100 Years of Agatha Christie

In October of this year, we get to celebrate Agatha Christie being brought into our lives. Her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in the U.S. in October of 1920. The United States was first to be introduced to Hercule Poirot. He would go on to be the main character in 33 of her novels, 2 plays, and 50 short stories, and be the only literary character to ever have a written obituary in the New York Times. His death was written into Agatha Christie’s novel Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case. Poirot had his own television series that aired for 24 years on ITV, not to mention many renditions of his books made into movies, most recently Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express.

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Contemporary Plays Available as E-Books

Months into this pandemic, Seattle’s theatres are still dark and the Central Library’s amazing play file is still behind closed doors. Nonetheless, there are still ways for you to access play scripts virtually and stay engaged with some stimulating contemporary theatre as we all await the theatres’ re-openings. Here are three plays that are available to you even during the library’s closure as E-books on OverDrive.

Sweat by Lynn Nottage. Nottage is one of the strongest and most influential playwrights of our time, and her 2015 play Sweat, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is shining evidence of this. The play takes place in a bar in Reading, Pennsylvania and focuses on the struggles of the working class of that area. It explores problems of income inequality, gentrification, and racism among the people in that community, and it also jumps between different moments in time show the evolution of these problems over almost a decade. It is certainly a biting portrait of what economic oppression looks like in the 21st century, and its entanglement with many other social injustices. Sweat was to have opened the 2020 Season at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Continue reading “Contemporary Plays Available as E-Books”

Shakespeare Shows and Shorts on Kanopy

If you’re like me, you’ve been spending the past few months missing going out to see plays and performance in Seattle’s theatre scene. As the days get warmer and brighter and summer seems just around the corner, we still don’t know whether we will be able to enjoy Shakespeare in the Park season as we have in past years. Of course nothing can make up for the experience of seeing the Bard performed live, but there ARE some excellent shorts, feature films, and recorded theatre productions based on Shakespeare’s work available on Kanopy. Here are just a few to get you started:

Macbeth, directed by Robert Goold

Starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood as Macbeth and Lady M, this film from 2003 sets the action onto a contemporary, vaguely “central European” backdrop with stylistic nods to Soviet propaganda artwork. It is also shot on location in an underground English abbey, giving us a very intense, intimate experience as viewers. The movie is based on a hugely successful play Continue reading “Shakespeare Shows and Shorts on Kanopy”

Throwback Thursday: March 31, 2008

Seattle Reads, the arts, and gentrification was the topic in our Throwback Thursday post on March 31, 2008.

Image result for the beautiful things that heaven bears

If you have picked up this year’s Seattle Reads novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu you’ve had a chance to get one novelist’s take on some of the issues and pressures that can fracture a community changing in the face of gentrification and immigration.

Facing similar issues, particularly those of gentrification pressures, local Capitol Hill artists, arts activists, neighbors and interested citizens are gathering at Seattle City Hall in April to discuss community concerns about rapidly diminishing affordable space for arts uses in the City’s core neighborhoods. Get details at:

Make Room for Art: Cultural Overlay Districts for Seattle
April 2, 5pm-6:30pm, Seattle City Hall

City Councilmembers will hear from Seattle residents, arts and entertainment venues and organizations, property owners, developers, and officials on how the Council might go about establishing an overlay district to offer incentives and controls in a specific area to encourage or preserve particular kinds of activities, spaces, and/or design. How can the city grow in a healthy balanced way that benefits all? This could be an exciting opportunity to add your voice as “A City Makes Herself.” Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: March 31, 2008”

Anna Deavere Smith’s Living Theater

Life and literature reflect each other in interesting ways. As the trial begins for Amber Guyger (the Dallas police officer charged with killing Botham Jean in his own apartment last September), I have been led to read books about the aftermath of previous trials and grand jury decisions involving police officers, and how they affected the populace of their cities.

Image result for notes from the fieldLately I read the 2018 play Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith.  I had known about Anna Deavere Smith as an actress, specifically as the hospital administrator on Nurse Jackie.  This play deals with the school to prison pipeline and its disproportionate effects on black and Indigenous people of color.  Ms. Smith wrote the play after interviewing over 250 people in different parts of the United States. Her transcripts include experiences from people around the Freddie Grey death, an Indigenous man who started getting in trouble in school and ended up in prison, and Bree Newsome who pulled down the confederate flag in South Carolina, together with many other moving stories. Continue reading “Anna Deavere Smith’s Living Theater”