Two outings today. The first to see "War Horse" at Lincoln Center, and then a book reading with Louise Erdrich.
I found the story in War Horse rather boring, and the music uninspired. The story centers around an Irish boy and his horse at the time of World War I. The horse is drafted into the service. The boy enlists. The horse and boy are separated during the war. They are eventually re-united.
I enjoyed the staging, and the horse puppet. It was, of course, impossible to have a live horse in the play since the horse appears in many of the scenes. The makers developed an amazing wooden full-size wooden puppet, which was operated by 2 people underneath the puppet. The movements were so realistic that it seemed to be alive. The staging included scenes in Ireland and Europe during World War I. The settings were conveyed with projections above the action on stage, and very few props- yet there was no confusion about where the action was occurring. Well done so that your mind filled in the things that were not on stage.
My second outing was a reading by Minnesota's own Louise Erdrich. Her new book The Round House, has been nominated for the National Book Award. I bought the book- and read it in about 1 1/2 days. The plot involves a 13 year old Ojibwa boy living on a reservation in ND. His mother is raped. Although the perpetrator is found, it is impossible to prosecute him because the mother was blindfolded- and the location of the crime is on land where federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions meet. The issue then becomes doing justice and values. She interweaves a crime story, Ojibwa legends, and relationships between generations.
I highly recommend this book. Ms. Erdrich was a wonderful speaker. It was apparent that New Yorkers were not familiar with the Native American land issues which we know well in Minnesota.
Ms. Erdrich was wearing an Obama button on her lapel. She owns in independent bookstore- Birchbark Books- in Mpls, which I look forward to visiting.
I also found War Horse to be quite boring. I agree that the horse puppet was amazingly lifelike. That might be a reason to see the play, but you could also just go watch a horse.
I went to a taiko class in the evening. It was at the place that I regularly go to class, but there was a special instructor tonight. His name is Ryo Shimamoto. He is a taiko player from Japan who specializes in playing the Odaiko. This is the largest drum and is usually played with great flair. He has won several major competitions in Japan. He was doing a tour of the United States teaching and performing. He was a very good teacher and I enjoyed the class. He was being accompanied around the United States by Mark Rooney. Mark is a friend of mine who has a taiko studio in Washington, D.C. I did not expect to see him there. It was good to see him.
This is Ryo giving a demonstration. At the end of the class he performed for us. It was amazing.
Here is a video of him playing.