In a last gasp of summer freedom, I traveled to New York this past weekend to fill a long-recognized gap in my theatregoing experience by seeing Porgy & Bess. Like much of the rest of my summer, the trip had a theatrical element. What surprised me was that the following lyrics from the show’s standard Summertime (first performed in 1935) managed to describe perfectly my summer of 2012:

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

In July, my wife, our older daughter (more about her in a bit), and I ventured to Japan. While in Tokyo, I experienced Kabuki theatre for the first time. I was enthralled for four and a half hours by Yamato Takeru at Tokyo’s Shimbashi Enbujo Theater. Yamato Takeru, initially performed in 1986, was the first example of “Super Kabuki” — a style that combines Kabuki acting techniques with modern Western stagecraft. (Click here for some additional information on Super Kabuki and the production I saw.)

Theatricality in Japan presented itself outside the theatre as well. At Koshien Stadium (near Osaka), with 55,000 fans waving flags, singing a different song for each player, and conducting a seventh inning balloon ceremony, the Hanshien Tigers baseball team and their fans put on an amazing show. It was especially poignant when I found out afterwards that these loyal and colorful fans were cheering for a team that was closer to the bottom of the standings than the top.

After the Japanese adventure, it was time for some family drama. In mid-August, we said our good-byes and delivered our older daughter to college. We packed up her belongings, rented a minivan, drove for six hours, unpacked, met roommates and other parents, and walked around the campus that will be our daughter’s new home for the next four years. For those of you who have not experienced this, it is a life-changing event that can only be described as carving a piece of your heart out.

Even with the bittersweet college departure, this summer presented itself with some wonderful new beginnings — with the arrival of three new contributors to Our readers already have been introduced to Alexandra Linn, a young and talented actress blogging for us about making her way in her newly adopted home and theatre community. Alexandra received her BA with Honors in Theater/Dance & Anthropology from Colby College in 2011. In case you missed the launch of this fresh and fun blog, here’s a link to her first three posts.

In the beginning of August, we launched a series of Audi-Turgy articles by Jojo Ruf. If you don’t know what Audi-Turgy is, then click here to read Jojo’s first contribution. Jojo’s background and interests make her ideally suited to leading this new initiative designed to provide audience members with the context for unfamiliar pieces, especially new plays. Among the many hats she wears (like most theatre artists), Jojo is the General Manager of the National New Play Network, an alliance of 26 theaters across the US, based in Washington, that champions the development and production of new plays.

Shortly, Rachel Grossman (co-founder and Ring Leader for dog & pony dc and managing director at Washington Improv Theater) will begin a conversation on digging into an all-important question: What is theatre? Given her experience with devised theatre and improv plus her background with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (first Connectivity Director) and Round House Theatre (Director of Education and Outreach), Rachel is uniquely positioned to spark an informed, fascinating, and entertaining discussion.

What a summer! And we are working on some other equally exciting projects here at Alas, those will have to wait for a future post :)

10 Questions —
Jojo Ruf

Jojo Ruf talks about A Christmas Carol, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemmingway, and much more.