Once more into the Good Fight

I’m just back from Chicago, where I went to attend the first table read of the Babes with Blades production of The Good Fight. It’s a tremendously sharp team, and I can’t wait to see what they create.

I’ve done some rewrites on the script since Theatre Unbound produced it in 2012, largely based on feedback from its presentation at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in 2014, guided by dramaturg Heather Helinsky. Most notably, the show no longer opens with Mrs. Pankhurst’s speech from the dock.
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Cleo’s roses (and other flowers)

Lately I’ve been helping my mom go through some of her mother’s things. I’ve learned that Gramma liked to take pictures of flower arrangements.

Sometimes the flowers have some context. This one is labeled “Cleo’s Birthday 1981 from Joy” (Gramma’s name was Cleo), and I recognize Gramma’s dining room furniture.

Others are in places I can’t identify.

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Remembering Agnes and Sean

In the last few weeks, two people died who were very important to me.

Agnes Wilcox was the founder of Prison Performing Arts, a multi-discipline, literacy and performing arts program that serves incarcerated adults and children in Missouri. Before she started PPA, she ran TNT: The New Theatre in St. Louis. TNT’s project to create a play about the inner-city Soulard neighborhood was my first playwriting gig. (I started out as a poet.) Agnes directed, dramaturged, shepherded that show, and the process made me fall in love with the collaborative trip of theatre.

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The Bridges of Hennepin County

Much of the work I do for ADV Document Systems is for private companies and therefore not something I can share, but here’s an exception: Electronic Document Information GUI Search (eDIGS), a website that gives access to maps, permits and other public records at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It is the successor to a site that was in place for many, many years, but which was not easily viewable on tablets or phones, and also a bit hard to support because it required users to have Java installed.

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Scruffy history

Babes With Blades just announced the cast for their 2018 production of The Good Fight. I thought I’d mark the occasion by re-posting an entry I wrote for Theatre Unbound’s production in 2012, about the struggle for women’s rights in the USA.

In the spring of 2000, I was on a solo road trip to upstate New York and noticed an exit for Seneca Falls. Seneca Falls was, of course, the location of the First Women’s Rights Convention in July of 1848. The Convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, and Mary Ann M’Clintock, and it culminated in the signing of a “Declaration of Sentiments,” modeled on the Declaration of Independence.

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Shortcode for phpinfo

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything on the IT side. Today I’ve been doing some troubleshooting, trying to figure out why I can get the latest version of WordPress installed on a development site but not on the live site. One useful bit of information is, what version of PHP is the site running? There are slightly involved ways to find out, but here was a bit of code I simply had to add to the functions.php file for my theme, then put the [phpinfo] shortcode on a page, display the page, and voilá, all the info I could ever need.

Mother Antonia in her element

A couple of photos of this year’s performance of “The Fundamentals, with Mother Antonia” at the St. Catherine University Reunion. I think you can see that the actor, Megan Campbell Lagas, is enjoying herself. The enjoyment was catching! When she described the Katies’ 1920 basketball victory against the Gophers, the audience cheered.

Last year’s performance inspired someone to share the story of that game. I wonder what stories will surface this year….

Reunion

Reunion

No, YOU’RE upside down

Prepping for a meeting on the “History of Calculus” project, I was happy to learn that this old series of instructional physics films is available online. The “Frames of Reference” episode (below) is a classic, managing to engage its audience without pandering. If we can do something similar with “History of Calculus” I will be extremely pleased.

Frames of Reference : Richard Leacock : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

This PSSC film utilizes a fascinating set consisting of a rotating table and furniture occupying surprisingly unpredictable spots within the viewing area. The…

Grudge Match

I asked Stacey (over at the Alumnae Relations department at St. Kate’s) if they wanted any rewrites on the Mother Antonia piece before starting to rehearse it for this year’s reunion. Stacey mentioned that after last year’s performance, someone had shared the story of how Mother Antonia gave permission for the basketball team to wear bloomers, and the Alumnae Relations folks were wondering if this could be worked into the play.

By way of background, Stacey sent me a paragraph on Modesta Reichert Gamble of the class of 1920, a basketball star known for “assuring Sister Antonia McHugh that the St. Catherine’s team could beat the University [of Minnesota] if she permitted them to change the cumbersome bloomers in which they customarily played.” So it appeared that M. Antonia actually gave permission for them not to wear bloomers!

Digging for more details, I was dismayed to find in Joel Rippel’s 75 Memorable Moments in Minnesota Sports that the University of Minnesota didn’t have a women’s basketball team in 1920. The U had abolished women’s intercollegiate sports in 1908, not to revive them till 1973. So did that write-up on Modesta Reichert get it wrong?

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Lunch Theatre

I know this is short notice, but if you’re in the Twin Cities there’s an opportunity to see a one-act play of mine this Saturday at noon.

I wrote the script ten years ago because a women’s group had asked Theatre Unbound to provide entertainment at a lunch they were giving. They wanted something 20 minutes long, uplifting, and funny. TU wanted something with minimal production requirements. So it’s a two-person show, the set is a stepladder (I decided to take “uplifting” literally), and the props are a bucket of cleaning supplies of the sort that an artistic or executive director of a small theatre company might happen to have around the house. Mildly fun fact, I first drafted the script while stranded in the Cincinnati airport on a trip for my day job.

In 2007, “Back Up” was performed by then-TU company members Stacey Poirier and Delta Rae Giordano, two actors whose work I love. Saturday, it will be performed by current TU company members Charla Marie Bailey and Julie K. Phillips, two actors whose work I also love. Lucky playwright!