Friday, March 5, 2010
I have not blogged in forever, I know. The simple pimple of it is, I have not been inspired, I have not had a proper weekend off, and I have not had free internet access in forever and a day. There is a lot to report but unfortunately, I cannot spill tonight. I have to work tomorrow and I am on a hunt for Mexican food. I love you all. All four of you. Here is a list of things that hopefully will make you stay tuned...
I LOVE MY JOB and TOURING THROUGH ITALY, BUT I MISS THESE THINGS:
1)I miss random dinners at my Queen Anne flat with Aaron
2)I miss Jo Jo and Becca
3)I miss walking home from the theatre with Shumpy
4)I miss rides home from Tony Beeman
5)I miss talking to my family on the weekend
6)I miss Mexican food
7)I miss running down Post Alley on my way to do a show not designed for 8 year olds
8)I miss knowing I am three hours away from my mom and dad.
9)I miss talking to Abby and John
10)I miss consistency, my own bed, my own bathroom, my own kitchen, I MISS COOKING.
11)I miss Rachel and texting Mari
I miss these things. However, if I had them all, in one place, all together, I would be missing this opportunity that I cannot even explain the greatness of. It is unbelievable on so many levels I have never experienced. It is an artistic challenge, it is a spiritual journey, it is a test of strength, endurance, character, physical capabilities and patience. It is where I am and need to be.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The bastard cold crept up on me like a wolf in the distance. Stress has been weighing on me slightly, no, that is a lie, a terrible, horrible lie...I have been feeling the stress like it is opening night every night. But the only difference is, opening night is opening morning and opening morning starts at 6am where I wake in the dark, shovel a handful of special K into my mouth and down a cup of instant coffee that tastes kind of like battery acid. Then we grab the costume bag, the curtain and the bag of song cards we have rightfully named "The Bastard Bag" jump into the car, drive to our destination and perform The Three Little Pigs just hoping that the houses stay up before the wolf blows them down. We get through the show, teach three workshops in a loud stuffy gym, run back to the curtain and prepare Peter Pan. After Peter Pan, we do three more workshops and if we are lucky, the school allows us to eat lunch with the children. We find a seat among the screaming children waving their hands and standing on chairs shouting "Io!!" "Io!" When we sit, we are bombarded with questions in Italian and some in English and it is an amazing experience. It is so fulfilling and rewarding and these moments are the ones that I must cherish. Not the fact that after lunch with these adorable children who look at me like a movie star, we must move to another school and teach a workshop to a bunch of middle schoolers who are just too cool for school. I have found that with most of the middle school aged kids,there is an inability to stay quiet during a demonstration or a show. Well, look kids, would you rather be in the classroom reviewing grammar or here, with your friends putting on a condensed version of Bugsy Malone, a show about children gangsters during Prohibition? I would chose the latter. I mean, duh.
I, Brandon And Felicia are sick as dogs. Sick as dogs in intensive care for dogs, hooked up to little dog IV drips. We all have the same thing and are taking the same medication but all wanted to die today. We arrived in the beautiful hill town of Bergamo this morning after a restful sleep in a lovely B&B. What could go wrong? The show was to begin at 8:30. we arrived at the school slightly after 8 to a bunch of yelling, kids waiting to be let in the door of the theatre. There was no one to let them or us in. We parked the van and unloaded it, then schlepped all of our stuff to the locked door trying to explain that we actually needed to set up for the show. That it wasn't going to be magically "ready" as we arrived. Well, they found someone to open the door, the Priest of all people, and I tried in my best Italian which I have found, sucks ass, that I just wanted someone to look at the car to tell me if it was in a legal place to park. I must have asked three competent women of the group and none of them would look at the car with me. I used my best miming of "My car is PAaaaaaarked over T-HERE-----...Is it O-K WHERE It I-S?" Nothing. Nada. Finally, I and Bran just decided to move the beast. So we jumped in, left Felicia with all the crap and drove down streets narrower than a newborn baby's foot and eventually found a spot. When we returned, the doors were opened and children were trampling in over Felicia and all of our stuff. Of course, when we grabbed the stuff to go inside, one of the teachers pulled me aside and in perfect English said, "You should have just parked out front, they never ticket when it is snowing..." Well...Thanks A LOT.
The show went on. The show was good. And I learned something. The show MUST go on. It is not about me, it is about the kids. It was a close one today. After I got knocked out by the hanging screen back stage where were setting up, it took every fiber in my being to not scream at the top of my lungs "FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK" and run out of there crying. Instead, I just dropped into fetal position and let Felicia and Brandon close the curtain so the kids would not see me lying there like a narcoleptic cat. We got through the day, taught something good and the teacher was very pleased with us. She had no idea. No flippin idea. We are in a new city tonight. My voice is completely shot for tomorrow as are all of ours. I have green stuff coming out of my nose and mouth. I have a cough that sounds like a swan getting murdered, I had two bloody noses back stage yesterday, and fear that I have nose cancer, my feet hurt and my legs are on fire. I am in a town that smells kind of like raw sewage. I have Peter Pan, Three Little Pigs and Bugsy tomorrow. Despite all of it. I wouldn't trade this for the world. That does not change the fact that right now, at this moment, I still just want my mummy...
Saturday, February 6, 2010
February 6th 2010,
I am sitting in the kitchen of the Milan flat with Brandon, Kyle and Burnese. Bran and Kyle are going over the finances of our groups while an NPR podcast streams in the background... They are both the active accountants for our respective groups. I miss NPR. I also do not think that anything can ever beat this moment. This week went by really quickly. Things are getting easier, the scripts are memorized(almost) the parts are getting tweaked and the bags are getting lighter. We are about to move out of the flat and move into hotel living. We have stayed at two so far to be closer to the schools in which we are working. They were nice little stays. However, the eight of us in the flat have kind of become a family. Anticipating the times in which someone needs the bathroom, as there is only one for six women and two men, we have developed a system. If I am brushing my teeth and someone walks into the bathroom with a look (that I have become able to read) of "I have to poop/pee", without a hitch, I move my brushing to the hallway where I will finish brushing and by the time, whoever is in the bathroom is done, I am ready to spit. We have this system just as we are about to leave. This is one thing that I have always had trouble with. I am trying to get as much as I can out of this experience, the coming home to the warm, yet moldy, and stuffy flat to conversations and stories of the days performances, workshops and Milan traffic woes. I will miss the combination of our groups together. It has been nice to catch up with other groups as well. There is rarely only one group staying in the flat at once. I have a weekend off and I do not know what to do with it. It is so amazing and rare it seems. The last couple of weeks, we have been rehearsing like crazy, panicking about the next day, now, we have it down. Maybe... I had an English day the other day which means no shows, only teaching. It was to be a four hour day with one class and my group and I decided to split it up a little. We would each take a class for an hour and change and then we would rotate to another classroom when we were done and do it all over again. I taught drama, Bran taught Dance and Felicia taught games. poor Maren had to be in another school completely but she had done it before and she had no problem with it. It was easy as pie and the children really responded and were completely receptive to it all. I told the story of the Wizard of Oz and had the children fill in the blanks while viewing the picture cards. They all acted it out and I fed them lines from the actual story. It may have been my favorite day. To walk away from the school and see the children smiling and shouting goodbyes and thank you's was incredible. Just experiencing little Giovanni who couldn't have weighed more than 39lbs and his reaction to being the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, and his extreme joy to be speaking English and actually acting in a mini play in front of his peers, I felt fulfilled. Completely and honestly fulfilled...Whatever "it" is or was, I think that I have found "it" I repeat, I "think" I have found "it".
February 4th 2010,
So here it is,I have been living, working, eating in Italy for a month now. Now things are getting real. I apologize for the lack of blogs since my last entry but, I have been unable to communicate to the outside world, ie...YOU. I am staying in a flat in Milan for a month and there is one spot on the radiator that can pick up a signal. I really only have time to upload Facebook photos and get back to those one or two comments on a comment I made. Here is the long and short of it. I have been put into a group of four actors. I was originally put into another group but because my wallet was stolen, I was put into another group with more drivers. Two out of the three in the new group are stunning and flawless, ones that I would pick but never would have imagined I would have been paired with if it wasn't for my missing proof that I can capably drive. Now, two weeks into it, I have one thing to say. Thank Jah my wallet was stolen. I am completely happy with my group. I am 130% happy with two of my group members but maybe 7% happy with another. The third. She has done an Italian tour before and she has the experience but I personally have no chemistry with her on or off stage. I have no real chemistry with her in waking life, in walking life, in running life, in sleeping life... Though she has a lot to offer and she is freshly intelligent, fresh out of college, new, green, opinionated and creative, she is not my kind of creative. But pish posh as Brandon, the male version of myself would say. We are all in this together and we must make it work. We must make it good. We must make it art...
Awe Brandon... We have so much chemistry on stage, it makes me want to start a touring company with him. He is funny, smart, an incredible dancer and just plain awesome. We were at the supermarket the other night and he was in line buying razors and toilet paper and while I was throwing tampons and cheese on his pile, I had a brief premonition that this scene would be repeated somewhere in the future. Not here, maybe New York, maybe Chicago, who knows. Of course, at that moment, being me, I vocalized the feelings I was having. "Maybe it is too soon to say this, but...I think that you and I will be friends for a lifetime..." Brandon, did not skip a beat...he knows too. He is kind of my soul brother. I love working with him, I love hanging with him, I love living with him, he is completely golden.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I feel a heaviness today. Not good, not bad. Tomorrow we will be put into our groups that we will be spending the next five months with. Friday we will be saying ciao to the rest of the group. It has been almost three weeks in a hotel in a beautiful town in Italy, rehearsing 8 hours a day, eating, working, being together 24/7. I have grown very fond of everyone. Not much for blogging today. There is a lot of memorizing to do, a lot of workshop planning to do, there is a lot of breathing to do. A dopo.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
So today marks day four of rehearsal for the Theatrino Tour 2010. We have been working about nine to 6 with a nice lunch in the middle of the day. I spent a good part of today at the post office waiting around to get some more documentation stuff to live here. The paperwork situation is ridiculous. We waited in line for 30 minutes or so, after waiting at the office for 30 minutes or so with three other Americans who are just as clueless as to what the hell we are doing there in the first place. We need more documents, we DON'T need more documents, we need health insurance papers printed off, we DON'T need health insurance papers printed off because they provide it all for us. It was a whole lot of "bring this to the post office. Oh, you don't have that? Well, that's ok!" "Sign this in blue ink. Oh, you already signed it in black ink? well, ok, that's fine." Organized chaos is what Romina says. I don't know how things get done, but they eventually do. I filed a police report on the wallet last night so I am still hoping that my drivers license turns up. I am missing Italian driving lessons because I do not have it. I would like to drive on this tour. Or maybe I am secretly happy that I will not have to drive. I have seen the drivers here. The lack of speed limits, the creative ways of parking ANYWHERE.
When I returned back to the rehearsal space, we, "Team America" which were the folks who had to do all of this paperwork stuff, we got right into going over the blocking of the last couple of days. We have blocked five plays in three days. Among these plays are "Robin Hood," "The Three Little Pigs", "Excalibur", "The Wizard of Oz" and "Peter Pan". We also have a number of sketches for the older students. It will basically go like this, We drive to the town in the evening, we drive to the school in the morning, children gather, the stage is set, there is a storyteller who gives the synopsis of the play they are about to see with picture cards. Then, actors enter, perform the play with songs and dance thrown in appropriately, then we all say goodbye to the kids, do a little talk back and divide up into our workshop groups. Each actor (there will be three to four) leads a 30 minute workshop with the children in our group. Then, we pile the stage, props, EVERYTHING into our car and go to the next town for another show and workshop, we could do three a day. When we are done with that school, it is off to our next town, maybe a little dinner, probably some memorizing and rehearsing in the car, setting up in the hotel and most likely crashing. We have to memorize all of these shows and we have less than two weeks left. Can we do it? Hell ya we can. Hmmmm. I'm hungry.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
We had our first couple of rehearsals and they are going well. Very well. There is so much to learn. There is so much to memorize, there is such a way to memorize all of the grammar and all of the cultural differences between American English and "English" English. For instance, English pronunciation, like c-ah-stle as opposed to c-a-stle. We have about 6 children's plays to memorize and about 5 different sketches. They are all for specific age groups. Simple Present, Past continuous, possessive adjectives, all of the things that I never understood about foreign language learning, we are to enforce through our dialogue in the plays. They are full of songs and lots of movement and running around. We went through the fairy tale story boards yesterday. It is going to be a lot of work in a little bit of time but I am confident that we will pull it all together, we have to. After next week , it will literally be four actors, four scripts, a gas card a highway and a two week schedule of where we are going to be located. Then, we go to the next location. This is for five-ish months.
I know all of the people here now. We have had time to bond. Clicks are being formed, how is it going to be divided? We have 32 people. How in the hell is Romina going to do this? of course, I have my dream team chosen but, does she see that too? There is a whole art of choosing people based on their dynamics and their ability to exist together. Whatever the groups are, I just know that this is like a festival, I will make friends that I will know for a lifetime. We still have two weeks left and I already am getting a little tender about the goodbye time. But now, I stop. Now...
After rehearsal yesterday, we headed to the Hotel and ate some dinner. After dinner, I was Lucky enough to share some really good vino that would cost a pretty penny in the states but was really cheap here with my new sister in crime, Caroline from Massachusetts. Talk about bonds and dynamics, I am also rooming with a lovely Canadian who lives in London presently. Well, presently in a Hotel in Sanremo but she is really a riot. I am reminded of college with the late nights, the giggling before bed, the boy talk and the P.J's. I am finding that most of the group is just easy to get along with. We are all like minded, we are all in this together and basically, we are all in paradise. Don't get me wrong, we are working hard and will continue to work hard but, we have to have some fun too.
Last night we went to the Cave, where I had my wallet stolen. Which is such shit because it was such a great night until then. We went to hear some Jazz which ended up being more of a Latin drum based band. Everyone was up and dancing, we were taking a ton of pictures, we were bonding with the group, so of course, something had to go wrong. I noticed it was missing a little bit after the big dance of everyone. We had people from our group playing the drums, shaking the percussion, dancing, singing, it was beautiful. It was perfect, it was safe, it was love! I can only come to the conclusion that that was the time when my wallet was stolen. When I held up my camera to take a video of this greatness and these people and this perfect moment. It was the only and I repeat, ONLY time I had my hand off of my purse. There were so many people around me and I have never been pick pocketed. The three times I have traveled abroad to Europe or multiple times in the States, I have always been really smart with my money whether it be a money belt or the old fashioned shoving it in my bra, but this time, I trusted a buttoned purse was safe enough. So I felt like I was taken for a fool. What I found most interesting was that there was a guy at the bar who had seen everything happening and he said that he may know who had stolen my wallet. That he would go and talk to him and try to get my documents back which was basically my drivers license. I also had 70-80 euros in the wallet. So this guy leaves for about 20 minutes, I have a posse of my people waiting to see what the hell is going on with him and others are flooding into another bar. I finally decided to give up and I let Romina buy me a drink. She explained that the documents will probably turn up and I should just cancel my card and we will make a police report in the morning. She lent me her phone and I called mom and dad. It was so good to hear dads voice and I just said, "Dad, I am fine, I am not hurt, but my wallet was stolen and I need you to get me the bank number so that I can cancel it or maybe cancel it for me on line". He was on the computer in a heartbeat and we tried, but no dice. I said goodbye, thank you and I love you and went home. People were so great and so supportive and awesome and kind when this happened. I felt and still feel that it is all going to be alright. I am just so incredibly lucky that I put my passport away in the drawer before I went out. It could have been a whole lot worse.
I watched a Sanremo soccer game today and experienced Italian football at its best and cheapest. A bunch of us then walked the marina, had a lovely Pizza dinner at a nearby restaurant and topped it off with Gelato. Supposedly the best in Sanremo. The night ended with a game of cards and a game of Celebrity with the last 12 standing and now to bed to be up for rehearsal tomorrow. I will read through the scripts tonight...Ciao ragazzi.
A car, a script and an appetite.
A bohemian lifestyle making good, touring Italy and teaching children through the magic of theatre.