What am I using this bonus Leap Day for? Posting this blog update, apparently. Hope that you all find inspiring, productive, and enjoyable ways to spend the extra time! Most sections of this post didn't have natural photo accompaniments, so I have interspersed an assortment of wintery New York snapshots I took this month.
Quote of the Month
Plays and books I read this month provided a bunch of (arguably more “relevant,” but who’s to say) contenders, but truly nothing can compete with this one:
“Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives.
It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians!” - Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter
Current & Upcoming
Application season continues, and I’ve been trying to take in a bunch of performances and other art in the meantime. I’ve also expanded my social media presence for theatre projects, and can now be found on Instagram! There’s also been time for some more hobby projects, including baking an excellent scone recipe and looking into some new knitting ventures (stay tuned for more info on that!).
Inside the Process
While it is always thrilling to enjoy an incredible performance purely as a final product, I often find that it can be more inspiring to learn about the development process behind successful shows. Earlier this month I attended an amazing concert at 54 Below, which presented songs cut or revised from the Broadway hit Come From Away. Most musicals go through extensive rewrites, but given the genesis of this particular show from countless hours of interviews, it was fascinating to hear the writing team discuss which narratives ultimately rose to the forefront of the show and which numbers were deemed fun but not effective.
Another development process that I’ve enjoyed learning a bit about is that of new Broadway arrival Six, which I recently saw in a preview performance. The musical, which reimagines the six wives of Henry VIII as a girl group in a feminist history lesson-turned-pop concert, got its start at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival just three years ago. The majority of the creative team is made of women under thirty, students at Cambridge at the time of the show’s initial development, who have stayed with the project all the way to the Great White Way. One hopes they will be sharing all they’ve learned along their journey soon!
It is a truth universally acknowledged...
That you can never have too many Austen adaptations! (As long as they stay true to the satire and witty social commentary at the heart of the original works -- don’t even get me started.) I loved the new film version of Emma, a delightfully designed and perfectly paced evening with our favorite precocious Regency heiress. I had already been in an Austen unit prior to the film’s release, as I’ve been enjoying a fantastic podcast created by some fellow artists since last fall. In Pod and Prejudice, seasoned Janeite Becca guides first-time reader Molly through Austen’s canon a few chapters at a time, offering insightful and often hilarious commentary on the novels’ timeless themes and contemporary resonance. They are currently about halfway through Pride and Prejudice, releasing new episodes every two weeks at an easy read-along pace, and whether you adore Austen or have always wondered what all the fuss was about, I encourage you to join them for the rest of the ride!
Shakespeare 2020: Tragedy Tomorrow, Comedy Tonight
I’m experimenting with including an update on this project as a monthly feature, for anyone interested in following my progress through the canon. The February line-up included several of the Bard’s earliest comedies and tragedies, each of which I have either studied or worked on a production of previously.
I can’t say that I discovered a whole lot new in the classical farce The Comedy of Errors, although I did brainstorm several setting ideas that would effectively suggest the idea of an exotic port city which Ephesus would have conjured to Elizabethans. The Taming of the Shrew always provides food for thought, even if I still struggle to find a text-supported way to make Petruchio tolerable. Many may find the excesses of violence in Titus Andronicus intolerable, but on each read I find new fascinating glimpses into Shakespeare’s early development as a playwright. The growth of writing style and character development from Titus to Romeo and Juliet is remarkable to compare back-to-back, and increases my anticipation of the textual treasures in store throughout the rest of the year.