Friday, January 20, 2023

Monologue Revision; Is That All There Is?

Thursday was very busy. I had a clinic article and two ads to get paassed all the necessary approvals with board members. I got it done after scores and scores of emails and a lot of time. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to eat leftovers from games night for lunch and dinner. After three days of go/go/go, I was ready for some R&R. 

Thanks to Regina, I had something interesting to watch as I rotted on the couch at the end of the day. Contemporary Portraits is a show that’s right up my alley! It’s a BBC series that brings incredibly talented visual artists together with ordinary Britons to have their portraits painted. Each program in the series is only 30 minutes long, so it moves quickly. 

And after a couple of episodes of that show, last night I watched a really weird and wonderful movie called The Wonders. Not The Wonder that is on Netflix (I l oved it), The Wonders is about a family of Italian beekeepers living in poverty in Tuscany. It is so, so strange, yet I absolutely loved it because it’s Italian. In shot length, lighting, scenery, music, cutting, pace and many more ways, they are another species from American movies. Most striking is that the actors all look like normal human beings, living in normal homes.

I hate thinking about D. We were great friends, we bought a home with our partners, I worked for him for decades, and he has been an enormous positive influence on my life. Then I moved suddenly to Gabriola because my symptoms were so severe, after which I wrote to him three times but got no response. I’ve concluded he’s lost interest in me, and it hurts to think that. 

His ailing mother called him one day when I was at D’s house and, after they had talked together for quite a while, I spoke to her and, at the end of our conversation, I said: “I hope you’re feeling better soon.” 

She replied: “I don’t. I’ve had enough.”

I thought of Peggy Lee singing, Is That All There Is.

I’ve never forgotten her saying that. I thought it was rude and sad. But she was not a happy or kind woman. 

I was enamored of everything Kurt Vonnegut. In one of his stories or novels, he had characters living in a society with ethical suicide parlours where you could end your life reclining in a magnificent environment of your favourite foods, images and music. 

I’m basically afraid of going off the island. It feels impossible for me to get into a plane. I feel stuck here. I live a kind of ground hog day existence now. It’s easier to take in Summer, but there are times I ache. And when I ache, I feel wretched about living with FND and I always see a movie in my mind.

The movie is animated; an assemblage of images, shot in stop motion, of chalk drawings on a dark slate. From darkness, an old man emerges. He’s old, naked and hunched over. He slowly rises, then he bows his head low, reaches his arms up and back, and then he digs his fingers into the flesh of his back and he pulls off his old head and shoulders revealing a new healthier version of himself standing tall.  

I really want out of the FND world, but there’s no way out.

And I think of D’s mother and Kurt Vonnegut. I think a lot about them. But were there ethical suicide parlours, I wouldn’t want to use one. I think that means hope still lives in me.

On the CBC yesterday morning, Julie Nesrallah said, quoting a composer whose music she’d just played: “For every hour spent in company, one needs several days to recover.”

I am not alone.

I’ve had an idea. My monologue explaining what happened to me and a major component of my adaptation. It was my story, written for me to speak at The Flame. I adapted it slightly, but it’s the same story in rap-rhyming couplets. I didn’t think it would do well because it isn’t theatrical. It works and the Flame, but not in a theatre monologue festival. And I’ve been thinking about that.

I’m going to propose in our impending interview, a first scene.

Lights up to reveal an actor (not me) facing the audience and seated at a table. His head is bowed; his forehead touches that tabletop. Both hands are flat on the table on either side of his head. Pause.

The actor doesn’t move as the audience hears a tape of me speaking. I want the audience to hear an authentic oral disability. It’ll be a just a few sentences that I haven’t written yet. And when I’m finished, there will be a long pause, and then the actor will raise both hands and then slap them down on the desk. NOT loudly. And the gaps between slaps on the desk shorten, the actor rises-up to face the audience, keeping the beat going. 

Then he stops, closes his eyes, takes a few short breaths in and out until the audience is silent, and then delivers the monologue.

The actor signs thank you at his curtain.


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