Follow by Email

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Confessions of a Klingon Curmudgeon: Toddling Along

I'm nearing the one-month mark for the Klingon Christmas Carol rehearsals and I'm neck deep in the mixture of excitement and concern that I won't have enough time. I'm already two pages off book. Or is it "only two pages . . . "? I have no way to gauge, so I'm simultaneously feeling good and feeling jittery. I've begun spending more stolen moments learning lines and running them under my breath at many given moments throughout the day. My housemates (the short way of saying "married home-owning benefactor friends who have let me stay in their spare room for low, low rent since I've returned from Japan in June") have even become subject to the results of this casting. Sure, they're both familiar with the theater and rehearsal, with running lines and such, but sometimes the wife quips about how the guttural sounds of Klingonese make her think some demon is huddling in a corner of her house. #NotAllKlingons

I can understand her interpretation. The Klingon language is a harsh-sounding language in which one must mind glottal stops, enunciate the tlh, and distinguish the Hs and ghs. The q and Q distinction is not as challenging, but a cold or a sore throat can turn simple attempts at speech into a battle of wills against the small muscles in the back of the throat. Three days of rehearsal and a rescheduled voice lesson turned into a uvular crossfit session after which not-talking felt more delightful than usual. It still remains a bit of a challenge not to make everything sound angry, even if I am Scrooge. That tone and sense is coming more easily through dissection of the words, where the root noun or verb can be smothered under a dogpile of suffixes (suffices?) and object-subject reflexive prefixes. These are things you grow accustomed to ignoring in everyday use of your mother tongue.

Linguistic challenges notwithstanding, this undertaking is packed with moments of pride. For the first time ever, I — a regular shaver and baby-faced, angular-cheeked daywalker — will be growing out facial hair for a role. Even as I've aged, I have never truly shown a natural talent for growing facial hair. Shaving was as much of a preference as it was a professional convention, but every so often, I become curious about how well I could grow it out if I tried again. My hope is that by the time the show opens, I will have sufficient facial hair to live up to the Klingon norm of adult males having facial hair. That way, I won't have to deal with spirit gum and I can also have another small victory to boost my ego: "I grew out facial hair for a role! I have now done the physical transformation thing!"

I've even taken to the pedantry of referring to my growth as a Van Dyke instead of a goatee. What's the difference? Glad you asked! A goatee is just on the chin. A Van Dyke is the one that's commonly called a goatee, but it's a goatee with a corresponding mustache element, as explained here. My girlfriend isn't too crazy about it and I'm having a heck of a time dealing with the itchiness. I just have to keep reminding the both of us that it's for a good (read "marvelously geeky") reason and it'll be gone before Christmas. I even offered to begin a "BeardBeGone" countdown just for her. It's tough enough with the distance, I don't need facial hair to come between us. We shall overcome. *sniffle* In the meantime, I've gotten to surprise people with the new look and it's a lot less jarring for them (and for me) than if I showed up without my dreads. I'm not ready to part with those yet.

The theater space is coming together and all the cast is working hard. Fight choreography has been set and we have regular language sessions. Blocking and scene work have begun and we're actually making this thing happen. I wish I could go back in time and tell younger me that this is happening, but I'll just have to experience for him.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Confessions of a Klingon Curmudgeon: It Begins

". . . We would like to offer you the part of SQuja'."

The breath left my body as I was sitting in my parked car, a bit late for a meeting. My heart raced. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was sitting in my car, Lando, laughing and almost on the verge of tears because I landed the lead in _A Klingon Christmas Carol._

I was elated that the show was returning to the Twin Cities for the first time in four years. I wanted to be in the show since I first saw it and was simply appreciative that I could audition for it. I didn't care which role I got — I just wanted to be in it. I never dreamt that I would be cast as Scrooge in one of the most marvelously up-my-alley shows that exists. This feels much bigger to me than the Guthrie Theater's annual production.

After a couple of weeks of keeping it quiet I was finally able to tell everyone. Actually, before that I did tell my girlfriend, my family, my best friends, and a friend in Chicago who was engaged in a now-successful Klingon pop songs Kickstarter (a podcast interview is here)— but social media was out of the equation. The best part about it for me is that I have something I can invite friends to come see and it's in the same city or at least the same country.

I've been in rehearsals for about three weeks now, but I only just now thought to chronicle this experience. I was aching to return to writing and eventually get paid for it again and this seemed as good a time as any. I'm receiving scads of support and nerdy elation novas (or "novae", I suppose) from friends and family and it's a large part of my happiness right now as I'm working on settling back in the Twin Cities.

I suppose you could say this is my version of The Voyage Home.

Friday, October 3, 2014

It's Focus, Not Faking

It seems that where Facebook statuses are concerned, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. It can be frustrating to see someone consistently post update after update full of self-pity, depressing vaguebooking, and attention fishing. Likewise, it can be eye-rollingly vomit-inducing seeing someone post update after update of effusive, flowery, gushing, feel-good clickbaity vaguebooking, and attention fishing. Either extreme can be annoying and there is often loudly-voiced backlash against them both. But neither case is always about manipulation or putting on a show. Some people truly are comfortable using Facebook as a means to be okay with vulnerability (or joy) and you may be seeing such posts as part of a specific group of trusted people.

Sure, some people may have self-serving motives. In my MySpace and earlier Facebook days I trafficked more heavily in seeking approval or validation and loathe that I did. I have this thing where I often feel that I'm less amazing than how people see me. Fortunately, I have special people in my life who take me to task whenever I feel that way. Although I am occasionally downish in my status updates, I have been making an effort to be more positive. It's not an attempt to be Mr. Sunshine or to make people believe my life is more awesome than it is. It's a conscious change in focus. Instead of acknowledging what is flourishing or growing, I usually focus on what isn't. Instead of relishing what I have chosen, I grit my teeth about what I am passing up because I cannot be everything and I cannot do everything and how could I possibly be as amazing as some people tell me I am if I am not Doing All Things and Doing Them Well. I am working to change that practice — and it is exactly that: a practice. We practice so we can improve.

I don't know if I need therapy — sometimes I think I do, sometimes I think I don't. However, I write those more positive status updates out of a concerted effort to choose my perspective. I really can do better with how I focus on things and events in my life. I can make more effective choices about what I express and maybe my practice can have a good effect on others. It's pretty easy to be cynical about things and I try to fight cynicism when I can. I seldom enjoy experiences with cynics and I don't want to be that cynical guy. I'm the only one who can change that.