Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merrily We Roll Along

I saw this version of Merrily We Roll Along a couple of months ago. It was taped live on the West End, and was broadcast to theaters. I was blown away. The score is one of my favorites, but I'd heard it never really worked, as the story is told backwards.

The original production featured a bunch of younger actors including Jason Alexander, Lonny Price, and Jim Walton. The story centers on a group of three friends, and one in particular who has become a great success at the price of many people in his life. The students in the opening ask him how he got to where he was, and the story is his memory and reconstruction.

The director removed the frame of a graduation, and cast actors in their late 30s and early 40s who aged backwards, which is a wise choice.  The opening number includes an affair, alcoholism, and the dissolution of a marriage and lifelong friendship - no wonder it didn't work with twenty year-olds. The direction is flat out brilliant, as are the performances. This show has been fabled not to work, and this production does the exact opposite.

The music is amazing, including a perennial Sondheim favorite, "Not A Day Goes By", and my favorite "Our Time," which is included in this trailer.

Maybe I'm at the time of life where looking back and seeing an entire life and choices made effects us further on, but I'm a sucker for this.  It's a beautiful piece of work. I've heard it's going to be available for streaming.  I'll be first in line.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Writing Group

Welcome to my procrastination. Pull up a chair!  Would you like a cracker?

I have my writing group next week, and I'm up. I'm sadly lost for what to workshop, as I don't have anything I feel is ready. I'm working on a story, but it's not ready.  I've got some other things brewing, but nothing is feeling formed enough.

So, I went through my hard drive.  Who knew I had written so much? A couple of specs I started, a couple of shorts, different forms of the same thing seeing which form fits best. It's interesting to be confronted with an old image I'd left behind. Now the words put it back in my head, but I'm still not sure what to do with it.

And themes - who knew I had themes? And possibly even a style.  Not that I love it, but I think it's coming out. A voice.

Well, just wanted to check in. I guess I need to go work on that thing I didn't want to work on.  Now in a much better place knowing I have a whole bunch of starts I could take up if I needed.   That's a good feeling, right?  That's a start.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Loren Eisley

I was listening to RadioLab live from Seattle this morning. They were performing a program about the extinction of the dinosaurs, and a new theory that they were all killed by a meteor, and rather quickly. It was fascinating, but at the end of the segment, Robert Krulwich quoted the science writer Loren Eisley, with whom I am unfamiliar. I may want to familiarize myself. 

I have been very busy lately, as happens near the holidays, and all with good things.  Some things have been making me emotional, some are tiresome.  I've shot a short that I've wanted to shoot for a long time, and I've spent time with friends, seen movies, gone to Disneyland.  Even when things are good, though, I can get stressed out. I can forget the larger picture, which is more and more becoming an unknown I can relax into. For years, I had such anxiety about mortality, and larger questions.  More and more, I am finding that there is so much we can't know that I can revel somewhat in the overwhelm. It somehow becomes magical that we're here at all. It releases me to explore things that terrified me before, as they have been stripped of importance. I'm not arguing for some anti-social carelessness here, some nihilistic abandon, but rather the freedom that comes in accepting that everything has a place and a time, much beyond my knowledge, but appreciation of what is in front of me makes moments sweet, time expand, and breath easier and fuller. 

Below is this beautiful quote from a book by Loren Eisley, that hints at the wonder of it all. I loved hearing it:

We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests or hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians.  We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been men.  Our identity is a dream.  We are process, not reality, for reality is an illusion of the daylight — the light of our particular day.  In a fortnight, as aeons are measured, we may lie silent in a bed of stone, or, as has happened in the past, be figured in another guise.  Two forces struggle perpetually in our bodies:  Yam, the old sea dragon of the original Biblical darkness, and, arrayed against him, some wisp of dancing light that would have us linger, witful, in our human form.  “Tarry thou, till I come again” — an old legend survives among us of the admonition given by Jesus to the Wandering Jew.  The words are applicable to all of us.  Deep-hidden in the human psyche there is a similar injunction, no longer having to do with the longevity of the body but, rather, a plea to wait upon some transcendent lesson preparing in the mind itself.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

George Saunders

Here's a great video of George Saunders talking about writing. It's great.

Sunday, December 01, 2013


I've been lighting candles for the last few nights for Hannukah - the second night with a dear friend and her family on Thanksgiving, the last couple with my boyfriend, and tonight alone (though you're not supposed to do that, really, since it's about light and being together).  It's not something I grew up with, but I like the ritual.

I am also loving that R'Sharon Brous of IKAR here in LA and Amichai Lau-Lavie from Lab Shul in NY are writing prompts about Hanukkah to think of when lighting the candles.  Tonight's was about meditation, it was called Meditat8.  They all have clever names with 8 at the end for the 8 nights of Hannukah.  So far we've had Activ8, Appreci8/Agit8, Compassion8, Reanim8/Invigor8, and tonight's Meditat8, about World AIDS Day, the beginning of Advent, and taking a moment to reflect.

I don't know what my beliefs are, and I find buying into any dogma challenging, but I like knowing the reasons and thoughts behind the rituals. There is something comforting knowing that this celebration of a miracle has been done for thousands of years. I like that connection.  And I also like that even though it refers to a war, what is being celebrated is not the victory, as its not kosher to glorify war, but the miracle of having the light burn. Whether you believe it or not, it's beautiful symbolism.