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Friday, June 11, 2010

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #15: When In Doubt, THROW IT IN!


Kaleidoscope recently had a trip to New Jersey for a three-show run of Mother Goose at the Kelsey Theater. Trips to New Jersey always prove to be pretty interesting. I had gone to the Kelsey with the gang in the past, and those trips also have some fun memories. Some of the fun was a bit more dangerous than the rest. For instance, I don't think you are allowed, by law, to stop on the highway and contemplate a situation. Don't get me wrong, stopping to observe your surroundings is good now and then, but when your surroundings include heavy, metal-encased vehicles of death, swerving around you at 70 mph, the roses will just have to wait. On a related note, the death vehicles don't like it when you start backing up.

This trip wasn't as deadly, but it is the longest overnight I have done with the company so far. We left on a Thursday evening and came back to RI Saturday evening/Sunday morning, depending on how you want to look at it. Regardless of the length of the trip, it went smoothly. I was lucky enough to be in the "quiet" van for most of the trip. With many long trips at Kaleidoscope, there are usually two vans. One van is the "We're young, we're excited, let's sing Glee the whole trip" van, and the other is the "Shut up and sleep" van. Glee is all well and good, but I felt very fortunate to be in the latter of the two vans, being able to use my new hat (which is getting a surprising amount of approval, if I may say) as a makeshift sleep mask. Between the sleep and a trusty iPod Touch (loaded up with music, an episode of Criminal Intent, and The Sting), I was certainly occupied for the six-hour trek. It should have taken four, but with so many people to deal with at once, delays are bound to happen. I will take this time, however, to say that I was in the noise box on four wheels on the way back, at the helm as it were, and all I will say is that at least there was no danger of being asleep at the wheel.

I have to say that one of the more interesting things to happen on this trip was the meeting with the infamous New Jersey Bridge Troll. She isn't a real troll, however she could be for all I know, seeing that she was hidden from the world in her toll booth. This wasn't a normal toll booth, mind you. This was a $1 booth, however you needed change. The attendant was not even visible. She was in fact hidden behind a sliding screen door that was shut. From what I understand, the lead van (U.S.S. Noisebox) was scrambling for change when they got there, until the attendant yelled to them "Just give me the dollar! If you do this again, I'm giving you a ticket!" How would she? She has to present herself to do so.

Now our van gets there, and Bob, who is driving, doesn't notice the change receptacle. I tell him we need change, but he can't seem to find any either. Finally we here a "THROW IT IN" echo from the bowels of this toll booth. This voice painted an image of a disgruntled toll worker, who perhaps lived in the booth very comfortably with her HD television and Wi-Fi, and here we were disrupting Days of Our Lives. All this time I thought trolls were eunuchs with fun hair.

The shows themselves went very well, and a good deal of that credit needs to go to the Kelsey. The folks there are really wonderful to work with and are very knowledgeable in their craft. Our audiences were good as well. Friday was pretty full, mainly because there were schools coming in the see the show. The two Saturday shows had modest audiences each, so all together it was pretty good. One child in particular got to steal the spotlight a little during the second Saturday show. As the Knave, I have a speech that I do right after the intermission. In this speech, I mention that the king's birthday cake has been stolen. After saying this during the second Saturday show, a young kid shouted at me "It was probably you!!" at the top of his tiny lungs. I couldn't just ignore this statement, particularly because it echoed throughout the whole theater, so I responded with "What do you know?" It got a good laugh.

It's funny that this happened in a children's theatre production, however I wonder if the old "theatre code of conduct" would discourage it. By definition, children's theatre has little to do with the content of the shows. Yes, they usually play for younger audiences, however what truly makes children's theatre is the idea that it is teaching young children the conventions of the theatre. Good children's shows encourage participation and response, however they also encourage it when it is deemed appropriate. On the other hand, if we considered what theatre could be in our society, then this kid is on the right track. I think what I was able to witness that day was someone not stuck in the Deadly Theatre that Peter Brook talks about. This child was not fully aware of the social conventions that are placed in are theatre (for better or worse), and therefore he reacted from his gut. He reacted in a way we should all encourage when we go to the theatre. Sure, we could get into a discussion about respect for the actors and the other patrons, but if the theatre is not a place for all parties to express themselves, then what good is it? However we choose to look at it, I'm glad I got to experience that moment.

All in all, a good trip. But it's always good to come home.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

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