Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Play's The Thing

When I was in college I took a class on African theater. I can't remember what department it was in, but I can tell you it was not part of the theater department. I can state that with certainty because I was the only theater major in the class. Beside the fact I knew every one of the 30 people who made up my graduating class in the theater school, I knew I was the only theater major in the African theater class because that's what my professor called me.

I can hear him still, his deep, musical voice, heavy with a Nigerian accent, booming at me from across the room. "Theater major, tell us what this play has to do with Sophocles." He called me "Theater Major," delighted with the prospect that someone might have a specialized insight into the dramatic struggles put forth by playwrights seeking revolution in their art.

That was the last time I received positive recognition for my undergraduate degree for a very long time. Fresh out of college at every job interview I went on, I was quizzed by sneering employers. "And what did you hope to accomplish with a major in theater?" Their disdain overlooked my near perfect grade point average and the national honor societies into which I had been admitted. It was clear that my degree had gotten me in the door merely so I could be gawked at, like a strange exotic animal. What would the theater major look like? Would she show up dressed in all place with a beret? Perhaps feathers and a cape?

And then I went to law school. Which one would think is a sure fire way to put the theater major reputation behind you. It isn't. My first week of Civil Procedure my professor, at one point in his lecture, began to quote Shakespeare.

"The quality of mercy is not strained," he paused and looked around the class expectantly, only to be met with blank stares. "Nobody knows the rest of that quote?" Nobody did. Except of course, one student did. I raised my hand and he called on me.

"It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath." I subsequently identified the quote and play from when it came, much to the delight of my professor. After class a lot of my classmates came up and asked how I knew the passage, to which I could only shrug, "I was a theater major."

Fast forward several years and countless more interviews explaining how my background in theater would be an asset to any law firm. Last year I went to the bathroom in a restaurant and noticed they had a giant poster with the complete text of Romeo and Juliet on it. I wanted it. Well not that one in particular, because honestly? Don't get me started on the absurdity that is Romeo and Juliet. I told Thatboy I wanted a giant play for my office and went online to find more information.

When I saw they had a "Merchant of Venice," it was as though it was meant to be. What better way to tie my backgrounds together than the play my civ pro teacher quoted my first week of law school? But then I saw the price tag. Have I mentioned that I'm REALLY bad at spending money on myself? Especially when that amount is over $100. And so I put the thought on hold, until a couple of weeks ago, when a GIANT package was delivered to our front door.

"I really wanted you to have it," Thatboy explained. "It made me feel sad you wouldn't get it for yourself, so I got it for you."

The thing is ginormous, but I am madly in love, and it makes me so happy to look up from my desk and see it. It makes me feel like I've come full circle.

I thought long and hard about how to tie in this recipe to the above post. And failed miserably. Because how can you compare something cheesy, filling and delicious to studying theater. You can't. I mean I could expound on how dramatic this meal is, but truth be told, the only thing dramatic is going to be the applause you get when you put it on the table.

Nacho Casserole
2 cups Spanish rice, cooked
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chilies
1/2 lb cooked ground beef
1/4 cup pinto beans
1/4 cup black beans
crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Combine rice, tomatoes, chilies, beans and ground beef in a bowl.
2. Place a layer of tortilla chips at the bottom of the baking dish.
3. Place half the cheese over the chips.
4. Top the cheese and chips with the rice/beef/tomato mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.


  1. So you're saying that if I buy you a giant play, you'll make me something this cheesy ooey gooey delicious? Deal.

  2. Been there! Except insert "music" for "theater". My favorite was when I was told at a job interview that they didn't sing there. Wow, really?