I loved the descriptions of the Korean and Japanese baseball teams practice routines in this article in The New York Times - and the joy felt by the American scouts watching on.
Baseball scouts are known for watching games, but the best in the business focus just as much on pregame practice, sometimes more. Three games can pass without getting to see how a shortstop can flash into the hole, or how well a second baseman charges a slow grounder. But when top Asian teams take batting practice, a scout’s inner aesthete awakens to the beauty of the game.
It reminded me of the theory about the importance of 'deliberate practice' as espoused by Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcom Gladwell.
And it brought to mind the activities of Charlton substitutes at half-time. You couldn't call what they do for ten minutes practice. They have a kickabout. It's casual. Jokey. And with no sense of purpose other than keeping warm and vaguely occupied.
Somehow I don't think either the Asian baseball players and coaches or Anders Ericsson would approve.
I didn't realise until after I'd seen it that The New Electric Ballroom preceded The Walworth Farce.
The two plays by Enda Walsh share a premise about people trapped in their own homes, but the earlier piece, set in Ireland, doesn't, for me, quite live up to the latter.
There is some brilliant writing - the fisherman's monologues are particularly stunning - but I found the reliance on monologue slightly limiting.
Then again, perhaps it just suffers in comparison to The Walworth Farce which was one of the best plays I've seen for a very long time and full of drama.
Ballroom was more like a poem, in some respects. It reminded me of Under Milk Wood. Dark, lyrical, funny, sexy and full of the vivid life of a fishing village.
...is not structure, after all. According to Billy Mernit, "The most important task a screenplay must accomplish is to get whoever is reading it to identify with the lead character."
In fact, Mernit goes so far as to say that successful screenwriters tend to disregard the 'rules of screenwriting' (keep it brief, show don't tell etc) in order to make sure that readers identify with their lead character.
Sounds simple. And of course screenplays can't easily be split into 'character' and 'story', it's all intertwined (or should be). Nonetheless, it's an insight that strikes me as quite profound.
The thing about John Adams's music and operas, apart from their sheer brilliance, is that they grip you (me) from start to finish.
Very little happens in Doctor Atomic but the tension and drama never let up. I wish I could say something intelligent about the music, other than that there seemed to be a notable broadening of style in places but I don't have the knowledge of the vocabulary.
He certainly has a great sense of what works on stage. His operas are full of life, combining big ideas and very personal emotion.
I slightly missed having a truly original libretto here - Alice Goodman's words for Nixon and Klinghoffer are so outstanding - but this patchwork of poetry and science worked well.
And any quibbles seem irrelevant. Doctor Atomic is a huge and wonderful work, brilliantly performed and directed at ENO.
An understudy, James Cleverton, stepped into the very big shoes of Gerald Finley to play Oppenheimer - lovely voice, very natural on stage. Cheers from the audience at the end, but even bigger from the cast on stage after the post-bows curtain.