Hot News

I am a worried woman. You see, I have hot news to convey, but I don’t have time to write. So I composed this blog in my sleep. You think I’m joking? Unh-unh. All last night, I dreamed – hour after hour after hour – in “blog” format and, as I recall, the result was as tightly reasoned, witty and erudite a bit of nonsense as was ever committed to cyberspace.

The bad news is I can’t remember a word of it. The good news – I think it’s good – is that I appear to have arrived at last, body, soul and sub-conscious, in the 21st century. Yikes.

Okay, here’s the news: George Stonyk (director) and Janet Uren (resident idiot) have finally made up what they fondly regard as their “minds” and have chosen a play for Linden House’s fall production.

We do make a meal of it. I am aware that other companies produce two or six or eight shows a year, and do you hear them whining? No. They spit out the list in a confident and businesslike way. Linden House does one single, little show, and it takes us five months of anxious consultation and debate before we’re ready to pronounce.

This year, we have some excuse at least. We don’t like auditions. I told you that. My own experience – years of psychological scarring on the audition front – have made me unwilling to put other human beings through the wringer in front of my horrified eyes. So over the past few months, we auditioned the plays instead. Clever devils, eh? We invited a few actors to get together to read plays and to rate them anywhere from “stinker” to “stunner.”

Of course, I also discussed the question with Juno the Dog, who has attended all the readings. She said she didn’t care much for any of our selections, and thought that a play ought to have some wrestling in it – her favourite sport – if it was going to appeal to the under-exploited canine demographic. I was sorry I asked.

Human nature being what it is (inferior to canine, in my view), we have ignored her advice. Indeed, George and I have pretty much ignored everybody’s advice and chosen a play largely to please ourselves. Still, the process wasn’t wasted. Having lured some very fine actors out of hiding and won their hearts with tea and cookies, we have also ended up with the better part of a good cast already in place.

At least I think it’s in place. One young actor, when offered a role by email, wrote: “Sounds like fun. Dig.” That sounded vaguely positive to my elderly ears, but just to make sure, I wrote again. “Does that mean you’re in?” “I’m down like Chinatown,” came the reply. I think that’s “yes,” isn’t it? It’s a good thing that I now belong so firmly to the 21st century, because otherwise I might be confused.

Back to the news. I realize that in a world where earthquakes have recently shifted the earth on its axis and moved Japan three feet nearer to North America, a play is pretty small potatoes. Actually, my sister was in Japan on the big day, which caused a certain amount of stirring in the domestic chicken coop last week as we awaited word. Twenty-four hours passed and finally an email arrived with the following, blow-by-blow description: “We are safe. It was all very exciting. Claire.” Relief accompanied by dull thud.

Claire’s next letter – from China and equally explicit – added insult to injury, as she begged for news from home. Words failed me (almost), though I did manage to write that I thought it the height of gall for someone who had dismissed the most cataclysmic global event of our lives in two lines to ask us for news! Oh well, not everyone blethers as ferociously as me. I sent her four or five paragraphs largely detailing the local weather. That’ll larn ‘er.

Even locally, I’m a bit hesitant to label the Linden House announcement as “hot news,” given that a good part of the local shopping street burned down last week. Hundreds of firemen converged on main street New Edinburgh as the hardware shop went up in flames, taking the health food store and cleaners with it.

Oh well, we do what we can. It may not shift the world on its axis or leave the neighbourhood smoking, but in its modest way, the news is exciting. Linden House has finally decided on a play for October 2011. We will produce The Circle by Somerset Maugham. This play is described as a “Comedy in three acts,” but – like all the plays that we admire – it has an edge of darkness. During his lifetime, Maugham wrote dozens of plays, and this one – the story of marriage and infidelity and the conflict of joyless obligation and passionate hope – was widely regarded as his best. As one recent critic writes: “Maugham is often accused of being a heartless writer, but this superbly constructed, sharply observant play reveals unexpected warmth and tenderness.”

There you have it. Now I have a choice. To print this blog and put it under my pillow tonight to see if I can add some polish next time I go to sleep. Or just hit the “publish post” button and get it over with. Oh, the hell with it. Is this the 21st century or isn’t it? I, personally, am down like Chinatown.

“Click.”