I adore the theatre in all its forms, theatres with elaborate productions- large-scaled affairs, grandiose and packed with ooh-la-la. But this, this is the stuff that sets my heart to thrill: small, intimate theaters with unassuming stages appearing poorly and inadequate to the uninitiated eye. Where at a glance, one wonders will the actors even fit up there, let alone find room to move. Yes, intimate. Where the players take the stage mere feet from you as the audience, so close as to nearly breathe in the same air. It’s electric and personal, utterly enchanting! Fire, lit. A recent performance at the Stone Soup Theatre flared up the ever-burning passion, indulging my proclivity for linguistic calisthenics. Wdeunfrol Wdors: Language Art– eight one-act plays written by Shel Silverstein and David Ives, respectively. A total delight! In junior high school, I didn’t appreciate the term “Language Arts” applied to what equated to English/grammar class. Found it hoighty-toighty mumble-jumble. Applied to these scripts, though, where language truly meets art, it was Wdeunfrol! Epsomlootly. Counted it a full house, all fifty-five of us. We took in the likes of Smile (deadly idioms), The Lifeboat is Sinking (wordly-painted scenarios to entrap and ensnare), Words, Words, Words (stumped n’ studious chimps), and among others, my favorite, The Universal Language. Unamunda, another language to grasp in this here great looniverse. I’m studying this very moment, a shmal peppering of wordage featured amidst all this Johncleese. Other fun words from other languages? Brought to you by me from Mental Floss:
Meteorologists can be poets in Turkey with words like this at their disposal. It means moonlight shining on water.
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.
That last one? Mmmm, good grief.
Naturally, this brings me to that of bananas. Banooneys? They’re a pesky and obtrusive fruit, I tell ya, followin’ me around here and there as I do this n’ that. No privacy. Oop. Unbelievable. Now they’re even linin’ up for me! At the performance, I sought out the nearest restroom and on my way back, WHAM-BHAM-BANANA! There they are all in a creepy (no relation to the naughty potato) nanna lineup atop a lonely piano. Why, I knew not. But best to document such things, yes? Turns out those afore mentioned chimps had a snack attack on stage. Good thing, too, cuz I’m not likely to partake too often. Worse yet? Candy banana! Runts. Let’s not speak of ‘em.
I can still hear their slow southern drawl calling my name
Now, for a touch of irony. I have a hand-painted ode to the yellow fruit in my living room. Two, to be exact. One per end, adorning a sideboard. Growing up, we lived next door to an elderly southern Baptist couple, a pastor and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Jolly. Very much like Mr. and Mrs. Claus! So kind, I can still hear their slow southern drawl calling my name. In the summer to follow senior year of high school, I found myself homeless in an instant, a harrowing ordeal not neatly summarized by any one sentence. Though, perhaps, one word: Mother. Distraught and hyperventilating, fathoming the loss of everything I knew and my Bean, I took temporary shelter at the Jolly’s kitchen table where I was promptly instructed to eat a banana and down a glass of milk. Nothing could have been less appetizing, and after declining multiple times, feeling on the verge of an all out brawl, I finally relented. To my surprise, minutes later, apparently sustained by a little potassium and calcium, I was calm. That day, I learned to shut up. To defer at times from what I may not find particularly useful to someone who may know better despite my own truth (truth = yucky banana). That painterly fruit and milk stand as reminders of that lesson. Painted them on a sideboard gifted to me by who else? The Jollys.
This witty performance, I only wish I’d seen it sooner so as to have offered up a rave in time to urge others to go and enjoy as well. After all that indulgent word play, I was left oddly spinachless. Joe DiMaggio. ♦
Thank you, lovely actors! Sarah Rose Nottingham, Zachariah Robinson, Erin Ison, Jaryl Draper, Rebecca Parker O’Neil, James Lyle
Photo by Armen Stein