12 January 2007

Seeking M&F Actors, Singers, Dancers, Stunt People, Accountants, War Criminals, et al...


Who here hasn't seen "The Princess Bride"?

Okay. Get the hell out. Yes: Right now. Don't look at me like that. I'm completely serious. I'm going to need you to go out and not come back until you've seen the film. It's a simple request. Go on. Go....

Thank God they're finally gone. Okay, all we normal human beings, this movie has been a rather continuous presence in my life ever since it came onto video. (For my younger readers, video:DVD::cassettes:CDs. What's a cassette? Medieval torture device. Never mind. Go back to your Sidekick/PSP/iHat.) I'm sure most people of my generation will concur, unless of course they were too busy outside playing sports during their childhoods. (Childrenhood?) Just recently, however, the movie has been insisting upon my attention. I got the DVD (See? I know what's hip.) for Christmas, as well as the 25th anniversary edition of the novel, and it's being quoted to me left-right-and-center. This morning my friend texted (I hate that as a verb, by the way: texted.) me at 8:00 am (his friend status thereby endangered) to inform me of this self-same movie playing a midnight show at the Sunshine Landmark theater tonight (friend status re-assured).

And two days ago I received an email from someone whom I can pretty confidently call a former, or lost, friend, referring me to this play: The Hotel Play. It included instructions to be cast as the lead in it and then call her.

The play is by Wallace Shawn, or as most of us would know him, "Vezzini," the Sicilian, red-herring mastermind of Prince Humperdinck's malicious ploy. (That sentence should root out any non-P.B.-seeing bastards. Get OUT of here!) I can't claim to be a devoted fan of Mr. Shawn's, but I have enjoyed him in everything I've seen him do. The play is enormously appealing. The porter sound like he's right in line with a lot of the kinds of characters I've created and played for Zuppa del Giorno. The glitch, of course, and the thing that puts such a sardonic twist on this potential reunion of at least email contact with an old friend, is that the play literally calls for 70-80 actors. Wallace seems to feel part of the point is to have each of a huge cast of characters played by an individual, rather than by, say, a dozen character actors. It would be fascinating to see produced. And it's an ingenious ploy (what else from "Vezzini"?) for never, ever getting your play produced.

List of things Not To Do:
  1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia;
  2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line; and
  3. Never attempt to get over 10 actors in a room together without serving alcohol.
I haven't had the pleasure of reading the play yet, but I'm going out to look for it today. Hopefully I'll remember to update the adoring fans of this here 'blog with a Pulitzer-worthy review. Hopefully it exists in print.

But above all, I hope that my former friend and I have, well, hope for being friends once again. I have a nasty habit of severing relationships that I really didn't want to do so to. Sometimes it's the choice of the other, sometimes it's the unconscious act of neglecting them for other (usually obsessively artistic) priorities. Sometimes it's even a conscious act, when I come to find I've developed an unhealthy sort of interaction with someone. Overall, I wonder if these severings don't come about in part owing to the transitory nature of the theatre work.

It shouldn't be difficult, in this day and age of constant contact--of the attainability of everyone by one means or another--to remain friends with your friends in spite of constant travel. Regardless of how dehumanizing email and telephone interaction may or may not be, it still facilitates keeping with someone's head-space (and, I dare say, heart-space) marvelously. Imagine your first girl/boyfriend leaving to sail the world and make her/his fortune, the only means of communication being the happenstance of crossing paths with another ship bound for home, and all the circumstances that may involve. Madness, the faith it would entail. (Yes, I am stealing wantonly from "The Princess Bride") Yet it is difficult for me to keep my friendships alive even in our contemporary context. And it's not just the travel, though that makes it significantly easier to become neglectful of people. It's also the struggle to live without too much routine, without too much assumption. The adventure itself of an examined life becomes a sort of friend, following you everywhere, so long as you make honest choices that allow for unpredictable possibility. That's hard for a lot of people to understand and, frankly, easy for such people to judge harshly. And more than keeping one away from regular contact with one's friends, such a life also creates a turbulence or resonance that some people can't abide.

I have a real love/hate relationship with that turbulence.

I had a dinner/acrobalance/planning session with my dear friend Patrick last night in preparation for a workshop we're teaching together at KC/ACTF next week, and our conversation turned to this subject, somewhat. As he is wont to do, Patrick reminded me that it's entirely possible to live The Third Life[patent pending] with all the stability and security of a First or Second one (this in response to my entry 12/31/06), one just has to avoid viewing it as an impossibility. I have to decide if that's the way I want it.

And I don't know if this former friend really wants to reunite, if enough water has passed under enough bridges. I think she felt, when we rather unofficially bid one another adieu years ago, that I had at worst manipulated her life, and at best had a profoundly unhelpful impact upon it. In the face of such a problem, in light of my lifestyle having gotten no less adventurous, is it possible to heal a friendship?

It's just conceivable.

2 comments:

Melissa said...

I was bl;essed with seeing Wallace Shawn speak at a memorial for Ishmael Merchant (Merchant Ivory Productions)....he was incredible.
Leaps and bounds the best speaker, and probably by those same leaps/bounds the smartest...(aside from PERHAPS Mr. James Ivory himself.)
The folks he was bounding over included Lynn Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes (sp???), Uma Thurman and well, a few more notables --
BY FAR the best speaker I have heard in a long time.
I wanted him to run for president of the universe when it was over-

love
m

Jeff Wills said...

Well, maybe you can explain his damn play to me. BECAUSE I DON'T GET IT. ;)

Thanks for reading, sweetie. GREAT picture!