A couple of hours in mild heat can remind you how good you have it

A big new looking air conditioning unit
A big new looking air conditioning unit
Image by ClassicallyPrinted from Pixabay

Our HVAC broke down about two hours ago. It is generally hot here, but it didn’t get above 90 today. We’re lucky that our house is reasonably well insulated, and fortunately we have a good central air system, so I can keep the house nice and chilly in the summer — I am Irish so I don’t deal well with the heat. The HVAC is working now, because fortunately we have a home warranty so we can call an HVAC without great concern about cost of getting it repaired. We’re lucky that there was a guy willing to come quickly, and we live close enough to where he was working He happened to have a transformer in the car, so it was a comparatively quick fix. …


Paris La Défense — Une Ville En Concert made me a European Artist

The image of aman (Jean-Michel Jarre) putting his hands out into a laser light, and in doing so, striking musical notes
The image of aman (Jean-Michel Jarre) putting his hands out into a laser light, and in doing so, striking musical notes
A clip of Paris La Défense — Une Ville En Concert from youtube, as projected on my wall (image taken by Martin French, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRO2EtDQ_nA

With a name like mine, you could guess that Bastille Day is important to me. It means an awful lot on many different fronts: a revolution of the common people — not the landed gentry — against oppression and unaccountable tyranny first comes to mind. Whatever you wish to say about the following 4–6 years of chaos, and the following Napoleonic dictatorship, the storming of the Bastille is an epochal moment for humanity. It is the first truly successful example of a people’s revolution, an attempt to ditch tyrannical overlords.


A Guide To The Irish Political System, and to the new Government

Leinster House — Large grey building
Leinster House — Large grey building
Leinster House — home to the Oireachtas, by Jean Housen / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

As regularly happens, Ireland has a new government. As is the case in Britain and the US, we the people complain regularly about them, regardless of who they are. Unlike the case with our noisy neighbors, we tend to have a broader representation in our parliament and our governments, and for all the flaws of the system, it is worth looking at how it operates, and how Ireland’s latest government has been formed.

We have a President
Firstly, the important thing to know is that Ireland’s current president is formerly a poet, an unskilled laborer, a university professor, a writer for a rock music magazine, a member of both the Upper and the Lower houses of Irish Parliament, and a human rights campaigner. He is multilingual, has studied in three different countries, is married to a theatre actress, was Minister for the Arts, and was the president of a professional soccer club. He was re-elected with support from across most parties and is the most popularly elected person in state history, preceded by two popular female presidents. To be fair, I am mostly saying this to taunt American readers: the Irish presidency is really more of a ratifying body, rather than an executive officer. The President lives at Áras an Uachtaráin, where they will meet the Crown Prince of Ruritania, or attend an important lunch function with the trade delegation from Naboo, or greet Kylie Minogue on a State visit before approving the week’s going’s on in the Oireachtas. …


But does the Slings & Arrows proposed season hold up?

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Photo by Vince Gaspar on Unsplash

During the first season of Canadian TV show Slings & Arrows, acting Artistic Director for the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival, Geoffrey Tennant, is asked for the next season’s program with no notice. This engaging bit is that Tennant can come up with an exciting season off the top of his brilliant head. But would that Tennant proposed season hold up?

The character of Tennant is inspired — and in many ways dreadful — as an artistic director, but the nine classics he throws down is designed to be a list to make the literary viewer instinctively wish they could go…


Just the essentials

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Photo by Scott Van Hoy on Unsplash

— We’re low on toilet paper. Can you pick up some?

Sure, I can go. Good chance to see your home town. Where’s the best place?

— Ok, you’ll need to drive. At the end of the street take a left on Harrison. Keep your eyes open, as it’s only a short ways before you see a small CVS on your left.

On Harrison. Great, I’ll-

— Yes. Then you need to take the left just after that CVS, onto 8th. You go ‘bout a mile down that, and after you pass the Walmart, it’s the second right –

Wait, after I pass the Walmart? …


Can we open the theatres again yet?

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A nearly full house in a small theatre

When do we finally get to come back together to perform and produce our art? Of course, people’s lives are the highest priority — there is no question on that matter. Acknowledging that, there’s nothing wrong in wondering when we can return. Most of us are anxious to get back to what we do — some for an income and some for love. Certainly, it looks like a lot of US governors are relaxing lock-downs all over the United States, though the closest most of them get to mentioning theatre is to talk of Movie Theaters. …


The motion to rescind the book “removal” in Mat-Su is postponed for another two weeks

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Mat-Su District School Board Meeting 6 May 2020 (screengrab from the livestream)

To the confusion and disappointment of most of us looking in from outside, last night (5/6/20) at the meeting of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District Board, the censorship story of the year continues. After nearly 3 and a half hours of testimony from the public, a motion to extend the meeting past 10pm was voted down 4–3, giving those who voted for an amendment on April 22nd to “remove” five books and a learning resource for their controversial nature a two week reprieve. …


Were five school books removed from the curriculum in Mat-Su District Schools in an act of revenge?

The MATSU District School Board meets, most members via phone, in an empty classroom
The MATSU District School Board meets, most members via phone, in an empty classroom
MAT-SU School District Board Meeting on April 22nd (screengrab from the video recording of the meeting)

How did it get to this — five books, commonly selected for High School English courses, that had been used in this district for years, suddenly deemed too controversial? How does a School Board in far-too-often forgotten Alaska, suddenly become the focus of America’s literary ire? How do seven people elected to consider school calendars, note price increases in canteens, and approve out-of-county field trips suddenly become thrust into the international spotlight?

These things don’t happen overnight, and I have been trying to trace it back a little bit. Watching the video coverage of the Mat-Su Schools District Board Meeting where the books were removed from the English Elective reading list on the 22nd, it feels like there was a hint of it in a passing remark from Ole Larson. …


What Actually Happened in the MATSU School Board Meetings

The MATSU District School Board meets, most members via phone, in an empty classroom
The MATSU District School Board meets, most members via phone, in an empty classroom
MAT-SU School District Board Meeting on April 22nd (screengrab from the video recording of the meeting)

My attention was drawn to an article a friend shared on Facebook this morning, coming from NBCNews.com with the eye catching headline “Alaska school board pulls ‘Great Gatsby’ from curriculum”. The headline makes it feel like a small town sensation with a big name book, but the actual story has broader implications, and points at deeper issues that go beyond whether an book that’s almost 100 years old should be studied or not. What these actions mean, and how this came about are both causes for concern, and I will devote some time to explore this in a forthcoming article.

Here, however, I want to examine what actually happened there, and explore in short why the procedure used is problematic. First let’s take a slow and painful look at what actually happened — the information is comparatively simple to access, and it tells a story in itself. …


The Truth Is You’d Let Us Leave You

An actress in outlandish costume standing in front of a shadow puppet screen
An actress in outlandish costume standing in front of a shadow puppet screen
Actress — Sami Hall; Photo — Dan Canon

There has been a lot of talk back and forth in the theatre world about the time to come after this emergency. When will theatres return? What will be different? Can we capitalize on this time off? How can we keep our presence felt in the absence of live in person theatre? …

About

Martin French

Martin French is a theatre practitioner from Ireland, currently living in Louisville KY — director, designer, writer, occasional teacher. He/Him.

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