Rehearsing in the Kitchen

“Mommy?  Can you watch me?”

“Not right now.  I’m rehearsing.”

A few seconds pass.  Lex goes back into discussing Helena.  She’s half a sentence in.

“Are you still rehearsing?”

Theatre for us has always been a delicate balance of real life and art, but now, in the absence of a space, we have retreated to our living rooms and backyards to rehearse.  It is comfortable in these spaces, so doing table work around a dining room set has a certain level of ease we never got from a makeshift surface at 57 Main.  Hypothetically, we can store the kiddos in the next room with all their toys and be in rehearsal while watching them but–

“Mooooommy.  Are you done?”

Lex takes a deep breath, pulls at her hair, and looks at her darling four year old.  “Go play.  Please.”

The backyard is a wonderland of things most four year olds would love–we can see the tops of colorful inflated toys through the window, but this one is not interested.  He turns his giant eyes on us, hoping one of us will jump up and volunteer to play with him.

“In a minute,” we all say in our own way.

The theatre had always been a retreat from the domestic.  It was a place where we were not afraid to shout or go big.  In someone’s kitchen, it seems odd to be yelling lines or throwing oneself on the floor in front of the baby who watches from his high chair, chewing away on a melted Baby Mum-Mum.

“To the Nth degree!  Louder!”  Lex and Wendy call through the threshold.  They’re watching us from the dining room as we flop around in the kitchen.

So we take it up another notch, start using the walls, throw ourselves against a refrigerator and slide down, trying not to worry about knocking magnets off it.  The fact that we’re in Lex’s kitchen gradually melts away as much as it can.   Wendy grumbles about needing that rehearsal space sooner rather than later.  Between the heat and, today, the rain, venturing out into the backyard has proved tricky so far.

“Mom-meeeeeeeeeeeee.”

“We’re done. Okay?”

He seems pleased.  As I pack up my things and head out to the door, the four year old approaches me.

“Why were you being so mean to Mollie?”

He has been overhearing us rehearse the Lovers’ fight scene and I have been calling Mollie a “canker blossom” and a “thief of love” and then loudly threatening to claw her eyes out.

“Well, in the play, Mollie stole my boyfriend.”  Trying to explain that it was really fairies and a love flower and mistaken identity seems too complicated somehow.  “Anyhow, we’re all friends by the end of the play.  There’s just a misunderstanding in the scene we were reading.”

He asks a few more questions and really listens to my answers.  The kid understands what rehearsals are, what plays are, and that sometimes grownups are acting crazy because a play tells them to.  We all say we don’t want our children to be actors, that we want them to run far, far away from the theatre, but there they are on the edges absorbing.  And now we are in their houses, rehearsing around their toys, in their spaces.  Well, there are worse things that getting an early start on your Shakespeare.

He accepts my explanation and asks me if I’ll play Lego Star Wars with him.

Maybe he won’t be an actor; maybe he’ll be a Jedi instead.

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