Queen of Knives
Mother has been weeping for three days. Each time I go outside to
pick blackberries for supper, or even to take a dip in the pond, she looks at me as though she’s seeing me for the last time. She thinks I don’t notice – just tells me not to catch cold – but I see her wiping her eyes. I hear her at night. She always turns her back.
Mother, why are you crying?
I’m not crying my love, I have something in my eye. Allergies.
(laughs, brushing it off)
(shivering)It’s cold in here. Why is it so cold?
Autumn must be coming.
What is Autumn?
(sighs deeply) You don’t remember, do you?
It is like this every time. Always like it was the first time.
The first time?
You’re going back to your husband, my love.
Husband? I don’t have…
But then something stops me, because I remember…something…someone. I remember being afraid and I remember dark kisses and promises…I remember dead people and six pomegranate seeds laid out carefully
before me. I remember a choice…
She turns around to look at me and in her eyes I can see the memories that flood back are not simply dreams but the truth.
Your duties my dear. As a queen.
Queen? But I’m just…
More memories…darkness. It’s dark there, but not without its majesty. Rooms…caverns? Tunnels, and…ghosts. Parades and parades of ghosts, and I, next to my dark paramour on my throne…
He wants me back, doesn’t he?
He always does. As I’ve said, you and I, we have our duties.
You have your throne.
Autumn. Go dress yourself in something warm. The messenger will
be here soon.
It’s only while I’m in transit that I remember everything, and the memories build. When I reach either destination, I have no memory of the other place. I get there and it’s like I’ve never left…and my memories of the other place become cloudy and disappear and my time int hat place is untainted…until I’m travelling again and everything comes flooding back, is put into context.
Every six months, I do this. Follow the messenger up, or follow the messenger down. I am a rope, a sinewy, knotted rope, growing frayed with age as millennia pass. A rope in an ancient tug-of-war between stubborn and unyielding siblings. My mother. My husband. Six months here; six months there.
Neither of them has every asked me what I prefer.
He’s formidable, my husband, and the air perceptibly changes as I spiral closer and closer to where he is. Each time I see him, it’s like the first time, and he takes my breath away – why anyone would ever want to be blond and hale when dark and gaunt has such a profound sway –
My love. (breathing)
And my life up there starts to disappear again. There’s something so intoxicating and present about being here, being with him that it makes everything up there seem like a dream as I deal with the ever-present reality of the state of things here: The truth of the matter is, the dead pester me with their attentions. As though I could do something for them.
Queen! They call me, as they prostrate themselves at my feet. Mistress!
And it all comes flooding back to me, all the many names they have called me for millennia and my little life with my mother in our cottage by the pond is laughable, trivial and so very innocent!
Mistress of the Damned! Snow Queen. Spirit of Winter. Lady Ice. I slip my mantle on and the ice, like a thousand tiny knives settles back inside me as I hold court for the legions of ghosts who are my subjects with my dark lord by my side…and the tug-of-war begins again.
It is really perverse that something that is bringing me such joy daily, that I will miss tremendously when it's over is also paradoxically giving me pause. I'm speaking, of course, of my former baby, the Double (XX) Fest.
I'm acting in three short plays for the festival, and I love them ALL. Wonderful to be able to dig into each one without much of a distraction. In certain respects, I'm blowing myself away as an actor, particularly in the fact that I'm seemingly able to
"go there" multiple times in succession, and get there each time, making new discoveries along the way. I'm starting to really notice my weird actor habits...don't know if I'm able to correct them, really, but at least I'm noticing them. And starting to notice that I'm a little bit lazy, and could totally bust out of that, and sometimes DO.
First, The Bridge (Kate McCamy), directed by Glynis Mitchell, costarring Pearl Klein. Ultimately, this character is probably the closest to who I am though still quite removed as a materialistic, Wall Street executive who's just lost her job. She's about to commit suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn bridge, when God, possessing the body of a homeless woman, stops her. It's quite existential, and I am surprised each time we run it that it hits me so hard each time. Ha ha, and it certainly isn't without its parallels to my own life, although ironically, she talks about having gone to art school and having wanted to be an artist. Funny for me, since I chose that path for myself, and yet, you still find yourself with heartless bosses who'll throw you under the bus. That is not limited to Wall Street NOR to finance.
Second, The Cleaners (Lindsay Joy Murphy) directed by Lenore Bensinger; costarring Curtis Eastwood. I get to don a very large, white plastic HazMat suit, which in and of itself is totally comedy GOLD. After putting it on, I really don't have to work very hard, in terms of the funny. The suit just brings it. All I have to do is show up and remember my lines. Had so much fun last night at rehearsal - collapsed into helpless giggles last night, when we first started working with the suit. The fun comes in that my scene partner is hitting on me the whole time I am cleaning brain in this totally unsexy, shapeless costume. It's supposed to kinda turn his character (Jerry) on even more than my character (Rita) already does with her firecracker, ballbuster personality. And then there's this knee-buckling kiss, also in The Suit (which I think has become the 4th character in the show, behind the Dead Guy we're cleaning up). Physical intimacy onstage is always so bizarre, especially at first. We're comfortable with it now, but it was totally awkward at first. Boundaries are always interesting, and of course the niggling thoughts about *actual* significant others and how they're potentially going to deal with it. I am lucky that Ian and I haven't had any issues with this so far, and he's seen me smooch plenty of other boys onstage at this point!
Which brings me to the third play, It's Not Really Suicide, Is It? (Persephone Vandegrift) directed by Julianne Christie, costarring Michael Mitchell(John) and Chris Allen(Brian). There's another smooch in this one, though it was never quite as awkward to work into as the former...but it's also not as intimate a circumstance, I suppose. My character (Nicole) is grieving her boyfriend, Brian an Iraq war vet, who just committed suicide. They are at his wake, and his ghost has appeared to his brother, John, but Nicole can't see him. Nicole is at that messed up burnt-out matchstick place where you've done all your crying and you're just spent and can't cry anymore...and the weird emotions that lie just beyond that. She kisses John, because she knows he loves her, because she's grasping at any straw she can to make herself feel okay again. Boy was it ever interesting to muster that end-of-road place for THREE RUNS tonight. I'm glad I have the whole first part of the play where it's just the two of them talking, to immerse myself in those circumstances. By the time I come out for my entrance, I have to be done bawling. I managed to do it each time tonight, but boy am I exhausted. Impressed with myself, I must say, but exhausted.
So, next week, presenting the first two to audiences, and the week beyond, the third. We'll see if performance anxiety comes by, or if I manage to ground myself enough to keep it mostly at bay...or maybe even work with it. Usually, if I can manage to stay present, it's not an issue. We shall see. I think all three of these plays are some of the best work I've ever done. And it's a pity I feel so ambivalent about recommending Double (XX) Fest 2.0 to people, which is entirely to do with not wanting Stone Soup Theatre and the woman at its helm to make any more money off my talents. It's hard for me to get beyond that.
Come and see it if you wish - it will be the last show I ever do with Stone Soup.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.