Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Performing Arts and Media
Scene4 magazine - Claudine Jones
Claudine Jones

july 2006

Sand Painting

I missed last month's deadline because I was off at school starting a new career.  Boy, I didn't have a clue what I was in for at  this place, or that I would end up bringing the theater along with me, or that I might be leaving it there for good.

What did I know? I mean, the intensive had come this close to cancellation for low enrollment & by getting last minute cold feet, I was almost the one to cause its cancellation. The funny thing is that the resulting intimacy set a unique quality in motion.  Our parameters became mutable, with a seeming limitless potential for following our 'adult' hearts & not our 'student' minds.  Classes ran morning to evening, with time to study before bed. Not favorable to the inclusion of too many distractions from outside--I brought a half-finished novel with me & only used a few pages to provide some miniscule interval to clear my head when I had overdosed on course texts & notes. That's ok, though; that became its ultimate function. 

There were just four of us—me & three guys.  One guy could have been my son, another older guy was experimenting with 'lifestyles' (painfully sincere, though)

The third guy did most of his communicating with gestures and supplications, since he was mostly comfortable in Farsi which none of the rest of us spoke.  He & I ended up as roommates; I would invariably come in on him at the end of the day, talking to his wife on the phone.  I would just head for my sleeping bag and flop down to go over my notes.  His voice was so soft I couldn't tell what he was speaking; maybe he was practicing his English with her—I don't know.  But if he saw me scowling over something, he would pierce me with a look: "Be happy", he said to me over & over. "Yesterday is not now; you make yourself peace if you will be in today. Be happy." (Palms together) "Namaste" & a little bow.  I would press my palms together and smile at him.  He shook his head, not believing me.  

This suddenly reminds me of my first sink-or-swim course at UC Berkeley: intensive Spanish.  (I wasn't a stranger to languages other than English, in fact I was fresh from an immersion with my French family in Paris & the Alps & Brittany. Then I chickened out & picked French as my major instead of theater.) But I walked into my first three hour daily Spanish class with 'Chiquito, Burrito' going through my head (fourth grade, don't ask) and the young teaching assistant gave us no help—it was all Spanish, all the time; we were forbidden English.  The end of the first week, a cloud suddenly lifted and the words came through; a real Helen Keller wah-wah moment.

What was I doing at my age starting yet another thing from scratch? I left my glasses in their case in my room.  My face hung out for all to see, no makeup, no costumes. Wore my 'comfortable' clothes, in fact by the end of the week wore barely anything.  My worst moments were in the walking meditation which seemed like a test.  I struggled badly like I did back at the Conservatory in my Alexander class, feeling foolish & exposed.

I don't want to spotlight the teacher—somehow that doesn't seem appropriate—not that he would object, or that I would embarrass him, but for the separation of the experience from objective scrutiny.  Call it a Fable with four Players—whose real names are not relevant, and its submission to my "real" life transforms me into the heroine.  The me who came back a couple of days before copy was due hasn't been able to re-enter her old beat-up chrysalis.

Anyway here I am back in town after my current class ended, tied to my day job, but overtly planning my out—more intensives for another 150 hours & certification over the next year, plus finally a trip to New York & Boston in the early fall.  

Is the weight of generals & headshots & community theater claptrap productions off my shoulders seemingly I'm capable & excellent in my theater work & I grok Frank Gehry?  My art is reckless & pure, but also exists in my present. Last week in the kitchen, after a long brainstorming session about workspace here in the house, and oops!  I connected that "early fall" trip with the run of Michael Frayn's  "Copenhagen", a play I adore & want to direct, but would certainly be charmed just to be in, and yet I have to let it go. The theater that is including it in its season & where I have myself appeared in several seasons, is now in the grip of transmuting under the aegis of an artistic director with powerfully specific goals which do not for the most part include casting leads from local talent.  

So looks like I'm going to have me a ceremony & let some stuff go & be happy.  


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©2006 Claudine Jones
©2006 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. As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his latest render.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives




Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Performing Arts and Media

july 2006

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