Friday, April 07, 2006

RevGal Friday Five

(insert humming from various bits of A Chorus Line. . .)

Songbird asked us to name five moments of performing arts that "touched or tickled you. . ."

1) Going backstage at the Chicago Lyric Opera on a tour with my parents. I've always been fascinated by "how things work"--to me it adds to the magic, not distracts.

2)Seeing a production of 'Julius Caesar' in Stratford, England put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The power of seeing Shakespeare done by people who have been doing it for centuries. . .it was done with television screens to amplify the political speechmaking. Oh, and there were all those famous British actors in it who I'd seen on Doctor Who episodes.

3) Are all my favorite moments Shakespeare? Perhaps they are. . .my family and I also took many trips to the Stratford Festival in Canada, and I distinctly remember seeing 'Richard III' with Brian Bedford and Maggie Smith. Shivers.

3) More Shakespeare--this time in high school. I was helping out on a production of 'Twelfth Night' and I distinctly remember our director telling the actors to understand everything they said, that Shakespeare was full of double entendres. You may recall that the central plot of the play is a woman dressing up as her twin brother. In one scene she is challenged to a duel, and part of the repartee that precedes it includes some reference to the fact that she doesn't have a beard. "Not on my chin," she replies. One night, the reporter for the high school paper was sitting in the front row, and he got the meaning of the joke (no one had yet), and he laughed out loud, a big, hearty laugh--and completely threw the young woman off for a good beat or so.

4)Breaking up the Shakespeare, one of my own favorite personal performing arts stories is about being in the University of Illinois Women's Glee Club when we were selected to sing at the American Choral Directors' Association national convention in San Antonio. A Very Big Deal, apparently. (Actually, I could fill my blog with many WGC stories, but I'll spare you). Performing our music for a knowledgeable audience was very cool, and hanging out in San Antonio for almost a week even cooler. We flirted with men from the Harvard Men's Glee Club and the Loyola Marymout Men's Chorus (we were the only English-speaking women's choir there).

Great fun.

One night, we went to the hot tub on the roof of our hotel. (We were staying in the more affordable 'motel' section.) So we paraded through the lobby in bathing suits and towels and up to the tub. A waiter brought us drinks and we regaled him with Brahms. Having gotten thoroughly soaked (and a few of us slightly sloshed), we headed, dripping, back downstairs. As we tried to glide through the lobby, the Japanese women's chorus caught sight of us. They were sitting in the nice restaurant in the nice part of the hotel. They indicated to us that they wanted to hear us sing. The wait staff didn't know what to make of this, but finally we went in to the restaurant to oblige them. My clearest memory is of my friend A., who was wearing a bikini and not much of a towel, and hearing the maitre d' say, "Will SOMEONE put a towel over this woman, please."

5) One final Shakespearean moment--a year after seminary I went to visit friends from seminary who were in Durham, England. After trekking to Normandy and back from Portsmouth, a night in Winchester, I arrived after a long train trip to Durham. When I got there, my friends said, oh, do you want to go back to London with us, we're going to see 'The Tempest' at the restored Globe. (I did get one full day in Durham at least). And it turned out this wasn't any production of 'The Tempest,' it was Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero, which, if you're not familiar with that play, is the lead male role. If I could own a tape of any production I've ever seen, that would be it. The staging was simple and effective, we sat on the wood benches and watched 'the groundlings' in 'the pit' and Redgrave blew me away.

Bonus: the extent of my own theatrical career. I was in 'Oklahoma' in high school and I had one line: "Looks like Curly took up with that Cummins girl."


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