Family Medical Leave

Hope Feeling Grateful - photo by Julie Curry

A few of you know that my father had triple bypass heart surgery a week ago, followed by pacemaker insertion yesterday morning.  I posted my last two reviews using my laptop and the free wireless Internet access in his hospital room while he was sleeping.

My father is doing very well, thank goodness.  In fact, he gets to go home today!  I am very, very grateful that a) my father is doing well, b) he has a loving family plus a special friend to help him, and c) my day job allows me to take time off to be with them.

I am taking time off from my theatre habit, too.  I will not see any shows at all for the next two-three weeks.

I do, however, hope to see the following shows in November:

** “Golda’s Balcony” at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre.  I am always drawn to one-person shows and this promises to be especially thought-provoking.

** The “June 8, 1968″/”Drunk Enough to Say I Love You” double feature at the Phoenix Theatre.  I have this on my calendar because even though I haven’t worked on a theatrical show anywhere in more than a decade, if I had a “home theatre,” it would be the Phoenix.   I put the Phoenix’ shows on my calendar before anyone else’s.  However, I am particularly intrigued by the next Phoenix offering because:  

  • It is a two-fer
  • There are actors I admire in both casts, including Doug Johnson, who was in the Phoenix’s production of “Fat Pig,” by Neil LaBute, which is the show that prompted my first attempt to write about theatre publicly
  • This will be the midwest premiere of “Drunk Enough” (I love going to premieres!)
  • Scot Greenwell, that talented cutie from “Little Shop of Horrors,” is directing it.   I had no idea he was also a director!

** “Evil Dead: The Musical” at Theatre on the Square.  Way back in August, one day during the 2008 Indy Fringe Festival, Matt Panesh, the “Monkey Poet” from England, was chatting with me on Massachusetts Avenue.  He glanced over at the TOTS windows, where all of their forthcoming season posters were already up.  “Blimey!” Matt said.  “Are they doing ‘Evil Dead’?!  That’s brilliant!” 

Of course, there has been a lot of buzz about this bloody-bizarre show since then, including the announcement that Waldo Ottoman Warshaw, the Broadway blood guy from “Lieutenant of Inishmore,” is doing the blood work for this piece, too, but Panesh’s interest was all I needed.

** “Lysistrata” by the Sapphire Theatre CompanyEarlier this month I wrote quite a bit about this new professional theatre company and what I had learned about its initial production ahead of time.  I want to actually see the show, too!  I hope to receive media passes for future Sapphire productions, but I’m buying a ticket this first time because…it’s the first time!  (I love first times.)

But speaking of media passes, thanks very much, Ulrike Steinert, Sharon Gamble, and Ron Spencer, for agreeing to give me press passes for your shows even though I will not be seeing them until late in their runs.  I believe that online reviews are, or should be, really about audience development for theatres and artists over time even though they seem to be about individual shows, but I know that not every theatre person understands that, so I admire you for being able to see the big picture.  Anyway, this is the best I can do, so thanks, again.

I am very sorry that I will not be able to attend Storytelling Arts of Indiana’s premiere of this year’s Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship pieces.  It will be my first time to miss this special event since it started more than ten years ago!  The two pieces will debut at the Indiana History Center on Saturday, November 1st at 7:30.   In the past, the Basile winners have come from all over the state.  This year, both winners are based in Indianapolis.

One Basile recipient is Cynthia Goodyear, whose sweet telling style is always comforting yet at the same time has a deep thread of feistiness running through it.  I told with her at a Renaissance Fair a few years ago.  Her Basile piece is autobiographical and called “Life as a Folktale.”

The other Basile recipient is Deborah Asante.  She is the founder and artistic director of The Asante Children’s Theatre.  I told with her at a small storytelling festival at the Anderson Public Library a few years ago.  I always enjoy the warm humor in her stories for little kids and teens, but I would love to hear her Basile piece, which is called “Enough Love: Love Stories for Adults Only.”  It is based on interviews of a variety of women.

But everything happens for a reason.  I am enjoying spending time with my father, too.  He was and is the first storyteller in my life.  He says I used to insist on “more! more!” songs whenever he walked past my crib in my parents’ tiny first apartment.  I don’t remember this, but I believe it.  I do remember asking him for “stories of olden days” as a child and him telling me about him and his friends digging forts in the field behind their houses.

Beloved blog readers, I will be logging on every day in order to stay on stop of the spam, so if you are able to take a moment to leave me a real comment telling me what you have seen or thought about during my “dark” weekends, you will make my day and I will post your comment gratefully.  (Or not, if you tell me you do not want me to post it.)

Or please tell me a joke.  I have been reading The Healing Power of Humor, by Allen Klein.  Klein quotes a book about Abraham Lincoln:

“Lincoln’s ability to laugh, even during the bleakest days of the war, often astonished the people who worked with him.  At one meeting during a bloody phase of the Civil War, the cabinet sat dumbfounded while he read aloud from a book of humor.  After he finished he admonished the others: ‘Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh?  If I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.'”

In any case, please check my blog again on Monday, November 10, 2008.  As always, thanks for reading.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Theatre Reviews: “Cold-Blooded” and “From Dark Pages”

Playwright James Trofatter and Donna Wing in “Cold-Blooded”

Saturday night, October 18th, I drove to the near north side of Indianapolis to see two “salon theatre” presentations of historical mystery plays.  They took place in two of Indianapolis’ historic landmark attractions: the President Benjamin Harrison Home and the Morris-Butler House.

Each show was a treat in its own way.   As a pairing, they were even better.

Continue reading Theatre Reviews: “Cold-Blooded” and “From Dark Pages”

Theatre Review: “Macbeth” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Macbeth at the IRT

 Last Friday night, my friend and sister theatre buff Adrienne Reiswerg accompanied me to the Upperstage of the Indiana Repertory Theatre to see “Macbeth” as directed by Janet Allen.  According to cast members during the Talk Back session with the audience after the show, this modernized, 90-minute adaptation of William Shakespeare’s violent tragedy has been well-received by high school audiences.

“That’s because it’s like a video game,” Adrienne said.  Someone else in the audience said it reminded him of Halo, specifically.

“Yes!” I thought.  That is exactly its appeal.  I haven’t played Halo myself, but teens at my local public library have told me about it.  Library copies of the Halo-based novels are rarely on the shelf.

The IRT’s “Macbeth” is similarly fast-paced and exciting.  All of the guys wear military gear.   They all carry several weapons each.  Someone is always saying in Shakespeare-speak, “Let’s go, men!” and the men are always charging off to kill someone.  Meanwhile, there is a beautiful, sexy woman urging her husband to “Be a man!”  Three bizarre witches swoop in and out of the shadows making riddle-like predictions.  There are beatings, there is blood, there is death.

If I were in high school, I think I would pronounce this production “Sweet!”  Especially if I had been prepared to understand it ahead of time.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Macbeth” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre

“Women’s Meet and Greet” with the Sapphire Theatre Company

Poster for the Sapphire Theatre Company’s inaugural production

Last Monday, I took an hour off as “personal business time” from my day job so that I could drive downtown to the Circle Centre Mall to attend the “Women’s Meet and Greet” event sponsored by the new, professional Sapphire Theatre Company.

It was a very exciting hour!

Continue reading “Women’s Meet and Greet” with the Sapphire Theatre Company

Theatre Review: “Guys and Dolls” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Photo by Leah Love - “Dice Isn’t Just a Game; It’s a Way of Life”

Last Sunday afternoon I judged an Encore show in Beech Grove.  Then I drove downtown to see “Guys & Dolls In Concert” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

I had bought my ISO ticket on a whim, so there wasn’t time to try to establish a relationship with the ISO’s marketing person, which means I don’t have a publicity photo to go with this post.  I chose the photo above from flickr.com’s “Creative Commons” because “Guys and Dolls” is about gambling. 

Who knew?

Yes, I was probably the only theatre reviewer on the planet who not only had never seen a production of “Guys and Dolls” before but also did not have any idea what it was about.  All I knew was that a friend who knows a lot about musical theatre hinted that I would enjoy this production, and then Lou Harry, arts editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal, said to me, “You are going to see ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the ISO aren’t you?”  In a moment of madness, then, I added this show to my already over-booked weekend.

I am very, very glad I did!  It was a wonderful show.  A rare treat.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “Guys and Dolls” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

A Swap and More at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Sharon Kirk Clifton as “Jack’s Mama”

On Saturday, October 11, 2008, I drove downtown for the final day of the four-day Printing Partners Hoosier Storytelling Festival.  I have already written about the five featured storytellers: Gene Tagaban, Kevin Kling, Brenda Wong Aoki, Charlotte Blake Alston, and Beth Horner.  I would also like to write a little about the swap that was held at the end of the afternoon on Saturday.  It made me think of the many right ways there are to share stories.

Continue reading A Swap and More at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Beth Horner at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Storyteller Beth Horner - ’sorry this is the largest photo is so small - it is the largest I have of her! Last Saturday evening I went to the “Story Cabaret” portion of the Printing Partners Hoosier Storytelling Festival.  It was held in the Basile Theater of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.  Fred and Midge Munds presented (sponsored) this particular event of the Festival.  It provided one final chance to see and hear all five of the 2008 Festival’s featured tellers.

Former librarian Beth Horner was one of them.  She has always been a special storytelling hero of mine ever since I took a workshop from her years ago on sharing stories with teenaged audiences.  I have followed her rule of thumb – “Tell a jump story first!” – to good effect.

Continue reading Beth Horner at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Charlotte Blake Alston at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston

Last Saturday evening I went to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center to hear the five featured tellers in the Printing Partners Hoosier Storytelling Festival share stories on the stage of the Basile Theater.  This final portion of the Festival was called “The Story Cabaret.”  It was presented by Fred and Midge Munds.

One of the tellers was Charlotte Blake Alston.  I had heard and loved her beautifully musical storytelling before at a Storytelling Arts of Indiana event in a previous year.  Her voice is gorgeous and heart-filling.

Continue reading Charlotte Blake Alston at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Brenda Wong Aoki at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki

Last Saturday afternoon I drove downtown to Military Park to hear several storytellers from around the country in the Printing Partners Hoosier Storytelling Festival.

One of the featured tellers was Brenda Wong Aoki.  I had never heard her tell before, but my sister had, in California a few years ago.  Bethany had sent me Aoki’s beautiful little gift book and CD, Mermaid Meat: the Secret to Immortality and Other Japanese Ghost Stories.

Aoki’s father was Japanese and her mother Chinese, which is a very unusual partnership because usually, as Aoki puts it, “Japanese and Chinese people hate each other.”  However, her parents fell in love and got married in spite of their families’ prejudices against each other.

In fact, the first story she told on Saturday afternoon was about growing up as a “short, fat, zitty, asthmatic kid” in the multi-racial urban neighborhood known as “The West Side” in Los Angeles. 

She is stunningly beautiful now, with a musical voice and a dance-trained body that moves gracefully and deliberately as she shares her stories.  She vocalizes her own sound effects and often uses a large wooden and silk fan, and sometimes her gorgeous, long, black hair, to help illustrate her stories.

Continue reading Brenda Wong Aoki at the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Kevin Kling and the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival

Storyteller Kevin Kling

Last Saturday afternoon I drove downtown for the main and final day of the 21st Annual Printing Partners Hoosier Storytelling Festival.  This event is a pleasure that I look forward to all year long.  I haven’t been able to go to every festival since the beginning, but I have been to a lot of them over the years. 

Because of a commitment at my day job Saturday morning, I arrived at Military Park too late on Saturday afternoon to hear Gene Tagaban tell again.  However, I was just in time to hear Kevin Kling.  He is a popular commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” but I was hearing him for the first time. 

I had met Kling at Tagaban’s program at the Eiteljorg Museum earlier in the week but all day on Saturday I kept calling him by the wrong name.  By the time Saturday evening rolled around and it was time to say goodbye, a line from a Doors’ song was running through my head:  “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?”

I don’t know why it was so hard for me to remember the name “Kevin,” but I do know that I was completely in love with Kevin Kling and his brilliant, hilarious stories after just one day. 

Continue reading Kevin Kling and the 2008 Hoosier Storytelling Festival