Guerrilla Theater Company
Romeo & Juliet
Rehearsal, August 1994.
We were marking through Act Three, scene 5, the “Nightingale Scene.” The young couple, newly married, have consummated their vows and now Romeo must depart Juliet’s chamber before he (wanted by the authorities for murder) is found.
“I’m missing something,” I said. “Let’s take it again.” I was sitting in the seats watching, Eric walked back up the stairs from the Boutique where he exited this scene, and Tracey wiped away some tears and sniffled loudly. Beemer stood nearby, ready to repeat her brief entrance as the Nurse.
Our Romeo and Juliet were, despite my original conceit to cast them as grotesque, very attractive. A Korean-American man and a young woman of the Jewish persuasion. I was amused when the Morning Journal, featuring a prominent photo of the happy couple, referred to their relationship as “multi-racial.”
I paused for a moment to recover my thought. Some believe I am pensive when in fact I am easily distracted and often absent-minded. My cast waited patiently.
“I mean, this is a game, right?” I said. “I mean, not a fun game, but it’s like, you don’t want him to go, right?”
Tracey stared at me. I continued.
“So you do what we all do, you pretend, you argue, it’s not day, it’s still night.”
I thought of the dull light that shone through the blinds of her apartment, sifted down between the massive apartment buildings of Washington Heights -- no direct sunlight, ever, at night the street was awash with traffic light, it was all diffused, we forgot what time it was, what day it was, whether it was day or night.
“And besides, you just woke up, you’re half asleep, I need to see that. And you --”
“Uh-huh,” Eric said, tense, always at the ready.
“You’re trying to be responsible, but you’re still this romantic ... right? How is’t my soul? Let’s talk, it is not day. -- that bit there, you’re acting like you just want to make her happy but I need to believe in that moment, you can’t go, you’re weakened by your love, by the fear of, of, of, of where you have to go, which is nowhere basically, you’re casting yourself into the unknown, right? I mean, Mantua, where the fuck is that, it’s like hurry up and wait, excuse me, I’m rambling, but do you get me?”
“Uh-huh,” he said, “I gotcha, Dave.” Then he took off his pants.
“Good,” I said. And thought again. And they waited. Beemer just squatted on a chair and peered at me, looking just a little bored. Eric and Tracey were stripped to their Guerrilla T-Shirts and underpants in anticipation of beginning the scene again, ready to get dressed, ready to kiss, ready to cry.
“Good,” I said. “So finally he takes off, right? And you make the best if it -- Then, window, let day in, and let life out. And Romeo you take that as a cue to leave, and Juliet, BAM, you’re right back in there -- Art thou gone so? And Romeo, you are right back there, you go right back there. Someone has to be brave enough to break this off and neither of you are. And when he finally goes, and you are left there by yourself, Tracey, I need you to take time -- you need to see him, he’s in your sight, then he’s gone, and you can still picture him and he’s outside and he’s five yards away and then he’s five miles away, and you can feel the distance growing between you and the further he goes away the wider your heart splits open and HA, Jesus Christ, ha ha, where did that come from?”
All three of them looked at me blankly.
“Uh. So let’s, uh ... see that.”