Monday, September 05, 2005

God Manifests Himself as a Tannoy in the Outdoors

I'm so keen to trace the pulse of American life, and if their oft-repeated abstract virtues can be embodied in good solid English fare, so much the better. So the other day, I went to see Shakespeare in the Park, which combined classic values like freedom, (nobody was forced into viewing the play, as is the case in the socially determining class structure of British society), freeness, access and the transcendental absolute that is nature (the park being Central Park, very beautiful when floodlit at night.)

The best bit of all this was that as an English subject, and a former literature student at that, I got to be thoroughly offended by the monstrous dismemberment that they enacted upon the Bard's work. The play was "The Two Gentlemen of Verona", which has its blatant limitations even without being a musical, which the directors of Shakespeare in the Park had turned it into. The actors careered breathlessly through the impacted blank verse that had survived the adaptation, with a whole audience sighing with boredom, before the music kicked in, and a collective sigh of relief was breathed. The link was particularly jarring, because the added lines were as bad as:

'I find love alarming,
I'm much happier farming'

, which nobody is going to convince me even early-period Shakespeare wrote.

Thankfully, one of the transcendental American virtues, nature, intervened, by bucketing rain down among us during one of the extravagant dance routines. FOr a moment there was the kind of audience reaction that an avant-garde theatre director can spend his professional life striving for, before the crowd mobilised decisively, and began looking for umbrellas. The actors were skidding around on the liquifying stage, clinging to a desperate professionalism, which most American dancers and performers epitomise. It was all rather exciting, and I hadn't brought an umbrella. At the end of the dance, the performers withdrew, and a tannoy announcement (which, in openair venues, is the closest many secular folk get to experiencing something of God) announced that there would be a pause, in order to dry the stage and bar the actors from mishap. I rather hoped that the pudgy attendents that emerged with cleaning mops would have had some gravedigger-from-Hamlet-style nonesensical banter to spout, but no.

So I exercised that abstract virtue that resides in all of us, the democratic, and left the theatre with my friend.

Central Park was very beautiful at night, though I was told by a knowledgeable American that I was forunate not to have been stabbed. Instead, I ended up in an expensive bar by a manmade lake, drinking whiskey and listening to the babble of drunks. My friend Jenny had gone to the bathroom, when a slurring old crone dressed in a tracksuit top and tennis skirt, sitting across the table, took an eternity to say:

"You're Lance Armstrong. Well done."

After five futile minutes of protestations, I conceded the point in desperation, and confessed that yes, I was Lance Armstrong. Jenny returned from the bathroom, and was unsurprised at the news. Nothing much surprises her. The drunk crone looked at Jenny, and explained she was from Norway. She was an artist. Robert de Niro liked her work. "They" were trying to turn her into the next Andy Warhol, but she wouldn't be whoring her soul to the talkshows. "Look after him", she said. "Make sure he trains seven hours a day, miniumum. And you!" turning to me, "Should not. Be drinking!"

The man accompanying her was ushering her in the direction of the parking lot. His anxious face conveyed an embarrassment in her actions, and the eager desire to get her home and give her a seeing to before she passed out.


At 2:41 PM, Anonymous JenJen said...

I believe the dame in question also claimed to have turned down an exhibition at the DIA arts centre... Aloha from O'ahu by the way. Mwah.

At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we started a conversation about music at mo pitkins. give me a call if you've got a spare moment, this town is lousy with bars...



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