The Day off.
Having a day off after an intense work weekend is a blessing. For a moment the process is suspended, allowing me time to assess what has happened. Like after a car crash, you climb out and count your bones. In a good way.
I also sense acutely, that it took my molecules three days to reassemble after my flight from NYC. Funny, it takes them about six days after flying in from Zürich. So when Randy visits us at Stone Soup before the first rehearsal, I’d rather not imagine where his subatomic parts are floating, having just arrived to the Northwest from Slovenia. He seems happy to see that planning is entering reality, and we’re all pleased to see him. As if now that team is fully assembled.
On that free Monday – Columbus Day – I also had lunch with one of my few local friends, and have come to formulate a thesis.
If a certain peculiarity about a person strikes you as unique and a goldmine for humor, please stop to think if this is equally amusing to the person involved. Then start making jokes about it, or not.
Case in point. Chris Christie has made the very good argument that calling attention to his weight is not a newsflash. And so every joke about his weight, or the abundance thereof, is tedious to say the least. Now, ok, he was considered to run for office, which opens people to all levels of abuse at all times, but in my case – well yes, I come from the Principality of Liechtenstein, a very small country.
Now that is for most Americans very unusual, and possibly funny. However, please, before you tease me about it, stop and think: Perhaps she’s heard it all before? And perhaps she will think you not only tedious, a bore, but also an idiot, for not taking that into account?
A small list of stupdiass condescending things I don’t need to hear again:
“A principality! Like a real prince?! And do they wear crowns?”
“36’000 people – do you know everybody?”
“Have you seen/read The Mouse that roared, Small is beautiful, the Duchess of Gerolstein?”
“Do you like the Liechtensteiner Polka?”
“62 sq.miles – my district/town/block holds that much!”
“I heard nobody pays taxes – can I come?”
“So there’s just the castle, right?”
“I drove through there once, lovely, we’d been to France and Belgium…”
“You’re German, right?”
“Are you munchkins?”
What I am willing to answer are questions about our history. However, my will wander as I speak, coz I don’t really want to be the universal tour guide, but also – I’m a little fuzzy in some spots, and will make shit up. But I give points for honest curiosity.
Questions that suggest some level of sincere interest might address how it is to grow up in such a strange microcosm of basically agrarian people, historically used to being shoved around, having become suddenly filthy rich after WWII?
Are there something like unique Liechtenstein qualities? What is happening there now that the glory days of shovelling money with tax evasion and hiding dough in anonymous foundations has come to a close? Ok, the last one requires some knowledge, so it’s for the more advanced. What saddened me at that lunch, though, was that my friend spent a half hour teasing me stupidly about Liechtenstein’s cute size in comparison with Andorra and San Marino, and I thought back nostalgically that one of the reasons I had liked him so much when we first met, was that he NEVER EVER made comments of that ilk.
Oh well, tempura mutantur…
So on Tuesday we started out with what I believe will become our ritual: warm-up and sharing games of various provenance. Since I’d been training with Sanctuary’s Next Stage , I’ve become acutely aware of a more physical approach to performance, and both Lisa and David have exercises to share. Scofie, our stage manager and lighting designer, is roped in, at first with a “What, me?!” look on his face, but after a while the flow gets him going too. Then we feel our way into Scene 1, Elizabeth Bishop’s first visit at the mental hospital of St.Elizabeths (see photo) to Ezra Pound. I resist making definite choices, I don’t want to “block” this, but of course a structure emerges. Which is fine, but I was pretty happy that on Wednesday both Pound and Liz Bish only had a rudimentary memory of what we’d done 24 hours earlier, which allowed other things to surface.
David tried out his “haughty Pound” on a hapless young woman knocking on our door, and just stared at her, while she nervously apologized for interrupting. “We are busy.” Scofie came to her rescue. It worked, she was satisfyingly cowed. Well, Elizabeth Bishop’s mettle is a little different, so though he gives her that treatment, she doesn’t falter. At least not quite as much.
At the end everything’s a mess of paper, cups, chairs, paint brushes and a sofa.
As it should be. Knock on wood.