9/11/2007

A Wild and Wonderful Week

It’s been a fun-filled week since last I posted. Work has been busy as ever. Stick Fly had its final dress rehearsal last Wednesday night, with the first significant outside audience we’d had, which was very fun. You can read my post on the McCarter blog about it here. Some pretty sizable script revisions came out of this process, so I stayed in late Thursday night processing those. And then I went to the preview on Friday night. It’s a great show, and the audiences are loving it. According to production notes, there were instant standing ovations the past two nights. During previews. Pretty impressive.

Also did a lot of work on Tartuffe dramaturgy. Pulling together images for the program, picking up the last few books from the library, photocopying useful chapters, and compiling an actor resource packet for the first day of rehearsal (which was today). And, I got to meet Will Power, who is this uber-cool hip-hop playwright. He did some work with the La Jolla Playhouse last year, and is now an artist-in-residence at McCarter, where he’s working on writing a new play. He had a list of books he was planning to use for his research that he wanted to have available when he got to the theatre, so I checked those out on my card a while back so that when he arrived we could go to the library and transfer them over to his. So we met up and walked across town to the library to do that, and chatted a bit as we walked. He’s a really nice guy, and his play sounds very interesting. So, anyway, a fun and eventful week at work.

On Saturday, I finally took the time to complete the finishing touches on my room décor. This involved buying a couple yards each of a few different fabrics to drape over my closet rack and writing desk, and to make some curtains out of. I also got this really comfy papasan-esque chair for the corner by the window. Set all that up Saturday night, so now the space is pretty much complete, aside from perhaps a few more wall decorations. It feels really cozy and homey up in my treehouse now, and makes me happy. If you've been asking me for pictures, you'll get them soon, now that it's actually pretty much done.

I also picked up a bench journal. Now what precisely, you might be wondering, is a bench journal? Well you see, it turns out that Princeton has this amazingly incredible assortment of benches scattered throughout the town. Like, I think if everyone in Princeton simultaneously decided they wanted to sit down on a bench, there would probably be enough seating space to accommodate them all. So, I was telling Kate Fox about it, and she said that I should make it a goal to sit on every bench in Princeton during my time here in New Jersey. Which sounded like an excellent idea to me. Potentially impossible (I'm telling you, it's a heck of a lot of benches) but certainly worth a shot. Furthermore, I’ve decided to keep a journal noting the various qualities of each bench I sit on—location, environment, activity level, scenery, light, squirrel population, etc. So I picked up the journal this weekend, and I’ve been scoping out benches as I walk through town, deciding which ones I want to try out first. I think I’ll make up a map of them as well, at some point, and perhaps eventually do some ranking in various categories. You know, “Best Bench to Eat Lunch On,” “Best Bench for People-Watching,” “Most Isolated Bench,” etc. Yeah, I’m kinda into benches…

Saturday evening the theatre offered the interns a chance to make a little extra money by ushering at a Princeton orientation event that was being held at McCarter. 1,244 incoming freshmen crammed into the theater to listen to speeches by some of the college deans and a couple of student government representatives. Our job was mainly to herd them in to get seated, convince enough of them to sit up in the spillover seating on the stage itself, and make sure they filled in all the seats, as by the time everyone arrived the theater was completely packed.

It was interesting to watch the “first week of college” social dynamics playing themselves out in the process—-which kids were eager to be the crazy ones sitting up on the stage, which kids were mortified at the very thought of this… The weirdest part was hearing them addressed as the “Class of 2011.” Are you kidding me? Twenty-Eleven?!? That’s, like, The Future. Like freaking flying cars, teleportation, meal-in-a-pill, colony-on-the-moon kind of Future, you know what I mean? Crazy!

The speeches were generally shockingly meaningless, and basically composed of unrelenting streams of trite platitudes that could potentially have provided some useful advice to guide a college experience if they had not been delivered with such agonizing repetitiveness and complete and utter lack of any context, illustration, or rhetorical skill. I came away kind of shocked and disappointed by how passive our culture has become about presentational mediocrity. We are so apathetically polite that we don’t demand any kind of effort on the part of people to whom we render up our attention. I mean, I’m all for politeness and respect and understanding that not everybody is a brilliant speechmaker. But there’s a part of me that feels like we should at least have high enough standards to make people strive, and not feel comfortable about sleepwalking through wasting an hour of over a thousand different people’s time with a bunch of uninspired blather. I just sense, somehow, that the audiences of, say, Ancient Greece, or Shakespearean England, would not have tolerated that sort of thing. Like, tomatoes would have been lobbed. And maybe that’s the reason we’re still watching the plays they wrote back then. You know?

Anyway, then Sunday morning I drove out to Philadelphia for some Irish set dancing, which I found out about from one of the gentlemen at contra dancing the other week. It was fun times. Ira was able to meet me out there, which was very brave of him, as he’d never done any Irish dancing before and thus basically had no clue what he was getting into. And then it turned out that they didn’t have a caller, and everyone else there just kind of knew all the dances, so that made things even more exciting. They were very nice about whispering quick pointers before each set and pushing us in the right directions and such, but they were also kinda intense about it, so I got lots of pointers about how bouncy to (not) be and what kind of steps to take and where to put my feet. Turns out set dancing is a bit more structured and restrained than ceilidh, which, by contrast, is a glorious bouncy, twirling free-for-all. Have to say that ultimately I prefer ceilidh, but it was still a pretty fun experience, and Ira was a very excellent sport about it all. Afterwards we explored the neighborhood a bit, which was nice, and then drove around trying to find a place to eat, which is apparently no small feat in a Philadelphia suburb on a Sunday night. Finally found a diner called the Trolley Car, which Ira was pretty excited about. Had dinner there, and then called it a night.

This week at work is another crazy one. I’m doing double-duty (or maybe even triple- or quadruple-duty, I’m kind of losing count), which makes things a bit intense. Tartuffe started rehearsals today, and I’m slated to sit in on the first few days of those so people get used to my presence in the room and so I can assist on any initial dramaturgical needs. And then in the evenings I take line notes for Stick Fly (which basically means I sit in a dressing room listening to the show on intercom and keep a list for each actor of every line they mix up in any way throughout the performance, and then deliver them at the end of the night—-kinda satisfying, since I’ve become such a keeper of the script on this show by now anyway). I’m also coordinating an upcoming staged reading of Emily Mann’s A Seagull in the Hamptons, so I’m calling actors and confirming information and doing other organizational preparation for that. Plus, you know, I am still technically the literary management intern, as well, so I squeeze in those duties whenever it’s possible. Like I said, kind of intense, but it’s all neat stuff and I’m learning a lot. And it’s all precisely what I signed up for.

So, essentially, nineteen-word summary: Doing lots, having fun, very happy. Wish you were here. And now, off to sit on a bench somewhere.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your fascination with benches might be strange. Hope your week isn't too hard on you as you do triple and quinituple duties and that everything is going nicely.

I.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous jack said...

Wow! When I was about 15 me and a friend of mine had this idea to make a sort of guide book documenting the many and varied benches to be found across the country. We thought it would be really funny just because it would be so boringly geeky, but the depth you've taken your idea to makes it actually sound way cool! (admittedly still quite geeky, but way cool nevertheless....)

4:02 PM  
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