Friday, March 30, 2007

Still the Trash Lingers

Updates on the French Quarter trash cart controversy…
  • The Times-Picayune reader blog on the trash can controversy is very interesting. Please post your own pro-French Quarter comments! Copy and paste this into your internet browser...
  • I was a guest on WWL-AM/-FM this evening about the trash controversy. Everyone has heard that the French Quarter is cleaner now -- but the host thought it was because of the carts. I had to explain it is WITHOUT the plastic carts! He said then that we won him over! Same thing with a recent Angus Lind column in the Times-Picayune. He thought the carts made the French Quarter cleaner, and we were whining. I e-mailed him that, no, it is cleaner without the carts - and dozens of carts up and down our narrow historic streets will make the French Quarter cluttered and unsightly!
  • It has been suggested by city officials that we need these cans for health reasons, such as stopping rats. This is being disputed by former City Health Officer Dr. Brobson Lutz, a long-time French Quarter resident. He filed a Freedom of Information Request asking for data from the city to back up its claims, but, at least so far, the city has not released the data he has requested. We ask the city to release this health and sanitation data without further delay.
  • It is said that the Mayor wants to replace Dr. Ralph Lupin as a member of the all-volunteer Vieux Carre’ Commission. We call upon Dr. Lupin to apologize to Ms. White [for calling her a "bitch". He said it, I didn't. ed.], and for Ms. White to accept his apology. Ms. White deserves to be treated with personal respect. Dr. Lupin’s lifetime of community service should be taken into account. We ask for Mayor Nagin to invite Dr. Lupin and Ms. White to his office to straighten this out. They are both good people making important contributions to this city. Let’s get this behind us and get back to the real recovery!
  • Please only use heavy duty trash/garbage bags – not flimsy plastic bags from the grocery or pharmacy! If your neighbors are using those flimsy bags, talk to them! It is when someone uses those flimsy bags that there can be a problem.
  • The owner of SDT, Mr. Torres, has asked that residents put out their trash after 5 pm. He said they want to pick up commercial trash in the morning and residential after 5 pm. So far, they have picked up residential bags whenever they see them, but please help them by waiting til 5 pm. I asked what happens if you are not home right at 5 p.m. He said they will make more than one pass, so anytime after 5 p.m. should be fine.

Nathan Chapman

President

Vieux Carre' Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc.

Oh, Those Catholics

It seems imperative that every year's Holy Week brings some new attack upon the Catholic Church. This year in New York, that attack has come in the form of milk chocolate. It seems some morally-bankrupt "art" gallery has chosen to hang a sculpture of the crucified Jesus molded in chocolate.

Who would have the thought the cocoa bean would bring about the demise of Western Christianity?

Good Chocolate
Reverent, holy, sweet.

Bad Chocolate
Offensive, ugly, rude, nasty, sexy, an abomination,
take it away, melt it down and dump the residue in the sea!

Update, 3:15 PM: Jesus is buried, no doubt wrapped in a tin-foil shroud. Wait for the Resurrection.

"Karl" - Exposed

Pickup rehearsals can be fun. Last night, we decided to play a joke on Keith in ...Deaths of Queens. I took a headshot of his and photoshopped it into a photograph of a very well-built, pretty-well-endowed male model - the kind of picture you can find floating on the internet, you know what I mean?

It went over well. Even Frederick, who is normally unflappable, lost it. Mandi wound up rolling on the floor. Rikki tried to steal it.

The picture came out nice, I think. You can view it here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Towards a Poor Theatre"

This will probably be our final review, and it's very nice. Thank you, Patrick Shannon, for seeing what we put on stage.
Glenn Meche has done a fine job of directing three Tennessee Williams one-act plays at Timm Holt’s Marigny Theatre, www.marignytheatre.org, 504.218.8559. The fledgling theater venue at 1030 Marigny Street has produced quite a few cutting edge shows under various production companies; and work there gets better and better. A typical low-bucks venue, one is always delighted to see the hard work of those involved show such promise.

Acting has always been remarkably good. Sets a bit of a problem as is the case with most low-bucks venues; but imagination and determination and hard work pays off, especially with this current production of three Tennessee Williams one-act plays which were found among his notes after his death. These playlets were interesting to see especially for those curious about the development of Tennessee Williams’ craft as a playwright. However, Dakin, his brother, told a fellow critic and friend of mine that “If those trunk plays were really any good, Tennessee would have had them on stage making money.” You be the judge.

Philip Gordon does a commendable job with pleasant sound design - tying the plays together and setting the tone of the themes with the wistful popular song Poor Butterfly. At last someone has learned that the sound does not need to be played up at decibels so high it could compete with a fleet of jet planes or cause ears to bleed. This a small stylish venue and the seating arrangements are cafe tables, none of which are very far from the stage. Timm Holt’s eclectic set using an upstage arrangement of flowing white curtains over black curtains and appropriate furnishings was attractive and workable for each of the 3 one-acts and his contribution to the sound, lights, and costumes worked very well.

But what has carried the shows done at Marigny Theatre since its inception has been the remarkable acting skills of its actors. Yes, there have been the expected amount of uneven performances but they have been few. Fortunately, this production is one of those which showcases some very good performances.

In Fat Mans Wife, a play about a rich dysfunctional unhappy New York City couple we enjoyed the high quality of the acting done by Don McCoy (Joe Cartwright) and Mandi Turner (Vera Cartwright), who unexpectedly are visited after a formal party by Keith Launey (Dennis Merriwether). These brittle characters could have been the subjects of Cole Porter or Noel Coward.

Ms. Turner, looking like a younger Lisa Baumann (a local female illusionist who used to look like a young Liza Minelli), does a splendid job as the bored, unhappy wife of her philandering husband (Don McCoy as Joe Cartwright) and titular character. “We can spend the rest of our lives saying unimportant things to each other,” she says to him at the end of this curious play, after she has rejected the attentions of a nouveau riche young, successful playwright (Keith Launey as Dennis Merriwether) who has tried to get her to sail away with him on a tramp steamer. She does this role with style.

Her fellow actors in this play are also very adept in their roles, making this play one of the best of the three. Keith Launey is a new face on stage. He is a handsome hunky young man that seems to have a natural talent for acting. He did his role of the “young gentleman caller” so to speak (Dennis Merriwether), with elan and charm. Don McCoy played the husband Joe Cartwright with an effective bored dignity, oozing with the ennui of the rich who never seem happy. Too much eye shadow did distract from his character. Remember this is a small room with the audience in your lap. Unless you are doing a silent film in the black and white style of the 1920s or a drag show, go easy on the Max Factor.

The next play, Adam & Eve On A Ferry was a strange study of D. H. Lawrence, or at lease his ideas about sex. T. J. Toups, usually a pretty good actor, seemed a little out of his league with this role as D. H. Lawrence. Mandi Turner played his wife, Frieda Lawrence, a brief walk on role. And in an illuminating turn of excellent acting, Ricki Gee played the American woman, Ariadne Peabody, who consults Lawrence on a “near sexual encounter” that has possessed her. Ms. Gee was charming and convincing. Where has this fine actress been? We want more, more, and more of Ms. Gee.

The last play is one of my favorites to have been found among the trunk ruins of Mr. William’s “lost and or hidden works.” This work, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens, can become a campy drag show comedy unless just the right note of desperate loneliness and Williamseque despair is struck.

That note was pretty well struck with this production; and Frederick Mead did a convincing job in the lead role as Candy Delaney, who does one of the gay world’s most convincing speeches about how tasteless and boring the world in general would be without artistic queens/queers and what has come to be known as “The Gay Sensibility.” Mr. Mead exuded a sense of world weary sadness and isolation in his moving interpretation.

Once again Keith Launey in the role of the potentially violent hustler (Karl) was very effective and sexy. In the role of two outrageous tenants of the lead character, our sad, sad even though “well off” decorator, antique shop owner, and flagrant cross-dressing-in-private queen Candy Delaney, we found that Phillip Gordon (Alvin Krenning) and Don McCoy (Jerry Johnson) were excellent as bitchy supporting characters.

So, even with a weak script or lowbucks production values, good to excellent performers can often save a show. They did again this time.

Unfortunate Logo Design

My friend MsLaBear just emailed me this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

WTF?

Someone from the U S Geological Survey(!) in Virginia came upon this blog by Googling:
marilyn monroe piercing
What the fuck is a Marilyn Monroe piercing? Am I that much out of the loop? And shouldn't my visitor be studying fault lines instead?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trash Talk in the Quarter

Adrastos' take on yesterday's T-P article.

Shoulda Stood in Bed

I certainly never should have gone to yesterday's matinee of Tenn Times 3. Everyone associated with the show seemed tired and listless.

When it was over, one of my actors asked dejectedly how it had gone. I made the mistake of telling him and the others who soon gathered around that I had seen some minor glitches. These things didn't appear to affect the audience, which seemed genuinely enchanted; but they ate at me. I didn't even slip backstage at the two intermissions. I wasn't trying to be mean in talking to them this way, but I think I hurt some feelings.

I really regret that. I had no business speaking - I had no business being there - since I was not really myself, having gone through a one-two punch with Friday's critical review (unimportant except for how it might affect our box office) and little Donnie's death on Saturday (very important since it opens another space in my heart that will never fill again). Then there was the fact that this weekend was the top of the arc in our performance schedule. Next week we say goodbye and go our own ways again.

They left soon after. I think I made them cry. Goodbyes suck.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Donnie

February 17, 1969 - March 24, 2007

300

Gumption, Guts, and Gonads

Actors can teach the thin-skinned among us an important lesson or two. The cast arrived at the theatre last night in an upbeat mood considering our morning's pounding in the press. They were pleasantly pissed - and enjoying it.

We discussed the T-P review, and I apologized to them for having let them down. They declined my penitence and reiterated their belief that they are presenting something beautiful and true. So we left it at that.

Our house was a good one, medium-sized but larger than our first weekend's numbers. The actors took the stage with firm steps and strong voices. They have become secure enough to play with each other now more than before. Their subtleties and nuances are deepening as they settle into their characters.

I gradually realized as the evening went on that I have only my own eyes to see the world I live in. I have only my own imagination to deduce the reasons and the motives for the things I see. I have no other alternative in the matter, no choice. And what I saw in front of me on the Marigny Theatre stage was beautiful and true.

In that tiny little box, a tribe of theatre people have banded together in a post-Katrina Beckettian landscape, and they go on.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Theatre of the Absurd

Frederick Mead plays the part of Candy Delaney in our production of ... Deaths of Queens. I just received this (slightly edited) email from him:
Hear my voice, live on the radio, reading the Times-Picayune's review of the play I'm currently in, Tenn X 3, three one-act plays by Tennessee Williams, at the Marigny Theatre. "Once again, Marigny Theatre's reach exceeds its grasp" is the critic's opening sentence in the T-P.

I volunteer at WRBH 88.3 Reader Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped. On Saturday morning, 11am to noon, I'm the lucky reader who reads the review of my own performance. I'll also read other highlights from the Lagniappe, including a stirring column by Chris Rose about Mardi Gras Indians.

SAT 11 to noon
88.3 FM WRBH
www.wrbh.org (livestream over the Web at 11am, CST)

A Friend Steps Up

My internets buddy Mike from Manhattan Chowder has an interesting response to the T-P review. With apologies to him, I'd like to include it here to make sure everyone reads it.
Reading this review objectively, I'd call it more mixed than a pan. He does compliment some good performances and the use of Poor Butterfly as a theme, but mostly I think he's trying to impress his readers with his literary knowledge throwing in comparisons to Shaw and Phillip Barry and having a seemingly intimate knowledge of D.H. Lawrence's personality and Williams' stage directions in these three relatively obscure pieces. We get it buddy, you're "well read."

That said, the role of Candy to be played "without caricature" as Williams suggests perhaps meant something different in Williams' day than it does now. In the late 50s "caricature" of a drag performance meant Milton Berle or English Pantomime or at best Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in "Some Like it Hot." Williams meant the role should be played with honesty and not for laughs, shtick or sight gags. There was really no frame of reference for drag performers as real people or for those men trying to "pass" as women in those days. The lines she has to say and the fact that Candy appears in a dress and wig are true to the kind of drag performers we know today (and obviously Williams had an intimate knowledge of) but was relatively unknown to the general public at that time.

Also, when Karl says that Candy "looks as much like a woman as any real one I've seen" lets not forget that Karl WANTS something from Candy, namely money. Perhaps he's using flattery as a tactic to get what he wants. It's more a reflection of Karl's character than what the actor playing Candy should look like.

One more thing, Williams saying that "Death of Queens" is "quite funny" again I think is a sign of the times. There are many things considered funny in the 50s that are not to a modern audience. The insidious promiscuity and self-loathing of the characters, the resignation that these types of men are the best that Candy can hope for are seen as tragic to a post-Stonewall audience but in Williams' day are circumstances that might have been funny. (Another example is the play "Boys in the Band" which reads very differently today than it did 40 years ago) Let us not forget that Candy is beaten almost to death, so I doubt Williams meant it not so much as a laugh riot but rather having funny moments here and there.

Anyway, I hope this review doesn't get you or your actors down. (I'm sure you told them not to read the reviews but they will anyway) This is more about a local reviewer fancying himself as Ben Brantley and impressing his readers than someone who is providing constructive criticism and should be encouraging local theatre. What an ass.
Again, than you, Michael.

On Being Reviled and Despised

The critic (sic) from the Times-Picayune hated it. I don't know if it's Timm he (sic) hates more or me. A nasty piece of work. To describe a serious and dedicated actor as "desicated" is crude and needlessly cruel. Certainly it reveals the writer as the angry little man (sic) he (sic) is.

I'm left wondering what show did he (sic) see? He didn't see this one.

Nevertheless, this pan should bring us some bigger houses since most people here know and consider the source for what it is.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Things to Do Today

  • Get over hangover
  • Have beard groomed
  • Take quick nap
  • Run pickup rehearsal for Tenn Times 3 before we go back up tomorrow night
  • Do something to change status of current life from that of boring
  • Oh, and eat (I jumped my plateau and hit the 50 lbs-lost mark yesterday)

Louisiana

Focus on the Future in Louisiana - New York Times

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Girrrl!

Feds and the Corps Owe Storm Victims for Levee Failures

A group of independent scientists who’ve called themselves “Team Louisiana” has asked for the federal government to compensate everyone that the Army Corps of Engineers victimized, after their own examination of post-Katrina levee failures revealed the Corps was ultimately to blame.

The 18-month, intensive examination of how and why the city’s levees and floodwalls failed in Hurricane Katrina led “Team Louisiana” to a series of disturbing findings. According to their report, “the citizens of the state were basically denied the level of protection mandated by Congress in the 1965 Flood Control Act.”

Ivor Van Heerden, Deputy Director of the LSU Hurricane Center and “Team Louisiana” leader, said the Corps of Engineers’ designs for the levee system were inappropriate.

“There's no ifs or doubts about it,” he said.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

MeeMaw Waves Buh-Bye

WWLTV.com is predicting Kathleen Blanco will withdraw from the governor's race tonight. So sad (sic).

I sure hope she remembers to take her trash out of the mansion, the legislature, and the state's agencies when she goes.

We'll be holding a prayer breakfast in the morning on her behalf. By invitation only.

Iraq Veterans Memorial

THEY! THEM!! THOSE!!!

Nagin still blaming it all on 'them'.

It's time for Mayor Ray Nagin to name names.

Actual, particular names, connected to real, identifiable people who can be held accountable for their actions.

It's time for the mayor to purge the word "they" from his vocabulary -- as in, "they are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community." ...

Nagin said "they" include Blanco's Road Home, as well as insurance companies and the "educational system that's still not educating our kids well." But it's hard to believe those are the bad guys to whom he referred last week, since the insurance companies and schools weren't the ones who sent New Orleanians packing to begin with. If there's no obvious evidence of a plot, there's plenty of evidence of incompetence, disorganization, lack of communication and short-sighted decision-making all around -- and that includes in Nagin's own sphere of influence.

"They" didn't refuse to make key decisions soon after the hurricane, or wait more than a year to hire a recovery director. "They" haven't failed to tell residents which areas will be targeted for quicker redevelopment. "They" aren't the ones who can't seem to get the traffic lights in heavily-traveled unflooded areas back up and running.

I Remember Mama

"When It's Springtime in the Rockies ..."

I never made this connection until just now: When my dad was courting my mother (they courted in those days, you know) he would actually serenade her with this song (they actually did that in those days, too). She lived many years after my dad had passed. She would often hum the melody or sing the words to herself. She died on the first day of Spring.

Serendipity?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Secrets (and Lies?)

Top-Secret Torture

But, Ray ...

... As mayor, if this is true, don't you have any say in it? You can't combat it any way but this, tailoring your remarks to suit your audience?

And speaking of "considered opinions" ...

Another Mystery Solved

I can't get over how they're all ending up in the same place in Cuba. Who needs all this Justice Department and Walter Reed babble that's been going around?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Mime Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

So we're in the intermission between The Fat Man's Wife and Adam and Eve on a Ferry when the theater door opens and a mime enters. He walks down the aisle all the way to the stage, carrying a large wicker basket without a bottom to it. He moves aside the curtain and disappears behind it.

I turn to my light and sound crew and ask, "What was that?"

They are speechless.

I race down the same aisle the mime has just traversed and leap onto the stage. I am confronted by a brace of actors caught like deer in headlights. The mime is contentedly miming his own business.

I ask him, "Can I help you?"

He says, "I'm here to do the show." At least, he spoke.

"You're not in this show," I tell him.

"But I am," he says.

"No, this is a Tennessee Williams show."

"This isn't the Easter benefit?"

"No."

"Then where am I supposed to be?"

"Out front, I suppose."

"In the bar?"

"Yes, there."

"Oh, sorry."

"No problem."

"Is this show any good?"

"We think so."

"Can I be in it?"

"Not tonight."

"Too bad. Tonight's my only free night."

"Yeah, too bad."

"Good night."

"So long."

"Break a leg."

"You, too."

A Life of Its Own

Check this out. We're being noticed.

Now We Have a Show

Last night's performance hit its mark.

Don and Mandi as the fat man and his wife, swooped onto the stage with zip and grace in The Fat Man's Wife and set the tone for the rest of the evening. The actors have established personal relationships and have used those to illustrate the relationships between the characters. They vibrate to one another.

During rehearsals, I had struggled to convey the importance I wanted attached to the reactive relationships of the characters in all three plays. One night working with T J and Rikki in Adam and Eve on a Ferry, I blurted out, "I want you to vibrate to one another, like tuning forks, like wind chimes quivering to a breeze." (Purple, I know, but sometimes you have to let down your hair.)

I may have found the right word to convey my concept because they all are doing that so beautifully now. There are so many nuances in the plays, so many revelations planted by Williams, that the works are like deep pools that can never be fully plumbed. And these are not Important Works. They are the works of a craftsman gaining experience with his tool, learning his job. But the craftsman is Tennessee Williams doing what he was put on this planet to do.

And so are my cast. This is a production that can benefit from repeated viewings. There are so many subtleties at play: Mandi's impatience with Don; her discomfort with Keith's visit and his discovery of her in her negligee; her attraction for, and resistance to, him as he expresses his love for her; Keith's enthusiastic wooing; his fingers stroking Mandi's fingers when she once lightly rests her hand on his; Mandi's sadness and Keith's approaching despair as Mandi kisses him goodbye; their heartbreak at their parting.

A short intermission then the curtains open to reveal a scrawny little man sitting in a chair doing needle work, D. H. Lawrence. Adam and Eve on a Ferry was the most problematic play for me because it reads like a series of nonsequiturs tossed between two people who don't seem to be living on the same plane. Finally, it occurred to me that we could view this as a Pirandelloesque exercise. What we have is a character in search of an author.

So T J falls asleep and is "awakened" by a visitor who has come to him to help her remember a man she met while crossing the Bay from Oakland to San Fransisco on a ferry a few years before.

He is the typical blundering male trying to ride roughly over her story and dictate the terms while she, as the feminine muse, coaxes truth from his imagination.

Rikki is a pile-driving elf portraying the eternal feminine, subjecting herself to the powerful male before subverting their relationship, cajoling, then insisting that he submit to her own terms of their contract. She accomplishes this with a sense of the masculine/feminine dichotomy borrowed from Blondie and Dagwood. T J is, of course, oblivious to her subtleties and self-congratulatory over his creation. Mandi, as Frieda Lawrence, is submissively supportive of her artist husband because, of course, she "knows all".

Williams' deep pool of nuances returns with the final play, And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens. Candy Delaney is a desperately sad and lonely little man who believes that beauty can redeem him and fill his soul. The beauty she selects to perform this feat is a violent hustler who will only treat her like the throw pillow he smells and whose perfume disgusts him before he hurls it to the floor.

Frederick channels Candy's delusions with none of his own. He asks for no sympathy, he exhibits her flaws. Keith answers him just as courageously, the predator stalking his prey. Their reactions to each other are split-second and lightning fast as they parry and bargain over the cost of Keith's services and Frederick's willingness to pay. Frederick quivers before Keith's anger and violence, but recovers to woo him again and again.

Don and Philip play the comically commonsensical tenants of Frederick's apartment house. They offer Frederick mundane survival in an antagonistic world. Will she submit to their view and survive, or will she choose her own Liebestod?

This cast has been a gift. I only hope I have served them as well as they are serving these plays.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Four AM Discovery

Even though you might outlast them, you can no longer compete with a posse of partying twenty-and-thirty-somethings ... Any. More.

Diagnosis: Cheney

Charles Krauthammer identifies a new behavioral syndrome.

Spare a Thought or Two for Spider

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another One - Or a Second Draft?

I managed to get myself invited to the final dress rehearsal of The Marigny Theatre’s current production TENN TIMES 3. These are three one-act plays written by Tennessee Williams, with the typical (and expected) Williams’ theme – fading beauty and unrequited love.

It is an astoundingly good production, perfectly performed by an amazing troupe of talented actors. The direction is superbly succinct, the pace powerfully lively and seductively lush, it seemed more orchestrated (like the haunting POOR BUTTERFLY entre act music) than directed.

The final one-act – pure Tennessee Williams at his finest -- AND TELL SAD STORIES OF THE DEATH OF QUEENS -- is so poignantly and perfectly performed by Frederick Mead and Keith Launey it becomes mesmerizing!

Do not miss this phenomenally good production and tell everyone you know that director Glenn Meche and producer Timm Holt – along with a compassionate cast and crew are offering New Orleans’ audiences a beautiful evening of theatre – this is not just “good acting” this is ART!

Don’t miss it! TENN TIMES 3 plays through April 1st Friday and Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 6PM at the Marigny Theatre (1030 Marigny Street)

Lewis Routh

Finally

Here are some production stills from And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens.

Frederick Mead as Candy Delaney and Keith Launey as Karl

Frederick and Keith

Keith and Frederick

Don McCoy as Jerry Johnson, Frederick, and Philip Gordon as Alvin Krenning

And There's More

I didn't realize it, but the review in the email was incomplete. The remainder of it appears on NOLATheatre.com. But here it is:
This cast was perfect! If the beautiful Mandi Turner (as Vera) had looked older it would have been better; but her talent was amazing!
Vera is a young-looking forty-five-or-something. Some people carry their age well. I certainly don't look forty-eight.
Vera's "kiss goodbye" to the much younger Dennis (Keith Launey) so poignantly delivered.

Just a few notes from one wanna-be director: Dennis needs BLACK SOCKS with that tuxedo, and a REAL bow tie (if he intends to untie it); Vera needs matches not a BIC LIGHTER for that cigarette -- but those were the only -- very minor -- distractions in a lovely play.
I caught the white socks. That will be rectified for tonight's opening. The BIC was a substitute for the matches we could not find at the last minute. And who the hell knows how to tie a bow tie anymore? Don't answer that.
I believed Keith's portrayal of Dennis -- his love was passionate and heartfelt. His timing -- impeccable; though that may have been the invisible direction by Glenn Meche.

ADAM & EVE ON A FERRY (written in 1949) featured TJ Toups as D.H. Lawrence, Mandi Turner as Frieda Lawrence and the beautifully animated, adroitly talented Rikki Gee as Ariadne Peabody. I could not stop watching Rikki, from the moment she entered this play was hers! She is a delight to watch as she explains her tale of unrequited love. ...

The highlight of the entire evening was the incredible performances in AND TELL SAD STORIES OF THE DEATH OF QUEENS (written in 1959) this was the only one of the three plays that I was even remotely familiar with. Frederick Mead as Candy was a phenomenal performance, as delicate as the POOR BUTTERFLY. With Keith Launey (again; but so completely different!) giving a superb performance as the street-tough Karl.

This tragic -- once again -- unrequited love -- was PURE WILLIAMS! Unlike the other two we SEE that tragedy from the moment the "lovers" enter. We know that TRAGEDY is the only way this will end! Yet, Frederick's nuanced Candy still broke your heart, and Keith's Karl perfect -- also a tragic character -- both trapped in lives they are incapable of changing. With delightful supporting roles by Phillip Gordon and Don McCoy this play was the HIT of the three! I leapt from my chair applauding their curtain calls!

Do not miss this brilliant production! Fri & Sat at 8 PM; Sun at 6 PM through April 1st. If you miss TENN TIMES 3 -- THAT would be the greatest tragedy of all.

Somebody Pulled a Fast One on Me

We got together at four yesterday afternoon to do a last-minute run before our final dress rehearsal/preview. It went well.

I couldn't know, though, that one person would put his thoughts in words between last night and this morning and that those words would find themselves disseminated through a local widely-read email group administered by crescentcitychronicles.net.

Here is our first review:
Three one act plays written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Glenn Meche previewed last night at the Marigny Theatre (1030 Marigny Street).

I was lucky enough to be invited. Glenn Meche has created three imaginative moments -- I say "moments" because the evening whizzed by -- each one of the plays delivering some choice roles to actors who were MORE than ready to deliver!

The three one acts: THE FAT MAN'S WIFE, ADAM & EVE ON A FERRY, and AND TELL SAD STORIES OF THE DEATH OF QUEENS, required three separate settings -- conveyed beautifully by select furniture, decorations, skilled lighting and lovely costumes. Each play was threaded together by different versions of the song, POOR BUTTERFLY.

Magic was happening!

THE FAT MAN'S WIFE (written in 1939) featured Don McCoy, Mandi Turner, and Keith Launey in a typical, oft repeated Tennessee William's plot -- unrequited love. But -- LOVE -- it was!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bush's Shadow Army

Something to ponder.

And He Beheaded Daniel Perl

The alleged 9/11 mastermind confesses to more attacks. Come to think of it, he looks an awful lot like that guy that coaxed me into a dark alley when I was six years old and told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus.

I'm beginning to think he may have had something to do with Anna Nicole. Yeah, that's why they kept her body from being buried for so long. Checking it out, you know?

What Did He Mean by That?

Another "Dangling Conversation"? No, I don't think so - this one had a ... point.

I'm walking into the Latrine after a long technical rehearsal. A voice rings out.

"Oh, Glenn! Hello."

"Um, hi."

"Congratulations on your nomination."

"My nomination?"

"Yes. You got a nomination."

"For what?"

"Why, for a Big Easy Award, of course. I'm happy for you."

"I wasn't nominated for a Big Easy Award."

"You weren't? I thought I saw your name."

"Nope."

"Oh, sorry. Well, neither did Mr. Dave get one."

I need to learn that when I walk into a place and find the Spawn of Satan propped up on a bar stool, I should just turn on my heels and go someplace else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

But Wait, There's More

The second piece in Tenn Times 3 is Adam and Eve on a Ferry. Here are a few stills from this play.

T. J. Toups and Mandi Turner as D. H. and Frieda Lawrence

T. J. and Rikki Gee as Ariadne Peabody

Rikki Gee

Counting Down

Tenn Times 3 opens in two days. Here is a taste of what the audience will see in The Fat Man's Wife.

Don McCoy as Joe Cartwright

Keith Launey as Dennis Merriwether and Mandi Turner as Vera Cartwright

Mandi

Mandi and Keith

Mandi and Don

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Talk about Your Bitch Slaps

You go, John!

In a rare rebuke of the nation's top military officer, Secretary of Defense Sen. John Warner, R-Va., says he strongly disagrees with Gen. Peter Pace's views that homosexuality is "immoral."

"I respectfully, but strongly disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral," Warner said in a statement released by his office.

Warner was reacting to Pace's unusual defense of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that he supports the policy because he believes homosexuality is "immoral" and that the military "should not condone immoral acts."

So Walter Reed, Guantanamo, military torture, debasement of the Constitution are all moral?

Cool.

See also this.

Police Focus on Hardcore Criminals

Tactic shifts from zero tolerance of minor violations, Riley says.
Did I read that right? Yup, sure did.
After a weekend marred by bloodshed, New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley said Monday his department is now focusing more on the city's most violent criminals and less on the small-time offenders. …
Makes sense.
"We are focusing now on hard-core offenders," Riley said at a news conference on the efforts of a joint federal and local task force. "We are slowly pulling away from the minor violations." …
Okay.
Because so much of New Orleans' violent crime surrounds the drug trade, Riley reshaped the major narcotics unit to aggressively target street-level drug dealers rather than their mid-level or kingpin suppliers. In late 2006, he spoke of this approach, calling it a return to "fundamental policing." However, the continuing killings and the steady drumbeat of critics has apparently swayed the city's top cop.
Oh, yeah. I remember. It was all right when thugs were just popping other thugs but still keeping in their place, but now that its spilling over the rim and affecting good people, it's time to act.
On Monday, Riley shed additional light on what he called a new approach.

In the case of vehicle checkpoints -- a tactic he instituted in January -- Riley said his officers will lay off "good-quality citizens," people without criminal records.
Gee, thanks.
"We are going to give them warnings and move on," Riley said. "We are not going to tie our officers up with good-quality citizens who have no arrest records. . . . We have to get our officers back on the streets and focus on hard-core criminals." …
You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie um, Chief.

A Good Life

I just posted a comment on a blog I track through my RSS feed. Young Eric was asking how one might find inspiration after putting aside a precarious art for the secure grounding of a regular job. Being the navel-gazer that I am, I liked my response and would, therefore, like to share it here. It really expresses some feelings I have been trying to express for several days now. (So you see, Eric? A quiet place, a quiet time - just listening.)

Eric asked, "How do you find inspiration when you think you might have lost it?"
Your art is inside you. Twenty or so years ago, like you, I decided to pursue my straight career for its security and for the hoped-for absence of the kind of petty back-stabbing and selfishness so prevalent in the theater world.

In time, I discovered I was using my craft continuously and learning and growing daily in my so-called art. I also discovered that the things I was running from were inescapable and ubiquitous.

Since my retirement from that career, I have had the good fortune of being accepted back into the local theater scene; and I have found, to my surprise, that there are wonderful people who seem to believe I have something to offer.

Today, I am surrounded by beautiful, warm, funny, thoughtful, gifted artists and technicians whom I've come to love. There are still the occasional selfish backstabbers to be encountered, but my advice to you about them is to wear thick armor and keep moving. Embrace the big-hearted people around you and never let go of them. Throw the rest away.

For now, find a quiet time and settle into a quiet place and listen to your heart. Inspiration has a quiet voice.

Ooh, Mr. President ...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bushism of the Day - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine

Lord, gimme strength!

"Adam and Eve on a Ferry"

T. J. Toups as D. H. Lawrence in Rehearsal

Rikki Gee as Ariadne Peabody in Rehearsal

From "By the Bayou"

By the Bayou: Cute. More than "cute"- subversive and mean-spirited satire.

Gotta love it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday's Seeker's Search

Someone in Budapest found me with the search string:
bear chubby old
No fucking comment.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Still not Getting It

Oh, not them (man, have they got it!), no, I'm talking about us. We still don't get it. Natural disasters are truly acts of God for the benefit of this administration and its party. "Heck of a Job, FEMA," says the editorial board of the Washington Post.
OFFICIALS AT the Federal Emergency Management Agency are patting themselves on the back for a deal they reached with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) to give some of the agency trailers that have been rotting in the great outdoors in Hope, Ark., to people displaced by tornadoes that ripped through the state 14 days ago. Spokesman Aaron Walker told us that this was "indicative of the new FEMA." He's got to be kidding.

Mr. Beebe asked for emergency relief in a letter to the president three days after the Feb. 24 twisters, and all he heard back were the sounds of crickets. This was especially galling since Alabama and Georgia, also ravaged by tornadoes on March 1 and 2, got federal disaster designation within 48 hours.

So, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) began making some noise. He took to the floor of the House three times this week to decry the lack of federal response and to call on FEMA to make 150 of the 8,420 never-used, post-Hurricane Katrina trailers in Hope available to families in nearby Dumas.

When we reached Mr. Walker on Thursday to ask what was up, he had news to share: 23 refurbished trailers and seven "travel trailers" (something like campers pulled behind a car) would be made available to the state. And that underwhelming generosity came with a catch: Arkansas was on the hook for hauling and installing the mobile homes. Mr. Beebe has budgeted $100,000 in state funds to bring the trailers from Hope to Dumas and set them up with electricity, sewer hook-ups and other necessities.

Meanwhile, late Thursday, the agency rejected Mr. Beebe's request for emergency relief. Among the reasons cited for this action, including the Dumas disaster being deemed "small," was the state's $844 million budget surplus. Never mind that Alabama and Georgia also have multimillion-dollar surpluses. ...

I wouldn't want to advance the implication that any of this has to do with that pesky parenthetical "D" behind Governor Beebe's name or that the governors of Alabama and Georgia proudly wear the letter "R" on their backsides. But then, you never know.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Beyond Katrina : Your Po-boy or Your Life

To be perfectly honest, a real big part of me hesitates to link to this post. It's the part of me that wills itself not to be intimidated by the mysterious thugs hiding in the shadows; that wills itself to walk through the Marigny Triangle several nights a week past Elysian Fields Avenue to Saint Claude - then back home again; that occasionally wills itself to wend its way a few blocks to the Verti Marte because I refuse to be restrained from getting my hands on an overstuffed plate of take-out.

Maybe I'll get popped sooner or later. But I'm not going to brick myself into some crypt-like apartment while I'm still breathing and in possession of two legs to get me around. And I'm not ready yet to give up and crawl back to my old home town where I can only be my two brothers' baby brother.

So Tired ... So ... Tired

Okay, somebody, tell me.

How do I explain to a flock of actors that, no matter how little self-gratification they might be experiencing, they're performing really well?

I seem to be unable to comfort my three Fat Man-ners enough to convince them that they are pulling off a lovely little piece.

I'm at a loss.

Fuck it, I'm too tired. I'll think about it tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another d ...

Aaarrgh!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Cast of "Tenn Times 3"

Top row, the Leading Men:
Keith Launey, Don McCoy, Philip Gordon, and T. J. Toups.
Bottom Row, the Leading Ladies:
Rikki Gee, Frederick Mead, and Mandi Turner.

Candy Is Dandy but Liquor Is Quicker

Rehearsal photographs from And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens, with apologies to Ogden Nash.

Karl and Candy at Breakfast (Keith Launey and Frederick Mead)

Karl the hustler about to assault Candy (Launey and Mead)

Dave Alert! Dave Alert!

The Pope closes Heaven's door to Bob Dylan.
... Not just distrustful of Dylan, Pope Benedict has claimed that all rock music is the work of Satan and has called off the Christmas pop concerts at the Vatican introduced by John Paul. He also opposes the use of guitars in mass.

Oh, Mr. Humphries, Are You Free?

John Inman has passed away.

Great Moments in the Theater

Vera Cartwright kisses Dennis Merriwether goodbye in The Fat Man's Wife (Mandi Turner and Keith Launey in rehearsal photographs).



Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Another Thing about Last Night

A little secret about last night's rehearsal of DQ: When Frederick Mead entered at the top of the play, I recognized him. He was every old fruit who had tried to pick me up - oh, thirty-, thirty-five years ago - when I was chicken. Threw me for a loop.

And there was no stopping him. He nailed "Candy Delaney" - pardon my French. He is remarkable in this role, so subtle, so wounded, so lonely - so funny.

And he's finally starting to look good in a dress.

(Note: Everyone in that play is outstanding. Hell, everyone in all three shows is outstanding. I do have a knack for casting.)

All I Ask Is That They Astonish Me

Tonight, they did.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Inspiration

Inspiration comes at you like a sudden, blinding flash of light in which "all is illuminated". You then have hours, days, months, or even years to sort it all out and try to clarify it so that it begins to make sense.

Maybe because I was still nursing the dregs of a head cold (doing much better, thanks) or because of a three-day break from running the three plays, last night's rehearsal of The Fat Man's Wife began in a flurry of sloppiness, missed cues and flubbed lines. With slightly less than two weeks left before opening night, Authoritarian Director emerged and stopped the rehearsal, told the actors to leave the hall and find themselves some place where they could run the damn lines in private. If they could prove themselves worthy later, AD would let them work again that night.

We proceeded to Adam and Eve on a Ferry, the transitional play that serves as the foot-bridge from Fat Man to Death of Queens (DQ). The actors did fairly well here, but they usually do; the three are dependable and easy to direct.

We move to DQ. How did a dangerous, violent play about a transvestite and the thug she drags home become so fucking dull? My "Candy" begins to move across the stage like Jessye Norman weighted down in heavy brocades for the second night of an old Met revival. She is noble and doomed from the moment she sails onto the stage and pauses for her star effect, and as "real" as a Russian icon. Keith, as "Karl", instinctively realizes something is going wrong and compensates by speaking LOUDER.

Actors fall apart in such interesting ways.

When it is finally over, I tell them how piss-poor it was. They take it well. They realize it was sluggish and boring with no variety.

"But," says one. "You told us to take it slow before."

"I did, yes. That was because you, as actors, have an innate fear of slow pacing onstage. Unfortunately, to compensate for that, you naturally want to race through the thing as if you were performing a bright, brisk musical comedy directed by George Abbott instead of a straight drama. I wanted you to slow it down so you could begin to experience the feeling of slow time. Now I want you to start playing with the tempos in the play like musicians jamming together."

We went on to try Fat Man one more time.

It began to work. No line flubs, cues caught, relationships exhibited and explored. Then, about midway through, the flash came to me. I ran to "Candy".

"This is what you want," I said. "You are dreaming beyond any semblance of reality to catch hold of a stage lover like 'Dennis Merriwether' to love and pursue you (like 'Dennis' does 'Vera') with a great romantic heart, to sweep you away across vast seas and gulfs to lands where life is all sun-burnt leisure and lovemaking. That lover is what you project onto 'Karl'."

As well as this insight into "Candy's" drive and needs, there came a clearer understanding of the unities I had been looking for to bind together these three one-acts that Williams had written in different decades with developing powers of story-telling.

My first attempt at establishing this had been with music. Williams specifically calls for a recording of "Poor Butterfly" at the beginning of DQ. I thought this song in different renditions would be suitable for all three plays since its "story" has bearing on and sheds light on certain characters in the different plays.

Then there were the sets. Certain elements reappear as motifs throughout the evening's progression. Two sumptuous white drapes adorning the "Fat Man's" high-rise Manhattan apartment reappear as wind screens sheltering "D. H. Lawrence" from the breezes of the Maritime Alps in Adam and Eve on a Ferry only to later hang limply in "Candy's" French Quarter home.

Pieces of furniture travel through time as well, serving their different owners from continent to continent and decade to decade. "Candy's" Vieux Carre property is, finally, a garishly distorted mirror-image of the "Cartwrights' " empty elegance.

And, ultimately, each play replicates Williams' foremost theme of the desperate and misguided search for love among the ruins of this world.

It all became so clear last night.

Note to self: Never denigrate what may appear to be a wasteful few hours of work. A light really only illuminates in darkness.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Feeding a Cold

Or, What Not to Do on a Weekend
When You're Suffering from a Bad Head Cold
Because It only Encourages the Illness
  • DO NOT go out in the middle of a chilly Saturday afternoon - to an area of mild destruction filled with dust and assorted spores - to spend an hour shooting photographs of actors to whom, during the process, you will probably pass your cold.
  • DO NOT spend the whole of a Sunday afternoon in a dusty, musty theater setting lights when you still have two weeks before your opening.
  • DO NOT interrupt that light-setting session in order to shoot more head shots for an acquaintance who is taking an acting class and needs "at least two different 8 x 10's - in color - by Monday afternoon at 5:00."
  • DO NOT complete these two activities only to then adjourn to the adjoining bar to watch a drag show at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. (Where else in the world do drag queens put on a show at four in the afternoon? Never mind.)
  • DO NOT expect to enjoy a full night's sleep after a couple of days of such activity. (Note the time of this post - I have been up and awake and reading since 1:00 AM.)
  • And, finally, DO NOT expect anyone to give a damn or feel sorry for you for the martyrdom you've endured just so you could leave behind a little beauty in the world.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A People Apart

From the Wet Bank Guide. Mark Folse expounds on the charm of New Orleans.

The Fat Man's Wife ...

... Is an early one-act play by Tennessee Williams and is the first play of the Marigny Theatre's trilogy we are calling Tenn Times 3. We're finally beginning to accumulate headshots of the casts, so this morning, I'd like to introduce you to the actors of The Fat Man's Wife.

Don McCoy

Mandi Turner

Keith Launey

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Must-Do List

From the New York Times.

Just the Kinda Guy You'd Want at Your Table for a "Friendly" Game of Poker

Only $1 billion of the $77 billion the city is seeking from the Army Corps of Engineers is for infrastructure damages it says it suffered because of levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina. The rest is for such things as the city's tarnished image and tourist industry losses.The city "looked at everything and just kind of piled it on," Mayor Ray Nagin said.

"We got some advice from some attorneys to be aggressive with the number, and we'll see what happens," he said.
Um ... yeah, Ray. Flash 'em then spread 'em on the table.
The city attorney's office also considered such things as "decreases in the city's image, tourist industry activity and potential business industry, losses in the tax base and generated revenue, and a decrease in the city's overall population," in making the assessment, according to a statement from City Hall.

A spokeswoman for the mayor could not explain how the city quantified losses not tied to infrastructure. A 43-page form filed with the corps, reserving the city's right to sue for $77 billion, also provides little insight. It does not quantify "loss of tax revenue," for example, and supporting documents for city-owned properties, such as a police crime lab and libraries, omit any estimates of property values of flood-related damages, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported Saturday.Reminds me of the time many years ago, when an RTA bus had a serious accident, and people in the vicinity of the crash ran from their homes to lie down in the grass near the vehicle in hopes of joining in a lawsuit.

It's a Fact

It's actual.

I have a head cold. It cannot be denied. And this is not your average run-of-the-mill head cold either. It's mine, which means it is far worse than any head cold you could have and more profound than any concept of a head cold you could imagine.

The mucus in my sinus cavities has transmogrified into a substance like hardening concrete. It presses inexorably against the fragile bones of my cranium, swelling my head to 1.87 times its normal size.

My button nose is rubbed raw and blocked from receiving any lifegiving air. My limpid eyes are shot with red and parched - except for the occasional stinging tears. My throat is filled with arid dust.

I am standing on the rim of the basin of ultimate oblivion. I may die from this. To those of you I would leave behind, I bid you all good karma. Think well of me if thoughts of me should cross your minds. I have loved you in my fashion.

(A-hoch, a-hoch).

Friday, March 2, 2007

Bush in New Orleans

From The Rude Pundit.

Huh?

Someone in Ghana found me by Googling:
how to be on top of a man and fuck him good
Surely I would remember that.

Gore Screws the Common Man Again

Thank God, the media is keeping a vigilant watch over this dog.
An airline employee led former Vice President Al Gore and two associates around airport security lines before police spotted the breach and required them to be screened, an airport spokeswoman said Thursday.
And Anna Nicole Smith will still not stop being dead.

Another Google-ization

I'm the number 2 (sic) pick in response to the search query:
20ft Penis on School Lawn Now Seen via Satellite
What a proud legacy.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Beyond Katrina

Washington, Throw us Something!

Whoa

I'll do whatever she says.

More Gore

Green talk but no green walk?:
... "As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," complained Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, highlighting that Gore's mansion in Nashville uses 20 times as much energy as the average American household. Yes, the TCPR is a right-wing anti-environmental lobby group. But even so, its barbs hit home.

The reason is simple: it is hard to trust someone who says one thing and does another. When I first saw Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, several people in the audience were muttering darkly about the irony of him taking so many flights to promote a message that would require people to, er, reduce their flights. As someone who writes books and gives talks on climate change myself (both of which occasionally require me to fly), I have noticed how people often delight in pointing to the contradictions inherent in my own lifestyle. "Still jetting around the world to save us from climate change?" asked an acquaintance snidely last week.

So why this obsession with hypocrisy? The motives of the rightwing campaign against Gore are obvious: if the accusers can smear the man, then they can also undermine his message.

[ ... ]

At a deeper level, the effects of this blame game can be even more damaging. There is perhaps a "chilling effect" to the hypocrisy witch-hunt, where prominent people who might support green causes keep their mouths shut for fear of having their energy bills fished out of their bins at night by some snooping tabloid hack. Each time a potential "green hero" is shot down in flames, we all feel that little bit more cynical about politicians, leaders and society in general. Cynicism breeds selfishness and a de facto acceptance of the status quo - no cynic ever led a movement for positive change. In this sense, charging someone with hypocrisy serves to reinforce denial: "You're a hypocrite, so why should I do what you tell me?" Or the more disempowering: "If even you can't do it, how can I?" The practical outcome is that lightbulbs go unchanged, lofts uninsulated and bicycles unridden. And greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.

[ ... ]

The charge of hypocrisy against environmentalists may also be illegitimate as well as irrelevant. In my view, Gore was right to rack up thousands of air miles in his campaign to raise awareness of climate change: the political shift he has helped to engineer, particularly in America, has been truly profound, and is one of the few real causes for optimism on climate change today. If he had stayed at home in Tennessee with the lights and heating off, wearing organic woolly jumpers and feeling generally good about himself, we would have a lot further to travel in terms of awareness-raising than we do now. Being a purist may be comforting, but it is unlikely to change the world.
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