Most of the company at Trinity were from the Yale School of Drama. They talked among themselves referring to playwrights I’d never heard of, directors I didn’t know and productions they’d seen in Europe or the East Village. The set designer was married to the costume designer. The Czech director was married to the Brazilian lead actress. They, and the rest of the company of Yale actors and crew, huddled together between scenes and over meals collaboration on the details of the production. There was an ease in their connections that I observed from a distance.
How lucky was I to be working shoulder to shoulder with this level of talent? Shining that brass pot for the set of A Doll’s House was an honor worth exerting elbow grease for. When there weren’t too many props to build or gather, I sat
and sewed in the costume shop. I’ve always been a listener, so I felt like I was part of something as the conversation flowed among the workers there.
Colm, the young son of the play’s designers, romped innocently and happily in the straight-pin-free safety zone his artistic parents had created for him as a large playpen. Every adult who passed through the costume shop picked him up, chucked him under the chin or played peekaboo. I resented his presence.
We worked together all day in the theatre and lived together in the same fraternity house on a residential street in Hartford abutting the campus. We ate our meals together which were prepared by the resident chef. Every morning I ordered the same thing–a bacon and cheese omelette, buttered toast and home fries. I’d fill my coffee cup and add a dollop of Friendly’s vanilla ice cream as a substitute for cream and sugar. I sat at their tables, but never spoke.
The cook was the only one who addressed me by name.
By mid-July my bellbottoms were too tight to wear and pimples began appearing on my forehead and chin. We were in production for the third show of the eight show season when I realized I had to leave.
I called my mother. “Come and get me,” I announced. Ever the rescuer and care-taker, she replied, “I’ll be there tonight.” No questions were asked.
I didn’t have much stuff. My suitcase was under my bed. As the company descended the stairs for dinner that night and went off to rehearsal, I packed my suitcase and emptied my room of the few possessions I’d brought with me. I crept out of the Delta Phi house at quarter of nine to meet the getaway car.
I wondered if anyone even noticed my absence that night or ever.