29 September 2011

Shana Tova, Artist Visa, Playing To A Dead Crowd

HE: A Genderstranged Clown Duo

Shana Tova everyone!  It's Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, and tonight, for the first time in my life at age 35, I will celebrate!  The Israeli boys invited me to a dinner party thrown by an orthodox Jew.  I'm a little nervous, hope I can come up with something appropriate to wear.  But I'm also quite excited to finally get a chance to do this high holy days thing, and to do it in Deutschland.

In the park yesterday, Daniel and I talk about life and relationships.  The conversation comes around to Jewishness and our voices get a little hushed.  It feels so liberating and free to be here.  I feel I can flaunt the fact that I'm strange and queer, but I have to talk to someone I good long while before I'll reveal my heritage to them.  I have known Sharon and Daniel for almost 2 weeks, and it's not a long time, and yet we are all bonded.  I think our blood has a lot to do with it.  There is a part of all three of us that is ready.  Ready for it to happen again.  Ready to hide, fight or stand.  We know that if things turn, we are there for each other.  It is our Jewishness that makes it so.  I never thought that these issues were buried so deep inside me, but I guess they are there.  And Berlin pulls them to the surface.  Slowly.

I think about my homeland, the USA, and what we have done.  We have massacred a native people, stolen people from another continent and held them in bondage.  Just last week, an innocent man was framed and killed by our government because of the color of his skin (ref: Troy Davis.)  How are these hundreds of years of systematic oppression different than Hitler's brief reign?  I don't have any answers, and I know these questions are unpopular, but still they are there and keep me awake at night.

Last night I had a small gig at the Kookaburra Comedy Club on Sch√∂nhauser Allee.  The night was put together by an eccentric performer and MC from Stuttgart named Otto Kuhne.  Other performers where a cellist and singer of the comic variety named Matthias and an AMAZING beatboxer named Pete the Beat.  I have heard a lot of beatboxing in my life, but I have never heard anything like this.  Pete was in his late 40s and claims to have introduced beatboxing to Germany.  He was a very humble and friendly guy, and completely expert in his craft.  I would believe he was the first one to beatbox here. 
I only made 10 Euro, which is a bummer, but the night was really lovely and I have seldom met three nicer guys.  I didn't even feel weird sharing a dressing room with them.  They were all courteous, spoke English to me, made me feel like a competent and important artist.  Really, I was playing for them, because truth to tell there were about 7 people in the audience including Eve, and during my set, maybe one person laughed one time. 
It was so frustrating!  I feel like I did my job as a clown!  I listened to the audience,  I asked them what they wanted.  Too much?  Not enough?  They gave me NOTHING!  So I just had to go on and get my eight minutes over with.  And then I was done.  And the person who booked me was happy with my performance, and that's the part that mattered.

After, Eve and I go to a store, get a bier.  The cashier opens them for us and we walk out to the street to find a step to sit on outside a closed shop.  "Shana Tova," I clink Eve's bottle with mine. 
"Shana Tova!"  She says to loudly.  I wince.
"Eve, you've got to-"  I stop.  How do I explain this to her.
We talk about our separate ancestries and I learn about the French-Canadians. 
It starts to make sense to me why French and French-Canadians don't want to speak English.

We make a rehearsal plan, talk about busking.  I hop on the train to Alexanderplatz and then transfer to the U-8, getting home around midnight.

Even with all these heavy thoughts, I think I have decided to stay here for as long as I can.  I try to convince myself to come home to the bay area, but aside from friends and family (which I value most dearly) what is there for me  in California?  I've no place to live, no job until June, am a slave to the public transit system (which is quite mediocre) and everything is expensive.  Though the current exchange rate is 1.36 USD to every Euro, food and rent are quite cheap here and, if nothing else, I am respected for my craft.  Also, no one who is part of the circus world has told me I do not belong!  A major life-changing shift. 
So I am trying to find out what the possibilities are for changing/refunding my return flight on November 30th.  Tomorrow or Monday I will go and register for a month long German language program, collect my bank statements, photocopy my passport, buy German insurance and ask Bridge for a signed paper saying I reside at this address.  I believe I can get a visa extension of at least 3 months this way.  It's true, I'm only here until November 15th, but that's plenty of time to find a place.  If anyone knows of anyone in Berlin renting a room for 250 Euro a month or less, let me know. I'm currently seeking an under the table job, too.  Made one inquiry about an English-speaking nanny position I found on Craigslist and am going to find out about stagehand stuff.

Last night people in my dreams where speaking German.  I only understood a few words.  I don't know what they where talking about, but I now it was German.  I have never had a dream in a foriegn language before.  This place, it has seeped into my consciousness.  It wants me to stay.

It's all a little stressful and overwhelming, but I believe I can do this.  If anyone would like to make a contribution, financial or energetic, to the Harvey fund, now would be the time.

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