Sunday, February 22, 2009

Perpetuating American Stereotypes to our English Cousins or Sockdology Redux

This week the theater department at Utah State invited a company of actors to perform and give workshops about Shakespeare. The play they performed was, Much Ado about Nothing. This is the second production I have seen of it. The first being in London by the RSC back in 2002. The RSC production transplanted the setting to 1940s Tuscany. It was a beautiful production that was well acted and envisioned. I am always hesitant to see a play twice, especially when I have seen a good production of it. But, I figured there are so many ways one can interpret the bard so I would give it a chance.

The Actors of the London Stage, is exactly what it sounds like, a company of actors from "London" (One of the actors admitted he was from Birmingham). Yet, the begins of the company strangely originate in Indiana, Notre Dame to be precise.Intriguingly there were only five actors to perform the entire play. Now it sounds less natural then the actual presentation was but the five actors were able to, for the most part, effortlessly transition into playing multiple characters on a bare stage with relatively little props.

The five actors were decent with the exception of one woman. The actor who played Beatrice, Don John, Balthazar, and Dogberry's assistant was so enthralling I found myself developing a bit of an obsession with her. Now, that sounds unhealthy but, I think every now and again its OK to be intrigued by a highly talented individual. At least that's my justification and I'm sticking with it. I think the quality of her voice is what caused me to be most enamored with her acting. I can only describe it was honey for the ears. Her range was a deep alto. I am convinced that she could have made a script reading of the classic, bearable if not enjoyable. I guess she played Tash on Holby City for three years. Is that a big deal?
As is the case with heroes, idols, crushes, I needed to meet her but was to embarrassed to admit my infatuation to her. I didn't want her to think I was a stalker. So, after the show, I went down to the hallway where the dressing rooms that the actors would be exiting from were located. And then pretended to be looking for something. Then trying to act nonchalant I struck up conversations with other members of the theater department I saw in the hallway. I think there was a tone of desperation in my desire to talk because I could see it reflected in my co-conversationist's face.
"Oh let me introduce myself. I'm Jeff I'm in the department."
Then the various actors introduced themselves. The problem was I hadn't really thought out what to do next and it got quiet, real quiet. "Where are you from in England?" I ask. "We're from London," answers Jo one of the actors who plays Hero and Leonato.
"You Idiot!! They're the actors from the LONDON Stage. Then in an attempt to save everything I blurt out,"I went to England last summer, Northampton." This feeling sinks in, I've become that guy. The guy that makes everything about them and thinks they no everything about a place because they spent a month there last summer. I am surprised I didn't ask if they knew Amry and Dave. You know the type of people that find out you're from America and ask if you know someone in Ohio. The conversation slowly fizzled out and I left dejected. I didn't even get to talk to my crush. She just sat silent and aloof.
The next day I went to do taxes at the library. After finishing I started to walk to my car. It was a lovely evening and the sky was a burnt orange and to my right walking with a cigarette rested between two lips was the siren herself. As we approached the crossroads. I felt as if fate had created this moment. She didn't notice me or ignored me so I cupped my hand around my mouth and said "break a leg." She looked surprised at first and then smiled in a genuine and appreciative way. She said, "Thank you very much." Then we walked on to our separate destinies. And that was it. I felt good about our interaction and hoped she knew how much her performance had moved me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I'm going to do it...I'!!!

Have you ever left a CD after overlistening to the songs? Now, havce you ever came back to a CD you put to the side and been reminded just how much you loved it and wondered how you could have ever gotten sick of it in the first place? Well, confession, I just had that experience.
Back in the fall I had just returned from my religious sabatical in COnnecticut. With much time on my hands and little music to fill it I went to a most unusual place to search for music...Target. I know right, who buys music from the same place you can buy toilet paper. Or is that saying that is commonly associated with jewelry anyway. I was browsing through the CDs when I saw one with this cover.

"Hmmm, I thought, who is this man Rilo Kiley and why is he making a visual allusion to Hilary Rodham Clinton's comic masterpiece, It Takes A Village." When I saw it was on sale for $9.99(the highest price I am willing to pay for a CD). I was sold and this crazy mans image. I got to the old teal toyota truck I was given as a present upon returning home and popped the CD into my tape deck. And by popping it into the tape deck I mean that I had to wait until I arrived at a friends house. I remember putting in the CD at Willey's and Crams' apartment and thinking that this Rilo Kiley had an unusually high voice, perhaps he was a castrato. Then I fell in love. I fell in love with the passion of, does he love you? Loving the clever wit of such lines as"we could be daytime drunks if we want to," and then wondering if Rilo was a lesbian, transexual, homosexual, or creep in, A man/me/ and jim, a complex narrative taking on the POV of three seperate people. In short I dodn't know who this Rilo was but I loved his music and was glad I had taken his impllicit challenge of being "more adventorous."

Yesterday, years after my first experience with the band Rilo Kiley. I know now that they are a band fronted by Jenny Lewis, Vixen of indie folk. Leaving the apartment I decided to grab a CDs I hadin't listened to in a while. Condensation exiting my body in the form of once global warming gases I got into my car, turned over the ignition, and put the much neglected "more adventerous," in my CD player. I was immediatley pooled in seretonin and felt euphoric. Its moments like those that make life a little more enjoyable.