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Boxed In: Cheek By Jowl’s “The Winter’s Tale”

Working from home had drained Gwen more than she expected. She had always been comfortable on her own, without having a supervisor or manager peering over her shoulder as she worked. Had someone asked her, a month ago, if she’d prefer to work in the comfort of her home, she’d have leapt at the opportunity.

But “comfort” wasn’t what the home felt like to Gwen. Despite making sure she took walks outside regularly (at Eleanor’s urging), their small apartment was feeling more claustrophobic by the hour––to say nothing of Gwen’s preferred kind of social interaction: the collective anonymity provided by the dark blanket of a theatre audience. Now, to Gwen’s distress, both the audiences and the stages of Chicago were shrouded in darkness, and would be for some time.

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Those Who Stray: Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings The Blues”

One of the most enduring images during the film’s opening credits had been Sita, rendered in the film’s simplified flash animation, massaging the feet of her husband, Rama. In the final shot of the film, the image returned, but the roles had been reversed. As Rama massaged his wife’s feet, Sita offered a knowing wink to camera, and the film cut to credits: Directed by Nina Paley.

“That’s it?” asked Eleanor, sitting up straighter as the credits rolled by, accompanied by sitar punk. “That’s the entire movie?”

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Forward, March: Rey Terciero & Bre Indigo’s “Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy”

It had been two weeks since their discussion of Louisa May Alcott’s seminal novel, Little Women, had ended with Gwen’s surprise reveal of its graphic novel adaptation. The modern retelling –– Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo –– was published in 2019, to mark the 150th anniversary of the novel. As the cover made clear, the story had been updated to a modern New York setting, with an interracial March family and an expanded supporting cast.

“Most of the plot points match, at least to start out,” Gwen had explained. “You have the major scenes –– the opening at Christmas, Meg going to Vanity Fair, and so on. The second half is where the adaptation loosens.”

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Nature/Nurture: Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”

“It’s been so long since I first read it,” sighed Eleanor, looking down at her Christmas sweater.

“This was absolutely my favorite book, growing up,” glowed Gwen, gripping her dog-eared copy tighter.

“I read it once, in secondary school, but barely remembered what happened,” Dania admitted, with a little pout. “It’s a lot better than I thought.”

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