Note: The following are travel notes from Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia founding member and Managing Director, Sara Lee Lewis. She went to NYC from October 11-15 to watch the premiere of our new show. This is her first ever blog post. Thanks, Lee!
Four Days on the Road of Treasured Stories (part 1 of 2)
Some days travel isn’t too demanding, especially at this time of year and proceeded by a few days of rest. My daughter Margo has joined me for a few days, and travels with Jim and me from Halifax. Our flight is uneventful and we arrive at a very quiet Newark terminal at 9:30 AM (Tuesday is, apparently, the preferred day to travel). By 10:30 we are being welcomed in a most hospitable manner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. By 11: 30 Margo and I polish off delicious roasted vegetable salads and iced ginger tea. We set off to explore in the stunning late-summer sunshine – Margo’s idea of high adventure is to head for B and H Photo (NYSuperstore) on 9th and 34th, reputed to be the largest store of its kind in North America. Indeed it turned out to be almost as big as Macy’s, but a lot more interesting. An unusual aspect of the operation is the fact that the business is run by an Orthodox Jewish family and is closed on all the Jewish holidays – and there are many in the Fall. We are in luck, as we visit between Yom Kippur and Succoth. So did literally thousands of other eager buyers. New territory for me – I don’t understand any of the conversations around me. We buy some kind of cord. We have an early dinner of spicy chicken at the Macao, a delightful small restaurant close by our lodgings.
A day off for me, but a mad scramble for my Mermaid colleagues. We say hello to them as they begin the onerous task of shoving the many, many bagged and boxed pieces of our new show into elevators at the Skirball Centre. Two years (at least) of planning, tucked into the loading space of our first venue. All aspects of Mermaid’s operations are important, but I’m always struck by the sheer physical and psychic energy expended on the part of our creative teams. We hope their day will go well and I keep myself busy by heading for Museum of Modern Art and the demanding deKooning show currently encompassing the entire sixth floor. As is usually the case, there were thousands of visitors from every conceivable country; this time I heard lots of Dutch comments. Fun to visit the Museum’s Design Shop, with its new extensive section filled with cleverly designed Japanese everyday household objects. By sheer serendipity, we find ourselves walking past the headquarters and factory of the legendary Jacques Torres, one of America’s most esteemed chocolatiers, so I stop to buy some goodies. Later we have a bowl of succulent Mexican soup, and then meet Jim to travel together Lincoln Center for War Horse. A large and serious audience at the Vivian Beaumont, and there is a pervasive air of expectation. The choice of wine at the bar is dreadful, but the theatre doesn’t disappoint. The cast numbers close to thirty; the integration of multimedia techniques and Devon folk music is highly effective – and, judging by comments from our fellow theatregoers, new to their experience. Above all, it is the puppetry that is memorable, and a treat for us to watch. The horses, which have now become iconic, have a life of their own, but a scolding goose is almost the scene -stealer. We travel back to our hotel by subway, in the company of Christine and Sarah Jean who were also in attendance. We agree that it is amazing to think that our own company continues to play a respected role in Manhattan’s rich cultural life, and I note that we all feel comfortably at home in this setting. Jim and I muse about Mermaid’s first engagement at NYU in 1979, when we presented MICMAC LEGENDS at a conference of the American Dramatists Association. A rather pedantic offering, we recall. I much prefer our current work.