Sunday, August 5, 2007

As We Liked It

Real time intro: A good friend's mother just passed away this Saturday morning. I'll probably be getting into that later in the week, once I've decided how best to discuss these weighty topics without cheapening them for the sake of a stupid blog. If I find I can't approach it with the dignity it merits, I'll skip it entirely - but don't be surprised if the Ramblers this week are suffused with hints of the metaphysical.

But now, it's still Saturday, July 21st here at the Rambler, and that means:

Willy Loman's Big Night Out, or: Arthur Miller meets Shakespeare in the Park

Having made it to the Bell School in decent time, even with the crazy Waterville runaround, I took a quick shower to rinse the camping stink off and came down to chat with Pinocchio (dear God, now I'm really regretting these pseudonyms from the other day), who is a guest, and Rob, the owner, and Rob's mother-in-law. After a brief but bracing argument on the validity of French hip-hop with Rob's mother-in-law, Pinocchio, Sarah (Pinocchio's girlfriend) and I hopped in our cars/pick-up trucks and headed over to Bangor.

What was in Bangor? Pinocchio is a member of an acting troupe in Bangor (The Ten Bucks Theater, for anyone who feels like Googling it), and was directing a bluegrass version of As You Like It. There was some concern that they would have to use the rain location, but there it was, that beautiful weather I'd brought with me. Before heading out, though, I had to take advantage of the nice weather and dry the wet tent, tarp and sleeping bag. Out they came from my car - and, oy!, I hadn't realized what a musty smell had already formed in there - and over a washing line in back of the Bell School. And since I'm such a great guy, I even folded their clothes that had already dried out there.

In Bangor lies the oddest but, in many ways, nicest part of the entire trip: Pinocchio had to attend a going away party for a member of his theater, so he dropped me in Sarah's hands and left us essentially for a date in downtown Bangor. And the timing couldn't have been better - I really, really needed to decompress about my conflicting impulses from Bread and Puppet, and Sarah - a currently ungraduated Harvard alum(?) in her mid-20's - was the exact right person to share a good afternoon's rambling Café talk on pretty much every topic: performance, writing, art, communal living, families, life, the universe and everything.

It was nice for many reasons - the unscheduled inclusion into my carefully-planned vacation, the refreshing one-on-one after the alone-in-a-crowd experiences the night before, the feeling of being allowed to be Dave after stumbling around awkwardly at B&P, and that rare feeling of meeting someone truly great both without feeling any pressure to be attractive to them in any way, and also no feeling that you have to be competitive with them. If I'd had dates like that back when I was single, I probably wouldn't have hated dating so much, after all.

The day wore on, and we went over to the park where As You Like It was going to be staged. A nice natural amphitheater, with a rolling meadow above and a ring of forest behind the performers. Opposite the parking lot there was a view of all of Bangor, so I can only imagine that the park itself is the highest point in the city.

Before the play, a juggler came out - he was practicing as the early arrivals laid their blankets out, and his practiced segued right into his act seamlessly. He was quite good, and did it all (flaming torches, 50 ft. high nasal pole balances, etc.) Then Sarah joined Pinocchio (who was playing banjo) for a quick opening number, along with a jug player, guitarist and fiddler.

The play began right after, and was a nice diverting way to spend a couple of hours. The actors were all prepared, and even though I have the same reaction to Shakespeare I often do - I'm always about a beat and a half behind the players, because I have to decode the language in my head - I was able to follow along well enough. It helps that Shakespeare's plot and characterization here are about as deep as a picture of a puddle, so there's no room to get confused. It's also pretty fuckin' funny the way major action keeps happening offstage, and then someone runs in breathlessly to tell us what happened.

Pinocchio had directed his actors to interact physically with the audience, and later in the play, the princess disguised as a man plopped herself in my lap and played with my hair while she delivered a teasing come-on to the male lead. So, that was nice. Of course, later on, when I was waiting for Pinocchio outside the troupe's HQ across town, she walked in and gave me a odd look, probably thinking, "Well, shit. I'll have to knock off the lap thing - I've got a stalker, now."

Sorry for creeping you out, lady, but don't worry: Thin and blond is not my type. The one I really had the hots for was the curvy brunette with the pixyish air that played her cousin. Thank God she didn't land on my lap, or there would have been much embarrassment on both our parts and I'd probably be writing this entry as part of my Bangor Community Service, or something. Now there's a Shakespeare comedy of the sexes, for you!

Anyway, the play drew to a close just before sunset, and after stopping by the theater for the aforementioned stalker moment, we headed first to Almacs for provisions and then back to the Bell School, where Rob - a genius writer going through an amusing bitter phase - loudly and hilariously proclaimed his utter loathing for Shakespeare and pretty much anything else that was brought up in discussion. He went to bed and Sarah cooked up a nice late dinner of sausage and string beans, so my string of good meals continued.

Finally, I went to bed on two pushed-together couches under two of the homemade quilts that decorate the place (and provide for part of the income), and was out after a few paragraphs of some New Yorker political piece.

Next: The Last Leg!

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