Sunday Lowdown #10

This Week at the Theatre Job

Last week, many of you commented on my “reading room” at work. Notice that I said everyone else calls it the “furniture room.” Compare what I see when I read (usually the sun is a bit brighter, but it’s early) vs. when I turn around:

We opened Grand Concourse by Heidi Schreck on Friday. My good friend Laurisa, the African American women in the photos, plays a nun who is struggling with her faith. She runs a soup kitchen in the Bronx (Grand Concourse is an actual street). The young woman with rainbow colors in her hair plays a nineteen-year-old college drop out who decides she’s going to volunteer her time, but brings chaos to the kitchen instead. It’s been a wonderfully organized production process, and I’m so glad I get to work with amazing volunteers (including my husband, who designed the sound for the play). Here are some photos/video:


The lighting designer for this show herniated a disk in his back, so I spent much of my week being his hands as he walked me through what to do over Facebook video messenger! Thus, I didn’t have loads of time to read. . .

I also stayed at the theatre quite late to assist with auditions for our June show, Between Riverside & Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis, which won the Pulitzer for drama in 2015. It’s about an African American police officer who was shot off duty as he drunkenly left a bar. He won’t take a settlement from the city to clear this all up; instead, he wants them to acknowledge that he was in the right. It should be a bangin’ show! A young black woman walked in the door with a friend who did come to audition. I asked her, “Do you act?” and she said, “I act out.” I immediately dug everything about her, so I talked her into auditioning — she’s never acted. She got the part.

Lastly, I’ve been ordering licenses and scripts and perusal copies for shows we’re going to put on in 2020! I know that seems forever away, but my boss has to pitch these shows to potential directors. Piano/conductor scores have to be pre-pre-ordered and given to music directors so they can prepare, etc. Let’s just say my desk is covered in paper and books, and I’ve taken to a cardboard box filing system.

This Week in TV & Film

Oftentimes, I’ll watch an episode of something while I eat dinner just to chill out and not have to talk. Most of the time that is Jeopardy!, and this week a contestant broke the record for most money won in a single day. The guy is a professional sports gambler and incredibly smart, so I’m not surprised. His weird bets — $12, 582, or some such nonsense — just seem silly for the sake of it, which annoys me. I also finished the latest season of The Santa Clarita Diet, meaning I have to hold all that info in my brain for a year. I almost never watch shows with arcs, but this one is worth it. Hilarious, smart, fun.

This Week in Reading: Finished Books

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey was only one of two books I finished this week. In fairness, it’s 492 pages long, much of that war strategy, such as when to switch out horses and whether to use a mounted or foot division. And it doesn’t help that Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I get to texting back and forth about what we’re reading, which I swear doubles her reading speed and completely halts mine! This is totally what #ReadingValdemar is about, though: enjoying my friend’s company as we discuss books.

The second novel was Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge. My review started one way and ended another, which relived so may of you rooting for good books starring fat women to make their way into my hands. Thanks for your support!

This Week in Reading: Books in Progress

I’m still slowly reading Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. It’s book #2 in the Mark Renton collection, making this the second series I’ve committed to this year. I’m surprised by how much better I understand the novel, given when I first read it in 2004 I couldn’t understand a lick of Scottish slang or dialect and am now an old pro. Also, things that happen to characters in the movie version — the death of Allison’s baby, Spud soiling the sheets — happens to other characters in the novel. I’m glad director Danny Boyle consolidated some of these minor characters.

After reading the first chapter of Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell aloud to my husband, I was terrified he would ask me to pick a different book. There is a rape scene, and as uncomfortable as things can make me, he will be extremely disturbed long after I’m fine. I thought about what Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku asks me: “Why does Mercedes Lackey include rape in all of her stories?!” Furthermore, Jackie asks if Lackey’s books would be different if the rape was excluded. No, they wouldn’t. In Campbell’s novel, though, the assault is the catalyst for the whole story, a pivot point on which the main character changes her whole life. I’m glad Jackie has me asking questions like this.

I just barely started An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, and according to my reading chart, I’m about 180 pages behind. Woops. #Ambitious.

Next Week in Reading:

I’ll continue reading Trainspotting, which I’m taking at a ridiculously leisurely pace so I don’t get too behind on my books for Grab the Lapels. I’ll finish An Untamed State, and I’ll start a book by Amal @ The Misfortune of Knowing called A Case of First Impression. Her author name is A.M. Blair, and the book is “a modern twist on Jane Austenโ€™s Pride and Prejudice.”

To keep up with #ReadingValdemar, I will need to start Winds of Fate right away, reading about 30 pages per day. Lastly, I’m going to start Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin as part of a buddy read with Shell @ Books by the Cup. We both wanted to read a book we own, so I proposed we each read a book by an African American and answer the same four questions about the African American experience in a shared blog post.

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36 comments

  1. โ€œI act out.โ€ – What an amazing answer! I love that you talked her into auditioning as well. Who knows, she may have found her new calling, and what an awesome anecdote sheโ€™ll have about how she got started!

  2. What a difference a view can make for reading ๐Ÿ™‚ Wishing you well with licensing and ordering scripts! The process seems stressful but certainly exciting.

    Looking forward to your shared post on Go Tell It on the Mountain. I enjoyed the novel and thought its structure was brilliant. It has some of the flaws common to any debut, but it’s aged so well.

  3. That play sounds excellent and good for the actors to get their teeth into. I think I missed your book review so I’ll go and find that. I reviewed the one I read with a fat character in this week but will confess to neglecting her a little in favour of the one with prosopagnosia …

  4. It’s great that the person you encouraged to audition got the part! I’m looking forward to learning more about the production.

    Thanks for trying out A Case Of First Impression. I loved combining my love of Pride and Prejudice with my interest in the law. I hope you enjoy the final product.

  5. The view from the furniture room when you turn around is not at all what I expected but I like thinking about how nice it must be to have the sun streaming in and reading with the furniture behind you! Nice to get a peek into your space.

    Also, incredible that you had someone walk in and audition who had no experience but you saw something there and now she gets to be in a play that sounds very good. I looked up the play and its one I’ll have to request at my library in the future. I have a list of books that won the Pulitzer but haven’t kept up with the plays. You’re definitely going to be very busy!

    I started reading my book for our discussion last week although I didn’t get too far. I’d hope to do so much this weekend, catch up on reading, binge watch a show based on something I read last month, but all plans don’t work out.

    • Oh, wow, I was worried I was getting behind for our buddy read, so I gulped down about 100 pages of a book yesterday that I need to finish before our buddy read. Again, this morning I started reading that same novel, but I just couldn’t do it. The book was so violent, and I couldn’t see much other purpose that to expose readers to violence. I’ll write about it more next Sunday. I’m going to start Go Tell It on the Mountain this week!

      I’ve noticed that the Pulitzer winners in drama are excellent storytelling. You should also check out Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks.

      • That sounds like a hard book to stick with and read. I’ll look forward to hearing more from you about it next week. There was a book I read a few years ago by Ken Follett that I thought was overall a good read but he would become too graphic and sometimes brutal in his descriptions, which meant I didn’t love it as much as some who recommended it to me. I think sometimes authors forget as a reader we have imaginations and you don’t have to be so gory and gruesome in the writing. But that’s just me.

        I’m glad I’m not behind with my book for our discussion.

        • I’m on schedule with the book we’re reading, but I was behind with this other book that I just decided to DNF. Right on schedule! I may even write a review of the book I didn’t finish because I have so much to say about it, and the Sunday Lowdown is supposed to be relatively short.

  6. Hahaha — I’m sorry I keep distracting and slowing down your Valdemar reading! I just get so excited. There are so many things I haven’t discussed with you about By the Sword yet, too — I tried not to overwhelm you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I *love* the idea of your buddy read with Shell! That’s a brilliant way to do a buddy read and make a dent in your TBR at the same time. Have you done something like this before? Amal’s book also sounds really fascinating. I look forward to your thoughts.

    • Shell and I read Roots and would discuss 20 chapters each week on her blog, but we have not done a buddy read for which we answer the same questions about different books. We were trying to find another book we had in common on our shelves that we each already own, but while we both read a lot of Black Lit, we didn’t have the same books. I came up with this as a solution, and she loved the idea.

      Did you notice you finished By the Sword before me even though I started way before you? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

      • It’s a brilliant idea– I’m definitely going to borrow it and alter it as needed for future buddy reads. I really love structured buddy reads and sometimes it’s just too challenging to coordinate– this is a great alternative.

        Oh yes, I definitely noticed that I finished it before you. Which never happens! However, I often don’t get my book until the 11th hour. Thankfully, I’m picking up Winds of Fate on my way home from work tonight!

        • I just started it yesterday. In the second chapter, I realized that Shin’a’in and Tayledras are different. I didn’t realize that before. I thought Shin’a’in was a language, but it’s an adopted clan of horse breeders. Why do the Tayledras in Vanyel’s story speak Shin’a’in then? (Isn’t that what they spoke?) I’m not sure…

          • I don’t think that’s what they spoke– I always saw them as different ethnicities of people. I recognize that my perception was close, but not quite right. I always thought of the Tayledras as Elven and the Shin’a’lin as Native American. But, based on where I am in the books, it sounds like the Shin’a’in and Teyledras were one people long ago, so I wonder if in Vanyel’s day they spoke the same language still? Before dialects broke them further apart?

            There must be some inconsistencies in Lackey’s canon, honestly. With each book, a new country or ethnicity is introduced. If not more than one! This is a lot to keep track of.

    • When Melanie came up with the idea I was so excited. So funny that I had a few books set aside for our discussion but changed it last week based on what I read so far.

      I told some of my other buddy readers about this format so maybe this might be something that keeps up. I certainly hope so. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I love that story of the audition-what a woman! I’m in love with her in a long-distance kind of way haha

    Jeopardy is a show that I don’t personally watch, but all Canadians are a fan because Alex Trebek is Canadian. We’re all devastated about his cancer diagnosis-there was a picture of a billboard from his home town wishing him luck going around the internet-that is how much we love him!!!

    • He looks well, but I know pancreatic cancer is one that folks often don’t come back from. It’s an exciting time at Jeopardy! right now. There is a guy blasting records left and right — most money won in a day, total money won during a regular season, etc.

  8. I really need to check out The Santa Clarita Diet. It sounds exactly like the kind of show I’d enjoy. Looking forward to your thoughts on A Case of First Impression. Thanks for bringing it to my attention a couple of weeks ago over on Goodreads. Hope you have a lovely week!

  9. ‘Was that rape scene necessary’ is a great question. We don’t question what we read enough – which of course is where deconstruction comes in – and get habituated to rape, murder, casual violence. They should offend us but, these days, are often intended as entertainment.

    • My argument back to Jackie was “does rape ever make sense in real ife?” The answer is no — it doesn’t have some overall purpose — but then I have to remind myself that fiction doesn’t have to, and often cannot, follow the “stranger than fiction” rules of real life.

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