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.


  1. "I fall in love with everyone's talent like a floozy, and then get my heart broken like a child."

    I so know what you mean.

    Beautiful post, JJ, and very truthful. How lucky you are to be in a beautiful place for the summer, doing theatre! That's wonderful. I look forward to reading about the experience later.

  2. Thanks Larissa! I'll be sure to pull some shenanigans to spice up future articles with ;)