Sunday
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kitgordon
Well, opening night went very well and we've already had two positive reviews (on the How Was the Show? site and on the  Twin Cities Daily Planet--both online publications), which is delightful. Both critics, John Olive and Matt Everett recognize the challenges the show offers--and the fact that it may not appeal to everyone--but they both encourage audiences to see it. What more can one ask? I'll be working at the show on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons throughout the run, and also plan to be there for the strike following the final performance on Saturday, July 27. At some point, I'll definitely plan to watch it again; I find it a fascinating show.

Last night I finished reading Kate Atkinson's latest novel, Life after Life, which was very compelling. I really liked what she was doing with the narrative, and the multiple life/story lines she explored. The second world war sections were, not surprisingly, the most powerful, but all of it was intriguing, fascinating, what have you. She is an amazing writer. I've read quite a few of her novels, though not the earliest ones; I may have to go back and check those out as well.

This afternoon I saw the encore screening of the National Theatre Live's The Audience, with the amazing Helen Mirren. An intricate, politically fascinating exploration of Queen Elizabeth II's relationships with a variety of her prime ministers, explored through the completely off-the-record weekly audiences she has with them. The playwright, Peter Morgan (who was interviewed during the intermission), essentially used what factual knowledge we have about events at the various periods (both public and personal) to imagine the conversations that may have occurred. He talked about exploring "truth" rather than "accuracy," and did, I think, a fine job. I got a real sense of the people behind the positions; performances, not surprisingly, were excellent. They also did a promotion for an upcoming screening: Othello with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear, which looks terrific. Adrian Lester was my favorite Hamlet (in Peter Brooks's production, which we saw in Chicago) in the year in which I saw, I think, four different productions of the play. They'll also be doing Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth later this year, and the Donmar's production of Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss in January.

I just went to the National Theatre Live website to see where they screen the plays in the UK, and (oh, joy!) there are screenings in Truro, as well as many other spots. But that's the best spot in Cornwall--and even a place where we've looked at living, though I'd still like to be further west. But we shall see.


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opening night
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kitgordon
Let's see: yesterday night we saw Iron Man 3; it was okay, but I had my usual complaints--too many chases, fights, explosions. The actual narrative pieces, including Tony Stark's panic attacks, were intriguing, and I loved the kid he hooked up with. I enjoy summer blockbusters (well, at the second run house, where tickets cost $2 or $3 depending on the time of day--actually we can always get in for $2, since we're "seniors," but I love the Riverview, so I always pay $3 when I'm buying), but do we really need all the mayhem? We've now seen previews for Gatsby twice (last night and when we saw 42), and I think we'll plan to see it, for the visuals if nothing else. And Bob never read the book, and doesn't remember seeing any earlier film version; I know I saw the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow one, which I remember enjoying well enough. Also coming soon: Star Trek: Into Darkness, which I definitely want to see again (despite fights, chases, explosions) because Benedict Cumberbatch is such a delicious villain.

Tonight is opening night for Camino Real, and we had preview articles in both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, so I hope that will bring in the audiences. It is a challenging, but I think very powerful and moving play; we'll see how it goes. Openings are always fun in any case, so I'm looking forward to that. The rest of the weekend should be pretty low key, though I'm planning to see the encore screening of the National Theatre Live production of The Audience with Helen Mirren on Sunday.  This entry was originally posted at http://kitgordon.dreamwidth.org/11185.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

recent events
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kitgordon
Went to see Joss Whedon's Much Ado about Nothing yesterday with Jonah and Molly and really enjoyed it. Odd to see it set in the present given the military references, etc., but that was easily ignored given the quality of the performances and the clarity of the language (nice job there! most impressive, as were the performances all round). I liked some of the choices made for various characters. Since this is a play I've seen multiple times (as well as seeing Branagh's film version multiple times as well), I could recite most of the text with the characters, which was fun. I did not do this aloud, of course.

Last night was a Camino Real dress rehearsal, and this morning at 11 am, we had a final dress/preview for a small invited audience; both went well--a good thing, since tomorrow is opening night.

For a final holiday event, we're off the Riverview Theater to see Iron Man 3 shortly. We probably won't do fireworks, since we were both up early this morning, and I have mixed responses to Independence Day; I love the promise of it, but am regularly disappointed in our supposedly representative government, busy spying on other nations as well as its own citizens, and prosecuting whistle blowers who are, in my view, better patriots than those who are attacking them.   This entry was originally posted at http://kitgordon.dreamwidth.org/10848.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

books and such
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kitgordon
Two notable events today, in the sense that both made me say "yes" enthusiastically: I've just started reading Guy Gavriel Kay's River of Stars, and the "yes!" came at the end of the third chapter, when I knew I was totally hooked by the story. I have always enjoyed his work and look forward to continuing with this one; he's someone I admire both for his remarkable story telling and for his wonderful writing style. The second "yes" occurred multiple times during our viewing of the film 42, the story of Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball as the first African-American player; a great story, and I thought the film was very well done--terrific performances all around. I look forward to seeing more work by Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, who played Jackie and his wife Rachel. And while I've never been a big Harrison Ford fan, I thought he was excellent in this. Local actor T. R. Knight (formerly at the Guthrie Theater) was another delight.

I also recently read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which I recommend. And I gave up on David Shields's memoir, How Literature Saved My Life (I should have remembered that I really don't like most contemporary memoirs, but had read some positive comments about this one and was, admittedly, a sucker for the title since it describes how I feel about things most of the time). But you can't win them all. This entry was originally posted at http://kitgordon.dreamwidth.org/10593.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

dealing with sexual harassment
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kitgordon
So this ugly thing happened to the amazing and wonderful Elise Matthesen; read and share.

http://www.jimchines.com/2013/06/how-to-report-sexual-harassment-by-elise-matthesen/

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traveling on the camino real
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kitgordon
We are now not quite a week and a half from the opening of Girl Friday's production of Camino Real by Tennessee Williams (see www.girlfridayproductions.org if you're in the Twin Cities and interested); it's a pretty amazing, but very complex show--I think I called it "poetic surrealism" in a conversation, as opposed to Williams's earlier plays, which I called "poetic realism"--and the director, actors, designers are all doing a remarkable job. The play combines historic and literary characters with ones created by the playwright, all enmeshed in a sort of limbo/purgatory that is a semi-military state. So it's about politics and art and life and death and love and dreams. It encompasses multiple stories and a more-or-less linear narrative within a circular one: it works with dream logic rather than traditional rational thought. The further we explore it, the more intrigued I am. While it was written in 1953, during the post-warm boom years in the U.S., which were also the years of anti-communist hysteria, its concerns seems oddly relevant sixty years later. One of the characters, the Baron de Charlus, from Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, represents some aspect of homosexual experience (I don't think "gay" was a current term at the time of the play--and certainly not at the time of the novel), which was considered very daring at the time. Early reviews were not especially kind, though some did appreciate what Williams was attempting. It has made me want to look at some of his later work, which followed more in the footsteps of this play that of those that were more successful (and which are still more often produced). I really look forward to seeing it all come together.

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Fourth Street, thunderstorms, and wonder
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kitgordon
This past weekend was the Fourth Street Fantasy Convention/Conversation, held in the nearby suburb of St. Louis Park. It was, as always, amazing and wonderful. We had additional excitement when a major thunderstorm passed through early Friday evening, leaving the hotel (and over a half-million other homes and business in the Twin Cities) without power. We went on, however, for a full day before power was restored around 7:45 pm on Saturday. People were amazingly helpful and resourceful. Power is still out in a number of homes today (I heard about 42,000 on the radio this morning). I took a walk around Lake Calhoun a while ago, and saw at least a dozen trees down, and the dock on the southeast corner of the lake had been pulled from its mooring (although it's tied up now, it can't be used yet). The convention was invigorating; writers present included Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Scott Lynch, Skyler White, Patricia Wrede, Pamela Dean, Lois McMaster Bujold, Pete Hautman, Ellen Klages; editors included Beth Meacham (Tor) and Lynne Thomas (Apex Magazine). Lots of other writers and readers as well. The panels were great and I learned a lot as always. Got to touch base with some old friends and meet some new ones. Everyone made a special effort to welcome newcomers, of whom there were quite a few. Now it's back to rehearsals for Camino Real, library volunteering, and other fun. Bob and I may take a long weekend to visit my siblings and cousin in Milwaukee sometime this month, and it looks like daughter Jane and her special guy Steven will visit for a week in early August (happily in time for the opening of the Minnesota Fringe Festival).

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this is retirement?
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kitgordon
So, I have completed my first week of retirement, in which I:
volunteered at Washburn Library twice, went to Camino Real rehearsals Monday through Thursday evenings, helped host and attended the opening night of Theatre Pro Rata's Emilie: The Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight (if you live in the Twin Cities, go! it's splendid), took two walks around Lake Calhoun (one with good pal Beverly), got a haircut, practiced the lute every day, had a lute lesson, did some reading. I also regularly checked email and other social media, and had a little fun exploring Sherlock fan fiction. I think I'll be able to adjust to this life. In other news, very talented daughter Jane is part of an "emerging artists" exhibition in Albuquerque. It opened last night, and she not only received one of four monetary prizes, she was also invited to prepare a solo exhibition to accompany the 2014 emerging artists show. We'll be seeing son Jonah and daughter-in-law Molly later today (after today's Camino Real rehearsal) at an informal gathering for Jonah's good buddy Ethan and his bride-to-be Kay near Lake Nokomis. And this evening, we're off to Nimbus to see Tesla!

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new year
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kitgordon
[I posted this yesterday on Dreamwidth, but it failed to crosspost; something about the wrong password.]

Ah, yes, another year, another post (it does feel that way at times, since I'm not a very active contributor anywhere online). But since I just took the opportunity to vote in the poll about end-of-year donations, I thought I might as well put down a thought or two. This year is especially interesting because I will make a dramatic life change when I retire at the end of May--after 40 years at the University if we include my time as a student. Most of it has been wonderful, with the occasional bump in the road along the way. I hope these last few months will be both enjoyable and productive. Everyone's first question after they learn about my retirement is "what are you going to do?" That is the question. Spend more time reading, volunteering, working on theater projects, traveling, hanging with friends. Bob and I are still considering the possibility of moving abroad for at least a while--mostly in order to make travel easier (if you're already on the other side of the Atlantic, traveling to other parts of Europe, the Middle East, etc. is simpler and cheaper). And I've been dreaming of living in Cornwall since my very first visit there in 1978. We shall see. For the immediate future, in addition to work, I have my on-going commitments as a board member (and occasional dramaturg/research guru) at Theatre Pro Rata, and I'm working at present as the dramaturg for a production of Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well that will run from mid-February to early March at Theatre in the Round. We'll also be flying to Albuquerque for Jane's MFA show and presentation, and then to Los Angeles for a few days with Bob's family. So life will continue to be interesting.

Thanksgiving
north pole sunset
kitgordon
We will be doing an atypical Thanksgiving this year, though it's one we've done in the past. Jonah and Molly, Bob and I will be going to a movie (Life of Pi) and then having our Thanksgiving dinner at the Darbar Grill, an Indian restaurant on Lake Street. I think we started doing this initially when we still had a traditional meal, but we'd go to a movie while the turkey was cooking. Then, when Bob started visiting his family in Los Angeles over the holiday weekend, Jane and Jonah and I started doing it. No worries about cooking; our only real regret is the lack of leftovers, but since we are only two at home now, that's not a major issues. We always have lots of leftovers (though not turkey), since whatever we cook usually serves for two or three meals. I'm thankful for a successful election, a wonderful family, many good friends, employment (though anticipating retirement now in just over six months), and the many wonderful things that makes this a beautiful world. I'm also thankful for all the people who are committed to making it an even more beautiful and equitable one.

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