Featured Member of the Month: May 2019
Broadway or Bust
Christine George is a Law Librarian who has been a member of the community for almost two years and is a bonafide theater buff. We sat down to talk with her about some of her favorites — and Feminism, of course.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself — where are you from, where did you go to school, what do you do, how long have you been in NYC — all the basics :)
I’m a Jersey girl, born and raised. The more I move around the country, the more I find that it is a defining characteristic. I’m currently working as an academic law librarian in NYC. I went to Bard College, St. John’s University School of Law, and the University of Texas at Austin School of Information. I’ve been back in the NYC area for almost three years.
Q: I already know the answer, but what is your favorite art form and why? When and how did you get interested in theater?
I love theater. I think it has to do with storytelling. I have always been drawn to stories. It’s why I love history so much—arguably the same stories told over and over again with the details changed—and was drawn to family and estate law—there’s no legal drama quite like family legal drama. My parents would bring me to local productions when I was younger, but in high school I was in a theater club called ACT. We went to Broadway shows and I absolutely loved it. The two teachers who ran the club defined how I go to shows today, including the rule to never ever lean forward in your seat because you will block the view of at least three rows of people behind you.
Q: What shows have you seen this season and do you have any recommendations?
I have been extremely fortunate to have seen a number of shows this season. The three I recommend seeing are What the Constitution Means to Me, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Ferryman. All three are drastically different stories, but each is so incredibly powerful that they stay with me for days after.
Q: What are some of your favorite shows of all time? Specific casts or performances?
This is a hard one. As far as musicals go, I’d have to say Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, and 1776. For plays, in addition to the three I already mentioned, there are two that I saw in high school that stuck with me. The Crucible with Laura Linney, and Imaginary Friends, Nora Ephron’s play about the feud between Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman.
Q: Do you think your love for theater informs or influences your work as a law librarian in any way?
I think that it does. It goes back to stories and keeping people engaged. I teach and present a lot and there is definitely a performative aspect that goes into that. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about thinking of a library tour as a Broadway show, so clearly theater isn’t very far from my mind.
Q: Taking a sharp turn, what does Feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself a Feminist? Why or why not?
I’m definitely a feminist. To me, feminism is striving for equality. It’s acknowledging that there are inherit biases in our society and tearing down those preconceptions so that everyone can have an opportunity. It’s acknowledging labor that might otherwise be invisible. It’s getting to the point where if you try to picture someone in a particular profession, that person is not gendered based on society’s notions of what type of work it is.
This can sometimes be difficult to reconcile when it comes to different shows. There’s a limited amount of time for storytelling and sometimes it’s easier to fall into a trope. Or the material is particularly dated. I saw the revival of My Fair Lady last year and while I love the show and I think the production did a good job in making some changes to the original material, there were still a few moments that didn’t sit quite right. Theater makes you think. You can get caught up in the story, transported to another world, but when the curtain falls, there are echoes of the story that mix in with the real world. My Fair Lady is as good as a gateway as any to begin a conversation about sexism or classism or about changing original source material to better reflect the current time. I thought To Kill a Mockingbird did an incredible job with that.
Q: Back to theater, do you have a favorite show-tune?
Favorite doesn’t have to mean just one, right? Because I love the huge dramatic numbers right before the curtain falls on the first act like “If I Can’t Love Her” from Beauty and the Beast and “Sirens” from Jane Eyre. But I also love a ballad like “How I Know You” from Aida and “Ireland” from Legally Blonde.
Q: What is your favorite 'hidden gem' in NYC - a bar, restaurant, theater, museum that readers may want to know about?
I am all about the historical societies—in particular the New-York Historical Society and the American Irish Historical Society. Both have pretty amazing programming, and, keeping with the interview theme, theatrical ties. I found out about What the Constitution Means to Me and The Wickedest Woman, which tells incredible story of Madam Restell, from the NYHS. (The playwright for The Wickedest Woman researched the play at the NYHS.) The American Irish Historical Society hosted The Art of Sisters: Tales and Letters of the Brontes, which was an incredible performance piece for anyone who is a Bronte fan. It also hosted performances of The Dead, 1904 which is still on my show wish list.