Thursday, March 17, 2011

O.C. can you say?

In the spring of 2008, I was hoisted from an 18-month hiatus from theatre to do Aaron Posner’s production of Sometimes A Great Notion at Portland Center Stage. This project was very dear to me for many reasons. Imagine that tingling, numb-leg feeling x1000 -- when your body gets to do what it was built to do after an interminable car ride to nowhere. Then imagine that your first steps after 1.5 years of paralysis are to the grand, gorgeous Pacific Northwest where you get to shape a story about lumberjacks for an audience of the same. It was a countryside adventure, a reprieve from fruitless whoring in NYC, and an artistic re-awakening all in one.

This blog experienced a re-awakening, too -- one sustained by subsequent adventures at my home theatre, Rorschach in DC, and the 2008 election, about which there was plenty to blog. I went to Philly after that, then back and forth between DC and NYC for a couple years, like some Q-list celebrity spokesman for the Bolt Bus. Over the years, the blog became a weird dumping ground for thoughts, essays and arguments that could not fit into Facebook or Twitter (NOTE TO READERS FROM THE FAR FUTURE: Facebook and Twitter were the appliance-grade applications for our young century). As such, this blog has become a frustrating enterprise for any readers hoping for a steady output of … me, I guess.

I’ve just started rehearsals for Completeness at South Coast Rep in crisp Costa Mesa, CA and I find myself with the time and, I think, the material to make this blog the travel journal it used to be. Only … this is not a re-awakening like the 2008 adventure to Oregon. And so far, it’s not a countryside adventure because I’m stuck, detached from my cast mates who all live in L.A.. I’ve never spent more than 48 consecutive hours in L.A., so I had to learn that “L.A.” is as distinct and far from “Orange County” as, say, “White Plains” is from “New York City.” Bummer, dude.

After rehearsals I traipse back through a field of Big Box stores to the gated squad of condos where I’m being housed. I have plenty of books and writing projects and no other distractions apart from the mouthful of lines I must learn. The digital cable TV has no channel guide and everything is on Pacific Time besides, so I can’t avoid work through channel surfing even if I want to. And since the ocean is … somewhere over there, inaccessible on foot … I can’t avoid work through real surfing, either.

My cast mates are beautiful, whip-smart and solid.

The script channels everything I’ve always dug about its author.

And my part has this challenging balance of elements I know and love (chatty left-brain verbosity) and elements I don’t often get to explore (straight-up, non-sociopath love story).

Oh, and for the third time in as many years, I get to be naked on stage, so … insert your own “head-shot” joke here.

So why am I so out of sorts?

I suppose, if I squint hard enough, my life here has a kind of Spartan dignity, but who am I kidding: what’s “Spartan” about the Left Coast? Despite my pasty Lutheran complexion, I’m a total sucker for the sun, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Traveling for work has massive interpersonal liabilities -- to put it coldly -- but the travel itself is a gift because it clears the decks, “narrows the mind” (in a good way, thank you very much), and gives me a rare chance to look back on my routine with some dispassion. So again: why am I putzing around my apartment and writing this shit?

Maybe it’s this: The Oregon project happened to be a play about Oregon. The Philly play was based on the novel My Name is Asher Lev and Chaim Potok happened to be a Philly resident. columbinus in Alaska was simply awesome because it was … in frickin’ Alaska, yo. And in each of the above, I was traveling and living with a band of fellow actors. When I work in DC, I’m usually working with a group of dear friends. Here I feel like the imported replacement part, slightly mangled from airlift with too few peanuts (styrofoam and salted).

It’s only the close of the second day and while I can’t plead jet-lag anymore, I can say that, like jet-lag, I’m getting ahead of myself … but that’s what happens when you fly west to outrun the sun, isn’t it?

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