Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Course of True Love Gathers No Moss

"Time is the reef upon which all our frail mystic ships are wrecked." - Blythe Spirit, Act 1 Scene 2

This blog title is taken from one of my all time favorite films: The Philadelphia Story.  In it, a drunken Jimmy Stewart is trying to be charming at a high society party in which he is very uncomfortable and fumbles his quotations, mashing up two tired and trite proverbs into one that I think is way better than the originals.  The course of true love gathers no moss.  Freaking profound.  True love is a gypsy, and it doesn't wait for time to pass or moss to grow.  For now, my true love has taken me to Maine to do Shakespeare Theater.

A funny thing happens when I know I'm in a place for a specific, brief amount of time.  Relationships accelerate, their curves and crannies compounding to fit the full range of my humanity into x amount of days, complete with soulmates and nemeses.  Time is rich.  Even the quality of the light seems more like light, the night seems more nightish.  I sleep less.  I swear more.  I fall in love with everyone's talent like a floozy, and then get my heart broken like a child.

Some of my TAM peeps
God bless seasonal theater: the constant flutter and haze of feeling unprepared and lazy all at the same time.  It's like being paid to go to summer camp.  (I hated summer camp as a kid, but after 7 years in New York City, I am more than ready for the Equity/Shakespeare/Adult version.)  What is weirder than summer camp?  Unionized, adult Shakespearean summer camp.  We have brown bag lunches with our names on them, long days, warm nights, and the power of consent.  The canoes here aren't really built for one.

One of the plays I'm in is Blythe Spirit by Noel Coward, in which I get the scrumptious slapstick role of the maid.  It's a romantic comedy about ghosts, kind of, that is both comforting and disturbing.  It has us all joking a lot about death (you know, like you do) and busting out a lot of joy.  As if the mood weren't bizarre enough, the apartments I'm living in are across from a cemetery.  We are all somewhat bemused about it.  There's a metaphor in there somewhere, not sure where...(yup, was a literature major)...

Not to be macabre, but I've kind of gotten an immense kick out of the intense temporality of this particular theater contract, which is bleeding over into a new kick out of the temporality of life the universe and everything.  We are all here with no pretenses about the fact that most of us are not neighbors after August, and that after our 10 weeks we'll all split to different roads.  It's kind of a rush to be so honest, like taking a shot of adrenaline in the arm: it might kill you later, but it will make you feel great for a while.

Kenneback River
Ultimately, I think that is a commonality between life and theater: it's all temporary.  The short duration of a play - a mere two hours - is perhaps what gives it the power to burn so brightly and exist so boldly.  I plan on living so fully these next weeks that it's probably illegal.  That's okay though, the cops here seem pretty friendly to us.  There's something about having an end in sight that gives me a lot of freedom to be open and free, the same way it's sometimes easier to talk to a stranger than to a close friend.  There's a release from consequences, and a total surrender to the moment.

On the wall of Toad Hall

Like true love, life and death, the course of time itself gathers no moss.  As my Dad likes to say, this is not a dress rehearsal.  Time stretches and vanishes and leaves explosions of inspiration in its wake.  During our greatest adventures, we're still across the street from the graveyard.  Time.  Our frail mystic ships are wrecked on it; our loves and hearts are all stranded together in time and we are all swimming together in the soup.  This summer and these roles are temporary.  I myself am temporary.  I am so glad that I get to go along for the ride.

Monday, June 6, 2011


"Otto and Ludmilla" on location in Time Square
It's what every love story wants and needs.  You know that electric, effortless reaction that no one can control - the deep, under-the-skin changes that may not be visible at first but that alter all reality and substance forever.

When it happens, it's the best.  For me, this week's shoot of romance "Otto and Ludmilla" was a laboratory for chemistry, with an incredibly fun and professional crew (who spontaneously burst into beat-boxing dance parties and sprinting contests, among other things), a moving and beautiful script, a collaborative director with a vision, and a deliciously talented co-star who made me feel incredibly safe and comfortable on a journey into scary places on and off camera...wasn't too shabby to look at, either ;)

cast and crew of "Otto and Ludmilla" on location in Brooklyn
From the first audition, I wanted to do this project.  I've heard stories of actors finding scripts, having a guttural reaction to them, and pining in restless passion until they get to do them.  This was kind of like that for me: from the moment I met this project, I felt it in my bones.  I'm so happy and thankful that it worked out.  It's a story of heartache, longing, crossroads and indecision that really resonated with me and, I hope, will resonate just as strongly with everyone who sees it.

It was SO AWESOME TO DO, to stand in the shoes of two characters who, as director/writer John C. Williams describes, repel and snap back together like magnets.  They are opposite poles of one current, fluxing and locking and sizzling and cooling.  What they have can only be called a "thing."
John C. Williams blocking "Otto and Ludmilla" with DP Eric Balgley

To me, one of the great draws was the challenge of role-reversals.  Actor Brandon Johnson and I worked in tandem, taking turns hurting and being hurt by each other as star-crossed lovers Otto and Ludmilla, or Lotto and Otmilla, or...whatever.  It's amazing how the connotations and relationship shifted depending on the gender of the person saying the same words.  Needy or romantic?  Jackass or conflicted?  Whether a person has experienced this type of deja-vu, cyclical, addictive, intense relationship or not, these characters nakedly reveal the loneliness, lovableness and hunger for contact that I think everyone can relate to.  And I'm already missing them.
myself and co-star Brandon Johnson in "Otto and Ludmilla"

Dear Otto and Ludmilla people, you're grand.  I can still feel the heat.  Don't know if you felt it, but for me, there was real chemistry happening.  You know, chemistry: the science of matter and the changes it undergoes.  On this project, I felt changes.  I felt expansion.  I felt gratitude.

photos by our amazing producer Patricia Henry