This week I had the chance to attend London's National Theatre Live broadcast of the play Angels In America. It was showing at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Actors were performing a play in England where it was being filmed to be broadcast live all around the world! Live! As in NOW.
Satellites allow the productions to be broadcast live to cinemas throughout the US, as well as many European venues. (About 2,000 movie theatres participate.) Other venues view the broadcasts ‘as live’ according to their time zone, or at a later date. It was fun to see friends posting later that evening from a theatre in Brooklyn. They were watching an encore broadcast. (I was super pleased with myself that I got to see it as it was happening live.)
I could write about the play. I could also write about taking Metro North up to Pleasantville to spend the day with my dear friend Chad, about the super great Indian lunch we had at Little Mumbai Market...instead, I want to write about time.
This live broadcast experience really blew me away. When Chad was walking me back to the train, he wanted to talk about the play we had just watched, but I couldn't even really form a sentence. I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone with a foot in two different places in time. I spent the train ride back to Manhattan trying to wrap my head around how we had just shared the very same moments and emotions as these actors and audience members in London. The very same NOW but on a different clock. It was like we'd entered some Space Time Continuum. Or fell through an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. I found it thrilling.
I suppose Facebook Live and all sorts of social media creates the same parallel experiences. We live in a time where everything is immediate and can be documented or captured to share with an audience somewhere else. We can Skype someone into a meeting from a far away location or even FaceTime the delivery of babies if family members can't be present. The fear of missing out on something is diminished because we can somehow be looped in or included into every NOW imaginable.
This theatre experience seemed to hold more weight for me though. The five hour time difference meant we were seeing a matinee performance in New York while they were experiencing an evening curtain in the UK, but we all shared a NOW regardless of our individual clocks. We all 'spent time' together in completely staggered moments in time. Which makes me think even harder about what it means to spend time. More specifically, how am I spending my NOW?
George Balanchine, the great ballet master, famously said, "Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for - for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now."
The year is more than halfway over. "Time keeps on tickin' tickin' tickin' into the future...🎼" But the future doesn't matter if we're wasting our NOW, right? So. Let's do the things we say we'll do. Let's seek out the thrilling moments of life. Let's work harder and love deeper. Let's not procrastinate and take our days for granted. Deal?
This week I am not really sharing a recipe, rather a gathering of ingredients that came together like something right out of The Twilight Zone. Lychees are creepy little fruits whose flesh make me think of eyeballs or brains, but they taste like cotton candy mixed with sweet edible flowers or perfume. They are other worldly. Lychees have a seed that takes up more space than the actual fruit inside the pink leathery skin. Finding them fresh might be a task wherever you live - but NOW is the time to buy them in New York City. They're all over the street vendor fruit carts and in produce sections of the grocery stores. If you can find them canned, it's a really good substitute. Buy them. They are really special.
I was recently turned onto Black Venus Rice. I thought it was going to be like the Asian Forbidden Rice. It kind of was if you hopped off in Italy before you got to Asia. I looked it up and found it described as this:
"Black Venus Rice is a medium-grain rice with a dark black color, nutty, sweet taste and the aroma of freshly baked bread. It is a hybrid grain that combines Asian black rice with an Italian varietal for a unique texture and appearance. Its striking black appearance is due to pigments in the rice's hull."
Baked bread, sweet, nutty. All of it. It is my favorite thing I've eaten this year I think. I couldn't get enough of it. NOW is the time for you to find that rice too. Treat yourself. It's really expensive. Amazon has a bunch of different versions of it, but this is the cheapest I found it.
I cooked the rice in chicken stock, then stirred in a little bit of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. I peeled and seeded the lychees and mixed those in. I clipped some lemon balm from my fire escape window box and sprinkled that on top. This dish makes about as much sense as seeing live theatre broadcast from London while sitting in New York City. And yet...