Blame it on Glenda

Blame Glenda Jackson. I reserved tickets for Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (he always has the name before and above the title) for Easter weekend.

New York is always extremes. The highs of theatre-going to the frequent degradation of the subway and elsewhere.

Subways aren’t for sleeping: meet “Brimstone” a subway gospel rapper. (Check Youtube). “Jesus loves you” in white letters on his black shirt, front and back, a large cross slung around his neck, made of palm leaves (it was Easter Sunday). Then a sermon for his subway ministry.

A young pianist plays electronic keyboard on the platform. Classical, then Pop: The Heart Does Go On, Theme from Love Story, The Sting (Scott Joplin)… he’s dressed to kill in a soft blue pastel suit. His father (?) sits on a bucket off to the the side. The most memorable aspect? He appears to be playing a video game on his phone at the same time as playing, without missing a note, (or a point.)

Subway peddlars are endless. Candy, clothes, and just plain panhandling, from all ages (a Vietnam vet, teenagers, and younger). A raging boom-box announces a dancer whose parting words are “I’m not homeless but I do better if I look it.”

Another low-point: mistaking a scalper in Times Square as staff for the TKTS half-price ticket booth. When it became clear to him I only wanted to know if I could get Sunday matinee tickets on Saturday, he told me I was wasting his time.

The last straw: a strategically placed snow storm right when my flight was to leave. Then it cleared up. But not before I had to take a much later flight home.

I prefer to dwell on the positive: the revival of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties (I understand a lot more than when I saw it in high school but still am mystified by parts); the transforming set of Afterglow (more than the titillating plot of an open relationship); and, best for last- Glenda Jackson, 81 (!) in Albee’s third Pulitzer Prize winner. I go on and on in my drama class about voice on stage. It was all she needed to be a Tall Woman. Actually got to meet her afterwards as she greeted fans, having her after-show cigarette (!). “Let the lady have her moment”, Security warned us. We did. She seemed not to be bothered by the question about returning to the stage after 23 years in politics. “It’s what I did,” she said between drags. Of course she can still do it.

I blame Glenda Jackson for another hectic, harried and totally worth-it Easter weekend jaunt in the Big Apple. Thanks Glenda.

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Less #media, less social

Something ironic about reporting my quitting social media on a blog.

Today, I deleted my accounts on

LinkedIn

Pinterest

GoodReads

Because of all the privacy concerns? It certainly made me rethink my usage.

I am not looking for work. I have not been on Pinterest in five years. I certainly don’t need to curate my reading online.

Is Facebook next? Not sure.

Twitter is it for me.

For now…..

Last Rites for Old Technology

Time for my old Juliette digital (!) clock radio wound down. Maybe purchased in high school (70’s)?

There used to be an urban legend about well-made technology being built on a particular day of the week. This radio must have been made on that day- 40 years ago.

Last Rites were given before sending it to the digital graveyard.

Mean-Spirited or Just Spirited?

Just finished our school production of Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart (teaser pic above). The students loved doing it, and the audience enjoyed. So as I recover from exhaustion, I can post a bit of theatre philosophy.
I was always attracted to the particular skill of this Broadway duo. Previous productions of The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can’t Take It With You were highlights of our school’s stage history. The appeal? The plots and the characters. Scenes are expertly structured with most entrances and exits on the heels of a character-driven one-liner.
But. The plays are from the 1930’s, and the regularity of sexist and racist remarks in all the plays jumps off the page and stage in the 2010’s. Itemizing them here is not my interest. We dealt with those lines (they are hard to miss) and still did the shows.
A more subtle sensitivity struck me later in our rehearsal preparation of Once In A Lifetime, and I felt it in the performances. Lifetime spins on the dumb luck of George Lewis who unwittingly becomes the top guy in Hollywood (the play is about the advent of the “talkies”.) More than one character makes George’s slowness the butt of the joke. More than once he is called stupid, told to shut up. My question- is this as awful as it sounds? Are we oversensitive, or is it the right amount of sensitivity for the sensitive times in which we live? Is the play mean-spirited or just funny?
Sometimes the audience laughed at George; they always seemed to root for him.

Quote Me By Your Name

Just finished the novel Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman. I’ve already seen the film. It’s a beautiful adaptation.
The book contains more than one meeting between Oliver and Elio after Oliver’s departure (as depicted in the movie). Beyond that, the story is mostly inside Elio’s head, so the novel is probably better suited to tell it.

There are too many quotable lines, so I’ll just choose this:
Towards the end, when Elio visits Oliver years later, Oliver invites him to meet his wife and children. Elio finds a way to tell him why he can’t.
“The ‘can’t’ did not mean I wasn’t free to visit him but that I couldn’t bring myself to do it…
And then it came out of me: ‘The truth is I’m not sure I can feel nothing. And if I am to meet your family, I don’t want to feel anything.'”

I won’t quote the final paragraph of the story, but I don’t remember the last time, reading a novel on the bus, I had to contain tears as I closed the book.

Difficult Conversations

After two weeks of Difficult Conversations (let’s abbreviate them to “DC’s”), I thought I was done for a while. As a teacher, I’d had my share, recently, of DC’s with students, parents, and colleagues. The content varied: managing competing ambitions (between parents and children), disrespectful students (I know- comes with the territory), and colleagues with personal agendas (including maybe me). Some were connected; all were difficult for their own reasons.

(I haven’t even mentioned DC’s in my personal life, which competed for my patience and energy at the same time.)

Some DC’s resolve but others never end. More often than not, the same ones continue. All you did by confronting them was to lay some groundwork for the conversation to continue (and still be difficult).