Last Day Delights

Storyteller Motoko

For most of this last day of 2008 I have been reading a fascinating book from my public library called Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness, by Joshua Wolf Shenk (Houghton Mifflin Company 2005.)

It is not a self-help book, but it reminds me a little of Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, which I read when it was a bestseller several years ago. 

Both books say, in a nutshell, “Not everything about depression is bad.  Not everything about happiness is good.”

I acknowledge and appreciate complexity, too.  I am glad to be reminded of its importance.

Still, in this last blog post of 2008, I just want to mention a few things that have delighted me in the past 48 hours or so:

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Reflections from the Edge of “Edges”

Edges rehearsal on the main stage at TOTS - photo by Zach Rosing

“Edges: A Song Cycle,” with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and directed by Matthew Cunningham, opens next weekend at Theatre on the Square.  It is not a TOTS show, however.  The newly-formed Programs theatre company will present it.  There will only be four performances.

The production – and Programs’ marketing of it – intrigues me for a number of reasons.

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Double Dickens

Dickens Village at Night - photo by Kevin Dooley

Last Friday night I rounded off my month-long celebration of Christmas by treating myself to two interpretations of Charles Dickens’ classic story. 

First I drove downtown to West Washington Street to see the family-friendly “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Tom Haas and directed by Priscilla Lindsay, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  It closes this afternoon.  Then I drove to Comedy Sportz on Massachusetts Avenue to see the closing performance of their late-night, adults-only improv show, “A Christmas Carol Unscripted.”

Each show was enjoyable in its own way, and together they made for a satisfying transition from enjoying Christmas season proper to (as Scrooge says to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) honouring Christmas in my heart and keeping it all the year. 

The first show warmed my heart.  The other exercised it.

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Adventures in Audio Recording

“Microphone” - photo by Matthew Keefe

Last Monday afternoon I recorded my first (I think) radio show and my second podcast.

Being in a radio studio felt familiar, even comfortable, but I can’t remember any specific details from actually being in one before, so maybe it is a memory from a previous life.  That, or an effect of watching “The Truth about Cats and Dogs” too many times.

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Theatre Review: ATI’s “Frog and Toad” at PPAC

Bradley Reynolds (back) and Don Farrell (front) as Frog and Toad

Last Saturday afternoon I went to see Robert and Willie Reale’s “A Year with Frog and Toad” as presented by Actors Theatre of Indiana at the Pike Performing Arts Center.  It was directed by Judy Fitzgerald.  It closed the next day, so this review won’t help you decide whether or not to see it this year, but it has become ATI’s holiday season family show so you will probably have a chance to see it next year.

This was my first year to see it, but I am going to see it every year from now on.  It is charming!

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Theatre Review: “You Are There” at the Indiana History Center

Walk through the mist and “You Are There” at the Indiana History Center 

Last Wednesday I visited the Indiana History Center.  Senior archivist Barbara Quigley encouraged me to visit the IHC’s special “You Are There” exhibit.  I am going to use the word “exhibit” to talk about it in this post, but really it is a visitor-led experience, and a wonderful form of interactive theatre/storytelling.  It is free of charge, and it is fascinating.

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There Was Room at the Inn, Twice

Dane Rogers and Susie Mohr in “Christmas Belles” at TOTS

This past weekend I drove south to a little town called Bethlehem on the Indiana side of the Ohio River.  Storyteller Cynthia Changeris runs a bed-and-breakfast there called “The Storyteller’s Riverhouse.” I have been there twice for the “Going Deep” long stories festival/retreat, and several times for WOW weekends.  It was very, very good for me to go there for a WOW weekend this time, too.

“WOW” means Working on Our Work.  WOW weekends are run by Scherezade’s Legacy, a storytelling production company composed of Changeris and Mary Hamilton.

I am not going to blog about this past weekend’s work because “What happens in Bethlehem stays in Bethlehem.” However, I will say that the time I spent there with my storytelling colleagues – all of them – was hugely useful to me.

I’ll also say that I put down a deposit to guarantee my spot as a live-in participant for the third “Going Deep” festival/retreat on March 19-22, 2009.  Here is more information about that.  The story concerts themselves will be open to the public, but registration for the organized discussions and meals and so on is limited.  I am already the fourth person to sign up.

When the WOW weekend concluded on Sunday afternoon I drove back up I-65 to downtown Indianapolis.  I scored a parking spot right in front of Theatre on the Square.  “Christmas Belles” was sold out, but John in the box office put me first on the waiting list to get in.  And I did!  (Barely.)  I won’t have time to write about this hilarious show in detail because my own Lincoln project is calling me but I enjoyed it very much.

Okay, I will say that while I was waiting in the TOTS lobby before the show, I got a chance to talk with Daniel Roberts, the light and sound operator, and William C. Skaggs, the director.  It was fun chatting with them.  I asked Skaggs to tell me what he thought I would like best about the show.

First he said, as all directors say, “The cast is amazing.”  However, I believed that he meant it.  I heard a note of awe in his voice.

Then he said, “It is an ensemble cast and there is an over-the-top story, but each cast member has found moments and ways in which to make their (individual) characters real.”

Now that I’ve seen the show, I agree that that is what this show now has, and that it is special.  Yes, it is a goofy, jokey show – and there is nothing wrong with that! half the reason I go to the theatre is to have a good laugh – but I also came to care about these goobery people who are just to trying celebrate Christmas while coping with the other stuff going on in their lives.

And I did laugh a lot.

There are only two more chances to see “Christmas Belles,” so call now to make your reservations and arrive early to get the best seats. (www.tots.org.  317-685-TOTS (8687))

Coming soon: a post about the “You Are There” interactive theatre exhibit at the Indiana History Center.)

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

On Retreat This Weekend

I will be offline beginning this afternoon and not back online until Sunday night so that I can retreat from the world with three of my storytelling colleagues.  We are going to take turns giving each other feedback on our respective storytelling projects.

I, of course, will ask for help with my Lincoln piece.  It is called “Of the People: Stories and Images of Abraham Lincoln.” 

(By the way, it will premiere at the Indiana History Center at 4:00 on Sunday, January 18, 2009.  It will be the fifteenth story commissioned for the Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories series collaboratively sponsored by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana Historical Society.  To purchase tickets, call 317-232-1882 or visit www.storytellingarts.org/store/category/Tickets.)

My next blog post, after the retreat is over, will be about the very cool, interactive “You Are There” theatre piece now running at the Indiana History Center.

After that I hope to be able to write about this coming Sunday’s afternoon performance of “Christmas Belles” at Theatre on the Square.  However, I make no promises because I don’t know for sure when the storytellers’ retreat will be over on Sunday and I therefore don’t know that I will be able to make it to the theatre by 5:00.  I am just going to take my chances.

You, however, should make a reservation if you’re thinking of going, because when Joe Boling wrote about this show on Indiana Auditions, he said that his first choice of show time had been sold out.  Call the theatre at 317-685-TOTS (8687).

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

“Yuletide Celebration” with the ISO

Tap Dancing Santas at the ISO’s Yuletide Celebration

Last Thursday night I went to the final dress rehearsal of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 “Yuletide Celebration.”  It was Media Night but it was also the night for performers’ family members to see the show and to help their loved ones get used to performing with audience reactions.  There were a lot of people there!

It was a special holiday treat for all of us, adults and children alike.  This more-than-musical show somehow manages to be both sophisticated and truly family-friendly.

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