Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ode to Angela

This article is from Esquire's Aug. 1996 issue.

Angela Bassett: The Showstopper
By George C. Wolfe

The first time I saw Angela Bassett perform was in an off-off-Broadway hole-in-the-wall in the early eighties. A friend of mine had dragged me there to see yet another production of Jean Anouilh's Antigone, and to this day I can recall the sensation of sitting in that cold, dark theater, watching Angela work. I remember being rendered powerless by that endless swirl of contradictions that was her performance: absolutely in control yet the essence of vulnerability; sensual, delicate, provocative. . . fierce! And what she was doing to that language-kissing and caressing it one minute and then spitting it out with haughty disdain the next. Anouilh never had it so good.

I met Angela after the performance, gushed excessively, and we vowed we'd work together. Sometime thereafter, she moved to L. A.-where being blond is considered a talent-and defied the odds as a film actress. However, I must admit that every time I see her on the screen, it only makes me long for her return to the stage. Maggie the Cat, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra (Shaw's as well as Shakespeare's), Hedda, Medea: They all have the gifted Miss Bassett's name on them, as does a new play I'm working on called Angela, Come Home.

*George Wolfe went on to direct Angela in the 1998 stage production of Macbeth

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