Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stratford Sundries, 3

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

1. I realized today that we tend to work all morning, then play all afternoon and evening (except, of course, when I'm napping back in the room; Joyce is not a napper--and I think I'll have to do a post about that one day--when I'm awake). This morning I read my 100 pp/day quota (self-imposed) for Kirkus, worked on tomorrow's doggerel, read some of a novel by Matt Richtel (whose new nonfiction work I'll be reviewing soon for the Plain Dealer). Now we're back in the room, both of us with computers fired up, working. Nerds on Holiday--sounds like a good idea for a movie, actually.

Soon we'll have lunch and head back to the Festival Theater to see Crazy for You, the Gershwins' musical.

Wednesday, 5:45 p.m.

2. We loved it. It's assembled from some of the Gershwins' songs (some famous, some not) and a silly story--but who cares? The dancing was spectacular, the singing wonderful, and while I sat through "I Got Rhythm" and "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Embraceable You" and "Shall We Dance?" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and others, I wept like a little baby who's just been informed he's going to grow up to be a wuss like me.

The male lead--Josh Franklin--was excellent, and the woman (Natalie Daradich) a little less--but some of the dancers were just astonishing--made my knees ache just to watch them. Stratford veteran Tom Rooney (1st time I've seen him in a musical) showed he's a song-and-dance man, too (as well as a fine Shakespearean actor). 

We don't usually see the musicals up here (we come for the Shakespeare--snooty, aren't we?), but it was George and Ira Gershwin, you know? So I'm glad we went ... more than glad.

3. As we emerged from the Festival Theater (a mile or more away from our room), the heavens opened, providing some thunder for fear, some lightning for lighting ... we both had umbrellas with us, but they were about as useful as a lesson plan in a middle school (kidding). We were both pretty wet when we arrived at County Food Co., the little shop where we go for supper. The workers there enjoyed our drenched-dog appearance ...

4. Tonight we go to the little Studio Theater (a very adjustable space) to see Christina, the Girl King, a show about which I right now know nada ...

Thursday, 11:30 a.m.

5. Christina, a new work by Canadian playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, was a fine play about the 17th century Swedish monarch who renounced the throne and headed off to live the way she wanted to--a way the show made very clear: sexual freedom, the passion to be a lover of other women. Jenny Young was very good in the title role and was ably supported by the wonderful Graham Abbey (Count Johan Oxenstiema) and Wayne Best (Chancellor). Abbey portrayed a vile narcissist, who, though brought up closely with Christina--almost like her brother--is interested only in his own attractions. It was simultaneously funny and profoundly creepy.

Many references in this contemporary play to contemporary events and cultural changes--our cultural narcissism (we created the Selfie!), our anti-intellectualism (politicians have to conceal their education and erudition, if they have any), our ongoing wars, the intermingling of religion and politics, etc. Some of these references were a little too obtrusive for me: He needed to give the audience a little more credit.

6. I don't want to make too much of this, but ...   This morning, at the coffee shop, I sat near three men--local businessmen all--who were engaged in a wide-ranging conversation about books and global politics. They talked about novels they were reading, about the situation in the Ukraine, about the Russian Revolution, about Putin, about Syria, about the political divides in the United States, and on and on. Their conversation evinced no hostility, no firm and fixed positions. Their attitudes were inquisitive, tentative, speculative. I almost literally wept with admiration. I so often (over)hear conversations that aren't: People regurgitate what they've heard on Fox or MSNBC, what they just read on their favorite partisan websites. Nothing subtle, all judgmental. No ambiguity, no uncertainty. "This is the way it is"--their only message, really. So often, we do not listen to one another; we simply declare positions and do not consider the possibility that things might be a bit more complex than we think they are.

What I saw/heard this morning might well have been anomalous--but what it really was? Refreshing.

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