We spent last week at the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis. A luxurious five days working on the details, lights, transitions, slides, ACTING!! of "My Mother Has Four Noses!"
(My husband Patrick has about 400 cousins, uncles, sisters, aunts there. So a couple of the shows were almost like family reunions. Thank you Rainses, Malones, Donneys.)
Most importantly, Jeremy Cohen helped us hone and shine the production ideas we've so longed for.
From the time I wrote the song called "TIME" on a tiny kalimba at a kitchen table in Malibu, the October before my mother died, I knew it would be the heartbreak song of whatever became of my writing, the record, the play.
And there it was! That vision finally came to life. The lights slowly dimming to a lonely devastating soul moment. It is almost impossible to sing (in the best way!) when all the elements combine to raise the emotional ante!
I got to perform the show 4 times in a row for wildly different yet equally generous audiences. The support and love in that room? Indelible.
I found new things I'd never noticed before in my own words. The funny was funnier, the poignant ever more so.
Thank you Ryan Ripley for tech and everything else on the fly; Tim Wilkins, for lights and cheer; Abbi Butterfield for impeccable slide timing and joy; Rebecca Arons for brilliant cello artistry; and Sean Driscoll for magical guitar ambiance and MD chops.
Thank you Julia Brown and EVeryone at the Playwright's Center for all the help.
Paul Mitchell, I just don't sound right if you're not there. I can never thank you enough.
Jeremy, my heart is forever grateful and opened. You got my piece, and me, and kept us safe. Onward, baby.
Philly here we come!!
I snuck away to a farm in New Jersey for four days. I have the most generous friend who has beckoned for months now, "Come. Really, it's heavenly, and you'll get so much work done."
I did. I went. I haven't had four days uninterrupted in...I don't know how long.
I can't believe a place so idyllic actually exists.
There's a funky tag team of dogs who greet you in a frenzy and then stay protectively by your door once they know they love you. (Does a Golden Retrieve ever NOT love someone)
There are two ponies,
- happily in love. And two bigger horses
- happily in love.
Each evening around 6, each pair is led , - it's so languorous and carefree. Each to their own gorgeous paddock. The older couple gets the one on the perfect hillside. The younger pair lounges in the one down by the river. Through the cool nights they nuzzle and graze.
At 6 in the morning, they are led back to where they can shelter out of the sun. There is fresh hay, a morning meal, carrots from their goofy city guest.
It's quiet. No sirens. No kneeling buses.
Cicadas, crickets, Blue herons keel in at dusk and land in the pond. The dogs bark at...
nothing I can detect.
Sleep is deep and dreamless.
I am working on shaping the book that is part of this whole new project. Daunting to say the least. But I jumped in. Deep end. Big pool
I didn't even know how much I needed that time, that space, to gather the courage.
Thank you Pam
(Ok, and you too, Roooo!)
I spent last week in Ithaca New York, workshopping a new musical called "Death and Venice." My brilliant friend Anton Dudley wrote the book, I wrote the songs.
(the photo is me and danny bernstein my pianist/accompaniest, not sure whose hats those are!)
We didn't have a lot of actual time to rehearse, but had the luxury of "away" - like summer camp. We were stowed in the Ithaca College dorms... ok it wasn't 5 star, or even 1 1/2 - it was kind of funny, really to be back in that atmosphere. ("i wrote this song in prison..")
I realized I am officially old and cranky about what kind of bed works for me, (ones without rubber sheaths) - what kinds of pianos (ones with mutes and soft pedals that function) you get the idea.
The real point is that, as always, creative passionates transcend surroundings. We are drawn to each other and buoyed by having found each other. There is such joy in recognizing so many all in the same place, looking for the same things. Defining our lives by what we might tell the world, and how we might tell it.
One day we snuck away to a waterfall. Only five minutes from campus. The world opened like that DOLBY chord they play right before movie screenings. BAM all the colors textures and tones in a secret magic place.
We, - Will, Masha, Louisa and Lian and I just leapt right in. How could we not?
Finally, Monday, after a few tweaks and amazing work by our cast, we had a reading of our "Death and Venice."
I think it spoke to our audience. The inklings of shimmering possibility snuck through. We were telling the world something beautiful and transcendent. Songs, poetry.
I can't thank the cast enough. It was so much work smushed into tiny spaces - for many of them in between equally challenging projects with other writers and directors. They embraced their characters. Chewed into their songs.
I love this world we created. I hope we can bring "Death and Venice" to YOU too.