Thursday, July 13, 2017

Three Degrees of Separation

I finally finished the rewrites for Forty Dead Men a few minutes ago. I have a book review to write, and another book to read for review. Tomorrow my husband Don goes in for an outpatient biopsy, which the doc tells us is just a precaution. (which doesn't mean either of us is looking forward to it). What I really do look forward to is Wolf Hall.

Louis Jenkins (l) and Don Koozer (r) @1965
Don and I don't watch much on television except for the occasional movie or the rare series binge-watch. (All right, I love Game of Thrones, books and series) When I find something that we both really like to watch, it is a nice bonding experience. We talk it over afterwards, and a good movie will take my mind off my troubles for a few hours. For the past few evenings we’ve enjoyed binge-watching the PBS series Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s two wonderful novels about Henry VIII’s court and Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies. No matter what your opinion of Mantel’s take on Cromwell, the PBS production is gorgeous and the acting is spectacular. Claire Foy makes an excellent Anne Boleyn, and Damian Lewis is compelling as Henry. Of course, I’d watch Lewis read the phone book and enjoy it, but several professional critics agree with my assessment.

Yet as wonderful as the entire cast is, Mark Rylance as Cromwell is eye-poppingly good, if that’s a word. How is it that a person can convey the entire gamut of human thought and emotion without ever saying a word? I had only seen Mark Rylance in one other major production before Wolf Hall, (The Other Boleyn Girl) but I have known of him for years. That is because he and I only have three degrees of separation.

Jenkins (l) and Rylance (r) @ 2012
My darling husband, Don Koozer, grew up in Enid, Oklahoma. Don is a literate person who has been interested in writing, especially poetry, since he was a very young man. When he was an undergraduate at Phillips University, he was one of a posse of four young men who liked to gather and talk literature (Among other things. They were four idiot college guys, after all.) One of the crew was Louis Jenkins, who for some years was Don’s best friend. Eventually, Louis moved to Minnesota and Don moved to Arizona, and though they still keep in touch, they have both lived long lives apart.

Don never lost his interest in poetry, and since his retirement he has had dozens of poems published as well as two books of collected works. But Louis became a professional poet.

Can you support yourself as a professional poet? What do you think? However, between working in libraries and driving UPS trucks, Louis actually became famous. He has published many many books of collected works, has read his work several times on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, and had a play based on his work produced and performed by—you guessed it—Mark Rylance.

Mark Rylance was the director of the Globe Theatre in London for years. He has won a British BAFTA award, two Olivier Awards, and three Tonys. And for two of those Tony acceptance speeches, he recited poems by Louis Jenkins. I can quite understand why Rylance likes Jenkins and Jenkins likes Koozer. They’re all…let us say…quirky. Jenkins’ prose poems are weird, hilarious, and deep all at the same time. If you didn’t see the Tony presentations, here is a link to the 2011 ceremony and Rylance’s fabulous recitation of Louis’ poem “Walking Through Walls.”

I like historical fiction and historical drama, so I was disposed to enjoy Wolf Hall in any event, but Rylance’s Cromwell is such a wonder that I’m proud to claim my three-degree separation, however dubious.

I wonder if Mark Rylance knows Kevin Bacon?
Disclaimer: This is a reworking of a similar entry I did for another blog several years ago, after I watched Wolf Hall the first time.


Charlotte Hinger said...

I love the Game of Thrones but didn't watch last night because I'm going to subscribe to HBO and then binge watch. I adored Wolf Hall. Your post made me wonder if the concluding episode is out? What about the last novel? I've heard Hilary Mantel was very ill and didn't complete everything as soon as she had hoped.

I've been stung by a number of Netflix originals that drew me in and then were just terrible when it came to plot development.

Donis Casey said...

I haven't seen anything about the concluding episode, Charlotte. I heard the same thing about Mantel, but no updates for a long time.