Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Holy mephitic cachinnations, Mr. Shaw! It's first preview tonight!

Happy 4th of July gentle reader! It is also the first preview of "Man and Superman" tonight at the Bruns. I have a good feeling about this evening's preview. Dress rehearsal went swimmingly last night – it wasn't even torturously cold, as often happens at the Bruns. The weather was quite pleasant. I'm hoping for positively balmy temperatures for previews and opening night. (I think we are due after the gale-force winds and frigid, winter weather we had for previews and opening of "Richard III.")

It's great fun to see everyone up there in costume acting away on that beautiful set. Annie Smart has created a visual extravaganza. I love, love, love beautiful sets. I'm not much of a fan of the whole post-modern, post-industrial, super-ugly thing so fashionable in set designs for some contemporary professional theatre. I blame Heiner Mueller and the German theatres. They started that ugly set trend. I hate it. I want lots of colors. I want gently curving lines. I want pretty! Set designer Annie Smart has certainly delivered – the set is absolutely gorgeous. A feast for the eyes. This is also one of the things I love about a production directed by Jon – you know it's going to be pretty. He doesn't do ugly theatre. He as an eye for the aesthetically pleasing, and I really appreciate that about him.

I get a real kick out of Jon Moscone during tech and dress rehearsals. You can tell he's excited…. he has the entire script memorized and mouths silently along during his favorite parts as his head darts back and forth watching the actors on the stage. If an actor calls for line during a tech rehearsal, he usually shouts it out to them before the interns have a chance to do so. That's actually a pretty amazing talent. He must have a photographic memory.

Also, I think it is time to proclaim Dan Hiatt as quite possibly the funniest man alive. I absolutely believe and have perfect faith that Dan could read the entire phone book aloud and somehow make it completely, hysterically, on-the-verge-of-wetting-your-pants funny. He plays Straker the cockney, class-snobbish chauffeur with great aplomb.

Dan also has nice hair. Other bloggers have noted this fact. I believe Jim Carpenter wrote several entries on his "Richard III" blog musing jealously over Dan's hair. Check it out for yourself. The posts are probably still out there in the blog-o-sphere somewhere. I myself am hair-vain and like to look at a good head of hair. (Once again, for more on this, see Jim's blog.)

My mother thinks Dan Hiatt is cute. Now, my mother is a tough customer – very, very Southern, and very, very picky about men. Most of the time when she visits California, she just looks at the way men dress (or "can't" dress, as she puts it), their inability to open doors and pull back chairs for ladies, and sniffs with disapproval at what she feels is the slatternly-ness of contemporary California culture. She always asks, "Where are the gentlemen? No wonder you're not married. I don't know how you stand it out here." She's thrilled I'm moving to Louisiana. She thinks she'll have a better chance at marrying me off. My dramaturgical opinion on this matter is not requested. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Anyway, Mom came to see "Richard III" when she was here in California for my Ph.D. graduation. Most people who saw that show bubbled effusively over Reg Rogers' virtuoso turn as Richard. Not mom. She just said, "He's quite good." Then she turned her attention to Dan Hiatt. During Dan's first big scene as he stood up there on the stage with his long brown robes and lovely hair flowing in the breeze, mama leaned over to me and began to shake her index finger. Finger wagging is a sure sign mama is about to make a very important proclamation. Then my mother whispered in her kittenish, southern drawl, "NOW!" She paused, paused for effect and to make sure I was listening and taking notes. Then, shaking her finger at me with great dramatic intent, she purred, "Thaaat is a goood looookin' man." I could tell she meant it because she managed to drag the word "man" out to a full two-and-a-half-syllable word. "Hee haaas bee-ay-uu-ti-ful hay-er," she further proclaimed. Translated this means, "He has beautiful hair." The more syllables mother drawls in a proclamation, the more serious her intent. She meant business: Dan now has the Southern Belle Stamp of Approval (SBSA). Let me assure you, that is a big whoop-dee-do, for those of you unfamiliar with southern culture, or that strange, enigmatic creature: the southern female. Mother also said he was a very good actor. Honestly though, that was less interesting to her than his appearance. She also has an eye for the aesthetically pleasing.

My pop tells me mother only wanted to go to "Richard III" to hear my Grove Talk before the show, and read my articles in the program during the show. She has nothing against Shakespeare. She just has her own agenda. Pop said she watched rapturously as I blathered on about the War of the Roses, and that it was her favorite part of the evening, other than Dan Hiatt. He did not mention what topped her list for the evening: my Grove Talk, my articles, or Dan. I was afraid to ask, so I let it go. People go to the theatre for all sorts of reasons, don't they? It's not all about Shakespeare's pretty words or Shaw's philosophical musings for everyone, is it?

Speaking of playwrights and their verbiage, I was supposed write about Shaw's vocabulary. We were supposed to be having a very intellectual, pedagogical discourse on his use of phrases like "ecstasy of mendacity," and words like "mephitic" and "cachinnation." You know, stuff that furthers your horizons, gentle reader. Go look those words up in the dictionary so I don't feel quite to guilty.

I seriously hope Dan never reads this. He probably thought he was done being objectified by his CalShakes colleagues after "Richard III" closed and Jim Carpenter was no longer backstage blogging about his hair while waiting to go on as King Edward IV.

How do I manage to digress so? I really, really meant to talk about Shaw's linguistic acrobatics. Ah well, you'd probably rather read about my mother's "sooo hot" list, anyway. I would if I were you. Mama is endlessly entertaining. She can turn a phrase in a way that would make George Bernard Shaw blush! Then again, Shaw was terrified of women. Absolutely terrified. Completely emotionally stunted and sexually retarded when it came to the ladies. Poor man. He would never have survived my mother and her flirty, southern belle manner and steel magnolia ways. I have actually witnessed extremely educated, grown men babbling and giggling like incoherent babies in her presence. My pop and I once watched a man of about thirty walk smack into a wall at a fundraiser because he was so busy staring slack-jawed and dreamily at her that he wasn’t watching where he was going. My mama would have snapped Shaw in half like a twig in under five minutes and stepped over the melted, blushing, cowering, stuttering, Shawpuddle she'd effortlessly created. I wish I could do that. It's pretty amazing to behold. Maybe next season we should do some Tennessee Williams. He definitely got the groove of ladies like mom. She should really be on stage.

See, there I go again, digressing. I'll save the vocabulary lesson for later, gentle reader. Come see "Man and Superman." Hear the cachinnations for yourself.

See you at the theatre.


joy said...

laura hope we will miss you so much.

Fanny Sink said...

Too bad yer ma's married, Dr. H -- my dad watches "Pride and Prejudice" nearly every single day. The Kiera Knight version. Says when he had brain surgery a year-and-a-half ago, the Women's Entertainment network (WEEEEE!) was on the tube as he came out from under the anasthetic, and "it was very soothing."

He is the very model of a modern (curmudgeonly, Floridian) gentleman.