Some links: 84

All theater-themed links today!

  • Mike Nussbaum, “reportedly the oldest working stage actor in America,” talks to Scott Simon.
  • Mark Liberman speculates about the origins of the signature phrase from Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood, “I’m here to be told.”
  • David Kortava watches fight choreographer B. H. Barry design a brawl for the Met’s Faniculla del West.

    His principal concern, though, was that the scene’s most stirring moment, in which an actor leaps from a balcony, occurs too early in the sequence. “Rudolf Nureyev”—the late Soviet ballet dancer—“taught me never to open all your Christmas presents at once,” Barry said….

  • Another map of the New Orleans streetcar network that would have helped Blanche Dubois get where she needed to go.
Posted in Theater | Comments Off on Some links: 84

Huntley Meadows herps and birds

mystery partly solvedI got a leg up on understanding the mystery yellow flower that I’ve seen blooming in the marsh. According to the trip co-leader, Alonso Abugattas, it’s an aggressive non-native water-primrose. I would like to come back and check it more closely, but if he’s correct that it’s the non-native, that would make it Ludwigia grandiflora ssp. hexapetala.

surprise 1asurprise 1bThe surprise plant was Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). I’ve looked out from the tower many a time but never at a time when I could see these trees in fruit.

cute newtWe were trying to focus on herps, but the plants and insects caught our attention, too. Alonso found a few Eastern Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus).

Co-leader Mary Benger showed us the birds to be found. A couple of shorebirds passing through, a handful of Great Egrets. Red-headed Woodpecker made an appearance.

Posted in In the Field | Tagged | Comments Off on Huntley Meadows herps and birds

St. Louis art & tech crawl: add one

JAOne more building caught my eye: boarded up, carrying signs with a defunct URL, and graffitoed, the Hotel Jefferson patiently awaits restoration and a return to service.

Posted in Art and Architecture | Tagged | Comments Off on St. Louis art & tech crawl: add one

Saint Louis art & tech crawl

I attended the Strange Loop conference in St. Louis this past week. I got a little time to have a look at the city, which I haven’t seen since I visited my departed friend Jim Wilson in University City many years ago. Ted Drewes is still there, although you can buy a concrete from a vending machine in the airport now.

faded oneI found another fallout shelter sign, this one exposed to the weather and badly faded.

texture and shinelined upRichard Serra’s quadrilateral Twain is not in great condition, and the landscaping around it is a bit lumpy and wild (perhaps by design?), but this iridescence caught my eye. And the framing of the courts building across the street is too perfect to have happened by chance.

fancy topcotta cottaI was sitting in the hotel, eating my breakfast, idly looking out the window, and I spotted a rather fancy looking building a few blocks away. “Let’s take a closer look,” I thought. “That looks interesting.” Oh, yeah. It’s the Wainwright Building.

car 4007I spent a little time birding for the Saint Louis specialty, unsuccessfully, alas. But I did add a light rail system to my list.

double archI found the arch, too! This pair of barrel-vaulted tunnels had been abandoned, but were repurposed by MetroLink. This is the south end of the 8th and Pine station.

Posted in Art and Architecture, Tools and Technology | Tagged , | Comments Off on Saint Louis art & tech crawl

Red lithium grease

Debugging the set for the Met’s Ring production.

When the giant planks spun into new positions — moving swiftly, say, to transform from the forest where the young hero Siegmund is being hunted to the fateful house where he seeks shelter — a whooshing sound could sometimes be heard. Officials dubbed it the “rainstick effect.”

Posted in Music, Theater | Comments Off on Red lithium grease

Tilia

Now, the linden, it turns out, is a radical tree, as different from an oak as a woman is from a man. It’s the bee tree, the tree of peace, whose tonics and teas can cure every kind of tension and anxiety—a tree that cannot be mistaken for any other, for alone in all the catalog of a hundred thousand earthly species, its flowers and tiny hard fruit hang down from surfboard bracts whose sole perverse purpose seems to be to state its own singularity.

—Richard Powers, The Overstory, p. 72

Posted in Botany, Quotable | Comments Off on Tilia

The sizing on the canvas

Twenty Thousand Hertz goes into the booth with a loop group.

Posted in Film, Theater | Comments Off on The sizing on the canvas

Small Mouth Sounds

Bess Wohl’s rewarding, at times challenging play drops six seekers (four strangers and one couple) of varying degrees of attainment into a five-day meditation retreat somewhere in the mountains of the East Coast. What not all of them were aware of when they signed up for this exploration, but what is explained to them by the Teacher (Timothy Douglas) early on, is that the retreat is to be conducted in silence.

The “small mouth sounds” of the title no doubt refer to the productions of the Teacher (who does speak, at length, during the proceedings). Offstage and closely mic’d, we hear every lip smack, sniffle, and popped P. It’s enough to make a sound engineer weep, but it’s in the service of this gently satiric play. Douglas’s Teacher is enlightened, in his own way, but he is also digressive, bemused, and distracted. Wohl captures the paradox of this way of teaching, while stepping back from the edge of parody.

Because the onstage actors are mostly silent, it’s an interesting challenge for us to follow their intentions and perhaps fill in some of their backstories. Most interesting are the scenes where the six sleep more or less communally. We watch their parallel stories as they retire and arise, with an overload of finely built details: sun salutations and bad breath and noisy illicit crunchy snacks.

Michael Glenn, as Ned, gets an opportunity to shine in the one extended monologue given to the sextet, a rambling question for the Teacher that unravels into an autobiography of pain and disaster. Details again: notice how Andrea Harris Smith’s Judy finds the death of Ned’s parents on the L.I.E. hilarious, but she is devastated in the next breath to learn that Ned’s dog has died, too.

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh brings a great physicality to the role of Rodney, the more-Ashtangi-than-thou student. He even finds the hardest way possible to slip on his shoes.

The writing of the later scenes for the Teacher is forced, but the overall experience of the play is positive. Yes, we do live on a charnel ground that we call the World, or the Now; but some of us get a glimpse of something greater.

  • Small Mouth Sounds, by Bess Wohl, directed by Ryan Rilette, Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md.
    Posted in Reviews, Theater | Comments Off on Small Mouth Sounds

    Perspective

    Gravity is the weakest of all known forces (think of how easily a tiny fridge magnet overcomes the downward pull of a planet-sized mass).

    Posted in Physical Sciences | Comments Off on Perspective

    New to me

    Justin Kaplan explains what additional skills a Doctor of Osteopathy brings to the examining room:

    Put simply, “we as DOs were holistic before holistic became cool,” says William Mayo, president of the American Osteopathic Association. DOs are trained to look at the patient’s mind, body and spirit, he says. “You don’t just look at the particular illness, you look at the patient behind the illness and approach it that way.”

    My mother used to work in hospital public relations in the 1970s, and the culture in her hospital at the time was to look down on “osteopaths,” as if they weren’t real doctors. She didn’t elaborate. It’s a good thing I haven’t listened to her, because one of the doctors that has treated me recently is a DO.

    Posted in Health and Medicine | Comments Off on New to me

    Wolf Trap mushrooms

    red tiniesside viewWilliam Needham led a walk focused on fungi. He delivered our destination species, the diminutive fall-fruiting Red Chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus) in a corner of the park that most concertgoers never visit.

    look for the donut holeOn the way back to the cars, another participant (whose name I have forgotten, alas) pointed out Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) and its doughnut-hole field mark on the upper forewing.

    Posted in In the Field | Tagged | Comments Off on Wolf Trap mushrooms

    Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce

    Is there another playwright who shows such skill at introducing characters as Sarah Ruhl? Consider the poetic exposition in which we meet supporting characters Frank and Frances: in a double monologue, each speaking virtually the same text, we learn that Frank began life as an accountant, while Frances gave up physics (“all those angles,” as Tilly says) to open a hair salon.

    It is Tilly (ably played by Billie Krishawn) whose arc commands the play. As she transitions from quiet melancholy (captured in a scene which recreates the Vermeer pearl-earring portrait) to giddy, almost manic happiness, everyone else turns alienated and glum, as if some law of conservation of psychic energy were in force.

    Ruhl revisits some classical themes—Orpheus and Eurydice, comic metamorphosis—while keeping a light, deft tone. Christian Montgomery is hilariously over the top as Tilly’s psychotherapist, who has some severe transference issues. The piece is enlivened by solo cello played by Kate Rears Burgman, music by Wytold, and two song breaks.

    • Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce, by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Nick Martin, Constellation Theatre Company, Washington
      Posted in Reviews, Theater | Comments Off on Melancholy Play: A Contemporary Farce

      It Don’t Worry Me

      Barbara Harris, owner of the closing moments of Nashville, has taken her last bow.

      ArtsJournal

      Posted in In Memoriam, Theater | Tagged | Comments Off on It Don’t Worry Me

      Cricket Crawl 2018

      Home football game, nice weather, and the last weekend before school starts, so the listening wasn’t that great for Team Reston for this year’s Cricket Crawl.

      Heard during my 1-minute sample: Common True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia) and Lesser Anglewing (Microcentrum retinerve).

      Posted in Citizen Science, Entomology, In the Field | Comments Off on Cricket Crawl 2018

      33-8

      Mamie Johnson remembers mid-fifties life on the road for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro leagues, in Michelle Y. Green’s first-person biography, A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson:

      Sometimes that raggedy old bus would break down and we’d wear our muscles out before the game pushing it uphill. And we never knew if we had enough gas to make it from place to place, ’cause some of the towns we stopped in had “Whites-Only” gas pumps. That never made sense to me. Seems like if folks were so anxious to get rid of colored folks, they’d want to give us the gas we needed to get on down the road. (p. 86)

      Posted in Baseball, Quotable | Comments Off on 33-8