It’s All About the Drama

“People are basically insane,” playwright David Manet says in a writing class I’m taking. “We miss a connection, we have an evil impulse that wants to lead us astray,” he goes on. “We live on the dark side and the cure is religion. Another word for religion is drama.”

Did I hear him correctly? Yes. Manet is a devoted Jew, and espouses his religion with conviction and fervor.

“All drama is failure and lies,” he says.

You can say that again. Story of my life.

“Don’t be boring,” he warns. FullSizeRender (20).jpg

How can you be boring if your life is full of drama? Everybody’s life is dramatic. It’s so dramatic Hollywood couldn’t invent it, I say. And since you’re the protagonist in your own story, make it good.

“Dialogue is just gossip,” he tells me. Now he’s talking. I’ve got enough for several books.

“Narration is the death of drama,” he continues. No wonder school is boring.

“The live audience in a play are idiots individually, but collectively they’re genius,” he says. “They paid you a compliment by coming to see your play. Drama helps them face the truth and they come for the truth.”

“Movies don’t challenge people, drama does,” he says. I’ve been saying that for years. To prove the point, just listen to a child explain away something he did, like break the TV screen with a baseball. It’s drama at its best.

Calvin says, “It’s drama for me when I go after a rabbit. My nose quivers, my body is on alert, and my singing voice takes over. Better than opera.”  beagle

 

 

Wow

September 21 was World Gratitude Day. I completely missed it. Probably because I was grumbling. It’s my default mode.

Alf and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival that week. One night we saw Sully, the Clint Eastwood movie. I can say I was grateful I wasn’t on that heart-stopping flight. You forgot it was Tom Hanks. He was Captain Chesley Sullenberger making life decisions in that pilot’s seat and you were right there next to him.

I was grateful to have seen the best Hamlet and Richard II ever. They rivaled anything you’d see on Broadway. fullsizerender-28

On the drive home we came to a snarl of traffic on the highway. “Now what?” Alf said. “Probably an accident,” the know-it-all in me said.  As we inched closer we noticed a full grown deer splayed dead blocking the four lanes. The lines of cars sat there with engines idling. “Now what?” Alf said again. This time I didn’t have a response.

Suddenly a car closest to the dead animal veered off to the right. The driver, a tall, strong muscled man, got out, his wife too, and he ran across the highway and grabbed the 120 pound animal by the front legs and dragged it to the left side of the road and left it there in a heap. Then he ran back to his car and got in. Nobody honked thank you. Nobody waved. Nothing. In a flash the traffic started up again and began rushing past the deer without any thought to what just happened. Stunning.

I was thankful for that man who took the initiative in front of oncoming traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the front lines acted as a blockade otherwise who knows what carnage could have transpired with man and beast.

Calvin says, “How gutless of the driver that killed him to drive off like that leaving others to pick up the mess. If this had happened in the woods, my tribe of beagles would have surrounded the beast and howled for help.”  beagle

The Theater Less Filled

For all the doom and gloom out there in the media, all you have to do is take a trip to New York for a corrective. The city is bulging at the seams, especially in summer. The rest of the world might be suffering, but the crowds in New York are in the restaurants, in the theaters and at Macy’s. I went there one early afternoon and as soon as I stepped inside, I wanted to run out again. It was wall-to-wall humanity, from the rich to the not-so rich, spraying perfume on themselves, looking at shoes and wristwatches, and trying on the latest red shade of lipstick. Adding to the agony of suffocation were a plethora of security guards watching the shoppers’ every move.

Most theaters are doing a lottery to fill their seats these days, except Hamilton of course. I walked up to the box office and inquired if they had a couple of spare seats for that day or night. The man behind the glass plate (have you ever wondered why the glass plate?) laughed himself silly. “Come back in January,” he said. This was August.

So I saw The Humans, the Tony award winner for best play and best performances from an actor and actress. It was so depressing I wanted to cry. I also didn’t think the story was unique or compelling enough to win all those awards, so either New York is depressed or there was some heavy politics involved.

I tried the lottery for On Your Feet, the Gloria Estefan story, and won! I was elated even if it did mean sitting on the third floor balcony and looking down on the stage like an eagle. The music and dancing and singing were outstanding and by the end of the two and half hour show you were on your feet moving with the company on stage. It was confusing to me why something this well done and uplifting had empty seats while something so depressing like The Humans had a full house. It goes to show that winning is everything.

Image result for on your feet, broadway

Calvin says, “The public is so easily led. Me? I stick to my nose. It never lies.” beagle

Top Will

I just returned from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

I’ve been going there for 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from the company.

Will is still a staple – barely. He’s hanging on by his thumbs from Juliet’s balcony.

He can’t be fired because he has top billing.

But they’re trying. Cleo

Shakespeare is not a go-to author for most young people.

I admit even in my day I didn’t take Pericles to the beach.

So they’re marginalizing Will and inserting musicals.

This time it was Guys and Dolls.

So what.

But the young loved it.

And that’s what it’s all about.

The next generation.

I’m so sick of hearing this.

It’s as if the world will topple if the young aren’t drawn into the things we love.

I say let them create their own fun and leave Will to hoof it on stage for our sake.

Besides, we’re paying for it, they’re not. They don’t have any money.

Calvin says, “‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.'”

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Too Emotional With Our Feelings

A friend said the other day, “I’m going to spend some quality time in the walk-in fridge at work.”

It wasn’t about the weather. It was about his mood. His emotions needed chilling. They were out of hand. Leaking out and making a mess all over the floor. And this was a restaurant he worked in. Nobody wanted tears with the gazpacho. It messes with the temperature of the soup.

It’s fascinating the ways people handle emotions. So much of it is cultural.

The Japanese hide theirs behind a veneer of formality.

The British remain polite no matter what devastation is occurring.

The French smoke more and talk faster.

The Americans pop pills.

Middle Easterners shout and holler.

The Russians drink more vodka.

And the Mexicans pull out guns and shoot.

Truth is nobody handles his feelings well.

Emotions are difficult to control once they’re out. For example, Romeo and Juliet drank poison; Hamlet died in a sword fight with a poisoned tip; Caesar was stabbed; Ophelia drowned, and MacBeth was beheaded.

And that’s just our fictional relatives.

It’s no wonder people aren’t skilled at expressing their feelings. Their examples are too emotional.

Calvin says, “When I’m emotional, I roll in the foulest smelling grass my nose can find. Then I run to you for a hug.”

Shades of Language

A restaurant. A man and a woman at a table, having dinner and discussing a play they had just seen.

Woman: There aren’t any nuances about, “Take the garbage out.” For a woman that says I love you.

Man: I’m married to you, I understand that.

Woman: This isn’t about us. I live with you. I feel what you’re saying.

Man: We have our language.

Woman: The woman in the play didn’t know what that meant. She was waiting for someone to interpret things.

Man: She didn’t understand without speaking. Body language, looks, it was all there.

Woman: Subtlety evaded her.

Man: You and I live in the sub-text. It’s fun.

Woman: Except when you forget to take out the garbage.

Calvin says, “I don’t need body language. I come running as soon as I hear the clatter of kibble pouring into my bowl.”