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on Thursday, 25 September 2008 in Uncategorized

Another review from the Milwaukee production of GOSSAMER:


A Gentle Touch

Theater Review

By Aisha Motlani

   First Stage's adaptation of Lois Lowry's Gossamer begins with a waif-like girl engaged in a battle of wills with her unyielding mentor, her unquenchable curiosity gently butting against her elder's limited reserve of patience. It's an appropriate beginning for a play that is essentially all about the battle of wills between the spirited ingeniousness of youth and the wisdom of old age, the forces of light and darkness, and between a young boy's suppressed feelings of shame and his burgeoning sense of self-worth.

  The play is set within the margins of wakefulness and sleep, inhabited by Dream-Givers, who harvest happy memories and turn them into dreams. Their enemies, the Sinisteeds, prey on people's fears and plague them with nightmares. An angry young boy reeling from years of neglect and abuse becomes the focal point of the struggle between the two forces. Rescued from his home by a social worker, the boy is placed in the care of an elderly woman. Gradually, under the watchful eye of his guardian by day and the young Dream-Giver by night, the boy's sense of shame and desertion slowly dissipates.

 

  Jeff Frank's direction and the play's cast ably convey both the gravity and lightness of Lowry's tale. Stylized snatches of dreams faintly illuminate the murky solidity of the waking world. The weary wisdom of the dream-world elders, played by Mark Metcalf and Richard Halverson, offsets the youthful resilience of their young apprentice, Littlest, played by Clarise White. Flora Coker plays the troubled boy's guardian with a sympathy lacking in condescension, while Richard Heim conveys the caustic armor enshrouding the young boy.

  Bruce Brockman's set design is spare but evocative. The denizens of the dream world inhabit subterranean pockets set within the stage floor. However, it's Jason Fassl's lighting that best conveys the ephemeral spirit of the dream world, bathing the stage in a dappled, watery glow. Deft use of spot lighting conveys supernatural exchanges between humans and Dream-Givers. The production's only extraneous element is the use of puppets. The marionettes operated by the Dream-Givers when engaging with humans are an unnecessary distraction. However, this is a minor foible in a play that manages to gently convey weighty themes to its young audience.


And another photo from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's night at the Red Sox:


IMG_1233That's me and Linda Sue Park, conferring. Were we talking about Jason Bay as a good trade for Manny Ramirez?  Or about publishing, or books? No, we were talking about our kids!  LS is a big baseball fan, as I am, but she reserved her serious baseball talk for my son Ben...I heard them arguing the merits of the Designated Hitter.


I am writing this in the Orlando Airport; this morning I spoke to 1200 Florida Media Specialists, as they call themselves now...(I still think "librarian." ) Such wonderful dedicated people. I do love librarians.

One of the things I love about such conferences is the chance to be with other authors...I had never met Cynthia Lord before, but got to sit next to her when we were on a panel together.   And Bety Byars' daughter! (whose name will come to me later) Betsy and I have been pals for years. And Chris Crutcher...one of my favorite people, since he and I share a weird sense of humor.  He was arriving as I was leaving, but we got to have a quick hug in the hotel lobby.

Thank you, thank you to FAME....Florida Association of Media Educators.  For inviting me. For hosting me beautifully. For laughing at my dumb jokes.



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Comments

Guest
Kristi Monday, 29 November 1999

I'm all smiles and laughs!

Guest
James Preller Monday, 29 November 1999

Fabulous! I love that you shared that.
James Preller

Guest
Dollie Evans Monday, 29 November 1999

I just finished this book and can't wait to go shopping for a "brain warming hat". Poetry is one of my favorite genres and Gooney Bird gives some great writing tips to help.
Dollie

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