Tuesday, October 30, 2007
But then I look at these pictures I shot, and I have to wonder: was it that bad? We're still missing two costumes, two horses, and two dressers. Anybody got a pony?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Oh, did I mention I'm doing the program? I forget. Things are moving so fast. I haven't multi-tasked this much since I was an assistant manager at my old job. Being manager was easy. I didn't have to do shit by then, just delegate.
Anyway, he mentioned he would bring me the rest of the ad information at rehearsal today.
And I thought, Oh, shit, I didn't tell him ...
I gave the actors the weekend off. They need a rest. They need to soak in a few hot tubs where they can soak up a few white russians.
They need to learn their lines.
Other than that, they're ready.
The sound is set. Yesterday, we set the lights. We should be ready to meet our first audiences this weekend.
Besides, the Classical Theatre of Harlem is opening its production of Waiting for Godot, featuring Wendell Pierce, the same time we open.
Who's going to come and see us?
Life is looking up.
Now playing: Edith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
The show will be good. The script is funny and touching. The actors are the best a buck-a-ticket could buy. The costumes are overwhelming.
We have lights! Sound! Dancing!
What I sense missing is enthusiasm from the producing side. I think they're all really tired from having endured the dick sow - I mean "show". Lately, when I ask for something, the answer comes back, "No."
"Can we paint that chair blue?"
"Can we have black fabric panels to cover the wings?"
"Can we paint over the yellow chorus-line numbers painted on the apron of the stage from the last show?"
Last night while I was standing outside the theatre having a smoke before rehearsal, the venue's owner came out and saw me and said jokingly, "You don't belong here."
I'm beginning to think I agree. I'm glimpsing a chasm between my idea of theatre and theirs. That's sad.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I have finally squeezed in a short nap and am feeling the difference. As God is my witness, the next show I do will only call for a single pair of slacks and shirts for the men and your-all-around basic little black dress for the women. Valhalla has as many costume changes as a Metropolitan Opera production of La Traviata. And they're not finished yet!
Did I mention we perform for the public one week from tonight?
I may have to leave town when this thing opens.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The rest of this formidable lady's post is just as totally kick-ass as this opening. Read it.
Bobby Jindal wins the Louisiana governor's race. Jackie Clarkson is in the runoffs opposite Cynthia Willard-Lewis for Councilperson-at-Large.
The end times are at hand.
But rum is good. Lots of rum.
Now playing: Bernadette Peters - Raining In My Heart (From "Dames At Sea")
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Throughout most of the day I was tense and quick to snap. Went out to vote against the Antichrist, Bobby Jindal (for Governor), and the nincompoop, Charley Foti (for Attorney General - that he even holds the office now is breathtakingly funny, as it is - anyway ...). From there, it was off to an afternoon rehearsal which wasn't much of a rehearsal, after all.
There's not much you can do when one of your two principal actors is in New York for the weekend. Good thing there were new costumes to try on and a new set to position. Finally, we got going after an hour of these preliminaries.
Wound up rehearsing only one scene, though, for about 90 minutes: the gym scene in which the character of James rips off the towel covering the "character" of Henry Lee. I seem to be losing my touch in getting my actors comfortable standing onstage in the altogether. It doesn't seem to work anymore, my just telling the kid to drop trou and relax.
Something about the kid, though - his name is Chris - reminds me of my nephew, Goose. His face, I think. His facial expressions. I feel kind of guilty telling him to strip naked. But he's game and should be able to get past the present difficulty with his head held high. He shows a lot of promise. Especially when he's focused on his most frequent partner Keith.
As an actor, I mean.
After all that, Bobby and I went out and dropped off posters at various locations in the Marigny.
One of our stops was at Cutter's Bar where I have a couple of photographs hanging up for a charity auction. Can you imagine my reaction when my eyes locked on a vintage poster of Eleonora Duse hanging on the wall with an asking price of $50.00?
I bought it on the spot.
Once home, I put it to Bob that I was going out, and I did. The night was nice, and the other people who were out were even nicer. Now I'm home, feeling copacetic and content - even special.
Life is good.
Now playing: Chita Rivera - All That Jazz
Friday, October 19, 2007
But I'm not writing this to talk about the chicks. I want to talk about Clive Owen playing Errol Flynn. During the course of the Spanish Armada scene, the camera pans across the screen and, all of a sudden you're watching Captain Blood for a few seconds. That one scene has more of a movie in it than the rest of the film. Well, that scene and another one where this white horse sports a perm that would have had Joan Crawford calling for the glue truck.
That Errol Flynn scene has had me meditating on the old rake for several days. Not the man himself, but the movie star. And a certain song.
Several years ago, I picked up a CD called Barbara Cook - Live from London. In the course of this concert recording she sings a song called Errol Flynn. The first time I heard it, I bawled like a penniless whore about to meet up with her pimp at five in the morning - and this was when I was on Prozac, for chrissakes.
Today, I've just found out the song was written by Gordon Hunt and Amanda McBroom. McBroom also wrote The Rose. On top of that, she's one of the great cabaret singers today. Errol Flynn has a sweet melody to go with these lyrics:
In a hall, on a wall, in a house in RositaSo, I'm sorry, Clive. Even though this might be the first movie you've ever made where you actually smiled (and you smiled really good, you know), you're still not the kind of movie star who can inspire this kind of meditation.
There's a poster held up by two nails and a pin
It's my Daddy, the actor, 'bout to die with his boots on
He's the man standing up there, beside Errol Flynn
He got third or fourth billing at the end of each picture
"But that don't mean much", he would say with a grin
But he'd hold my hand tight as he pointed his name out
Only four or five names down below Errol Flynn
Now, fame, it is fleeting and stars, they keep falling
And staying right up there, that's the business of art
And luck kisses some and she passes by others
Disappointment and bourbon are hard on the heart
Now, the women and beers, and the years with old Errol
They took their toll, they took me from his side
He kissed me goodbye at the old Union Station
That's the last time I saw him, the last time I cried
Now I'm sitting alone in a house in Rosita
Watchin' the Late Show as the moonlight shines in
And up on the screen, well, here comes my Daddy
It's a sad, funny feeling, now I'm older than him
So, you daddies and daughters, you sons and you mothers
Remember life's over before it begins
So love one another and stand close together
As close as my Dad did to old Errol Flynn
But that white stallion with the curly mane ... now, he's putting words in my mouth.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I've set up an appointment for tomorrow evening to have some more work done on my Phoenix tat. I'll be adding flames. Soon I'll get some more black ink buried into my original, flawed fleur de lis. I'm also thinking of another, more traditional fleur de lis for my right wrist.
After that, Leonardo's Vitruvian Man down my back! Still later, something - don't know what yet - between my belly button and my pubes.
That leaves the legs for another day. I've got thick thighs and calves. Maybe a few Rembrandts.
And perhaps The Creation of Adam across my butt.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Do you have any idea what it's like to be buried under Wagner for a couple of weeks?
That's almost as long as the whole Ring Cycle, for cryin' out loud.
Did I mention this play is a comedy?
Or that I don't have any idea how you're supposed to edit a music track?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Twenty-odd years ago, that was hard for me to deal with.
I don't intend to sound mean or spiteful or derogatory. Laurence Olivier was one of those barracudas. So was John Gielgud on a cloudy day. The Divine Sarah used to sharpen her teeth with her emery board. Good actors can be bastards even though they never need to be.
But then - back then - when I was young and twenty - I took the road more traveled by; and that has made all the difference.
I devoted myself to a vocation.
That vocation rewarded me with a sensitive psyche and a very thick hide. So I'll always be okay in the choppy waters of the theatre.
But sometimes one casts a young and inexperienced actor in a certain role because that actor exhibits a certain quality - a charisma - or ... I don't know - it might be a look or a sound or some other undefinable thing - that intrigues one. Whatever. One knows that that actor is the right choice.
Then it is that the barracudas begin to nibble.
"No, that's his own rhythm. It suits the context of the script."
"I hear he takes cold medicine."
"Only that one night, and only when he had a sore, scratchy throat. Otherwise, what are you implying?"
Envious gossip ...
But, on the other hand, there are other - giving, caring - actors who will take these inexperienced actors under their wings and help them to grow. And these younger actors, in their turn, will later mentor other more inexperienced actors.
Meanwhile, the barracudas will swim in circles, round and round, in their slow-current waters and, after many a trial and error, learn to sing patter songs ad infinitum.
Does any of this make any sense to anyone other than me and one other person?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The models all look intimidating in their photographs. They are gym-built and covered with heavy-duty ink and are photographed to show off their towering, um, aspects. Several were there besides Mister Micro Brief. Fortunately, in person, they were not so fearsome. Instead, they turned out to be kind of short and sported manicured nails. I guess it's a New York thing?
I bumped into a dapper little man who introduced himself as the photographer. We had a nice conversation, and I decided he was really real and sort of sweet.
I bought his monograph, and one of the gallery's owners insisted he come over and autograph it. He wrote several notes on several pages of the book. I haven't read them all. Maybe he did that so I would look at all the pictures in his monograph, but I'd have done that anyway.
When I turned to leave, I bumped into him again. He remembered my name (imagine that), and we talked some more.
Talk about a feel-good feeling.
On my way home, I looked at my watch and saw it was only approaching seven as I was approaching the corner of Saint Claude where the Marigny Theatre and the Hi Ho Lounge stand facing each other to form New Orleans' own off-off-Broadway theatre district. Just then Bobby called. I told him how much I had enjoyed the photo show and mentioned that it looked as though Brian Sands' play Love at the Lounge hadn't started yet and could I try and catch it? He said sure, so I went on in.
L @ the L turned out to be really good, and I had a ball there. At intermission I got myself an introduction to Brian Sands who turned out to be another sweet guy. Two in one night, and both creative.
The show is composed of two one-act plays and feature only four actors. I've worked with two of them before, Frederick and Lisa. I'd like to work with the other two, as well, so I made a point of swallowing my shyness and spoke to them after the performance.
I have to take a moment, though, to really compliment Lisa. She pulled a character and a performance out of herself that she should be proud of. It broke my heart.
(And, Lisa - if you're reading this - about the boy you were with after the show ... I liked him. I approve. Treat him right.)
I finally pulled myself away and started off toward the Latrine where I expected to find Bobby. He wasn't there, but home instead. He never leaves home any more. But the bar was sparse and comfortable, so I sat there for a little while with my thoughts and a couple of rums.
Sitting there, I think I solved two problems I'm having with Valhalla: the "Gavotte" scene and the "Sailors and Seamen" song. Who needs choreographers and musical directors? Feh!
Then, this morning, I discovered I'd been living in the wrong week. Last week wasn't next week, as I'd been thinking. That means I have one more week to pull the show together.
Oh, and if you're curious about the dreams I've been having, last night's involved Elizabeth Taylor ...
And it wasn't a nightmare.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Of course, I could always find out for myself. But a part of me doesn't like being under the influence of a medication that prevents another part of me from functioning - even if that other part is depressive. Call me crazy, that's how I am.
In the meantime, I seem to have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms. How else to explain the dreams I've been having lately every time I fall asleep.
In each of these dreams, I encounter - and attract - a different high-powered woman of the theatre. In each dream, the woman is facing a dilemma and appeals to me for assistance. I manage to resolve her problem. In return, the high-powered woman of the theatre offers herself to me. (I won't begin to try to tell you what Angela Lansbury wanted me to do to her this morning.) I spend the rest of the dream trying to figure out how I'm going to accomplish this ultimate feat - or how I'm going to get myself out of having to do it.
I finally wake up, arms flailing, chest tight, sweaty, with a booming boner - and an irrational sense of my own incompetence.
I believe all this has to do with the stress I'm feeling about trying to mount (pardon my French) a production of Paul Rudnick's Valhalla within what is turning out to be less than three weeks of real rehearsal time.
Last year, when I first came back to directing, I managed to get six weeks of rehearsal for Take Me Out. It was the perfect length of time. I've asked for that amount of time with every subsequent production I've directed, and I've never gotten it again. I've always managed to present a good show, but this time ...
Three weeks is terrifying me.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I started off by cutting through the parking lot behind the back of the old Schwegmann's Supermarket. Only the outer walls still exist. Surging mobs of people had broken into it and looted it of all its food and product two years ago. Surging winds and rains soon finished it off. But it still stands there on the corner of Saint Claude and Elysian Fields.
Once at Elysian Fields, I turned left and headed in the direction of the river. This is always the part of my walk home that frightens my local friends and never fails to cripple and terrify my two brothers. "You'll get your head blown off!" But nothing ever happens to me on this lonely avenue.
It's only a few blocks to the corner of Royal Street where I turned right and walk a single block alongside Washington Square Park and then a left onto Frenchmen Street.
Everybody thinks they know about Bourbon Street. But Frenchmen Street is where the local people go to hear music any night of the week and all night long.
The weather was just right, comfortable and dry, not steamy and thick with sticky damp. Their were breezes all around as people sauntered happily up and down the street.
As I walked down Frenchmen Street toward home, I heard a trumpet sliding around the melody of St. James Infirmary, and I stopped. I felt my self being carried on breezes backwards through time as my body, simultaneously, stood rooted in the myth that is New Orleans.
Although I wasn't born here, this is my home. There is no other place in the world like this place. Nowhere, no way, no how. I belong here. I'm alive here. We all are.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Our struggle to purify food and water has been ongoing for thousands of years. Ask any expert to name mankind's greatest public-health advance, and the answer will be not vaccines, or antibiotics, or disposable diapers, or refrigeration, or mosquito netting. Though wondrous, each is dwarfed by the greatest invention of them all: plumbing. Why did the Romans successfully rule the world? The Cloaca Maxima, ancient Rome's elaborate sewer system, a structure so effective that Pliny the Elder considered it the "most noteworthy" accomplishment of the empire. And why does the West still run economic circles around the developing world? Because we don't ingest each other's excrement. At least not that often.
The triumph of Western civilization is, first and foremost, a triumph of pipes and valves and the fact that water runs downhill. Aqueducts bring fresh water in, cobblestoned underground tunnels move used water out, and, presto, our world is clean.
But here is the problem: We have become victims of our own success. Ever wonder why your dog can gobble, lick, and gnaw all he wants along the glorious buffet of a city street and (almost) never get sick? Your dog is used to eating shit. Americans, on the other hand, grow up eating almost no shit at all. Our food is hosed and boiled and rinsed and detoxified and frozen and salted and preserved. Recently, we have begun to irradiate it, too—just in case. As a result, when our bodies encounter the occasional inevitable bug, they're unhappy. Our centuries-long program of winnowing out all the muck has turned us into sissies and withered the substantial part of the immune system mediated by our intestinal tract.
Scheduling rehearsals is going to be a bitch. That's really a shame because this cast is wild. As a group, they're the kind of people I'd like to be around for an extended tryout period. They have so much to offer, and there's just not enough time to fully explore what they've got.
Damn that dick sow - I mean, "show".
Then this morning I get an email from the local theatre bulletin board that auditions for the Marigny Theatre's Christmas show are going to be held this coming Monday and Tuesday. No one told me ahead of time. On those two days, I'll be rehearsing Valhalla. I imagine I'm not being expected to direct this second show. Was it something I said? Am I out at the Marigny?
Sometimes a good imagination is not a good thing.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Got a call late last week from Mack down at Cutter's bar. Every October, Cutter's presents an art show where all proceeds from sales go to charity. The little otter was wondering if I would like to donate a photograph or two. Of course, I would. He also wants to talk to me about presenting another photo chow during the coming year. Of course, I want to. Cutter's has been good for my "art". And Mack has been really good for my self-esteem, what with his affirmative - let's just call them ... "ministrations". So I'll be working on a couple of selections today before trying to get them over to Cutter's tomorrow around noon when the bar is closed and Mack is there alone.
Tonight, we have our first read-through rehearsal for Valhalla. I should be enduring panic attacks at the thought of mounting this play in the ridiculously small amount of time I have; but I'm pretty calm about the prospect. I have an excellent cast who should be able to carry this thing off. They're all pretty young, so they should be able to work fast. I want them off book by early next week. Of course, if we are going to open by November 1st, we will be working weekends and maybe some weekday afternoons as well.
Did I mention the cast? They include Cammie West, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Weaver, Keith Launey, Liz Mills, and Shannon Williams. Anyone who knows these people knows they're up for this challenge.
If the show flops, it's their fault.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
I sure hope he saved up enough money to carry him through to his graduation in December when he can finally land himself a gig working the graveyard shift in the ER at University Hospital.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I read the play and I love it. I am in the unfortunate position of trying to juggle two jobs and I am studying for the LSATs that take place on Dec 1. I want to work with your company, but the only way I am going to be able to arrange it financially and responsibly is after Dec 1st. The role is wonderful and it would be my pleasure to perform it, I am just unable to make it work at present. Please keep me in mind for any projects that occur in the future. Best of luck with Valhalla, it is a great play.Why'd you audition? Just wonderin'.
And can I have the script back now?
I'm certainly glad (and damned lucky) that the actor who was my first choice for the role before you came to read was still willing to accept the part.
Try a light musical next time. See you around. Take care.
Wake up, people. We open in less than a month.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Plus, they never come back to audition for you ever again.
And - plus + - they spread nasty stories about you.
But, hey, ya gotta roll.
Now I have to worry about the rehearsal schedule. With New Orleans on a theatrical thrill ride, most actors are working two and three shows at a time. So the time available to work with them is scarce; and there's so little time to mount this play as it is.
But, hey, ya gotta ... well, you know the rest.
Let's all break a leg.