Sunday, August 31, 2008

Deck, Orange Beach, Alabama

When I Find Myself in Times of Trouble, Mississippi Come to Me

You can always expect people to come through in a crisis and give you some of what they're worth.

Consider the journey of my friend Loki, traveling the 111 miles from New Orleans to Hattiesburg, MS.

He begins his journey here and it continues throughout the next day in a spiraling nightmare.

Then just now I got a phone call from my producer Timm. He left home this morning at 9:00. Twelve hours later, he is approaching Meridian, MS, a distance of 198 miles.

And Hello

We made it here around two this morning, only seven hours via old Highway 90. Our friends have a tiny house in their back yard and have generously allowed us to use it for a few days.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goodbye

We're cutting out and heading to stay with friends in Orange Beach, AL. Say a little prayer.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What He Said

Kevin Allman wrote this yesterday at Matt Davis Opens His Mouth:
  • Our survival is not in question. Our lack of survival is not an option.
  • You have no input in it.
  • We’d be glad to be your friends, but we don’t have a strong need to be liked, we don’t give a damn what you think, and we don’t do snark or twee. We piss on irony.
  • We don’t have a creative class, we don’t want one, and we don’t have time for one anyway. We make art, music, writing, and movies at a prodigious rate. You’re welcome to come down and join us.
  • Tomorrow (8/29) the city will be remembering the more than 1,000 people who died last time this happened.
  • Last: If you want to understand this, and us, you can go to the Web site for Trouble the Water, a movie that is about to be released nationwide and has won every film festival prize under the sun. (There’s a QuickTime trailer on the site.) Take a look at the people in this two-minute clip; they’re worth 1,000 Dan Savages or Markos Moulitsas or Pat Robertsons.
  • And if you want to send us your good wishes while we endure this latest challenge, we’ll take them. Gladly. And we’ll thank you.
As for me and mine, we have regular responsibilities to tend to, a show to open tonight, supplies and food to get our hands on, and probably some heavy-duty cleaning up to do by the middle of next week.

08/29

Thursday, August 28, 2008

That Bastard

I don't intend to write about that thing in the Gulf of Mexico that's on everybody's minds down here.

I'm nervous and stressed enough just considering what might happen without trying to out-think and outsmart a force of nature.

On the other hand, we here have all been through this before. We know what to do. We know what we stand to lose. With luck, it'll just be the stuff that clutters our lives and not the real valuables we have like the people we love.

If you really want to know how we roll, read the guest posts being blogged today by Kevin Allman here.

Thrilled

We played a final dress rehearsal/preview before an audience of nearly 100 people tonight and ... scored.

The show works. The cast is outstanding. The music is grand. And no one has yet figured out I don't have a clue as to what I am doing.

Screw you, Gustav!

Here's another picture.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lew Lew

Lewis Routh was a man of the theatre. Hell, Lew just was. Actor, playwright, comedian. One of the most rollicking, joyous people I've ever known. He was a great friend to me and was always encouraging me in my attempts to make theatre here in New Orleans. I was fortunate to run into him last Friday evening (when this picture was taken). He was in high spirits and higher dudgeon, eagerly anticipating tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Sadly, he passed away in his sleep the next night.

I will miss his effervescence.

(Thanks to Carlos Gonzalez for the picture.)

Thrill Me with Some More Pictures

Eric as Nathan Leopold.

Josh as Richard Loeb.

The two together.

Last night's rehearsal of Thrill Me went pretty well. I was surprised at how everything had improved so much in twenty-four hours. One more night like that one, and we'll have a show.

Late this morning, since I actually slept till nine, I found a break-a-leg email from Stephen Dolginoff. How many writer/composer/lyricists take the time to do that?

I shot nearly 200 pictures last night, all in the moment.

So fasten your seat belts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hitting the Wall

I'm finished, washed up. Thrill Me is going to be the show that rips the veil aside to reveal that little worthless man behind the curtain, me.

I'm at the point where I look at what I've put on stage, and I can't figure out what I was thinking when I did that. Hell, I'm at the point where I look at what I've put on stage, and I don't see anything. I see nothing.

It's like I've entered the dark night of the soul of the hack director.

At least, the way tickets are selling, no one will notice.

And, in the meantime, my stomach hurts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

And Another Thing

I want to offer my props and R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Leon, Keith, and Bob for kindly offering their talents and providing the voice-overs for Thrill Me.

Yes, even you, Leon, even you, who scampered so merrily over to Running with Scissors, limbs akimbo, before deigning to work with me! (I'll get you, Richard, my pretty!)

Anyway, thank you, guys. The recording session was great - even if the sound engineer did put me out of the room for all those different little (barely audible) noises emanating from my presence. (He phoned me yesterday to tell me he managed to cut out the fart. So that's okay.)

Catch you all later.

Thrill Me: Finally ... Costumes

Eric Michael Liddick as Nathan Leopold

Joshua Peterson as Richard Loeb

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Humid City Is All Wet

But, then, aren't we all right now?

That cool blog I contribute to whenever I have something worthwhile to say is currently down. Not for any bad reason or non-payment of rent or anything like that. It's just that Loki, the landlord, is moving us to a new location (I now what that's like after last week!) and these things take time.

I'll let you know when we're all settled in.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Running on Fumes

So tired, running on fumes, I feel like every action is an act of will. Nothing's wrong. I'm just worn out.

Rehearsals for Thrill Me are running smoothly. I won't complain about having to share rehearsal space with another troupe, which means not always getting through the entire show before having to call it quits. I won't complain about not having a finished set yet or not having all the props on hand. These things will come in time. The boys, Eric and Josh, and Jim, our musical director, have everything under control, although Eric is beginning to feel fear that we are not as far along as we should be.

We are. We really are. The performances these guys are creating are intriguing, chilling, structured, and finely nuanced. Tomorrow evening, we'll record the voice-over segments. This weekend we'll have everything in place for a full rehearsal. The lights will be finalized on Sunday. Then we'll have two dress rehearsals followed by a dress/preview on Wednesday and, finally, a Friday night opening.

Will we have a success? I have no idea. I've begun to notice over the last few shows that I can no longer tell if something is really good or not. I cannot predict how an audience will receive a work. Don't get me wrong. What I see is beautiful. To me. But I cannot tell what anyone else will see - if anyone else will even come along to view it.

In the meantime, I stock up on Tums.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I Did Today

Four of us are back in the building now, at least the back part which is unscathed and livable. There's Bobby and me, and Joe and his girlfriend.

Joe and his lady are night owls and sleep late into the day. I'm an early riser.

This morning, as usual, I puttered downstairs to put on a pot of coffee.

While down there, I peeked out into the front courtyard. Everything was quiet. Joe's windows and shutters were closed. The two fountains in the pond were gurgling. The plants were straining to meet the rising sun.

I opened my front door to gaze out on my own little corner of Eden. I stood in my doorway and soaked up the beauty of my world.

I stood there. Nekkid.

I stepped out into my courtyard. Nekkid.

I walked out there - nekkid - as far as the front. Then I walked back - nekkid.

I walked all over that courtyard - nekkid.

Sometimes, you just gotta let go - and get nekkid. It's good for you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Never Mind ...

I'm typing this from my own home. We're back. Oh, I know it may be a little dump, but it's all mine.

Next time there's a fire or flood, I'm hiding out in the shack out back where they'll never find me.

In the meantime, I can concentrate on Thrill Me again, sex up the advertising, finish the programs, keep my mouth shut about the set, etc.

But I'll tell you honestly, I don't know if I can go through all this over and over again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So Long

For now. For a while. We'll see.

Things are worse than I thought. There's little point to this blog-sharing, this typographical narcissism.

I once thought I knew some things. Now I know I never did.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

If We Didn't Have Bad Luck, We Wouldn't Have Any

It seems we got our hopes up too high too soon. We will not be returning home until God knows when.

Damn. If I'd known when I started working thirty-something years ago that this was going to happen, I'd have saved up some money for it.

Unfortunately, my standalone PC is in the apartment I am no longer allowed to enter. On that PC is all the data to produce the programs for Thrill Me, as well as the poster and all the advertising art. Someone else will have to do them, which means I have to delegate again - something I don't like doing.

The time may indeed be approaching when I finally draw the curtain on this experiment in independent living, give it up, return to my old home town, and let my brothers mother me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some Pictures from the Fire

Outside on Decatur Street.

A fireman on the third-floor balcony.

Recovering after putting out the flames.

The suspected point of origin. She's not dead, she's a mannequin. What? You don't have a mannequin? We all have mannequins in the Quarter. They keep us company and keep us sane. Well ...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Living on the Edge

Just a short note to let you all know that Bobby and I are okay. That French Quarter fire that everybody's talking about was, yes, in our building.

Our apartment was untouched by fire or water, although everybody says we suffered smoke damage. I can't tell because of the amount of Benson and Hedges Menthol Lights I smoke. Everything smells about the same as it did before.

I took lots of pictures, but I can't post them yet cause I'm officially homeless for a few days because of the loss of electricity. We now have to wait for the City to allow our landlord to turn the power back on for the slave-quarter apartements that were undamaged. No telling how long that will be.

The firefighters who responded were remarkable. I can't say enough about them. Well, except to say that the City treats them shamefully with the puny salaries it pays them.

Enough for now. My thoughts are scattered, and I'm kind of shook up.

I was thinking last night that I'll just bounce back again in a couple of days. But, you know what? It's beginning to seem that bouncing back just means hitting that wall over and over again.

Maybe I just don't have it in me anymore. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Misplacing My Head

It's that time again.

It's that time in the natural progression of a theatrical production when concerns such as selecting the proper color for a prison smock, coercing the producers into allowing me to have two 18-inch saddle stools, or wondering when I am going to get the ads that have to go into the program I'm laying out far outstrip the concerns of the wider world.

Iraq? Again? Isn't that done with?

War in Georgia? Well, I have to say I never liked what those carpetbaggers did to Atlanta anyway.

Nagin? Is he back in town?

I know people who depend on me are becoming frustrated with my unavailability, but I can only do one thing at a time. I am not a multi-tasker. Besides, in the beginning, God didn't design us to be doing different things with different hands at the same time.

Anyway, time marches on.

I've managed to land three of the city's top talents to do some voice-over work for the show. They're Keith Launey, Leon Contavesprie, and Bob Edes. Now all I have to do is line up the recording studio. But, hey, I've got a lead on that.

Damn, I need a gopher.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

T M I

Sometimes, isn't it all right not to know the whole truth, just to trudge along with the ordinary drudgery?

When nine-year-old Lin Miaoke launched into Ode to the Motherland at the Olympic opening ceremony, she became an instant star.

"Tiny singer wins heart of nation," China Daily sighed; "Little girl sings, impresses the world," gushed another headline, perhaps in reference to Lin's appearance on the front of the New York Times. Countless articles lauded the girl in the red dress who "lent her voice" to the occasion.

But now it emerges that Lin lent someone else's voice, following high-level discussions - which included a member of the Politburo - on the relative photogenicity of small children.

The recording to which Lin mouthed along on Friday was by the even younger Yang Peiyi. It seems that Yang's uneven teeth, while unremarkable in a seven-year-old, were considered potentially damaging to China's international image.

Giant Dog Turd Wreaks Havoc at Swiss Museum

A giant inflatable dog turd created by the American artist Paul McCarthy was blown from its moorings at a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a window before landing in the grounds of a children's home.

I'm going back to bed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Now This Is Funny

C. B. Forgotston writes:
According to the Daily Monopoly (see story), early Sunday morning, a man was intentionally run-down by a car at an intersection in New Orleans.

Previously, vehicles, especially SUVs, were accidentally killing people in the United States. Now, these deadly weapons are intentionally killing people.

Some anti-vehicle activists are now saying it is time to outlaw the use of vehicles by civilians.

NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley was asked about this latest homicide by vehicle. Riley said ...
Read the rest here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gratuitous Rehearsal Photos

Jim Walpole at the keyboard (for performances he'll be on a baby grand - by hook or by crook), Eric Liddick as Nathan Leopold, and Joshua Peterson as Richard Loeb.

Josh, Eric, and Jim working on the title song.

Galloping Apace

We finally got the musical director into the theatre yesterday for a rehearsal.

Previously, the boys had been working with him at his own studio. ("Studio." That makes him sound all posh and important. It's actually an alcove off the living room of his apartment in the Quarter, in an area more impossible to park a car in than in some others.) But then, Eric scooters, and Josh just walks.

We started staging some of the musical numbers and got about halfway through the score before I began to dry up.

The boys are coming along really well, and their voices are beautiful to hear. I'm a little uncomfortable saying they're perfectly cast - they are playing cold-blooded killers, after all - but they are. Perfectly cast, I mean.

I've also started working on the program which will have something in it explaining who Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were, for Chrissake.

Re-reading this, it seems I'm doing a lot of "things" on this production. Aren't there any people who could do this stuff for me? Of course, I probably wouldn't let them. I have my own ideas.

At least, I'm not building the set pieces. Somebody's doing that for us.

Any bets I won't like how they come out? I thought not.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: Belvedere

Pictures from my own secret belvedere:
The riverfront streetcar line heading into the Quarter.

North Peters Street merging into Decatur Street.

Not a cemetery, but a view of French Quarter rooftops.

Across Canal Street lies the present.

Kyklops, bitching and moaning, is still once again out of the gate early with some interesting future suggestions.

Dave has gotten up with Bud. (Note to Dave: Sorry you won't be here or have any access to the Internets on your birthday. I have a great post ready to go first thing Monday morning. Then again, maybe it's just as well.)

Bryan (damn you, Bryan!) has just logged a photo of the Seine flowing through Paris. I mean, if you've got to run to France for a measly photo challenge ... Good thing for you, I'm afraid to fly.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How I Roll

We 're getting into rehearsal mode for Thrill Me now. I find myself being extra busy trying to find blocks of time when my complete cast is free to work together. That's all two of my cast. I'm managing.

As far as I can tell, the poster is now completed, and I can turn my attention to the set. Not there will be a set. My productions are always characterized by local reviewers around town as never utilizing sets. Which isn't exactly true, and certainly isn't fair. I see plays all over the place down here that don't utilize two-storied Victorian interiors and still pass muster in the set department. Why, just this weekend I saw one play that utilized a bench, a table, and paper cutouts. It was a blast. And nobody criticized that set.

I'm just saying ...

Anyway, we started blocking the play this week, which is always an interesting process for actors who've never worked with me. You see, I try to come in blank with no preconceptions. (In reality, of course, this is impossible. There are always ideas. I just try to keep them in the back of my mind on the chance that I will get a better one from the actors themselves. I usually do.) By the second time an actor works with me, he's pretty comfortable with my style, and we get the job done.

But I pity the poor actor who asks me after a rehearsal if I have any ideas about how he should play his character. How do you tell this actor that you cast him in the part because you thought he could play it as you might imagine it, that you saw something in him that screamed ... oh, say, Richard Loeb? This can become delicate and require some tact.

I remember once working with a particularly gifted actor who always came to me to ask, Did I have any notes for him.

I never did.

I never did, you see, because he was pulling things out of himself from depths I would never have presumed to ask him to plumb.

I was something small in the presence of that talent. All I could offer was myself as a safety-net so that he would know that he would never fall and be hurt.

He repaid me with consistently astonishing performances that ended up making me look good.

What can I say? That's how I roll.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Same Old Same Old

Same plumeria, still blooming at dawn.

The Polls Are Closed

Once again my readers have shown their erudition - or, at least, their knowledge of true crime. The results of my latest (and one and only) poll are as follows:
  • 77% or responders indicated they knew who Leopold and Loeb were.
  • 22% indicated they were not sure, but knew how to find out.
Thanks to all the well-rounded, well-read readers who participated.

It must be noted, however, that there were only nine of you who took the poll. No, make that seven. I voted twice.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Positively the Last, Final, Ultimate Poster for Thrill Me

Dealing with the Least Common Denominator

One of the producers of Thrill Me decided last night that not enough people know who Leopold and Loeb were. So he came to me and asked me to redo the poster so that it would educate the hoi polloi. Here is what I managed to come up with:

Anybody in the market for a washed-up, little-better-than-mediocre theatre director who IS NOT a graphic designer? I work cheap.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thrill Me: the Poster

Ain't doin' no more.

I'm Glad I'm Not a Critic

(Or in the case of New Orleans' theatre community, one of those two-faced, backstabbing ... oh, never mind. Since people started reading this blog, I've had to start watching what I say. Damn!)

Anyway, if I were a critic, I would have to parse the play I saw last night and go into what the production did right and where it fell short. But, since I'm not a critic, I can truthfully say, I enjoyed the hell out of An Enemy of the People.

I know what you're thinking. Ibsen? Adapted by Arthur Miller? Enjoyable?

Yeah.

There's something so fine about seeing a well-made play written by a turn-of-the-century giant tweaked by a twentieth-century Master. Beautifully directed, impeccably cast, a script that demanded and earned attention, a knock-out set - even real rocks thrown through real windows. What was not to like?

Cripple Creek is one of my favorite troupes in the city, and I consider it's artistic director, Andy Vaught, a buddy.

Of course, based on his track record now, he will have to be destroyed.

It's My Turn

Next week's photo challenge will be another easy one: Belvedere.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Two Years Later ...

... And some people still can't stop talking about That Play.

Still Circling the Globe

That AP article about theatre in New Orleans is still traveling. Today, it's in the International Herald Tribune.

Hey, France, my daddy's people hail from Alsace Lorraine. And, all you Italians, my mom's maiden name was Fasone.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemera

Kyklops beat me to it today. Of course, he's a day ahead anyway.

Bud has come up with a video. Thank God, ephemera is so ... ephemeral.

There's another video from Bryan, too.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your patience. Dave has arrived.

But NOLA Cleophatra puts us back on track.
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