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The questions you ask yourself…

I’m discovering as I face brain surgery and it’s unknown consequences that I find myself asking questions about what I have and have not accomplished over the last 66 or so years. It’s not a pleasant experience, btw, only one that makes me realize how many things I REALLY wanted to do which will probably never be realized. I guess, however, that this is common to just about everyone.

(Sorry… this is much longer than I expected and it will not hurt my feelings if you sign out right now,   – Bill)

Starting with the basics:

  • I have a wonderful wife who is taking care of me when she also maintains a full time teaching job that keeps us supported and in our mandatory health insurance mode.
  • I have three impressive and incredible grown children, Cassandra, Penny and Will (who we call Buddy… I don’t know where “Will” came from), and four wonderful grandsons, 3 in Maryland and one in Connecticut. (Allow me to say while I’m in this particular note about how lucky I am to have my son-in-law Matthew Corrigan in Connecticut who has made sure Cassandra could be down here with me during all of this.)
  • I set out many years ago for a life in the Arts, something I really discovered while a prep-school student at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA.  Between painting and sculpture creation under Lou LaVoie, drama and theatre discoveries under Tom Weisshaus, ending as President of the Drama Club where i acted, but didn’t do much in tech theatre, I was poised to take off when I headed for The School Of Speech/Theatre Department at Northwestern University in 1964.

And just what did I do that I remember proudly?:

  • After I discovered systems analysis through an amazing engineer, art collector and professor, Dr. Gustave J. Rath, I created my first small theatre company, Systems Theatre, which applied this amazing intellectual technology to performance creation. Our first major production was an adaptation of Frank Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy” which eventually played Chicago’s Performing Warehouse between sets by the two great bluesmen B.B. King and Albert King (who I got to give a ride home to later… wow!) When I ended up in NYC in 1971 I restarted Systems Theatre with some of the same people who were with me at Northwestern
  • There were a couple of plays that we did at Theatre at St. Clement’s, one of the really great off-off Broadway locations in the city. Well reviewed, well attended and most important to me was my adaptation of Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb” which had gothic-y chants composed by a wonderful musician, Ed Roberts, who I had met when teaching for a year at Tabor. Ed and I went on to do several shows together… at St. Clement’s and other places. My greatest pride came in a project we did a little later:
  • Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark”, an opera for children, was presented at the Whitney

    The Whitney

    Museum of American Art, thanks to a contact I made with one of the most  influential people in my life and someone who I am so proud to call a friend today, Berta Walker. Berta was working as the Administrative Assistant to Steve Weil at the Whitney and was looking for children’s programming. Ed and I suggested doing “Snark” which we had just started working on and now we had a reason for pushing through. We opened to great reception at the Whitney and, a little bit later on, Berta and I produced it for a few weekends at a little theater on the East Side of Manhattan. Following that, it was taken to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, a major museum which had been started by Berta’s grandfather, where it was also successful.

  • My friend and former Northwestern student John Driver, who played the original Bellman in “Snark” had been writing a musical based on Samurai warrior Mushami called “Ride The Wind” with pretty much of a rock ‘n roll score and martial arts based choreography. This was during the time that “Kung Fu” was a big television show, and we thought we were really on something here, so Berta and I decided to produce it (the company we created was called Snarkophilus Productions after our big success). We started out aiming for Off-Broadway, but then the Bijou Theater, a little house at the end of Shubert Alley, became available and we booked it. We were now a Broadway show… albeit a very small one. My set design professor, Sam Ball, agreed to do the sets, which were built by Northwestern students and which I brought to New York driving a truck across country. A number of the actors who auditioned were folks I had known from the New Theatre Workshop, a small non-profit group which acted as a try-out location for new plays that writers were working on. I was their stage electrician for a year before they tore the theater down to build the CitiPlace Center on 57th Street.
  • Unfortunately, “Ride The Winds” didn’t pass the New York Times test and I was no longer a Broadway producer.
  • I had to work, so I took a job as Administrator of the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens, where I structured classes, set up concerts, scheduled movies and ran the books. It was there I met Elly, my current wife, who I hired to teach Photography in the class size darkroom I had built in the Center’s basement (I took up photography, too… something I really loved.)  Eddy came down and we did a little revival of “Snark” in Jamaica for the kids in Queens. When I was hired later on by The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, by their Board President (you can probably see this coming… it was Berta Walker), Elly came with me and we settled in on  lower Cape Cod. I helped the Work Center fund raise, grow and prosper over three years, then spent another three years on it’s Board. Elly and I however, moved down to the mid-Cape where we started a business that would keep us in debt and development for the next decade: Our photo studio, Photography Associates of New England Inc., and U-Design, Inc.
  • The appearance of the Apple Macintosh computer, the laser printer, a piece of software called Aldus PageMaker and things like scanners, modems, etc., inspired us to set up a rental-area business where folks would come in, rent space in a booth, and lay out, with our help, their ads and brochures. After a couple of years, we moved it to Hartford, CT… back in my home state. At one point we had U-Designs in three cities in CT (that was a mistake!) and we started doing more jobs for clients ourselves rather than booth rentals. We worked with major and minor companies, lots of non-profits, plus we offered desktop publishing classes. At one time we had a dozen or so employees. During this time I did no theatre, maybe a little painting, but not much (Elly was our painter and her work was wonderful.) While in Marlborough, however, I was recruited to be a Justice of the Peace, where I married several couples (I specialized in non-believers who I thought should have a person of their own.) I did start designing computer fonts at this time… still do it, especially my “picture fonts” which have been used on this blog many times. U-Design Type Foundry has attracted hundreds of buyers, for which I have great appreciation.

More recent years… “Things fall apart, the center does not hold” – TS Eliot.

  • We had built a passive solar house in Marlborough, CT, where we moved so Buddy could go to school there and we could lead the suburban life (eventually, we moved the last vestige of U-Design to Marlborough where it finally ended up in our house until it died.) I started going out and getting jobs as an Information Technologist at some larger companies, finally ending up at Computer Sciences Corporation, where I spent five working years. For most of that I was commuting to the Maryland-DC area every week to do a major piece of work for the Internal Revenue Service with a bunch of my colleagues. I made more money here than I ever had before. When my whole department was laid off after three years I even got six months of part-time work for the IRS itself to finish some of the project stuff.
  • Elly and I sold the Marlborough house and bought a historic co-op space in Old Greenbelt, MD, where I was still doing CSC work. Eventually, when there was no more work and a guy in his late fifties had a hard time finding IT jobs when the market was stuffed with lower earning young guys. I had to take early retirement which, thanks to CSC’s salary, brought me a higher Social Security than I had expected. Elly took a teaching job in Graphic Design at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD, and we eventually moved to

    Ride The Winds

    Hagerstown, then Shepherdstown (our favorite) and now Harper’s Ferry. While I was living in Greenbelt, I got involved with two community theatres, the Laurel Mill Playhouse and the Greenbelt Arts Center. Amazingly enough, with the entrance to all of this I made by meeting Linda Bartash, I directed several plays and musicals. The highlight of these was a revival of “Ride The Winds” which I got John Driver to rewrite the second act for. It was well-reviewed in the Washington Post and local papers and I breathed a sight of final relief. I also, amid all the shows I did, had a really good production of that unusual musical “Urinetown” at Greenbelt, also a success.

  • I got involved with a new Community Theater in Shepherdstown, The Full Circle Theater, where I

    The Hunting of the Snark, in Shepherdstown

    became the House Electrician and ran lights on a bunch of shows, And then, can you believe it, I go to to do a revival of “The Hunting of the Snark” and Eddy, who was then living in Pennsylvania, came down from time to time to help my friend and music director, Ruth Raubertas, get our favorite opera for kids off the ground. Everyone seemed to like it, but this was my last chance to direct anything and I sank into an ongoing depression hoping I would get to do it again some day. I don’t think, now, that it will happen. I have to say, though, that I made a great friend of John Case who played the Butcher in that last production. John had a weekday morning radio show on WSCH 89.7FM on Shepherd University’s radio station and originally he invited me on for an interview and eventually I was on every Friday, which John started promoting as “The Bill and John Show.” I guess I did OK, since a few months later the station manager, Todd Cottgreave, gave me a show of my own on Saturday mornings which I called “Talk To Me” and which I made into a call-in production. I think the radio shows really saved my intelligence and ability to carry on while under depression.

So those are things I’ve been thinking about. What I haven’t discussed here is this blog, which is the major occupation of an old, retired guy’s day. I hope I can keep it going for years (as you can see, I love to talk)… if it has to cease, however, someone will put up a final post.

Time to feed the dogs.

My thanks to all of you who responded to my personal notice yesterday…

 

I can’t tell you how much your sympathy and suggestions meant to me. Just getting through this part of my life is so difficult. This poor old fatman (22 pounds down on my diet in the second month) has to come to some kind of way of extending his purpose.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to direct theatre again… can’t get to rehearsals and can’t find a theatre group that might want to do one of my experimental pieces. That is pretty depressing, too, having been creating such events since 1967.

Oh well… lots of blog writing to do what with a big election coming up (that’s how this blog started years ago)…at least that exercises my mind.

 

I was thinking about my own labor history…

 

Since I’ve been taking a look at unions today, it occurs to me that I have been a member of two unions back in my New York past.

As a theatre worker in the early 70s, I had experience as a member of AEA (Actors Equity Association) and LOBTET (the League of Off Broadway Theatre Employees and Technicians.) LOBTET was eaten up by Equity after a couple of years and does not exist anymore.

As an Equity member (which I had to join as a professional stage manager), I was involved in the Off Broadway strike in 1970 or 71. Equity was protesting the fact that actors in off-Broadway productions were often paid very little or nothing at all, but took jobs so that they might be seen by critics or casting direc tors or Broadway producers.

I had to picket the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) one night. I walked back and forth with my

Shelley Winters

picket sign, alone, while the General Manager of the theatre sat in the ticket booth and stared at me.

After a while I was joined by another Equity member, and this was one of the most interesting occurences in my theatre career. The other picketer was Shelley Winters!

Shelley and I picketed for about two hours, carrying on a neat social conversation, until we decided that it was past what would have been curtain time and we quit. She got a cab and I walked down the block to the subway.

That’s my Union Story.

 

A great loss to my memories of Children’s Theatre in NYC – Remy Charlip dies at 83…

 

Abraham Remy Charlip  was an American artist, writer, choreographer, theatre director, designer and teacher.

In the 1960s Charlip created a unique form of choreography, which he called “air mail dances”. He would send a set of drawings to a dance company, and the dancers would then order the positions and create transitions and context.

He performed with John Cage, he was a founder member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for which he also designed sets and costumes, he directed plays for the Judson Poet’s Theater.

I remember him most as a co founder of the Paper Bag Players, one of the most important children’s theatres in the world.  He served as head of the Children’s Theater and Literature Department at Sarah Lawrence College,  was a winner of two Village Voice Obie Awards, three New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year citations, and was awarded a six-month residency in Kyoto from the Japan/U.S. Commission on the Arts. He wrote and/or illustrated 29 children’s books.

Charlip was the model for illustrations of Georges Méliès in the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret ( if you saw the wonderful movie “Hugo” you know this story), written and illustrated by Brian Selznick.

Great artist. Great loss. Fortunately he left so much behind.

 

The Tony Awards… still the best awards show on TV

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the Tony Awards

I’ve gotten frustrated watching the Academy Awards with its long and boring production values, and other awards programs seem to promote things other than what they are awarding. But then there are the Tonys.

The Antoinette Perry Awards, my favorite review of the year on Broadway with performances by the nominees and not by someone else changing the sounds and feelings to a reinterpreted mess.

I especially liked the opening (“Hello”) from The Book of Mormon, last year’s big winner.

Anyway, here’s the winners list… and if you get to New York City, don’t miss seeing a show:

Best Musical: Once

Best Play: Clybourne Park

Best Revival of a Play: Death of a Salesman

Best Revival of a Musical: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors

Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Steve Kazee, Once

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Judith Light, Other Desert Cities

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Book of a Musical: Enda Walsh, Once

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: Newsies

Best Direction of Play: Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman

Best Direction of a Musical: John Tiffany, Once

Best Choreography: Christopher Gattelli, Newsies

Best Orchestration: Martin Lowe, OnceBest Sound Design of a Play: Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Clive Goodwin, Once

Best Costume Design of a Play: Paloma Young, Peter and the StarcatcherBest Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes, Follies

Best Scenic Design Play: Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Bob Crowley, Once

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz, Once

Me? I’d like, most of all, to see The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Watching Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis sing last night was exhilarating! Why Lewis didn’t win Best Male Lead in a Musical is beyond me.

David Alan Grier as Sportin’ Life in “Porgy And Bess”

I’m on my way over to CATF this morning to interview Ed Herendeen…

Ed Herendeen

Given his tight rehearsal schedule, I have been lucky to snare 20 minutes with Producing Director Ed Herendeen this morning at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. I am doing this for Fluent, Nancy McKeithen’s forthcoming on-line arts magazine which will appear on or about July 1st.

Ed is a theatre professional that I greatly admire and his festival is one of the reasons Elly and I moved to Shepherdstown. Indeed, because of the CATF even more arts organizations and programs have built up here and, if you can’t live in short travel distance to NYC, this is a great place to be.

Anyway, I’ve got to get out of the house. I’ll be back on line later…

A quote to consider…Romney puts his business experience in play:

The Mittster made a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday and said this:

“In addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before becoming president of the United States.”

-Mitt Romney

Of course, this is a way to set up the Mitt Romneys of the world to bypass foreign policy, or congressional, or other kinds of experience with a few years of stealing from the 99% to put bucks in their own pockets.

You know, I’d like to see the Constitution say that a presidential candidate should have spent at least three years in the Arts… producing theatre or ballet dancing or doing gallery shows of abstract paintings. Know what I mean?

I’d like to see the Constitution say that a candidate should be required to have taught at a university level for at least three years… or at a primary school level for six…and been a member of a teacher’s union.

Actually, the Constitution should require that the candidate have been an employee for at least three years at a working class level and have been a member of ANY union.

If you think Romney is ready to be President because of his Bain experience, take a look at what it did for his Massachusetts Gubernatorial record… While he says he turned the state around, in reality he let it freeze in a negative mode.

Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of the Center for Market Studies at Northeastern University reported in July 2007 that Romney’s record as Governor was “one of the worst in the country;”

On all key labor market measures, (Massachusetts) not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy.

And this was with 25 years of business experience. 25 years.

Makes you think.

Going after old BBC favorites…

On nights when nothing I am interested in is on television, I have been going on line and revisiting favorite BBC channel  series from the previous decade.

I’m halfway through the three year series (six episodes each year) of the great Canadian series Slings & Arrows, the story of a Shakespearian theatre festival in Ontario, covering a different play each season (they opened with Hamlet and, in the second season, I am immersed in the Scottish Play.)

As many of you theatrefolk know, it is bad luck to say the name of the Scottish Play when you are discussing it… you can say the main character’s only in context of the lines in the performance. In the third season we will be getting into King Lear.

I love Slings & Arrows and could watch it many times over (You Tube has each episode in 7.25 minute units, but no commercials.)

Once I’m through these I’m going into two related series that were, at the time, my overall favorite of their seasons: Life On Mars (2 seasons) followed by Ashes To Ashes (3 seasons). These are about English police detectives who get into major accidents in the first episodes of each and wake up in the past (Life On Life on Mars (TV series)Mars in the 1970’s and Ashes To Ashes in the 1980’s. Each time the detective wakes up in Manchester where they are active in the existing Detective unit, but can’t figure out how they got there,

There was an American version of Life On Mars tried some years after the British, but it didn’t last a full season… the British was so much better.

If you’ve never seen these shows, I recommend them highly.

Having Coffee at Mellow Moods and Working on My CATF Reviews.

Now that I’ve seen all five plays, I’m starting to see a very interesting theme that or set of themes that form a basis for them all: Family, Society, Death, Recovery, Race, Politics, Helplessness and the search for redemption. These are five very strong plays by five diverse playwrights of different backgrounds and styles, yet their work comes together to form a brilliant combination and a most effective season.

Most of this, of course, is due to the choices made by Ed Herendeen, Peggy McKowen and their staff over the previous year leading to the Festival…not to mention the selection of actors to carry out the imaginins of five talented playwrights.

The CATF is an event that makes Shepherdstown stand out internationally – and it brings the most professional and satisfying theatre to a small West Virginia town so far from Broadway that it makes you cry.

I’ll be publishing the reviews later today or tomorrow, and recording them next week at WSHC.

CATF reviewing is going along as planned.

From David Mamet's "Race"

I’ve seen four of the five CATF plays so far and I have the fifth one, We Are Here, at the Studio Theater at 8:30 PM. I won’t give any details of the shows yet, except to say they are certainly worth seeing and cover a range of dramatic experience that I’ve come to expect from this festival. I’ll be posting at some time tomorrow and will be doing the audio reviews on my podcast Tuesday at 10 AM (Click Here on Tuesday Morning).

Friday I am recording the reviews for WSHC FM (89.7) in Shepherdstown, where they will be individually scattered throughout the month while CATF is going on (July 8th-31st).

I would suggest you hurry to CATF.org and get reservations as some shows have several sold out performances, especially David Mamet’s Race, which started selling out a month ago.

Alice Playten (August 28, 1947 – June 25, 2011) died today…

I was so sad to hear of the death of Alice Playten in a posting from Charlie Leipart on my Facebook Page. Playten was 63 years old.

Originally a television face in a 1970 Alka-Seltzer commercial, Playten went on to act on and off-Broadway, in films and on a number of television shows.

I first saw Playten onstage in the rather abstract off-Broadway musical Promenade by Al Carmines and Maria Irene Fornes, where she played Miss U. She went on to appear in shows such as The Last Sweet Days of Isaac and National Lampoon’s Lemmings (for which she received one of her two Obie Awards.)

Alice Playten was liked and admired by so many in the Theatre.  As Charlie said in his Facebook post:

“What a light and joy Alice was to the theatre. I am stunned and so very grateful that her life touched mine. She brought her amazing talent and joy for living to all who knew her.”

I haven’t directed any theatre pieces since February of 2009…

… and I’m starting to get very depressed about it. I’m worried that I’ll lose my perspective and be unable to pull off the kinds of productions that I’ve done for  close to 45 years.

I offered ideas to two different community theatres last fall, but neither responded with an opportunity. Maybe it’s me… I wish I knew, then I could fix it.

I have a list an arm long of shows I want to direct before I give up the ghost:

The Fantasticks, Occupant (Edward Albee), I Can Get It For You Wholesale (a musical that is never done anymore), my friend Charlie Leipart’s musical Thorstein Veblen‘s Theory of the Leisure Class (I’ve wanted to do this one for years and I’ve kept in touch with Charlie Hoping it will come off someday. It was done last year in California under a new title. A while ago, while I was living in Laurel, Md., I came very close to doing it), Ionesco‘s Rhinoceros (another one of my old favorites and one that you don’t see much.)

That’s only some of them.

Anybody in the Eastern Panhandle region looking for a well-reviewed and experienced director?

Today marks 40 years since my first Directing project in NYC…

On March 11, 1971, Systems Theatre (the group I originally started in Evanston, IL) did it’s first NYC production: Thomas Merton‘s ORIGINAL CHILD BOMB, which we presented at St. Clement’s Church in their downstairs theatre space.

St. Clement's Church, NYC

Upstairs at St. Clement’s was the famous American Place Theatre which was doing their last season at the church before moving to their new building, where they still perform. While we were doing our production, they were doing George Tabori‘s PINKVILLE, a play about Viet Nam. ORIGINAL CHILD BOMB was about the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the effect they had on people.

This was the first production I did with Edwin Roberts, a great composer (we have done several productions together… most recently the revival of our 1973 Opera for Children THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK) who turned sections of Merton’s amazing original into Gothic Chants. Choreography was done by my friend and dancer Claire Henry, who I had worked with at Northwestern.

The cast was eight people, many of whom I have lost contact with. Court Miller died of AIDS in 1983. Sheila Burns owns a bookstore in Ashland, Oregon.

Steve Schwartz is still in the theatre somewhere (we are connected as “friends” on Facebook). Jenna Holland (which was my ex-wife’s stage name) is retired in California. I wish I knew where Norman Parker was… back in the 80s I saw him on a couple of TV shows. I don’t know where Mardee Kravitt is, either. Last I heard she was doing television producing.

ORIGINAL CHILD BOMB received a very good review from Show Business, a local theatre weekly in NYC at the time. The theatre was small and it was full during the 4 performances we did. We were doing an Actors Equity showcase, which allowed us to use Union professionals for up to 8 performances without pay… we, however, could not charge for the show. So people got to see it for free.

Michael Douglas and the late Raul Julia were starring in PINKVILLE upstairs and they came to most of our shows. Michael told me it helped them get in the mood for their show.

I wish it had gotten more notice… I might have been picked up by Joe Papp or Ellen Stewart and built a really strong Directing career. As it was, I lasted in NY Theatre for another 3 or 4 years before I went into Arts Administration to earn a living.

But, on the 40th anniversary of this production, done long before the internet and with no record remaining except my memories of it, I’m feeling pretty old.

I’d really like to direct The Fantasticks…

I was watching a piece on Ovation today about the history of The Fantasticks, the Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones musical that ran for 42 years off-Broadway. It made me start thinking, as I have several times in the last year (and some of my friends are really bored with hearing me talk about it), that I have a production of this great show in my head and I’d really like to do it. Right now, if I were going to do it anywhere, I’d do it at Full Circle Theater… but I don’t know if they would go for it.

Since it only requires a piano, it would be ideal for my friend Ruth Raubertas at the Bookstore who did my piano on Hunting of the Snark last year. And I’m sure the voices I need are around… even though it is a seven man one woman cast (we usually have a majority of women who come out for shows). The scenic requirements are minimum and it works wonderfully in a small theatre (compared to the Sullivan St. Playhouse where the show resided for 4+ decades, Full Circle with its 90 seats is like a huge auditorium!)

So I sent an e-mail off to the executive directors and Board President (Robin, Laura and Joe) asking if they had an interest in doing The Fantasticks in the 2011-2012 season. I don’t know when I’ll hear from them… they don’t often respond to my e-mail… I’ll probably have to bring this up in person. If it could be decided early enough that we could do it,  I would have time to raise some of the money necessary for royalties and scores, etc. We don’t usually do advance fund raising for productions here, but I remember when I did Ride The Winds at Laurel Mill Playhouse and had time to go out and raise funds through program advertising and other inventions-of-promotion, we brought in close to $3,000.00 which gave us the set and hall reconstruction allowing us to create a classical Japanese performance space.

Maybe if Full Circle won’t do it, I can find another of the local (say within 50 miles) Community Theatres that will. I’ll keep you updated on this project (and welcome suggestions or leads relating to it.)

Between Cues…

Here in the light booth again on the second night of Thurber Carnival and we’re in the middle of the Grant at Appomattox scene. This gives me a few minutes to start an entry here.

My dear friend Linda Bartash called this afternoon to say she was buying a new car and would have to get rid of one of the other two she has left. One is close to 20 years old, one is ten years old, both are in good condition (Linda takes care of her cars) and Bluebook Values on each are under $2000.00 bucks. The older one has 220,000 miles on it (Subaru), the other has 90,000.  I’m also on line for 2 other cars around here. I don’t know how long it will take to get everything finalized, but I could have transportation back soon at a reasonable price.

— we’ve changed scenes… now in the Macbeth Murder Mystery —

I’m really tired tonite… didn’t get much of a nap in this afternoon which I try to do to keep up with the evening schedule. At least on Sunday I can sleep as late as I want in the morning. We do, however, have a Matinee tomorrow and I have to be at the Theater by 1:30. I’ll have to see what time John can give me a ride in.

— now it is Gentlemen Shoppers… this scene lasts at least 5 minutes —

At intermission I’ll call home to see if my wife has gotten back in for the evening. With luck, the dogs will get their late walk before I get home.

Today is not working out as well as I wanted…Nobody at the Theatre!

So… I went over to Full Circle Theater and found it all locked up. And apparently my combination for the back door is old because it didn’t work. So I came over to the Mellow Mood to have a cup of coffee, check my e-mail, and wait an hour before going back to see if anyone has shown up.

The Mood is in a Saturday Afternoon, Good Weather, Busy Mode. Students, tourists, a couple of regulars and all the tables are now full. It’s a really pleasant day out and German Street (our downtown drag) is crawling with people. I ended up parking in the hidden space in the Alley in back that I discovered a couple of weeks ago… which will be available until the finish building the new Town Hall and the whole stretch where I am now becomes Employee Parking.

If the weather stays this good, Farmers’ Market tomorrow should be crowded as well. I suggested to Candi that she use Farmers’ Market as a venue for selling ACFF tickets… set up in front of the Library as many non-profits do when they have something to push. I didn’t hear from her on if she was going to do it (I would have volunteered to help her cover the event), so I don’t know if it will happen. Too bad.

Second Cup and still writing! Just called John Case and found out he recorded the radio spot for Thurber Carnival this morning with some of the cast and the Director and they were supposed to be over at the Theatre afterward… he was surprised that they were not. Maybe they took a late lunch break? After I finish this Cup o’ Joe I’ll go over and check once again. If they aren’t there I’ll go home.

Something my Theatre Friends may find very interesting… a play by Jack Kerouac!

This discovery of a previously unpublished and certainly unproduced Kerouac play, written at the height of his literary power, is something of interest to those of us who are interested in the Beat Generation. This article from the Guardian has more in it… I suggest that those interested read it all:
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk

‘Lost’ Kerouac play resurfaces after 50 years

Beat Generation ‘conveys the mood of the time extraordinarily well’

It is the sort of irony that would not have been lost on the notoriously hard-living writer. Excerpts from an unpublished play by Jack Kerouac are to be published in the July edition of a men’s lifestyle magazine.

Beat Generation, written in the autumn of 1957, the same year as the publication of Kerouac’s breakthrough work On the Road, was unearthed in a New Jersey warehouse six months ago. An excerpt will appear in the July issue of Best Life magazine.

The play recounts a day in the life of the hard-drinking, drug-fuelled life of Jack Duluoz, Kerouac’s alter-ego.

Although the play was never published or performed, the third act became the basis for a film, Pull My Daisy, starring Allen Ginsberg.
Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, said Kerouac had sent it to several producers but it was turned down.
Kerouac even sent the play to Marlon Brando, Mr Lord said.
blog it

I’m over at the Thurber Carnival Rehearsal…

We’re moving closer to opening and I still haven’t seen the whole show in sequence… therefore the light cues are not set. I’ve got all of the playing areas covered with pools of light… it’s when to switch them on and off (dimmers, of course) and how to group them that haven’t yet been decided.

I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to set up, but I really don’t like waiting until the last minute. I like to get my cues run enough in rehearsals that no mistakes are made during show times.

The cast is doing notes in the middle of rehearsal right now, so I can write this instead of watching where they are moving on the stage. I have about a page of notes so far to reposition some lights… but I understand the Director is changing her scenery concept and it will be going in soon and that will affect the position of lights.

OK… she’s starting up again… back to work

Maureen has a remarkable 9/11 piece over at Whatever Works.

Here’s the start of it, but go to her blog to read the rest:
clipped from maureenholland.wordpress.com

Nine Eleven, Nine Years

Nine years since Al Quada took down the Twin Towers. Not a day any of us is likely to forget ever, especially if we were able to watch it happen in real time on teevee. I was in my office at the theatre that morning – no online live streaming then, at least not at my company – and at the first word, we all raced to a break room where there was a television. And we watched – about a dozen of us. And we didn’t speak. We just watched. Our building had by then  become a no-smoking building. But we smoked – for hours. No one said a word. About an hour after the second tower fell, we began going home. And didn’t come back for a few days except to staff the evening performances – the show always goes on. But during the day, no one came in. The phones had stopped ringing. The box office was silent. No one answered email. So we stayed home and watched New York and called friends and family.

Less than a month later, U.S. forces were in Afghanistan. And we have been there for eight years and 338 days. blog it

Read the rest HERE.

Note: I’d like to express a memory of Jim Hobin who died in the WTC on 9/11. Jim was my son Buddy’s Basketball Coach and he only went to the WTC on business every couple of months from our town of Marlborough, CT. It was the wrong day.

Peace.

International Quote of the Day

“Settlers and settlements are not something that entertain me, and I don’t want to entertain them.”

- Israeli actor Yousef Swaid commenting on theatre artists’ boycott of new theatre in the occupied West Bank. The signatories have asked theatre managers to restrict their activity to stages within the internationally accepted 1967 borders.

More at ArtThreat.net. Thanks also to Thomas Cott at You’ve Cott Mail.

A new application for my Theatre friends to put on their web sites…

I got this from my Thomas Cott theatre mailing this morning… “talkbkr”, a way of getting audience comments from your web site.

From their promotional:

Talkback - n – A theatre term referring to a situation in which an audience offers feedback to a production cast/crew.

This is your chance to offer an informal, anonymous talkback/feedback mechanism for your audience members. Put the name of your event below, along with a contact email, and follow the instructions on the next page.

Best of all, it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE!

If you want it, go HERE. I’m going to see if Full Circle wants it set up for their shows.

Another Theatre Death: Harry Koutoukas

Back when I was getting really excited about the new things happening in New York Theatre, in the 60s and 70s, Off-Off-Broadway was making it’s appearance, first with the Cafe Cino and then with La MaMa… and in that early group was H. M. Koutoukas, who everyone knew as Harry.

Harry Koutoukas was a playwright, a surrealist who wrote absurdist pieces like “Medea in the Laundromat” and “Awful People Are Coming Over So We Must Be Pretending to Be Hard at Work and Hope They Will Go Away.” He was part of that original group of OOB names like Tom O’Horgan, Tom Eyen and Lanford Wilson who brought audiences into small, often basement, theatres which often seated fifty or fewer people who were looking for things that the Broadway and Off-Broadwy houses had become too commercial for.

He was known for writing “camps”, or campy plays which mocked well-known styles. In 1966 he received a Village Voice Obie Award in the category of Assaulting Established Tradition.

Koutoukas was 72.

I’m Still Here…

Wow… I just realized with a note from Bic that I’ve been sleeping all day. A big part of that is my reaction to Nyquil, which I am taking to get through this, I guess, cold that I have caught. If I can sleep my way through it I can ignore the coughing and sneezing, etc.

The trouble with Nyquil is that it gives me the most colorful and surreal dreams I am ever likely to get… and I even remember big chunks of them when I wake up.

In particular I had this dream about acting in a musical production in what I think was Cahn Auditorium, only it was attached to my prep school Freshman dorm (Lilliard Hall at Tabor Academy) and also had a full service liquor bar attached to it. Somehow, during the dream, I was hiding behind the scenery peeking at the audience, where my Mother and other friends and family were watching the production, and the Director (who I am not sure, but I think was Lilla Heston (Charlton Heston’s sister) who was my Oral Interpretation of Literature prof at NU, caught me peeking at the audience and dressed me down after the show. This made me feel lower than low, of course, and two young women suggested we drink it off at the attached barroom… and just getting into it was a challenge (something about being unable to handle climbing down a ladder with spiked heels)… and when we got there we drank COFFEE!

That’s what I remember… interpret it any way you want. Me, I’m having an afternoon breakfast.

Here’s why I wish I was back in NYC…

My favorite musical is coming as a City Center concert…

If you go see the Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents classic from the 60s, let me know how you liked it.

Snark Opening Last Night… not as bad as I expected…

… in fact pretty good (my wife, son, daughter and grandkids back me up on this… and at least three of them have no trouble telling me what they REALLY think.)

I had a couple of problems… the tempo of the show was a little off and the Butcher dropped a line that he had dropped in rehearsals (but I found a way to prevent it from happening tonite… I think) and the set pieces weren’t placed correctly for the last scene… but these are easy notes. Joe Jurand, the Board President, made a long fund raising speech at the beginning of the evening… something you really shouldn’t do with an audience full of kids. They just don’t give a damn about getting a plaque on a donated wall for three years… they want to see a show.

I think I will put Eddy’s Walrus & Carpenter Oratorio on AFTER the Snark tonite, since a.) younger kids can go home if they are now too tired to watch (an 8 PM curtain is awfully late for 7- and 8-year-olds) and b.) Eddy will be here tonite to discuss the piece with music lovers and c.) this actually slows down the audience before Snark and I can’t let that happen.

So tonite is night two of The Hunting Of The Snark. There are tickets available (tomorrow’s matinee is a sellout to a major church group) and then more available for next weekend. If you are in the area come by and see it. Bring the kids… they’ll have a lot of fun.

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