Dream, October 11th, 2014, illustrated with various website photos and links:
I’m at a singing recital in a school auditorium. There is a stage at one end and rows of folding chair facing the stage. More people showed up than expected so they’ve added a row of chairs in the very back with an aisle in front of that row for people to walk by. This recital is being video recorded to be played on PBS.
My friend Ann and I are sitting in this added back row near the center. She is on my right.
On stage, my friend Karin is singing Shenandoah. It sounds beautiful with her sweet ringing soprano voice. I think back to when she used to have pitch problems and how far she has come. I close my eyes to listen
But what if the PBS camera pans the audience and shows me with my eyes closed? It might look like I am bored or sleeping. So I start to sway so people watching their TVs will know I am closing my eyes to absorb the music.
My enjoyment is disrupted by the chatter of people talking. I open my eyes. About six rows in front of me to the right there is a family chatting among themselves: a mother, a teen age son, a girl in her pre-teens, and a younger girl about 4. The kids are holding Dixie cups filled with fruit punch. We are not supposed to bring in food and drink. They must have brought it in during intermission. I hope they don’t spill it.
The teen boy is saying to his mother, “Shouldn’t we leave now?” and she says to the girls, “It’s time to go meet your dad.” Karin is still singing and they are talking loudly. How rude for them to be talking during a performance, especially about leaving, which is even ruder. Karin ends her song and people start to applaud.
I stand up and step in front of Ann. She thinks I am giving Karin a standing ovation but I am not clapping. I cross in front of Ann and she grabs my arm and says, “What are you doing?” I say, ”I’m going to tell those people that they are being rude.” And she says, ”No you better not do that because people might think you are being racist.” I sit back down, confused.
The family now is heading down our aisle toward the exit. I hadn’t noticed before, but since Ann mentioned race, I see that the mother’s head is covered with a wrap. Following behind her, smiling and skipping, is her preteen African American daughter. And next is her teen age Hispanic son who is holding the hand of the youngest child, a light skinned blonde and blued eyed little girl. That is a very diverse family, but being rude has nothing to do with race.
The applause subsides about the time the family is in front of us. As they pass I start clapping and I say obnoxiously, ”I’m clapping because you’re leaving. Now I’ll be able to hear the singers.” Embarrassed, Ann shrinks down in her seat. The family does not react. They don’t know I am talking about them.
After the recital, I head back to my car and see people who had preformed. One is a friend I haven’t seen since high school, Marie. I don’t know the other girl. She is quiet and holding books to her chest with her head hung low. I give them my complements and the shy girl nods.
Other people are milling around and I announce that down the block my singing class is having a recital and all are invited. Someone says, ”I think I have heard enough singing for one day.” I and I explain that this recital is all show tunes. My friend Trillian and her fiance Gordon say that they’ll go.
Instead of going back to my car, we walk three stories down an outdoor cement staircase. When we reach the bottom I say, “It is in here.” and point to a small doll house sized theater building.
Trillian giggles thinking I am kidding, “How can it be in there?” And I say, “We’ll have to get small first. Let me see if I can find something.” To the right of the theater is a doll size chest of drawers and I open the top drawer.
The drawer is filled with sewing supplies, pin cushions, thread, bobbins, thimbles,
and at last I find a tiny baggy containing a breath mint paper, the kind that dissolves when you put it on your tongue. The baggie has “eat me” written on it. How very Alice in Wonderland! I open it up and realize there is only one in there. Now what? I tear a few little pieces off and give them to my friends. We put them on our tongues and we shrink.
We are still not small enough to get into the room. I say, “I’m not sure what to do now.” I look through the dresser again and find a small vial that say, “Antidote. Drink me.” That will obviously make us big again, which doesn’t solve the problem.
To the right of the dresser is a foot high tunnel and a small car comes through it. We back up and hide behind some bushes so we don’t scare the little people who are a lot smaller than our now shrunken selves. They get out of their car and head into the theater.
That reminds me, I didn’t use the papers the last time. I simply drove through the tunnel and I was small when I got to the other side. The tunnel makes you small. Gordon suggests we go into the tunnel and get smaller. And I say, “But what if it is percentage of your size and not proportional and it makes us way too small? I’m not sure how it works.”
At this point they decide it is too much trouble so they drink the antidote, get back to their normal size, and head for the stairs. I eat the rest of the paper and shrink down to the correct size and go into the theater.
A person at the door hands me a program printed on dark green construction paper. It is eight pages long. The recital is just starting as I take my seat. As I read the program I realize it is four acts instead of the usual two acts. That’s odd. There are ten singers in the first act, all first semester singers, all very scared, really hard to watch. It is barely enjoyable. I find myself counting how many more singers until intermission. At intermission I find Marvel, the instructor who made the recital order, and ask, “Why are there four acts?”
She explains that she couldn’t get the venue for two nights so she had to put both classes on the same night. “And I put all the Newbies from both classes first,” she explains, ”because I wanted to get them out of the way early.”
I say, “But it was grueling. Half the audience is leaving because they think the whole recital is going to be like that.” I turn to a couple who is leaving, hold out my open program and I say, “But it gets better,” and I point to act two where it lists Sam’s name.
The couple shake their heads and walk out the door. Many people follow behind them. I glance back at the seating and only about half the seats are filled now and act two is getting ready to start.
I continue to look through the pages of the program, “I don’t recognize these songs” I say as I reach the last page. The header on the back page reads, “For Your Enjoyment” and five songs with the singers names are listed below it. I turn back to Marvel holding up the program, “What are these songs?”
She explains that those are songs people introduced in class, but hadn’t sung yet because we ran out of class time. “So I’m just going to let them perform them at the recital as an encore.”
I say, “But they’ve never even sung them in class. That seems unlike you to let people do something they haven’t rehearsed in class.” Our conversation is interrupted by one of the students, Caralin.
She is dressed in a very colorful Gypsy outfit, complete with a jingling coin sash and lots of scarves and jewelry and glittery face makeup. I say, “Wow, what song is that for?” and she points to her name on the back page along with a song title I have never heard before. She says, “I hope it goes okay because I haven’t sung it with the piano yet. I had the outfit so Marvel said I could go ahead and do it.” My eyes widen as I search for something encouraging to say, but nothing comes to mind. Act two is getting ready to start, so Caralin heads to her seat.
I turn to Marvel and continue our conversation, “I have no problem making the recital longer, but letting everyone sing everything they want isn’t going to work. Four hours is too long Maybe we need to rethink this whole ‘who gets to sing what’ in the recital. ”
She explains her reasoning, “Well, there were some duets and ensembles that I wanted in the recital, and that meant some people got more than one song, so I had to let everybody sing all of their songs to be fair.”
I say, “ What if everyone get one song and then YOU pick any extra songs based on what you think the audience will enjoy, rather than letting everybody do every song they have ever brought in class.”
I see her thinking about it, “We’ll have to see how well that would go over with the students.”
Sometimes she can be too accommodating. What do you think?