Potpourri #5 for 2012 (two cents)

1. A terrific trumpet/piano concert at Epiphany Church. The trumpeter was Chris Gekker, a faculty member at the University of Maryland. The varied program was filled with short pieces not originally written for trumpet, but arranged for trumpet by Gekker or others. From Bach to Duke Ellington, a beautiful program. If you have a chance to hear Gekker play, I suggest you do so.

2. An excellent version of the rarely performed Garcia-Lorca play, Blood Wedding. Two married men, two married women, a prior relationship which cannot be ignored, rural, tradition bound, tragic pre-Civil War Spain…….It does not end well. Constellation Theatre at the Source on 14th Street. Drawing nice audiences. Recommended.

3. Another run through of a play-in-progress by a local playwright, Gwydion Suilebhan’s “Hot & Cold”. Intriguing question of what is real, when two parallel universes exist in what appears to be the same space. Did I understand it? No. Will you?……..

4. There is a wonderful exhibit at the National Museum of African Art, closing soon, of wood and metal relics and sculpture from the Benue River valley of east-central Nigeria. I can’t begin to understand African art, but this extensive exhibit, along with informative signage and fascinating videos, beautifully displayed on the 3rd level of the museum. Impressive exhibit.

5. We saw the 50 year old cinema version of John Osborne’s “The Entertainer” with Laurence Olivier, Joan Playwright, Alan Bates and Albert Finney. A very well orchestrated film, the story of a middle aged, not very successful or funny vaudeville star, who can’t stop his womanizing and can’t start paying his income taxes. The sad ending is inevitable, but the play ends with a wonderful quote – and I paraphrase: You have been a wonderful audience…..Where are you playing tomorrow? I want to come and see you.

6. Two books. First, I read a book called “By Fate or Faith” that I happened upon – the story of a young Chasidic man trapped in Nazi occupied Poland, the majority of his family killed, surviving through various work camps, eventually getting to Canada where he gets a job as a cantor, a career he maintains in Montreal, Cleveland and finally Atlanta. His story of his experience in Poland during World War II is a tragic and interesting one – the more you read this type of memoir, the more you learn, and the more you see the uniqueness that was each individual’s experience in a situation that was for all such a tragedy.

From this book, which I had never heard of, I went (for reasons unclear to me) to actress Liv Ullmann’s memoir from the late 1970s, “Changing”. It’s not a chronological narrative, but rather reads more like a diary, not necessarily written for public consumption, but nevertheless careful to make sure that no one is libeled, and the most intimate of details are avoided. Ms. Ullmann’s book reads like a honest, and difficult, search for one’s inner essence and core – how to build a stage and screen career, raise a child without a husband, live in Norway and (at the same time) in the rest of the world because of a killer travel/work schedule. But, when you step back, is there anything in Liv Ullmann’s core to really admire? I, for one, am not so sure.

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