Same spiel, different list. Each book had to be vetted for enjoyment and quality. Great books I’m not crazy about were skipped and trashy books that I could read over and over again were dispensed with.
In no particular order and heavily annotated:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: Can I just say how much I love that the quintessential rags to riches novel isn’t American? Dickens’ Realism is at a height here, providing backgrounds on all major players in the story. It never feels tired or slow. It’s truly a lovely novel to read.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Classify its genre however you want to. Atwood’s dystopic novel envisioning a future where women are categorized by abilities–pregnancy, housekeeper, trophy wife–is horrifying and enraging in the best way possible.
If you’ve paid attention the past few days, my posting schedule has been rather sporadic. I have my reason. Is it technically an excuse? Yes, and I will do my best to be more consistent in the coming weeks.
I’ve been hired to arrange a bunch of music for live strings to perform during a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a high school production, yes, but they’re paying me. It’s not volunteer work and I can’t just pass on it at this point. Plus, it’s the first time since I left NYC that someone is willing to let me do live music arrangements for real. That’s huge.
For the first act, when everyone is in the actual city of Athens, the music is going to be classical. Specifically, I’ll be reworking Mendelssohn’s beautiful orchestral scoring for the show. I’m working off of piano solo versions to make sure that the arrangements are teachable in only a three or so weeks. I have an eleven piece string ensemble and I can easily reduce sheet music like this arrangement of “Scherzo” to fit their needs and abilities.
A little over a month ago, we were threatened with the Rapture. Earthquakes were supposed to destroy the world around 5PM, though the exact time zone was never specified. This didn’t happen. However, I am willing to jump on the Rapture bandwagon and propose a tenuous connection between Harold Camping’s billboard blitz and the recent resurgence of Bible-themed productions hitting the NYC stages.
Even if it is a coincidence, there just seems to have been a larger than normal density of Christian-themed or inspired shows in the area. Last fall, playwright/actor Charles Busch put on a well-reviewed run of his nun-spoof The Divine Sister. This play saw him don a habit as all the cliches of nun-based theater–singing nuns, dancing nuns, nuns in peril, nuns questioning their faith, nuns becoming governesses, etc.–were skewered and adhered to in a way that only Charles Busch can do. It closed 20 days before the alleged Rapture.
Another nun play made it all the way to Broadway. High was a bit more risque in subject matter. A nun is put in charge of a young drug addict’s therapy and rehabilitation program, which only pushes her to danger of falling back into her old habits as well. The show did not receive great reviews, had poor box office performance, and closed 27 days before The Rapture.
More nuns arrived on Broadway around the same time.
There’s an interesting theater experiment going on in NYC right now. Christine Jones, the Tony Award winning set designer of American Idiot, has developed a project called Theatre for One. Essentially, an individual enters a private booth inspired by peep shows and is pulled into a one on one theatrical experience with an actor on the other side of the booth.
On Tuesday 3 May 2011, the nominations for the 65th Annual Tony Awards were announced. I have to say that I’m rather happy with the direction the nominators went in. With the exception of Wonderland (more about that later today), all of the major musical productions of the 2010-2011 Broadway season were recognized in categories that fit. For example, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson had a great book and set design and was nominated accordingly.
The big news from the awards is not The Book of Mormon‘s 14 nominations, but The Scottsboro Boys‘ 12 nominations.
The New York Times has a fascinating article about Punchdrunk’s production of Sleep No More. Punchdrunk is a British theater company that puts on immersive theatrical events. Essentially, you, the viewer, become entwined in the narrative and interact with the sets, cast, and story.
Sleep No More is a hybrid adaptation of Macbeth and Rebecca. You arrive at a designated time at the converted theater-space to join a party already in progress. You go from room to room, picking up on threads of the story and arranging them in your own mind into the actual narrative.
The best (and rather unfitting) comparison I can make is to a professional haunted house attraction. There, too, you are given a little bit of a narrative framework to go by. You then enter room after room, exploring the sights, sounds, and smells of a story that isn’t quite what it appears to be. Sleep No More is similar in conceptual planning but goes far beyond the linearity of such an attraction.
War Horse is an upcoming play transferring from a successful production at London’s West End. It is based on the acclaimed children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo and features, as you saw above, incredible puppetry.