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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 started thinking about Old Greenbelt, MD, this morning…

Greenbelt  Theater

… where we lived when we first came down to the mid-Atlantic area because I was then working for CSC. While the row townhouses in Old Greenbelt are not terrifically stylish, they are small and comfy and we really enjoyed living there. You are within walking distance to stores and movies and community theatre, and it’s a short drive to large supermarkets, malls and the DC subway.

We sold our townhouse when we went to Hagerstown and then to Shepherdstown.

This morning I woke up missing being in Old Greenbelt. Turns out that Elly misses being there to, so, tentatively, we are putting it on our househunting/retirement list and will be exploring the possibility.

Who knows?

Just a comment on belief… atheists can be thankful,too.

Someone asked me how I could be thankful on Thanksgiving with no belief in a creator on high.

It’s time to reveal a reality: Atheists can be thankful,too.

We don’t thank a holy individual.

We thank our families and our friends and the celebrated and the anonymous.

We are thankful for good things that have happened to us and thankful just to be alive and surviving in the great wide world.

We are thankful to have a means of expression (like this blog, or community theatre plays, or radio shows, or art, or the basic freedom of speech.)

We are thankful that we can share all these things with each other and hope to continue to for years to come.

See? It’s not hard to conceive of a thankful atheist. It’s much harder for us to conceive of an invisible deity pulling the strings.


Project planning for, probably, a year from now…

I’ve started to work on a proposed theatre project which, if it comes to more than just planning and proposing, will be the first time I’ve done something like this in years.

As all of you know, given my series of animated backgrounds on this blog, I have been investigating the life and career of Eadweard Mubridge, his photo and animation experiments and his trial and acquittal on murder charges. While going into Muybridge-iana on the internet, I came across Philip Glass‘s “opera” of a couple of years ago, The Photographer, which is about Muybridge. Like most Glass pieces this is made up of highly repetitive musical signatures… this also includes some words by David Byrne. It’s three act (but short) structure includes signing, mime and orchestral variations… and I see it with projections of Muybridge animations as they would have been seen on a Zoopraxiscope.

I realized, however, three things:

1. No local community theater is likely to touch this idea… it is far too experimental and is not and audience draw. Therefore, finding a place to present it is a problem…

2. Since I want it presented at no charge, raising the money to pull this off is another thing to deal with…

3. Finding the musicians (a small ensemble, including a violinist and a keyboard artist), performers (2 sopranos and a mezzo), a conductor and a choreographer will probably require getting Shepherd University involved, and I’m not sure they will.

One thing at a time, however.

Elly and I went to look at Folly today… Folly is an outdoor performances space that was built some years ago by our friend Al Thomas, out in the woods outside of town. This would be a great place to do the project:

This is fascinating… what a spot.

I’ll comment on the project as I go along… at least as long as it might happen.



Thoughts on turning 65…

So I have now outlived my father by a dozen years or so… something I never thought I would do. I am retired (actually, I had to retire early a year ago due to the crummy job situation for guys in their 60s) and I’m on Medicare (until the Republicans destroy it along with Social Security.)

I’m doing things now which make no money, but actually fulfill a whole bunch of internal needs. I do the radio show as John Case’s co-host on Friday mornings (and substitute for John on his other days when he is away), I do my Tuesday Podcast, I work on community theatre projects every now and then,,, and, of course, I maintain this blog, which I have done since 2004. I’m involved in the Community Garden (which my wife runs) here in Shepherdstown… and I did some work on the establishment of the Morgan’s Grove Market. So, all-in-all, I seem to have plenty to do (including housework, which, while Elly is the one working, falls mostly into my lap.)

I guess 65 isn’t so bad… and were it not for the lousy economy and the growing threat of conservative destruction of the things that made America great, life would be lovely.

I hope everyone has a nice day… like I do on most of my birthdays I’m going to drive around aimlessly for a while and look at the local scenery. Usually I bring a dog. This year I may bring two.

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?

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.)

Saturday Morning… got a lot of sleep and ready for the day…

Just have to get the dogs walked and I can get off to Full Circle Theater to work on the lights for Thurber Carnival, which opens next Friday. I hope they are building the set today, especially the tent made of alternating strips of fabric and emptiness, just the suggestion of a carnival tent as I understand it. It’s the kind of construction which affects the final placement of all light instruments and I have had to hold off on the final light design until it is finished.

Stage lighting at the Community Theatre level is often highly simplified from major, professional stage lighting. Usually there is the limitation of equipment (for instance, while we have plenty of lights we only have one dimmer board with 16 levers) and certainly there is a limitation of time and number of volunteers to hang and set units (no union crew, no paid staff). We don’t get a lot in the way of technical rehearsals (in Community Theatre these so called “techs” often have actors performing at the same time, taking a lot of time away from the technician), usually 1 on the schedule. So we make just about every rehearsal through the “dress” a tech rehearsal.

As yet, I haven’t seen a full run-through of the show (although I understand they had their  first on Thursday night while I was getting ready for my last set of medical tests.) Monday night will be my chance to plot cues into what I hope is their final blocking. We’ll see.

The last week of setup, rehearsal and opening is very time consuming and crazy and I have one more medical test on Tuesday…EEG at Washington County Hospital… and, of course, the Friday radio show, my Social Security income transfers to Elly’s bill-paying account, grocery shopping, etc. This will be a nutty week and will not have the usual week-end release (we have two shows on the weekend.) As I get older, these final weeks get harder and harder.

Fortunately for this blog, Full Circle Theater has full web access and I can keep the computer up in the booth with me. The blog will go on!