A Sense of Home...

Toby Vera Bercovici, author

Toby Vera Bercovici, author

...artistic or otherwise, can be a rarified concept. We (or at least I) all too often live somewhere, work somewhere, eat or drink out somewhere, without daily appreciation of its spectacularity. It is only the impending loss of something that sharpens its qualities. Our Town taught us that. Didn’t Our Town also teach us that we cannot recreate this sense of impending loss, no matter how much we might wish to do so? We cannot conjure up the feeling in order to saturate the colors of our somewhat faded existence. We have to wait, wait for the exquisite moment right before we leave someone or she leaves us, right before we leave a job or apartment or city, and in that moment, we are shown with great clarity what makes this woman, this job, this apartment, this city, extraordinary. 

And such it is with Real Live Theatre, a group I have been entangled with for better and for worse for the past two years. We are a family in many senses of that word, (one definition I found says ‘a group united in criminal activity’—we aren’t there yet). We have so carefully set up our organization (run by beautiful and frustrating consensus) that our tiny disagreements are projected constantly on the walls of our collective consciousness, to be inspected, digested, and explored. It is exhausting! As a director, I am used to being somewhat of an autocrat, although only in the most unassuming of ways. I am magnanimous! But I am able to be so only because of my deep sense of security in the fact that really, when it comes down to it, I am in charge. When it comes down to it, if anyone’s way is going to be had, it’s going to be my way. It so often does not come down to it, but there is safety in knowing. 

Not so, in Real Live Theatre! We are collectively run. And when someone has issue with someone else, that issue is, as aforementioned, projected on the wall to be dissected and discussed. It’s tricky sometimes, because there are fourteen of us, and we all grew up with different families, and we all developed our own particular set of insecurities, priorities, and passions.

But then I got a job at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and I left my home (artistic and otherwise), and I traveled 4 1/2 hours North to a sweet little nest of an apartment that is precisely 249.8 miles away from Real Live Theatre.

And it isn’t like I didn’t appreciate it when I was there. I so did. But from a distance, whew!, is it glittering and gorgeous. Foremost is the fact that we have all committed to spending our precious Sundays training together. Sundays! Even for the devout Atheists among us, Sundays are kind of deliciously sacrosanct. That particularly slow, sweet arousal from sleep, next to your lover or your dog; eggs cooked in olive oil, and sliced tomatoes from the farmer’s market (Summer Sundays are best); the New York Times crossword puzzle (not that I’ve ever been up to that challenge); long afternoon walks. We gave all this up! All of this! For the absolute hard work and pleasure of gathering together to stomp on the floors till they shake during Suzuki, to role ease-fully from one encounter to the next in Viewpoints, to engage in dirty little bouts of Contact Improvisation, Tango, Laban, Lecoq, Authentic Movement, Linklater Voice Work, Patsy Rodenburg Voice Work, or if there is something we want to explore and an exercise isn’t readily at our fingertips: well, make it up! We do this! I did this! And the rest of them still do this! Without me! (My heart is breaking.)

 I love Real Live Theatre for its commitment. For the pleasure it takes in the work that it does. For the group of like-minded individuals who would just as soon do the above-mentioned work as lie lazily in bed. I love it also for the challenges, the examinations (of priorities, choices, assumptions, desires), the disagreements, the growth. 

And I love it for being my Sense of Home, artistic and otherwise, even when I am 4 1/2 hours away.

— Toby Vera Bercovici