Sunday, January 17, 2010

Try a little tenderness.

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

Lions and Pirates and Pigs, OH MY!

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

My wallet was stolen but I won't hold it against you.

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.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

You may say I'm a dreamer, but clearly, I am not the only one...

Thursday, January 7th 2010
I am here in Sanremo. I was greeted at the train station by Guiseppe. He has been a part of Theatrino for ten-ish years. We came back to the hotel where I will be staying with 31 other actors of the tour for the next three weeks before we break up into groups of four. I was utterly exhausted upon arrival because I did not sleep at all the night before. I drank Red Bull and Vodka until about 4 in the morning and had beautifully colorful conversations that eventually led me to acquiring a necklace from a lovely Italian improviser. I simply told her I loved her necklace and she gave it to me. Ask me again, why I love this country. The eve before my departure from Piombino, I was looking for my Bungalo mates and in passing, after not being able to get into my room, I mentioned to some people that I was catching the train to Sanremo in the morning. Upon hearing this, another lovely improviser said that she would drive me as far as Savona which would save me about 40 euro. I got to get to know my lovely ride who just knocked my socks off with her awesomness and true humanity. She drove me to the station, walked me inside (even after I insisted she go because she was going to be late for work) found out about an earlier train that would have saved me an hour, pleaded with the conductor who was closing the doors of the train to let her American friend on without a validated ticket, gave me a hug and a kiss and sent me on my way. The drive was hell due to my severe hangover but having someone to talk to was a gift. We talked about life, love, Improv, the price we paid to party like rockstars, the 37 1/2 tolls she had to pay while driving from Piombino to Genoa and the fact that we had quite a few things in common. Thank you for the ride my lovely Ika, and I will see you soon!

So when I finally arrived in Sanremo, after my brief "I didn't sleep all night, I am still jet lagged, I am hung over" haze, I joined some of Theatrino in the bar down the street. I met about 10 of the 32 tour mates as the rest were snowed in in London. We had an amazing meal, we got to know each other, spent the day kicking it and walking around the city for a bit and then tonight, the rest of the tour arrived. Dinner tonight was one of good energy, good conversations, a cornucopia of accents, laughter, laughter, laughter and stories of the process of auditioning for the company. By the way, while I was waiting for the word of the Tour, I probably sent an e-mail every other week just to make sure Theatrino still knew I was interested. At times, it could have been constituted as stalking, or extreme annoyance. Nonetheless, Romina Tappi, the Artistic Director of Theatrino said to me moments after we met that it was those e-mails that got me in. They put me on the radar and they kept me in their minds. So I don't want anyone to say that persistence does not prevail. I have proof. It does...So far, I do not think any of us are really ready to admit this is actually real. The scripts were passed out today, tomorrow we start our first rehearsal and for the next two-ish weeks, we will be memorizing lines, nailing down the logistics and being split up into our tours. We will be put in groups of four. We met Arrigo Speziali AKA the man behind the magic tonight and listened to his reasons for starting Theatrino, heard about his passion for art and hands on learning. He basically,confirmed that this tour, this magic company, this gift to children, is a vehicle that fits everything I have done in my life thus far. Fuck ups AND accomplishments, temp jobs, unhappy, bitchy bosses who made me feel like crap sometimes, falling for Improvisation, feeling the pressure to "grow up", falling in love, falling out of love, going to college for a theatre degree, studying abroad, traveling, never settling for a "REAL" career. It makes sense now. I knew it before I arrived. I knew the moment I read the job description. After our dinner, Romina "suggested" that we call it an early night so we can be fresh tomorrow. With that said, buonanotte. And Soni d'oro.

Portafino, Florence and Piombino

Luneday, 4 January 2010.
Has it only been a day since my last entry? Wowza. So, Yesterday we all went to Portafino. It was an incredibly beautiful day with the perfect little breeze and just the right amount of sunshine to make patterns in the clouds. We walked around the town and went to the light house where we took some pictures of the coming storm that was supposed to hit last night.
After some walking and tasting and as my mother would say, "bipsing" around, we caught the train for a late supper Italian style. Mauro had been talking about our dinner excursion all day and my appetite was just aching for some Panigaccio. Panigaccio is like nothing I have ever had before. It is made by pouring a mystery batter on terracotta plates that have been fired on hot coals, topped with another hot plate, some more of the mystery batter(not bread, not pasta) and so on and so forth.
The product is a chewy, delicious tortilla-ish/nann-ish food that is topped with all the fixins'. When you order Panigaccio, you eat it the way THEY want you to. The ONLY way. The first round was served a little soft with olive oil, garlic and cheese, the second dish was with a creamy pesto, the third with a mushroom ragu.

After the softer version of this slightly more tough, pancake type food, they just brought baskets and baskets of deliciously, slightly harder Panigaccio which was accompanied by two different types of cheese and a vibrantly red and white trio of cured meats. Would you believe it when I tell you it was more than we could eat? The last basket was served with a bountiful supply of Nutella. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, it did.

Of course, we all had espresso at the end of the meal and red wine during. All of this, with more than we could eat with six people, it was less than 23 Euros per person. This was not just a meal, but an experience. Panigaccio is only served in this specific region of Tuscany. Well, I hear, it is the only place where you eat it well. After we ate, Mauro, his sister Claudia and lovely ragazza Rosa drove back to Milan and I joined Corrado and Clara in Florence. After many hours of tossing and turning, I was able to sleep about four(the jetlag is still with me)and awoke to get ready to go into the center with Corrado on his scooter. He went to work which is in the center of the city and I spent the day walking in the rain, getting lost, getting found.

I had been to the Duomo 8 years ago when I studied in Italy and I remembered it well. When I arrived in the Duomo, I walked right up to the candles, almost in a daze, dropped a few euro in the donation box, lit one candle and immediately began to cry. Of course, and I have said this before, I am only Catholic in Italy. I lit a candle for Grandma Juanita. I told her I wished she could be there with me physically, I told her I feel she is with me in spirit every day and I hoped that she knew how much of an impact she had on my life. And still has. Suddenly, it was just me in the Duomo. No one else was there, just me, my tears, my memories, my love for my family, the presence of my Nana. It was just how it should have been. I lit a candle for Whitney too. I have been wearing her headband that was sent to me after she died. I know she would have liked it to go to Italy.

The Uffizi and the Accademia were closed as it was Monday and they are closed on Monday. I guess even 500 year old naked statues need a day off sometimes as well. I would get a little tired of people gawking at my package day in and day out. So, no David today but it was made up for as my other Davide was there to meet me(fully clothed) at the train station after some confusion with station locations, in Piombino. He is here for a festival of improv. I just ate some dinner with about 15 Italian improvisers. I may forfeit the festival party tonight to grab some sleep. Honestly, I may just sleep all day tomorrow. My body needs it. My anticipation of meeting the Theatrino tour grows every moment. I am so glad I have had a couple days to be with friends and get acclimated here. I hope to be refreshed on the 6th where I will finally experience what I have waited a year to be a part of.

January 3rd, 2010 Liguria

January 3rd 2010 Liguria.
I arrived in Milan yesterday afternoon around 12:30pm. I was surprised at the speed of my luggage coming. Unfortunately, speed meant very little care. Yes, my kind of brand new rucksack had been ripped at the lovely padded waist support strap. I decided that I am grateful It came and it could have been a lot worse. I was able to catch the earlier train to Liguria and in my rapid pace of running to the train, I was unable to call my friends who were picking me up at the statione. On the train, I was able to in my very rusty, very broken, almost nonexistent Italian, ask on of the girls in the seat next to me if she could text my friend for me. After a quick cafe and a small panino at the nearby cafe across le strada, I was greeted by Mauro, Corrado, and Clara at the train station. I had arrived and could not have been happier. We went back to the house where Rosa's mother, Father, Brother and Sister were as well as Mauro's Sister. After the parents and brother who had a flight to South Africa the next morning left, we ate a feast of cheese(they remembered my cheese fetish from back in Seattle) the Pacific Northwest Salmonjerkey and beef jerky I brought from home, some cured Italian meats, olives and antipasti fixings. A feast fit for a king. We finished it off with the famous and traditional Italian cake Sapori.

Dopo cena, (that means, "After dinner") we went into town were we all had a punch at a place called Hemingway Cafe. This punch was a mix between hot orange cough syrup and a melted popsicle. It was made from clementines and Rum. We all had a scalding cup.

My jetlag was starting to get the best of me but I wanted to try and stay up for a while so when we arrived back home, I joined meie amichi Italiani for a game of Yatzi and after Mauro swept the floor with all of us, we retired to bed. I awoke in normal time to Mauro singing a wake up song to his sister and me and after coffee and some biscotti, we are discussing the day. I believe we will try to see Portafino. The sun is shining with a few clouds, it is slightly chilly and I believe I have been cursed with a permanent smile.

How did I get here?

January 1st 2010 Chicago O'Hare International Airport British Airways Gate M12 to Milan, IT.
How did I get here?

We are family.

So it is new years eve and I am on my way to Chicago because of an early flight on New Years Day. I guess this will be my first entry for my blog. Let me just start off by saying, I have never had a blog before. I really do not know how to blog. I don't even know what blog means. "Sounds like, another word for "PIG!'" I just know that my groovy friend Rachel is blogging awesomely from Japan and I wanna be just like her. I also have a reason to blog. I am very self absorbed. I know this because I am me, and also, I have been told this by family members and friends for many years. And ya know what? I just can't help it. I have tried to not be so self absorbed, and in my trying to not be self absorbed, I become even more self absorbed. I will say this in my defense, I have tried to give back all of the attention that I have stolen through these 30 years of life. As a preschool teacher who hears "Hey! look what I can do!' Or, "Watch me!" Or, simply, a non provoked "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Just for a look, I have built up the patience and realized one thing, we all need love and recognition. I know I am just like them so I recognize their hopping on one foot, or their picture they drew me or their throwing of a block across the room with enthusiastic awe or an appropriate redirection. Some people can go their whole lives under the radar, "No pictures please!" I am not that person. Give me a stage! Who's taking pictures! Give me a BLOG! That is why I went into theatre. That is why I became a preschool teacher, well, also to make the world a better place, and that is why I have accepted a job to travel Italy teaching English to children THROUGH theatre. That is where this blog is going to take you. And hopefully not bore you to death.

I have some dried tears on my cheeks from saying goodbye to my family today. This has been the first Christmas in I don't even know how many years that is was just us. Just the five of us, plus my adorable, energetic, hilariously bright Niece and wonderfully adventurous Nephew and my sister's significant others.

I have had to work these past couple years not to mention the passing of my Nana a few days before Christmas last year and the death of a dear friend a week before Christmas the previous year. It wasn't only nice to be with the whole family, but with the whole family sans a funeral. The pettiness was limited, the fights were non existent, and the love was present and strong. I am the sentimental one and will call out the moments to cherish openly and this year, it was accepted warmly and agreed all around. This Christmas will be hard to beat.


A bohemian lifestyle making good, touring Italy and teaching children through the magic of theatre.