Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Lioness in Winter: Remembering Kate Hepburn

To intrigue without ruining the plot

----The NYPL Part 2----

This is the second in the New York Public Library (NYPL) series designed to spotlight NYPL's incredible resources. See Part 1 in Archives, January 10 2008: Everyone's Private Palace here.


Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

I must confess.... I have been selfish for fear if too many people knew about these evenings; I would miss out on getting a ticket. Just to let you know how popular they have been, I arrived at The Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center just in time to receive the very last ticket a few minutes after 4 PM; when I returned at 6 PM, my seat had already been given away!

I begged the theatre manager to allow me to sit on the floor at the back of the Bruno Walter Theatre, and am I glad I forced the issue; I would have missed out on a truly memorable evening of theatre. Sam Waterston and Zoe Caldwell gave lively, humor filled and emotionally moving performances as they read from Katherine Hepburn's personal letters. Many times they had the audience in laughter, other times it felt as if she was in the room with us, sharing bits of her private life, little known stories, secret triumphs and defeats, witty repartee and her well-known tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.

The first Katherine Hepburn movie I remember seeing in the theatre was "The Lion in Winter". How could I help but be captivated when she makes her dramatic arrival across the English Channel on a Viking long ship? A fan for life was born; her portrait of Eleanor's indomitable will, unabashed self-confidence, guileless cunning, masterful manipulation of husband and children, charm and quick wit were immediately familiar. She reminded me of my maternal grandmother. Ahh ha, I thought, if Granny had lived in the 12th century, despite the formidable odds women confronted daily, she, like Eleanor would have found a way to control her destiny.

A brief note on Eleanor of Aquitaine

probably best known as mother of Richard the Lionheart, when her father's death in 1137 left her an orphan and the richest woman in Europe at fifteen, the King of France quickly snapped her up as a bride for his son and heir (who would have preferred life in a monastery). Within weeks, the king was dead and she was Queen of France. She forced a reluctant husband to take her on Crusade with him to save the Holy Land. At 30, she fell in love with the 18 year-old Duke of Normandy, convinced the Pope to annul her marriage to King Louis; and within a year she was married to Henry and Queen of England.

Imagine my thrill when the second evening in the "Remembering Kate" series featured Anthony Harvey, the director of "Lion" and her lifelong friend. He admitted he was a little intimidated, as he had not met her before making the movie. He then shared stories of how the film came to be, what it was like to work with her, Peter O' Toole and the young Anthony Hopkins (making his film debut).

"Remembering Kate" is just one of the many special evening series featured at Library for the Performing Arts where many leading actors, writers, musicians and choreographers routinely appear to talk about their work or perform.

You might hear Wynton Marselis describe how he used the library's archives to compose music for a new New York City Ballet or Edward Albee discuss his newest play (as he did just last week.) This library has an unusually rich collection of music CD's, opera, modern dance and ballet on film, and movies. Many past Broadway productions have been recorded and are available on video.

If you are visiting and have always wanted to see a past Broadway Classic, "Chorus Line," "Cats," "Starlight Express," or the original production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" you can see it here. Don't be surprised to find a Broadway director, producer, or perhaps the next Bob Fosse sitting next to you as he reviews past productions to plan a new revival.

It's just too good to keep all to myself, so mark your calendar now and plan to attend the last evening in the "Remembering Kate" series with Dick Cavett and Marion Seldes April 28th at 6 PM. If you arrive early, there are engaging exhibits on display, one in particular not to miss features Broadway and Ballet Choreographer Jerome Robbins.

As to the evenings you missed, have no fear, they were recorded. Check the Library to arrange a viewing. Now, do not forget, make The Performing Arts Library one of your favorites, check the website here often, and visit.


Jacqueline Cable
For Postcards from New York

P.S. Oh! I forgot. The best thing about these performances(see your tax dollars at work), they are free!

Address to Remember: The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023-7498 212-87o-1630

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Directions: From Times Square MTA 1 to 68th Street, walk a few short blocks to Lincoln Center, Bus 104 to 65th Street and Broadway, walk across the street to Lincoln Center.

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