The Good Negro, Joe Turner’s and That Pretty Pretty

Been a busy couple of weeks teaching.  One of the benefits to what I do for a living is that I get to see some great theater for free, sometimes things I wouldn’t afford to be able to see on my own.  Working for TDF,  I saw The Good Negro, Tracy Scott Wilson’s new play about the civil rights movement and loosely based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  She brings the man down off his pedestal and humanizes him for sure.  And in these Obama days, it’s an interesting reflection on the power of rhetoric.  I was also blown away by the magic and craftsmanship of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Lincoln Center’s new production with Ernie Hudson (Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters, Ernie Hudson.  I think he’s great in this.).  A forgotten song.  A missing woman.  A shower of gold.  A magic man who binds people together.  It’s 3 hours long and it seemed like a mere moments.

It’s the kind of play that makes a playwright envious and awestruck and hungry to see it again and wondering if she’ll ever get the mastery and imagination necessary to build something like that.  I am ashamed to say this is only the second of his plays that I’ve encountered.  Now I have to read the other 8.

Also saw, That Pretty Pretty at Rattlestick.  Man.  She broke all the rules.  I was telling my Pace kids this week that if you’re going to be artmakers, you need to be seeing thing as much as humanly possible.  I had them read Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize Address.  It is sort of all over the place but he talks about the real and the unreal, chasing the truth in artmaking, but more than anything, being aware of the world around you and the implications of the deeds being done.  I think the thing about Sheila Callaghan’s play is that she’s somehow capturing the way that we are thinking right now.  She deals with gender and the mess of making art, stealing and borrowing other people’s stories and messing with people because you are stronger.  The narrative is fractured, but I think it reflects these times of piecemeal narratives and stories told, then re-told, then reinterpreted, then broken and re-ordered and turned into bricolage.  Pretty cool.

On another note, some success yesterday with a class in a long term residency that I have that had not really taken to writing or performing so much yet.  But, I did some Teacher in Role work with them and let them ask questions of the character and suddenly, all they wanted to do is be involved and give the character advice on how to be an agent of change in her own life.  It really stunned me and affirmed the power of this kind of work.  It just works.

Oh, and have you seen Electric Company lately?

Keeping the Arts in Public Schools

The top ten ideas will be presented to President Obama and will have grassroots campaigns started around them by the good people at Change.org to bring the ideas to fruition.

Check out the below.  Throw in your two cents before midnight tonight and we usher in 2009.  Let’s put the buzz in Obama’s ear that the arts are crucial to build the capacity for imagination and creative thinking that will be necessary to build the corps of young citizens to help move us into the future. 

The first round of voting for the Ideas for Change in America
competition will end this Wednesday, December 31 at midnight Pacific
Time.

Please vote for this one:

Support the Arts in Public Schools (currently in 6th place):
http://www.change.org/ideas/view/support_the_arts_in_public_schools

You can see all the ideas here:

http://www.change.org/ideas/your_ideas

The top three ideas in each category will make it to the final round.

Also note that the final round of voting will begin next Monday and
end just before the Presidential Inauguration in mid-January.

The top ten ideas will be presented to President Obama and will have grassroots campaigns started around them by the good people at Change.org to bring the ideas to fruition.