Monthly Archives: October 2012

When is a Debate NOT a Debate?

Once upon a time in the olden days, my concept of a debate was what we did in High School. One person attacks a position, the other person defends it. Initial propostion, response, rebuttal, etc. It made sense to me then and makes sense to me now, much more than what passes for the debates we’re currently seeing on the Tube. Questions come from the audience? Not in my debates. There are multiple moderators, commentators, and camerapeople? Not in my debates.  Pick a topic. Lay out your plan. Let the other person tell you its weaknesses,if any, and suggest his own plan. Then you each get a chance to rebut. The winner is the one who is the most convincing on THAT particular subject. But…these days it seems the topics are vague. No one dares to get too specific lest they are accused of being tunnel-visioned rather than looking a the whole thing…whatever that may be.  OR someone does mention a specific but may or may not have researched it throughly and ends up covering his butt with generalities.

Don’t get me wrong. I think debates have their place in the political arena. They have their place in everyday life as well. But they should be topic driven, with clear time frames for each participant, and NO audience input. The words of each person should reflect his own personal belief and philosophy as to how things should be resolved, not a carefully prepared speech to skirt the issues and give charm rather than substance tthe words spoken.

One last thing. When two sides can actually sit down and have a discussion of the problems at hand with the genuine desire to solve them we will no longer need debates. We may finally then be on the same page. For the good of the people.

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To Be or Not to Be…

I’m a theater junkie. When I can be, that is. I love plays, musicals, comedies, tragedies, one person shows, even readings when I can get to them.  There’s something about an actor’s bravery that intrigues me.  Because they have to be brave, you know. The desire, compulsion, willingness, and ability to appear before strangers to tell a story, portray a character, sing a song or deliver a monologue is indeed courageous.  In most cases they have to step out of themselves at the same time they reach inside themselves in order to bring a two dimensional entity to life so a story can be told that will affect the audience in the way the author intended. That takes skill, and I love to watch it happen.

It doesn’t matter if the production is local, college, road company, or simply a group of talented people doing a reading of a famous author. Today for example, the Station Theatre group in my city is performing readings of Mark Twain at the library. In two weeks I am going to see a new production of Hamlet. It will not be like any other Hamlet, if for no other reason than each performance is a unique experience. Ask anyone who has seen more than one performance of Cats or Les Miserables or The Mousetrap, all long-running and successful shows that compel people to see them again and again. The content is wonderful, the actors accomplished, but each time is different. Maybe it’s simply a cast change, or perhaps it’s the audience, but no stage performance is identical to the one before it. That’s the fun of theater.

I don’t have the luxury of being in a large city, but my theater choices are still varied. As I said, the Station Theatre company is active all year, doing musicals as well as drama and comedy in a small but oh so versatile venue. The University of Illinois has several series each year, student productions as well as those which attract skilled performers from throughout the Midwest. The Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company is also active. Each one is unique.  And should I want something larger…Chicago is only two hours away. 

My favorite plays these days?  Les Miserables, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The 39 Steps, Love Song, Picasso at the Lapin Agile,  A Steady Rain,  The Cripple of Inishman, the Mousetrap, Ragtime, and Aida.  I would see them all again and be amazed.

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Do One Thing…

Eleanor Roosevelt said it  “Do one thing everyday that scares you”. So, here I am dipping my trembling toes into the world of blogs, posts, replies and all the other new things writing now encompasses. write. I do other things too: read books (a lot), work in a bookstore (part-time), try to understand the complexities of my new smartphone (soon to be obsolete, but it DOES have facetime) and generally live a semi-orderly life with my other half and our 8 year old tabby, Rascal.

HOWEVER. I’ve been told that “just” writing may not be enough. Internet presence is desirable. And I’m old enough to know that current trends affect all areas of life. E-Readers affect retail book stores, iPads infringe on the territory covered by laptops and notebooks, and writers need to write in more than one medium and not just about their books, their characters or even their methods. Many readers like to know the person behind their favorite sleuth or heroine or secret agent. My aim is to help readers do just that. Unpublished at present, I hope to fill this space at least once a week with a snippet of my life, a short fiction about one of my characters, even observations on what has helped me hang in here. One thing I know. I need to write. This is just another venue. Stop by and check out my thoughts and verbal pictures…and feel free to comment as well. My characters and I will be waiting (perhaps with a cup of coffee or glass of wine or cookies.)

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