I was one of [Gerald Gutierrez’s] teachers at Juilliard. I remember sensing he would be a director very early on. He responded more to being on the other side of the footlights. I cast him as Treplev in
The Seagull by Chekhov. It pleases me that 25 years later, he became my director and my teacher in another Chekhov play,
His notes were enormously helpful to me. I wrote down everything he said in my script.
One time, he said: "What I love is the sound of an audience listening. The only thing I love more is the sound of an audience laughing."
He said: "Where you can go is limited. What you can do is very specific. Detail, detail, detail." Of course, that is one of the things that made him such a brilliant director, that attention to detail. Above that I scrawled in my script that he said: "I never want to lie to the audience."
At the final rehearsal of Dinner at Eight, he said: "Beautiful acting moves me. I cry, even if it isn't sad."
I used to watch him constantly and would see his eyes fill with tears as he followed a scene well played by actors he loved.
-- Marian Seldes
See a Reagan Legacy Tainted by AIDS, Civil Rights and Union
WASHINGTON, June 8 - Despite Ronald Reagan's personal
popularity, his domestic agenda was in many ways bitterly
polarizing. Then, as now, conservatives hailed his tax cuts,
his stirring defense of traditional values and his commitment
to getting government "off the backs" of the
But many liberals and progressives see his domestic legacy
very differently, particularly on AIDS, civil rights,
reproductive rights and poverty. Though clearly sympathetic to
Mr. Reagan's family, they are still angry over his policies,
which they assert reflected the unbridled influence of social
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force, posted an open letter on his
organization's Web site this week, addressed to a friend and
fellow gay rights advocate who died of AIDS. "I have
tremendous empathy and respect for Mrs. Reagan, who lovingly
cared" for her husband "through excruciating years
of Alzheimer's," he wrote. "But even on this day I'm
not able to set aside the shaking anger I feel over Reagan's
nonresponse to the AIDS epidemic or for the continuing
anti-gay legacy of his administration."
Advocates for people with AIDS have long asserted that Mr.
Reagan's lack of leadership on the disease, which was first
reported by the Centers for Disease Control in 1981,
significantly hindered research and education efforts to fight
it. His surgeon general, Dr. C. Everett Koop, wrote later that
"political meddlers in the White House" had
complicated his work on the disease, and that "at least a
dozen times I pleaded with my critics in the White House to
let me have a meeting with President Reagan" on AIDS in
the mid 1980's.
Mr. Reagan did not make extensive public comments on AIDS
In an interview, Mr. Foreman declared: "That history
can't be forgotten. I owe it to the people that I lost not to
forget it, not to pretend like it didn't happen."
Gary Bauer, Mr. Reagan's domestic policy adviser for the last
two years of his administration, countered that spending on
AIDS research rose under Mr. Reagan. Moreover, he said,
because of Mr. Reagan's strong belief in cabinet government,
the president largely ceded the job of speaking out on AIDS to
Dr. Koop and the secretary of health and human services.
In general, a hallmark of Mr. Reagan's domestic policy was an
effort to slow or reverse the growth of the federal
government. He and his first budget director, David A.
Stockman, repeatedly tried to trim health, education and
social welfare programs that had been expanding for decades,
and they achieved much of what they proposed.
"A big part of Reagan's agenda was the devolution of
social policy" from the federal government to the states,
said John L. Palmer, a scholar of the Reagan years.
But many liberals say that Mr. Reagan broke with the New Deal
notion that government could - and should - be an instrument
of social equity.
Representative Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat from
Massachusetts, said: "He really did turn away from the
notion that there was a positive role for government. When he
said in his first inaugural, 'government is not the answer to
our problems, government is the problem,' he really meant
Mr. Reagan also argued that the government better served the
poor by assuring strong economic growth than by distributing
social welfare benefits. He said he had no objection to
financing benefits for the "truly needy" - those who
could not work because of age, illness or disability. But he
staunchly opposed cash assistance for people who could work.
Michael J. Horowitz, a neoconservative who worked in the
Reagan White House, said that by combining a conservative
ideology with an affable personality, Mr. Reagan
"shattered the caricature of conservatives as less caring
and more mean-spirited than liberals."
But Nancy Amidei, who was then director of the Food Research
and Action Center, an advocacy group for the poor, said
Monday, "President Reagan's policies may not have been
intended to be mean-spirited, but in many cases, the effect
was to hurt low-income people who couldn't work or who had
President Reagan infuriated labor unions in 1981 when he
dismissed thousands of air-traffic controllers who had gone on
strike and then defied an order to return to work. But former
administration officials say Mr. Reagan did not regret his
action. Indeed, they say, the dismissals showed people in
foreign capitals that Mr. Reagan was a person of substance who
was not to be trifled with.
The ascendancy of the Reaganites also moved the Republican
Party to a staunchly anti-abortion stance, including
endorsements of a constitutional amendment that would outlaw
abortion, the appointment of anti-abortion judges and new
restrictions on family planning programs that involved
That anti-abortion movement is today a leading force against
embryonic stem cell research, which Gloria Feldt, president of
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called a ''sad
irony." Nancy Reagan has become a leading voice urging
the expansion of such research, which involves the destruction
of human embryos, but is considered promising for treatment of
Similarly, Mr. Reagan's policies on civil rights were bitterly
divisive, as reflected by Mr. Reagan's strikingly low share of
the black vote, 11 percent in 1980 and 9 percent in 1984.
In 1988, Mr. Reagan vetoed a bill to extend the reach of
federal civil rights laws; he asserted it would
"unjustifiably expand the power of the federal
government" in the affairs of private organizations.
Congress overrode his veto.
The Reagan administration also maintained that it was legally
required to grant tax exemptions to racially discriminatory
private schools. The Supreme Court rejected that contention in
1983. Another move that earned Mr. Reagan the enmity of the
civil rights movement was his resistance to economic sanctions
against the white minority government of South Africa.
Mr. Bauer asserts that Mr. Reagan's record has been distorted.
But Julian Bond, chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., said,
"Everyone wants to extend sympathy to his family, but
when you remember the actual record, it's a very, very
-- ROBIN TONER
and ROBERT PEAR, New York Times, June 9, 2004
Brenda Fassie, the wild child of South African pop who was beloved as the piercing siren of the dispossessed under apartheid, died on May 9. She was 39. Family members said that her death stemmed from an April 26 asthma attack at home that led to heart failure and brain damage. She had been on life support since then at the Sunninghill Hospital north of Johannesburg.
For 20 years, singing in English, Xhosa and Zulu, Ms. Fassie was one of Africa's top-selling musicians and the object of some of its liveliest gossip. "Black President," her anthem to Nelson Mandela in jail envisioning the day that he would come out and lead the country, became her generation's harder-edged addition to its elders' tradition of religious liberation songs. "Vulindlela," her wedding song, was adopted by the African National Congress in its 1999 election campaign. "Weekend Special," her complaint that she would not be a married man's part-time girlfriend, topped the charts before she was 20 and remained a staple.
Ms. Fassie's tempestuous life and her changing fashions in music and clothing earned her the nickname "the black Madonna of the townships," but she was far less solvent and far more impetuous than the American Madonna. She struggled for years with drug and alcohol problems, hitting bottom in 1995 when she woke up in a seedy Johannesburg hotel next to the body of her lesbian lover, who had overdosed. She went into rehabilitation, but was defiant in interviews about her crack use and her bisexuality, then largely taboo subjects among black South Africans. She was often broke, sharing her large houses with her singers, musicians and hangers-on and helping support her siblings. She missed concerts, leading her fans to riot and her producers to sue. Even when she was famous, her son, Bongani, now 20, was asked to leave his grammar school when she could not pay tuition. He is her only survivor.
She had a series of stormy relationships with men and women, many of which ended in a hurricane of newspaper articles with accusations from one side or the other of beatings, theft or drug binges. She fired and then reunited with various managers, and alienated critics by hurling obscenities at them during awards ceremonies. And yet through it all, the nation looked on her with indulgent affection.
She could call herself the niece of former President Mandela (she was a member of the same Madiba clan of the Xhosas) and refer to him as a "bloody jailbird" in the same sentence and still be forgiven. (He, his former wife Winnie and President Thabo Mbeki all visited her in the hospital before her death.) Recently, after a string of South African music awards, she boasted: "I'm going to become the pope next year. Nothing is impossible."
Ms. Fassie, who was named for the American singer Brenda Lee, grew up in a two-bedroom house in Langa, a black township outside Cape Town. The last of nine children of a domestic worker, she sang as a child at churches and hospitals, and then in high school she joined a group that performed in colored townships, which was unusual in those days when apartheid segregated the races on a hierarchical ladder and mixed-race audiences rarely accepted African singers. She described running away from home at 14 and hitchhiking on a gasoline truck to the Soweto township outside Johannesburg. Other accounts said she went in an agent's car with her mother's permission. In any case her talent was soon recognized, and she was asked to front a group that then changed its name to Brenda and the Big Dudes. After their initial hits, she went off on her own, and the Dudes named their next album "Hamba Uzobuya" ("Yeah, Go, but You'll Come Back"). She did not. The Dudes disbanded. Her career took off.
-- Donald G. McNeil, Jr., New York Times
Often in newspaper obituaries, a euphemism for the death of a lesbian is: “There are no known survivors.”
-- Lesbian Herstory Archives Newsletter