Shakespeare at the iron mills

We’re going to see a local production of Romeo and Juliet, staged in the fabricating shed at Sloss Furnaces. The former iron mill, active from 1882 to 1971, has become a Birmingham arts venue.

Elizabeth Hunter’s Shakespearean company, Muse of Fire, has been staging annual Shakespeare plays that draw on the city’s dancers, musicians, comedians, and other artists to swell the scene. The results can be quirky — the witches in Macbeth summoned belly-dancing familiars, for instance — but to me it’s part of the American tradition of appropriating and naturalizing Shakespeare as one of us. And I guess the belly dancers are an extension of the dancing and singing that Elizabethan performers did between the acts of a play, more to keep the audience friendly than to advance the plot. Continue reading “Shakespeare at the iron mills”

Saturday concert: Vieux Farka Touré

This is a music video for a song from the first, self-titled album by Vieux Farka Touré. He’s the acclaimed musician son of the great Ali Farka Touré. Both hail from the town of Niakunké, Mali, west Africa. (Not far from Timbuktu, actually.) The video seems to have been shot in Niafunké, and maybe in […]

A song of insufficiency

In honor of the United States Congress, I’d like to present Bertolt Brecht’s acerbic little song with the grand title of “The Song about the Insufficiency of Human Striving.”

The video is followed by the German text, with my own loose translation after each stanza.1

Das Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens Continue reading “A song of insufficiency”