Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of my brother’s death, and every year we mark the occasion with homemade tacos. My dad gets curry on his anniversary. Such is the luck of the draw and whims of family.
My mother looked a little beaten up yesterday from when she picked me up at the airport until bed. She told me that the day is hard, every year. She didn’t make a big deal of it – no rending of clothes, ashes on head, nothing dramatic. She just seemed a bit tired and fragile.
At dinner, my sister asked me if I was disappointed not to be a part of the Minnesota Fringe that’s going on right now. The vehemence of my “very much,” seemed to surprise her a bit.
The words are just information. I miss you. I’m upset. I love you. I care. They’re supported not just by everyday actions – a phone call, punching the wall, flowers – but by the conviction with which we perform our words. My mother doesn’t perform her grief over my brother’s death. I don’t perform my disappointment over The Heart of a Dog being done and not performing here. If we didn’t perform and denied our emotions, you’d say we were in denial. But we acknowledge, just don’t make a big deal.
So how do you know how big a deal it is? And how inappropriate is how big? The performance needs to be proportionate to the scale – somehow.
My mother did her dissertation research comparing widowhood between caucasian, Jewish, and African=American women. The period of mourning was a topic that arose in the course of her work. What used to be “wear black and be officially in mourning for a year” for the white community has become, after a year, “don’t you think you should move on with your life?”
So here’s a question. If performance makes such a big deal in our face to face communication, what is filling that gap when we’re reading these words and there’s no one to perform?
If there’s a single phrase that suggests in our common language that we perform ourselves, it is “out of character.” If we do or say something that is not typical, we hear, “That’s not like you.”
I like performing, but I also like my time as the center of attention to be limited. I really, really enjoyed doing THE HEART OF A DOG with Andy. I loved teaching. But I don’t want everyone looking at me all the time. I like the anonymity of being a guy in the city and not having to worry about someone recognizing me. And if they did, it’d be basically just a novelty anyway. Jonathan West, former artistic director of Bialystock & Bloom and current managing director at Sunset Playhouse, once had someone recognize him in a coffee shop. Said fan was so enthusiastic about whatever she’d seen him in, that she gesticulated his coffee right on to his computer.
See? A little anonymity goes a long way.
I did something screwy to my knees yesterday, and today I’m walking around in constant mild pain. It’s more of a drag than anything else, but combined with whatever was bothering my stomach, I felt like hell by the time we were heading back from the dog park this morning. Lisa commented that my eyes looked glassy.
I can’t perform that – glassy eyes. I can limp, or I can try not to. I can hide some symptoms but not others. I can be sick without acting sick. When we feel like it, we recognize that there’s a qualitative, existential difference between someone who is an asshole, and someone who is just acting like one. My father-in-law has a list of several of these people.
This is the “low affect” question with Anthony. For me, at least. How much of his depression is performed and symptomatic, and how much is generated by his body? The tremors, the tics, those are all symptoms of the disease – or, I don’t know, maybe the drugs that are supposed to be alleviating other things. Anthony is not like anyone I’m used to. He’s articulate and can talk immediately about his lack of threshold between complacency and anger. And because he’s articulate I expect him to be able to do something about it, and I watch as he snaps from complacency to anger, unable to do more than observe behavior in himself that he doesn’t like.
It’s not that the performed “sick” is less true. If I don’t limp, then my performance is a lie by not indicating my discomfort. There’s no more inherent relation between performance and truth than there is between words and truth. We can lie or convince in all kinds of ways.
October 19 is the anniversary of my father’s death, and this past year on that date, at roughly 2:30am, my cat of 8ish years (and Lisa’s cat for nearly 10 years before that), died. Later that day, Augosto was born to our friends Michelle and Alvaro.
This past weekend, Lucie died. Today, our friends Alison and Simon welcomed their daughter Millicent into the world. They look exhausted and delighted.
Last week Andy and I were talking about getting THE HEART OF A DOG up on its feet again in preparation for the Minnesota Fringe when he got a job offer. The short version is that we’ve withdrawn from the Fringe Festival and don’t currently have any other performances of the show slated. On the upside, he’s got a great job. There was never any question as to what the correct decision was, as much of a bummer as it is.
Things don’t always come in pairs. Oftentimes it feels like it’s wave after wave after wave.
I’m appreciating these respites.
Everything takes longer here, except when it doesn’t.
As I stood at the Malostranské Náměstí tram stop yesterday with a bag of laundry (Andy and I are hoping to travel with clean selves and clean clothing in an effort to promote civil society, at least amongst the people seated immediately around us on the plane), I overheard an American woman who seems to live here explaining to the people that seemed to be her parents that traveling in western Europe is so easy. Everyone in Italy at all of the tourist stuff was so friendly. Here, it’s like they don’t even want you.
Part of me revolts at the general dismissal, in English, of the surroundings and the people. And part of me thinks, yeah, that’s true.
I got to Don and František’s to throw my laundry in, the model of the efficient public transportation taker, turned on the light, and the bulb blew out. With a POP that was rather stronger than any light bulb burning out had any right to be. And the reason for that was that somehow it knocked a circuit out. I spent the next 15 minutes trying to locate the fuse box, talked with Don, who was out of town with František, found the fuse box, failed to get the power back on even flipping the main breaker, and explored the halls of the building, looking for the common exterior fuse box.
You cannot imagine the trepidation I felt at the thought of flipping the wrong one and disconnecting power, however briefly, to a Czech family who might be, at that moment, home. Unless you’ve lived here, then I expect you can imagine it quite well.
It turned out to be simple, in the end. The fuse was obvious. I turned it back on. Power restored. Laundry begins.
What should have taken one minute – throwing my laundry in the machine – took thirty.
Yesterday was also the last day of the Fringe. Which quite suddenly, abruptly, ended. No particular fanfare, no particular statement, just another evening of shows, another evening at Rubín (where I did not last long). Shocking in its immediacy.
And that’s kind of Prague.
In other words: Prague is beautiful. Clean up after your embarrassed dog.
It’s the last day of Fringe Festival Praha 2010. Expect a blow out tonight at the after-party at A Studio Rubín.
Yesterday we spent the morning running errands that really took a long longer than they had any reasonable right to take. “Thank you, Prague,” said Andy, who seems to have grown to have the kind of affection for Prague that you might have for an older brother that cuffs you upside the head, and then follows up with “two for flinching.” Andy tried briefly to imitate pedestrians on the Charles Bridge yesterday, and nearly ended up taking a woman’s eye out. Which made the imitation all that much more authentic, and Andy all that much more embarrassed.
We got our last Prague Kickstarter picture taken (posted this AM), and here’s the superhero that was next to us as we were framing up.
Then we made it up to Charles Square where we found the coolest hollow tree ever, and Kelly got some good pics (bottom of the page).
A good show energy-wise for us, with probably the smallest house we’ve had – 10 people. But a very appreciative 10, and we’re grateful to have had them at all. After a week of overcast skies and two days of particularly spitty, unpleasant rain, the weather broke and we’ve got beautiful, warm weather with a lovely breeze. I’m surprised anybody came inside at all.
It doesn’t get much better than Prague in spring time.
Went to see Company FZ’s HORSE last night, which was at turns hilarious, lyrical, awkward (in a good way and on purpose), and quiet. Not a particularly Fringe-y show in that there’s no way they set that stage up in 15 minutes, but that’s only a point of fact, and doesn’t bear on the execution. Flick Ferdinando plays a series of women and horses (and the odd pony) in a series of scenes that touch on horses in various ways, from sexual, to showcasing, to shooting one that’s gone lame. A beautiful, lovely piece.
Tonight, I think, I’m seeing The Fugitives, probably the last thing I’ll see at the Fringe.
I haven’t been blown away by anything like I was last year with In a Thousand Pieces, or Backward Glance, but that’s not to say it hasn’t been a strong year, only that the level of intensity isn’t quite the same. I suspect every year has a slightly different personality – how could it not?
One of the advantages of my schedule last year was having the timing jump a bit – this year, Andy and I perform every night at 6:30pm, and there’s all kinds of shows we can’t see. I’d really like to see Suzy in Shakespeare’s Will, for example, but she ends 15 minutes before we go up. Can’t really work my head and clock around that. I’m looking forward to the juggled schedule at the Minnesota Fringe to compare notes.
I was up too late last night, 3am. This is what was in our doorway when I got back to the flat (the picture taken this morning, obviously).
Who drinks beer from a straw?
Who somehow found out about the Dancing Building. Of course, Frank Gehry had something to do with it.
Chase and Molly asked for dancing in front of the dancing building, and the pirouettes just weren’t taking.
We like to this of Kelly’s picture as “Fred and Ginger in front of Fred and Ginger.”
Plus right to our left is the craziest statue! She’s like a superhero traffic sign. I’ll post that later, once I get it uploaded.
Thanks, Chase and Molly!!!
Who as his Kickstarter reward requested a photo in front of the Charles Bridge or on Petřín Hill. The latter proved unlikely, the former, accomplish-able.
In this picture, Andy and Kurt imagine what the other must have been like at UWM.