Lois Lowry's Blog
I'm home now and have been sent some photos from the muscial "Gathering Blue"... Here (from the bottom up, from some reason) are a scene where the village women are threatening Kira; one where she is comforting Jo, the small singing girl; and a scene in The Fen, when a fen-dweller says "what'll you gimmee?" Several more---including the Singer and the robe---coming in a separate post.
Here is the final moment of the show "Gathering Blue", sneakily taken by my cell phone.
It's an incredible show. My thanks go to playwright Richard Hellesen, and to composer/lyricists Michael Silversher and Joy Sikorski., as well as director Peter Ellenstein...oh, and the list goes on, and should include, of course, all the performers.
This event in Kansas, done through the William Inge Center for the Arts, is just the beginning of the journey that the show will take. Already the composers are feeling the need for another song---replacing some expository dialogue---at the beginning of act 2.
It follows the book very closely and the book has moments that especially lent themselves to dramatization and song. There is a lovely scene in Annabella's garden, where the old woman teaches the girl the names and uses of the flowers; after each verse of the song she turns to the girl with "Say it back" and the song becomes a lovely and lyrical duet. Later: I won't even attempt to describe it here but the performance of The Singer, wearing the robe, at The Gathering, is breathtakingly staged; the reaction of the audience (which included me) was palpable---we were all stunned, I think....
Well, I have been in Texas today, and Tulsa, and now I am in Kansas. Tonight I will have dinner with the playwright, composer, and lyricist of the musical "Gathering Blue."
Adaptation is such an intriguing art. And in the past two days I have had emails of inquiry about an opera based on THE GIVER, a film of NUMBER THE STARS, and a dramatization of "Fabulous Gooney Bird."
I have also, today, en route, had a cell phone conversation telling me that we don't just need a new pump in Maine; we need a whole new WELL. And the well-diggers have all retired to Florida for the winter. Grrrrrr. Maybe someone could set THIS problem to music and make it entertaining.
I'll try myself, after dinner. I will go have some wine first. It will help.
I was chatting by email last night with Stan Foote, director of the Oregon Children's Theater which produced my play "Gossamer" this past fall. Stan said he is currently working on a musical of CLICK CLACK MOO which will open with the farmer shoveling manure (while dancing and singing, I suppose) ; he said they were in the process of designing the manure: " insulation foam, sprayed with glossy brown paint and and a few dabs of green here and there to and add little contrast, they are pooptastic."
Ah, the splendor of theater.
Me, I am heading tomorrow to Kansas, where I will see the first producton of a musical based on my book "Gathering Blue." Since I didn't write this one, I have no idea how they went about it---what is left in, what was taken out---but at least we can be sure there will be no dancing cows. I can see in my mind what it would be like if I HAD written it---can visualize what I would have kept, and how the set would be designed (I know, I know, if I learned anything from doing one play, it is that the author doesn't design the set!) but of course everyone has different visions, and it will be fun to see what these people have done.
I have just signed the contract for film rights to "The Willoughbys" and though of course nine times out of ten, the film you sell an option for is never made, still it is fun thinking about that one, too, how it would be done. I picture Peter Ustinov (is he still alive?) playing Commander Melanoff ---or maybe, alternatively, Paul Giamatti---and let's see: how about Frances McDormand as the Nanny? It's always pointless to try to think of kids for roles because by the time the picture is actually made, the kids you thought of have have grown up.
Okay, instead of designing sets for a musical and casting a movie, I will turn my attention to my real work, the one thing I DO get to do: writing. I am plodding along too slowly on my current project, possibly because the plot--the main character, actually--- has entered a fish hatchery, and though I have done the necessary research and know, now, how to strip fish eggs and mix with milt (I once knew a guy named Milt. Wonder how he feels that his name also means fish sperm)--- frankly, it is not fascinating to me and that is probably why I am dragging my feet, writing-wise....
We had a good-sized bunch here for Thanksgiving, with lots of food, of course and also a birthday to celebrate: twelve year old granddaughters Schuyler and Gabrielle. They are really my STEP-grandaughters but their original grandmothers have both died so I am the default Grandma and honored to be so. In addition to pumpkin, pecan, and aple pies brought by my son Ben, stepson Andrew brought a birthday cake so there was no shortage of dessert. Or gifts. I gave the girls each two books---but because of the fact that I can't remember every title*, I won't mention any and thereby shortchange any authors. Enough to know that books are always a welcome gift in our extended household.
I remember the day 12 years ago these twins were born very well because of the circumstances---I was in Mass. General Hospital (very sick with aftermath of flu) while my daughter-in-law was in labor with twins down the road at a different Boston hospital.
We all survived and now the twins----Martin's youngest of five grandchildren---are in sixth grade, quite tall and pretty (I mentioned that to a friend who said: "Good, they can become models." Oh, puhLEEZE!)...and they have just moved back to Massachusetts from Florida so we can see them and their family more often.
Martin and I went to see Sean Penn's amazing performance in "Milk" Sunday afternoon and now I have the documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" coming from Netflix. Bet anything SP watched it over and over.
I have been trying to add this to the schedule which is on my website and for some reason can't get it in. So I will just announce here that at 11:30 AM on December 6th (Saturday) I will be speaking at the Civic Center, 400 N. Penn, in Independence, Kansas. 11:30 AM, free to the public, with book-signing afterward.
Recently I received a pdf copy of an article I had written back in 1989 and which will soon be republished in THE WRITER. I had given my permission for that re-publication, of course, but maybe a little casually; there was maybe an "Oh, sure" quality to it. When they sent me the article, which I barely remembered after all these years, I began to read it a little nervously because it occurred to me that I might no longer agree with what my younger self had said.
What can I say? I have just been in Germany, visiting my 15-year-old granddaughter and her family, and she took this photograph of me at dinner.
It is very early morning and I am having tea in Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) between flights...I will fly to Luxembourg from here in an hour, for a four-day visit with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. I usually come over here this time of year to see them, and often...as today...with an old suitcase filled with Xmas gifts...they can later throw away the suitcase, and it beats the nuisance and expense of mailing things to Europe.
...but I had forgotten that it existed, until I came across it in my computer today. A magazine for teenagers had asked me to write an article...this was maybe a year ago...about---well, I hardly remember what it was supposed to be about, but I guess it was about me and politics during my much-younger years. So I wrote this. But they didn't like it and it wasn't published. So I left it in my computer and went on to other things.
The first memory I have of me in connection with politics is a spring day in 1945. I had just turned eight.
It was wartime, the last year of a devastating war, and my father, an army officer, was still overseas. We lived in a small college town, the town where my grandfather was president of the bank on High Street.
At eight I knew nothing—cared nothing—about politics. I didn’t know, (though I do now, and find it unsurprising) that my mother and grandparents were Republicans. But I did know that the president of the United States was named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I knew that my mother and grandparents disapproved of him. I had overheard conversations about “that man in the White House” and can still hear, in my memory, my grandmother’s disdainful sniff at the mention of his name.
So when, on an April day, I heard my mother, who had been listening to the radio, gasp and say, “The president is dead!” I leaped to a childish assumption. My eight-year-old’s thinking took this form:
Night before last I was at the Historical Society in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, speaking about the past---mostly my own past---and how it has affected my work. It was a real treat to be in that lovely, historic town, the home of Dickinson College (my grandfather's house, where I once lived while my father as overseas in WW II, now houses the Economics Department of the college). I have so many memories of being a child there---some of which I have included in the book "Autumn Street" which is fictionalized autobiography.
As always one of the nicest things about a conference is getting to see people you like and haven't seen for a while...(in this case, at the Calgary Kaleidoscope conference, Betsy and Ted Lewin)...and also meeting new friends. (Here's a photo of me with writer Betty Birney; we shared a cab to the airport yesterday, she flying home to LA, me to Boston). I look as if I have antlers but it's because I stupidly stood in front of a picture that was hanging on the wall.
Odd, to wake up in the morning wihtout a pending election to think about! Odd, in fact, to wake up this particular morning because my alarm was set for 4:30 AM...I was picked up at 5 in order to head to the airport. Now I am in Salt Lake City, sititng in the Delta Crown Room while I kill a few hours between planes.
I went this morning to vote, after getting a text message from a son in Falmouth, ME: "I just voted" and an email from a stepson: "I was the first person in Manchester, MA to vote!"...I had barely sipped my coffee and glanced at the NYT headlines, and already I felt as if I was lagging behind the rest of the world. So I threw on some clothes and walked to the fire station, kicking my way through the bright yellow leaf-cover on the sidewalk..
I was in New York for three days last week, for several meetings: one with an editor, one with an agent, one as part of a board meeting. So I was busy while I was there. But I also had a few hours free between meetings one afternoon, and I was not far from an art film house that I love (the Angelika on Houston and Mercer Streets); so I went there in hopes of seeing "I've Loved You So Long" with Kristin Scott Thomas. But I arrived twenty minutes after that film had begun, so I looked through the listings to find out what was showing at a time that worked for me.
Back late last night from Portland, Oregon. The pilot of the plane from Chicago-Boston kept updating us on the status of the final playoff game, and it was a sad night for Red Sox fans. But so exiting for Tampa Bay! And their first time.
years ago, or even five, which is to vote for the best man regardless of his
skin color and elect him president. The campaign against him is not one that
anybody will point to with pride in years to come. It is a long trail of
honking and flapping and traces of green slime, as if a flock of geese had
taken up residence in the front yard. But Barack's cool poise in the face of
blather is some sort of testament to American heart and humor. The man has
walked tall and his wife has turned out to be the brightest figure in the
whole political parade, an ebullient woman of quick wit and beautiful
spirit. Bravo, Michelle.
Onward, America. We've all seen plenty of the worst -- the sly cruelty, the
arrogant ignorance, the fascination with trivia, the cheats, the weaselish
and piggish and the buzzardly -- but we can rise above it if we will only
recognize a leader when one comes along and have the sense to let him lead.
I have just returned from Nebraska, and Nebraska always makes me think of Willa Cather. For many years I have saved...in a way that I see it each day...a quote of hers from "My Antonia":
Watching the stock market collapse, seeing my retirement savings disappear, I find myself thinking back to my parents' era and the stories they told of the times before I was born.