Malcolm in New York 11/5/01

Reading "The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan"

Directions | News | Notes | Pictures | Sounds | My Summary | My Review | Stories | Summary of Book

Directions

From New Jersey
Garden State Parkway to
NJ Turnpike
Take Exit 14 C - Holland Tunnel
Theater is about a mile from the tunnel
Exiting the tunnel stay right on Laight St.
1st right on Canal St.
1/2 mile make left on Broadway
1/2 mile make right on W. Houston
1/2 mile make left on Lafayette St to #425

There is no specific theater parking - you are on your own.

Joseph Papp Public Theater/Newman Theater
425 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003-7021
(between Astor Place & East 4th Street) South of Astor Park

Tickets

They do not take credit cards over the phone. For tickets send a check to:
The Play Co.
Attn: Tomo
19 W 44th Suite 1216
New York City, NY 10036

Everyone who buys a ticket is guaranteed a seat.

News

The Venue has changed including much cheaper ticket prices.

 Monday, November 5th at 7:30 p.m. at The Public Theater/NY Shakespeare Festival  Malcolm will read from "The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan", edited and with an introduction by New Yorker theatre critic John Lahr, published in the U.S. on Oct 22. 

Tickets are $150 and $25. The $150 ticket price includes a cocktail reception with Mr. McDowell following the reading, at Serafina, 393 Lafayette Street.  Ticket information by calling The Play Company (212) 398-2977.

Old information.

On Nov. 5 at the McGinn/Cazalle Theatre (Broadway and 76th St.), The Play Company 2001 will host a benefit reading of the new book "The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan" performed by Malcolm! For information, call (212) 206-1515 between 12:00 noon and 8:00pm Eastern time. For tickets go to www.smarttix.com. Right now with the attack on NY, everything is not yet set in stone and tickets aren't available online yet. 

As of 9/21/01 the benefit reading is SOLD OUT!
Tickets for the lower tier are $300 and upper tier $150.

Notes

Pictures

Malcolm after the reading
Edward Hibbert at the reception

Ticket for show and reception

My autographed program

Program
 
Stage

Flyer for the Event
Cover of the Diaries

Seating chart for the theater

Street map for the theater

Sounds - mp3

The part where Kate mentions Malcolm during the intro.
Malcolm - "How do you expect to do that? I could tell you, but it would scare the shit out of you."

My Summary

    The reading was held at the NY Public Theater at 7:45 PM. The theater is very intimate with 299 seats and was around 75% full. Kate Loewald from the theater came out and told a little bit about the Play Company and then introduced John Lahr, who wrote the introduction for "The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan". He explained his role was to provide a little background on Tynan. Then he explained how is in his prime in the 1950s and 60s Ken was the Michael Jordan of theater critics, in other words the best in his field. He was feared and respected as a review could make or break you and he knew many stars of the day and never held back in his discussion of them. In the seventies he didn't write much of critical importance except for the diaries. The diaries encompass the last 8 years of his life from 1971-80.
    The stage was very bare. The only things were a tall silver chair, a podium to hold papers with an attached light and a table with a pitcher of water and glass. Malcolm walked out to good applause, sat down and began reading without any preamble. He was dressed completely in black and used glasses black rimmed glasses when reading. He didn't read from an actual book, but from pre-selected highlights from a stack of papers on the podium. First he read a small intro and then the date and the story of each entry and occasionally inject little comments or thoughts about what he read starting at the beginning of the book on February 5, 1971. The first laugh was about replacing the word "fuck" for "sexual intercourse "from a play, but keeping in words like cunt. One time early on he stopped and took a drink and said, "That reminds me of a story Lindsay Anderson told me about Ken Tynan." It was about  the director Lawrence "Larry" Olivier, whom he had just read about, and his wife Vivian Lee. Larry absolutely loathed Kenneth because he wrote a few scathing reviews about his wife. He was sitting at a table when a note came to him that Ken wanted a job and he screamed how dare he and his wife said, "wait a minute" and hired him. After this Malcolm interjected, "Well, he was always nice to me." in referring to Olivier. Malcolm also said how when he was a young actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company there was competition between local theater groups and how they were all scared of Kenneth. This was the only story he told. After one entry about Vivian dressing up Ken in a suit of chain mail armor a party Malcolm responded, "I would've liked to have been a fly on the wall at that one." One of the biggest laughs of the night was a simple entry. "what would the variety headline read if Rex Harrison punched an autograph seeker? Shit hits fan." Malcolm broke for a drink and said, "That was a good one." After one story where Ken mentioned a bunch of celebrity names Malcolm added, "He was a bit of a star fucker wasn't he?" 
    There were a couple stories about Brando. One was Brando wanted Ken to interview him for Playboy and Ken wasn't into it so he told Brando that he never has had anything to do with Playboy - he never read one, wrote for one or went to one of the clubs. Brando responded, "That's funny you would say that as I am looking at a picture of you and your wife at a Playboy club right now." Brando caught him in a lie an never forgave him and their friendship deteriorated. Another story was about Brando sending two engraved gifts to Larry and Vivian. The one to Larry said there was piss inside and the one to he wife said not to worry it wasn't piss it was cum.
Ken was also mildly into S&M, spanking mainly and there was a bunch of spanking adventures in the diaries. He read how he would reply to weird personal ads about domination. Though he was married at the time he didn't feel it was cheating because he didn't do that with his wife. He had sex with her and spanking with his mistress. After one particular juicy spanking story about Ken and his girlfriend responding to an ad to have a spanking threesome Malcolm responded with a sly smile, "I'll have to try that some time." 
    The only intro Malcolm gave was before a lengthy review that wasn't totally flattering about an older much beloved English comic. Malcolm explained that he wasn't known to the US, but was the UK equivalent of George Burns and how he felt this was one of Ken's best reviews. Another big laugh was after a trip to Spain. "After having diarrhea how pleasant it is to safely fart again." There were many more entries he read, but he didn't comment on them. Would recommend reading the book and imagine Malcolm reading it aloud to get the feeling of the night. After around 75 minutes, Malcolm stood up and bowed to applause and walked off stage.

My Review

    The theater was right above the subway so every 15 minutes one would go by and the whole place would lightly shake during the reading. In a way it was like a one man play. He didn't just come out and read the stories. He acted them. He did the voices, even doing a pretty good Marlon Brando during one entry. I would've liked to hear more about what Ken said about Malcolm or more of what Malcolm thought of him, but maybe he didn't have that much to say about him. At the after party he commented how Brando was one of the all-time greats, but he was shocked at the entry about the piss and the cum. He really was into it and I noticed a bit of hand wringing between his legs like he was a bit nervous. It is hard to read live in front of an audience and he did it really well. He slipped on a few words, but continued on like a trooper. (Like fileted instead of filet) Since he really put a lot of inflection and heart behind the performance it made it that much more enjoyable. Like in his films he would laugh and give that wicked grin at some of the naughtier parts as we laughed along with him. He would slip into characters for all the people who were quoted, even the women and that made it even more fun. I really, really enjoyed it and I from that reading I am convinced Malcolm could read the phone book and make it interesting. I would be very interested to hear him do live readings of great books of any genre, obviously Clockwork would be on top of the list, but anything would be cool. It went so fast that another 30 minutes would've been great. Hell - he could've read the whole book!
    Afterwards we went out to the back of the theater by the bathrooms and Malcolm just popped out of the dressing room! I had my "light Alex" costume on - just the bowler hat and the shirt with the bloody eyeballs. Someone came over to talk to him and I noticed it was Edward Hibbert from Fantasy Island! Then Malcolm turned and saw me and said, "Wow, look at this guy." And Edward said he had seen me too an that was all I needed to go over and shake his hand and get a photograph taken. There were some rude people who came over and interrupted in the middle of us taking the picture to talk to him and he told them, "let's get the picture out of the way first." He then asked my wife if she wanted a picture as well and she said OK. I thanked him and went out to look for Edward when a woman came over and said she saw me talking to Malcolm and asked if I knew him. I told her not personally, but a run a website for him. She was surprised (and maybe a little impressed) and told me that she worked with him on a little film in the 60s. I couldn't believe she was old enough to work on if. But she said she was the one produced Hugo Pool and how she was in love with Malcolm and came out to see him. (I guess she was making a joke that it seemed like a long time ago.) I showed her a program I brought to show Malcolm from the Aldwych theater for a play he was in during 1965 and she was amazed that I had something like that AND that I came all the way up from Texas to see him. She was talking about his role as a heroin addict and I said how the puppet was a metaphor for him and she said for sure that it was obvious I knew about the film. I told her I would see her at the party and went over to Edward. I mentioned I was a big fan of Fantasy Island and asked him if he remembered Ric Groendahl and his face lit up. I told him how I interviewed him for my site and how he said that you all really struggled with the show and he said he loved working there with Malcolm, but it got really bad near the end. I walked outside and saw three dirtbag autograph vultures standing there waiting for Malcolm to come out. They had stacks of ACO and Caligula 8 x 10s. I recognized the Caligula picture as one that is always up for auction on eBay.
    We went back in and waited for Malcolm and the theater people to head over and we followed. I was surprised that Malcolm didn't blow off the vultures as he must know they aren't fans. The reception was only a half a block away on the same side of the street and Malcolm and Edward walked together. Malcolm was telling him about a place he used to go when he was doing Look Back in Anger.
    It was a darkly lit restaurant and was packed. They gave out autographed copies at the door of the diaries to the people who bought the $150 tickets. The food and the wine were free and it flowed freely (until they ran out of wine anyway). They served tiny handmade wood burning oven baked pizzas which didn't have much flavor and bruchetta - tomato cubes on hard bread. There was a photographer there taking pictures of Malcolm and all the people from the theater. I know I was in a few pictures, but don't know if I'll ever see them. I went over to Edward and got my picture taken with him. When I told him I had a Fantasy Island website and that I would like to interview him later on about it he was thrilled. When I suggested I could email him the questions he said, "Why don't you just call my office?" I was like OK! And he gave me the number and who to ask for. He was super nice and really had the look and style of Harry from the show - it was wild. I was waiting for an opening to talk to Malcolm and saw him put down the bottle he was drinking and I quickly snatched it as a souvenir. I also heard someone mention to him something about a voice he did and he said, "You should've heard the rehearsal." Since he was busy I decided to hunt down Barbara the producer.
    She told me how she got the script for the film and decided to shop it around and found the only way to do it was to go Canada where they were excited about Bob Downey Sr. Her all-time favorite film was ACO and she really wanted to work with Malcolm. She sent him the script and he said, "Robert Downey Sr. was one of his all-time favorites and he would love to do it." I told her I had seen the film on Showtime before it was released and when I started talking about it people were asking me how the hell did I see it. She said because I was in the know and aware of things. She stopped a waiter for a drink and didn't finish the thoughts about that. I told her the most important question of all is 'Where is the Malcolm puppet?" She said that they gave it to Malcolm and he kept it. Of all the props and films she worked on this was the one she wanted to keep most, but felt it wouldn't be right to not offer him the chance to have it. She said she had gotten some wardrobe items for working with people like Madonna, but that it was nothing exciting in comparison. I said I would love to have that and she said maybe he would sell it for charity someday. I mentioned to her I'm always looking for Malcolm stuff on eBay and every time I come across Hugo Pool it always reads "Alyssa Milano Nude" and was she like "ughh, they just don't get it." I told here there were certainly better ways to see her nude. She also said she had behind the scenes stills from the set I was welcome to have and I asked if she had shots of the puppet and she said that she did. Just then we were interrupted by none other than Malcolm himself!! He told her, "Do you now where he came from?" and she said yes, from Texas. I was surprised at how fast word had traveled, but found out after that my wife told him. He shook my hand and she told him about the playbill I had. He asked me, "Under what name?" I told him McDowell and he asked, "What part?" I told him worker and he said, "Was it Squire Puntila?" and I was impressed. He said he knew it was that when I said worker which just meant he stood there holding a pole, which he demonstrated. Then he asked if he could see it. I asked if he would mind signing it and he said not at all. He was very nostalgic looking at it and after looking at the names said, "Wow, this is the one with Patrick McGee, but where are the others now?" I said that he showed him all. He signed it "How sweet it is!" I thanked him and told him about my website, but he hadn't seen it. I asked if I could interview him by email sometime and he said that he didn't have email, but his wife did and he would have her look into my site. I also brought the Orange Times ACO newspaper to have Malcolm sign, but didn't bother him since he was leaving. I showed it to him in case he hadn't seen it and at first he didn't remember, but then it hit him, "Mike Kaplan - yeah an old friend of mine." He was admiring the artwork and came to the part with the psychiatrist picture and said, "That was all improvised." Then he looked at me like "I'm sure you know that, sorry." Then I pointed to the picture of the Dancing Christs sculpture and asked him if he knew what happened to it and he replied, "No! I wish I had it!" I said I did too and have been thinking about making my own. Barbara told him that I wanted the puppet and he said, "Well, I would give it to you, but I think my wife would kill me." and he thanked me for coming and shook my hand again and said he was sorry, but he had to run out. I overheard him tell his assistant Katherine that he had left his coat in the hotel and it had his key, wallet - everything inside and he really wanted to get it. He talked to a couple people on the way out and then came back to me right before he left, shook my had AGAIN and said he really, really wanted to thank me. I was so impressed. He was nicer than I could've imagined and I know that all the time I spent on the site really meant something to him and that it was appreciated. Nothing could've been worse than if he blew me off or hated the site. Liz from the theater emailed me that she mentioned my site to him and he said he hadn't seen it, but seemed genuinely flattered.
    Soon after he left another fan came over an introduced himself and his wife. He said he thought we were the only "fans" there and that everyone else was really local theater people. Like us he had come a long way to get there to see him, from Milwaukee. We talked about Malcolm movies and such and I told him we had gone to the Korova, but it was closed. He had said he was trying to find a number for the place, but couldn't. I said the best chance we had was to just head over and maybe it would be open since it was late. He asked what it was like and I told him it was supposed to have an interior like in the movie. A waitress said she was there three years ago and it was like the film. We didn't have the room in our car and he offered to pay for a cab, but we figured it would be easier just to meet there and I gave him the exact address. It was only a few blocks away so it was no big deal. I figured it was a 50/50 chance it was open, but it was worth the chance. Before it was just a sign and a metal gate in front. I actually didn't recognize the place the second time because it was open! What a difference it made. There is a mannequin in the window wearing a Korova shirt and when I saw it I knew would have to have one.
The club does attempt to copy the movie a bit, but f you are looking for a carbon copy of the film you will be disappointed. It does copy the basics, but also tries to be it's own thing. It has naked women mannequins painted white up on the walls and ones sticking through holes in the table. There is also a couch section in the middle that has the words on the wall from the movie like Moloko Vellocet, Drencom and such. There are also banks of TV monitors showing random clips and a pumping dance beat coming through a huge music station in the back which I believe is all created by the DJ/owner. It is very dark and very loud - but also very cool. There are a bunch of souvenirs to purchase - shirts, bumper stickers, keychains, martini glasses, postcards, letter openers, lighters, magnets and even cows! I cover it here on its' own page with pictures.
    We left and drove back to the hotel, not getting in until 2 AM! What a night.

Stories

An employee from the theater sent additional information.

    Jack Temchin, one of the founders of the play company, is an old friend of Malcolm's. The diaries were supposed to come out a while ago and when jack first heard about it he thought it would make good material for a reading and Malcolm agreed.
    Rehearsal was funny because he tried a bunch of different impressions but kept saying how they all sounded like his John Gielgud (mainly his attempt at Larry, which I thought was pretty good heheh).
    Malcolm and Jack Temchin (and others perhaps, I'm not sure) actually cut a lot from the script. It was originally somewhere around 220 pages.
    Ugh! I saw the autograph vultures! I was positioned outside to direct people to Serafina (I was useless in this capacity) and all I wanted to do was go over and tell them to piss off. I had had an incident with Malcolm on the way to the subway and in the subway, which made me much less tolerant of autograph hunters.
    I think he said that he's never looked at sites about him. I said he seemed flattered, but he didn't actually say that. It was at lunch early in the day when the website came up in conversation and we discussed it briefly (my fault because I'm a webgeek).
    I was reading your recounting and thought you might like to know these little things since you like Malcolm so much. I too am a big fan of his (nowhere near your caliber obviously). The whole day was amazing though and it sounds like you had a great interaction with him too. Cheers.

Summary of the Book

    Irreverent, indiscreet, wildly funny, sad, shocking yet inspiring, the legendary diaries of Kenneth Tynan are above all compelling literature of a very high order.
    For over three decades, on both sides of the Atlantic, Tynan was at the hot center of the theatre and film worlds. He knew everybody; and everybody wanted to know him. His diaries - so resplendent with grief and gossip - bear superb witness to the fame he courted and the price he paid for it.   
    A brilliant and feared critic, Kenneth Tynan was a nabob of the National Theatre alongside Laurence Olivier, and he was also the daring impresario who created 'Oh Calcuta'. He was a notorious eccentric, a louche sophisticate: connoisseur of cuisine, wine, literature and women. Where else could you find such a judicious blend of aesthetics, theatre lore, love, marriage, sex and politics? These sizzling diaries will remind older readers of a man whose reputation as the greatest critic of the twentieth century is still unchallenged and introduce younger readers to an electrifying writer who simply could not be boring. - from the jacket

This page 2001-08 Alex D Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net