We're getting inundated out here on the California coast: houses & cliffs running off downhill, and levees threatening to bust. Doesn't make for a pleasant pre-spring, even though the saying is 'March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb'. No. It is wet & bloody cold. Our utility had the balls to run an energy savings campaign based on last year's January through March gas usage & of course nobody was able to reduce their usage by 10% because this February was so frickin' cold compared to last year. They win! No rebates!
Meanwhile, I finished a show & headed off to see three productions that I had in mind for my down-time. In a bit of serendipity, they turned out to have had interesting themes in common, and some not-so-fortunate failings. One group attempted a Restoration comedy which would be difficult under the best of circumstances & omigod, these were not those. My self-professed policy in 'reviewing' shows, which might be the coward's way out but I prefer to think of as kindness, is to say good things about stuff I like and ignore the bad. Granted, sometimes I get lazy and don't say anything at all, and have been accused of writing a 'diary' by a disgruntled local media rep. Well, darn it, sometimes for months on end I don't feel like rehashing live theatre experiences I've had or films I've enjoyed; it spoils them in some way. I also am reminded that I'm a leetle fish in the big Pond & nobody gives a cold crap what I think anyway. So, on the stuff I did like.
When you have the good fortune to get sucked into an unforgettable performance, live or otherwise, how do you keep from becoming emotional hamburger? That is not to say that you are destroyed (although there are precedents—look at Berlioz; his dream girl was apparently a great Juliet and he wrote some terrific music in the aftermath of his obsession with her, but she dumped him anyway). No. It's only to say that you can't go back to being a steak. You are transformed.
How now do you deal with being small bits where before you were whole? A scattered sense of pleasure, a sort of sweet masochism pervades you as you're coming down. In the lobby other people may be chatting in a language you used to understand; now it seems rude. The emergence of a society of like-minded souls would be by its nature difficult, unless a rough code could be invented on the spot. Also, avoid the conspicuous sufferer—that way is polluted. I have three occasions to celebrate. Would I were able to dissect myself with the care of a self-curing surgeon. I am as an actor, somewhat ham-handed.
One is Brokeback Mountain.
I am not by any means on an obsessed level with BM. I did contribute $10 to Dave Cullen to help run an ad in Variety countering the bad feelings after the Oscars & it was a beautiful ad, too. Impossible to have a life, I think, and keep up with the pages and pages of debate over the design of the ad. Woof! And I bought my DVD through Dave's Amazon link, which was turning over 6% of those sales to Dave's website. I have only seen the film five times. I still feel like I could ruin it like dropping one of Laura's glass animals, but that's nuts. It holds. Tippie-toeing around my impressions of this film, I keep coming up with pain & elation. The toughest part is similar to a stretch acting class: you gotta let things in & not fear letting them out again. I've got the soundtrack pretty well memorized. I like country songs. One day I was singing along with Willie Nelson & suddenly realized that the words 'He died on the road' applied to the guy I used to be married to 25 years ago, and that I do still miss him.
The second gift was a local version of Death of a Salesman,which started out on a very bad tilt for me. You can't be an actress of a certain age and not consider Linda as a possibility at some point. No exceptions. Maybe if you just can't do drama, but then you wouldn't want to be stuck there, would you? Anyhow, I called for an audition slot and needed to work around conflicts in my rehearsal schedule. Didn't happen, so I figured, hey, wasn't meant to be. Next thing I know, I'm overhearing one of my fellow cast members telling another that she's been cast as Linda. Oh. And did I mention that when I called the director, I got Willie on the phone, because he's her husband, and that I had been in a show with him as his wife? Never mind. So. I go through the whole run of my show hearing snippets of how 'Salesman' rehearsals are going and I don't say anything of course; that wouldn't be kosher. I always make an attempt to see friends and colleagues & support their shows—have I said that before?—but not if I'm up for a role and I don't get it. (I tried that once, when I lost the Old Lady in Candide and knew half the people in the show. I had to leave at intermission because the woman playing my part was making me sick. Just a little neurosis of mine I'm working on.) So. I snuck in to this production on my By God Associated Media Press Network credential, with a fairly large chippish sort of thing on my shoulder. Boy did that vanish in short order. See, now I don't want to say anymore to break into this rarified thing I've been trying to describe, but I'm a die-hard Miller devotee, have seen many a version of this play, but I have NEVER cried when Biff has it out with Willie. This show was so thoroughly etched in truth. That was what did it, I think. Even so, my colleague, my Linda was still shaking in the lobby afterwards. I think I finally got that last fight with the boys right; it felt right' she said. I gave her a big hug.
The third, a current revival of Glass Menagerie. I got an LP of West Side Story when I was about 14 or so. It was in stereo, which I didn't need because we didn't even have a stereo. I grow up to find out all the things that Rita Moreno didn't like about her experience on that shoot and now I'm at Berkeley Rep thinking 'ok, this is the same woman who is on stage in front of me' only she's Amanda, not Anita. This time, it's my partner's turn to get weepy, because he loves this play, has taught it a bunch more times than he did Salesman, which he sees as the height of Miller's craft in play structure, whereas Williams work is living poetry.
After you reach home & the comforts of the familiar, a natural slippage occurs with your run of the mill experience. Hell, most shows are fairly forgotten by the last exit off the turnpike. No. Here, we're talking about the shifting of tectonic plates, to mix our metaphors; the crumbling of walls, the melting of glaciers, the letting-down of a fusty hairdo on the bridal-bed. Once this is fait accompli, to a greater good, it cannot be replicated. There is no messing with magic.