Monday, October 15, 2012

Tots, Lemaire, and the RTCC Awards, aka my weekend.

It's easy to lose weekends while you're in nursing school. There's always an exam or a project or something that demands weekend time and attention.

But sometimes, you just have to say, screw it. I need a real, whopping, fun filled weekend. This was one of those. I even had an Patho exam on the GI system this morning, and had to study for it last Wednesday and for two hours early this morning. But it was totally worth it. (Also not to brag, but I kind of killed that exam. Maybe being exhausted should be my new test taking strategy).

All of this fit into 72 hours between Friday and Sunday:

-Sticky Rice bday dinner where I tried, as always, to consume my weight in Tots. Yes, capital T, Tots. They have earned that distinction. Those things (and their sauce, oh the dipping sauce!) deserve some kind of civic pride award.

-Argo Friday night. Tense, gripping, and poignant. But honestly my favorite part, other than Jimmy Cooper and spy daddy from Alias in film roles, might have been all the 70s staches and really, really bad hair. God I wish I had been alive during that decade if only to witness the hair.

-The boyfriend took me out for a second birthday dinner (yes, second, and I'm going out for a THIRD on my actual birthday with my family, I am basically Marie Antoinette in my decadence) to Lemaire. Is there a classier restaurant in Richmond? It's one of those places where you want to stand up and applaud the waiters, because they are so darn professional it's like live theater. The food was impeccable. I love that nearly everything in the menu is from somewhere local (and of course I love that one of their salad's is named after my aunt, Jo, of Manikontowne fame). I got egg pasta with mushrooms, artichokes, and basil pesto, plus this gob-smackingly good cinnamon, squash bisque with crab meat. It tasted like fall in a bowl. And if I hadn't been somewhere so fancy I would have licked the bowl.

-After dinner we saw A Bright New Boise. I sadly didn't get to review it. But my mini review is that I loved it. I thought it was powerful and intelligent and bracingly sad. Billy Christopher Maupin is one of my favorite actors to watch in Richmond. His performances always feel like watching an exposed nerve. He plays vulnerable so beautifully and with such precision and restraint. The rest of the cast was wonderful too. I think Saturday was its last night, so I'm very glad I squeezed it in.

-Sunday brunch at Stella's, my new favorite Richmond brunch spot. I am a sucker for anything Greek, especially when it's topped with a fried egg and served alongside a Blood Mary.

-We took a super, long walk on Sunday to Barker's Field by the Carillon. On the way back we looped by the Pump House. And as a lifelong Richmonder, I was shocked to learn this place existed. It felt like something that should be in Holland, old and quaint and surrounded by canals. I hope to God someone, either the city or a private developer, sees the potential in this now defunct building. Signs on the property said it hosted dances and parties in the late 1800s, and I hope that in the near future it gets restored and used again. Because it's so gorgeous and unique and would be a tremendous asset to Richmond.

-If that wasn't all enough, we topped off the weekend by getting all glamorous and glitzy and heading to the RTCC awards. I am in the critic's circle, but I take zero credit for the success of the evening. I voted on nominees and winners and that is about it. I am in awe of what my colleague and event chair, Dave Timberline, put together. This was my second year attending, and it's such a great time. First of all the November Theatre is full of beautiful actors in fancy clothing, so that alone is fun. Second of all, there is a lot of booze and people imbibe freely, so also, fun. But there are so many great aspects of this event. I really loved the acceptance speeches, because it was obvious that it meant a great deal to the winners. They, and all the nominees, were all so deserving. I loved the dance number put on by the SPARC kids to open the show. I loved the best musical numbers sprinkled throughout the show.

I thought the presenters were funny and engaged. I thought overall the night was a huge success, and credit to all of the people who worked very hard to put it on. The night was a personal success, because I managed not to fall on my face when I walked up to the stage during the "perp walk" of critics. I'm also pretty sure no one booed, so that's nice. I am positive no one threw tomatoes at me, so also, yay!

It's a weird thing to be a critic at an award's show, because you're absolutely an outsider. You're invited to the party, because well, your vote is what drives the party. But at the end of the day, you still judge everyone at that party for pay (very little pay, but still pay). And that's a weird barrier to move past. Some of my colleagues are much more familiar with the members of the theater community than me, but I'm still getting the lay of the land and learning names and faces. I am so often in awe of the professionals involved in Richmond theater. There is so much talent, and last night it was all I could do not to wander around and introduce myself with a constant refrain of "I think you're wonderful." That's not a very cool or critic-y thing to do, so I held back, but despite the fact that I review plays, mostly I am a big, nerdy fan.

It was great last night to see this world celebrated and toasted (and get toasted, ba dum dum...I apologize immediately for that). It seems that everyone there last night understood how lucky and fortunate they are to get to play in this world. As a writer, I am deeply envious of actors and lighting designers and directors and everyone involved in theater. I love writing. It is my creative process, and it is what inspires me and pushes me and changes me. But in terms of creative processes, writing is such a lonely one. Mostly we're solitary in our work. Our true moments of inspiration or creativity, our triumphs of art, happen while we type at a laptop alone in an empty apartment.

So last night I watched, with a little jealousy, as this world of collaborative art celebrated each other. I am really happy I get to at least live vicariously through the theater community from time to time. It's been more than two years since I fell down the rabbit hole into this crazy world, two years full of dozens of plays and musicals. I am proud to be even a fringe part of the Richmond Theatre Community. And I look forward, as always, to what's next.

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