You-review-it Monday

Feinstein competition and more

June 6, 2010
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Ten teens squared off for a chance and a New York gig. But the audience was the big winner at Saturday night's Great American Songbook competition at the DeHaan Fine Arts Center at the University of Indianapolis. More on that very cool evening of music in the upcoming IBJ.

And your weekend? Did you get to the Indiana Festival at Conner Prairie? Pull your double-wide up to "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at Theatre on the Square? See the cheetahs at the Indianapolis Zoo (My thoughts on that new exhibition--and recent work at the Phoenix Theatre and from Know No Stranger, can be found here).

What have you been up to, A&E-wise, over the last few days? Your thoughts?

  • Cinci Fringe Fest
    I spent the weekend in Cincinnati for the Cincinnati Fringe Fest. It was a good time from beginning to end and I will be traveling back on Thursday for more. As with any Fringe, some shows were hit or miss for me, but saw more good then bad. It's been great exploring another city's fest and seeing how it differs from our own. The theatre community there is very welcoming and friendly as are nearly all the locals you meet. Also did a fantastic city tour, the Queen City Underground. It explores the history of Over the Rhine and takes you into some of it's old buildings, including some very cool vaults beneath a basement where lager beer was made. The vaults were fascinating!
  • Speech and Debate
    Let's start with I love the intimacy of the Phoenix downstairs. That said, I didn't really love the play this time around. The performances were solid and the story was interesting, but I thought it dragged. I agree that the scene changes were somewhat distracting, but I actually sort of enjoyed them in a disjointed sort of way. Highpoint of the weekend was the Monon Art Fair. How have I never attended that before now? And free hot dogs to boot!
  • recreational reading
    I haven't written about new books here for a while. Here are five that I have enjoyed recently:

    Weisenheimer: A Childhood Open to Debate, by Mark Oppenheimer (Free Press 2010) - The author of this memoir was a misfit at school because he never shut up...but then he discovered the Debate Team. He became an internationally respected debater in high school, lost interest in it at Yale, and now, looking back, sees how his debating experiences still inform his life as a journalist. Some parts of this book are dry, but others are hilarious, sort of like most of the debaters I know.

    Broken Glass Park, by Alina Bronsky (Europa 2010) - Gritty debut novel first published in Germany. It is about a 17-year-old Russian immigrant living in an impoverished neighborhood in Berlin. She witnessed her stepfather kill her mother and is now trying to take care of her two younger siblings. Strong voice, strong sense of place, almost unbearably bleak story but not without hope, sort of like Adam Rapp's novels.

    Marked (Eternal Guardians #1), by Elizabeth Naughton (Love Spell 2010) - This steamy paranormal romance made me laugh out loud and fan my face, it was so much more sexually explicit than what I usually read. (I'm not complaining. I'm just saying.) I also enjoyed the plot: a young woman discovers in her late 20s that she is the daughter of a human woman and the king of the Greek demigods, who are alive and well in an alternate world, protected by the ancient Argonauts. She and the head Argonaut fall in love while defending the world against demons from hell. A fun genre read with a strong female character and a hot love interest.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (Crown 2010) - This offers an engaging balance of accessible scientific information, emotional multi-generational family storytelling, and thought-provoking questions of ethics. It is also appealing, I think, because it is the story of an underdog and yet it is not a story with a clear right and wrong. Scientists at Johns Hopkins Hospital took an impoverished African-American woman's cancer cells without her knowledge or consent in the 1950s to use in their research. For some reason, those particular cells, now known as Hela cells, were easy to replicate. Therefore, pretty soon they were being shared, sold, and used by scientists all over the world and doing all kinds of good. They were essential in the development of the polio vaccine, for example. In the meantime, the woman's family was still living in poverty and unaware that their mother/grandmother had become "immortal." The author of this book, a journalist, spent over a decade learning about all of this and pulling it into a fascinating nonfiction book.

    Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok (Riverhead Books 2010) - Lovely coming-of-age novel. Ah Kim, aka Kimberly, and her mother move from Hong Kong to Brooklyn. Kim's aunt is supposedly helping them, but their roach-invested apartment has no heat and their shared job is basically slave labor in the jealous aunt's factory. They persevere, though, hoping that Kim's gift for mathematics will somehow save them.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Installation Nation
    I spent the weekend turning my 9 foot kaleidoscope for attendees at Installation Nation. This year we had 7 installations, fire dancing, live music, food and more. Of course I'm biased as a participating artist so I'd love to hear what others thought of the event.

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