Day #319: The Crucible

Photography by The New York Times / Getty,
from the article published in The New Yorker, October 13, 1996

It was seventh grade. Our school play was “The Crucible.” We examined that book through the lens of acting, understanding it more fully than reading the book. It had a profound influence on me. From Arthur Miller: “In those years, our thought processes were becoming so magical, so paranoid, that to imagine writing a play about this environment was like trying to pick one’s teeth with a ball of wool: I lacked the tools to illuminate miasma. Yet I kept being drawn back to it.”

In this article, the playwright shares the story behind his drama about the Salem witch trials: “Why I Wrote The Crucible,” Arthur Miller, The New Yorker, October 13, 1996.


Day #200: The Tony Awards

I feel so grateful that The Tony Awards and my birthday coincide. I consider it one of my best gifts. Theater has been a part of my life since the third grade when I wrote and directed a class play … and I once played Ado Annie in Oklahoma … I feel privileged to watch this glimpse into live theater. Last night’s show was stellar. Ali Stroker won a Tony! The host, the performances, the message of love and community and kindness and respect. This is the world we are working to bring to prominence. Thanks to everyone in the theater on Broadway and in communities around the world for entertaining us and making us think.

The Tony Awards

Day #135: The Poetry of Puppetry

The Poetry of Puppetry! A roomful of enrapt children listened to the poetry of Langston Hughes, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and many more poets read by a caterpillar, a polar bear in a refrigerator, a talking wall, a mail snail (oh, the delight of receiving mail), and other characters brought to life by the Loki Puppet Players at St. Paul’s Central Library. I am grateful for the gifts that talented librarian Kim Faurot and her fellow puppeteers share with all of us. They’re performing this show three more times in April. If you’re near St. Paul, you’ll want to go (and maybe bring a child or two with you).

The Poetry of Puppetry II at the St. Paul Central Library, St. Paul, MN

Day #105: The Guthrie Theater

We are very lucky to have a world-class theater nearby. I attended The Guthrie Theater in elementary school when it first opened. We were always given opportunities to see the plays through school and my mother took me to several plays each year. That established a tradition. The Twin Cities has a vibrant theater community of which The Guthrie is one of the foundations. Since 1963, the theater has continued to grow and evolve. We recently attended “As You Like It,” the Shakespearean play, in which the director, Lavina Jadhwani, experiments with characters, setting, and music. I am grateful for the presence of theater in my life. Start the tradition for your own children and grandchildren. (Did you know that you can attend Guthrie plays during the Wednesday matinee for $15 per ticket? Fantastic deal.)

The Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN

Day #89: The Oldest Boy

A couple of years ago, two friends treated us to seats for The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater. Written by Sara Ruhl and performed by a stellar cast, it’s a play about a woman whose three-year-old son is identified as the reincarnation of a revered Tibetan lama. The Lama and monk who come to visit and test the boy ask her to allow her son to be taken to their monastery in India to live. There are all manner of things to consider in this story. Faith. Motherhood. What if this happened to me? The various aspects of her decision are fascinating. But what kept me riveted to the story unfolding on the stage was the portrayal of the three-year-old by a puppet, a puppet who became so real to me that the end of the play was startling. Here I am, years later, still thinking about that play and the artistry of puppeteer Masanari Kawahara. If The Oldest Boy is staged near you, make every effort to experience it. I am grateful to our friends for sharing this deeply affecting play with us.

The cast of The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater
The cast of the The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater in 2016, featuring Tsering Dorjee Bawa, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Christina Baldwin, puppeteer Masanari Kawahara and Randy Reyes [photo by Dan Norman for Lavender magazine ]
Puppeteer Masanari Kawahara
Puppeteer Masanari Kawahara is at once visible and invisible in The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater. Unforgettable performance.
The cast of The Oldest Boy at Lincoln Center Theater
James Saito, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jon Norman Schneider in The Oldest Boy at Lincoln Center Theater, where Sarah Ruhl’s play was first performced. [photo: T. Charles Erickson for Vulture ]