30 June, 2017

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


27 June, 2017

"She Enters The Room" from After Anatevka in Concert

Ryan Silverman
"She Enters the Room" from AFTER ANATEVKA in CONCERT

based on the novel AFTER ANATEVKA read and written by Alexandra Silber

Music by Joe Thalken
Lyrics by Joseph Amodio

Performed by Ryan Silverman (Dmitri)


*
Chapter 44: The Book of Dmitri

    Dmitri Pavlovich Petrovsky had been born with twines of music lodged tight about his heart.  Like a rusted barbed-wire, it clutched at him and the harder he struggled, the deeper the barbs would cut.  The wounds festered, encased in the pus of his dead imagination. 

    Coming from a family of folk musicians in a city as bright as Petersburg made no difference whatsoever to a boy so innately fraught by the simultaneous demands and admonitions of a world in which he felt he did not belong. Depression blanketed the boy from the time he could remember, though his family was quick to dismiss it all as “family flair” or “histrionics.”
    “Mityushka!” They cried, “Nyezh-naya Mitya!” They did not, they could not, know what to do with him. Nor did he know what to do with himself.

    Dmitri’s personage had always been a shroud of mystery—broad shoulders hunched over a lanky body as if to protect the heart that ached within. His face beautiful, but tender and surrounded by a mop of dark, messy curls. Large expressive hands with long fingers worked up into fists plunged deep within his pockets, or else wringing, itching to be used to play his cello. His small but ferociously intelligent eyes held all the world at arms length, shielded further by the spectacles he’d worn since childhood. 

    If the truth of a man lies within him, then it stands to reason one might then be able to simply open him up and grasp at that truth the way one carves into a carcass to extract the tenderest cuts of meat.
    But there are certain men whose inner truths are far too delicate, and whose constitutions far too strong to penetrate. In such a case, one must simply wait for the truth within to creep out of its own accord, like a creature that may break apart if pressure is put upon it. Perhaps it was so with Dmitri.
    But how could the shackled heart, and the poetry that mocked within him; how could the stench of fear,  the cacophonous clamor of uncertainty, and the darkened depths of spirit; how could any of it ever be expressed?

    It was the cello, in the end, that set him free. That gave him peace. Inside the chords and notes and arches of melody, he found an expanse of space where all of what he longed to be could fit— that unnameable, unknowable self.
    He tagged along, of course, to play in the city venues with his family— folk songs soared and crowds cheered as his father lead with accordion, his mother on balalaika and sisters on violins.
He was grateful to his family for the instrument itself (handed down from his grandfather), and for the ability to play it. But his family, however musical, could not hear his music at all.

*

    Once in Nerchinsk, no cold, no labor, no punishing treatment, no single thing could mar him more than the love that raged within his breast for her. The love he felt but could not utter, which he knew with every scrap of his being to belong not to him, but to the only man he admired, the man he respected above all others. If only he could say what everyone already knew to be true.

    Everyone, that is, but her.

    He felt that ancient barbed twine unravel itself and come between them, it lodged itself into Hodel without her knowledge, and once enmeshed it yanked and ripped at his already riled heart, and made it throb in agony. One moment he would revel in her scent, the next he could weep with guilt.

    When together, the three of them were such a happy triangle. But Dmitri recognized he was the  hypotenuse in a shape perfectly right without him—an attachment, not at all unlike a third wheel on a cart— excessive, unnecessary for it to function, but somehow with its presence the entire structure had better balance. Countless times he nearly spoke, nearly moved to kiss her; Tell her! His mind bawled, Take her in the arms you know were designed to enfold her within them! But every time, he thought of what would happen if he did. Crippled by loneliness, fear penetrated his love—the alchemical result was aloofness. Or often, viciousness.

    He knew that he could never be alone with her without wanting desperately to touch her. Could not touch her without wanting to posses her, to make her his own. So he barely spoke to her at all. He would waste his life away beholding a painting upon the wall of a locked house he would never be allowed to enter…

There was nothing to be done.
Nothing he could do but play, of course.
Every strand of aching music, every forlorn concerto, for her. 

*


20 June, 2017

ASK AL: Best Acting Books

Dear Al,

What are some standard acting books everyone should read?

David S. ‏


*

Dear David,

Wonderful question!

Of course acting books, like all books, are very subjective. Sometimes one can read a certain book and get very little out of it, whilst someone else can read the exact same book and have their perspective changed forever.

The lesson – you have to peruse them all.

Often, the exact same person can return to a text at a different place in their life, and have a mind-explosion they could not have had when they first picked a text up. Life is like that—I’ve had books be “blah” in college that changed my life in adulthood, or sometimes even just understood completely new things I was not privy to internally in the previous version of my self that resonates more distinctly in my present.

Because The Art of Acting is created from the only clay we have—ourselves—we must continually re-visit the craft, look inward, and tune up where our skills are matched with our new personal growth. The more we fully marry and utilize our personal growth with an ever-sharpening skill set, the better actor and human being you will continue to grow to become.

While some of these are practically biblical, some classics and others contemporary classics, each offer differing ideas and approaches to acting; from the practical, to the more theoretical, to the gosh darn spiritual. As you have probably experienced with acting, sometimes one small insight can completely shift the way you think about your art, and how you practically approach it.

I’d like to recommend these All-Star must-haves for students, aspiring and professionally working actors alike.

*

 
1. An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski
The be-all godfather of contemporary Naturalism-based acting techniques, and without a doubt THE most famous acting teacher in the world, An Actor Prepares is the Bible of acting books, and thus not only must be included in this list, but deserves to be Number 1.

In this very readable handbook, Russian-God-of-Actor-Training Constantin Stanislavski explains general acting exercises, and and illuminates what acting actually IS, which thus serves as foundation to every actor’s further training, and creation of roles.


The book is beautifully-translated and is an enjoyable read for any actor with a passion for the craft, as wellas for the history of actor training.

Homorous at times, this book takes the actor through Stanislavsky’s self-developed system which helps the actor to master his craft as well as stimulate creativity and imagination. The book includes a variety of exercises and some brilliant autobiographical experiences that focus on relaxation, concentration, and techniques that will help get the actor into character.

Titanic acting pillars such Emotional Memory and the “Magic If” are taught and explored in this book, all of which lay the groundwork for the majority of the great acting we bear witness to today.
I have lived a long life, was rich, got poor; seen a lot of the world, had a wonderful family, children, that life has scattered all over the world. I have longed for fame, found it – been honored young and now I am getting old. I know my time on earth is running out. Now ask me wherein we find happiness? It is in knowledge and understanding art and the labor of cognizing it. While learning about oneself, one can learn nature and the meaning of life – We can cognize the soul. There is no happiness above all this.” – Constantin Stanislavski


2. Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen (with Haskel Frankel)
This book is the heart and soul of my own personal technique as both an actress and a teacher. It is the backbone of my classes, and could not be more practical and straightforward. It also, incidentally, comes in audio format which I love to listen to from time to time!

Straightforward as it gets, Uta Hagen’s p r o f o u n d book has helped multiple generations of actors hone their craft. (I will quote my student Alphonse who, multiple times in his journal wrote in all caps "YAAAAAS UTAAAAA" and just... leave it at that... Great actors do not perform effortlessly, or merely through learning the appropriate tricks and cheats to manipulate an audience.

Her theory is simple and true: dancers have the barre, singers have scales, but waht do actors have to "practice" their craft? Here, she answers that. Uta introduces series of Step-by-Step exercises to help the actor re-familiarize themselves with their humanity; to connect to the moment, fellow actors, and the audience.
     “Who am I?”
     “What do I want?” and
     “What is my relationship?”
are three of the nine questions explored to define a specific character’s role, and Hagen also adds in some invaluable sage-like wisdom about nerves, how to stay fresh in a long run, and priceless anecdotes from her own career.




3. Acting, The First 6 Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky
I will admit that this was my first ever acting book, given to me by my first ever acting mentors Lucy and Jimbob Stephenson. It arrived one day in a beautfiful care package as I was about to perform in Our Town (a play, incidentally, Jimbob performed for wounded veterans alongside Thornton Wilder himself), and came with a beautiful book inscription I shall treasure always. For this, and many reasons, it is my favorite. 


Richard Boleslavsky's knowledge of the theater was based on an impressive depth and breadth of experience. A member of the Moscow Art Theater and director of its First Studio, he worked in Russia, Germany, and America as an actor, director and teacher. He was a leading Hollywood director in addition to producing plays and musical comedies on Broadway.

In his beloved classic, master acting teacher Richard Boleslavsky presents his acting theory and technique in a lively and accessible dramatic form (meaning, he literally writes it as a play, starring himself and his student known as The Creature). Boleslavsky's slim volume has long helped all artists better understand the craft of acting, but above all,  what is truly required to to grow as a lifelong artist.



4. The Art of Acting by Stella Adler (with Howard Kissel)
"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one." - Stella Adler
Of course Stella Adler, uber-quotable diva extraordinaire, one of the first membrs of The Group, who is one of the most important teachers of acting.

In 1931, Adler was a founding member of the revolutionary Group Theatre, which took Broadway by storm with a series of naturalistic productions of socially relevant plays, such as Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing" and "Paradise Lost." In 1934, unsatisfied with Group Theatre co-founder Lee Strasberg's teaching of Konstantin Stanislavsky's techniques, the determined Adler traveled to Paris and studied with Stanislavsky himself. She returned to the Group with her own understanding of his work and offered acting classes to other members, including Sanford Meisner, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis.

In this book editor Howard Kissel has taken tapes, transcriptions, notebooks and other sources to reconstruct Stella Adler's acting course in 22 lessons, which turned into one of the best ever books on acting techniques.



5. Strasberg’s Method
 by S. Loraine Hull
Arguably the most comprehensive book for anyone interesting in Method Acting, Hull very clearly lays out all the ideas of Lee Strasberg’s innovative and deeply culturally misunderstood teachings.

It’s also a very easy read, with understandable exercises that should benefit greatly every actor Method or not, who never had a chance to train with the man himself.

If Stanislavski is the Bible of Acting books, consider Strasberg's Method the New Testament, and this a really terrific prayer book, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about this approach.
Acting is the most personal of our crafts. The make-up of a human being – his physical, mental and emotional habits – influence his acting to a much greater extent than commonly recognized.” – Lee Strasberg


6. Sanford Meisner on Acting
 by Sanford Meisner (with Dennis Longwell
)
Meisner or Strassberg's The Method? Well, it is not truly an either/or, as both teachers were at the heart of the new American acting movement, and their approaches are not siblings, but rather, cousins. It’s often insightful to be familiar with both.

In this beautiful gem of a book, Meisner gives it to you straight on how not to act, but to live; to live truthfully, in the moment, under imaginary circumstances. KAPOW.

I will also add that this of all books gives one a real sense of being in the actual classroom with "Sandy" as he is called, and you feel a level of personal relationship with him as a both a luminary titan, and as a human being that seems to be speaking directly to you. 

Your library is not complete without this one.
"An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words." - Sanford Meisner


7. To The Actor: on the Technique of Acting by Michael Chekhov
Nephew to the greatest-of-the-great-Russian-playwrights Anton Chekhov,  and a student of Stanislavski, Michael Chekhov left Russia and Stanislavski behind, forming the first in a strong "anti-movement" of theatrical actor trainging. He went on to pursue a career as an actor, teacher, and director in Europe and America.

While he was an early advocate of Stanislavski, Chekhov differed from the great teacher in several key aspects: particularly in his insistence preference of physical creation and activation versus the psychological, and on the use of imagination as opposed to memory in creating a role. (In a famous anecdote, Chekhov once performed a “sense memory” exercise in which he broke down over the tragic death of his aunt. When complimented on the truthfulness of his emotion, he admitted that his “aunt” was entirely imaginary.) Both of these schools of thoughts were the burgeoning theories behind American Method Acting in the 1940s and 50s.


One of Chekhov’s innovations of technique is one of my favorites, and something I teach my first year acting students in our second semester: the “Psychological Gesture,” in which a repeated external action leads to an internal revelation. Due to his insistence on the importance of the physical rather than the simply intellectual, Chekhov’s book is as focused on following its series of exercises as it is in study; acting, he would remind us, is always fundamentally a verb. For actors who feel “hemmed in” by an over-insistence on “feeling” a part or in drawing from their own experiences to feed a role, Chekhov’s focus on the primal and limitless nature of imagination and physical experience is beyond liberating, and I believe an essential tool in every actor's toolkit.



8. Audition by Michael Shurtleff  

I consider this book to be the contemporary classic for aspiring actors. (Re: If Stanislavski is the Bible, this is East of Eden / Atlas Shrugged / Invisible Man).

If you are just beginning your acting adventure, this is a really excellent place to start, as it covers everything from craft to practically "getting the role." Shurteff’s 12 (now famous) Guideposts have influenced my own work, my teaching, direction, all with the aim to help actors learn how to empower, direct and guide themselves.

From relationships, to actions, objectives, opposites, to finding the love and humor in any scene, Shurtelff’s Guideposts will help you focus in on the kernel of the scene or audition material every time.


HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

ACTING
The Actor’s Art and Craft
 by William Esper (comprehensive guide to Meisner's techniques)
Michael Cain: Acting in Film
The Intent to Live by Larry Moss
A Dream of Passion: The Development of The Method by Lee Strassberg

SHAKESPEARE
Translating Shakespeare by Dr. David Montee (my personal mentor! There's a photo of me as Rosalind)
A Shakespearan Actor Prepares by Michael York 
Playing Shakespeare by John Barton

VOICE
The Actor Speaks by Patsy Rodenburg
The Second Circle by Patsy Rodenburg
The Actor and The Text by Cicely Berry

Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater
Speak with Distinction by Edith Skinner 

BODY
The Lucid Body by
The Moving Body by Jaques LeCoq

DIRECTION
The Viewpoints Book by Anne Bogart
The Empty Space by Peter Brooke



06 June, 2017

Ask Al: Vocal Health Part 3: HEALING

Silly sicky bear. Shoulda taken his Airborne.
Dear Al,

Following up on your Vocal Protection and Vocal Maintenance posts, I’m wondering what you do once you are sick or under the weather,, your voice is damaged or in crisis without too much worry?

Sincerely,

Jonathan



*

Dear Jonathan,

Fantastic follow up question!
           
Before delving in to any tips and trick, I will begin here [by *healthily* yelling]:
                               
ONLY A MEDICAL DOCTOR CAN LEGALLY PRESCRIBE MEDICATIONS, REMEDIES, AND APPROPRIATE TREATMENTS FOR CONDITIONS THAT CANNOT ADEQUATELY BE DIAGNOSED WITHOUT A LARGER CONTEXT, EXAMINATION, AND EVALUATION.

If your issues are persistent you MUST seek medical advice. 

THESE ARE MERELY GUIDELINES TO SUPPLEMENT THE WORK OF A PROFESSIONAL.

[*Chugs Gatorade*]

Okay now here we go.

Al
xo


*

PART 3: HEALING

SORE THROAT/COLD/SINUS INFECTION/THROAT INFECTION
•    Nasal Emollient
such as Ponaris, Dry Nose, or other such emollient from the health food store or pharmacy.
    If you can't find the emollient, in a pinch you can use very light olive oil or other light vegetable oil.  At bedtime and again first thing in the morning, rinse each nostril with the saline mist and then blow your nose. Then coat the lining of each nostril with a very small amount of the oil/emollient using a Q-tip very carefully or your finger. Sniff the emollient up as high as it will go. It helps you sleep, breathe, and eliminate dry, scaly, nasal tissues that contribute to mucous, drainage ,and inflammation. 
•    Nasal Saline Mist/Spray (Ayr, Ocean, etc)
and the…
•    Neti Pot
Game changers! I love a good nasal spray on-the-go, but day-to-day, I could not recommend using a Neti Pot more. I use mine twice a day to lubricate, cleanse, and naturally clear my sinus passages (which, because I have a small skull, are highly prone to infection). Follow all the instructions carefully and know that it can take a few trys to get your Neti-system down (I will admit, it feels a little creepy at first, but after a few trys? TRUST ME—you’ll be hooked). It is well worth it the experiment. It has been a total game-changer for my overall health, not just my singing. If one part of your body is in any way inflamed or fighting infection, the whole organism suffers.
•    I also add a dash of a product called Alkolol to the NetiPot, which aids in thinning mucus and encouraging clearing. (It also doubles as a terrific gargle!) 


GARGLES
•    Apple Cider Vinegar and Raw, Local Honey: In a cup of warm water dissolve two spoons of the apple cider vinegar and two spoons of raw local honey if available.  Gargle each mouthful and swallow it. Repeat once more in the middle of the day, before bedtime and again in the morning if needed. Honey kills germs.
•    Salt Water: During the day, gargle with warm salted water and then later, alternate with the apple cider vinegar/honey gargle. Obviously DO NOT swallow the salt water ew ew ew. Salt also kills germs.
•    Alkolol http://www.alkalolcompany.com/: I am a big fan of this product and use it both in my Neti Pot as well as a gargle. Here is what their website says:
“Alkalol is a unique blend of natural ingredients developed over 100 years ago as a nasal wash and mucus solvent. Today it still provides drug-free relief from nasal congestion and irritation caused by sinusitis, allergies, colds and post-nasal drip. And it helps dissolve mucus and clear blocked nasal passages. Alkalol helps you breathe easier.
Throughout history herbal extracts and essential oils have played an important role in healing. From the moment you open Alkalol you breathe in its invigorating scent, which comes from its natural ingredients. And it works. Alkalol helps you breathe easier.
Alkalol’s blend of natural ingredients helps dissolve mucus from your nasal passages. During nasal irrigation and while using the Alkalol Nasal Wash Cup, the Alkalol mixture flows through your sinuses clearing irritants such as dust and pollen. It also helps improve overall nasal hygiene by preventing mucus from gathering in your sinuses where it can become the breeding ground for bacteria.”



IMMUNITY (repeating from Part 1, but crucial)
•      We all get run down, and singers are the first to get colds in the chest, ear, nose and throat. I have benefitted hugely from the use of Zinc, as well as Airborne and also Wellness Formula available at most pharmacies and online. These should be used as soon as you experience symptoms of a cold or a sore throat, or prophylactically if there is a risk of being exposed to a myriad of new germs (such as on an airplane, subway, or with children).


OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS
•    Be cautious about taking Aspirin (Bayer, Excedrin, etc), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), and Naproxen (Aleve) within two weeks before very demanding singing, especially if you are prone to vocal cord hemorrhage. These medications encourage the blood to thin, and can make it more possible to bleed and have a vocal cord hemorrhage.
•    Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not a blood thinner, and thus, at least I believe is a better EMERGENCY pain relief option.
•   Do NOT take decongestants and then sing. OMFG: Decongestants do not REMOVE the mucus! They cause dry mouth and dehydration. They only remove the watery fluid FROM the thick mucus which then still remains, making it even more sticky, thick, and very difficult to navigate. This can cause more vocal fold friction, swelling, and vocal fatigue. Yuck. Healthy mucus production is necessary and protective of vocal function and lubrication as long as it is thin and fluid and not thick.
•    Never try a medication for the first time on a performance day.  Plan a trial period to observe your own individual response, and then adjust the dosage if necessary or discontinue if appropriate.
•    If you have an “emergency” where there is no trial period possible, you will have to evaluate the the entire context as well as the relative importance of the performance versus the risk of vocal injury.  Singing demanding music with a pre-nodular swelling, inflammation, or an upper respiratory infection, for instance, can cause serious vocal fold injury that may not heal for weeks or months.
•    “As natural as possible” is always best. Full stop.


REFLUX 
•    Avoid foods which create acid indigestion. For some people this is coffee, tea, citrus, chocolate, hot spices, tomato products, or any food which you note causes digestive and acidic indigestion.
•    Certain foods have been know to cause reflux laryngitis, inflammation, and swelling of the arytenoid muscosa and posterior vocal folds. It is very personal body to body so take note of your own body’s responses.
•    Many people also have dairy and/or wheat intolerance causing indigestion (especially since the advent of excessive use of GMO’s, hormones, preservatives, pesticides, and toxic fertilizer which is a whole other post of terrifying what-is-happening-to-food but I digress). Avoid them.
•    In addition, be sure not to eat or drink anything two-three hours before bedtime. You will find that your reflux and your sleep both improve dramatically.
•    It is much better to solve this without medication since all medications have side effects such as dehydration.
•    Know yourself.  Know what foods cause this response, which can vary a lot from person to person. 


GENERAL TIPS FOR TOURING AND TRAVELING

•    Don’t sing while flying on an airplane, and keep your talking to a minimum. The background noise is 30 to 60 decibels. It is  an extremely loud environment.You will absolutely fatigue your voice speaking over the noise!
•    The humidity on an airplane might drop as low as 3%—drink one glass of water per hour on the plane, and do everything to avoid singing the same day you fly.
•    Go straight to the hotel after getting off the plane and take a 20-minute steam shower.
•    Call ahead to hotel and ask concierge put a vaporizer in your room so it’s running when you arrive. Most of them have them for guest use , you just have to ask ahead!
•    If they do not, BYO vaporizers. I know I know. It seems bulky, but it is so worth it. Warm or cool mist-at hotels where the recycled air is also very dry.
•    Use only plain water in your vaporizer – no additives or fragrances.
•    Always use saline nasal spray or your a travel Neti Pot to keep membranes moist.
•    If your hotel has a steam room— use it!


ULTIMATELY…

•    Vocal fatigue requires vocal rest and sleep.  Noooooot complicated.



Read More:

Part 1: Protection
Part 2: Maintenance

02 June, 2017

"Let Love In" from After Anatevka in Concert


Ron Raines
"Let Love In" by Matthew Sklar and Amanda Green


Based on Alexandra Silber's AFTER ANATEVKA from Pegasus Books

Read by John Cullum and sung by Ron Raines (Chekhov)

at Symphony Space, NYC,
2017

*

Chapter 29, The Man in the Bar


    Perchik had always been driven by other forces, just as he had in the winter of 1903 when he stumbled into Moscow before he ever met Hodel.

    University was not the dreamworld Perchik had imagined, and thus, he had unceremoniously found himself to be expelled. The crash of his fantasy destroyed him. He felt at times as if it were a death fight between his ideals and the truth of the world. The people of academia were no less disappointing, no less competitive, duplicitous, judgmental, or small-minded. It was only their vocabularies and the landscape that differed. The world belonged to his horrible uncle, and to every man like him.
    What was the point of modesty? To hell with brilliance, Perchik thought, clutching his head harder still. This so-called gift had kept Perchik from everything he had ever desired in his life.

    He had boarded a train, awoke along the outskirts of Moscow, and stumbled into a bar as fetid as his spirit where he was now committed to stupefying himself into oblivion.

    So bitter was the wind outside that all inhabitants of the bar felt its sting as it whipped the ragged glass panes in the walls of the basement locale. The skins of the prostitutes were pimpled with chill; their still, predatory gaze only faintly unsettled.
    In an abrupt swirl of wind, a man entered, shivering as he made his way to the bar—a cough from the depths of his lungs rang out as he moved toward the stool beside Perchik. The man sighed, eyes watering, and hands with ink-stained fingers began clearing the cough-induced tears away from beneath the wire rims of his round spectacles. As he gained composure he brushed snow sharply off his long black coat, which hung loosely over his suit.
    Perchik lifted his eyes. Light streamed down through the windows from the bustling street above, casting a kind of celestial glow behind the man as he settled. When the drinks arrived he raised his in inquiry. “What brings you here tonight, comrade?”
John Cullum
    “Comrade?” the stranger stated with recognition. “All the young people in the cities are using that word nowadays!” He laughed, nestling down farther into his long coat. “Ah, thank you for the drink, comrade.” He smiled. Perchik lifted his glass to the stranger and nodded before downing its contents in a single quaff.
    “Love,” the stranger answered.
    “Love?”
    “What brings me here tonight? Love. For every reason that is good and bad, love always seems to bring me to the bar!” He threw his head back and laughed, then smoothed his beard and adjusted the frames on his face. “I love this city; I love a woman in this city. What about you, comrade? What do you love?”
    “The vodka, of course,” Perchik lied.  “Tell me about your love.”
    The man’s gaze shifted from his ink-stained hands to the dancing lamps along the peeling walls.
    “Well, I am no great lover, my friend. I have come to Moscow with a love letter of sorts, hoping I will see its potential realized.”
    “A girl!”
    “No—a real woman of such culture and refinement. She speaks several languages, plays piano. I have, thus far, loved her only through letters—which is how I know she is also a wonderful writer.” His eyes glimmered.
    “I see,” replied Perchik, though he did not.
    “I did not love her at first, you know; it took time.  The feeling was foreign to me, but now, two years later, I cannot help myself! Better late than never, eh, comrade?” He laughed. “Would you believe I used to be a confirmed bachelor?”
    “Ah, my friend.” Perchik chuckled wryly, eyeing the vultures in the corner. “I’m afraid I know all too well about that.”
    “Indeed—as any good young man should. Well, I’ve had many professions in my life. But one role I never expected to play was the romantic lead. I’ve searched all my life for meaningful work. But I have found that love—for a cause, for an art, for another living soul—is purpose enough. I’m so pleased to have discovered that at long last. The heart, you see, is a muscle; if you make no use of it, it atrophies. And I would know,” he finished, smiling broadly. “I’m a doctor.” 

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails