Read the following on the back of a teenaged girl's t-shirt this afternoon: "In case of emergency, use your problem-solving skills." I will try to remember that.
Yesterday I got an email informing me that I'd been cast as Hippolyta (the Queen of the Amazons, not to be confused with my friend whose nom de blogue is "Hippolyta") in a staged reading of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The reading is being done as part of this year's "Instant Shakespeare" season. I've belonged to the Instant Shakespeare Company since the year 2,000, 'though I've been mostly inactive during the last couple of years (playing a bit part in "As You Like It" the summer before last). The cool thing about being an Instant Shakespeare member is that we can pretty much perform as often (or as seldom) as we wish. Once you've passed the audition, you're a permanent member of the company. Every season, company members are emailed lists of the plays being performed, with the dates and the names of the "PlayMaster" (person doing the casting and minimal directing) for each one. If you want to do a specific play, you just "raise your hand" by emailing the PlayMaster and saying so. If you prefer a particular role (as I did with Hippolyta) you can express that preference, too, 'though there's no guarantee that you'll get it. I guess I was successful, in this instance, because what I told the PlayMaster made sense to him. I said, "I love 'Midsummer' and have played Titania in THREE different productions. I've actually always wanted to play Hippolyta and I think she's one of the few female characters in Shakespeare who should be played by a woman in her 40s or 5os..."
Well, she is. And she's interesting. I have always wanted to play her, even though Titania is a much larger role. I often find smaller, supporting roles much more interesting than the leads. (I really enjoyed playing Karlotte - sometimes known as Charlotte - the governess in Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard.") Hippolyta is just cool. She's marrying a guy who beat her on the battlefield. It's clear that she wasn't easy to beat and the fact that he was able to intrigued her. She's all, "You beat ME in battle? Dude, that's hot!" And of course being Queen of the Amazons implies that all her previous romances had been with women. Then there's all that poetry about the moon. I think it's possible that Hippolyta howls at the moon when it's full...
So, it's just a one-time staged reading, about three weeks from now. The way it works is that you get your role and start studying the play two or three weeks ahead of time. Then, on the day of the show, you turn up at the designated library (all the performances are at Manhattan libraries) dressed in "Basic Theatre Black" an hour before show time. During that hour, the PlayMaster tells the actors the basic staging s/he has in mind (entrances and exits; times to sit and times to stand). You go through the staging once, make notes on your script and then do the play - with a bunch of actors who have never rehearsed it together! Admission is always free and we get pretty large audiences, which include friends/family of the cast, other Instant Shakespeare members, people who have seen the shows listed in the library bulletins and, in many cases, library patrons who came to take out or return books, realized there was a Shakeapeare performance and decided to stick around for it!
These performances are pretty seat-of-the pants but most of the actors are very experienced Shakespeareans and they can end up being very good despite the informality. Sure, people stumble sometimes (on the stage or in their lines) but we tend to cover for each other decently when that happens. "In case of emergency, use your problem-solving skills."
Oh. Just f.y.i...I have a second column published in Pretty Queer Magazine (www.prettyqueer.com). Most of youse know the basic "plot" of it, which concerns the weird week of Lady Lucia's mother's death and our Holy Union ceremony. But I use a different writing style (with different emphases) in Pretty Queer, so it probably won't seem too much like something you've already read.
I went to work today as did Lady Lucia. No Memorial Day Three Day Weekend for us. But we'll be going to Philadelphia for a conference on Wednesday and taking three days off from our day jobs. Though the conference is work (ministry) related, we plan to have some social time and fun as well. We've got friends in Philly, one of whom will be celebrating his birthday while we're there (full disclosure; the friend is the guy I've called "Sarek" on this blog. He's a former boyfriend - from our teens - with whom I stayed friends and whose wedding I officiated a couple of years ago. Sarek is a year younger than I so this is not yet a big deal birthday). We both like Philly. I think it's my third favorite city, after New York and San Francisco. (Alysa, I do expect that I'll love Paris, too, if I ever get to go there. And Lady Lucia speaks French, so she could be the interpreter while I stayed mysteriously silent.)
Anyway...that's what's going on in my life in these days. I hope y'all are having some fun. Don't forget those problem-solving skills!
Blessings and well-wishes,