Out, Out, Damned Scottish Play!

Sheila and I got up and had breakfast around 10. I’ve managed to figure out that my acne is flaring up on the side of my face that I usually sleep on, and I can probably blame it on my dirty pillowcase. I thought about washing my sheets, but since I knew they’d have to air dry, and I wasn’t sure if they’d be dry in time for me to go to bed tonight, I decided against it. Instead, I searched for another pillowcase. I managed to find one after a while, but one of the curtain rods that was holding up the curtain used to cover the closet was displaced, and I meant to fix it before I left. When I was looking at it in the dim hallway light, it looked like it was a spring of some sort, and I just needed to put it back onto the hook that was holding it up. Sheila and I left to head off to Sweet Briar, and she refilled her Navigo for October. I did it last week, so mine was ready to go. On the way to Sweet Briar (after we’d left the metro), the strap on my purse broke again, so we stopped by a papeterie (paper store, where you can buy school supplies) that happened to have super glue, and I Macgyvered my school bag…

Kyle enjoys bringing up random stories that we’ve either told him, or things that we’ve done in front of him to pick on us about. For Rouge, it’s the head-in-the-metro thing. For Sheila, it’s saying “op” all the time, among other things. For me… it’s The Scottish Play. If you call The Scottish Play by it’s other name (namely the one that Shakespeare gave it, also the name of the main character, not Macduff or Banquo), and you’re in a theatre that has a production going on, you have cursed the production. To cleanse the curse, you have to run outside, turn in a circle three times, and spit. Now… this doesn’t mean anything if you’re not in a theatre. I still always call… that play… The Scottish Play because I take the whole “All The World’s A Stage” thing a little too seriously, because as far as I’m concerned, my life is a flipping theatre production, and I get a little irked whenever anyone says… the other name of The Scottish Play anywhere near me, which Kyle (and Rouge and sometimes Sheila) do a little too frequently. Today, I had my first theatre class at Paris III, so Kyle took it upon himself to tell everyone about how he couldn’t stop thinking about [The Scottish Play]. Rouge mentioned that her favorite play was [The Scottish Play], and the merde kept hitting the fan. Normally, I’d just be cringing, but since I was going to go to a theatre class in about an hour, and I’d never been to the actual building where it was being held, and there was a chance I’d have to actually perform, I was freaking out.

The Scottish Play bad luck started almost immediately. I went down to the vending machines to get a bag of chips to eat for lunch so that I wouldn’t pass out when I went to my class… and the only thing in the machines that I could eat were apples. Then, when I went to leave to head over to creepy Paris III, I thought I’d lost my Navigo, and it took my about 10 minutes to find it in my purse. So now I’m running late, and I get off at Sheila’s preferred metro stop near creepy Paris III (Gare de l’Est)… and I get lost. I’m wandering around what is clearly the ghetto of Paris for, oh, 30 minutes (thankfully only one man told me I needed to get my hair done for 15 euro), and I find the creepy metro stop that everyone else told me I should have used to get to creepy Paris III (Chateau d’Eau) so I knew I must be close… and I finally found the building. Now I needed to find the room where my class was… which wasn’t hard, because the girl right in front of me asking the people at the information desk where a particular room was wanted the same room I did, so I just followed her. I was only… 20 minutes late. Putain.

My professor reminds me a lot of my advisor back home… this professor is just a little older and the grey hair is a little more prominent. He’s done a lot of work with prisoners and at risk youth, which is really admirable. To get a better feel of who we all are, he put a chair in the middle of the room, called on us one by one to go take our turn in the chair, and asked us our names, and to tell us about ourselves. That’s literally all he asked. Most of us said what arrondissement of Paris we lived in, how long we’d been doing theatre, and named some pieces we’d done, some went so far as to name specific roles we’d played. I’d made up my mind to try to hide the fact that I was an American as long as I could in the class… until the girl that went right before I did had her turn… “I’m Belgian, and if any of you have a problem with that, too damn bad.” The whole class laughed and smiled! Granted, the girl spoke perfect French and you could tell she now lived in Paris, but grew up in Belgium for a while, but it gave me a little courage… she stole my seat (this was how who went next was decided), and I took my turn in the torture chair…

“Bonjour. Je m’appelle Claire. Honnêtement… français n’est pas mon langue maternelle… j’espère que ce n’est pas évident! Je suis une étudiante étrangère… et je suis américaine, et si c’est un problème, tant pis, comme la belge! Euh… bon. Je fais le théâtre depuis six ans. Je ne peut pas chanter ou danser, je suis horrible… mais… je suis une metteur en scène, et une écrivain aussi.”
(Hi, I’m Claire. Honestly… French isn’t my first language… I hope that isn’t obvious! I’m an exchange student… and I’m American, and if that’s a problem, too bad, like the Belgian! Um… I’ve been doing theatre for six years. I can’t sing or dance, I’m horrible… but… I’m a director, and a writer.)
The class reacted pretty well to the first part of my little speech. They were all surprised and perplexed when I said French wasn’t my first language, and pleasantly (thank god) surprised when I said I was an American. Professor Bruhnes asked how long I was going to be in Paris, I said until Christmas, and he said he’d had another student in his class last year (another American) and he’s excited to have me in the class. I happened to be sitting next to him both before and after my seat displacement in the exercise, and he was jotting notes as everyone went up and did their speeches. The only note he made about me was that I was American. I have yet to decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing… After the interviews were done (and after the professor would periodically stop us between interviews to make notes of how we sat or talked because actors are basically great “thieves” of character traits, he mentioned how you could tell the “energy” of the country from both myself and the Belgian girl based on the way we talked and carried ourselves), we found out that we had to have monologues or scenes (if we wanted to work with a partner) ready for the next class. He had some with him, and would look through them, and call on some students to workshop them. He’d ask if some students wanted him to try to find pieces for them, so he would. The entire time, I was racking my brain trying to think of what piece I wanted to do… Most of the students mentioned in the interviews that they’d all done theatre at some point in their lives (all but one). With the way some of the workshops went… I’m calling bullshit Let’s just say that some of the kids in the class are better than others. I’m definitely the oldest person in the class, but I don’t have the most theatre experience. About half an hour before the class ended, I figured out what I wanted to do, so I kept the idea in my head until the end of class. There was talk of a Facebook group being made so all of us have an easy way to communicate should we have to work together on various scenes as the class goes by. I handed my letter of presentation to Professor Bruhnes, and he officially accepted me into the class, and asked if I actually understood everything he said in the class. I said I could, and he smiled and said I spoke French exceptionally well. I asked if it was alright if I did a monologue from L’Avare for the monologue assignment on Monday. “Bien sûr!” Just to double check, I asked if it needed to be memorized, or if I could read it off of a sheet of paper. He said it would be better to workshop if it was in my head. Looks like I better get to work… The monologue I want to do is the one in the following video clip. I’m planning on blowing the students out of the water… but this monologue will go one of two ways: horribly well… or horribly. Let’s hope for the former.

I headed straight home after class to get ready to go see L’École des Femmes, and I beat Sheila by all of about four minutes. I told her all about how she’d cursed me with The Scottish Play, and she laughed. We weren’t entirely sure if Madame was going to make it home in time to make us dinner, so we snacked a little bit while we got ready. She came home at about 6:30, which is earlier than usual, so that was good. The first thing she noticed was the displaced curtain rod, and asked what had happened, so I told her that my acne was flaring up because we hadn’t changed our pillowcases since we’d been here, and I thought that there might have been other pillowcases in that closet since I’d seen a pillow there before, so I looked, and the curtain rod was displaced, and I meant to put it back before I left, but I forgot. Madame let me have it. Not the pillowcase. IT. In a nutshell, I was being yelled at because I never ask for help. Some of the more interesting things that she said were “I make good food, I go out of my way to bake a gluten-free cake for you, and this is what you do?” and to react to all of my “Je suis vraiment désolée, Madame” replies because I really was sorry I’d made her so upset, and I didn’t know what else to say, she said “you always say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘yes, Madame’ but that’s not going to cut it anymore!” She was upset because I didn’t ask where the pillowcases were, or to ask her to give me one, and because I didn’t ask… I broke the curtain rod. Mind you, Sheila deals with that curtain every day because that’s where her closet is! It could have just as easily been her that broke the curtain rod a few days or weeks down the line, but no, I broke the curtain. I was raised to be independent because my mother worked full time, I did almost everything myself. If I needed a new pillowcase, I went and found it myself, because that’s a tiny thing, not something I need help with. “Good job, Claire, you found your own pillowcase, good girl, smart girl, independent girl.” If I needed help finding a pillowcase, I’d get it, but I would feel a little stupid because I needed help, and I had to bother my mom to do something. If Madame wants me to be dependent and ask for help, fine. It goes against every grain of my being, but I can do it. She made us dinner, called us to the table, went into the living room, and shut the door to talk on the phone. Sheila and I ate as fast as we could just to get out of the house, partly because we wanted to get to the theatre on time, and partly because the tension in the house was as thick as a brick wall.

We were definitely shaken up by the whole incident, and neither of us really knew what to do. Part of me was glad that I got the brunt of the “attack” simply because I can handle things like that decently well. All we knew was that we definitely weren’t looking forward to going home after the play, and we were hoping it would be well after Madame had gone to bed since we wouldn’t have to see her in the morning. We got to the theatre with plenty of time to spare, and we felt better once we got there. For the following three hours, we got to escape reality, go to Molière land to watch L’École des Femmes, courtesy of Comèdie Française and Sweet Briar. I was taking mental notes about how the actors spoke, as well as how the scenery looked since I’d like to produce a Molière piece that stays true to those roots sometime soon. The set was relatively minimal, Arnolphe’s house is kind of like an island complete with little fishing area, and a rope-run dingy to ferry one or two passengers at a time from the “town area” to his property. It worked really well for the metaphors in the play itself. I really enjoyed watching the show, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t so… distracted.

When Sheila and I left the theatre, it was raining, which was terrible considering the fact that I had forgotten my umbrella at home, and I’d ditched my heels for my fast flats that were in my purse… Thankfully, the metro is really close to the theatre, so we booked it underground. It was 11:45 when we left the theatre, so we knew Madame was asleep, which was a bit of a relief. It wasn’t raining when we resurfaced at the metro stop near our house, so we didn’t have to run home. We got home around 12:30, and Madame had gone to bed. The pillowcase that I showed her earlier (the one I hadn’t found a match for and hadn’t changed yet) had been changed! I smiled, and took that as a kind of truce. I figured the pillowcase I’d found earlier wasn’t one I should be using, and since I only actually put my head on one of the pillows (I put the other under my hips when I sleep on my stomach to help with my back pain), I moved the new pillowcase she’d changed onto my “head pillow,” and I grabbed the old pillowcase out of my laundry to put back on my other pillow.

Maybe tomorrow with be Macbetter.

Excuse me while I run outside, spin around three times, and spit to make sure it will be.

Une femme d’esprit est un diable en intrigue. -Molière: L’École des Femmes.

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