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Silence perhaps to end. . . May 2, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Education.
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Just ended two weeks of nearly unrelenting toil to bring Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to the stage at my high school. We opened tonight. These are my quick observations:

I hate, HATE the lapel mikes we are working with. They have given me no end of trouble, and tonight was no exception, with Claudio’s mike taking much of Act I off, again, and the occasional screeches, mikes turning on and off at whim drove me to distraction.

That is the lone cavil. The kids brought in great energy, better than I have ever seen, making stuff come alive that I hadn’t really noticed in the script before, and I’ve been living this script almost non-stop for months on end.

We got a standing ovation. I was pleasantly shocked, to say the least. People raved about it afterward, saying it was far, far better than they anticipated. There will need to be some reminding to the cast that they still need focus for the next two nights.

I am utterly exhausted, too much so to feel the ebullience I ought to be feeling when getting a standing “O” on my very first opening night as a director, and so grateful that the 18-hour days I have been putting in the past two full weeks (no break on weekends) are finally at an end.  The show is opened.  It is in the hands of the actors now.


Paul Scofield, Requiscat in Pacem March 21, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Requiscat in Pacem.

The English Canon has lost one of its true giants. Paul Scofield, one of the leading lights of the English stage, died Wednesday, March 19 at age 86 after a battle with leukemia.

Hailed by numerous peers and critics as one of the greatest actors of our time, Scofield did not take the steps to transform the success he had on the stage for success on the silver screen. This “failure to go to the next level” has mystified some of Hollywood’s more materialistic observers. But it is very much in keeping -even logical- for a man who sought not for fame and adulation, but rather desired to show his greatness mostly to audiences and to devote himself to his family.

Scofield was noted as early as the ’40s as an actor blessed with preternatural gifts; a gravelly yet adaptable voice (Fred Zinneman described it as “a Rolls-Royce starting up”) and a tall frame that he could fit into any role. His portrayal of King Lear of 1962 is hailed by many (including Corin Redgrave and Sir Ian McKellen) as the greatest Shakespearean performance in memory history.

It was his performance of the merry yet morally upright Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons that garnered the attention of Hollywood, as Fred Zinneman’s production of the play into a film garnered the film Best Picture, and Scofield himself Best Actor. Yet Scofield sent a clear message that fame was not his interest, as he skipped the Oscar ceremony and Dame Judith Hiller accepted Scofield’s award in his name. Scofield himself went back to the stage.

He had stated clearly that fame was not an interest.

Despite his international fame, when the curtain fell, Mr. Scofield hopped the commuter train back to his family. He did not often mix socially with theater people. At home, only 10 miles or so from his birthplace, was his wife, the former Joy Parker, an actress he married in 1943 and remained with for 65 years, until his death; a daughter, Sarah, and a son, Martin. They all survive him.

“I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to be a star personality and live my life out in public,” Mr. Scofield once said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to wave personality about like a flag and become labeled.”

He refused a proffered knighthood, stating that if one is going to be given a title, “. . .what’s wrong with Mister?”

From A Man For All Seasons, while being confronted by Cardinal Wolsey.

A humor PR shot with director Ken Branagh from Henry V

As King Lear, quite possibly from his epic 1962 stage performance, directed by Peter Brook.

If there was any doubt that Scofield had no interest in larger fame, his treatment of the role of Salieri in Peter Shaeffer’s Amadeus had to put it to rest. Scofield’s Salieri on stage was just as powerful as his Thomas More from 20 years previous. And like More, Hollywood wanted to transfer Salieri and Mozart from the stage to the screen. The role was offered, and Scofield absolutely balked. He said there was no way he was going to take months away from his family again. The role was given to F. Murray Abraham, who then won the Best Actor Oscar in 1985 by mimicking Scofield’s stage performance.

He did sometimes come back to the screen, playing Judge Danforth in The Crucible, the troubled French king Charles VII in Henry V and Mark Van Doren in Quiz Show. (Robert Redford directed Quiz Show, and the story goes that he wanted only Scofield for the role of Charles Van Doren’s erudite and innocent father, and Scofield was extremely reluctant to take the role. Redford had to engage in more than a little beseeching to get Scofield to acquiesce.) Any screen performance you may see with Paul Scofield shows him an actor with marvelous range and an unavoidable tendency to steal whatever scene he might be in.

I have damned few heroes in my life. James Garner -despite his politics- and Paul Scofield are just about it as far as contemporary public personae go. Those are -were- really the only two actors I would have been deeply honored to meet, and now one of them is gone.

Paul Scofield, Requiscat in Pacem.

The Advocate is anything but March 3, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Creepiness, Cultural Pessimism, Drama, Idiots, Liberal Hypocrisy, Liberal self-loathing.

Though this is really a smaller example of a larger truth: America is becoming a nation of vandals and Peeping Toms. We gather our cultural fruits by demanding to know the most intimate details of our most useless people (cf: Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith, Lindsay Lohan, Brangelina, Owen Wilson and [though it pains me to say it] Heath Ledger), and we claim that we have every right to blare personal secrets as loud as we can in the name of Freedom of Information (cf above: The unfortunate Ms. Spears again, Missus’ Smith, Lohan, and Mssrs. Wilson and Ledger). But a particularly vile form of this latter sin is performed noted by “gay conservative” Andrew Sullivan and by The Advocate, the “Award-winning LGBT news site.” Their view on outing is as follows:

I don’t think there is any good argument for outing a closeted politician who supports gay rights. But any secretly gay person who uses his bully pulpit to vilify his own people deserves the treatment gay blogger Michael Rogers is now meting out in the nation’s capital. Rogers has caused consternation everywhere, from the Log Cabin Republicans to the Human Rights Campaign, by announcing that he will out any closeted Republican who espouses antigay positions or works for a congressman or senator who does. (LINK)

Now I am not going to provide a brief regarding the outing of closeted anti-gay politicians. That does indeed smack of hyopcrisy, and as such behavior occurs within the realm of public servitude, the covers probably need to be yanked. But note that sympathetic legislators get a free pass.

As they should. As the saying goes amongst the MRTs, what goes on behind closed doors is no one else’s business. And in a truly secular way, there is wisdom in that position.

But what of people outside of politics?

I advocated that the media honestly report on gay public figures’ lives in the same way they report on straight public figures’ lives. As far as I was concerned, this was “reporting”—or, as some of my colleagues described it, “equalizing.” (LINK)

Cute little bit of sophistry there, “equalizing.” The ridiculous Andrew Sullivan continues:

“. . .There comes a point, surely, at which the diminishing public stigmatization of homosexuality makes this kind of coyness not so much understandably defensive as simply feeble: insulting to homosexuals, who know better, and condescending to heterosexuals, who deserve better. It’s as if the closet has had every foundation and bearing wall removed but still stands, supported by mere expediency, etiquette and the lingering shards of shame. Does no one have the gumption just to blow it down?” (ibid)

That may be politically valid, but it is personally no better than an intellectual form of rape; the violent taking of something that rightfully belongs to another.

Lemme tell you a story. I’ve been on a Shakespeare kick lately. It is no coincidence that in directing our school’s first-ever full length play, Much Ado About Nothing, I’ve been immersing myself in many things Shakespeare and about things related to him. Been reading a history on English kings from the 15th century, from which period Shakespeare drew the source material for his noted historical plays, including Richard II Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III. I’ve burned out the Blockbuster server in asking for Shakepearean films, including Hamlet, Henry V and again Richard III. It is this last film that the connection to the odious Advocate and the meritriciousness of Andrew Sullivan come into play.

In the 1995 film production of Richard III, the sublime Nigel Hawthorne plays George, the previously treasonous Duke of Clarence. Hawthorne gives a substantial and moving portrayal of the confused, complicated and treacherous Clarence. I recall watching this and saying, “Hmmm. Is there anything else this man has done?” All I have thus far seen else of him is the whimsical At Sachem Farm (also known as Uncorked in the US), where he does a hilarious turn as a modern day isolate hermit, sitting atop a marble pillar on his estate, meditating and reveling in his newfound lack of responsibility, while his distracted relatives (most notably a rather stressed and greedy nephew played by Rufus Sewell) run about the place.

And that’s all I ever saw of the man. My recent researches reminded me of Richard III and Hawthorne. So, I looked him up. Found out that he died in 2001 from pancreatic cancer, that he had been gay, and -here’s the part where I get pissed off- he was outed –by the Advocate– prior to the 1995 Oscars, for which he was nominated best actor for his turn in The Madness of King George. Hawthorne spoke about that Oscar ceremony and his unhappiness at having been outed without his permission:

CrankyCritic: Did you enjoy the ceremony?
Nigel Hawthorne: No, it was very uncomfortable.

CrankyCritic: Because you were “outed” just prior to the ceremony?
Nigel Hawthorne: It was kind of difficult because I was taking Loretta Swit, who is a friend, and my partner. We were given three seats and I was told that there would be two seats together and the third at the back. So I had to make a choice. I wrote to Loretta and said ‘Look you must understand that we’ve lived together for 20 years and I cannot not be sitting next to [him]. Would you mind sitting at the back?’ And straight away she said “I totally understand. You must do it.” But then they changed and they gave us three seats together.
It was a very difficult situation because I was outed by this magazine called The Advocate. I didn’t know the magazine. I don’t mix in those circles. We lead a very quiet life. The Goldwyn office asked if I would do an interview with The Advocate and I said I don’t know what is. They said it’s a gay magazine and it has a small circulation. You have a lot of interviews. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I said well let’s leave it. I was doing theater in the West End and they approached my producer who told them that I had done 70 interviews and that I was all interviewed out. They said “Well, if he doesn’t give us the interview we’ll write the story anyway”.

So I called this girl up and said …
“I understand you wish to write a story about me”.
“May I ask you a few questions, first? Have you got a lover yourself?”
“Yes,” she had.
“Are you happy?” This she was.
“And how long have you been together?”
“Six years.”
“Is it a man or woman?”
“It’s a woman.”
“Well, now you understand my situation. So please respect it.”

We did the interview and, apparently, I never saw it. It was never sent to me but it was apparently sympathetic. But of course the world press got hold of it and it was splashed all over the papers and really horrific. It was terrible. We had to hire four security guards to keep them away from the house. When I came to the Academy Awards, I had to be smuggled to the airport and we were actually checked in in the car park. It was ludicrous because I was then mid-’60s and we’d lived together 20 years. I was doing then what I’m doing now, advertising a movie, and every question was about my personal life. So it was very difficult. Now that that’s happened, it’s done.

Sorry, Advocate, but that is just plain old, dead-field bullshit. Who in hell designates you the public distributor of people’s private lives? Hawthorne deserved every right to determine for himself when -if ever- that information was to be disseminated.

He learned -as he was forced to- to live with the gross intrusion of The Advocate, and perhaps in the end he felt that it was better to have done so.

But with the liberal crowing about the need to increased personal autonomy and personal rights -and above all, the right to privacy, through which both sexual and abortifacient “freedoms” march supposedly unhindered- it strikes me as more than passingly hypocritical for a liberal organ such as The Advocate to then pull stunt that really is little better than those espoused by the long-despised Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The Advocate is a swinish publication for outing Hawthorne, just as Esquire smirkingly states that Kevin Spacey “has a secret.”

If Spacey wants to out himself, let him do so in his own good time. If Derek Jacobi is gay, same rule. If Jacobi is straight, for that matter, the same rule still applies. Ditto if he’s addicted to gardening. Whatever.

We are becoming a nation of vandals and Peeping Toms. It is repulsive.

POSTSCRIPT:  Came upon this little tidbit after further poking around:

He’d been quite happy to live a quiet life with Trevor before being outed by the American press after the success of The Madness of King George. How did that make him feel? “Extremely angry. I felt it was a terrible intrusion on my privacy.”

Gee, I wonder why?

Reductio Ad Absurdem April 30, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Drama, Education, Idiots, Liberal Hypocrisy, Liberal self-loathing.

Indoctrinate U.  A film by Evan Coyne Maloney.  Exposes the rigors of PCspeak on today’s campuses, and the jackbooted, knee-jerk response to anyone who dares to challenges the gospel truth of PC thought and language.

Visit the site, see the trailer, and sign up to get a screening in your area.  This sounds like an extremely important film that people concerned with speech issues in the US MUST see.

Review here.  Blurb by Anchoress here.

My New Hero November 27, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Humor, Personal, Smart People.

Given my current tendency towards crankiness (see my post on Thanksgiving), this fellow, Gregory House, MD (played with sublime cantankerousness by noted English actor Hugh Laurie) is my new hero. House is a brilliant diagnostician with no patience AT ALL for human idiocy. He is at turns sarcastic, irascible, opinionated, offensive, outrageous, ornery, brilliant, bitterly ironic, cranky, obnoxious, insightful, abusive and very, very funny.

We do not have cable, but we do have a DVD player, and spent some of the otherwise unhappy Thanksgiving holiday watching House tear into every living person around him and solve any number of seemingly impossible medical cases.

Scarlett Johansson falls off the map November 22, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Drama, Liberal self-loathing.
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She is without doubt, one of the actresses most pleasing to the eye in Hollywood right now.

But sad to say, her looks some day will fade. And when they do, it appears she will have little to recommend her.

Not only is her shirt stuffed with casaba melons, but apparently her braincase also contains a casaba melon when it needs a brain.

The Lost in Translation star last month boasted about being so “socially aware” she gets tested for HIV twice a year.

Johansson says, “We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our president had his way, we wouldn’t be educated about sex at all.

“Every woman would have six children and we wouldn’t be able to have abortions.” (LINK)

Well, she’s lost, anyway.

Here’s the ironic part: On the above link, you may scroll down to find “related news.” The first headline?

Scarlett Johansson: ‘I’m Not Promiscuous’

Um, yeah, sister. Whatever.

Jimmy Stewart was not an “angry man” November 19, 2006

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Richard Schickel, film critic for Time Magazine, puts his foot in it when he describes the legendary film actor Jimmy Stewart as “an angry man”, claiming that with roles such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith goes to Washington and most notably, Vertigo (and I would add Rear Window to this list) showed that he was an mad person.

Nonsense. One need not be an angry man to play angry characters. Stewart was a well-rounded actor, capable of playing a fair range of roles, and playing all of them very well. He’s near the top of my favorite actor list (though he’ll never catch Paul Scofield), and there is a fairly good article to follow that provides a decent synopsis. Schickel’s folly is towards the end of it.

Jimmy Stewart: Much to admire, no dirt to find

POSTED: 1:51 p.m. EST, November 17, 2006

var clickExpire = “12/17/2006”;

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — For biographers seeking to chronicle the misdeeds of mid-century superstars, James Stewart presents a problem: small-town upbringing; major Hollywood figure for decades; decorated war hero; faithful husband and loving father, untouched by scandal.

Celebrity biographer Marc Eliot faces the challenge with “Jimmy Stewart,” a thorough examination of the actor’s life and career, with not a sniff of sensation.

Peter Bogdanovich had written that Stewart had an affair with Kim Novak while they were making “Bell, Book and Candle” and “Vertigo.” Eliot checked it out with Novak.

“She said she had been in love with Richard Quine, the director of ‘Bell, Book and Candle,’ ” Eliot remarked. “She added that Jimmy was married, and there was no way that she would have an affair with a married man.”

Speaking by telephone from New York, Eliot said he had devoted three years to researching and writing “Jimmy Stewart.” He spent a year trying to win over Kelly Stewart Harcourt, one of Stewart’s twin daughters. Finally, she agreed to be interviewed, as long as she would not appear to be authorizing the book.

“I wanted to find out what it was like for Stewart to become a father, and then to have twin daughters, as well as adopting his wife’s two sons,” said Eliot. “As he grew older, he matured, and I think the family was a great help.”

In 1949, after being known for years as Hollywood’s No. 1 bachelor, Stewart married Gloria Hatrick McLean, a beautiful divorcee with connections in East Coast society. He was 41.

Why did Stewart wait so long to marry?

“Jimmy was incredibly shy around women, especially Hollywood women,” Eliot remarked. “Marlene Dietrich all but attacked him, and Ginger Rogers was crazy about him. These were not women who reminded him of his mom and what a family life was all about.”

The author believes that Stewart adored Margaret Sullavan; she had worked with him and Henry Fonda in summer theater. But Sullavan married Fonda. Stewart was grateful to Sullavan for helping his early Hollywood career by insisting on him as co-star in her films.

Making his own way

James Maitland Stewart was born May 28, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father ran a hardware store. The Stewarts were “a strong, America-based family with a great military heritage,” Eliot said. Jimmy played the accordion, acted in a Boy Scout play and lived a small-town life.

His father, a Princeton University grad, wanted his son to follow him, and Jimmy did. He majored in architecture but got waylaid by a fellow student, Josh Logan, who enlisted him for college dramatics. After graduation, Logan persuaded Stewart to join Sullavan and Fonda at the University Players in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

“Stewart never faded away from the consciousness of the American moviegoing public,” Eliot said. “When you think about the actors of the 1930s, very few of them remained relevant so long in their careers.”

From his film debut in 1935 as a reporter in “The Murder Man,” he quickly rose to stardom and finished the decade with his stirring role in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939. The following year, he won an Academy Award for “Philadelphia Story.”

Drafted into the Army in 1941, he advanced from private to colonel, flying 20 bombing missions over Germany. After the war, he was concerned that his studio, MGM, had no plans for him. Then Frank Capra borrowed him for “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and his career revived.

In the decades that followed, Stewart remained a screen favorite in Hitchcock thrillers, comedies, dramas and an abundance of Westerns. Even when the features dwindled in the 1980s, he remained current with TV appearances on the Johnny Carson, Dean Martin and Carol Burnett shows, as well as the repeated TV screenings of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“In the history of American movies, James Stewart was probably the purest of actors,” Eliot said. “One reason was that he was not interested in directing, producing or having a film company. He was basically an actor.

“Because of that — and with the guidance around him — he was able to focus on his character, which he developed and played with variations. I think the character he played was closer to him, more so than any other actors who developed lifelong personas.”

Richard Schickel, film historian and reviewer for Time magazine, has a different view of Stewart, one that reflects Stewart’s performances in such films as Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”

“This is one angry man,” Schickel said. “Think of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’ A Stewart performance I admire greatly is in ‘Anatomy of a Murder.’ He’s playing a kind of foxy guy, but when he gets in that courtroom he can really rip and snort.

“Everybody thinks of him as this adorable, aw-shucksy kind of guy. What about the Anthony Mann Westerns; those are really smart, tough performances. I think he was very clever in the conduct of his career in that he set aside the aw-shucksy side of his younger years. As he matured, he became a much tougher figure to be reckoned with.”

My friends Heather and John are loons. . . August 5, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Personal.
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I haven’t written much about our little junket into The Wizard of Oz because of a number of reasons; the relative weakness of our Dorothy (she does fine enough, she just isn’t all that strong); the minor roles my family has in it. . .it’s a story everyone knows and doesn’t really have a strong message to it. . .

All the same, tonight we close, and I do feel some regret at this. I hope to have some pictures up later next week.

But I started writing about Heather and John, the stage managers. There is a scene in the 2nd Act where I have to wait behind closed doors. Heather and John then swing the doors open for me, and close them when I walk back offstage. We repeat this little dance about three times. While we are waiting, we tease each other and comment on how well the show is going that night.

Anyway, on the last entrance, Heather and John hold the doors open while I stare at the other players, waiting for them to follow me. I am in full view of the audience and am wearing a live microphone. And the buggers then proceed to do everything in their power to make me laugh. I have to bite my cheek and turn my head, and I cannot DO A THING in retaliation; as I said, I am in full view of the audience, and am wearing a live mike.

Heather likes to think of this as revenge upon me for a screw-up on HER part.

See, opening night, we were back there awaiting my first entrance, and Heather was cursing some of the other stagehands for screwing things up. Little did we know her voice was being carried out over my mike, which was live at the time. (I have no control over my mike. The guy at the soundboard is responsible for making sure I am live on stage and muted offstage. He simply brought me up too early, thinking I would be quiet preparing to go on. He was right. his problem was that he did not take Heather into his calculations.)  So, her various comments about brain-damaged stagehands and out-of-tune brass sections, liberally sprinkled with profanity, was broadcast for all to hear.


And so she takes it out on me.

Why theater people have so much fun making others laugh onstage is a question I’ve never had answered.

“V” for “Vamoose” April 8, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Drama.

I confess it right now. I have been very interested in "V" for Vendetta. Not least of my reasons are the stars: Natalie Portman (outside of Star Wars) is generally a very intriguing actress who is also easy on the eyes, and Hugo Weaving has been sublime in every role I have ever seen him in; especially in The Matrix, an otherwise useless film that has Weaving cracking me up as Agent Smith.

But I had already had some serious threads of doubt. Reports that the film glorified vigilante justice, almost to the point of endorsing terrorism.

Then through my ever-vigilant son I came upon this review from decentfilms.com. In addition to endorsing the concern about terrorism, I also find now that the Wachowski brothers engage in a more than a little bit of gratuitous Catholic bashing. So much so, in fact, that it apprantly (in addition to other sins) forced "V"'s comic book father Alan Moore to disscociate himself from the project.

Yet, even with those caveats, I was ready to give it a try, until I saw this. Not that big a deal, you say? Well, consider that the link comes from the reprehensible Michaemoore.com, and the actual link looks like this:

'V for Vendetta' "Go see this movie!" — Michael Moore

AIIIGGGHHHH!!!! Michael Moore says this is a good film???


I'll just have to wait for another chance to see Portman and Weaving in action.

Lost in Oz March 16, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Family.
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Well, my daughter did NOT get Dorothy. . .and here's a little story that tells WHY.

Oz is being produced by a local community college that does community theater in the summers. I got back into acting after an 18 year hiatus at this very venue, doing Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. Had a blast doing it.

A number of us auditioned for West Side Story last summer, but when it became evident that my eldest daughter was not going to get cast, I asked out of a role that I actually had not been formally cast in, but it had been made pretty clear that the role was mine to lose. So, we didn't do it last year.

This year, that same daughter, who has fine acting chops, and a GREAT singing voice, auditioned for Dorothy, and got called back. Call backs were last night. My daughter sang like a boid, and did a fine job reading. None of the other 5 callback Dorothys were better than my kid (fine, call me biased. . .you had to be there, you'd agree with me), but at the same time Monica wasn't necessarily better than all of them. She was at least equal, in my mind, to two of the others, putting here in the top three auditioners.

The other three were not in the same tier. Those last three consisted of one girl with a fine voice, but with a face and body that simply will not serve as Dorothy. Sorry, but them's the facts.

The other two consist of an Oriental girl with the right build, but average acting skills and a rather poor voice. The final one is a strong dancer, but also has average acting chops and a poor voice.

In a rather odd message, the cast list was published over a voice mail machine, and in announcing Dorothy, the director announced that the two latter candidates, the Oriental girl and the dancer, were being called back for a third audtion. None of the others, including my daughter, were called back. And then this cryptic statement: "We reserve the right to cast whomever we choose for Dorothy." Well, duh!! why state the obvious? And you plan on drawing from these last two candidates, the weakest of the bunch? Why tell us the obvious?

But the final filip to this little tale I've not yet revealed.

The candidate for Dorothy that is not the Oriental? The dancer?

She just happens to be the daughter of the choral director for this show.

Now, does anyone really think that an Oriental is going to get cast in what is otherwise a white cast? I really, really doubt it. This poor girl is being used as a distraction from casting the choral director's daughter.

Nepotism, anyone?


Now, that said, I know the above sounds bitter. Perhaps I am, but only a touch. I am under no illusions about the fine arts. So very, very often it is not what you know, or how you do, but who you know that lands you the gigs. I knew going in that Monica was facing some very stiff competition, in that the choral director's kid was competing for the role Monica wants. (Why the choral director is allowed to have a say in casting when her own kid is auditioning is another question. . .but that's another story) And if that other girl gets it, I cannot claim to be surprised. And I warned Monica of this, that she could NAIL the audition and still lose out. That didn't stop her when it became mostly evident with that message that she didn't get the role, and she spent the better part of an hour staring at the table, the glisten of closely-held tears shining in her eyes. While the fury of my wife mounted and mounted. . .

A funny world we live in. But fortunately, my Monica is taking it well now, looking forward to goofing backstage with a friend of hers that also got cast as an extra, and it appears that ALL of our seven kids are going to be in it (I was asked if the baby, now 5, who did not try out, would be interested, and we said "Sure!!!"), so there is a real chance that we might be able to take a picture of all of us in costume. . .even if Monica didn't get the plum part.

It is surely something she can learn from, even if it is a lesson in injustice; that hard work and talent sometimes are not enough. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and do it again. Keep auditioning. Keep trying. As Monica's voice coach said when she found out about this, "Honey, you keep working. Your day will come when your talent and ability will be recognized for what it is."

Parenting is such a bittersweet proposition sometimes.