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Robin Williams 1951-2014


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#1 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 03:43 PM

http://www.nydailyne...ticle-1.1899928

#2 dirac

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 03:45 PM

Not really surprising in a way, but even so, holy moley.

 

Some insta-responses.

Robin Williams, an Oscar-winning actor and comedian was found dead at his home in California on Monday. As the news broke, friends and fans started sharing their memories of him on Twitter. He was known for movies “Dead Poets Society and” “Good Will Hunting,” the television show “Mork & Mindy,” as well as for his stand-up career.

 

 

 

Related.

 

So sorry to hear this. A unique talent.



#3 sandik

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 09:31 PM

The choreographer roll call in The Birdcage.



#4 meunier fan

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 01:30 AM

A short note; decades ago, having graduated from Cambridge I got a fellowship to take a PhD at the University of Toronto in dramatic literature.  I would have just turned 20 at the time.  Some friends of mine dragged me (and I mean literally - as I didn't want to go I recall) to some horrid hole in the ground where people 'did comedy'.  (It hadn't become a fad yet; still very much on the outskirts of civilized comprehension.)  I was bored silly.  It was a Sunday and what now would have been called an open mic night - only there was no mic.  Suddenly this young man pushed his way (again, literally) up onto what passed for a stage.  The audience were screaming at him to get lost.  It was all quite barbaric.  Still he persisted.  The season at Stratford, Ontario was in full flight and he started in on and about that.  Suddenly he took on the guise of Olivier (then still thriving) having to deal with these colonial numskulls on that most extraordinary stage (then copied in this country at Chichester and Sheffield).  His efforts were dazzling.  Even today I have never heard a better take on Olivier.  His knowledge of Shakespeare was truly encyclopedic.  After 20 minutes or so - with that same audience in his now more than ready fist - he finished.  This time they wouldn't let him go ... He did another 20 minutes (at least) and then took questions AS OLIVIER. ... Some really bizarre ones as you can imagine.  It was well after midnight when I and my friends walked out.  Just before we left I went up to him to say how much I admired his skill.  He seemed frighteningly shy and was literally backed into a dark corner on his own.  How could this be?  Perhaps people were just intimidated at the extraordinary volume of his gift.  There is no question but that he had been glittering in the sweep of his rapier wit on that platform some minutes before.  He seemed, I recollect, to be staring into a space on the floor.  I asked his name.  'Robin Williams' he mumbled.  'Honoured to meet you, Mr. Williams,' I said taking his hand to shake.  Suddenly he looked up.  His eyes galvanized mine with laser like precision.  He swallowed I remember and smiled sadly during this unexpected moment of almost alarming intimacy.  'Thank you', he whispered while still holding my hand.  Still it was - it IS - his dramatic performance on that platform - for that is what it was - that I recall most vividly even now.  It is something I've never forgotten.  (This was some time before even MORK AND MINDY.)  I owe those friends of mine a great debt of gratitude.  I'm so glad I went. 

 

RIP Robin Williams. 



#5 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 09:08 AM

meunier fan, so well written.....Thank You.

 

FWIW, my memory of Robin Williams stretches back to high school (I'm in my late 60s).  I went to high school in Marin County, California.  In the early 60s, this strange guy enrolled mid-term into Redwood High School.  He wasn't in my class so I don't remember him well, but he got noticed because he was a bit strange.  He wore a suit and tie to school for one thing.

 

I was struck by your characterization of Robin Williams as "shy".....seemingly a non sequitur.  This new kid named Robin Williams was extraordinarily shy and more or less kept to himself.  Little did any of us know what was lurking inside!



#6 kfw

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 09:27 AM

meunier fan, so well written.....Thank You.

 

Thanks to you both for your revealing memories. I remember Williams with Steve Martin (and Bill Irwin and F. Murray Abraham) in Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center in 1988. I guess Beckett wouldn't have liked his ad-libbing, and the staging didn't get great reviews, which must be why the talked about filming never occurred. But I thought he was fantastic, and I wasn't even a fan.

 

RIP, Mr. Williams.



#7 sandik

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 10:10 AM

Thanks to all for sharing your experiences -- it's a bittersweet time, as the media replays parts of Williams' career.  We're all reminded of how incredibly gifted he was, and how lucky we have been to witness parts of those gifts.



#8 dirac

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 01:23 PM

Regrettably, Williams seems to have been haunted by some of the same demons who plagued the comedian he most admired and resembled, Jonathan Winters. The two of them appeared on the cable show “Inside Comedy” a season or two ago and it’s depressing to think they are now both gone. It can be difficult for such wizardly improvisational talents to find a niche, but Williams established himself as a major star in both television and film. I didn’t care for many of his vehicles, particularly the later ones, but it’s still an impressive filmography. I’ve always liked Moscow on the Hudson and The Fisher King, the latter of which will now have a special poignancy. He had a great uncredited bit in Dead Again as a defrocked psychiatrist who dispenses advice from a grocery store freezer. I thought he was quite good in the otherwise routine One Hour Photo. And Dead Poets Society is one of those Good-If-You-Like-That-Sort-of-Thing pictures.

 

Williams used to drop in on San Francisco comedy clubs to kibitz and try out new material. Years ago I went with some people from my drama class to a performance of an improv group as part of an assignment -- and Williams showed up. He jumped onstage with the performers and left everyone in hysterics. Afterward he came over to our group and asked us why we were taking notes. We explained. He chatted with us a bit and could not have been nicer, which seems to have been characteristic.

 

Thinking wishfully, I imagine Winters and Williams on a cloud together somewhere, making the angels scream with laughter. I guarantee there won’t be a dry seat in heaven. RIP.



#9 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 02:34 PM

I remember Williams with Steve Martin (and Bill Irwin and F. Murray Abraham) in Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center in 1988.


OMG! You actually saw that production!

 

I'd give my left testicle (pretty useless anyway, these days smile.png) to have seen that production.  I once heard there was a video of it.  I searched everywhere, including major libraries around the country, but never could get my hands on it.  "Waiting" is my favorite play (altho "Texts for Nothing" is a close second...if you can call it a play).  I've seen many versions of the "Waiting for Godot" (including a new one I will see in Seattle in September during the upcoming "Beckett Festival"), but never the one with Williams et al.

 

I did see Bill Irwin (my favorite stage actor) as Vladimir in a Seattle Repertory production several years ago.....one of the highlights of my life (there is a point in the play when Vladimir makes a joke about his hat; I seemed to be the only one in the audience that night that got it, at least I was the only one who laughed out loud -- quite loud -- Irwin seemed to be tickled by that; he looked up at me somewhere in the balcony, and sort of tipped his hat to me......I'll never forget that moment)....my 3 heros all in one moment: Beckett, Vladimir, and Irwin!!.

 

Someone once sent me the Playbill from that 1988 production (I think it was someone from BalletTalk....maybe you??).  It is now one of my prized possessions.

 

I can almost hear William's GoGo saying....."Nothing to be done!"



#10 kfw

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 05:14 PM

Someone once sent me the Playbill from that 1988 production (I think it was someone from BalletTalk....maybe you??). It is now one of my prized possessions.

 

Not me, I wish I still had my copy. And I wish that film would turn up. I saw a couple of references today to this version being on Broadway, but I saw it in the Mitzi Newhouse, at the time the smallest Lincoln Center theater. It seems unlikely that it ever moved to Broadway. I remember Williams at one point during the play taking a seat in the front row and looking at someone’s program. I’ve since seen a couple of other Godots, but none as funny and as moving at the same time.

 
‘‘I dread the word ‘art,'’’ Williams said in 1989 when discussing his craft with the AP. ‘‘That’s what we used to do every night before we'd go on with ‘Waiting for Godot.’ We'd go, ‘No art. Art dies tonight.’ We'd try to give it a life, instead of making ‘‘Godot’’ so serious. It’s cosmic vaudeville staged by the Marquis de Sade.’’
 
Since you’re a Beckett fan, I’ll note the other Beckett production I remember at Lincoln Center about that time, a one-man distillation of ''Molloy,'' ''Malone Dies'' and ''The Unnamable” with Barry McGovern, whose name you must know, and maybe you've seen him. I was surprised to see him again in Dublin in 2004, as a member of the chorus in Seamus Heaney’s version of Antigone, The Burial at Thebes. 
 
Thanks for the Seattle Rep memories. I hope you'll post about Godot in September.


#11 California

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 05:20 PM

I saw a couple of references today to this version being on Broadway, but I saw it in the Mitzi Newhouse, at the time the smallest Lincoln Center theater. It seems unlikely that it ever moved to Broadway.


When I took the backstage tour of Lincoln Center a few years ago, the tour guide made a point of saying that the theaters in the live theater complex (including Newhouse) counted as "Broadway" theaters. It seemed strange, but I guess it matters for eligibility for Tony's (and perhaps other awards).

#12 kfw

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 05:22 PM

So that explains it. Thanks.



#13 sandik

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 10:01 PM

Apparently there's a videotape of this production in the NYPL Performing Arts collection -- not sure what kind of circulation it has, but it does exist.



#14 dirac

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 05:28 AM

A story on Williams' stints performing for U.S. troops.

After his shows, he’d stick around, making personal connections with service members. Retired Gen. Carter Ham respected Williams’ character.

 

“He would go to the guard towers, he’d got the dining facilities, he'd got the security police who couldn’t come to the shows because they were on duty. And he would spend time with them individually. That was very moving,” Ham said.

 

 

The outpouring of public grief has been remarkable. 



#15 SandyMcKean

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:51 AM

Apparently there's a videotape of this production in the NYPL Performing Arts collection -- not sure what kind of circulation it has, but it does exist.

Yes, I ran into this tape when I did my big search several years ago. It has a couple of "problems": first is that it isn't the whole play but only an excerpt from Act 1; second, you have to go to the library to view it. If I ever go to NY again I would certainly attempt to do this. I don't believe there is a recording of the entire play. During my search I seem to remember that someone who knew Williams told me that Williams also attempted to find such a recording and was unable to do so.

 

Later edit......well, it seems my memory fails (no big surprise these days smile.png).  There does appear to be a tape of the entire production.  sandik's post got me to snooping around.  In the same collection, there is another set of video tapes (staff # NCOV 747) that includes the entire production.  There is a note that says: "Restricted to qualified researchers".  So now I'll look into how to become a qualified researcher wallbash.giflaugh.png

 

P.S. Looking at this library "index card", I note that the lighting designer for this production was Jennifer Tipton.  I didn't know that before.  It's something that makes this production even more intriguing to me.




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