Monthly Archives: March 2006

Extraordinary

I’m not talking about the Duke game — grrrr — but about the Marlboro College performance of Angels in America. The cast and crew, drawn from a very small college population (Marlboro has around 350 students total), outdid themselves last night — an overpowering performance, of which everyone involved should be very proud.

I had not seen the play before; when it came out, we didn’t have practical access to any performances, and by the time it hit video or DVD I didn’t feel like stirring up the memories of those days (on the rare occasion when the family was willing to watch a Serious Movie); watching this performance really did bring back a suppressed tub of queasy, ominous, tragic feelings. I had the recurrent sense that I knew those guys, and seeing Si as one of them — he played Louis, a particularly troubling character — amplified the sense that these lives were part of my life.

All the actors were great. In contexts that might tend to invite overplaying (undergrad theatre, small campus, hyperdramatic scenario involving sometimes-histrionic characters), every player rang true. The student who played Si’s lover carried the role exceptionally well, and student who played Harper Pitt just amazed me with the subtly of her reading. Si’s roommate Simon played Joe Pitt utterly convincingly, suggesting his pain and ambivalence with nuanced departures from a baseline of stolid impassiveness.

It was hard to see Si play the part of yet another tormented unsympathetic character; someday I’d like to see him in a positive, blithe, heroic role. Knowing him as we do, when we see him portray someone high-strung, and embittered, it’s harder not to see his performance as acting. That being said, at the key moments of the play, I winced at his betrayal of love and integrity. He was great in an unrewarding role, with a terrific cast around him, and the whole night was utterly captivating.

Now, we have to clean up, pack, check out, have brunch with Si, Laura, Jeanne, and Pippa, and then travel back to our respective destinations. And Duke better win the ACC Tournament — I’m just saying.

Quickly —

Travel worked fine yesterday, the ’net finally came live at our hotel, we like Jennifer’s boyfriend (they drove up from NYC to see last night’s performance, which was evidently excellent). Margaret and I love New England; the topography, ecology, demographics, cultural practices, all make sense to us as indigenous, as culturally given. Jeanne and Pippa have driven in from Maine, and we’ll meet them on campus for the play. I’ve taken some pictures already, will take more tonight, and some at tomorrow morning’s group brunch (didn’t think to take any while we were with Jennifer).

Show is tonight at 7:30, opposite the basketball game on whose outcome the struggle of good against evil depends — Si couldn’t persuade Marlboro to reschedule the performance till after Duke had put Carolina away (I hate writing that kind of thing, because it just invites providence to contradict what I’ve written — but this is just the way it has to be, I guess). I’ll boast write about both the play and the game when I find out how they end.

[Later: I shoulda known better; well done, Carolina.]

Convergence

From all over the country — or at least, “from Maine, North Carolina, Illinois, and Minnesota,” which is pretty good coverage — people are converging on Marlboro, Vermont, to see Josiah Adam in tomorrow night’s performance of Angels in America.

Margaret has shrewdly plotted our trravel paths through Bradley Airport and a hotel in Brattleboro, both of which offer free wifi. Still, the odds suggest a diminished online presence over the weekend. Eventaully, there’ll be pictures and stories.

[Later: Arrived safely, if ravenously. It seems as though Bradley is trying single-handedly to punish United for its recent brush with bankruptcy, but with the diligence of the truly hard-core, I found an open wireless signal.]

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is not usually a festival of mirth and hilarity, but our service today was a little more solemn even than the usual, as we prayed for Dr. de Villa. Our guest preacher, Fr. Douglas Brown of the Order of the Holy Cross, gave a sermon that fit both the day and our additional observance. We remembered, reflected, prayed, and committed ourselves to a holy Lent.

For myself, the convergence of these circumstances suggested that I make my Lenten discipline a determination to spend time every day in an earnest memento mori; I suspect that some of the burdens I work with would benefit from my sizing them up in perspective to my own mortality: the things that I ought to make sure to have done, and the things no one will mind if I leave behind, obligations to my family and friends, and indifferent matters that no one cares about that much. We’ll see how that works out.