Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

02 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: Catie

I think I met probably met Catie in the Spring of 2008 when we were both working on a (ludicrous but expensive) production of John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize. (Who does a random production of a Fletcher play from 1611 or whenever the Hell it was? FSU, that's who.) Catie was an understudy in the show, but listened attentively to every note I would give the actress she was understudying. She sat with me during rehearsals and paid close attention to anything and everything the director and I said.

In the summer of '08, a bunch of students got the idea to produce A Midsummer Night's Dream themselves and asked me to direct it. They had already pretty much cast the show themselves and my job was to make it look good, to make it work. I rearranged the cast and asked Catie to play both Peter Quince (she was ridiculously funny) and Hermia's eternally angry father Ægisthus. I didn't dress her as a man for either part, but we didn't change the genders at all. As Ægisthus we decided she would just be fabulous and pissed off the whole time. I wouldn't let her take her sunglasses off for the entirety of the show (in a nod to Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose). I cannot tell you the hilarity that ensued from this production. The show sold out almost every night and we would laugh ourselves silly with the antics we created. The lovers were funny, the mechanicals were funny, the fairies were funny. (The guy playing Bottom was awful, it must be said, but he was our only weak link.)

I kept getting assigned – or assigning myself – to shows with Catie after that. She was the star of an FSU production of She Stoops to Conquer (charming) in 2009. We learned together how to say mauvaise honte, how to hold our breaths for extended periods of time, and most importantly, how to talk across the room without anyone else knowing what we were saying.

The summer after her senior year, Catie and three of her close friends (all close friends of mine now) worked on a production of Sarah Kane's Crave with me. It was one of the most exciting projects I've ever done, and (oddly for the subject matter) the cast, designer, stage manager, assistant director, and I spent an inordinate amount of time laughing during rehearsal. In this show, Catie (and indeed the rest of the cast) proved themselves to be powerful, deeply moving performers, and the show was incredibly affecting, appropriately intense, and finally devastating. Several audience members came back more than once.

Catie and two other friends and I drove the twelve hours up to Endstation Theatre that summer, too, laughing the whole way. I will always find it difficult to say how much fun Catie and I have when we are together, whether we are mocking each other, or people we dislike, or people we like a whole lot.

Since Catie has moved away from Tallahassee (and atheist blessings for that), she has lived in London and in New York City, and we keep in touch frequently. Our relationship has deepened since she's left, and I have found myself relying on her for encouragement and support. We did the P90X program together, calling each other every day, texting photographs, pushing each other to work harder.I want to also say thank you to Catie for always making me laugh, sometimes until I can hardly stand it. The number of in-jokes and coded communications we have seem to be endless.

In May I was privileged to stand next to Catie in her bridal party as she got married (to her badass husband). It was such an honor, and I was so proud to be a part of such an important day. I am so grateful for this woman and for her presence in my life, and because, in a lot of ways, I have seen her grow up through college and into adulthood, I can also say that I am so proud of who she is becoming, where she is headed in her life, and of the work that I know she will do in the world.