Liv played Ursula, a lovely small part.
I have a special place in my heart for this play. And here is where you get to know something about me that I don't often share: when I was in high school and all through the first four years of my higher learning, I acted in plays.
After that...well....no time. And frankly, I lost the acting bug. But, I was told that I was quite good. Almost all of my friends who know me know find this very hard to believe. Probably because I don't come across as your typical actress type. I am more of an elderly Hermione Granger. A Hermione who works in a difficult profession and sees her home as her soft place to land at night. I have no desire to schlep off to rehearsals at night. Nope. I want to sit home and watch television or read.
But, I do well remember the long gone days of acting in plays. I was in quite a few.
I started out as the Society Lady in The Time of Your Life.
Then, moved on to bigger roles:
Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. ("Oh what fools these mortals be!")
Laura in The Glass Menagerie.
Carrie in The Great Nebula In Orion.
Lady Capulet in Romeo And Juliet.
Cecily in The Importance Of Being Earnest.
Bianca in The Taming Of The Shrew.
April in The Hot L Baltimore.
Viola in Twelfth Night.
Emily in Our Town.
My favorite role was in a small one act play called Ludlow Fair. I played Agnes, one of the best written roles ever.
And I also played the part of Hero in Much Ado About Nothing.
Which I loved as well. And in a crazy series of events, now my daughter plays the part of Ursula in the same play, who is Hero's maid servant.
Actually, Liv auditioned for the part of Hero and didn't get it, in all probability because she is quite tall (5'8 already and still growing!) and her counterpart, Claudio, was cast first: a small actor not even five feet tall but brilliant. So, the part went to a five foot tall girl who actually ended up doing a splendid job.
So, since November, we have been a Shakespeare household. Rehearsals went from one night a week in November to twice a night in December and finally, a whopping FOUR nights a week for most of January. This was added to Liv's basketball practice every Friday night and games nearly every Saturday.
Some weeks I felt as if I lived in the car. And I sat in the back of the gym many, many nights reading all of your blogs and writing my own.
In a way, it will sort of be a relief when Liv can drive. Bing and I have already discussed it. We are going to give her Bing's pick up truck and Bing will get a brand spanking new one. We decided that the pick up truck was a good idea since she could never tote around more than two other people. And, in high school, I like the idea of her NOT driving with a carload of passengers.
In fact, in retrospect, I wouldn't MIND it if she didn't want to drive. That's fine. I can just drive her everywhere as I do now. That would be okey dokey. Boy howdy fine.
I now know almost the entire dialogue of Much Ado About Nothing. And I have run lines with Liv so much that I I wake up in the middle of the night with them in my head. Even now I can write them perfectly:
"I know you well enough, you are Signior Antonio."
"I know you by the waggling of your head."
"Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable."
Unfortunately, since Liv attends a parochial school, there is not a lot of money for extras, so each character's family was responsible for their own outfit.
Liv promptly went through my closet and tried on every gypsy skirt that I own until she found the perfect one. Except. Since she is 5'8 and I am barely five feet tall, it was too short (and okay, okay, she is so slim that she needed safety pins to tuck in the waist a bit...)
Liv moved on to my bff, Harriet. She is very tall at 5'10, so height wasn't a problem. The problem was that she only owned a few swirly skirts and they weren't the right look.
We hit the thrift stores and found pay dirt. A dark blue peasant broom skirt. A scoop necked pale blue top with empire sleeves. Liv wore a pair of her dark blue ballet slippers to complete the look since she has rather large skinny feet (size 10) and we couldn't find any shoes that fit her. Pale blue tights. Our neighbor, Sven's mother, came to our rescue with a lovely pale blue scarf for Liv to wrap around her braid.
She was a lovely hand maid.
I'd been pleasantly surprised during her rehearsals and her line readings with me to see that Liv not only grasped Shakespeare but had no trouble with some of the tricky Elizabethan cadence that goes along with it. She sounded really good and her drama teacher only had to single her out a few times to speak up. She has my good stage voice, or as Bing so sweetly put it, "She knows how to belt out those lines in a really bold voice, like you when you are mad as hell at me."
But, I had missed the final two weeks of rehearsals as I had too much catch up work to do. I had dropped her off and picked her up. So, didn't really get to see the play come together with lighting and the final sets.
And on opening night, I was dazzled. Could hardly believe that this was my child up there.
My baby who was like a mean drunk with colic for the first four months of her life, screaming her lungs out at me...causing me to lean across her crib ready to tear my hair out and whispering to her in a hoarse voice, "What the FUCK do you WANT? Wouldja just TELL me?"
My toddler whose first word was light, probably because I used to set her in her little chair on our kitchen table while I made meals and there was a soft light above her. When she would look up at the light and smile, I would smile back and say, "That's a LIGHT , Liv. A LIGHT!" And then when she was about ten months old, she pointed to it with her tiny index finger and said, clear as a bell, "LIGHT!" (Her next word was "pizza." Mama didn't come until after drink, milk, soft, and bear. )
My terrified pre-schooler who, on the first day away from me, broke the school's record for crying and her teacher called me to come get her after three hours, told me that maybe she would be ready when she was four. On the way home in the car, Liv had told me in a horrified voice that she "threw up in my teacher's hands, Mama!"
My Montessori grade schooler who fell in love with Harry Potter, the land of Oz, Sara Crewe, string theory mathematics and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
And my newly minted 7th grader who left Montessori to go to a parochial school (her school only went to 6th grade or I would have kept her there forever!) and was taunted mercilessly by jealous 8th grade girls when she made the varsity team in basketball. The little girl who went to every practice with her bottom lip trembling, but resolved to NOT let them dictate her journey.
And now...here. My 8th grader who recently passed the entrance exam to Peace Academy (with one of the highest scores in math on their records!) and also went to her first boy/girl dance last week and learned how it feels to NOT be asked to dance.
And there she was on stage. Beautiful. A clear ringing bell voice with a surefooted stance and not one mistake. She even covered for a fellow actor who forgot his lines. Twice.
Bing had surprised us both by bringing home a dozen roses for her on her way home from work last night. Pale pink ones tied up with a purple bow. Liv blinked back tears, hugged her fiercely.
"So proud of my girl!" Bing told her.
"You haven't seen me yet, Bing. I could mess up!" Liv told her, smiling.
"Still proud," Bing said, hugging her.
The show was a success. There is another one tonight. Another tomorrow. And then...there will be sleep, perchance to dream in our house after that....without Shakespeare going through all of our heads.
But, seeing her up on that stage, smiling her big jack o'lantern smile....
I took photos for her Father, of course.
But....mostly, I just sat there stunned by her beauty, her comfort on the stage, her easy going manner. And I thought back to that night almost 13 years ago when she had worn me to a frazzle by her constant colicky crying, her inability to be soothed.
"LIV!" I had burst out, in tears. "You can't go through life screaming like a diva. Do you think you're Lady Macbeth?"
Maybe she is.....