25 October 2009

Valuable lessons from Old Time Radio

"It's the olives that do it, not the Martinis!"

Johnny Dollar in "The Confidential Matter" episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

19 October 2009

Character Reference

"Since you should know something about me, I have asked the Reverend Simon Simpless, of St. Hilda's Church near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, to write to you. He has known me since I was a child and is fond of me. I have asked Lady Bella Taunton to provide a reference for me too. We were fire wardens together during the Blitz and she wholeheartedly dislikes me. Between the two of them, you may get a fair picture of my character."

A letter from Juliet Ashton to Amelia Maugery in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

06 October 2009

Don't ask for much, do we?

Collect of the Day
Sunday, October 5, 2009

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire to deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We would also like a pony.

01 October 2009

Byron, Bryon

Byron* has been popping up in my line of sight again lately. Sara Joy is rehearsing Arcadia and her Facebook status updates are peppered with Hannah's dialogue; John Malkovich appears in the film version of J.M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace and has this comment about his character, a professor of Romantic poetry: "Probably if you spend your whole life reading Byron and Keats and Shelley, partaking of their worldview, then you might have a different moral compass than those who don't."

So the lame brat is on my mind again.

A couple of nights ago I was reading a Time magazine from a few weeks back and came across a book review. The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes** describes "an era when science was both glamorous and dangerous" and the review by Lev Grossman notes that at that time "Poetry and science weren't wholly separate yet: they were seen as complementary ways of piercing the veil of everyday phonomena. William Wordsworth, Lord Byron and the Shelleys (Percy Bysshe and Mary) followed scientific breakthroughs like sports scores."

And the single hardest part of Arcadia for me to memorize is back in my head:

I had a dream which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air... ***

In rehearsals, before those words were secure (which nearly required a nail gun) I would get to that point in the script, look intelligently**** at Patrick and say "Bryon, Bryon, end of Byron" and we'd go on with the scene. I think the director was a little afraid that I would do that in performance, too, but I did not.

Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something. Perhaps while I am between scripts, I'll read some Romantic poetry and see what - if anything - it does to my moral compass.

Assuming I have one, that is.

* George Gordon, Lord Byron

** I don't think it's the same Richard Holmes as the baritone who sings for NYGASP, but that would also be a nice piece of serendipity, wouldn't it.

*** Darkness

**** Or so I like to think.