An update: I am enrolled in Bath Spa University’s remote PhD program in Creative Writing, focusing on memoir, and writing a book about my time living in Wrocław, Warsaw, Łódź, and Kraków.

The Bath program is designed to be flexible for working adults, so I’m continuing to write grants and marketing materials for a variety of organizations (taking on new clients now), and assisting on a high school production of Les Mis.

However, this book, Invitation to Poland, is my primary artistic activity both at the moment and for the foreseeable future, and it will take…as long as it takes…to finish.

As Victor Hugo’s mother once wrote to one of her sons (qtd. in the Graham Robb bio, p. 42):

“I shall not scold you, my dear Abel, for not having written earlier, since I attribute it to thoughtlessness and a failure to consider my inevitable anxiety rather than to any lack of affection on your part. Whatever the case, do not let it happen again.”


PENNY at the Washington National Opera

The hour-long opera PENNY, about an autistic singer, with music by Douglas Pew and words by me, DW, will premiere on January 23 and 24, 2015, at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. Tickets available here. This project is a WNO/KC American Opera Initiative one-hour commission, performed by the Washington National Opera. Directed by Alan Paul, conducted by Anne Manson.

To quote from the writeup on BroadwayWorld:

“Developed from an original story by Weinberg, Penny tells the tale of Penny Rutherford, a woman with a disability who discovers her talent for music, and the ensuing conflict with her family as she changes and grows more independent.

A Game of Hearts, the first collaboration of Pew and Weinberg, had its world premiere in November 2012 in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. The comedic opera depicted a group of widows in a Seattle nursing home as they reminisced about their pasts and faced their current situation. Following its critically acclaimed bow in Washington, A Game of Hearts was subsequently presented by Cincinnati’s North American New Opera Workshop in May 2013 and was performed at the prestigious OPERA America New Works Forum in January 2014.

“When I first heard A Game of Hearts, I was struck by the sophistication of the storytelling in both the music and the libretto and I am thrilled that Doug and Dara are returning for this new commission,” said Michael Heaston, the director of the American Opera Initiative for WNO. “I am proud that our program is achieving its mission-to continue to foster new American talent and to provide a forum for contemporary American stories and music.”

The cast of Penny includes many current members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, including mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel, soprano Kerriann Otano, bass Wei Wu, and tenor Patrick O’Halloran. Rounding out the cast are baritone James Shaffran and baritone Trevor Scheunemann, an alumnus of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program who was seen earlier this season as Marcello in WNO’s La boheme.”

If you are in DC or Baltimore next weekend, I very much hope you will join us.


Art Radiates (continued): Ten Years of Chorea, Part 2

This is the next installment in a weekly-ish series of blog posts about Teatr Chorea‘s August 2014 Retro//Per//Spektywy festival, “Sztuka Promienuje,” (Art Radiates), celebrating ten years of the company.

Part Two: “Rhythm of language” and festival opening

“Lights up: composer and choir director Krzyżanowski stands stage right of a semicircle of black-shirted singers, with his yellow harmonium on a stand. Three men, eight women, all barefoot, standing, and wearing jeans. The black floor before them is covered with the words of every song in the piece, written in white chalk capitals, facing the performers. The upside-down text makes it appear that the perfomers are on the other side of a mirror. “

Read more here at NITENews.org (New International Theatre News)

Previous posts in this series:
Part 1: Introduction and festival preview


More Polish theater rehearsal recipes

The Closed and the Open Door” is the latest installment of the ongoing “Polish Theater Cookbook” series on HowlRound.

“One of the stereotypes about the post-Grotowski Polish ensemble theaters is that their processes are rigidly closed and their rehearsal rooms are treated like devotional spaces. […] There is often a way through a more closed door, but you may have to put on your sweatpants.”

Read the whole thing herex.

Previous installments:
       – Introducing A Polish Theatre Cookbook
       – Grotowski and the Post-Grotowski Companies
       – The Floating Schedule
       – The Loose Twenty-Minute Break
       – How To Make Rehearsal Time Flexible
       – Rehearsing Without Breaks


“Deliberations within the administration are said to be ongoing,” Or, An 82Things Link Roundup For August 9-23, 2014

"Saint Jerome (recto); Soldier with a Spear (verso)," Vittore Carpaccio: the Met's Artwork O' The Day for August 23, 2014.

“Saint Jerome (recto); Soldier with a Spear (verso),” Vittore Carpaccio: the Met’s Artwork O’ The Day for August 23, 2014.

Well, let’s try this again. As I mentioned in the previous 82Things roundup, this is a list of things I have thought or observed in snatched time, with no connections between them, and my effort to keep blogging in an age of (perhaps I should blame my brain, not the age) distraction.

The title comes from a Guardian article (#65) about the US wavering on the brink of beginning another “direct military action.” I like the “are said to be,” and I also think it best captures the global mood of ominous tension (or, perhaps, actual crisis) at this time. The alternate title, if I’d gone with poetry instead of politics, would have been “
A vast inward terrain that wasn’t happiness,” which is a line from Henri Cole’s poem “Myself Departing.” (#16) Our image for the day–I always take the random one posted by the Met (until I change my mind, that is)–shows an image of a saint on top of an obscured image of a soldier. You can’t see the soldier with a spear, but he’s there: a military presence underlying the man in prayer.

Well, as the administration deliberates, and the spear-carrier waits behind Jerome, here are a few snatches of thought–82, to be precise–to think about–or distract yourself–with.

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Art Radiates: Ten Years of Teatr Chorea, Part 1

I am writing a series of blog posts about Teatr Chorea‘s Retro//Per//Spektywy festival, “Sztuka Promienuje,” (Art Radiates), celebrating ten years of the company.

Part One: Introduction and festival preview

“All throughout the city, artists are arriving. From Kraków, from Lublin, from Gdańsk and Warsaw; from Norway, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Belarus. Our rehearsal on the top floor of the Art_Inkubator is being replicated in every room in the building, as over twenty performances are staggering to their legs at once. Many of the performers are running from one rehearsal to the next. Students, free from university for the summer, are stretching on wood and Marley floors. People are taking time off from work, neglecting their boyfriends, and sinking into the whirlpool of Retro//Per//Spectives.”

Read more here at NITENews.org (New International Theatre News)


“Rotten Governments Destroy More Than A Hurricane,” Or, An 82Things Extended Link Roundup For August 1-9, 2014

"Playing Card with a Knave"--the Met's Artwork O' the Day for Aug 9, 2014. Link below.

Playing Card with a Knave“–the Met’s Artwork O’ the Day for Aug 9, 2014.

This-82Things-is a new blog format I’m trying out, inspired by the way in which HTMLGiant deals with the pervasive “listicle” format. Their list-articles seem to me to have more to do with “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” than with BuzzFeed.

I was particularly inspired by John Rufo’s list-review, Sortes Poundianae“. It seemed to me that the list format also referred interestingly to the way the Cantos, themselves, do not hold together. The way it is so difficult to make over-arching claims about Pound’s life. The way that Pound’s “do-I-contradict-myself”-ness contradicts himself so consistently.

So–this is my attempt at a listicle/round-up of my own, 82 items long, not related by theme or argument, only by a nine-day timespan. Rather than (or as well as) posting things when I read them, to Facebook or elsewhere, I am accumulating them here, with some commentary.

The title quote of this post is one of the lyrics from composer Huang Ruo’s new opera “Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.” (This is a translation: the original is in Mandarin.) It’s a chorus of people singing about “the state of the country under the Qing dynasty,” (see article here) but I found the line relevant to so many things we’ve all been thinking about in the news recently recently…Israel, Palestine, Gaza…Hungary…Ukraine, Russia, Poland…

August 1, 2014

1) R.L. Stevenson, “Death, To the Dead For Evermore”:

“The all-pondering, all-contriving head,
Weary with all things, wearies of the years;
And our sad spirits turn towards the dead…”

I do like “the all-pondering, all-contriving.” Unfortunately, the first two stanzas that get you there are pretty general and negligible; only the third has gas in the tank. I keep running into poems like this, older poems, where there’s an elaborate heap of setup for the only worthwhile part. I am probably too dismissive of them; I remember a teacher telling me once, in response to my saying that “The Raven” was too long, that this was a form of entertainment, like a television episode, and that people didn’t *want* poetry to be shorter. They wanted it to last awhile. But now, I suppose, we expect PASSIONATE INTENSITY from every line-crevice.

2) “Gallivanting around the cosmos is a game for the young.”
– James T. Kirk, The Wrath of Khan

Is it possible that I have never watched The Wrath of Khan before August 1, 2014? Despite being an avowed Trekker? [Ed: And despite it being released in the year I was born??]
It would seem so.
It seems utterly new to me.

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