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I think the last few months have affected me a lot and not just in the obvious way of enduring a potential life changing event with my best friend, best lover and life partner. And it’s had a big effect on how I approach directing a play.

But first the good news: yesterday we had our weekly Monday morning with Dr Brian Shaffer. Brian is our transplant guy. He’s laid back, dryly funny, and diffidently charming.If I had a late night tv talk show, I’d have him on as a guest. We got there at nine, they did the blood work, the nurse practitioner came in and asked the usual questions. We waited an hour or so for the labs to come back and then a little after twelve Brian breezes in. “How’s it goin?” Without waiting for an answer he breezes on. “Everything’s looking good. Your kidney’s don’t like the tacrolimus, so let’s take it down to almost nothing. All your counts are up. White cells are up to 4. That’s good.”

“What does that mean?” I ask, “apart from being a number that we like to see go higher?”

He turns to Barbara.

“It means, Barbara, that your immune system is up to about 75% functioning. We be moving you from Red Team to Clinic on Monday and cut you down to two visits a week. Then we can start talking about when you can go back to Pittsburgh-probably in about a month. See ya.” And like the Lone Ranger he mounted the great white horse Silver and vanished into the afternoon. And I went off to rehearsal.

Rehearsals are at that funny in between place right now. They’ve lost the excitement of stepping into the unknown moment of initial discovery and haven’t yet reached the place where they have been fully absorbed into the place of knowing what you’re doing so well that it once again feels like it’s the first time and you’re experiencing a new and higher level of loving in the unknown. This can take a while. It can’t be rushed. It’s a lot like the marathon of medical treatment. To get through that you have to learn a little more patience, a little more detachment and a whole lot of just go slow and don’t get ahead of yourself. Take three slow deep breaths a least once every half hour and make the 59th St Bridge song your ear worm. My new tool kit I find is a very useful thing to bring to rehearsals. Makes my job a little easier when I’m not pushing and shoving the actors around the stage to rush them to a result that I think I want.

A little patience, a little less angst and all of a sudden there’s eights brains operating on all cylinders. Neat, huh.

And one more thing:

From Brecht’s journal Summer, 1940 as Hitler prepared to conquer France:
“Now that the news has turned so bad I am even considering switching off the early morning wireless. The little box sits by my bed and my last move at night is to turn it off, my first in the morning to put it on’.”

And from our composer Sam Day Harmet: There’s a nice Brecht/Eisler song about this little radio!


Jim Niesen


Author Irondale

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