Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Can't Explain Myself ... Because I'm not Myself, You See

Sorry I've been ignoring you these past days. I don't seem to be up to par right now.

It's hard to believe that it was all the way back in May when I first mentioned my malaise. It's harder to believe I still have it.

And I haven't been nurturing it, either. I've been trying like hell to get rid of it.

The blood work my doctor had done indicated everything was fine except for a vitamin D deficiency, so he prescribed some of those for me to take. I took them. Nothing changed. When he saw me a few weeks later, he decided we'd try these new pills.

They were designed to give an energy boost to people with low energy, to keep people awake who tend to sleep a lot, to get you up and moving when all you want to do is sit and spread. I took my first one. I fell asleep. When I woke up, I felt rejuvenated. I wanted to dance. Dance fast. I went to my neighborhood 'hole and had a great time. I talked. I talked to everybody there. I talked a lot. Time passed. When I found myself taking off all my clothes, a little voice inside suggested to me it might be time to go home. Since the bartender agreed, I did.

But I was still wide awake at home. I was wide awake until daylight the next morning. Eventually, I sort of passed out. When I woke up again, I felt awful.

I kept taking the pill, thinking my body would adjust to it; but each day was pretty much the same: a rush of energy followed an hour or so later by a period of nervous activity, then an overwhelming anxiety. By late afternoon my head would feel like a metal band was wrapped around it and some hand was tightening it beyond endurance.

After going through all this at a birthday party Saturday night, I stopped taking the pill.

Yesterday, I fell asleep five times in the living room while watching television. That's more than my normal quota of naps, which is one a day.

This morning, I took half a pill. It's a few minutes after eleven in the morning now. I'm a little nervous. We'll see how the day goes.

So what's wrong with just coping with the hand you're dealt?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Schleppin' to the Temple

The theatre is a temple,
and we are here to worship the gods of comedy and tragedy.

If you know that quote, you know what happens next.

Yeah, it's time to do another show. Time again to quit smoking and start subsisting on canned peas and carrots. All to channel that money into the production. What? You think a play goes up for nothing? Oh, well, this way, maybe I'll prolong my life and get svelte altogether at once. I'll admit that might not be a bad thing. Getting svelte might get me some action; on the other hand, getting even older than I already am sure won't. Is a puzzlement.

I feel good about this show, though. Or, at least, I did last week. Before I had to cast it. Now ...

That doesn't sound right. Let me explain.

We held auditions Sunday. I hadn't done that for a couple of years. I cast the last several shows by simply approaching the actors I wanted to work with. This time, I wanted actors I didn't know to know there was this little outfit in town that was interested in seeing what they could do.

I advertised on the local theatre website (All Theatre! All the Time! Backstabbing and Bloodletting, too!) and on Craigslist. The local theatre website didn't publish my notice until two days before the audition, so that turned out to be a waste of the couple of minutes it took to post it, but Craigslist brought me some actors I never would have come across otherwise.

Everyone who came and read was wonderful, and that's not empty PR talk. The hardest thing I had to face was turning down the ones I didn't cast. I hope they don't abandon us. The kids I did cast, though, are going to be hot hellraisers onstage.

I should be cocky.

What I am is, I'm depressed. I was feeling really good about this show until I made my casting choices yesterday. Now, it's real.

And I can't get out of it. I can't walk away from it. I can't say, "Fuck it all," and go sunbathe in the nude at the Country Club. Not that I would do that anyway. Maybe after we open, when I'm svelte.

Who am I  kidding? By then I'll be all wrinkly before I jump in the pool.

Face it, nobody's gonna come and see this show, and nobody who comes and sees it is gonna like it. Even though it's a hell of a piece of writing.

God, why did you make me what you made me turn out to be?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crazy Like a Mother**cker

I managed to watch the Tony Awards last night.

Sitting through it, keeping myself awake, the thought occurred to me that Broadway is a paint-by-number affair, "number" being the operative word, as it is understood in relation to "bottom line." It is a finely-calibrated machine designed to furnish the maximum degree of ephemeral pleasure in return for the maximum cash outlay the market will allow.

She's a tacky old whore, is Broadway.

And Mark Rylance is one of her greatest huckster-hustlers.

Last night when he accepted his Tony Award for his performance in Jerusalem, Rylance started spouting off some bizarre nonsense about walking through walls. He said,
"Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot making or driftwood lamps. I got started at a picnic up in Bowstring in the northern part of the state. A fellow walked through a brick wall right there in the park. I said, "Say, I want to try that." Stone walls are best, then brick and wood. Wooden walls with fiberglass insulation and steel doors aren't so good. They won't hurt you. If your wall walking is done properly, both you and the wall are left intact. It is just that they aren't pleasant somehow. The worst things are wire fences, maybe it's the molecular structure of the alloy or just the amount of give in a fence, I don't know, but I've torn my jacket and lost my hat in a lot of fences. The best approach to a wall is, first, two hands placed flat against the surface; it's a matter of concentration and just the right pressure. You will feel the dry, cool inner wall with your fingers, then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side."
There were lots of cutaway shots of the Tony audience hooting at that crazy motherfucker's nonsense.

But it wasn't nonsense. It was the text of a published poem by Louis Jenkins, a Minnesotan prose poet. And, though Rylance might be a towering titan of the British Theatah, he was raised in the US - in Wisconsin.

So, is he a crazy motherfucker? No. He might be crazy like a motherfucker; and, like that old fabled fox, he's scratched his way into the hen-house, and he's lording it.

In the context of his award, therefore, that Louis Jenkins poem became a brilliant metaphor for the kind of acting he believes in and seeks to accomplish.

He's a postmodern Laurence Olivier, and he knows it.

He knows his audience, too; and, like the supreme huckster-hustler that he is, you can always count on him to milk her like a fat Wisconsin cow.

Motherfucker, indeed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Yet More Gratuitous Self-Promotion

Crescent Theatre Collective will be holding open auditions at the Shadowbox Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2011, for the Regional Premiere of an original play, Hugging the Shoulder, by Jerrod Bogard.

Hugging the Shoulder tells the story of a young man who kidnaps his war-veteran brother and drags him cross country in an effort to wean him off a severe drug habit. Steeped in the tradition of American road literature, the play ponders the eternal question, Am I my brother's keeper?

CTC's production will be the world premiere of the author's new revision of the play following acclaimed productions previously mounted in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.

The auditions will run from noon until 4 PM. We are looking for:

2 Males: Mid- to late-twenties, some guitar-playing required. The characters are brothers, the older prone to mood-swings, the younger idealistic but unsure of himself.

We will provide sides for the reading.

Please contact admin@noctc.org for a time slot.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This Just In

From NOLA Info to NOLAReady, a press release:
(June 2, 2011) - Tomorrow afternoon, the NOPD will unveil its newest tool to take drunk drivers off the road. The NOPD DWI Bat Mobile [!] has been a long time coming—plans to secure such a vehicle have been in the works since 2008. The Bat Mobile was purchased this year through a grant provided by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. Sticker price: $350,000.00. [!?!]

Officers Michael Eskine and Melvin Howard basically created the blueprint for a vehicle that best suits NOPD officers’ needs at DWI check points around New Orleans. The vehicle is 38 feet long and 12 feet wide. Two officers can test a drivers’ sobriety in the rear of the vehicle, while as many as 4 other drivers can wait to be tested in the front of the vehicle.
And an indeterminate number of shooting and stabbing victims can lie bleeding to death outside on the curb.

Another thing: at 38 feet long and 12 feet wide, how does it go from place to place? Does it expand from, say, six or eight feet wide to the full-size twelve like a camper bus? In which case, will it available for off-duty NOPD excursions and weekend getaways?

Just asking. Don't shoot.

Fasten Your Seatbelts, Part 2

It's forty-something-years ago now (good God!). I'm in New York. Manhattan. I have treated myself to a visit to the city, and I top that off with an outing to the Museum of Modern Art. I see everything I can manage to see, but there are two exhibits that I visit that I never will forget.

The first is Rodin's great lopsided slab of Balzac in the garden.

The second is an exhibit hung in a dimly-lit, gray room - somewhere, I believe, on the second floor. I walk into it. In the center is a round settee. I make my way to it and sit. The walls surrounding me are covered with paintings by Monet. Huge canvases. Water Lilies. Nothing else. I look at daubs of blue and mauve and green, pink, yellow, violet. My eyes begin to blur and stutter closed. Eventually, I recover myself. Two hours and a little better have passed. I recollect nothing but shimmering, mirage-like colors, melting into one another as I floated like a vapor through them and around them.

Back to now, my living room, where I am watching All About Eve.

On the front edge of my easy chair, I lean forward. My head crooks like a parakeet to afford me a better view and clearer sound. The paraphernalia of my daily life, scattered and hanging throughout my living room, dislodges itself to move aside from conscious sight as my attention sinks deeper and ever closer to the shadows moving on the television screen, until I realize I am there alongside them, in their midst, another shadow, cloudy and disguised.

I am participating. This active empathy I'm feeling does not choose between good or bad, hero or villain. There are no either-ors, only ands. I live the story as each character experiences it.

Once over, I come back to myself.

A funny thing. I may not remember the lines I've heard; I may forget the finer points of plot as time goes by; hell, you can count on me to forget your name or even, maybe once or twice, your face; but I can never forget a feeling. Not ever.

It's a blessing. And a curse.
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