The boat rocks, the curtains sway, and sound operator Larry Dickerson fears for this actress struggling to maintain her balance. Larry and I were presenting “The Shadow of a Crib” from THREE SHORT STORIES by Isaac Bashevis Singer, on the QE2 Cunard Liner, en route to a tour of England and Scotland. We headed for a midnight feast after the performance, and got to know the audience. I did not want to get off the boat! Challenges and surprises awaited us. At the New End Theatre in a London suburb, after two days of dropping off flyers and putting up posters, interrogated by an inebriated man as I briefly rested on a bench, I was raw and available. So were the characters. I love long warm-ups. This was no longer possible when the organizer of our tour of Highland Perthshire informed us that he had programmed both shows - THE OLIVE LAKE, and THREE SHORT STORIES - for each evening, at each venue. After a very quick set change, I had to go for it, and found that I could! Nonetheless, by the fourth evening, in the Village Hall of Killiecrankie, when I rejoined Dr. Yaretsky and the other characters of THREE SHORT STORIES, I noticed that they were somewhat fatigued.
A teacher at Calderwood Lodge, the only Jewish day school in Scotland, saw our ad in the Fringe Program, and asked us to come to Glasgow. We performed for her sixth grade class in the afternoon. The entire Jewish community attended the evening performance. The spare staging of THREE SHORT STORIES evokes many places: a study, a ballroom, the streets of Warsaw. Afterwards, a woman whose gaze I’d noticed during the performance told me, “I saw everything.” A theatre professor at Roger Williams University asked me, after seeing THREE SHORT STORIES in the university’s theatre, “I wonder what it would be like to perform a show over many years, with such love?” As always, I must praise the contributions of amazing, sensitive musicians. Anthony Scafide created incidental music that beautifully evokes character, place and experience: a village gossip, an aging scholar, an enchanted night, a haunted town, and a precious daughter returning from beyond the grave to visit her father. A new collaboration with composer pianist Richard Rudin brings live music to each performance, recreating the themes as we respond to each other in the moment. From Jimmy Jenkins Senior Center in Wilmington, where a resident told me that he identified most with the rabbi in “Joy,” from art galleries in Philadelphia and New York, to Gratz College and Brandeis University, and Martins Run Retirement Community where an elderly couple told me that the show was “better than Broadway,” these audiences join me in the journey of a world soul, incarnated in different bodies and lives.Click here for complete list of performances.
Copyright ©2020 Janet Fishman. All rights reserved.