Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Frances Burney on Shopping

"At the milliners, the ladies we met were so much dressed, that I should rather have imagined they were making visits than purchases. But what diverted me most was, that we were more frequently served by men than by women; and such men! so finical, so affected! they seemed to understand every part of a woman's dress better than we do ourselves; and they recommended caps and ribbons with an air of so much importance, that I wished to ask them how long they had left off wearing them."

(Frances Burney (1752-1840), in Evelina, letter 10 (1778).)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Witlings Intrigue

Ooooh, fellow Witlings, I have discovered some interesting dirt on Frances Burney and The Witlings. The link pasted below is to an essay written in 1843 by Thomas B. Macaulay describing Burney's life and writings. It describes the poor reception that Burney family friend Samuel Crisp's play was met with upon its publication. It goes on to say that Mr. Crisp was "wiser for [Frances] than he was for himself" and that this is part of why he discouraged the production of her new play, The Witlings, afraid that it would ruin her literary reputation as his play had done for him. Who knows how The Witlings would have been received by a 1779 audience, but it's interesting to note that it might have been produced after all if Frances Burney's "other Daddy" had not met with literary failure himself. I'll post in full the following excerpt about her education, which I found very interesting considering our present discussion about the Virtues of Books, characters of varying social status, and Frances' attraction to the theatre.

-Erika Iverson

"It was not, however, by reading that her intellect was formed. Indeed, when her best novels were produced, her knowledge of books was very small. When at the height of her fame, she was unacquainted with the most celebrated works of Voltaire and Moliere; and, what seems still more extraordinary, had never heard or seen a line of Churchill, who, when she was a girl, was the most popular of living poets. It is particularly deserving of observation that she appears to have been by no means a novel-reader. Her father's library was large; and he had admitted into it so many books which rigid moralists generally exclude that he felt uneasy, as he afterwards owned, when Johnson began to examine the shelves. But in the whole collection there was only a single novel, Fielding's Amelia.

An education, however, which to most girls would have been useless, but which suited Fanny's mind better than elaborate culture, was in constant progress during her passage from childhood to womanhood. The great book of human nature was turned over before her. Her father's social position was very peculiar. He belonged in fortune and station to the middle class. His daughters seemed to have been suffered to mix freely with those whom butlers and waiting-maids call vulgar. We are told that they were in the habit of playing with the children of a wig-maker who lived in the adjoining house. Yet few nobles could assemble in the most stately mansions of Grosvenor Square or Saint James's Square, a society so various and so brilliant as was sometimes to be found in Dr. Burney's cabin. His mind, though not very powerful or capacious, was restlessly active; and, in the intervals of his professional pursuits, he had contrived to lay up much miscellaneous information. His attainments, the suavity of his temper, and the gentle simplicity of his manners, had obtained for him ready admission to the first literary circles....

Garrick, too, was a frequent visitor in Poland Street and Saint Martin's Street. That wonderful actor loved the society of children, partly from good-nature, and partly from vanity. The ecstasies of mirth and terror, which his gestures and play of countenance never failed to produce in a nursery, flattered him quite as much as the applause of mature critics. He often exhibited all his powers of mimicry for the amusement of the little Burneys, awed them by shuddering and crouching as if he saw a ghost, scared them by raving like a maniac in Saint Luke's, and then at once became an auctioneer, a chimney-sweeper, or an old woman, and made them laugh till the tears ran down their cheeks....

With the literary and fashionable society, which occasionally met under Dr. Burney's roof, Frances can scarcely be said to have mingled. She was not a musician, and could therefore bear no part in the concerts. She was shy almost to awkwardness, and scarcely ever joined in the conversation. The slightest remark from a stranger disconcerted her; and even the old friends of her father who tried to draw her out could seldom extract more than a Yes or a No. Her figure was small, her face not distinguished by beauty. She was therefore suffered to withdraw quietly to the background, and, unobserved herself, to observe all that passed. Her nearest relations were aware that she had good sense, but seem not to have suspected that, under her demure and bashful deportment, were concealed a fertile invention and a keen sense of the ridiculous. She had not, it is true, an eye for the fine shades of character. But every marked peculiarity instantly caught her notice and remained engraven on her imagination. Thus, while still a girl, she had laid up such a store of materials for fiction as few of those who mix much in the world are able to accumulate during a long life. She had watched and listened to people of every class, from princes and great officers of state down to artists living in garrets, and poets familiar with subterranean cookshops."

Friday, April 18, 2008

In case you were wondering...

wit·ling (wĭt'lĭng), n.
1. One who aspires to wittiness.
2. One who has little wit.

Witlings Rehearsals Officially Begin!

After studying the play for roughly nine months, Magis Theatre Company is officially beginning the rehearsal process which will culminate in our performance of The Witlings May 16-June 1at the West End Theatre in Manhattan. Frances Burney's play, written in 1779 but never performed before in New York, gives us a unique opportunity to examine an 18th century comedy in a fresh new way. It is as if the play has been waiting for us in a time capsule, a treasure waiting to be discovered. We are having a great time thinking about what this play might have meant to its author and the society she lived in, and how it speaks to us today. We have a team of fabulous designers who are incorporating both 18th century and contemporary references and a brilliant young director, Deborah Phillips. We couldn't be more pleased to have her on board. Keep checking in here for more reports on the rehearsal process!

--Erika Iverson

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Witlings, arriving soon at a theatre near you!

Rehearsals will begin soon for The Witlings, which makes its New York City premiere May 16th at the West End Theatre (86th Street and West End Avenue). Posts to this blog may become less frequent, as we'll all be busy learning our lines, but I will try to update you with news about the production now and then. If you have any questions about Magis or about the show, feel free to leave a comment and I'll respond as quickly as I can! Hope to see you at the theatre in May!

--Erika Iverson, Director of Development

Monday, April 7, 2008

Darling, you look fabulous.

Thanks for joining us at the Magis Fundraising Party! It was truly an evening of fabulousness. Keep checking here for updates about The Witlings, premiering May 16 at the West End Theatre!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Faaaaabulous Prizes!

We've gathered some pretty remarkable jewelry, scarves, art books, vintage clothing, children's books, international folk art, and much more for our silent auction. Plus we have some prizes you might just be lucky enough to win if you buy a ticket on Friday...


Gift certificate for one hour training with Margi Sharp Douglas ($70.00)
Gift certificate for Tarot Reading with Dylan Goodrich ($60.00)
Vintage “Audrey Hepburn” jacket and Audrey Book ($60.00)
Rose Velvet Burnout Scarf ($125.00)
Etched Glass Bowl ($125.00)
Gold Bracelet ($65.00)
Southwestern Jewelry ($65.00)
Beaded necklace ($65.00)
Sterling-Silver Earrings ($65.00)
Grapevine Hat ($65.00)
Enameled cufflinks ($50.00)
In Character: Actors Acting ($50.00)
Collection of Tiffany Prints ($50.00)
Cambodian Tea in woven basket, wallet ($45.00)
Butterfly Scarf ($45.00)
Matted Prints ($40.00)
Contemporary beaded wire bracelet ($35.00)
Wild Pansy Scented Candle ($35.00)
Trevor Exter 3-CD set ($25.00)
Hawaiian scented soaps and lotions ($20.00)
Prints and Posters ($10.00-$20.00 each)
Notecard boxes ($17.95 each)
CD’s ($15.00 each)
Journals, Gift books ($8.00-$15.00)
And more!

Don't miss the Fundraising Party this Friday at the Pilates Garage!

Which shoes are most appropriate for the fundraising party? Discuss.


Clearly, the answer is e) all of the above. Wear your dancing shoes of choice to the fundraising party this Friday, April 4, at the Pilates Garage!

Thoughts a' Jack

So, I was thinking, or rather feeling, the following as I was working through Jack’s text in its entirety; from tearing the faluldrums of Ms. Sapient to the smearing serenade of Smatter.

I feel Jack has this androgynous-Alan Cumming-MC of Cabaret energy going on. I feel Jack wears face & eye make-up. Not a lot, but enough to notice. He’s zany & wild eyed yet tender underneath. I keep coming back to Alan Cummings MC performance in Cabaret years back.

He’s always hanging out with Will Scamper & Billy Skip. Are they best friends? Party friends? The likes of Merry & Pip in Lord of the Rings? Boy toys? Boys to toy w/girls? Both? Gay? Bi? Straight? I feel Jack could be any of these things.

Is he striving to identify himself because he’s confused and not sure what he is? Is this another reason why Codger & Beaufort get so infuriated with him so quickly, because he does not “fit” in their norm circle? Does not fit the family mold? Jack, the Black Sheep of the family?

I think these would be interesting things to play with other than just the “haste” of his nature.

I actually feel this feeds well into what Deborah told me last week, that Jack values the information he has so much, that it allows him to escape from his identity crisis? Is that what the constant partying and socializing does for him? Distraction from dealing w/himself? I know that’s what it did for me many times.

Codger said of Jack to Smatter “Madam, he is so giddy pated he never understands me.”

I think this may prove my point. See you Friday. Huzzah!

Gabe :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Don't forget the Fundraising Party this Friday!

Trust us, you'll feel silly if you miss it.

Join us at the Pilates Garage-291 8th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn for a spectacular fundraising event for the Magis Theatre Company.

Beer and Wine included in your $20 admission!

Musical acts include Trevor Exter, Justin Badger, Jason Sagebiel, Ramelan, The Millay special appearances from The Witlings...
Doors Open at 7pm, Performances Begin at 8pm

In the last few days we have recieved some truly spectacular contributions for our silent auction and raffle, including designer clothing, beautiful jewelry, scarves, art books, and children's books. If you have shopping for Moms, Dads, or Grads to do this spring, this is a great time to find a unique gift and support your favorite theatre company! Hit the ATM on your way here!