My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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It was so mild today, my friend Ken asked, “Is winter over?” Ha! NOT. But still, today was like spring, only with lots of filthy melting snow. Loud noises in my house – icicles falling off the roof.

Again, besides the mildness, there were two great gifts today. My Thursday was laid out, and then this morning I received an email from Ken. “I know it’s last minute – can you make ‘Spettacolo’ at 1.30?” No, I could not – I had a student coming at 1.30 to work on her So True piece and a piano lesson at 3. But Ken is one of my dearest friends who was recently ill for weeks; this was a movie I wanted very much to see and today its last showing, and the morning, though mild, was gloomy and dark, the sun came later. A perfect occasion to see a film set in a Tuscan village.

I changed both appointments and was on my way. And how glad I am. It’s a gorgeous, moving documentary, as much a eulogy to a past now vanishing as to a creative way of life and to the power of theatre. Inspired by an extremely dramatic rescue of all its citizens from the Nazi’s in 1944, the entire village becomes involved, every summer, in creating “autodramas” – plays about their daily lives, written by and starring themselves. Fifty years after its genesis, there’s concern about whether this tradition can survive: the bank that funds them is closed down for corruption, and most of the participants are old; a third have already died. The village itself is being sold off, bit by bit, to rich out-of-town tourists who spend two weeks a year there. It’s an old story of modernization, globalization, and loss, through the lens of their rehearsals for the annual production. The rhythms of the tiny town of Monticchielo with its 300 plus citizens who have known each other all their lives, the artistic struggles to put this production together, the seasons in Tuscany, one of the most beautiful places on earth – and all through, the cats who stroll through town and sit on stage to watch the procedures – glorious.

Before the show began, something amazing happened. As Ken and I took our seats, someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Ms. Kaplan,” she said. “I’m a fan – I read your blog. In fact, I’m here today because you mentioned this film a few days ago, so I decided to take the afternoon off work to see it. You’re the curator of my events.”

I stood with my mouth open. I’ve never met this woman, who recognized me from the picture on the website – or perhaps from my new bag, pictured yesterday in the blog and on my shoulder today. She was so kind. “I love your blog, I love your books!” she said. Imagine me, levitating slightly and floating near the ceiling of the Bloor Cinema. Thank you, Linda! What a lift your words gave me. As I’ve written occasionally, I sometimes wonder why I keep this blog when it takes time, pays nothing, has few readers; my capitalist, business-minded friends think it makes no sense. But today, I was reminded that it makes perfect sense. Even if it matters to only a few people, including my new friend Linda, that’s more than enough.

And so – onward.



8 Responses to “Spettacolo”

  1. theresa says:

    Think what a pleasure for that woman — to make personal contact with someone she admires, whose books she (justifiably!)loves, and an afternoon in Tuscany. Lovely. Not to mention your purse. (The woman at the liquor store told me today that she had "purse envy" when I reached into my new one for my wallet.)

  2. beth says:

    Theresa, may I suggest you post a picture of your new purse so that I can share that purse envy? Yes, an afternoon in Tuscany was a great thing, only to emerge in Toronto in February.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello again Beth! I read a lovely quote that said "you are only a stranger once" and now we are no longer strangers. I was hesitant to introduce myself at Hot Docs, but then decided I really wanted you to know how much I value your blog and your wonderful recommendations. Your blog is such a joy to read. When we met I thought you came across exactly as I imagined you would be- as authentic and engaging as your work. Selfishly, I really hope you keep the blog going, if only for your new friend. I could never figure out how to comment on your posts and there were so many times I wanted to. So, today I started my own blog. It may only serve to allow me to post on your blog, but maybe it is a new adventure! Many, many thanks for yesterday and our fortuitous encounter. Big hugs! Lynda Tam

  4. beth says:

    Lynda, wonderful to hear from you again. So you can only post on my blog if you have a blog of your own? People have written through the years saying they're tried to comment and can't and I've never been able to figure out why. Interesting! What is your blog, Lynda? And thank you again for your kind comments; I meant it when I said they lifted me off the ground.

  5. alandmillen says:

    Please keep your blog going, Beth, despite the sceptics. I have related profoundly to everything you have posted these past few days, including up to Thursday, the 15th. You are a much valued conduit to Canada from where I'm sitting.

  6. beth says:

    Thank you, Alan! Never fear – the blog is part of me now, automatic – if I go too long without writing here, I get twitchy. Thank you for coming along for the ride. Incidentally, I am preparing my talk called "She Loves You: confessions of a lifelong Beatlemaniac" for May 24. Too bad you won't be here. But then, you know it all. It's your story too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth,
    I literally just set up the blog and will be getting some help with it so I know what I'm doing. I am surrounded by students who are very literate in all the new technology, so I should get some good advice. The blog is called The basic premise is to always look for opportunities when Life's lemons show up. Cheers! Lynda

  8. beth says:

    Thanks for letting me know, Lynda. I'll tell others who want to respond to the blog.

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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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