The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ah, my church

And ah, my theatre. Thoughts on both:

  • Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay! (He chortled in his joy) Our archbishop, Sean O'Malley, has just been named a cardinal! (Everybody now! "Happy happy joy joy! Happy happy joy joy!")

  • And I still hold that the church (building) closings are not necessarily a bad thing. In my area, certainly, I feel that by consolidating the churches there has been - among those who have remained faithful - a greater feeling of solidarity and brotherhood not only in our own (new) parishes, but also across town boundaries. When we were four parishes in our small (technically a) city, there was so much division, so much crankiness, petty rivalries and selfishness. But now the parishes are free to move forward with what really matters to our faith: reintroducing Eucharistic adorations, encouraging confessions, my mother's own Catholic Bible study, our upcoming cross-parish Passion - the list goes on. We still need to better integrate the various Hispanic communities into our own - to overcome that latest division - but it can be done. I don't know that bilingual masses such as those at St. Mike's are the way to go, nor am I convinced that segregating the masses such as at IC is completely beneficial - but at least the Anglo-and-Hispanic communities are now sharing the same space and pastors. (I wonder if the Anglosaxons and the Normans had such liturgical difficulties....)

  • I am also grateful for the many many masses available on a weekend. This Sunday I've a matinee show of The Grand Duke with the Sudbury Savoyards (for whom I've falln into the duty of Head of Women's Hair [who's the Type A personality?]) and fortunately I can go to an early mass that day. (I feel great pity for those of another denomination who might have to miss a service because there's only one per Sunday.) Actually, God is very good and I'll be able to lector at this Sunday's morning mass. I was assigned to the Sunday evening one for this week, but couldn't make it because of the G&S show. My sister was going to cover for me, but the woman who lectors for the 9:30 called and asked if she and I could switch. (There art thou happy!) So happy, happy day.

  • The hair for Grand Duke is, overall, looking very well. "Fifty feet in the dark," though, meant that all these lovely braids folks were doing couldn't be seen from the audience. So I went out, bought ribbon and flowers, and had anyone doing a braid weave in two strands of ribbon of a varying color (light for dark haired women, and vice versa), and everyone else getting a spray of flowers thrown in somewhere. Now from the audience we can see the bouffant chignions. Actually, there's a few designs I'm really rather proud of: the lead soubrette's hair which we put over a form, pinned in a curved spray of violets and then pincurled the remainder, and one of the chorus member's hair which I've got up in twists along the sides and then the remainder put up in two twists stuck all around with bows. Very flattering if I do say so myself. There's two that I need to fix yet, but fortunately we're "going dark" (aka, not having) a final dress rehearsal tonight, and so I've a night off before the beginning of the run tomorrow night. This means that I get to go to sleep on time, watch Dancing with the Stars (not in that order), and actually take some of this vacation time for - oh, the shock! - vacation. I'm going to enjoy all 24 hours of it. Ha!

  • Tomorrow, as well, we do not have rehearsal for Matchmaker. (Everyone join me in a rousing Kermit-like arm-waving "Yaaaaaaaaaay!") We did monologues on Monday - which went very well - and then Acts I-III on each of the following days. We'll be able to do Act IV twice next week. I'm having fun throwing in all sorts of slapstick, farcical elements - and then sliding in some really nice moments for people, too. The proposal scene at the end of Act IV (which we finally, oh thank You, GOD!, did just today) is sooooooooo very very sweet. My main concern with Matchmaker was that, with the way the script is written, the audience can't in good faith root for Horace and Dolly to get together. It's all so mercenary. And Horace is usually played so one-dimensionally miserly that it's a complete bafflement as to why anyone would want to marry him of their own free will - much less our vivacious Dolly. But we have conquored that. Oh, yes we have, precious. We're rooting from the start - and we're seeing glimpses from the start of sweetness and gentility - and of an ease the two characters have with one another. So that when the proposal comes, it's simply - it's a sigh of sweetness.

  • A brief thought about why some of the slapstick I'm throwing into the Irene/Cornelius line seems to be working. Comedy is, in part, based on two separate truths being juxtaposed in a situation that requires a different set of norms. Example: the Philosopher's Soccer Tournament from Monty Python. First, we have the anachronistic juxtaposition of Greek philosophers being anywhere physically near German ones. But that might just be bad school pagentry. But to put men in togas and men in periwigs on a soccerfield is amusing - because although Socrates might have jumped in a time machine to square off against Hegel in a soccer match, they'd both change into soccer gear if this were real. But for comedic effect, they maintain their own norm of clothing in a place where another norm is held. This would have merely elicited giggles to watch - except that Monty Python takes it one further: the philosophers, having already denied the expected norm of garb, now play soccer by their own norms - which is to think about the essential nature of soccer rather than doing the thing. This is hysterical. But the truly clever bit is that by juxtaposing the two, we see that there is a time to think but this is a time to do, and that there are those philosophers who think the ball doesn't even exist (the Germans) who are then trounced by Euripides (playing for the Greeks) who shouts "Eureka!" and manages to realize that one must do (i.e., kick the ball). So, the actual philosophies that the characters lived by is itself juxtaposed.

    Comedy - good comedy, or higher comedy - mixes an intellectual truth and brings clarity through paradox. For the Irene/Cornelius line - although I'd hardly call it quite as clever as the above sketch - what we're doing is showing what everyone actually feels like on a first date, but more or less manages to hide. This juxtaposition, rather than anachronistic, is bringing the interior to the exterior (although perhaps not as crudely as in Annie Hall). So when Irene takes Cornelius' hand and literally starts bouncing up and down, or Cornelius gets on the chair and beasts his breast King Kongishly after successfully carrying out Irene's command to upset the table - what makes it funny is that what we're seeing is what is truly felt and never, ever, ever shown.

    Comedy is also very musical. It relies on a sort of poetry - not so much rhyming, as alliterative or repetitious. It really does require timing and proper intonation. I've a secret theory that the best comedians are probably very musically talented as well. (Which is perhaps why so many of them were in vaudeville and included a variety of acts such as singing and dancing and juggling.) And in comedy, the audience waits through the set-up ("For Dame Pince and her daughter - her dowry. And a beau to go with it." [Cue five men kissing the daughter's arm. Slight appreciative titter from audience.]) for the pay-off tagline ("And for Dame Plotz and her daughters? [beat] Nothing." [Cue weeping daughters. Louder laughter from audience.]). Comedy well-played is like jazz - we can follow the musical line, the basic chord progression, but the joy is in the improvisational element over the top of the expected. But, like any good music, it must also return to the tonic. We can't leave it on the seventh or stranded somewhere in a minor diminished fourth. We need the "ching" for the previous "ba-doom-dooms." The tonic, but inverted.

    I don't know that I've more to write. I thought I had. Bits and pieces then:

  • We're doing a low-lift with Irene and Cornelius! It's so cool! He holds her wrist and ankle and swings her about! Happy happy happy day!

  • There are few greater love letters from God than driving to the theatre, drinking a Diet Coke just as one passes by the expanse of curving farmland in Hudson, tinted sunset-rosey through one's sunset-rosey sunglasses, just as "Pachabel's Canon" by the Boston Pops conducted by John Williams comes on the radio in the nicest car we own as lent by the gracious parents to get from here to there. There, art thou happy.

  • Theatre junkie, theatre junkie, theatre junkie....

  • (And because there's always one need for a "I trust I make myself obscure" item....) Yeah, so I'm reminded why I'm grateful I've collected so few of what others collect obsessively because one has turned up in the least likely place and, though I have already exonerated myself from any residual guilt I may once have felt (being of a trusting nature and quick to committment), any continuing guilt over my exoneration is completely dissipated upon this latest, undesired perusal. One is inclined to shout what Clemintine shouted to Elijah Wood's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My sister will understand me. One does, but only to confidants. One had thought this place safe. One must be excused to strangle the one who brought the one to one's safe place. One must be excused to kiss the one who keeps the one from one's own corner of the haven. Bah humbug.

  • I was putting in my contacts this morning (my glasses needing to be replaced because they're finally scratch-eded) and I dropped one contact. I had to stick on my glasses, run out the door to rehearsal, and when I returned just now I sent up another prayer to St. Anthony, and lo and behold this time I found it. It is dry. It it curled up. It is soaking in solution and one hopes the solution will solve indeed.

  • Muppets Season One is great. I can't believe so many classic sketches are from that first year alone! "You and I and George" "Mna-mna" "The Comedian's a Bear" - the list goes on. No "Pigs in Space," though. Sadness.

  • O is actually a pretty good version of Othello. Too much swearing and drugs and sex for me - but very accurate and in some ways far more understandable (insofaras motives are concerned) than the original. It's only a shame - a big shame - that they were bound to remove the bonds of matrimony from the piece due to the reimaginging of Othello in a high school. Of course, one could argue, then, that O *doesn't* work because it removes those very bonds. Regardless, it was very, very interesting. Well worth watching for any Shakespeare fiend. (I've no idea if She's the Man - the latest take on Twelfth Night will be at all good. I'll most likely see it, regardless, though.)

  • Life is good. God is good. All is good. Amen.

    Mood: Bon bon bon bon bon, merci
    Music: None at present. How odd is that?
    Feast: Saint Polycarp, pray for us!

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