Sunday, April 19, 2009

Squeezing the Lemon

Many years ago, while studying with Georges Bigot of the Theatre du Soliel ( a seminal workshop that had a lot to do with the formation of the Actors’ Gang) I was introduced to the concept of “Squeezing the Lemon.”

Existing somewhere between “Carpe Diem” and “Milking It”, Squeezing the Lemon was Bigot’s way of admonishing us to explore all the comic/tragic possibilities of a moment before moving on to the next. It’s become part of my own vocabulary when teaching and I’ve tried to keep the concept alive in both my art and life and I think my last week in San Francisco is a bit of a testament to that.

So here’s how I tried to "Squeeze the Lemon" before heading off to join Cirque.

The Ship

First a final sail on Valhalla. A brisk breeze, Danielle by my side, cole slaw and sushi at sea, a nip of Laphroig at port. Perfection. It almost hurt to button the boat up and say goodbye for now. Knowing she’s there, (growing a pendulous green beard of sea life) will soften my own feelings of moorlessness on the road.

The Crew

Next, had some great dinner parties with my very own Wicked Mercy Danielle Thys and Jeffrey Wiseman and Kimble Jackson, Lol Levy and Nancy Gold, (Click here to check out her book Finding Your Funny Bone) Carol Brubaker and Luc Martin.

Nancy spread her incredible collection of masks out on the floor at one point. Many designed by the late Bari Rolfe. All those personalities staring up at us filled the room with a this incredible feeling of power and expectation. These things are so packed with sheer mana. Here's just a few I shot at Nancy's book signing at Borders in San Rafael:

Jeffrey showed us some of his rare and fantastic collection of classic comedy footage. Jeffrey was giving me a crash course in clowning and I was just soaking in all that brief and flickering genius. (Lupino Lane, Charlie Chase, Martha Rae, et al) I was part laughing part crying throughout. Crying because of the sheer gravity of time separating us from these brilliant performers and laughing because, well, they’re so damn funny. I believe now I’ve watched every George Carl clip available. Click Here for him. I think there’s a quality he has that might be right for my King/House Manager character in Kooza!

The Sword

The Nishi Kaigan Iaido Dojo demonstrates a little Zanshin.

My Penultimate day in the Bay Area was spent at the Cherry Blossom Festival demonstrating Iaido with my colleagues from the Nishi Kaigan Iaido Dojo. As Nidan, I performed 5 Waza including Shinobu, (pictured) and a raucous katsu dinner with Sensei Diamantstein and the rest of the iaidoka followed.

High winds may have effected my performance somewhat.

The Show

With Gilkey and his "band", Jane.

On my final night I was a guest on The Gilkey Show, former Cirque du Soleil clown John Gilkey’s live talk show at the Climate Theatre where I did some mime, made a little funny, cut my finger onstage on a Campbell’s soup can I was using for a gag and got a grand send off with balloons, party hats, and jugglers hugging me (plus a nice bottle of wine from Jen Fong and a couple of squeezes from Robin Harvey/Trousdale) as I went off to Cirque with the strains of Alegria wailing in the background.

Joyous, but there were some tears. The next morning Danielle took me to the airport.
I guess when you Squeeze the Lemon you risk getting a little in your eye.

Next stop: Montreal

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