the unexpected, inevitable family (ies)
- Deb Radloff and I have lunch this week. We go to Amy’s Bread on 46th and 8th and talk about vegetables, books and boys. It was good to see her. We part on 49th and 7thwith plans for the next time, as if sisters.
-I see Alex Hurt the week before. He was performing in a five person Hamlet at NYU. It’s good to support him and see the nuances of a performer-friend from a different side of the stage. He suggest we all get together for a birthday party for his girlfriend, Devon.
-I see an episode of Orange is the New Black, along with most of the city. So, I see Lea DeLaria. I shoot her a text and remember her two put-in rehearsals to learn the part for Chalk Circle.
-I speak with Joel Grey about this and that, about the show, and it makes me miss Christopher Lloyd. Is Lloyd in Santa Fe or LA, I wonder? I flasback to closing night, us staring teary-eyed back at each other, not ready to say good-bye.
-I see Tom Riis Ferrel post on FB and I imagine the first day of rehearsal when I couldn’t tell if he was seriously pissed or seriously hilarious. Clearly the latter.
-Mary Testa’s doing concerts in TX and I miss TX. And Mary. Her enormous, captivating voice onstage offstage and everything about all of this rings of home. Home and family. They are all home.
Q: And how is this?
A: There’s family in the DNA of what we do. I’m somehow related to these people now. It’s done. Wrapped up and sealed.
You see, who we end up being is a transient, make shift family of players that comes and goes. It’s every time, every show, but no less powerfully or poignantly than this time around with the Chalkies. It’s as if we make a collective footprint on the beach and then the waves wash us away, but the footprint was there, was us, for a time.
To say it less poetically perhaps, the art was made, but then the set is ripped down, the costumes are whisked away and every remnant of the show is dissembled.
We toast. Then we part. But the heart of this bohemian family remains intact.
Strong and beating Strongly believeing.
It’s one of the beautiful mysteries of the theatre.
All these families running around the city; created and dispersed. But we are no less such for the diaspora.
I felt the familial strike when I visited the offices recently. I entered to see a couch with none other than my son, my beloved puppet, Michael. I gave him a knowing glance, but didn’t want to make a scene. It didn’t matter. He knew we’d been through battle together, and how many times I’d held him backstage, cried over him. The deal was done. Family. DNA. The theatrical pact upheld. If I run into Puppet Michael in a bodega or restaurant around the city, we will embrace and know: family.
Thematically, this is also the case for Caucasian Chalk Circle as a text, and for CSC’s first play of the new, upcoming season, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Both these plays are rife with family issues and hot topics of whom should belong to whom.
So you can’t really escape the layers of belonging in this process.
As we all gather for Devon’s birthday party soon, it will be just like it often is with our regular families: you don’t see each other for a while and there’s that awkward spell of catching up and ‘oh, how have you been?’ and ‘I’m sorry I never did such-and-such,’ but that all falls away and you just remember the trenches of time that brought you together. And you laugh and all become corporate oral story tellers, layering memories upon the next a little too loudly for the space you’re all in.
We are players. We are sisters. We are cousins. We are brothers.
Thank you, CSC, for another family. Here’s to the next one. Happy New Season!