25 December 2006

Merry Christmas, Baby

I know, I know. I referenced one of those most obnoxious yuletide (Look out! The yule tide is coming in! Kids, get away from your fruitcake castle!) songs. I like the Boss, I really do. But damn. Enough already. Between that and "Feliz Navidad," it's miraculous we don't have a few more cases of holiday homicide...at least amongst the disc jockey set.

I am typing this up on my Mom's computer, which is cobbled together from various archaic components (the CPU isn't so old, really, but the monitor weighs enough to bow the hardwood shelf it squats on) and dialed up to the interwebz via something called a "phone line." I don't know why phones need a "line." I think it has something to do with the Nixon administration. At any rate, I am home for the holidays. And no, the appended picture is not of me drunkenly shrinking because I drank from Santa's special reserve of champagne, though I inevitably feel just that gluttonous after our family's Christmas dinner. (It's a photo of my performance of Lloyd Schlemiel, a silent-film style improvisatory clown, from dear Melissa's benefit for her dance company: Kinesis Project.)

So: I have survived another season (assuming that ham wasn't cured with strychnine). It was a highly successful one, if but a bit lonely for yours truly. But lonliness is easily overcome when people appreciate the gifts you give. I swear there's few greater pleasures I get than watching someone open a gift I've prepared for them. Don't think it's like I'm naturally beneficent or anything, either. It's like performance art for me. It's manipulative, actually. I love to toy with people's perceptions and expectations. As an example, one year I was dating a girl who was, shall we say, used to the finer things. I was young(er) and madly in love (it's the only way to do it, really), but also aware of how this girl (let's call her "Bertha") had learned not to get her expectations up too high for me, at least as far as material rewards go. We had an ongoing debate about why we should/n't get a cat, with me taking the typical male perspective, i.e., Cats Are Evil. So for Christmas, I bought her a pure white cat puppet. "Surprise, honey! It's a compromise for Christmas!" She was, shall we say...nonplussed. So I continued, "Oh, but it's not just a stuffed cat. Look! A puppet! Try it out!" The sweet kid, she played along, barely containing a rage I'm glad I didn't have to confront. At that point, at any rate. And wouldn't you know it, when she pulled out her hand, there was a Tiffany's box with a pair of platinum earrings within.

(This kind of game can backfire terribly. For one of Bertha's birthdays, I set her on a sort of scavenger hunt about different spots we had shared in the city. But I made the clues too hard, and received a tearful phone call whilst I sat at the end of the labyrinth. Poor Bertha. She played that through, too, inspite of my ridiculous gaff.)

These plans we draw, they can go in any direction at any time, and perhaps this is the resonance I find in performing improvisatory theatre. Even from a botched scene (or entire play), we can say we learned a new thing or two. Interestingly enough, one of the activities my family enjoyed for the New York segment of our holy daze was to see a Moliere play, School for Wives. Now, as any self-respecting BFA recipient will tell you, Moliere was heavily influenced by the Commedia dell'arte traditions, and most of his plays are drawn directly from such scenarios, or at least such stock characters. School for Wives is a brilliant example of this, and a value pack of Kudos(r) to the good people at The Pearl Theatre Company for including a "Commedia Coach" (Christopher Bayes) in their roster of hard-working artists. The entire cast was solid--one of the best overall casts I have ever seen, anywhere. Not a weak link among them. (I particularly want to note Hana Moon and Bradford Cover as exceptional actors [willfully acknowledging that such notice is easier to achieve the funnier the character is written] and T.J. Edwards as well, who demonstrated a stylistic ease between two supporting characters.) The play was performed in nearly pure commedia style (only masking the Pantalone and Dotore characters would have topped it [and no doubt scared the shit out of the audience in the process]) including some improvised dialogue and much direct address and asiding.

{I aside; you aside; we aside; they aside; we have asided; you are asiding...?}

{Here we go a'wasailing, a'wasailing are we..."}

Particularly when we are with our families, I think the ability to improvise is a valuable skill. Having only lived this experience from the aspect of son (and brother), I am remarkably narrow in my view. Nevertheless, I think most of us can agree that reuniting with any group with whom we once--and now no longer--spent our daily lives is an exercise in subconscious revisitation of our former selves. That is to say, you can take the overpriviledged kid out of the suburbs, but you can't take the suburbs out of the now-rather-less-overpriviledged kid. We return to the group, and there is a natural tendency for everyone to resume where they left off. In this context, there is no better refreshment than being able to really listen...and maybe throw in a curve ball when your loved ones are least expecting it.

But just drinking a lot of eggnog is another option. I'm off to frolic in the yule tide. The water is unseasonably warm...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Platnium earrings AND mad love? A girl should only be so lucky.