Wednesday, June 30, 2010

narcotized tranquility

Napping in Nature 70/365, originally uploaded by shes_jack.
At the rise of Scene 4 Williams describes Stella's face as "serene in the early morning sunlight. One hand rests on her belly, rounding slightly with new maternity... her eyes and lips have that almost narcotized tranquility that is in the faces of Eastern idols."


I'm searching for that serenity while I sit in the dark theater scribbling in my script and waiting and waiting and waiting for 8-10 hours a day.

Understudying is weird.

Monday, June 28, 2010

moth and shrimp and stella

The Summer So Far: In 3 Parts


There was a giant moth on our back stairs. 

I haven't quite figured out what sort he was, but he was very impressive.  

I think he must have just completed his metamorphosis miracle, because there was some sort of blue goo around his feet. I was sad to see him go, but happy that he made it out into the world safely.


I'm not really a cook. I can cook and I like it, but I have to follow recipes and I always overcook the pork and burn the chicken breasts. Maybe it's living with the French Knight, but I have become more and more inspired to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire... as it were.

I've had an idea for a summer meal running around my head for the past week that involved shrimp, pasta and black pepper. Last night it finally came to life! I did it! I pulled an idea out of my head, added garlic and heat to it and invented a recipe! I am a cook! Sweet P was talking to his mom on the phone last night while I was cooking and after I screamed, "I don't know what I'm doing!" she yelled through the phone, "That's what cooking is!"

My only mistake was not making enough for seconds. Well, and I overcooked the shrimp a little... but I'd never cooked them before, so I think my error can be excused.


1/4 box linguini
2 Tablespoons butter
10 shrimp peeled, cleaned and de-tailed
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes quartered with seeds and juice removed
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
As much black pepper as you can stand
Salt to taste

Cook linguini according to box. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat. Add shrimp, garlic and pepper stirring and turning shrimp. When shrimp start to pink up add tomatoes and vermouth. Let vermouth cook off a bit and get sticky in the pan. Add a bit of water from the cooking pasta, 1/2 cup or so. Drain pasta and add shrimp mixture to pot. Add parmesan, more pepper and salt to taste, toss pasta and serve with a leafy salad!

(sorry this photo is a little ugly... I garnished with fresh ground pepper and extra cheese and it was much prettier.)


Oh, Stella, Stella, Stella for Star... This is my first foray into real understudying. I've understudied roles in shows that I've been in before, but never this large a role and never when I haven't been at all involved in the process. It's really bizarre. Just memorize by rote, watch hours of tech rehearsals to learn the blocking, try to glean the choices being made, maybe stand backstage during a preview to learn that track, attend opening, then get up and do the show with the stage manager and fellow understudies. Wild. Just wild. 

I watched a run-through in the rehearsal room the other night just to give myself some sense of continuity before it all gets torn apart by tech. What a masterpiece of a play. I've been doing so much new work that I forgot why our classics have earned their status. What stunning characters Williams created and what a way to watch them reveal their story. 

Even if it's a bizarre way to be involved in a show, I feel so blessed be involved.

Monday, June 21, 2010

joseph & lee

The names Joseph Chaikin and Lee Miller keep appearing around me and pricking my brain like some sort of inspiration bug -- pay attention... buzzz... these are important... buzzz.... I've decided I should heed the bug's advice.

Joseph Chaikin was a director, playwright and pedagogue. He is well known for his work with Living Theater and for founding The Open Theater, which he closed after 10 years for fear it would become "an institution". He was known for encouraging and expanding the talents of fellow artists rather than crushing or discouraging their creative inspiration. His book "The Presence of the Actor" was based on his experiments with actors and his ideas about theater as a tool for social transformation. Chaikin suffered a stroke during a heart surgery which resulted in partial aphasia. Sam Shepard, a friend and colleague of Chaikin, wrote A Lie of the Mind -- which features a woman who has suffered brain damage and developed aphasia -- as a reaction to Chaikin's aphasia.  I just read A Lie of the Mind with no knowledge of the Chaikin connection until well after. 

Last month I was privileged enough to take part in a workshop of David Wiener's Cassiopeia. The play is a piece about remembering. The characters are Odetta, a maid from somewhere in the rural south, and Quiet, a mathematical prodigy with some form or another of high functioning Aspergers Syndrome. It's a side-by-side two-hander recounting the stories of their disparate by parallel lives. David wrote the play (in one sitting) with Chaikin in mind, but when Chaikin died in 2003 Cassiopeia was shelved without a reading. When we read the play last month it was the first time David and his director Anders Cato had heard it out loud. 

I wish I was a poet so I could find the succinct words to describe this play. When it was over we were all crying without knowing why. No one could describe why they felt the way they did, but we all felt wistful, thankful and full-hearted. These stunning characters, their stories, the gorgeous layer of live sound created by one of the actors filled us with a generous melancholy that one rarely indulges in. I was so grateful for the chance.

Lee Miller was a war correspondent and photographer for Vogue Magazine during the Second World War. She was one of the first war correspondents admitted to Dachau after the liberation of the camps. She teamed up with Scherman who shot one of the most iconic photos of Miller bathing in Adolf Hitler's bathtub.  She suffered from debilitating clinical depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome upon her return from the war.

I saw a beautiful reading of a play, Behind the Eye, by Carson Kreitzer. The section I saw was Miller sorting through her life after photography as wife, mother and gourmet cook; fighting to unite -- or divide terminally -- the before and after aspects of herself. 

I've long thought about my life in terms of before and after a particularly traumatic six months in my teenage years. Where does that before self go? Does it come slowly back? Is it slowly more revealed by the after self? Can the two unite? Is that healing? I wonder if these Miller and Chaikin's names keep pricking at my brain because of their incredible before and after stories.

I thought I only had one play in me... could be wrong.

happy summer solstice

It's humid and cloudy here.


Let's pretend it's sunny and I have a big blue pool to sit in.

Ahhhh... that's better....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

heeeeeeelllllllmeeeeet... helmet?... helmet!

I'm a biker now. I've had 2 days of dedicated biking transportation to 3 different locations and it's official... I'm a biker now.

I love my bike.

I hate carrying the bike up and down the stairs to the apartment.

I love the freedom of buzzing down the street and feeling the summer air.

I hate riding up hills.

I love riding at night and seeing all the other bikers with their little lights blinking at my lights.

I hate getting lost in downtown and feeling like I don't fit on the sidewalk or in the street.

I love that other bikers compliment my "rad" bike.

I hate that things fall out of my awesome basket.

I love that I engineered a box to sit in the basket to hold little things. (I punched holes in the corners of one of these IKEA boxes and affixed it to my basket with key rings. My grandpa was an engineer.)

I hate sweating.

I love that I'm exercising.

I hate that car drivers turn left in front of me.

I love that car drivers watch for me and pass me gently.

I feel certain that as time goes by the loves will far outweigh the hates.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

emilou gnu

Devotion to the Flower, originally uploaded by Roeselien Raimond.

New apartment.

New roomie.

New bike.

New career phases.

New blog.

Same ol' emilou gnu, but in a new dawn and a new day.