Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Ulysses, do not build thy dream on perilous rocks above the sea!"

Well, I never thought we'd get away with doing a play in the desert unscathed. Saturday night, the dinner theatre night, we had a beautiful dinner but could not do the play. The wind was blowing at forty-mile gusts, and so for only the second time in my career, 'the show could not go on'. After getting a beautiful dinner, chairs, tables, table cloths, etc., and thirty two people up on the mountain, the play was called. Earlier in the day, the wind blew over one of the tepee pole tripods, bringing down the canvas set. It was not damaged, and we were able to put the structure back in place, but the wind was blowing to hard to proceed. It would have been a play about the wind, and not about Ellie and Tom. Ten years ago, or even five, I would have been devastated by this turn of events. I've finally accepted though, that a God complex about such things is fruitless. One of the big five of the conflicts found in the archives of English 101, Man vs. Nature, is staring me in the face today. One man, or even several, cannot control the weather, only the universe in its infinite wisdom can do that. Several times last night, we began to hoist the canvas to do the show against the odds, and then were turned away by a relentless wind that only Boulder can produce.

Everyone was so wonderful in accepting the inevitable, still, it was a little disheartening that my dinner theatre vision on the mountain was spurned by the universe and those pesky theatre Gods. Laughing, dancing, and blowing wind, those theatre Gods, singing through the trees and throwing up the red sand into our faces. And so it was on to the audience's march down the hill, filled with food but feeling the void of theatre.

When I woke up this morning, I went to the internet store and looked at all the weather reports. All of them said today would be more of the same. I had a big decision to make. Tonight, would have been a full house with the twenty people coming from Escalante. For the third time in my theatre life, I cancelled another show. The conditions need to be right for the play to communicate to its audience. The actors need to be physically safe, and the set cannot be poised to fly above the Sugarloaf Ledge. So, I added two more shows, one tomorrow night and one Tuesday. And so the battle with the elements continues, as does the battle of the mind in conflict with itself, oh, life!

As I said, I was not as discouraged as people were afraid I was at that moment, for I had decisions to make, but laying in bed later that night, the definition of insanity from, 'the rooms', kept running through my mind. "Insanity is when you keep making the same mistakes over and over and keep expecting a different result." I was telling Dan that so often in my theatre life I have been a part of a group of determined people who would work for six or eight weeks on a project only to have it utterly fail in the end. The discouragement then was like a steel cut hammer pounding on the inside of the skull. As Tom says in this play, "Nothin' matches what you dream, Ellie, nothin' matches up." The dream is the model that attempts to hold up the impossible. When one is attempting the impossible, one should wear comfortable shoes, and be ready to be human. One should be ready for the punch that can come at any moment, even when the boxer is well trained. I was telling my brother Dan about my definition of insanity, as my doubt comes so quickly when I have just opened a play and see every flaw and fault. When my body is wracked with pain, my bank account is empty, and my prospects once again look slim, its easy to think that I am making the same mistakes all over again expecting a different results, or will my failures lead me to success? He very graciously pointed out that every success guru would say that all of these failures lead somewhere, and they are impossible to avoid. My wonderful brother Dan! As I was lamenting the loss of the play to the wind, Scott Brodie, who owns The Red House Farm said to me, "Raymond, do you realize that the events you create are the most well attended events in Boulder?" It was a wonderful thing to say at that moment. Boulder people are like that. Thank you, Scott. I'm not really making my point. My point is this: At what stage of the game does one fold? I feel sometimes like the man hitting his head against a wall because it feels good when he stops. Oh doubt, you come into my spirit like the fox in the henhouse, you slayer of dreams, and yet you are as persistent as the dream you seek to slay.

So. As I'm writing this, the wind is pounding at my door, the road to the mountain is closed for the moment, and I can hear Zeus saying, "Ulysses, go home! Ulysses, make thy way, make thy bed in the comfort of thy bosom, hasten your retreat! Do not build thy dream on perilous rocks above the sea!" And this is why I love Ulysses, because the adventure was all, the journey was all, the sound of the sirens only for a moment, all was never lost, and home was never a destination, only a distant memory and a hope.

Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to clear after some turbulence in the morning. The two wonderful actors have been here running lines in preparation for the two more shows that are before us. Rest? Shall I rest? I will read and write some more, and perhaps I'll dream about more peaceful shores… Dramatic enough for you?


Connie said...

"that all of these failures lead somewhere"

OH-I wouldn't see these as failures..certainly not failures on your part...setbacks-yes..trying-of course..perserverance-testing your perserverance--only that..the show must go on and'll make it so..again and again..and triumph over it all... said...

When the wind was whipping all day over here, I wondered about your play last night. You couldn't risk all those people coming and not having a play...and the wind died here at sunset. The Gods? I wish you well tonight and Tuesday..the day is calm. Good thing we didn't stay to another cancellation! But who else can say we had dinner with the Gods?

Gerry said...

I never thought of Boulder as a really windy place but I guess it can be as you have found out while doing a play on top of the ledge, but maybe next time, a more secure location in town where wind cannot halt proceedings? Glad it was not a tornado! The country is too rough for that. I am glad you have Ulysses to take courage from!

Anonymous said...

Saturday night in Angels Camp, (see my trip with Max on the family site.) I woke up and told her I had dreamed the Tompston ledge had split in two and I was looking into this canyon that had pine trees going out of a mature canyon. That was the canyons up there in Gold Country, I think. Contact that guy I told you about. I am sending his card to you. This is great place. You will love it. Mark Twain country.