Tavern Club January 2021


Message from the President:

During the isolated months of 2020, we managed to gather, whether at the Fête, at the Club, or on a screen.  Members created improbable events online.  extraordinary plays were produced.  None of this could have been predicted or planned for, and I celebrate our good spirit, ingenuity, and care for one another.  What we did together worked and worked well.

I’ve sent the staff a message to say that while we hope and expect to continue their support for the full length of the pandemic, we’ll provide their compensation for another three months.  The staff stuck with us, adapted, cheered us on, and succeeded in making the Club open and welcome for meals for Monday dinner and Friday lunches.

But now there is every reason to think that with caution and good fortune, the Club can be back in full stride after the summer of 2021. Until then, or maybe sooner, we’ll keep going in this new way.

— Nancy Maull


We hope to continue in-person Monday Night Dinners and Friday lunches at the Club in January.  Please watch your email for further information.

Guests welcome to all Zoom events. Reserve for all events with Mr. Fay, manager@tavernclub.org.

January 2021 Calendar

January 2021 Calendar

Tuesday, January 5: Writing Gym by Zoom, all welcome  9:00 – 9:45 am

An impromptu writing workshop to engage our muses, share thoughts, and a virtual cup of coffee.

Thursday, January 7 by Zoom at 5:30.  Special Event: What Can History Tell Us About Modern American Politics?

Tuesday, January 5 : Writing Gym by Zoom, all welcome  9:00 – 9:45 am Impromptu writing workshop to engage our muses, share thoughts and a virtual cup of coffee.  Thursday, January 7 by Zoom at 5:30.  Special Event: What Can History Tell Us About Modern American Politics?

Join us for an evening with Heather Cox Richardson, historian, and political commentator. A professor of History at Boston College, she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians. She is the author of six books, her latest: How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America. Her popular daily online posts, “Letters from an American,” which cover the current political scene, have more than a million followers.

Guests welcome.

Wednesday, January 13  Arts Round Table by Zoom 5:30 pm

Novelist Claire Messud

Novelist Claire Messud will be our guest for an informal talk about her latest published book, Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write: An Autobiography in Essays – ” a glimpse into a beloved novelist’s inner world, shaped by family, art, and literature.” As a critic and essayist, writes Sarah Ditum for The Spectator, Messud “helps us to see the familiar with new eyes.”

Guests welcome.

Thursday, January 14, 5.30 by Zoom  Tom Kelly on Giuseppe Verdi.

Another spellbinding séance with Professor Kelly, who will guide us through the musical maze of Otello, the opera Verdi came out of retirement to write and for which he received twenty curtain calls at the première. We expect to salute Tom in a similar fashion.  Don’t miss it!  Guests welcome.

Wednesday, January 20  History Cocktail by Zoom, 5.30 pm David Michaelis on Eleanor Roosevelt

David Michaelis

History Cocktail with David Michaelis, prize-winning author of Eleanor, a book the Wall Street Journal called a “stunning breakthrough portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt,” in conversation with our fellow member and distinguished public historian, Ted Widmer. Of her time and also well ahead of it, Eleanor Roosevelt zeroed in on both the fault lines of America and the opportunities that led to the as yet far from realized aspirations of the Great Society. Author of the biographies Charles Schulz and Peanuts and N.C. Wyeth, Michaelis has an uncanny ability to capture distinctively American figures, Eleanor being an exemplar.

Guests more than welcome.

Thursday, January 21, 5:30 pm – Cocktails, Costumes and CHARADES. 

Happily announcing the 6th annual Tavern Charades evening (Zoom Style!)   Get dressed in your most inspired attire, make yourself the to-be-suggested cocktail du jour, and join us for another evening of team charades.    No special Zoom skills required (except patience and a laptop/desktop or iPad) , and no need to get up from your chair.   Teams will be pre-assigned to breakout rooms, and all clues (sadly no singing or sculpting this year) will be able to be acted from the waist-up.    Orientation (required) from 5:30 to 6 pm, charades at 6 pm, post-match frivolity, and deconstruction as soon as the winners are declared. To help with Zoom logistics please sign up with Mr. Fay by January 11.  Guests welcome.

Tuesday, January 26 at Noon. Play Reading by Zoom – Anouilh’s Becket.

There are a remarkable number of modern French masterpieces — by Anouilh, Camus, Sartre, and others, that plumb ancient history and suggest contemporary analogies.  The roles in these plays are great, ranging from Caligula to a swarm of flies!  So there’s plenty of material to go forward within 2021.  But let’s start with Anouilh’s Becket, — which takes place in 1170 but was written in 1959 — to be done over two sessions.  Anouilh famously remarked that it is “full of historical inaccuracies,”  (and the mov­­ie even more so); but who cares?  There are many editions, but the Riverhead is available cheaply on Amazon.  Please reserve with Mr. Fay, and feel free to contact george.r.heaton@gmail.com or ansonwright@gmail.com with any questions.

Wednesday, January  27 Book Club at Noon by Zoom

David Scudder will lead a discussion of The Upswing by Robert Putnam posing the question “Whither Capitalism?” Is capitalism the best advance in economic theory or the worst? The truth lies in the middle. David Scudder will explore this conundrum, while using as his primary text a recent book by Robert Putnam, The Upswing.  Also as sources he will use The Deaths of Despair – the Future of Capitalism (by Anne Case and Angus Deaton) and Capitalism Reimagined (by Rebecca Henderson).

Bridge continues online.  All levels of competence are welcome.  Just contact George Heaton at ­ George.r.heaton@gmail.com

In Case You Missed It

Conversations with Taverners

The first of a new series, Conversations with Taverners, took place on Thursday, December 10. Inspired by the recent exhibition Eric Carle’s Angels: an homage to Paul Klee, Nick Clark, and Elliot Davis held forth with eloquence and erudition on their overlapping interests in the angels found in the works of these two artists. Attendees were treated to a lively discussion and comparison of their differing approaches, Klee’s being more ethereal and surreal, while Carle’s colorful collages resulted from the “strange and mysterious passion” evoked in him by Klee’s work. We will repeat this successful format in more events over the coming months.

December 3, Tom Kelly took us on a memorable trip to Bayreuth in 1876 for the first performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold. If you missed this one, be sure join us for Tom’s next opera tour, this time to Milan for Verdi’s Otello (see Jan. 14, above).

December 9, PK Simonds, gave us fascinating insights on what is involved in being a writer and producer of the hugely successful Netflix four-season “Reign”.

Christmas Celebrations galore!

In chronological order:

Bears made their way into trees, arriving in beautiful Christmas boxes. The project was conceived by Gabrielle Wolohojian and carried out by a cast of helpers including her mother, friends, and the United States Postal Service.


The Christmas Festivities

Santa (Sam Dennis) and The Bear (Warren Ross) put in their annual appearance at the Tavern.  They were quite surprised at the lack of audience in the room, but they quickly adapted their performance to Zoom, thankfully.

The lovely Tavern Christmas poem was the work of Carol Burnes.

We anointed three new Buttoneers:  George Heaton, James Houghton, and Anson Wright, and introduced two new members, Robert D. ‘Pompi’ Macey and Eduardo ‘Edu’ Vivanco.

Into this season of good cheer, we’d like to add three buttoneers,
Each one a star, each one a treat, each one a Taverner complete
The charm of each could light a room, or pierce the gloomy doom of Zoom
Together, they are lots of fun but let’s just meet them, one by one

 The first we meet along this path is really quite a polymath
From Shaw to Shakespeare, Maugham to Milton, and like Quixote, windmill tiltin’
He acts, he sings, he reads, he stages, he makes us think beyond the pages
And brings it off in manner sweet and gentle, does our own George Heaton!

The next with talent does abound, she is a Taverner all around
She offers help to one and all, and you don’t even have to call
She does, with thoughtfulness and grace, so many things for this old place
Let’s celebrate, with song and dancin’ this sprightly Wright we know as Anson

The last is two words, someone’s name. First word, one syll, sounds like “games”
Speaking of which, he is the master of guessing answers, fast and faster
He’s low-key fun, what’s not to like?  He even shows up on a bike.
I promise not to leave you floatin’—You got it yet? That’s right, James Houghton!

And hot off the presses, this review of the Christmas Play: In response to the pandemic, and only just this side of pandemonium, Taverners gathered in Zoom-land to see the Tavern Players present the Christmas Play The Journey.  Collaborating once again, Anne Carter Aitken, book and lyrics, and Jim Crissman, the music, created a Christmas play about the Magi and their arduous travel to visit the Christ Child.  Inspiration for the story stems from T.S. Eliot’s 1927 poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’.  Inspiration for Eliot was a 1622 Christmas Day sermon given to James I by the English bishop, Lancelot Andrewes.

Joel Ives and Andy Doherty

Shooting with a cell phone camera, Directors Joel Ives and Andy Doherty gathered the separately staged scenes into a tightly edited film (thank you, Nathan Ives, Joel’s son!).  Lancelot Andrewes (Joel Ives) opened the Tavern play with his 1622 sermon from a church lectern for the camera.  T.S. Eliot (John Bethell), musing on Andrewes, typed out his poem from his home study, before falling asleep and pulling the audience into his reverie, bringing to life the tale.  At this point, the stage “sets” were clips from old movies, tapestries, and great master paintings deliciously “green-screened” behind our very own Tavern actors.

The Magi, Balthazar (James Houghton), Melchior (Kate Dahmen), and Kaspar (Nick Clark) sang of their travel travails in splendid costumes, but well masked as our State Governor expects.  A Silken Girl (Jane Manopoli) beguiled us, a Tavern Keeper (JoAnne Dickinson) sang to us in resplendent style, and a Camel (Bob Osteen) convinced us of his burdens, metaphorical and otherwise.  Mary (Mary Scott) and Joseph (Andy Doherty) sang philosophically and emotionally of their human feelings encountering the divine.

Zoom Caroling

Last but not least, the Caroling Evening!  Interspersed with Tom Kelly’s fascinating and beautifully illustrated history of carols, Taverners and guests sang traditional carols in a decidedly un-traditional way.  Through the adept ministrations of Tom Kelly’s leadership and Jeff Peters’ technical know-how, plus Jim Terry’s accompaniment, the MeistUrsingers were able to sing together for the first time since last winter, and Taverners gathered ’round their screens at home were able to join them, albeit muted.  You had to be there to understand what that means.

And coming next month:  Mark your calendars for a very special Book Club session with Ian Buruma at noon on February 24.  Buruma is the author of 15 books, countless articles, and has won many literary awards. Foreign Policy Magazine named him as one of the 100 leading global thinkers. .He will focus his talk on his most recent book:   The Churchill Complex, the Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit. Further details forthcoming.

New Member: Eduardo ‘Edu’ Vivanco
Madrid-born, Manchester-based Architect, Art Historian, Educator, and Author

Rusty Tunnard, Secretary

Do you want to print out the calendar? Here is a PDF. Here is a printable version of the Newsletter.

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