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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Michael Hoffman

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:25 PM

It would be a mistake to bet against Michael Hoffman in a Bard-off.

In 1976, the Boise-based writer/director helped found the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and later lensed a big-screen version of the Bard's farcical fantasy A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999). But his appreciation for the harrowing plight of Hamlet or macabre demise of Macbeth didn't keep Hoffman from filming a detailed biographical feature about one of William's greatest detractors, author Leo Tolstoy.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, Hoffman is hosting a red-carpet premiere of his newest work, the Last Station, as a benefit for both Boise Contemporary Theater and the Agency for New Americans. The film has been nominated for two Oscars—Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer and Best Actress for Helen Mirren—and pictures the final turbulent months of Tolstoy's life.

In a 1906 essay, Tolstoy described his reaction to the Shakespeare's work thusly:

"I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: "King Lear," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium."

Boise Weekly recently chatted with Hoffman, eager to learn his opinion of Tolstoy's stance on Shakespeare. What was Hoffman's response to the thumbs-down from Tolstoy? Listen to the interview below.

Want to attend the premiere screening at the Egyptian Theatre? Details can be found here. The Last Station opens on Friday, Feb. 19 at The Flicks.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why my job rocks: Boise State theater and Finn Riggins

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 1:54 PM

Fall 2009 tour poster
  • Lloyd Winter
  • Fall 2009 tour poster
Today I met with Richard Klautsch, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Boise State and renowned actor himself to talk about the department's upcoming season, which includes a new play by an Idaho playwright. I'll have more from Klautsch and the upcoming season online in a couple of days.

I also met with Lisa Simpson and Eric Gilbert of local band Finn Riggins about their new album, Vs. Wilderness, due out on Tues., Oct. 13 courtesy of Tender Loving Empire records. They chatted about the new video for the single "Wake" and the shared CD release party with locals La Fleur at VAC on Friday, Oct. 9. Emphasis on party. Look for more from Finn Riggins and La Fleur in the 10.7 issue of Boise Weekly.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In-ear microphones go in the jack marked "mic."

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2008 at 9:17 PM

I stopped by Radio Shack tonight to buy an Olympus in-ear microphone. I bought this same mic several months ago, but it has become so popular among my peers that three of us were trying to figure out who got to use it when we all had a 10am interview on Monday. It's a terrific little device that fits snugly in your ear, causing no interference with a phone handset. It makes for talking with even the most verbose interviewee a comfortable experience. But one issue with the nifty little mic is that it garners an unsafe a sense of comfort in conducting an interivew. I find I take fewer notes now, relying on a recording I can refer to later. And, it doesn't work at all if plugged into the earphone jack of a recorder instead of the mic one.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed comedian Auggie Smith. Auggie and I chatted about his family, his politics, his views on the Statue of Liberty and his feelings on Bed, Bath and Beyond. The mic picked up my voice ambiently, but there was no Auggie on the recording...just 40 minutes of me saying, "So, do you have any siblings?" followed by silence, followed by me chortling. "Who are some of your favorite comedians on the circuit right now?" Silence. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" When it came time to transcribe the interview, I was mortified. I had no recording and I had taken few notes and had no recording to fall back on.
Fortunately, most of the interview stuck with me (he is a very, very funny man) and with plenty of paraphrasing and narrative, I was able to write a piece that showed the comedian in a truthful light. When I met him later, I abashedly told him the story. He said if I had just called him back, he would gladly have done the interview again. Who knew?

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