Last night Z. & O. treated us to their own rendition of To My Brother Russell, Whom I Slept With. Blame jet-lag if you like, it was irritating.
The performance at St. Cuthbert's couldn't have gone smoother. Technical considerations can be such a headache, we do not have a large operation and to make this work, every venue agreed to provide everything except me and Kelly and a disk full of cues. The set has to be cobbled together at every site, and they have to be sure to have PowerPoint capabilities.
Since the beginning, every site has needed to provide their own rocking chair, even if I bring everything else. As a result, it's always exciting to see what the chair is going to look like. Carlisle set the record for "Shortest Rocking Chair Ever," but it sure was cute.
Friday my biggest concern was the screen - the projector was no problem but there was no blank wall to cast them on. Libby tried very hard to find one and came up short. I was also concerned that the light fixtures, electric candelabras, were too dim. Lots of bulbs at the "stage" end of the room were burned out.
Well. Night of, Libby arrives with her husband Ian and sister Sue and co-group member Angela. Toni was also on hand and between them and Kelly and I, figured out every concern in short order (including dinner, which I always forget to eat on performance nights.) The room was set up with about thirty chairs, they did succeed in finding the only screen in Cubria so we had that to work with, and Ian "pinched" the lights from the fixtures in the back of the room to fill out those in the front.
There were something short of thirty people in attendance. I was feeling surprisingly relaxed in my delivery (Kelly said she could tell - whenever I am comfortable I "mess up" a lot of lines, but f*ck her, she's just the f*cking stage manager, what does she know. F*ck.) and I felt confident delivering some of my alterations to the "British" text.
I still feel stupid saying, "ice lollies" however.
Toni joined me for the discussion after, and we met some lovely people over tea and cake following that. I had neglected to ask our contact about her own experience - I sometimes need to remember, when dealing with bereavement groups (as opposed to, say, medical institutions) that many of the people I am working with have also lost children. And even when I do, well, I guess I wait for them to bring it up, shame on me.
Libby and Ian lost a boy named Kiran just shy of one year ago. I had a long talk with Ian about the boy, and about the way he has dealt with it. Saying our good-byes I wished Libby a good day on the 28th and that's when the tears started. I felt bad, the way people do, for "bringing it up," which is ridiculous when you think about what I have been doing for the past six years. It also goes to show how ingrained these reactions are.
St. Cuthbert's is a great little church. The sides are lined with old tombstones that, for all appearances, were uprooted from the field next to the building. It's a nice, open space, walled-in. The entire time we were there, all evening, there were young people lying about, eating, drinking, making out, on that space.
I thought it was odd, that they had moved the stones, to make that field. "Why?" Toni asked.
So many of the stones included references to babies that died in infancy. I heard Philip Roth on Terri Gross last week, talking about his book "Everyman." The subject was cemeteries, and he noted there how many stones were for children in the old days, and that you don't see that much anymore, because it isn't as much of a problem. I like Philip Roth, but he's been around too long to be that dumb.