Play Sonnet 119
What potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win!
What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never!
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted,
In the distraction of this madding fever!
O benefit of ill! now I find true
That better is by evil still made better;
And ruined love, when it is built anew,
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
So I return rebuked to my content,
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.
Sonnet 119 claims that what doesn’t kill your love affair makes it stronger.
Willy has tasted many sweet medicines that were bitter and foul in their creation: He has forced himself to fear optimism and hope against his fears, always losing when he expected to win, each instinct revealing a fatal error. His eyes have flown from their sockets with fever, but it has made him see that bad experiences can make good things, like love, better and stronger for the rebuilding. so he returns triumphantly to his love, and gaining three times more good though his misdeed.
The Sirens were mythical maidens or goddesses who lived on an unspecified island in the Mediterranean and lured sailors to their doom. Their story is first told in Homer’s Odyssey (circa 750 BC), by Odysseus. It is not immediately apparent why Shakespeare uses the term Siren tears, unless it is in reference to the tears of disappointment which the Sirens perhaps shed when they fail to entrap a man who comes close enough to fall within their grasp.
Limbecks or alembics were the flasks used by alchemists to distil liquids in order to make them more pure. Successive distillation in theory would provide a more potent elixir. In this case the elixir (the Sirens’ tears) is deeply tainted by the foulness of the distilling apparatus. Sexual references may well be active in these lines, since the shape of alembics was suggestive of genitalia, and sexual disgust is recorded in King Lear in similar language.
Liedy’s Shore Inn, Staten Island
The kind of place where everybody knows your name, Liedy’s Shore Inn is the oldest tavern on Staten Island. It was founded in 1905.
“Liedy’s (pronounced LEE-dees) is the kind of place where the worn wooden floors are as old as the 102-year-old building, where a pint of Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon still costs only $2.50, and where framed lists on the wall bear the names of the island’s dead from World Wars I and II. There is also a photograph of Thomas W. Kelly, a firefighter friend lost on Sept. 11.
Even with the bar closed, as was the case last week, old friends and regulars — fellows in their 50s and 60s wearing jeans and baseball caps — still stop by to visit the ramshackle brick-and-shingle building on Richmond Terrace in New Brighton. There they trade memories and, by doing so, help keep the place alive.”
“On Feb. 28,  the State Liquor Authority terminated the tavern’s liquor license for the first time in the bar’s history, ruling that the license was illegal. As it turned out, the bar’s owner, Larry Liedy, was operating the tavern with a license issued to his mother, Ruth; after her death in 1999, he never applied for a license in his own name. The mistake, he said, was simply a result of “negligence” on his part. “  Loyal patrons created a “Save Liedy’s” petition campaign and collected over 200 signatures. The issue was soon resolved.
ACTOR – Laurie Birmingham
So my dear, sweet father used to tell the story of how I got started in theatre like this…
Ed Birmingham – “One morning I was awake very early. In fact, it was still dark outside. I was standing in the kitchen, in the dark, when my little Laurie walked in to get a drink of cold water out of the fridge. I don’t think she saw me. She was only 5 at the time. I watched her open the fridge door and when the light came on…she started singing and tap dancing.” The rest is herstory.
Born and raised in Southern California, I spent most of my early years in the South Bay Area. My family moved around a lot: Manhattan and Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Torrance. But most of that time we stayed in Redondo Beach where I attended Beryl Elementary School where I began my official acting career in 3rd grade lip-singing to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”. I even had white, vinyl boots and back-up singers! The applause grabbed me and I was hooked! My entertainment career was officially launched!!!
At Redondo Union High School I recieved two “Oscars”: Most Likely To Succeed and the Best Actor Award for my portrayal of Frankie in A Member Of The Wedding. I was also a Varsity Cheerleader, an alto in the school choir, Girl’s League President and spoke at my graduation. After high school I took two years of undergrad credits at El Camino Jr. College (Played Glinda, The Good Witch in their production of The Wizard of Oz!) and was accepted as a Junior into the Theatre Dept. at UCLA. But after seeing a few shows and doing some research I ended up choosing Los Angeles City College as my next school of choice. It turned out to be a great decision because during that time I met Sandy Robbins who had just started his first class of the Professional Theatre Training Program located in Milwaukee, WI. After completing two years at LACC, I was accepted into the second class of the PTTP in 1981 and then graduated MFA in 1984. That program has now moved to the University of Delaware and is still considered one of the very best Classical Theatre Training Programs in the USA. I wouldn’t give up the training I got there for all the world! Thanks to Sandy Robbins, Jewel Walker, Leslie Reidel, Susan Sweeney, and the late Penelope Court… my teachers, mentors, my friends.
The years after grad school took me all over the USA: to Seattle, Utah, Milwaukee, Alabama, Florida, back to Utah and Milwaukee, Atlanta, all over Wisconsin, but Milwaukee finally became my official HOME BASE and that’s where I stayed and played for the better part of the next 25 years.
I played just about every theatre in Milwaukee and toured all over Wisconsin. To name a few: Madison Repertory Theatre, American Players Theatre, Skylight Theatre, Renaissance Theatre, Chamber Theatre, Great American Children’s Theatre, and American Folklore Theatre. Then I finally got into the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and performed many, many roles there for the next 17 years thanks to Joe Hanreddy, the Artistic Director, who brought me in for his first show, Dancing At Lughnasa in the role of Maggie in 1992. Some other favorite roles at the Rep include: Josie in A Moon for the Misbegotten, Claire in A Delicate Balance, The Widow Quin in Playboy of the Western World, Penny Sycamore in You Can’t Take It With You, and many years, in many roles, in 3 adaptations of A Christmas Carol. I also created the role of Betty Jean in Roger Bean’s girl band musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes which eventually played off-Broadway to great success!
In 2009 I was cast as Big Mama in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof under the direction of Adrian Hall. That was as an alumni at the Rep Ensemble Theatre which is connected with Sandy Robbin’s PTTP now located in Delaware. That was when I got the bee in my bonnet to finally give NYC a try. So at the young age of 51 I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at the Big Apple. It’s been a successful 4 years! I’ve had two off-Broadway shows: A Little Journey by Rachel Crothers for The Mint Theatre Company (which was nominated as Best Revival of a Play for the Drama Critic’s Awards) and I also created the role of Miss Abigail for Davenport Theatricals in the new comedy, Miss Abigail’s Guide To Dating, Mating, and Marriage which played downstairs at Sofia’s on 43rd Street and also toured in 2011. I made my first TV pilot, got a small role on The Onion News Network, and did a staged reading with Red Bull Theatre. Then I auditioned for Ross Williams for his new company, NY Shakespeare Exchange and have been playing and performing with them ever since! I am also a narrator for Recorded Books and have recorded 9 titles with them to date. You can find any of those books on tape at recordedbooks.com or other places like Amazon.
Now it’s 2013 and I’m hardly ever in NYC anymore (which happens a lot to working Regional Theatre actors). So many regional companies come to NY to audition and one day my dear friend told me about an audition for Charlie Fee, the Artistic Director of the Great Lakes Theatre Company in Cleveland. They have two sister theatres: one in Boise, Idaho (Idaho Shakespeare Festival) and one in Lake Tahoe (Tahoe Shakespeare Festival). I got cast in their production of Romeo and Juliet as the Nurse and then snagged a role in A Winter’s Tale as Paulina. Then they needed a replacement for their yearly Christmas Carol and so I got lucky and slipped into that slot. Next thing I knew they were offering me a full season the following year and so I am with them again presently playing Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, Ensemble in Sweeney Todd, Antonia in Much Ado About Nothing, and Queen Margaret in Richard III (directed by my old pal and mentor, Joe Hanreddy!) I’ll finish this year in Cleveland once again with Christmas Carol playing Silly Cynthia and The Laundress at the beautiful Ohio Theatre with Great Lakes Theatre.
Where to go from here? Who knows! Ahhhh, the life of a working actor! Life is Good!
Feel free to read more about my career and life at lauriebirmingham.com
DIRECTOR – Daniel Finley
Daniel Finley is a director, photographer, and owner of Dannyjive LLC, a full service creative production company based in New York City. His past clients include: PBS, McCann Erickson, Gettys, Hilton, Me: In Focus magazine, Hush Chicago magazine, Indigo Weekly, and several independent artists and musicians.
As a director, Daniel has won awards for scripts and films including the CAAP Grant, top 10% in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship, and shown work at several film festivals. His directing work has been described as naturalistic, story driven, creating empathetic characters, and delivering on performance.
As a photographer, Daniel has been nominated as emerging photographer of the year by Scott Bourne and Photofocus, inducted to Nikon’s Emerging Photographer Hall of Fame, and has been published in various magazines. His pohtos harnesses mood, color, and texture to create striking and impactful images.