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Showing posts from October, 2011

BOO

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Twenty-one years ago today, I went to New York City for the first time in my life.  I had just finished a cross country trip with a friend I had made that summer doing summer stock at the Barn Theatre in Michigan.  He was from a little town in Jersey called Peapack.  We spent about a week traversing the country, and had gone to places like Ashland, Oregon to see the Shakespeare festival, and Twin Falls, Idaho to see where Evel Kneivel tried to jump the Snake River with his rocket/motorcycle thing.  I even saw my first moose when we drove through Yellowstone days before it closed for the winter.  Somewhere, there is an old box full of old photos of that trip- I don't know where, exactly, and hope to come across it before I kick- but until then, I have to rely on my mind's eye.  Anyway, we ended up in Peapack on October 30, and on the next day we took the train into NYC, crossing under the Hudson River and emerging from Penn station like ants crawling out of their colony.  I re…

NIGHT OF THE IGUANA

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It was opening night.  I was all of twenty years old, and just getting seriously involved in theatre.  I was an undeclared major at San Jose State University, and working on tons of shows- student productions, main stage productions for the theatre department, even some shows outside of school (most notably, a very "experimental" show called A Marowitz Hamlet at City Lights).  I was having the time of my life.

The show that was opening was Tennessee William's Night of the Iguana.  I had a small role as one of the German tourists.  My older brother Jerry was playing the bus driver.  I had dyed my hair platinum blond to look more Teutonic.  The play itself was beautiful, this really sad tale of a defrocked, drunken priest named Shannon trying to come to terms with reality while leading tours for little old ladies and their daughters and grand-daughters around Central America.  The action of the play takes place while Shannon and his latest group of touristas are staying a…

THE RUG THEY CAN'T PULL OUT

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Long ago, the late great Tom Humphrey, (long time Artistic Director of The Western Stage and known lunatic) said something really smart.  He was doing a seminar for the American College Theatre Festival about starting you own company, producing your own show- taking control of your career.   What he said was that, if you make your own rug, nobody can pull it out from under you.  Why let other people determine your success or failure?  Why empower a bunch of people you've never met, who may or may not be even qualified for the position of power they have?  It made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.  Of course, like most great advice, I have forgotten it and remembered it many times over in my life- and no doubt will do so many more times before I kick that final kick.


One of the first times I took that advice to heart was a few years later, when I was working as an actor at Western Stage- yes, the very same theatre company run by Tom Humphrey.  I was feeling a little p…

ANOTHER NATIONAL ANTHEM, AND IT ROCKS

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No, I'm not talking about Thunder Road by The Boss- although I'd love to hear that sung before baseball games and all that.  I'm referring to one of the many thrilling, catchy, funny, smart songs featured in Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman's Assassins- currently having a stellar production at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs.

I have wanted to see this show since it's first inception at Playwrights Horizons many moons ago.   I was living in NYC back then, and tried several times to get in, but it was always sold out.  I remember one night standing outside in the snow, watching the people in the lobby getting ready to go in.  One of those memories that sticks for some reason.  That was over twenty years ago.  Both the show and I have grown older and changed- and both, I think, for the better.



The show is a sort of Twilight Zone/Pirandello like piece about a group of Americans from different parts of history who are either outcast, delusional, or just p…

HAPPY ACCIDENTS

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I think the Occupy Wall Street movement is amazing, and exciting, and historical.  And on top of that, it has a shining example of how Necessity is the Mother of Invention- something which I hope every theatre artists recognizes as fact.



I'm talking about the whole method of the group acting as a chorus, repeating what each speaker says, as a way to work around not being allowed to use bullhorns or amplification by the NYPD.  As I understand it, they have what is being called a General Assembly everyday, where people are given two minutes to speak.  Whomever is speaking will say a sentence or two, then the crowd nearest the speaker repeats what  was said in unison- sort of like a Greek chorus or something.  I've seen several snippets of them doing this on different news shows, and it's fascinating.  And by the look on the people's faces, it seems to be unifying them in their cause- which is probably not what the NYPD had in mind when they said no to any sort of electri…

EAT A BAG OF WHAT?

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So I had just finished directing Muse of Fire, my second full length play, for hope theatre, inc. as part of the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival, and feeling really good about all things theatre.   The play had gotten a rave review from Martin Denton, sold out most its performances, and everyone involved in the show had kicked ass.  On top of that, I had just gotten cast as Boxer the Horse in a puppet version of Animal Farm being produced by Synapse Productions and directed by David Travis- and it was a really shaping up to be a cool, cutting edge, brilliant show.  And on top of that awesomeness, Tim Errickson, old friend and the Artistic Director of Boomerang Theatre Company, asked me if I wanted to write a play for the Boomerangs.


I said yes before he had finished his sentence.

So, now I had to find a play.  At this point in my writing, I wanted to set all my plays in California.  I'm not sure if it was a sense of loyalty of where I came from, a severe belief in the…