Tag Archives: productions

We Were Dating,  Now We’re Not

2 Dec

Doing a show is like having a whirlwind romance, where you meet and get married in like a week, and said relationship lasts with total devotion, until you unceremoniously strike your home and get a Mexican divorce–however long your run is-days later.

…Because working on a character across a full rehearsal and production schedule, is absolutely consuming and requires not only devotion of time and physical and mental presence, but also through sickness and through health, as long as you both shall live (together .) 

…And it doesn’t matter if you “have a headache tonight, ” or “really need some alone time, ” or “start to feel suffocated” by their insistent presence. Doesn’t matter that it seems you –at times– have absolutely put yourself and your needs on the back burner and have from time to time gotten completely lost inside the relationship, which starts to blur (as time goes on)  in fully realizing just where you end and they pick up (or vice versa.) 

…You see each other through your finest moments,  and miserable worst, and yet you are able to commit fully to this marriage because –I guess,  really– of two things:

1. You have made this commitment with full knowledge of what is required of you, in front of all of those witnesses, who will hold your ass to it, by supportive teamwork. 

2. This passionate affaire, has a sell-by date, which you are also fully aware of on the outset, so: there’s really just no damn excuse not to give it your all,  while you can. 

At this point,  I’ve been married –MANY times. 59, in fact. I make Liz Taylor and Mickey Rooney look Catholic by comparison. And luckily for me,  I’ve enjoyed the HELL out of the bulk of them, and have bins and books full of our Honeymoon days together, which already make me misty-eyed with memory,  and I’m not even middle-aged as yet. 

…The thing is: as great as the bulk of those marriages are in my memory, there is even something singularly satisfying in the terrible ones, in that: I made the absolute best effort I could to make it work out, and even if it ended shitty,  I know that to be true. 

…Because I actually really really love to “commit.” 

…(In a show, that is.) 

…But along with these “marriages,” I’ve also had me some “flings.” 27, of note. And these,  while intriguing, only seem to mostly “hot and bother” me, and while enjoyable in the moment, leave me as unfulfilled at their ending, as a one-night-stand. 

–Which, in fact, most of them ARE.

The Staged Read, is an enigmatic animal. They are considerably lower maintenance than a real relationship in that you don’t live with the character. At most, you might workshop (or, “date”) it for a few days, but by and large, it’s just a tease. 

…Even if you really like the character. Even if the cast is a dream. Even if your Director is creative as fuck. You still are hampered from full investment to grow it into a real relatonship, because Staged Reads are the flings we have in foreign countries, while on Holiday. They aren’t allowed to become more than that, because of your surrounding circumstances, even if you really, really, really like them, and you get on with total ease, and know you could make the most magnificent children together…

…And even knowing this, a lot of the time, you still can’t help getting sucked into the “what if,” daydream which sometimes comes with the really, really special flings.

…These will be the ones you always pine over, the ones you wish you could learn all the  secret intimacies about…everything from the corny, “how they take their tea, ” to the deeply sheltered truths they hide… the ones that even though you held them for a moment,  you can’t help but think that they are one of those ones who,”got away. ”

Yesterday’s “Joe Egg, ” read is one of those for me. 

We dated heavily for several weeks, and it was disturbing but so enlightening, and…She’s gone now… 

…Out of my life… 

…The supremely gifted family: broken up. And though I am so very satisfied to have met the role at all,  never mind with this amazing group of people — I know in my gut-parts, she and I would have had one of THE best marriages that I have ever had…

…If only…

If only.

~D

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Death Of Blob

4 Feb

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I’m one of those humans who needs to have a purpose…an end point, a goal…because if not, I turn into a lard-person-jelly-lump.  Both physically and mentally.

…I don’t do well just free-floating whichever way the breeze (if any) happens to be blowing this day/week/month/year.

So, I go for goals.

…I like  to plan and prep the next three things I wanna audition for…which informs what color and length of hair I’ll be sporting for the next six to nine months…how fat I’m allowed to let myself get, or how much I need to lose…what kind of movies and books I’ll be watching and reading for study aids…which actors will be my obsession teachers this go-round…and (eventually, based on casting)…what I will be doing with my night’s and weekends, and “where.”

…Which is why booking a show for me, is not just a big deal as “an actor,” but even just “as a person.” 

Twenty years doing a thing, builds some serious habits.

It reflects the kind of year I’ll have emotionally, physically, psychologically. It reflects the people I will be socializing with…which friends I’ll be seeing more regularly, and the kinds of places I go on the down-times…based on which city and county those “down-times” occur in.

…So, when I DON’T have anything to plan, at all…not even on the what-to-audition-for-next pipeline…I literally don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not a person who can just “be” to “be.” I can’t not think and study and plan. It’s against the religion of me. Even my Psych Doc couldn’t break me of it.

…Hence, for the last month, post-last-show, I have turned into a blob with total lack of enthusiasm.

Family tragedies certainly don’t help that.

…All you can do is just sit there, being “the blob,” turning into MORE of a blob, and thinking you are prob’ly doomed to get even blobbier before anything changes for the better. If ever again, at all.

So you do.

…Till an actual goal pops up.

…And you see it float there above your head, juuuuust outta reach, so you have to actually shift your weight, and stand up in order to touch it.

…And you do.

…And the fucker wiggles free n’ flies away, right in front of you…

…And you think, “Goddamn it, if I were FIT I’d have just jumped higher, and gotten a better hold of the thing to begin with!”

…Only sometimes, I guess the goal doesn’t totally float away for good.

…Sometimes, for reasons even YOU don’t understand, it gets caught up in the corner over there. But since you told yourself to forget about it, you don’t even know it’s there. How could it be? You totally lost it. You were there!

…Only looks like, maybe you didn’t.

…And two days later, you get a call on the phone. And it goes a little something like this:

AD: Hi. This is (Artistic Director you know.) I’m calling about the show.

Me: Oh. Yeah. That. Listen, I’m really sorry about lousing up that callback…

AD: I’m calling…

Me: –The “thanks, but no thanks call,” no, yeah. I get it.

AD: Not really. What? No. He wants to offer you a role.

Me: (Beat.) What?

AD: In the show.

Me: Who?

AD: The Director.

Me: Oh.

AD: Yeah.

Me: Why?

AD: Why??

Me: Yeah.

AD: Um. Because he liked you?

Me: (Beat.) No. But really. Why?

AD: That’s really why.

Me: But, I sucked.

AD:…Or: not.

Me: Really.

AD: Yep.

Me: Huh.

AD: So…

Me: Yeah?

AD: You like…wanna do the show?

Me: Oh! Sorry. YES.

AD: Okay then.

Me: Yeah.

AD: Good.

Me: I really needed this. I mean: comedy and purpose and stuff.

AD: Well, good.

(Long silence.)

Me:…But, seriously?

AD: Seriously.

…And so now, all of a sudden…the blob regains purpose.

…Which is a very good thing.

Very good.

I feel like I can breathe again.

Eventually, it’ll even sink in.

Huzzah and stuff — !

~D

No Bug Zone

10 Oct

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Taking a break…

Am fortressed  in my office, away from all the peoples, as all the peoples I know are currently carrying some version or other of the plague.

Gnome-Idiot cheerfully informed me yesterday morning, (while hovering over my desk and mouth breathing) that she had spent the night hurling into the toilet , and would it be alright if she went home after this stack of paperwork?

…I mentally told her to get the fuck away from me, while verbally assuring her that I totally supported her choice in going home to get better, and that she should feel free to leave as soon as possible.

…This was roughly two days after the WHS Pimp started hacking up lungs n’ things in his office, returning from his day off.  The same day that Ma called and said she had abton of crockpot food she couldn’t eat by herself, and wouldn’t I like to come over while wearing a surgical mask and rubber contamination gloves, to pick it up…as she TOO was dying of some kind of stuffy head-cold.

Three totally different strains of plague, now surround me.  The battle has been fierce.  I’ve forced vitamins and liquids until my bladder is near to exploding. 

…So far, so good.

…Of course, now that I’m claiming that, I am prob’ly doomed to get one or all three in the next few hours.

Problem is, I don’t have time for that yet.

…I know the show is closed and all, but along with the final visit of Corp next week, at the office, I have two shows to see, a script to peruse, an Ab-Fab sleepover with Marty to attend, a Wedding, and The BFF’s way-belated BD-AWESOME-GIFT-OF-AWESOME to shop for, bills to pay, laundry to do, and TP to buy.

I’m booked.

…Also, I don’t WANT to get a cold.  Not any three of the current varieties seem very appealing.  So, I sit here, treating my appendages as germ-fields-of war, every paper pass back-and-forth with the rest of the office staff.  My hands are now chapped, cracked and dry from antiseptic overuse, I just shot my last Emergen-C this morning, and in a panic last night, I started chugging that awful Gollum juice toddy, in hopes to add it as another form of preventative.

…Surely, nothing could survive this onslaught of prevention, right?

(she hopes, heartily.)

…Providing all stands germ-free, my week of self-imposed quarantine will end tomorrow…as I watch Marty kick some ass in “Henry V,” and move directly into swilling “medicinal” alcohol…in the form of a lot of wine…until I pass out.  Waking up (at whatever o’clock that turns out to be), I then begin my quest of shopping and bill paying…and somewhere in there: some laundry.

…Which will bring me to the half-way mark of my weekend.  I’m pulling focus on one step at a time, at this point.  So as to not tempt the bugs too much.  If they think you have it all signed, sealed and delivered, they hit you even harder (I find.)

…So shhhh.  Don’t tell.

…Meanwhile, I’m off to face the “inbox” once more…and consider the options of Children’s Theatre, around the holiday. And, the calculated percentage of odds riding against mounting an entire show without grumbling curse words when I fuck up a line…or being a surly bastard to small people seeking hugs and smiles during tech week.

~D

An Unholy Ripple

3 Dec

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Now that “Twelfth Night” has completed it’s run, am ready to dive straight into the deep-end of “Children’s Hour” and start swimmin.’

Today: Some study time on Lillian Hellman, author of the show…and a particular favorite of mine. In other words, it’s more “review” than anything else, but you never know what you’ll find when following an already mined seam.

…The focus now is “History.” What made her write the piece, from where she got the idea, the autobiographical element of the main female relationship, where the title hailed from. In other words: it’s roots of inception, to better inform of the time in which it was written, the social significance of its theme, the years of various censorship made to it, the bannings, the revisions, the productions…all of it.

If we’re gonna get good n’ squidgy here, one should go all the way.

…Anyway, thought I’d bring you along on the ride.

***

She was all of 26, in 1934, when Hellman’s partner, Dashiell Hammett (of “Thin Man” and Sam Spade fame) told her to get off her ass, stop wasting all her creative energy doctoring Hollywood scripts, and come up with something of her own. Going completely against character, she decided to follow someone else’s advice, and began research on an intriguing court case, from 1810.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, Jane Cumming Gordon, a pupil at an all-girl’s boarding school, accused her schoolmistresses of having an affair in full view of the girls in their charge, upon occasion even in the same beds as where the pupils slept. The girl’s influential grandmother, Dame Cumming Gordon advised all to remove their daughters from the school immediately, within days leaving it deserted and the two respective schoolmistresses without a livelihood. Jane Pririe and Marianne Woods, filed, sued, and would go on to win the case, on libel and slander. Of course this was after an entire decade in the courts, and the printings of hundreds of damning articles, news posts, and social commentaries having been scattered to the winds, though oddly enough the court case transcripts themselves locked away by command of the court: fearful that their contents, if disclosed, “would corrupt the morals of any who chanced upon them.”

…The damage to the reputations of Pririe and Woods, beyond repair…they eventually dropped out of sight and headlines…until 1931, when four copies of the original court transcripts were found by Scottish Law Historian, William Roughhead, who added it’s commentaries in his book published that year, “Bad Companions”…a copy of which Lillian Hellman became soon after, captivated with.

Changes to the case would be made, alterations to the women’s relationship and it’s ending taking place… giving a certain more dramatic outcome…but by and large, this was to the be the meat of the stew which would within three years take the theatrical, sexual, moral, religious, and ethical world by storm once again…with the Broadway debut of, “The Children’s Hour.”

…Difficult to find actors willing to undertake the subject matter, the play was ultimately banned in Boston, Chicago and London…and the Pulitzer Prize committee refused it’s consideration for award, (despite it’s many hailings on importance in social awareness, human rights, and political controversy), due to (ironically) it’s impropriety.

…After two films based on the play, an updating of the script leading to a successful Broadway relaunch in the fifties, and Hellman herself showing up on McCarthy’s blacklisting, (thus further launching the play’s themes of secrecy, lies, malice and persecution)…a new autobiographical element to the piece, first came to light.

“Pentimento,” the second book of Hellman’s autobiographical trilogy, was first published in 1973, and with it, the telling of a close friendship lasting from school years to adulthood, with a woman called, “Julia.”

Later put on film, (earning Vanessa Redgrave an Oscar for her title role, portrayal), “Julia” told of the friendship of Hellman and a woman she idolized and idealized. A child, tossed by a gallivanting Actress mother, on her rich parents to raise…who did, within a strict and ridged regime. Julia, however, a free spirit, with the blood of a natural rebel, fought all contests of keeping her caged…to which the wide-eyed, uberly conservative and skittish Hellman became rapt and besotted with.

…Julia, later a political revolutionary and underground movement member in a number of causes throughout Europe through her College years abroad, eventually seduced Hellman so far into her power of spirit, that in WWII, Hellman (an American Jew) agreed to transport much of Julia’s inherited fortune with her across the German border, in order to buy Jews and other Political prisoners, out of harms way.

…A later foreign correspondent of many wars and revolutions…boasting a much road-leathered skin akin to Hemmingway…this was to be the first terrifying tryst with death in which Hellman ever attempted. Her recounting of it, a wonder if nothing else in the foreshadowing of what would eventually serve as a lifestyle so shockingly different from the little girl of so long ago. Much attributed not only to that one journey, but…in my opinion…for what happened to follow.

Julia, the single mother of a baby duly dubbed “Lilly,” (whom she had sent to live with a farming family, safely away from her Political workings), was murdered, not long after…by the Gestapo. Hellman, upon being informed, conducted an exhaustive search for the baby…who was never to be found. Her dedication to Julia: transforming her morally, socially, politically, from that moment onward…into something made of harder stuff…the kind of hard-hitting, information-digging, political-freedom-hailing, toughened broad, that she would later become so renowned for.

…And it was Julia, so she claims, who was her first love.

…Not in consummation, but an unrequited adoration…as, though Hellman confessed of her love, Julia’s devotion (but non-romantic inclinations), kept it forever snipped in the bud.

…It was in this way, that Martha and Karen were born.

So they lived a life together…stood by one another…loved and dedicated themselves to one another. A friendship of physical innocents, wrapped up in romantic desires and steadfast devotion.

…”This is not a new sin we have been accused of…” as Karen, states…long after the damage has been done, to a relationship, a school, a town, and two souls.

From the mouths of babes. A lie is told. Or perhaps, in it’s way, a “half-truth.” But the damage it can do, is as irreparable, once begun, as the bullet that ends a life.

Jane. Marianne. Karen. Martha. Lillian. Julia.

…When you know the history behind it all, the lines of fact and fiction begin to bleed together so thinly you can hardly make out where one begins and the other ends. Six women’s lives and relationships making up the whole of a piece of theatre so relevant still to this day.

…As Mr. Director noted, on our first read-through with the cast, “We’re designing the show on a very simple theme: a ripple effect. The set, the relationships, the conversations had…the lie that starts it all. One drop in a still pond of water…with endless consequence.”

This show is going to obliterate my everything.

…And I’m totally ready for it.

***

“The Children’s Hour”
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditi,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

~D

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