Today, I finally got to see the show. I've been hearing about it for 10 years, from you, from Tracy, from Meredith. But I never got to Lincoln Center, or Seattle Rep. For me, the last time I got to enter this world was fourteen years ago, in a small black box theatre just south of the Loop, when it first got up on its legs with a flurry of enthusiasm and a graduate student's budget. But now that D. and I own a house within walking distance of Berkeley Rep, where your work is considered the cat's pajamas, we finally get our chance to spend some time with you, vicariously, again.
The lights come down, and the sound of wings fills the air, and I'm frozen, suspended between now and 1989.
The lights come up on Chris, asleep, as Leonardo, and there's the falcon, and wonder of wonders, there is the set I've heard so much about. I hold my breath as the bird descends to the floor, and kisses the boy, and puts her tail in his mouth.
I'm watching the mind of Leonardo at work, played out through your terrific ensemble. I'm watching your mind at work, and marvelling at the new pieces, the new set and the costumes that have allowed your imagination to materialize, in solid form, in front of our eyes. I'm thinking about what you've added, and how it rounds out the show, and imagining, briefly, because I don't want to miss what is happening, you with your cast, trying out new movement, practicing the new rhythms over and over to get the illustration just right.
And at the same time I'm experiencing the original show, and it's 1989 again, and we're in the black box, the smell of fresh black paint and sawdust in Lookingglass's new home. Now Kyle and Doug are onstage in two chairs, repeating the movements I watched Phil and Meredith do over and over in rehearsal. Now here's the roll of newsprint, for the draughtsman's games I recall playing with Mark and Ana.
Fourteen years later, and the lines are familiar. I don't recall which ones were mine, or which ones were Michael's, or which ones were Meredith's. But I'm here, now, in 2003, listening to the words of a Renaissance master reminding me of the marvels of the world, and I'm falling in love with the universe again.
Over the years, my souvenirs from the show has slipped away: a prototype falcon headdress made from papier mache, which I don't think I ever showed you. My blocking notes, arrows and swirls superimposed over the rough diagram of the stage so dense they made no sense even at the time, relying on muscle memory to get me to where I would go next. The Xeroxed poster, which hung in my apartment, framed, for so long, with Tracy and Emilie, with strings tied to their heads to project their lines of sight-- gone now. Somewhere in my house I may have the script... or maybe not even a script, only the first compilation of passages of the Notebooks, which you had re-typed on your own typewriter, and collated for us to begin our work bringing Leonardo's work to life. (All that remains may be a faded photocopy of Justin's review in the Chicago Reader, and the black suit I wore in the show-- every actor needs a black suit).
I don't recall if I ever thanked you. For being a demanding and inspiring teacher. For inviting me to work with you, to share in the craft of realizing your unique and singular vision of theatre. My college education left me with a deep and profound appreciation of the art of dramatic storytelling... the hard work of understanding texts, of finding ways to translate the written word to the voice and the body, and the maddeningly slow and ultimately rich process of crafting metal and cloth, light and sound, movement and text into the playspace of the imagination.
On the stage Chris is resting on his cane, reciting the text of the Anaxagoras. An hour and a half has flown by. Tears well up in my eyes. Tears of joy, of memory (and yes, of nostalgia).
Heartfelt thanks for letting me step into your world, if only for ninety minutes, once more.