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Dreams Evolve, Even Under the Serious Moonlight

To the brain donor “driving” the red truck who almost killed me Sunday on 15th Street:

Thanks! After a few days off work, and the successful run of a show I directed, I’d almost relaxed.

Also kudos to the late Jim Morrison for this 50-plus-year-old news flash, though the storm fell before and after I was riding: “There’s a killer on the road; his (Editor’s note: Her, in this case) brain is squirming like a toad.”

This could have been head-on, no survivors, were it not for still-taut reflexes and my Honda Fit’s lightning-fast, now-smoking brakes. That truck bore down, turned left in front of me ― I was already about a third of the way through the intersection ― as if it aimed at my grills, both metal and metaphorical.

So thanks for the stiff neck and back, too! If my car horn were my screaming voice, it’d be raw.

“Into this world we’re thrown/like a dog without a bone/an actor out on loan/… Take a long holiday/Let your children play.”

Sort of to the first bits, and yes.

It’s said you should never act with children or animals, not because of the aromas, the feeding times, nor even the difficulty in training.

No. It’s because they steal.

The show.

Sure, audiences applauded grown actors, too, a wealth from college-aged to nearing retirement, and numerous points in between, the fanciful abstracts of celestial projections, the music ― as always played, alternately beautiful (harp) and pounding (wadaiko drums), by Laurie and Koji Arizumi ― the dance-like movement (and actual choreographed closing dance to Oberon’s song), and Shakespeare with his words, words, words.

But those adorable little fairies!

Is what we almost grew tired of hearing, over and over and over…. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about this gaggle of junior Rude Mechanicals since the first progeny of some of our regulars began appearing, about nine years ago.

Several were born stage-struck. At least one appeared on stage in utero. They’ve attended rehearsals and shows, watching wide-eyed, wondering when it would be their turn.

We wrangled eight ― a 3-year-old got held up in contract disputes, about green M&Ms ― into this show, and just as is true with all actors, they appeared at first a smeary blur, a semi-chaotic, energetic on the verge of frantic mess.

And just as is true most times, it pulled together somehow.

To paraphrase Tom Stoppard, from his Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” script:

Theater’s natural condition remains insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what must we do? “Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.” “How?” “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

“I hate ingratitude more in a man/Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness/or any taint of vice whose strong corruption/Inhabits our frail blood.”

Lest we be guilty of crossing (puns always intended) Viola/Cesario, from “Twelfth Night”: Sincerest thanks to all who came to enjoy with the Rude Mechanicals its 20th anniversary performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Folks not only showed in numbers (Due to the difficulty of counting heads when we’ve played outdoors, in the Park at Manderson Landing, I can say only possibly our biggest overall, or equivalent to earlier “Midsummer” productions, and a pair of “Macbeths”), but donated generously.

Such largesse not only helped pay for pro photography (by the great Porfirio Solorzano), but for odds and ends, and dinner with friends (at the Roll Call, atop the Alamite. Wonderful service, airy view, mouth-watering food, and lovely cocktails).

The leftover will aid in the group’s growth toward nonprofit status, to solidify structure, so when the little fairies sprout grownup wings, in 10 or 15 or 20 years, they can take hold.

We’ll recall not just by numbers, of course, but by shared time, laughter, the awws and oohs at all sweet things, only possible for those in the room where it happened.

“Thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings/That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

With “Midsummer” madness gone by for now, I’ve time to indulge an even longer-held fascination: baseball tales.

My first lines of Shakespeare in 2003, spoken again in last week’s show: “Ill-met by moonlight, proud Titania.”

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, lightly fictionalized in W.P. Kinsella’s “Shoeless Joe” novel, adapted into the elegiac movie “Field of Dreams,” was an actual dude, who actually played a portion of one game in the bigs, getting no at-bats, earning no put-outs or assists.

You don’t get that close without being spectacular: Several years in the minors, he topped respective leagues in batting average. While studying for his medical degree, Moonlight also played college football, as well as baseball. After giving up the pro diamond dream, he practiced medicine for 50 years in Chisolm, Minnesota, and, as in the movie, provided free eyecare to the children of Minnesota miners, fitting them with donated, used eyeglasses, also free of charge. He served as chief physician for Chisolm public schools until shortly before his death.

In writer-director Phil Alden Robinson’s script, Graham (played as a doctor-ghost by the legendary Burt Lancaster, in his final role) says:

“We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days.’ I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

For the nickname, there’s dispute: On one side is the notion he was quite fleet, fast as a flash of silvery moonlight. On another, he “moonlighted” as a doctor while trying to break on through. The film lightly suggests insomnia, and late-night walks.

My childhood dreams: Centerfielder for the Braves, firefighter, superhero, not necessarily in that order. What I didn’t dream: Becoming an actor/director/songwriter, all at older-than-usual ages, already past home and trudging toward the dugout, without stopping off at any of the bigs.

Graham died in 1965, but no one is truly gone as long as their name is spoken. Shakespeare’s probably safe, for the nonce. Speak Moonlight.

Source: The Tuscaloosa News