Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, The Pavilion by Craig Wright.

Pavilion

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Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Macbeth.

macbeth2

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Owning Up

(lights up slowly)

If you’re like me, you can be just a little bit excessive.

…Did I say excessive? I meant obsessive. Same thing really.

You don’t want to own up, to come clean, but I know you are.

Maybe not about the small things, maybe not about the large things, but there are some things you just     can’t     let     go     of.

Can’t let out of your clutches.

I mean, you’re only human aren’t you?

You hear something once and maybe, well, maybe that’s it.

I mean, you need it. You hear it and boom- you’ve got to have it.

Maybe it’s a taste, a perfume, a painting.

Maybe it’s a statue, a song, a TV serial. Anything.

With me, as you must have already guessed, it’s the music of Stephen Sondheim.

No, I’m not one of those queens that loves Liza, or Bette, or Julie Andrews unconditionally…

I have a condition.

Put them all on the soundtrack of a Sondheim play, and then…. Only then will I bring the old girls round. I’ll bring them and play them like they’re going out of style. But thanks to Sondheim, they never will. Not with me.

With you dear, despite our certain similarities, it’s probably something different. Maybe you’re a Gershwin fan. Maybe you dig Charlie Mingus. Maybe its Jim Bloody Steinman or –god forbid- Andrew Lloyd …ah yes. I see. Andrew Lloyd Webber is it?

(sings) “M i d – n I g h t”… blech.

Some pleasures are, of course, guiltier than others.

Whatever it is, we bring it home, and we obsess.

We fawn over it, pet it, clutch it to our breasts, devour it.

And then … well, it’s our OWN isn’t it? It’s our own. We own it!

And I suppose, in a way, it owns us back.

It’s a bit fetishistic really, isn’t it?

Have you thought about ownership love? I mean really thought about it? Do you have all of Sir Andrew’s works?

Yes, I thought as much.

In your country there’s a saying that “The Grass is always greener on the other side of the street”, and that’s a piece of it… yes, but it doesn’t tell the story. I might be more apt to say “I’ve owned this bit of turf for years and now it’s getting a bit old. It might be nice to own a bit of yours too. You know, go for the whole collection”.

A lot of wars probably start that way…

What’s wrong with me?

Why do I need to own things anyway?

I long to hear “Company” as if it were the very first time. But I can’t. I bloody own it and my own all-consuming passion for it gets in my way- Numbs me to its charms.

I had it on all week, must’ve played it 80 – 90 times, and though I sang along every time, I didn’t really love it enough. Not in that pure way, and I miss that purity, that… religious… purity.

I take it for granted now. I suppose we all do.

I know the neighbors do.

They all hate me of course, but why should I care?

They never take any interest in anything I do any more. They’ve heard West Side Story drifting down the street a million times over by now. I could have a heart attack- I could go stark raving mad and break everything in the house, and they wouldn’t even think to look in. No, not any more… Sondheim and I have seen to that.

I mean I’m just lucky that Sondheim is still with us. I… I sometimes think if he dies, I’ll lose all hope. I can’t own all the Sondheim now, because he’s not all done, is he?

The complete collection remains mercifully incomplete. There’s more to come, and that is the sweetest feeling in the world- that anticip…ation.

Imagine being the poor bastard who owns all the Queen albums and Barcelona, and that bloody Highlander soundtrack… Everything there is to get hold of, but dear dead Freddie isn’t coming back. He’s lost the low spark of his high-heeled boy now, hasn’t he? There’s nothing left for him to hope for, is there? I mean, every time he plays Bicycle Race or Seven Seas of Rye, it comes back to him more and more distant… negligible. More a private soundtrack and less the arresting, affecting Aria he fell in love with and brought home to mother…

And one day, it will just disappear into the background of his desperate life. He’ll be forced to do something rash- sign up for French Foreign Legion or the new Survivor just because he needs to leave dear Freddie behind for a while- a trial separation. But oh, oh the joy when he comes back and finds Freddie, his Freddie, waiting just for him!

But I’m not going to be that poor bastard now, am I?

No.     I.     Am.     Not.

And that brings us round… to you.

I need to own things, collect things. I think that should be clear to both of us by now. And you, aren’t you are just the little darling to help me out like this?

Why do I love Sondheim so much? I think it’s because, in addition to his vast musical gifts, he understands me, the real me. The real deep down, obsessive me. The first time I heard Sweeney Todd, Oh my!

That sweet and succulent Little Priest… “Those up above will serve those down below”.

I mean that song was written with me in mind, don’t you think?

I think Sond… Oh, is this distressing you? My Sondheim-this and Sondheim-that? Is it perhaps just a little too familiar for you? Too disrespectful? Alright.

What do you call him then?

Uncle Steve is it?

Very well.

I’ve read every interview your Uncle Steve has ever granted. I’ve seen the Last of Sheila 47 times. He has a quirky and subtle wit, but I know his little secret. We both do, don’t we?

If he didn’t have a little secret like you just…LAYING…about, I’m sure his work wouldn’t speak to me in quite the same way. We’d have less in common, wouldn’t we?

So, let’s go through this once again, my new     best     little     friend.

Whatever are we going to tell Uncle Steve when we get him on the phone?

Don’t worry, I’ll let him speak to you dear. Perhaps I’ll even let you speak to him…

Or maybe not.

I do believe it’s time for a new piece. Something special. Something nice. Something… that speaks to me. After all, Uncle Steve won’t last forever will he? I’ve seen his future…

And when he’s gone, I’ll need something of my own, won’t I.

Something of my OWN…

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Gypsy. Book by Arthur Laurents. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Music by Jule Styne.

gypsy9

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Host and Hostess

Cast

Hostess – An effectively beautiful but stern Human Resources Director

Frieda – A scared minimum wage employee.

Bob – The Alpha and the Omega of religious retailing.

Dwayne – Server of delicious snack treats. Not the sharpest pencil in the box…

(A gathering of nametag-wearing employees in a large auditorium. Dwayne is serving cut-up chocolate cookies from a large tray throughout. The Hostess stands in the middle of the room. The ceiling lights are at 50%, and there is no spotlight on the “TV window”)

Hostess: Welcome coworkers! Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable. I realize that this big Easter meeting is unprecedented and so – to make you feel more at home – I will take a question from the audience. (looks all around the room, before seeing a woman in the back of the auditorium) Yes? (squints to read name tag) Frieda. What can I help you with dear?

Frieda: (knits her brow and speaks tentatively) Um…

Hostess: No need to be shy here, Frieda. You’re among friends. (big corporate smile. Sweeping gesture indicates everyone in the room.)

Frieda: Well, what I’d like to ask is this. (nervous pause) Are we in some kind of trouble?

Hostess: Heavens no, Frieda. I’d say quite the reverse in fact. I think you’ll find this gathering quite rewarding. Here, I’ll show you. Let’s begin, shall we? (Hostess holds out the remote control, and presses a button).

(lights down in Room, Up on the “TV Window”)

Bob: (appears in the “TV window”) Friends. (smiles beatifically)

If you are seeing this video tape, it will mean that I have died and gone to join ol’ Walt in Heaven’s rosy embrace. But don’t despair. My life was blessed. I got to meet a great many of you, the Bobsmart and Bob’s Club faithful, before I died. And I’m here now to tell you, you few, you precious few hundred who are viewing this tape today, that you are more important to me and to the world than you’ve ever dared imagine.

Despite my past words to the contrary, and your managers glowing reports, you too often think of yourselves as mere employees, as wait staff who stand for long hours on cold concrete floors serving sample hors d’oeuvres to a public who doesn’t appreciate your service.

Dear friends, I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. You are special! You have what others today can only dream of. No, I’m not talking about a job…I’m talking about a vocation. A calling. I’ve called you here as my representatives- not merely to represent me in a passive or servile way. Oh, no dear friends. You are here in the very heart of my sacred ministry.

You have passed every test – great and small – that I have set before you. You have been patient in the face of the blind and callous mass of pagan humanity. You have signed the vow of secrecy. You have not missed one single day of work in a four month period preceding this talk. You do not speak in a derogatory or salacious manner. You are model citizens and excellent servers, but more than that- You are my Apostles friends.

Yes, you heard me right- Apostles. And I want to thank you for that.

Every day you have walked the holy aisles of my meeting houses, every time you have served my flock – whether you served them Tex Orton’s Mild Picante Sauce or Bobby Jo Jittmeyers’s Deep Fried Pork Cracklins – you have delivered! And now, now it’s time for you to know the tru—

(Bob freezes in the middle of the “oo” sound” as Hostess pauses the tape.)

Hostess: (interrupting, moving in front of the TV. Speaks soothingly) Now see there… Bob has placed his faith in you. Is there anyone here who feels unworthy of Bob’s love? Is there anyone here who would like to leave now to go back to their duties? (pause) No? Very well then, let’s continue…

(Hostess presses the play button, and backs away from the TV reverently.)

Bob: (continuing from before) …uth.

Friends, I’m talking about the Eucharist- the sacred ritual through which the Blood and Body of Christ are given to the members of the church. In ancient times this was only a metaphor- a beautiful metaphor. But today… Today things are different. In today’s world, a mere metaphor will no longer suffice. The world needs an honest-to-God Eucharist!

And through the miracle of Genetically Modified Foods, that’s what you have been bestowing upon the masses- the membership of My Holy Bob’s Clubs throughout the world. You and all those members I welcome through my doors are now of the body, of my body.

Yes, you heard me right. I’ve had my own genetic material put in everything we sell exclusively here at Bob’s Club: from Cousin Kate’s Home-Baked Ham to the very Heavenly Chocolate Whammies you have been eating here today.

Welcome to my body, you precious Apostles! Amen!

(lights out in the “TV Window”, lights up full in room.)

Hostess: (turns off TV, chews and swallows audibly) Amen! You are truly the blessed my brothers and sisters. Go with Bob, for he is the Light and the Way!

Dwayne: (milling around) Anybody want more o’ the Body? (pause) He’s delicious…

(lights fade out)