THE RUG THEY CAN'T PULL OUT

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 pent up, creatively, and wanted to do something to express myself.  This was before I went full bore for the whole writing thing, and as such, I had a lot of thoughts in my head looking for a home.  So I decided to write a series of anonymous memos, called "Memos from the Underground", using the pen name Tip the Pooka, a nod to characters from both Harvey and The Land of Oz and Dostoevsky.  Yes, even then I made allusion after allusion, hoping someone would get the reference.  Lame, but it's what I do.  Anyway, it turned out the advice about the rug was true.  I felt great- empowered- brilliant.  And no one  could take it away from me.

Years later, I took that advice to heart again when forming hope theatre, inc. with my sister Heather and brother Jerry.  We had all three been in NYC for years, living the life of the starving artist- waiting hours for an audition so that some casting director's assistant could watch a one minute monologue, doing free theatre in store front theatres run by people who might have been crazy- it was fun, exciting, and romantic.  But time to do something for ourselves, with us in the driver's seat.  We decided, based on an idea of Heather's, to form our own group, and call it hope theatre.  Again, it was empowering, and better yet, successful.  For out first show, we produced the American premiere of Shakespeare's Edward III, once part of the Apocrypha and still debated by scholars, but generally thought to be at least partially written by the Bard.  I came across it while browsing a bookstore in Greenwich Village one day.  Somehow, no one had ever done it in the USA.  I thought that might be a good show to get a lot of free publicity.  And I was right.  We got the NY Times, the New Yorker, and tons of other folks to come to the show.  And it was our own gig.  And it was groovy.

And now, I'm making a movie.  That's right, me, goon among goons.  On the sage advice of old friend and rising film producer Siobhan Mahoney, I've taken my short play Strong Tea and adapted it for the screen.  And I feel freakin' awesome.  All the pieces are falling into place perfectly. I have a crew, most of the cast, and am ironing out some last minute stuff.  It's happening, and feels like this is what I a m supposed to be doing with my life.   Suddenly, there seems to be even less time in the day, because I am answering this call, taking care of that problem, yadda yadda yadda.  And I dig it, baby.

What I'm basically saying is this- too often, we put too much power in the hands of others.  Screw that. As Obama says, we are the people we've been waiting for.

PS- Coming to NYC in November, readings of my screenplay Burning Man by Harvardwood NYC and my play Riddle Lost by Boomerang Theatre.  Stay tuned for more info!~

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