Westport 9/11

The Depot Theatre will finish out a stellar season this year with a captivating comedy called "Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet," in which a young literature student enters a magical world where she's able to meet characters from Shakespeare's plays. The play stars Carrie Treadwell, who, together with her friends from American Studio Theatre, just performed at Ballard Park in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" for the Shakespeare Festival.

That show was absolutely amazing, and several people told me it was the best Shakespeare they've ever seen. If you missed it, too bad for you, but come see Carrie at the Depot. "Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet" is directed by Christopher Jones and runs Sept. 10-19, with name-your-price night on Monday, Sept. 13.

At the gracious urging of my esteemed fellow columnist, Rob Ivy of Essex, here's a shameless plug for my upcoming appearance at the Whallonsburg Grange, where I'll be reading from my most recent book, "A Brief History of History," Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. My idea for the book was to try to tell the story of how history has been thought about and written about in different ages, from ancient Greece right down to today. I also wanted to bring it alive for readers by telling the stories of real people.

When I got to the part of the book about the Italian Renaissance, I had a stroke of luck in finding a book of letters written by Nicolo Machiavelli, who's most famous for writing "The Prince," a sort of instruction book for rulers on how to manipulate the public and strike fear into your enemies. Machiavelli exhanged a whole bunch of letters with a man called Francesco Guicciardini, who just happens to be widely recognized as "the first modern historian" for the research methods that he used. The letters are full of dark humor and depict an elaborate practical joke the two friends played, but they also reveal a lot about how these two thinkers approached the idea of history itself. If you're interested in finding out how, I hope you'll come.

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