September 23, 2012

It was exciting to see some new, Canadian work at the Festival, since we usually stick to the classics. I don’t know if time will make Wanderlust a classic, but it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

The Klondike has always been one of the phases of Canadian history most fascinating to me, and Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee” was key to my first interest. Wanderlust is a new musical by Morris Panych and Marek Norman based on the life (but more the poems) of Robert Service.

The production was gorgeous. The bank’s teller windows, opaque in normal light, revealed the orchestra behind them when the play began. Images of great ships, mountain vistas, and snow seemed sprung from Services’ imagination, especially in the setpieces for The Shooting of Dan McGrew and the Cremation. And the staff of the bank helped the vision along in ingeniously choreographed ways.

Everyone in the cast was strong but I was thrilled by Tom Rooney’s central performance. Anyone who can evoke such tragedy and such comedy, almost simultaneously, is a foundation for the theatre. The show closed with Rooney/Service alone at the bank, at his desk plastered with postcards of northern landscapes, in the light of a window as snow began to fall. A gorgeous summing-up.

In the past I’ve been struck by how the experience of theatre can take a play that’s dull on the page and make it magical. But there seems to be a theme to my Stratford times this year, and between Beatrice and Benedick, Robert Service, and Christopher Plummer’s favourites, it’s all about the magic of the language on the page.

Reflections on Learning

September 12, 2012

So over here I’m blogging for a course I’m taking, and our first posts have been about how we learn and how we interact with others in a learning/working environment. The reflection has led me to a major understanding…that I’m not always conscious enough that other people learn differently, and sometimes have unfair expectations.

I did this reflective work while visiting my in-laws, and, at one of our meal-time conversations, talk turned (as it usually does with a librarian around) to what we’re all reading. My FiL said he doesn’t read fiction, as he “wants to read things I can learn from.”

Well, that got my hackles up. Eventually, I managed, “I think many would argue that there’s a lot to be learned from reading fiction.” And we moved on.

I’d taken it as another piece of evidence of our differences (although I’m finding we have surprising similarities, too). That he didn’t see the value of reading fiction, for anyone, which I thought was something that would be evident to everyone. This was at the same time as I was reflecting on my learning style, and how others are different.

Self-centred as I am, it didn’t strike me till this morning that, although his intended meaning may have been plain, his diction was precise. He might not be able to learn from reading fiction, but that doesn’t have to imply that no one can. And it’s wrong of me to believe that everyone learns the same way, from the same things, I do. Not better or worse. Just different.