"Just put on the welder's mask and the raincoat, and hold on tight when things get slippery."

So I'm now up to my neck in rehearsals for "The Drawer Boy."

It's an intensely satisfying challenge. For once I'm working in an environment where my primary effort and energy goes to my work for this role, which is as it should be. And I'm enjoying my immersion in yet another foreign environment.

Vermont is lovely, but cold. Quite cold. The roads are long and narrow, I'm living on the far side of a covered bridge, I'm drinking from a traveling coffee mug with the silhouette of a moose on its side. I'm living in a warm room next to a woodstove that I stoke daily. I have a map of colonial British East Africa on my wall. The stars are piercing in their clarity, and from time to time the Northern Lights sweep past. There's a two-story Barnes and Noble open until 11:00 at night, with a Starbucks inside, about 45 minutes north of here. Not ideal, but certainly adequate. The town of Burlington itself is crammed with remarkable restaurants and New England cheer.

I'm working with castmates dramatically different from those with whom I've recently been working, though we all recognizably hail from the same eclectic and desperate tribe, that of the Theatre Artist. One is an Actor's-Equity-lion/former university professor type, self-described as the last white man to play Othello, in 1963. The other is a mysterious gentleman from Montpelier possessed of an uncanny ability to learn complicated lines and blocking quite quickly. We don't like him very much right now.

This is the place in the process where things quicken, by the way. We're far enough along in the process where there's no turning back. It's the point in the Star Trek episode where Kirk is on the line to Scotty, looking for more power.

I'm confident of things unfolding beautifully, but I'm tense enough to be nervous. In a healthy way, as these things go. No doubt the general tenor will only intensify as Tech Week hits.

It's easy for me, out here in this remote theatre world I'm living in right now, to feel almost as exiled as I did in Poland. From time to time I pick up a newspaper and groan for a few long moments. To which I say to myself: Be strong, hold fast, quick's the word and sharp's the action. There is much afoot abroad which requires the best and the noblest in all of us to rise above our indignant outrage. We all have cause to use our time and our energy carefully, and forcefully, to repair the damage being done and to keep our own proud liberal bleeding-heart dreams alive. It's important to remember that apoplectic disgust or smoldering contempt really serves us little.

Right. Enough preaching. Peace and Health to all of you.

Favorite passage from "The Drawer Boy":
MORGAN: Ever gutted anything?

MILES: You mean--what--like, cut the guts out of something?

MORGAN: Uh huh. Do you know how to use a chainsaw?

MILES: I, uhh. (remembers tractor) No. No sir, I don't.

MORGAN: Nothing to it. Just put on the welder's mask and the raincoat, and hold on tight when things get slippery.

MILES: Think it's a good idea? After the tractor?

MORGAN: Probably not. But there'll be no mollycoddling on this farm while there's work to do. Plus, I'll stand well back."

cheers, paulmonsterinthewoods.

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