|Lay Not Your Blame On Me
Even Kate, at 15, knew that doing Othello with teenagers was stupid. With teenagers you did Midsummer's, or maybe you did Much Ado About Nothing, if you had two real stars. But Othello took real work, and Kate's mother told her not to get a swelled head, but she knew that she was the only one in her school who could actually handle the work that the play took.
Emilia was competent and Iago would show flashes of brilliance, but Othello was a disaster -- beautiful, and with the sort of voice that Kate thought belonged in radio and not on the stage. And he was wooden, awkward. He stepped on her feet and her lines, he manhandled her so badly that she bruised, real thumbprints on her arms beneath her costume.
He fell in love with Emilia and kissed her backstage between scenes for two weeks of rehearsal and all four performances. Kate stood next to them, saying, Lay not your blame on me. If you have lost him, Why, I have lost him too to herself.
Kate got a standing ovation. At 15, she would rather have had a boyfriend.
Vladimir & Estragon
They came together, in a pair. She was a first-year, they were third-years, and she watched them with an interest that she only later identified as jealous fascination. They were gorgeous, funny, loud. Estragon was called Jamie, and Vladimir was called Rick (or maybe it was the other way around; Kate was only the assistant stage manager and they didn't talk to her), and every room they entered, they immediately commanded all attention.
Kate wanted to enter a room and have all eyes on her. Instead she stayed in the shadows of backstage and mouthed the lines along with Jamie and Rick (or Rick and Jamie). She knew Godot backwards and forwards -- knew the lines, at least. Kate didn't have a clue what it meant, but they said the words like they had every answer.
She wanted that kind of command, that kind of surety. She envied them their ease, their grace, their friendship with each other and with everyone they met.
Kate felt awkward in her own skin, lonely, starved for someone else's hands on her body. She watched the cast hug each other after the performances and wrapped her arms around herself in the chill of backstage.
She read The Lady's Not For Burning at 18, swooning in her room not over Richard and Allyson but over Jennye and Thomas. Kate had never been in love -- too busy for love, she told her mother, but mostly she wanted a sweeping sort of love, a grown up love that transcended time and death.
She wanted love that would die for her, and then come back and save her. Kate wanted love that would save her from herself.
She thought it was the sort of love that died out with chivalry; that died out with Christopher Fry, hundreds of years ago. It wasn't until she took a Modern European Drama class in her last semester, before she left for real work, that she realized Fry was still alive.
Fry was writing about an old sort of love, but if he was still alive, he must have known that love. Kate didn't see how he could write the way he did and not know about that love.
It made her think that she could find it, someday. She wasn't looking for a soulmate, just someone to save her.
When Fry died, the first year she was in L.A., she cried.
He was gay, of course. Gay and gorgeous, and if that wasn't the biggest stereotype of the theater Kate had ever heard. She didn't even like McNally, thought the women in Lips Together, Teeth Apart were awful, simpering bitches, but her mother had bought the plane ticket to London for her, so she could see real theater that wasn't New Burbage, and her mother had picked out Love! Valour! Compassion! because her mother had heard of McNally.
The production was only halfway decent, but Kate sat in the audience enraptured because he was so amazing. She can't even remember his name, now -- it's forgotten in a haze of things that happened at New Burbage to her, not just for her -- but she fell as little in love with him while he stumbled through Gregory's grief in the opening lines.
She didn't meet him. She saw the crowds thronging at the stage door and she almost slipped in with them, to watch him more closely, to speak to someone who might have seen the same light behind his performance that she did.
She turned and went back to her hotel instead. She kept that joy private, tucked beneath her heart.
Jack is riding a bus the first time she meets him, and she has no idea who he is. She's thinking about Hamlet and about the stupid commercial that's going to ruin her stupid life, and underneath the hood, sunglasses, awful American accent, she doesn't recognize him.
She's so distracted by her own life that she doesn't notice the man who the world means her to fall in love with.
This was not in any of the plays she's read, not in any of the texts she's memorized as part of her education. She and Jack get twisted up together and it's something fun to do, and then they twist the text up with them, too, and Hamlet and Ophelia get all mixed in with Jack and Kate.
Before she knows what's happened, it's love -- braided into rosemary, that's for remembrance and that this too, too solid flesh would melt, inextricable from the play. Love, the last place she expected to find it; love that might be enough to save her from a life of maids and fairies.
Jack is unexpected joy, the light of sunrise after a long dark night -- someone to save her, and someone she can save.
author's notes: 200 words about each boyfriend. The characters in the section breaks are from Othello, Waiting for Godot, The Lady's Not For Burning, Love! Valour! Compassion! and Hamlet (obvs), in order, if that wasn't clear already. I have played fast and loose with pre-series canon in this, so I could give Kate at least a year in college; my sincerest apologies.