Friday, March 14, 2008

Overture, Curtain, Lights!

Overture, curtains, lights,
this is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing
and nursing a part
we know every part by heart

Overture, curtains, lights
this is it, you’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
on with the show this is it

-- The Bugs Bunny, Road Runner Hour

Tonight is opening night! Yes, I'm in a play, which is one reason why I haven't posted this last week. We (as in the cast and crew) have been dealing with that phase lovingly called Hell Week, a week where we run the play as if it's opening night. Or, rather, we try to. The first couple of days generally involve working out the technical details, such as making sure the light cues are correct and that the set changes are properly choreographed.

Last week, I was out of town for a conference. This week, I've had rehearsals until at least 10:30 p.m. DD and Kara have seen me more than JP has. I'm not complaining, mind you. But, it has been pretty difficult. I'm very happy that we're finally opening.

Actually, I'm pretty excited overall. This is the first play I've done since 1999 and the second since '94. JP has been completely supportive and that's meant the world to me. I know it's been hard not having me around in the evenings.

I love being involved in live theatre and it's been great to work the rust out of some old skills.

The photo shows my make-up kit, which contains numerous items I found useful when I was doing plays on a more regular basis, including a corkscrew, safety pins, multiple eyebrow pencils, toothpaste, aspirin, a sewing kit, matches, a pair of D10 dice, a curtain hoop that doubled as a wedding ring (before I had one of my own), and many mementos of other shows.

The newspaper photo shows me, as a much younger man, in one of the final shows I was in before I let life take me in directions away from the theatre. I thought about all the things that have happened to me since that photo was published. If I were to try that role again today, the performance would be much different.

But, then, that's one way why we produce plays over and over again, isn't it? To see how they affect us now and to see if they affect us differently than they might have in the past.

This production has been a terrific experience. I will have to keep my eyes open for another project. I think, though, that I'll wait a little while. I know a certain poet (and two little girls) who are looking forward to a little quality time with their resident actor.

And, for those who are either hankering for a bit of nostalgia (or those who never watched The Bugs Bunny, Road Runner Hour), here's the introduction.

free music

Photo credit: Me

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I Want to Believe

I want to believe so badly; in a truth beyond our own
hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes...
-- Fox Mulder, "Closure," The X-Files

I've borrowed this video from friend Tara's blog. It's an amazing testament to the power and appeal of this candidate.

I feel the country has become cynical in the last eight years. We've been classified, separated, and divided. Red State, Blue State. Top 1%, Vanishing Middle Class. It's like a poor pastiche of a Dr. Seuss book.

The economy is in crisis. Each day, the price of oil rises higher and higher while the value of the dollar falls freely. And how do our leaders respond? They give us checks so we can hit the malls to "stimulate" the economy.

Pardon me for asking about the white elephant in the room, but why isn't anyone talking about the biggest drain to the American economy? According to some sources, we are spending roughly $275,000,000 (US) per day. (Or rather, we're racking up "credit card" debt in order to finance these "wars.") How can any economy absorb that kind of reckless spending without some consequences?

In looking at the campaign being run by Senator Clinton, one wonders if she's capable of any authenticity whatsoever. She's changed tactics so many times, that it's really hard to see any message from her as anything but an artfully contrived, Madison Avenue production. (I gotta tell you, I found this spot to be more than a little creepy.)

Were Senator Clinton to ask for my advice, I would suggest that she drop the theatrics (and the histrionics), stop the dirty tricks, and simply run a respectful campaign based on the issues and her plans to address them. Let the voting public choose the candidate with the most thoughtful and effective plans.

Now, I fully realize that each candidate's message is focus-grouped, tested, tweaked, and polished to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Senator Obama, though, is charming, charismatic, and smart. His positions seem to be as nuanced as John Kerry's, but without the qualifying...and confusing...jargon. Senator Obama seems convincingly compassionate in a way that a certain other political candidate never did.

Some have compared the Senator's appeal to that of John F. Kennedy. I can't directly compare the two, in part because I was born weeks after he died. However, I see parallel themes between Kennedy's inaugural address and Senator Obama's stump speeches. In addition, the Senator's recent success is building on itself.

Some talk about Senator Obama's lack of experience. However, Kennedy was a one-term senator before becoming President, as was Abraham Lincoln. Clearly, it's occasionally useful to bring a fresh eye to the problems of governance. Given the shenanigans of the last several years, fresh eyes are more than welcome.

I genuinely hope that Senator Obama is being honest when he speaks of change. I want to believe that change is possible. I want to believe to there are honest politicians who put the country's needs above their own. I want to believe that politicians want to serve the majority of their constituents, not just the elite. I want to believe that rule of law is possible and that companies that break the law fulfilling illegal requests from the government are held to the same standards of Justice that the Watergate co-conspirators were held. I want to believe that these wars can be ended quickly and gracefully. I want to believe that we can tackle the problems of terrorism, unrest, and cultural differences with something other violence and coercion.

I genuinely hope that the American people are tired of being lied to; that they've learned to recognize a steaming pile of rhetoric. I want to believe that we've grown up a little bit during the current Administration.

I do know one thing...if *I* were running for office during this election, I would borrow a phrase from a previous generation and ask, quite simply, "Is the country better off now than it was seven years ago?" If so, vote for the status quo. If not, then look at the leading candidates for change...and let their actions demonstrate the truth of their words.

I want to believe Senator Obama is all he says he is. There is, however, a part of me that is afraid he isn't. I sincerely hope that, should he win the nomination, he senses that cynicism and addresses it.

Video credit: DipDive


Mediations on Change

the road goes ever on...My darling JP's recent post on change got me to thinking that I really need to change myself. That is, I need to revive this blog and start posting again. I'm sorry I let things lapse for so long.

It's not that there hasn't been anything to write about. Indeed, life goes on, whether we record it or not.

If you followed my blog over the months, you may have noticed that I began well. I posted (realtively) regularly. However, about a year ago, new posts appeared less frequently.

When I (re)started this blog, I wanted to create a space where I wrote about the things I was thinking about. I wanted to think about my experiences and try to draw meaning about what's happened in my life.

As you might expect, that required a bit of retrospection and a bit of personal honesty. As I thought about what I was feeling, I uncovered a certain amount of pain, pain that was as fresh in the moment of discovery as it was the moment it was originally inflicted.

Things like the pain I feel every time I return Kara to her mother. (Sometimes, it's so fresh, I can barely breathe and my heart feels like it's about to burst.) Like the pain I felt when my mother told me I'd need to find a new place to live (I was 18). Like the pain I felt when I said goodbye to my father before he and I could have that grown-up conversation that we kept promising each other that we would have. Like a number of other deeply painful experiences.

Abandonment. Betrayal. Failure. Loss.

Deeply personal and extremely hard to document. Things that, quite honestly, can bring tears to my eyes just by entertaining the memory for more than a few seconds.

So, if you noticed a change in the nature of my posts around the time of JP's surgery, that's why. My mind ran rampant during those hours I sat in the waiting room with no information. (I began to fear I was going to lose her again.)

It was hard to look at that stuff and it's hard to experience these deeply personal and deeply emotional things. Worse, it's hard to find ways to live with that pain, to learn to accept the consequences of those actions, some of which were my own damned fault.

I also felt shame. I'm supposed to be a grown-up. You'd think I'd have it all figured out by now, right? Be a man! Suck it up. Cope!

It scared me. I didn't know how to integrate what had happened, let alone explain what (and why) I felt these things. Explain why I feel these things, for some of these emotions are still raw.

I backed away from my writing and I allowed this pain prevent me from finding ways to synthesize, integrate, and share my experiences.

And you know what? That needs to change.

This is a process, a journey (hence the picture, which is from what JP calls my "commuter series") and I apologize for not being willing to be more honest in sharing it with you.

Photo credit: me.

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