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January 18, 2008

I’m in the midst of auditions for The Importance of Being Earnest, which I’m directing at UMary this semester. Last night brought around ten women and only one man–I’m hoping tonight brings the guys out or else I’ll have to cross-dress the male leads, which would be interesting but hard to justify to nuns. I’m excited to be directing again after years. At Coker, where I got my theatre degree, we were sort of a commando operation–stealing furniture from the lounges and scrounging for cast-off clothes at thrift shops. I’m still aghast at having an honest-to-goodness budget for this one. A sizable budget that allows me to rent costumes and hire a set builder and a light guy and a costumer. It feels decadent, but it also feels comforting knowing that anything I need I’ll be able to get. Except male actors. Fingers crossed for tonight.

Exciting things are lining up for the spring semester. I’m presenting at a conference in Savannah in March, and possibly doing a lecture at Black Hills State as well (still waiting for final confirmation on that). I’m also looking forward to teaching a creative writing class this May, not least because it’ll help me kick start my own writing. Carmilla should be done by then as well–it’s moving quicker than I thought at this point.

Outside of academia, Blind Mice are playing at the Art in Motion event at the mall on Feb. 2nd. Ian got a headset mic for Christmas and is looking forward to singing as he debuts his first original composition–a progressive rock tune called “Rush Forward,” complete with big, ringin chords and a complicated time signature change-up in the bridge. We’re also doing an old Police number that’s going to sound great with the saxophone.

Most exciting, for me, is that two of my songs from Clifden Sky Road are going to be used for a ballet piece in February. Hollis Mackintosh, director of the Northern Plains Ballet Academy, is going to use the pieces for a dance she’s working on as part of a Choreographers’ Showcase at the Belle Mehus Theatre here in Bismarck. I’ll actually be on stage performing during the piece (although I won’t be dancing, and I refuse to wear tights). It feels so legitimate, somehow. I hope to have video of that to post in March.

Gwyn and her board continues to work on soliciting funding for the Saxon Project. They awarded the first grants in early January, to the great delight of the students involved. The hurdle now is raising the money to first create a paid position (allowing Gwyn to quit the library and devote herself to fundraising) and then to fund the grant program district wide. If you have $60,000 laying around and want to get rid of it, let us know.

Happy belated New Year to you and yours. My hope (though it may not get realized) is that I’ll soon write a long response to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which I read over the holidays and which may be the best novel I’ve read in four or five years. An astonishing book that I want to write about if only to articulate the effect it had on me. Whether I actually do that or not, go out this afternoon and buy it. Then set aside a few days and immerse yourself.

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