NOVEMBER’S CULTURE VULTURES
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg / with contributions from Holly Haber, Dallas
NEW YORK — The way we live now seems to be divided into two camps — those who want to escape the ominous news headlines, and those who can’t get enough.
Relief seekers want balms associated with simpler times and American classics, the great outdoors and family life, while news hounds want hardboiled culture that harkens back to postwar periods.
Fortunately for both groups, next month holds plenty for each.
Escapists looking for an American classic might find one in Broadway’s remake of “The Women,” which bows Nov. 8 at the Roundabout Theatre. First produced in 1936 and written by Clare Booth Luce, the show is a satire on the idleness of wealthy wives and divorcees.
Luce, more widely known as a congresswoman, ambassador, editor, socialite and the wife of Henry Luce, founder of Time, Life and Fortune, also covered a wide range of WWII battlefronts and considered her war reportage to be a break from playwriting. The costumes for this edition were designed by Isaac Mizrahi.
Philip Seymour Hoffman directs “The Glory of Living,” a drama focusing on a teen’s violent world starring Anna Paquin. Previews start at the MCC Theatre Nov. 15.
“Wonder of the World,” another Broadway newcomer, is a tale of one woman’s self discovery, set in Niagara Falls, and involves a run-in with a giant jar of peanut butter. Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Sedaris help make the comedy happen at the Manhattan Theatre Co.
Visitors can get a real slice of Americana at the newly renovated Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Tex. With expanded galleries and a two-story “lanternlike” atrium, the 40-year-old site houses a trove of wild west paintings and sculptures by Frederick Remington and Charles Russell. The new repertoire includes 250,000 artworks from the 19th and 20th centuries, including Richard Avedon’s series “In the American West,” as well as works from Elliot Porter, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. The 95-year-old architectural legend Philip Johnson, who was the site’s original architect in 1961, oversaw the renovations.
Family life is the focus in “Satellite Sisters,” which hits book stores Nov. 5. Penned by the five Dolan sisters — including Liz, a former Nike exec — the book is an offshoot of their popular public talk radio program of the same name. The book details antics growing up in a family of 10 — like when 11-year-old Liz learned her birthday had been celebrated on the wrong date.
Those looking for weightier subjects can talk terrorism with their favorite talking heads.
As part of a new lecture series called, “Where Do We Go From Here” the 92nd Street Y will host such authorities as New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who has written books on biological warfare.
At the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, CNN’s front-line reporter Christiane Amanpour and other heavy hitters are slated to speak out at next month’s lecture series, “Responding to Terrorism.” Out-of-towners can listen to the discussions at wbur.org, or check out transcripts and participate in online chats at jfklibrary.org. Visitors looking for lighter fare can check out “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years,” the traveling exhibition of the former first lady’s wardrobe.
Back in New York, insight into one of the most controversial minds of the 20th century will be staged Nov. 18 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Alan Alda portrays Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, the inventor of the atomic bomb, in “QED.” Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner is working on “Kabul,” a play about Afghanistan that will start previews in December.
Lessons in postwar design can be found at “Vital Forms, American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960” at the Brooklyn Art Museum. Beyond the K-rations, the U.S. Navy-issued camouflage poncho, Slinky toy, Tupperware and other finds, there’s a smattering of fashion highlighting innovative postwar design.
“It’s not easy to make a glorious ballgown as Charles James did, but the sharp aesthetics Claire McCardle used for mass-produced everyday garments were incredible,” said Patricia Mears, the BAM’s curator of costumes and textiles.
On another front, a perhaps less-attractive but more practical modern design is catching on with skittish city dwellers. Evac-U8 is a $70 plastic hood and air filter designed to protect wearers from smoke, fire or chemical agents. Packaged in what looks like a soda can, Evac-U8’s canister contains the hood and a snorkel-type mouthpiece. Once those items come out, the canister filters air and converts carbon monoxide to a nonlethal gas, says U.S. sales rep Eric George, a 15-year veteran with New Haven, Conn.’s fire department.
“Most of the 100 calls I’ve received in the past two days are from wary New York office workers. People want it because of what happened in New York,” he said. “It protects against chemical agents, but not biological agents like anthrax.”