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