weekends and routine on planet circus

August 17, 2008

So first week after the dark has come and gone and true to our words we planned and executed a trip away this weekend to Mt Charleston. Stayed in the lodge for one night. It was a kind of log cabin hacienda… cabins piled one on top the other. Inside well fitted out if a bit worn down. The lodge is a few thousand feet higher elevation than Las Vegas and so the temperature drops by about 20 degrees and is very pleasant. Also pine forests cover the mountains til rocky peaks stretch above the tree line. Craggy and rough and exquisitely beautiful. Second day we went for a short hike, well an hour or so up to Mary Jane’s (!) falls. Then on with cooler box, beer, chardonnay, hummus and cheese to a magnificent cave where the local rock climbers assemble to do what they do. It was filled with ‘oh wow’ moments for the beauty of the place as well as the skill of the climbers and impossibility of the routes they accomplish. An enormous cave with a fifty foot overhang becomes a theatre with a breathtaking backdrop. Nate and Daniel climb under the leadership of Craig who plays the Queen in LOVE. A weekend well spent surrounded by things so much bigger than us which are not buildings or plastic and brightly lit sign boards promising ecstasy and a perfect life. I kept thinking of Phillippa’s book Taller than Buildings.

The drive home with windows open allows one to really feel the temperature change; twenty degrees as you descend into the valley.

Refreshed and ready to get back into another week of performances. Luke and Casha are here in two days. The schedule tells me that I wont’ be going into stilts performances this week. Looks like perhaps next week. No rush but getting much more confident again. This is without the rising lift in the dark and with disorienting lighting. But we will see. I have a session with Don later in the week to look at the While my Guitar Gently Weeps number. Things to look forward to.

So it seems that the first two of the week the Thursday night’s shows are the hardest. The whole week to go and strange because the body is full of energy from rest and warmed up and ready to go, but psychologically it feels grindy. The morale of the company would be interesting to measure or perhaps record. Or just hear. How? Only from dressing room gossip does one hear what people are feeling about the company. And often actors, performers, artists, when they are together in the dressing room will express their anger, frustration, outrage which has no outlet no context in which to find expression. Few people want to stand up in a company meeting and verbalise a contentious thought.

Anyway that’s what I am thinking about as I follow the routine of the day;

Wake up at 8.30 with the phone alarm. Wash. Physical stretch and meditation. 9.00 call Janet; her evening. Supper with her dad, or often from bed with make up removal and night time skin treatment. Unpack the day. Hers; nine hours ahead of mine. Her supper and wine coincides with my cereal/granola and juice. Discuss the events. Sometimes these daily encounters become those in which you don’t always have to talk. Just to be with the person and see them and listen to what’s going on in the house where they are. This til 10.00/10.30. Read or write blog/net research. Rest/sleep. 30 minutes. Shave, dental health. Nutrition. Planning, Chores; washing/financial management/accounts/cleaning/servicing transport. Then prep food for evening. 2.00 pm ish; Depart, travel to Mirage.

Warm up and training; either with Jeff in strength or in treatment of the tendonitis I am suffering from in my left elbow, probably from over training. Then some time on handstands. The three times a week stilt training with Coach Dan. Confidence growing but training happening less often than I would like and also the real test comes when I am on the lift in the dark. We’ll see next week when I think they are planning to start some more integration attempts. Striding up and down and also got them to change the bolt setting on the footplate so that my booted foot can slide further on to the footplate and centre the pressure on the foot when taking weight. Able to vary and act with the top half of the body in controlled dynamic movements and gestures. Working toward lifting eye focus. So that I can engage with Joel on the ladder above my head and the knife throwers below and behind me. Practice and repetition. Training takes place in the same venue as the trampoline and acro wall are set up. I use the acrobats practice as incentive in training. ‘Three more circuits of the space and then you can stop and hold onto the high shelf and watch the acrobats practice on the acro wall’. Sweet. Then practice the waltz a few times and dismount. Return to dressing room.

Make up for 1 hour 10 minutes. Performance. Finish performance. Remove in-ear. Keep mike attached because three tapes to hold it in position on my head. Collect food. Fruit. Bananas, orange and tonight some white peaches. Crisp and sweet. Not much juice but good work for teeth and gums and jaw. Tasty, fresh. Good mix with mango supplied by the ever catering Chad. I dump the shopping bag of fruit down next to the two bean bags which have become my home for the forty fifty minutes between performances. Sometimes the kitchen has a bag of rice snacks and nuts available. Get an espresso cup paper cup full of this and eat this with my banana or tonight peaches. More often orange/s. sometimes some green tea. Then with half an hour to go before the half, I arrange the bean bags to make a hammock shape supporting both legs and back and neck I attempt to have a power nap. Give myself the cautionary reminder to wake up at the half hour call if I sleep that long. Sometimes the members of the company who also come to the rest area amongst the offices become loudly mostly agreeably noisy on a particular subject. Food, recipes, places to eat. Global warming. Food. Youtube. Oblivion. Then the half hour call. Then to the kitchen drag myself off the suddenly Velcro surface of the bean bags, I drag these fifty four year old bones and tendons and ligaments and neurons toward the kitchen and fire the old jets up with a strong espresso and hot chocolate combo/caffeine shot. And then stroll down back to the dressing room perform the ritual of checking mike taped in place. In-ear pack strap to chest, (recently changed to the front middle of the chest rather than mid back where it gets on the way of the belt and free movement in performance). Switch on the pack. Threading of the wire and ear piece through the vest and in ear cut off piece of tape. Arrange both wires at the back of the neck with enough play for free movement of the head with no tension on the wires to either side of the head. Then scarf wrapped and fed into vest. Tuck in, pants up fly and braces. Pepper jacket. Thick blue military jacket with some webbing and decoration. Check the lining of the hat and whether the wardrobe has remembered to check the sponge fitting which always falls out of the Velcro inner holding rim. All smooth. By this time it’s about the fifteen minutes. Stride down the neon lit passage toward the back stage.

Through the double doors into the darkened back stage area. Complete sound-scape change. Blue light and muffled noise of the house music. Collect prop; military staff. practice the opening march. Find centre for balance in weight transference. Include dynamic of arm movement weighted by staff. Explore quality of walk, choreographic structure and rhythm. Weight transference. Maintenance of physical integrity alignment and military bearing. Listen for stage management call for opening on in-ear. Stand by after chit chat with cast members lots of ‘Good shows!’ and ‘Have a good one’ etc. do the show. Curtain call. Head backstage remove hat and glued on moustache and eyebrows then boots off and socks and everything sweaty in the wash. Remove makeup cleanse and moisturize. Pay particular attention to gentle eye treatment with ten shows in five nights a week. Make a plan with Daniel re the evenings proceedings. Drive home through twenty minutes of highway then off-ramps and lane change and next off-ramp but one then home and go straight to computer. Check e-mails and then quick contact with Janet in the office or perhaps catch Mike. Then read in bed and sleep. Seldom before 2.00 and rarely after 3.00 am. And then six or seven hours sleep.

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