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Avoiding Spoilers Gives You a Superficial Appreciation of Art

I very much appreciate that nobody spoiled Star Wars: A New Hope, or Star Trek Beyond. But even after we learn for the first time what happens to Ebeneezer Scrooge, or Bilbo, or Alice, or Jesus, the good stories still retain their cultural power. Stories are much more than plot. [A]rtistic appreciation, which reviewers are tasked with cultivating, should mean more than stoking anticipation for a surprise ending. As reviewer…

William Shakespeare (Portrait)

Imagine, if you will, a Shakespeare course / Propos’d in blank verse like the Bard would write

Verses Proposing a New Course: “Shakespeare in Context” You’ll pick a modest count of Shakespeare plays– Say, five. Three weeks to each you’ll dedicate. One context week, one week on text, and next One week to multi-modally create A research paper, podcast, monologue, Or supercut of twenty diff’rent Lears Who curse their sixty daughters’ cruel hearts. Professional and student actors we will hear, In stagings mounted locally. What’s more, We’ll screen some films that Shakespeare’s paths re-tread: “Shakespeare in Love,” “Forbidden Planet,” “Ran,” And “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are…

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A Dance Mom Gets Schooled by a Ballet Mistress Who Can Write

Avoid trying to publicly shame a ballet mistress who can write.

This morning, someone pseudonymously spammed the parent email list at my daughter’s ballet school, with a scolding complaint about a delayed cast list. It read, in part: “We pay our fees on time…. We received the email to donate to the school’s fundraiser this week on time. But no cast List. This is a teachable moment to demonstrate that being on time, especially when a promise is involved, is important.”

The school’s response, posted about a half hour later, ended thus: “Emailing using an address we can not identify and failing to sign your email shows a lack of conviction. Failing to understand that it is a relatively easy thing to discover your identity through your IP address is another indication that your action was not thought through. If the lessons you wanted to teach here were your own ignorance, arrogance and cowardice, you’ve succeeded.”

The whole response is worth a sincere, rousing “slow clap”.

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The Rhetoric of Anthems and the Drama of Kneeling

I don’t follow sports, so I don’t feel fully equipped to comment on the issue, but when a friend raised it via an email I thought I’d share my thoughts about the rhetorical and dramatic nature of patriotism and protest. I have often wished I could attend a concert/literary discussion where singers performed the national anthems of countries from trouble spots around the world, and then people from those countries…

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Breakfast Battle from “The Miracle Worker” (Pamela Lee as Annie Sullivan and Carolyn Jerz as Helen Keller)

A few weeks ago, my 14yo played Helen Keller in the Latrobe Cabaret Theatre’s production of The Miracle Worker. This clip is from a rehearsal of the epic breakfast scene, a wordless battle of wills between young Helen (who has been blind and deaf since she was a toddler) and her teacher Annie Sullivan (played by the amazing Pamela Lee). I used an abbreviated version of this scene in an…