We were very minimalist for New Year’s Eve, being mindful of the need to get Conrad free of his annual bronchitis and also not wanting to mingle intimately with some juiced reveler’s car. We were in bed and lightly drowsing when the midnight fireworks started to crackle. We rolled toward each other, murmured “Happy New Year,” and snuggled back to sleep.
Sunday was New Year’s Day, and we took ourselves and our picnic basket to the ocean to touch base and get our heads straight. Late evening, we lit a fire in our bedroom fireplace, sat with a small tot of bourbon, talked quietly, and let 2016’s sour grime wash away. Later, nestled in the comforter enjoying the afterglow of love, we remembered that Sabbath love is a mitzvah.
The oncoming week is sitting on a siding down the track, huffing. In a few days it will start to rumble and roll and lean on its horn, and by Friday morning we will either be tucked neatly on board or be flattened on the tracks. Things are going OK, and I think we’ll be in good shape for San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix, Taos, and Albuquerque. King Lear shows no signs of being repulsed by the election—he has his own endgame to play out.
So many endgames, such a confusing game board. When we return, we’ll do all we can to join with the multiple actions that are already under way to turn things around. In our little haven we haven’t yet seen the surge of meanness that is already scuttling out into the light of day. It will come, we will be tested, and I hope we can rise to the challenge.
For now, this moment, it’s gratitude for the rain, satisfaction at putting the prepared meals in the freezer, trepidation that stuff’s going on the to-do list faster than it’s being crossed off, and consolation that when the time comes, we’ll be OK. Not a bad game plan for 2017.
Two weeks ago, we started work on a new piece, working title Survival. It’s a solo clown piece for Elizabeth, a kind of follow-up to her Dream House, with the clown as an amalgam of her Bozo, Lear’s Fool, and whatever unexpected personae emerge from rehearsals and whatever existential absurdities present themselves in the next six months.
The genesis of Survival, I guess, was in our sense of the pervasiveness of “Armageddon Consciousness” in our lives, not only on the news—cutting-edge ways to achieve the death of the Planet—but in sci-fi and superhero entertainments, local bulletin boards, casual conversations, you name it. There seems to be competition for toxicity-of-the-week, and obviously the mood of our little deep-blue community hasn’t been lifted by recent events. Question is, how to respond?
For myself, I have a renewed appreciation for Aristophanes, the 4th Century BCE master of comedy, who wrote during the darkest days of the Peloponnesian War—the death throes of Athenian empire. He’s best known for his Lysistrata, where the women on opposite sides of the war join in a sex strike against the men—the result is peace. Fantasy, of course. In all his plays, the satire is vicious (Socrates doesn’t fare well in The Clouds), and the endings, well, wishful thinking at best. But right now, I feel, maybe we need wishful thinking. Or maybe we need to call it something else: hope.
In our novel Realists, an impossible happy ending is engineered by the Universe’s vilest alien species. I don’t see this in any way as a betrayal of reality: some of our other work could surely win the prize for “Most Depressing.” But the same guy who wrote King Lear—a play of hideous reality—also wrote The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale—the ultimate works of renewal, hope, resurrection … and wishful thinking. We would aspire to that. The first is as things are; the latter is what we aspire to.
We have no set date for Survival—maybe some workshop showings in late spring, maybe summer. But I think it shows promise. We’ll be crafting it as a house-concert show, like our Gifts, workable for theatres but suited to living rooms with ten to thirty folks and wine & snacks afterwards. I’m a sucker for a glass of good wine.
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© Bishop & Fuller
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