Welcome to Pogue's Pages!

I'm POGUE...known by many as Chuck Pogue, a few as Charles Pogue, and billed professionally as Charles Edward Pogue...just because it really looks BIG splashed across a theatre programme or a movie screen. From that last remark and the profile on the left, you can see I'm a theatre man...And the term "theatre" encompasses stage, film, TV. I've been shooting my mouth off on other people's blogs and message boards for forever. So having finally gotten the hang of it, I've decided to build my own soapbox from which I can pontificate, blather, and muse...mostly on theatre, film, writing, music, books...but ultimately anything that interests me, irritates me, or just catches my fancy. I invite you to join me. I'll try to be faithful and update regularly, so that when you visit there will always be something fresh percolating and maybe even provocative that we can discuss, dissect, or debate.

Charles Edward Pogue

Monday, June 22, 2009

I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT (Or: What A Difference A Week Makes)

"Charles Edward Pogue is impeccable in this juicy role."
My return to the stage after 26 years in AGL's THE UNDERPANTS.


“The heart must bleed, not slobber.”
-Frank Loesser-

I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT, OKAY? It’s not the appropriate time. Certainly not now. Maybe never.

So what am I talking about that I can’t talk about? If you scroll down to a couple of blogs ago. You’ll see a letter I sent to the Editor of the local paper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, protesting a proposed 10% cut in the city’s contribution to the local Arts Funding League, LexArts. The letter also went to the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and everyone on the Urban Council. My letter was published in last Sunday’s edition.

I don’t know if my going to bat for LexArts had any influence in swaying the decision, but they didn’t get a funding cut. Then...
...late this last Friday evening, ironies of ironies, we at Actors Guild learned…via a news release…that LexArts was not giving Actors Guild any financial allocation. Zip. Nada. Not a nickel.

So I’m sure folks are rushing here, thinking: Blowhard Pogue has an opinion about everything, he’ll certainly have one about this!

Sorry, I’m keeping my opinions to myself. The AGL Board will absorb this, deal with the matter, and respond. Right now I’m only a reporter. You can find the details here.

Instead, I reproduce here a slightly revised (updated) appeal letter (an earlier draft that had to be winnowed down to one page) that I wrote for Actors Guild last year. If odd bits sound vaguely familiar, it's because I’m a great recycler of what I deem my own well-turned phrases when the need arises.

But it expresses why I believe Actors Guild is a success…a theatre worth supporting and an asset to its community.
After the letter are a lot nice things others have said about our theatre. Even one from far-away Hollywood by LA TIMES reviewer, F. Kathleen Foley, a native Lexingtonian, and, like myself, a recipient of UK’s College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award.
If you’d care to say a “nice thing” about AGL, feel free to post on my comments page. You also might want to send it along to the paper. The letter:

December, 2008

Dear Friends,

Hello. My name is Charles Edward Pogue. I’m a screenwriter. Maybe you’ve seen some of my movies: THE FLY, DRAGONHEART, DOA, PSYCHO III, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, among others…

I am also a native Kentuckian…

…My ancestors helped settle the state with Dan’l Boone, they fought at Blue Licks, built cabins at Fort Harrod; I grew up in Northern Kentucky and studied Theatre Arts at UK. Years later, I was awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award from UK’s College of Fine Arts.

In 2005, after nearly thirty years in Hollywood, I moved home to Kentucky, settling in the Bluegrass and returning to my first love theatre. I was invited to join the board of Actors Guild of Lexington by its Artistic Director, Richard St. Peter. I did so; I have also been privileged to write and act with this innovative theatre company

Under Richard’s vision, I’ve witnessed a wonderful transformation at AGL. The quality of performances became elevated, with our best local actors sharing the stage with artists of regional and national reputation. The palette of plays broadened in scope, embracing both new writing and the great international repertoire of standard and classic plays.

We’ve forged ties with other professional theatres and institutions across the country; giving us a presence nationwide and establishing a strong theatrical networking community not only in the United States with such entities as The Theatre Communications Group and Actors Equity, but also abroad with universities like Rose Bruford College in England. As well as employing established artists, we have nurtured exciting young local talent in the fields of performance, directing, and theatrical design.

To critical acclaim, we initiated Summer Shakespeare at Equus Run Winery—a pastoral setting which restores an intimate simplicity of performance to the Bard and his exquisite language. We created original work locally that has gained wider recognition such as my own adaptation of TARTUFFE which has also been performed in San Francisco and Mr. St. Peter’s dynamic production of HAMLET, featured in AMERICAN THEATRE magazine, which was remounted in North Carolina this January, starring local actor, Adam Luckey. This spring we premiered a commissioned play, LONG TIME TRAVELLING, from the pen of respected Kentucky writer, Silas House. This summer, Mr. St. Peter will direct Brian Hampton’s CHECKING IN, in New York, a play that originated at AGL. Local actress Allie Darden will re-create her original role.

Even before I returned home, I longed to see professional theatre thrive in Central Kentucky. AGL is making this dream a reality.

During my extensive career, I’ve been fortunate to work with renowned artists and enjoy many exciting experiences. None have been more exciting than confronting AGL’s daily challenges as we strive to attain Actors Equity “small professional theatre” status. My enthusiasm is continually charged by the artistic energy and electrifying ideas that crackle in the air of AGL’s ambitions.

I’m impressed by the achievements (often under onerous conditions) that Actors Guild has made in the few short years that I’ve been back and Mr. St. Peter has been here. But AGL’s work is not done.

Every professional theatre struggles for money and support. America’s current fiscally imperiled times have not made those struggles easier. We hear much about city infrastructures, attracting businesses and young professionals and keeping the businesses and young professionals that we already have. But I know of no thriving first-class city that does not also have a thriving professional arts scene. A culturally rich city is an attraction for both visitors and the community.

Actors Guild’s goal is, I think, part of Lexington’s goal: To provide live professional theatre that engages, entertains, and enriches the quality of the life for its citizens; and to be a vibrant artistic presence of which a vibrant city can be proud.

I encourage you to visit us at Actors Guild and see for yourself the work we do and why we have been called Lexington’s “flagship theatre.”. If you’ve been an AGL supporter in the past and, for whatever reason, became disillusioned, I ask you to re-visit us. If you’ve never come to AGL, now is the time. If you are an arts lover, now is also the time to be generous with your support. Attend a performance, become a season pass-card holder, make a significant donation.

The theatre is about Life and Dreams. Come share the Dream that I and others hold for AGL’s future and help give it Life.


Hoping to see you at the theatre in the coming year and for many years to come,

Charles Edward Pogue


“AGL has grown into the area’s flagship theater…” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

“Why more of the press isn’t leaping at the chance to sing the praises of a truly professional actors group is beyond me… -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE

“Rick St. Peter, the director of the play, has been incredibly patient with me and given me so much artistic freedom with the play. When he approached me about doing a play for them, he allowed me a blank slate, which is the most important thing you can give to a writer. Everyone at AGL has been incredibly supportive and focused on making the best piece of art we can make.”
-Award-winning Kentucky novelist, Silas House, on working at AGL for the world premiere of his play, LONG-TIME TRAVELLING



“In fact, the whole show is a scream…rich with witty lines…I suggest everyone see…Underpants over and over again”. – Candance Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

“I recently took in the play “The Underpants”…performed by The Actors’ Guild of Lexington. It was remarkable!...The six-person cast was truly amazing…a comparison of local artists vs. traditional traveling productions could be compared to McDonalds and Malone’s. Both make beef. One is local and one is global. Anyone who has sampled both knows which one is better. Both will provide nourishment, but only one tastes gooooodd…go support our guys: Actors Guild of Lexington! I promise you won’t leave hungry. -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE


“…A FANTASTIC CAST AND A FIRST-RATE ADAPTATION…The infamous ‘table scene’…had the audience in stitches…this ambitious production proves it point… -Candace Chaney, Lexington Herald-Leader


“…A TOUR DE FORCE FOR AGL…What is most alluring about this show is that the cast and crew successfully execute a radical vision with restraint and balance…With its blend of modern elements and ageless themes, it feels like an altogether new kind of theater.”


“In fact, everything about this debut production seems to indicate a deliberate commitment to getting out of the way and letting Shakespeare be Shakespeare in all its simple elegance. That kind of artistic integrity is laudable and refreshing, but what’s more, it’s definitely worth the drive.”


“AGL’S ‘Boston Marriage’ triumphs in its playwright’s and actresses’ talents…a finely executed comedy that offers something for everyone.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“…this show’s fertile material and top-notch performances provide a memorable evening of entertainment, intellectual acuity, and meaningful romance. So rich is its offerings that you could attend every performance and discover new, wildly sophisticated, almost mind-blowing ideas and implications.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“I saw a production of MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIAS…in Los Angeles, a few months ago, and I really liked the cast here in Lexington better. And I thought the direction was top-notch.” - F. Kathleen Foley, LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Dark tale is stark, well-done, and timely." - Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“Actors Guild puts brave new spin on musical standby…The concept is imaginative and benefits from charming performances by new and old local stage favorites.” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“Comic tour de force” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“ ‘Travelling’ brilliantly captures poetry of Appalachian language, life…Actors Guild is wrapping up its 25th anniversary season in style…” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTOM HERALD-LEADER


“…keep an eye on Hayley Williams, a soon-to-be rising star whose talent is only eclipsed by her beauty…”

“Director Bo List deserves kudos for his keen-in-the round direction…and sense of comic timing."

“…lighting designer Gip Gibson’s use of contrast between darkened ‘dreamy’ moments and the bright lights of reality is striking.”


“Tartuffe, deliciously played by Scott Wichman…packs a powerful hypocrisy-soaked punch…”

“Missy Johnston…balances restrained elegance with a penchant for comic timing.”

“Laura Blake as the saucey, sharp-tongued maid… has a refreshing air of naturalness…that lights up the stage.

“Charles Edward Pogue penned the adaptation of this Moliere classic…Pogue’s language sparkles with color and is ripe with clever crispness, making versatile leaps from theological discourse to the basest of juicy double-entendre. The ensemble cast proves more than up to the task of its delivery…”

“Eric Seale…as the flamboyant Don Armado…, with his thick-as-mud Spanish accent, exaggerated flourishes, absurd swashbuckling mannerisms, and keen sense of timing made him an audience favourite…"

“Director Anthony R. Haigh has assembled a strong, experienced cast that includes many of Lexington’s best talent…”

“Adam Luckey is clearly at home in his role.”

“[Nelson]Fields’ detailed Renaissance costumes function to beautifully evoke period and tone of the play.”

“Director Richard St. Peter’s gutsy move to set this classical play ‘anytime, anywhere’ pays off, largely due to the cohesion of a keenly devised vision and its refreshingly innovative, well-executed presentation.”

“Everyone knew Adam Luckey would be a good Hamlet. Turns out, he is much more than good, he is phenomenal.”

“One delightful surprise of this production is the discovery of Jack Parrish, a professional actor and recent Lexington transplant…More Jack Parrish, please.”

“With multimedia, sound, lighting, set and costume designers, and even a cinematographer, this show’s many technicians deserves kudos that successfully draws audience and actors alike into a spooky, all too real, yet surreal emotional and political landscape.’

“Chris Rose turns in an absurdly satisfying performance.”

“Tim X. Davis relishes in a thick accent as well delivered as the cast’s ensemble comic timing.”

“Gina Scott-Lynaugh is pure mischief and mirth.”

“John B. Lynaugh is equally enchanting, wielding his lines with much panache and wry humour.”

“A nice surprise is newcomer Kevin Greer…”

“Another rare treat is Maureen Gallagher-Kuehler.”

“[Julieanne] Pogue and [Gina] Scott-Lynaugh are in excellent command of the play’s richly stylized language.”

Laura Blake freshly exemplifies sheer charm…her curt appearances inject vital bursts of coarse humor and sympathy.”

“[Julieanne]Pogue seems particularly adept at wielding an arsenal of multisyllabic Latin derivations. One gets the feeling she talks like that all the time. One also got that feeling when she played a heavily accented megalomaniac male artist in last season’s ‘Anton in Show Business’. Both roles are a testament to her talent and flexibility.”

“Director Ave Lawyer and cast deserve praise for a job thoroughly well done.”

“The number of talented cast members are too great to account for individually, but one enjoyable hallmark of this show is its debut of Rebecca Pearcy…refreshingly animate, earnest, and bright…And naturally, she wins the prize for best British accent, seeing as she is, well, British.”

AGL designers David Probus and Tommy Gatton do a lovely job framing Eric Seale’s set design in lighting and sound.”

“[Walter] May, [Charles Edward]Pogue, and [Eric] Johnson, all seasoned, accomplished actors are excellent casting choices…The trio seem at home playing legendary Hollywood figures. Somehow they manage to ground their larger-than-life characters into fascinatingly flawed mortals.”

“Rising star, Cameron Perry,…and local stage favorite, Carmen Geraci,…deliver warm performances.”

“If ever a lighting designer has made a show in this area work, David Probus has a masterpiece with this production.”

“[Rick]St. Peter, along with Eric Seale and Scott Sherman, collaborated to design the set…one of the productions most evocative technical features and artistic triumphs…”

“[Leslie] Beatty’s performance…is a tour de force of smart comedy and veiled pathos delivered with wry panache and plain ol’ ‘chops’.”

“The casting is amazing.”

“Missy Johnston, brilliant.”
Profuse apologies to those many fine artists who have worked for us not mentioned here. I used the reviews and articles I had on hand. Please know that you're appreciated and a valued part of AGL.

"Any city in America with a thriving downtown
has thriving theatres. Not only does theatre reflect
energy, it inspires the community. We're making
quality of life here."
- Benny Sato Ambush, director, and friend of AGL-

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Ones That Stay With You...

A couple of weeks ago, the Independent newspaper in England had an article by Johann Hari, asking whether Tom Stoppard’s play ARCADIA was the greatest play of our age. The article prompted a response by David Jays in the Guardian and, with a new production of the play at the Duke of Yorks Theatre in London (featuring Stoppard’s son in the role of Valentine), ARCADIA seems to be everywhere lately.

I sent the article off to a small coterie of theatre cronies, to whom I always email such items which I think might pique their interest. The most amusing reply I got to the query of whether Arcadia is the greatest play of our age came from David Melville, managing director of The Independent Shakespeare Company in LA (and actor par excellence), “Not the production I was in.”

But barring dicey productions and dealing with the play itself, I would have to say ARCADIA is certainly high on my list as one of most memorable plays I have seen in the last quarter of the twentieth century and into the first decade of the 21st. I’ve been fortunate to see three terrific productions of the play…The West End transfer from the National Theatre at the Haymarket which featured Roger Allam and was directed by Trevor Nunn, a production at the Mark Taper Forum in LA, and our own production at Actors Guild directed by Ave Lawyer.

I’m not a huge fan of “greatest” lists…usually because people have short memories or don’t put much historical perspective in their choices and you end up with “greatest” lists of films or songs or plays that are top-heavy with stuff from more recent years and significant work from earlier days gets short shrift…their impact and importance forsaken for picks that were, not actually better, but merely fresher in the mind.

When I compose lists, I emphasize their personal impact on me and try not to speak for entire generations (you won’t find Star Wars in my top one hundred films…) and stress that my picks are usually “favourites” and have nothing to do with the austere weightiness of greatness.

But the whole question of Arcadia’s place in the pantheon of theatre in the last twenty-five/thirty years…certainly fertile years in my theatre development…got me thinking about what were the most influential plays, for me, written during that time. The ones that impressed me the most and, more importantly, have stayed with me the most…those that got under my skin and still rattle through the brain.

So without, rummaging through my stash of theatre programmes (I think I’ve got them all the way back from my earliest theatre-going days in high school…anyone remember HOSTILE WITNESS with Ray Milland?) and only ransacking my memory…a tool that becomes more deficient as I creep toward decrepitude…I proffer my list of ten plays that have stood out for me from say, 1980 on (written in that period), in no particular order…

1) ARCADIA…would definitely be on the list. Again another brilliant Stoppard melding of intellect and emotion that produces an exquisitely moving play.

2) THE REAL THING…I know some will argue that ARCADIA is Stoppard’s best; some will champion ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. I was tremendously moved by EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR at the National this past January. But THE REAL THING, for me, balances the scales with ARCADIA. I saw the original London production on the third day after it opened with Roger Rees and Felicity Kendal. It’s a wonderful play about love and language and loyalty.

3) AMADEUS…Along with Stoppard, Peter Shaffer is my favourite playwright. Again, a play I saw on my first trip to London in 1982 while I was shooting my Holmes films, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES & SIGN OF FOUR. Imagine being young and turned loose in London with plenty of per diem pocket change. It was a revelatory time for me.

4) GIFT OF THE GORGON…another Shaffer and what’s interesting about it is that I’ve never seen a production of it. But when I read it in the mid-nineties, I simply said, “This is the best play I’ve read in ten years.” About revenge, the theatre, the death of theatre, the endurance of theatre. And so much more. And, as one might imagine from its title, it's very Greek…an awesome inexorableness about it. Struck a very personal chord with me.

5) THE PIANO LESSON…saw it in LA with Charles Dutton. Every August Wilson play I’ve ever seen I’ve enjoyed immensely. But this is the one that has hit the deepest and lingered the longest.

6) NICHOLAS NICKLEBY…How could one not be overwhelmed by its sheer magnitude of its bravura theatricality. Nine hours and not a moment of boredom.

7) PILLOWMAN…Again, one of those plays that bowled me over when I first read it. Eric Seale’s stunner of a production last season at Actors Guild confirmed to me the play’s power and poetry.

8) AMY’S VIEW…Saw the West End transfer from the National with Judi Dench. David Hare mixing the cultural politics of our time with a love letter to the theatre.

9) MUTABILITIE…by Frank McGuinness. Set in Ireland in the sixteenth century, it involves myth, Shakespeare, Spenser, the Faerie Queene, and so much more. I’m not sure I could even tell you what this play is about, but I found it riveting seeing it in its initial production at the National’s Cottesloe. I’m not sure it’s even had any other productions. A strange, dreamy, poetic play that still haunts me.

10) NOISES OFF…another of those I saw on my first trip to England. I love it for its obvious theatrical connections and because it is a very funny farce. Reminds me of my days in dinner theatre.

Well, I’ve reached my ten and feel it’s only the tip of the ice-berg. I suppose some psychologist could make something out of how many of them have literary, theatrical, artistic underpinings or themes. But on another day, in another mood, that list could shift and change some. And actually I realize all but one of these…PILLOWMAN…are from the twentieth century. Maybe the first ten years of the new century is a list for another day.

So give me your list. What are the most memorably significant plays for you from the last 30 years?



INTO THE STORM…the HBO films about Churchill’s war years. A time when we still had politicians and leaders of greatness.

JEZEBEL & THE LETTER…two collaborations of director William Wyler and Bette Davis that played on TCM this weekend. JEZEBEL is sort of their version of GONE WITH THE WIND, a year before it came out. THE LETTER is a terrific Somerset Maugham melodrama. Interesting to watch James Stephenson (who died much too young) and how his subtle playing can undercut Bette Davis’ often overwrought histrionics.

THE TONY AWARDS…I remember when this used to be the classiest awards show on TV. No more. As with far too much TV, they have desperately tried to appeal to that 18-49 year old demographic and junked the show up. This show should either be turned over to PBS or CBS should just acknowledge the Tonys is never going to be a ratings coup and let it be what it needs to be.

The opening number epitomized to me everything that is wrong with Broadway…Bad rock musicals, musicals based on movies, revivals of musicals that have either been revived too often or don't need to be. Rock of Ages is an embarrassment to Broadway and the Tonys, but then, of course, it’s an embarrassment to rock ‘n’ roll too. SHREK? Who needs this? Please, stop the Disneyification of Broadway. Do we really need yet another revival of GUYS & DOLLS which seems like it’s in perennial revival mode…if not Broadway, in the West End. We certainly didn’t need this phlegmatic version. If Broadway wants to revive something, why not FLAHOOLEY or HAZEL FLAGG? Of course, during the Bush years, they missed a chance to revive LI’L ABNER…which would have been a trenchant and timely satire.

And did we really need the numbers of the Road Show companies that looked like high school musicals?

Of course, there were some good things. BILLY ELLIOTT & NEXT TO NORMAL look like interesting musicals. I was pleased with Geoffrey Rush’s win for EXIT THE KING and enjoyed his classy acceptance speech. Always terrific to see the great Frank Langella, even if he’s only presenting and not up for anything. Jerry Herman was a reminder of great old book musicals. Herman has never been a favourite of mine, but I’ll take him over today’s fare and Michael Feinstein singing a few bars of I WON’T SEND ROSES reminded me of what a great song it is…for my money, maybe Herman’s best.

It looked like an fairly interesting season of straight plays which, alas, on a show like this always get short shrift to the musicals. And poor Liza. Poor, poor Liza.


SALAD DAYS…a much-loved British musical from the fifties that is really the silliest bit of tosh.

BEN BAGLEY’S IRVING BERLIN REVISITED…In these composer salutes, the late Mr. Bagley always assembled the most interesting performers and the lesser known songs of the tunesmith; some being little gems, others lesser known for a reason…MR. MONOTONY is not a Berlin high point.


THE CURSE OF CAIN…by one Theodore J. Nottingham. It purports to be the untold story of John Wilkes Booth even as the author purports to be his descendant. The premise is Booth was not caught, but lived and escaped to Asia. I’m not sure how much I buy into all this…but these kinds of mysteries fascinate me…Who was Jack the Ripper, who killed the Princes in the Tower (I’m a devout Richardian, who believes Richard III was innocent), who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?

EMPEROR & GALILEAN…one of Ibsen’s early history plays. I’ve become quite a fan of these, once I learned of their existence. This happened perusing the exhibits of the now defunct and much lamented Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, where I chanced upon a production photo of Ellen Terry in Ibsen’s VIKINGS AT HELGELAND, directed by her illegitimate son, Gordon Craig. The intriguing title sent me on a hunt for this play and I discovered Mr. Ibsen had been quite busy before such modern classics as A DOLL’S HOUSE and HEDDA GABLER.

EMPEROR & GALILEAN is about the Roman emperor Julian who tried to dispense with Christianity and re-instate the pagan gods. Not that far along in it yet to know how the play holds up, but the subject matter has intrigued me ever since a meeting eons ago with actor Michael York up at his house above Sunset Boulevard where he gave me JULIAN, Gore Vidal’s novel on the same subject to see if it might be something I’d be interested in doing. I was, though I could never figure why he wouldn’t want Vidal to do it. In any event, for reasons I have no memory of…it never came about.

So what’s on your media checklist? Any films, books, or music you want to give thumbs up or down to?

Monday, June 1, 2009



“Fear not your enemies for they can only kill you; fear not your friends for they can only betray you. Fear only the indifferent, who permit the killers and the betrayers to walk safely on the earth.” -- Edward Yashinsky—

Well, this certainly wasn’t the blog I had intended to write today.

Since I moved back to Kentucky and Lexington, in particular, my perceptions have occasionally been altered as to the area’s embrace of the Arts -- theatre especially -- and hopes have at times been hit with a disappointing dose of reality. Naturally, much of this has to do with my own life and life choices, which have fortunately allowed me the opportunity and wherewithal to experience first-class arts and therefore expectations can be demanding.

But one thing I know is that demographically and financially, Central Kentucky has great potential to support first-class arts organizations. The question is: does it want to? As far as theatre goes, its growth is often by stymied by the theatrical community itself over petty resentments and imagined threats by some who perceive others pursuing their own agenda as interlopers poaching on exclusive turf. Complacency and status quo is often fiercely defended against inevitable change.

But then as some wag once said, “The smaller the stakes, the bigger the battles.” And the small-time internecine...and largely insignificant... squabbles between artists cannot diminish the fact that Central Kentucky’s dark and bloody ground is fertile ground for nurturing a thriving Arts garden. It’s one of the reasons I settled here; there is a chance to cultivate something flourishing, fresh, and nourishing.

That’s why I was dismayed to read in this morning’s paper that the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council has recommended LexArts take a 10-percent cut in the government’s contribution to its annual Campaign for the Arts. Below my letter to the editor of the local paper. I print it here in the event it does not make the paper's editorial cut:

I am appalled at the thinking of Lexington’s city leaders wanting to cut LexArts’ budget. Every week the Herald-Leader has some article about Lexington desperately ruminating on how to attract businesses and the fresh blood of young professionals. The answer is simple. People don’t come to a city to work; they come to a city to live! Vibrant professional quality Arts are an essential part of that living.

Having had a successful career in the Arts and being a board member of Actors Guild of Lexington, I can attest to the value of worthwhile patronage. Six years ago, when Rick St. Peter became artistic director of AGL, he had a mountain of debt and mismanagement to climb.

During his valiant stewardship, the theatre has become what Rich Copley has dubbed “the area’s flagship theater”. It provides quality productions featuring the best local talent alongside outside artists of widespread reputation. The theatre also has established a regional and national profile. It has been featured in American Theatre Magazine. It has originated new work that has been produced and praised elsewhere (including a play of my own).

In my long career, I’ve been blessed with many enriching experiences. Few have been more rewarding than sharing the artistic energy and electrifying ideas that crackle in the air of AGL’s ambitions. But that energy, those ideas, those ambitions, and the great artistic leaps that the theatre has achieved would not have been possible without the critical financial generosity of LexArts and Jim Clark’s guidance. In fact, without LexArts, “the area’s flagship theater” would be just another theatre in this country maintaining a precarious existence…if it still existed at all.

And I’m sure we’re not the only organization in the city dependent on LexArts’ support. But more importantly, the entire city’s quality of life is dependent on the quality of its Arts. They are just as important to a city as its industry and its infrastructure, its sewers and its skyscrapers. If you callously deprive the Arts of crucial funding, you cheat the city and you make it smaller and less livable.

Without thriving Arts, Lexington can never become the first-class city it aspires to be.

Charles Edward Pogue
Now to more light-hearted matters:



EDWARD II…a DVD of a 1969 production of Marlowe’s play, starring Ian McKellen. It apparently made ripples in its day…featuring the first kiss between males on British TV. The production is sumptious; stunning costumes and set. And it plays like a house afire. I am amazed at how rapidly the actors can roll out the dialogue with absolute crystal clarity.

PLAYING SHAKESPEARE…or I am about to watch it. The Boxed Set arrived today! This is a series of Shakespeare performance workshops that director John Barton of the Royal Shakespeare Company conducted with my notable actors from that company…among them Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Michael Pennington, Judi Dench, Jane Lapotaire, Donald Sinden, David Suchet…I’ve been trying to get hold of this since I bought the book several years back and became aware of its existence.

WALLANDER…a Masterpiece Mystery Series on PBS, starring Kenneth Branagh as a Swedish detective, based on a series of novels. Alas, this was the last in the series and I had miseed the earlier ones. Given this one, I’d watch more of ‘em.



MY RIFLE, MY PONY, & ME…Songs from western movies and TV shows.


H. RIDER HAGGARD, A VOICE FROM THE INFINITE…by Peter Berresford Ellis. I picked it up to check some odd fact and ended up reading the whole damned biography. Learned fascinating stuff about the Boer War and WWI.

I feel a strange intimate affinity with this writer, certainly artistically and, in many ways, personally. Part of it has to do with the way man unabashedly would write his unconscious across the page, perhaps…most probably…unknowingly. But he seems to be one of those strange Victorian eccentrics who, while often epitomizing his age, also seems to utterly defy it. In many ways a British Imperialist, yet he had an understanding and sympathy of the native cultures he encountered that was far ahead of his time. Several of his books feature inter-racial romances between European whites and natives. Uusually they end tragically, but even so, in their day they must have been explosive stuff.

It’s one of the reasons KING SOLOMON’S MINES has yet to have had a definitive cinematic version. They always want to graft a romance into the story, so invent a love interest for the protagonist, Henry Curtis. But there is already a poignant and powerful love story between a native girl and one of Curtis’ friends, Good...never in the movies.

It’s the somewhat the same missed focus in any movie adaptation of SHE. Everyone tries to pump up the romantic stakes between the two physically attractive people, She and Leo Vincey. But Leo is a bit of dull, if stalwart, fellow (he comes into his own in the sequel…AYESHA) and the fascinating love story is the intellectual one that takes place between She and old, ugly Horace Holly.

I tried to remedy this in my as-yet-unproduced script of SHE. It is a theme central to much of Haggard’s work…the conflict between physical love and spiritual love (that and the theme of Loss – which my own work has in common with his)…and you really can’t capture the essence of Haggard without addressing and confronting it.