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 In my previous post, I talked about Midsummer Night's Dream at the Arden Theater.  This post is about the Lantern Theater Company's Coriolanus.  

It was not my favorite Shakespeare this month.  I did like the contemporary costumes that brought the play into a contemporary political context, but it seemed more focused on tricks--CNN-like screens, lots of rushing around and overwhelming sound effects--than actually enunciating the lines, so it was hard to follow if you hadn't seen other versions of the play. 

The second half was better than the first half, because they slowed down the gosh-wow externals and focused more on characters for the drama.  Midsummer worked better overall for me, but it was an afternoon well spent.

Both plays are still playing, so go!  Then tell me what you thought of them!

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 I have been so busy lately that I haven't had a chance to report back here!  So I will try to catch by covering two Shakespeare plays I saw this month--last week's Midsummer Night's Dream  at the Arden and this week's Coriolanus at the Lantern.  Both were worth seeing, but I liked Midsummer better.  

20 years ago, Arden's Midsummer introduced a cast that became acting royalty in Philadelphia. Now, 20 years later, they billed the new Midsummer as introducing the next generation to take Philly by storm.  I'd seen a lot of the cast in recent productions, but they came together wonderfully in a grand version of the great Shakespeare trickster play, this time set in a down-homey Arden with blue-grassy music created for the production.  

Mary Tuomanen, who played Puck, and Dan Hodge, who played Bottom, were my favorites, but the whole cast was excellent. The parallel relationships between Titania and Oberon and Hippolyta and Theseus are always a part of the play, but in this version you really felt the mirroring of those fraught emotions.  Very good.  And the music was fun.

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 I wrote a brief commentary about the Trocks that BSR decided not to run, so I am putting it here!


According to the Sunday Times blurb on the cover of the program, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is “the funniest night you will ever have at the Ballet.” The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, present scenes from the great ballets with men playing all the parts, so we were expecting a fun night.  But with the revelation that the “to be announced” in the program would be the pas de deux from Le Corsaire, we all sat up and took notice.  Many of us had tickets for the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of that very ballet at the Academy of Music the following night!  With a scene from last year’s Don Quixote already on the schedule, we were in for a meta night.

The Trocks dance a precarious balancing act.  Men in tights and tutus: what is not funny about that?  So they have to acknowledge the absurdity of men en pointe up front. But if they want to tell the joke, and not be the joke, they have to be very good.  The silly bits have to be their choice, and the Trocks made that stunningly clear, in dance that ranged from the beautiful to the utterly absurd (the dying swan leaves feathers all over the stage).

The Le Corsaire pas de deux (Long Zou dancing as Nina Inimenimynimova and Lazlo Major dancing as Araf Legupski) offered a few nods to comedy, but none so broad that they pulled the audience out of the dance for more than a moment.  The balancing act veered much closer to excellent dancing than it did to comedy, except for the meta part.  The fun is not just on the Prince stage but in the interplay with the Academy of Music, the middle space where high art meets a gently humorous commentary in kind.  The Trocks set the bar very high—can high art measure up?



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 Pennsylvania Ballet is doing Le Corsaire--read the review and then see the show!

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 I went to see BalletX this week.  Enjoy it with me here--
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 Protested immigration ban today!  I thought I was done with protest marches and activism decades ago.  Didn't want to do this again.  But evil must never go unchallenged.  So, here we go again.  
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Saw Hidden Figures this afternoon.  I'd finished some errands and just checked the times, figured I'd have a shot at some free time on Thursday.  But there was a show starting in just a few minutes, so I figured, now is as good as any time, and off I went.  I am so glad I did!  It is a wonderful movie, the acting was terrific, and the story was so exciting.  Women!  Math!  Programmers!  What a great reminder that Black women used to rule in math and coding.  White women were in there too, but also a reminder that the jobs were mostly undervalued when women did them, and when men got into them, the value put on them went up and women got shut out.  

I got weepy when they showed JFK talking about going to the moon.  Got weepy at the end, too, but in a good way.  Women took us into space.  Go us!
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 I marched in Philly today.  Got pictures but don't remember how to include them  I thought about going to DC, and a lot of my family marched there, but I wanted to be here in Philadelphia to be counted.  We had a smaller march, maybe 20,000-40,00 or so, because so many Philadelphians went to DC, but we were very conscious of marching for democracy in the  birthplace of the country.  It was awesome.

It was fortunate I was at a smaller march though, because my back injury from December was not happy with all that standing around.  So I ducked out early and walked out to where it was easier to navigate. Rested up and went to a chamber music concert that celebrated the three Itzig sisters who preserved much of the Bach family music.  Here is a link to the awesome story! We thought it was the perfect concert for a woman's march!

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 The Great American Baking Show had its finale this week.  It was satisfying--I liked both the finalists, so either outcome would have been fine, but it was a very NICE ending.  

I still like the British version better (loved Nadia!), and I thought that last year's American show was unwatchable.  Tried, and only made it through one episode.  But this year they seem to have gotten the whole "nice" thing better.  A couple of people had to leave for personal/health reasons, which happens.  I would have liked to see what they did, but overall, I liked it.  

I don't think the challenges are quite as hard, though.  They are going to have to work on that!

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 Whoa!  My articles about the ballet don't usually elicit such heated discussion. 
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 This year I have been doing some dance reviews at the Broad Street Review in Philadelphia.  Here is my latest about the most recent dance scandal in town. 

You can find my other articles there as well!

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 I posted this a couple days ago to my private Facebook (mostly family, mostly boring stuff about shopping lists) but I thought it might be good to share it, because I think these are issues that are getting lost in the noise.  And as a writer, I stand with the artists who speak our truth to power.  And yes, I always say Voldemort.  I picked the brand I want to support.

When movie and TV people spoke out against Voldemort at the Golden Globes, I am sure there are people who said, "entitled coastal elites" and dismissed them out of hand. But everyone in that room was aware of the McCarthy hearings and the many people in the industry whose lives were destroyed not because they were communists, but because Joe McCarthy had a thing for movie stars and it was a way to make them come to him. And they know that McCarthy's lawyer was Voldemort's mentor. 

House UnAmerican Activities Hearings, of course, are a circus. While destroying lives for the fun of it, they pull attention from the other awful things the government slips under the radar of a celebrity-obsessed press. 

So those people put themselves on the line, on international TV, knowing all those things. People with huge careers, who maybe can afford to take the hit, drew the fire. People who maybe couldn't afford the hit, but couldn't afford to let things go down unchallenged, drew the fire. Becaue the last time, people let the threat silence them. It appears that this time they will not go down without a fight.

I'm back!

Jan. 9th, 2017 09:28 pm
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 I'm baaaaack!

I built this blog a long time, then wandered back to Livejournal because it was familiar.  But recent changes have made it less...familiar...than it used to be.  So I am back, and determined to make Dreamwidth home.  Now I have to figure out how to move Livejournal here.
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Back from the market--it was chaos. I went to the counter to pay for my usual honey, and took a breath to ask what was going on-- the woman taking my money said, "you don't have to say a word. It's the first day of the auto show." We then chatted for a couple minutes about how it is best to get there before 10am, because the tourists start arriving around 11 for lunch and don't ever leave. Both the tea lady and the butcher warned me that it would be going on until next Sunday. Everybody sharing their "oh, noes!" Most of their customers are locals, so the crowd makes it harder for them without adding to their business--not a lot of tourists can take home a souvenir delmonico steak even if they would like to.  Termini's, however, was doing land-office business. I never saw canolis going out of there so fast!
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Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.  Here is a little link to brighten your nights--or amaze you at the crazy.   It is actually even more awesomely cheesetastic than it looks in the vid.

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I have been doing tai chi in a little local park since the Spring and I thought that I'd have to stop when the cold set in.  But it turns out that doing tai chi in the park in the winter cold feels wonderful!  And there are other people doing tai chi as well--coming and going in their own time, with just a little wave of acknowledgment that here we are, enjoying the day.  Excellent!
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We had our holiday party yesterday--everybody chipped in their per/person and we had tapas at Amada.  Yum!  Amada is one of my favorite restaurants in town--it is Jose Garces' first and it is still one of the highest rated in the city.  You need a reservation way in advance and you need lots of people to make tapas fun.  I'm not much of a planner, so I don't usually get in.  So having our party there meant we had both a reservation and lots of people.  But anyway, we had cheeses with a different sauce accompaniment for each to start, then garlic shrimp and tortilla--the sliced potato and egg kind, not the flat-bread kind. Salad, and then  Chorizo and Chicken and calamari and dessert.  We had a set menu rather than pick and choose, but all of my favorites were on it, so I was a happy camper.  So good! 
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Ouch!  It's been a long time.  Busy getting a new kitchen put in (took months, and needed a second contractor to rip out and redo half the work of the first contractor, sigh.  But the kitchen is done now, and what an improvement. 

In the meantime, the season is in full swing.  Saw Eschenbach conducting Britten and Shostakovich on Friday, and then home for Amahl and the night visitor, a very short opera for children written by Gian Carlo Menotti.  I remembered many of the songs from my childhood--"mother, come with me.  I want to be sure that you see what I see!"
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I thought livejournal was up and running again, but cannot get on it now.  Dreamwidth is also running slow--what is going on with the internets!?!
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The 4th of July is my favorite holiday.  It's  a really big deal in Philadelphia.  It was here the country declared its independence, and here that it wrote its constitution, including the Bill of Rights.   It is our holiday and we celebrate it for weeks.   Yesterday after Tai Chi I went to the Asian festival (we are all Americans here!), and then later to fireworks on Penn's Landing, where our part of the great experiment began.  Today went to the farmer's market for local corn and watermelon and tomatoes, then tonight was the Philly Pops concert in front of Independence Hall.  Tomorrow is the parade, the indoor picnic (since it is supposed to be in the 90s and muggy) and then fireworks again, this time on the parkway, after a concert that I will probably be too worn out to listen to. 

I love the food--hot dogs and burgers and fresh from the farm corn and watermelon and ice cream, and Rita's water ice when the afternoon is really, really hot.  I kinda like the heat, too.  I love the noise and the color and I get all misty eyed and sing "God Bless America" at the top of my lungs along with the rest of the crowd, even though I'd argue that exceptionalism is counter productive 51 weeks of the year and they haven't convinced me about God either.

Independence Hall, where it all happened, is kind of small as official buildings go .  When you walk past it day to day, you can't help being aware of how powerful an idea on a piece of paper written behind those doors became, and how fragile it all is--ideas are like that.  

God bless America.  Please.


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