WAOB MisSpelled (final episode airs)

The final episode of the fantasy/comedy audio miniseries “MisSpelled” drops today. A full voice cast, sound effects, original music, and a great story. I only wish I had met more of the cast in person!  We were churning out these recordings in groups right before the pandemic. As the lockdown eased up, I returned to the studio to record my lines separately. So I often didn’t know what some of…

Thornton Wilder’s Optimistic Catastrophe: “The Skin of Our Teeth”

From a review of a 2017 production in Brooklyn. “The Skin of Our Teeth” first opened in New Haven, at the Shubert Theatre, in 1942. It was directed by Elia Kazan, and starred Tallulah Bankhead, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, and a very young Montgomery Clift; Variety wrote that the play “bewilders, bemuses, and befuddles, as it amuses.” When it moved to Broadway, to the Plymouth Theatre, it was met with…

I’m really enjoying seeing how my students are responding to Hamlet.

As part of a class assignment, one student took some friends to see the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of Hamlet. One of her friends is from Vietnam, and my student was very proud that she could answer his questions about what was going on. Many students, even the English majors, confess that in high school they never tried to read Shakespeare’s language, but instead depended totally on…

MisSpelled: Premiering Oct 1

In this podcast series, I voice a mage whose thirst for power leads him down surprising paths. A fully voiced fantasy/comedy audio series, with original music and sound effects. From WAOB Audio Theatre. We recorded much of this before the pandemic, and I have only heard a rough cut of the first scene. (I created the poster in Blender3D.)  

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Power Play (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 15) Troi, Data and O’Brien Take Hostages

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise follows a weak distress signal to a planet where a Federation ship crashed 200 years ago. After a tiny shuttlecraft (with seatbelts!) crashes because of the planet’s glowy storms, some glowy bits enter the bodies of Troi, Data and O’Brien, and before you know it, we have a Die Hard hostage situation, with intelligent and capable villains. Dialogue tells us that Troi is being controlled by…

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen…

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Unification, Part 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 8) Spock Nurtures Romulan Peace Movement

Rewatching ST:TNG Beyond stating that he is on “a personal mission of peace,” the AWOL Ambassador Spock is reluctant to explain his presence on the Romulan homeworld. Referring to events depicted in the movie Star Trek 6 (which had not yet premiered when this episode first aired), Spock says he is reluctant to risk any one else’s life on yet another peace mission, but is personally committed to encouraging the…

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Unification, Part 1 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 7) Picard Questions Sarek about Renegade Spock

Rewatching ST:TNG Informed that the venerable Ambassador Spock has vanished without a word and has been spotted on Romulus, Picard visits the ailing Sarek, who reports Spock’s optimistic hopes to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan people. This was an important theme in the early 90s, with the recent fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. As a fan of Trek and good acting, I remember being…

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Disaster (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 5) Picard Trapped in Elevator with Weeping Moppets

Rewatching ST:TNG A character-based bottle episode (no off-ship locations), in which the Enterprise randomly bumps into a Space Thing that gives the writers an excuse to force all the main characters into odd groupings where they must act against type. The grumpy captain is trapped in an elevator with weeping moppets; the warrior must deliver a baby; the optimistic counsellor faces a harsh command decision; the doctor and the engineer…

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Silicon Avatar (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 4) Grieving Xenobiologist Pursues Crystalline Entity

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker does some seriously exposition-friendly flirting with a civilian engineer whose fledgling colony turns out to be the next target for the Crystalline Entity, a big Space Thing that slurps up all life on a planetary scale. We spend just enough time here on Melona to care about the colony, which, fortunately for the on-location filming budget, is mostly a bunch of jumpsuited extras in park with random…

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Darmok (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 2) Picard of the Federation, His Metaphors Timely

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation After an awkward encounter with aliens whose language is incomprehensible, Picard finds himself on a strange planet. The alien captain, holding two daggers, offers one to Picard, saying “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.” When I first saw this episode, as a young grad student in a crowded room full of my regular Trek-watching friends, of course I thought of the classic Star Trek episode…

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Redemption, Part II (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 1) Klingon Empire Wages Civil War

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation The teaser opens with Worf serving on Kurn’s ship, and being scolded for second-guessing his younger brother’s aggressive tactics. Picard convinces an admiral to agree to a blockade, to prevent or expose Romulan support of the Duras faction. LaForge’s new strategy for detecting cloaked Romulan vessels requires a network of many ships, but because the script requires it some of them are barely functional…

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Redemption, Part I (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 26) Klingon Empire Faces Civil War

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation While en route to the Klingon Homeworld to participate in the installation of Gowron as the new leader of the High Council, Picard prompts Worf to take the opportunity to regain his family honor. Worf prefers to wait. Gowron is annoyed when Picard declines to use force to back his faction, and intrigued when Worf explains that his own father was blamed for treason…

The Current War (Quantum Theatre Musical)

Waiting for The Current War to start. I haven’t seen live professional theater in a long time. I saw lots of good video theater, but it’s just not the same. [Addendum] I really enjoyed the show. I knew a bit about Edison and Westinghouse, but I was surprised (and delighted) at how skillfully the writer, director, and cast embedded the story of William Kemmler, the first man to be executed…