Saturday, April 20, 2013

Back in the SADdle

Back in NYC. And I am watching Anne of Green Gables. All of it. I might even bring myself to watch the extended edition.  You know it's bad when I'm reviewing Anne of Green Gables!  Coming back to the city has been rough this go around. I am struck every time by the panic, soul-searching, and unpacking of my life when I return from the last few months of glorious work, but this time around feels different. Maybe I am different?

Whenever I get in a funk I re-visit old stories that I have loved. I look for inspiration, good cheer and often see something new from the vantage point of my current self.  When I was younger I marveled at Anne Shirley's creativity and brave spirit, battling the odds of being an "other" in her community.  She had fire and I liked it! I tried to put some fire in my life in honor of her, a kind of What Would Anne Do homage. As I got older I was more attracted to the romantic aspect of the story--looking for tips about boys, I suppose. Anne taught me to look around a bit before settling on whatever everyone else thought was fine and proper. Now, having a wonderful partner in my life and having had the good fortune and blessing to have a great professional career to-date, I commiserate and identify with Anne's struggles as she joins the women who "have chosen a profession." The implication is one of having to choose a profession over having a family, following what was traditionally expected of a woman in the 1900s, and ending up what is known as a spinster.

Having found a partner in crime for this life I don't fear turning into a spinster socially at any rate, but perhaps a spinster in my craft.  So much of this artistic life is to be malleable, to change, embrace new methods and leave the old behind. But sometimes I just want something stable, Dangit! Or maybe it's a sense of peace and optimism, something the story of Anne of Green Gables, written by L.M. Montgomery, always inspired. Reviewing the story I am present to more of her struggle, having seen a bit more of the world now, and the obstacles both outside and within herself that Anne must overcome to do what she believes is Good.

The character of Anne Shirley says early on in the novel, which is very good as are the other books in the series, that she is in "the depths of despair." Being of a rather melodramatic bent Anne can reflect the times when we've been most down and most willing to be there, swim in it, embrace it.  The beauty for me is in Anne's  romanticization of her own life. Anne asks Marilla if she has ever been in "the depths of despair." Marilla, a stranger at this point having just discovered that Anne was sent to them by mistake from an orphanage instead of a boy as they requested, responds with, "No, I have not. To despair is to turn your back on God." Her curt response moved me. To keep searching, keep questioning but not to despair completely.

In light of recent events nationally and internationally, with the bombings in Boston and the continued violence in Syria and surrounding countries, as well as some personal--my little sister witnessed an accident involving a speeding motorist and pedestrian--it can be difficult to not despair, to hope for better.  And to that I'll respond with a quote Anne says at the end of the film, "I spent my time looking for ideals outside of myself . . . I've discovered it's not what the world holds for you, it's what you bring to it." We as a nation, as a world are NOT these bombings, are NOT these conflicts. What we are cannot be measured and is waiting to express itself in Beauty, Goodness and Light.
© Gisela Chípe

Gisela Chípe photo taken by Damian Thompson

p.s. Some great actors in the Kevin Sullivan directed adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables: excellent acting from Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla, Richard Farnsworth as Matthew, and Megan Follows as Anne, with an appearance from Dame Wendy Hiller!

Friday, April 5, 2013

37th Humana Festival of New American Plays Days 23-43

Caaaahhhhhhrazy that I haven't written for so long but seriously it's been nuts. Ok maybe not nuts maybe I just took a breather because it has been nuts and NOW, now we're almost at the end of our time here. Our time ends but I am hopeful this is just the beginning for these plays.

We went to a lovely party yesterday hosted by the exquisite Blakemores. Their estate is palatial and they were more than willing to have designers, press, actors, staff and the privileged-to-be-invited lay person to jaunt about their property imbibing on fine wine and spirits and enjoying yummy snacks all over the main activities of seeing who's who and making connections with the world's Theatre Makers. So exciting!

This is weekend is the final weekend, affectionately called Big Weekend among the die hard Humana Festivalists.  This weekend we have triple the press, administrative, artist guests at the festival here to catch a last glimpse of the hottest new plays before they burn out, to be kindled anew somewhere new--with luck and hard work.  I am feeling nostalgic already, can you tell?
© Gisela Chípe