Monthly Archives: March 2018

True Crime

I’m hope it’s obvious that The Art Caravan values creativity, but strives to be discerning in its observations and judgments.  So, yes, I may be that person you see in a theatre or concert hall sitting down amidst a sea of people giving a standing ovation at the end of a performance.

The other evening I found myself enthusiastically jumping to my feet at the end of the play, True Crime.  I was so focused on congratulating the solo performer that I didn’t notice if anyone else was standing.

Torquil Campbell: True Crime

Torquil Campbell: True Crime

True Crime was both co-created and performed by Torquil Campbell.  Therein lie the reasons for my standing ovation.  The writing is smart, original and intriguing.  The premise of the play is based on the story of  Campbell’s personal fascination with  Christian Gerhardsreiter, a contemporary con man who impersonated a Rockefeller for several years. True Crime cleverly explores ideas about reliability and reality, motivation and values.

Campbell’s performance was almost breathtaking.  He convincingly played a variety of characters with distinctive accents as well as singing original songs. (He is also a member of the bands Stars and Memphis. Click here for a music video of Memphis.)  He commanded the stage for a full ninety minutes.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Click here  to read a Toronto Star review of the play.

True Crime played for a few nights in Victoria, British Columbia as part of the excellent Spark Festival, an annual event of plays, workshops and events at the Belfry Theatre.  Spark continues until March 28, 2018.

 

 

 

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“Significant Book” ALERT!

I just finished reading Solitude by Michael Harris.  I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen–including a stranger sitting beside me in a coffee shop!–that they should read this book. I think it’s that significant.

Solitude by Michael Harris

Solitude by Michael Harris

Here are five reasons good reasons to buy, and read, Solitude:

It’s such a great book, you’re going to want to refer back to it, discuss and share it with others.  (And it’s very affordable, as it’s been recently released in paperback.)

Michael Harris is a skillful writer.  In 2014 he won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for his book, The End of Absence. He has written for many publications, notably The Globe and Mail, Washington Post, Wired and Salon. The book is well researched, but easily read and understood.

There are many important ideas in this book, based on the thesis and subtitle A Singular Life in a Crowded World.  Michael Harris is an original thinker, synthesizing data, expert opinion and history with his own experience and observations as a journalist and human living in the 21st century.  Harris’ work reflects the complexity of modern life. In the Introduction to Solitude, Nicolas Carr (a Pulitzer Prize winning author) expertly summarizes some of the ideas Harris presents:  Contemporary forces of technology, society, and commerce, beneficial forces in so many ways, conspire not only to diminish our opportunities for solitude but to seduce us into believing that solitude is at best inessential and at worst a waste of time.

The book challenges our contemporary society’s prevailing thoughts and norms.  Harris argues that solitude is essential for creative thought.  He provides evidence from current research into the brain, as well as observations of famous thinkers.  He builds a very convincing case for the necessity of a wandering mind, which can only be accomplished through solitude.  Einstein believed that the daydreaming mind’s ability to link things is, in fact, our only path toward fresh ideas.  p. 52
He ends this chapter on a wry note, after spending three hours alone, wandering outdoors.  An annoying truth about daydreaming is that it takes practice to get good at it.  And we are sorely out of practice.  Do we even notice anymore that there are qualitative differences in the way we spend our free time?  That an hour’s reverie in the park is not the same as an hour spent chasing Pokémon?  p.60

This book is personally challenging.  What is the longest period of solitude you’ve experienced?  (Pure solitude=no internet, no emails or texting, no chatting to the barista, no one else)  Michael Harris discovered ….most people arrived at the same number I had:  twenty-four hours.  At some point, due to flu or crippling depression, they had spent one full day without human connections.  Younger friends had a harder time;  most couldn’t remember a time when they weren’t cut off from all society for more than twelve hours.  (And remember, they got eight free hours just for falling asleep.)  p. 216

It’s seems a bit contradictory to be writing a public post about Solitude:  A Singular Life in a Crowded World.  Sigh.  Harris makes valid, and original observations  about the dangers of social media.  But what better way to spread the news that this is a “must read” book?  It may be more socially acceptable than talking to strangers in cafés.