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Archive for April, 2008

Unprecedented Brevity After an Unprecedented Break in Posting

Monmouth, Illinois, March 4:

It would have been appropriate for us to perform Henry V in Monmouth, because Henry, as the Crown Prince of Wales, was known as ‘Harry of Monmouth.’ I think he is also referred to as simply ‘Monmouth’ a couple of times in the Henry IVs. But in a familiar twist of fate, albeit without the element of surprise, we were slated to perform Taming of the Shrew instead. I am proud to say, however, that it could hardly pass without a few Nerdy Shakespearean quips, despite my own flu-induced reticence; someone, as we drove into town (I believe it was Chris Seiler) said over the walkie-talkie, “There’s the river with salmons in it!” (in reference to lines that Fluellen has about Monmouth).

Here are two things I remember about Monmouth, of the Illinois variety:
1. I was sick;
2. It smelled like burned pigs.

The existence of the former of these two memorable facts accounts for the brevity of the list. I was quite delirious on our first day there, and felt a bit queasy for a few days afterwards. Anyone who has read a single post of mine has probably drawn the conclusion that the thing I like best, after Shakespeare, is food. You may not be wrong. Consequently, I almost failed to recognise myself in that I had an utterly negative interest in food for about four days, and ate nothing more than yogurt. I actually had bad dreams in which highly-unappetising-at-the-time foods such as eggs (which I never really love) and salad (which is a normal staple of my diet) would prance around and taunt me. And I still don’t really want to hear about curry, which I had on the night prior to my feverous Merchant in Indianapolis.

The second fact was due to a pig/pork (or pig to pork) processing plant in the town. The smell was a little more intense near our hotel than it was near the theatre, but was fairly pervasive. I was of the opinion that the smell it generated resembled more of a fake-cheese-product smell than that normally associated with any kind of pork or bacon. I assume residents of the town cease to notice it, but we found it pretty nauseating, and not only those of us plagued in their dreams by food.

The theatre space appeared to be a renovated chapel, fully equipped with regular theatre seating and lighting and a balcony, alongside its original stained glass windows and inlaid wood in the ceiling. I find the energies of theatres and of churches to be sympathetic, which I say because I believe theatre is about spiritual truth, not ‘pretend.’ The elements of the church’s architecture made it one of the most beautiful spaces we performed in, and it was also probably the most acoustically live space we saw on tour. Everyone wins! Except for the pigs.

I remember next to nothing about the show (see item 1 on the above list) except for that we had a high school group attending, who sat in the first couple of rows. The majority of these students were girls, and as early as the pre-show Alisa noted that they were laughing at EVERYTHING the boys did. By this point in the tour, we the female troupe members are quite familiar with this phenomenon of girls laughing at boys simply because they are cute. Of course, the boys in the troupe deserve laughter, whether you are using cuteness or comedy as your area of judgment, and I would far prefer that the audience is laughing than that they are not, regardless of their motivation. It just means a different kind of show for the women. Afterwards, one of the men in our troupe said something to the effect of ‘Alisa had an interesting analysis of the audience’—but any woman who has ever performed for high school students knows this is not analysis, but fact.

The other thing I remember about the show is that there was a man sitting in the second row centre who looked like a combination of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, in the best possible way. He was wearing a bow tie. I wanted to be his friend.

We had a Shrew workshop immediately following the show, which of course meant that the people who worked most hard during the show (Ginna, Josh, Scot) had to lead the correspondent workshop. God love them, because the idea of leading a workshop after Merchant sounds exhausting. I remember nothing about the workshop, and you can guess why! If you guessed item 1 on the above list, that is a well-informed, well-precedented guess, but no: I don’t remember anything about it because I was loading out the set and costumes at the time.

A Note on the Month-Long Gap Between Posts, and the Absurdly Outdated Information Now Contained Herein

For those of you who have already pestered me about it, please cease your cajolery. I am well aware of my lapse, but am finding it as hard to keep up with it now that we’re back in performance at the Blackfriars as I did when we were doing A Christmas Carol in December. (You will notice there are few posts for that month.) I had a routine on the road that made me moderately productive, if still belated. As that routine was ‘not having a life,’ my inability to be anything less than verbose was not severely checked by lack of time.  I will try to see if I can both have a life and write, despite my many hypotheses that you can either live life, or think about it, but not both at once.

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