Thursday, November 5, 2015

Provincetown Playhouse and the House Concert

photo from Wikipedia
After my subway adventure, it was a blessing to finally find the Provincetown Playhouse and to sit in the darkness and listen to two master storytellers. The Playhouse itself has quite a story.  Begun by a group of vacationing writers who gathered in Provincetown, the Playhouse has seen a steady progression of experimental, cutting-edge performances. The group later moved to Greenwich Village,and in this new home continued its successes with works by Eugene O'Neill, Edna Saint Vincent Millay and other well-known names in theater.

The trip was certainly worth my time, even though I missed the first half of the show. Therese Folkes Plair and Joy Kelley Smith sat at a small table onstage, with a musician off to the side playing a marimba. His name I did not get but his playing added an eerie background to the haunting stories of the tellers. Their presentation, with the great title of Haints, Haunts and Whazzits, brought tales of strangeness--of ghosts and snakes and other things that cause us to recoil in fright. Both southern born and bred, they sat at their table and alternated getting up and sharing stories. It was informal, friendly, and more like a conversation between friends. Afterwards at dinner, Joy told me that was exactly what they wanted to achieve, and I think they did it in spades.

I introduced myself to storytellers Regina Ress and Laura Simms after the show. Both have been longtime Facebook friends, and Laura  and I have been on the Storytell listserv almost since its inception in 1996, but I do not think we'd ever met face to face before this event. Regina is the mastermind behind the storytelling events at the Playhouse, and Laura coordinates storytelling at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park and is one of the major storytellers in New York City today. Also there was Mike Seliger, another fine New York teller I'd met a few years ago when I was presenting at a Sharing the Fire Storytelling Conference in Boston. What pleasure to see these friends!

I was invited to join the group for dinner, and there unfolded another new experience for me--Thai food at Galanga restaurant. Now the rest of the world has been raving about Thai cooking for years but I've always shied away from it because I'm not a fan of hot, spicy food. But this was delicious--we ordered only from the appetizer menu and as the food came we passed it around the table, tapas style. Duck, chicken, crunchy salads and all manner of tasty bites I cannot recall found their way onto my plate. I will certainly be looking for more Thai food in the future.

After a bit of excitement finding Mike's car (it wasn't where he thought he'd parked it!)  Laura, Regina, a lady named Suzanne from Germany, Mike and I all piled in and he drove us to Robin's house. I was a little breathless as we were later getting there than expected, so I rushed to change and get ready to perform. The house was already full and more people were coming in when we arrived. I really didn't need to hurry as there were four tellers on the bill for the evening, and I was the last of the four. This was really nice because I could sit back and relax and listen to the others.

First up was Andrew Linderman, telling a story of personal ghosts and lost friends. He was followed by Maria Aponte, whose multicultural heritage gifted her with the ability to "see dead people," as she described it. Her experiences were eerie, to say the least. Then Tommy O'Malley regaled us with laughter, tears and family drama mixed with the story of his complex relationship with a cousin. In between Robin Bady, our host, shared the story of her home, the house in which we were sitting, and the spirits that apparently abide there.

By the time I was up to tell, we were all filled with good stories and good food in that warm home, the perfect ingredients for spinning a story to cap off the evening. My story wound through my childhood, the folklore of the mountains, and experiences of my own and other with the ghostly side of this world.

By bedtime I was more than ready but also too wired to sleep, so Robin and I sat up into the wee hours, just talking over the evening and basking in the glow of an extraordinary day.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


annie said...

Wow! :)

hart said...

That Robin is definitely someone you can talk to all night.

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