What do 4000-year-old bronze sculptures, a truly bizarre interpretation of The Importance of Being Earnest and a very soggy Sunday in Queens have in common? Answers on a postcard please (or in the comments section below, I suppose).
While we were in London last month we went to a party in Islington, as you do. There, we ran into a friend-of-a-friend who works in theatre, and who happened to be stage managing a production that was touring to New York. Naturally we leapt at her offer of some tickets, which was how last Friday found us in the front row of Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater.
The play in question was Gerald Barry’s Importance of Being Earnest, a fractured and largely non-melodic, operatic interpretation of the classic text. With food fights, plate-smashing, megaphones, and Lady Brackell played by a bass in a pinstriped suit, this is not your average Earnest, but somehow all the craziness serves to enhance the Wildean text rather than obscure it. I loved every moment, and would happily pay to see it again, although we definitely had the best seats in the house – the cast spend their non-stage time hopping in and out of the front row, and we were right in the middle of them! (This Spectator review of the UK production is worth a read, if you’d like to know more about it.)
*** *** ***
It’s exhibition-rotation time at the Morgan again, so this week’s treat was a tour of the Founding Figures show. This small-but-perfectly-formed exhibition showcases seven copper sculptures and three stone cylinder seals, dating from ca. 3300-2000BC. I’m always impressed by the level of detail and craftsmanship apparent in the carving of the seal, but the copper sculptures were something else altogether – whilst the seals were designed to be used, the sculptures weren’t even meant to be seen by human eyes. Used to mark out the corners of a building plot, or buried in the foundations, they were supposed to pin evil spirits into the earth and commemorate the builder to the gods.
*** *** ***
I’ve written before about the popularity of parades here in NYC, and if you’ve been following this blog for a while you may recall we’ve attended quite a few over the last few years. Last Sunday, however, I finally got the chance to actually participate in one myself. My library association’s diversity committee had decided that marching in one of the Pride parades would be a fun thing to do, and a group of NY-based library folk duly assembled to participate. We even had our own banner.
Some torrential rain just as we were all lining up failed to dampen anyone’s spirits, and there were some good crowds along the parade route, a surprising number of whom were even remarkably enthusiastic to see a bunch of soggy librarians in the mix. I’m not sure it’s an experience I’m desperate to repeat – despite being positioned perfectly in relation to a fantastic women’s drumming group (e.g. close enough to have our walking enlivened by some fun rhythms, but not deafeningly so!), and marching with some good friends and colleagues, it was quite strange being on display for such an extended period of time. Maybe if we’d had some extravagantly feathered costumes it would have felt a bit less odd – something to think about for next year, perhaps…