Friday, December 21, 2007

Brad Bird, "The work of a critic is easy"

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new...

Food critic Anton Ego, in Brad Bird's "Ratatouille"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Garrison Keillor, "The Seven Principles of a Successful Christmas"

Two years ago forty-one people came to my house for Christmas dinner, some merchants and bishops and poets and about sixteen barbarians, mostly Goths and Visigoths and several Huns, hairy savages who hunkered down at the table and ate like wild swine, belching and shrieking, and spent the evening pillaging and plundering and left the place in ruins. We were picking food off the chandelier for weeks. And after I swept up the refuse and offal and sluiced out the dining room, I said to myself, "No more hairy savages for Christmas." So last year, I invited only civilized people, and in case the barbarians showed up, I had a catapult installed on the roof that would hurl boulders at them and pots of boiling oil.

It was a pleasant and civilized Christmas, but as the bishops and poets and merchants sat and drowsed over dessert, one poet piped up and said, "Oh, by the way, what happened to those little pig-eyed fellows who came for Christmas last year, the ones who wiped their hands on the dog? They were a stitch! So uninhibited, throwing peas at each other! We talked about them at the abbey for weeks afterward!"

That was when I realized an important truth about Christmas.

Christmas is not a discussion group or a committee meeting or a memorial service. Christmas is a show. If you think of it as a show, you will have a successful Christmas. You are supposed to entertain people at Christmas. And it isn't so entertaining if only polite people come and sit quietly and chew their food. All those ladies magazine articles about fabulous centerpieces you can make in ten minutes out of bread bags --- they leave out this essential fact --- but now I am telling you: follow these rules and your Christmas will be spectacular! Yes Thir!

Christmas Principle # 1
Don't sweat the shopping. You have a catalog in your hands, why not use it? Don't spend the two weeks before C-Day driving around to little shops searching for just the right shade of Peruvian porcelain trivets for Bud and Esther's kitchen. Buy them sweatpants. Bud and Esther are not trivet-type people, and any trivets you give them will spend thirty years in the lower drawer of a hutch and will sell for thirty-five cents someday in an estate sale. But they will wear the sweatpants. You, my dear, need to spend these last few days resting up, not in a frenzy. When Pavarotti sings "Aida" at the Met, does he spend the afternoon shopping for a scarf for the soprano? No. So lie around the week before Christmas and read Dickens. Go to the movies. Play Scrabble. You will be a better entertainer if, before your big show, you relax and let things drift. Practice your facial expressions: Twinkly Benevolence ... Childlike Anticipation ... Contentment.

Christmas Principle # 2
Don't sweat the dinner. Stick with the classic stuff, and forget about innovation --- it isn't worth the hard labor and the heartache. That Yule bouillibaisse with chopped chubs and sprats sprinkled with mulled millet and the broccoli compote and cheese flute flambé --- sweetheart, that is a recipe for misery. All you need is spuds, yams, bread crumbs, a frozen veggie, cranberries in a can, a big bird, and a tub of butter. Order the pies from the bakery. Christmas dinner is a classic, like baseball, and the less fiddling you do with it, the better everyone likes it.

Christmas Principle # 3
Don't think of them as guests, think of them as a cast. This is so important. Your guest list can make or break you, and the commonest mistake is to invite only people who are a lot like yourself: quiet, tasteful, earnest, considerate, modest, tolerant, nicely coiffed, moisturized, pleasantly scented, no trouble to anybody. This is not a good idea, it's like putting together a choir and only inviting sopranos. A show needs gaudy characters, some heavies, it needs Big Personalities. Like your bachelor uncle Earl who wears the squirting mistletoe tie and talks in a loud voice about his gall bladder: you need him. Invite your la-di-da cousins with their $60 haircuts and Armani outfits, who put on fake Continental accents, trying desperately to cover up their Iowa-ness. Invite your disgruntled brother, seething about some national disgrace or other. Invite any other relatives whom you sort of dread seeing, for fear of the dreadful things they might say or do --- you need these people to create interest and drama on the Christmas stage! Your brother-in-law who feels that Martians are flying in and out of Roswell, New Mexico; putting their deadly organisms in America's corn starch, and that this was prophesied in the Old Testament. Your cousin Moonflower Shakti (nee' Wanda Anderson) who is channeling the wisdom of ancient Mesopotamia. When Moonflower sits next to Uncle Earl and his gall bladder, sparks will fly, and they will create Christmas memories that will last into the 21st Century. This is good.

Christmas Principle # 4
Get people's attention the moment they come through the door and let them know that this is going to be a zippy Christmas, one to remember. People often arrive in a grumpy mood, huffing about the guy who cut in front of them on the Interstate --- don't let grumpiness get a foothold: win them over right away. Send your husband to greet them at the door, wearing a swimsuit and a toupee, with ornaments taped to his chest. Train your dog to wear a Santa beard and stand on its hind legs and wave its little paws. I like to throw my arms around each guest and whisper, "Thank goodness you've come, you're the only fun person here, everyone else is as moody as a woodchuck. You're all I have so don't let me down!" This lets them know that I'm counting on them not to slouch and get mopey.

Christmas Principle # 5
Lighting. It made Garbo a star and it can make your Christmas. Winter is the dark time, so you want Christmas to be brilliant and sparkly areas. Outdoors, the shadows lengthen, wolves close in around the brave little house, but put a candle in the window --- voila! Drama! It's the Little Match Girl! Lights! Illuminate! A pool of light on the serving table. The tree lit up with colored bulbs. Candles everywhere, dozens of them. If necessary, hold a small flashlight between your knees to give your face that irresistible glow. Smile. Show teeth. Shine.

Christmas Principle # 6
Work on your Second Act. This is where most Christmases fall apart. The First Act is fine --- the twinkliness, the merriment, the aroma of turkey basting --- but two hours pass and there is no plot development. People get sleepy. The Second Act demands Crisis. Uncle Earl chomps down on an hors d'oeuvre and impales himself on a toothpick. The brother-in-law sees faces of space aliens in his mashed potatoes. A vegan, Moonflower discovers, too late, that the dressing contained bits of pork sausage and she collapses on the floor and hyperventilates. These little scenes keep up people's interest during the hours when the body is digesting animal fats and the I.Q. sags and the eyelids get heavy. Remember this principle: it isn't really Christmas unless somebody does something for which they must be forgiven later. Do you hear me? I mean, A good Christmas demands a 'Discordant Moment', and a great Christmas has many of them. Those moments when someone looks up from dinner to say in a choked voice, "This family has never accepted me as who I am, a gifted person, and that is why my life is so confused, and I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," and leaps up and dashes into the bathroom and locks the door and weeps bitterly as the other guests stand guiltily, heads bowed, in the hallway, dabbing at their eyes. You need that pain, that 'Discordant Moment' to give you a Second Act.
If nobody else will provide it, then the host must. Pick up something soft, like a napkin, or a marshmallow, and hurl it on the floor and say in a shrill embittered voice, "I've taken all I can take! Can't you see that? Everyone expects me to be the calm, responsible one! Everyone expects me to manage things, arrange Christmas, make everyone happy, be the host! But I can't be that person for you anymore! I am tired of living a lie! I'm not calm! I'm not responsible! Inside, I am a seething cauldron of emotional conflict! Why can't anyone see this?" And you leap up from the table and dash to the bathroom and lock the door and sob. Can you do this? Try. Everyone will be terribly upset, and that's good. This leads you to ....

Christmas Principle # 7
Act Three. Conciliation. The tears are dried. People hug. "I was a fool, I didn't see how much you really cared," cries the person who ran sobbing to the bathroom, "I didn't see how close this family really is, forgive me," and of course everyone does. "You'll never feel alone ever again," they say. Your disgruntled brother gives you a big grin, and Moonflower says, "I think I'm ready to be Wanda again. I'm going to be the best Wanda I can be!" Uncle Earl says that he has a confession to make, that twenty years ago he secretly invested Grandpa's modest estate in a little company called Microsoft and now each and every one of you is a multi-millionaire. You all hold hands and someone starts singing "Silent Night," and your brother-in-law turns out the lights, and the candles flicker, and outdoors the snow is starting to fall across this great land of ours, and everyone is smiling with tears in their eyes, even the vile cousins --- and there is a knock on the door, and you open it, and there is a little boy on crutches, a scarf wrapped around his neck, and he has brought you a bit of Christmas pudding. You invite him in, and also the flinty-eyed geezer who is with him, the one with gruel stains on his vest, and you all hold hands in a circle, you and Dorothy and Snow White and Peter Pan and Jimmy Stewart, and you say, "This has been the nicest Christmas I can remember! Merry Christmas, everyone!"

This is how the day should end. Just follow the steps, in order, and see if it doesn't happen just that way.

Originally published in Land's End' Magazine, September 8, 1997

S'Mores Nativity Set


This four-piece S'mores nativity set includes S'more Mary wearing a blue head piece with her arms outstretched welcoming the new S'more King lying in the manger. Joseph stands back observing the scene before him traditionally dressed in a green head piece and holding his staff. The 5.5” S'mores nativity crèche makes a magnificent backdrop for this display. This set of S'mores collectibles by Midwest of Cannon Falls is a unique way to remember the reason for the season.

Available at Santa's Depot

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dina Donohue, "No Room"

Wallace Purling was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. He was bigand clumsy, slow in movement and mind, but well liked by the others in his class. He was always a helpful boy, willing and smiling, and the natural protector of the younger children.

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but Miss Lumbard assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally's size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town's yearly aextravaganza of crooks and creche, of beards, crowns, halos and a whole stageful of squeaky voices. No one onstage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling

The time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the innkeeper was there, waiting.

"What do you want?" Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

"We seek lodging."

"Seek it elsewhere." Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. "The inn is filled."

"Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary."

"There is no room in this inn for you." Wally looked stern.

"Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired."

Now, for the first time, the innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

"No! Begone!" the prompter whispered from the wings.

"No!" Wally repeated automatically, "Begone!"

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, and Mary laid her head upon her husband's shoulder, and the two of them started to move away. The innkeeper did not return inside his inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others. "Don't go, Joseph," Wally called out. "Bring Mary back." And Wallace Purling's face brightened with a big smile. "You can have my room."

Some people thought the pageant had been ruined. Yet many, many others considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.

(condensed from Guideposts Magazine)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Richard Osler, "Afterwards"

Mystery. Paraclete. God’s particular dance with the ordinary.
Usually, in the great 15th century paintings, shown as the dove.
You have to look up to see it, above the angel. Mary, sees only
the angel, holds fast the gaze of the extraordinary. It’s love,

the lover that hovers high. Waiting. Does it know the answer
she will give to the angel? Can it read already the intricacies
of the human heart? Or does it have to wait to hear from her?
Each wing beat a forever until she said “Let it be.” Afterwards

the world resumed its normal orbit – there, for a hearts beat,
it had tilted closer to the sun – the moon had wavered. All of
the old loyalties had felt the shudder, felt the blow in the feet
and up to the belly. No one divined the nature of the disturbance

but her. The one whose belly now housed the Word, a universe.
This world, now different , the Spirit, taken, made utterly human.
Word translated in a womb to the language we would dismiss or
read as truly fantastic, thrum of miracle in the blood of a woman.

Richard Osler
Advent I
December 2nd, 2007

Tom Carson, "Snow Angel"

Christmas morning, I’m walking alone
And everything’s perfect
the snow’s coming down
I can hear the breath of God in my ear
He whispers a secret
- oh I wish I could speak the language of stars
Wish I knew what He says

Just off of the porch of my childhood home
wind kisses my cheek
but I’m warm inside a jacket and sweaters and shirts
that I borrowed from my own old dresser drawers
in the closet in the room that still belongs
to a teenage son that left years ago.

snowflakes fall like memories and hopes
each of them different
but all just the same
I stick out my tongue to taste them all
They melt like Communion bread placed in my mouth
By a priest leaning over the alter rail
This must be Eucharist, this must be peace

I’m a child again, I’m free, I’m a man with a family
I’m my wife sleeping next to me on a bed that we bought,
on a bed we could finally afford
I’m my mother growing older and smaller and finer
Growing sweet and edgy and soft
I’m my father forgetting where I put my name
On a shelf, in a drawer, tucked in a book on the floor
I’m my sister laughing and pulling cheeks
Of nieces and nephews, like she did to me
I’m my brother swinging his kids in his arms
He’s the father he wishes he had
I’m my son, my child, as a baby lying
naked in blankets in Sunday morning sun
I’m all of us now, I’m Christmas morning
And everything’s perfect, the snow’s coming down

Flailing, failing, falling, fallen, fluttering, flying now,
I lie on my back like man in a coffin
Looking up into nothing, or everything falling
Then I spread my arms with my palms open wide
And I wave like a man drowning
With one last beautiful breath
Or maybe like a four year old actor on stage
“It’s me, It’s me, look at me! I’m here, It’s me!”

(Jesus, I wonder if God can see
Through all this flurry
Coming down around me)

Does He see me calling out for help?
For a future I can’t picture, or won’t, out of fear?
Does he see me waving so he’ll wave back,
Just give one divine sign that I’m holy somehow
Or does he
See the shape of the angel I’m making here
On the snowy front lawn of my family home
Like I did as a kid years ago?

for permission to perform or reproduce this piece, please contact the author at

Monday, December 10, 2007

Frederic Buechner, "The Face in The Sky"

As the Italian film LA DOLCE VITA opens, a helicopter is flying slowly through the sky not very high above the ground. Hanging down from the helicopter in a kind of halter is the life-size statue of a man dressed in robes with his arms outstretched so that he looks almost as if he is flying by himself, especially when every once in a while the camera cuts out the helicopter and all you can see is the statue itself with the rope around it. It flies over a field where some men are working in tractors and causes a great deal of excitement. They wave their hats and hop around and yell, and then one of them recognizes who it is a statue of and shouts in Italian, "Hey, it's Jesus!" whereupon some of them start running along under the plane, waving and calling to it.

But the helicopter keeps on going, and after a while it reaches the outskirts of Rome, where it passes over a building on the roof of which there is a swimming pool surrounded by a number of girls in bikinis basking in the sun. Of course they look up too and start waving, and this time the helicopter does a double take as the young men flying it get a good look at the girls and come circling back again to hover over the pool where, above the roar of the engine, they try to get the girls' telephone numbers, explaining that they are taking the statue to the Vatican and will be only too happy to return as soon as their mission is accomplished.

During all of this the reaction of the audience in the little college town where I saw the film was of course to laugh at the incongruity of the whole thing. There was the sacred statue dangling from the sky, on the one hand, and the profane young Italians and the bosomy young bathing beauties on the other hand – the one made of stone, so remote, so out of place there in the sky on the end of its rope; the others made of flesh, so bursting with life. Nobody in the audience was in any doubt as to which of the two came out ahead or at whose expense the laughter was.

But then the helicopter continues on its way, and the great dome of St. Peter's looms up from below, and for the first time the camera starts to zoom in on the statue itself with its arms stretched out, until for a moment the screen is almost filled with just the bearded face of Christ – and at that moment there was no laughter at all in that theater full of students and their dates and paper cups full of buttery popcorn and La Dolce Vita college-style. Nobody laughed during that moment because there was something about that face, for a few seconds there on the screen, that made them be silent – the face hovering there in the sky and the outspread arms. For a moment, not very long to be sure, there was no sound, as if the face were their face somehow, their secret face that they had never seen before but that they knew belonged to them, or the face that they had never seen before but that they knew, if only for a moment, they belonged to.

I think that is much of what the Christian faith is. It is for a moment, just for a little while, seeing the face and being still; that is all. Just for the moment itself, say, of Christmas, there can be only silence as something comes to life, some spirit, some hope; as something is born again into the world that is so strange and new and precious that not even a cynic can laugh although he might be tempted to weep.

The face in the sky. The child born in the night among beasts. The sweet breath and steaming dung of beasts. And nothing is ever the same again.


Nothing is ever quite the same again, because what we have seen and heard in that moment of stillness is, just possibly, possibly, the hope of the world. And what we feel in our hearts as we wave – maybe only with one hand, a little wave, not very certain but with his name on our lips – is the stirring of a new life, new courage, new gladness seeking to be born in us even as he is born, if only we too will stretch out our arms to those arms and raise our empty faces to that bewildering face.

Wayne Harrel, "The Camels Of Ancient Yore (As told by a forgetful Grandmother, c1600)"

And now, a story, if memory will me serve:
When, in ancient times, that brilliant star
o'er Bethlehem arose, three wise men marked
its strange ascent. This trio of sagacity
was named, as you well know, Franklin, Kent and Myrrh.
Nay, nay, Peter, James and John.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?
Faith, it matters not what names they held.
But being wise, and also hailing from the east,
they straightway journeyed west to find the bright
star's source. Or was it from the west they straightway
journeyed east? The scriptures speak of east,
but from the east or toward the east? Faith,
they passed 'twixt north and south, of that I'm sure.
And as they padded through the night upon
their sturdy beasts, the cows of ancient yore--
--camels...camels of ancient yore, the men discussed
among themselves what gift the king of kings
might grant. Not want, mind you, but grant.
And being men of great wisdom,
you might suspect their wishes to be wiser
far than ours. But wishes are a puzzling
thing, for when a man may have the world
he'll sometimes choose a fig. And so it was
with these, I'm sad to say. The first wise man,
suffering a cold, wished that his mortal frame
would never more be chilled. That was his wish,
complete. The second man, a wealthy lord,
desired sufficient wealth to never fear
for ruin. The third wise man, a grandfather,
prayed for a home where loved ones ne'er were lost.
Those were their wishes, complete.
But while the third man's wish
still hung upon the air, the camels stopped
and shook their shaggy chins. Then one by one
each brute inclined his head and spoke to his
own master thus.
Said the first, that is, the third:
You seek a home where loved ones ne'er were lost?
How if the king should grant thy wish by giving
thee a life alone, with loved ones ne'er
to lose? What then?
Said the second:
And you would gain sufficient wealth to never
suffer ruin? How if the king should grant
thy wish by making thee a pauper?
Ruin they fear not.
Then said the third, who was the first:
And you, you who would have a perfect frame
that never felt a chill - one man I know
feels no such pain, now that he is a corpse.
My apologies, but camels always speak
their mind, without gentility.
Did the wise men wish again?
Nay. Wisdom, they agreed, could not be found
in camels. And so straight on they travelled toward
the star, debating which request was worthiest
'til Bethlehem, a stabled inn, and last,
the Christ child they did see. But when the Prince
of Peace their eyes beheld, a change swept over
them. All wishes sped away, and in
their place, a simple prayer - to ne'er forget
the Savior's face. A prayer the tiny king did grant.

Luci Shaw, "Madonna and Child, with Saints"

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Uffizi Museum, Firenze

Jesus looking like a real baby, not
a bony homunculus, solemn and all-knowing.
The quill in the hand of his newly minted mother
stretches toward the bottle of ink a beautiful boy saint
is holding out. He has waited for centuries for her
to write in a book the next words of her own Magnificat,
for the Gospel of St. Luke, and for us to sing in church.
Two other youths try to lower a crown onto her head.
It is too large for her, and they've held it there for so long,
but she seems bored with royalty, eyes only for
her son, and his for her. In her left hand, as she
supports the child, she holds a pomegranate
under his fingers for him to pluck, its red leather skin
peeled back to expose its packed rubies.
Centuries later the paint and the fruit are fresh
and tart as ever, glowing like blood cells.

I wonder about sound in the room - small talk among
the impossibly adolescent saints. Mary talking baby talk,
perhaps, or singing as if she has swallowed a linnet -
Mary with the pale green voice, nothing coloratura,
more like grapes glowing from a low trellis.
In the moist Italian twilight, a cricket is likely to be sawing
like the sawing of cedar boards in the work room just outside
the painting's frame - Joseph laboring on a baby bed.

But there isn't a bird or an insect. There is just this lovely girl,
waking to motherhood, humming, content, in this
moment in time, to be God's mother, to hold Jesus,
when he cries to her leaking breast.

As Botticelli lifts with his skilled hand a fine brush
to add the next word to her song, we look with him
through the lens of his devotion, into this ornate room.
He paints love pouring through her skin like light,
her eyes resting on the child as though
he is all there is, as though her knowing will never
be complete. Right from the beginning
"How can this be?" circles her mind with its echo.

Madeleine L'Engle, "The Tree"

The children say the tree must reach the ceiling,
And so it does, angel on topmost branch,
Candy canes and golden globes and silver chains,
Trumpets that toot, and birds with feathered tails.
Each year we say, each year we fully mean:
"This is the loveliest tree of all." This tree
Bedecked with love and tinsel reaches heaven.
A pagan throwback may have brought it here
Into our room, and yet these decked-out boughs
Can represent those other trees, the one
Through which we fell in pride, when Eve forgot
That freedom is man's freedom to obey
And to adore, not to replace the light
With disobedient darkness and self-will.
On Twelfth Night when we strip the tree
And see its branches bare and winter cold
Outside the comfortable room, the tree
Is then the tree on which all darkness hanged,
Completing the betrayal that began
With that first stolen fruit. And then, O God,
This is the tree that Simon bore uphill,
This is the tree that held all love and life.
Forgive us, Lord, forgive us for that tree.
But now, still decked, adorned, in joy arrayed
For these gread days of Christmas thanks and song,
This is the tree that lights our faltering way,
For when man's first and proud rebellious act
Had reached its nadir on that hill of skulls
These shining, glimmering boughs remind us that
The knowledge that we stole was freely given
And we were sent the Spirit's radiant strength
That we might know all things. We grasp for truth
And lose it till it comes to us by love.
The glory of Lebanon shines on this Christmas tree,
The tree of life that opens wide the gates.
The children say the tree must reach the ceiling,
And so it does: for me the tree has grown so high
It pierces through the vast and star-filled sky.

from "A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation"
Luci Shaw, editor

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Photos: Jericho Arts Centre

Live Theatre

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.
Thornton Wilder

When you come into the theater, you have to be willing to say, "We're all here to undergo a communion, to find out what the hell is going on in this world." If you're not willing to say that, what you get is entertainment instead of art, and poor entertainment at that.
David Mamet, Three Uses of the Knife

The drama is not dead but liveth, and contains the germs of better things.
William Archer, About the Theatre

Our art is the finest, the noblest, the most suggestive, for it is the synthesis of all the arts. Sculpture, painting, literature, elocution, architecture, and music are its natural tools. But while it needs all of those artistic manifestations in order to be its whole self, it asks of its priest or priestess one indispensable virtue: faith.
Sarah Bernhardt

The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.
Oscar Wilde

What I want to give in the theatre is beauty, that’s what I want to give.
Dame Edith Evans

What matters poverty? What matters anything to him who is enamoured of our art? Does he not carry in himself every joy and every beauty?
Sarah Bernhardt

By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.
Arthur Miller

The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.
Denis Diderot

Since people no longer attend church, theater remains as the only public service, and literature as the only private devotion.
Franz Grillparzer

The fact that there is always more in a work of art - which is the highest result of the embodying imagination - than the producer himself perceived while he produced it, seems to us a strong reason for attributing to it a larger origin than the man alone - for saying at the last, that the inspiration of the Almighty shaped its ends.
George MacDonald, The Imagination: Its Functions and Culture

Lilia: I like to act in plays.
Octavia: Isn't that selfish?
Lilia: I think God likes me to act in plays.
Octavia: But why? To what end?
Lilia: I don't know.
Ron Reed, A Bright Particular Star

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Donald Hall, "Ambition"

Donald Hall, acclaimed American poet, when asked at a literature conference what place success and ambition had in his life, responded, “Success? Forget about it. If I have any ambition it is for my work, not for myself.” His conviction is that an artist’s or writer’s life work is to communicate insight, experience, wisdom and truth through the written or unwritten word, rather than to seek personal acclaim or fame.
- Luci Shaw