Backstage Writers – Think Hope Do

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Postmodern Challenges – Defining Impact

The Man I Dread

No, please, not that bench. Damn!

The man I dread always waits until the last minute. If the controllers turn up, he stays on the platform and plays for the pigeons. He’s easy to spot, dressed in brown with a broad-brimmed hat, pride trumping shyness with a smirk. I’d hate to hear him speak.

Come on, my ticket-sniffing friends! Where are you today? Maybe I can switch cars. Nope. The engines just went “clunk,” and here he is. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Screecher!

He starts off with Somewhere My Love. I usually like that song – if it’s played in tune with a dose of passion. It is difficult to explain what happens when the Screecher puts bow to strings. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sandwich-maker

The other day I met a sandwich-maker.

He was waiting for the train one morning, as I was, and his gawking got me looking around. Was I really the youngest, most beautiful woman here?  Yep. All men for the moment. Come on, buddy, knock it off.  I’m not sixteen anymore. An old woman arrived. She seemed to know the gawker, and they spent the entire ride chatting.

We changed trains at Juvisy. The gawker came and sat next to me. We made small talk. I knew no evil masher could have a grandmother for a friend. Still I lied about where I lived, where I was going. Read the rest of this entry »

Le métro en français

J’ai peur dès que tu montes. Tu me regardes, un peu trop. J’ai peur que tu viennes m’adresser la parole.

Tu me demandes si je comprends le français.

J’ai conscience que tu ne peux pas me faire du mal avec tant de gens autour. Tu ne vas rester que quelques minutes.

Ta prochaine question me surprend. Pourquoi les français sont-ils si malheureux ? Ça vient d’un film, je crois.

Je me lance dans une explication sociologique sincère mais tu ne m’écoutes pas.  Tu me dis que tu es grec. Tu comprends que je suis américaine. Tu parles des Etats Unis avec joie, chaleur et regret.  Tu ajoutes que tu joues de la trompette. Je n’ose pas parler de ma vie musicale.

Quand tu sors tu me dis : « Bonne chance ! »  Je te fais un grand sourire histoire de te dire: Je suis contente que tu sois là, que tu existes quelque part dans ce monde de fous. Courage ! Tout le monde n’est pas si triste. À haute voix, je te dis simplement : « Bonne chance ». Ta réponse me secoue : « Non, pas de chance pour moi ».

Peeking and Leaning

We all get nagging urges. Most people don’t act on them. I do.
I sit down next to someone on a train. I hang on to my belts and straps. I try to make myself smaller. Like a good little commuter, I start daydreaming. Then, inevitably, the guy takes out something to read.
It doesn’t matter what it is. I have to peek. I have to read along. If it’s a newspaper, I have to know which one, which article. If it’s a book, which title, which author? Suspense passage? Boring description of a room? I try to be discreet. I shift and twist so my eyes naturally cross his page. Phrase by phrase, I take in the text, and when I can, I linger and enjoy every captured word. I’m watching this man learn. Even better, we’re learning the same things at the same time. It’s like silent choir. Speaking of choir, the other day the man behind me started singing, not humming, singing something catchy with a warm vibrant voice, something I’ve been yearning to sing for years, a campfire tune, the kind you hum all day. Now it’s one thing to read over someone’s shoulder, but you can’t hum along with someone on a train. You just can’t. And this man has a great voice I don’t want to spoil by adding mine. Still that melody, I can’t resist it, I’m drawn to listen, and my whole body starts to sing. My brain reacts last. Read the rest of this entry »

Garches and the Angry Man

Why would a young man flip off a train full of people? Because he’s just missed that train? I doubt it. He’s walking, not running, and his gesture’s calculated.
I’m staring out the window. I see the man looking directly at me (I’m a long train with many windows at this point.) He’s flipping me the bird. *!* Time stops a half second. We’re locked in, that man, his middle finger, and I. It’s a call to action, but what can I do? The train’s pulling away.
I’m thinking I’d like to rewind the clock for this man, stop this train and whatever it represents, fix whatever‘s gotten muddled up in this poor man’s life, but all I can do is wonder: What could make a person that angry? The car glass people know about all about anger. Anger has commercial value. Take, for example, the guy who gets mad at his girlfriend, goes off fuming down the street, starts feeling overwhelmed and paf! There goes a car window. My car window, thank you. No sympathy for that guy, but I do feel for my bird man. As the train continues in the direction of Saint Lazare, I do the only thing that I can do, and the only thing I usually do on trains, I give that man and his belligerent bird a whole lot of thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing is set in stone – Changes as they happen on Center Stage

-I’m not sitting here, Fran!

-Oh Tod.

-Don’t start that, Fran.

-He did say, “Center Stage.”

-Why us?

-We’re props, Tod.

-Why’d he choose us, Fran? We’re not the only Americans. We weren’t first in line. Is it my weight? Is it your-

-He looked so pleased to put us here.

-And so we’re just going to sit here ‘cause “Monsieur” looked pleased? Are you nuts, Fran?

-Oh, Tod. You wanted something contemporary… You like being on stage.

-I can’t even talk to you.

-Don’t touch them!

-There’s got to be a back door. Don’t want to step over your “Monsieur”. Why’s he standing guard like that?

-Tod, you never touch the curtains in a theatre.

-Why the hell not? Let me guess, because theatre is like life? Is that it, Fran? You don’t turn your back on anybody, and you don’t touch his curtains? You’re pathetic, Fran!

-Sit down, Tod.

-I don’t like that tone, Fran.

-What tone?

-That sweet little voice of yours! I hate it when you get all nice. I know what you’re thinking.

-If you don’t want to-

-Stop whispering, Fran!

-If you don’t want to be part of the spectacle, sit down and try to act-

-Act how?

-Now is not the time.

-Come on, Fran, how should I act?

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