Thursday, 17 January 2008

Keeping afloat through Art and Science

Went for my first coffee of the new year (not my "first coffee" of the new year) with my gal-pal-with-whom-I-go-for-coffees. While our session was mostly amusing (she's had some family Christmas disasters which are nearly beyond belief -- not recently, thank goodness), it went on for a bit too long and got a tad depressing. We're both suffering from January, I guess, and the inevitable post-holiday letdown combined with trying to readjust to disestablished routines. I'm coping in my usual fashion: clinging to art and family history research like life buoys.

Last Saturday, for example, I took younger daughter to the first of this year's Concerts for Young People at the National Arts Centre. Actually, I think they've retitled them "Family Adventures" or "Family Fun" in a bid to seem more, I dunno, accessible. Anyway, this featured a couple of performance artists portraying a magician trying to help a large bird (a little like Big Bird, but the puppet was strapped to the artist's black-body-stockinged body) find his/her song, by travelling back in time to sample various kinds of classical music. In the end, the bird transforms his/herself into a loon, and creates her/his own song. It was presented in both Official Languages, but had that francophone sensibility that teeters between charming and precious (this performance hit both notes). There was a moment of unqualified enchantment: when the magician takes the bird to the Middle Ages, a Gregorian Chant starts up. It was haunting and it took a moment for me to realize that the male members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra were doing the singing. I only worked this out by focusing my attention on the huge TV screen at the back of the stage. After the concert, younger daughter did a marvelous impression of a loon's call at the bus stop. (My mum has one of those stuffed toy loons at her house which makes the sound when you press it in the right spot.)

Elder daughter is scrambling to complete what her school calls "summatives", the final big projects of the semester. However, word came from My Friend of the Right Hand in Victoria that we have succeeded in addicting her entire family to Doctor Who. She sent us the link to one of those video-sharing sites that keep getting shut down by overzealous copyright-protectors (such as the BBC). Here, to my joy, we discovered uncut copies of all the Doctor Who Confidentials including the one for the last Christmas special. We needed a fifteen-year-old to navigate the technology, so elder daughter spent precious homework time downloading said Confidentials and transferring them to a DVD (which, alas, will only play on our computer). My shamelessness doesn't end there. It turns out that the 2003 BBC TV drama State of Play (not The State Within which has aired in Canada) is at the site, so I watched all six hours of it over three days. (John Simm, David Morrisey, Bill Nighy, James MacAvoy, Marc Warren, Philip Glenister, just a parade of wonderful actors...sigh...) the Resident Fan Boy had to ask me not to watch it on earphones because I kept getting too involved and swearing at the screen. I don't remember a show having quite the same effect on me since Poldark where I swore in front of my future in-laws, the Archdeacon and his Good Wife. (Blush.)

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