It’s Only a Play

Books I Read in 2015

I’ve been a bit all over the place with my reading the last two years. In 2013, I set a goal of reading 40 books and beat it, and in 2014, I seriously surpassed my goal of reading 52 books by reading 91 (my numbers have been greatly bolstered by reading plays, in case you were wondering).

Since I’m in an English Literature graduate program, I obviously do plenty of reading, but I think I went back to my goal of 50 books in 2015. Though this number might be a bit low based on 2014’s results, I stay plenty busy with my school reading and don’t always have lots of time for recreational reading. I ended up exceeding that goal by reading 69 books in 2015, an achievement I’m pretty proud of. Here’s my full list of reading from 2015–for reference, the titles listed in bold are those I particularly enjoyed.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. Live From New York, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
  3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan
  4. Looking for Alaska, John Green
  5. Sanctuary, William Faulkner
  6. It’s Only A Play, Terrence McNally
  7. Brother to Dragons, Robert Penn Warren
  8. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
  9. Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman
  10. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, William Inge
  11. Come Back, Little Sheba, William Inge
  12. Bus Stop, William Inge
  13. The Basic Eight, Daniel Handler
  14. Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell
  15. My Ideal Bookshelf, Jane Mount and Thessaly la Force
  16. Fallen Too Far, Abbi Glines
  17. Wait for You, J. Lynn
  18. The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
  19. Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
  20. In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway
  21. Child of God, Cormac McCarthy
  22. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  23. Love, Rosie, Cecelia Ahern
  24. Airships, Barry Hannah
  25. Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley
  26. The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
  27. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  28. Joe, Larry Brown
  29. Wolf Whistle, Lewis Nordan
  30. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  31. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
  32. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews
  33. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  34. Angels in America Part One: Millennium ApproachesTony Kushner
  35. Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Tony Kushner
  36. The Complete Stories, Flannery O’Connor
  37. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  38. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  39. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  40. Paper Towns, John Green
  41. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
  42. Shame, Salman Rushdie
  43. Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
  44. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
  45. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  46. Vita Nuova, Dante Alighieri
  47. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  48. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  49. Dragonfly in AmberDiana Gabaldon
  50. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  51. Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih
  52. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, Aimé Césaire
  53. Divine Comedy Vol. I: Inferno, Dante Alighieri
  54. After the Fall, Arthur Miller
  55. Murder in Retrospect, Agatha Christie
  56. Divine Comedy Vol. II: Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri
  57. The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Phoebe Gloeckner
  58. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington
  59. Divine Comedy Vol. III: Paradiso, Dante Alighieri
  60. The Grownup, Gillian Flynn
  61. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
  62. The Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone
  63. Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  64. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  65. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
  66. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
  67. This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  68. The Cripple of Inishmaan, Martin McDonagh
It's Only a Play

Book #6: It’s Only A Play, by Terrence McNally

I’m pretty excited about the speed at which I’m flying through books this year. Of course, I’m also still in the gloriously un-busy time before I have to go back to school and work, so I’m going to just try to enjoy this calm while it lasts.

Even though I want to do as much early reading for my Southern lit class as possible, I’m also trying to give myself breaks between those books for reading of my own choosing. I had planned on reading It’s Only A Play in December when I returned from New York, but I was distracted by other things and it didn’t work as I expected, so I decided to slide it in between other projects.

Reading It’s Only A Play is perfectly enjoyable. It’s funny and fast-paced and really wouldn’t take more than an hour or two of concentrated reading time to complete. I have a feeling I would have enjoyed seeing it more on stage, though, especially with the stellar cast that’s doing it on Broadway now. Since the play was written in the 1980s, lots of the references are outdated and I know they were updated for the revival, so I wish I knew who was referenced in this version. I also have a feeling they toyed with the roles a bit because it seems like the script had more characters than the current production, but I might be wrong on that one.

Anyway, now I’m back to school reading, though I might pull double duty and read Nick Offerman’s memoir at the same time. What a joy to have the time to read as I please.

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New York in December: The Magic Continues

One week ago, I returned from my most recent journey to New York. If you’re a Facebook friend or Instagram follower, you’ve probably already seen that I (once again) had an immensely successful adventure. It’s been a very long time since I’ve visited the city in winter, and it was my first time there with my friend and roommate, Ryan, so there was IMG_0770plenty of newness and excitement to enjoy. Here’s a quick(ish) rundown of all our shenanigans.

Monday, 12/15 — We arrived in Times Square Monday afternoon to leave our luggage with our friend Kaitlynn who was kind enough to let us stay with her during our trip. Monday was mostly spent wandering the area a bit, and we happened to walk past Rumer Willis on the street (not that that’s very exciting, but it happened). We had some unfortunate timing outside “The Late Show with David Letterman” and missed Emma Stone going in and leaving later, so that was a bit of a bummer. That night, we went back to Kaitlynn’s apartment in Queens and had some very enjoyable pizza.

Tuesday, 12/16 — Ryan and I left Kaitlynn’s and headed into Central Park for a while to enjoy the scenery. Since we knew Anna Kendrick was the guest on “The Late Show” Tuesday night and we’d seen how the stage door worked there the day before, we decided to make another attempt at it. On our walk, we bypassed Sting, who was carrying a guitar and looking very Sting-esque.

Our second day at “The Late Show” was much more successful, I’m happy to say. There was a small crowd gathered in the designated area across the street from the stage door, and we ended up standing with a a group of people calling themselves “graphers” who basically stalk celebrities to get signatures they can sell online. I’ve dealt with these people before (especially at Sundance), but I IMG_0815became weirdly interested in listening to them all talk. I smell a pop culture research paper! (Just kidding. I think.)

Anyway, we were also joined by an old woman with an insane voice who Ryan got stuck talking to. When Anna Kendrick’s car pulled up, she got out and posed for the paparazzi at the stage door for a while, during which time the woman next to Ryan screamed bloody murder. Ryan said she sounded like Anna was her long lost daughter. You’d have thought so. She did a lot of “ANNA! CROSS THE STREET!” and then screamed some profanities because a car momentarily blocked her view. Good news: Anna did cross the street and quickly signed a few things and came up to me. I asked if we could get a picture of the three of us, she grabbed my phone, and said, “oh, the three of us?!” and quickly snapped four photos on my phone before running back across the street. As you can tell from our photo, we’re basically a trio of friendship. The crazy woman came over to us after and when she learned that we’d gotten pictures, yelled some more profanities and walked away (#welcometonewyork).

After that thrilling moment, we decided to stalk outside the It’s Only a Play stage door since the show has a wonderful cast. We made a few nice friends there, and luckily saw every member of the cast enter, apart from Megan Mullally. Matthew Broderick came first and appeared generally wary of us all, like we might attack at any moment. Nathan Lane was next, and was rather scary and mean and I kind of tried to sink into the wall when he walked up. F. Murray Abraham dropped out of the sky, apparently, but was very nice to take a photo with someone and smiled in a way that was surprising to me. Stockard Channing drove up in a fancy car and has a fancy lady who escorts her fancy dog through the stage door. Rupert Grint also appeared out of nowhere and snuck in quickly, though I’m happy to have stood so close to him, if only for a moment. Here are some photos of the whole experience.

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To kill time, we went to Rockefeller Center where we could eat and sit down for a while, and apparently had really great timing because we walked through 30 Rock behind Brian Williams after finishing the news, so that was fun. We also made an effort at the  Cabaret stage door, but the show ended earlier than we’d thought and it was rainy, IMG_0933so things didn’t work out so well. Oddly enough, we also walked past Sting again, in basically the exact same place as we’d seen him earlier that day, so that was weird. Then we got to spend a bit of time with some of our other cool friends who are fancy and live in New York, so it was a happy night, despite the rain and somewhat failed attempt at Cabaret. 

Wednesday, 12/17 — It’s safe to say that Wednesday was most exciting because it was finally the day when we had some real plans for our lives. Since we had tickets to Cabaret that night, we decided to make the most of our stage door experience at the matinees in the afternoon. We walked past Cabaret first, but were told that Emma Stone and Alan Cumming had already gone in, so we went back to It’s Only a Play in the hopes that we could be more successful. Though we didn’t get any pictures, we did see Stockard Channing and Rupert Grint go in again, and I felt special because no one really seemed to realize who Rupert was (he was very incognito and covered his hair). There’s no proof, unfortunately, but I’d like to think we had a moment.

Then we were able to meet another of our friends for lunch, which was both a good way to catch up and a good way to pass our time since we didn’t really have plans for the day. By the time we were finished, we went back to the stage door at The Elephant Man, which I desperately want to see, but it couldn’t happen. Time was back on our side, though; we got there just as the stage door barricades were being set up in Schubert Alley and immediately staked our claim on a spot. After a short wait, Bradley Cooper camIMG_0888e out to sign autographs and take pictures. He had a very long battle with the zipper of his jacket that was rather entertaining to witness, and when he got to the people next to us, he had to ask a bodyguard for a new Sharpie and I laughed and looked into my eyes and smirked (I assume this counts as a proposal; wedding invitations to follow soon). WE HAD A MOMENT. When I asked for a picture of the three of us, he took my phone and took one photo, which didn’t exactly turn out so well, but hey, life happens. I’m actually pretty proud of our lame picture, and since it has Bradley Cooper in it, it’s still pretty important to my life.

That evening, we met up with Kaitlynn for a bit before going in to Cabaret. Unfortunately, Ryan and I weren’t able to sit together during the show, but we also got our tickets for $25 each, so it’s worth it. After having recently watched the movie (and not loving it), I was hoping to take more from the show, which I absolutely did. The stage production is both funnier and more tragic, ironically enough. Alan Cumming is fantastic, and I was so happy that Emma Stone was wonderful as well. It was well worth our money and time.

After the show, Ryan and I had a game plan made for our final attempt at the stage door. We got there as quickly as possible, and thankfully got a good spot without much fuss. Some of the supporting cast members came out and sIMG_0909igned, and in our wait for the stars, we watched Christie Brinkley and her daughter, Alexa Joel, talk with the guy at the stage door about going backstage. In case you’re wondering, Christie Brinkley is every bit as beautiful as you’d imagine, and based on her behavior, super nice as well.

Not long after, Emma Stone finally came out. Her body guards said she had somewhere to go so she wouldn’t be taking pictures with fans, but she signed for everyone. When she got to us, I congratulated her on her Golden Globe and SAG nominations and said that we loved Birdman, before I remembered to add that we also really loved Cabaret. She seemed genuinely thankful and gracious, and was very quiet and sweet as she made her way down the line.

Alan Cumming was equally kind and quiet (and very Scottish). I told him this was an IMG_0845iconic performance (to which he responded, “oh, bless you”), and he laughed and thanked Ryan when he said how much we love Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. We got to meet a few more of the supporting actors in the play before heading back to Kaitlynn’s apartment feeling quite successful.

Thursday, 12/18 — Thursday was our last day in New York, and I’m always kind of bad at knowing how to spend my final hours in the city. I knew I wanted to visit Taylor Swift’s apartment in Tribeca (because I’m a creepy stalker lady), so we made our way in that direction in search of a tall blonde with a cat and hopefully some good pizza for lunch. We weren’t entirely successful, but I did take a picture on steps outside Taylor’s apartment in true stalker fashion before we wandered around a bit. To combat the cold and our hunger, we settled on a quiet Italian restaurant for our last meal. Here are a few other pictures of our Tribeca adventure.

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We also visited a cute little bookshop before heading back to Times Square to say goodbye (and thank you!) to Kaitlynn. We must have timed things just right, because on our ride back, we ended up on the subway with Jane Krakowski, which was an exciting surprise. She caught Ryan and I looking at her and gave us a kind smile. After saying our goodbyes, we got back to Kaitlynn’s just in time to meet the car that took us to the airport. Overall, it was another wonderful few days spent in New York. Thanks to Ryan, Kaitlynn, Jana, Trip, Drew, and all our new celebrity friends for the perfect time!