The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

September 27, 2009

TRUSTUS always tells the Most Fabulous Stories

Kristine Hartvigsen and I went out last night to have a little early celebration of her birthday, which is coming up this Tuesday.  I’ll be out-of-town on her official day, but I did NOT want to miss celebrating the birth of such a fine human being as Kristine.  So we made a night of it with dinner, drinks, a show and crashing the party at Jodi Barnes’ house afterward.  Of the three local productions going on now, we chose to see The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told at TRUSTUS.  It was, in a word, fabulous.

First of all — I absolutely love the fact that TRUSTUS exists.  For 25 years Jim and Kay Thigpen have been sticking it out in this town — giving us the kind of thought provoking productions that not only create discourse, but demonstrate a faith in their audiences that we will rise to their expectations and, essentially, evolve — socially, emotionally, and intellectually.  Sometimes they do it dramatically — I’m thinking Angels in America, The Laramie Project, and Gross Indecency here; and sometimes they do it with humor.  This is one of those times.

The Most Fabulous Story caught me at a good time — a period I am calling the agony of my agnosticism.  As a recovering Southern Baptist, I long ago rejected the easy-way-out of expecting a gridlocked organized religion to push me toward enlightenment (which I believe to be one of the three reasons we exist.)  However, as a human being, I can’t help but ponder the same questions we all (should) think about — an understanding of the sacred and the profane.  I’m not a nihilist — I believe there is a point to it all.  I think of myself as more of a noetics-curious Deist.  I believe there is a god who made all this happen, but then I think s/he probably figured the rest was up to us. In any case, my agony is generated from the sadness I feel at giving up the comfort of delusions and the inability to out-grow my superstitious angst that the boogeyman is going to get me in my sleep and punish me for the audacity of my ruminations.  We can find God, signs, and Satan wherever we want to see them — a reality that is both sad and beautiful.

Which brings me back to The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, directed by Dewey Scott Wiley, a play which tells the story of creation from a non-heteronormative perspective.  I love it when I find myself laughing so hard that I have trouble writing on my program the profound line I just heard from the stage.  This was the case Saturday night.  Silliness, sure, but interspersed with those brilliant stabs to ones psyche that widen the eyes and nudge us in our ribs.  And the execution?  Glorious.   Elena Martinez-Vidal pulls off the bemused God character with the ease of a woman who has seen idiocy in action before.  Robin Gottlieb is the idealistic, metaphysician Mabel in the bunch, proving once again that, at the core, the flower children of the sixties were right.  And Paul Kaufman?  Well, the boy can still flat out wear a thong.  (Which, by-the-way, the feminist in me loved the reversal of fortune that the guys were almost nude and the chicks were fully clothed.  Take that, male gaze.) 

So once again, TRUSTUS has delivered — unfortunately to a very small audience last night.  Lucky for you, the play continues through next weekend. So, go see USC’s dance performance on Friday or Saturday night, but on the other night or Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday afternoon, go out and support this fine cutting-edge arts organization.  Do not take for granted the gift to our community that is TRUSTUS Theatre.  We would have much to lose if they ever went away. 

www.trustus.org

Advertisements

June 11, 2009

Paris, Jules Verne, Obama and Us

As I mentioned last time, we began and ended our journey through France in Paris, flying in and out of the Jetsonian Charles de Gaulle Airport.  Visiting Paris is in so many ways like visiting New York City.  There’s a lot to see behind the doors of the cities’ museums and galleries — and we enjoy seeing it — but so much of the magic of both places happens on the sidewalks.  So we spent a lot of our time there — walking the sidewalks or sitting in their sprawling ribbons of cafes watching others do the walking.

 

It’s easy to over-do museums, particularly when you’re somewhere like Paris and almost every great known artist is represented.  Too many tours and eventually you may find yourself passing some of the world’s most stimulating works of art feeling a bit non-plussed.  Ho hum, another Van Gogh.  So we’ve learned to limit our exposure and only bite off small morsels at a time.  This trip we focused on The Picasso Museum, the newly re-opened L’Orangery featuring Monet’s water lilies, and the three big exhibits at the Pompidou — Calder, Kandinsky and Women in Art.  (The exhibition on Men in Art is at the Louvre — it is called, “The Louvre.”)

 

The Pompidou Centre is what it is.  What once seemed shiny and innovative now looks rusty and very much shat upon by arrogant Parisian pigeons.  (The Pompidou Centre was revolutionary when it debuted in 1977, with all the structural and  functional elements exposed rather than hidden behind walls and ceilings and floors, and color-coded as well:  the electrical casings are yellow, the plumbing pipes green, and the heating and air conditioning ducts are blue, for example.  Patrons enter the museum almost midway up the building via a series of clear escalators located on an exterior wall.)  Maybe premonitions of its current state help explain why the French hated the Pompidou so when it was first built. 

 

I entered the exhibition hall as a sort of double shot espresso fan of Kandinsky — liking his early work (especially) all the way into his Bauhaus period — but left feeling more like weak coffee toward the artist.  And though I admit to feeling a bit like a poser even saying this (who am I to criticize the museum’s curator?) I think it all had to do with the redundancy of the selected pieces.  Kandinsky was nothing if not prolific, but the sheer number of the pieces displayed detracted from the impact they had as a whole. 

 

The Calder exhibition was completely opposite.  Selected pieces demonstrated both his tendency toward whimsy (Alexander Calder was the Texas born inventor of the mobile with a fascination for the circus) and his prowess at sculpture of literally monumental proportions.  (His piece installed at the World Trade Center — “Bent Propeller” — you may remember, was destroyed in the attack on 9/11.

~~~~~~~

Two of the highlights of our stays in Paris sort of overlap, despite having taken place on opposite ends of our trip. 

 

Bob and I decided to bite the bullet and celebrate our anniversary in style this year by having a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at the Jules Verne Restaurant atop the Eiffle Tower.  What can I say?  The food wasn’t as good as the view, but the view was as astronomical as the check!  This we did on the 25th of May.  Upon returning for our last weekend in Paris, we noticed on Saturday that one of the streets in the Latin Quarter leading to the Notre Dame was cordoned off and lined with French police.  After considerable multi-lingual eavesdropping we deduced that President Obama (pronounced OH – BA – MA, with equal inflection on each syllable in France) would soon be passing through.  Being above neither gawking nor stalking, we scored ourselves two primo spots on the curb and cheered along with all the French fans as his iron-clad motorcade sped by.  Twice. 

 

The cool part to me though was finding out that the president and first lady would be dining that night at the very same restaurant where we had celebrated our anniversary two weeks before.  I wonder if they sat at our table? 

 

What I didn’t know then was that the whole Obama clan would also be visiting the Pompidou on Sunday, the same day as us. 

 

Somehow we missed them in the crowd.

Blog at WordPress.com.