April 26, 2017

Happenings Ten Years' Time Ago

Sunrise - 61st & Pulaski 01

Ten years ago, I packed up, rented a truck, and moved 300 miles from St. Louis to Chicago. It wasn't an easy decision - leaving everyone I cared about behind and moving to help care for Mom - but it was one of the few decisions I never regretted because it had to be done.

In the past month, I've packed up, rented a truck, and am moving my things into storage. I'm also going to move (temporarily) into my mom's apartment while she's ill.

It's a long story, but the highlights are that Mom's been fighting an infection, and has been in and out of the hospital. She's currently in rehab getting physical therapy (and in the middle of everything, we had to transfer her - at her request - because the first rehab place messed up her treatment. Plus, they haggled over a walker).

Why am I posting this now? Because first, I've been away from the keyboard, and am only now settling into a regular writing routine. With some great projects coming up....I need to get back into the writing life.

Plus, I'm looking for more freelance work (you can check out my services here and my LinkedIn profile here), so getting back into regular blogging will not only help me retain those habits...but also keep my search engine results nice and healthy.

And so the next two days, I promise you some Doctor Who series 10 reviews. Just because.

March 19, 2017

Otherworld Theatre's A PRINCESS OF MARS - Review

(Special thanks to Otherworld Theater for providing a complimentary ticket for review purposes).

Right now, many people feel the need to escape, to lose themselves in another world. With an impending move and maternal health issues, I was desperately needing to mainline some straightforward pulp thrills.....

....and Otherworld Theatre's production of A Princess of Mars fits the bill precisely. With creative staging, atmospheric lighting, and a smart script, this is one theatrical production you don't want to miss.

Adapted by Nick Izzo and Tiffany Kean Schaefer from the pulp-era Edgar Rice Burroughs novel,  Otherworld Theatre's A Princess Of Mars deftly manages to balance many plot threads, integrating some of the best aspects of the novel while integrating some more contemporary concerns. This is a play that has it all: action, romance, and a smart message that lifts the material. Think of it as the exact opposite of John Carter, choosing to emphasize character and circumstance over special effects.

(And let's be clear - I liked John Carter).

With minimal staging and a high level of atmospherics and costuming, A Princess of Mars manages to drive home several themes: the need for a personal mission, the drawback of being a "chosen one", and the need to act towards the greater good.

It's also incredibly fun, with very well-staged fight scenes. (And a bit of a trigger warning: even though I knew that most of the action was being blocked, it still felt real at times. This isn't a complaint - it's a compliment. Because this is being done by an all-volunteer troupe, and that's definitely worth kudos).

Plus, the cast really makes this a great experience. Elliott Sowards' John Carter isn't the traditional action-hero of many of my contemporaries, but a man truly out of step and thrust into a very unusual world. (And I'm late to the John Carter bandwagon, only having read A Princess of Mars five years ago). Mary-Kate Arnold crafts a very real Dejah Thoris driven by scientific curiosity and a deep passion for her home world.  With a large cast (including Bennett Decker Bottero, Elizabeth MacDougald, Tim Larson, Michael Bullaro, Nathan R. Miller, Julia Rigby and Shaun Hayden) that has some members playing multiple roles, Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars really hits home in many ways, and is a great example of small, local theater done right.

With a greater emphasis on pulp-era literature and characters being developed for the big screen, it's really pleasurable to see smaller, more intimate takes on the material. One of the joys of Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars is how it takes an early 20th century work and gives it a contemporary immediacy.

Simply put, go see Otherworld Theatre's A Princess of Mars. It's being run for a limited time, and you'll fall in love with this production.