I was not dropped on my head as a child, at least not significantly, but sometimes I act as though I were. The phrase, “Dropped on his head as a baby,” is a witty way of declaring someone inept, befuddled, clumsy, or, well, witless. My wits are okay, though my memory is slipping, but my kinesthetic abilities are legendary. Legendarily bad that is.
I could blame it on the golf-club blow that missed my temple by millimeters, or my lower ear getting sliced off (oops!), or the time I was struck by a car while cycling in 1980. And again in 1986. And in 1987. (No car/Keith smack-downs since; knock on wood!) I could blame it on those and other traumatic head blows that sent me to emergency rooms through the years, the seemingly countless owies that have led to short stays in hospital beds, my cranium and gray matter misused, abused and confused.
I could blame those for my current lack of prowess, but that wouldn’t explain my friend Tom Frisch’s mother declaring that she feared seven-year-old me would trip and fall as I carried the pre-transubstantiated bread to the waiting priest for our First Holy Communion back at Saint Mary’s Church in 1968. I is clumsy, I is.
I have alphabet soup syndrome. ADHD, autism (very high functioning), dyslexia, dysnomia (not really, I just love it when I remember that word), my spatial reasoning is atrocious and it is hard for me to walk and chew gum at the same time, (I stopped chewing gum. Tripped too many times.) so what am I doing in a play that involves dancing, fighting and lots of physical action? Having fun and learning new things.
Dustin Britt is directing Bare Theatre’s production of Billy Shakespeare’s “Timon Of Athens” and I’m loving my participation in the play. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (Yeah, yeah. That’s EBB, not WS. Why you gotta be so didactic?!)
I love Dustin’s reworking of the play: The thought he has put into it. His creativity in presentation and his ability to pull from us a show that will be unlike any other Shakespeare I’ve been involved with. He challenges me and I love him in that.
I love the cohesiveness of our cast and crew. I always feel like odd man out because, well, I’m an odd man, and my autism makes it difficult for me to read people. (You know those smiley, frownie face worksheets they give to autistic kids to teach us how to read emotions in people? You don’t? God bless!) And the talent? So diverse!
I tend to value in people the skills I lack and to take for granted things that I do well and this production has dancing. Dancing? Yep, I’m dancing. (I have attended group exercise classes where I’ve done so poorly that I’ve befuddled many an instructor. I always try to get the instructor laughing so they know I’m okay floundering like a fish out-of-water.) Graceful I am not, but grateful I am. I’m grateful to have a cast, director, choreographer and fight captain who patiently wait for me to wrap my brain and body around movement. And then wait some more. And then again when we review.
Do you remember the TV show “The Weakest Link?” That is exactly what I am when it’s time to move and, though I know my bumbling body must frustrate my fellow Timon-ites, not once have I seen a hint of censure with my ineptness.
I love working with my cast-mates, most of whom are young enough to be my children. I love learning from them as we strive to make a cohesive, dynamic, manifesto filled frolic of ToA, and I get a huge kick out of Dustin when he almost loses it.
I have worked with many directors, some rigid, some not, and Dustin is not. (Which is really good since he’s STILL tweaking this bloody thing and we’re eleven days to open.) An expectation of excellence balanced with an understanding of outside commitments and actors’ wants, needs, strengths, weaknesses and proclivities abound in Mr. D.B.; he’s great to watch. Especially when he’s frustrated.
Why do I like watching Dustin when he’s frustrated? Because even when he’s too frustrated to mask his feelings he is still respectful. He is still a leader who does not let peevishness rule him. Being civil when we’re happy is a pretty low benchmark, maintaining civility when our emotions are in the red is a characteristic I find far too infrequently in this world. It’s great to be directed by someone who instills respect in me, demands respect for others and walks his own talk.
Way to go, D.B.!
Eleven days left. Let’s do this thing!