Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Funny Thing

Clara and I were in St. Peter, Minnesota, last night for a production of Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Gustavus Adolphus College. It was my first evening out since the middle of January. Before the play, we had dinner in the impressive Gustavus student center with classicists from Gustavus Adolphus and St. Olaf Colleges. At dinner, there was a brief discussion of how self-indulgent blogging is. Case in point...

I taught for a year in the classics department at Gustavus, beginning in September 1991, the month when Will was born. I remember driving over to St. Peter on a Monday morning and arriving to find a message that I should turn right around and head back to the Northfield Hospital. Will is sixteen now, and Gustavus has changed a little since I was there. The big change happened On March 29, 1998—ten years ago this month—when a tornado touched down in St. Peter (good photographs of the damage here) as part of a system of 13 tornadoes that marked the worst outbreak of tornadoes in Minnesota's history.

My former colleague at Gustavus, Pat Freiert, retired a few years ago, and is now a master of the Japanese art of shibori. At the play, I ran into a former student who was in the history class I taught for homeschoolers in the fall of 2004 and is now an elementary education major at Gustavus. I also ran into the poet Joyce Sutphen and had a brief, stumbling conversation with her about our year in England. Joyce is a wonderful poet whose poetry has been featured on The Writers' Almanac and who has read her poetry live on A Prairie Home Companion. Her highly-recommended collection Naming the Stars won the 2005 Minnesota Book Award for poetry. I brought her to Northfield for a poetry reading in 2001, and we've done readings together in Minneapolis and Winona; our poems have appeared together in the anthology 33 Minnesota Poets (Nodin Press 2000) and, most recently, in the 2006 issue of Hamline's literary journal, Water-Stone Review (Joyce's poem is available as a .pdf file by following the link; mine is available here).

The production of A Funny Thing was great—full of color and energy and marvelous performances by the student actors. Gustavus has traditionally had an excellent theater program; alumni include Stephen Epp, David Esbjornson, and Peter Krause. I wouldn't be surprised if there were future stars in last night's performance.

2 comments:

Ethan said...

Hey Mr. Hardy! Love your blog. Glad to hear that Gustavus is still pumping out great people.

Jim H. said...

So Gustavus allowed some of its students to play courtesans?

I once played the part of Marcus Lycus. Phil Silvers played that part, too. I am not a very good singer, but better than Phil Silvers!

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