VS Cyberclass Update – Heirloom Christmas Sampler

Yes, I am woefully behind, but Phoebe demands to sleep on my chest for part of the evening.  Cuts into stitching time.  I wanted to catch up when I traveled to a conference this week.  The room lighting was horrible.  We forge ahead and have accomplished the following:

Sampler Progress - Main

I’m using a Wichelt fabric, which is pretty stiff.  I actually don’t need stretcher bars or a hoop.  Yes, I am using the alternate red-green scheme.  Let’s look at the tree:

Tree and Presents

Can’t wait to do the beading on the tree.  Every tree should have lots of ornaments.  And presents.  The gorgeous “lacework” is one of the main reasons why I love this sampler.  Each lacework band is a bit different and very detailed.  It really pops on the raw fabric.  I have made one little adjustment.

Middle Bands

I mis-ordered my print-outs and missed the ray stitch band.  We forge ahead.  I know it looks a little crooked now.  After I stretch it for framing, all will be well.  I did print out my final set of instructions (hopefully in the correct order), so my goal is to finish up by the end of May.  I do have to add the branches on the middle holly band here.  They are tedious.  I tend to move through the hardanger reasonably quickly.  No fears about cutting the fabric.  No guts, no glory.  At the end of the day progress depends on Phoebe.

I'm Mommy's helper.

The Victoria Sampler cyberclasses are great.  This is my fifth.  I heartily recommend them to help you learn new needlework skills or to have a stitching group to cheer you on as you work on a sampler.  Overall, I think I have done about 10 of Thea’s designs and have about another 10 ready to go.  I have given some as gifts to folks who aren’t particularly needlework devotees, but who do appreciate the sophistication of Thea’s designs.  Back to work!


Silvery Backflips

Need to impress a teenage boy?  Go see Lookingglass’ production of Hephaestus.  Even bigger and better than the last production.  The larger Goodman Theatre space enables the aerialists to swing three stories high and permits an expanded cast.  The Wallenda playing Iris smacked herself on the ceiling but continued on with the performance, which impressed said teenage boys.  The reality of people flying through the air and walking a tightrope without a net amazed most of the audience.  Only a few stuck to their Blackberries and iPhones. Silly rabbits.

The basic story of Hephaestus is that he is the bastard-child Greek god flung out of the heavens by Hera.  His legs are crippled by the fall; he becomes a silversmith of uncommon talent.  Hera, of course, covets his silver trinkets and forces him to build her a silver throne.  He builds the throne as a trap from which she cannot escape.  So she gives him Aphrodite in marriage.

The real action is the integration of acrobatics, percussion, high-wire walking, and dance to enact the story.  There is no dialogue – only a narrator.  The performers are from the Blueman Group, Cirque de Soleil, and the Flying Wallendas.  Text is a poor way to describe the breathtaking action.  The website has some videos.

If you are looking for full-bodied theatre, Hephaestus runs until June 6.  Then Lookingglass Alice, another acrobatic take on a classic story, begins.  Both Hephaestus and Alice are signature Lookingglass pieces.  Integration of physicality, thoughtful and sparing use of props, and using only essential dialogue are the hallmarks of all Lookingglass productions.  The directors tell the stories in 3D and bring the audience as physically close to the stage as possible.  The actors enter and exit through the aisles – making the entire theatre the stage.  The new regular season starts in October with Peter Pan – more high flying action.

Willkommen Bienvenue Welcome

If the band/orchestra sucks, flee the theatrical performance immediately.  Even great actors cannot save horrible music.  However, a great band can save you from bad or mediocre actors.  The band for the hypocrites’ Cabaret was amazing.  Supplemented by violin and harmonium, the core piano, bass, percussion, and saxophone were frisky with an undertow of menace.  Kristina Lee, the bassist, was especially skilled at keeping the bass sounding crisp, not muddy (a common problem for bassists).  She and the percussionist, Kevin O’Donnell, playfully interacted and showcased the complexities of the score.  Some of the musical arrangements were a bit simplistic, but the vocal prowess of the actors may have been the reason why.

Cabaret is surprisingly bullletproof, like My Fair Lady or the Lennon-McCartney songbook.  The emotional resonance pulls you through, even when the actors aren’t quite up to the task.  According to the theatre geeks in line behind me, we were enjoying the 1998 re-staging of the show.  No Bob Fosse.  For most theatrical companies, the 1998 version is more manageable.  More bumping and grinding, rather than actual dancing.  The writhing on stage was particularly inspiring to a couple in front of me who made out during every intermission.  During the second intermission, the couple sitting next to Make Out Couple #1 decided that four could play that game and launched at one another.  Very entertaining.

The Emcee (Jessie Fisher) stole the show.  The woman playing the part really understood the need to hint at the fear and desperation that bursts forth from the decadence during the second and third acts.  Alas, the actors playing Sally and Cliff didn’t really delve into their characters, focusing on a surface shallowness and ignoring how both characters are weak and pathetic.  Michael York and Liza Minnelli really were excellent in the movie version and had more script to work with.  The book for this stage production let down the actors a bit.  Some scenes felt rushed or perhaps lines were cut.  The other supporting characters were able to flesh out their characters reasonably well.  Several people did succumb to shout-singing.  Too much American Idol.

the hypocrites at least try to challenge the audience and to interpret the material uniquely.  Some minor characters and plot-lines were more prominently explored.  Unfortunately, those minor characters upstaged the main storyline.  Cliff and Sally were tangential.  An art experience is successful if it provokes thought  and entertains.  While I found their Frankenstein to be a more satisfying theatrical experience, the hypocrites’ Cabaret was an entertaining production.  The band was excellent.