Moscow & Rehearsal
It is Sunday. I am tired and migraine-y. I feel like my veins are filled with molasses.
I put on my same jeans and my Never Give Up SGI t-shirt and take the elevator to the basement to see a similar type buffet as St. Petersburg with the addition of hot dogs and a cream filled napoleon-style dessert.
I am not awake enough to join the group, so I have a little eggs and cabbage salad on my own and go back to our room.
These are the days on tour that I don’t love the most. After a week of non-stop hustle & bustle and travel and lugging and walking at least 7.5 miles every day – oh and the shows we did the week before we left and all that running around to get ready to leave the country and now we are finally here in Moscow and I’m winded walking a flight of stairs.
I feel silly that I’ve come all this way, and I have to give myself a little lie in. My whole life I’ve dreamed of standing in the middle of the Red Square and now it is less than a mile from my door and I’m balking. I guess I really am human and considering that we are doing two shows tomorrow, I remind myself that I am here to do a job. This is a tour not a vacation.
I opt to take advantage of the empty room, chant for an hour and take a very long shower. I pack my rehearsal clothes and snacks and lie back down for another hour. I open the skylight and enjoy the fresh air and I feel the full weight of my body on this very firm twin mattress.
I wander downstairs and begin my stroll toward the theater down our tiny little street. It is warm and there are high puffy clouds. There is a small white church in the traditional onion-dome style. The domes are bright blue like the sky. It has an equally small flower shop in front of it filled with red and pink flowers. As I approach the first intersection of a major street, the volume of cars and people quadruples. For a moment it feels like New York City, except the streets are spotless and I haven’t seen a homeless person in a week.
There is a stride amongst the people walking that is swift and un-self conscious. Maybe a better way to say it is they come across like they aren’t concerned about how they look. But there is a sense of style and formality about them. Being from California, I forget how casual we are. There are no flip-flops here. A sense of self-regard in how they carry themselves which comes across in the clothes they wear. In St. Petersburg, the fashion all felt a little bit like it was the late 90’s or early aughts. There were women of every age wearing dresses with sneakers or cute flats. Here the people instantly feel a little more sophisticated – is it simply because they are Muscovites? Perhaps.
As I arrive at the theater, I put on my lanyard and stop for a selfie. The theater is beautiful in it’s terracotta red, and it feels welcoming. Not austere or grandiose. I walk past security and hold my lanyard and smile and the security guards partially nod in my direction. I walk around to the back of the theater and come to a security desk with turnstiles. I smile and hold my lanyard and they motion me on.
I walk through the green room and directly onto the stage where I find our writer Richard and our stage manager Aaron tech-ing the lights for the beginning of the fourth act.
Let’s go higher on the shutter to the top.
Alice – whom I discover later is the person who translated our show into supertitles – translates Aaron’s adjustments to the theater’s team.
I find Tina working on our costumes and help her distribute to our dressing rooms. Once everyone has arrived we are led through a labyrinth of doors operated by key cards up and down stairs into the lobby where we will rehearse until they are ready for us on stage.
The lobby is grand and lined with tall French windows facing the street. There are these incredible show posters and production stills. The hardwood floors make our voices echo and as we do our dance call the room resonates with our songs. We tease about maybe if we do it well enough in the lobby we will get to do it on the stage. I get goose bumps as we sing “Meadowlands”, our a cappella number that is a Russian folk song. This song comes in the transition from the second to third act when the fire has burned down a third of the town.
I feel heavy under the weight of the history in this city that I cannot quite comprehend. Not because the people I speak to are so serious. It is something in the way they speak and hold themselves. It is as if they have assimilated themselves through this historical lens and allowed their individuality to shine while honoring what has brought them to where they are. Yes, it feels like honor and self-respect.
Then we are off to dinner. Eugenia offers to take us to any of the three within walking distance. David MacIntyre and I opt for the sushi restaurant. I’ve always enjoyed Mac’s company. He and I both have a lone wolf streak in us and sometimes it’s nice to connect even when it’s about not feeling a part of the group. I order a rice bowl with steak and veggies and Mac orders the ramen burger and is presented with black nitrile gloves to wear while eating the burger. Neither of us think sushi as our first meal in Moscow seems weird, and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves. (It was either that or Le Pain Quotidien, which I can get at home.) I sit on the front steps of the theater and eat my bowl while FaceTime-ing with super hubby.
Are you okay babe?
I’m tired today. Hoping that rehearsing the show will help me motivate to get to the Red Square after rehearsal.
Take it easy, honey. Be careful and don’t worry. I won’t tell your mom you are going to the Red Square at midnight.
And that was the half hour.
The theater is a 400 seat house. Simple and beautiful. The backstage is giant and able to accommodate Broadway-sized shows.
About half way through our rehearsal I start to get some adrenaline back. Everything still feels tight though.
Yes, we had a spectacular show in St. Petersburg.
Yes, perhaps they spoiled us and it might be anti-climactic tomorrow.
St. Petersburg is not Moscow.
I can feel the difference in the air. But instead of it feeling like pressure, it is beginning to feel like specificity and focus. That pinpoint of light where everything else falls away and you can see clearly.
We finish up and pack our things to go. I let Kendra know I will meet her at the hotel later, and I slip away into the night. It is actually night here. It has only just gotten dark at 10, but the sun does go down.
Now that I’ve got my feet underneath me again I head toward the Red Square. It has been raining and the air is heavy. As I wander and let this city’s life carry me I am thrilled to see so many people on the street. Folks hanging out in front of bars and restaurant patios are filled. When I come to the end of my street it is the main thoroughfare that goes around the Red Square and back and forth to the Moscow River. To my left is the Bolshoi. It is impressive and takes my breath away a little bit. I double check my map to make sure it is the Bolshoi Ballet. With it’s giant fountain in the front and the chariot of four horses coming out of the top of it, it looks a little more like a government building than a house for art. I don’t know why this is my next thought but it is…
Am I supposed to be impressed?
Yes, I believe you are.
This is a thought that I feel many times around Moscow.
I feel my size in relation to everything around me. I feel tiny.
I find an under-the-street tunnel that will take me to the other side as there are no cross walks.
I wander the direction lots of people are walking and I come to the gates of the Red Square. And as I walk through I am not un-impressed. It is everything that I expected.
The square is flanked by a church to the left and then to the right the super long red wall that is the Kremlin. At the end of the square is St. Basil’s Cathedral. And then on the left is this super white lights extravaganza of a building that turns out to be a mall known as the GUM. Okay I didn’t expect that and am actually a little disappointed that one of the largest and most known squares in the world next to Tiananmen Square has a mall. I am a little offended. I guess I had an expectation that Red Square wouldn’t feel like visiting Rodeo Drive.
The square is filled with people of every size, shape and color, all doing the same thing I am. Taking photos and selfies and videos and pointing and marveling.
The clock tower rings out twelve bells to announce that it is now midnight. I will not tell my mother that it was midnight when I came as she had asked me not to go anywhere alone. Sorry Mom but I feel completely safe. (sheepish shrug)
I look at the map to see how far it is to the hotel. Now is probably a good time to head back-before the adrenaline exits my body and leaves me in a lump on the side of a Moscow road.
As I walk back and gawk at all of the awe-inspiring buildings, this same thought comes back to me.
Am I supposed to be impressed?
Is that the point? For me to be impressed?
Am I supposed to feel small?
Am I supposed to supplicate myself?
Was that the intention?
Is this part of a larger subliminal ploy for the militarization of a country where the good of everyone must work toward supporting the state?
This conversation is supplanted by the third giant and grand theater I pass. I stop to weigh the cultural ramifications of the importance of art and it’s grandeur even if it is meant for the purposes of supplication.
I decide to table this entire conversation with mom until further investigation or maybe not even then.
Maybe hanging out in my brain trying to assess the positive and negative traits of Communism isn’t the best use of my energies right now.
When I return to the hotel, I have walked 5.6 miles. Not bad considering the beginning of the day was spent prone in my bed.
The only job that I am now tasked with is to rest and prepare my heart, mind, body and spirit for our shows tomorrow. The first being our run-through that will be a show for the press. And our second being at 7 pm.
This is what all of your training was for, I tell myself.
All of those years.
All of the blood, sweat and tears were for this.
Rest easy and dream big.
Tomorrow Moscow awaits.