These are obviously late in the year, but for those of us who live in the land of eternal summer, where BBQ's stay out until November, these may be useful.
My Grandmother LaVerne made a mustard-based potato salad that was a little bit famous. I make a few adjustments to mine, but don't most people when making a summer salad? But this salad is flavorful and brightly colored, without adding all of that mayo fat of your typical potato salad.
3 lbs or potatoes or so-- peeled, boiled, drained and cooled, stirred into large chunks.
4 hard boiled eggs-- sliced or diced.
1 tbs mayo
1-2 tbs mustard
2 celery stalks-- sliced
1 small can sliced olives
1/2 a medium red onion-- dice
3-4 sweet pickle gherkins, sliced
3 gherkin juice
Your favorite seasoning salt
Mik together first four ingredients until it comes together. The salad should stick, but shouldn't be too heavy on the mayo/mustard sauce. Add in sliced and diced veggies and mix lightly. Sprinkle in gherkin juice and seasoning salt to taste. Refrigerate two hours before serving.
When I was 18 or 19 or so, I tasted a pasta salad in a restaurant that I loved. After a few rounds of trying to replicate it, I came across this combo, which while not at all like the salad in the restaurant, I still love today. It is simple and a perfect cold alternative to pilaf alongside kebabs and spinach salad.
1 lb multicolored rotini, cooked, drained and cooled under cold water.
1 small can sliced black olives
2-3 green onions, chopped
4 oz. traditional crumbled feta cheese
Dressing: 1 pkg dry italian salad dressing mixed with 1/4 c vinegar (your favorite kind-- I use a simple white or white wine) and 1/2 c veg oil (preferably EVOO, but a standard canola oil will do). Shaken, not stirred.
Mix ingredients with dressing and add seasoning salt if desired. Refridgerate for two hours for best results.
Over here in Shakespeare-land, we have to do a lot of side-step-two-stepping to entice people to see the shows. The #1 issue for the vast majority of people that keeps them from attending a Shakespeare play: “I don’t understand it.”
The experience seems strangely daunting, inaccessible, and downright stick-in-the-mud-ish for most people. Visions of sitting in rigid rows in a freshman English class as a teacher (you can’t really remember her name) poured over every bit of imagery in “Romeo and Juliet” comes to mind and you suddenly have the physical need to escape from the box of a desk that no longer exists.
Shakespeareans spend a lot of time overcoming that visceral response. We talk about how, really . . the play IS in English! We’re not lying! The words are just in a different order.
We explain about “activating the text”—a phrase designed to turn a layperson away from seeing a show—how the actors take specific words in the sentences and punch them and then, sort of, uh, act them out. You know? So if you’re watching the actors, you’ll totally know what’s going on!
We talk about Shakespeare’s audiences and how the majority of them were completely illiterate nor did they speak in verse, but THEY could understand it! Surely, you’re smarter than a 16th century peasant, right?
We try to set the plays in more “relevant” settings, we put them outdoors, we put them in intimate black box theatres, we have preshow discussions to explain the show, we have post show Q & A’s to explain the show AGAIN. We put directors notes in the programs and study guides on the websites.
We go out of our way to ensure that ANYBODY from ANY NEIGHBORHOOD and with ANY set of interests could come and enjoy our founding father, The Bard.
And it actually makes us feel good—especially in the U.S. – this touting of Shakespeare as democratic. He belongs to everyone. Everyone can understand him and own him.
But in this moment, right now. . . . I think that’s bullshit.
No, you don’t have to have money to understand and own Shakespeare. The “cultural elites”, in fact, sometimes have too much rattling around in their overstuffed brains to really own—or enjoy—Shakespeare.
No, you don’t have to know theatre inside and out to own and understand Shakespeare. Experience working with actors is sincerely not required.
And no, you don’t even have to have read the plays to own and understand Shakespeare.
In order to own and understand Shakespeare, you simply have to have the balls to fully invest and partcipate. You can only understand Shakespeare—or enjoy a Shakespearean production—if you make the effort to understand it.
What? Isn’t showing up making an effort?
Showing up is the act of walking in the doors and getting to your seat. You do that every night in front of your TiVo.
But think about it—If a Shakespearean actor went to see any live sporting event, amateur or professional, and simply sat back in his seat, ate his nachos, and stared waiting for something interesting to happen, he probably wouldn’t have the best time. But if he sits forward in his seat, watches the plays, attempts to empathize with the principle players or the coaches or the losing side, suddenly he become caught up in the outcome of the game. Even if he doesn’t understand all of the rules or the terminology, he can tell when something good has happened to those in whom he has an investment and when they’re falling behind. He’ll find himself understanding the game by giving it his full attention and a bit of a personal investment.
It is no different with Shakespeare.
There is a reason so many of his plays begin with a prologue or a lenghtly opening monologue. It is a welcoming, a greeting, and a way of preparing the audience for the play to come. It is a way of saying, “Listen! Think! Imagine! Work with us in telling this story!”
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass:
goes a line in the prologue to Henry V. Your job is to fill in this world with your imagination. Your job is to empathize with the characters and to answer their questions for them. Your job is give us the energy that helps to fill in the story.
When any audience member shows up and does their job, they understand Shakespeare. A well told, well spoken Shakespeare play allows audiences to share in the mind of this genius and begin to grapple with the human questions he posed.
When the poetic faith between performer and audience member is achieved, the questions stay with them afterwards and reminds them of a deeply satisfying experience. Entertaining, yes. . . but more. One that helps them wrestle with their own ideas of existence and what it is to be human.
That is not escapism—straight entertainment, “divertissement”. No, it is an activity, and a rigorous one at that. It is something requiring energy and focus.
The people who cannot own Shakespeare are those who show up and do nothing more, who detach themselves from the performance and from their fellow audience members. Who disengage in order to evaluate lesser things in the production.
If a question arises about the choices of an actor, someone who owns Shakespeare will try to answer the question in terms of the character or themes of the production. If they cannot be answered sufficiently that way, then turn to evaluating the acting or directing.
If a concept or idea presented is baffling, ask “What is it trying to say?” Once answering that (or providing some ideas), then make your judgments on how well it was executed or the relevance of the idea.
But mostly, those who own and can understand Shakespeare first experience everything the play can give them and tries to help it along. After that, they tackle the questions of evaluation, relevance, and execution.
Anyone can understand Shakespeare, if they can cowboy up and take it on—invest, experience, listen, and participate!
He’s only the greatest playwright in the English language, if you want to own THAT, you bettah WORK!
first draft -- hdp
Anne Bogart says that the "constant state of any company of actors is one of continual crisis". Just the act of performing an objective upon another being is an act of crisis. A third party "judging" the action, is a crisis.
On a first run though we have two choices: 1) To ignore any sense of action or crisis, retreat to "reinforcing the blocking" and having little in teh way of progress occur in terms of the acting, or 2) we can face the crisis-- the questions, the insecurities, the lapses of memory with bravery, with clear-sightedness, and was can see what happens in the process. WE can retreat or we can discover. I ask you to choose the latter tonight. Stay focused, show curiosity and generosity, and infuse as much as you are capable of at this early stage of the process.
Do not judge-- just act and take action. Let's begin to meet this play and really get to know it better. Have a conversation with Shakespeare and each other and see what comes to the surface. Teh crisis is worthwhile. This is not about getting it right. Tonight is about beginning to get it alive.
Read to the cast of Richard III, July 14, 2009
In an effort to become re-inspired by blogging, I will be retooling this blog. Probably a fresh look, new organization, some of the widgets will go, perhaps to be replaced by new ones. But it seems to me the place needs a facelift. So, pardon our mess while we improve your experience In the Attic.
Mom came home from the hospital on Saturday evening. She checked herself out because the hospital staff refused to treat her pain or listen to what has worked in the past. Since they've never heard of her condition, it obviously doesn't exist. Something I find amazing considering the wealth of information found at wikipedia.
Anyway, she is home now and exhibiting signs that the Transverse Myelitis episode (of which this is her fourth, indicating the presence of severe MS) possible caused a small stroke. As a result, she cannot use the left side of what is remaining of her functioning limbs. The pain in that side is quite severe, and if it doesn't abate by the latter half of the week, to the hospital in Fresno we go.
But, she's eating like a horse, so I guess that's somethin'.
In the meantime, I am working from home this week (during the day) and am having what recruits I can find stay with her in the evenings while I am in rehearsal for Last Train to Nibroc
The title of this refers to the fact that once again, as was the case 5 years ago this spring, mom is entirely bed-bound, unable to do very much for herself and entirely dependent. If the situation cannot improve, we must face the fact that it may be time to put her into convalescence. Something I do not relish. In the least.
So, the biggest question issuing forth from my mom's lips in the last two days has been "Why does God want me to suffer so?"
And when she says "suffer", she means SUFFER. Not "Why does God make me put up with these little annoyances?" "Why does God inflict this obstacle upon me?" But suffer-- in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual sense. But primarily the physical
Last night at about 10 p.m., some symptoms came forward that were very similar to what occurred when her acute transverse myelitis presented itself the first three time-- which is what made her a paraplegic, raising her paraplegia higher in her spinal chord each time.
This time, though, since the damage to her spinal chord is slowly getting higher and higher, the pain and dysfunction occured in her breathing and in her heart operation. She literally thought she was going to die. And the thought crossed my mind, too.
And, the fact that the pain from transverse myelitis is almost entirely neurological, there is only so much a traditional opiate treatment can do. Opiates help manage her pain on a day to day basis, in conjunction with neurological meds originally intended for epilepsy and anxiety.
So, when the extreme pain of the spinal chord wigging out on her body comes along, most E.R. staff (who have never seen this before) don't understand why 8 mg of morphine isn't knocking her on her ass. Well, that's because only an antianxiety med (to help the nerve impulses slow down) and a corticosteroid (to slow the inflammation in the spine) will do ANYTHING.
I know this. But will they listen to me? No. I'm just the one who has watched the progression of this disease for six years. Observed closely the person who has lived with it everyday.
Anyway, she finally got some relief and what happens? This afternoon the same sort of neuropathy has presented in her left arm and she is, again, in extreme pain. Would the floor nurses in the hospital listen to what she had to say about her condition? No. They accused her of being drug seeking. Well, they would be seeking drugs, too, if they knew of the pain she suffers daily.
So now she is home, slightly more comfortable simply for the fact that we can use her regular antianxiety meds to her advantage to make the pain at least tolerable. And Monday, we will go to a larger hospital where her regular physician will be on duty.
But right now, she experiences nothing but suffering. . . in the "comfort" of her own bed .