Traveling can be harsh. Not so much when getting into our Prius to drive 600 miles a day to cross the country, it’s a comfy car and we have each other, but it does take stamina. On the other hand, grabbing a last-minute ticket and flying from San Francisco to Scranton, PA with a change in Charlotte (Chicago on the way back) was a symphony of Harsh. It was OK because every minute of the trip was warmed and colored by its purpose. I went to visit Camilla Schade.
Camilla is quicksilver and color, a luminous presence on stage, someone who can take a character onto a roller-coaster and bring every audience member along for the ride. Beautiful and funny, the embodiment of warmth. I flew to Scranton, drove to upstate New York, parked by their little woodland house, and went in to sit on a couch with my friend for five hours. The last embrace was the hardest, because it will have been the last one.
We met in 1975, when she was to be our newborn Johanna’s babysitter as we created a show called Knock Knock with a student cast at the University of Delaware. She wound up in the cast and we found another sitter. When we moved our theatre’s base to Lancaster PA, we asked Camilla to join us, and she did. We worked together for years, everything from Macbeth to cabaret comedy, and the stories are endless.
Five rich and beautiful hours. Some of it in silent presence, some of it giggling like schoolgirls, some of it soggy with kleenex, some of it telling funny old war stories to sister Carolyn and husband Bruce.
Warmth, color and closeness in a place of quiet beauty. The rituals of greeting and farewell, the essentials of human closeness, softness, vulnerability.
And then the grotesque circus of O’Hare airport, miles of noisy halls and beeping trollies and four-dollar water bottles. Rattle and clang under fluorescent lights, hurry up and wait, staring at the smart-phone, trying to ignore Fox on the screens. What wildly different stage sets we humans create to enclose the multiple stories of our lives. For five hours I was in a place of beauty.