Archive for the ‘Things To Do’ Category

No Child

November 29, 2007

Have you ever gone to see a performance that received a standing ovation? Usually there is some hesitation. First you wonder, “is somebody going to stand up?” Then you wonder, “is everybody going to stand up?” Well, have you ever seen a show where there was no doubt, and everybody jumped to their feet at the end? Last night’s opening of “No Child” at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts was the no-doubt kind. It was a first for me, I think.

“No Child” is a one-woman show by Nilaja Sun. It is a fictionalized account of Sun’s experience teaching theater at Malcolm X High School in the Bronx—sort of a modern-day, female “To Sir, With Love.” Sun plays all the characters, from the children to the Principal to the parents and the janitor. She switches from role to role in an amazing rapid-fire Robin-Williamsesque style. But unlike Robin Williams, each character takes over Sun’s entire body. You can tell who is talking from his or her posture and body language alone.

The performance was astonishing. I’m glad I saw it. I’m going to cherish it like a trophy. I’ve always been envious that my father actually saw Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady on Broadway. Well, I saw Nilaja Sun in “No Child.” Yeah, that was awesome.

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Veiled Monologues

October 17, 2007

veiled10-500x249.jpgI saw The Veiled Monologues at the Zero Arrow Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts last night. It is billed as “a vital, surprising, and poetic portrait of love and relationships in the Islamic community” in Holland. It seemed to me more of a relentless and depressing portrait of female oppression. From Death of a Princess to Not Without my Daughter to Reading Lolita in Tehran, we see plenty of this narrative (“doesn’t the old world suck?”). I was kind of hoping for something different.

Katz and Snyder Team Up Live

February 26, 2007

katz.jpgFriend and mentor, Tom Snyder, is directing “WORKING the ROOM: An Evening with Jonathan Katz and Friends” this Friday and Saturday at Jimmy Tingle’s OFF BROADWAY Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts. For fans of their hit Comedy Channel series, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, this is a must-see.

Burns Supper

January 28, 2007

haggis.jpegEvery nation has its traditional holidays. Scotland is the only country I know of with a ritual celebration of its national poet (Robert Burns). How great is that! The celebration is called a Burns Supper. It always includes drinking scotch whiskey, reciting poetry, and eating a dreadfully unappetizing traditional sausage called “haggis.”

I went to my first ever Burns Supper last night. I was nervous enough about eating haggis to consider bringing a granola bar as a backup meal. However, surprise #1: the haggis was quite edible—even good, served with mashed potatoes and rutabaga.

Surprise #2: I loved the poetry. I am not usually a big fan of poetry readings. Maybe it had something to do with the 3 different single malt scotches I tried. Anyway, my favorite poem was “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough.” This stanza stayed with me all day today (and not just because it is the only one in English):

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

Boys’ Night Out

January 23, 2007

I spent Saturday night camping out with my son (and 200 other dads & lads) on the U.S.S. Massachusetts.

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What’s not to like about running free through an enourmous indoor-outdoor playground/maze, bristling with guns of all sizes? We took a knot-tying class, did Q & A with WWII vets, listened to a storyteller, and watched the classic 1964 Warner Brothers film, The Incredible Mr. Limpet.

Yes, the 16-inch guns were memorable. But what stuck with me was the movie. The Incredible Mr. Limpet stars Don Knotts as the sad loser whose dreams come true when he magically turns into a fish and helps the US Navy win World War II. I loved this movie as a child. Seeing it again, I was surprised by a certain plot element that must have been lost on my pre-adolescent mind. Limpet’s wife Bessie is clearly attracted to another man—Limpet’s best friend George. Bessie and George would much rather be out dancing together than dealing with the boring Limpet. Then, when Limpet turns into a fish, he meets the beautiful Ladyfish, who wants to go with him to the spawning grounds. Limpet resists until he has a chance to talk it over with his wife and to get her blessing. Limpet and Bessie agree that a union between a woman and a fish is not practical, and they run off happily with their more compatible mates.

Is it a child’s primer on divorce? Or is it a metaphor for another kind of identity crisis? In any case, it is beautifully nuanced—not at all the heavy-handed style you might see in a modern movie.

Play by David Schrag

January 16, 2007

David Schrag, friend and IT professional extraordinaire, has written a short play, “Life Savings,” that will be performed as part of a theater festival in Middleboro, Massachusetts, February 9. See this post on David’s blog.

Connecticut Gets into The Act!

January 10, 2007

cabinet-photo-med.jpgThe Act is now on location at the Se Condi truck stop in Milford, Connecticut (exit 40 off I95—halfway between New Haven and Bridgeport). We had such success at a truck stop in New Hampshire, we thought we’d try another one. 🙂

For up-to-date location listings, check the web site.

The Onion Cellar

January 1, 2007

One of the highlights my vacation was seeing three live shows in the space of eight days—a record, I think, since having kids.

The best of the three by far was The Onion Cellar—an experimental collaboration between The Dresden Dolls (a rock duo), and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The point of the experiment is to produce a cathartic emotional experience for the audience.

There is no main plot in The Onion Cellar—only a handful of short dramatic vignettes. But that is okay. It is basically the Dresden Dolls’ regular “brechtian punk cabaret” show, plus a bit of story and some world-class acting talent.

The music combined with the dramatic vignettes definitely add up to a more powerful whole than the sum of the individual parts. Bottom line: the experiment works.

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Now through January 13, Zero Arrow Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tickets $15 (student rush) – $50

Baxter Park Acquires Katahdin Lakes

December 22, 2006

Jerry and Marcy MonkmanThe Portland Press Herald reports that one of my favorite places, Baxter State Park in Maine, has just expanded its borders by acquiring a key, adjacent parcel of land. The puchase was funded by the charitable contributions of hundreds of individuals, corporations and foundations.

The 200,000 acre park is unique among state and national parks in the United States. Most other parks, including all National Parks, are managed with the express purpose of enabling human enjoyment of the land. Baxter State Park is managed under the guidelines of a trust written by the late Percival Baxter. The rules are clear: the park is for the wildlife, and human visitors are barely tolerated. The trust keeps the wilderness pristine, and the experience of visiting it difficult and humbling.

Attendance at the park has been declining steadily since 1996. Studies have shown that all wilderness recreation has been suffering, due in part to gasoline prices, but also because of—God help us—video games.

Despite the fact that making video games has been my livelihood for the past 24 years, I think it’s a shame that the appeal of video games has taken away from people’s desire to experience the wild. The human race has been around for 250,000 years—human civilization only 13,000. I enjoy Baxter State Park, because there I can be in touch with what the world was like for the first 237,000. It helps me keep things in perspective.

The Act at Cityside!

November 28, 2006

cityside-logo.pngThe Act is now installed at Cityside Bar and Grille in Cleveland Circle (1960 Beacon St., Brighton, Massachusetts). Cityside looks like a fun place! They have Team Trivia every Wednesday night and speed dating once a month. Um… I won’t be trying that—but the steak tips look good! 🙂