My 15 minutes

 

The other Disney movie Ella is obsessed with – even more than Lion King – is Beauty and The Beast. This was not on my mind when I wrote the Spring integration, but the Spring integration was on mind the other day when I found myself alone with Ella for a few hours, and we played “Beauty and The Beast.”

I screwed up face and jutted my lower teeth out. I dropped my voice in to a raspy growl. I lumbered around like a giant ape, and all the while Ella played Belle. I tried to engineer the scenes so that, for some reason, Beast had to take a lot of naps. Ella liked this, because it allowed her to play out the “going to sleep” scenario with her on the powerful end, as the one putting some else to bed.

“Go to sleep now Beast. No crying.” she would tell me, before planting the world’s most tender little kiss on my lips. Within a minute she would wake me up. Some nap. I would pretend to cry.

“I’m hideous.”

“No, no Beast. You not hideous.” And she would kiss me some more. She pronounced “hideous” remarkably well for a three year old.

At least I’m not so hideous I can’t be on the radio. I had an interview about The Actor’s Way last Wednesday. It was for a local public radio show called “Radio Times”, which Susan and I listen to a lot. So when I showed up at the studio and was greeted by the host Marty Moss-Coane, I felt as though I was going to hang out with my cool aunt Marty in the radio station where she works and chat about some stuff we were both interested in.

I had spent the previous two weeks “rehearsing” this interview: playing out questions she might ask and answering them with glittering charm and intelligence, fielding awkward subjects (like alcoholism and tenure) with aplomb. But of course, Marty was way too sensitive to ask anything approaching an awkward question, and the questions she did ask were so germane to the book and my concerns, my effort was to pare down the 14 responses which lined up in front of me to the one or two which seemed most urgent. Marty asked questions about psychodrama and the wounded actor, about the criticism thread in the book and about what happens in acting classes. We got some call ins from all over. I left feeling kind of high from whole thing.

In the hallway afterwards, I had a comical talk with Marty’s producer, the red-haired Devora, about toilet training. It turns out she has kids about the age of mine, and had some good advice for Ella’s challenging relationship to her own poop.

“Have you tried just letting her sit in her shit for while?” she asked with charming bluntness. God I love strong women. I replied that Ella seemed to not mind that, or at least preferred it to sitting on the potty. “How about rewards?” she asked. “One piece of candy for just sitting, two for pee-pee, three for poop.”

Marty and Devora are a part of the community I serve. How I love my community.

The next day, The Crucible returned in the form of a horribly mishandled “evaluation” meeting at People’s Light. The issue at hand was my conduct in those difficult rehearsals of 2.2, in the jail, and my attachment to my initial vision of Hale the shattered man. Without getting into the whole thing, the meeting was based on second-hand information – essentially “he said, she said” stuff – and had the wounding quality of a reproach, although Abbey and Steve kept telling it wasn’t. I left feeling very hurt and confused, and resolved to go back to continue the conversation.

That night, Sooz left me and the ids to go to the Cape to be with her dad again. The end is near, I think, and death is like the haze of hot day in our lives, draping us in discomfort, blurring our vision slightly and making us want to just stay inside.

I took night off from child care top go see a festival of ten minute plays downtown, one of them by friend Michael and directed by my friend Joe, another featuring Jenny, one of our babysitters. It was a festival of the smaller companies in town, and it had the quality of a plate of hors d’oerves made by different kitchens. Some made you wanted another taste, others didn’t. One of my favorites was Heavy Metal Dance Fag, pt 2 – a riotous piece of physical theatre in which the title character did comical choreography to the likes of Guns ‘n Roses.

Then I went to a fundraiser for two local companies a The Khyber, a notorious local dive bar and music venue. There I got hang out with my “tribe”, seeing friends from the theater community who I had lost touch with, and just be a part of the merriment. To my shame, I smoked a few cigarettes that night, I strategy I frequently employ to make myself feel more “with it” when I go to bars, but, of course, don’t drink.

While there, I had my first fantasy-author moment. I was talking to a friend when a young girl, moving through the crowd at the bar, suddenly turned and stared at me.

“You’re Ben Lloyd aren’t you?” she asked. I said I was. “OhmiGod! You wrote The Actor’s Way! I’m only half way through and that book is changing my life!” I grabbed her hands and told her she had just made my whole night. She told me her name was Amanda, she was telling all her friends about the book and we talked about it for a while. You know that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes to big? Yeah. That was me. Now I have to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to my head.