• featured
  • Arrabal

    Arrabal, at American Repertory Theater (Photo: A.R.T.) Every country has its dark chapters. But once it becomes possible to assemble a narrative, the way those stories are told matters immensely to the ongoing health of a nation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa (now called The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation) used a […]

  • Theater
  • The Night of the Iguana

    Tennessee Williams (photo: Yousuf Karsh) It is an artistic exercise of a particular kind to comb through the books and plays of the past and to find those that achieve resonance—or a fresh reading—for contemporary audiences. American Repertory Theater has taken that tack in past seasons (a production of Paradise Lost, written by Clifford Odets […]

  • Politics
  • Bring on the Counter-Narratives

    Fingersmith, at A.R.T. (Photo: A.R.T.) Counter-narratives become much needed palliatives when the storyline of daily life becomes poisonous. Watching the transition to a new regime of power in Washington is like a flashback to the most addled aspects of the 1950’s. As Thomas Friedman recently wrote in the New York Times, “There is actually something […]

  • History
  • Guided by Stars

    The Starry Plough flag, at the Irish National Museum, Collins Barracks We are going through a period in our history that feels like a Rubicon crossing. Decisions made now will have ramifications that will be long, deep and unperceived from our current viewing spot. Brexit was one of those ramifying decisions, and the U.S. presidential […]

  • Politics
  • Doing Time: Anna Deavere Smith

    Most of us have a list of artists, writers and musicians who have touched us so consistently that we are ever ready to reach out to each new work that emerges. Once ensconced in my personal hall of fame, my list of carefully chosen creatives are my personal canonicals. I show up for everything they […]

  • History
  • Micro-Cultures of our Own Making

    In one of the essays included in William Gibson‘s book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, he refers to the “personal micro-culture” that every artist creates around herself. “We [are] shaped as writers, I believe, not much by who our favorite writers are as by our general experience of fiction.” That notion of a micro-culture extends beyond […]

  • Theater
  • Full Brow

    Jim Lichtscheidl, Louis Jenkins, Mark Rylance, and Kayli Carter in Nice Fish. (Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva) The term highbrow was first used in the late 19th century, a reference to the arcane practice of phrenology. In this head measuring methodology, people of intelligence were believed to have a higher brow line. While phrenology was eventually discarded […]

  • Theater
  • Riding the Comet

    “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” (Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva, courtesy of the A.R.T.) Diane Paulus‘ theatrical vision and aspirations are the driving force behind some of the most successful “immersive” theater events in Boston since she took over as artistic director of the A.R.T. at Harvard*. While previous productions have offered the audience […]

  • Ideas
  • Song of a Convalescent

    Michael Rau and Matthew Yates Crowley (Photo: American Repertory Theater) The window is a small one, so you will need to move quickly. If you are in the Boston area and are interested in idea-driven theater that captures the mind and the imagination both, here’s one for you: Song of a Convalescent Ayn Rand Giving […]

  • Aesthetics
  • The Confirmation Bias

    Imagined map of the word, Japanese I am reading a book recommended by my daughter Kellin Nelson: The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli. It’s designed with the 21st century reader in mind—succinct, straight talking advice on rampantly human cognitive errors in 99 chapters, each only a few pages long. Dobelli nails all of […]