ITALIA: June 18, 2007

This morning we awoke early to take Todd to the train into Rome, where he would catch the subway to the airport, where he would fly to Perugia, where he would then fly on to America. He had about three hours of sleep the night before, so hopefully he is able to sleep on the longer leg of his flight. We have a similar timing for our flight out next week, and I’m not looking forward to it. To depart at 2:00 in the afternoon, spend eight hours in the air and arrive at 5:00 in the afternoon is not only weird, it’s exhausting. They’d best not expect much from Todd at work tomorrow, or me next week.

It’s sad to have him go. Everything is a lot quieter, and we’re all adjusting gradually to the energy shift. We truly do adjust in his absence. Heather and I become more outspoken, and David takes more (albeit calmer) prerogative, but it’s never as adventurous or—frankly speaking—dangerous when Todd is absent, and as students of theatre we miss that when it’s gone. We’ll try to promise him not to have too much fun without him, but it will be a challenge. We are in Italy.

The rest of the morning was spent in Orvieto, dropping off laundry (YAY!) and visiting the farmacia and an internet café. I was supposed to have posted last week’s entries today, in fact, but changed bags and neglected to bring my wireless card. Hence the entry bearing this same date, yet containing nothing but an apology. When I finally do post these entries (under one entry, methinks) I’ll have to attach pretty much all of the existing labels, and maybe a few more.

Lunch was at our old favorite for it last year (mainly “favorite” because they made a deal with the language school that included free wine), Antica Cantina. The owner didn’t seem to recognize us, but he’s something of a craggy sort and may have just been under-whelmed to see us again. Afterward we picked up our laundry and arrived at Piazza Cahen to meet Andrea somewhat early, so we had a walk around a park attached to the piazza that overlooks what I believe is the south end of Orvieto. It was gorgeous. I’ve never seen it before. We quickly found Andrea and headed back to Teatro Boni to try on his props-acting workshop for size.

So much happened, it’s hard to encapsulate it all. (Sorry Todd—we really tried not to have anything worth noting happen after you had to leave.) We took our time warming up, which Andrea left to us, wanting to experience our style again, and we moved into partner stretching with him. This may have been pushing it a bit. The last, wherein you lift you partner, back-to-back, proved to be a bit much for him as a base. He didn’t seem seriously hurt, fortunately. We rapidly moved on to his workshop. He laid out a variety of props, both mundane and somewhat constructed to his purposes, and instructed us to take our time choosing one, then exploring it in our own isolation. He had several helpful (not to mention original) suggestions on how to approach this discovery, including to find all the sounds it can make and to consider the materials it is constructed of and where they come from. He went off to do some business for the theatre, which ended up taking longer than expected. That was fine with us. The music he put on ran out while we never did find an end to the exploration of our respective objects. It was the kind of work you never really find time for in a rehearsal process…but probably should.

When Andrea did return to break us from our trance, we discovered we were joined in the audience by the director of their current show (a Plautus play), Cesare, and a secretary of the theatre, Hanna. I swear, none of we three had any idea they had come in. I still wonder how long they watched us “exploring.” Andrea’s next assignment was to demonstrate three alternative uses for the objects we had chosen. David’s whisk and pot top became a wine bottle and tray, a mirror and comb, and a paintbrush and palette. Heather’s thermal blanket became a superhero cape, a cobra, jiffy pop and a balloon. My round wicker basket became (I couldn’t resist over committing) a helmet, ear horn, parachute, canoe and combination back hump and/or knap sack. Then Andrea, in what seems to be his inimitable style, requested we improvise a monologue incorporating our respective prop(s). I lucked out and got to go last on this, giving me the most time to think, and constructed a story (of a football player surviving a plane crash in the Himalayas) that I ended up actually feeling fairly satisfied with. It was a good day; good to see we could keep moving forward with Andrea in spite of losing our Alpha Communicator, and the workshop ended happily on all sides.

Actually, we had another surprise, as Andrea requested we present something of our work for Cesare and Hanna at the end of the workshop. Heather and I were quite taken aback. We couldn’t see doing the Valentino excerpt without Todd, and our other piece, the one that only involves we two (Death + a Maiden) is prop heavy, and timed in large part by a soundtrack. In the spirit of the workshop (and, I suppose, Italy) however, we attempted it. Heather used a milk crate for a chair, a sort of slender boa for a hair bow and a toilet scrubber for a mirror. I used the thermal blanket for a cloak, a collapsible Chinese long sword for a scythe and a spaghetti spatula for flowers. Sans music, which was a first for us, and sans rehearsal (read: fight call) of the acrobalance and momentum moves involved. It went great, all things considered, was well-received and full of discovery for us both. Plus we got another piece of "Zuppa in Italia" ("Italia della Zuppa"?) on film, impromptu though it may have been.

The adventure did not end with our day’s “rehearsal.” Afterward we five, plus another friend of the theatre, joined up for drinks at a local bar (“bar” in Italy is what we’d think of in America as a café) and getting-to-know-you. Then the subject of an amphitheater in town came up. It was being restored, and they hoped we could see it, though they joked it might mean “breaking in.” Well, we drove across town, and the place was indeed locked up. To my surprise, we actually did break in. At the encouragement of the others, Andrea, Heather, David and I climbed over an eight-foot wall and walked about the amphitheatre. It was heavily under (re)construction, with a giant, net-covered scaffolding in front of the yawning proscenium arch, but you could see how wonderful it would be. On the way back to Orvieto, after goodbyes to our new friends, we fantasized about Aquapendente’s first annual Shakespeare festival opening with our clown production of Romeo & Juliet, or Measure for Measure.

The day ended quietly, with we three opting to make a dinner of leftovers back at home base after dropping Andrea off. Night settles on slowly now, for a change, and with utterly allergic sinuses but completely fulfilled heart and stomach, I’m off to read Coarse Acting until I fall into increasingly vivid dreams.