I started this trip rather clueless, not sure what I was looking for or why but knowing it was time for leaping. The first “section” of the journey seemed to be about returning to nature and rediscovering my absolute need and desire for connecting to the mountains, canyons, deserts, rocks, trees, wildlife, you name it, I was hungry for nature. Hiking brought me closer to my soul and more in touch with myself and I discovered once again that this body, this being, is just great the way I am, for who I am, without the trappings of what I do or who I’m related to.
The second part of the adventure revolved around falling in love with all people. Educated, uneducated, rich, poor, homeless, clueless, musically inclined, writers, poets, artists, nobodies, we all have value and heart and I embrace all of humanity and they generously embrace me.
Adding to these two wonderful states of being I am now in phase three. Just to reiterate, none of this was planned or set out in steps ahead, I have just been following instincts and smoky pathways with open doors. So after nature and people I have lately been immersed in theater, I am counting this the third phase. I have seen 14 plays in the last four weeks, diving into Shakespeare, Shaw, Moliere, interspersed with a few modern ones. The acting has varied from extraordinary to rotten and my sensibilities reach enlightenment to boredom. But it’s unmistakable to see that theater has been returned to my life after a brief hiatus to scout out nature, myself and others. I can hardly wait to see what phase comes next, but I know that in order to fully benefit I need to immerse myself in exactly where I am at this moment without looking ahead.
Not only have I been seeing theatre I have been living with actors, visiting with actors, auditioning for actors, eating with actors, drinking with actors, laughing with actors, and being encouraged by actors. They are my friends, my home, my destiny, my truth. They remind me what is worth giving away, worth living for, worth suffering for. I love them.
This is a long preface to a most important visit to Lenox, Massachusetts. This was home to me for a month-long intensive Shakespeare training last January. It was a life-changing month and to return to the “scene of the crime” was emotional fireworks. I pulled into the parking lot in order to see King Lear performed by the man responsible for my being in the Berkshires. And soon as I parked and turned off my car, a random satellite station played Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean…” I had not heard this song in YEARS and it is the one song that I sang in front of my classmates during an exercise in the January intensive that represented an early part of my life. So to have it come on the radio just at my returning moment to the campus was fantastical, magical, miraculous.
I was not even supposed to arrive there until the next day but seeing on Facebook that it was opening night for Lear I was determined to get there and support my friend Dennis Krausnick in the definitive role of his life as King Lear.
Dennis came to Seattle to do an acting workshop for Shakespeare and Company and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and able to participate. My path was forever changed that day. I gave him rides to his host home at the end of each day and heard his story. He encouraged me through his journey that I just need to do the work that I love, even if it’s in my living room, acting in front of my family and friends, the rest will take care of itself. And now here I was, attending the opening night culmination of his dream, seeing him successfully making history and dreams come true.
I thought I had missed opening night earlier that week, but at 5pm as I was checking into a hotel an hour away I saw a post by the director, Rebecca Holderness, on Facebook about it being opening night. I texted Dennis, and expressed my sorrow at not planning better and he said “Come, it’s only an hour’s drive and I will have a comp ticket waiting for you.” I threw on a dress and blasted out the door and arrived to the parking lot with 15 minutes to spare and Dan Fogelberg welcoming me on the radio With tears rolling down my cheeks I knew I was in for an evening of magic.
I saw many friends and teachers from the intensive in the lobby and I walked around in a daze of disbelief to be there. Dennis was fabulous as the strong, fierce, crazy, belittling, decimated Lear as was the rest of the cast. I floated around afterward in a dream to have participated in an event that represented so much promise and transition in his life, and through association, mine.
I stayed with an energetic, rambunctious friend, Joan, the rest of my time in Lenox. I reveled in her and her husband’s company and enjoyed her four fluffy cats. She was in rehearsal for two shows at Shakespeare and Company, one just opened and she went on as an understudy after only 10 days of rehearsal. Impressive! I got to see both of her plays, eat enormous, wonderful meals with her, and get chauffeured around the Berkshires with her as my expert tour guide. I was given the whole upstairs of her house as my personal apartment, it was like being at a spa. All that was missing was the masseuse! I was spoiled.
Shakespeare and Company is my artistic home. I saw 6 plays (Lear twice) in the five days I was honored to be there; some crazy, flat-out, brave, no bullshit acting and some hysterically funny work as well. They teach me that living your heart’s desire is hard, exhausting, and worth the sacrifice. I have friends working their butts off behind the scenes to better their community and for the benefit of art. I am proud of them all.
As I pulled away from the beautiful grounds and went through the now familiar teary good-bye, this time I was fortified by my firm connections to theater, to my commitment to nature, and to actors and friends that stay the course. I am home when I am with you.
“Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you
Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you”