— Feathers and Wax

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Three years ago I started Feathers and Wax! So it’s time for some introspection on how things around here have changed since then, what my most popular posts have been, and what I plan to do with this blog in the future.

Come along with me for a nostalgia trip!

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Thanks to all my readers for a lovely 2015! xoxo

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Even though I prefer living in Houston these days, I certainly still jump at the chance to go visit Austin. Any excuse is good enough for me — it’s such a fun town to spend a weekend in. A couple weeks ago my friend Crystal turned 30 and invited me to the festivities. It was set to be a beautiful weekend, perfect for a road trip!

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I recently took my first-ever overseas trip to somewhere very green (more on that soon). But before I flew over the Atlantic I squeezed in a few days in NYC because…who wouldn’t?

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Festivals are about music and art, sure…but let’s not kid ourselves. People watching is a huge part of it too. It always reminds me of Gwen Stefani’s song “Staring Problem” – I definitely have one at every fest!

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I totally get why some people would think opera is stuffy or boring. It might be a little hard to get excited about a script that was written more than a century ago, in a language you don’t understand, performed by people you can barely see from the nosebleed seats, right?

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I’ll be honest: As obsessive over the fine arts scene as I am, I didn’t get into opera myself until last year. I guess I needed a little Parisian flair to get me interested; “La Boheme” changed all of opera’s negative connotations for me. But still, I prefer it when Houston Grand Opera puts on a production that has a lot of modern appeal. Enter: “Das Rheingold.”

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As soon as I saw promotional materials for this show I knew I had to go. This opera was so visually striking it actually distracted me from keeping up with the English translation box at the top of the set – I was too busy taking in all of the eye candy onstage!

The first scene opened with the Rhine Maidens, essentially mermaids enclosed in their own clear plastic pools of water as a stand-in for the Rhine river. I immediately pulled out my binoculars so I could take them in one at a time. Their costumes looked like strips of dark seaweed and they positively glittered as they splashed each other with water and defied the advances of Alberich, the dwarf.

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This production was originally created by Spanish theatre company La Fura dels Baus, who gave the 1869 opera new life in the 70s by infusing it with modern, sci-fi aesthetics. The result is kind of what you’d expect if Cirque du Soleil had tackled it. I was surprised and impressed by the choice to eschew traditional scenery in favor of bizarre, large apparatuses that moved actors around the stage. A few characters were almost exclusively wheeled about on these platforms that were connected to huge booms operated by the stage crew. One of the characters rode around on a segway scooter, guys. It was kind of awesome and hilarious, but most of all, entirely unique.

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“Das Rheingold” is the first of four epic operas that make up “The Ring Cycle.” Original audiences attended the opera house each evening for four nights in a row to see the whole story, can you imagine? Even the first section was a lot to take in, for me. Houston Grand Opera will be staging each opera in four concurrent seasons. I’ll be sure to get a seat at each.

Another thing I love about the opera is…I’m not the most overdressed person there! I feel like I’ve found the last remaining activity that prompts people to dress to the nines. Here’s my tip if you want to witness Houston stepping out in its finest: go to opening night of the first opera of the season. You’ll see plenty of full-length gowns and tuxes – but don’t feel pressured to dress that fancy yourself, a basic cocktail dress will do perfectly.

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This run of “Das Rheingold” is already over, sadly, but Houston Grand Opera has a lot of great shows coming up next season. I’ve got my eye on “Madame Butterfly,” myself.

Thanks for reading Feathers and Wax! x

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The last time you saw a play, did you notice who wrote it? Most theater-goers don’t pay attention to that detail but as a writer I’m always interested in knowing a little bit about the person who wrote what I’m about to watch. Playwriting is still a heavily male-dominated field but I will say that I’ve noticed more and more female playwrights being produced these days. It’s definitely inspiring for me; I’ve even considered writing a play myself.

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I was pretty floored to see “Gidion’s Knot” at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston because it was written by a woman, Johnna Adams, and also has an all-female cast of two strong characters.  The show deals with the suicide of a fifth-grader named Gidion, so it has a very dark, intense  tone overall and the comic relief is sparse. I prefer plays that punch you right in the gut and leave you thinking, and this show certainly fits the bill. Even better, the prose within the play was quite striking and beautiful.

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One of my favorite lines was from a story Gidion wrote that I’ll paraphrase here: “And God will remember you the way we write you. And no other way.” This really struck a chord with me, as a writer. I’ve always felt an urge to document my thoughts and relationships so they don’t disappear with me.

I was also impressed by Shelley Calene-Black’s portrayal of the boy’s mother. At times arrogant and aggressive, at other times exasperated and vulnerable, her range of emotion kept me enthralled and indecisive about whether I liked her or not — the hallmark of a complex character.

Shaelyn and I came out of the show feeling rather emotionally drained, but our spirits lifted when we saw a table full of champagne flutes and adorable pastries. That’s what I call an opening night done right.

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Then we went to Max’s Wine Dive where we were perhaps a little picky (read: a LOT picky) about what bottle of red we wanted to get. 

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Shaelyn used to work at a wine bar herself and has a vast knowledge of wine. I was so impressed and surprised that I have never tried to learn more about a beverage I partake in so frequently. I’ve resolved to go on plenty more wine bar dates with her so I can glean some more knowledge about things like producing regions and tannins.

I think I was channeling my inner Dee Dee Ramone that night. Long bangs and leather jackets forever!

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Thanks for reading Feathers and Wax! xoxo

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