You Do Speak English, Don’t You?
Life is a Cabaret
GREATHOUSES' LIFE STORY BECOMES A SHOW SET TO MUSIC
An atypical couple – she is from Czechoslovakia, and he is from Oregon – who had an improbable meeting on a bus, they have turned parts of their life story into a delightful one-hour show that they appropriately named "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" The title comes from Helena's experiences of being misunderstood at times when she was speaking English and was asked what language she was using.
As students at the University of Hamburg, they both signed up to take a one-day bus trip to northern Germany to see mummified bogmen, who fell into bogs more than 2,000 years ago and were preserved. "That bus ride would change the course of my life," Mark says. Helena dons a blue Slovak apron over her costume in anticipation of singing a Slovak "czardas" as the story continues. On the bus, Helena was anxious to talk to Americans to get their opinions on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
The timing of their meeting was fortuitous because Mark explains, "I had just broken up with my German girlfriend the day before. She wanted me to grow out a full beard, and I shaved it off that morning in protest." Helena picks up the story, saying, "Luckily for you! Otherwise, we would have talked about the election and nothing else."
Almost like a magician pulling rabbits out of a top hat, Helena pulls out props to illustrate their story. After the couple was married, Mark was anxious to show Helena his country, and they moved first to California and then to Oregon, where Helena's language problems increased exponentially.
But in real life and in the show, Mark and Helena decide to laugh off the experiences, with her singing, "Who Cares?" Mark adds, "Don't take life too seriously…" and Helena bursts into song, "Because life is a cabaret, old chum, so come to the cabaret."
Testimonial of the performance "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" in Three Rivers Public Library, Minooka, Illinois Branch, October 20, 2021
Testimonial of the performance "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" in Wilsonville Public Library, Wilsonville, Oregon (September 14, 2019):
- Lynne Erlandson, Librarian, Head of Adult Services, Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill, Oregon
- Morgan Brown, musician.response after performance of "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" at Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill, Oregon
We would be happy to have you here performing next year or any time in the future."
- Sandra Samolik, director of the Czech Cultural Center and Museum, Houston, Texas
- One audience response after the performance of "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" at Tigard Public Library, Tigard, Oregon
- Thressa C. Marjorie Stewart Senior Center in Sherwood, Oregon
Remembering Czech Christmas
Testimonial of performances "Remembering Czech Christmas" (December 20, 2018) and "You Do Speak English, Don't You?" (August 22, 2019):
- Heather Waisanen, Adult Services Librarian