Two days left before I hit the road again, time to publish another post. So here I am. Yes, I know -- my last post ended on a highly energetic note, but that's because I was at an outstanding computer-station at the home of friends in Long Island (translation: they have broadband and are upgraded as of the most recent twitch in the MicroSoft spectrum) and everything was working perfectly. By contrast, the computer I'm currently at doesn't like Blogger and doesn't so much as allow me to read "Comments" -- I only get to know who's said what when I go to Yahoo and read the incoming mail.(an aside to Amro: this is why I haven't answered!). So I've not been able to load pix from Vermont and was too discouraged thereby to write up my further adventures.
My stay in NYC has been excellent, meanwhile. Amongst various thrills: on Friday (7th Oct) my friends K & N came over to do a first reading of my current work-in-progress, a short play that is currently titled EVOLUTION. N is an artist -- a sculptor and potter -- and the same afternoon, I visited her studio at Hunter College and saw the piece she was exhibiting downstairs: it was composed of a large (forty?) collection of buckets and pitchers and containers arranged on the floor of a large room; inside the receptacles are objects wrapped in wire and drowned in water. It's like walking in on the scene of a renovation of some sort, where the work-men have left their equipment in water and then wandered away, perhaps for too long. Intriguing! And rather cool. I liked it.
Back at the flat, N had brought all the necessary items for making Sangria -- so we did -- and when K arrived, he had excellent snack material in the form of pita bread and spicy hummus -- so we nourished our bodies before diving into the reading. I thought it went VERY well -- I will not describe the play just yet because it's still in development -- but when I say it went well, what I mean is that we were able to get all the way through it without much pain or pausing.
I hadn't printed it out -- I've been working on it ever since I got to New York (well, it was a quarter-written before that -- I began it about six months ago and stopped after 10 pages) and only tapped out the final bits in the afternoon just before I left for Hunter College! So we read it straight out of the computer -- I was on my laptop, while K & N sat at this computer, the house computer, which is a desk-top -- and it wasn't too uncomfortable, I thought.
It's a great privilege to hear something out loud,in other voices. It immediately, for instance, establishes those bits of dialogue that sound quite normal on paper but are unintelligible in audio. My real concern was whether the concept was too slight to be worth writing about -- and it was good to be able to get someone else's opinion. K is a very good critic because he doesn't flinch from saying negative things (without being nasty) -- which is what I desperately needed at this stage. For N, this was the first time she was assisting with a reading. She offered interesting counterpoints. All in all: I believe it MAY be a worthwhile project, but it still has a distance to go(I would say it's about three-quarters done, now). I have an idea of how I can improve what's already here and as to whether it's worth further work well ... I'll do the work first and then decide!
On Sunday evening, I attended a performance of an excellent double-monologue called IN THE CONTINUUM. Written and performed by two women, Danai Gariri and Nikkole Salter, it was an exploration through multiple characters of the stories of two victims of HIV, at the moment that they realize they've been infected. As stories there was nothing we haven't already heard/read in the newspapers but as performances, they were OUTSTANDING.
Gariri played a respectable Zimbabwean woman, married and the mother of a seven-year-old boy and Nikkole plays a New York teenager still trying to claw her way out of the slums she grew up in. Each woman played several roles, as the main characters interacted with the other people in their lives. Each actress was so skilful in making the various transitions that one barely noticed that they were alone on-stage, with no visible interlocuters. At one point, Nikkole, playing the part of the mother of the infected girl, bouncing a newborn baby on her shoulder -- and the "baby" was only a bit of cloth that she patted and petted tenderly -- was able to intersperse the sound of the baby's whimpering cries with her own speech so expertly that the tiny form of the child bloomed to life in front of our wondering eyes. Like I said, outstanding.
And last night, I went out into the thin mist and rain to see WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT -- stop-action animation, in clay, by the incomparable Nick Parks. Recommendable to the max! Including the short-feature that precedes the main movie, starring the penguins from Pixar's MADAGASCAR ... I'm still snickering!