Monday, December 3, 2012

Alas! this is not what I thought life was

Lately, I am distracted - and it is not a focused distraction like the consistent back and forth of a ping pong game - rather, I am the ball being pinged and ponged in my schedule, my priorities, my emotions and general life.
This means that Eva has not completed her homework for acting class and she walks in with tail meekly tucked between her legs, face buried in a play or poem to do SOMEthing, work on SOMEthing. But nothing speaks to me the way I want it to and I am not allowing myself to resonate either.  My judgement of the text is off - or / also - I question whether my judgement of the text is off.  I read Night of the Iguana - and I adored it. What an incredible, quirky, intense play by Tennessee Williams. It takes place in Mexico, coincidentally, and Bette Davis originated the role of Maxine: the horny, overbearing widow forcing all patrons to delight in her rum-cocos. I don't even know what a rum-coco is, but I want one. There is a zany cast of central characters (Maxine previously mentioned): Shannon, the defrocked Irish priest-turned-tour guide who cracks up more deeply than a coconut about once a year. Then Hannah and her Nonno - a spinster/hustler who sells her watercolors and sketches while toting her 97-year-old grandfather around seeking new shelter and new resources.  Nonno is in on the hustling as well as he recites poems as if from a mountain top, always stopping as abruptly as he started, but sparking the scenes with hilarity every time.  Then there are the tourists - a busload of ladies mutinously debating with Shannon about their unchosen "stay" at Maxine's. The 17-year-old tourist with whom Shannon slept and whose youthful heart is swept away too much like Juliet.  And then there are the already willing guests: a brazen, tromping group of unquenchable Germans.
Tennessee, ya old dog. You're so interesting. Where did you pull this little rabbit from? Well, of course, it's HIM.  But I have not read a play of his like this before. It's wonderfully "outside the box".  I might do a scene from it. Let's see.
Anyway, I didn't have a THING prepared today. Luckily, my reasons for not preparing for class beforehand usually have to do with auditions (commercials and callbacks and nationals oh my!), but I have to get it together!  So I dug out a poem that I liked before, then decided no, then decided yes, then no, then JUST DO IT ALREADY!
Below is the text, by Shelley.
Alas! this is not what I thought life was.
I knew that there were crimes and evil men,
Misery and hate; nor did I hope to pass
Untouched by suffering, through the rugged glen.
In mine own heart I saw as in a glass
The hearts of others ... And when
I went among my kind, with triple brass
Of calm endurance my weak breast I armed,
To bear scorn, fear, and hate, a woeful mass!
I read it.  Then Janet asked me to read it down again. I felt deeply stirred by the first line as it translates so wonderfully to the present. After "misery and hate" I began to lose it, oh did the tears fall steadily.  It was nearly embarrassing, but hey, it's acting class. Tears happen. I am more pleased by the thought that my emotional access is greater each time I perform, and that the text is a gateway to that. Once one ingests the text and it resurges from the heart and the stomach, the emotion and meaning resonate richly through the voice. It's astounding to me how often I do not speak ON my voice. How can it be so consistently disconnected all the time? I know the answer and am working on it.
I was skeptical about this performance poetry stuff, but ultimately glad that I have an excuse to jump back into the Romantics. So many beautiful words, so many sadly beautiful thoughts and feelings, so many years ago yet so relevant today.
Okay, back to finding more texts, more plays and more work.

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