Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mr. Fezziwig (Ben Tyler) speaks...

Well here we are again, knee deep in joy and not a cloud on the horizon. Of course that’s not really how things are. I just read in the newspaper today (yes, I’m the one who still does that) that Arizona’s economy is worse than Michigan. Michigan, the poster child of the rust belt, home of Jurassic Park, better known as the automobile industry! But what do we got? Well this is the time of year when people like to point out that you don’t have to shovel sunshine. But in a way it’s too bad that you don’t. It might create some jobs for sunshine shovelers, because what we got is 9.9% unemployment in Arizona. In addition to theatre, I am a teacher or educator, as they now say, or underpaid lackey as we refer to ourselves. And last month I was recently the lucky recipient of a pay cut. What this state spends on education makes me want to put on one of those big foam rubber hands you see people wearing at sporting events, only Arizona’s would need to have 49 fingers on it!

So why all the kvetching? (Sorry, I just finished a show with AZ Jewish Theatre) Well…talking about the bad stuff gets me to the good stuff and that is returning to play Fezzywig for my third year with one of the best theatre companies west of the Mississippi, Actors Theatre. Let me tell you something, acting, if you’re doing it right, is a wonderful mental vacation. All trouble and conflict evaporates. It’s better than any drug, legal or otherwise. And when it’s doing that for the actor, chances are pretty good that it’s doing that for the audience too. Just as some people feel about food, this show is a comfort play for me. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel comfortable and as corny as it may sound, this not a just the company line, it brings me joy. These days I need as much of that as I can get.

We’ve just started rehearsing and April Smith (coincidentally, the best stage manager west of the Mississippi) kicked things off with a warning about spreading H1N1 Flu. We were issued personal sized bottles of hand sanitizers, and there are large vats of it on either end of the rehearsal room complete with diving boards. Then she said a line I will never forget: “The hugging and kissing has got to stop. I know you all love each other, but you’re making each other sick!” I wanted to lick her face at that moment.

So I’ll try to make a good faith effort to keep this up. I believe that is the customary line for every first blog. We are like one big family by the time this show gets on stage, just one big air kissing clan.

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