Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Lot Like Chirstmas

Impossible – the end of this year is so close I feel incredible relief. Everything I did all this year went askew. Nothing major, despite a heart scare and other physical ills, but everything had some little pesky problem.
I got to see the play “Stick Fly” – and suspect its title will be its undoing. It took a while to warm up to the play. Finally got into it in the second act, but still found many performances unconvincing and the plot contrived. I was annoyed by the sitcom attempts at humor. Love Dule Hill on Psych as much as I liked him on The West Wing – but on stage in this? His charisma was lost.
Also noted, as I had back in the days when I helped with publicity for Eubie and Sophisticated Ladies, that the audience had very few dark faces among the white bread crowd. I still see far more black and Asian peoples attending dance than theater.
Was delighted by BalletNY performance at Alvin Ailey. Very short program but each piece beautifully done. I loved the romantic little duos more than the full ensemble dances, but all 4 pieces were well worth seeing. Catch them in later performances when you can.

Disappointing was the film much touted in all publicity about a little boy whose dad dies in the towers on 9/11, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. While it was absorbing, far from being a 4 handkerchief film as I had heard, it never touched me at all. Thomas Horn gave a dazzling performance as the young boy, but Max von Sydow stole the film for me.
A film which absolutely captivated me from its opening to its final credits was The Artist. I knew nothing about it when I went to the screening, and was so utterly caught up in it that I felt transported. I am so pleased to see charm and peaceful pleasures restored to the entertainment world which I feel has gone too far into the gaudy, gauche and ghastly.
Was delighted to lunch with Valerie Taylor-Barnes, widow of Clive Barnes, and reminisce with her about the theater/dance critic whom I had first met in the late seventies in Massachusetts. The resulting interview will appear in Art Times Journal in the January/February issue on line and in print.
Did a reading from my book IMAGICS and other family stories at an artists exhibit which featured a literary salon a few weeks back. Very attentive and enthusiastic audience of artists and their friends. I was one of 9 readers – three of which were good, two of which were a disaster, but audience polite throughout. No books sold, far as I could see, but enjoyable experience all around.
Will be reading several stories from latest kids book, Gremlins, Genies and Trolls. Oh My! at the holiday bazaar at MCCNY in Jackson Hall 446 W 36 St, Dec. 18 every hour on the hour, if I can manage to mount the steps which will be like anyone else scaling a mountain. Joys of age and a trick knee that has gotten me down for over 60 years.

Which is a perfect segue to

The Pleasant Dreams set of children’s read-to-me fantasy stories has been raking in raves from mom blogs all around the country. One of my favorites was the mom whose little kid wanted to see more pictures, so he wandered off, playing but listening. She was to tell him when another picture appeared. She got caught up in the reading and so he had to come over himself to see where the pictures were.
I am reading a three novels volume of William Dean Howells, a late nineteenth century author. Fascinating – his novels are written in great detail of the emotional and mental landscapes of their characters. They feel as current as any story today of responsibility, love and concern for others.
Also reading a series of plays by Thomas Bradshaw. After finishing the fourth, I feel as if I am reading the same basic play from various perspectives with people clothed in different names and occupations.
Each play bears the admonition that it should be played with utmost honesty and sincerity. A necessary note since the plays are so outrageously ironic it is hard to keep a straight face while reading them. They point out the self deception which permits most people to continue to function in the world today. I think they need to be taken in small doses, reading the body of the work gets one cross eyed…at least this one.
Also just finished reading Shelley’s Ghost a book about all the correspondence and memorabilia of thepoet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her parents, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and William Godwin.
This book is a unique take on the forgeries that were passed off by collectors over a century ago, and of the editing each did to maintain the image he/she hd of th subject.
I have read several dozen books of Shelley and Byron and their friends sicne I first fellin love with the poet and his work in my early teens. I even wrote a musicalplay about him which William Gison kindly read and his ain cmment was that I did ot allow anyof Shelley’s faults into the script. But when the world saw as his faults, I saw as his strengths, so it was thus I portrayed them. Yes, I too, had my prejudicial view of the unusual young man who created such marvelous poems.
On my first trip to London over 25 years ago, I wandered around and kept ending up in some place which had strong Shellyan memories. I recall reading in the guest book at John Keats; home some years later on another London sojourn, that they didn’t know if Shelley had ever been in the house or not. I said I was sure he had not because I had no visceral reaction to the inside of the house, and I did have to all the other locales I had visited.
I was such a Shelley fanatic in my High School years that my English teacher dubbed me Lady Jane, who was Shelley’s daughter in law. Lady Jane worshipped the poet whom she had never met and established many memorials to him, including two incredible life sized works of sculpture. One at Oxford University, where a British friend of mine had purchased this book for me, the other near Boscombe Mansion in Bournemouth where his son Percy and Lady Jane Shelley lived.
I have also just begun reading Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s creek which I must have read many years ago, but which I am relishing anew.

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