Wednesday/Friday (It's an international dateline thing)
The trip wasn't that bad, actually. I took BART to the airport, checked in, the whole thing - about an hour and a half. That left me hanging out at SFO, but it gave me time to work on this blog thing.
Now I took BART because I wanted to avoid Zachary seeing me. As much as I miss him it was too hard to tell him I was going away the first time, and I told him I would be back in ten days. If I show up now I think it will just confuse him, and make it that much harder for him when I leave again. So I think it's better that I do what I said. and I think it will be alot easier for Velina, too.
So I'm sitting in the airport, eating M&M's, waiting for what I think will be a relentlessly long plane flight - SFO -LA -Sydney - Melbourne. So I don't want to go to sleep right away - I'll have to get up in LA anyway - so that's why I'm eating the M&M's. Really. It has nothing to do with their waxy, chocolatey goodness, melting in my mouth, not in my hot hands.
I get on the plane and I see three things that almost make me cry:
1. I have a bulkhead seat, which means that though there is no seat in front of me, I won't have a good view of the movies,
2. I have a center seat, and
3. Right behind my seat is the only three year old on the whole damn plane! And next to him, his brother, who looks all of five! All I can hope is that they are getting off in LA. Perhaps they are going to New Zealand. I hear it's lovely.
And as I settled down into my hopefully short lived hell, my pitiful delusions began to crumble with the words everyone with a hopped up, seat kicking, schreeching poopmaster seated behind them dreads:
"Welcome to Qantas flight 74, with direct service to Sydney." What happened to LA? "We are looking at a fight time of 14 hours," AAAAARRRRGGGGGG! Stop kicking me! "But there is some good news." Ejector seats? "Normally this flight would be fighting a head wind all the way across the Pacific, but the winds are very light, in fact there is a bit of a tail wind, so that should reduce or fight time by quite a bit." Thanks the Gods! "But, as we cannot land in Sydney before 6 am due to noise regulations, we will have to wait for the rest of the time here, on the runway. Thank you for flying Qantas."
Okay, to be truthful, that was the lowpoint of the flight. Sorry to dissappoint everyone, robbing you of my suffering the constant kicking, nudging, squeaking, and eventual screams of help from the hobbit behind me as I stuffed him in the overhead compartment - and you can be damned sure I would've packed him tight so he wouldn't shift. But the fact is he passed out about half an hour into the flight. And when he did wake up and start kicking me I was missing Zachary so much even the kicks of a strange three year old were fine. And the movie screen flipped up from the arm rest. And they had a choice of about twenty five films. Good food, and I finally saw "Momento". That flight on Qantas all the way across the Pacific felt shorter than many of the Coast to Coast flights I've endured on United. More later.
So, I fly into Sydney, and have 40 minutes to get my luggage, clear customs, catch a bus, get my boarding pass, find my plane. I only make it with the help of a Quantas employee who cuts me to the front of a line. What a nice airlines.
I land in Melbourne, and there is no one to pick me up, which sucks. I must admit, I was looking forward to having someone standing there with a little sign with my name on it. "Yes, I am the Michael Gene Sullivan you seek, my good person. Drive me hence!" But there is no one there. And I realize I don't even know what hotel I'm staying at. And I can't use my U.S. cell phone to call them. And the pay phone is out of order.
Then a guy who looks like an extra from "The French Connection" asks if I want a ride. I say no, that I need a phone. He pulls his out, dials the Festival, hands it to me. I tell the Festival person where I am, they say my ride, with a sign, is in the airport - somewhere. I hang up, thank the guy, wait for my sign to show up. Nothing. I'm pacing. A guy who looks like an extra from the russian version of "The Sopranos" asks me if I need help. I tell him what's going on, and he whips out his phone, I tell him the number, and again I'm talking to the Festival. According to them, my ride should be standing right next to me. Then the bulb comes on. They think I'm in the International Terminal. But I cleared customs in Sydney! So I go to the international terminal, and there he is... the guy with the sign with my name on it! I feel so special! Come to papa!
But this was a long day.
Again with the banners!
The hotel is very cool. I even have a washer/dryer in my room! Velina would be thrilled. Oh, and soon as I get to the room I have to get ready for the interviews - you remember - the "stature" interviews. <p><br><p><br>The first one is a little weird. The host is a comedian, but goes all serious on me - I guess because of the whole 1984 thing. That one feels a little funky. That's the local show, then we whip off to the national radio gig, and it's much better. The interviewer was very good at keeping thigs moving, asking open questions. And she had seen the show! (I missed opening by staying in Salt Lake. Though, with all the flight time mistakes, I could have come a day earlier, anyway!)
THE THEATRE AT THE MELBOURNE ARTS CENTRE IS HUGE!
Steve Poter says the entire Actor's Gang Theatre could fit on this stage three times over. Oh, and there's a review in the national daily, The Austrailian:
"The Actor's gang has succeeded in drawing out the parallels between Big Brothers autocracy and today's world of surveillance, manipulation of truth, and fearmongering as a form of mass control."
And that's the Murdoch paper!
That evening I see the show for the first time in months. Actor's Gang Manager Greg (as opposed to Utah Greg) says hi, but he seems a little tense. Again, I'm the writer showing up - which is almost never good, it seems. I mean, I understand from years at the Mime Troupe. Before I was head writer I dreaded it when our last head writer showed up. It always meant changes.
See the thing is, when you write a show it not only reflects your feelings on, and analysis of, a particular issue or concept, but it also shows feelings and analysis at a particular time in your life. Whatever it is that makes you feel that this is the story to tell, in this way, is dictated by who you are at that moment. So, you finish the show. Time passes, you change, and now the show doesn't exactly reflect you anymore. Sometimes it's tempting to think "Ah Ha! Now it is all so clear! All we have to do is change this one line. And that one. And that speech. And this scene should go there..," But you really have to be careful about that. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind re-writing, but... it like... you ever go back and read your old diaries, and you think "Who wrote this?" I feel that way with scripts, sometimes - especially with the more off-beat comedy. "What was going on with that guy, that he came up with that? Now that is funny!" I was in a groove, but now I'm not exactly that person anymore. And whoever I was when I created this, if it seems to be effective, who am I to mess with it?<p> Also, every "improvement" after previews only gives the actor time to remember their new, slightly different line, and make this new choice mesh with the rest of the character - in front of hundreds of people. My actor side hates that.
Sorry for the aside.
Here's me in front of the threatre, not thinking about re-writing.
Note the Che t-shirt.
So I went to see the show - and that was so cool! The review meant the place was packed, all of them there to see 1984. They gasped, they laughed, they cried... that's what I overheard as I evesdroped at intermission, and afterwards. I'm pretty sure no one suspects I'm the writer, but not everyone is thrilled with having a strange black guy standing right next to them and their friends. But I heard enough.
Afterwards I went to the Shed - a club the Festival set up for the artists - The cast showed up, and I told them the audience reaction, and hopefully belayed some writer fear. I also met the Director of the Festival, Kristy. Nice woman from Portland, Oregan. Here's the story: She was working in Portland, directing a theater, and her partner was a designer in Australia. They were tired of the long distance relationship thing, so one of them had to make a move, and the U.S. doesn't recognize same-sex relationships for immigration. But Australia does. So that's where they are, and Kristy is the dynamic new director of an internationally respected arts festival. She also had nothing but good things to say about 1984. So, of course, I talked to her about the Mime Troupe wanting to tour GodFellas next year. I'm shameless that way
All of that was one, long day, and by the end I was too loopy to even enjoy my washer/dryer.
More later, again.