Chaos Attraction

Birthday Weekend

2018-04-23, 10:15 p.m.

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Birthday Weekend was fun times, y'all.

On Saturday I saw two shows:

Finding Neverland is a musical about J.M. Barrie writing Peter Pan. This came about (in the play's version) because he met and started playing with a bunch of boys in a large family of 4 sons and one recently widowed mother. Barrie's social-climbing wife is about as thrilled with this as you'd expect and eventually cheats/leaves him. There's a brief wooing of the widow, but then she comes down with tuberculosis (I'm assuming from the blood on the hankie) and dies, leaving Barrie as co-guardian of the boys with her mother.

Most of it is a bunch of Imagine Spot-type stuff because Barrie is a Mr. Imagination sort. "I won't grow up," indeed. I think this play is kind of all about that. Even the mom's death is done in sparkles and flying out the window with Peter Pan. Overall I enjoyed it, though I think it's a wee bit goofy because Barrie is such an overgrown kid. (And the actor playing him looked like a blonde Prince Harry, which I think contributed to that.) It is a show that's a bit in love with the idea of Being A Writer, which makes me roll my eyes a little bit, but I'm cynical on that topic.

I also saw Shirley Valentine, which was marvelous. I've seen the movie and the one woman show was also awesome. The first half takes place in Shirley's kitchen as she's cooking her husband a dinner he knows he's going to throw a fit over, and you can actually SMELL it cooking. They had a Q&A after the show and the actress's husband said they had hot plates up there and the lighting booth was turning them on remotely. I also now know what "chips and egg" (the dinner in question) is now--it's chopped up potato and egg. Supposedly the tech crew likes eating the potatoes but won't touch the egg bit.

Anyway, the plot of this one is that Shirley Bradshaw is a middle aged woman, her kids are out of the house, and she's pretty well sick of her husband being so rigid, like refusing to leave the country and how he has to have the exact same dinners on the same days of the week. Tonight he's gonna throw a fit because she gave away Thursday night's steak to a hungry dog being raised by vegans, so he's going to have to eat "chips and egg" on the wrong night and OMG. Anyway, she's also run into a girl in school that she used to be impressed by and it turns out the lady is now a high class hooker, and the lady said something like, "Didn't you used to be Shirley Valentine?" Yes, she was, and what happened to her?

Meanwhile her friend Jane has bought her tickets to Greece, and after Shirley's husband throws a shit fit about the chips and egg and throws it into her lap, she decides not to tell him she's going, just packs in a bunch of meals in the fridge and leaves a note. You go, girl. Anyway, while in Greece she has a brief affair and then decides she doesn't want to go home again. And in this show she is wearing a peacock skirt by the end. That says a lot. I love this show.

There was a Q&A after the show and she said that she took a year to memorize the entire script, working on it for 3-4 hours a day, six days a week. And she's done it 5 times now and said she's learned a lot since she did it the last time, and has actually gone to Greece to see where they filmed the movie. Very cool.

I think the choice of shows for Birthday Weekend were pretty uh, appropriate. One of them was all about "I won't grow up, I'm still gonna enjoy playing pirates and stuff," and the other was "Screw this, I'm outta here."

I also got my hair done (red again--a rather "carrots" shade but it'll fade) and, tra-la, met Mom's boyfriend Roger. I approve. He seems very nice, fairly laid back, friendly. So, huzzah, that happened finally!

On Sunday, I went to the town storytelling festival, which they decided to move up this year because they got an Irish storyteller to come right before he moves to England. He brought his dog to the show and the dog quietly walked around the audience to say hi to everyone, at one point cuddling up right where I was because my neighbor was finishing her lunch. "I know this is a very unprofessional way to begin, but...has anyone seen my dog?" Right here! So there was the Irish storyteller who brought a harp (Patrick Ball) and Eth-Noh-Tec, a husband and wife team who specialize in Asian folktales. Both did a good job--the harping was lovely and I got a kick out of how Eth-Noh-Tec did a really good job of working in tandem/switching off in their stories.

Stories told:
* Patrick: a story about a man who traded his wife for very pretty cows. Gee, I wonder how the wife felt about that?
* ENT: a related story about a people who couldn't tell humans and cows apart and that led to many tragedies until they learned to eat onions instead; a story about animals and humans bragging and making bets, and a funny story about an engaged couple where one guy made the mistake of saying he'd do anything for his love, and she kept asking him to slap a bald guy to prove it.
* Ed the host did the same story he did last time about a joke safari
* Patrick did one about the soul of a man's mother being sold so he could play music.
* Our poet laureate (I'm told he's best buddies with Roger's son that I still haven't met yet) told a story about his autistic son going wandering. He also straight up said he'd brought his son "as a prop." Hmmmm.
* A lady named Gloria Jones told a story about an Uber driver and an in-character story about a bad football player scoring for the other team. "I'm going to change gender and age right here on this stage," I think she said before doing that one. She was nice.
* Ed told a story about being a high school motorcycle gang greaser (true) which morphed into looking for alligators in boots, which he later said he ripped off from Patrick.
* A teenage girl talked about the horrendous stress of having to be a high performer in school.
* ENT told stories about three laughing monks, a willow tree being cut down, a black hound that ate everything (this amused me since Patrick's dog was guess what color), and two hunters competing over who was best.
* Patrick finished up with some poetry and how he got into harp playing by going to the Renaissance Faire.

I also did a workshop before the show began with Eth-Noh-Tec, which was on incorporating movement into your storytelling. It was a little theater game-y, which was fun. They identify certain action words to focus on when doing your story, so we worked on acting those out. I got them to help give me a few tips on say, making the dead bird story a little more physical.

The one thing I did not end up liking was the dreaded "let's break into groups and..." section. Really, anything involving "let's break into groups" usually is accompanied by a sinking feeling in the stomach for me. In this case, we were to try to act out some fairy tale. We ended up doing Cinderella. I volunteered for Cinderella because nobody else was doing it and after a few minutes I figured out why: because I had to clean the floor and be yelled at and shamed. It felt like work. Everybody wanted me to physically be on my hands and knees scrubbing the carpet, and then they'd complain about how they couldn't see my face through my hair. I had no hair implements on hand to pull it back because gee, I didn't know I'd have to scrub the floor today, and I kept pointing out that you can have me being shamed on the floor or you can see my face if I'm fake mopping standing up, BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE BOTH TODAY. The workshop ran long to keep talking about it and I just wanted that fucking scene over with already. Blech. Oh well, the rest of it was good at least.

I did see a few folks I know from other places--Sierra Storytelling Festival and one girl from improv--so that was fun. Dawn and I also joined the storytelling crew for dinner afterwards. Oh, and I found out the next storytelling event around here is going to be in mid-June, so I'm signing up for that.


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