Silver Lining
Saturday, May 8, 1999
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(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, VS: Vern Sutton)

(PIANO)

 

GK: It's spring and in the spring, in our hearts we're all twenty-five years old again - as it says in the song,

Songs were made to sing while we're young,
Everyday is spring while we're young ...
You wake up on a spring morning and in the air you smell possibility, and you feel slim and gifted and innocent and you leap up and throw open the windows and you say, "St. Paul, you metropolis on the Mississippi, mail handler, insurance underwriter, player with the Nation's Commercial Cleaning Compounds, maker of the nation's Scotch Tape and Post-Its, city of the big ankles, I'm coming out there to scale your heights" - that's how I feel in May - I feel, after all these years of doing light frothy entertainment on the radio, this year, at last, I shall make my debut in the arts - (MOUTH TRUMPET FANFARE)-

 

VS (BRIT): The Arts!

SS (BRIT): The Arts!

VS (BRIT): Sensibility!

SS (BRIT): Tremulous longings -

TK (BRIT): Hope!

SS (BRIT): Romance!

VS (BRIT): And then -

TR (BRIT): Inevitably ...

VS (BRIT): Bitter experience! Hope dashed!

TR (BRIT): Certainty shattered!

TK (BRIT): Cruel frustration!

VS (BRIT): Agonies of guilt and loathing!

SS (BRIT): And eventually - out of darkness -

TR (BRIT): Wisdom. Acceptance. Contentment.

VS (BRIT): A measure of nobility. (ELEGIAC MOUTH TRUMPET FANFARE)

GK: Nobility. (MUSIC UNDER) Hard to find in St. Paul. But one must try. Mustn't one? (MUSIC OUT)

SS: Are you planning to mow the lawn today?

GK: As soon as I get the lawnmower fixed, yes, I am.

SS: What's wrong with it?

GK: That's what I'm trying to find out.

SS: Have you ever fixed a lawnmower before?

GK: No, but I'm just about to.

SS: You don't want to take it to a shop?

GK: I'm working on it.

SS: It's been sitting outside in the rain for three weeks.

GK: That's where I'm working on it.

SS: Meanwhile, the grass is growing.

GK: It just needs a few adjustments.

SS: Do you want me to take it to a shop?

GK: No, I don't.

SS: It's soaking wet from the rain.

GK: They're designed to get wet.

SS: Why don't you take the lawnmower in the garage and fix it there?

GK: The garage is full.

SS: That was the next thing on my list. When are you going to get to that?

GK: Soon as I get the lawn mowed.

SS: SIGH

GK: I don't know how to tell you this, but mowing the lawn isn't the priority for me that it is for some people. I'm at an age, Helen, where a man needs - a little nobility.

SS: Well, la di da.

GK: Walt Whitman said, "What is the grass? It is the handkerchief of the Lord, a scented gift ... It is a uniform hieroglyphic ... the beautiful uncut hair of graves."

SS: My goodness. And here I thought it was only a lawn.

GK: I had a dream last night, Helen.

SS: Oh boy.

GK: I dreamed that I loved you and that I was out of favor with your family.

SS: Well, that's the truth.

GK: I was a Montague and you a Capulet. (DREAM MUSIC)

Ay me! sad hours seem long.

VS: What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?

GK: Not having that which makes them short.

VS: In love?

GK: Out -

VS: Of love?

GK: Out of her favor where I am in love.

VS: Alas that love, so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof! GK: O Horatio, how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.

VS: I'm not Horatio. I'm Benvolio.

GK: Oh. Wrong play.

VS: But what's Hecuba to you or you to Hecuba That you should weep for her?

GK: Her name is Juliet.

VS: Oh. Right. (MUSIC BRIDGE)

SS: Hello! Anybody home?

GK: Sorry. I was just thinking.

SS: Is there any chance you could do the lawn today? tomorrow?

GK: It's on my list. Right after I come home from the audition.

SS: SIGH (MUSIC)

GK: It's spring, I'm twenty-five years old inside, and I'm ready to sweep aside the petty details and see the big picture, the grandeur of things -

None can refuse, time flies so fast.
Too dear to lose and too sweet to last.
SS: May I help you, sir?

GK: I'm an actor. I'm looking for a shirt.

SS: An actor.

GK: An actor.

SS: So you're not looking for some ordinary white or blue shirt -

GK: No!

SS: Button-down?

GK: No.

SS: How about an aquarelle or burgundy or chartreuse? Delphinium, eggshell white, fauve, geranium, heliotrope, iodine, jonquil, kumquat, lapis lazuli, mauve, nutmeg, ocher, plum, quince, raven, shamrock, turquoise, underbrush, velveeta, wisteria, xantippe, yeast, zwieback?

GK: Any others?

SS: How about aubergine, or banana, or cobalt, Dijon, ecru, fawn, garbanzo, hyacinth or ivory, jasper, khaki, lilac, mango, navy, oatmeal, periwinkle, quartz, rose, spearmint, teal, umbrian, violet, wedgewood, Xanadu, yellow, and zebra - anything there appeal?

GK: Uh huh. And that's all?

SS: Amethyst, beryl, copper, delft, emerald, flax, gentian, henna, isamine, jade, kohlrabi, lavender, myrtle, nectarine, olive, prune, quinsy, russet, saffron, terra cotta, ultramarine, vanilla, wine, xanthene, and zinc.

GK: You have black?

SS: We have raven.

GK: Is that like black?

SS: It's a very black black.

GK: I'll take that.

(MUSIC BRIDGE) (FOOTSTEPS, TRAFFIC PASSING)

Here's the theater. My big chance. I hope this black shirt helps.

(FOOTSTEPS) (BIG DOOR OPENS, CLOSES. FOOTSTEPS, SLOWER)

SS: Shhhh. Shhh. There's auditions going on.

GK: I know. I'm supposed to audition. I called and made an appointment.

SS: Your name Walter?

GK: No. Wyler.

SS: Oh. (TO HERSELF) Wyler, Wyler, Wyler ... W-y-l-e-r?

GK: No. W-e-i-l-l-o-r.

SS: Oh. Right. Here it is. Okay. Just have a seat. (FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Thanks. (FOOTSTEPS AND STOP. SITS DOWN IN CHAIR.) Hi.

TR: Hi.

GK: Nice day.

TR: Uh huh.

GK: You here to audition too?

TR: Yeah.

GK: What part you up for?

TR: Romeo.

GK: Oh.

TR: You trying out for the Friar?

GK: No, I'm trying out for Romeo.

TR: Really?

GK: Yeah.

TR: I always thought of Romeo as a younger character. (PAUSE) Under forty.

GK: Sometimes it takes a very experienced actor to portray youth.

TR: Oh really. You must be from St. Paul, aren't you.

GK: What does that mean, "must be"?

TR: You are, aren't you.

GK: Yes.

TR: I knew it.

GK: Where you from?

TR: Minneapolis.

GK: Oh. Nice place. I was over there once. Back in the 70s. There was a lot of alternative theater there then.

TR: Is that right?

GK: Yeah. Minneapolis is a nice place if you like post-modernism.

TR: I forget where St. Paul is - is that south of here?

GK: It's here. You're in it.

TR: Oh.

GK: It's east of Minneapolis. Downwind of you.

TR: How lucky for you.

SS: Mr. Wyler? You're next.

GK: Thank you.

SS: Right in through there. (FOOTSTEPS, HER VOICE FADES) Watch your step. Right down the aisle and up onstage.

GK: Go up onstage?

SS: Go right up there. He's waiting for you.

GK: What's the director's name?

SS: George.

GK: George. Okay. Thanks. (FOOTSTEPS. THEN FOOTSTEPS ON STEPS, AND ACROSS STAGE AND STOP) Hi. Thank you for letting me audition today. This is my all-time favorite play so this is a big thrill for me. And of course knowing that it's for you, George - I mean - what can I say? Big fan. Major fan. Like everybody. You want me to - do my modern passage or my Shakespeare.

VS (SLIGHTLY OFF): Your modern first, thank you.

GK: STELLA!

VS: Thank you. Okay, your Shakespeare.

GK: Can you see me all right or do you want me to come downstage a little?

VS: Right where you are is fine.

GK: It just looks as if there's more light over here.

VS: You're fine right there.

GK: Okay. Is it all right if I start here and move toward that spot?

VS: Fine.

GK: Okay. I just think it gives it a little more contrast. Do you mind if I take a moment to get ready?

VS: Go ahead.

GK: DEEP BREATHING. VOCAL TRILL. Okay. Ready.

But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

Let me start again, okay? I didn't get the mood there. Okay?

VS: Whenever you're ready, please.

GK: But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! (SERIES OF RUNNING STEPS AND STOP)
See! how she leans her cheek upon her hand:
O that I were a glove upon that hand,

VS: Thank you.

GK: That I might touch that cheek.

VS: Thank you.

GK: Would you like me to -

VS: No. Thank you.

GK: I also prepared a song if you'd like - Very short.

Songs were made to sing while we're young.

VS: Thank you.

GK: Did I give you the copy of my resume?

VS: Yes, you did.

GK: Could I just explain a couple things there that you might not understand -

VS: (SIGH) What?

GK: The Granite Falls Groundlings production of Hamlet that I did was September and October of 1972, not just September. I left out October. It ran two months. And the Romeo and Juliet at the Rochester Renaissance Festival in 1984 - I don't think I mentioned that I did the costumes for that as well as playing Romeo. Just a little thing but I did want to be accurate. Would you like me to pencil that in on your copy? Did costumes and starred in Romeo and Juliet?

VS: Thank you. Next -

GK: You're not going to write that down?

VS: I'll remember. (FOOTSTEPS AND STOP)

GK: You're not going to cast me, are you.

VS:: No, I'm not.

GK: Do you mind my asking why? (DARK CHORDS OF DISAPPOINTMENT, TRAILING AWAY) So he told me. He went into it in some detail. And when I left the theater, I was about three feet tall. And then he came out the door after me -

VS: Mr. Wyler! Wyler?????

GK: Yes?

VS: I have a part that may interest you, I don't know. A small part.

GK: What is that?

VS: There's a horse in the play and we need two men for the costume and I've already cast someone to be the head of the horse -

GK: So you need someone to be the rear end of the horse?

VS: Right.

GK: A non-speaking part, huh?

VS: We hope not.

GK: Well - it's still show business, isn't it.

VS: That's the spirit.

GK: I mean, you have to start someplace.

VS: Exactly.

GK: A horse can bring joy into the hearts of people, too, and you can't have a horse without a rear end, now, can you?

VS: True.

GK: And who knows? someone may see me in the part -

VS: Could I just take a look at your - bend over would you? - Yes, I think you'll do very well. Thank you. See you tomorrow. Okay? Five o'clock? For the fitting? And please don't eat anything for three hours before, okay? (MUSIC)

GK: I headed home and there was the lawnmower sitting in the tall grass and the lilacs in bloom and me in the theater -

So blue the skies.
Such sweet surprise
Shines before our eyes
While we're young.

(LAWNMOWER START ATTEMPT. MOTOR GASPS AND DIES. SECOND ATTEMPT AND DIES. MOUTH TRUMPET FANFARE)

VS (BRIT): Onward Northumberland!

TR (BRIT): Aye, m'lord. And Lancaster and York!!

VS (BRIT): Gloucester! And bold Plantagenet!

TR (BRIT): Come! Suffolk and Salisbury and the young Earl of Warwick!

VS (BRIT): Then let us ride, Westmoreland!

TR (BRIT): Onward, m'lord! (LAWNMOWER START, AND REV) (MUSICAL BUTTON)

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor

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