Tonight is Twelfth Night or the Eve of Epiphany. The photos are from the past. Two pictures from two different productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The first was performed at the Rep and the second was Shakespeare in the Park. I’m really missing going out to the theater, but I don’t see any reopenings in the near future. We got a personal reminder of why this is, when we swung by the drive-by window at CVS. We had stopped at one of the two windows to pick up a prescription. Meanwhile, at the other window a guy was getting a Covid test.
Today was the pick day of the week weather-wise. So, we got out for a hike and returned to Don Robinson State Park. Last time, we hiked the red trail, so this time we hiked the blue trail, as in where in the blue blazes are the blue blazes. Last time when we were there, it had been dry. In-between then and now, we’ve had a lot of rain. The trails were very muddy today. Especially treacherous were the mixtures of mud and clay. Even with two hiking poles, I slipped twice, falling once. Don’t worry, I landed on my pride, which took all of the hit points. The mud probably explains why the parking-lot was not very full when we arrived at noon. On a more positive note, I got 11,780 steps on my pedometer.
Tonight is the night of the final presidential debate. I searched long and hard for the most wacked-out debate bingo cards that I could find, with the hope that they would at least partially reflect some of the chaos that I expect to see tonight, but nothing looks even close. When will all of this be over?
The other night, we watched What the Constitution Means to Me. A play, it had been on Broadway this year, up until that went dark. Now it is available on Amazon Prime. Autobiographical, Heidi Schreck wrote and stars in this mostly one-woman show. It tells her life story and that of her family and features her fifteen-year-old self. When Schreck was in high school, she competed in debates on the US Constitution that were sponsored by the American Legion and won scholarship money. She won enough money to pay her way through college. Schreck recreates one of these debates, but instead of debating another high school opponent, who might argue that the Constitution is like a patchwork quilt, she shatters the fourth wall and asks the audience to be stand-in Legionnaires for those whom she had once performed. Her arguments are personal, sometimes heartbreaking, but more frequently humorous. Her play is not a patchwork quilt, but a tightly woven argument.
The play begins with an example debate. In this one young Heidi is asked to explain what Section 1 of the 14th Amendment means to her. Rigorously timed, she spouts her arguments with the rapidity of a machine gun. Amazon’s poster shows Ms. Schreck wearing a bright yellow blazer, like she did before and holding a copy of the book that was her study guide then. It was endorsed by Herbert Hoover and might have been missing a few of the most recent amendments. Having once set the scene though, the older Schreck reenters and with her lifetime of experiences begins to extemporize.
She proceeds to ping-pong between legal precedents and a travelogue of her family’s history, beginning with her great-grandmother, who in the 19th-century came west to Washington state as a mail-order bride. Thus begins her litany about the travails of the women in her family and how the law had mostly failed them. Her great-grandmother died young from melancholy. Her grandmother had to deal with an abusive spouse and her mother who wanted to be a writer in NYC, but became pregnant with Heidi the year before birth control was legalized. This last personal story segues beautifully into a description of the nine men who were sitting on the Supreme court at the time, delicately discussing the ins-and-outs of the female reproductive system. Four of whom were having affairs with much younger women at the time. This part of the play culminates with a description of Schreck’s own unplanned pregnancy.
The lightning round commences when a contemporary fifteen-year-old comes on stage. What begins is a parliamentary debate, where the audience is encouraged to hoot and holler. The audience also sits as judge. The question for the debate, should the US Constitution be abolished or not. Schreck draws from a jar the side arguing for keeping the constitution. What ensues is a rollicking, thoughtful, humorous and polite discussion that eventually culminates with Schreck losing and the audience voting to abolish the Constitution and begin again. As the credits roll we learn that this debate had already occurred hundreds of times, with both parties in turn arguing both sides, with varying degrees of success.
I guess that this explains their practiced perfection. As of writing, it is not even certain that there will even be a presidential debate tonight. If one does occur there is no chance that it will be as educational and entertaining as Schreck’s. Readers of this post who still have time, it is not too late to change the channel.
Video killed the radio star and Netflix killed the movie theater. America’s largest movie theater chain AMC announced this week that there is a strong possibility that it would not survive this pandemic. Our local AMC is now an octogenarian and as such, would seem ripe to succumb to COVID-19. Over the years, it has striven to remain au currant. Originally it was only a one screen show, by the time that we moved to Saint Louis, it had broaden its venue to two. Later it made that seven. Most recently, it has redecorated itself as your living room, now with wall-to-wall lay-z-boy seating. It even added a bar and in-seat wait service. We are riding out our quarantine, while sampling multiple streaming services. I can’t remember when was the last time that I went to the Esquire. It has been more than a year. Meanwhile, in that same timeframe, I have attended dozens of live performances, many of them at the Fabulous Fox Theater, which started its life as a movie theater. Video killed the radio star and Netflix killed the Esquire.
We finished out the week, with another visit to the theater. This time it was at the Rep. The night’s vehicle was a light hearted farce, The Mystery of Irma Vep. This play is performed by only two actors, who between them play eight characters, with dozens of costume changes. This play is a satire of melodrama, farce and penny dreadful genres. It is loosely based upon a 1915 movie, Les Vampires. Irma Vep’s name is an anagram of vampire.
Here is the Wiki synopsis of the play:
Mandacrest Estate is the home of Lord Edgar, an Egyptologist, and Lady Enid. Lady Enid is Lord Edgar’s second wife, though he has yet to recover entirely from the passing of his first wife, Irma Vep. The house staff, a maid named Jane Twisden and a swineherd named Underwood, have their own opinions of Lady Enid. Enid is attacked by a vampire, and Edgar seeks answers in an Egyptian tomb, briefly resurrecting the mummy of an Egyptian princess. Returning home with the sarcophagus, Edgar prepares to hunt down the werewolf he blames for the death of his son and first wife. Meanwhile, Enid discovers Irma locked away, supposedly to coax out the location of precious jewels from her. Wresting the keys to Irma’s cell from Jane, Enid frees Irma only to discover the prisoner is, in fact, Jane herself, actually a vampire, and the killer of Irma as well as her and Edgar’s son. Underwood, now a werewolf, kills Jane, only to be shot dead by Edgar. In the end, Enid prevents Edgar from writing about his experiences in Egypt, revealing she was the princess herself, the whole thing an elaborate sham by her father to discredit Edgar. They reconcile.
Before the show, we had dinner at our new favorite restaurant in Webster, Frisco. Anne had their roasted chicken and I had the walleye special. Both of which were very good. This show concludes our theatrical outings for a while.