The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has magnificent collections of objects housed in an extraordinary building, but I go there rarely, as so much of their permanent collection is, in fact, colonial plunder. Too often I have left enraged at the flaunting of stolen goods or disturbed by what must have been a lifetime of work identified with its owner and not for the unrecognized craftspeople who created it.
Adam Curtis’ new documentary, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, gives hope that at least some of the world is waking up from the mass hallucination of disembodied information. The documentary, which is subtitled, “The Rise of the Machines,” explores how in the later part of the 20th Century, and the first decade of the 21st, much of the world became organized around the old gnostic fantasy that information or souls can be separated from the constraints of the material world, becoming free to circulate through time and space.
“Shh,” the well-dressed woman with a finger to her lips cautions as she stealthily approaches the man asleep in his chair. A self-satisfied look plays on her face as she dips her hand into his jacket pocket. She need have no concern. From the pitcher and glass on the crimson tablecloth, it appears that he has passed out from too much drink and is not likely to awaken.
Music by Si Kahn, book by Amy Merrill
Musical theater, noted singer/songwriter and activist Si Kahn in a recent radio interview, has often tackled serious issues in our lives. The personal and the comedic have often been used to confront real problems. Think race in “South Pacific,” oppression and identity in “La Cage Aux Foils.” These are plays that confront big issues and do it with a smile and some style.
A young man decides to confront race by questioning strangers on the street. The result of the process is powerful. In his first conversation, the stranger seemed to search deep inside himself for his understanding of race in order to genuinely help J.A. Mitchell and offer him some closure. Mitchell developed these conversations into the book 30 Days of Race.
So what’s funny about being in my 60s? It’s funny to be at an age where historical documentaries are being made about political actions I was involved in. Am I history?
On April 8th, 2011, a planned event at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design (GSD) in Cambridge, Massachusetts was briefly interrupted by a tactical action to protest the recent detention of the acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei by Chinese authorities.
After going from lawyer to folk singer to minister, the Rev. Fred Small is back in Cambridge, singing. This time his concert is not going on the road and there will be only one a year. The proceeds will benefit the fund for diversity and accessibility at his congregation, First Parish in Cambridge (Unitarian Universalist).
My friend Deborah Strod, a photographer and writer, has her first one-woman show at the Pierce Gallery, at the Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420. I hadn’t seen Deborah for years so I welcomed the chance to view what turned out to be highly impressive photographs.
One of the insufficiently highlighted treasures of the Boston area is the wealth of student theatre productions. I’ve discovered this because Sheriden Thomas of the Tufts drama faculty invites me to the productions she directs. (Full disclosure: I met her and her partner when, years ago, they took a few dance lessons from me.) How impressive that she has pulled off a slam-dunk with her present show, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the theater-in-the-round Balch Arena Theater, Feb17-19 and 24-26.