2. Beautiful fall weather in Ashland, not that you asked. A bit more blustery and cloudy today. But not complaining: Yesterday between shows, went on one of my favorite runs, leaf-strewn/babbling brook Lithia Park in Ashland -- all uphill on the way out, but you can bomb the downhill on the way back. Not a trace of tremor cordis.
3. For space and personnel reasons, we had to hold the preview of String of Pearls at the Civic until the Oct. 29 issue. (Guess I'd better write it.) Will see and blog-review the show this weekend.
4. Another "20 Questions ..." with a local actor is in the works. (Hey, I do this in my spare time, folks.)
5. At Powell's Bookstore in Portland, the men's room has a condom machine. Just in case the redhead in the art history section decides that she wants to browse more than just books. A funny location for a condom dispenser, no? Are book readers so scarce that they've become kind of sexy? (Long ago, this was my Revenge of the Nerds fantasy. Didn't quite work out for me that way -- though Dannie, Long-Suffering Wife of Bobo, went on her second-ever date with her future spousal unit [that would be me, Bobo -- back in 1986] to see Ron Leibman and Jessica Walter in Tartuffe at the old L.A. Theater Center in the Garment District.)
6. Special-ordered and read Lynn Nottage's Ruined, then remembered that OSF is doing it next year. It's Mother Courage in the Congo. Cast of 11, plus extras; all African, one Lebanese. Three songs, with lyrics by Nottage; special effects include parrot calls at pivotal moments that, I would imagine, will be challenging for sound mixers.
In the middle of a brutal civil war, Mama Nadi runs a bar/brothel. She's indifferent to the girls who are coerced into whoring (Nottage and Kate Whoriskey interviewed rape victims in the Congo), but of course sees the light, has a heart, forges a new future in the end.
I don't want to be cynical. Ruined brings to light the abuses and degradation of life in a land far from our own. Days after reading it, however, it feels too rounded off, too rotely optimistic at the end, with a couple of the relationships resolved, and (at least on the page) not that much hint in the finale that a brutal war is still raging. (As with The Illusion, however, I'm always willing to get behind a script that plays better than it reads.)
7. I forgot to mention the call-to-action in Equivocation (and how it reflects on Ruined): At one point, Cecil makes Shag face his audience, belittling theater by saying that plays simply entertain people without moving them to actually do anything. And Bill Rauch raised the house lights just a tad, just enough to let us know that, at that moment, we were the ones being looked at under the microscope.
I'd felt a similar twinge days before in reading Ruined: genocidal wars, horrific poverty, the nightmare of rape being used as an instrument of war ... and what exactly have I done, personally, to alleviate those horrors? Exactly nothing.
Theater changes people's lives only in those rare cases when the theatergoers choose to take action.
Equivocation does the same in making its parallels between the torture at the Tower of London and the torture at Abu Ghraib: You can't really blame Dickhead Cheney and Stunted Bush unless you yourself spoke out.
8. The lead art for OSF's 2010 season? "What a piece of work is man" -- with a photo of Spokane's own Dan Donohue, who's going to play guess which Danish prince next year. (Jude Law, stay on the East Coast.)