Write on Wednesday – Recent Center Stage Baltimore Productions – February 13, 2019

I’ve seen two terrific plays at Center Stage Baltimore recently.

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A Wonder in My Soul

In late December I saw A Wonder in My Soul. I came out of the theater thinking this was one of the best plays I had ever seen at Center Stage. Written by Marcus Gardley and directed by Daniel Bryant, the play is about two black women who open a beauty shop in their neighborhood. Many years later the neighborhood has changed, and Pen Lucy and Swann Park are behind in their rent; the building where their salon is will be sold.

The playbook talks about the importance of beauty parlors in black communities. I remember when I was in school getting my Master of Social Work degree, we often talked about the fact that beauticians provide therapy for many of their clients.

This production was in the Pearlstone Theater at Center Stage. This is a proscenium theater although it doesn’t have a curtain. I’m always looking at staging. In this play the salon had two styling chairs, a loveseat in the reception area of the stage, a door which led to outside and a slightly lower apron area on which some “flashback” scenes were performed. The door was clearly the entrance to the salon and when people left the stage, they opened the door and walked through. It defined an action more clearly than just going off stage.

All the actors were wonderful, but Kalilah Black and Harriett D. Foy were exceptional.

Our tickets always seem to be the last performance in the runs. I need to try to change that. I would have gone to see this show twice – or more.

Fun Home

Then last Sunday I saw Fun Home, a musical memoir based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. The book and lyrics were by Lisa Kron and the music was by Jeanine Tesori.

Billed as a play about a dysfunctional family, I wondered if I even wanted to see it. I get enough dysfunction these days watching the news.

It was another stellar show. A closeted gay father raising three children with his increasingly angry wife. One of the daughters is gay but only understands that when she goes to college. Oh, and the father teaches literature at a local college, but runs a funeral home on the side. Hence the title of the play, Fun Home.

In this show the gay daughter is depicted as a ten-year-old, a college student and a woman in her forties. It was the actress who played the ten-year-old who caught my eye. Molly Lyons is her name and she’s nine. Someday I’m going to see her on Broadway.

Fun Home was performed in the Head Theater which is a thrust theatre—a stage surrounded by audience on three sides. The fourth side serves as the background. Hydraulic lifts in the floor raised and lowered part of the sets. If only the community theaters that produce the play I wrote with Laura Ambler (The Santa Diaries) had those kinds of options. Another staging tool that could be translated to community theaters was a slightly raised platform with furniture that was rolled onto the stage when the scene took place in the living room. Faster than having stage hands carry furniture on and off stage. A similar platform on the other side of the stage was a kitchen area that rolled on and off. Of course this only works if you have off stage areas that will accomodate the platforms. Many community theaters don’t.

Watching live theater is enjoyable (I go with some girlfriends) and educational. I always come away with some ideas about improving the plays Laura Ambler and I write.

Six on Saturday – Spring Is Coming -February 9

It’s just the first week of February but we are having a warm spell and the birds are excited. This cardinal was on my front walk this morning. Nearby a robin was digging for breakfast and a bluejay was calling out. The birds seem to know something is afoot.

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2. I noticed some new growth on the Knockout roses. I think it’s too early to prune, but I’m putting March 1 on my calendar as the date to start this annual chore. The new foliage is spectacular.

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3. I checked the helebores. Not open yet, but lots of buds on this particular plant. Others may be hiding under the leaves, but it’s still very squelchy in the beds and I don’t like to walk in them more than I must as it compacts the soil.

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4. When my mother was 75 my brothers and I gave her this teak bench for her birthday. When she moved into a retirement community and couldn’t take it with her, I was gifted with it. Now it is a reminder of a place she sat to rest when she worked in her acre of azaleas in a beech woods. She is always with me in my garden. The lichens on the bench need to be scrubbed when it warms up, but for now they make a lovely patchwork. The squirrels have gnawed on the front leg. Little buggers have no respect for heirlooms!

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5.  Daffodils are Goliaths in my garden — resilient and strong. In the upper right corner of the photograph, they are pushing up a large chunk of mulch. Nothing says “Spring is Coming” more than the the daffodils.IMG_8270

6. And just because I can’t believe I didn’t kill an orchid here is another picture of my  phalaenopsis orchid which is continuing to open. To my local friends…if you have an orchid you are going to put in the trash, give me a call. I’d like to try and resurrect it.

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And I couldn’t resist adding this photo of the beautiful markings on the throat. They look like an insect from a distance and a Georgia O’Keefe painting close up.

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That’s my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. It’s the beginning of February and as spring approaches there will be new things to share. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.