Category Archives: Theatre

The Road Not Taken: A Lesson in English and Life

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

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This is one of my favorite poems, for three reasons.

1. I love the rhyme and the meter of the poem. I love reciting it. There’s something so musical about the ABAAB and the iambic tetrameter. I loved studying poetry in school, and sometimes I really miss it.

2. I love the message of the poem. But stay tuned. Because:

3. This poem doesn’t actually mean what everyone thinks it means. And here’s your English lesson for today:

In the early 1910s, Robert Frost became friends with another writer, Edward Thomas. They would go for walks through the woods, and Thomas was constantly moaning about the fact that they had taken the “wrong” path – and missed something amazing on another path. Frost wrote this poem in 1915, a sarcastic answer to Thomas’ worry that he was always making the wrong decision.

If you dissect the poem, there are three instances where Frost admits that there is no “better” path:

“as just as fair”
“the passing there / had worn them really about the same”
“both that morning equally lay”

The closing stanza is a sigh from someone looking back on opportunities lost. Frost is gently mocking the narrator (and Thomas) for fretting over missed opportunities, and for not seizing the opportunities that one is presented with.

I freaking love this poem and the story behind it.

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Today was my last full time day at my theatre job. On Monday I start a new job as an Executive Assistant, in an office full of brand new people. This was my choice, my decision, and it was a hard decision, but I still think it was the right decision.

Every new path brings change, something new to learn, and new opportunities for joy.

Two roads diverged in a wood. And I.

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Filed under Beauty, Dreams, Friends, Love, Nature, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Sentiment, Theatre, Travel, Work, Writing

Happy Halloween 2013!

So much to catch up on! So many blog posts behind!

First things first: I’ve been doing all the Halloween things possible. This includes reading Stephen King’s new book, Doctor Sleep, which I am loving so far; seeing Carrie the Musical at Ray of Light Theatre in SF, which was fun and campy and had some great effects; and carving a pumpkin for our office Halloween party pumpkin carving contest. (I threw together a very last-minute mime costume for the party.)

Also, I made B a dragon costume.

Halloween collageI realized about last weekend that he didn’t really have anywhere to wear it, so I decided I should take him to work. I picked him up from his grandparents for the party, and then he hung out with me at my desk for the rest of the afternoon. He did a really great job actually. I put up boxes in front of my cubicle, put down a blanket and a bunch of toys and books, and let him crawl around for awhile.

Also: I’m pretty sure today (at work) was the first time I saw him drink from a bottle while sitting up, and just tipping the bottle up (we usually have to recline him a little bit. Also, he’s been chomping at the bit to really break out and start walking, and today he went crazy at work, running all over the place by himself. So I think it’s official: we’ve got a toddler.

It’s so freaking cute. I wonder if he’s been kind of testy lately because he’s been on the verge of breaking into a glorious new skill? Let’s hope so.

My other project has been a costume for myself – not for Halloween but for a work event I have on Saturday, that happens to be a costume party. I think I’m going to do a dia de los muertos thing (although now I’m seeing stuff all over Facebook about how that’s just appropriation of an actual holiday, and it’s offensive, so oops). I still have a couple other things to put together for the costume but I’m sure it’ll be done by Saturday. And I’ll be happy to have it all behind me.

My other, non-Halloween-related, project is the Bench Project 3, which is a night of short plays taking place in San Jose, and mine is one of them. We are teching on Sunday morning (after my sure-to-be late Saturday night) and then going up on Monday night. I am excited, but this is also another weekend that makes me tired just anticipating it.

Happy Halloween!

 

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Filed under Baby, Children, Drew, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Theatre, Work, Writing

Lying at a wedding

We went to a wedding yesterday. At the reception – which was a full-on 9-course Chinese banquet, although I counted 11 courses before the cake – the girl next to me started making small talk. Her date (fiancee? husband? boyfriend?) was part of the band and so he was up and down through most of dinner, so somewhere between the shark fin soup and the abalone with mushrooms, she asked me what I do.

When I told her I work at a theatre company, she asked me which one, and it turned out she’s actually kind of into theatre. She’s actually been to see shows that we have put on, the most recent 3 years ago, but that’s still far better than most people I find myself making small talk with. I immediately upgraded my conversation from the standard “talking about my work with people who don’t care about theatre.”

“What have you seen around here that’s good?” she asked me, and I reached out for anything, anything we’ve seen lately.

But it appears I’m a theatre major failure, because it’s been months since I’ve seen anything. Well, I guess I’ve seen shows at my work. I resorted to fibbing and talking about shows at other companies, that I’m sure were very good, but they closed before I had a chance to see them.

Erin recently saw Chinglish at Berkeley Rep, and she raved about it, so I almost said that I’d seen that, but luckily something stopped me, because it turned out that my tablemate LOVES David Henry Hwang and saw Chinglish last week. Yeesh, that could have been messy.

After the reception I got to thinking: we should really see more Bay Area theatre. There is so much here. It’s just that a lot of it is so spread out and/or difficult to get to. And let’s face it. I’m into being at home and in pajamas by 8pm these days. I missed opening night of my own company’s current show, and haven’t actually managed to see it yet – and this is the last week of performances.

But I think I might see if I can get tickets to see Chinglish. I’ve heard such good things.

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Filed under Fiction, Friends, Memoir, Not awesome, Theatre, Work

The Loudest Man on Earth

I recently saw a staged reading of a show called The Loudest Man on Earth, by Catherine Rush. The play is about a hearing woman who meets a deaf man and they start a relationship. Her family’s not in love with the relationship, partly because he’s slightly older than she is, and his family seems to be out of the picture. He’s defensive about being deaf, and tends to be angry at the world. They go through a rocky period, and after that I don’t really want to give any spoilers.

The BRILLIANT thing about the play is that the man mainly signs (he does speak occasionally, which is a major plot point). The woman signs and speaks a lot, but there are times she only signs. The play is not interpreted, so there are scenes that are totally spoken, and scenes that are totally signed, and then some scenes are mixed. So it’s unlikely than most audience members would understand every single thing that is said.

It’s about communication, both between these two characters, and also between them and the rest of the world.

There are transitional scenes, where Jordan (the male character) is writing letters to Haylee (the female character), describing scenes from their life together. They’re entirely signed, and completely beautiful. They’re love letters, about their first date, or a story about him watching her while she’s sleeping, but also they’re letters describing his childhood and his relationship with his parents and his difficulties growing up and being completely unable to hear anything.

The play was gorgeous, and it was only a staged reading. I was teary through most of it, and I lost it at the end. I lose it a lot lately, so I know that’s part of it, but seriously, I’ve been so psyched about this script since the first time I read it months ago, and I knew it was going to be great.

I think a lot of what I loved about it was that I am enchanted by American Sign Language. When I was 12 or 13, and working at the camp my family worked at every summer, we met a guy a couple years older than me. He was deaf and most of my friends and I communicated with him primarily by writing. He would carry around a spiral notebook and we would just write back and forth. After the first summer though, a lot of us got interested in ASL and ended up taking classes, so in later years there was some signing (although still a lot of writing – and drawing).

In high school I ended up taking 3 semesters of ASL, which I used for my foreign language grad requirement instead of taking Spanish. As with many high school things, I regret not paying more attention, or practicing more, or sticking with it, or appreciating the opportunity I was given. My parents took the same classes, and it was fun when, for awhile, our family was signing to each other and practicing with each other and going to night classes together.

ASL is fascinating to me for several reasons. I love the grammar structure. I love the beauty of it, of watching someone who is fluent, and the grace and the deliberateness of each gesture. I also love the fact that even though I have forgotten almost everything from those classes 10 years ago, so much of it came back to me so easily. Watching someone tell a story in ASL is so much easier to understand than listening to someone tell a story in another verbal language with which you’re not familiar.

The story of The Loudest Man on Earth is not complicated. It’s a boy-meets-girl story. That’s not to say it’s simple or easy. But the twist to it just makes it something so special, in my mind and, I think, in a lot of other people’s minds as well. I sincerely hope to be able to see a fully-realized production of this play sometime in the future. Fingers crossed.

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Filed under Beauty, Friends, Love, Sentiment, Theatre

It’s not rocket science; or, “Sandwiches Snadwiches”

Yesterday I found myself back at the Safeway in Mill Valley, which has given me great stories in the past.

I stopped in there to pick up a sandwich for lunch before the final 2 performances of God of Carnage at MTC. Sandwiches are great, and probably on my favorite things list, even though I’ve been eschewing turkey (and that’s just one of several things) because of potential harmful effects during pregnancy.

So I just wanted to stop by and get a cheddar, avocado, and veggie sandwich on sliced sourdough.

A good sign: there was no one in line when I walked in. So I went straight up to the counter, where a super polite young man said, “I’ll be right with you.” Then, he went on to say, “Good afternoon, what may I get you?”

Wow, such service. I started explaining what I wanted.

“So you want a veggie sandwich – would you like me to describe the veggie sandwich to you?”

“Um, that’s okay,” I said, “What I want is actually a “California Dreamin'” without the turkey and bacon.”

“The “California Dreamin'” now goes by the name “Turkey Bacon Avocado,” he said.

“Okay.”

He began to assemble the sandwich. Kind of sloppily. I don’t understand why sandwich-makers at Safeway don’t know how to make a sandwich. They always pile everything on the center of the bread. Don’t you know you have to spread the avocado to the edges? And you shouldn’t just stack all the tomatoes in the center? It’s not rocket science, people. Make the type of sandwich that you would want to eat.

And it’s not just Mill Valley Safeway. It was in Mountain View that I watched a guy squirt mustard on one slice of bread, and then pick up both slices, one in each hand, and stare at them, puzzled, until he slowly smashed them together and rubbed the mustard around.

Wow.

When Mill Valley guy was finishing up (having just placed a large pile of pickles in two square inches), he said, “Now, our policy dictates that I charge you an extra fifty cents.” For avocado, I assume? “But I’m debating in my head whether or not to charge you that. That policy is in place to deter people from ordering sandwiches like this. But I don’t think we’ll suffer any damages – any long-term damages, that is – because I don’t think many people will order sandwiches like this.”

“Um…okay.”

WTF? For the record, here is the part of the menu that makes me think that it’s acceptable – nay, encouraged – for you to actually order what you want to eat, rather than just choosing from the 8 pre-designed options.

The key word here is “choose”…

Finally he handed it over. And I walked 10 feet away, found the voice memo application on my phone, and dictated what he had just said, because I was worried I’d forget part of it.

Then I called Drew and told him about it.

When I got to the theater, I found he didn’t even cut it in half for me. Which is kind of the most annoying part. I mean, who wants to pick up an entire sandwich?

Apparently the bane of Safeway’s existence – a product of theirs that someone ordered and paid for.

First world problems, am I right?

When the actors started arriving, one of them (with whom I had just bonded over orchids the prior day – I’m starting to think we might be some kind of soulmates or something) started telling a story about how he’d just stopped to pick up a sandwich at Safeway. We then went on to bond over our annoyance at the crazy people working there, and how in New York, you can just order food and then get it and then get out in record time, but here it seems to take people forever to get anything done.

Yeah, we were those people.

Anyway, the sandwich was okay, the shows went great, I was home by 10:30 and in bed by 11:15, and I got to sleep in until 8:30 this morning. So overall…life is good.

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Filed under "Other people", Food, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome, Pregnancy, Theatre, Tomato, Work

The Art of Avoiding Eye Contact

Drew and I went to a show at a theatre company some time this weekend, and in the lobby I noticed someone with whom we are both familiar. Let’s call this person Pat. I said to Drew, “Hey, Pat’s over there,” and he said, “Did you say hi?” and I said, “No,” and he said, “I don’t need to say hi.”

Then we went and sat down, and after a minute he grabbed my arm and I intuited (from years of having things like this happen) that Pat was now behind us. About a minute before the show was about to start Pat crossed the theatre and I said, “Don’t worry, s/he can’t hurt you now.” But then Pat ran back over and sat down in Pat’s seat very near to where we were sitting.

At intermission we went and hung out outside (and chatted with the ASM on the show who is a friend of mine), and then we went back inside. I don’t know how, during all this, Pat and I never managed to make eye contact, but we didn’t. By the end of intermission when everyone was settled back in our seats I started pondering if Pat was also avoiding eye contact with us as much as we were with Pat.

The show ended, applause ensued, and we took off in order to try to get back through San Francisco on a Sunday night (rarely a small feat). I never said hi to Pat; Pat never said hi to us. For all I know, Pat has no idea we were there, breathing the same air. But I find it more likely that we were all in agreement that a hello wasn’t really necessary.

I guess that’s the world we live in now.

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Filed under "Other people", Being a girl, Theatre

The Original Team Jacob

KQED was showing a concert version of The Phantom of the Opera recently. Phantom was my first big musical, and consequently, I have a total soft spot for it. I’ve seen it four times, although we didn’t see it while we lived in New York. I think it’s the best show to start kids off on theatre – there’s so much spectacle, and so many stage tricks, and there’s something for everyone.

I wanted to check out the KQED concert, but I didn’t expect to be so totally sucked in. Despite it being a concert version (which means some things, like the chandelier, aren’t staged), they really got most of the show across, with the use of a giant screen that they could sort of use to cheat things.

We left in the middle of the show to go get dinner, but luckily when we came back it was still on, so I got to see the end. At some point it occurred to me that the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul are like a way better-written and more-likeable Twilight love triangle.

Think about it. The monster in love with the beautiful brunette for reasons no one really understands. The main female, torn between the monster she also has feelings for, and the childhood friend who is actually good for her. Meanwhile, she doesn’t really have a huge personality, or drive the story at all. The only difference is that in this case, Christine Daae is actually kind of smart, and manages to save Raoul while also choosing him.

I won’t dwell on this. It was just something I found amusing. I know you’re probably over the Twilight posts, anyway. =)

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In the meantime, I’m in Seattle for a work conference this weekend. I turned on the TV, and guess what’s on? The first Twilight movie! Yay…?

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Filed under Being a girl, Theatre, TV