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10 Days On Earth - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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10 Days On Earth [Apr. 9th, 2006|07:26 pm]
Young Geoffrey
[Tags|, , , , , , , , ]
[Current Location |Toronto]
[mood |optimisticoptimistic]

In January or February of 2001, I angered my then girlfriend Darcy by snapping my fingers in a light-hearted effort to get her to follow me through a brief break in traffic on Bathurst Street. Darcy did not appreciate the gesture, considering it disrespectful and condescending at best. We walked in tense silence to a bar around the corner, where we were to meet up with Neil (her old friend and now her spouse) before heading on down to the Canstage theatre on Berkley Street.

Darcy had been staying with me for a couple of weeks in order to save a month's rent, as she was soon to be on her way to Stratford and a job in the costume department of the Festival there. As sometimes happens, living together had revealed that the cracks in our relationship were in fact yawning chasms. Even before this particular snit I was counting the hours until she was gone.

I had picked her up at her work, a second-floor factory just south of Bloor Street, in which she laboured making costumes for The Lion King. I had been in good spirits, but her grumpy silence ruined mine - that I found Neil a prattling bore (one of those guys who will tell you everything you didn't want to know about, say, making wine) only made matters worse.

The three of us shared an uncomfortable beer, then took the TTC for our ride south, during which we managed to get into a ridiculously heated argument about the merits of the life-size moose then infesting Toronto's streets as some sort of tourist draw (Darcy thought them charming, I thought they were silly - at best).

By the time we reached the Canstage theatre, we were barely speaking and I could think only of how much I wished she wouldn't be coming home with me.

But Ronnie Burkett's marvellous play, Happy, took me away from my failing relationship. Working with wooden marionnettes, Burkett play was a revelation to me, by turns touching, hilarious and deeply empathetic toward the human condition. And his mastery of his marionettes was quite simply amazing to me - who knew that solid wooden carvings could be so very expressive?

Two years ago, when Burkett's next play, Provenance, came to Canstage, I had just met Laura, but did not feel comfortable enough yet to invite her to join me at the theatre (a decision I've regretted - in a small way - ever since, but there's nothing to be done about it now). Provenance didn't hit me with quite the force that Happy had done, but I was not disappointed.

Well, Burkett has a new play in production, and this time I sure as hell was taking Laura.

And so it was we celebrated our 1st anniversary as co-habitants (yes, another anniversary; please remove your claws from my oh! so delicate back, Gentle Readers) on Friday night at the Canstage theatre.

In essence, 10 Days On Earth is a simple story, about Darrel, a middle-aged mentally retarded man who lives with his mother. She dies in her sleep and Darrel spends 10 days alone, unaware that she hasn't emerged from her room because she is no longer alive. Darrel carries on his routine - he works at a shoe-shine stand, hangs out with Lloyd, a homeless man who believes he is God, and spends time with his favourite book, a children's book about Honeydog and Little Burp, who are searching for a home.

As before, Burkett's performance - as a voice-actor and puppeteer - is sublime. As before, his story is delicate admixture of both the joy and the agony that accompanies existence. While I really felt for Darrel as the days went by, and he grew hungrier and more lonely, I did so not because he was pitiful in his childlike innocence and ignorance, but because he was a fully-realized character, one that I cared about in a way that only the best art can accomplish.

10 Days on Earth is a small gem, a subtle, personal drama that nevertheless explores the universal experiences of love and loss, of hope and joy.

Burkett's show is like nothing you've ever seen before, Gentle Readers. Those of you who are in Toronto, call Canstage and book tickets now, before the show hits the road. Those of you who live elsewhere, keep your ears and eyes open and hope that he brings his production to someplace near you, before it is "retired" like his early ones.

10 Days on Earth is unique and ephemeral. You owe it to yourself to experience it.

[User Picture]From: starlett_star
2006-04-09 11:33 pm (UTC)
wow. that play sounded amazing. i wish i could see it here in Australia.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-10 01:50 am (UTC)

The Play

I know he does take his work overseas, so I suppose it's not impossible that he'll make it to Oz (are we allowed to use that term?).
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-04-10 02:52 am (UTC)

Re: The Play

haha. yes you're allowed to use the term 'Oz' if you wish!

hmmm well i will keep an eye out for him. i doubt he would come here though. we are too 'in the middle of nowhere' for most people.
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From: _kathairein_
2006-04-09 11:48 pm (UTC)
I like the mooses. Where'd all the other ones go?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-10 01:53 am (UTC)

Where Have All the Mooses Gone?

... Been vandalized, every one.
At least, that's my guess,
At least thaa-aaat's my guess.
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[User Picture]From: amaaanda
2006-04-10 01:40 am (UTC)
I would have killed you had you snapped at me. I don't know why it's just so damned offensive, but it really, really is. I'd rather to be told "Hurry up you fat cunt" than snapped at. It's that bad.

And I loved those mooses (meese?).

But on a lighter note, you sold me on the play. I'm going to see if Justin wants to join me.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-10 02:00 am (UTC)

Snapping Beebops

Aw, if you knew me you'd be okay with it. Or maybe not - my friend Helen's known me for years and she still hates it when I use the word, girl, in place of the word, woman. And that even though I very often use the word, boy, in place of the word, man.

Not everyone shares my devil-may-care way with words.

And, apparently, I am much more alone on the topic of those bloody-damned moose than I'd thought.

But yes, makje those reservations now!
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2006-04-10 02:07 am (UTC)
For the record (since everyone seems to have an opinion) I loathed the moose and everything they represented. To me it signified that the little emporer Mel Lastman and Toronto by associaton had no clothes.

Anyhow thanks for the heads up on the play it sounds devine!

I'll try to check it out.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-10 02:32 am (UTC)


For the record (since everyone seems to have an opinion) I loathed the moose and everything they represented. To me it signified that the little emporer Mel Lastman and Toronto by associaton had no clothes.

Yes, exactly. Toronto was being run into the ground by almagamation, and fiberglass mooses were the best "solution" on offer.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Burkett's play.
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[User Picture]From: deweyintoronto
2006-04-10 03:00 pm (UTC)
I'll check out Burkett's show for sure. I forgot all about Canstage until I started working for The Bank, and we're a major sponsor, so I've made a habit of getting out to more Canstage and Soulpepper productions ever since. OK, I won't lie, the fact that it's often free passes doesn't hurt.

If she was getting on your last damn nerve, it's entirely possible the feeling was mutual, so the snapping was more irritating than usual. My ex used to hold his hand out to take my hand when we were jaywalking. In the beginning, I found it sweet and adorable. Near the end, it was "F*ck off! I'm a grown woman, perfectly capable of crossing the damn STREET by myself, you condescending jerk!"

I hated the moose campaign, if for no other reason than it was hokey, and perpetuated the "Canada is full of igloos and wildlife" thing for the tourists. Fer crissakes, they might as well have brought Bob & Doug out on an International Trade Mission.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-10 05:57 pm (UTC)

Condescending Jerk

Near the end, it was "F*ck off! I'm a grown woman, perfectly capable of crossing the damn STREET by myself, you condescending jerk!"

"Now dear, I think you'd be over-reacting, don't you? Whatever happened to your sense of humour? Although, you're awfully cute when you throw those little tantrums."


If you get free tickets to Burkett's show, you should consider taking me - I'd love to see it again. :)

As for the moose, what the hell do they have to do with Toronto? Now, if they'd been life-size hogs ...
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[User Picture]From: deweyintoronto
2006-04-14 04:26 am (UTC)

Re: Condescending Jerk

Hey, you must have been there for one of our heated discussions on that very topic! :)

Absolutely will let you know if I scam, er... am lucky enough to get free tickets. Also, from time to time Insert Name of Senior Executive Type Here is unable to make it to the GRAND OPENING of a production, so we need seat fillers so it doesn't look pathetic when we have empty seats in the front row at the Grand Opening of a production that we're the fucking presenting sponsor for... It's usually short notice, but I can happily add you to the distribution list of people we call on to say "HELP!" if you'd like.

You must understand, of course, that now that I've extended the offer it will never, ever happen. Because I am cursed by the Murphy's Law...

On another note, I just noticed that you have SEED listed on your schools list. Were you there while Murray Shukyn was still around? I went to his next project, SOLE, and have found myself wondering how he's doing from time to time.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-19 04:48 am (UTC)

Re: Condescending Jerk

Yes, yes! I will happily accept it if Insert Name of Senior Executive Type Here wants to give me his seat. But if it doesn't happen, I will blame the Gods and not you. As must we all, I sacrifice a goat to Murphy every 3rd Wednesday.

Murray Shukyn was long gone from SEED by the time (fall, 1979) I got there, but I did meet him once, through some sort of connection to SOLE.

But that must have been back in 1984 or something, so I have no idea how he is doing now.
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From: boom_boxx
2006-04-11 05:25 pm (UTC)

Moose! Orcas! Bears! Oh my!

We have a similar thing with bears and orcas here. For some reason, there is a bear painted with dentist theme not too far from where I live. I am unsure why, especially because as far as I know the nearest dentist is a few blocks away. :) I think they are very, very silly.

They're also fixing up the sidewalks on Commercial Drive, and have added these little "Totally Drive Certified" stamps on some of the corners. No one I've met who has lived here any length of time and feels the drive is home really likes it or thinks it's part of the area's character. It was a brainchild of the business association.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-04-15 05:49 am (UTC)

Re: Moose! Orcas! Bears! Oh my!

First, nice story, Geoff! It is quite fun to read about your adventurers even tho, as Vern says, I wouldn't want to live them. How are your eyes/skull?

Regarding animals and Canadiana, my partner photographed this dentist moose a few weeks ago:


Canadian Ass Magic!

; )

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2006-04-19 04:56 am (UTC)

Re: Moose! Orcas! Bears! Oh my!

The eyes and skull are as good as ever, my friend (if you don't count the fact I am now wearing bifocals).

As for your partner's photo, that tooth looks disturbingly like a much larger and softer part of the human anatomy. Ass Magic indeed.
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