The Duke of York Discovering his Son Aumerle’s Treachery by William Hamilton (late 1790s, oil on canvas)

King Richard II.  Act V, Scene 2

Created for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery

Image Source: Folger Shakespeare Library

While researching Hamlet I read that his legendary counterpart married a Scottish Queen famed for killing all of her suitors until him, swearing eternal devotion to him then quickly remarrying to his killer in battle.

Is it bad that it immediately made be think of how Hamlet and the Scottish Play would turn out if Hamlet and Lady Macbeth teamed up to kill Claudius and take over the throne?

Joel Kelly - Geneva. Performed at Shakespeare and Sons, Berlin. 15.4.14.

To celebrate getting 600 followers (THANK YOU!), I thought I’d share a brand new video. This is my poem Geneva, filmed at the fantastic Shakespeare and Sons bookstore, Berlin. Shot by my good friend Adam James Cooper. The link is below :

I was recently asked to design the tickets for Dan Savage’s latest book reading at Shakespeare and Sons. Of course I jumped at the chance, because, you know…. DAN SAVAGE.

External image

Also, Shakespeare and Sons has to be one of the coziest little bookstores in Berlin. Worth visiting next time you’re in need of some quiet time. They even have a café and friendly staff.

The Book Ark

Because rents are low, because people love books, because Berliners love thrift, because winters are long, streets are wide and blocks are long, whatever. There are hundreds and hundreds of new and second-hand bookstores on Berlin streets. I’m talking independent ones, charming, quirky, and thoughtful ones. Walking in you feel like you are entering someone’s Dream. They serve coffee, tea, wine, beer, snacks–depends on the day. Hold events, feature bestsellers, the rarest of books, indie-press, out-of-print, weird, beautiful and pornographic.

We spend lots of time in bookstores here. 

The best English ones–Dialogue Books, Shakespeare & SonsSaint George’s and Marga Schoeller Bücherstub–are spread across the city. Marga Schoeller, in business since 1930, earned serious respect when she removed all Nazi literature from her shelves during Hitler’s reign. Twin brothers from England opened Saint George’s in 2003–and the selection is literary, heavy on British and American authors. And Sharmaine, a Londoner from the publishing world, well, she opened beautiful little Dialogue Books in 2009, with a carefully curated selection of books in translation and international literary fiction and non-fiction. Prenzlauer Berg’s newest English (and French) bookshop (2012) is an offshoot project of a Prague-based bookstore of the same name, and it is gorgeous.

I’m constantly surprised by the depth of books in this city–stuff I know I’d never find on the shelves of major Vancouver or Montreal bookstores. And the staff are knowledgeable, like enviably, deeply knowledgeable about books. The kind of knowledge that comes from hours spent reading and thinking and talking about books–you can feel it. They’re in love with their shops, the books, other book lovers. And so generous and warm, like they hope you’ll embark on their next great adventure or project with them. I guess having to work less and having cheaper rent and like-minded, educated, thoughtful people around can’t be too bad for a city’s literary life. I feel I’ve stepped back in time. I like it.

IN BERLIN/food/Shakespeare and Sons

Dziś postanowiłam wybrać się na lunch do kawiarni na Warschauer Straße, którą mijam często idąc rano do pracy. Shakespeare and Sons oferuje szeroki wybór tradycyjnie wypiekanych bajgli (są ręcznie robione, gotowane najpierw przez chwilę we wrzącej wodzie, a potem wsadzane do pieca). Do środka możecie zamówić domowy serek z koperkiem, kozi ser i awokado czy serek Philadelphia i chutney z czerwonej cebuli. Ja próbowałam tego ostatniego - prawdziwe niebo w gębie! Na dodatek w tym samym, z jednej strony dość przytulnym, z drugiej po berlińsku minimalistycznym, wnętrzu, możecie poczytać książkę, gdyż zaraz obok miejsca, gdzie grillowany jest Twój pyszny bajgiel znajduje się też księgarnia!

Choć bajgle kojarzą mi się głównie z Nowym Jorkiem, okazuje się, że wywodzą się z Krakowa! Po raz pierwszy wspomniał o nich lingwista Leo Rosten, zapisując w 1610 roku, że bajgle ofiarowuje się kobietom, które właśnie urodziły dziecko. Samo słowo wywodzi się od 'beygal’ co w jidysz oznacza pierścień lub bransoletę. Najciekawszy fakt, który znalazłam zgłębiając swoją bajglową wiedzę, dotyczy bajgli… w kosmosie. Okazuje się, że 18 bajgli posypanych sezamem z jednej z najsłynniejszych piekarni w Montrealu wylądowało na Międzynarodowej Stacji Kosmicznej, zabrane tam przez astronautę NASA Gregory'ego Chamitoffa:) Choć bajgiel, którego dziś spożyłam na obiad nie wyszedł nigdy poza ziemską atmosferę, był doprawdy wyjątkowo smaczny;)

Warschauer Straße 74, Friedrichshain

Tony-winner Robert Sean Leonard returns to Bergen County and Broadway

Tony-winning actor Robert Sean Leonard is experiencing not one, but two homecomings.

The more literal is his return from California – where he played Dr. James Wilson in eight seasons of “House” — to Ridgewood, where he was raised.

“My brother, who’s a cop in Ho-Ho-Kus, called about two years ago to tell me that he heard that this lovely old Victorian house near where we grew up was for sale. So I just called the owners, cold, and asked if they were thinking of moving,” Leonard said, with a brief look of mortification on his face as he recalled his audacity. “They said they weren’t, but I told them that if they ever did want to sell, to give me a call.”

A year ago they did, and last month Leonard, his wife Gabriella and their two daughters, Eleanor, 7, and Claudia, 3, moved in.

In the midst of unpacking boxes, though, Leonard was often absent, because of his other homecoming – his first role on the New York stage since returning from Los Angeles.

He’s appearing in “Prodigal Son,” which was written and is being directed by John Patrick Shanley, the author of “Doubt.” Now in previews, the drama opens Feb. 9 at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s off-Broadway space at the New York City Center.

With a kind of full-circle neatness, Leonard, whose breakout role was a prep-school student in the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society,” portrays a prep-school teacher in the play, which is based on Shanley’s own experience as a working-class Bronx boy attending a New England private school.

“I was told that Shanley was interested in me,” Leonard said. “I read the script and I liked it; it’s a very unique play, very surprising. Kind of like a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”

Leonard, who started out as a child actor, is known for his enthusiasm for stage acting, and he’s built an impressive list of Broadway successes.

He made his debut replacing Matthew Broderick in Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” and his subsequent plays have included “Arcadia,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “The Invention of Love,” for which he won his Tony. During a break from “House,” he came to New York to do “Born Yesterday.”

Many of the plays he’s done, on Broadway and elsewhere, are revivals of classics, which, he said, made “Prodigal Son” a different kind of challenge.

“Working with an author who’s breathing is an unusual experience for me,” he said,

At 46, Leonard still has an enormously engaging boy-next-door quality. He’s unstintingly praising of other actors, enthusiastic, good-humored and unassuming — he kept apologizing for being late for our interview at the theater (he hadn’t seen the message moving the start time up a half-hour), and he good-naturedly posed for a photographer right after walking in, without even a glance at a mirror.

In what Leonard describes as an enormously fulfilling stage-acting career, a pivotal interlude was working on “House.”

He’s made no secret that performing in a weekly television series, no matter how good it was, was not the most artistically satisfying work he’s ever done. However, his salary, which reportedly reached $175,000 an episode, has given him financial independence.

“I’ll be grateful for 'House’ till the day I die,” he said. “But doing TV or film is not what I like best, or what I do best as an actor. I’m better onstage.”

He recalled that 10 years ago, he yearned to be in the Lincoln Center limited-run production of Tom Stoppard’s three-part drama “The Coast of Utopia.” Not only were his close friends Ethan Hawke and Josh Hamilton in it, it was the kind of serious, meaty theater he loves to do.

He debated whether to leave “House” for the production, when actor Sam Waterston advised him to stay put.

Leonard said Waterston told him that in a lifetime of performing, he didn’t achieve financial stability until late, when he had a continuing role in the “Law & Order” TV series.

“He told me that, with 'House,’ I could do that while I was relatively young, and then I could do anything I wanted. It was good advice.”

It’s enabled him to put money away for his daughters’ college educations and buy a nice house in Ridgewood, near his brother, who lives in Midland Park; his sister, a teacher, in Ramsey; and his father, who lives in Waldwick and still substitute-teaches at the age of 84.

It also allows Leonard to anticipate, with great enthusiasm, working at a non-profit theater next year in the title role of Shakespeare’s “Richard II.”

JANUARY 31, 2016    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016, 1:21 AM