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Jims of Wyzdom for April 19, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Theater: Mea culpa! I realized that I forgot to tell you anything about recent theater in our region. Last Sunday we went to WVU for their final production of the season, “You Can’t Take it With You,” directed by my old teaching partner, Jay Malarcher. The students did a very good job with the play, though I suspect this is one of those plays that you can’t kill no matter the circumstances. Jay had to miss two weeks of rehearsal due to an emergency medical problem, so others stepped in to help until he could be back in the rehearsal hall. The week before, we had driven up to Pittsburgh to see the Public Theater’s production of ”A Doll’s House, Part Two,” an exciting new play by Lucas Hnath that asks the question, “what next” after Nora walks out on her husband and family at the end of the Ibsen play. I used to love asking this “what next” question when I was teaching many plays. Students always seemed to enjoy trying to figure out where the plot and characters might end up. This new play is 15 years after the events of Ibsen’s play…Nora returns.

I also wanted to alert you to the Public Theater’s new production, “Indecent,” that opens tonight and plays through May 19. It features a klezmer band and relates a story about a love affair between two women—actors in a Yiddish play by Sholem Asch written in 1906, “God of Vengeance.” This play was on PBS within the last year, but we decided we had to see it in the flesh. The playwright is Paula Vogel, an exciting writer. “God of Vengeance” was one of the most controversial plays of the thriving Yiddish theater in New York between the 1890s and the end of the 1930s.

Final thought about theater: my dad, by age 80, would tell me, “I never need to see “Hamlet” again—been there, done that!” The first few times he told me this, I was shocked. Wouldn’t he want to see the play if it featured a great actor in the role? “NO!” Well, folks, I have to tell you that since I retired in 2013, I have turned into my dad. I now have a whole list of plays I need never see again. That’s the main reason we no longer subscribe to the Pittsburgh Public. In fact, their new season offers me nothing I’d pay to see again! Yikes! On the other hand, it’s good to have theaters like the Shaw Festival in Canada that dig up old plays we have never seen and they do them with real style and panache! They ARE worth the trip.

Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened. [Winston Churchill]

Opera: A brief reminder…Poulenc’s “Dialogue of the Carmelites” will be the final Met in HD presentation for this season, May 11. Poulenc is one of our favorite composers. His Concerto for Organ, Strings & Tympany is a special favorite. We heard it performed way back in the 60s at the First Congregational Church in LA, conducted by Neville Mariner. They had just completed installation of a huge new organ that could be combined with the large old organ to shake the building down to the 3rd sub-basement! Yeah, it was that thrilling. The Met’s 2019-20 season has been announced and it looks good. I’ll report on that later.

Today I saw a red and yellow sunset and thought…how insignificant I am! Of course, I thought that yesterday too, and it was raining. [Woody Allen]

Oh, and speaking of organs, I had to let out a huge sigh of relief watching the news about Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The fire took out the roof…but it left the magnificent Great Organ intact and untouched. That is surely a sign of hope. They will rebuild that roof, maybe with steel instead of wood. Where do we send donations??? Someone reporting on TV said that by today they expect to have over $5 billion donated and pledged. Is that love or what?

Life is a test. It I only a test! Don’t worry. You’ll never get out of it alive anyway. [Anon Y. Mous]

A blessed Easter and Passover to one and all!

Jim