BAM_image300As part of a series of plays by and/or about women that is currently appearing throughout the city, the Folger Shakespeare Library put on texts&beheadings/ElizabethR.

It’s far better than the title, which sounds like it was written by someone who’d just read of tone essays of by second rate Derrida disciples.

On stage are four ‘Elizabeths,’ each representing, in part, different periods of her life, but mostly different aspects of her life. For example, the last one to be featured (in what the cast declared to be Movement 4), mostly focused on her strident anger at attempts to marginalize her or threaten her reign or right to rule.

Each of the four movements featured one actress whose ‘lines’ were almost exclusively from the writings on Queen Elizabeth herself – from her prayers, her letters, her poetry, and her speeches to Parliament. The other three would speak more colloquially, providing background and context.

It was absolutely gripping and compelling and it seems petty to criticize, but I will anyway. One actress had a strong accent (Spanish, I think), which detracted, for me, from her portrayal as that quintessentially English figure. On a more existential level, as fantastic as it was, what was the purpose? What were we intended to learn or walk from it with? I’m not clear.

But still. A Shakespeare theater was the perfect outlet for this, because any production of Shakespeare invariably is at least partly about showing this centuries old writer, this man of his times, wrote works that are relevant and timely/timeless. If this play (performance? production? it’s not exactly a play, is it?) had a purpose, at least part is showing how Queen Elizabeth’s existential, feminist struggles for power, for the right to power, and for the right to determination are as timeless and timely as they are of their time.

Whiskey, Cocktails, And My Dinner With Andre

A few weeks ago, three of us went to Breugger’s, a sort of fancy, craft cocktail kind ‘o place near my home. I forget exactly what I ordered (though I recall having my pronunciation corrected by the waiter), but it was after I finished that I decided to give up on cocktails.

We’re not talking about walking away from having a mojito on vacation on a hot summer day, but no more drinks that take perfectly good liquor and sweeten it up for someone else’s palate.

Later that evening, I ordered myself a glass (neat) of decently aged MacCallan. After one sip, I wondered what I had been thinking before. For the same price of an overpriced cocktail, here I was enjoying the taste of fine scotch.

For my birthday, my better half took me out to a nice restaurant near Union Station. Whenever I go out to a nice restaurant and can safely indulge in several courses and end with some sort of digestif, whether espresso, brandy, whiskey, port, or the like, I always think about My Dinner with Andre.

The titular Andre (Andre Gregory) died not too many years ago (just one or two). I never saw him much else, except a filmed staging of Uncle Vanya called Vanya on 42nd Street, which, incidentally, also featured Wallace Shawn.

Anyway, rarely has two men eating dinner been so riveting. Of course, it’s also frustrating. As a viewer, I find myself in Shawn’s skeptical camp. Also, his more financially struggling camp. Gregory’s comparative wealth gives him options to indulge in mysticism and contemplation not available to the forever struggling playwright and sometimes actor. But what a movie. And the food always sounds delicious, without being obtrusive within the ‘story.’

I Finally Got My Better Half To Come With Me To #LittleSalonDC

PuppetIt wasn’t that she found the idea particularly objectionable, but that she was out of town every time I went (purely coincidence, I assure you). She hemmed and hawed a little, but in the end, it was a great night and I think she enjoyed it.

Flying Guillotine Press launched new book of collaborative poetry by sixty odd writers called Breaking the Lines. I checked it out, but it wasn’t really my bag, but I did pick up another one of their books, Stephanie Balzer’s WED JAN 30 12:58:10 2013 – THU DEC 20 14:16:36 2012. There were also jam samples from PinUp Preserves, but someone I missed those.

The opening was some poetry by Lucian Mattison and… can I admit he didn’t really do it for me? From DC’s ‘Opera on Tap’ (wherein people sing opera at bars) were Kristina Riegle, Carla Rountree, and David Chavez. They actually sang from musical theater, but they were great performers, as well as being excellent singers. I even got some special attention during ‘I Hate Men,’ because when the line about men with chest hair arrived, well, I was the only person near the front with  suitably Sean Connery-esque fur. I don’t get a huge amount of attention from ladies these days, so we take what we can get, even if it’s being singled out during a song entitled, ‘I Hate Men.’ Finally, there was a vaudeville style act by Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell (from Happenstance Theater) and puppetry by Sarah Olmsted Thomas and Alex Vernon (also occasionally from Happenstance Theater). The puppetry was absolutely magical, though it would take too long to explain, so if you live near DC, try and find a time to see it and if you don’t, well, sucks to be you.

Seeing His Holiness At The Capitol

I wasn’t one of the handful inside the Capitol, but was one of the ticketed folks on the West Lawn of the Capitol. We waited (the gates opened at five am – though I was not there nearly so early) for him to arrive and watched his speech on the jumbotrons (bless you, Pope Francis for spending so much time on the need to abolish the death penalty!).

When he came out, he was a vaguely anthropoid shape, dressed in white on a distant balcony. The experience was not physical closeness, nor even the presence of the Pontiff, which could have just as easily been experienced with far more clarity on a television (and perhaps more enthusiasm; it wasn’t the most rabid crowd I’d ever been in). Rather it was knowing that this was an important moment and you were there. Like the days when we have gone to the White House, such as when Osama Bin Laden was killed or Obama re-elected, when we went not to change history, because history was already changed, but to be there, at a symbolically important location, at a symbolically important time when something important (and good) was happening. Such things are important, personally.