Jottings: Completing August Wilson's canon
The ER doctor completed putting eleven stitches in my front right lower leg on Sunday, April 21, 2013. He was competent, patient and kind, but caused me to sit up and loudly say, "That won't be possible. I simply can't." He suggested that I stay off my feet and keep the right leg elevated as much as possible for one week. "I'm going to Ashland Tuesday," I explained, "and have had my tickets for months. It's impossible to exchange them at this late date."
Finally, I would see "Two Trains Running" on Thursday and could delete an important item off my bucket list — seeing all ten of August Wilson's canon. Many, like "Gem of the Ocean," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Fences" and The Piano Lesson," I had seen two and three times. But "Two Trains Running" eluded me.
When did it start? When did I first become riveted with August Wilson? Possibly, a production of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" in San Francisco in the '80s. A monologue by Levee silenced the audience. The speech where he describes what a group of white men did to his mother, shocked me and I knew then that I was experiencing a new theatrical voice, original and profound. The audience also held its collective breath.
"Have you ever used crutches"? the doctor asked. "We'll send you home with a set if you don't. Who will be driving you to Ashland? You could keep your leg elevated in the back seat."
"No. I'm driving myself and meeting a Bay Area friend there. I can't possibly cancel at this point."
The gash occurred at 10 that morning in the bedroom as I crossed the room, bumping into a sharp corner of a cardboard box. My leg made contact for just an instance, and for the next two hours, I attempted to stop the bleeding while watching weekly political shows. It never did, so at 1 my son drove me to ER for those eleven stitches.
On Tuesday I went to Ashland with the crutches resting on the passenger seat and for the next three days I sashayed all over Ashland, leaving them against a wall in the hotel room. My good friend, a nurse, changed the dressing and I suffered not one twitch of pain the entire week.
The production of "Two Trains Running" was as wonderful and funny and sad as every August Wilson play I've seen. The sole female lead (Risa) had flown in only the weekend before to substitute for an actor who left due to a more lucrative TV offer. Bravo to Risa!
Now, to be honest, the wound did take ages to heal, but my adventure south, then home and scratching off an item on my short bucket list was worth the effort. This March I will see (for the fourth time) Portland Center Stage's production of "Gem of the Ocean." Uber will drive me!
Pat Perkins is a member of the Jottings Group at The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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