Friday, November 24, 2023

The Book of Dust: Magnificence!!

I cleaned like crazy yesterday morning. I washed floors, vacuumed like mad, including all the cracks in the upholstery of my sofa and chairs, I cleaned the cattery and the hearth the bathrooms. Plus, I shaved the couch, removing all the stray fibers and threads that the cats had pulled out of the sofa cover. They are ruining my furniture, but I don’t really care. 

The low sunshine of Winter streamed into the house showing me every bit of unwanted stuff in the house. I cleaned obsessively. When I was done (but not finished), I treated myself to some reading on the chaise. And then I went back to work, oiling all the Rosewood furniture, and washing down the cupboards and drawers of the kitchen. What an awesome housewife I can be!

Ron walked Sheba, and after they came back, I had a long, wonderful spa. I’ve turned the heat up for Winter. It’s lovely to be able to be in such nice hot water, in sunshine and cool crisp air. And silence, except the odd bark of the neighbour’s dog. Not long after my spa, my bosom buddies Jay, Eoin and Fran├žois and I arranged to meet tonight for dinner in our best local restaurant.

Then I got back to work. I oiled all the rest of the furniture, and I watched all my tchotchkes. It feels like a hotel in here right now. Everything is so clean and tidy. It was worth the work to feel so good because everything is shining. In college psych, I remember a teacher telling us that obsession is about control, and the more you feel out of control in the world, the more you might want to clean your house to professional standards.

After dinner, I watched The Book of Dust, by the National Theatre. I’ve just finished the first half; National Theatre gives viewers a pause when an intermission occurs in the play. But before the static image on the screen announcing the pause, we hear the audience’s rapturous bravos over the applause. I felt like creaming to London how wonderful everyone associated with this production is. I am awed by these shows. (I don’t watch the Shakespeare productions. I may watch them when that’s all there is.)

This story is an allegory and involves floods, constant rain, a vast number of sets and scenes, and so the stage design is as much of a star of the show as is Samuel Creasey, an adult actor, who plays Malcolm, the central character. (I only know that he’s adult from the Guardian review. I accepted him completely as a boy—a large boy.) He is magic. He is brilliant and he has a huge central role. It’s a masterful performance. I can’t wait to watch act two.

I don’t know what spirit animals are. Perhaps they are talismans of ourselves. I have never once thought of what animal I might be or want to be. Such inquiry is not my thing. But I have a talisman and always have. It came to mind as I tried to understand myself a long time ago. My teachers were shocked that I wanted out of the accelerated program. Then my friends were shocked when I quit my first job as a high school teacher. This is when getting a teaching position in Vancouver was highly desirable and hard to get. And people were shocked when I didn’t want some jobs that were offered to me.

I put on plays at age four. For me, quitting teaching to work in the professional theatre was consistent. I was following a passion. I was doing what I wanted to do. And one thing that made theatre such a great fit for me is that your job changes often. The shows change. You are never bored, whereas ‘straight’ jobs bore me. Doing the same thing over and over is anathema to me. Routine is toxic.

So, my talisman has always been a bubble. I have long thought of myself as a bubble because it is constantly in motion, but not responsible for the motion, allowing you to focus on survival—to navigate the ride as best you can. But you are powerless at times when caught in the main current. Calm in the backwaters and flooded plains.

The second half was as wonderful. The company of actors, many of them operating puppets, is, for me, create the most emotional artform on earth (for me). The blocking (the movement) is complex and relentless. They are constantly moving. And the end, as the audience cheered their standing ovation, I was crying, and then, when then camera zoomed in on Samuel Creasey’s face, I lost it. I was sobbing. I’d seen God.

More sunshine today. It is a glorious, if cool, morning. Sheba and I will walk with our friends and then I’ll be coming home to do some yard work. Having made the inside of the house spotless, it’s time to clean up the courtyard, front lawn and driveway. That’s my goal for today, and tonight I dine with Eoin, Fran├žois and Jay. Hooray! 

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