Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Habermann's Mill

Last week, I went to the movies during the day (something I rarely do) to see a Czech/German/Austrian production, Habermann's Mill, about the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the Sudetanland after World War II. I think the subject is fascinating, and it's rarely written about. Unfortunately, the NY Times review was correct. The screenplay is all over the place in terms of story (not only in so far as who's story is it, but why is this story important). I had really hoped that it would be better. It's based on a novel of the same name by Czech writer Josef Urban (not to be confused with Josef Urban the set designer, whose archive is up at Columbia). This Josef Urban says that his novel is based on a true story. I have not been to find the novel in English.

The Second Son

Last year, my brother gave me Rosa and Shadow and Light for my birthday, two wonderful novels by Jonathan Rabb, set in Berlin between the wars. In one of multiple trips to the Strand last month (I'm spending too much time and money there, and I don't mean on the candy counter) I ran across the third book of the trilogy, The Second Son. The books are all about Nicolai Hoffner, an inspector on Berlin's police force. The Olympics are in town, but things cannot be good for a half-Jewish government employee. And they're not- they descend to hellish remarkably quickly, though not in a way you would expect. Hoffner loses his job, which is his life, only to go to Spain in the midst of the Civil War to try to find one of his sons who has disappeared there. I inhaled the book, and have since sent it to my brother so he can finish the trilogy.
It was sad saying good-bye to Nicolai. He's so lifelike on these pages, to close the last book made me feel as if I'd lost an uncle. I am hoping that perhaps the trilogy could grow to a quarter- it worked for Lawrence Durrell.
Link above to Rabb's page on Macmillan's site.

Playwriting Class Update

For the past month, I have been busy getting ready for my Fall class at Chelsea Repertory Lab, which begins Sunday, September 11th. I have finished my lesson plans and figured out which one-acts we'll be reading (Cheryl L. Davis, Alexander Pushkin and John Millington Synge, among other writers). We've already enrolled some new students, and I'm interviewing another on Thursday afternoon. There's a description of the class on this blog, and in the ad section on Playbill.com. If you are interested in learning more or signing up, email chelseareplab-at-yahoo.com.
The students from the Spring's Advanced class are showing their work this week in our Emerging Artists One-Act Play Festival at Shetler Studios, which runs Wednesday through Sunday. There are two bills of short plays being produced, and two bills of longer plays being read. Contact chelseareplab-at-yahoo.com for reservations.

The Coolest Video Ever

Gothamist had this video posted last week, which it picked up from Laughing Squid. I think I've overdosed on cute animal videos, but this is really something. Someone had their wedding at the Mystic Aquarium, and they hired Connecticut Mariachi to play it. After the wedding, they serenaded Juno the Beluga whale in her tank, and she (seriously) danced for them. Gothamist describes it as 1:45 of pure happiness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZS_6-IwMPjM
Link to Gothamist in title.