So last Saturday, as I was wending my way through part II of this drama about the drama, I noted that I had come to the end of my word allotment in the blog entry. Of course there isn’t really a ‘word allotment,’ but if you have been a steady reader of the blog for the last 64 months you may have noticed a strange trend over the course of these 340 blog entries: they are almost always the same length! It isn’t really by dictate/mandate but it has seemed over these 5 years that I tend to think in 3 page single-space chunks—95% (I made up that statistic, it may be 92% or 99% or not in actuality) of all the blog entries are 3 pages or about 1700-1800 words. I don’t ever look at the word count, to be honest, but I went and looked at the last blog entry and saw what the word count was. But it has been interesting to note that in these 5 years of doing blog entries, I certainly do think in 3 page chunks. But last Saturday it came at a convenient time to continue the cliff-hanger status of the play.
To remind you of where we were, sitting in Room 125, trying to end the deadlock over whether we ought to scrap Our Town and embrace Twelve Angry Jurors or ignore the jurors and celebrate the homespun values of Grover’s Corners. I wrote last week:
I started getting emails from actors from both camps about how their play choice was the better choice. Hey, you know, I should be grateful they wanted to be in a play, and that both play choices were appreciated!
Julianne, ever the coach and athlete extraordinaire, recommended that I simply toss a coin and let that decide which play we did. I pointed to the headmaster and said he should come and toss the coin since he got us in this mess! I chose a beautiful Egyptian pound coin for the coin toss.
But on the day that we would meet again, I realized one choice was actually a better choice for us…there was a very practical reason why one play choice should prevail—simply about the possibility of the cold. If I direct Our Town I want it to be in the courtyard, a space I have used for plays twice on lovely May evenings. But this time I am to present a play in early December. While it is the desert, it can be cold in December, and certainly in the evening when we would present the play. I pondered how beautiful the message of Our Town would be under a starlit sky. Then I thought about the cold. I considered renting great Arab heaters to go around the perimeter of the courtyard to keep the audience toasty. But I worried, “What if my audience goes home talking about the cold and not about the message of the play???” I asked colleague Sheena about the possibility of cold and she said, “I won’t even come! It just might be cold and who wants to sit around and shiver????” Of course I said it was like the Dead in the cemetery scene. She just looked at me like I was nuts.
The cold. The cold. Of the 66 plays I have directed, this might be the first time that the issue of cold or warm would determine my play choice! Yep, it could be cold. The audience just might boo me at the end, or we might just hear teeth chattering instead of grateful applause.
So I considered the coin toss. Should I just gamble that that shiny Egyptian pound coin would go my way??? I could…there was of course a 50% chance I wouldn’t have to explain the decision and alienate the Our Town camp.
But of course that is silly. I knew there was a “best choice” for the Fall of 2012 now, and I needed to explain that choice. I mean, wouldn’t it be worse if the coin came up heads for Our Town and then I had to say, “Well, that’s not really the best choice.”??? It kinda sounds like that infernal phrase, That being said…
So we met on Sunday afternoon for rehearsal—the students were interested in what the play choice would finally be. I explained to them the idea of the coin toss…and decided to tell them what the better choice should be. I explained about the cold issue, how bad the auditorium is for presenting plays, how Our Town required more production headaches like accurate costumes in a kingdom practically void of costumes, etc. So I announced my decision that we would plunge ahead with Twelve Angry Jurors. At the end, I said, just for fun, let’s see what the coin toss would have produced: heads for Our Town and tails for those angry guys. The Egyptian pound coin sailed through the air, and landed. Tails. So, I might have gambled and that would have decided it for us, or it reinforced the decision. Then for fun I flipped the coin and said, “heads, the Our Town gang will be mad at me; tails they will not be mad at me. Sure—this time it was heads! Oh well.
Thus ends the trilogy of what we will be doing theatrically this fall. We lost about a month of time actually starting on that world premiere of an idea, but it is good to be back with Twelve Angry Jurors. That play is like greeting a treasured old friend. I have done the play, usually when I am in a pinch, financially or time-wise with plays. I did the play in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, and then in 2010 here in Jordan. It is an actor’s feast since the 12 are on stage the whole time. We only have about 17 rehearsals left, so fortunately it is a play that even with novice actors, you can get it done.
Thus ends the drama about the drama.
But speaking of treasured old friends, last week at this time, I ran into one of those treasured old friends. I attended a book launch party for a great book on education entitled, Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov. Mr. Lemov had come to our campus the day before, and I attended the party for the book’s translation into Arabic at a training institute run by Columbia University in Amman. I was sitting outside on the stoop, waiting for my friend Moamer to get me for one of our scientific best-burger studies we like to do, and I hear someone say, “John, is it really you?” I was absorbed in my kindle so I almost didn’t hear, but I look up and see my old friend Sam, really Samer, one of the drivers and one of my favorite people at KA that first year of the school. We can hardly believe it is the other! I hadn’t seen Sam since October, 2008, when he got a job at the Columbia research center in Amman. Strangely, when he left, the only numbers I had for him were KA email and phone numbers so I had no number by which to reach him. Many times over the years I have thought about Samer, wondered about his progress in grad school, his wife and children. If you have read the blog entries of 2007-08 you will remember how wonderful of a friend he was. Four years have gone by since last we saw each other. It was a nice reunion. We hope to make some Saturday afternoon dates from time to time so we keep up.
And in an hour or so I will be heading to the airport for a week in London! It is the Eid celebration in the Islamic world this week and so we have a week holiday. I will be visiting London, itself an old treasured friend, and Christy will be flying over from New York to play for the weekend. Another treasured friend…I have few plans for the trip, since I have seen most everything before, it will be just good to have a week of theater and art and bacon and walking and fall leaves…
Okay, I will subvert your expectations and bring this blog entry to a close. And just for the record, 300-400 words earlier than almost every other time!