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A One Night Stand with James Joyce and the Theater

The door to 7 Eccles Street, Leopold Bloom's home in Ulysses.

It can be difficult to find entertainment options that include all of the things you love most.  This is especially true when you’re a certain breed of nerd whose favorite author is James Joyce and whose other loves include things like theater.  Joyce wasn’t exactly a prolific playwright.  And Finnegans Wake isn’t terribly easy to even read, let alone adapt for the stage.

Yes. I know about James Joyce’s The Dead.  And believe you me, I’m devastated that I missed it because I was too young broke and clueless at the time.  “The Dead” is, after all, my favorite part of The Dubliners (and perhaps, my favorite piece of Joyce’s writing all together, though you’d have to hold a gun to my head to get me to commit).  And, I mean, Alice Ripley.  Enough said.

But last week, on Bloomsday—the day in which the events of Joyce’s Ulysses unfold and the one day a year it’s practically law that Joyce fans celebrate their love together—I had my moment in the sun at Bloomsday on Broadway.  Hosted at Symphony Space and in its 29th year, Bloomsday on Broadway is a celebration of Joyce, and Ulysses, filled with interesting people of all ilk, most especially theater actors.

Seeing the likes of Marian Seldes , Jefferson Mays and John Shea read passages of Ulysses and Homer’s The Odyssey—to which Ulysses is closely tied—was one of the greatest joys of my nerd life.  I spend most of my life explaining, and often defending, my love for James Joyce.  A night of celebrating that love, and my love of theater, too, was so thrilling I can hardly explain it.  And even better, the theater was bursting at the seams with hordes of people and buzzing with energy and excitement.  I was not alone.  At that moment, I felt more enthusiastic, more understood and more a part of these communities I love so dearly.  I can’t imagine a more fun, enlightening evening and I’m already excited for next year’s lineup.

Photo: The Craptacular

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