19 November 98


  I've put Johnny Mathis on and made myself a cup of Bengal Spice tea. Fifteen minutes ago I finished the spreadsheet for tracking "at home" work hours on the Library's web site. I saved it, put on my coat and went out on the front porch for a gander at the night sky, but it was hazy and too cold (freezing), so I came in.

We had cloudy skies and rain Monday night and through Tuesday, so we missed the peak of the Leonids shower. I got to see a bit of the live feed from Chiang Mai, Thailand, while I was at work yesterday afternoon (the time difference is 12 hours), but they were having a little trouble with haze, too, so I didn't see much. But earlier tonight, on my way back from Ma's, I lingered along the way, and got to see a couple of small meteors flashing past Taurus-- and I got to see the Aurora Borealis, too: fingers of pale light reaching out from an impossible glow low on the northeastern horizon.

Earlier this evening-- Wednesday, I mean, I got to see myself on national television-- The Discovery Channel. As a lark, I went along with my friend Lew to be an extra for Providence Film when they were shooting in Providence last summer. Lew's been doing quite a few movies-- Meet Joe Black, A Civil Action, A Wake in Providence-- and when he got the call, he asked me if I wanted to tag along. They were shooting an episode for Discovery Magazine about memory, Strange Memories. (Check out Lew's website for more information.)

We were in the courtroom scenes reenacting the trial of the man falsely accused of rape. Lew got cast as the defense lawyer and was given lines; I ended up just sitting in the gallery. It was interesting, that night, but hot, and it took a while-- always does. We never got to see the script, so we couldn't imagine how the program was being put together, or how important the scenes were-- and, naturally, everyone working on the shoot was too busy to answer fool questions. But, tonight we saw the result: Lew's lines got cut, but he had two close-ups and his name in the credits. I was only visible in two shots: one from the back; one from the front: the blonde woman in the gallery, wearing a beige suit, frowning as if she is tired and has a headache (I was; I did. So much for acting.).

I haven't done any acting for a long time-- 1994? I think that's the last fall I was allowed to accompany the college's Touring Theatre Company as AD/ Props Master/ General Dogsbody. I think we were doing Macbeth-- no, Hamlet and The Crucible, and I wasn't in them because I was directing scenes. Right. My last acting gig was during the summer of 1994 when we toured with Much Ado About Nothing and I played Uncle Antonius, Leonato's brother-- the Brian Blessed role in the movie. It was a strange production.

It was my own fault getting that role, too. I figured I'd get the role of the older woman-- whatshername, but, just for fun, I auditioned for Dogberry, and when I did, for comic effect, I "did" Dave, our drama professor, with whom I had been working for four years. Dave is quite a character, and just about my size, and he has some mannerisms and postures that are wonderfully imitable and are a natural for comedy and slapstick. Erik, my fellow student and the director of the production (who was "open to alternative casting"), thought I was funny, but what he didn't tell me was that he was trying to get Dave to play Leonato. And, when he saw me imitating Dave, he had a brainstorm: Dave and I would play the old brothers. So he cast me, and the next week I found out Dave was going to play Leonato. It was a weird experience.

I was a mental basket case that summer. Bru and I had broken up the summer before, but I was still coming to terms with being alone and getting too old to have children, and add to that one of the hottest summers we've ever had, and the stress of working for a lunatic during the days trying to make ends meet so I could stay in school-- I felt I was losing my mind, and that brought on a bout of false angina which sent all the muscles in my torso into spasms and hurt like-- I cried constantly. If it hadn't been for the responsibility of being in the production-- and doing the props, I would probably have jumped off a bridge. I know Dave's wife thought I should have-- did I mention how invigorating it is having to deal with a jealous Professor's wife who has decided to go snipe hunting and decided you are the snipe?

Yes, it was interesting. The production was great, though not in the classic style, to be sure. The weather was unbelievably hot, but we went on every night, on time-- and the rain always held off for the outdoor performances. I dragged myself to work during the day, and to performances at night-- Ma fed me and took care of me when the pain got to be too much, and so I did my jobs, as all the others did, putting the production first. And I kept well out of The Wife's way...

We all worked hard, but it was harder for some of us. Dave, it turned out, had to fight to be allowed to come to rehearsals. I'd have felt sorry for Dave, but he married her. And I have to give him his due: he defended my innocence and got her to back off-- and even made it stick when he told her I'd be back as Assistant Director of Touring Theatre for the fall semester. But that was as much as he could do. After the last Touring performance in December, I packed up and left. I was done with Touring, done with school. And I haven't seen or heard from Dave from that day to this.

I did love Dave. His wife was right about that. But Dave never even looked cross-eyed at me, and I never gave him the "come hither." That's the kind of people we were. I did my best to be his friend. We worked well together, and if circumstances had been different, I think something might have happened between us, but it didn't. Couldn't. A year or more later, I did write and tell Dave how I felt, just to get it off my chest. I figured he knew, anyway, same as I did about him. Neither one of us was stupid. But that was the end of it. And, well, it wasn't Dave I loved, really. It was Touring Theatre. And, for me, then, Dave was Touring Theatre.

I miss Touring Theatre, when I think of it. The other day I was in William's Five and Dime, and there in among the Christmas decorations was a yellow school bus-- a whole box of them. I was in charge of renting the school bus for Touring-- using a school bus instead of two vans was my idea. That last year I was working on getting us our own bus, either with a grant or through a corporate sponsorship. I was going to paint the name of the Touring Company on the side, and we were going to become a year-round enterprise, an asset to the college, it would be an honor to be a member of the Company-- I had big plans. When I saw that little yellow bus, I thought of Touring and of Dave...

I've had a lot of time to think over the past four years. Touring Theatre was something I could belong to, something to work for, something to believe in. And I needed that-- still do. In fact, I think most of us want that-- Mulder and Scully have it, and I think that's a big part of what makes The X-Files so appealing, to me and to others. A mission, a purpose, something to give yourself over to, head, heart, and soul. I loved Touring Theatre. I was good at it, and I wanted to do it forever. When it ended, I went on interviews and I was offered positions, but I couldn't do it. My heart was broken.

My heart hasn't healed yet. Only another passion could heal it, and I haven't found one...

Johnny is singing: "When I am with you any dream I may dream comes true… I am nothing I was before, I am everything I ever wished I could be and more, so it's not just for what you are yourself that I love you as I do, but for what I am when I am with you..."

Synergy. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I felt when I was AD of Touring Theatre: as if, together, anything was possible, and I could be everything I ever dreamed of being. I hope that feeling comes again someday.



"Naught have I to offer but myself. All that I am however, I pledge with all my heart." -- Knight's pledge

Old joke:
Smith: "I'm looking for something to throw myself into."
Jones: "There's an old granite quarry not far from here."

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