Here's everything I read in 2015. I abandoned a lot of books (and tried to keep track of those as well). The bolded titles are ones I especially enjoyed. I think I'll aim for at least 45 next year. We'll see...
Here's a list I kept of every movie I saw in 2015. I'm sure there are some that I missed, but this is pretty comprehensive.
Birdman (in theatre)
A Most Wanted Man
The Skeleton Twins
American Sniper (theater)
Dallas Buyers Club
The Maze Runner
The Gunman (theater)
Henry V (Branagh)
Henry V (Olivier)
Julius Caesar (MGM/Brando/Gielgud)
Jurassic World (in theater)
What We Do In The Shadows
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (in theater)
The Seventh Son
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner 2) - (in theater)
The Martian (in theater)
Spectre (in theater)
Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (in theater)
Krampus (in theater)
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (in theater, twice)
Read this interview with Orphan Black star, Tatiana Maslany.
Here's an excerpt that I love:
Despite Maslany’s reluctance, I managed to steer our conversation back to her magical quick-change act. I still wanted to know how she does it. “I think there’s something about being prepared enough that you can surrender,” she said. Then she quoted to me something the dancer Martha Graham told the choreographer Agnes de Mille in 1943.
At the time, de Mille was confused and bewildered by her sudden rise to fame, and Graham offered her words of encouragement. It is a beautiful pep talk, practically written in verse. I can see why it has special meaning for Maslany as she navigates the challenges of the fishbowl herself. The part Maslany recounted to me is this: “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
De Mille asked Graham when she would feel satisfied, and Graham replied: “There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I asked Maslany what her divine dissatisfaction was. “I don’t know how I would label it right now,” she said. “I think if I looked back on this time, I’d probably see where it lived.”
An ice storm has invaded Murray State University (Murray, KY) where the Method in Madness tour is staying. A couple weeks ago we were on Daytona Beach! The weather wasn't all that Florida glorious at the time, but it wasn't threatening to cancel shows like it is in Murray.
Given that I'm stranded, I thought I'd share some goings-on.
For those who don't know, I'm part of the touring troupe with the American Shakespeare Center. We've got 11 actors and 1 tour manager trekking across the country with a repertory of three plays: Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. We've got one month left on the road before we return to Staunton, VA at the Blackfriars Playhouse. There, we'll continue the three-show rep and add David Davalos's Wittenberg to the mix.
Enough about that.
I am in love with Austin and Nashville. The food, music, and people are top-notch.
I went to the Punch Brothers concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. It was one of the best live music experiences of my life. I don't go to a lot of shows, so I don't have much to compare it to, but it was electrifying and effortlessly engaging. The album is on constant repeat on my wee iPod nano. The Punch Brothers offer a progressive-bluegrass-jazz-classical—oh whatever—it's not enough to label them. Listen to the music, see a show, and have your life changed.
I had a chance to see something truly weird: Thr3e Zisters by the Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin. It was the act of bringing zombies to Chekhov's play and smashing the whole thing with a hammer. I usually keep my theatre-going toward the more traditional, so attending some new garage band/indie theatre was a breath of fresh air. The performances were compelling and the design was wonderful. They had lights! Sound! Set! (We don't really use those things at the ASC.)
These two cities, in particular, have got me thinking more about the communities of artists across the country. One of these days (who knows when), I'll likely root down somewhere. I'm not saying it'll be one of these two (but I'm not saying it won't be either).
I'm rallying through a bunch of books. I'm reading A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons at the same time. A nerd compiled a suggested reading order for these books (they happen at the same time, but the characters featured in each are different). So now, I don't have to slog through 1000 pages before I get to a Tyrion chapter. It's gone well so far, but it's not the easiest to just pick up with our jagged touring schedule.
So when I get sick of the dragons and slaughter, I've finished The Martian by Andy Weir and Us by David Nicholls and Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby.
The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney who is stranded on Mars. His crew thought he was dead. They left him behind. They were wrong. So, he uses his science genius to survive until some help arrives. Will he make it? The book is dense with chemistry/weather/math—stuff that actors tend to avoid. But I was able to track most of it it. He comes with some really close calls. It was genuinely thrilling at times. There's strangely not a lot of heart or emotional density.
Us packs a more emotional punch while blending in some hilarious bits. Douglas plans a European art tour with his wife and troubled son. His wife wants to separate, so he uses this holiday to bring the family closer. Disaster ensues. I enjoyed the locales (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Spain) and the voice of a pretty neurotic biologist. He manages to screw up a lot of his relationships, but it's great to get inside of his head. You understand why things happen, which I think is important for many stories (if not all).
Ten Years in the Tub is Hornby's collection of every column he wrote for The Believer. Every month (well...not every month) he wrote a list of the books he bought and the books he read (ten years' worth). Hornby's enthusiasm for reading is infectious. He's witty and has some incredibly odd reading habits. You could say this post is a riff on that.
We have a few weeks left on the tour. Let's see if the country thaws out by then.
In no particular order...
I just read this great conversation about writing, love, motherhood, and theatre between Sarah Ruhl and Polly Carl over at Howlround. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. I'm putting her new essay collection on a wishlist.
I'm nearing the end of Lev Grossman's The Magician King and a third of the way into Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams. It's been difficult to read steadily these days. We've been working on the three shows (Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Doctor Faustus). The level of precision and stamina required to do these shows is quite high.
We leave for tour on Monday.
I'm not quite sure how I'm going to pack everything into a tiny suitcase.
While you're here, give the music of Takuya Karoda a listen. My friends Josh and Sarah gave me his latest album on vinyl for my birthday, and I've become obsessed.
Later, all. Work is going well. The people I work with are incredible folks. You can follow our adventures on Tumblr.
The Renaissance Season is over. I mark it as a success. I think one of these days I'll try to fit into words what my takeaways are. But that's for another day. Here's a random roundup of what I've been doing and what's piqued my interest lately.
THE REALISTIC JONSES by WILL ENO
The Tony nominations were announced this morning. I have no way of comparing this play to anything else on Broadway, but I will still affirm this play got snubbed. Isherwood thinks so too. I loved this play. It's got this amazing blend of mundane and cosmic. Eno plays with language in a delightfully profound way. I need to look at his other stuff.
My current faves: The Americans, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, (I'd add True Detective, but the first season is over, but I'll definitely re-watch it). Here's New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum's praise of The Americans. And here's another take (spoilers, obviously).
My newest love is Maxamoo.com's podcast. They focus on NYC theatre beyond Broadway. I'm not exactly sure why I love it so much. I think it's because the folks talk about theatre as if they're surrounded by a basket of fries and a bottle of wine at a bar. It's intelligent, hilarious, and frank. I'm in no position to see these shows (although I did get a ticket for The Realistic Jonses, in part to some discussion on it).
In grad school, we were required to subscribe to the Sunday New York Times arts section and American Theatre Magazine. This feels like an extension of that. If I wanna play at this level with these great artists, I need to be informed. Additionally, they've started a series of hour-long interviews with playwrights and performers. I especially loved the recent episode with Kirk Lynn of the Rude Mechanicals in Austin, TX. If you think this might be your jam, it probably is. It was also featured on Broadway World's Top 20 Podcasts for Theatre Fans.
Nick Waterhouse. Enough said. Just listen.
That's all for now. I hope to post more regularly. I don't know what form this will take. And that's fine with me.
Books Read 2018
Books Read 2017
Books Read 2016
Books Read 2015
Movies Watched 2017
Movies Watched 2016
Movies Watched 2015