Showing posts from May, 2018

For All It's Worth, opposition should be sustained against the pollicy of splitting up immigrant families

James Joyce's 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room,' Updated in Observance of the Irish Referendum on May 25

Irish citizens demonstrate in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment. The overwhelming vote two days ago to repeal a constitutional amendment banning abortion indicated how much Ireland has changed. You don't have to go back to 1905, when James Joyce wrote "Ivy Day in the Committee Room," to be aware of the tumultuous changes. But I have done so out of admiration for the story — my first encounter with "Dubliners" more than 50 years ago. I've kept some of the names and lines of dialogue, the conversational phrasing, and the general structure of the story, modernizing the situation but attempting to show some continuity between the early manhood of Ireland's most illustrious 20th-century author and (from what I read) the Ireland of today. The computer screen in the darkened room stuttered and stalled, loading, loading, under the anxious eyes of Repeal advocates gathered to assess the chances of their cause a few days hence. Old Jack, his rheumy

You never can tell what Donald Trump will do next as he fancies himself a world leader — but probably he won't be invited to Oslo

The President's inner authoritarian becomes unhinged: A waltz on the theme "I hereby demand"

Black Coffee: Why order it, let alone a triple latte, when the abashed Starbucks allows visitors just to hang out?

A sturdy old hymn serves my purpose in saluting flimsy declarations of indifference to the royal wedding

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra mounts a semi-staged production of "Kiss Me, Kate" to end season

The sparkle of late-period Cole Porter glitters throughout "Kiss Me, Kate," the 1949 musical comedy being presented by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra to end its 2017-18 season. Dimmed though his output was by the enduring pain of a horseriding injury as well as by shifting cultural tastes, Porter sustains his wit and typically sly erotic charge in this mash-up of a romantically challenged star couple's spats and Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." The show opened Saturday and concludes with a matinee today.  The stage of the Schrott Fine Arts Center at Butler University is occupied for the most part by the ICO, conducted by Matthew Kraemer, nearing the end of three years as its music director. In front of the ensemble, the action takes place in a vigorously realized form as directed by James Brennan. The set-up ensures that the spirit and foundation of Porter's music is firmly established, and yet the face-miked singers are not overwhelmed by

400th production: Favorite-literary-son Vonnegut gets milestone position at the new Phoenix Theatre

Humble benefactor Eliot Rosewater Catching up with "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" at the start of its second weekend, I found the new Phoenix Theatre 's Russell Stage comfortable in all respects. It was just the feeling to have while taking in the musical stage adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel of the same title. That's because Vonnegut's work tends to disturb as well as amuse. Most aspects of his pervasive wry humor are as likely to ruffle your feathers as soothe you. "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" meets the mark, with the particular benefit of the opportunity to appreciate the burgeoning partnership of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. They would go on to become a worthy successor to the Sherman Brothers as songwriters for Disney films. The show has a book by Ashman, and additional lyrics by Dennis Green. Bryan Fonseca directs the Phoenix production, which inaugurates the new facility's main stage, and Tim Brickley makes a cruc

Our President wants to do a small favor for China, saving some Chinese jobs, but there's some quid pro quo involved

Tom Horan's 'The Pill' inaugurates the new Phoenix Theatre's versatile black box

The women of "The Pill" triumphantly salute the play's title character. This morning's public-radio news comes with two disturbances updating the war on medical science: deadly hostility to vaccination in Pakistan stalling the elimination of polio there and of the Trump Administration's move to cut public funding to any American organization breathing a word about reproductive rights, including the option of abortion. There is no doubt that Margaret Sanger's struggles are alive in today's world. "The Pill," the first production on the new Phoenix Theatre 's Basile "black box" stage, focuses on the health pioneer's  role in spurring the development of oral birth-control medication for women. The innovation was shrouded in political controversy from its gestation onward, as Tom Horan 's new play makes clear. Sex and politics continue their age-old brouhaha. Horan, Phoenix playwright-in-residence, thankfully does not ta

Dami Kim returns to town to conclude the IVCI's Laureate Series

The Laureate Series provides a valuable guide for confirming (or otherwise) the jury's decisions over the course of nine International Violin Competition of Indianapolis contests. IVCI patrons get to hear representatives from among the top six participants chosen every four years since 1982. Dami Kim and Chih-Yi Chen concluded the Laureate Series season Does the pressure-cooker environment make or mar a developing concert violinist? Do jury choices, despite safeguards against logrolling and unbalanced influence, stand up over time as a fair indicator of who deserves long-term stature on the concert stage? These are questions without definitive answers, though every laureate's return here suggests possibilities. The 2017-18 series concluded Tuesday night at the Indiana History Center with a recital by fourth-place laureate Dami Kim from the most recent competition (2014). She received able assistance at the piano from Chih-Yi Chen, who teaches collaborative piano at In

Israeli clarinetist, at the top of the class on her instrument, heads 10-piece band in 'Happy Song'

Anat Cohen brings ebullience to be shared with her band in "Happy Song." As a clarinetist, Anat Cohen has charmed me ever since I heard her soloing in a CD of Jason Lindner's big band. Here is a fresh sound on the clarinet for our times, it seemed to me. Since then, there have been occasional recordings under her name as leader, as well as in the 3 Cohens band she has headed with her brothers, trumpeter Avishai and soprano saxophonist Yuval. The latest one to float onto my "must-listen" pile  is "Happy Song" ( Anzic Records) , an inspired collection of originals and a few songs from other pens. What makes it work especially well are arrangements by Oded Lev-Ari, each one reflecting interplay between featured soloists and the accompaniment texture. The title tune and "Oh Baby" are enough to establish the tentet's affinity for ageless swing. Cohen has abjured dour moods throughout this program, though there's little evidence i

NoExit Performance's 'Nickel and Dimed': Working Americans at the lower margin of the middle class take the stage

Finding constituents to cast as being among life's victims can be a source of political capital for ambitious office-seekers. Waitress Barbara attempts to stay calm trying to please a persnickety family. In the last presidential election, we heard loud promises about coming to the rescue of "forgotten Americans." Whether voters so labeled turned out for the victor because they accepted the victim mantle or not, there's no doubt many Americans could cite several reasons why their country is no longer working for them. Barbara Ehrenreich, a Democratic socialist of wide reputation as a writer, was there early to observe the work-life troubles of our times. In 2001 she published an account of the work experiences she took on among Americans struggling to get by. "Nickel and Dimed" as a title captured how expensive it is to live without backup resources — working two or more jobs, dealing with family problems against a fraying social safety net, lacking

Other than the ISO's 'ravishing' Rachmaninoff: A bracing violin concerto replaces an unfinished commissioned work

The last time we heard a concerto by a contemporary Finnish composer on the I ndianapolis Symphony Orchestra schedule, the intention and effect of the piece were quite different. Just over two years ago, Kari Kriikku, a clarinetist with an antic disposition to match his virtuosity,  played the American premiere of the concerto he commissioned from his countryman Kimmo Hakola. I described it as "an effusive game," which is where I'll leave any further reference to it here. Jennifer Koh brings a Finnish concerto. For comparison, Kaija Saariaho 's "Graal Theatre," for violin and orchestra, is a more consistently earnest, almost self-absorbed approach to treating the solo instrument and its accompaniment. The American violinist Jennifer Koh was the guest artist for the ISO's first performance of the 1994 work, under the baton of another American of growing reputation, Karina Canellakis. "Graal Theatre" replaced a co-commissioned violin co

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged, Father Conroy: The Speaker of the House makes clear where his values are