May 10th, 2013 | Uncategorized

I’m at my mom’s house, and have been going through some of her old files of the plays she acted in. There are programs from college and summer stock productions, old newspaper reviews, head shots…including this stunner:

…there are also cast photos, stuff like that. But then I ran across this curious document.

An envelope of lovely cream-laid stock, sealed with red sealing wax and addressed in my own handwriting to Mme. Leonora Armfeldt, a role my mother played in A Little Night Music in 1977. At first I thought it was something I’d given her as a joke. Certainly the address was a joke…”Björneborg Manor.” But then I opened it up and read the letter.

These are lines from a song that Mme. Armfeldt’s daughter Desirée sings. Then it all came back to me—this was an actual prop from the play! Mom had asked me to create an authentic looking letter that the characters could use onstage.

This has added yet another bizarre layer of complexity to a scene in chapter 6 of my memoir Are You My Mother? where I write about mom’s performance in that play.

letters enclosing reviews

admiring my mother's acting

17 Responses to “meta”

  1. NLC says:

    If you want to talk meta:

    From the first time I saw the panel in RUMM, I’ve wondered: Should we make anything of the fact that “Liaisons” is an anagram of “Is Alison”?

  2. Vicki Fraser says:

    First of all what an amazing “find”! Such an astute clever letter. These lines from the song that Desiree sings…and yet the imaginary roll reversal of you performing here (as writer) instead of your Mom hidden in this letter is astounding and curious.

    I especially love the part where it says… the minute you are done performing in Rollnick you will visit her- and argue!

    This is just first passing on my lunch break…will have to mull over some more and go back into that chapter. Just wanted to give my initial thoughts – so exciting.

  3. Kate L says:

    That is some photo… it gives one pause to think of our parents when they were younger than we are, now. I found a cheque in a drawer in my house (the house where I grew up), written by my mother when she was a few days away from giving birth to me. And, in just a few years, I’ll be older than she ever was.

  4. Katie Chetwood says:

    NLC- that’s astute! If you think about the context of Metaemotion and metamemory in psychology, then reverse the anagram to ‘Alison Is’, how bizaare could that seem in the RUMM context?

  5. Eva says:

    Is your Mom enjoying the meta of it all? I trust she is OK/getting better?

  6. Kate L says:

    We all second Eva’s kind thoughts (#6). We may be only virtually there for you, but we’re there! 🙂

    My daily angst… I just went to a TexMex chain franchise here at the Smallville Mall for an enchilada dinner. It may have been a mistake for me to wear my leather jacket, jeans and a T-shirt… I finally left after 20 minutes and not so much as a glass of water! No enchiladas for you! At least I can always get served at the other local Mexican restaurant (owned by a local Hispanic family). This reminded me of the time an Arab student and I stopped for lunch at a place along the Kansas interstate. It took the better part of an hour to be served, with the staff doing its best to ignore us.

  7. Kate L says:

    … and, as if in answer to my angst, Humboldt State University has published a map of the continental U.S. (down to the county level) showing the locations of geotagged tweets using hate speech. Here is their map for homophobic references in tweets. Kansas is partly blotted out by angry red, I notice.

  8. shadocat says:

    Hey Kate—I think we’re both in the same hate blob!

  9. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    I wonder at them counting “queer” as a hate term since it’s been reclaimed as a positive term among, um, queers, especially younger queers who are more likely to tweet.

  10. But… that song isn’t in the stage production. That version of “The Glamorous Life” was written for the 1977 film version. In the stage production. Desiree sings the song, with a different lyric. I’ve never heard of the Daughter’s version of the song being used on stage.

    I demand an explanation.

    Also, wonderful post; very neat stuff 🙂

  11. THat was supposed to read “In the stage production -comma – Desiree sings the song”

  12. Jain says:

    I wondered about that, too, Anna. But if you click on “details” on the map, you’ll see, “Because algorithmic sentiment analysis would automatically classify any tweet containing ‘hate words’ as “negative,” this project relied upon the HSU students to read the entirety of tweet and classify it as positive, neutral or negative based on a predefined rubric. Only those tweets that were identified by human readers as negative were used in this analysis.”

  13. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    Ah, thanks, Jain.

  14. Disregard my previous comment. I’m remembering the show more coherently than I did in the morning. The only discrepancy was in my flailing, pre-coffee brain.

  15. Tony Sanfilippo says:

    Alison, I just heard. Helen was a remarkable woman. I’m so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you, Bob, and the rest of the family.

  16. Layers on layers of collaboration, counterpoint, art, presence and the shifts of memory. Including a such a carefully saved letter, written as a daughter to be part of her performance in a family, at her request. Amazing.