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“One must be serious about something if one wants to have any fun in life”

I have this great Oscar Wilde epigram on my crowded bulletin board for years, and think about it a lot as I teach nine and ten year olds.  The more focused and earnest I get them about self-discipline, the more fun they have. 

So, a seriously fun Saturday—brunch in New York at One Hundred Acres (nice reference to Winnie-the-Pooh, even if it is filled with super-hip downtown types, all still connecting to their inner child).  Catching up with a friend from Oxford, comparing notes on that beautiful town of Gothic spires and meadows, then off to walk the High Line for the first time.  I’d been hearing so much about it from my daughter, and it was fun for her to introduce me and Fiona to this new New York experience.  When it comes to gardens, I’m a big fan of following the innate contours and culture of the setting, so it’s really cool to see how brilliantly they have brought out the “genius locus” of this deserted elevated railway.  It will be great to see it in different seasons—Saturday we had a cool, windy afternoon after many days of sun, and the Lenten roses and spring flowering trees glowed magically in the high-contrast light.

And then rushing back to the ‘burbs to see a wonderful production of Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties” at McCarter.  We first saw this play 36 years ago (yikes!) when it first came to New York.  In my last blog I was praising art that refers to (and sometimes samples) other precedents.  “Travesties” is a masterpiece of this.  Stoppard is so seriously taking on some of the big, important questions—what is the place of the artist in society?  How can one weigh the importance of political action against a life in art?  How does memory play tricks on us all, and how do we really know what happened?  Underneath and around all this he has woven huge chunks of Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”  So suddenly Lenin (yes, that Lenin) is declaiming some of Lady Bracknell’s best lines, to extraordinary effect.  Sly steals from Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Joyce—ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got them all.  Such seriously fun that I’m going back Saturday afternoon, so that I can share the fun with Miranda.

But in the meantime—looking forward to seeing ARB again Friday night at Rider University, when we share the stage with the Rider students in their annual concert.  I’m looking forward to seeing Kirk’s “Eyes That Gently Touch,” Douglas’ new balcony scene again, and Mary’s wonderful “Straight Up, with a Twist,” plus catching up with how our students have been progressing.  See you there!

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