Shawn Morgenlander: "Life on the Edge"
I am not an outdoor person. It’s not that I’ve sworn enmity to nature. It’s just that I’ve lived a life of sheltered excess for so long that any attempt at making friends with Mother Earth now would probably meet with derisive laughter in the form of, say, poison ivy, or a coyote attack. But our outdoor rehearsal process has made me think there’s some real cooperation to be had between Man and Nature—specifically, Me and Nature— after all.
There’s nothing like rehearsing in a space that is itself alive. Two lovers meet on an imagined balcony beneath hypnotizing full-moonlight: real moonlight. A desperate messenger outside an imagined chapel door shivers in the wind: real wind. Outside, from afternoon to dusk to dark, with grass and sand under our feet, canopies of leaves over our heads, and a watery horizon to the east, we remember that we are passionate creatures. Annie once wryly commented that she’d book every audition if Jake just followed her around and underscored on guitar; the unfailingly gorgeous lakeshore sunsets are not without a similar emotional effect.
Of course, since we’re rehearsing in a public park, our adventures go beyond communion with the elements. There are plenty of “unofficial cast members” who have influenced our rehearsals in rather less romantic ways, including, but not limited to:
A miniature boy in a miniature blue car who rides through on the daily; an unbrearably cute puppy named Doug; the guys that walked past our first sword practice and shouted, “LARPers!!”; mighty columns of gnats; ice-cream bikes that jingle right through our playing space; a really drunk dude who asked directions to the Red Line but then didn’t believe us when we told him; a brass band; some foolhardy drivers who blew out their windows while careening around the curve adjacent to the park; a precious little girl who ran away from her mom to dance with us at the Capulet ball; two madly-yipping star-crossed Pomeranian lovers; the drum circle that underscored our blocking of the dramatic Act 2 duels; the Biting Flea-Flies of Doom; and the same drunk dude from before, days later, asking us if dead Juliet was OK.
Every day, the list grows. And given the up-close-and-personal nature of our courtyard performances, I hope that you, Dear Reader, might soon be counted among our unofficial cast. Somehow I think you’ll be far pleasanter to deal with than the Biting Flea-Flies of Doom. See you in the moonlight—