love and a chorus girl on planet circus

July 28, 2008

So it’s the morning after the night with Eugen and his wife Katya and two daughters aged 14 and 10. also Nate and Keisha, Jimmy and Carrie, Baart for a while, Ekenah and Daniel and me. The tour around Eugen’s house made clear his talents as an engineer not just a handyman with carpentry as a hobby. A beautifully crafted porch from red oak and pine roofing. A landscaped garden of desert stone, trees, prickly pears and other indigenous plant life, and a sophisticated dripper system. Then inside wood paneling and wooden doors and floors everywhere, all laid by him. Having moved to Las Vegas and working for Cirque on O for four years and completing two thousand shows he said to his wife ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and so started a business trying to make ‘intellectual and philosophical theatre’.(in thick Uzbekistan accent) This the phrase he used in the court when facing cross examination by the prosecutor at his bankruptcy hearing. This usually a very grueling session but the prosecutor just looked at him and accepted this without argument. He and his family survived by his becoming a handyman doing everything from laying tiles and building to carpentry and masonry. Katya is a well renowned music teacher. He showed us a workshop built by himself filled with power tools and air-conditioning  to serve as a retreat and store for precious liquor. The theatre itself is about fifteen feet square off the kitchen and entrance hallway and is a marvel. Completely fitted out with sixteen or so channels of lighting, a complex sound desk, digital microphones to create effect of space, a smoke machine amongst other effects. Such love of theatre in every aspect of it.

The supper prepared by Katya is delicious starters of salad and humus and dips and asparagus in bacon and cheese and olives, then rice and chicken casserole. Home food. And enough also for non meat eaters to thrive. Careful consumption of liquor and then much time in conversation with Katya in the kitchen learning her history. Growing up in communist Uzbekistan and learning English from only the Morning Star and feeling the texture of the newspaper and saying to eachother with awe; ‘This paper was made in England!’ And her despising of western culture. Then her difficulties of moving to Germany with a small child then just as she had learned German their move to America. And to Las Vegas of all places. We spoke at length about how to survive and bring up children in American society and the difficulty she found and the challenges. The two daughters aged ten and fourteen are remarkably mature and confident without being precocious. The younger one tops the evening with a short recital in the theatre of cello works by Bach. Her elder sister declines to perform saying she has to get up early to walk the dog and then practice. The recital is punctuated by her focused attention on the score, lips gripping through the mistakes and a beaming angelic smile at the end of each piece.

My hopes for some performances in the space are disappointed but it is just not the kind of evening for that. Next time says Eugen.

The weekends make me homesick. Too much time to look around and see where I am and miss home. When I am busy working and training I am too busy to be depressed, but the weekends, even if doing activities to relax and distract everything seems to point to the fact that I am not at home. But, spent a fun evening with Dani Wylie my newly discovered relative from Canada who has been performing here as one of the Caesar Salad Chorus girls in the Bette Midler show at Caesar’s Palace. She is my sister Charlotte’s niece so technically also my niece, maybe once removed or something. She and her boyfriend Jason who plays one of the leads in The Jersey Boys, a big Las Vegas show about Frankie Valli (sp?) invited me to a benefit cabaret to fund a local education body. Lots of Broadway tunes I didn’t know but very skillful acapela performances and long catch-up-with-your-relative type conversations.

I was able to get there because we finally got to buying a car. And the world looks very different when you wake up in Vegas with a car in the garage…

Well the best decision Cirque ever made in its history has been to contract Don to come to Vegas to work on the resident shows and particularly on LOVE. Oh what Joy Joy Joy to have a real theatre person working on the show. His vision is clear, his notes are intelligent, thought-through, articulate, challenging, providing goals and targets and everything an actor could wish for in working on a role in an environment like this. The thing is also having worked in the creation of the work he understands the context and also the history of the development of each of the characters. Every time I see him I have to stop myself running up to him and saying ‘Hey Don what did you think…? Did you see the second show? What did you think of the alignment? Is there more hip flexibility? How was the physical attitude in Yesterday? Did you see the hand positions in Guitar, how as the consistency?’ Bliss.

Just spent twenty minutes on Skype talking to Janet and Matt and Isabel. There I was ten thousand miles away making animal noises for Isabel while she stared at the screen in disbelief. Turkey gobbles chicken clucks horse neighs and duck quacks resonated through the ether. Also saw Stella. I forget how small babies are at that age but it seems she is particularly so. Wow so good to see them and talk. Very good to see Janet there with Matt and Bridget and Elaine. It’s like Christmas she says.

Must go and check the mail, the box is probably bursting.

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