Friday, October 1, 2010

Of Bards and Bari-hunks

Sorry about that cranky blog post the other day.  (Well, not that sorry, maybe, because if I can’t rant in my very own blog, where the hell can I rant?)

I’ve decided that I have to keep writing, despite how awkward it is.  Maybe I`ll get used to the inelegant manner in which I have to type with this brace on my wrist, maybe I won`t;  all I know is, I am much happier at the end of a day in which I`ve managed to write something.  So I`ve gotta keep doing it ... and here I am again.

And I think I have an alternative plan for the rest of my time off – I’ll keep you posted once I’ve worked out the details.  I’m getting tired of sleeping on the couch in Toronto, and I really need to hit the road again.  The broken-wrist thing isn’t going to be fixed any time soon (I called my doctor’s office again, and it could be weeks or months before I get an appointment with the orthopaedic specialist), so I`ve pretty much decided I have to just plunge on anyway and work around it, or I’m going to expire of boredom some time soon.

Oh, it hasn`t been all bad.   This year off isn’t just about travel – it’s also about having time and space to find myself (er, again, as I think that was also my reason for decamping to Europe after university – but I think I lost myself somewhere over the last few years), and about experiencing more of life than just work.  It’s also about seeing more of friends, about writing in all shapes and forms, about enjoying art and literature and music and theatre and poetry, and all of those other things that I’d let fall by the wayside in my 18 hours a day in the office.

The first couple of weeks back at home were pretty cool, actually; it was heavenly to stay in one place and not have to pack up everything I own every few days.  And walking around outside with just a wallet (no passport or other assorted valuables strapped to my body) feels like decadence, especially when I don’t have to worry about my bag getting slashed or a knife held to my throat on a busy city street.  (The latter thing didn’t happen to me – but it did to a friend of mine, who’s still in South America despite that!  Think he’s moved on to Colombia now.)

And I decided to stay around for a few weeks quite deliberately, so that I could take in some incredible theatre that I didn’t want to miss.  Top of the list was Christopher Plummer in Stratford’s production of The Tempest – the divine Mr. Plummer is well worth sticking around for!  He can still deliver the Bard’s lines like no one else, in that magnificent voice that has not appreciably diminished with age.   

Bea and Marjory, two delightful octogenarians who had seats near me for the performance, told me they’d been to Stratford since the festival started to see everything Christopher Plummer had ever been in there – starting with his Hamlet in 1957.  (Bea, in fact, has been to Stratford every year since 1953, back in the days when the Festival was still held in a tent.)  They also told me, with unrestrained glee in their voices, that they planned to go to Foster’s Inn for dinner after the show, since they’d heard Mr. Plummer would be going there – as Bea told me, “They don’t think you’re a stalker if you’re 85, they just think you’re kind of cute.”

I hope they found him.  Every actor should have such charming groupies.   Particularly the elegant Mr. Plummer, who is still quite a dish at the age of 81.

I also went to check out a couple of musicals – Evita and Kiss Me, Kate – and more of the Bard in A Winter’s Tale and As You Like It.  The last two starred my own Stratford crush Ben Carlson, but as I hadn’t obtained any insider gossip on where he might go for dinner, I didn’t manage to actually meet the man.  Next time I’ll have to hang out by the stage door, I guess.  (Er, Ben, if you’re reading this, I swear I’m not a crazy stalker chick, I just think you’re a very fine actor.  Really.)

So that’s the Bard.  The bari-hunk was on stage in Toronto, in a brilliant production of South Pacific – Jason Howard, a Welsh-born baritone now based in Toronto, gave a bravura performance as Emile de Becque.  As defined by, a bari-hunk is “A handsome or pretty baritone. Especially, but not exclusively, one who removes his shirt for the sake of opera”.  Jason’s shirt stayed firmly in place, but I think he met the other requirements.

The Toronto Star likened his voice to “aural equivalent of a finely polished piece of mahogany”, and, purple prose or not, they weren’t off the mark.  One heck of an enchanted evening, indeed ... if you haven’t already guessed, I have a weakness for musicals (the cheesier the better), and when they’re also got something important to say (as South Pacific comments on racism and the tragedy of war), it’s a bonus. 

(I’m still singing the songs.  I might have to go see Rock of Ages next, just to install a new soundtrack in my head!)

But it’s about time I got the heck outta town again.  Probably won’t be backpacking around India with a broken wrist, but there are plenty of places in the world I’d love to see that are a little easier to get around.  Stay tuned!

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