Esther-Daddy Day

This evening the Jewish festival of Purim starts, celebrating the Persian Queen Esther who saved the Jewish people from genocide some 2500 years ago. My parents gave my siblings and me names from the Hebrew bible (old testament). So, my brothers and sisters are called: Rachel, David, Daniel (in fairness, Daniel wasn’t named by my parents; he came to our family age 11 and fit right in, name and all!), Joel, Rebecca and Jonathan. And then there’s me, Esther, named after Queen Esther herself! Hence also the title of this blog – I am named after the biblical queen in The Book of Esther and books tells stories, which in a way I do here as well, sharing stories and experiences in my life.

My parents always enjoyed giving me Queen Esther themed gifts. Many of them I don’t have anymore, or are scattered throughout the house and I don’t know where they are, but I do have two paintings still hanging on my walls here. One of the them, called “The town of  Queen Esther” was painted/printed by an acquaintance my parents had many years ago…

Queen Esther 2

It’s not my fave painting ever, but I like it enough to keep on my staircase wall.

A second piece of art I own hangs in my living room and was once given to me by my parents. It’s an absolutely fascinating ink drawing they got me when we were all visiting the artistic town of Tzfat (Safed) once in the north of Israel…

Queen Esther 1

If you look closely you’ll see that the figure of Esther and the pillars next to her are made up of tiny Hebrew lettering. We were told that the whole text of the Book of Esther is worked into this ink drawing! I just love this. This drawing is not only connected to my name and that bible story, it is also forever connected to my parents who picked it out for me. I can still see myself standing outside this artist’s atelier together with my parents, deciding on this particular work of art.

Tomorrow is not only Purim, the festival of Esther, but is also the second anniversary of the passing of my father. I am happy to have such mementoes as this one that keep me connected to him. So, as this evening/tomorrow is the happy festival of Purim as well as a day during which I commemorate my dad, I am dubbing March 12th, 2017 “Esther-Daddy Day”!

According to Jewish custom you say “May his memory be for a blessing!” and I can honestly say that although I will miss him forever, my father’s memory truly is a blessing. For tomorrow I wish for my family and myself to be filled with not only sad but also many happy memories and in Yiddish I wish to those who celebrate (my Jewish brother and sister among them) “A freilichen Purim”!


30 Day Movie Challenge – Day 6

Day 6 – The first movie you ever saw in a cinema

The first movie I remember seeing in the cinema was towards the end of the 1970s when I was living in Jerusalem and my mother took me (and possibly some of my siblings as well but I don’t really remember that) to see the Cinderella movie musical The Slipper and the Rose starring Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven. I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time.

I posted about this movie once before while reminiscing about Richard Chamberlain (go to that post if you want to see some more delightful clips). Seeing this movie sparked a love for Cinderella stories that I am still susceptible to today and an admiration for Richard Chamberlain.

I could have written about this movie in yesterday’s category as well (‘A movie that reminds you of someone’) as I always have to think of my parents when I see this. My mom loved this movie as I did (I think she had a crush on Richard Chamberlain too) and my dad’s nostrils would quiver with pleasure when he watched the “Protocoligorically Correct” song. I even still have the accompanying hard cover children’s book, worn for having been read so often, with beautiful full colour images of the movie that my mom gave me as a present around that time.

Richard Chamberlain is so charming as the prince, I can watch him forever in this! Michael Hordern is a wonderul scatterbrained King, Kenneth More is a lovely, pompous Lord Chamberlain and Annette Crosbie is the bubbly, ever so rushed and overworked Fairy Godmother. Cinderella (Gemma Craven) is admittedly almost too sweet but that doesn’t hinder the fun! She’s the pink princess any 8 year old would love (except my daughter who unlike me never liked princesses).

OK, yes, the film is very sugary, I do realize that, and I can understand that many people would find that a bit much to bear. But there are also some nicely fleshed out characters that make me laugh every time (I mean, come on, I defy anyone to not enjoy that silly king and the pompous Lord Chamberlain) and the cleverly rhymed and fun songs (despite two or so very sappy ones) make this movie such a joy to watch! I think it is mostly a forgotten film now and I find that to be such a shame…

(30 Day Movie Challenge – the full list of questions)


Four score years

My mother is 80 years old today!

Mama bday1

This picture of her was taken at a wedding when she was about 5 or 6 years old and she was a bridesmaid.

We  celebrated her birthday last weekend with a high tea, followed by a lovely guided tour through Panorama Mesdag, a special museum hosting a huge panoramic painting connected to her family history as her grandfather’s ships are portrayed on that huge panoramic painting. Afterwards we had cake and dinner at her apartment, it was a lovely, albeit totally exhausting day. I have lots of brothers and sisters and everyone came, including my two brothers living abroad. We were a group of about 20 people. Great day!

My mum is quite fit for her 80 years, here’s to many years more!

A special gift

Fact #1: My mother paints as a hobby, these last few years she’s been doing watercolors (but never signs them – she thinks nothing she paints is good enough to sign).

Fact #2: Two months ago I took my mother to see The Crucible in the cinema and she loved it, she wanted to dedicate a painting to it.

Fact #3: Last week was my birthday…

… and this was the gift I received from her!

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Done after this Richard Armitage / Anna Madeley image that I love so very much:


Thank you, mama!!

The Crucible @the cinema

Last summer I saw “The Crucible” on stage in London, yesterday evening I invited my mother to come with me to see it in the cinema. She didn’t know the play, when I talked about Arthur Miller writing it, she said “Oh, the man who was married to Marilyn Monroe?” 🙂 3679I was sure the topic of the play would interest her and when she asked me what it was about exactly I found I could hardly describe it in a sentence or two! I mean, sure: witch hunts, Salem, 17th century, but what more to tell her without giving too much away? So, she only got very rudimentary information from me and I think she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. She walked into the cinema mildly curious and totally ‘innocent’, she walked out of the cinema as a Richard Armitage as John Proctor fan! So, the lights went out and sadly some people thought that would be a good time to enter the cinema – it was very annoying to have people walk in front of the screen when you don’t want to miss a second. I remember loving the opening of the play with Tituba walking in circles and chanting. It had immediately transported me to another world last summer in the theater and I didn’t want to miss that. I think my biggest disappointment was that the chanting and walking was hardly shown in this film! They used a more cinematic way to transport you to another/darker world with overlaying and slow motion images and yes, that did work (once the people who arrived late finally settled down) and looked good, but I would still have liked to have seen more clear images of Tituba’s walk with her dragging steps and the chanting. Apart from the disappointment in the opening, the film very much lived up to what I hoped it would be! I think I sat through the whole thing with my eyes open wide, trying to take it all in and trying to never miss a heartbeat. This film is seen through the eyes of the filmmakers, so you can’t always choose what you look at – the choices have already been made.  Admittedly there were a handful of moments when I wished for a more overall view than a close up but the close ups were also what made this very special: I was able to see so many nuances I had missed in the theater. Characters I had not noticed quite as much in the first viewing, like Reverend Parris (especially in the second half of the play) and even the small role of Marshal were more noticeable for me. Last summer the most memorable performances were to me John and Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail Williams, Reverend Hale and Deputy Governor Danforth. After last night I have to add the character of Mary Warren to that, Natalie Gavin gave even more of stand out performance than I had remembered. Wow. So, the audience I watched this with – we were in quite a large screening room and I think about 3/4 of it was filled with people, many of them foreigners (I heard a lot of English-speakers around me). During the first half (especially the first act) there was a regular crackling of wrappers. People chuckled in places and gasped but as the play went on, it got quieter and quieter. I think people just forgot to eat or drink! Or maybe it was just me, shutting myself off from anything else, concentrating on what I was seeing on screen. The 10 minute intermission before the last two acts (I took a picture of the screen, see below) brought an almost rude awakening. I know it took my mother and me a moment to adjust to the ‘real world’. 20150204_220604 I loved that the intermission was short, you were drawn back into the second half almost instantly. Especially during the last act I don’t recall hearing anything, it was as if everyone was collectively holding their breath or at least that’s what it felt like to me in hindsight. When the screening ended it was deadly quiet, no one said a word. I couldn’t say anything either and when I looked to my mother she was lost for words as well. In muted tones we all made our ways to the exit and only when we were outside the room did my mother start going into superlatives. She thought the story was very compelling, she had adored the acting, she loved the simple look of the play, she loved the girls and especially Abigail and she loved the costumes. What she went on about most, however, was Richard Armitage. She said he was absolutely amazing, his acting was astounding, he had kept her guessing to the end and by the end she had a lump in her throat. She thanked me several times for taking her to see this and now wants me to send her some images from the play as she feels the urge to paint them! I had worried about whether, as someone who barely knows Armitage, she would like this play and this version of it and I was so happy to find out that she did. Apart from all the performances being so very good, there were some stand out moments for me…

  • Abigail and Proctor alone in act 1
  • Elizabeth and Proctor alone at the start of act 2
  • Abigail and Mary at the trial. The defiance and hatred in Abigail’s eyes and her determined chin and Mary trying to faint, not being able to, and turning against Proctor after all.
  • Elizabeth’s interrogation at the trial and John’s reaction at the end
  • Thunderous Danforth at the trial and a Danforth in act 4 where an edge of self-doubt seems to creep in but he suppresses that
  • Reverend Hale who has become a quivering mess
  • Elizabeth talking to John in act 4 trying to convince him he really is a good man and whatever choice he makes he’ll remain a good man and John’s struggle with that
  • John Proctor giving Danforth a hard time about signing the confession
  • John’s and Elizabeth’s kiss at the end
  • Oh, and at the very end when the audience applauds and the whole cast comes on stage, they zoom in on Richard, and you can still see the emotion and the tears in his eyes… I had not seen that from my seat in the theater last July…

OK, I realize that these points almost make up the whole play. 😉 The film experience is somewhat different than the actual stage experience and the one does not take away from the other. The stage pulls you in and you can choose which bits and pieces to concentrate on when watching. The film pulls you in and you get close ups of characters that you could not see while in the theater. Robert Delamere and Digital Theater have done well! Both experiences are immersive, each in their own way, and both have an almost overwhelming effect. I really want to see it all again and I wonder whether seeing it on a small screen will have a similar impact…