in a hurry by then.
The play was written for radio and was first broadcast on August 19 1962, with a cast including the legendary British screen actor Jill Balcon. It describes the emotional journey of three women through pregnancy. One of them gives birth successfully, one of them has a miscarriage and one of them, a student, has to give her baby up for adoption. There was no legal abortion in the days when Plath wrote.
Plath lays bare the inner lives of these three women. She expresses, I think, what every pregnant woman knows but don't usually find the words for. In a way, she validates the everyday routine experiences of being pregnant. Well, that's what this man believes. And there are some great lines and extraordinary images.
What it certainly does is create a response. People behave differently after reading it. When I asked the receptionists at the Croatian hotel to print it out for me, their only interest was in how much they could charge me per page. There were several pages and their eyes were alight in anticipation of the money to be made from this tourist. When I went back to collect it, they wouldn't take a penny from me for printing quite a long document. Their eyes were alight in an entirely different way. It's been like that ever since.
1700 actors (all of them women, I think) applied for the three roles, from as far away as New York and Los Angeles, a well-known film actor among them. How could I afford to employ a movie star? But what a tribute to Sylvia…
Taking a radio play written in verse and making it work on stage is a risk. I have been blessed with the best cast any director could hope for. It's the sort of risk that has to be taken, thrilling and terrifying, inevitable and impossible to predict the result. Rehearsing this show has provided the excitement that only the theatre at its best can give. And it leaves me with a yearning thought - what wonderful dramatic writing would Sylvia Plath have produced if only we could have had her for longer?
Robert Shaw, Director
Publications & Acknowledgements
- BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
- Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
- Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
- Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
- Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
- Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
- Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
- Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
- Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
- Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
- Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
- Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
- Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
- Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
- Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
- Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. 2000. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books. (Acknowledged in)
- Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
- Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
- Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
- Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
- Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
- "Banking on his passion for Plath" by Melissa Davis Haller. UMW Today. Spring 2005.
- "Sylvia Plath's Three Women to be staged in London" by Alison Flood. The Guardian. 3 December 2008.
- "FBI files on Sylvia Plath's father shed new light on poet" by Dalya Alberge. The Guardian. 17 August 2012.
- "There Are Almost No Obituaries for Sylvia Plath" by Ashley Fetters. The Atlantic. 11 February 2013.