So. Okay. [deep breath.] I'm playing Othello.

I'm about twenty years too young to be playing the Moor. How apt, to be so worried about growing old and stale, while living my waking life impatient with my youth.

I'm so stoked to be him. I'm scared shitless. As you may recall, my particular bete noir, my peculiar affinity, at this stage, is for a Theatre which deals explicitly and directly with Race. I'm not saying that all Theatre should do so, I'm merely nursing an appetite for something with which my culture deals far too seldomly. So to be playing Othello right now is a bit of a coup in quite a number of ways. To put it lightly.

Right now, we're immersed in tablework, hammering out and pounding away at textual and contextual questions. Scholarship, matters of Quarto and Folio, questions of intent and scansion. The meat and potatoes, the dry fiber of Shakespeare that puts off a great many modern actors, but also brings out gloriously, devastatingly intelligent talents. And here's where it gets tricky--my Desdomona and my Iago are both very intelligent and far more experienced than I. They are local actors of reputation and skill. To be honest, the only reason I was cast as Othello is because there are practically no actors of color in this city, a product of the aforementioned tendency for my culture not to deal with Race constructively. So I'm feeling a substantial degree of entitlement-anxiety, compounded with the assured evidence that I'm substantially outclassed by at least two of my principal castmates.

This is most apt. Here I am, usually the one castmate always arguing for more intelligent discussion, more research, more tablework, much, much more--and now to be so singularly and comprehensively outclassed, undereducated, inarticulate compared to half a dozen brighter lights in this cast, and this when all eyes are on me to hold forth and carry a greater momentum in the discussions than anyone else, save the director (and, yes, granted, Iago definitely should be talking more than me, too).

How the hell am I supposed to hold my own, much less dominate, much less deal with them on an equal basis? I can't hide out in my removed, rarified, misanthropic manner, seeing as how my character's name is in bold print everywhere. And these people expect me to lead this cast. This of the guy who couldn't lead a line of kindergarteners without getting tied up on the monkeybars by the little snotrags.

That said, I do have some faith in my own abilities, in my training and in my book-learning. More importantly, faith in the fact that I LOVE THIS TEXT. I may not be as assuredly expert in its workings, but the power of the verse can and does speak through me, I do know this. Paul Robeson has always been one of my sainted heroes, and the resonating recordings of his performance certainly inspires me. I approach this experience with humble determination, mindful of my inadequacy yet all the more devoted to serving this powerful text. It is the cause, it is the cause, o my soul. These glorious lines, these sweeping, heaving, billowing verses express the scale and pitch of utter heartbreak, and they are so very, very beautiful to hear and speak. I've never tired of them. Lear and Hamlet are too overmuch. Mac lacks scope and depth. Richard II is too weak. But Othello, now here's a fellow of some soul.

I'm looking ever forward to getting off book as quickly as humanly possible. Quick's the word, and sharp's the action. Expect to read a great deal about this in the next few weeks.


In other news.

I saw Revenge of the Sith tonight. Because I'm Better Than You. An advance-advance, hush-hush deal. Finally, AT LONG LAST, a great Star Wars prequel. (Excepting the bits when people are talking) ("Younglings"? Please. Luckily, this movie is all about the lightsabers.)

I discovered the name of a librarian, for whom I've long nursed a passing infatuation. Salt-and-pepper hair, wan smile, distant and pale eyes, a languid sweep in how she handles the curve of her hips. As usual, no hope in this for me whatsoever, just the deliciousness of a simple, small, hopeless crush.

I remembered to water the plants.

The Fuente Ovejuna cast had a party the other night, in a beautifully restored mansion in NW Portland. We took lamps and candles and explored the highest and darkest attic to discover a door to the roof, with a breathtaking view, hills and bridges illuminated in the cold spring night.

I've befriended a number of spiders. They have no idea where my Book of Days might be.




The Lioness said...

I have never seen you act. But if the passion that transpires in everything you've written is anything to go by, and I think it is, I have no doubt that you will lift them off their seats. Gratefully so.

A crush on a librarian... Yes. The best part abt love is how it gripes you when you least expect it. If you're not expecting, that is. Sometimes simply feeling something is enough, sometimes it isn't. Splendid should come.

Anonymous said...

"Lear and Hamlet are too overmuch. Mac lacks scope and depth. Richard II is too weak."
-- Wow. Such humility. It's overwhelming, really.

paulmonster said...

Oh, you didn't get the memo? Turns out that I am, indeed, an Arrogant Bastard. If you have a problem with that, we have a number of options available for you...

Anonymous said...

And yet so few options available for You.

paulmonster said...

My, but aren't you forward. This is the part in the Marx Bros. movie where I wiggle my eyebrows and tap my cigar in your soup, but seeing as how you're too chicken to unmask yourself, I must spare you the privilege.

Anonymous said...

The "privilege" of what, exactly?

My anonymity has nothing to do with your raging ivory-tower ego, as you think yourself too good to play four of the great characters in all of dramatic literature.

So far you're not denying it.

paulmonster said...

Look, buddy, this is a blog. By its nature, a conceited medium. If you have a problem with my ego, this is, shall we say, an interesting forum in which to challenge it.

I would sing different songs with Lear et al, were any of those roles ever offered to me ever. Rest assured that you have my permission to hold your breath on that one.

"Consistency is the bugbear of mediocre minds", Shaw says. In the meantime, I remain,

towering in ivory,


Anonymous said...

A "conceited" medium? That's as lame an excuse as I've ever heard. The nature of the medium is virtual and ubiquitious - to anyone with a company and a decent modem. Blaming the messenger/medium for your own character flaws only serves to furhter underscore your puerile attempt to deny responsibility for your outrageous claims to greatness. Take a look at other blogs if you dare to step outside this shrine you've constructed for yourself, and you'll see others using the medium for a variety of purposes. You have chosen your own words. Own up to them if you've got the guts.

And by the way, you're still not denying it.

paulmonster said...

I'm sorry, not denying what, exactly?

And by the way, have I done something to offend you? I honestly do not understand the source of your vituperative recriminations. You do not, in fact, have to visit this blog ever again, if it offends you so much. I do what I do, and I write what I write, because, ultimately, that's what I feel like doing at that given moment. Moments change, opinions and perspectives change, and if you still choose to hold me to some offense I'm not even certain of, by all means hold me to it, and much joy to you in that. But if you're asking me to cast stones at myself--as I have little evidence else as to what exactly it is you're demanding I confess to--I must respectfully decline. Character flaws? Please. On what basis do you impugn my character? Half-serious remarks comparing certain tragic figures? Flimsy, and flippant, I grant you, but 'outrageous claims to greatness'?

megalomaniacally yours,


Anonymous said...

If you think that's what constitutes "vituperative" in your eyes, than so be it. But I didn't really mean what I said. I'm not responsible for my own words. I was being flippant and flimsy.

I never said I was offended by "the blog," conceited dissembler that it is. "It" is a vessel, nothing more. A vessel for your words, and their overweening sophomoric tone which are indeed off-putting. Quit trying to blame the medium. Grow up.

Why is hoping for a little honest self-criticism suddenly asking you to "cast stones?" Waaah. Again, it is your words that are the matter at hand, words that you have authored and published in a public setting. Quit trying to change the subject.

This has all grown tedious.

I leave you to your hubris, ego-boy.