“Fear not thou, man, thou shalt lose nothing here.”
“The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare
I’ve been listening to classical music all day. Can you believe that Seattle has no public classical music station? Oh sure, maybe you can get a signal from Canada occasionally, but otherwise you’re left with the local Jazz station and a pretty grim NPR channel filled with no music only bad news. I’ve currently resorted to streaming classical music through the Roku; The only announcers I hear are speaking in French via the Swiss station I’ve found. Such a far cry from the daily connection I used to have listening to KUNC out of Greeley, CO with Kyle Dyas. It’s a small connection, but obviously a big enough one that I’ve spent all day brooding about his death. From the reassuring radio voice who guided me through my commute to performing with Kyle in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” via OpenStage, this person really mattered to me.
Ah yes, the 2004 production of “The Winter’s Tale” (subtitled: ‘Dancers Appear On-stage Constantly As Props’). Whether it was the heavy Ben Nye make-up that hid my increasing acne break outs or dancing with an enormous sheet over my head in the finale, that show took me to task (but looking back, very much in that youthful, self-entitled, sort of way). Kyle played the Clown, and he was the object of affection for me (Mopsa) and Teri (Dorcas)–both on and off stage, for he was affable in a really easy going sort of way. Our scenes included a lot frolicking, for we joined the Clown in providing comedic relief. Kyle was nervous about dancing–something I cheerfully informed him was ridiculous, he could totally dance, anyone can dance. I’m pretty sure I took the helm and bossed him around during the whole rehearsal process, or maybe I played the role of The Guy and led him through the steps in the way that’s taboo in the ballroom dancing community, or who knows, I don’t really remember. What I do recall is that really lovely synchronization you find with someone on-stage. There’s no struggle, or lost sense of space, instead you find an ease and a sense of comfort. It translates to laughing a lot backstage, light teasing, maybe a few assorted dance moves while waiting for current call in the wings. This was the show where the dancers kept prop bananas in their sport bras as a way to liven up the run.
As with all shows, we created a tiny, microcosm of a world. From the first read-thru to closing night, we fell into hierarchies, natural highs and lows, the rhythm and sync of a group building art. These small worlds, each show I’ve done, are so powerful that even seven years later, miles away, in a whole different city, the news of the Clown…well, the Clown is gone…how could that be?
Cut to a Random Memory: It is Fall. I am standing outside the costume shop in Old Town when I see Kyle just outside the store on the street. It’s the first time I’ve seen him outside of our rehearsals, and I think he’s a little thrown that I recognize him. I am thrilled because I just purchased these black feather wings for Halloween and a burgundy wig. In my excitable way I outline to Kyle my plan to go as an “Evil Fairy.” He is supportive. In fact, he absorbs my manic enthusiasm in a truly encouraging way.
I had already made the connection during rehearsal that, yes, he is the announcer I hear every day on NPR! “You’re a real celebrity,” I gushed in that way only someone who was brought up on public broadcasting truly can. When you’re not raised with knowledge of Hollywood celebrities, when you’re still watching Sesame Street as a teenager because it’s the single channel your parents allow, well, the only real consistency is the local announcers on the classical music station.
Now I live in Seattle and it’s big and rainy and yeah, everyone is obsessed with coffee, polar-fleece, and repeating what they heard on NPR. I miss the feel of Fort Collins in that obnoxious way a City Girl reflects on living in a Small Town (Life was so much slower! I could bike everywhere! Sure there was no public transportation, diversity, or a liberal voting majority but the cost of living was so much lower!). But all clichés aside you can’t erase the fact that I once won a free bike tune-up for writing a poem about ‘Why I Love KUNC.” That sort of thing just doesn’t happen in The City. It’s also hard to make the sort of connections I made with the members of OpenStage, the dancers I used to teach at CCB, and the many artists who made Fort Collins a truly wonderful place to live. Kyle was all part of that for me, all wrapped up in the memory of a really great time.
Because I’ve been gone for a while, I’m not churning inside with missed opportunity, the question of ‘where I was’ when this sad decision was made, or other conflicting emotions my peers who are closer to Kyle are currently feeling. But Kyle is still important to me. It’s not a happy ending when your former cast mate reappears briefly in your life to star in a tragedy.
Cut to another memory: It’s snowing in Fort Collins really hard. Outside, the world has taken a soft approach and I’ve lapsed into cooking with the radio on (one of my favorite past times). The run of “The Winter’s Tale” is over and we’re all gearing up for the holidays. After a bit of music, Kyle’s voice comes on. “I know him!” My brain instinctively says. Outside, the streets are slowing down with snow but I still have connection, I still have my radio, my friend talking through the airwaves. “I know him.