June 18, 2019
Day 24: Day 2 of the a/c crisis
Nothing like a prop to prompt action. We sent Cameron, one of our PAs, to Best Buy to lug a window a/c unit back to 440. And we propped it up (pun intended) and sent a terse note to the building management saying that we would install this unit and we will expect to be reimbursed for the cost of this if the a/c isn’t fixed asap.
We got a quick response saying that they are working on it and should have it resolved by tomorrow.
We’re holding onto the unit, however, just in case.
I’ve noticed on my morning walks around the block and to and from the theater, that some streets have been renamed. Dvorak Way, for instance. And Cornell Edwards Way, which is 13th Street. I wonder every day who Cornell Edwards was and it takes until today to do the research. He was the owner of The Flower Stall at 143 13th Street which he ran for 44 years until he passed away in 2011. He was quite the fixture on the street, and the shop was in a building that retained its original storefront from when it was built in 1863. I find it heartening to know that his legacy has been remembered this way.
I don’t know why, however, there is a gigantic plaque placed at the base of a tree on my block of 3rd Avenue between 22nd and 23rd noting that on this spot in 1977, Mayor Abe Beame planted the first of 75 trees that are part of a beautification project from the Third Avenue Merchants’ Association. Given the current state of third avenue, it begs the question of what the beautification committee has been doing since then.
I’m restless today, maybe because it’s so hot in the building that I don’t bop around the rehearsals at 440 very much. M4M has a full complement of director, playwright, and dramaturg there, and I’ve told them already that I won’t be dropping in because I want to hear my favorite play without knowing much about what they are discussing.
All’s Well that Ends Well begins today, and playwright Vicki Grise goes to the theater first. No doubt she wishes they were rehearsing there because at least CSC has a/c. Every playwright has their own version of contemporary modern English. Vicki’s English is female, and specifically in the mouths of women of color. When we were first developing her translation and she told me that she wanted a cast of all women of color, I blanched. Would this skew things, I sputtered to myself. But this is how she hears English. That is her world. Wasn’t Shakespeare’s similarly homogenous in the sense of in the mouths of all men? And didn’t I want different approaches to English?
I do not make the argument that all-female Shakespeare is equivalent to Shakespeare’s all-male company. That seems an intellectual argument to me. What I do think, however, is that casting women in these roles acknowledges that our world has women in positions of power. And it also allows us to hear the arguments in a different way. Especially when it comes to Bertram and his bad-boy reputation. How will we feel about him when spoken by Ceci Fernandez?
I head to CSC to spend the afternoon in the a/c and watching Lillian Groag stage Troilus. This translation was produced last year by the Prague Shakespeare Company, which performs in English. They did an interesting experiment in which they combined Lillian’s Troilus with a production of Euripides’ Trojan Women. They used the same cast for both, and they performed them in one night! Ken Hitz and I attended the performance – one time only! – at the National Theatre in Prague, and it was quite the epic experience. The major takeaway I had about the experiment is how the two plays blended language-wise. Both sounded contemporary in the same way. I wonder how it might have felt to us if we heard Shakespeare’s play first and then a modern verse translation of Trojan Women? (Several years earlier, the Orlando Shakespeare Festival produced two of Shakespeare’s plays in repertory, Pericles and Tempest. They too cast the same company of actors in both plays, but the Pericles used Ellen McLaughlin’s translation , and the Tempest was Shakespeare’s. I remember enjoying the experience of these two tales juxtaposed with each other, but I don’t remember if I was as away of the differences between the translation and the Shakespeare. I saw them separately, whereas the Prague event was Troilus first, with a substantially cut script, followed by Trojan Women.
There is a major battle in the fifth act of Troilus, and like the challenges that the directors of the history plays had, how to stage such a thing in a staged reading? With a notebook in one’s hand? That battle is particularly chaotic with people chasing after each other and Thersites as the play-by-play announcer.
Just watching them try to figure that out was exhausting. So I head home thinking that maybe I will do some reading. I brought five books with me, and so far, I have read parts of one chapter of a novel MAD BLOOD STIRRING, which is a fictionalized account of a production of Romeo and Juliet at Dartmoor Prison at the end of the War of 1812. Apparently, there were only American prisoners of war in that prison, and there is documentation about an actual performance. I think that anything even remotely related to Shakespeare isn’t exactly what I need to put my mind at rest. Perhaps this is why I can’t get through Mya Gosling’s latest stick retelling retelling of the entire plot of Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I still haven’t figured out how to use the tv. So I just sit on the couch in a daze.