Last day at Nydans in Nydalen. Monday we move to stage two at Dansen shus, and Wednesday to the main stage, where we premiere. Slow steps towards the Big Thing.
The snow has us all talking, and being distracted. More work with the ‘L’s - it’s coming together now, and Alan is on top form. The first week is always quite ‘flat-structured’, and now by the end of the second week we’re slipping into assigned roles. Many of the scenes are just exquisitely written. They play themselves. America 2 - Psychopatriot is a quieter play than America - Visions Of Love, certainly much much shorter and simpler than Coelacanth (for those who don’t know, that one ran at FIVE hours) --- and is a universe away from the rollicking ride that was Jingle Horse. I’m falling in love with America 2 - its gentle modesty, and elegance. The fact that it is modest and elegant makes it the more important that every detail is taken care of. We have resolved not to use props - and not to mime things either - so are inventing a new physical vocabulary to indicate objects. It’s very beautiful, IMHO.
Dansens hus! It’s cold in the vast Studio 2, and we are many now - more on technical than on the floor, which is lovely. I’m sure it’s not relevant, but it behoves me to note this is the first time in twenty years I have worked in an environment (theatre) with more heterosexual men than women and gays combined. Is that a barn-burner? I don’t know for sure of course that they are all heteros - I didn’t go up and ask them, one by one, I mean that would be mad. I simply ... noticed. And noticed only in passing, because there isn't any of that gender-role thing in this company. Maybe it’s just something in the air. Men/Women. We’re all acutely aware of the election looming, and it’s like a cloud hanging over everything. America 2 - Psychopatriot is about American people. A slice of Americana ... á la Winter Guests. But perhaps it is true, that when we think of America, we are always in some way thinking about ourselves. Tomorrow we will have an Election Watch (valgvake) at Alan’s. We are to dress up in Halloween costumes. I am uninspired, because I can’t bear the thought of sitting in an Elvis wig and lamé jump suit when Donald Trump is elected President of the United States. I’m glad my mother’s not alive. This’d kill her.
We spend the day on transitions between scenes - the L’s, the L’s! I've seen many a great show destroyed by sloppy transitions, and in a way this powerful structure of mapped ‘in’s’ and ‘outs’ allows the actual scenes to flow. It’s also frightening. Are we spending enough time on ‘the acting’? On doing the acting? I think we are an instinctive, gifted and experienced ensemble, and we’ll pull some beauties out of the hat on the night. But it’s unnerving right now.
It’s beautifully cold. I have lunch with Torkil in the Hendrix Ibsen café. We talk about kids and mobile phones, and try to glean some understanding by comparing kidhood today to our own youth. No comparison really. We talked about waiting for our favourite music magazines to come out each month. Running to the store. Waiting to hear who was top of the music charts. We had some kind of shared waiting.
All the sandwiches in Hendrix Ibsen café contain Brie. This is bizarrely Norwegian, I have come to understand. Brie. Stinky Brie. Good coffee though.
Each scene and each word is magnified now. Everything has a resonance in light of the US election.
It's going so well. Martin and Alan mapped out every single L shift in the show, and we are working through them chronologically. Scenes too. I was watching a scene where Anton and Andrew play young brothers (Anton playing an 8 year old) - who emigrate to America from a diplaced persons camp after WW2, then later a scene with Anton and Suzie, in an empty house, a scene full of loss and longing. The poignancy of these two beautifully written and delicately performed scenes was unbearable, given that America itself feels broken, and disturbed right now. We are beginning to have music playing under the scenes as we rehearse them - and this makes the rehearsals magical.
Stine has begun to assemble our costumes and they are elegant, simple, lovely.These watchwords: elegance, simplicity, modesty - seem to hang around the process. To my mind at least.
After rehearsals we all gather at Alan’s for the election watch. At the last minute I create a character for myself - a German peacenik feller from Berlin in 1969; he just seemed to be the right antidote to the present day. I arrive and Alan is - in true WG memento mori costume: a skeleton onesy and the US flag painted plack onto his face. Andrew has the iconic eyemake form a clockwork orange, and Suzie wears a spiv moustache. Yvonne with charcoaled eyes, looking like Anita Pallengberg. It was all suitably gothic. The election watch really is a case of trying to predict the possibly predictable but also unpredictable. We hurled insults at the screen, and tried to understand the whole thing through humour, in a way. I write this at 2.30am, at home. No results yet, but I have to believe Trump will lose.
We have rehearsals tomorrow, tho I don’t know if any of us’ll get much sleep.
I know our little play will be experienced in a very different way, depending on the outcome of this election. The toxicity in the collective consciousness is horrible. Maybe it's been like this always. I used to think that art and poetry could counter the noxious gasses of greed, and racism, and ignorance and rage. And in a way, I still have to believe that’s true.
Anton sang Joni Mitchell songs, and he and Andrew bickered in the bathroom as they took off their makeup before we all went home. I smiled. We all did. At least something is right with the world. Some little thing.
9th of November. Kristallnacht. Woke to the news - an horrific shock, but somehow not a surprise. I’m glad I spent the evening with winter guests, and could spend the day with them. We’ve moved to the main stage now, and the light is in place. It’s magnificent.
We went through all the scenographic moves in the first act, then ran the first act, with acting. Scrappy on words but some flow here that is working beautifully. Really working. I found myself terribly upset most of the day. At one point between scenes, clambered into the auditorium and cried in Yngvar’s arms. Where’s the hope Yngvar? Every workplace should have an Yngvar. Who has seen so much, and knows about this kind of pain. A pappa hug.
Our sound fellow Brynjar walked past, putting batteries into a mic-pac. Saw I was crying. Said kindly, “It does feel like doomsday ... “
Each scene and each word is magnified now. Everything has a resonance in light of the US election. Our play is about Americans, and about us and America. It’s a little play, and it’s huge. Lisa Reynolds, our American friend who’s life story was what "Coelacanth" was based on has been with us in spirit (and Facebook). She has been a sign language interpreter at HRC’s rallies. She speaks of dignity and compassion. She said they’re devastated. She will come to see America 2. She’s family.
I’m being stalked by an unhinged conspiracy theorist online and via sms late at night. He calls me terrible things because I think Hillary Clinton is a good woman. Makes it odd to think about the public exposure of being in a play, when there are people out there who are so ... intellectually violent. I shall start wearing a false beard in public. That’ll fool him.
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