2020! Can It Finally Be Over?

Good grief, what a year. This year should always be punctuated with an exclamation point. 2020! It’s a year we thought would be the end for us in so many ways, but somehow we survived. How lucky we are. 

All our family members who contracted Covid-19 this year have survived and remain healthy. We have been masking and isolating and socially distancing since mid-March, and the area hospitals are currently filled to capacity with nearly 0% ICU beds available. The newspaper says ambulances are now circling for hours sometimes searching for a hospital with a vacant bed. And today, the new more-contagious strain of the virus popped up in the U.S. for the first time, in Colorado. In a word: frightening.

On a brighter note, we’re happy the election is over and all the attempts to overturn its results have failed. Better days are ahead of us. Please, if you live in Georgia, vote for Ossoff and Warnock in the January 5 runoff if you haven’t already voted.

The single best thing to happen to us personally is this adorable addition to our family—a furry little daughter. She’s a Maltipoo, and came to live with us on Father’s Day weekend this year. Welcome to our world, Princess MoMo Moonpie!

The new ruler of our household: Princess MoMo Moonpie.

The Los Angeles Times had an interesting two-page spread in their OpEd section Sunday that illustrates this wild ride of a year. Here’s a link (may be behind a paywall). https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-12-26/2020-year-comic-pandemic-election-protests

Here’s the great Kevin C. Pyle 2020! illustration that appeared in Sunday’s LATimes.

Please give generously to your local nonprofit theatre company. They have all been dealt a near lethal blow during these nine months of shut-down. Just a few days prior to everything closing down in March, my friend from Georgia was here visiting, and we attended a performance of Fountain Theatre‘s Human Interest Story, a new play written by Stephen Sachs. It was the last time I was in a theater of any kind. Even then, during intermission, the people sitting next to us were checking their phones and reported that Stanford University was shutting down in-person classes for the year. A few days later, our whole world shut down. Please give your financial support if you can to the hard working local arts community. They need it now more than ever.

So, goodbye 2020! I will make no resolutions for the new year because I can’t stand expectations and setting unrealistic goals. In the words of a certain dictator-wannabe, “It is what it is.”

Signing off for 2020! Have a happy, sane, healthy 2021, and, when it’s safe, go see a show!

Another “Midsummer Night’s Dream”

This is an intriguing staging of Shakespeare’s great fairy-and-rustics comedy. The trilling strings in the background give it a bit of a sinister edge in places. The performance of Bottom the Weaver is one of the best I’ve seen. Most fascinating is the switch-up of Oberon and Titania’s roles (she being played by the towering Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame), swapping their dialogue from the original. Shakespeare can definitely withstand the tinkering. Check it out.

Black Lives Matter…in the Theatre, too.

The past two weeks have seen the streets of our city–and cities everywhere–filled with people of all races marching and calling for change. Ending anti-black violence and police brutality is the goal. After three young black people were murdered with impunity, and right before our eyes in some cases thanks to those video cameras in our pockets, the world has decided we can’t take it anymore. Too many times this violence has been allowed, dismissed, ignored. Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin… But this time feels different. Change is gonna come, I swear. This time it will.
Amplifying black voices is what must happen. Seeking justice is what must happen. Let’s get this done, people.
And black voices in the theatre must be heard as well. The NYTimes ran this story recently about an unseen script by Lorraine Hansberry, on a fascinating topic that’s been swept under the rug of visibility. I hope we see The Marrow of Tradition on stage someday soon.

Beckett and Our Pandemic Times

The theatre critic from the Los Angeles Times wrote a great essay last week about Samuel Beckett and how living through this coronavirus pandemic reminded him what the writer has to say about the futility of these times, suffering, aloneness. Very interesting, but possibly behind a paywall.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-05-25/coronavirus-pandemic-samuel-beckett

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-05-25/coronavirus-pandemic-samuel-beckett

Theatre In A Pandemic

Here’s a great story on the Deadline website. Prolific theatre and television director Matt Shakman brings stage magic to the virtual, online world with the Geffen Playhouse’s latest online offering. It’s a Zoom magic show called The Present, produced by the Geffen. I’m so glad to see artists in the theatre keeping the good work coming even under these difficult circumstances.

The Geffen’s page about The Present says the production is sold out, but their instructions are interesting. It’s very interactive, and each audience member is mailed a package that they have to open during the show. Check it out here.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And here is the Deadline review of The Present.

When Zoom Becomes A Thing

Theatre lives! Long live theatre.

Students and others who are confined by the coronavirus have adapted by making Zoom a platform for legit performance. Is this lemonade out of lemons? Adapting to survive? Evolution? Some new-play contests are also offering prizes for plays written in this new format. Specifically, the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, whose deadline is next month. Whatever it takes, right? Who will be our Stanislavsky or Brecht of the digital theatre? What could Samuel Beckett have done with this?

“Hey, Stella!!!”

More streaming theatre comes to your browser or your Apple TV this week from National Theatre in London. It’s everyone’s favorite Southern Belle who’s seen better days, Blanche Dubois. Being from the south, I always felt an affinity for the works of Mr. Tennessee Williams, and “A Streetcar Named Desire” is one of his greatest works.

This pandemic is horrible but one bright spot has been all the great plays we’re seeing.

And if you remember the great Marlon Brando’s version, here’s a sample.

Theatre To The Rescue

Twelfth Night, who knew? National Theatre of London posted Twelfth Night for a week on their YouTube channel. Free! Their production almost completely changed my opinion of that comedy. I’ve never really loved the show. The revenge on Malvolio seemed a little too harsh for me. Sure he’s a jerk, but maybe just revealing he’s been duped after seeing him preening in the outlandish costume would have been enough? National Theatre’s production cast a female Malvolia, making her a lesbian and giving the revenge an even harsher edge. But this amazing production and these talented British actors opened my eyes to what TN could be. Thanks to Fathom Events, I’ve been able to see the National Theatre’s productions on the big screen when they were simulcast around the world into movie theatres. I’ve seen their Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra that way. Both were enjoyable, but neither was as superb as TN. A&C is coming soon, but beware if you have a phobia of snakes. They use a live snake at the end for the famous (spoiler alert) suicide scene.

https://www.youtube.com/user/ntdiscovertheatre

A few other theatres have also begun posting their productions for free during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re lucky to have these great plays to binge.

Including, Shakespeare’s Globe:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ShakespearesGlobe

and Stratford Festival:

https://www.youtube.com/user/stratfordfestival/videos

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“Tim, I used to like you!”

That was the comment I got from an old co-worker after I texted a picture of a particularly scrumptious meal that N served during the early weeks of our Coronavirus Confinement. I know she was only joking, but we thought it was funny. At the risk of alienating any friends here, I thought I would post some pictures of the amazing meals my partner in quarantine has been whipping up while we’re stuck at home.

#Coronavirus #ConfinementCuisine #DinnersUnderLockdown #food