I’m rushing to write this all down, hoping that by the time I’m done, there’s still light over at your end. My day is ending, so this post is a bit of a cheat—but what a day it was.
I went out with my friends to see The King and I. I grew up watching musicals on VHS tapes, and listening to the soundtracks on cassette tapes. This was one of them. Today was a dream come true for me, to see it live, with an orchestra and everything.
My favourite scene perhaps, and which always make me smile, is when Anna teaches the king to dance. In my mind, that will always be Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, but today’s show wasn’t so bad either. There’s a reason why I am in love with Degas’ ballerinas and of Matisse’s La Danse—I find dance very freeing, very spiritual, and very honest. Also, very intimate.
Ah, but what else is there left to say? The body creates its own language, whether it’s grief or happiness or love. When Anna and the king started to dance, they also started communicating in a different way: his tentative hand on her waist says I am nervous, should I be doing this?, but I want to hold you, this is all new to me, what have you done to me, this changes everything. And when she placed her hand in his, she was saying, this is a side of you I haven’t seen before and I like it, why can’t you be like this all the time you stubborn man, you are actually nice if you allow yourself to be, I think I am in over my head, what am I doing, but oh I do want to dance.
Their whole relationship is a dance—between a man and a woman, between two different cultures, and more. The whole story is a getting-to-know-you. (A tangent: I suddenly remembered a line from a Niedecker poem: “Keen and lovely man moved as in a dance…”)
And then there’s the tragic love story between Tuptim and Lun Tha. Their pain and longing has been magnified in my mind over the years because of Frank Sinatra singing I Have Dreamed and We Kiss in a Shadow. That man knows how to sing about heartache. There’s just something about the way his voice catches. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s in his phrasing. That’s where I live.
The singers were all fantastic. The stage design majestic. I am so full of emotions and thoughts, but I must apologise—I find that I’ve been left with a limited vocabulary. (My heart does that often.) Everything I’ve said doesn’t do the show (and the story) justice at all, but for now this is all I have.
Let me just say that it was a day that will stay with me for awhile, M. It was something wonderful—and I’ll leave you with King Mongkut’s words—et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.