"Most of my days this summer consisted of half hour drives down Harlem Ave. that took 20 min. or 45 min. depending on road construction, car accidents or my own tardiness. My destination? The 16th Street Theater. Yesterday was our first rehearsal for Menorca. I was told to make coffee. I really don’t drink coffee… How much do I put in? I figured stronger was better than weaker. The actors can always put more creamer in it, so I went with five – not four – spoonfuls of the generic coffee mix that Ann bought.
The actors slowly filled in the seats around the large table that our stage manager (Patrick) and his assistant (me) made out of two smaller tables that can be found in many park district basements. I noticed the age diversity in our cast as they poured their coffee (hope they liked it) and chatted with each other. The older members of the cast are, for lack of a better description, middle aged. The younger members range from early 20s to young 30s. Where do I lie? I’ll be 21 on August 18th. Ages are important. It helps when we can put people on a spectrum.
The opening monologue begins with the main character’s perspective on time. Layers are more important to her than linear progression. She’s an archeologist and likes to dig. Apparently that qualifies her to make grand statements about the world. Like she’s been through life or something. Oh wait, I forgot... she’s middle aged. And of course, we later see her struggle through slightly confusing time lapses that capture everything from love to identity crisis. And she doesn’t really talk about layers and linear progression again… at least not as overtly as in that opening monologue. Her life is confusing. She grew up speaking Catalan with a Basque accent, then Castilian with a Catalan accent. Then went to England with a “Spanish” accent, and now she’s in America where she fits perfectly. Ha! Just kidding, she doesn’t fit perfectly. That’s the whole point of the play.
I think this play is about deconstruction. We start with the epiphany. We start with message. It’s there in the first five minutes. The audience can leave. See ya later! Come back for next season! But a paragraph or a quote or a cute little message doesn’t really touch an audience. It doesn’t let the audience have their own epiphany. We have to deconstruct first, and that happens when we see this character slowly realize how fragmented and chipped and fractured her life is. She doesn’t think linearly. She can’t.
Every night I drive home from 16th and Ridgeland and go back to Burbank, IL, and I see the landscape slowly change. I pass through Chicago’s very own borderlands. Cultures and languages that have nothing in common find their place on a pot holed line called Harlem Ave. Do we just see it as a spectrum? Where each end stays put and everything in the middle is lost in the shuffle of left turns and yellow lights? Or do we see it as layers? Where one thing makes up the other thing and we build upon each other?
I guess the only way to answer that question is if we deconstruct. What are our layers? How can we be this thing and also be that? Can I be the rehearsal assistant stage manager and learn more than just how many spoonfuls makes the best coffee?
I don’t know… I guess we’ll have to see how the rest of the rehearsal process turns out."