11.19.2004

Notes from Vermont III.

I'm living in a beautiful old half-sided farmhouse out in the Vermont woods, about 45 minutes from the nearest Interstate.

During the day big shaggy cows graze just around the corner. They look like prehistoric wooly mammoth cows, only small. Personally, I think they would be more fun if they were bigger. But then, what wouldn't be?

One of the neighbors has a schoolbus painted blue, and rigged to run on vegetable oil.

Article 17 of the Vermont Constitution specifies that they'll never submit to martial law.

The rough-hewn wood frame of the house gains a warm, welcoming tone from the sunlight, a quality which it shares with the worn patina of the antique floorboards.

Someone left a Johnny Cash tape in the beat-up Honda Civic I'm driving, and Lord let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've coasted through farmlands and Smalltown crossroads and shoals of nice young unassuming Vermonters with The Man in Black thundering from your crackling speakers.


In rehearsals, we're at That Agonizing Place where everyone's at different stages of being off-book and having well-established characters and knowing how not to project the stage presence of a large, awkward, poorly-groomed amnesiac manatee when Not Talking But Still Acting. In other words, it's the night before Tech Week begins. In the Star Trek episode, it's when Worf growls, "Perhaps today IS a good day to die!!"

Driving home from rehearsals, I have long conversations with my director Mark, about the trials and tribulations of running a small but plucky regional theatre, and having high standards that tend to rarify over time, and the utter crap-shoot any casting operation is. He's mulling over several options about the next season, and the thing is, it doesn't matter whether you're got a professional Equity Actor or Jane Q. Undergrad or Chuckles McSelfish or Old Gingerbread from the Salvation Army shelter, you just never know what you're dealing with until after you've cast everything. And even when you have the most magically talented uber-superhero-justice-league-strength cast, that still doesn't mean you've got a good script, or a smart publicity operation, or a public that isn't hopelessly lethergic and none-too-quick on the uptake, neither. When we get home, Kathy reminds us, "Who never said 'We're screwed'? That's right. Capt. Kirk never said 'We're screwed.'"

Meanwhile, my friend Erika studying in Chile writes to me, commenting on the absolute absence of any cultural infrastructure whatsoever, oustide of Santiago. And I remember how grateful I am to be doing work that, while it certainly isn't solving Peace in the Middle East, it's still work that I love to do and needs to be done.

But in the interests of that latter loose end, here's your homework, everybody: as a Citizen of the World, it behooves you to familiarize yourself with one of the causes behind that mess over there. No, not the mess in Iraq, although that's related. Please read the link, it's short and it's very telling in the context of why things are the way they are right now. Context, context, context is everything.

best,
paulmonsterinthewoods

3 comments:

The Lioness said...

Thank you for the additions to the list, I'll come back and read more after some sleep (I'm hoping words will translate into reality here really).

The Lioness said...

I loved The Lovely Bones and Moon Palace. Hated Vertigo. Still haven't dared to read Leviathan, sounds so bleak and horrible for the dog.

paulmonster said...

Greetings, Lioness--
I'm afraid I have yet to read Moon Palace and Vertigo. Leviathan is quite excellent, though. I've also enjoyed his New York Trilogy.
Also, Sebold's Lucky is heartbreakingly hard to read, but well worth it.

pjs