I'm sitting by the pool in LA. Is this a
cliché ? Doesn't everyone think of swimming pools and LA in the same breath. On a precious day off, I look at the light blue of the pool and the even lighter blue of the sky, and I lean back and luxuriate in the sun's warmth. Today it is in the high 70s. The feeling of self-satisfaction is complete when I think of the rest of the country putting on extra clothing to protect themselves from the cold. Today I could have gone on a trip around Hollywood . I could have seen the Hollywood sign. I could have walked past the Chinese Theatre and looked at the famous handprints of past and present Hollywood stars. I could have walked on the sand of Malibu Beach . I didn't. I turned down the trip that others in the company are making because... I wanted to be alone.
It may sound an idyllic scene, lying next to a pool in LA in blazing sunshine, but sound in fact mars the idyll. Our hotel is right next to one of LA's crowded freeways and there is the constant roar of traffic. I no longer have my CD player to block out the noise. A couple of days ago I left it by the pool and when I came back, it was gone. I did the same thing on the last tour and felt the same disappointment when no-one handed it in to the front desk and I had to reluctantly admit to myself that someone had taken it.
So now I'm thinking that I will invest in an MP3 player which can play all my music at a touch of a button. I will have access to over 5000 songs. My old cds - gradually wearing out from life on the road -can be thrown away. I realize that I need to throw away a lot of things when I return to New York ; mostly clothes. I want to be able to fit everything I have in two suitcases. I need to travel light for a while. I am seriously thinking about getting my own apartment in New York . Of course, that will involve paying twice the rent that I am paying now, but I have to believe that I can earn that. I have the option of being in Twelfth Night on the next Aquila tour, but I probably will let my New York agent have a crack at finding me some work for the Fall. In November I could be working again for Aquila in Cyrano, The rest of the time is an unknown. I am thinking of returning to the UK for a few months - if there was work for me I would jump at the chance. The RSC is still a goal and my ultimate dream.
Personally I have to make certain closures. The Green Card is the most important and soon we will know what the state of play is on this most illusive of cards. I think I should be on my own right now. To enjoy some solitude for a while is the right place for me at the moment.
All these thoughts, like ripples fanning out across the pool water - float through my mind.
It's Monday. Never the greatest day, but I try and stay in the moment and this moment is a pool in LA under a brilliant sun and then suddenly I find I appreciate what I have - here and now.
My hair is startlingly grey now, but has a certain distinction. The face has lost it's prettiness and bloom of youth and is slowly sagging to middle age, but still retains a certain boyish shape when I keep at this weight. It does however convey a darkness, sadness, but yet a femininity which makes it interesting to look at - at least that's what I observe when I loom in the mirror.
Good news with the green card. Homeland Security Bob has told us that we will not have to come in for an interview. He has spoken to the powers that be and it seems my letter was just held up and that everything seems A-OK. We should hear or receive something (hopefully the card) in the next two to three weeks. .
Louis now knows that Dave and I are thinking of moving and seems remarkably fine. I think that knowing that he has a year's work ahead has probably helped. We have given him quite a bit of notice. I say I will decide for certain over the next three weeks. I have a months deposit with Abdulla which can be used for my final month of June, so in theory I can move out any time. It requires a leap of faith to pay twice the monthly rent of course with a studio o my own, but with the right place, it would be so worth it. At the moment, I'm looking for short-term sublets rather than a year-long lease.
I feel my acting has definitely improved since I've been here. It helps working with Tony, who being a good actor brings out the best in me. Man/King could be very good.
Traveling to Frederick Maryland where William Cochrane lives. He is the mural artist if you remember who I posed as Prospero for as a potential figure on one of Frederick's buildings. Alas, the idea was dropped in one of the several committee stages. By coincidence, they are having a reception Friday next door to the Weinberg Theatre where we are performing
for the mural project that they once hoped I might be a part of. Now titled
"The Dreaming," that project has become a layered work of glass, weaving,
painting and etched stone, with no human figures. Such are the vicissitudes
of life in community art. The reception is for public education and fundraising and is for the people who work in the buildings around the mural site, Free food! Free drinks! Gabby is also coming to Frederick . She was the vivacious Titania on the last tour. And also Katie who was in Much Ado at Elkins WV . She is coming with her Mum and Dad... and they all want to take me out to dinner. Of course I am on SlimFast so will have to forgo as I know my will power would not hold out.
Summer has arrived and bypassed Spring. I am in the luxurious Renaissance Hotel in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh and the temperature outside is an amazing 79 degrees. My bedroom is good enough for the Ritz, complete with fluffy dressing-gown, cozy bed with pillows galore and - most luxurious of all - free fast internet. I am listening to 20 questions on Radio 4. It was actually broadcast on Friday, but the wonderful world of the internet and a beautifully designed and listener-caring BBC website allows me to listen to it any time during the same week.
I just had a little walk around outside the hotel. Cities seem to be the same the world over on a late Saturday afternoon. There are no people in the offices, and allows the slightly sketchy people to come in and mix with the well-dressed theatre and concert audiences. The city is surrounded by cliffs which have a number of lifts attached to their towering ramparts - just like the Hastings lift scaling West Hill back in the UK. The city of Pittsburgh is on the golden triangle where two rivers - the Allegheny and Monongahela - converge and become the Ohio River . It was once the hub of steel, iron and glass. By the late 1970s and early '80s, the steel industry had virtually disappeared—a result of foreign competition and decreased demand. Many of the surrounding mill towns were laid waste by unemployment. Pittsburgh , however, successfully diversified its economy through more emphasis on light industries—though metalworking, chemicals, and plastics remained important—and on such high-technology industries as computer software, industrial automation (robotics), and biomedical and environmental technologies. Imagine the steel mills of Sheffield and the smoky atmosphere of 50s Manchester . A constant cloud of smoke hovered over the city until 1941. Now the mills are gone and the city is a clean bright place. It was till a shock to find ourselves slap bang in a major metropolis and I soon scurried back to the comfort of my luxurious hotel room. It's not reality of course, but it's a lovely transient moment to be savored before the manic wonderful energy of New York .
They are holding the annual NRA (National Rifle Association) conference here, so we have been surrounded by dodgy looking people who are probably packing heat! The dodgiest of all was Dick Cheney who was here as guest speaker.
Yesterday we were in Frederick , Maryland . It was my third year running to this old town.. well old in the history of America . Suddenly life was a social whirl. I had two invitations extended and seven guests coming to see the show which this night was Othello. First was an invitation to a sponsorship presentation from William Cochrane and his wife Teresa. William was the artist who I posed for three years ago. The function was for the launch of the same project, alas.. or luckily... no longer featuring my ugly mug! The project is now called The Dreaming. It is a work of art that will cover the side of a building opposite the theatre in Frederick . It combines painting, weaving, art glass and etched stone and will feature the community's dreams which they will be asked to contribute and then the most interesting will be written across the lower building. When I walked into the office where the reception was being held, William was in the middle of giving a slide show. He stopped and greeted me and then continued. One part of his talk featured a quote from the Merchant of Venice and of course he asked me to read it. Then it was a dash next door to meet Katie Lawrence and her parents. Katie was at West Virginia with me. She's a cracking girl... big face and blonde and a hearty laugh. She's always reminded me of the Queen of Heart in Alice in Wonderland for some reason. We had a great dinner although I didn't eat anything. Her father is a successful businessman and dotes on her. Katie works for a rehabilitation centre in Frederick that outs heroin addicts and alcoholics on a years treatment. In her spare time she acts for a couple of theatre companies in Washington DC . It made me feel inadequate as I listened to her enthusiastically describe how the Mission has changed peoples lives around.
After the show, I met up with them all as well as the lovely Gabriella - our Titania -on the last Aquila tour. Katie and her family had to run off, but Gabby, William and Teresa and I all went out for dinner. Gabby had particularly got on with them both on our last visit and especially their five year old son, Connor. Gabby now is thinking of going back to Grad school and going into International development, working with local communities in South America . William William and Teresa were enthusiastic as there whole work is geared to working with the community to become part of their works of art. I heard later from Tony that there is quite bit of jealousy of William's work from other local artists, but 'twas ever thus. It was a great evening. We talked about everything and it was exciting to talk to other artists who although not actors, give an insight into the common denominators that we share between us as creative people.
Now in the final week and the contract letters for New York have started to arrive via email... for some people. We are well aware that some have not received them.. David, Jay, Heather... It's terrible to see them trying to gear themselves up for the possible upcoming disappointment. I received mine and was told I had 24 hours to return it.
Although I have been only on the Spring tour, I have become close to or at least feel emotionally involved with the other members of the company. It hasn't been the closest of companies, more emotionally diverse than previous years, but for all of us we will take away unique memories which negate the other serious pressures of the Aquila way. I go to the UK for a very brief visit to check up on my father and my children, and to see as many friends and family as I can in a week. It's not a rest, which is what I should be doing, but it's needed. And then I look to another summer in New York and the strangeness of being in one place for a length of time. Soon, like Bilbo Baggins, I feel I will want to wander again and look for more adventures, more strange sights, and worlds elsewhere.