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Essential Arts: The fierce Glenda Jackson tackles King Lear on Broadway

Essential Arts: The fierce Glenda Jackson tackles King Lear on Broadway
British actress Glenda Jackson in 2018. (Brigitte Lacombe)

It is a weekend of battle royales: “Avengers: Endgame” on the big screen, “Game of Thrones” on the small, and our theater critic and an acerbic stage legend over coffee in New York. All total nail-biters. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with the week’s essential culture news:

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Parrying with Glenda Jackson

Last spring, Times theater critic Charles McNulty had a disastrous tea with stage actress Glenda Jackson. Undaunted, he has now followed up with brunch, on the occasion of Jackson’s turn as King Lear on Broadway.

Things went more smoothly on this go around, but Jackson nonetheless proved a tough interview. To a query about patriarchal politics in Shakespeare’s play, she responds with a question of her own: “A play that was originally performed with no women actors in it and you ask me about the patriarchal nature of the play?” Thankfully, The Times keeps an unlimited stock of ibuprofen in the newsroom.

Glenda Jackson in Sam Gold's Broadway production of "King Lear" in New York.
Glenda Jackson in Sam Gold's Broadway production of "King Lear" in New York. (Brigitte Lacombe)

Great White Way

While in NYC, Charles McNulty has been hitting the theaters hard. This includes the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” directed by Jack O’Brien and starring Annette Bening, a work that “explosively” renews the plays core, as well as James Graham’s “Ink” at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, inspired by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, which is “impressive as a species of theatrical journalism.”

Plus, McNulty reports on the funniest musical since “Book of Mormon.” That’d be “Tootsie,” now on stage at the Marquis Theatre. The show, he writes, is “a marvel of movie-to-musical reinvention,” and notes that “the show acknowledges that gender politics have undergone significant changes in the last four decades while embracing what makes this loony tale still so much fun today.”

Santino Fontana and company in "Tootsie" at the Marquis Theatre.
Santino Fontana and company in "Tootsie" at the Marquis Theatre. (Matthew Murphy)

An updated ‘Fiddler’

Bartlett Sher’s “Fiddler on the Roof” is landing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Contributor Barbara Isenberg sat down with the play’s leading man, Israeli actor Yehezkel Lazarov for a Q&A. Of Tevye, Lazarov says, “He is the perfect example of a man who could be a clever student, but life and tradition brought him to where we meet him in ‘Fiddler.’ ”

Sher’s version of “Fiddler” employs Sholom Aleichem’s script — with a couple of new twists and fresh choreography by Hofesh Schechter. Times contributor Margaret Gray reports that this update is “powerfully seductive.”

Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof."
Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." (Joan Marcus)

Exquisite keys

Times classical music critic Mark Swed hadn’t been entirely convinced about the charms of pianist Víkingur Ólafsson. But a recent recording and a live recital at Disney Hall — of compositions by Bach and Philip Glass — has changed his view: “He’s an arresting artist who in concert creates unique aural landscapes.”

Víkingur Ólafsson takes a bow after his Bach set in his piano recital at Disney Hall.
Víkingur Ólafsson takes a bow after his Bach set in his piano recital at Disney Hall. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. through the car

In layered collages that employ newspapers as material and the news that they cover as theme, artist Luis Genaro Garcia creates works that also dwell on car culture. “These cars aren’t only telling you the stories of L.A. car culture,” he tells The Times’ Steve Saldivar. “They’re telling you the stories of Los Angeles that no one hears about.”

Luis Genaro Garcia at his home in Whittier.
Luis Genaro Garcia at his home in Whittier. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In the galleries

Art critic Christopher Knight has been hitting the white boxes. This includes Ry Rocklen’s solo show at Honor Fraser Gallery, which features costumes made of foodstuffs and provides “the redemptive catharsis of having smart fun,” as well as painter Morgan Mandalay’s solo debut at Klowden Mann, which is showcasing “clotted and rich” works that “ponder life in the Garden of Eden after the fall.”

At the USC Pacific Asia Museum, Knight also reviews an exhibition of 1990s prints by Tsuruya Kokei which depict the kabuki actors of Tokyo’s legendary Kabukiza Theater. “Unusual for the genre,” writes Knight, “Kokei not only designs the image but cuts the soft, magnolia-wood block and does his own printing — jobs usually handed off to technicians.”

A detail from Tsuruya Kokei's "Matsumoto Koshiro as Kamakura Kengoro," 1991.
A detail from Tsuruya Kokei's "Matsumoto Koshiro as Kamakura Kengoro," 1991. (USC Pacific Asia Museum)

Art of the residency

Los Angeles hasn’t always been known as a font of artist residencies. But as cultural production heats up, more institutions are providing these types of creative development possibilities. Times contributor Laura Bleiberg looks at how residencies at places including the LA Phil, the Wallis, the Ford Theatres and others are generating adventurous new works of art and performance.

Ate9 performs "Calling Glenn," developed as part of a residency at CAP UCLA.
Ate9 performs "Calling Glenn," developed as part of a residency at CAP UCLA. (Ate9)

MOCA’s gala is back (sort of)

The annual gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art is making a comeback after being canceled last year. But don’t call it a gala — director Klaus Biesenbach prefers the term “benefit.” “A benefit,” he tells The Times’ Deborah Vankin, “is not about being served, it’s about being of service.”

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Ready for the weekend

As always, Matt Cooper has the week ahead in dance, music, theater and art, as well as his weekend picks, which includes an anticipated performance by the multimedia-minded John Kelly at REDCAT.

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Plus, my weekly Datebook has all the latest art happenings, including hypnotic new works by L.A. painter Roy Dowell.

And Daryl H. Miller comes through with the 99-Seat Beat, which rounds up what’s doing in small theaters — including a play that uncovers the secrets of a famous writer who has died at the New American Theatre.

The cast of "Boxing Lessons" gathers for cleaning up a dead writer's home.
The cast of "Boxing Lessons" gathers for cleaning up a dead writer's home. (Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin)

In other news

— The story of Kwame Brathwaite, the photographer who helped make “Black is Beautiful” more than a catchphrase, and whose work is currently on view at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center.

— At the Oakland Museum of California, a new show examines the untold stories of queer culture in California

— The Frieze Los Angeles art fair will return to the Paramount backlot in 2020.

— Mystery solved: It was a vendor for Metro Los Angeles who painted over Judy Baca’s Olympics mural on the 110.

— Writers William Poundstone and Antonio Pacheco parse the newest renderings of the proposed LACMA redesign.

Nancy Holt’s earth work “Sun Tunnels” will be cleaned and repaired, but the artist is leaving the bullet holes in place.

Sarah Lewis on photography’s racial bias.

— How “Children of a Lesser God” brought deaf culture to the stage.

— The stage adaptation of “Almost Famous” will premiere at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre in the fall.

Zoe Lister Jones is adapting her 2017 indie flick “Band Aid” for the stage.

Rob Bailis, of UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, has been named the new artistic director of Santa Monica’s Broad Stage.

— A new catalog looks at how the ephemeral works of the Judson Dance Theater helped shape the future of dance.

Amazon may not be settling its headquarters in New York City, but tech is already remaking the city’s landscape, writes critic Justin Davidson.

Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, the woman who helped shape Modern Polish architecture.

And last but not least…

In case you are feeling ruminative about impossible choices, here’s video of Viggo Mortensen reading Albert Camus historic lecture “The Human Crisis.”

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