It was holiday season in St. Louis when I was maybe five, maybe seven years old. I was very dressed up, wearing my new grown-up capezio shoes with a low vamp and no socks for the first time. I kept looking down at my feet, unable to believe that I had actually gotten the shoes I coveted but never thought would be mine as a gift from my parents. Our family entered the large building with a black and white marble floor. I followed along through the lobby of the American Theater and then to our seats. As the house lights dimmed and the curtain went up, I was entranced, more captivated by what was going on in front of me on the stage than I was with my sexy black suede Capezios. Her name was Ginger, the teenager in the blue satin dress with the ponytail, the play,Time Out for Ginger. A passion was lilt in me for the world of theater that has never gone out, and has dragged me from writing and performing in some of my own works, to ushering at some of the well-known theaters in D.C., to being a constant supporter of new works and audience member. anywhere I can attend.
Until this past week here have been several venues that stage shows in San Miguel that are open now that were previously closed due to Covid, but the performances at those venues only run for two or three weekends to be replaced by some other kind of entertainment by another group. There has been no consistent company, and no schedule to count on as the plays have to move from place to place to fit into the cultural calendar. But Alan Jordan, long-time actor on some of the finest stages in the US and Canada, who “retired” here 16 years ago to direct and act in some of the productions here, felt keenly the hole in the professional theater scene and was determined to do something about it. This year his group, Caja Negra, found a space to rent, built a new theater from ground up, with highest quality lighting, seating and design. We went to an Open House for donors to see the newly finished space and meet the repertory company that will offer 3 plays a month, ALL YEAR LONG! It was an exciting evening. The first play, My Brilliant Divorce, a one-woman piece by Irish play-write Geraldine Aron, launched this week. Sitting in the new red leather seats, getting ready for the performance to carry me away, I felt completely at home. The play is a comedic romp through a woman’s heart and mind as she faces and ultimately survives divorce. The actor who played Angela, the divorcee, was stunning. If this first piece was any indication, we’re in for a wonderful year of theater and I am beyond thrilled.
Thankfully, it’s easy to buy and read books in English on my Kindle. But I really miss my book group from Frederick, both because of the discussions and the friendships that grew out of it. A couple of months ago I mentioned to a friend and across-the-street-neighbor that I really wish I belonged to a book group here. “Really?” she said. “That’s funny, I just got an email from a friend who is starting a new one, and if you’d like to be on the list, I’ll send her your information.”
We had our first meeting Wednesday night, 9 women and 1 guy, all of whom live in nearby neighborhoods. We will rotate homes, 12 counting those who were out of town this month. Each host will choose the selection to read in advance. Our first discussion was animated and fun, with several points of view expressed by intelligent, open, well-read people. One woman is a psychotherapist, about my age, the child of two Holocaust survivors, who is nearly finished writing her first memoir. I found so many connections with those people who have lived all over the world and made their home in San Miguel. It was almost as remarkable a gift to me now in my life in San Miguel as my Capezios were to me when I was a child.