What if you are a beautiful young woman, but you’ve been cursed to live in a hideous body until the best man in England marries you of his own free will? In your ugly form? He can’t be told you’ve been cursed. He can’t know you are beautiful.
The problem with enacting characters is that their emotions come with them. Oh, sure, they’re just fictions, I know. Crafted phantoms of the muse. Still, if you’re speaking the words of the Dame Ragnell, who’s been enchanted into that hideous body, and she’s about to undo the spell by having tricked Sir Gawain of Camelot into voluntarily agreeing to marry her, then portraying her in this moment is not easy.
Because how this man reacts, now, as you both disrobe on your wedding night, either means freedom and joy for you both, or tragic failure.
Only he can dispel your terrible duality.
But only if he says the right words.
He has no idea of the pleasures that await him if he does.
So what if, in his innocence and his chivalry, he says those words?
And you become your beautiful self again?
Well, right around then, it’s time to cry a few tears.
So here I am, the performer. Odds Bodkin. I’m the master of the scene and the voices. It’s my job to control them and deliver them to the audience, along with the surging music at this point of The Dame Ragnell tale, found in Chaucer and Chretien de Troyes. Ah, but it’s tricky, because if the Dame Ragnell’s emotions get too far into me and I’m not really careful about it, I too start to weep uncontrollably right along with her. Just break down in sobs.
This can be very embarrassing and unprofessional, as you can imagine.
I dread this moment of the show. If I don’t thread the needle and control my own emotions about the whole thing, my tear ducts release and suddenly I can’t see the guitar or the audience and the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket.
This has happened before. This is a very challenging story to tell.
Still, I’ll be telling it yet again, or at least trying to, at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA on Feb. 10th. By far the most liquid and wondrous 12-string guitar music I’m capable of playing backs it up.
Wish me luck.
Worlds Apart: Tales for Lovers
Feb 10, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.
Grendel’s Den, Cambridge MA