Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018

Cleveland Centennial Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018

  1. The Death of Eliot Ness
  2. Single White Fringe Geek (blog)
  3. Chef Boyardee
  4. The Famous History of Troilus & Cressida
  5. Pretty In Pink (film)
  6. The Seagull (2001)
  7. Troilus & Cressida (dance choreography)
  8. Troilus & Cressida (rehearsal)
  9. The Way I Danced With You (glossary)
  10. Troilus & Cressida (costume design)

"Troilus & Cressida"
Cleveland Shakespeare Festival
Alex Belisle Photography
People find websites and blogs for a variety of reasons, and I do not believe most clicks onto my site are to read what I have to say about anything, This list is evidence of that.

For example, Death of Eliot Ness and Chef Boyardee are actually my two most popular posts of all time. They will always be at the top of this list, and I have no idea why. They are brief posts, with some basic data about each of their subjects. There are far more interesting sites for either figure elsewhere. But they must be popular search figures, and so inevitably people find them on this blog.

Each post was written in the early 2010s, when I was using this blog primarily to conduct research on Cleveland history. Nothing happened during the past year which would drive anyone to these posts any more than any during other year. And yet, people (or more, likely Russian bots, no joke) continue to access them.

The only unique post from this year to join these chestnuts in popularity was my take on theater criticism (Single White Fringe Geek) and its importance, a post which was widely shared, most notably by American Theater magazine.

I am amused that four of the top picks are related to a production of the obscure Shakespeare tragedy Troilus and Cressida, which I directed for Cleveland Shakespeare Festival this summer. Interest in each of these specific posts occurred during the run-up to the performance. I also wrote posts on how the production was received, and on fight choreography, but the most visited post was written just as rehearsals were beginning.

"The Way I Danced With You"
Blank Canvas Theatre
Again, I believe clicks have been generated more by those who are searching for general information about the text, and not by this specific production or anything I have to say about it.

There’s also the idea that members of the company were sharing the posts to promote the show before it had opened, and that interest fell off once the show was running and after it had closed.

I believe The Seagull post was also popular because there were so many in the 2001 NY Fringe company of Angst:84 and this post is really about them attending The Seagull, and not the Public Theatre production itself, and that their interest drove their friends to the site.

Finally, two posts related to the performances of The Way I Danced With You at Blank Canvas made the list; a glossary of terms and my evaluation of Pretty In Pink, a film I had never seen until late 2017. These are posts I am certain to refresh and re-post as we go into production for the premiere at Ensemble Theatre in March 2019.

Just posting this post of posts may drive up interest in each of these posts in the next day or so. So may I offer my personal top ten list of posts for 2018, and encourage you to check out those instead:

Cleveland Centennial Alternate Ten Blog Posts of 2018

  1. Jane Austen’s Epitaph
  2. Here Are The High School Plays!
  3. Shakespeare (Not) On Stage
  4. Professor Street Theater
  5. The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels In America (book)
  6. Sophisti-pop
  7. Plays of Regret
  8. The Venice Diaries (1991)
  9. Lincoln In the Bardo (book)
  10. Play a Day: How To Be a Respectable Junkie (BONUS)

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Season (book)

Twenty years ago my friend Roger, a Chicago theater director, recommended to me William Goldman’s book The Season. He told me he reads it every year.

Shortly thereafter, the wife found a fine first edition at a local bookstore, and I promptly read it. I understood what Roger was getting at, what an instructive and engaging read it is, and fully intended to follow his lead and re-read it the following year.

Last month the author, William Goldman, best-known as the screenwriter for films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and The Princess Bride, passed away at the age of 87. His book, The Season, stared at me, untouched, from the bookshelf in my office.

So I finally re-read The Season, a thorough and utterly demoralizing report on the state of the American professional theater, specifically Broadway, exactly fifty years ago.

Goldman received a grant which he employed to cover the entire 1967-68 Broadway season, attending every show, and interviewing a wide variety of players; actors, designers, technicians, stage hands, directors, producers, ticket agents, ticket “brokers”, audience members, and critics, and everyone in between.

One of the bitter joys of reading this book is how Goldman aggressively takes the piss out of everyone, from Clive Barnes to Neil Simon to Mike Nichols. It’s also tiresome, because we love Clive Barnes and Neil Simon and Mike Nichols, and while the author makes us complicit in his insult humor by making us his audience, his sense of superiority over absolutely everyone in “the business” means it’s hard to take any of it seriously, and he is deadly serious.

He’s also really funny. So you stick with it. Even through all the data, and there is an eye-crossing amount of data. After a joyride through perplexing London transfers, horribly ill-thought musical concepts, and cringe-worthily dated American plays on the Generation Gap (plays as memorable as films like Skiddoo and I Love You, Alice B, Toklas) Goldman draws his final conclusion on the fate of Broadway and American theater in general in an overlong final chapter, “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” (Aaron Sorkin fans, take note) stuffed with the results of a survey he himself commissioned; percentages and lists and numbers, numbers, numbers, asking “What do audience members want?”

Freud once asked a similar question about women, with a comparable conclusion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

His prognosis for Broadway was dire, and while this may have been a cautionary tale when I first read the book two decades ago, during the time since there has been something of a correction. And the truth is much of what he said needed to change has born itself out, namely through diversification.

During the 1960s the makers of film, and those who produce and distribute them, discovered that you didn’t have to make all films appropriate for everyone, and Goldman concludes, naturally, that the same should apply to the creators of theater. Remember, we’re talking big-budget, professional theater. Plays, and specially musicals, even on Broadway, can be directed to segmented audiences and you can still make a pile.

He also predicted the increasing irrelevance of Broadway itself, and how the best playwrights were Off-Broadway or even (egad) off-off-Broadway. Recently I heard the critics from Three On The Aisle note how some of the best voices aren’t even in New York, which is crazy, I know.

Yet we have seen Broadway rebound, and while it is true that there are far, far fewer straight plays being produced for Broadway as compared to fifty years ago, that also means there are also far, far fewer shitty plays being produced for Broadway as compared to fifty years ago -- every single one of those fifty year-old plays, it should be noted, was written by a white man.

Speaking of which, race and gender are entirely not addressed in this book, and it is good to remember the progress which has been made, even in just the past few years. Every play referenced in The Season, and there are so many of them (e.g., Staircase, Dr. Cook's Garden, The Freaking Out of Stephanie Blake) was written, directed and produced, and (with a handful of exceptions) performed by Caucasians, and women are merely in the performance category. But as much as Goldman likes to be cheeky about closeted homosexuals (it isn’t pretty) and Jews (for which he claims a pass) he has nothing to say about this disparity. It didn’t occur to him to mention it.

When I first read The Season, it was at a time I thought of myself as a director. Now, it is a playwright. And as such, here are my three major takeaways in 2018, or Things I Learned from William Goldman about Playwriting:
  1. The third act of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf sucks.
  2. No one has ever actually enjoyed watching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
  3. Only stupid assholes who can’t write write the book for musicals.
Wisdom for the ages! I look forward to reading The Season again in 2038.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Top Ten Moments of 2018

Harlequinade 2018, Talespinner Children's Theatre (Photo By Steve Wagner)

This year has not been easy, for anyone, and it concludes with as much or more difficulty as it began. Moments accumulate, though, good moments, for me and for my family, and taking the time to acknowledge them is an attempt to keep them bright just a little longer.

2018 was my fiftieth year, which began with an impromptu visit to Orlando (see here), and included a beautiful weekend of performances of my play The Way I Danced With You at Blank Canvas Theatre, and catching the national tour of Hamilton at the State Theatre.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
(Chattanooga Theatre Centre)
My son played drums in several awesome sets with the School of Rock, and I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon with Fornadel. Then there was the election, the beginning of a slow crawl out of a dark pit. There was a lot to experience, and to celebrate.

Here are ten moments, in chronological order, which stand out to me at this time.

1. “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” at Chattanooga Theatre Centre

Since its premiere six years ago, and subsequent publication, my adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles has become my most produced play. I am not yet widely produced, but a couple times a year a high school or community theater chooses this work, and I am grateful for that.

The year began with a rather stylish, intimate production at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, and by all accounts it was a splendid evening.

The boy will bash.
To be entirely honest, I have a complicated relationship with this text. It’s Agatha Christie’s story, not mine. I have only adapted it for the stage. But I am glad that folks produce it. So I welcomed the way this company, as overheard on promotional interviews, appreciated the adaptation itself, and what I was able to bring to the novel.

2. “Noises Off” at Heights High

My daughter does enough for me to be proud of, apart from the sheer magic of her existence. She paints, she plays violin, she excels in the classroom. I have never asked her to consider the stage.

But, as her father did before her, she performed in her first full-length play as a freshman in high school. Following an enjoyable turn during the winter one-acts, she auditioned for and had a part in the spring play, Michael Frayn’s Noises Off.

Mom, a friend, and me.
(Cleveland Museum of Art)
3. Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC

Yeah, I like this musical. And having the opportunity to share it with my wife and children for the first time in an outstanding television production was really only part of it. We all gathered around the TV (WHO DOES THAT) at my mother’s house, where we got to view and then chat during the commercials.

At this stage in life I think of myself as the lucky one, one of the three brothers, the one who lives in the same city at mom. I get to see her a lot. Maybe not as much as I should, But we do visit a lot, go places, see things. She invited me to join her to see the Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the art museum, that was another high-point of the year.

Which is to say, I have loved spending so much time with my mother, getting to know her so much better. My father has been gone for close to three years. And while I am a little ashamed to admit it, I have had more conversation with in the past 34 months than I did in the previous forty-eight years. But that’s a good thing to know.

4. "Troilus & Cressida" for Cleveland Shakespeare Festival

Young actors on my deck.
(Troilus & Cressida cast party)
So I directed a little-performed Shakespearean problem play for the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival. That was nothing new. What was unique was working with a company of performers with whom I was not experienced, at that they were all so young.

And so I was inspired, for perhaps the first time in twenty years, to hold an opening night cast party. I mean, that’s not a big deal, in the larger sense, but it is for me. “Come over to my house.” It used to be a common refrain. With this crew, I even wondered if they would want to come. I worried I wasn’t cool enough. Isn’t that silly?

It was a great show, followed by a lovely evening. On the deck. Around the fire bowl. We were up rather late. It was a very nice time, and it is nice to have those.

5. Visiting Monticello

The wife and I love road trips, but with our schedules, and the increasingly crowded schedules of our children, most summers we speed to our location of choice (North Carolina, Maine) to begin maximum relaxation as soon as possible. I wasn’t having it this year, and suggested a stop on our way back from Topsail Beach.

Visiting Charlottesville and Monticello in 2018 was an eye-opening experience. You can read an account of our journey here. In summary, for better or worse, the whitewash is being stripped from our complicated American story, and the kids are ready to learn from it.

6. Music From the Big Love

After my wife and I had been dating for three years (not yet married) I did that thing that Gen Xers used to do for the people we were hot for -- I made a mixtape. Not just any mixtape, however. It was a chronological account of our time together to date, from 1994 to 1997.

I made her another in 2000. That was also novel. The one I created in 2003 was a bit challenging however, as something I had established as a music account of road trips, concerts and other good times needed to include not only stillbirth and 9/11 but also the birth of our first living child.

It’s a pretty amazing tape.

Since then, I have moved from cassettes to CDs to playlists, always a forty-five to fifty minute collection of songs chronicling our time together. This summer I talked it over with my thirteen year-old before presenting it to Toni. I asked him to remember what had happened the past three years.

David Byrne ft. Cleveland
(Jacobs Pavilion)
“The worst years of my life,” he said. And he was correct. The worst years of our lives. And I made a playlist out of it. We listened to it on the first leg of our drive to Maine this summer, and it went over very well. Because this is our life, and we love each other and we love music.

(Unavailable on Spotify: Hallelujah performed by Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and COH-CAINE from "Oh, Hello on Broadway.")

7. David Byrne at Jacobs Pavilion

I’m not a live music person the way others are, but I do live a good show. My brother tipped me off that everyone at work was talking about how amazing the David Byrne tour was, and that I should catch it if possible. Even better, the tickets were a surprise from the wife!

I cannot remember the last time I was at Nautica (Jacobs Pavilion) it may have been BNL on July 4, 1995. For reals.

Me and Chennelle ... and Khaki.
(Parnell's Irish Pub)
You know, I had been a server at Fridays in the Flats in 1991, as they were putting the finishing touches on the (now) KeyBank Building. I had forgotten that the backdrop for Nautica is full Cleveland. The skyline. “Our two buildings,” as Mike Polk would say. It’s beautiful, and with the barges passing back and forth, like quiet, sliding office blocks, it’s really quite something.

Byrne and his Millennial-aged ensemble, each of whom carried their instruments, even the percussionists, constantly moving about the stage, kinetic and frenetic. The closing number was Hell You Talmbout by Janelle Monáe, which was momentous and astounding, and seemed to leave most of the largely white Gen X audience speechless, in more ways than one. But we said their names.

8. My Fiftieth Birthday Party

Toni and Chennelle threw me a joyful celebration at Parnell’s one August evening, which I have to admit was a bit of a blur. I am not at ease at parties, especially being the center of attention at one, but I wanted this. When I turned forty I was not in a good place and asked for something simple and small. We had a lovely picnic.

Oh, she said it.
This time we had a big people party which was lively and stylish and had a surprising number of young people, which is always preferable. The theme was "Dave's Decades," people were encouraged to dress in fashion from one of the past five decades. I dressed like me.

9. That Time My Wife Said "Fuck Mitch McConnell" Live on C-SPAN

10. "A Christmas Carol" Writing Contest

The year concludes, as it traditionally does, with Great Lakes Theater “A Christmas Carol” Writing Contest, which is open to middle school aged students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

This year was a particular joy, as we celebrated not only the award-winning work of six young writers (see video) but also the thirtieth year of the program. We connect three of the original six winners from the year 1989 with the folks at WCPN to talk the impact the contest had on their lives.

We are currently relaxing with family in Southeast Ohio. Once Christmas Day has past, the wife and I will be spending time at some local coffee shop or other, writing. Oh! To have enough leisure time to do more work.

Many thanks to all whose path I have crossed this year, you made my life the richer for it. Have a lovely holiday, if you can, and best wishes for a peaceful productive new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christmastime In Painesville (song)

"I put the tree up last night,
And all the lights are blue."
What is the allure of the sad or bittersweet holiday song? Why do we enjoy them so?

Perhaps I should ask myself why I do.

Your Christmas songs can fall into several categories; the properly religious carol, the Santa-oriented song for children, the playful wintertime love song, and the song of heartbreak, disappointment and disillusionment.

Then there’s Fairytale of New York which is all of those in one number, which is why its the greatest Christmas song of all time.

There were many Decembers in my youth when I had no romantic partner at the holidays, and that’s fine, not perfect. People can be happily unattached. But I can think of two Christmases in particular when I was in the process of grieving a relationship and it was at those moments that the cold was so much colder.

I always listen to music to alter or enhance my mood, but it is at moments of great unhappiness that song becomes much more potent, and sad music acts as a palliative remedy. But why? How does that work, poking the wound?

Look at it this way, the converse makes no sense -- listening to happy music when despondent doesn’t make any sense. It almost seems cruel. It’s unwanted.

But a song of heartbreak is sympathetic. It communicates understanding. It means you’re not crazy, not alone. There’s someone out there who knows what you’re going through -- even better, they made a great melody out of it.

In 1992 there was a holiday single on WENZ by the band Slack Jaw (also once known as Rust) called Christmastime in Painesville.

A timely, jangly number, reminiscent of Reckoning-era R.E.M. If you’re not from the Cleveland area you’ve probably never heard it, because not only is it a holiday song, but a local holiday song, name-checking cities like Painesville, Strongsville, and, uh. Yeah. Painesville and Strongsville.

Once you get past the novelty of those local references, it’s still a wistful, heart-tugging period pop song, and I never get tired of it. My favorite recording of it is from a holiday rock show at Cleveland Public Theatre though that’s probably because I was there. I was young, in love, and very, very troubled.

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Pathetic Geek Stories (comic strip)

Click on to enlarge.

“Wall to wall, people hypnotized ...”

The holidays mean MUSIC CONCERTS! This week we hit the mother lode, with solo bass and violin recitals, as well as a middle school concert and tomorrow night’s Holiday Favorites with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.

There are many well-intentioned thought pieces available online about the death of proper audience behavior; we have moved from the auditory torment of candy wrappers to the blinding nuisance of smartphones.

The other day there was a gentleman actually having a conversation on phone during the concert. He kept his voice down though, and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying anyway, so I chose not to engage.

Besides, whenever I am feeling uppity about the behavior of others, I check myself and remember that one time at another middle school concert when I made a complete, public ass of myself.

In order to relieve myself of decades of guilt over this stupid little episode, I wrote it out and sent it to Maria Schneider as fodder for her awesome strip Pathetic Geek Stories, which used to run in The Onion (see above.)

So, the next time you attend a live performance, please be considerate of others and be sure to power off your cellphone ... or any other devices which might cause a distraction. Cheers!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Adventures In Slumberland (script)

Photo: Steve Wagner
NEMO: Can I help put up the tree? I want to go out into the street and sing carols and see all the people!
MAMA: No, no, no.
NEMO: I am missing everyone! They are missing me!
MAMA: Nemo, no one misses you, you are no-one.
Adventures In Slumberland was my first script for Talespinner Children’s Theatre, an adaptation based on characters created by the legendary comic strip artist and animator Winsor McCay.

Perhaps you are old enough to remember the animated film of the same name, which was released in 1989. If so, you have a poor idea of what the original comic strip (Little Nemo in Slumberland) was all about, trust me, my short play had little to do with that.

The great animator Hayao Miyazaki actually had a hand in that film’s production for a very brief moment before walking away. Among other problems he had with the production as it was developing, he reportedly could not get behind a story that literally takes place in a dream, because that means it isn’t real.

And he’s not wrong. You go to sleep, think a lot of amazing things, but in the morning you are still the same person you were when you went to sleep. None of it actually happened.

This, and other issues, were foremost in my mind when creating this play. If the protagonist is a five year-old boy, how might a dream actually change him?

And as it was to be a holiday play, shouldn't it all take place on Christmas Eve? But if the action takes place over the course of only one night, we would miss out on all those hilarious waking moments which concluded every single McCay Slumberland comic strip. I needed to resolve that issue, too.

Then there are all those so-called “Easter eggs” I was aching to include; nods to other pop culture references to Little Nemo, including those found in the comic book Sandman, lyrics from Genesis, and that more contemporary animation with a character named "Nemo." (Chennelle calls them Easter eggs, someone else might call them copyright violations.)

One of my favorite parts of McCay’s strip is how he was able to accurately depict what a dream looks like, how a dream works, how people talk in dreams. Also how maddeningly repetitive or frustrating they can be. Nemo spent years trying to reach the Princess, always failing just before waking -- because that’s what happens in dreams!

But meeting the Princess is a MacGuffin, not the actual goal of the adventure. Neither is finding Santa Claus. I loved including Santa Claus, but he’s not the main event, either! I am so subversive.

My first children’s play, Adventures In Slumberland, is a forty-minute, honest-to-goodness, Joseph Campbell-inspired hero’s journey toward self-actualization and personhood.

And it’s now available in paperback and eBook. Please share and enjoy with the literary manager of your local children’s theater, college or school.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Serial (podcast)

Emmanuel Dzotsi & Sarah Koenig
Photo: Sandy Honig
Recently, Aaron Sorkin wrote an essay for New York Magazine in which he described the journey of his new stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. He was tasked with a seemingly intractable puzzle; stay entirely faithful to the original without changing a thing, but make it fresh and new.

While Mockingbird is a widely-cherished piece of work (the book, the original 1990 stage play by Christopher Stergel, and the award-winning film) presenting it as-is to a 2018 audience held a host of challenges; two notable problems are the unchangeable (see: undramatic) character of protagonist Atticus Finch, and the fact that a story which is primarily about race has few characters of color. Those present do not speak very much.

In the first case, Sorkin has addressed the problem of Atticus’s seemingly flawless character by making that his flaw. Atticus Finch believes that, as Sorkin puts it, as another put it before him, “there are fine people on both sides.” His crisis of conscience comes when that belief is permanently shaken.

As to the other, to creating scenes where the Finch housekeeper Calpurnia, and the accused Tom Robinson get to speak their minds where previously they had not, that is an issue where the estate of Harper Lee felt it necessary to take this new production to court.

Unlike in the 1960 novel, this recent trial played out in Mr. Robinson’s favor.

But the trial in this new adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird still ends in tragedy, as it must. Justice is denied. And the frustration felt by Atticus Finch and the disillusionment experienced by his young daughter Scout remains the main focus of this story, the one white Americans who love it most relate to.

Sorkin here quotes his friend and colleague, director David Fincher, stating, “art isn’t supposed to answer questions, it’s supposed to ask them.” The internet tells me it was actually the playwright Anton Chekhov who said that, but who knows. The point is, Mockingbird remains a troubling work, and in an era where violence against black men in America by those in authority is still an everyday occurrence, is it enough to simply ask questions? Do we not demand answers?

Justice is also the theme of the third season of the podcast Serial. A spin-off from This American Life, the concept is simple -- instead of one, brief story, or one episode-long story, one entire modern American mystery is investigated over the course of weeks.

It would have been hard to top Serial’s first season, and it was. The 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee had much going for it to create a pop culture phenomenon; teen sex, interracial relationships, Islamophobia, drugs, an attractive anti-hero in the convicted boyfriend, Adnan Syed, and even late 90s nostalgia (pinging cell towers, anyone?)

Episode Six mural art by Martinez E-B
Photo by Moth Studio
And then there is the producer-host, Sarah Koenig, who has no qualms about crossing journalistic boundaries and becoming part of the story. She breaks the cardinal rule of impartiality, developing something of a crush on Syed, and openly expressing confusion and concern about what the truth actually is, which is fine for me because 1) she’s entirely up-front and transparent about it and 2) who the fuck is impartial anymore?

Season two was something of a let-down. The Bowe Bergdahl case, a story of American involvement in Afghanistan, was compelling, fascinating even. But as a central character Bergdahl is, excuse me for saying so, boring. Worse, I don’t like him. Worse, I don’t care about him.

Season three left me emotionally startled at the jump, and kept me there, and for very personal reasons. They broke the mold of the first two seasons by changing focus from a single mystery to be plumbed (a murder, a disappearance) to a larger social ill to be remedied -- namely, the American criminal justice system. And the main character was not a person, but a city. Cleveland.

For nine weeks, Koenig and reporter-producer Emmanuel Dzotsi set up shop in the Justice Center downtown, and followed the stories they found there, drawing a complex web of tales depicting a dysfunctional system through which we meet a engaging collection of characters (people) in places a little too close for comfort.

In episode six (You In the Red Shirt) a citizen is harassed by East Cleveland officers in “the park.” It’s not just any park, though. They say its proper name just once, Forest Hill Park. I take a run in that park every day. There is a world within my world of which I remain blithely ignorant.

I am not going to describe the stories, these citizens, you need to listen to the podcast yourself. Perhaps you already have. But I was startled by how Koenig chose to conclude, with a litany of suggestions. And it’s a long list.
“Don't pile six charges onto a single crime when one charge will do. Don't overcharge to force a guilty plea. Don't lock anyone up, unless they're demonstrably violent. Admit that police officers lie under oath. Get out of the punishment business and turn toward the urgent problem of fairness.”
She goes on for four paragraphs. In this holiday season, she even quotes Dickens: “Don't be insensibly tempted ... into a loose way of letting bad things alone to take their own bad course.”

Her final word is, “Let's all accept that something's gone wrong. Let's make that our premise.”

And so, they say that art isn’t supposed to answer questions, it’s supposed to ask them. But these days, it is as though even journalism -- tasked with reporting the truth -- doesn’t even ask the questions. Koenig and her team do ask questions, some very difficult questions.

And they dare to provide some answers. Because for God’s sake someone has to.

Behind the Scenes of Serial Season Three, featuring Sarah Koenig and Emamanuel Dzotsi, comes to Playhouse Square on Saturday, December 15, 2018.

SeriaLand, a blog by Cleveland attorney Rebecca Maurer, providing greater historical context to Serial Season Three.

Cleveland Talks Serial, a podcast produced by IdeaStream. A round table discussion on the series.

Serial (podcast)

"Bringing To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway was nearly impossible" by Aaron Sorkin, New York Magazine 11/26/2018

Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Wrapping (song)

This weekend, ageing alt-rock hipster Twitter was going nuts over a tweet from Andy Partridge (XTC) in which he lavished praise on that holiday classic Christmas Wrapping by Akron's own The Waitresses.

"So much about this that I wished i'd done," Partridge said. "The cheekiness."

Waitress scribe Chris Butler on Facebook responded simply, "Speechless."

Indeed. If I received such praise from the man who wrote Dear God I would also be gobsmacked.

Why is Christmas Wrapping such an endurable bop? It's completely dated; early 80s white girl rapping, syncopated, post-punk pop with jangly guitars and jingle bells, even the lyrics lock it rigidly to the year it was released:
Had his number, but never the time.
Most of '81 passed along those lines.
Perhaps it is that sentiment, about never having the time, which makes the story part of the song something everyone relates to.

Butler was commissioned by a record label to create a Waitresses song for a compilation album of indie holiday tunes, and he found the idea of writing a Christmas song (especially in the middle of summer) to be as oppressive as the holiday itself can be.

"I hated Christmas," he told reporter John Petrick in 2005. "It wasn't about joy. It was something to cope with."

And so, he created a narrative of a young adult - not a parent or a child - working, dating, getting sick, looking for connection, settling for a solo Christmas dinner in her apartment before finding that last minute date at the grocery store.

Truth be told, I was not hip to this song when it was released. I was thirteen and not as cool as all that. But there was an early 80s revival in the mid-1990s, as Gen Xers were recovering bits of their lost childhood, and this record went to the top of my personal holiday playlist in a big way.

Because of nostalgia for the New Wave era. Because it’s downtown and upbeat. Because it’s about striving and failing and being happy with what you have. Because the late Patty Donahue knows what boys like, she’s a square peg, and she can use my comb.

"How an obscure 80s punk band created a Christmas classic" by John Petrick, The Star Online 12/22/2005

UPDATE: In my original draft, I erroneously said the track was synth-laden. "No synths!" - C.Butler

Monday, November 19, 2018

Calling All Ears (radio drama)

Fall quarter my sophomore year at Ohio University, our acting professor reached out to my buddies and I about a special project. A class in the RTV building was studying radio drama and they had a special guest, David Ossman.

Most recently Ossman was a producer for various programs on NPR, and PBS voice-over work. We knew him, however, as a member of The Firesign Theatre, that satirical radio comedy troupe of the late 60s-early 70s. We were very excited to get to work with him, and even went to the local record store to pick up copies of their work to bone up before meeting him.

Seriously. We went to the local record store and bought vinyl copies of Don’t Crush That Dwarf Hand Me The Pliers, Everything You Know Is Wrong, I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus, Wait For The Electrician (Or Someone Like Him) and How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All. They were all right there, waiting for us, in the store. Athens!

I was a little bummed out because at the moment my voice was almost destroyed. That quarter part of theater practicum was clearing out the attic space in Kantner Hall decades worth of props and smaller set pieces which had been stored there and largely forgotten about. The entire room had a thick layer of dust and I was surprised to learn the deep gray cement floor was, when vacuumed, actually a pristine white.

The end result of having inhaled so much dust, however, was that I could barely speak. However, one of the scripts we worked on in the radio production class featured an elderly gentleman, and I was able to push through a rather convincing impression of the character of the decrepit manservant Catherwood from The Future Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye, originally performed by (yes, indeed) David Ossman.

David Ossman, left
The technicians learned a lot but we actors did, too, about microphone placement, Foley effects, pacing, the use of music, etc., etc. In one all-too-brief session I learned lessons that we would apply through our time at school, creating radio dramas that Guerrilla Theater would broadcast on WRUW, and that we would employ much later creating radio drama for WCPN.

That was the first time I met David Ossman. The second was when he produced Calling All Ears for WCPN 90.3, which broadcast the night before Thanksgiving, November 27, 1991. Produced in collaboration with Cleveland Public Theatre, the event was held at the Metro Campus of Cuyahoga Community College.

An evening of “live radio theater” the show was to include three winners of a writing competition, though apparently one of them was for some forgotten reason unusable (inappropriate? too complicated?) and so the third piece was one from Ossman’s bag of tricks, Max Morgan: Crime Cabbie. As he explained it, by the 1950s radio drama was on the wane, with every conceivable detective show angle played out, and this was a satire of one of those.

It was thrilling and unnerving was when I discovered I was cast as the bartender Fergus, opposite Ossman himself as Max Morgan! Unfortunately, my twenty-three year-old self worked a little too hard to impress, and as a result I spent much of the performance trying to out-dick the dick, playing a smarmy variation on Nick Danger instead of the role I had been cast as, the easily-impressed sounding board for the actual hero of the story.

Most memorable for me was the large acting company, where I met for the first numerous players who would have a profound effect on my life. Freshly out of school and only recently settled into a daily Cleveland existence, this process introduced me to a large Cleveland theater community -- and we were all so young then, too.

Brian Pedaci, Peggy Sullivan, David Thonnings, Jenny Litt, Lee T. Wilson, Shruti Amin; there were all folks I would play with in the following years. I also made the acquaintance of Dave Caban from WRUW, Karen Schaefer from WCPN, and broadcast project director Jordan Davis.

My favorite piece of the evening was penned by the late Cleveland playwright Aubrey Wertheim. Originally titled Make Way for Dyke-lings, the more radio-friendly Along Party Lines is totally early 90s. Imagine if you will, a pair of suburban teenage girls waiting in the food court at Tower City to meet and see a movie with a pair of strange guys one of them met over a “party line.”

A "party line." Look that up, Millennials. I’ll wait.

The whole thing is crammed with Foley and recorded effects, a vast company of colorful characters, and a surprisingly progressive take on young adult relationships. It also includes my favorite tagline for Tremont, one which I find amusing even today.

The early 90s were a difficult time for Cleveland, the city center continue to be hollowed out, Tower City and the Galleria were already going into decline, the entire nation was in economic doldrums, there was no clear end to our woes. But it was a joyful moment, as a young artist, to meet and collaborate with so many exciting people.

Even so, the attendance that evening was all right, perhaps a hundred people were in the audience for this live event, enough to generate an audible audience response but not a very strong one. Getting people to come downtown, to do absolutely anything, was a difficult challenge at that time.

This past weekend I returned, with my family, to that same venue, the auditorium at the Tri-C Metro Campus, to see my daughter perform her first concert with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, a unique and exceptionally talented ensemble under the direction of Liza Grossman. The place was packed, the room buzzing with excitement. It got me all excited for the holidays.

Get out into the world this season. Enjoy Cleveland. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Professor Street Theater

2275 Professor Street (1992)
It was November 4, 1992. We were having rehearsal for our third week of performances of You Have the Right to Remain Silent!

I went up to the office during a break to check the election returns on CNN, where I was stunned to see the projected returns quite solidly suggested that Bill Clinton was going to win.

The idea that twelve years of Republican presidency, and specifically the Reagan-Bush Era, was coming to a close, was beyond my ken.

In 1980 I was twelve. Then I was twenty-four.

I came downstairs and announced the news, which led to a general cheer from the entire company.

Retro, our more libertarian member, sneered, “Man. What the hell are you people gonna write about now?”

The space was the Professor Street Theater. We’d signed the lease in August, $700 a month for two thousand feet of performance space downstairs and four rooms upstairs.

Four could squat for $175 each and we’d never need to generate a penny’s worth of profit for our work. We presented Silent! for eight months, closing in May to take a short break, produced a Shakespeare and then vacated for a different Tremont location.

Retro held onto the lease for a while, creating and presenting the Off-Hollywood Flick Fest there before the owner sold the place and it was a private residence and artists’ studio for nearly twenty-five years before the coffee shop Beviamo relocated there last year.

Professor Street Theater (above) and Beviamo Cafe (below)

Last April, I stepped into the space at 2275 Professor for the first time for the first time in almost a quarter century for a latte, and to get majorly freaked out.

It’s the same room, only so much brighter and different. Our early 90s landlord was adamant about our not changing a thing about the building, he pitched a fit when we painted a sign on the front door without his permission. It was easier to ask forgiveness.

The walls had been paneled all the way to the ceiling, the present occupants stripped away top level revealing fashionable brick, and painted the lower part white, brightening to room. We had papered over the windows for show privacy and to render the room entirely dark if necessary. Now the room is full of natural light.

Then & now.
While there are a few major alterations (the bathroom has been rerouted) what was startling was how the same the room felt. It was disorienting, sitting on a new platform in the window, sipping coffee and looking over the space like a hovering ghost.

Thoughts of a revival were inevitable. What if we staged a fundraiser, reading old scripts, or even writing new ones, right here where it all happened? No, really, maybe we shouldn’t. And besides, no one knows where the scripts are anymore. I don’t have them.

So what did we have to write about, now that "our guy" was going to the White House? We had only for two been weeks criticizing the George H. W Bush administration, would we now be praising and supporting this new president? Waving the flag for the status quo?

We did begin that way, we had to. He repealed the gag rule, that abortion could not be discussed in the military. And we would champion his attempts at health care reform and allowing gays to serve openly in the military … two agendas which failed, and failed badly in short order.

Much of our work turned inward, and by that I mean not only introspective (and also, unfortunately, at each other) but more local.

In the final days of 1992, an African-American man died while in police custody. He had been placed in a choke hold which rendered him unconscious, and was later determined to have been the cause of death. Then, as now, excessive force is an issue which plagues the Cleveland police department. Torque wrote a piece about that.

The choke hold play (title?)
There were audience members who openly objected to the political stuff, especially when it wasn’t funny. We took a stand against being portrayed as a sketch comedy group (or God forbid, improv) and intentionally threw in conceptual pieces for their own sake, with no punchline whatsoever.

The Scene Magazine reviewer, turgidly recounting every minute sexual reference from the performance he witnessed (even creating a few where they didn't existed) claimed the choke hold scene "backfired like a '62 Buick."

He also described Beemer as a "solid gold b----," so I guess that's funny?

After election day we retired a piece written by Jelly Jam, one I was proud to have had a hand in, creating a recorded soundscape of musical and nature sounds, and a weird voice-over (Lee's voice slowed down.)

With the lights dimmed, the entire company of seven crawled the floor, rose to their feet, came together but then fell away as the voice described and ancient ritual which made a people strong, but as more and more failed to participate, the civilization collapsed.

The ritual was called “voting.”

Yes, we were young and determined and optimistic and basic. We were also right.

Vote on November 6th.

Source: "Comedy for the Young at Heart" by Keith Joseph, Cleveland Scene, 2/18/1993

Thanks to Kim Martin for the 2018 photos!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Big Month of Plays

"Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies)"
by Melissa T. Crum & Caitlin Lewins
Cleveland Public Theatre
Photo by Steve Wagner
The Dark Room

It’s been a huge month for theater, which is usually the case for October as traditional season cycles begin. The difference this year is that I have actually had the opportunity to attend several of them, which is not often the case.

I actually had the chance to begin the month by attending the Dark Room, Cleveland Public Theatre’s monthly playwriting “open mic.” It’s free, it happens every second Tuesday, and there is beer. In addition to several ten minute plays written by about a half dozen writers, I threw in a few odd pages from a new piece I have started. They didn’t go anywhere, but people laughed, and so I am encouraged.

See you there November 13th.

Hello, Dolly!

The KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square has begun. First up, Hello Dolly! Featuring the incomparable Betty Buckley. She really was delightful and made a warm connection with the audience.

Waiting for the show to begin.
Personally, I loved when she crossed the stage to kneel and pick up a stray prop that rolled across the stage following a big, company dance routine. She didn’t break character or stop her delivery for a moment, just picked it up and set it aside like it was her job, because she a professional and it is.

Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to witness a preview performance of Everything Is Okay (and Other Helpful Lies) at Cleveland Public Theatre. Written by Melissa T. Crum and Caitlin Lewins and under the powerful direction of Matthew Wright, this Millennial musical is a breathtakingly ambitious and brilliant event.

It has been very inspiring to watch and listen as Missy and Caitlin first presented this piece as a cabaret of songs at the first Entry Point, later performing an uncompleted version of the book at this year’s Entry Point (there was a point in the second act where character was broken and one announced, “Okay, we’re not sure how we’re wrapping this all up yet, but it may go like this ...”) to this fully-realized performance, executed with urgency and style. And may I say the band is fucking incredible?

The show opens to a sold out crowd tonight!

Colin Holter speaking before "Mamma Mia!"
Great Lakes Theater
Mamma Mia!

The company for whom I am employed, Great Lakes Theater, is currently presenting Mamma Mia! and Joseph Hanreddy’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in rotating repertory, and these productions are each a smash. The Jane Austen play is entirely sold out, with Mamma Mia! which runs an additional week, almost to capacity. Tickets are still available, especially on Halloween.

As a member of the education department, I often host GLT’s weekly pre-show event, Playnotes, where we engage an area expert to provide historical background to that afternoon’s performance. Last weekend our guest was Colin Holter, composer, teacher, and writer on music. He described to a packed salon the origins of ABBA’s original success in the mid-1970s, the particular techniques they use in their singing to catch the ear and the heart, and their enduring popularity.

Holter brought a guitar and was able to play and sing a few verse to better illustrate these techniques, and the assembled were rapt and impressed. He will speak again before matinee performances on Saturdays November 3rd and 10th, which currently have a limited number of available seats.

"When the Tiger Sneezed" by Toni  K. Thayer
Talespinner Children's Theatre
When the Lion Sneezed

Every year, in addition to their main stage work at Reinberger Auditorium, Talespinner Children's Theatre produces a shorter program, designed for touring. For 2019 that production is When the Lion Sneezed (Tales of Ancient Assyria and Beyond) written by Toni K. Thayer, a beautiful artist, educator, and my spouse.

It is a tradition that this touring show debuts at the annual Harlequinade gala in the fall and this year was no exception. What was unusual was the storm which blew through and knocked over powerlines across the city last Saturday night. The electricity went out roughly an hour and a half before guests were due to arrive, but thanks to smart thinking and a team of volunteers who just kept working by battery-operated lanterns (we have kinds of crazy things in theaters) they were able to procure a generator which lit up the party room upstairs.

The stage downstairs was still dark, however, but as this play was designed to be produced anywhere, they swiftly adapted it to the party room and we had the opportunity to witness and enjoy Toni’s delightful tale of the origin of cats -- and the diverse ways we feel about them.

"Sweat" by Lynn Nottage
Cleveland Play House
Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Earlier this week, Chennelle and I saw the Cleveland Play House production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat. If there is a contemporary play that deserves a Pulitzer Prize, it is this play, and this local production, directed by Laura Kepley, is outstanding.

It is also a thrill to see that half of the cast consists of Cleveland actors, namely Bob Ellis, Chris Seibert, Jimmy D. Woody and CPH Associate Artistic Director Robert Barry Fleming.

Sweat is an epic take on the decline of American manufacturing jobs and an even-handed observation of the events which led to the election of Donald J. Trump. Not that Trump is the answer, as it is evident that he is absolutely not, but is a clear-eyed explanation of how we arrived at this present moment.

"MST3K Live 30th Anniversary Tour"
The Agora
MST3K Live!

Last night the boy and I attended the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Live 30th Anniversary Tour at the Agora. My goodness, I have not been to the Agora in years and years and years. The movie being taken apart was Deathstalker II, and during the first few minutes the ‘bots made a GWAR joke, which was striking to me because that may have been the last concert I attended there!

Jokes flew fast and furiously, and there is really nothing like laughing together in a packed house. Robots Tom Servo and Crow were joined by both Joel Hodgson and Jonah Ray.

I’ve been enjoying MST3K since the early 90s, so Joel is my favorite, but the Netflix reboot featuring Jonah is also hilarious and the pop culture references are fresh so my son can enjoy they, too. The old episodes are practically Dada-esque to him, most satire is … which may be why his generation loves nonsense humor. It’s good pushback and it irritates the grown-ups.

iGen humor.
The Way I Danced With You

It’s time. We announced auditions for this weekend a few days ago, and the available slots filled up pretty fast. There is a company in there somewhere and I am very excited to discover who they are.

Cleveland Public Theatre presents "Everything Is Okay (and other Helpful Lies)" in the Levin Theatre through November 10, 2018.

Great Lakes Theatre presents "Mamma Mia!" at the Hanna Theatre through November 11, 2018.

Cleveland Play House presents "Sweat" at the Outcalt Theatre through November 4, 2018.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


"About a Ghoul"
(Talespinner Children's Theatre, 2019)
How do you get that next production? That’s a question. Without a name, without a history, when your work has largely been confined to your own community, without representation, how does one push their own work into the larger world?

In the gig economy, there are plentiful opportunities to attract attention to yourself, but there are thousands of others taking those same opportunities. Yes, there are many examples now of playwrights whose work has been discovered on New Play Exchange. For a moment I thought I was one of those.

In January, a small company in a large city cold-contacted me about one of my previously produced works. They really wanted it! I was interviewed by the artistic director. I was consulted about concept. They requested a contract, which I sent. Then … nothing.

I tried to reach out once, just a big hello? Are we on? No response. They announced their season in the summer, and no surprise, my play was not there. How disappointing. That’s not how you do that.

The entire year has been like that.

Casting spells in the rain.
(Harry Potter World, Orlando)
The year literally began on the tarmac. After a significant delay, we touchdown in Orlando minutes before midnight New Year’s Eve, and rang in 2018 waiting to exit. It was a last-minute decision, to drop everything and scurry off to see Harry Potter and Mickey Mouse. After the horrors of the holidays, the wife just wanted time with her family.

What we got were four wet days in an amusement park, with temps in the mid-forties. But we were adventurous, we dined and played and loved together as a family under a dark cloud, because that’s a metaphor for everything these days.

New writing was under the radar this past year, I spent far more time doing crossword puzzles. It’s just a fact. However, works that have been in development or previously presented found their home, some more than one home.

The Way I Danced With You was presented as part of their Factory Series at Blank Canvas Theatre, and it was a very successful weekend. Funny, I did not think it was particularly well-attended. It’s not a big house, and it felt like there a lot of empty seats. And yet, the feedback was highly positive -- and it keeps coming. Since March numerous people, folks I didn’t even remember attending, have told me what an impression it made how much they are still thinking about it.

"The Way I Danced With You
(Blank Canvas Theatre, 2018)
The script will receive a full run of performances, opening March 21, at Ensemble Theatre. Directed by Tyler J. Whidden, The Way I Danced With You will headline the 2019 Columbi New Plays Festival. Auditions were announced yesterday.

Last year I lamented how I had fallen away from writing, longhand, every morning. Well, it took most of the year, but I now have an established ritual of writing 30 minutes or three pages every single morning, without fail. And it makes a difference. I even pushed through an illness to keep covering the page.

Just last night, Talespinner Children’s Theatre announced their 2019 season, which will include the world premiere of About a Ghoul, my new play inspired by Moroccan folk tales.

On the publication front, I have two exciting developments. In an effort to control my own work, I decided to self-publish I Hate This on Amazon. Ten years ago there was a limited edition of that script released in Britain, with all profits going to a national charity. To my surprise, I have found copies of that script going for as much as $50 on various websites. So I have published a version for $5.95, which means pennies for me, but at least it is available to whoever wants it at a price they can afford. You can get an electronic version for even less.

The second publication is still in the works, and I look forward to announcing that soon.

Forward. Always forward.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Jane Austen's Epitaph

A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.
 - Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey"
"Pride and Prejudice"
Amy Keum, Kailey Boyle, Laura Welsh Berg
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Photo: DKM Photography
Tonight is opening night for the Great Lakes Theater production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joseph Hanreddy from the play script adapted by Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. It appears to be a sumptuous production, and I am already a great fan of Hanreddy’s direction. Previously for GLT he has helmed epic, modern interpretations of King Lear (2015) and Richard III (2013).

My own experience with the works of Jane Austen are limited. By that I mean, I have never read any of her work. I have the same working knowledge of many Americans my age and gender. I have seen Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (screenplay by Emma Thompson) and Emma, which may have starred Gwyneth Paltrow but is more notable for introducing American audiences to Alan Cumming, Toni Collette and Ewan McGregor.

Last fall I took an unusual journey to Winchester, England. My niece Lydia was graduating from the university, she who was the inspiration for everyone’s favorite character in I Hate This, who was at that time an inquisitive six year-old.

Though I wanted to attend the ceremony, last fall was particularly difficult as my wife was spending most weekends out of town, assisting her father through the final stages of cancer. Leaving town for even a week seemed to me to be terribly selfish. But my mother, who was eighty-two was certainly going to go, and she could use my assistance and my company. Honestly, I thought, I could also use hers.

Winchester Student Union
We spent a lovely few days in Winchester, this was almost a year ago. October, 2017. It was cold, a little damp, but the company was pleasant and we did make the best of our trek. Lydia gave us a tour of her campus, and it was then I learned the strong connection the place has made with Austen, who spent her final years in the city. It is not often you find a large mural of a nineteenth century author in a university cantina.

Her graduating class was enormous. The ceremony was held in the vast and cavernous Winchester Cathedral, even so there were seven commencements, morning and afternoon, for four days. If she had participated in that afternoon's event the keynote speaker would have been David Suchet (of Poirot fame) receiving an honorary degree.

On our way to our seats I noticed David Suchet also narrates the cathedral's audio tour.

It was until we were filing out that someone indicated that the final resting place of Jane Austen was right over there. Right over there? Yes! Right there, in the cathedral. I shimmied my way between folding chairs to the “North Aisle” where I noticed displays about the author. But where was she? Under my feet.
In Memory of JANE AUSTEN, youngest daughter of the late Revd GEORGE AUSTEN, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian. The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection, they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.
She was published. She was popular. She was anonymous. Her works attributed to "a lady" the author of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and Emma and Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park and so on, were revealed by her own brother to be Jane Austen. But her original epitaph made clear that her greatest contribution was to have been her father's daughter.

Looking up I saw a newer, golden plaque, set into the stone of the wall.
Jane Austen. Known to many by her writings, endeared to her family by the varied charms of her character and ennobled by her Christian faith and piety was born at Steventon in the County of Hants, December 16 1775 and buried in the Cathedral July 18 1817. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness".
Next to that, a modern contribution, to more clearly set the record straight. It reads in part:
The grave of Jane Austen … with its inscription which gives no indication that she was one of the greatest English writers.
One of the greatest English writers. Perhaps its greatest author, though fans of Dickens might disagree. (Shakespeare, of course, is not an author. He's a poet and a playwright.) Not the greatest woman author, no qualification necessary. The greatest English author, full stop.

We do not generally grant women the appellations of absolute superiority. Serena Williams is the greatest female athlete. Meryl Streep at greatest female film actor. Jane Austen the greatest female author in the English language.

"Though she be but little, she is fierce."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, III.ii
When we call to strip these gender-based qualifications, inevitably there are those who would question why we need to establish supremacy. When women step to the line and cross it, we simply take the line away.

The wife was in Washington, D.C. today, to protest the advancement of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. We did not believe it would make any difference, but when you have the opportunity to speak up, to make yourself heard, even in the face of disaster, you must seize that opportunity.

And she was heard, indeed, she made a speech and it was broadcast on C-SPAN. She also writes plays.

Pride and Prejudice at Great Lakes Theater is presented in rotating repertory with the musical Mamma Mia! which opened with a bang last weekend. A woman-centered musical paired with the adaptation of a beloved female author.

Dobama Theatre presents a season of work written entirely by female playwrights. The current season at Talespinner Children’s Theatre, also written entirely by local, woman playwrights. Women lead the way. One day the government will follow.

But not today.

Great Lakes Theater presents Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan at the Hanna Theatre through November 4, 2018.