— From the Fool —

When there’s big ugly world crises, the best way to gain perspective is go to a bar. Not the ones where you might get slugged, but the ones with free pretzels or popcorn.

So what do we do about the Mideast fanatics that cut off people’s heads? They might all come back here and blow up our way of life. Plus they’re snotty.

There were lots of opinions at Smoky’s on Friday night. By Monday it might all change.

Ralph said we need to do more. More what? Just more.

Sharleen said just get the hell out and get all the Americans out except the ones that want their heads cut off for democracy and let it go at that.

Ed said bomb everything that moves, all over the place.

Miguel said whatever the President does he’s for it because it won’t work so we’ll know who to blame.

Darrell said we need to address the underlying causes by stopping oil. Park all our cars and ride bikes and bring the Arabs to their knees.

Flo said what if there was a time machine which maybe Apple or Google could do and go back in time and maybe like win the Crusades.

Carmella said the Communists are still out there, don’t think they aren’t!

Buddy counseled a very carefully calculated strategy.

Bette asked what about Scotland?

Some guy I don’t know laid out the case for America conquering the world, which would stop them pulling all this shit and also create a lot of jobs.

It went on like that till everybody was too drunk to talk, except Vernon who only drinks club soda and rambles on about the Dodgers.

 — From CB —

Elizabeth is away for two weeks, so I’m rehearsing alone. I tend to resist rehearsal the way I procrastinated on making an appointment for a colonoscopy. It’s time-consuming, it’s mildly unpleasant, and it’s undignified. You go deep, and you don’t know what you’ll find, but it has to be done.

With Lear, it’s useful to be, for a time, in a space of loneliness. I go over the lines of a scene a few times. I read my several editions’ scholarly footnotes. I review the promptbook to see which hand I put a puppet on. And then, reluctantly, I go into the little cage and become King Lear.

Strange that my solo weeks should start with the most theatrically horrid moment: the storm. I’m wearing a crown of braided, knotted rope — a borrowing from our long-ago Macbeth. I pull it off and as I speak, “Blow winds, and crack your cheeks,” I flagellate myself. At another point, the rope crown twists around and binds my wrists. At another, I peer through its empty circle.

I’m thinking that I connect so intensely with Lear because I too, at my core, see myself as the only true human in the world. I try to live my life in contradiction to my essential selfishness and solipsism, and do fairly well at it, in fact. Fake it till you make it. Lear, sadly, just goes mad.

How odd that as he teeters on the edge of madness, he’s confronted by Edgar, faking madness, and it tips him over the edge. Today I worked on the entrance of mad Edgar, “Poor Tom.” I’ve cut a fair bit of it, feeling that, for our purposes at least, Shakespeare over-wrote it. A little madness goes a long way. And in the Edgars I’ve seen, there’s a tendency to do a kind of bravura how-mad-can-I-be? As if Edgar is auditioning for the role of Edgar, whereas the whole point of his disguise is to hide himself. As soon as his father Gloucester appears, he’s in great danger of being recognized. That plunges him even deeper, I think, but he can never lose sight of the fact, even in his solo rants, that he’s trying to conceal himself.

For me, his madness starts with the breathing, and his first entrance surprised me, as he was shaking uncontrollably — in part from being near-naked in the storm, but also, I think, from being truly on the edge of possession. As I’ve said earlier, I see his madness very much like that of Hamlet: he starts out faking it, and then it grabs him. I started finding multiple voices in him clamoring for primacy, radical shifts of tone and focus that are echoed in Lear’s rants.

Finding the parameters of the style: Lear, in exhausted insanity, imagines three little dogs barking at him, and Edgar/Mad Tom says, “Tom will throw his head at’em. Avaunt, you curs!” At this point the puppet does indeed pull off his head and threaten to heave it at the audience. Too much? We’ll see.

— From EF —

I’m here in Tuscany, in the beautiful hillside mill house where our daughter Johanna lives with her beloved Francesco. Everything’s dancing with life.

The little stream chuckles in rills down its waterfall and burbles against the rocks and roots of its channel.  The wind makes the three-story bamboo grove sway and clack gently.  A red squirrel with a huge glossy black tail raises hell in the walnut tree, and the cat’s face says clearly, “You’ve gotta be kidding.”

Last night we went to a sagra (food festival that raises money for school sports), and the menu featured everything you can possibly do with porcini.  Imagine huge succulent mushrooms — grilled, crispy fried, chopped and sauteed over creamy polenta. Imagine big tents filled with trestle tables, jugs of wine, baskets of bread, and squads of families tucking into their chosen style of porcini.  Children, laughing.

Back at the house, we talk, weed the garden, cook, talk, drink wine, cook, sleep, and talk some more.  Dancing with life.

Then I make the mistake of reading news on the Web.  In our homeland, we seem to be dancing with death.  The hawks are screaming, furious that we’re not bombing enough, almost jubilant at the atrocity videos, our latest update of 9/11.

Cognitive dissonance.

In theory, humans are one species, dwelling on one world.  In reality, it depends on whom you dance with.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014


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