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Jimmy Carter, my hero, and “Arcadia”

Who I want to be when I grow up, Part 2: My friend Juliet sent me this link to David Letterman’s interview this year with President Jimmy Carter, who at 90 – 90! – is passionately engaged, articulate and informed. What a phenomenal man – author of a new book “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” And what he says about the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse is prescient, as this country can talk about little else these days. Inspiring.

Several treats on this dark rainy day – this morning, went to St. Lawrence Market with Anna, Matt and Eli. Eli is excited about everything he sees – everything – the red firetruck, the blue dump truck, the red leaves, the lello leaves … the cookies at the market. He has the most sensitive hearing of anyone I know. “Too loud noiss!” he cries when an ambulance goes by – or even when I slam the microwave door. Though he doesn’t mind banging on the piano, which he always does as soon as he arrives here. When does he start his cello lessons? I ask his mother, but she does not seem to have a reply.

And then Wayson and I went to see the Shaw Festival production of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” at the Royal Alex (thank you, David Mirvish!), tickets courtesy of my student and friend Tanya, the Shaw costume mistress. It’s not an easy play; we’re not used to the relentless Stoppardian torrent of words and ideas – as Wikipedia says, “The play attends to a wide array of subjects, including thermodynamics, computer algorithmsfractalspopulation dynamicschaos theory vs. determinism (especially in the context of love and death), classicslandscape designRomanticism vs. ClassicismEnglish literature (particularly poetry), Byron, 18th century periodicals, modern academia, and even South Pacific botany.”

Such an obtuse play requires a superb production to make it work, and luckily, here it is, an absolutely perfect cast, beautifully directed and produced. It’s set in two eras in the same house – the early 1800’s and our time; the old-fashioned ones live their lives, and modern academics try to figure out exactly what they were doing then. As someone who spent years doing research into the past of my great-grandfather, trying to solve various mysteries – a passionate love letter to him, for example, from a woman not his wife, how did that fit? – I identified with the fumbling modern academics. Loved Lord Byron, a major character though never seen, skulking in the background. A great afternoon. Recommended.



2 Responses to “Jimmy Carter, my hero, and “Arcadia””

  1. Kerry says:

    I love Arcadia—have you read it? It's genius and makes the Stoppardness easier to appreciate (and re-appreciate). I saw it at Hart House Theatre a few years ago, and it was terrific. Sounds like the pro-performance was wonderful too, lucky you!

  2. beth says:

    Kerry, I do need to read it, because on stage, as you know, it flies by in a flurry of brilliant wordplay and so much is lost. Not to mention the difficult subject matter. This is a fabulous production, with the best Septimus imaginable. Highly recommended.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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