ITALIA: June 13, 2007

If ever I worried about how we were going to spend our time in Italy this time around (and, I did) it was a waste of time. Fortunately I’ll be gaining back six hours on the return trip. (Which will of course go directly into the jetlag 401(k) that I am gradually adding hours to.) When we weren’t preparing food, eating it or working today, we were planning more meals and times to work in the coming days. There is a temptation to make this entire Italy section of the log about the meals we ate while here, but that would be fairly out of keeping with the purpose of my ‘blog.

Breakfast was a nice meal of fried polenta con spinichi e carne, after which much of our time was spent shopping and preparing for the lunch we had planned to host for Andrea, his wife, and our friend, Lucianna. Actually, David and Todd went off to buy groceries, and after Heather and I had finished the breakfast dishes we worked on our handstands in the sunny yard overlooking a lush valley and a castle in the distance. What can I say? It’s a harsh, unforgiving environment out here.

Lunch was wonderful, but way too involved. It may be difficult for you to imagine why a meal begun at 1:00 wouldn’t resolve itself until 4:00, but only if you’ve never been here before. Nevertheless, afterward we ventured off to Acquapendente and the Teatro Boni to introduce our style of theatre to Andrea, and vice versa.

We were nervous to begin. Sometimes the basic building blocks of what we do seem so basic it’s difficult to conceive of a fellow professional actor appreciating them. We were all probably distracted from this nervousness, however, upon entrance into the theatre. It is small, but not remotely modest, a classical theatre with gilded balconies and a chandelier, and a beautifully maintained, hardwood raked stage that we didn’t think twice about working barefoot on. Once we had ooed and ahed enough over the space, we started with a warm-up. I suggested we collaborate around a circle, each contributing a warm-up activity, and we were off.

The warm-up evolved quite naturally into exercises in characterization and comic timing (tempo comico). Before long, there was very little of us demonstrating our training techniques (which is how Andrea preferred we begin together) and quite a lot of back-and-forth of sharing ideas. We capped off the encounter with a showing of photographs from our previous shows and a promise to demonstrate finished works live tomorrow, the idea seeming to be that unless we are intimidated by the prospect of what we’re doing the next day, we’re not doing enough. We’ll present our excerpt from Silent Lives that we used to fulfill our performance obligations last year, but not before running through it once or twice in the morning.

Thereafter, it was off to Lingua Si, the language school we were affiliated with last trip, to finally (I know we’ve only been here two-and-half-days, but it seems amazing we only did this by now) meet up with our friend, Piero. Once we had gathered him and some of his current studenti up, it was off to our friend Lorella’s agriturismo for dinner. I was very excited when I discovered this was the plan, not having understood this was in fact the plan. I chalked this up to my complete and utter failure to comprehend the Italian language, and just savored the memories of that beautiful place (and the anticipation of their unbelievable vino rosso). The evening progressed, and after we sat down to begin another extensive meal, our favorite Italian teacher from last year, Antonella, and her husband Toni arrived. It seemed so fortuitous. I am a moron.

At the dessert course, out went the lights, and out came a little chocolate and pistachio ice cream cake with a candle affixed to a plastic “30”. Ah, thought I. I hope they don’t expect me to make a speech.

They both expected and demanded.

“Grazie tanti, grazie mille. Mi piace Italia, si, ma mi amore tutti.”

Not even remotely correct. But hopefully I got my point across.