I pray you, in your letters, when you these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am, nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.

And Speaking of Closings---

I think it's time to bring Polyform to a close.

The last month of work on this site has seen a startling and painful trend, of defensive pettiness on my part and growing hostility from the Anonymous Commenters. This serves no one. And it makes me not want to write.

I love writing. I do not need any more bitterness in my world right now.

THIS IS JUST A BLOG. If I or anything here have offended you, I am truly sorry, but there are seriously quite a number of other issues out there more deserving of our time and attention. Pursuant of which, Polyform ends.

No further posts or comments shall be forthcoming. I'll keep this place around for the next week or so, for archiving purposes. After which I'll shut it down proper-like.

It's been lovely and illuminating, all the same. Thank you. My best and warmest to you all.

paul j. susi


We had a grand closing. The kind of closing you can only dream about. The kind of closing engendered by getting rained out the night before closing, and suddenly all you've got is this one night to bring it all home. 238 souls in attendance.

All closings, as I've said before, are bittersweet, this one especially so, as I knew full well that several of my castmates were not pleased with this production, and I myself had ample cause (see below) to be dissatisfied with my own performance. But in spite of all and everything, I love this play desperately, and I am very proud of what we all brought to this place, everyone digging deep and pulling out the best and the brightest they had to offer.

There was a moment, early in Act I, when my face is buzzing as my voice opens up with the first set speeches, the blood is up and the pulse of the verse takes it up a step, and I was immediately and keenly aware of how scared I was. Othello is defending himself carefully at this moment; the Duke and the Senate of Venice, assembled in haste to deal with a rising Turkish threat to Venetian possessions in the eastern Mediterannean, have called on Othello to lead a relief expedition to Cyprus when, quite suddenly, Senator Brabantio accuses Othello of witchcraft in seducing his only daughter. So. Yes, a degree of fear is appropriate for Othello here, and this is present in the careful measure of the verse and the demonstrable consideration Othello gives to his own words. Paulmonster the Actor is scared, though, because he's bloody well playing Othello in front of a growing crowd of strangers and loved ones and his nerves are shot from weather-watching and book-slinging and various rehearsal regimes.

The verse holds me just as I hold the verse, a life-preserver in an ocean of emotions. The currents buffet and swarm around me, but it is the reassuring thread and cadence of Othello's passionate intelligence which carry me through from Act I all the way to the bloody end.

No one was hurt, nothing caught fire that shouldn't have, thank goodness. We had some interference from helicopters and the like late in Act IV, but that's the way of it.

I will be unspooling more of this business as time and temper permits; I slept twelve hours that night and I'm still exhausted by Othello, now two days since closing.

My warmest thanks to everyone--those who came, those who commented here, those who think ill of me--you were all instrumental to the construction of this exquisite sandcastle we built. I'm in your debt.



An Open Letter to the Rain.

Rain, I love you.

But if you keep this up tonight,


[this has not been the best of weeks for this monster, i'm warning you. i have no patience for any more double-dealing. mess with me and mine and you will rue this day, i promise you.]


I'm crouched in the back, masked by great casements of concrete filled with their pools of stagnant, recycled water. Small birds in their shadows watch me as I light the small lantern and check my plastic knife.

It seems so silly, so trivial. This great fiction that we live, this presumptuous fantasy of words and characters, all of it just so much exhaustion, so many long nights and grinding days, the stuff of ourselves just poured out. Just poured out into an imagining of a mightier self, that somehow is what I myself try so hard to be, but never am.

I could just walk away. I could just snuff out the lantern, drop my stupid little knife, and let this play just end. Only these little birds would care to notice. Every night that "WHY" question pops up, and the prospect of simply leaving slowly stirs, kicked up by the wind like so much dust in the corner of my innermost self.

I stare at the birds, who now stare at the light of my lantern. The ducks tuck their heads under their wings. Onstage below, the boxes are scraping and the voices are trailing away, meaning my cue's coming up. The trees whisper their urgent, rasping language of leaves in the wind. Lights wink out in the apartments around us.

For some time I've been wrestling with these contradictions, ploughing the rough sod of these doubts and petty disasters over and over again, driven by those great questions of intent blazing away here and elsewhere. And yes, I can say with conviction that I am, in fact, nearer to the true Othello now than I was weeks ago. Caught up in a torrent of verse, great gobs of it in my pores, in my guts, breathing and sleeping verse, verse, gripping verse.

When I write, even in mass e-mails/blogposts like this one, it's as though I were sitting here with a piece of chalk in my hand, and I'm sketching the details of my true self in the air. Just the salient features, more of a suggestion than anything else. It's an imagined truth, an imperfect ideal, something that's not quite real but made exquisitely so just by the hope of it. The hope of it is what anchors me here.

The hint of a hope is enough for me to catch my cue, stand up and step into this imagined chalk outline of myself in the air, with my lantern and my silly knife, play-acting again. The verse takes hold. It is the cause, it is the cause.

I invite each and every one of you mighty, valorous, lovely rockstars out there to come see Othello this weekend. If my castmates rocked any harder, you'd have to wear a helmet. We perform Friday the 8th and close Saturday the 9th, the conclusion of our boisterous 4-week expedition. Lovejoy Fountain, SW 3rd and Harrison, just east of PSU on the Streetcar Line. 8 pm, free, bring chairs and blankets. www.portlandactors.com. Find me out afterwards and I'll buy you a drink. Stop talking pansy, you ill-mannered Turk. Come see.

pink cadillacs and plush velvet seats,



Reading: The Collected Poems of Robert Lowell.

Listening To: Taiko drums.

Watching: Fireworks and the sodium-lit night sky.

Sleeping: Fitfully.

Writing: If we could take everything we say, write, and do, everything we inflict on each other, everything we grace our friends and ourselves with, would that summation truly express the extraordinarily complicated--nuanced, shifting--mass of color and sound that our lives are?

Am I really these words, pecked out of a jumble of letters, thrown into so many bits and made to flicker here, in front of your eyes? Or am I these other words, learned and tempered in the furtive alchemy of the theatre, these other words that I only speak two nights a week and then never the same way again? Or am I rather this picture, or that overheard word, or the faint impression in a passing stranger's eye? Who the hell am I? Who are you?

As we age, does the accretion of memory resolve the contradictions--tie up the loose ends, uncover the hidden destinations, regain that which is lost along the way--or do the unfinished bits simply multiply, in that blunted part of our hearts where the regrets are kept in check...? Is it all of these things at once, the totality of so many meanings far, far more than anything we could even begin to consider?

It's never been easy to accept my mistakes, which I make altogether too often. It's far more difficult to pass judgments, based on these individual mistakes, upon the totality of my self, which constitutes so much more. The enjoinder to learn, to grow ourselves from the lesser to the greater, from inexperience to experience, is in this light something moot and patronizing. Such things will happen beyond the conscious will to do so, or they will not. (I do not, in fact, fear the dreaded possibility that we--I--may be doomed to forever repeat the same mistakes over and over again, with only the slightest gradations of detail to distinguish the passage of time and place. I don't fear this because ultimately even this would not really be that which it seemed.)

Ani DiFranco sings of goldfish, and their little plastic castles. Virginia Woolf wrote about that alphabet of learning, in which certain priviliged lights make it all the way to X or Y, whereas the rest of us are lucky to toil and sweat blood only so far as Q. I think of these questions, as I sip my cold tea and watch the fireworks.