Monday, April 19, 2010

Tiffany Glass

SPOTLIGHT this week: The Tiffany glass exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts began as a project to showcase eighteen Tiffany windows recently acquired by the museum. The institution inherited these treasures when it purchased the church next door. The church will eventually become part of the Canadian Art Pavillion, and will house the restored Tiffany windows in its music hall. In the meantime, Canadians and travelers have the rare opportunity to view these marvelous works of leaded glass up close, much closer than one could see them high up in the church environment. The "Tiffany Glass, A Passion for Color "exhibition grew to include Tiffany works housed in France, Russia and the U.S. For me, the highlight was the extrememly rare sight of two works hung side by side: A Toulouse Lautrec watercolor hosed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, hanging next to the Tiffany window based on the watercolor, housed in Paris. That window usually does not cross the ocean, and seeing the two together becomes an art "event." The exhibition lasts until May 2 of this year. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Therapy Dog

SPOTLIGHT this week: Therapy dogs have become welcome visitors in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. Now educators have opened schools to the dogs as well, saying dogs can enhance the learning process. I interviewed Bath Wadleigh, a volunteer with Therapy Dogs of Vermont. Her pet Pepper makes a great listener for good books. The Dalmatian has a spotty past, but his life has recently improved thanks to all the affection he gets from his new owner and the students at Holland Elementary School in Holland, Vermont. I was curious how reading to a dog could actually benefit students. I asked teachers about the educational rationale for therapy dogs in school, and got opinions from 3rd and 4th grade students as well. See the story this week on "Spotlight," a segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra. The program airs Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. Repeat broadcasts: Friday at 6am & 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Glass Menagerie

"The Glass Menagerie" at the Laura Pels Theatre is a heartbreaking but humorous revival of the Tennessee Williams play. What impressed me first was the theatre staff themselves. They seemed genuinely concerned about the quality of their patrons' viewing experience. I was generally happy with my seat in the front row, off to the side, but because a stage prop sat right in front of me and would have obstructed my view of some brief moments of the play, an usher reseated me to the front row center section. Seeing the dream-like Tennessee Williams drama unfold right in front of me held me spellbound. Before arriving at the theatre, I had been slightly disappointed to learn the setting of the play had been changed from the small St. Louis apartment of the characters, to a hotel room where the character Tom sits at a typewriter, creating the play in front of the audience. Now, having seen the production, I'd call this change of venue a brilliant move that gives the play yet another rich layer of meaning, linking the writer Tom to Mr. Williams, the playwright himself, whose first name really is Thomas. Although a fictional story, Williams had based the characters on people in his own family, and this production plays like a melancholy biography of the author. I'm not a theatre critic, but I will say the performances both inspired laughter and moved me to tears. I had the feeling I was witnessing something truly special. After the show, during a question and answer session with the audience, someone stood up and said she'd seen the original production on Broadway. She said although that had been a magical experience for her, what the actors did in this staging at least equaled the impact of the Broadway show sixty-five years ago. Actress Judith Ivey as Amanda, the faded southern belle mother, is giving what some critics call "the performance of a lifetime." She said afterward she knew that character and based her eccentricities and humor on many of her close family members. She added she'd always wanted to play Amanda on stage, and now she's "old enough to do it." Patch Darragh says a research trip to Tennessee Williams' old haunts in St. Louis and New Orleans informed his portrayal. That's dedication. He even based his southern accent on Williams' own speech patterns after studying them from a documentary. I enjoyed his brotherly rapport with sister Laura, played by Keira Keeley, which made the ending all the more devastating. The play lasts nearly three hours, but I never felt restless during it, only entranced. Photos © 2010 Joan Marcus