Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg, on MACBETH

Never, ever miss a Cal Shakes Grove Talk. Self has been to a few of these, all delivered by Philippa Kelly, and each is enthralling. Kelly is a superb speaker. She ties in history, puts the play in context, and makes the playgoing experience so rich!

Self learned yesterday that Macbeth was written in 1606.

1606

She was reminded that a boy played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s time. Imagine lines like “Milk my breast” from the lips of a boy! Plus the high voice! Self thought about this while observing Liz Sklar’s performance as Lady Macbeth — that is a powerful role that demands an actor equally powerful. A boy just doesn’t cut it.

This evening, self is reading Kelly’s essay in the program brochure. The essay’s title is Can We Forgive Ourselves?

  • Actions can be imagined; but “if it (is) done when ’tis done,” an action has consequences — and if we are thinking and feeling beings, consequences can’t be ignored.

After listening to Kelly, self saw the play as a true horror story. Macbeth and his wife see ghosts everywhere. At the start of the play, they are young and beautiful. By its end they’ve both been driven round the bend. And it is TRAGIC.

Self realizes she has never, ever seen young Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. Until yesterday. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but Liz Sklar’s Lady Macbeth is LIT!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lens Artists Challenge # 65: PICK A PLACE

  • “Each of us at some point has visited a place that holds special memories.” — Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 65

This was an easy post for self to write. She just got back from attending Cal Shakes’ Macbeth. The Grove Talk by Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg is a Don’t-Miss.

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Philippa Kelly Giving Her Grove Talk, Before MACBETH

Have been watching plays here every summer since 2001 (Romeo and Juliet: Adam Scott played Romeo).

Tonight’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were played by a couple who suddenly put everything into a new light. All hail, Rey Lucas and Liz Sklar, for bringing the sexy back to a play first performed in 1606. These two are the youngest actors self has ever seen play Mr. and Mrs. Spot-on, the casting! For the first time, self understood the heat between the two;  she could see the similarities to film noir. In addition, because self and her party were seated third row from the stage, she could see every change of expression on the actors’ faces; it felt so intimate.

Also, for the first time ever, self heard Macbeth call someone a “whey-face.” lol lol lol

Her one complaint might be that The Weird Sisters were not witchy. Or not witchy enough. Of course self got very excited at hearing the immortal lines: Double double, toil and trouble. She just wishes there were an actual cauldron.

She wonders if there was ever a production where The Weird Sisters were replaced by giant hand puppets. During intermission, she eavesdropped on the people behind her who were describing a performance of Macbeth at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “There was a big pool of blood right in the center of the stage. And whenever a character did something bloody, they would supply themselves from the pool.”

That, in self’s humble opinion, sounds gimmicky to the extreme.

Philippa Kelly’s pre-show Grove Talk was fascinating — self wished she took notes. It revolved around the unmasking of identity, and how paradoxical it is that when people remark that “someone has changed” it usually means that the person’s true identity is finally being unmasked and undone.

Gregory also made self aware of the fact that the first actor to play Lady Macbeth was a boy, because back then women were banned from taking roles in the theater.  Women’s parts were played by boys whose voices hadn’t yet broken. Has there even been a modern staging of Macbeth where they use a boy for Lady Macbeth? She thinks not, but it would certainly give the play a whole new spin.

P.S. The Bruns Amphitheater was FREEZING and self needed to rent blankets. Her lips got totally chapped and her hands were frozen. For some reason, all self had on was a denim jacket and a scarf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Jonathan: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 110

Jonathan’s birth:

I couldn’t take my eyes off him, little fairy creature that he was. He gave a blink and the way his eyelid — you know what it is like, not straight like yours and mine, but set at an angle — it closed over the eye not quite like a normal baby, but nearly. I thought, What does he make of this strange world he’s come to? What does he make of me, his foster mother? He moved his arms, not altogether like my baby girls used to, but more floppy — like he was swimming. A baby frown came into his face and I thought, He will cry in a minute. He’s cold. Beattie hadn’t wrapped him up or anything. Fairy children can’t be so very different from the ones I know, I thought, because I can tell he’s getting cold. I put my fingers against his little cheek and he was all wonder, quite astonished! When I took my finger away his little mouth opened and he mewed like a kitten to have it back. I felt my milk rise at his cry.

For the first time in forever, dear blog readers, self has no inclination to read spoilers on goodreads or Twitter. She’s caught firmly in the fictive net of this novel.

Stay tuned.

Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature, Day 2

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Fowey: Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Have attended two talks, both of them brilliant. The one this morning was delivered by Kate Aspengren, an American playwright (from Iowa!): Where’s the Fire? A Playwright Considers the Plays of Daphne du Maurier.

Loved knowing about this other aspect of du Maurier. The woman tried her hand at everything: novels, short stories, plays — even poetry!

Aspengren talked about three du Maurier plays:

  • The Years Between (first staged 1944, in Manchester)
  • September Tide (first staged 1948, in Oxford)
  • her own adaptation of Rebecca

Because self has read Tatiana de Rosnay’s Manderley Forever (one of her favorite reads of 2018), she knows of Daphne’s fraught marriage. Her husband was General “Boy” Browning who was mentioned (not flatteringly lol) in the book self just finished reading, Antony Beevor’s Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944. It was a very strained marriage, exacerbated by long absences. And du Maurier seems to have drawn on that for The Years Between.

As for September Tide, trust du Maurier to come up with this wickedly entertaining plot: A woman falls in love with her daughter’s husband. According to Aspengren, “the mother and son-in-law have an instant attraction to each other” despite an age gap of seven years.

Daphne du Maurier brings it.

Stay tuned.

Sawyer: Record of a Spaceborn Few, p. 175

Self loves Becky Chambers’ world-building. She first picked up on Chambers’s absolutely on-point world-building skills in the Sawyer sections (This novel uses one of those mutliple point-of-view structures, which normally self finds extremely annoying, but here actually likes). As a result, Sawyer quickly became one of self’s favorite characters.

In a recent chapter, he met the crew of a salvage ship. His observations about the crew, especially one with a “flip-eye”, and the way he’s asked to “break code” is completely beguiling. She almost quoted it in a blog post yesterday, but had to complete her week’s assignment for a memoir class she’s taking from UCLA Extension (a comp; after all these years of teaching, she’s entitled to at least a dozen of these!), so decided to forego the pleasure.

This morning, she happily begins to read a new Sawyer section (p. 175). Once again, the inventiveness of Chambers comes through!

A few pages earlier, Sawyer met Eyas, self’s second-favorite character.

Sent message

Encryption: 0

Translation: 0

From: Sawyer (path: 7466-314-23)

To: Eyas (path: 6635-448-80)

Hi Eyas,

I hope you don’t mind my sending you a note. I found your scrib path in the ship’s directory (you’re the only one with your name!). Anyway, I wanted to thank you again for your advice the other day. I’d just signed up for sanitation work when I met somebody outside the job office looking to hire workers for a salvage project. It’s just a gig right now, but it might be more. Plus, the crew’s been the only group of people other than yourself to offer to show me the ropes. They seem like fun folks. So I’m on board with them now, but don’t worry! My name’s still in the sanitation lottery. I took what you said seriously, and I’ll help out when I’m needed. Thanks for steering me in the right direction.

Sawyer

Oh, Sawyer. He’s good at reading code, but doesn’t bother encrypting his message to Eyas? What a neophyte! The message has self thinking: Danger! Danger! He is entirely too trusting of his new crewmates.

And now that Sawyer’s sent the message, he sits on his bed thinking: I should have bought new clothes.

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

On the Basis of Sex

Self didn’t expect much from this movie, the line was a surprise:

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Palo Alto Square, the day after Christmas 2018

The film is so, so good. The whole gender conflict thing is dynamic, not just “a cause.” It becomes real because of the relationship between Ginsburg and her husband. And the two leads definitely get it. They sell the male domination thing Ginsburg rails against, again and again. There is rage, but it’s never a polemic, it’s rooted in the experience of the marriage. We feel the injustice precisely because of the tenderness between Marty and Ruth.

Honestly, self doesn’t know if any other pair of actors could pull off what these two do here. It’s fine, fine work. And she did not expect it from Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones.

She thinks she finally understands the reason for Armie’s recent string of successful movies: it’s his irony. His awareness that yes, he’s good-looking, but there’s a wryness, a core affability, about him. Can you imagine someone else playing Mr. Mom? It could have been super-cheesy. She likes his willingness to not just pretend he’s an entitled white male, but to BE that entitled white male (which we all know he is, in real life, anyway: The Armand Hammer Museum in UCLA is named after his grandfather or great-grandfather), and here he is wearing an apron, feeding the baby, cooking and chopping. Droll.

Self thinks he’s going to be perfect playing that smug prick Maxim de Winter, in the re-make of Rebecca.

What a smart film On the Basis of Sex is. Self liked it better than the documentary she saw earlier this year, The Real RBG. A documentary gives us the facts. But this movie allows us to watch the relationship and see how it actually went down, in everyday life.

BTW, Sam Waterston gets only a few scenes, but each one of them is key.

Kudos, Director Mimi Leder. Self hopes this movie is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. She hopes Felicity Jones gets nominated for her performance. Armie, too.

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Directly in front of me, lots of people: Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Stay tuned.

 

 

Ten Years of THE HUNGER GAMES

All Hail to Suzanne Collins, Queen of Everything.

  • The Hunger Games Aesthetic:

 

“A Veritable Explosion of Life”: MY ANTONIA, Book V Ch. I

The boys escorted us to the front of the house, which I hadn’t yet seen; in farmhouses, somehow, life comes and goes by the back door. The roof was so steep that the eaves were not much above the forest of tall hollyhocks, now brown and in seed. Through July, Antonia said, the house was buried in them; the Bohemians, I remembered, always planted hollyhocks. The front yard was enclosed by a thorny locust hedge, and at the gate grew two silvery, moth-like trees of the mimosa family. From here one looked down over the cattle yards, with their long ponds, and over a wide stretch of stubble which they told me was a rye-field in summer.

At some distance behind the house were an ash grove and two orchards; a cherry orchard, with gooseberry and currant bushes between the rows, and an apple orchard, sheltered by a hot hedge from the high winds.

Such poetic writing! So beautiful! Self can’t even . . .

Cal Shakes’ THE WAR OF THE ROSES: FIERCE

Oh, kudos, Cal Shakes. Kudos for everything. For the chart showing the House of Lancaster and the House of York, for the jumbotron messages above the stage (BOO! and RICHARD IS DEAD! were so on point!)

It was a lovely way to spend a late summer afternoon.

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In choosing the seats, self noticed most of the tickets taken were on the LEFT side of the amphitheatre (Section E). She figured that must be because of the sun. When it strikes directly, and you’re sitting there for four hours (yes, the play was four hours: it passes quickly), it is not fun. So she snagged the last three tickets on the left side, which were in the next to last row.

She’s never before sat so far from the stage, but it worked out perfect because this was a large-cast production, with a lot of comings and goings, and from higher up you can really appreciate how every inch of that stage is put to good use.

Self’s only regret was that she did not spring for a button saying, THOU TOAD! ‘Twas only $3.

Both she and son forked up cash for the donation bucket. (This year’s fundraising goal is $150,000)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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The set for The War of The Roses was amazing, as were the costumes. Kudos to Scenic Designer Nina Ball and Costume Designer Anna R. Oliver.

 

Sentence of the Day: Still THE DOOR

Reading soooo slowly. But this book needs to be savored.

p. 27:

He wasn’t a bad man, although he made me leave school, and the headmaster was very upset about it, but I was needed to cook for the harvesters because Mother wasn’t up to it, and I also looked after the twins.

In this novel, labor is front and center. Whether that labor is writing, or housecleaning, or making things with one’s hands.

All the translations self has read so far this year have been excellent:

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (transl. from the Japanese)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (transl. from the Norwegian)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (transl. from the French)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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