Yes, there really is such a thing as a deaf musical

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Every once in a while, it is nice to get dressed up and go to the theater. While I used to do that occasionally down south and much more frequently in junior college, in the years I have been up here, it had not yet been done.

We went partly because this is something Kim and I had been talking about for a while but just had not yet gotten around to it and partly because a fellow Unfiction member is in the orchestra of a show currently in town. For those not in the know, Joe Brent was one of the big contributors in the Matrix/MetaCortex ARG. He has also helped out significantly with all sorts of puzzles involving music and sound. He is sort of the resident genius for any sort of music knowledge. Anyway, he plays fiddle for the show Big River. When he said “look for me in the pit,” I had a mental image of him hidden away with twenty or thirty other musicians in the pit in front of the stage. I did not expect about six musicians on a raised platform above the stage, in plain view of everyone.

The show itself was really well done. It was the story of Huckleberry Finn, but many of the actors in the musical were completely or partly deaf. Many of the actors had a “double” on stage and they worked as twins, doing things together, handing objects to each other, and other sorts of things that you would expect from stereotypical identical twins–sort of like finishing each other’s sentences. One would do the speaking and singing while the other would do the majority of the acting as well as the ASL.

At intermission, Joe waves from above stage and sends a text message. “What’s your favorite song?” Trying to figure out a single answer, Kim and I came up with “Uhhh… well, we like Nine Inch Nails.” “Listen right after Tom Sawyer’s line: We’ll dig him out–with spoons!” What?!?! “Don’t get fired!” The line came and there were a few seconds of an accompanying musical exclamation point. It was difficult to tell and it could have been my imagination, but it really did sound like there was a quick bar of old school NIN hidden in there.

We met up for some food and beer after the show. It was great to finally put a face to a name (yeah, Addlepated has that photo gallery of everyone, but this is different somehow.) After explaining that we were the first people he has really spoken aloud to in several days, he taught us a variety of dirty words and phrases in sign language and regaled us with stories of traveling the world with the show. Hey, he even managed to singlehandedly shut down a WiFi skript kiddie at a coffee shop, earlier in the tour. The evening was fun and I am glad we are going to try to hook up again on Sunday (this time with Spacebass, too–I have been up here for a couple of years now and still have not yet met him.)

Today, I waked upward of 70 blocks. I did not really plan it that way–I wanted to go to Saturday Market to pick up some more of the stuffed mice with super strong catnip. For the sake of exercise, I decided to hoof it instead of taking the bus. About half-way there, the thought–spawned from the previous evening’s show–occurred that I had not read Huckleberry Finn and only vaguely remember Tom Sawyer, thereby cementing the decision to go past Saturday Market to Powell’s, hitting the market on the way back. I now have some nice hardcover editions of the two books (albeit, one without jacket.) At Saturday Market, I picked up something to drink and some fries, then went down to the waterfront. The setting was perfect for relaxing on a bench overlooking the river, sipping on a lemonade, and leisurely soaking up the first few chapters of Tom Sawyer. I had forgotten how much I really enjoy his work and will have to eventually return to get my very own copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court–one of my favorites. I did not think to look at the time, but it appears that they have a $1000 first edition of Huckleberry Finn in their rare book room. Oh, man…now I’m stuck browsing the rare book listings and am getting really, really, really hung up on the expensive first edition H.G. Wells.

Posted in: Dear Diary Portland

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