Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is she talking about spas again?

While I’ve wanted to write about Number the Stars and Ballyhoo, there simply hasn’t been the time to do so. It’s crunch time for the book that I’ve spent the past year working on. While I took off Independence Day to spend with friends, that and yesterday were the only days in the past 14 that I haven’t put in a 12-hour workday. I’ve even taken chapters to bed with me to try to squeeze in a little more editing before dropping off to sleep.

Thankfully, I have a husband who does insist on dragging me away from work after twelve hours, even when I plead that if I put in just one more hour I’ll be able to finish a chapter or sort out the endnotes.

So with all that, I must confess that I haven’t been thinking much about theater and thinking about theater is a prerequisite for writing about theater. There have been times, though, when my brain-weary mind has started to wander away from its work and indulge in silly fantasies to keep itself entertained. Some of those wanderings have attempted to drag the spa world into the realms of theater (or perhaps theater into the spa world--who knows?).

Two of those fantasies involved what sort of enterprise I would start if I had far more money than I do now. (Granted, I like what I do now, so it isn’t as though I’m actively searching for a new career. I consider myself quite blessed to do what I love doing.)

Here they are:


In the ancient world, particularly in Greece and Rome, it was common for spas to have a theater. One would go to the baths and take in a theatrical performance while there. What would that look like today? The friend with whom I’m writing this book suggested that we could open a spa in which my son performed shiminyara (a form of pseudo-yoga/mind-body movement therapy he created while in third grade), my husband acted, and I managed/marketed.

So my brain began to play with the idea—not in any sort of practical terms, but purely as a flight of fancy.

The spa would contain a large wet lounge with a pool of warm water infused with sea salts or other minerals. It would be a crescent-shaped pool with benches in it. At the end of the room (opposite the benches) would be a stage on which there would be daily performances of shows that encouraged contemplation, laughter, healing, and esthetically pleasing thoughts. Audiences would probably have to be limited to 50 to 70 people.

During intermission, we could offer chromtherapy for the guests who wanted to stay put. Or guests could visit the sauna or steam room followed by a cold plunge (if they wished). For the second half of the show, they could wear plush robes and sit in lounge chairs with a rose petal foot bath. Spring water infused with cucumber and fresh fruit would be served.

Special VIP packages would be available for each show (for a higher cost, of course). Up to six people could receive pre-show chair massages, a mini-facial at intermission (possibly with a masque being left on during the second half of the show), and a spa service before or after the show.

While there could be daily shows, the spa would also have rooms for classes and spa treatments. There would be yoga and Alexander Technique classes and Rolfing services would be offered as well.

(Note: The Alexander Technique is used by musicians, singers, and actors to increase awareness of their posture and movement. It’s a form of movement education that teaches people to become more conscious of how they stand and move. Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor, developed it in response to coming down with chronic laryngitis while performing. He watched himself in the mirror and was able to see that he was tensing the muscles in his neck while speaking. He began teaching his technique around 1910 and his students included George Bernard Shaw. And yes, you can read about this and more in a soon-to-be published textbook on spas…)

We could create an indoor/outdoor garden where a chamber orchestra could play and people could meditate. There would be an art gallery in the lounge and check-out area. Retail products would include scripts and recordings.

We could create package deals named after playwrights and invite the living ones in for a free day of treatments and to give classes.

This has gotten long and somewhat silly. I’ll save my other enterprise fantasy for another day.

Instead, I’ll end with this quote from the book:

My background is in theater and I began working in a day spa right after college in order to save up money before moving on to New York to become a famous actress. After working in the spa for about a year at the desk, I realized how similar the spa employees were to the "theater people" I was used to working with. I had an easy, comfortable connection with them and also with the way that they could "communicate" to their guests through touch and movement. It all felt very similar to theater or art and I believe that is why I felt that connection.

–Sara Cruncleton, Ihloff Salon & Spa


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you mentioned the Alexander Technique - it's been a godsend for me.

They have a wonderful website at http://alexandertechnique.com

Bridgette Redman said...

It really sounds like it would be a great thing for actors. So would the Feldenkreis method.

Mind Body Shop said...

o show your true ability is always, in a sense, to surpass the limits of your ability, to go a little beyond them: to dare, to seek, to invent; it is at such a moment that new talents are revealed, discovered, and realized.

Bridgette Redman said...

Agreed! Which is why I allow myself to indulge in such flights of fancy. Who knows where they will lead and who knows but that out of the wildest of thoughts, something possible will grow.

Right now, this is a fun idea to play with. Like a child, though, I'll play with it never really knowing in the present whether I'm learning something in the process or merely keeping myself entertained. What the future will tell is something I'm content to discover then.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

sara cruncleton said...

Since I am quoted in it, I'm curious...What is this book?

Sara Cruncleton

Bridgette Redman said...

Hello Sara!

The book is "SPA: A Comprehensive Introduction," published by the International SPA Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.

One of the features in the book are exhibits called "Snapshots" that include quotes from people throughout the industry. Do you remember when you were serving on the marketing committee and you were asked to respond to a series of questions for use in the ISPA intro text? Those are where your quotes came from.

If you're going to be at conference this year, the books will be available both for display and purchase. Your contributions can be found on pp. 7, 115, 293, 309, 367, 397.

I hope that you like the book!


Sara said...

Great! I can't wait to check it out at ISPA this year!