New York’s Reaction to Irene was as Dramatic as our Operas

Dear Friends,

My quick trip up to New York was indeed quick, and quite dramatic. I knew that I would be racing the clock to take care of all the business I had hoped to accomplish up there and get on a train back to Washington before Amtrak shut down — but I did not anticipate that upon leaving my first meeting on a sunny Friday afternoon, I would encounter a man taping an evacuation order to the building I had just left.

Was this a sign? Well, yes, it was certainly a sign, but was it a SIGN?

Should I have halved my offer to the composer I had just met? Should I have insisted that he rewrite his opera for a recession-proof ensemble of upturned plastic tubs? (Wait, someone already did that.)

In any case, I had a wonderful meeting with composer Conrad Cummings, who (spoiler alert) will be featured on our upcoming April Festival.

The rest of Friday afternoon was stressful. After my meeting with Conrad, I returned to my hotel under completely different circumstances – transit was to shut down the next day, and what seemed like large swaths of the city were to be evacuated. The front desk clerk was reassuring European tourists that they had nothing to fear on the 14th floor, except for walking up to their room in case of an elevator outage.

“Well, it’s good for the exercise, isn’t it? Because the fitness center won’t be open if the power goes out.”

Right.

I managed to change my Amtrak reservation to an earlier train, and rescheduled the singer I was to hear on Saturday morning to 10:30. Poor guy.

Then it was off to the Fringe Festival, where I thoroughly enjoyed a play called Sammy Gets Mugged, directed by Noah Himmelstein, who (spoiler alert) will also be featured on our upcoming season. Then to bed.

On Saturday morning, I went to Penn Station early to print out my ticket (before the auditions — fortunately, I had booked a hotel within walking distance of the train AND the audition studios!) and it was a madhouse, everyone trying to escape avant le déluge. The electronic ticket kiosk was not cooperating, and the line was too long for me to still make it to the studio on time. I gave up, and went and heard a wonderful singer, which took my mind off hurricanes for twenty minutes.

Back to Penn Station — now it was eerily quiet, as if everyone who was left was resigned to there being no more lifeboats on the Titanic. I felt particularly bad for the ladies working at the only cafe in the station that was open — because the transit system was shutting down at noon, they were not going to be able to make it back to the outer boroughs where they lived. I hope their employer gave them cab fare! Although one really has to ask — was it necessary to shut the whole system down? It made me think of a line from an opera which (spoiler alert) we’re going to produce in April: “Damn you, Mayor Bloomberg!”

Once we had boarded the train, it was still touch and go. We were delayed for 15 minutes due to “mechanical issues”, which turned out to be a lack of hot dogs in the cafe. Once they were loaded on, we were released from New York — and proceeded mostly uneventfully until shortly after BWI airport, when we lost power. So close! Fortunately, we were able to move on before too long, and we certainly made up for lost time — we did the stretch from BWI to the District at 80mph. Yes, we want to get home, but IN ONE PIECE, PLEASE!

We arrived safe if a little frazzled.

Meanwhile . . .

I am now looking forward to a performance at the Harman Center’s Fall Arts Preview, which is part of DC’s Arts on Foot — click on “Activities” and then at the very bottom on “Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Fall Arts Performance Showcase”. We’re performing at 3:30 on Saturday, September 10th . . . eblast to follow shortly.

Hope everyone stayed as dry as I did!

Bob

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