Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back in Alabama

After a day and a half of train run, we have just pulled back into Alabama. The stopping, starting, and jerking about portion of parking the train has ended, and we are now spotted in what seems to be a pretty nice train yard. It is a rather big, open area under two highway overpasses, and there is a lot of grass and a few trees; which is a nice change from the usual rock slide and dirt road by an expanse of warehouses. In addition to that, the train is parked in two lines with an abundant space between. This creates a kind of courtyard, and a more social feel. When I looked out the window in the hall this morning, I could see one of the high-wire walkers and his three sons peeking back at me out of a car across from us on the other tracks. It’s nice to have our own space marked off by the train. If it was warmer out, I would be trying to find some people to play Frisbee with me.

The six-pack was just as exhausting as I thought it would be. Of course it wasn’t any help that I didn’t get enough sleep either night preceding the two big days. I managed to get myself in a “just keep swimming” kind of mind-set though, and kept at a pretty steady level of energy the whole way through. On the morning of the first day of the six-pack, Book, Eric, and I retreated to Clown Alley after our ring toss gag to take a breather. Eric and Book found a very large cardboard box, which we all three found quite amusing. Maybe it was the fact that almost any activity is more appealing when it is an option besides going back to the pre-show floor, or maybe it was just because big cardboard boxes are interesting all on their own. Anyway, Book got inside of it, and at our cue began jumping out at performers who were heading backstage. We caused a satisfactory number of heart attacks before deciding that this would be a very good pre-show activity. That really eased the tension of the six-pack, because, for me at least, pre-show can be the most exhausting part of a day (I’ll give you a more detailed description of that whole calamity in a later episode). For once I found myself really looking forward to the next pre-show, and was excited when it rolled around. When it was finally time again, Eric and I hoisted the box up between us as if it was very heavy, and Book directed us through the traffic of audience members. This drew just the right amount of attention. That is to say, we looked too busy to ask for pictures, and just busy enough to stop and watch. We put the box down and crammed Book inside. Everyone in the immediate vicinity was very interested, so I shushed them all while Eric tiptoed off to find our first victim, a large black woman, and tell her about the delivery that had just arrived for her. And when Book popped out with a “Whoa!” she couldn’t have had a more desirable reaction! Needless to say, we kept at that bit happily for most of the rest of the six-pack.

We were lucky to have only a few mishaps, despite everyone’s exhaustion. One was during chari vari, our mini-tramp and soap gag in the beginning of Act II. I don’t recall if it was Dustin or Sean who was the guilty pommel-horse tipper, but one of them bounced off the tramp and really knocked the horse, hard enough to send Tweedy flying off of it. He majestically became completely airborne, and completely inverted before landing right on his head at my feet! I think a few of us were surprised to see him get back up after that fall, and he was complaining about the pain a bit afterwards, but seemed generally to be alright. Good thing! Also for our last show before load-out, there were alarms going off all throughout the second half. This caused a little panic for everybody, especially the clowns, but interestingly enough it wasn’t over whether we should evacuate the building or not; it was if we were going to have to cover the next act or not (if the tigers get spooked, the tiger act is shorter, which means the wheel act is on sooner, which means the elephants aren’t ready for finale, etc). The show must burn on! It all turned out to have something to do with one of the rice-cookers the Chinese troupe had left on upstairs.

After my load-out duties (which are really quite minimal, because I don’t have a load-out job) I went against my anti-social nature and got out to get some food with a few of the band members at the invitation of Tim, the saxophone player. Tim and I have recently become friends over a bloodthirsty marshmallow-throwing feud, which continues on three-show days. Because of the (non) accuracy of my throws, this vendetta looks like it will come to include the rest of the band against me. Better watch my back! We are friendly off the battlefield though, and Book came along, and we had a nice time. It was really a freezing cold walk though! When we got back to the train, it wasn’t soon before I was out like a light. Book was up late packing, and left sometime in the very early morning before the train pulled out. We have more days in between shows than usual, because of the longer run, so he flew to Minnesota to visit Aerial.

While I’m thinking of it, I’d like to send a HUGE congratulations to Aerial and Sebastian! For those of you who don’t know them, they are two of our very, very dear friends from Smirkus. Both of them auditioned at ENC this past week, and both made it through the four strenuous days of cuts there. Now we are all waiting with bated breath to hear if they got in! Good luck guys! They are both exceptionally talented and wonderful people, and I am very proud of them, as are Eric and Book.

So, it was just Eric and I this train-run. We slept very late yesterday, and decided to watch Uncle Buck in the afternoon. That movie is never a bad choice, even though it’s the second time I’ve seen it in a month and a half! It didn’t take up as much of the day as we’d hoped though, so we walked to car 42 to visit Guillermo, one of the Wheel of Death guys, who we all like a lot. We watched Zack and Miri there, delightful, and finished with no time to spare before we headed to our long awaited Crepe party! We hurried back to 33 to gather our cooking supplies, and then made the very long journey to 56, where Dustin and Brandon live. Twenty-three cars is no joke in a rocking 2-foot-wide hallway (punctuated by heavy doors), especially if you are carrying a double-burner hotplate! We had a wonderful time making the Crepes though, and coming up with all sorts of different toppings (something Brandon was much too excited about). Then we watched the new Indiana Jones movie, and by that time I had finished knitting one hat and was halfway through another! We watched a bunch of clown gags too, and talked late into the morning before we finally took our leave. We stopped at Guillermo’s room again to say hi on the way back. The jury is still out on whether he was “drinky” or not (his word), but he did propose to me about seven times. Finally we got back to 33 at an unmentionable hour, and went to bed.

Today I am feeling too lazy to do much of anything, but writing this for you has been very enjoyable. I also spent some time catching up on Steve’s blog, which no doubt inspired me to try and pick up the slack on mine.

Lastly, on a heavy note, I must include the sad news that one of my teachers has passed away. Robin Wood was the head of the theater department at CSW for a large number of years, and she touched a great many lives in a very intense way. Nearly all the school, including myself, was rather afraid of her intense (and perhaps a bit unforgiving) personality, but it was with that quality that she pushed her students to do their very best work. Although I was not a frequent theater student, she was incredibly supportive of my interest in clowning, and made my head grow a few sizes bigger with the theater schools she suggested I attend. I felt very proud when she came to see me perform in Smirkus. I had a wonderful time in her Mask and Mime class, and learned more things there that have come up in my life since, than in any other class. She was among the people in this world who I wanted most to impress. My heart goes out to her family and the CSW community, and I wish I could come home to give my love and support.

Much love and thanks to everyone reading this,
I miss you all at home.


  1. Oh Joy, thank you for the time and thought that goes into these. It's like hearing your voice and it makes me so happy, though it also makes me miss you like crazy. I am so proud of you in so many ways. Much love, mom

  2. Thank mom! I miss you too.
    Did you like the clown alley picture? I think it's really great of everyone. Wish I could get it to be bigger though...