Responding to Our Times: On the Veranda by Catherine Castellani

On the Veranda pic

I’m lying on my new acupuncturist’s table and she’s taking my pulse for the third time when she tells me, “You’re on the veranda.” How’s that? “You’re not sick, but you’re not well, either.”

OH in so many ways, lady. The rejection letter that told me I scored very well with readers but not just now, please apply again. The phone call from the fellowship selection committee chair telling me that my proposal and interview were great but not this time. The rejection letter that included a personal note hoping I enjoy my summer (and I appreciate that!). The Almosts and the Not Quites are a theme lately.

We all know that rejection is a feature, not a bug, but the veranda is turning out to be its own special place. A gap just a little too wide to jump. It’s reflected in the wider world as well, as I wait and watch: are we closer to impeaching 45? To gutting health care? To finally prosecuting an emoluments case? The un-ease and waiting and the gap showing up in my body and my career is also playing out in the nation. Lots of action, no definite result. Goals are set and we fall short, and not for lack of trying.

I had a teacher at the Experimental Theater Wing, Kevin Kuhlke, and of all the many things I learned in my early training, one line of his has stuck in my head for years. “The more confusion you can tolerate, the better!” Yelled to the group during a muddle of an improvisation class. A call-out to cut short the stalling, and the questioning, and the “wait, are we doing this right?” second-guessing. The more confusion you can tolerate, the better. I heard you, Kevin.

I’m trying to work with the veranda. They are, after all, pretty nice places. Verandas tend to have a nice breeze and a view. It’s a stop-and-rest spot, a place to think and daydream and watch the light change. It’s not in the house; it’s not in the yard. I’m not on the road, and I’m not safe at home. I’m just here, in the middle, waiting.

Castellani headshotCatherine Castellani is a playwright and founder of co-mentoring women playwrights group The Geese. Her work has been developed at The Nora Salon, Dixon Place, Centenary Stage Company, Going to Tahiti Productions, One Year Lease Theater Company, and Sacred Fools (LA). Her short plays have been produced around the country: The Public Theater (NY), Actors Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre (Miami), The ArtsCenter (Carrboro), The Marsh (San Francisco), and on radio (KOPN, WBAI, WBGO, and the NPR network). She is a 2017 Finalist for the Marion International Fellowship for work-in-progress Possession.

Website catherine-castellani.squarespace.com/

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