Rinde Eckert: In Search of the Dream You Can’t Imagine

In conversation
with Molly Sheridan
at Eckert’s home in
Nyack, New York
September 15, 2009—1 p.m.

Transcribed and edited
by Molly Sheridan
Videotaped by Trevor Hunter
Video presentation
by Molly Sheridan

*

A man stands alone on a nearly bare stage.

Or maybe he sits—at a desk, or at a piano, or by the side of an imaginary road.

Or maybe when the lights come up, he has an accordion in his hands. In fact, you realize you heard it breathing in the darkness just a moment before but didn’t understand at the time what it was. And now there is a bald, 6’2″ white man standing before you, larger than life and singing several octaves higher than seems quite correct considering his size. And you are not sure where you are, and yet you feel that is all right. Rinde Eckert has asked you to follow him off the path of what is expected and into the mind of one of his characters. You may not have known this is where you were headed when you arrived at the theater, but here you find yourself, mesmerized by this 21st-century bard.

Playwright, director, composer, musician, dancer, librettist. Eckert was a carpenter at one point, too, so it probably wouldn’t be a stretch for him to build his own sets. Sometimes it seems like he can play any role, both onstage and behind the scenes. Once out under the stage lights, it’s often startling how swiftly he can build up a world around him out of a just a few items—a coat hanger, a piece of cloth, a box. But it’s also a fascinating lesson in the rules of fantasy and what it takes to bring an audience along for the ride. For his part, Eckert has discovered it’s often more about an open mind than an open checkbook, more about always trusting than about always being right.

Towards the end of a two-hour conversation that ranged from the challenges of collaboration to the boundaries of imagination, Eckert boiled his thoughts on the life of an artist down to their bare essence. “The career is an artifact of a greater search,” he explained. “And art I don’t think is ultimately the point either, which probably makes me a philosopher. You’re building a life, actually. And you make sacrifices for that life that may not necessarily do anything for your career or even directly enhance your art. And that’s important.”

—MS

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Molly Sheridan: One of the things that always strikes me when I get to see your work is the skill set you bring to a production—singing, acting, music, text. I know that you come from a family of stage performers, so it’s not as if these ideas all came to you out of the blue, but when you first set out, did you intend to lasso all of them into your work or was it a happy evolution drawn from who you knew and what you experienced?

Rinde Eckert: More of the latter. My parents were both opera singers, and in order to save on babysitting costs, they would take my sister and I to rehearsals. I was in my first opera when I was seven. We went to see my dad do Rodolfo in La bohème—this was at the Amato Opera Company in New York. At intermission we walked back stage, my sister and I, and Tony Amato came up, the director, and looked at us and said, “Oh, they’ll do. They’ll do fine. You’re going on in the second act. We need more kids.” So he put me in the hands of this kid, [also named] Tony, and said “Do whatever Tony tells you.” So Tony took me by the hand and the music came up for the second act, that wonderful street scene, and we ran out. He was giving me instructions, “Okay, now we fight. Now we play with the toys.” And these women in hoop skirts are going around us and the lights are blinding and I felt absolutely at home. I’d never felt so safe in my life. Later I’d understand how vulnerable you actually are! [laughs]

When I did a performance of Slow Fire years later in the ’80s, there’s a moment in the piece when I’m plastered against a little white door, holding it like my life depends on it, and the piece goes quiet for the first time. All of the sudden, there was this guy right by the stage and he’s pounding with his fist and yelling at the top of his lungs. I don’t know what he was high on—utterly high on something serious—and it just shocked the hell out of me. He was two feet from me and he just came out of the dark. Suddenly I felt like, “Oh, man. I’m up here and I have no idea who’s out there!” But at seven, I felt really safe.

MS: Was that a kind of magical, movie-script moment where you just saw your future and knew that this was the path for you?

RE: No, not really. My father didn’t want me to go into the arts. He had been disappointed to a degree in his own career and he didn’t want me to have to go through those disappointments. But at the same time, I think it was only half serious. Both my parents have been extraordinary supporters of my work.

I tried to avoid this completely. At one point I tried to be a carpenter, but I couldn’t stay away. That’s my council to people in the arts: Try all you can to, like, not. But if you can’t, know that there are other people who have done it and been okay, so you’re not alone. It can happen and it can be a really rich and wonderful way of life. And that’s the way it was with me; I couldn’t really avoid my fate. I would try and move away from it and then something would get me back in. And now, of course, there’s no hope for me.

MS: Was there a big moment that pulled you back in all the way or was it a gradual tug that was just unrelenting?

RE: My whole career has been real steady, but it always fell short of the thing that would just make you a household name or put you in the way of a lot of “important people” who would suddenly be your champion.

If there was any kind of realization in the beginning it was that I didn’t belong in opera, and that was the beginning of everything. It was very practical. I looked at my voice and my personality and all the indications I had gotten up to that point and I thought, well, if you were hoping to be on the scale of Pavarotti, not your profession. Opera is not really where your voice is going to find its soul. So I immediately started thinking, well, how can I be at the top of the game? What gifts do I have that I can bring to the table and where can I use them? The avant-garde provided that for me; they were thrilled by my diversity. I’d studied dance and worked with movement artists. I had a lot of various things I could do with my voice, and so I started working with composers who were excited about that—principally Paul Dresher out in California, with whom I have had a long and prosperous relationship.

Later on I started working with dancers—Margaret Jenkins, and Sarah Shelton Mann out in San Francisco. Both really interesting choreographers. And we would run up against some issues with the funding where they’d say, “Well, we don’t have any money for a composer.” And I’d say, “I’ll do that.” [laughs] And so I started writing dance scores. And the more dance scores I wrote, the more other dancers would come and hear the score and would say, “Can you write one for me?”

That was a great moment, when you give up the dream that you had and you start making the other dream which you can’t imagine. It’s like you see one road and you know exactly where it leads. So either I go there and I become a kind of second-rate opera artist, or I travel down this other road and I either fail completely or something happens and it works. As it turned out, this worked for me, this other path. And it offered me extraordinary opportunities and challenges. One of the presumptions of that little exercise, that little dialectic that I went through, is that it presumes that you might belong at the top of some list, you might belong at the top of some genre, that you might have something to contribute of value. It’s a pretentious thing to think, but it’s one of those things, you say maybe these gifts can be molded. I like to say that my education has been entirely public. The public has seen me work through every problem. I’ve never had the luxury of actually not having my mistakes visible.

MS: There’s an interesting parallel there then, between you—choosing between the road that you know and the road that is unknown—and the characters that you play. It often seems that something has happened to shake them and they suddenly don’t quite know where they’re going.

RE: The art reflects life, of course. My characters end up being these rather common people, often failed in one aspect of their lives, who have a very large inner life. And I think I felt at that time that I had a very large inner life, and it remained to be seen whether there was a way of translating what I thought was a large inner life to an audience that would appreciate its particular size. So yeah, I think the characters are reflective of some of my personality, certainly.

MS: Does that make it easier for them to suddenly launch into song? Because as an audience member you can kind of go with them and get into this sort of odd personal space with them, and then suddenly these things that they’re doing are okay because all was not quite normal to begin with.

RE: Well, one of the things that is true about a work that centers around a particular point of view is that poetically we can go anywhere in that world. People sing in their heads; people can be grand in their heads. But you get into a social context where you are responsible for adhering to the laws of that social context, and you are restrained by that. I was looking for something that would incorporate all these particular ways that I wanted to move, so we follow one guy through this landscape and the things that happen are an outgrowth of his consciousness.

MS: But big things happen, and some of these are really big things—Melville scale. But even when they are smaller and more personal in scope, they trigger these huge reactions. What triggers that creative impulse in you to follow these characters to these places?

RE: Well, as Paul Dresher says, “Really, Rinde, you’re just a philosopher.” I’ll often have unprepossessing characters philosophizing: You’ll have a couple of workmen and suddenly they get into something really heavy. I’m working on a new piece right now in which a couple of orderlies show up to clean a hospital, and they have a huge philosophical discussion. One guy’s talking about, “Well, you know, what we’re doing is quite possibly destructive.” And the other guys says, “What do you mean? Cleaning up the clinic is destructive?” “Yeah, we are forestalling the possibility of a beneficial mutation. We’re always taking it back to zero. We clean up it up and make sure it’s exactly as it was to begin with. If we let it grow like an unweeded garden, we might find that in that bed of weeds, there are these extraordinary plants.” And he starts to talk about the remarkable discoveries that have been made as a result of accidents—things that weren’t cleaned up. And so they get into this whole thing about the organization of the future, our organized progress toward cure versus, say, the accidental, the natural vs. the machine, the intellectual vs. the spiritual, and they get into this huge dynamic. But essentially we’re dealing with two guys who are arguing about whether they should clean up the hospital or not.


I love looking into the mundane and seeing a grand idea or problem where just an argument about whether to clean up something becomes this huge philosophical debate. And then eventually it has to come down to, well, of course we’re going to clean it up—something has to happen in the world. Either the tragedy realizes itself, like in And God Created Great Whales, where yeah, this guy isn’t saved. Eventually the world catches up with him and destroys him in a sense. Or as with Reinhart Poole in Horizon, the guy has to come and answer the question, “Well, what am I going to do next?” And he has the voice of his wife, which brings him back to the world all the time, “As soon as you’re ready to stop farting around, Reinhart, go take care of business and then we can go for a walk.” “Okay, dear.” And he comes down to the real world. I love going into the really large and then returning to the small. So it has heroic proportions but no heroes.

MS: It’s often you performing these roles. But you have a kind of Meryl Streep-ness about you in that the audience seems to take you in as you for the first moment, and then everyone settles in and you have a way of convincing them to pretty quickly go into the fantasy with you. Are you conscious of that? Is it a technique in your repertory that you think about as you’re creating these pieces?

RE: It’s part of my aesthetic, and I’m looking for devices that will allow me that privilege. But audiences will pretty much go anywhere with you if you explain the rules. Initially they don’t know the rules, and then very quickly they get comfortable with the rules. If you drag a cardboard box onto the stage, the audience will see a cardboard box until you write the word “boat” on it with a felt tip pen. You write the word boat and then you get in the box, and the audience immediately knows what’s required of them and you are essentially in a boat. They don’t care if it looks like a boat—they know what it’s supposed to be. This has happened before; as children, they’ve gotten into boats [made out of boxes] and this is the same thing. And then you behave like you’re in a boat and they’re fine with it. And they will treat it like a boat for the rest of the piece until you rename it. And then you can turn the box and name it something entirely different and they’ll be fine with that, as well. It will be a boat until you name it a law office. And then you get in the box and act like a lawyer, and they’re thinking, “Oh, so it was a guy who was in a boat and now he’s in a law office. No problem. We just want to know what we’re supposed to do.”

The thing about hard and fast genres is that they come with the context already proscribed, so the trouble with a lot of, say, opera-goers, is that they want the laws that govern opera to govern this. And they think these are the best laws, and these laws should govern everything that’s music theater. And you say, no, those laws are really good for the opera world, but they don’t apply here. This goes different places.

Now the nice thing about avant-garde and new music audiences, though it can be a problem for them too, is that they know to wait. We don’t know what the laws are. The piece will tell us, if it’s a good piece, and then we can relax and be there. So those initial moments of a piece are really critical. I’ve never been much of a fan of cunning exposition. If you want them to know something, tell them. They need to know at the beginning of And God Created Great Whales that Nathan is losing his memory, so I just have an announcement—”Nathan was surprised how calm he was when he found out he was losing his memory”—and we know as soon as we see this guy that he’s losing his memory. He’s sitting at the piano, so we expect that he’s going to play it. And then we see this otherworldly creature plucking a ukulele, so already things are going on and the audience says well, we’re not in Kansas. They’re already getting educated by the way the piece begins. And then the piece reinforces that when Nathan pushes a button on his tape recorder that he hangs around his neck like the proverbial albatross, and the tape says it again: “Your name is Nathan. You are losing your memory. You are working on an opera.” It just flat out does it and then they know what the parameters are. “Oh, he’s working on an opera.” It’s all there.

MS: Still, that can be a lot for a single work to take on: it has to shoulder setting the rules of the form as well as express the content of the piece, and do both better than average to succeed, doesn’t it? Does that limit what you can do in an evening?

RE: Well, I had a case where I did a piece called Romeo Sierra Tango, which was a take on Romeo and Juliet. And I loved the opening when I first did it. I would be under a piece of brown paper and then suddenly these arms would come out, and the paper would crumple down and I’d do this thing like I was some kind of creature just waking up. My body was coated in clay, and up and out of this primordial ooze Romeo would come. He wakes up 400 years after he’s taken the poison—it actually didn’t kill him, it just made him almost immortal, much to his regret. He’s spent 400 years trying to find ways to kill himself. The piece never really caught on, and I never understood why because I was really pleased with it. [laughs]

So, I did this thing and a friend of mine came back after the performance and said, “You know, I had a problem with the piece. You presumed that we’re all familiar with Romeo and Juliet. And even though I read Romeo and Juliet, I was halfway through the piece before I could actually remember it. So I wasn’t with you; I was behind.” I thought, “Oh, man, I have to start this is in a completely different way. I’m not getting them in there; I’m not telling them what they need to know. I’m not telling them the laws of this piece.” And I haven’t done it in years, but if I were to do it again I would do it the way I now do it: I come out to the audience and I actually take off my clothes while I’m talking to them. I’m talking about the evolution of the piece, my feelings about Romeo and Juliet, and while I’m doing that I start putting this clay all over my body. And then finally I finish and I put my bucket aside and get under the paper and start it the way I want to start it. And it just takes them. They knew the parameters; they knew what the story was; they knew how they could appreciate it.

Although many people were mad at me for another reason with that one because they didn’t get the kind of soaring music that they have come to expect from me. There was this movie actress from L.A. who came to a performance of it in New York and dragged her famous boyfriend. She came back afterwards and she was so pissed at me, and she wanted to tell me how pissed off she was because I didn’t sing in it. “I brought my boyfriend and I told him about what you do and then it didn’t happen; this other thing happened.”

MS: Of all the artistic challenges you’re facing when you’re working in a field like this, isn’t that one of the biggest burdens of it? You’re dealing with your own expectations, you have to be in a place where you’re able to evolve your own expectations, and then decide what feedback you’re going to take—because reading reviews of your shows, it can really run the gamut from you being the Second Coming to the piece being a complete disaster. Was it a struggle to learn how to deal with it?

RE: You know, as an artist you have to routinely deal with that. Are you beholden to a crowd that insists that this is what they want, or do you follow the logic of an idea to its proper conclusion—do you do service to the art, and by doing service to the art, do you do a greater service to your audience, because you’re taking them somewhere that they couldn’t imagine by themselves? There are certain ideas that you have to say, “I trust that this art is actually doing exactly what it needs to do.” And whether or not it’s what they’ve come to expect, if this is where it has to go, you have to have the courage or the foolishness to actually do that and then take the consequences. And for some art you know there will be consequences, and you hope that it won’t be so bad that you won’t be allowed to continue doing it.

I trust at this point that I have enough of a track record so that if I do go somewhere that I need to go and that I feel my audience ought to go, that either they will trust me and go there, or that if they’re mad at me, they won’t stay mad that long. And I’ve certainly made mistakes in my career, artistic mistakes that I’ve learned from. As I say, I’ve tended to educate myself in public and throw myself to the lions. And sometimes that’s worked, and sometimes that has not worked.

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Eckert performing Dry Land Divine.

MS: You seem to prefer working with small stage teams. Most of your pieces are you solo or there are just a few people on stage, and even when there are more characters, a small group of actors play them all. Is that vision? Is that economics?

RE: Say you get three people. You can do something pretty serious in six weeks. It’s harder with twenty people to do something serious in six weeks, especially if you’re inventing it. It’s one thing if it already exists and you’re just putting it up, but when you’re still trying to find it, part of your rehearsal is dedicated to just finding what it is. By the time you discover it you may have two weeks left to actually put it together, and so you learn to be fast but you also learn the aesthetic of poverty. It’s like Jerzy Grotowski in Towards a Poor Theatre. You start to like it being funky, you start to say, “I trust this. That looks a little too ‘theatery’.”—that’s a technical term. [laughs]—”That looks too pretentious. No, just write the word boat on the cardboard box. That will be fine. In fact, that will be preferable.” Then we unmask the pretension of the whole thing. It’s theater. We’re asking them to take a leap of faith. They know it’s not a ship; they know you’re not out to sea. We can make a very impressive ship and it’s fun to look at for a couple of minutes and then it’s just a big burden because you can’t go anywhere. It can’t be anything else but a ship.

So you learn this utility of poverty, too. The fact that the little broomstick can be a spear, a baseball bat, a gun, and anything else you want it to be. You get a gun out there, you’ve only got a gun and then you have to shoot it. But a broomstick? You’re not obligated to shoot a broomstick. And it can still be a very effective weapon. So you learn that there are some advantages to that aesthetic. It starts off economically. You can’t do it any other way so you try and make the art with whatever garbage you have laying around, but then you grow to love it—you start liking the garbage, you start seeing its value to you. So it’s a strange one.

Still occasionally you do have dreams and ideas that would demand a larger cast, more time, and greater resources. Only so many people can command those resources or have the necessary organizational genius to make that happen. Guys like Robert Wilson can make big things happen. They can make big things and then find big spaces to put the big things in and have the big things do big things. And you kind of marvel and you go, “Oh, wow, that’s really cool.”

MS: On the flip side of the small budgets and very small cast of characters, you collaborate a lot. In that way you don’t seem to have any restrictions on lots of people working on a single project. What is the key to being successful in that kind of environment?

RE: I play very well with others, which is part of the source of my success, as limited as it is. And I have to remind myself at all moments that I’ve got it pretty good. People want me to be myself; people want me to do my work. At this point, I very rarely work with people I don’t love. And I think the affection translates into the product.

MS: You’ve had some really long-term collaborators in people like Paul Dresher and Steve Mackey. When you get to that level of relationship then, how have you pushed and pulled at each other as time went on? There must be things that made you come back to one another again and again.

RE: Well, there’s love—especially those two guys. And that means a lot to me. Respect is another—I respect them both. It’s not that I don’t have problems occasionally, especially being a composer myself. I look at things and I go, “Not what I would do.”

MS: What do you do in that situation then?

RE: I just don’t put that hat on. I define my job pretty clearly, and that’s what allows me to be a director for these guys and to be a good collaborator with them.

MS: So you’re never tempted in the car on the drive home to nudge Steve and say, “You know, I think it’d be great if you just…”

RE: There are ways. You say, “I think we have to look harder at this because it’s not quite doing what we need it to do.” But it’s always in the way of saying, “just think about this. See if you can make your way.” And sometimes he’ll say, “No I can’t. I’ve got to have this.” And then I know. And then I trust. If you’ve got to have it, fine with me. If you’ve thought about my reservations, fine. So you go back and forth on this stuff. And we’re still going back and forth on a new piece with eighth blackbird called Slide which was just done out at Ojai. The opening was good, but not where we want it, so we’re going back in and saying, “Well, how can we make this better?” And I’ve done that with Paul, as well. We wrote a whole two-act piece and threw out the whole second act and went back to the drawing board. We took it back and said, “Where did we start to lose it?” We went back to there and built a completely new piece.

MS: You talked earlier about setting up rules. When it is you writing the music, do you have rules you follow? You have an exceptional vocal range and a way of pulling out singular instruments to play onstage that all seem like they might be representing some point on an underlying framework, maybe just for you or maybe for your audiences. Are you following a playbook of sorts?

RE: Horizon is a case where I found a basic sound world that I came back to over and over again. Everything related to this kind of jangling prepared piano. So we had this instrument that was doing things that weren’t normal to it, and it fit with Horizon—this idea of the exchange of the routine. Reinhart Poole, [the central character in this production], is still a Christian, but his Biblical exegesis has transformed this instrument and it no longer sounds like a piano. Even though we’re not conscious of these things, I’m firmly convinced that there’s an unconscious way in which we interpret them and we understand exactly what’s going on. I do need devices; I do need something unifying the music. I don’t just throw things together because I feel like it. And even though it seems eclectic to a degree, it’s not really that eclectic, which is code for, “he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

MS: So is it fair to say that you kind of play your way, or experiment your way, to the piece? It seems like in so many of these examples you don’t know what you want until you get it.

RE: Yeah. I call it willful ignorance. Experience has taught me that if you think you know what you want, you sometimes miss what’s available to you. For instance, I was interviewing a woman and her husband because she’s going blind and she’s trying to get a driver’s license. I was curious about her and what she was going through because I’m writing this piece about blindness. So I’m concentrating on her because she’s the major source, I think, of information. And then out of the corner of my eye I see something happen in her husband. It’s just a flicker and I glance over, and just for a moment I see the sadness overwhelm him. They had described themselves as athletes and they do all kinds of things together, and he sees that the future that he planned is going down the tubes. And he’s trying to be a good guy, a supportive husband, but then there’s just this sudden weakness and we see him just succumb to a kind of self-pity. And I wrote a whole scene based on this husband who is reviling himself for that moment of self-pity. But if I think it’s all about her, I miss that moment.

And that’s the way I feel in the rehearsal studio. I come in and I generally have a lot of material, I just don’t know what it means. I came in for Horizon and I had a 250-page document. I sat it down on the table and said, “Let’s read.” We read for three days together. And that was an important thing because later on I was in trouble in a transition. I didn’t know how to get from here to there, and then that night an actor knocked on my door and said, “I got this from the middle of those 250 pages. You’d forgotten about it, but I put the first half of this scene with the last half of this scene. Take a look.” It was perfect. If we hadn’t read that 250-page document, I would have just discarded it because it didn’t seem pertinent. He remembered and pasted these two scenes together and handed it to me. Perfect! How do you get that?

You want to be surprised in your work, it seems to me. You can build your dream house and it might be pretty nice, but I keep thinking it could have been so much better if you had not had such a clear idea of what your dream house was, if you’d known that on the way to Oz you were going to find some extraordinary people to walk with and they were going to save your butt. Those people you met on the road to Oz, those are the ones you’re going to actually need, and you didn’t know this when you started the trip.

And that’s what I find wonderful about the community of art and that’s why collaboration is so much fun. People bring odd things to the table. They have quirky ideas. I’ve argued this over and over in lots of places where I say, “Look, do you want to be making literature or do you want to be on an adventure of discovery? That’s a different thing. Do you want to discover the piece? Then don’t start with Hamlet. Hamlet is already done, it’s finished. You don’t need to discover that any more.”

MS: Do you find yourself in that situation when you go back to your own work after a number of years? You just put up And God Created Great Whales again, you’re going to do Orpheus X. Do you get to that point that when it’s your piece in the first place?

RE: Yeah, actually, it was a lot of fun going back to Whales. Number one, after you’ve finished a piece, all of the sudden the logic of it starts to be clear to you—why you did what you did. At the time you did it, you were just guessing. It was a great idea as it turned out, or not, and then later somebody asks you, “Why did you do that?” And then in hindsight you build this whole logic, and pretty soon it’s the story of your building of the piece. And everybody thinks, “Oh, that’s amazing! How did he come up with that? It’s so logical.” And it wasn’t logical at all; it was completely intuitive. And it’s this intellectual exegesis and it’s fun, but it has no bearing on what went on in the room; what went on in the room is something far more interesting than your pathetic analysis. If you proceed that whole process with the pathetic analysis, it’s like, “Okay, I’m analyzing the hell out of it so by the time I get to the piece, why do the piece at all? I’ve already worked out everything. I don’t need to do the piece. There are no surprises left. What’s the point? I’ll just describe it to you. We’ll just parse the sentence and call it a day.”

I think it was maybe after Dry Land Divine at Zankel Hall. A guy came up and said, “Well, you know it’d be a great piece if you did this…if you could just do this.” And I said, “Hold on, let me clarify this for you. This piece is done. You don’t like this piece, but the piece is done. I’m happy with this piece; you are not. End of story.” And there are some pieces I can go back to and think I’m not particularly happy with the result, but I look at the idea and I think, “Is there anything else I want to do with this piece? Why do I want to save this piece?” It’s flawed, but no, I’m not going to change it. I’ve already learned what I need to learn. And then there are the pieces you’re really happy with and you’re just done with.

MS: So it sounds like you do make a habit of some reflection and self-analysis. So is there a macro, “This is what am I trying to do” message that has emerged on a sort of overarching scale? Is there an über-destination to this?

RE: Well, of course one is tempted to see one’s life as the über-journey. And this is something I will always council younger artists to recognize: You’re not building a career here. The career is an artifact of a greater search. And art I don’t think is ultimately the point either, which probably makes me a philosopher. You’re building a life, actually. And that’s important. And you make sacrifices for that life that may not necessarily do anything for your career or even directly enhance your art.

I feel completely at home on the stage at this point. It really is the most comfortable place in the universe for me now. In fact, recently we had a technical problem and we had to stop the show. I just started talking to the audience, and it felt like we were just in my living room, we were always in my living room. This is where I live. If this is what’s happening, fine. Everything is stopped now and I can’t do anything for that, so I’ll just talk to you for a second. And I played some things on the piano and talked about other times in my life when I’d had to stop shows. And we were having a high old time and finally they come back having fixed the equipment, and I said, “Okay, we’ll start from the beginning now.”


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