Archives For IKEA

Nutmeg and Spice

October 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

I decided to stay home today, to get some rest and try and get over this thing. Chest was pretty congested when I woke up, and I thought about going to the doctor, but so far I haven’t made it past my reading chair.

Of course I have a reading chair. Which is different than the one where I watch films and the televised programs of broadcast and cable. It’s one of those POÄNG chairs from IKEA. Cheap, but comfortable, and perfect for reading books. A chair that almost helps you not nod off to sleep.

Since I’ve been ill so much of the past two months, I’ve spent a lot of time in that chair working through a stack of books I’ve been meaning to read. So much of the past year was spent reading plays and theatre theory and the stack of “other” books to read has gotten rather high. So this is what I’ve been reading lately:

I started James Joyce’s Dubliners unofficially as part of my theatre reading last fall. The Corn Exchange in Dublin was premiering a new production based on the famed short stories and it was a highlight of the 2012 Dublin theatre fest. I never found the time to get them read, unfortunately, and I wish I had, as it would have deepened my appreciation for the Corn Exchange’s play. Anyway, I finished them a couple of weeks ago, and enjoyed them quite a bit. I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle Ulysses, though. Someday.

Another volume I’ve been slowly working through is a collection of Tolkien’s short stories, mostly centered around the theme of wandering into the realm of Faerie. Tales from the Perilous Realm includes all those stories with lovely titles I never got around to reading when I first fell in love with his works: Smith of Wooton Major, Farmer Giles of Ham, and Leaf by Niggle. There’s also the haunting poem “The Sea-Bell”, and his essay “On Fairy Stories”, which I’m about halfway through. Once I complete this book, there won’t be much left of him for me to read.

2013-10-04 13.24.33

After meeting Bill Kelso I read his book on the Jamestown archeological dig, and I wish I could do more with it in class, but 4th grade handles early American history now. I tried dipping into it
in class, but no one was biting.

I’ve tried to work through Ken Robinson’s The Element, thinking that it might have something interesting to say about education and the arts, but it’s mostly self-help nonsense. Best to stick to his TED talks I guess.

A bit of comfort reading has been necessary as well (if Tolkien doesn’t already count), and so I picked up some X-Men comics for old times’ sake. It’s one of those multi-issue crossover things that I usually don’t care for, but so far this one has been decent.

Books that stare out at me waiting to be read include Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes, and Savage Continent, a new book about the aftermath of World War II in Europe. Not really anything that relates to fifth grade, but I haven’t had much interest in reading kid lit these days. I think about all the books and stories I haven’t read, and wonder how I’ll ever find the time to fit them all in, so my reading time has been devoted to books just for me. I can’t keep up with the latest “hot” books for elementary students, nor have I much interest in books on whatever trendy educational models people are reading. No Daily Five for me. Though, Summerhill School, by A.S. Neill recently wound up in my Amazon cart. Certainly not a trendy or recent book, but one that keeps niggling away at the corners of my brain.

Catching Up

September 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

So, I haven’t been a “real” student since Bill Clinton was president.

If you’re one of my students reading this, that means its been a while. I did my undergraduate and first masters in the ’90s, but aside from a few classes here and there (that weren’t anything to write home about), I have spent the last 15 years calling the shots in a classroom or on a stage.

Now I’m back to having assignments given to me, and it’s a strange experience. The toughest part has been catching up on all of the “classic” works of theatre I had never gotten around to reading before. I’ve spoken of “the stack” in previous posts, and just when I think I’ve got it done, they assign more plays for me to read. Because my directorial career has strictly been in youth theatre, I never read much Chekhov or Ibsen or Brecht. Shakespeare was my exclusive go-to guy for the Big Stuff.

So now I’m brushing up, and being exposed to newer playwrights I had never come across before. I’m embarrassed to say that I never read any Frank McGuinness before, but he’s really something, and he’ll be teaching me how to analyze The Merchant of Venice for the next few weeks. I’m also participating in a Writing for Theatre course that’ll be co-taught by Conor McPherson. I read his play “The Weir”a long time ago, and that was the beginning of my interest in contemporary Irish theatre. Little did I know that I’d be learning how to write from him ten years later. (Technically the class isn’t open to the MA in Directing students, but they’re letting me participate in a not-for-credit capacity.)

So I’m pretty lucky, and I’m regretting not taking the literary side of theatre more seriously, since it’s been a month of heavy reading and contemplating. Reading plays is hard, man. When you think about it, it’s only half the story, in a sense. For me, it isn’t complete until actors get up on stage and perform it, and even then, you’re only watching one version of it. Another director, another production, another interpretation of the work. And I guess that’s what’s great about theatre, as opposed to film, where everything is fixed and permanent.

So…sorry for the lack of updates. I have plenty of stories to tell, but I just wrapped up the first week of classes, and I’ve been pretty focused on that. Hoping to get my homework done in a timely manner, though, so I can get back to writing the “forty tales” or so on here. (Hmm, 40 posts is a nice goal to set for myself…)

More soon…I’m going to see an opera about Ikea this weekend!