Thursday, May 7, 2020

Reflections From Roma #07

Felicitations From Fairhope #07
07 May 2020

Hello there… Rodger French here.

We’re another month into The Trump Virus and I thought I’d check in. A.J. and I are doing well. Baldwin County, Alabama is relatively unscathed and folks here are pretty considerate about  “social distancing,” a term that I have come to detest almost as much as “at the end of the day” and “jaw dropping.” Anyway, we’ve been moving and sorting all our worldly goods, so our social life consists mainly of trips to (a) the grocery, (b) the gas station, and (c) Lowe’s Home Improvement, which is apparently where Lower Alabamians go now instead of church.

We count ourselves as fortunate indeed, since we have the ability to be safe and no choice but to stay busy. We have also caught an enormous break with the weather, as this spring has been just wonderful: Fine and dry days, cool nights, and - thank Dog - low humidity. It’s made the trauma of moving more bearable, and I think we’ve got a shot at being fully sorted out (including the guest room) before the inevitable heinous summer weather sets in.

[Musical Sidebar - I look forward to one day resuming practice on my beautiful red, Italian accordion, which perches gloriously in my studio/man cave, mocking my musical aspirations without mercy.]

Speaking of… As you may remember, I left Roma early for the ATL in order to participate in a production of “Indecent” at The Theatrical Outfit. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to say something about the experience and this is as good a time as any. As the great Oscar Levant once remarked, that’s like “trying to create a concise nebula from a dispersed confusion.” Nevertheless...

It’s fair to say that theatrical opportunities this meaningful are few and far between for accordionists, so it was an honor to be part of this one. “Indecent” is a terrific, demanding play (our director referred to it as “a beast”) that requires an absurd level of talent, sensitivity, and effort. Frankly, I’m still amazed that it all came together, but theatre magic really does work. 

Everyone - cast, crew, designers, administrators - brought their A game, with powerful and magnificent results. The cast became a tight, almost familial unit, delivering performances that were resonant with passion, heartache, humor, and joy. Coming to the theatre and performing onstage - as a member of this troupe telling this story - felt less like going to a gig and more akin to an act of devotion, such as attending church. Or, in this case, temple. We laughed a lot, we cried every night, and we made great theatre.

Then, one week into the run, we cancelled. It was, of course, the responsible thing to do, and it broke our hearts. But what we created lives within us and all the people who came to see the show. And a lot of us are keeping in touch, and that will just have to do for now.

[Administrative Mensch Sidebar - Hats off to The Theatrical Outfit for honoring contracts in spite of having to close “Indecent” two weeks early and, in the process, losing a ton of money. Well done.]

Now, in other news…

I have finally finished Happy To Be Here - Vol. 5: Reflections From Roma, the fifth and final collection of postings from my career as a State Dept. wingman and occasional employee. It is available on the evil at a very reasonable price.

And finally…

I have just received a new shipment of Loose Endz CDs. If you do not have a copy and are interested, please contact me and we’ll make all appropriate arrangements.

I guess that does it for now. Thanks, and keep staying alive.