September 14, 2019

The Ansager is returning

It feels like it’s time for a long post. It’s been a few weeks since I last checked in. There isn’t a whole lot going on. I’m in a fairly decent frame of mind. I don’t think I need to exorcise any demons tonight so this may be less exciting than some of my other missives but once I start writing, you never know where things might end up.

The theatrical life at the moment is about Politically Incorrect Cabaret. I’ve been the headwriter and emcee since the show was invented in 2004 and, to my knowledge, I’m the only cast member that’s been in every single performance of every single edition. I’ve become quite fond of the Ansager as he allows me to let my id play and I get to say incredibly inappropriate things in public. The shows are semi-improv so I get to riff off the audience and pick on them in various ways – always fun when they’re full of people you know. I pretty much locked myself in the house Labor Day Weekend to write this latest edition and it’s the usual hodgepodge – Capital Steps type parody, serious Brecht, improvisational dance, political barbs, and the Ansager and the Waffle House Lady trying to hold the whole thing together.

We’ve got two weeks to finish everything up and get it on stage. One show only on Saturday night, the 28th. We usually do another performance or two out of town once a show has been put together and rehearsed, but that hasn’t materialized yet for this one. It may still happen. I’ve never quite figured out why PIC works as well as it does. It always feels like a bit of a mess in rehearsal, but then you get it front of an audience and it just gels. I guess that’s because of the semi-improv nature of the beast. It has to have an audience or it just doesn’t work. We rehearse the music fairly tightly to keep that together, but the rest of it, while there is a script, tends to wander far afield from anything on the page during performance.

It’s been unbearably hot and sticky the last few weeks. Well in the 90s and 90% humidity. Usually by mid September things start to cool off but not this year. Both the electric bill (A/C) and water bill (sprinklers) are way up. I suppose this is the local version of climate change. I don’t think the human race is on its way out. We’re quite resourceful, but I think the next fifty years or so are going to be awfully interesting as eight billion people start competing for water and food resources.

I have two quick trips to the west coast coming up. To the SF Bay area in late October and to Seattle for Thanksgiving. If you’re in either of those areas and would like to get together, let me know. I thought about a trip for the holidays again, but I’ll be in rehearsal for Cabaret so that’s out. The way things are going, it looks like I’ll be booked pretty solidly for stage work all season. The next project after PIC is J M Barrie’s play Dear Brutus for Belltower Players, then Cabaret. I’ve also agreed to do The Gin Game next spring. I haven’t decided yet if I’m flattered or terrified. However, the way to get me motivated and intensely interested in something in life is to hand me a challenge. The woman I’m cast opposite has impressive Broadway, London and film credits – I met her tonight for the first time at her Birthday party. I think we’ll get along quite well. She’s African American and part of the goal of the production is to get black and white Birmingham theater working closer together and being more mutually supportive. I’m still not sure how someone like me gets cast in a two character play opposite the woman who had the Nell Carter part in the original London production of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

Not much happening at work. UAB is tranquil, at least in the Geriatrics Division and most of my patients seem to be rocking along in the ‘getting older, but stable’ category. One of my patients, whom I have had since I first got here 21 years ago, brought me a present last week. She was cleaning things out and she found the clipping from the UAB paper announcing ‘Duxbury joining Geriatrics Program’ that she cut out before I first arrived and when she made initial appointments for her and her husband. There I was, early 30s me staring out from a UC Davis headshot decorating a yellowing news clipping from the last millennium. The office staff found it amusing. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was the young whippersnapper around the division but now I’m the old man and the institutional memory.

I went to see The Goldfinch on Friday night. I enjoyed the book immensely and was curious to see what sort of film they made of it. It’s gotten some fairly nasty reviews but it’s not that bad. It has some crucial miscasting and it’s about twenty minutes too long and suffers a bit from its non-linear storytelling but it doesn’t deserve the pigpile of vituperative prose that seems to be coming at it. MNM will weigh in shortly. I’m not completely sure what to do with her. Usually I have a bit of a storyline or an idea mapped out in my head of where her life is heading, but at the moment I don’t have much. Something will eventually come to me. Something always does.

Nothing terribly cathartic tonight poppets, and I can’t think of any terribly intriguing stories either. I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. I’ll check in again around PIC time if not before.

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