Monthly Archives: September 2009

Your phone is ringing…

There has been a lot of talk lately about Hugh Jackman stopping a stage performance to yell at an audience member who’s phone rang.  He is lauded for having the courage to stand up to that rude, horrible person who had no respect whatsoever for the performers on stage.  Firstly, I find it amusing that the mainstream news is all a-twitter about the incident – those of us in the theater world know this is by no means the first time this has happened, it’s just the first time it’s happened to a Hollywood actor.  Today Dominic Papatola was on MPR talking about the issue, and I think he made a very good point – while it was rude and self-indulgent of the audience member to answer his phone during the show, it was also self-indulgent of Mr. Jackman to stop the performance to yell at him.  Distracting things happen all the time to stage performers.  Why does this particular thing merit stopping the show?  It only guarantees that every single person in the house will remember that it was the show when Hugh Jackman yelled at the audience, and that is all they will remember about the show.

We have become a society that often forgets how to be polite to each other.  The little devices in our pockets often take prescedence over the real person we are talking to.  We think nothing of answering the phone in a restaurant or looking up a bit of trivia during a movie.  Is it rude to answer your phone during a theater performance?  Certainly.

But I also wonder this:  When did we decide that live theater should have a dead audience?  By definition, theater is a live person performing for a live audience.  It you don’t have that, you are watching a movie or reading a book.  In Shakespeare’s time attending the theater was a raucous experience, where the lower classes paid a penny to stand in the sawdust below the stage and hurl laughter, insults, and produce at the performers.  I am not suggesting that ushers start handing out tomatoes, but I do think we could benefit from loosening the behavior requirements we place upon our audiences.  Turn off your phone.  Don’t talk.  Don’t eat candy.  Don’t shift in your seat too much.  Laugh, but not too loudly or annoyingly.  We expect our audiences to behave like they would in church.  I say that if we want our audiences to act like they are in church, it should be a Southern Baptist church, not the Vatican.  I want my audience to be alive.  I want them to breathe and laugh and cry and gasp and cheer.  I want them to be fully involved in the experience, not sitting stiffly in their chairs while they are performed at.  I want my actors to know that the audience is with them, pulling for them, hating them, hoping for them, exalting with them and despairing with them.  Theater artists are constantly fighting the perception that our art is old, stuffy, and uninteresting to a younger audience.  Maybe if we stopped expecting our audience to act old and stuffy more people would be interested in coming.  It seems counterproductive to expect a live audience not to be alive.  Should we discourage people from answering their phones at inappropriate times?  Yes.  Should we ask our audience to be alive and engaged and to let us know every step of the way?  Yes.  Otherwise it just isn’t theater.


West, part III

Day 6:

Time to hit the trail.  The trailhead is just south of Darby, MT and follows a creek called Chaffin.  From the map, it’s only 6 miles and 2700 feet.  This is the last time I will ever refer to 2700 feet as “only.”

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The trail climbed pretty steadily, crossing between forest next to the creek and a massive rockslide, with the cliffs going straight up about a thousand feet.

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After two very steep series of switchbacks across the rockslide, we reached the first of three fords of the creek.   It was a lovely little waterfall and a great place to rest a bit after the climb.

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More climbing, more fords, more climbing, more climbing, and a little more climbing…at last we reached the lake.  This trail connects to a chain of three lakes, but we decided to camp at the first one since it took us longer to get up there than we expected.

I’m not sure you could ask for a nicer campsite.

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Jambalaya with summer sausage for dinner, hot coco for desert, and whiskey and cigars by the fire.  A perfect end to the day.

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West, part 2

Day 5:

Kevin and Leah have jobs, which they had to go back to.  Josh and I spent the day finalizing details for our backpacking trip.  We visited the Forest Service office, where they have the huge topo maps, and picked our trail.  Then we hit the outfitters for some last minute supplies and Josh’s fishing license.  When Kevin and Leah got home for work, we decided to do a quick 1-mile overlook hike.  The drive itself was pretty spectacular, as it climbed most of the way up the mountain.  It was about 6:30pm when we started up the trail.  (Who can guess where this story is going?)  The 5-months pregnant Leah turned around about halfway up, and Josh and I pressed on to the top.  We got there just in time to catch the sun setting over the mountains.  It was pretty spectacular.

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Then, because the sun was setting, we hauled ass off that mountain.  Which of course takes us back into the forest, where the sun has already set.  What took us over an hour to get up took about 25 minutes to get down, with one little hiccup.  That damn root was sticking straight up, not far but just far enough to catch my toe.    Ouch!  I will spare you the photo of the road rash on my calf, but it is only now, almost a month later, healed.  Lesson:  don’t hike in the dark without flashlights.  Duh.

We made it down the trail and found Kevin and Leah waiting patiently in the car.  We headed home, had frozen pizza and beer, and went to bed.

Next up on the Internal Ledger:  Our hike up Chaffin Creek


I have a new love…

…and her name is Muhammara.

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The secret?  Pomegranate molasses.

Other things I love:

The view out of our right side balcony door:

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The view out of our left side balcony door:

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Cats, wheatgrass, and antique trunks:

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That is all.

(I know I am behind on the tale of our trip West.  I will continue soon…)


West, part 1

The tale of our trip to Washington for Mike & Nadine’s wedding, and back to Montana to visit Cockroach & Leah, and some backpacking thrown in for good measure.

Day 1:

Drive 850 miles.  Check into cheap motel in Billings, MT.  Sleep.

(North Dakota is nicer than I remember it being.  The eastern portion is actually quite pretty with all the rolling hills.  Much better than South Dakota)

Day 2:

Drive 700 miles.

Eastern Washington is strange.  After you come down through the mountains in Idaho, you come into these lovely rolling plains that go on and on and on…then all of a sudden, the road descends 2000 feet.  The plains are on a giant plateau, but you never would guess that you are at a higher elevation than Kansas.

We arrived in Wenatchee, WA to catch the tail end of Mike & Nadine’s pre-wedding BBQ.  There we met Jim and Carol, who were nice enough to offer these weary travelers (who didn’t plan their trip much ahead of time) a spot in their pasture to pitch their tent.

Day 3:

Breakfast was homemade granola, homemade yogurt, and tons of fruit fresh off the tree/bush/vine.  Jim and Carol have it good.  Then off to the wedding…We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.  Mike and Nadine got married next to their goat pen in the shade of their willow tree, under a chuppah quilt Mike’s mom made.

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It was a pretty darn fun wedding.

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Plus, there were baby goats.

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Josh is lucky one of them didn’t end up in the Fit.

That evening we moved out of the pasture and into a cabin with Roach & Leah and Larry (Mike & Roach’s dad) & Sandy.  There was a hottub.  And whiskey.  It was lovely.

Day 4:

Drive 400 miles.  In true Cochran fashion, almost run of gas in the middle of Montana.


Montana teaser

Last week we went here…

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We also went to a wedding, got to hang out with a lot of people we don’t see very often, hiked, camped, didn’t fish, and drove over 3500 miles.

Details to follow…