Browsing articles tagged with " good books"

Catching Up

Aug 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

And I’m back. Wow. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’m definitely feeling it. This weekend is the first that we’re in Calgary with almost nothing going on since… oh, Father’s Day, give or take. I’m looking forward to it. Of course, when I say that we’ve got “nothing going on,” I mean that our schedule includes two Fringe shows tonight (both of us), a workshop tomorrow morning (me), an appointment at the bank tomorrow afternoon (both), coffee with a friend sometime this weekend (both), mixing the Passion Play recordings (Colin), and a date night tomorrow night (we still haven’t used a gift card that Colin’s parents gave us for Christmas in 2007, and it’s going to expire soon if we don’t use it!).

I have at least three entries rolling around in my brain, bumping up against each other and refining themselves as I continue trying to get them down on paper. Screen. Whatever. For now, though, I’m going to do a “Weekly” update. In other words, I’m going to try my hardest to remember what I’ve watched, listened to, read, experienced, and been working on in the past few weeks. It may not be the most complete list I’ve ever put together, but I’ll see how I do.

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Weekly Roundup, of a sort

Jul 24, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life, Weekly Round-up  //  2 Comments
Mixing up the pink hair dye for our Weekend to End Breast Cancer hair-dying party.

Mixing up the pink hair dye for our Weekend to End Breast Cancer hair-dying party.

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Harry Potter and the Generative Artist’s Intent

Jul 16, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Theatre  //  2 Comments

I’m a reader. Always have been, always will be. I started reading when I was about 3, and I’ve never looked back, and while reading was my first love (okay, second; I’m pretty sure that music was first), I have a distinct love for other, non-literary art forms. Of course I do. My life wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t have that love. Theatre, music, film, dance, and visual arts are all art forms that I have a great deal of respect and passion for (and in the case of music and theatre, extensive training and a career built around), and they’re not necessarily based on the written word.

Read enough books, and you’ll soon come across movie adaptations of some of them. Take something successful and make it even more successful by making it accessible to a different audience! What could go wrong with that? I think it’s most prevalent in the film/TV adaptations of books and plays; then in plays that are adaptations of books or movies; and then novelizations of existing movies, TV shows, and plays.

(I think that music, dance, and visual arts tend more toward derivative works than toward adaptations; because their storytelling is less narrative and less linear, the relationship between those three and the other three, going both ways, is less of a direct re-telling of a story. That’s another conversation altogether; right now, I’m mostly concerned with the distinctly narrative art forms.)

Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to argue the superiority of books to their film adaptations. While this may be couched in a conversation that is primarily about books and movies, the scope is far broader than that. I’m talking about understanding the generative artist’s intent. Regardless of form or genre, that’s the most important thing to be aware of. A TV show can be superior to a book; a movie can be superior to a play. It’s not about which forms are more “valid,” because none is more or less valid than the others. They each require a different set of skills, they each have the potential to showcase truly great art and storytelling, and every single one of them is constantly adapted from and by other art forms. Books are not inherently better than television; theatre is not inherently better than film, and great culture and art can be found in all of them.

I think, though, that there are several important questions to consider:

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Weekly Round-up: June 21

Jun 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews, Television, Theatre, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

This was supposed to post last week, but with one thing and another (first some internet downtime and then some “me” downtime), I’m just getting to it today. The plan is for this to be a weekly post, but like everything else, it seems that it’s taking a little longer to get started than I’d like it to.

Once I get into the habit and routine, this will be a weekly roundup of what I’m reading, listening to, watching, attending, and doing. This one, however, is not quite a weekly roundup; more like a “last 3 or 4 weeks” listing.
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Culture at critical mass

Jun 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  2 Comments

I love the city. By which I mean both “The City,” as in any of the cities that I have lived in and many that I have visited; and “the city,” as opposed to “the small town” or “the country.” (But not “The City” as a spinoff of “The Hills.” Can’t say that I’ve ever watched either show.) I just don’t thrive in a small town, and Calgary (at a million people) is just about the smallest place that Colin and I can see ourselves living.

I grew up on a farm, went to school in a small town, and had most of my social life in the city, and the city was where I have always connected and resonated best. Of course, I have a connection to both the farm and the small town, and there are things about both that were very influential during my formative years, but when it comes down to it, cities have always been my personal preference. (In fact, I can remember a family vacation when I was about 14 where I begged my dad not to take the back highways that avoided the cities, because I needed to see a few skyscrapers along the way.)

There’s just something about the convergence of nature, culture, the arts, creativity, technology, innovation, business, busy-ness, vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity that’s exciting and energizing. If God’s greatest creation is mankind, and if our greatest fulfillment and achievements happen when we work in the image of the Creator, then it makes sense that we see God’s creativity and beauty so clearly in the places where it’s shown through the creativity of people. I see God’s fingerprints as much in architecture as I do in mountains. A gorgeous building, an active crowd, street art, a bustling city — these are all things that reinforce my awareness of God’s creativity and greatness, just as much as seeing the majesty of the natural world.
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When “good enough” isn’t good enough

May 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Faith, Reviews  //  4 Comments

One of my primary goals when I was working with the drama ministry at the church was to see it become as professional and high-quality as possible, because what’s the point of putting on shoddy work? Too often, I think that the attitude within the church is, “Whatever we give God, he’ll do something good with, so I don’t have to give my best.” And yes, while it’s true that God makes beauty out of our brokenness, it doesn’t give us the excuse to be lazy or to give less than our best–not only the best of what we currently are, but the best of what we can be, through training, practice, and honing our skills.

(And if I ever end up back in a position of leading the drama ministry at Foothills, one of my goals is to make it a place of training, mentoring, and growth for the team members themselves, as well as a place to use theatre as a ministry to the church and community.)

Mom and Dad gave Colin and I the movie Fireproof for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet, but despite not having seen it, I’ve been pretty vocal with my disappointment in it (and maybe I’ll post a review of the movie itself once I’ve seen it, but this isn’t a review of the movie; it’s a discussion of the reactions I’ve heard). I’ve read reviews from sources that I trust, and everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a pretty formulaic “Christian” movie: overly expository writing, not-so-great acting, less-than-subtle conveyance of its message, and mediocre production value.

Even the opinions of people who liked it have been mixed. They thought it was a good story, but the acting wasn’t the best they’ve ever seen; or they thought the message was good, but it could have been told better.

My argument against it from the beginning has been this: Why put something out there on a stage where it can’t possibly compete with the best that’s it’s up against? Why create something–with a God-honoring message, and with the best intentions in the world–to a standard of mediocrity, where even the people who like it only like it with reservations?

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Grad school projects based on “Harold and the Purple Crayon”?

Dec 7, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, School  //  No Comments

A few days ago, my Facebook status read thus: “Alida’s creative idea is inspired by ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon.’ Yes, that’s right. That’s what grad school has done to my brain.”

A friend replied, “If you were in my grad program that would be perfectly acceptable. In fact a girl in my publishing class is doing her project on Harold. I am doing mine on The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

I told her that maybe, once I’d finished the project, I’d post a synopsis of it, just for fun, since I’m fairly sure that a library school project based on “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is vastly different than mine, and it’s cool to see how we can take the same source material and have to do something completely different with it.

My assignment, for my Advanced Case Studies in Producing class, was to create a proposal for a project. This wasn’t a complete strategy (which would include a budget, marketing and PR plan, preliminary contracts, timeline, personnel needed, etc), but rather, a preliminary proposal for a commissioning project that was inspired by the research we’ve done into the worldwide producing environment. Preferably something exciting, challenging, complicated, compelling, and big. Basically, it was a chance to dream big without the limitations of trying to figure out the reality of it.

So here’s what I came up with:

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Casey and Finnigan

Oct 16, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Reviews, Theatre  //  No Comments

I’m taking a really fantastic class this semester called “Leadership and Management.” There are seven of us in the class–two each of producers, production managers, and stage managers (and one lighting designer, who’s married to one of the production managers), and each of us is working on projects with several people in the class. I’m working with three of them directly, and the lighting designer is working on my show as well, so there’s an element of working with her, too, although it’s not quite as directly as with the others in the class.

It’s basically a discussion class. Well, actually, not “basically;” it is a discussion class. We read several chapters of a book on leadership (Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” for Managers, Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, and Developing the Leader Within You are the textbooks for the semester) and then spend three hours talking it, both in broad, philosophical terms, as well as how it relates to our day-to-day work in theatre, whether that’s at the school or professionally.

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