I’m back from a week in Ithaca, NY, a city with so many free-thinkers it has multiple slogans. “Ithaca is Gorge-ous” is the fallback, but many others have taken off (“Ithaca is Amusing” was on one wall, and “Ithaca is cold” is featured on sweatshirts and hoodies). One that I didn’t see on clothing but is a meme for the locals: “Ithaca: Ten square miles surrounded by Reality”. My purpose in being there was to do my play Planet Hospice (a lighthearted exploration of the sixth stage of grief, gallows humor) at the Ithaca Fringe Festival. Four performances.
I’m pooped (in more ways than one, thanks to Kava).
I did garner some interesting and positive reviews, which you can find here and here. Apparently, my timing was off (in terms of production, not performance)–having the Festival come off when many of the activists were off working to make New York State ‘feel the Bern‘ didn’t help. You can’t swing a cat in Tompkins County without hitting a Sanders 2016 sign or supporter, and with major universities in the area, the focus was on ‘get out the vote’ efforts for Tuesday’s Primary. Planet Hospice is a hard play to sell anyway, and organizer George Sapio (and the determined Maura Stephens) did their level best on getting people out for all events. The fact that they’d do all this work and get all these productions going on a shoestring budget (operating off the kindness of strangers) is a testament to the determination of Ithaca’s art-scene volunteers.
So what did we learn?
- because of the nature of the play, the order of events can get somewhat skewed without too much confusion in the audience. Losing my place in the script isn’t devastating the way it is with some of my other pieces;
- four year old children may not be the best audience;
- Kava is a marvelous drink to have before going on to recite a 60 minute one-man show (preferably two or three rounds) and the Mystic Kava Bar at 107 Cayuga is a great place to drink it. After you get over the taste of mud, by the time you get to the bottom of the coconut shell cup you will feel a subtle calming and a relaxing state in your jaw, tongue and mouth. Two cups better. Go for the stuff with honey in it (it is an ‘acquired’ taste, to put it mildly).
- If people in the audience look hugely depressed before I even start speaking, maybe I should just do my nightclub act. One of my audience groups was incredibly lifelike, but (like the Madame Tussaud figures) not reactive.
I have other feelings now that I’ve done the play four times in a row. I need an entourage for post-performance wind-down from performance–a couple people willing to go to a bar or diner and just do small chat for awhile. I have the usual post-play problems (‘you put the section about Paul Beckwith in the wrong place, dipsh*t!’) plus the overall dour nature of the material. The nature of the mask I’m using allows me to see everyone’s face as I perform, and that isn’t always reassuring.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE.
Just in from Salon–this NASA image from the Goddard Space Institute.
This is from a new article just out. And quoting directly from the author Phil Plait: For the sixth month in a row, we’ve had a month that has broken the global high temperature record. And not just broken it, but shattered it, blasting through it like the previous record wasn’t even there… It was a staggering 1.28°C above average across the planet.* The previous March record, from 2010, was 0.92° above average. This year took a huge jump over that.
Welcome to the new normal, and our new world.
I hate it when I’m right about things like this.