MOOR THAN YOU KNOW
It was Rafael Navarro's critique of Welles's Othello ("All's Well that Ends Welles," April 15) that prompted me to see the movie. It was enjoyable and, for that, I am grateful to Mr. Navarro. However, there are a number of oversights in the article that need to be addressed.
Orson Welles, along with John Houseman, was a founder of the Phoenix Theatre Group, and both men were later involved with the Federal Theater Project. Whether or not the association between Houseman and Welles should be placed historically and aesthetically above "the galvanizing Group Theatre," I cannot decide. This is Mr. Navarro's subjective view. But he goes on to say that the Group Theatre was "the closest this country ever got to owning a national theater." This is entirely untrue. The Federal Theater Project was underwritten by Roosevelt's New Deal administration, intended for theater people who were out of work during the Depression. It was a project of national proportion, and thus it was the closest we ever got to owning a national theater. The Group Theatre was a moderately large company of actors and directors headed by Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, and Cheryl Crawford. This theater company was stationed in New York and was occasionally invited to West End in London. It never entertained any aims to nationalize. Harold Clurman's The Fervent Years and Hallie Flannagan's Arena are the two basic works to consult about the Group Theatre and the Federal Theater Project, respectively.
I agree with Mr. Navarro that the image of Olivier's impromptu kiss (as Iago) to Richardson (as Othello) during a peformance is pathetically funny. My only qualm is that it didn't occur quite like that. Olivier kissed Richardson in rehearsal for this 1934 production at the Old Vic. The story, as it stands, would be unfair to the memory of such a fine actor and producer. (Trying something like that during a peformance would jeopardize the whole presentation.) Should Mr. Navarro wish to review this anecdote, he will find it in Olivier's candid book, On Acting.
If Ms. Correa and her friends don't understand Lynda Barry, then they are really missing out on something good. The last thing Lynda Barry needs is "an injection of humor." On the contrary, I think Cheryl Correa may profit from one.
BARRY, BARRY GOOD
Regarding the letter, which infuriated and bewildered me (and my friends), as to the "waste of good space" by Lynda J. Barry's Ernie Pook's Comeek: Since probably 1989 I have been reading Ernie Pook religiously, anxious to find out Maybonne's new teen angst trauma, to learn from Marlys's clever and philosophical advice, and to experience their life secrets, thoughts, and dilemmas.
Ernie Pook's Comeek is far more than a weekly comic spot in a hip, cultural newspaper - it is thought and feeling, humor and life. Perhaps the problem that Cheryl Correa has with it is that it delves too deeply into the human psyche for her to grapple with.
I firmly belive that Lynda J. Barry needs no "injection of humor" - her own form of humor, subtle and innovative, takes life's little corners and brings them out to be seen by all and appreciated by those who deserve it.
BARRY, BARRY, BARRY GOOD
I just wanted to drop a line about Lynda Barry's Ernie Pook's Comeek. I get it and I like it very much. Although I preferred the school reports done by Marlys, I also enjoy the continuing saga of the two sisters. Please keep printing Ms. Barry's work in your fine paper.
BARRY, BARRY, BARRY, BARRY GOOD
Too often things disappear for lack of stated appreciation. Many of the cartoons I loved reading in the Herald bit the dust a few years ago. I just read a letter panning Lynda J. Barry's strip, and since it is one of the two first things I read (also Julius Knipl) in each New Times, I thought I'd better write and say so!
Not all cartoons are "funny," and both of these strips are incredibly evocative of things from my childhood - big-city roots, peculiar and rare and sometimes weird. I think they are great!