Avant-garde and physical theatre companies in the UK are now turning to children's theatre. And I really mean children - my favorite of the projects listed is the one for tots with the emerging ability to walk but not (yet) the ability to speak:
Indeed, these are "plays" in more than one sense of the word, and I can't say I am any less fascinated by them than the children are. After all, who in the world is more avant-garde, more capable of seeing the world outside the boundaries of learned convention, than toddlers?
The younger the audience gets, the more focused the shows have to be. Oogly Boogly's audience has a window of six months. If you're younger than a year or older than 18 months, you'll be either insufficiently mobile or too good at talking. "That age group has the most exciting thing in the world to do, which is to try walking," says Manley. "It's hard to sit them down when they want to do this thing. Oogly Boogly [the "play"] works specifically with that age group because of that."
Try to present the same group with a piece of slapstick, however, and they're more likely to be distressed than amused, having yet to see the funny side in falling down. Rearrange the furniture in the nursery's lunch room, as Starcatchers recently did, and you risk upsetting your audience. But show them a never-ending thread, as Manley does in My House [a work by another company], and they find it hilarious. "I suppose it's something to do with cause and effect, where something doesn't behave in the way they expect it to," he says, a tad bemused.
It may be that the Metropolitan Opera is cursed: they are now working with their fourth Tristan in a single production (three understudies had to be called in, in sequence, because of medical issues) and their second Isolde. Is it possible that Tristan and Isolde is to opera what the Scottish play (as theatre practitioners superstitiously call the cursed Macbeth) is to unsung drama?
I am always fascinated by tales of what it is like to be a judge for a literary award, and have been since I read a tale (I don't remember where, alas) from one judge about how her life was dominated by the prize: she would come home after work (as a journalistic editor- not a time consuming job at all, no) to read a whole novel every day, and on weekends she would read three a day. How can anyone read that quickly? Where do I acquire that skill?
So I am pleased that tales about judging these prizes (see here for the Booker experience, and here for the PEN/Faulkner) are coming out of the woodwork nowadays.
There is really only one word for this Esquire article by A.J. Jacobs: MetaClooney. Jacobs takes George Clooney on a tour of his own celebrity internet presence: Wikipedia entry, gossip sites, and all.
I wanted to set out my short term reading list, with the idea that it might be easier to make progress by focusing on the near at hand, rather than the vastness of Mt. TBR in its entirety:
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
- To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever by Will Blythe
- Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga
- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster