Dragons, Dalmatians and Dancing Gorillas

Hilma af Klint, from A Work on Flowers, Mosses and Lichen (© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk/Photo: Moderna Museet, Albin Dahlström) And while great achievement is rare and difficult at best, it is still rarer and more difficult if, while you work, you must at the same time wrestle with inner demons of self-doubt and […]

Endlings

Celine Song (Photo: Courtesy of the artist) A few years ago I was rhapsodizing with a friend about how much I love powerful storytelling, the kind that takes you so fully into another reality. Was the topic W. G. Sebald, George R. R. Martin, Rachel Cusk? I can’t remember what launched me, but the response […]

The Many Faces of Othello

Ira Aldridge playing Othello in the 19th century, from a painting by James Northcote Humans have a built-in pattern detection facility that is a key method for making sense of things. Making sense is, after all, an essential survival skill. Barraged daily by a firehose of sensory data, we have to employ some means of […]

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 […]

Shaping the Story

From “The Shape She Makes” at American Repertory Theater (Photo: American Rep Theater) Stories move in circles. They don’t move in straight lines. So it helps if you listen in circles. There are stories inside stories and stories between stories, and finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your […]

Two Chords Are Enough

The cast of Woody Sez (Photo: Wendy Mutz) One of the things I love about India is that the stories most sacred to the culture are preserved everywhere. From street shrines to oversized temple statues, references to the ancient Sanskrit epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are ubiquitous. After a while even interlopers like […]