HELL OF A TOWN, HELL OF A MONTH

August, and for that matter July and June, has been what you might call hectic. Or crazy. Or glorious. Or some mix of all three. I sometimes feel like I am running through several dreams, or reality shows, or alternate timelines that have all converged in what I perceive to be me.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I teach theatre, I direct theatre for young people, and I write scripts for both the stage and screen. The money isn't fantastic- yet- but I can't imagine pursuing anything else in this life. That's one of the things people tell you in the performing arts business- if you can picture yourself doing anything else for a living- do it. Which always seemed bizarre to me. How could anyone picture doing something else? I eat, drink, sleep, breathe, dream stories. It's my drug of choice, and I will not give it up. I don't think I could, really. I've quite smoking and drinking- both cold turkey. But no way in Hell can I, or will I, ever give up the wicked stage.
Not gonna happen.


Anyway- where was I? Ah, yes- semi-complaining about my busy summer. Poor me. I got to direct stage versions of Harriet the Spy, The Phantom Tollbooth, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Alice in Wonderland, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Annie this summer. I also got to have my latest play, April's Fool, open at the New York International Fringe Festival.

That's what I wanted to talk about- New York. What a town. It always feels to me like you enter another dimension, with its own laws of physics and time and such, whenever you land at LaGuardia or JFK or, God forbid, Newark. And no matter how long you've been away, once you step into Gotham, not a moment has passed, you slip back into your New Yorker identity, and it all makes sense and feels right. At least, that's how it is with me. We took a red eye flight, arriving at LGA around 9 in the morning, jumped in a cab, and headed to the upper east side, to my old apartment where my sister currently lives with her two boys. Drop off the luggage, get Lisa a set of keys so she can go to Central Park, and my sister Heather (who is playing Norn in April's Fool) and I catch the 6 train down to Bleeker for the final rehearsal before opening. The space is classic New York space- run by a minor lunatic who shows up late with the keys. The show runs smooth enough for a Fringe show- which means minimum rehearsal time, crazy schedules that make it impossible to get everyone in the cast together that much due to the fact that in a Fringe show you don't really pay anyone anything. But still, there was my show- my baby, my child full of quotes, madness, plaintive longing and more than a bit of magic. I dig it. There are some changes to be made in the script before it gets done again- little cuts and clarifications- but the soul is there. It is a strange thing to see mostly complete strangers perform something you wrote. And I imagine they found it strange to have the writer of something they'd been rehearsing for a month sitting in the front row of the rehearsal room. I prefer to be at rehearsals when a show is new- that's usually where the best things happen- the moments found out of frustration with moments that don't work, the bits discovered by the actors that inform the characters. Sadly, I was unable to do that with this production. This happens when you live in a different state. Still, I feel good about the show, and head back uptown to get some sleep.
The next day, it's down town- first to brunch in the Village with my wife, her son, and his girlfriend- but eventually I have to excuse myself and head towards the theatre. A playwright on opening night of a show is now fun to be around. I head to Fringe Central, see old friends, pass out some post cards for the show, and make my way to the Connelly Theatre on East 4th.
Finally, it's show time- and all these wonderful people I haven't seen in ages arrive- friends not only from NY, but from California- from when I was a student at San Jose
State University, and even one friend from Blackford High. Very wonderful.
I watch the show from above, in the unused balcony section of the theatre. It goes well. People applaud.

After the show, we all head out to gab, catch up, and discuss the show. I don't have enough time to see all my friends. I bounce from table to table, catching snippets of conversations- then am pulled somewhere else.
That is the one drag of going back to somewhere you once lived. There is never enough time to see everyone. I suppose that is one of the main drags of life in general.
Sunday I go to a Fringe U event where Martin Denton leads a great discussion on the role of theatrical criticism in this age of bloggers and DIY websites. Later, I finally get to meet the children of one of my great friends, Vinnie and Shannon. They are amazing and cute and funny, and Lisa and I stay way too late, laughing and catching up and soaking up as much time as we can.
On Monday, the first review comes out, by Martin Denton on nytheaternow. It's really nice. You can read it HERE.
I blink my eyes twice, and it's time to go home, to tech rehearsal for Spelling Bee and casting for Anything Goes- the first show of many I'm working on this fall.
And here I am. Summer is beginning to lose her fight, the show goes on, and today I am told we had a great performance out in NYC. We have two shows left, by the way- if you are in NYC, you can get your tix HERE.
I dig it.

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