Scene4 Magazine: Claudine Jones
Claudine Jones
Liked But Not Well Liked

I've circled a conundrum for decades—yea, I would say it is the conundrum with which I was born.

It is not easy to articulate; it tends toward the slippery, the magical disappearing act when approached.  I sneak up behind it, ready to pounce, only to discover vapor.

Last night, it showed its face, briefly, but I was not in the mood to stop what I was doing & pay attention.  Maybe I was too tired, or annoyed at something else—actually, I was annoyed: we were on the sidewalk approaching the theater and I had just seen a group of flaggy, pennant  thingies above the marquee—promo-type stuff: '50 Years & Still Flying', 'Bringing Joy to the People', etc., but one of these carefully thought-out, obviously paid for by donation, permanent banners said the following: 'You'll Laugh, Cry, and Tap Your Feet!', which instantly aggravated me because I deeply resent putting commas before the 'and' in a series.

My partner soothed me with a reminder that, back in the day, the insertion of commas was, in point of fact, quite the proper thing to do, given the common length of some sentences in which, if one wanted to explicate particularly intense scenes of heartbreak, drama, and heated romance, commas were entirely appropriate, nay, required, in order for sentences to remain comprehensible.

But the conundrum! What, where and why was it creeping up?

Well, I expect it is going to be true to form and avoid being described just as well as it avoids sitting still to have its portrait painted. I will say, though, that the performance of the play was as close to a complete waste of my time, without being a total train wreck, as I have seen in quite a while.  I didn't audition for it, having had a feeling of general repugnance at the only role for which I might be suited.

That reminds me of a Panto I almost did once; two weeks in, I came up against a scene partner who began to repel me to such an extent I almost was sick.  He had pronounced himself a Returnee to the Stage after an Hiatus of some 15 or so years, however it seemed as though the time away now acted as a variety of slingshot, propelling him forward in rehearsal at such velocity each night as to verbally puncture anyone near him.  I happened to be the closest object. 

Being pummeled in this fashion was an extreme trial.  I tried several tactics, including my most expert bob & weave, to no avail. For certain bits, he even sought to include a form of exercise in seeing how far out he could protrude his tongue in my direction.  I foresaw the repetition of this punishment up to & including six weeks of five performances a week with bleak horror. 

In the end I felt forced to lie to my director & beg out because of a 'family emergency'.  Thankfully, my role was not a major one so he was only slightly put out. Not coincidentally, I fear, I was never hired by him again, but it was damn worth it. The performance I attended fully justified my fears; watching my wretched replacement, I've never been so sorry for another actress.

No, conundrum aside, this piece of theatre was not nearly as bad as that.  It only teased at us, promising heights to which it, like leaden bubbles, could not rise. My buddy was in it and I love seeing him on stage, yet, reliable for a laugh as he is, it seemed the nature of his small part precluded anything more substantial. Since at this point in his life he could easily be spending his down time sorting his immense catalogue of Broadway Musical LPs,  I'm obliged to conclude that he is, in fact, an irremediable theatre slut. 

My hands stayed limp in my lap, simply incapable of participating in the applause. Even worse, as we were leaving the clamor in the mini-lobby, where they traditionally do a 'meet & greet', was so overwhelming I was functionally powerless to communicate with others there I recognized. That should have been a clue, but I didn't catch it until we got to the parking lot and I could hear again.

There seemed to me, having witnessed quite a few passably successful productions there, and even having played the theatre on more than one occasion,  this time, there was an inverse correlation between the decibel level of the gusto & agitation in that lobby and the sad lack of cohesion amongst the players, eager though they were to please. That the audience fed on this theatrical cotton candy and then erupted with a mad sugar-rush, merely substantiates this view.

Of course, had I been giving more consideration to my conundrum, it might not now be playing me the fool once again.  I reach out even as we speak and …poof! It leaves a cloud of microns, dusty hoof-prints on a trail I cannot follow.


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©2010 Claudine Jones
©2010 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades. With her co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs for local venues. She's also a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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August 2010

Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

August 2010

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