Writer, poet, professor, editor and old friend Charles Bivona returns to the show for a wide-ranging conversation about art, depression, anxiety, midlife health crises (his diabetes, my CLL), Buddhism, Vietnam & contagious trauma, writing his autobiography on Patreon, and more. Our 20+ years of friendship yield an intriguing conversation about how our lives have changed in response to and/or defiance of the world around us. We get into the heavy stuff this time, but don’t fret: there’s room for humor with my old pal, too. Give it a listen! And go read The Mourning After and Memoirs In Fragments
“Most people want to be on the stage, but I don’t.”
Lincoln Center Theater‘s dramaturg Anne Cattaneo joins the show to celebrate her new book, The Art of Dramaturgy (Yale University Press). We answer the pivotal question, “What does a dramaturg DO, exactly?” and explore the tradition of dramaturgy in Europe and America, while diving into the phenomenon of good theater, and the existence of Theatrons, those mysterious particles that circulate from stage to audience and back when Good Theater Happens. We get into how a dramaturg can supplement the work of the actors and director, how plays change during rehearsal and over the course of production, the importance of intuition and collaboration (as well as a thick skin) for a dramaturg, the joy of discovering new plays (and lost plays, and out-of-fashion plays) and finding new ways to stage classics, and the treasures that can be found in archives. We also talk about the economics of regional theater and how it constrains what plays get produced, the deep research she did to help a pair of actors in Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia understand why their characters had an affair, the triumph of staging Mule Bone, a lost play by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the impact of the pandemic on theater, the need to support older playwrights, and a LOT more. Give it a listen! And go read The Art of Dramaturgy!
“There are so many plays that can be discovered, that are just waiting.”
“America’s not a nation that a 300-year history of going to the theater, like Germany. . . . We have a theater tradition that’s just 50 years old; we forget how new it is.”
“The business side of regional theater has gotten bigger while the artistic staff got smaller.”
“When you understand another language, it helps you understand another culture, another way of life. Language reflects the reality of how people live in the world.”
Anne Cattaneo is the longtime dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater, and creator and head of the 25 year old Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. At the announcement of her 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship for Theater Arts, American Theatre Magazine saluted her as “a legendary dramaturg.”
“What you see when you enter the Philip Roth Personal Library are about three-thousand, seven hundred and twenty books* that have marginalia, are presentation copies, or are otherwise special.” [* Librarians are very exact]
It’s part 2 of a 2-part show about the new Philip Roth Personal Library at the Newark Public Library! This week, Supervising Librarian Nadine Sergejeff joins the show to talk about the process of going through 300+ boxes of Philip Roth’s books to figure out what should go on display in the PRPL. We talk about the challenges of documenting and organizing Roth’s notes and other ephemera, the discovery of his mother’s scrapbooks of his career in a box marked “PRINTER”, the edits and commentary Roth made in his own novels, and how she managed to organize the library without marking up any of the volumes. We also get into what it was like to assemble and open the PRPL during the pandemic, how Roth’s tweed jacket made it into the collection, Nadine’s path to becoming a librarian and how she wound up taking on this project, how archive researchers have changed over the years (and the problem with not being able to read cursive), what makes a good library, what NJ means to her and what Newark meant to Roth, and more! Give it a listen! And go visit the Philip Roth Personal Library!
Nadine Sergejeff is the Supervising Librarian of the Philip Roth Personal Library and Special Collections at Newark Public Library. She has worked at NPL since 2007. She has a background in fine art and art history and, prior to pursuing her MLIS, she was employed as a historical researcher.
“His reading and his writing are intertwined. That’s the main theme of the Philip Roth Personal Library: a writer at work reading and a reader at work writing.”
It’s part 1 of a 2-part show about the new Philip Roth Personal Library at the Newark Public Library! This week, NPL trustee Rosemary Steinbaum talks about working with Philip Roth over the years and helping convince him to donate his books and belongings to the PRPL. We get into her friendship with Roth, her visits to his Connecticut home to figure out what would be in the personal library, her favorite discoveries in the collection, and the joy of reading his notes and marginalia. We also talk about her favorite literary pilgrimages, her love of The Counterlife, Roth’s funeral, the themes of Roth’s work that could become future exhibitions at the library, her Newark and how she helped Liz Del Tufo develop a Roth-tour of the city (which Roth once tagged along on), the donation of Roth’s letters from his teen sweetheart (including a reading list for her), and more! Give it a listen! And go visit the Philip Roth Personal Library!
“To have Philip Roth walk us through the logic of his library was very special.”
“If people were going to make a pilgrimage for Roth, it was going to be to see his work life and his reading life, not his living room.”
“As far as retirement goes, he did say to us that he was finding it difficult as he aged to hold a whole novel in his mind at the same time.”
“Knowing only the data of Roth’s experience leads to misunderstanding of Roth’s work. Newark is a fictive setting, like Yoknapatawpha County for Faulkner.”
“He said he wanted to be buried near Hannah Arendt so he’d have somebody to talk to.”
Rosemary Steinbaum recently retired from a career in education. She earned her doctorate mid-career from Columbia Teachers College. Before obtaining her degree, she taught high school English in independent schools. In the second part of her career she worked in the field of teacher education, directing the Rutgers-Newark undergraduate teacher education program and overseeing two grant funded teacher education programs at Montclair State University. Her not-for-profit commitments have centered on Newark, especially on The Newark Public Library, where she is a trustee. She was involved in the talks that led to Philip Roth’s bequest of his personal library and in its planning and build-out at the Newark Public Library.
“I think what’s different about Roth is the wink and the nod and the game; he’s signaling to us in his fiction that he’s writing about events and people that are very close to him, and yet repeatedly denied doing so. No one else engaged in that gamesmanship with the readership and the critical apparatus around the study of the literature. Why did he need to play that game?”
Professor Jacques Berlinerblau joins the show to celebrate his new book, The Philip Roth We Don’t Know: Sex, Race, and Autobiography (UVA Press)! We get into a deep dive on All Things Roth: #metoo, reverse-biography, metafiction, rage merchants, Rothian Path Dependency, literary legacy & reputation, the changing expectations and tolerances of readers, and the writer Roth cites more than any other in his books. We also talk about the scandal around Roth’s biographer and why I think it’s greatest metafictional novel Roth never wrote, the role of race & racism in Roth’s work (and in Jacques’ broader areas of study), why Jacques never wanted to meet Roth, his love of The Anatomy Lesson, the disillusionment he had upon reading Roth’s letters in the Library of Congress, why we should all read My Dark Vanessa, whether not winning the Nobel really burned Roth’s ass, and so much more! Give it a listen! And go read The Philip Roth We Don’t Know!
“Roth studies needs a huge kick in the ass. Several, really. The first is that we have to stop letting non-Roth-scholars set the agenda for this writer. I can think of no American writer whose interpretation is brought to us by so many non-scholars.”
“It’s a dilemma for Roth scholars: did he know a lot about postmodernism and metafiction and just didn’t want to admit it, or did he just independently have very similar thoughts about how literature works? . . . Did he read literary criticism about anyone besides himself?”