Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Greek playwright has just died at the ripe old age of 88. His name was Iokovos Kambanellis: an honorary professor at the universities of Cyprus, Athens, and Thessaloniki; in 1999 he became a member of the Academy of Athens. But in the list of 20000 or more playwrights just how well known is he outside Greece? I read in The Athens News that ‘he wrote over thirty plays, many of which have been performed abroad (?) and are being taught in theatre schools of international universities. Among his best known plays are ‘The Courtyard of Miracles,’ ‘Fairytale without a name,’ and ‘In Ibsen’s Country.’ It would seem to me that very few playwrights achieve even a modicum of recognition despite prolific and possibly highly talented work. I don’t know in this case as I have never read or seen any of his plays.
But to another writer I read about, this time in The Sunday Times: evidently a very successful writer, her last book, ‘I Feel Bad About My neck’ being an international best seller and she writes screenplays (When Harry Met Sally) and directs. Her name is Nora Ephron and her latest book ‘I Remember Nothing’; is reviewed in the Culture Section of The Times. Yet, despite all her success, she still has something to say about failure that makes quite interesting reading. A chapter in the book is called Flops. “It’s horrible to have a flop,” she writes. “It’s painful and mortifying. It’s lonely and sad. Failure they say is a growth experience; you learn from failure. I wish that were true. It seems to me the main thing you learn from a failure is that it’s entirely possible you will have another failure.” Every time she thinks about the failure of her play about Hellman – “the best thing I ever wrote”- she starts to cry. And believe me, I know exactly how she feels.
And in the same section a review of a new biography of Joan Crawford, the author offering this as an attempted balancing act against “Mommie Dearest” a real horror story written by Crawford’s daughter and a huge bestseller, also made into a film and totally destroying Crawford’s reputation. Reading this review I have a horrid feeling the author has not exactly achieved what he set out to do.
And, to end, another heart warming animal story only in this case, birds, namely the American bald eagle, once thought to be an endangered species. In January this year the weather stayed so cold in St Louis, Missouri that the eagles, unable to access fish from the bottom of the river, were cruising over houses in the hopes of a quick meal. Some kind souls decided to feed them. They gathered fish and started to feed the birds gathered on the shore. At the outset there were about half a dozen but word soon got around and soon in a photograph one could count twenty and after that goodness knows how many. Certainly no impression of being an endangered species.

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