A Message from the Gods
On Mother’s Day this Spring, my family and I headed out to celebrate at the Getty Villa. It’s a hike to get out to Malibu, but we always love our time there, and it’s a place that holds deep meaning for us. I’ve been involved with several performances at the Villa, including the inaugural productions in both the indoor Auditorium and the outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater (which the scholars at the Getty will be quick to inform you is “not an ampthitheatre”), our boys have grown up with visits there since they were babies, and my wife Michele’s history with the museum dates back to college visits to “The Getty,” long before it was reborn in its current incarnation as the Villa, and credits these visits as her inspiration to escape the Inland Empire. We love walking amongst the statues and other ancient artifacts of gods and heroes, and treat them with a healthy mix of reverence and irreverence, like the art school brats we are.
This Spring & Summer, while the Villa is undergoing some big changes (can’t wait to see what’s in store!), visitors are being treated to “Roman Holidays,” games and improvisational performances by our friends with the Troubador Theater Company. LA Theatre folks know and love the Troubies - improvisational comedians carrying on the traditions of Ancient Rome, Shakespeare, Commedie dell’arte, and Rock & Roll. The centerpiece performance of “Roman Holidays” is a twice-daily comic ritual sacrifice of a sheep as an offering to the god Mercury. The ritual includes recitations of Mercury’s sacred text (“I see a little silhouetto of a man…”) and other zany antics. Spoiler alert: no actual animals are harmed in this sacrifice. The “liver” of the “sheep” is extracted, and it is read as an oracle to predict the future. It’s all irreverent and silly, in the best possible way.
Towards the end of the performance, the Troubie Mad Hatter/Pied Piper/Harlequino/Director/Head Clown Matt Walker found me in the audience and asked if I had a question for the god Mercury. At first I averted my eyes, international sign language for “please don’t bring me on stage.” Matt, however, persisted, and with a brief moment of eye contact I got his message: “no, really, man, we need your help up here.” Like a good improv performer, I said “yes, and...” and joined the show. “David of Glendale, of the many-colored hair” was now brought forward to ask a question of Mercury. I tried to think of something funny to ask, but all I could think of was “When will justice come to our land?” Not super-funny. The Troubie High Priestess consulted the rubber sheep liver, which informed her that I myself was in charge of my own fate. “David of Glendale will lead us to a bright future.”
It was all in the name of silly fun. But… somehow it stuck with me. Let’s recap. In a temple to art and the ancient gods, a high priestess received a message from Mercury that I am in charge of my own destiny. Welp… here goes, then. David of Glendale reporting for duty. More news soon.