Jefe's House
Jeffrey Stanley is a 2018-19 Fulbright Scholar, playwright, screenwriter, director, and occasional journalist. His plays include the semiautobiographical wartime drama Tesla's Letters, the southern fried dark comedy Medicine, Man his autobiographical comedy shows The Golden Horseshoe: A Lecture on Tragedy, Jeffrey Stanley's Boneyards, and others. He is a past president of the board of directors of the New York Neo-Futurists experimental theatre ensemble, and his award-winning short film Lady in a Box, a satire inspired by the Terri Schiavo euthanasia case and starring Sarita Choudhury, has been licensed numerous times for international broadcast and distribution. Stanley has been a fellow at Yaddo, a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College, and a guest lecturer at the Imaginary Academy film and theatre workshop in Croatia sponsored by the Soros Foundation, and a St. Xavier's College, Kolkata. He frequently teaches at his alma mater New York University Tisch School of the Arts, as well as at Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, at at the Lee Strasberg Institute. He has appeared as a featured writer in The New York Times, Washington Post, Time Out New York, New York Press, the Brooklyn Rail and others. He was a senior adviser to Boston University’s Center for Millennial Studies’ book on apocalypse movements The End That Does. Stanley holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch where he studied under playwrights David Ives and Tony Kushner, and a BFA from Tisch in Film & Television with a minor in cultural anthropology. www.brain-on-fire.com.

Author Archive

House of Time

by on Jun.03, 2021, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe

Kalkokkho

Kalkokkho, written and directed by Sarmistha Maiti & Rajdeep Paul

“Doomsday…Apocalypse…The End of the World…Earlier we used to see these only in foreign films. Apocalypse would happen only in their countries then, and a handsome male hero, just in the nick of time, would save everyone from impending doom. Though it had no relevance in our own lives, it was always great to witness it onscreen through the magic of movies. But in real life, Apocalypse is so boring, monotonous, like a slow-paced art-house film.”

This wry, meta-cinematic line of dialogue from Kalkokkho, or House of Time, the new feature film from Kolkata-based writer-director duo Sarmistha Maiti & Rajdeep Paul, aptly captures the mood many of us felt in the earliest days of last year’s nearly global Covid pandemic lockdown.  I remember falling into a black hole of depression for two weeks or so, lying on my sofa staring at the ceiling, feeling psychologically and spiritually immobilized; tied down, even.  Soon, however, I began to play the Glad Game, count my many blessings, untie myself and get off my self-absorbed butt.  I reminded myself that when the going gets weird, the weird get going.

Such is the arc of this riveting film, a slow burn of a psychospiritual thriller in which our protagonist, a doctor, is abducted by a frightened family of three women and quite literally tied down, a perfect metaphor for how many of us felt.  As the plot unfolds, the characters climb in and out of their own black holes.  The same day repeats itself. Their conversations recur. Is this Theatre of the Absurd or just the routinization of life under lockdown?  Is it the magical realism of Groundhog Day or the abnormal psychology of Melancholia?

The doctor, his family of female kidnappers — and the audience — can never be sure, and that’s part of the sad joy of this smart, beautifully crafted film with a mind-bending conclusion.  The colorfulness of India suddenly becomes a drab world. You’ll swear some of it was shot in black and white but it’s entirely in, well, living colorlessness. The set and costume design are brilliantly executed in this regard.  The increasingly grim news reports that the trapped characters all sit and hear throughout the film put me in the mind of the disturbing radio updates peppered throughout 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, one of the few American films where the dashing male hero fails to save the day, but in Kalkokkho the news reports are real.

As someone once said, I always know there’s truth in art when it troubles me.  Like a painting, Kalkokkho invites you spend time with it, study it, turn it over in your mind a few times, for great art is never easy, and rarely what it seems on the surface.

 

The official synopsis from the film’s press release:

Amidst a contagious pandemic an apathetic but adept doctor finds himself captive in a house inhabited by three women– a paranoid young woman, an amnesic old woman and a lonely young girl, gradually realizing that he might be trapped not only in space but also in time. The film explores the texture of time with a blend of magic realism and existential horror to express the sense of dread and temporal stasis generated universally by the Covid19 Pandemic. Through mythological allegory and spiritual subtext, it explores eternal themes like reality and illusion, instinct and morality, love, loneliness and grief, the power of stories, nature of the feminine and the masculine, and the discriminations of ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘they’ to tell a tale of “longing for belongingness” which is the biggest crisis of human existence now and forever…

Since the inception of cinema in India, with the legacy of producing and distributing Satyajit Ray’s “Jalsaghar”, “Aparajito” and also distributing Ray’s “Pather Panchali” and Ritwik Ghatak’s “Ajantrik” to name a few, Aurora Film Corporation has been the pillar of strength for supporting novel creative minds and enlightening the vision of noble cinema. The saga continues… (www.aurorafilmcorporation.com)

 

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , more...

My Dinner With Tina

by on Mar.21, 2021, under Film/TV, NYC, Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

brockvid2

Into the Absurd. A Virtually Existential Dinner Conversation.

Why is this man making a hand-rabbit? Scroll down to find out.

.

If you missed my interview last night with the masterful Tina Brock of the IRC and would like to hear more about my mis/adventures in India, my work as a Fulbright Scholar and the nonfiction book I’m currently finishing, along with Tesla, ghosts, paan, religion, David Ives, and a few other surprises, you can catch it here on the IRC’s youtube channel:

Comments Off on My Dinner With Tina :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Into the Absurd

by on Mar.14, 2021, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

ircThe picture says it all. Mark your calendars and tune in next Saturday 3/20/21 at 5pm EST for my interview with the masterful Tina Brock of the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium theatre company, streaming live on Zoom and Facebook. Links below:

.
Zoom:

https://lehigh.zoom.us/…/regi…/WN_NQXt3ZCPSku8MCpXYoigzw

.

Facebook Live:

https://www.facebook.com/IdiopathicRidiculopathyConsortium

 

Comments Off on Into the Absurd :, , , more...

A Postard From India

by on Mar.08, 2021, under Shaheb Cafe

 

I was honored and proud to be asked to write the foreword to the English version of this moving and vivid short story collection. Congratulations, translator Sanhita Mukherjee and Bengali author Raja Sinha  (also spelled in English Raja Singho). The Postcard Tales launched this weekend at the Chennai Book Fair in India.

Here’s where you can get it:

.

FOREWORD

Jamaica Kincaid once wrote, A great piece of literature encompasses all that is and all that will be.

Yes, this applies even to short stories.

A great short story stands alone. It is not an excerpt from a novel or a vague synopsis of a longer story crammed into a predetermined word count. A great short story is a stolen glance through a window into someone else’s life. The best ones leave us with a sense of “sweet sorrow,” a yearning to linger there on the sidewalk a little longer even though we must press on to our own destinations. Such stories don’t need a contrived cliffhanger ending in order to leave us dying to know what happens next. They accomplish that effect through more organic and nuanced means.

The first short stories I experienced were fairy tales read to me by my mother before I was old enough to go to school. Then came the Jack Tales, a unique feature of my Appalachian upbringing. Later I would discover the short stories of Rabindranath Tagore, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson, John Cheever, Edgar Allan Poe. Some capture the human condition with horror, others with humor, others with nightmarish satire. They have all left me comforted in knowing I wasn’t the only one experiencing life’s suffering; that in some way it’s communal, that we’re all in it together. They left me satisfied, but a little bit sad to see them go.

The stories in this collection have captivated me in the same ways. They are unique to India but they are universal to all of us. From the self-mutilation in “Primeval” that I will never be able to expunge from my mind, to the smell of burning books in “The Five Windows,” to the heart- wrenching revelations of a condemned young woman moments before her execution, along with the unspoken and timely themes that accompany them, Raja Sinha has left me haunted.

Even so, I was eager to turn the page and peer through the next glass, following along with the author’s appraisals and inquiries into life, culture, society and survival. May you be moved by his investigations at least half as much as me.

Jeffrey Stanley

Fulbright-Nehru Scholar

New York University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on A Postard From India :, , , , , , , , , , , , more...

The Indian Farmers’ Strike in 90 Seconds

by on Jan.20, 2021, under Politics, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

Photo via Al Jazeera

Photo via Al Jazeera

My US Bengali friends’ theatre company Kushilob put together a series of online theatrical shorts reacting to, and explaining, the massive farmers strike currently happening in India. You probably saw protest footage and tear gas on CNN or glimpsed it in the New York Times but perhaps aren’t exactly sure what the fuss is about.  The full Kushilob video is here on YouTube. Most of the pieces are in Bengali so for my other friends here’s what the Indian farmers strike is about in 90 seconds.  “Salt of the Earth” features Bedatanu Banerjee and me:

Feel free to share either of these vids with anyone anywhere. Thanks.

#farmerstrike

Comments Off on The Indian Farmers’ Strike in 90 Seconds :, more...

Aurora Visible in India

by on Jan.18, 2021, under Film/TV, Shaheb Cafe

Exciting news in the Times of India about my friends and colleagues at Aurora Film Corporation, India’s oldest continuously running production company.  Looking forward to seeing Kalkokkho (House of Time) written and directed by Sarmistha Maiti & Rajdeep Paul.

IMG_20210118_131546_766

Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on Aurora Visible in India :, , , , , , , , more...

Enjoy a BLT This Saturday

by on Dec.23, 2020, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Webinar banner

.

Very excited that my good friend and colleague Dr. Vijay Padaki of the Bangalore Little Theatre will be in conversation this Saturday, December 26th at 5pm with Tina Brock of Philadelphia’s Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium theatre. Don’t miss it! Link is below. Until we meet on the stage once again, IRC is exploring creations and conversations with adventurers in our community and around the world on Into the Absurd: A Virtually Existential Dinner Conversation, each Saturday at 5 pm for 50-minutes on Zoom and Facebook Live.

cherryorchardblt

BLT then.

Vijay is a Theatre Educator based in Bangalore who has been active in the theatre for sixty years. Vijay joined Bangalore Little Theatre in 1960, the year of its inception, and later served in many capacities – as actor, director, trainer, writer, designer and administrator, including stints each as Secretary and President. Vijay is a psychologist and behavioural scientist by training.

blt

BLT now.

Vijay has written over 50 original plays; he has also adapted or translated several play scripts.  Seagull Books has published a volume of two Gujarati plays translated by Vijay; in 1993 he won the award for the best contemporary play script instituted by The Hindu newspaper for the play Credit Titles.  Vijay is the Series Editor of nine volumes of plays being published by Bangalore Little Theatre.

Tune in for his conversation with Tina Brock at 5pm this Saturday on Zoom or Facebook Live.

Comments Off on Enjoy a BLT This Saturday :, , , more...

Film Appreciation Course with Debasish Sen Sharma Starts 8/15

by on Aug.07, 2020, under Film/TV, Shaheb Cafe

film course

Can’t read it? Click it to enlarge.

I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this great event with well-known Indian film director Debasish Sen Sharma. I won’t say I’m co-teaching, that would be too grandiose. It’s a 12-week course and I will be guest teaching one session on screenplay plot development as well as sitting in on all sessions. At a hundred bucks this is a steal and I’m happily volunteering my services to participate. Open to everyone everywhere. STARTS ONLINE AUGUST 15th.

Comments Off on Film Appreciation Course with Debasish Sen Sharma Starts 8/15 :, , , more...

Serious About Serious Men

by on Jul.17, 2020, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Press

indiratiwarinawazsiddiqui

Indira Tiwari and Nawazzudin Siddiqui in Serious Men.

 

Congratulations to my extremely talented friend and colleague Indira Tiwari, costarring as the female lead alongside Bollywood superstar Nawaz Siddiqui in the film Serious Men premiering soon on Netflix (see the first promo here).  The movie is based on Manu Joseph’s bestselling novel of the same name.

Go, Indira!

indiratiwari

Indira Tiwari

seriousmen
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

 

Comments Off on Serious About Serious Men :, , , , , more...

Adding the Method to my Madness

by on Sep.28, 2019, under Film/TV, NYC, Theatre

logoI’m truly honored and humbled to be a part of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute family teaching Theatre History for Actors.  Strasberg is one of the world’s top acting conservatories celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

website bio partial

Comments Off on Adding the Method to my Madness :, , , , , , more...