K.L.'s Bog: A Diary of Artful Things

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Mon, Jan 7, 2008

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JAN-MAR, 2017
APR-JUNE, 2017



Um
Oh yeah
It's a new year
right?
Hadn't really noticed
just yet
So
Happy New Year
!

PAHKING CAHS IN HAHVAHD YAHD: There's lots to write about, but I haven't freed up time to do so. Stay tuned. And remember, we are opening this Friday.



Wed Jan 9, 2008

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CATCH-UP COMING: I will catch up when I can. Lots of Park and a few other things to blog on. Still stay tuned. Still remember that Park Your Car in Harvard Yard opens the day after tomorrow *(see below).


Fri Jan 11, 2008

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OPENING TONIGHT

PARK YOUR CAR IN HARVARD YARD by Isreal Horovitz at the Dayton Theatre Guild,



Sat Jan 12, 2008

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PAHKING CAHS IN HAHVAHD YAHD

  • OPENING NIGHT: Lahst niyght we peh-a-lell pahk'd that wickid' son-of-a-bitch with no problem at all!

    "We" is a little less accurate than: our two fine actors, Richard Young and Debra Kent; our tech crew, Bob Mills and Melissa Sandoval; and our Johnny-on-the-spot stage manager, Steve Strawser.

    Jacob and Kathleen were wonderful to watch. The lights were, as far as all that I saw, seamless in their transitions. The sound, which I did try to attend to whenever a more challenging or important cue came up, seemed virtually flawless. It was, of course, a live performance, so there were glitches from everyone. But all these errors, least that I know about, were minor things that the audience would have no clue had happened and most certainly did not interfere with the fab opening night success.

    And Steve, well -- HE'S THE MAN!

    We got another good'un goin' at the ol' Guild!

    and in retrospect -- so I was so friggin' busy doing my part to get the show on its feet that I have had, as reflected in recent blog entries, no time to chronicle it here; so, let's step back for a moment

  • THE SET: We did NOT finish the set last Saturday. We got relatively close, but there was still a bit of work to do and we went into tech week with an unfinished set. Sarah, mostly wearing the hat of set designer, worked on the set, piecemeal, after Sunday through Tuesday rehearsals. I had to go home each night and do some sound tweaking. Wednesday we kicked out the lion's share of the final touches -- no rehearsal that night. And, Sarah, Steve and I basically finished it off after the final dress on Thursday. It was such things as final trim and molding and paint touch-ups. Sarah stayed a bit later and dressed the set.

    The last of the set was dealt with by me late Friday afternoon. I put some glow tape on the stairs leading to the platform stage; I drew some musical material on the chalkboard with which Sarah dressed Jacob's childhood bed room (Kathleen's room) -- this marking on the board being an assignment from the set designer, or the director, one of them. There were a few maintenance things, like taping some back stage carpet down and taping some cords down. And of course, I did a lot of general clean-up back stage -- but that was less the show's producer and more the theatre's house manager; yet, one can argue that getting the back stage in shape after the set is up falls into the lap of the production team. I certainly have made that claim when I am not a part of the production team.

    There will be pics; I left my camera at the theatre, so have no new pics accessible.

  • THE SOUND: Over the course of the rehearsal the last two weeks, especially the week before tech and then tech Sunday, I made a few minor adjustments to the sound files to fit to the practical and the esthetic.

    One lovely moment of drama came for Sunday tech, when I arrived, quite early, in order to do some major clean-up. The thumb drive with the sound on it would not read in the USB mode of the DVD player. I had to drive all the way home, re-copy the whole shebang from scratch, then drive back. I lost an hour of work at the theatre.

    As for my tweaks, one was to extend a song that is to fade out at the end of a scene along with the lights. I had pre-faded it, but we decided there should be more than we need and that Bob will fade it from the booth -- just as insurance in case we need to extend the music a few more seconds. I also needed to boost the volume on a rather quiet recording that Bob could not get to an acceptable level even when maxing the volume slide.

    But all is well now and the sound, like I said, worked great last night.

  • THE CAT: Jack, one of Brain Buttrey's cats, who was to play the role of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Act II, was not happy about the experience. He started hiding when it was time to go to the theatre. So, for the last dress and then last night, we used his understudy, his brother, Smokey. Jack was well behaved on stage, as Smokey has been, but Jack was obviously not happy about the situation. Smokey seems to do better and he passed the major test by not panicking in front of the audience last night. I have a personal concern that we do not stress him; I don't want us being unintentionally mean to the little guy simply for the sake of verisimilitude.

    But, last night he was golden.

  • DISPLAY: If you look at yesterday's posting here you will see the lobby display poster for the show. I created it over the weekend. I hung several production photos Bruce Brown took at last Tuesday's rehearsal on either side of the poster on the display board. It looks good, if I do say so my-bragging-self.

  • OTHER: Another really impressive thing happened last Tuesday. Our light operator was rather ill and could not make it to the rehearsal. Bob, running what he has labeled "the most complicated sound design I have seen at the Guild," ran both sound and lights! All reports were that there were just a few spots where a cue was missed -- that being because Bob only has two hands and so long of an arm reach.

    When I finally arrived at rehearsal and realized what he was doing, I told Steve, then later, Bob himself, that he is Superman.

    HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY CLASS, "SPEAK THE SPEECH!": I missed most of last Tuesday's rehearsal myself because I attended the first of two classes on speaking Shakespeare's plays. The instructor is Brian B. Crowe, whom I believe is a Wright State University graduate, is indeed a resident artist at The Race, as well as the director of education at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

    It is a small class. there are six of us, but it lends itself well to all of us getting a chance, in the total of four hours, to get some performance time with the texts. Brian facilitated some discussion on just parsing what the texts say as well as ways to deliver the poetry and analyze the deliberate use of stresses in the verse styles.

    This will at least get me started on William's work.

    UD LAW: Did a performance as a witness for a law class earlier in the day last Tuesday. Will play the same witness for another class Friday morning, Jan 25. Have some mock trial stuff coming up in February, too.

    AUDITION FOR COMMERCIAL: Thursday afternoon I did a screen test for a commercial using British RP dialect (RP=Received Pronounced -- otherwise known as "Proper British"). I used a monologue by Tom Stoppard, which I had originally intended to use for my An Act of the Imagination audition a few years back, but was not asked to use. It is the character John Brown, from A Separate Piece, who is explaining one of the reasons he likes being a patient in hospital.

    I suppose I feel good about the performance. My agent liked it. I watched the tape and would have to say I found it "acceptable" but not "fabulous." But, then, that is my usual response.



  • Tue, Jan 15, 2008

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    AUDITION FOR THE BEST MAN AT THE GUILD: I auditioned last night for this Gore Vidal political study. I am going after the presidential hopeful Bill Russell, one of the leads, and, "the good guy," as it were, if a flawed one. I don't feel especially jubilant about my reads as him, but I suppose I didn't suck. Yeah, yeah: same ol' song and dance from me. I also read for the role of his campaign manager, Dick Jensen. I think I read it a little better, but it's not the role that I want. But, I don't believe I have ever been cast in the role I wanted in any play I have auditioned for. I am betting I have stated that last thought here before, as well as whining about how I didn't do as well as I "should" have.

    I did make some specific choices for both Russell and Jensen. Though I would never vote for him in a presidential election, I had a younger, not-southern version of Fred Thompson as the D.A. on Law & Order in mind, with a little more of a sense of humor, since the text calls for such character. I don't believe I came off as anything close to Mr. Thompson; it was just a way to effect a character. For Jensen it was Bradley Whitford, again, mostly in an internal sense and not in a manner where someone could say, "Oh, he's doing Josh Lyman." I didn't play him as spastic as Whitford played Josh, for one thing.

    Just trying to pull something out of myself or the air or wherever to use to make a character worth attending to.

    I did not find a take on Russell that felt real and natural. I know I will if cast, but I am afraid I didn't get to a real performance for the eyes of the director as she was in her casting mode. No, with Russell I was "acting" far more than "being." Unfortunately and fortunately I was much more authentic as Jensen. Unfortunate because it puts the odds, if my estimations are based in reality, on me being cast as Jensen rather than Russell, which is the role I want. Fortunate because it gives me a chance to get cast in a role that is not a bad one to be cast in. Jensen is a good part. It's just that I want Russell, damnit!

    What I don't like at all is that I cannot make the second night of auditions tonight. I like making both nights. It is just that much more of a chance to do a better reading of the character(s) I am targeting, and it gives the director a practical view of me paired with other actors being seriously considered for other roles. Sometimes what makes the difference in being or not being cast is what the make-up of the whole cast will be: who has chemistry as an ensemble; who looks good together; that sort of Big-Picture stuff. And I believe that sometimes if an actor is not present, the directors may undervalue that actor's fit into the picture being drawn.

    PAHKING CAHS IN HAHVAHD YAHD

  • OPENING WEEKEND, OVER ALL: We had a superb opening weekend despite some glitchy and gremliny kind a things. The audiences certainly responded well; on that measurement alone, we are a hit. Of course, both Terry Morris (Dayton Daily News) and Russell Florence Jr. (Dayton City Paper) were there to review the show last Saturday night -- when the gremlins were really playing. Burt Saidel (Oakwood Register) came Sunday, when less mischief occurred. So we could get three reviews this week. Here's hoping for three raves.

  • THE SOUND: The storm would not play for Bob at all Saturday. Then, one independent file of Byron Weld did not start on cue. Both those were off the mini disk players. Bob rebooted the whole sound system when he got to a dead spot in the script. And from then on it was fine. The storm was not an error the audience would catch at all. There is no transparent reference to it that makes it conspicuous in its absence. The Byron file, coming in late does throw the timing a bit, as Byron states the composition playing so that Jacob can argue that it is another.

    The important sound problem on Saturday was when Kathleen turns off the radio then puts a cassette in the cassette player. Jacob then crabs about the music and turns it off. The radio station and the LP's that are played are really sound files we are running from the booth through to the stereo console speakers. The tape is a real tape that is played in the tape player. Saturday we lost power to the player so the taped music was not playing. Jacob's reaction is critical to the plot, so Richard could not move on and skip the incident. He had to gripe about music the audience could not hear.

    When we trouble shot the problem we found that the plug-in into the wall is precarious. During Sunday's show Stage Manager Steve went out to the plug and checked it just as that scene was happening. Then the power cut, so he had to stand there, in view of the audience, I might add, and hold the plug in place until the player is shut off in the scene.

    Our solution, which I cannot for the life of me understand why I didn't see as the best course to begin with (!!!), is to put batteries in the player and not rely on the power cord at all.

  • THE CAT: Smokey, our new Nathaniel Hawthorne, did well in all the shows. He did meow upon his first exit in one performance -- I think it was Saturday -- and that did break the fourth wall for a moment. Actually, I believe there is weight to the argument I have heard that live animals are a challenge to the security of the fourth wall, purely by being on stage. The audience can be acutely aware that an "actor" animal is on stage. Then it's either: My, isn't that (INSERT SPECIES HERE) well-trained and well-behaved? Or it's: Oops! How's that actor able to concentrate with that misbehaving (INSERT SPECIES HERE)?

    PETER PAN: Last Saturday afternoon I saw Charity Farrell as Wendy in the current Muse Machine production of PP presented at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton -- *(Charity's role as Elizabeth in my movie is only a footnote to her acting credits).

    Young Miss Farrell was on her game again, as always. She was with a great cast, too. Lots of nice young talent up on that stage. Great, well-executed choreography, too. I'll have to ask her about the experience of being on the wires as Wendy flew to Neverland.

      AND, AS A SIDE NOTE, I SENT A DVD OF THE CHORUS FOR CANDICE BACK STAGE. I HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY DISTRIBUTED ONE OF THE SEVERAL COPIES THAT HAVE BEEN OWED TO FOLK FOR MORE THAN A YEAR.

    ME? ON A WIRE?......(!!!!!!): Speaking of Wendy-flying/Charity-on-a-wire, I, for those who don't know, have a relatively significant dose of acrophobia. Even being only ten to twenty feet up on a ladder (or less, I will admit) makes me fairly nervous. Being hung from a wire would be stressful for me. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it for a show -- but I would be aware all the day that the dilemma was ahead of me.

    I certainly hope I could face the problem in light of the needs of a show. There's much chance I couldn't. I have tried in the past. My senses become so aware of every micro-movement. I can even feel my body in its normal process of balancing. It is an interesting phenomenon. My intellectual understanding of safety has no power, either. I am driven in those times by a primeval survival instinct. My body literally goes into a state of stress. So, overcoming it for a role would be good and a major personal success.

    MORE WILLIAM-SPEAK, TONIGHT: I miss the second night of The Best Man auditions because of the second session of "Speak the Speech!" with Brian Crowe at The Race. Being that the whole course is only a total of four hours class time, it won't get me ready to play Henry V, but I have a little more of a taste for the challenging art of performing Shakespeare. It's only barely a start, but what is that old proverb about a journey of a thousand miles? Don't get me wrong, I have no great aspiration to perform the Shakespeare cannon, but I would not mind doing Shakespeare. And if I ever am cast in a Shakespeare play, I am either going to do it well or be damned.



  • Thu Jan 17, 2008

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    "HOORAY!" AND "AH, CRAP!": I am cast in the good role of Dick Jensen in The Best Man at The Guild. Of course, as last post would indicate, I am not unhappy about such casting, but Russell would have made me happier. I didn't do justice to my ability to play Russell in the audition, though, there is no doubt in my mind. I think maybe I was too tense about it and got in my own way. I also suspect that I was not seen as the right type for Russell, which would be an unfortunate error in vision, if true. Hey, gotta have some defiant self-belief going.

    ANOTHER "AH, CRAP!"?: No, not exactly another "Ah, crap!" but almost one. Got an email last night from my agent about a SAG deferred short-subject narrative film audition. The principal photography is slated for the same weekend that The Best Man opens; and, it is filming in West Virginia. I'd go for it were I not already committed. I am not, however, going to walk away from a new commitment to a good role (even if not the one I was after) for a dice role toward another project. This, even though Jensen is for a non-paying amateur theatre company and the movie would be paying professional work -- and I am very much indeed interested in professional film work. One might go back to the start of this blog, or read my essay from that period, "The Knowing In Me: the artist becomes himself," and note that acting on screen professionally was the first big goal when I came back to acting.

    Now, don't get me wrong, it is early enough in the process for The Best Man that were I to get a fabulous opportunity that might never come around again, I would bow out of the play and not feel I was letting the show down. There hasn't even been a read through, yet. In this current situation I can't do that. The Guild, for one thing, is, in most all cases, "amateur community theatre" as strictly a technicality. There is an overwhelming approach to professionalism that makes it a grand stage to work on and a great theatre to be associated with. Playing a good role on that stage is valuable to me as an actor. If I am going to leave a Guild show there's going to have to be a very good reason that hardly anyone could blame me for seeing as such. Not that I would carelessly and irresponsibly abandon a show at any other theatre, either. Point is, if I commit myself to a project, I had better have a good reason to un-commit myself. This time, I don't believe I do. But it is nice to know that had I not been cast at all in the play, another great opportunity was on the heels of the play audition.

    PAHKING REVIEWS IN HAHVAHD YAHD: We have good reviews for Park Your Car in Harvard Yard.

    • First, Terry Morris gave us a nice write up in the Life section of this last Tuesday's Dayton Daily News (Jan 15). He wrote, in part, "What was clearest Saturday night in a production directed by Sarah Gomes was how the material has inspired Richard Young and Debra Kent....They earned an ovation, which is never a given at the Guild."
    • In Wednesday's Dayton City Paper (Jan 16 issue) Russell Florence Jr. says the production "comes forth seamlessly under Sarah Gomes' tender direction with excellent performances by Richard Young and Debra Kent." He further calls the production "terrifically grounded in [Israel] Horovitz's poignant dramedy." Of Richard's work, Florence writes that he "is a full-throttled curmudgeon throughout, but [that] his interpretation becomes a moving character study of loss and loneliness along the way." Debra, Florence then praises as "[Fighting] back with substantial bite as earthy widower Kathleen Hogan." He also gives kudos to Ralph Dennler for his work as the voice of radio announcer Byron Weld. Russell closes his review with:

      Young and Kent are undoubtedly making beautiful music together on the Guild stage. Come witness their eloquent symphony.
    • As of this posting, the Oakwood Register had not yet put its Jan 15 issue on-line, so I have not seen yet whether there is a review from Burt Saidel or what his response is. My impression last Sunday was that he enjoyed the show, however.


    Mon, Jan 21, 2008

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    Here's to Dr. King



    THE BEST MAN: The table read through is tonight. I have only highlighted Jensen's dialogue, so far. I intend to record the lines today. I'd think about going to Glen Helen or John Bryan State Park to do a few reads of my scenes were it not for the fact that: it's too friggin' cold for that noise. Besides, having today as a holiday, *(see above), makes this perhaps the only window until next weekend for me to get the lines on tape then into mp3 format. And I rather have that sooner than later.

    A few roles are not cast just yet. I know there are plans to bring in some high school theatre students to play the roles of the press, with those youngins doubling as run crew for set changes. We also have the "commentator," i.e.: the television network news anchor, (whom in the text identifies himself as Walter Cronkite), to cast. Director Barb Coriell had mentioned to me, a while back, the need to shoot some tape of the TV broadcast, or perhaps broadcasts. I have heard nothing of it as of late, but it may be brought up tonight. Though I would have no resistance to producing the video myself, I do believe I have a better suggestion for her. One can rent TV studio time relatively cheap in the studios at Wright State University. The major reason for me thinking down this road is that we would get a true TV studio feel to the shoots. Not that we could not otherwise create a convincing newsroom set, but this would be ready-made. The cart, however, is a bit before the horse here, because I do not know if she is going to again approach me on this matter.

    At any rate, the cast, at the moment, is as follows --

      David Shough            Sec. William Russell
      Patrick Hayes            Sen. Joseph Cantwell
      Bert Staub            Pres. Arthur Hockstader
      Debra Strauss            Alice Russell
      Ame Clase            Mabel Cantwell
      K.L.Storer            Dick Jensen
      Steve Strawser            Don Blades
      Cheryl Mellen            Sue-Ellen Gamadge
      Rick Flynn            Sheldon Marcus
      Harold Fox            Dr. Robert Artinian
      Dave Nickel            Sen. Clyde Carlin
      Jeri Williams            Catherine

    Our AD/Stage manager is Duante Beddingfield, whom Richard Young and I shared the stage with last summer in Playing God at FutureFest 2007.

    PAHKING CAHS IN HAHVAHD YAHD: Another stellar weekend of great work from Richard, Debra and the crew. We still had gremlin problems with the sound. Friday night the mixer we were using blew a stereo bus channel so we had no storm, no fog horns, nor sizzling water. Bob Mills did run the back-up of the tea pot whistling, off of the thumb drive, since it was a cue for an entrance by Debra -- but the tea had to come out of the stereo console speaker rather than the speaker hidden behind the kitchen. Fortunately it was the SFX (the sound effects, the Foley sound) that went awry. Had we lost the stereo console there could not have been a show. The radio and the record player are practically another character in the show -- and in fact, that is where Byron, who IS another character in the show, comes from. So much of the action is predicated on what comes from that console. After the show, Bob trouble-shot the problem, switched out the mixers, and now we are back to our intended sound design. It helps to have a Ph.D. in electrical engineering running your sound.

    Yet, Bob was not finished saving the day. Sunday our light operator could not be there so Bob was alone in the booth. I had a seasoned host on Sunday and was to be an audience member on my season ticket. I offered to run sound while Bob ran lights, but he went ahead, like the one night during tech week, and ran both. Did another excellent job, too. I'm tellin' ya, the guy is Superman.

    Friday also saw Deirdre Bray Root come in as Acting Stage Manager in Steve Strawser's absence, and do a bang up job. And we all thank her for her great work!

    By the way, Burt Saidel's review will be in tomorrow's Oakwood Register. As I wrote before, he seemed to like the show, so his review should at the very least not be a pan.

    ONE WEEKEND TO GO!
    CLICK HERE TO
    MAKE YOUR TICKET RESERVATIONS!

    UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON SCHOOL OF LAW: I have some more of the freelance guided improv gigs with U.D. law students. Got one this Wednesday after work, and probably before Best Man rehearsals; have another of the same case as a gig I did January 8. I am also doing the Midwest Regional Mock Trials next month.

    CHORUS PEOPLE UPDATES: There's an update for every bio on The Chorus for Candice home page. Kim's has no recent activity, but I did revise hers to reflect her body of Dayton work a little better. All the rest of us have new things afloat -- www.thewritegallery.com/chorusforcandice.

    MY MYSPACE SPACE AND THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EARS: Okay, so here's the deal. Yesterday, some dork who needs glasses(*) more than he seems to be willing to admit, was trying to rearrange his MySpace friends list. He selected all, but that didn't work. So he then clicked what he thought was "de-select all." He even got a warning that he thought said, "Do you really want to 'de-select' all your friends?"

    Of course, what Einstein did was DELETE all his friends.

    He spent a bit of late morning rebuilding his network. He also ran across a few people he knows (mostly theatre/film people), which he did not have as friends before, while he trolled other people's friends lists. So now he has a few pending friends-list add requests out there.

    And the cool thing is, he now has Todd Rundgren on his list -- he and 385 other people. If you don't know who Todd is, you are, like most people, unaware of the more obscure names who have done more to frame all that is good about modern pop music than pretty much anyone you would guess is responsible. The best bet to spark your memory on him would be to invoke the title of the Top-40 pop hit, "Hello, It's Me," That, mostly for those born before, say, 1965, and that, by-the-way, a song which gives you practically no idea of who Todd is musically, but only a very small glimpse into the brilliant musician, progressive pop/rock artist, jazz fusion artist, (and yes, pop artist), song writer and modern-music record producer that Mr. Rundgren is and has been. And, for the youngins who may for some reason be reading this blog, Todd is the stepfather of, and the man who reared, Liv Tyler.

      (*) TRUTH IS THIS IDIOT NEEDS ACTUAL PRESCRIPTION GLASSES INSTEAD OF THE GENERIC READING GLASSES HE CURRENTLY EMPLOYS.

    NOISES OFF AT THE DAYTON PLAYHOUSE: I saw this "theatre person's theatre play" Saturday evening after Park's performance, and I have to say I enjoyed it. I appreciate those who can successfully bring off intricately choreographed physical comedy and this cast did just that. Act II is essentially one long, physical-comedy slapstick schtick, and I was impressed with the execution. I guess, put in the situation, I would be able to collaborate with a team of fellow cast members and bring such off, but as I watched I was a little intimidated by the work they were doing. It was fun to watch, though. And I don't care what anybody says, what you just read here is NOT a "review" -- ! That's my story and I'm sticking to it.



    Tue, Jan 22, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: Last night's table read through went well. Tonight some blocking begins with scenes I am in. Since the Park set is still up, blocking will be very rough this week. Barb Coriell has said she also wants to spend some time discussing who our characters are. Always a good idea, in my mind. I, of course, will probably start building Dick Jensen's life history, here very soon.

    I did not, I must admit, get to the recording of my lines yesterday. Other things came up and before I knew it, it was too late to be productive at it. So, this coming weekend, probably Saturday morning, will see me with mic and tape recorder then computer.

    Barb, Duante and I did talk a little about some video work for the production. No real specifics have been decided on, yet. This is actual production material, video to be used during the performances -- essentially the news coverage of the Democratic Convention to be on the TV sets in the two candidates hotel rooms.

    OTHER PEOPLE'S STUFF: This is not going to be anything at all like comprehensive, but here are a few projects involving those whom I have worked with in stage productions. I currently don't know about anything any one from any film work is doing.

    ****LET ME MAKE THIS ABSOLUTELY CLEAR -- I am, without a question in my mind, going to leave some people out. This will be for two reasons: 1) I am not aware of their projects; 2) I WAS aware, at some point, but I have allowed it to slip my mind.

    • John Bukowski (who shared the stage with me in American Buffalo as Don as well as being Ferris in The Diviners) just finished a run as Danforth in Crucible at X*Act: Xenia Area Community Theatre.
    • Megan Cooper (with whom I was in Fake) finishes her run as Dotty Ottley in Noises Off at The Dayton Playhouse next weekend.
    • Ron Weber (Nagg in Endgame) is Selsdon Mowbray in the same production of Noises Off.
    • Charity Farrell (Elizabeth in The Chorus for Candice as well as sharing the stage with me as Maria in Nutcracker: the Musical) will be Aninku in the Victoria Theatre Association production of Brundibar in March.
    • Waylan Reid (Richard Burbage in The Beard of Avon and Victor in The Dice House -- the second, which I wasn't in, but did produce) will be in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at X*Act Feb 29, Mar 1, 7 & 8.
    • Matt Beisner (Henry Wriothesley in The Beard of Avon) will be Nick in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The Dayton Playhouse, running the same weekends as The Best Man.
    • Chuck Lakowski (Jim the blind man in Playing God) will be George in Woolf at DPH.
    • Reneé Franck-Reed (Queen Elizabeth in The Beard of Avon) will be in Funny Girl, again at The Dayton Playhouse, running May 2-18. I cannot remember what role she told me she has, though. Well, at least I remembered she was in it!
    • Lisa M. Sadai (Rosanne Johnson in Belles, which I produced) is appearing as a witch in Verdi's Macbeth at The Dayton Opera. She will also be Anna in Boston Marriage at The Guild Apr 18-May 4.
    • Benjamin T. Sadai (Lisa's son in real life and William in The Chorus for Candice) is also a witch, as well as one of the MacDuff children in Verdi's Macbeth at The Dayton Opera.
    • Elena Monigold (Polly in The Dice House) will be Claire in Boston Marriage next Apr/May.
    • Sarah Caplan (PA for Playing God) will be Catherine in the same mounting of Boston Marriage as Lisa and Elena.

        DOH! I ORIGINALLY WROTE HERE THAT SARAH WAS OUR AD. ACTUALLY, ALEX CARMICHAL WAS AD
    • And I don't know of and/OR remember any other people's projects, except for the people I have worked with before who are in The Best Man.



    Wed Jan 23, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: Did rough blocking of the first dozen pages or so, last night. More important is that I am getting some first, good notions of where I should take Jensen.

    As the three or four of you who have read this before may know, I am always impatient to get to the depths of the character as quickly as I can. The sooner I am there, the sooner I can fine-tune him. The actors and directors out there know that, on a stage at least, those first "blocking rehearsals" are far more about where to put the bodies on the stage and the gross overview of main stage business -- such as whether there should be a hug, a hand shake, or a turn of the bodies at a specific moment, as an example.

    Still, I am conscious of when I am delivering a line in a way that is not working at all. And it's never too soon to start thinking about what my character's mission is in the scene (or in a part of the scene). Nor, is it too soon to analyze my character's role in telling the story. As a writer I know that any character that does not actively participate in telling the story, even if that character's job is simply to help set the mood of a scene, then that character needs to be cut.

    In between just getting a better understanding of Jensen's role in the story from further reading of text as we worked, as well some thought I had given prior to rehearsal and some dialogue director Barb Coriell and I had last night, I am getting a keener idea of who Dick Jensen is and what he is about.

    I knew, coming into rehearsal last night that Jensen sees himself as having been born to be the White House Chief of Staff. The notion I was already getting of him fits exactly with Barbara's statement that "Jensen is a political animal through and through." Jensen, unlike K.L., can most assuredly recite some good portion of the Constitution, if not pretty damned all of it. He certainly knows the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence verbatim.

    I have not yet began to detail his backstory but I already know he is married and has children, some if not all of them probably at least young adults. I haven't picked his schools but they will be Ivy League; I may even make him a Rhodes Scholar. And I think he is a Hoosier by birth.

    Jensen is already becoming a little cooler; I don't mean in the "hip" sense, rather in the demeanor sense. He is becoming, not more reserved than I had originally seen him, but more cautious, deliberately and calculatedly cautious. He knows how to get William Russell elected and though he has more respect for Russell than to "handle" him, he does want to guide Russell through the many corridors of the political labyrinth that Russell is less than wise about how to trod.

    As for that early sense that a line was not delivered as Jensen would deliver it, the were a few, but there was one that really smacked me last night. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, a politically powerful woman, (played by Cheryl Mellen) has just "let slip" some disturbing news. There is then a bit of musing on the potential problem that seem to be threatening, then Jensen says, based on a note an aide had given him prior to the dropping of the bad-news bomb:

    Well, Alice, word has come from on high. We're about to get a visit from our distinguished ex-president.

    As I spoke it during the blocking work, I knew I was not saying it correctly. Point is, this woman-in-the-know has just said that something bad for our campaign is just about to happen. Jensen, Russell (David Shough) and his wife, Alice (Debra Strauss) are all going to be focused on that. Then Jensen goes off topic as if he had not been privy to the bomb just dropped. My actor's reaction was, How the hell am I supposed to say this? I am going to be as keyed in on this problem we've just been told about as Russell is. A little while later, while I was off stage, I got it: Jensen is purposefully going off topic, changing the subject to pull Russell away from it. He may be directing his words to Alice, but his target audience is her husband. So, now the line makes sense and has purpose for me.

    And so the process continues.....

    Plus, I told Barb I want to find some of those thick-rimmed, awful, early-sixties eye glasses for Dick. I want to use them as a physical manifestation of his reactions. And it just seems like a good look for him.

    MEANWHILE...: I am stealing every spare moment I find today, as I did yesterday, to get the vital facts of the character and the case I am doing dramatic improv, as a client for law students, this afternoon at the University of Dayton Law School. I don't have a great flood of spare moments, but I think I will be prepared when I arrive there.

    Then my evening ends with more Best Man rehearsal.

    IT IS NICE...: to be an actor who is currently getting to act. Now if an ad agency would only cast me, so that I won't continue to be a client my talent agent hasn't gotten work for, yet.



    Thu Jan 24, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: I am now off from rehearsal until next Thursday. That, by no means, puts me on break from the project. There is line study, character study, backstory, research, and I have to start thinking about exactly how we will produce these television news broadcasts to run from the on-stage TV during the performances.

    Rehearsal went well again last night. We have done a good bit of work, especially since we were on the Park set. Next week that'll be stricken. Some progress on Jensen characterization last night, mostly in terms of line delivery, with many spots where I need to work more -- but, at this point that's a given, anyway. I have to get back into the habit of attending to the italicized directions in the script. Since I have been back to acting, the overwhelming norm has been to ignore their existence. This cast and the director are giving such more credence this time. In part, it is because such directions seem to have more necessity than is often the case. Well, I was out of the habit of even noticing their existence, much less reading them.

    PAHK YOHWAH CAH IN THE DTG PAHKIN' LAHT THIS WEEKEND!

    PARK YOUR CAR IN HARVARD YARD by Isreal Horovitz at the Dayton Theatre Guild,

    3 More Chances To See This Critically Successful Show

        Friday, Jan 25 8:00 pm
        Saturday. Jan 26 5:00 pm
        Sunday, Jan 27 3:00 pm

        Dayton Theatre Guild
        2330 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH, 45406
        for tickets/reservations: www.daytontheatreguild.org
        or 937-298-5993



    Sat Jan 26, 2008

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    UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON LAW SCHOOL: Yesterday morning I did the second of two sessions with some law students who were doing an initial interview with a witness. This was the same scenario as back at the start of the month, where I play an EMT who shows up to a 911 call to find the patient having a "grand mal" (now, more likely to be called a "tonic-clonic") epileptic seizure. The problem is that when I, as the EMT, arrived on the scene, the police had the victim in cuffs and were trying to place him the back of their cruiser. The point of this exercise for the students is that the witness, the EMT, is reluctant to implicate the police officers in any misjudgment of the situation. So, my job as an improv actor was to let loose of no damaging facts unless the attorneys asked pointed enough questions.

    At the first session, a few weeks back, some of the students (the attorneys) asked about medical procedures and some of the indicators of an epileptic seizure. Well, I had not prepared for that so I just made crap up. I did a lot of research this time -- it turns out several key things I said the first time were the opposite of correct.

    The first time, I said you should try to gently hold seizing victims down and you should try to get into their mouths to secure their tongues. HAANK! Wrong on both counts. You actually let seizing people seize without touching them unless they are in jeopardy from an outside source. That notion of people swallowing their tongues during seizure turns out to be a myth, too. I also said, at the start of the month, that you should make sure to get them on their backs. HAANK! You want to get them on their sides, because that greatly reduces the odds of their airways closing up. So, the first time, though it ultimately did not matter for the particular classroom exercise, I gave a lot of bad expert testimony.

    This time, however, with a little research on my side, I gave sound testimony on procedure.

    THE BEST MAN: I have not yet recorded Jensen's lines, that will likely happen tomorrow morning. I have not decided whether I will do them dead pan for the recording, or not. Flat delivery can facilitate an easy analysis of how the character should say any particular line. It may not be as necessary for Jensen since I am getting a feel for where he is going. I also plan to work on his backstory soon; if not tomorrow, then early in the week, while I am not scheduled for rehearsal.

    AN AUDITION FOR ONE SHOW MAY GET YOU CAST IN ANOTHER: It has occurred to me that the Jensen Barb Coriell has indicated she wants is extremely close to the Bill Coles I played when I auditioned for Barb for Other People's Money. That was a role I was sure I would get, but did not. I suspect, and heavily, that Barb had my interpretation of Coles in mind as the auditions for Best Man unfurled. She had asked me several times before the auditions if I would be there. I take that to mean that she knew, because of the previous audition (and perhaps also my reading of John Honeyman at the audition for A Walk in the Woods), that I can give her the Jensen she sees when she reads the play. I still stand fast to the notion that just because she had me in mind it did not mean that someone else could have won her over at auditions, so I was not a lock-in for the role. And of course, MY first goal was William Russell.

    Regardless of the veracity or the precariousness of a "guarantee," the big lesson is that tenacity can pay off. I often go into an audition believing with every fiber of my bald head that a particular director will never cast me. But my attitude is that the director is going to have to say no to me. If I don't get cast it will not be because I did not show up. By-the-way, I have no doubt that I almost always, if not absolutely always, am wrong that the given director would never cast me. That thought in me is motivated by previous disappointment and the reckless insecurity that often plagues me.

    One of my local actor friends had an occasion to run into Bradley Whitford, quite a few years back, perhaps just before or just as The West Wing was starting its run on TV. It was one of those brief meetings where she said, aren't you a screen actor? and he said, yeah, I'm Brad Whitford. Well, she told me she asked him what it was like being a professional actor and his response was that it's a lot of pounding the pavement. I.E.: you audition a lot.

    There is no question in my mind that showing up for one more audition will eventually put the actor in front of a person who is casting the project -- whether she is a director for a community theatre production or he is the casting director for a major motion picture -- and she or he will think: Oh, I remember him/her from other auditions, I think we have found our (INSERT CHARACTER NAME HERE:__________)!

    I know as a person who has begun to direct for the camera and plans to direct for the stage, I already am making a mental catalogue of actors I see, on stage and in auditions, and what they seem to be able to do. When I cast The Chorus for Candice, time was of such an essence that I did not want to go through an audition and screentest process. So, I offered the roles to Kim Reiter and Charity Farrell, because I knew from seeing their work that they both would give me what I wanted. I gambled on Ben Sadai, I must admit, but it was calculated on the theory that the acorn does not fall far from the tree -- his mother being Lisa sadai, a gifted actor in her own right. I also, have a particular actor (actress) in mind for a role in that 40 minute screenplay that is on the shelf. Further, as I delve into the auditions for it, certain actors I know might walk in and I will immediately have an idea of whether they fit my vision for the characters they are reading for or not.

    I will owe it to myself and them to read them, even if my mind gives an immediate no. I believe I need to be willing to be persuaded I was wrong, or to be shown an interesting other take on the role. But that's another issue. Hmmm. Maybe it's not another issue. It can be the reason that any actor is not necessarily guaranteed a role even when the director or producer has pointedly solicited the actor's presence at audition to read for the role. I think Barb saw me, months back, as a good candidate (pardon the pun) for Jensen. Someone could have shown her something in audition that she found an interesting interpretation she hadn't envisioned but discovered as a better way to go.

    One thing is for sure: I would not have been cast had I not auditioned -- and it would have likely devalued, to some extent, my previous auditions for this director, if we are going with the concept that they were groundwork for my casting as Jensen.

    PAHKING CAHS IN HAHVAHD YAHD: The house was pretty small last night (about half) but the audience was responsive to the show. We were also gremlin free. Sound, lights, and all else seemed to go quite well.

    Cast party tonight. Yahoo!



    Sun Jan 27, 2008

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    CLOSING TODAY AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD:

    PARK YOUR CAR IN HARVARD YARD by Isreal Horovitz at the Dayton Theatre Guild,

    The cast of Park Your Car in Harvard Yard

    Richard Young            Jacob Brackish
    Debra Kent            Kathleen Hogan

    Yep, a nice run of a show I am happy to have been a part of closes today. And we have a wicked awful set strike to look forward to at 5:30 or thereabouts.



    Mon, Jan 28, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: Now my major creative focus can go to Dick Jensen. I must admit, again, that I still have not put Dick on tape (which will become mp3s and a CD). That will happen tonight. As well, the backstory has not been created yet. My goal is to have that by rehearsal on Thursday, which is my next scheduled night at the theatre.

    A LITTLE MOAH PAHKING

    • Burt Saidel moved the review of Park Your Car in Harvard Yard until tomorrow due to his want to fully cover Macbeth at The Dayton Opera. He writes in last week's Oakwood Register:

      My loyal readers will have to wait until next week to read about the Muse Machine's spectacular Peter Pan and the latest plays at Dayton Theatre Guild and Dayton Playhouse. I apologize but my mind and heart are still in ancient Scotland.
    • Set strike ended about 9:00 last night. The last folk to leave? The director, the producer and the stage manager. But we had a decent sized crew for a good portion of the strike. I brought my camera to take pictures, as I often have for other shows. However, I never brought it out.
    • Speaking of pictures, there will be a few more here, sometime soon.
    • The producer guy has a few loose ends to tie up -- mostly because people did not follow the simple instructions about getting receipts to me asap and to not do it through others but to give them directly to me, in my hand, or to put them in my mail box -- the one with my name on it -- at the Guild!!!!!

      Not that I'm bitching or anything.

    OVERDUE ART-WORK: I have had pictures from the production of 'Art' I was in for Springfield StageWorks, Springfield Civic Theatre, and The Springfield Art Museum that have been ready to post for more than a year now. So, perhaps sometime soon.

    THE MOTION IN MOTIVE: Still looking for prose, poetry, and illustrations (artwork or photographs) for the virtual chapbook The Motion in Motive for my site proper.

    Consider making a submission -- tell your friends who write, draw, paint, or snap.

    Click here for details and guidelines.



    Wed Jan 30, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: I have Dick on tape now, but he's not digital yet. I actually have been more intent on other line-study techniques. I have much of his lines on index cards -- one side has his cue line, or the cue action, and the other side, the lines and any relevant action or blocking, if necessary.

    And of course, I am suffering from some anxiety at this point. As I posted, earlier today, as my status on my MySpace page: I "always seems to feel a little behind in [my] work on [my] character in a play/movie." But, that's just me.

    *MAYBE* ANOTHER STUDENT FILM: The lovely Melissa Young of Miss Lissa and Co. passed on a post she saw at Craig's List, placed there by a Wright State Film School student looking for a male actor "35+." I sent a query -- my résumé and headshot were too large for the CL mail server limits. The post is two weeks old, so the role may already be cast. I also may not have the schedule to fit it in. But, might as well query.



    Thu Jan 31, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN

  • Dick Jensen Is Electric -- Not that the character has an electric personality or that I am at the level of an electric performance, but the recording is transferred from the analogue tape version to the digital mp3 version. All my lines shall soon be burned onto a CD, as well as into a folder in my iTunes at work and at home. I may dump a version of the edited files back onto a cassette for my car, too. I do have a portable CD player for my car, one of those units with a cassette jack that fits into the cassette player, but I don't use it much because it tends to skip on the CD's while playing them.
  • Dick is also on stage in rehearsal tonight.
  • NO STUDENT MOVIE: The director of the student movie I was made aware of got back to me. He is already in the editing phase of production. He did ask me to send him my résumé for future projects. And I did just that.



    Fri Feb 1, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: Last night's rehearsal was cancelled because of the threat of a major ice storm. Unfortunately I got my cell phone call after I was already at the theatre. Fortunately whatever bad conditions may have eventually accumulated had not before I got back home. I don't even know if it ever got as hideous as the forecasts warned. It didn't seem to get that bad in my neck of the woods -- about thirty miles north-east of the Guild -- but this morning there were about 150 closings and delays of schools and businesses reported by the news. Now I (and the rest of the cast) wait to see how the rehearsals are revised to pick up the lost blocking work from last night without throwing us behind.

    I now have the recordings of my lines all over the friggin' place (am listening to the mp3 of Act II: Scene 3: page 61-62 as I type this. Not to mention that I have the flash cards (index cards I wrote of in the Jan 30 blog entry). In fact, I used last night to finish the cards up.

    That back story is yet to come, but I suspect much will happen on that tonight, if it's not started and completed all tonight. In some ways it's already started since I have some ideas. As I have already written here, Dick Jensen is an Ivy League alumnus and I will definitely make him a Rhodes scholar. And I am placing his birth and childhood in Indiana, possibly Indianapolis -- why Indianapolis, Indiana? Why not? Actually, it's mostly caprice but also I wanted Jensen to be an intellectual not of the East coast; and Indy is mid-west I am familiar with but not where I am from. Given that he's in his forties in 1960, I will most certainly put him in the service during WWII.

    HAD TO TURN DOWN AN AUDITION: Received another email yesterday from my agent about what looked like a good opportunity for a series of commercials -- unfortunately I was not able to commit to the time called for, for both the audition and the shoots.

    Really sucks! It looked like, had I been cast, I might have been in a series of spots. And it did pay pretty well, up front. So-oh-well.



    Sat Feb 2, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN: I have a much clearer vision of who will walk onto the stage at about 8:06 on Friday, Feb 29, 2008. Dick Jensen is becoming more and more tangible to me with every waking moment. I have been immersed in Jensen all day today. The back story was written today, rather than last night, but that's such a minor thing I would not even call it a setback. I have not been into drill-memorization yet, but much of today I have been listening to either mp3's of scenes on my computer, or to the same files via CD on my stereo system, and I already know more lines than I would have thought. I am not anywhere close to off-book, yet, but I am certainly not behind in the game, either.

    As for Dick's back story, I did have to fabricate the elementary through high school names for his childhood, but I based them on Indianapolis history. The "The Lucky Scotchman" is also fabricated, but the 67th Fighter Squadron was real and did moved from base to base in South Korea. All the politicians Jensen has worked for are fictitious, too. Kenyon College, Oxford University, Princeton University, University of Virginia, Columbia University, and Georgetown University are all real -- in case you don't know that. Lincoln Elementary in Charlottesville is, however, made up (though that's such a popular name for schools that there is some chance there is one in Charlottesville).

    That being said, Dick is, once again, more real to me now....

    DICK JENSEN BIO, VITA AND BACK STORY

      Born: Richard Wendell Jensen
      April 17, 1915
      Wishard Memorial Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana

      Parents: Father - Elmer Joshua Jensen (b 1895)
      Mother - Louise Beatrice Davenport Jensen (b 1899)
        Still residing in Indianapolis and having just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary on May 16, 1960

      Siblings: Brother - Randall Isaac (b 1917)
        now a Dep. Chief of Police in Cleveland, Ohio
        Father of three
      Brother - Marvin David (b 1918)
        now owner of Jensen's Appliances in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
        Father of two
      Sister - Marian Elizabeth (Marybeth) (b 1921)
        now a school teacher for the L.A. public school system
        Mother of five
      Sister - Eubea Jeanine (b 1923)
        now a housewife in Gary, Indiana
        Mother of three
      Brother - Frederick Samuel (b 1924; d 1944)
        killed in action in WWII

      Education: Fall Creek Elementary, Indianapolis (1921-1928) - 3.7 GPA

      McCormick Junior High, Indianapolis (1928-1931) - 4.0 GPA

      Marion High School, Indianapolis (1931-1934) - 4.0 GPA

      Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio (1934-1938) - BA in Philosophy - Magnum Cum Laude

      Oxford University (1938-1941) - MA in World History - Suma Cum Laude
      "Dominus Illuminatio Mea": The Lord is my Light

      Princeton University (1941-1942; [*] 1946-1947) - PhD. in Political Science - Suma Cum Laude


      [*] Dick left Princeton to enlist in the Army Air Corps in January 1942. Dick was a gunner in the belly turret of the B-17 "The Lucky Scotchman," which flew in the South Pacific as part of the 67th Fighter Squadron, and moved from base to base in South Korea. He received one field promotion to Sergeant and was then promoted to Second Lieutenant just prior to his honorable discharge in November 1945.

      Dick's three brothers also served, all in the Army, and his oldest sister, Marybeth, served as a stateside secretary in the Navy. His youngest brother, Freddy, was killed on the beach at Normandy on D Day, June 6, 1944.


      Married: Janice Grayson on June 28, 1947.
      Janice (born Janice June Williamson, June 1, 1920, Franklin Park, New Jersey) was a war widow tending bar at the VFW Post 125 in Princeton, where Dick had been a member since arriving back in town to finish his doctorate. She had one daughter, Lynn Patricia (b March 18, 1940) and one son, David Mark (b June 20, 1942). Dick adopted them both as his children in Oct, 1949.

      Children: Daughter - Lynn Patricia Grayson-Jensen (Patsy) [adopted] (b Mar 18, 1940)
      Son - David Mark Grayson-Jensen [adopted] (b June 20, 1942)
        *The hyphenated last names was Dick's gesture to honor the children's fallen father
      Son - Frederick Gregory Jensen (b Sep 17, 1949)
        *(named after Dick's fallen brother and Janice's fallen first husband -- Patsy and Dave's father)
      Daughter - Margaret Katherine Jensen (Maggie) (b May 8, 1952).

        As our story unfolds in Philadelphia, in July, 1960:
        • Patsy is a Junior at Columbia University
        • Dave is a Freshman at Georgetown
        • Freddy will be a 6th grader and Maggie will be a 3rd grader at Lincoln Elementary in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the Jensen home is.

    HOW DICK JENSEN BECOMES BILL RUSSELL'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER

    • is head speechwriter for Donald Cramden, Mayor of Princeton, NJ
    • is deputy campaign manager for the Committee to Re-elect Arthur Hockstader
    • serves as a deputy communications officer in Hockstader's second administration
      • writes many speeches for and works closely with Secretary of State William Russell; takes several international junkets with Russell on official state business
      • comes to admire and greatly respect Russell as a man of great honor, wisdom and leadership; and becomes convinced Bill has the makings of a great president
    • after the Hockstader administration is completed, Dick accepts the faculty position teaching History and Political Science at the University of Virginia
    • takes two sabbaticals to be campaign manager -- for the Committee to Elect Thomas Peterson as Governor of Maryland (loss); and for the Committee to Elect John Holmes-Wilderson to be the U.S. Senator from Virginia (won)
    • Dick takes the lead in pushing Bill over the hump to decide he should indeed throw his hat into the ring for the 1960 Presidential Election.

      With the prospect that he may become the White House Chief of Staff as of January, 1961, Dick takes an extended leave of absence from U.V., and serves notice that pending the outcome of the election he may resign his position.

      Dick on being Bill's campaign manager:

      I believe with real conviction that Bill Russell should be our next President of the United States. He is a man of overpowering understanding of the sacred freedoms our country should always protect, champion, and better.

      My job as his campaign manager is to temper the esoteric Russell, to keep him from inadvertently and unintentionally "talking down" to the people. I also need to run interference with his sense of humor, which often is perceived by many as sarcastic and elitist -- when in fact, it is not.

      I respect and admire Bill Russell tremendously. Never would I attempt to "handle" him; but, I do need to vigilantly "guide" him and help him stay out of the faux-pas neighborhood, where he is adept at placing himself with uncanny and frustrating regularity. This, not due to any lack of intelligence -- we are talking about William Russell, after all -- but due to his unbridled love of intellectual references and his intemperate dry sense of humor.



    Sun Feb 3, 2008

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    BEST MAN LINE DRILLS

    10:20 am:       After having dealt with some miscellaneous business, I pour myself a cup of coffee, then sit down with the script and a sheet of cardboard that is cut to the width and length of the script pages. Running the board down the pages of the Jensen scenes, uncovering the other characters' lines as I go, then stopping short before mine, I see how many lines I can get, either verbatim, or at least relatively close.

    11:25 am:       For this stage of the rehearsal-process game I have a pretty decent familiarity with my lines. Some of them I am dead-cold straight on with. Others, I have a vague idea of what the point is. Some, I just have to look, having no clue at all.

    11:32 am       Time to start the rote memorization phase in heavy dose. I will start it as I do my dishes -- a chore of which is badly needed since I have hardly one clean dish in my entire abode

    2:35 pm       Relatively on top of Act I. It occurs to me that I might think about eating something.

    6:50 pm       Starting on my last scene and the last scene of the play, Act II, Scene 4.

    9:30 pm       I have drilled the whole play! I am not off-book, but man am I a lot closer than I was at the start of the day. So I keep the drills up and maybe I won't have to report going up during a performance.

    I am about to sit down and run all my scenes, from start to finish, and only look at the line for prompting if I absolutely cannot recall it. I will check them each for accuracy, however. Spot-on is better than paraphrasing. Spot-on is always my target.


    10:31 pm       Not bad. There were a couple places where I was totally clueless, but all in all, for this stage of the process I am satisfied.

    I will have that CD of my scenes on repeat play all night. The idea being that I hear it over and over in my sleep -- that whole "subliminal learning" idea. I am not absolutely sure this practice is terribly effective, but I have no proof that it is not. So......

    SORDID LIVES, THE TV SERIES: I happened to stumble across the MySpace page that screenwriter and playwright Del Shores has set up for a forthcoming television series version of his play and movie, Sordid Lives. You may recall that I was stage manager -- and the corpse of Peggy Sue Ingram -- in two separate mountings of SL during the Guild's 2004/2005 season.

    Check out the MySpace page: www.myspace.com/sordid_lives.

    GAME?: I guess there was some kind of big game of some sort on TV today?



    Tue, Feb 5, 2008

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    BEST MAN: I did not work without the book at rehearsal last night, and only really bothered to try a few lines from memory. We're still blocking scenes and I was distracted enough by the awkwardness I always feel in this phase of the process. Plus, I still have my pencil in my hand to write my movements and other notes in the script, which precludes setting said script down.

    So I didn't delve too deep into performing a full character, either. Something did come up in terms of characterization last night. Our director Barb Coriell wants a bigger reaction from Jensen at one moment than is correct for the reserved Jensen I have started to build. That Jensen would never show the level of excitement that she seems to want in one particular moment. A conversation is in order and then I will try to adjust Jensen to someone to suit both Barb's and my visions.

    There's also a scene where Dick and his counterpart Don Blades (Steve Strawser) essentially enter together to break the tension which has just played for several minutes prior to our entrance. I am strongly resisting allowing this to get too deep into "comedy relief." I do believe it needs to be lighter, but just the change in direction for the scene serves the purpose of breaking the tension. I don't think I was told to camp it up, and I certainly would find that to be a big mistake and betrayal of the play in general. I do, however, believe there was a consensus in the air that Jensen and Blades have a sense of camaraderie that I absolutely resist as dead wrong wrong wrong. Jensen finds Blades and those who think like him (like his boss, Joe Cantwell) to be a major detriment to the Democratic Party. Jensen is a colleague of Blades purely by the happenstance of belonging to the same party. If they are seen having beers together in the hotel bar it will be because there were no other seats open or because they are in a meeting.

    The only reason that Jensen has been with Blades in the time prior to their entrance (which is a re-entrance into the scene) is because ex-President Hockstader (Bert Staub) sent them away earlier, specifically to get Blades out of the room so Hockstader could have a talk with Bill Russell (David Shough). It is a talk that Dick very much wanted to see happen and so the little mission they were sent on, though useful and practical, was subterfuge that Jensen was in on. Bottom line, I absolutely disagree with the idea that Jensen is anything like chummy with Blades. They are barely colleagues and only so in the technical sense. And certainly, in the current situation any camaraderie these two might have would be strained greatly, anyway. They both vehemently want the other guy's boss to lose the nomination, both convinced his own boss is the right candidate and that the other guy's is a bad choice.

    Back to general things, overall last night, I was in that weird, uncomfortable, unsure place I am usually in during the blocking phase, and generally during this point in rehearsals. I do have a stronger sense of the character but haven't put that guy on his feet much yet. So I went home feeling less accomplished than probably reflects the truth.

    And I haven't mentioned the fact that the heater at the Guild broke down over the weekend so we rehearsed in our coats last night. In fact it was colder in the building than it was outside. We actually propped the doors open for a bit to warm it up inside.

    I also slept badly last night -- knotty crick in my neck -- consequently, thus far today I haven't felt like listening to the recordings of Jensen's scenes: the tape on the way to work or the mp3's whilst I have been at work. I didn't play the CD overnight, either; that, mostly because I was in the mental state of "less accomplished." Today, so far, I have had one of those nagging I-didn't-get-enough-sleep headaches; plus, my neck still bugs me. My enthusiasm is ebbed. I know that presently my mood will change.

    I did do the flash-card drill of all my lines at lunch and scored probably in the high 90's as per accuracy. It's a bit easier when your not on your feet walking the scene on stage. Still, being reasonably close to off-book just shy of two weeks before I have to be helps dilute this dumb-assed feeling of lesser accomplishment.

    A LITTLE MOWAH PAHKING: Burt Saidel finally got his review of Park Your Car in Harvard Yard out in the Oakwood Register (January 29, 2008; v.17:no.5). His last line sums up his response: "It is a pretty good play performed by very good actors."



    Wed Feb 6, 2008

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    BEST MAN:

  • The rehearsal was an easy one for me last night, since I am only in the beginning of the scene we blocked and have a total of four lines. Two of those lines are, respectively and in their entireties, "Yet" and "Yes." I had the book in my hands solely for the purpose of making notes. In fact, when we ran my portion again I did my first appearance on stage in rehearsal "totally Off-Book." So watch out George(*)!

    I was wrapped early, which was good since I still had a bit of that nagging neck pain and I was still a bit tired, even though I caught a bit of a nap before rehearsal. On the way home it dawned on me I am not quite as impatient this time as I usually am about getting to the character who will walk on stage opening night. I am not sure what that is about. I don't know if I have such a strong idea of where I want to go and am sure I can get there that I'm more at ease. I don't know if I have just reached a new place as an actor. The one thing that I plan to guard against is this being a case of complacency. That would be a good way to give a mediocre performance.

  • Did have the beginning of a conversation about that moment when Dick is to be at a higher level of emotionally enthused than is appropriate for the guy I want to build. Barb got interrupted in mid-sentence but she was essentially saying that it wasn't a level of higher animation she was exactly looking for (my words for what she was saying to me). I'll have to revisit this with her, but I think I may have had a least a little bit of a misunderstanding of her direction on Monday night. I also think it possible that, since I was not fully committing to characterization Monday night, there may have been a misunderstanding on her part of what I intend for that moment. Like I said, it obviously will be revisited, either by me in a pre-rehearsal conversation or by her when we play the scene again.

    And, besides, I am thinking of adjusting him to just a notch less reserved than I had decided on, but not much less. That way, in the last scene there is more weight to the added animation I plan on infusing him with.

  • Last night, over night, I did do that subliminal learning idea again: playing the CD of my lines all night during my sleep. And I have this vague memory of the text getting into my dreams, but I cannot remember exactly. The same thing happened in the Sunday night experiment, and I have a vivid memory of Allison Janney delivering a certain paragraph of my lines. I don't know if she was supposed to be C.J. Cregg from The West Wing, but she was most certainly in the dream. I guess the fact that the words are getting into my dreams is some sort of evidence that this is a productive practice.
  • SPEAKING OF GEORGE(*) AND MARTHA AND NICK AND HONEY: I have one opportunity to see Charles Lakowski (Jim the blind man in Playing God) and Matt Beisner (Henry Wriothesley in The Beard of Avon) in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The Dayton Playhouse, since it runs exactly parallel with Best Man. I can zip over to the Playhouse from the Guild after our 5:00 show on the second Saturday to catch the 8:00 Woolf. We have a special 8:30 pm out-reach performance of The Best Man after our other 5:00 Saturday show, so I either see Woolf on March 8, or I don't see it at all. That cast is Charles as George, Pam McGinnis as Martha, Matt as Nick, and Amy Brooks as Honey.

    AND NO BRIDGE TO THE ABRIDGED: I can't make it to see Wayland Reid in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) at X*Act. The run also conflicts with Best Man and the only night I could have possibly made it was March 8. But X*Act is in Xenia, a good twenty minutes or more from the Guild and Complete's curtain is at 7:30, just about, or only a little after we take our curtain call at DTG. And since Woolf at DPH is a five minute drive away and an 8:00 curtain, well, the decision is simple. But, I am sorry I will miss Waylan in Complete; I know he will be hilarious.



    Fri Feb 8, 2008

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    BEST MAN: No rehearsal for me on Wednesday. Last night we finished blocking the show with the blocking of Act II, Scene 4 -- which I believe was originally Act III, then the play was reconfigured to be two Acts.

    This is the scene where I want Jensen to be his most animated and emotive, practically discarding the more closed, more reserved stance from the rest of the play. As I've already said, it's not that I am aiming for a stoic Dick Jensen, but he is the consummate professional with the air of authority and taking charge about him. In that scene, as last scenes have a habit, the rubber is hitting the road, so he loses a bit of his poise. I did try to play to that last night, especially as we ran the scene again. I am in the neighborhood of where I want to be with this but I have a lot of honing to do. Believe it or not, I don't say this with a flavor of impatience with where I am at, but simply as an acknowledgment of where I am at, and an actual recognition that this is a pretty good place for me to be with Jensen at this stage.

    WELL LET'S JUST ALL PAT ME ON THE BACK!!!

    Last night I did realize that I have to figure how Dick Jensen moves. Right now he moves quite exactly like K.L., which is not suitable -- the walk, mostly -- for Prof. Jensen. One element will be to start working in rehearsal in Jensen's shoes. Last night I was in gym shoes; Jensen will be in dress shoes, wing tips if I can find some. I do have a pair of dress shoes, but they have very modern, softer rubber soles and though they don't look entirely foreign to 1960, they truly can not be called "period."

    I also always want to be able to discover or invent new facial expressions that would be normal and natural, of course. It's debatable that I have ever executed any that are really easily separated from K.L., but I have allowed myself the delusion that I have just so I could feel like I had shed myself a little for the role. Actually, I think Dean Schultz in Ghostbusters: Spook University has some affectation that is not really mine. Dick Jensen will, too, if I can muster any that are right for him. Again, I will probably only think I have succeeded.

    The bigger priority is that he have his own walk without it looking like an actor trying to not walk like himself.

    UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON SCHOOL OF LAW AND THE REGIONAL MOCK TRIAL TOURNAMENT: The good thing about being pretty on top of learning my lines for The Best Man is that I also have another dramatic improv gig through the U.D. School of Law. Next weekend, I and many other Dayton actors will all play witnesses for the Regional Mock Trial Tournament that UDSL is hosting. And I have the case details and the character study to learn for that. Since my main need for Best Man lines is solidifying them in my memory, rather than still needing to learn them, I am in much better shape to set some time aside for the U.D. gig study. The only point of anxiety about all of this is that I work the U.D. gig Friday through Sunday (Feb 15-17) then on Monday, the 18th, we are expected to be off-book for Act I of Best Man -- and Act II the next night. I am only slightly anxious, however.

    Had I been cast as Bill Russell in Best Man, I may have bowed out of this UD gig, since Russell has at least twice as many lines as Jensen, if not more.

    Here's an article about us actors being used for the mock trials: "UDSL Hosts Regional Mock Trial Tournament; Employs Actors as Witnesses." I can't guarantee that the URL will be hot indefinitely, but it's good right now. Dennis Turner, by-the-way, who is mentioned in the article, is the man who saw me as Stefen in 'Art' and then contacted Fran Pesch about using me as a witness for U.D. Law Clinic and for the School of Law. So he's kind of the first person to have ever "DISCOVERED" me. So, where's Mr. Demille?

    ADDENDUM added about an hour after original post:

      I forgot the fact that I also am doing the U.D. Law Clinic Intrasessions, two days during the Final Dress week for Best Man. So there is another set of case background and character info to know while finishing up Dick Jensen to get him ready for stage. But, I believe this is not a problem, and I ought to be making myself able to split the acting skills out like this. If I can't do it, I'd better be learning how to do it.

    ANOTHER ADDITION -- YIKES! ANOTHER DOH!!! MOMENT -- AND A BIG OL' CORRECTION TO MAKE:

    I, as is often the case, made another error in attribution here. I gave the wrong actress credit as Martha in the upcoming production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The Dayton Playhouse.

    And, I have just been corrected -- that would be PAM McGINNIS in the role of Martha. To make it an even bigger DOH!!!, I had a conversation in person with Charles Lakowski a couple weeks back and he stated Pam's name in plain audible distance to my ears, and I still got it wrong. Dare I mention that I heard the George and Martha casting several times prior to that? -- which really goes toward verifying the rumors that I was dropped on my head as a young child.

    I have changed it in the Feb 6 entry to reflect reality. And my apologies to Ms. McGinnis.



    Sun Feb 10, 2008

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    BEST MAN: Helped out with the set construction yesterday. We at least got the walls up so that the actual playing space is all there and defined. I know they are working today but I can't be there. I guess every now and then I have to attend to my life away from the theatre and from other artistic things. Though I will have chances today to drill my lines for the show -- as well, I'll start learning the case facts and character information for my role as a witness in next weekend's mock trial tournament.

    pics of the start of the hotel suite in 1960 Philadelphia
    -- the walls are up

    BEST MAN set walls

    BEST MAN set walls

    BEST MAN set walls



    Mon, Feb 11, 2008

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    MAN DO I MISS MY LAPTOP!: Started going over the case facts for the Regional Mock Trial Tournament (hosted by the University of Dayton School of Law). First off, there is a bit of factual information to have in my brain. I also need to create a bit of character bio and back story. Lunch time with a laptop would be a great time for that -- and had I a working laptop, would be when I did it. I actually will still do it then, but it will be "old school" hand-written only to be keyed into electronic form later. I suppose the redundancy might help commit those facts I will bring to the table better into my memory. The case facts are the more important ones. I have those on index cards -- but reorganizing them in word docs would be good, too. That probably won't happen because lunch time on a laptop is really the only time I could do that.

    BEST MAN: No big developments except that I did drill my lines some yesterday and that I am in rehearsal tonight.



    Tue, Feb 12, 2008

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    The view of the snow out of my apt window -- Feb 12, 2008
    Looking out my livingroom window about noon today

    THE MIDWEST GETS HIT WITH A WINTER STORM BUT I GET TO REHEARSE ANYWAY: So most of the midwestern United States was hit with a major winter storm front last night, and I ended up with the day off from work. Originally the university was closed until noon, but by late morning officials decided to close for the day. I have two rehearsals scheduled for later, however, and as of mid-afternoon, neither are cancelled. I've actually confirmed that one is still a go.

    I have 5:00 rehearsal meeting at UD Law Clinic for the mock trial tournament; then a 7:00 Best Man rehearsal -- (technically a 7:15 rehearsal). I haven't been out yet today so I don't know what the drive from my neck of the woods into Dayton will be like. Probably after I travail the rural side roads close to home and get to the major thoroughfares then the highway, it'll be much better. There was a level 1 snow emergency declared this morning ("Roadways are hazardous.... Caution should be used when driving.") in my county, but I don't believe that is still in effect. There is, however, freezing rain coming down right now, which means I am leaving early for Dayton.

    I just wish I had the legal case facts better in my head for the mock trial. I know I don't really need them committed yet today for this meeting, but I'd rather that I was farther along. We are doing Act I, Scene 1 for Best Man tonight; I feel pretty on top of that.

      *BY-THE-WAY, I POSTED THE PICTURE OF THE SNOW OUTSIDE JUST BECAUSE. THERE'S NO INTENT OF "WOW! LOOK AT ALL THAT SNOW!" OR SOME SUCH. AND I THINK IT'S A COOL PHOTOGRAPH.


    Wed Feb 13, 2008

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    REHEARSAL MEETING FOR THE REGIONAL MOCK TRIAL TOURNAMENT: So, I'm on U.S. 35, about two minutes away from Interstate 75, and pretty close to three-quarters of the way to University of Dayton School of Law from my apartment. It's about 4:27 p.m. On the radio the announcer is giving all the closing and delay updates, which by this time in the day is virtually nothing but businesses and evening events or club meetings. The radio announcer says, "The campus of the University of Dayton will close at 4:30." I try to call Fran Pesch, but her cell phone is off. I try to call the secretary at the U.D. Law Clinic, but it is just then 4:30 and she has just left. My only recourse is to finish my trip and see if maybe the rehearsal meeting is still on.

    I pull up to the guard shack and ask if he knows; he doesn't but does say I can park and go find out. Another actor happens to pass by and verifies that it indeed is still happening.

    That "rehearsal" was, as these for the law clinic are, really an orientation meeting. It was mostly advice and guidance about how to respond and a reminder to not volunteer any information -- the student lawyers are supposed to ask the right questions to get the information. Now I just need to finish committing all the facts of the case and all the character fill-out to my memory.

    BEST MAN: We did Act I, Scene 1 for the first time in two weeks and for the very first time in the actual playing space -- last time, the Park Your Car... set was still up. We seem to be coming along well. I am satisfied with my progress with Jensen but recognized that I am not where I want to be with the character just yet. I still have had the book in my hand all week but have nevertheless said most of my lines from memory.

    I have a few of what I guess I could best label as "minor differences in vision" with director Barb Coriell in terms of the Jensen character and with a few of his motives and reactions. But they are very minor and I believe I can satisfy us both with any adjustments I make.

    more pics of the start of the hotel suite in 1960 Philadelphia
    -- a little further along

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    BEST MAN set in early construction

    A SIDE NOTE THAT IS PROBABLY FAR MORE INTERESTING TO ME THAN TO ANYONE ELSE: I recently met a young lady, another actor whom I have actually seen on stage, and when we introduced ourselves she said something to the effect of "I think you have a 'semi-famous' blog." I, of course, had to admit that I am the culprit. And I said to her as I have intimated here before, that I find it a little fascinating that there is any sort of "readership" for this essentially banal and mundane blip on the internet -- either a readership local to the Dayton acting community or one extending out to anywhere else in cyberspace.

    It's not as if I am some noted actor of remarkable reputation, local or otherwise. And I do my damnedest to not be controversial (and only in my ego-driven imagination would I ever actually achieve serious controversy here). And I bend over backwards to report nothing even in the same neighborhood of gossip. Only in my own delusional mind would there ever be anything wise or any brilliant observations about the craft of acting or any of the other "arts" I happen to discuss here. Plus, there is a heavy dose of redundancy showered all over the blog (for instance, there is a rather over-written, insidiously extensive essay entry that touches greatly on this particular subject: "So What Is the Value of This Blog And What's the Best Approach to It?").

    My mind is just a little boggled that anyone can muster a sustained interest in this silly self-indulgence of mine. Maybe people are entertained by the blatant, green naiveté -- especially in terms of acting -- that I would suspect is far more prevalent here than I could care to recognize. Could be folk peer in to see me taking myself far too seriously. I like to believe I don't but I know that I often do. Though I don't want to take my acting and other artistic endeavors too lightly either.

    Well, at least I am not just posting this in cyberspace and having it be completely ignored, for whatever that's worth. As to what true relevance it has to anything....



    Thu Feb 14, 2008

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    He Dances Through Her Soul
    by Anne Foxbank

    He comes, embarrassed
    by the moves he moves for her,
    feeling like a small boy who's
    acting like a man.

    He doesn't see how
    he is dancing through her soul,
    that what he knows is childish,
    she knows is his heart.

    He is her nude man.
    He will always be naked
    and bound to her, all for her --
    it is his desire.

    It is her desire
    that he will allow the pain
    that she will never give him;
    but, he allows it.

    He stands opened, wide,
    pressed against the cold, stone wall.
    She could do all she wanted --
    and that is his strength.

    He -- naked for her,
    in all hours and seasons,
    unprotected from her whims
    --
    dances through her soul.

    © 1998 Anne Foxbank, all rights reserved, appears here by permission

    Happy Valentine's Day






    BEST MAN: Another quite encouraging rehearsal last night, as we did most of Act II. None of us are totally off-book yet, but many, if not most of us, are pretty friggin' close. It's at a point where, though there are some awkward stalls as we struggle for lines on occasion, for the most part we are past that and able to give at least some good attention to delivery and performance issues.

    I am quite happy to say that I am in that crowd.

    As for Dick Jensen, I believe I am striking a great balance between the Dick Jensen I have envisioned and the one that director Barb Coriell wants to see. I have been in the position before where I was frustrated and unhappy about the performance and interpretation of the character that a given director has wanted, at least at specific points in the particular show. At this point I don't have that experience with BM.

    Please understand there is a bit of poetic license being used in this, but I am using what I am calling West Wing modes for various spots in the show as Jensen. When Dick is administrating and "guiding" Bill Russell, he is often in what I call the "Leo" mode; sometimes he's in the "Toby" mode in some of these. The "Toby" mode is, however, more heavily applied when Dick is standing in the room, observing, assessing, calculating the situation. There is a "Josh-lite" mode, too. That is the moments when he lets his guard down and shows a bit of his excitement or his frustration -- there is a bit of Leo in those, too. Now, I am not actually imitating Richard Schiff doing Toby Ziegler, John Spencer doing Leo McGarry or Bradley Whitford doing Josh Lymann -- but I am mentally clinging to the ideas of the attitudes the characters would have in these Jensen situations, as they would be portrayed by these wonderful actors. I am still doing my own work -- it's just the vehicle I am using to get the job done. No one is going to see the connections unless they read this and fake themselves into seeing the connections as they watch my Jensen. And, by opening night I'll just be Jensen; this all will have soaked into the fabric of the character and Dick will be doing what Dick is doing as Dick would do it.

    As for sculpting Dick's walk and mannerisms, I think it's more-or-less coming along. I am working a lot with how he uses his eye glasses as a source of expression. I still haven't found the pair I want for him: that thick black-rimmed style so prevalent in the early sixties.

    AUDITION FOR AN INDUSTRIAL TODAY: I have an audition for an industrial training video this afternoon. So, I have had to learn more lines for something. But I am already pretty on top of the lines. It's only a page and a half of dialogue, and I have seven lines -- only two that are more than short sentences. The first line is the one I need the most work on. By 4:00 I should be set.

    So I have the U.D. Law stuff to complete the memorization of, this audition stuff, and the final commitment of Best Man lines. Oh, I am not whining! It's cool to be this busy as an actor. So, where's that $10,000,000 paycheck!?

    I'll just ignore the question of whether or not I have over-extended myself. At this point, I think not, but we shall see.



    Fri Feb 15, 2008

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    BEST MAN: Since I was already in Dayton for the audition at Roof-Goenner, I got to the Guild early and ran my lines for Act II, Scene 4, walking the blocking on the set (one advantage of having a key to the theatre building of the company producing the play you are in). I was able to run it a few times, so I tried the actual rehearsal off-book, and utilized a clip board as a prop.

    A few places caused me a bit of trouble, one in particular, and I struggled a bit with lines, which interfered with staying totally in character. Jensen is on the phone, and critical shit is happening. In her notes, Director Barb told me I needed to be more animated. I did not bother with the Yeah, but... explanation. And I did try to get Jensen more animated when we ran that again -- I tripped up even more. It's just a question of being off-book there. I was not delivering as I wanted to, even before her note. I also know I need to slow it down just a tad in terms of speech, but keep tight pauses so it does not lag. Her other note was for me to watch out for a few upward swings in vocal pitch.

    Monday we run Act I officially off-book and in as much of our costumes as we have. I will wear the dress slacks, the jacket, the tie, and the shoes. I hope to have Jensen's eye glasses by then. I think the clipboard stays, an I want 8 1/2 X 11 papers, a day planner, and a legal pad all added to the mix as soon as I can.

    THE AUDITION FOR AN INDUSTRIAL: It went okay. The first line, the one that was giving me problems as I learned the script, did trip me up and we had to do a few takes. The "good" take probably could have been better. There were a few enunciation problems, I thought. I left wishing just a little that I'd asked for another take. I really need to stop ignoring my instincts with this. When I'd like to do it again, I need to ask to. I have noted this far too often here.

    REGIONAL MOCK TRIAL TOURNAMENT STARTS TONIGHT: Have to be at the Dayton Court House in a few hours for the first round in the tournament (hosted, of course, by University of Dayton School of Law).

    I am actually home, sick, having called off work today. I am going tonight, I feel a little better right now. I have about three more hours to study all the material. I swear to you I did not play hooky today to do so -- in fact I slept all morning -- but, I must admit, I can use these three hours. My general feeling of crappiness won't help, but off I go, right now to study may part.

    SHAKESPEARE: This will be a weekend of William, too. If I am wrapped soon enough tonight, I'll buzz to Springfield to see Sonnets By William Shakespeare as produced by Springfield StageWorks. I also have a ticket for tomorrow night's performance of Romeo and Juliet at The Human Rave Theatre Company.



    Sun Feb 17, 2008

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    THE REGIONAL MOCK TRIAL TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND: There were a lot of familiar faces at the Montgomery County Courts building this weekend. In fact, we had a Dayton Theatre Guild board meeting on Saturday morning that may not have had a quorum. And there were lots of other actors I know, or at least have a passing acquaintance with, there too. I think some other of the "witnesses" were students from the University of Dayton School of Law, which, again, was the host of the tournament. And the bailiffs were all, I believe, UD Law students, as well.

    I must say the crop of law students I was able to witness in the court sessions I was in were for the most part pretty damned impressive. All the lead counsels for the defense, who dealt with me, were sharp and aggressive. I had a young woman Friday night who was impeccable in her communication skills during opening argument and was on top of things all through the trial. Same with the young man on Saturday morning. In the afternoon we were in the first round the elimination -- and the collective strength of the skills from all the law students in the court room was much stronger. The use of reference to case law was far more prevalent. Objections were lobbed far more frequently and the shear number was far higher. The communication skills of the lawyers who opened were still just as excellent, and all four lawyers (two for each team) were sharp and aggressive on both direct and cross examination.

    I did get an opportunity in the third trial Saturday to be a difficult witness for the cross examination by the plaintiff's counsel. The young lady was trying to get my character, Dana, to admit that his job was at stake if the lawsuit was decided in favor of the plaintiff. At issue was a statement from his deposition where he said if an employee of his company was involved in an at-fault accident with a fatality, that the employee would be fired and loose all benefits including pension. I played Dana wholeheartedly believing that this meant if the company found him at fault, not if the law suit found him at fault. Dana was aggressively adamant on the stand that the company had already determined that he was not at fault and his job was not at risk. The whole point being that Dana saw no motivation to lie in sworn testimony about what had happened. I got rather feisty with the young lady, raising my voice and such.

    She started to say at one point, "Mr. Mylanta I don't think you understand..." I cut her off with, "I don't think you understand!" and went on with my argument about why my job was not on the line, that my company stood behind me as not being at fault.

    My Dana was, of course, naive about this. He would be fired about thirty seconds after a verdict against the company. But he did not believe that. The young lady did not ever, I believe, get anything close to an admission that Dana was concerned about his job -- but I think she did show he was pretty delusional about it. And though she didn't get her point out of me -- I must say, she showed great poise in the face of a hostile witness, and did everything she could to get the focus of the testimony back on track with a witness who did not want to let her. I happened to see her as we both entered the courts building today and was able to complement her on her professional demeanor.

    This afternoon was the final round and I got another chance to be a bit of trouble to a plaintiff lawyer. He thought he had impeached me when in fact he had not. He was positioning himself to pounce on me by showing me testimony from Dana's deposition. Dana said he was "freaked out" and felt "creepy" being on Highway 13 and on Blackcat Lane. But He had not said he felt that way while he was in a cemetery by those roads. My take on Dana was that he is superstitious about the number 13 and about the blackcat name. But, he has a fascination with communicating with the dead and actually is not afraid of the dead. I said on the stand that I was not uneasy about pulling my utility truck into a cemetery. He asked me, "didn't that freak you out and make you feel creepy?" I said, "Not the cemetery, no." He went to the deposition; then he realized he had not impeached me -- so, like a professional, he just moved on, not letting anyone see whether or not it affected him. Again, impressive stuff.

    A weekend with a group of future lawyers who impressed the hell out of this layman.

    BEST MAN: Tomorrow night we do Act I off-book. We can still at this point call for lines, but I am betting most in this particular cast is bound and determined to not do so. I certainly am -- first of all, I don't have an overwhelming amount of lines. Second, I have been rather close to off-book for several rehearsals, with a few problem spots. I believe I can make it for the most part. I am going to try now to just get though and not get hung up on exact wording as I am in the scene. I hope to rely on Duante's line notes after rehearsal to correct misspoken lines. I.E. I'm going to try to focus on the performance and the story rather than break my momentum when I know what Jensen is saying but not the exact words -- I'm going to paraphrase and deal with fixing the wording later. I hope. It's all a question of boring down to the focus to keep Jensen on stage and K.L. off the stage.

    SHAKESPEARE NO, SHAKESPEARE YES: I got out of the mock trials too late Friday to get to Springfield StageWorks for the Sonnets By William Shakespeare. But I did make it to Romeo and Juliet at The Human Rave Theatre Company last night. Great show. I loved that Juliet was interpreted as a fairly modern thirteen year old in many ways.

    FILM DIRECTOR STUFF: I have decided to make a concerted effort to mount the production of the longer short movie this coming summer. I refer to the 30-45 minute screenplay I started a few years back and need to rewrite just a little. I am going to start looking hard for a co-producer and I will get on finishing the screenplay. I also have not looked at what film festivals I can still submit The Chorus for Candice, despite saying I know I need to. So, that WILL happen this week.



    Tue, Feb 19, 2008

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    BEST MAN: Pretty good run of Act I off-book last night. A couple people struggled a little bit, but no more than would be expected the first night off-book. I was most happy with myself. I had a few questions about exact wording but I never actually called for a line. Most who did call for lines were those who had far more lines to remember than I do, so I don't place myself out ahead of them.

    We all got a lot more character and delivery work done than is usually expected on the first off-book night. I actually also wore all of my costume -- though some things may get switched out between now and Opening Night.

    Tonight's Act II off-book, and I feel good about my lines there, too.



    Wed Feb 20, 2008

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    BEST MAN: Last night, Act II, off-book, was a little more shaky than Act I the night before, but it was still not too terribly bad, overall. I stumbled a bit more. Toward the end of the night when we were working trouble spots I started screwing up lines I have had down pat before. Also had some trouble with a section where I and Steve Strawser (Don Blades) need to have a tightly-paced banter going. I was focused on pace and energy and lost my focus on words. It is clearly a vignette that Steve and I need to spend practice time on outside of rehearsal.

    UPDATE ON THE SHORT-SUBJECT MOVIE STILL ME: Director/screenwriter Beth McElhenny has written additional scenes for the movie. After she'd edited the Ohio footage, plus an L.A. re-shoot of of one scene, she tested that cut with some audiences and decided the film needed more. She also reports that everything already shot and edited looks very good "and has gotten amazing reactions."

    As for what's currently happening in the careers of the two principal actors, Scott King and Tina Gloss, I know nothing. I have wondered if Tina has another appearance on Pushing Daisies. Hope so.

    ANOTHER AUDITION TOMORROW: I have another screentest late tomorrow afternoon at Roof-Goenner for another industrial training video. I am grateful the agency has not given up on me despite months of not booking me.



    Sat Feb 23, 2008

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    Another view of the snow out of my apt window -- Feb 22, 2008
    Looking out my livingroom window yesterday --
    the other direction from last week.
    I was again home from work because the University was closed.

    BEST MAN: Ah, yes well -- Mother Nature messes with the mid-winter slot for Dayton theatre again. Our Thursday evening rehearsal had to be cancelled because freezing slush made the roads a pretty hazardous gamble. The irony is that, as last time we had to cancel because of weather, I was already at the theatre. This time it was because I had the audition for the industrial earlier in the afternoon in Dayton, so I stayed in Dayton and went to the Guild to run my lines on stage, doing the blocking, as I had planned. And I did go ahead and run through all my lines, walking the stage with them. So, I suppose I got a rehearsal of sorts in.

    We don't have rehearsal again until tomorrow, which will be first the cue-to-cue tech rehearsal then we run the show, at least once. We were to have Monday night off but now we are very unlikely to not rehearse Monday evening. Best for the show but a "little (but only a little)" bit of a problem for me -- more on that later.

    Over-all, however, we are in pretty damned good shape so this is only a minor set-back. Act II, as usually seems to be the case with shows, has been short-shifted in terms of attention; again, that seems to so often be the case.

    As for Jensen, I have him built just about as I wish him and am making modifications for director Barbara Coriell that truly do not conflict with my vision, and certainly make him a better agent for telling his part of the story. Between Barb, David Shough, and myself, we have discussed showing a strong peer relationship and strong friendship between Jensen and his candidate, Bill Russell. One way we are achieving that is my changing where I had originally had Jensen throwing away some exit lines, saying them matter-of-factly as he left the stage. Those will now be more pointed dialogue bits, with Dick addressing Bill directly, several of them now delivered as more pointed jests -- these particular lines had already been delivered in jest, but with less of a connection between the two characters because they were such cavalier throw-aways.

    There are also a few lines I am going to deliver with amusement rather than as the authoritative campaign manager. And, I am trying to cultivate my end of seizing many opportunities for Dick and Bill to engage in non-verbal communication. David has been making the attempt and I have often missed those attempts. The opposite has also happened, though I think a little less often. But, anyway, I believe we will get this whole enhancement to the proper measure in the next couple of rehearsals.

    SO...WHAT DO I KNOW?: As for that audition for the industrial last Thursday afternoon at Roof-Goenner -- well, in my estimation it was, if not the worst, certainly one of the worst performances I have ever given in an audition. My view is that I was horrible. I could not remember a lot of the lines well; I was just simply not focused (THERE IT IS AGAIN!).

    Yet.........

    ........I have finally been booked for a paying gig though my agent. Go figure. As a fellow actor told me today, "That just goes to show how we can't really judge our own work most of the time."

    I will shoot the work Tuesday afternoon, 1:00-5:00. I am concerned that I won't get wrapped until later, because I absolutely have rehearsal for Best Man at 7:15, and since I have the first lines of the show, and it is the third to last dress rehearsal, I need to be able to be at the Guild by 6:30 at the very latest. The gig is shooting downtown, so at least it's close. A couple minutes of footage for a final cut can take hours and hours, however.

    AS MUCH AS I CAN CHEW: So, as last week, I currently have about as much to chew as I can handle. I have U.D. Law dramatic improv gigs all day Monday and Wednesday (and the case facts yet to know), I have some lines to have memorized and many to be quite familiar with for the industrial Tuesday afternoon, and I have the final polish on my lines for The Best Man.

    • Fortunately, there is not a dearth of information to commit to memory for the U.D. gig, but, still, I have to go in prepared.
    • The industrial is set up so that the CU one-shots will have each of the actors reading off cue cards, and we only need to be off-page for a limited amount of two shots -- which is good. I still need to go in as familiar with the script as possible. The Monday night BM rehearsal is that "little" bit of a problem because I would have liked Monday evening to work on the script for this Tuesday afternoon gig. But, so oh well.
    • For The Best Man I am 99.9% off-book. What that means is I can do the show in front of an audience, but I would paraphrase on occasion, yet the audience would not pick up any errors. However, I prefer to be verbatim.

    FOCUS ON FOCUS: The audition on Thursday again shoved in my face my need for more disciplined focus -- a far too recurring theme in my quest to grow into an excellent actor. So, this having about as much as I can chew, though it's a little nerve-racking, is an opportunity to hone my focusing tools. I suppose I have gotten better, but I would be foolish to measure myself at a true professional level (or what I deem a professional level). It's still easy to distract me and throw me off the game -- which is a condition I find unacceptable and I will change.

    One of the things my agent, Jim Payne, suggested was that I am allowing my internal director to be too involved in my performance. He proposed that I am listening to my delivery too much and not just focusing on being in the moment. I think he has a point, at least in a situation like that audition where I had less time to prep and had a particular set of lines that I found difficult to maneuver. It is all still indeed a question of focus and Jim's postulation merits my strong attention.

    Well, enough blogging, I have much to do.



    Fri Feb 29, 2008

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    OPENING TONIGHT AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD:

    THE BEST MAN by Gore Vidal at the Dayton Theatre Guild,



    Mon, Mar 3, 2008

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    CATCHING UP

    THE BEST MAN

    THE BEST MAN cast and crew
    The Best Man cast, plus...:
    BACK ROW: Harold Fox (Dr. Artinian), K.L.Storer (Dick Jensen), David Shough (William Russell), Cheryl Mellen (Sue-Ellen Gamadge), Patrick Hayes (Joseph Cantwell), Steve Strawser (Don Blades), Dave Nickel (Sen, Carlin);
    MIDDLE ROW (couch): Jeri Williams (Catherine), Debra Strauss (Alice Russell), Bert Staub (Pres. Hockstader), Ame Clase (Mabel Cantwell), Barbara Coriell (Director);
    FRONT ROW (floor): Rick Flynn (Sheldon Marcus), Duante Beddingfield (Assistant Director/Stage Manager)
    photo by & © Alan Louie, appears here by permission

    • OPENING WEEKEND: I must say we got ourselves off to a good start this weekend. We never had a sold out house but we always had at least 40 (about half) and two of the three shows were both around 60. As of the posting of this we have at least one sold-out house: this coming Saturday. We actors had good energy all weekend and though most of us had one or two bouts with lineflubitis, nothing horrible happened. There were also some technical glitches. That's live theatre.

      Friday was a great opening night! We had wonderful audience response during the show and then afterward. There were some flubs and several technical problems but I think maybe most of those were not caught by the audience or at least not by most of the audience. Any that did catch them apparently ignored them.

      For me the biggest flub comes back to that recurring issue of focus. An actor entered a scene a few sentences too soon on me, rather than at the end of my particular line there, and I allowed that to throw me, so I lost the rest of the line for a split-moment. I do not blame that actor. Had I been as focused as I should have been I would not have been thrown. It seems like for many in the audience the moment was what it should have been: Dick was making the argument he was making, the other character entered the scene, then Dick stopped and was thrown off by the arrival of this person, then he got back to his train of thought. I have no doubt, though, that others saw an actor lose his lines for a moment -- especially the several actors and directors who were there.

      A couple tech problems beyond my control occurred with Jensen Opening Night, too. At one point Dick turns on the TV to convention coverage -- which, of course, we have canned, coming from a DVD player. When I turned the TV on, there was a regular broadcast signal. Nothing to do but just go on. At another point, shortly after that, Dick has a line that is interrupted by a phone call, a very important call for him to take. So far, in all tech rehearsals and Friday night, that ring has not happened. To cover this, I have devised Dick getting a little frustrated and saying, "I'm going to check my phone messages." That way, the important information from that phone call gets it exposition. I am a little bothered that the text, the Jensen side of that particular conversation is not being played out; it's good text. It's also not as logical for Bill and Alice to just stand there and watch me check my phone messages as it might be for them to watch me take an interruptive call.

      My own overall performance felt a little off to me that night, though I got some good comments from people. I was told it was the best performance of Jensen so far, by our director, and I got good comment from our AD/SM, too. Someone else, who has seen a bit but not all my work, told me it was her favorite role for me she's seen. Others said Dick was very authentic. The next day I then had a rather flattering response relayed to me that a member of the Friday audience was impressed with my performance and thought it was "effortless"; how very encouraging to hear that someone could have such a reaction to one's work. I think there was a bit of mixed review in reality, however -- I got the sense a few there Friday night were not much impressed with my work in that particular performance.

      But, it was still a fabulous Opening Night. And that's good because Terry Morris of the Dayton Daily News was there. So here's hoping we get a good review this week.

      Saturday night we all certainly still felt good, too, about our sophomore show. Personally, I more-or-less flubbed one line, but it was not what I would call a full-on line flub. I am supposed to say to Sue-Ellen Gamadge (Cheryl Mellen), "I must say, I'm glad to meet you at last, Mrs. Gamadge." Well, I said, "I must say---" and then my mind was racing with Oh, shit! WHAT must I say? Then after a fraction of a second I said, with less than smooth delivery, "---it's good to, uh, I'm glad to finally meet you, Mrs. Gamadge," or something close to that. Whether it registered on the audience radar or not I have no clue.

      Another actor told me there was a bit of a line struggle between that actor's self and another in a scene that I am also in. I did notice a little hesitation on stage -- I think, because I know the timing and pace of the scene -- but was not aware of any missing lines. I would guess the audience was blissfully unaware that anything was awry.

      Still had a few tech problems. I had another absent phone ring, this time in a different part of the script, apparently because there was a jack connection problem at that point. This time there was just nothing to do but pick up as if it had rang. Of course, audiences are forgiving of such tech problems, but still....

      I am happy to report that the phone ring that did not happen Friday, did happen Saturday, so I was able to deliver the lines on the phone that should be there.

      And then we ended the weekend yesterday with another good show. We had the smallest crowd of the weekend on Sunday, but they were very responsive. And we again got a lot of good comments from them. And, all the phone rings were present, as far as I know; I know all mine were.

    • TECH WEEK: To back-track, for whatever it's worth. Really there's nothing special to report now that an accounting of some performances are up. The anticipatory "we had a good final dress" is far more dramatic when Opening Night is yet to come. And a declaration "we had a worrisome final dress" would be even more tension building without the hindsight of the having gotten through the first weekend. I should have went ahead and wrote this as if Opening Weekend were still ahead, but I am writing from my own mental and emotional place, so I am more hip on what a good three shows we've had. By the way, that "we had a worrisome final dress" was a hypothetical; we had a great final dress, at least in terms of performances -- though it was one of the nights I missed the cue I write of in the next paragraph.

      Tech week was, of course, the last few chances to iron out cues and get on board with the newly-introduced tech cues and such. For my part I missed one entrance cue two rehearsals in a row. The first night it was because someone came to me to ask a production related question so I missed the cue line on stage. The next night -- Final Dress -- I missed it again because I was contemplating a different way to say my first line after the entrance, so I was zoned out for just the wrong few seconds.

    • THE PRESENT EVOLUTION OF DICK JENSEN: Dick has grown to less reserved than I had planned, even after I had modified my goal a bit. This was not a conscious decision on my part, it is just where I have ended up with him. I believe in part it came about because of that effort between David Shough, Barb Coriell and myself to show the friendship and connection between Russell and Jensen. Subsequently, most of the detached behavior has been replaced with more engaged behavior that has by default removed, or at least diminished, some of the reserved quality. Though he is still a reserved guy to some extent, there is more emotional reaction now. And, of course, he is quite emotive, and loses most of his reserve, as the play mounts to its conclusion in Act II. Though he gets back to his subtler persona at the very end.

    UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON SCHOOL OF LAW INTRASESSIONS: Did the dramatic improv work for the U.D. intrasessions last Monday and Wednesday. Monday was the interview sessions where the law students sat down with their clients to find out what the problem was. Wednesday was the counseling session, where they gave their legal opinions and advice.

    The case scenario was close enough to biographical for me that I had no trouble being in character. The idea was that the client has an aging mother, with Alzheimer's and epilepsy, who is institutionalized. She just suffered a bout in the hospital where she almost died. She is currently defiant of all care and medication and is refusing to eat. The dilemma is about placing a feeding tube in her and the legal ramifications of that given that she has made no will, no living will, no advanced directives and has never even made verbal notice of what she might want in terms of "end-of-life" issues. She also is not speaking and it cannot be determined if she is purposefully not communicating or if she is not aware enough to communicate. That last wrinkle I added based on issues I had with my mom in her last days.

    It was interesting to be in the diverse counseling sessions with the twelve students I worked with. Their interpretations of the law and the correct course to take had a relatively broad span from one side of the spectrum to the other.

    ANOTHER UD GIG: I just picked up a mock deposition for a law professor's class, coming up here in a couple weeks. I will be a prison guard who was present when an inmate was killed. The gig is Thursday evening the 13th. I have a rehearsal meeting with the professor this coming Wednesday afternoon.

    INDUSTRIAL TRAINING VIDEO SHOOT FOR DAY INTERNATIONAL: Got my first booked, paying gig for Roof-Goenner Talent Agency under my belt. We shot for a few hours last Tuesday afternoon. The shoot actually wrapped early, which was good. It was scheduled for 1:00-5:00 and I was worried that it might run over and threaten to make me late for the Tuesday evening Best Man dress rehearsal. But, the afternoon went smoothly and I was getting in my car a little after 4:00.

    When I got the gig, Jim at Roof-Goenner told me that I did not need to worry about having the script memorized because there would be cue cards. I was a little uneasy about that. Reading from cue cards or a prompter is far more of a learned skill than many might think. Just think of all the really brilliant actors you've seen on Saturday Night Live or Mad TV who were obviously reading cue cards during skits, while the cast regulars, who often are, too, completely obscure that fact from you.

    What the director did was to not really shoot masters (wide shots of all actors and action, as opposed to close-ups of individuals or isolated events in the scene) of the whole sequences. Only a wide, two-shot of myself and my scene mate was shot for the start and the end of each sequence. Our conversations in between were all reversals (a close-up of each actor as he speaks). During those, the other actor held the cue cards at his level and the one on camera was able to read his lines. As to whether our eyes looked, on camera, like they were moving across text, I couldn't tell you. The director watched on a monitor, so, if he was happy, hey just give me the check.

    AUDITION FOR THE OHIO LOTTERY: Before the shoot Tuesday, I had an audition at the agency for an Ohio Lottery spot, again. This time it was voice work, only, doing the voice of an insufferable lottery machine. Since I haven't heard back about it, I assume I was not cast. Again, since that would be an AFTRA gig, I assume the pay check is pretty good. I can do one AFTRA shoot without joining. I think I wrote of this last time I auditioned for the Ohio Lottery. When I get my second AFTRA shoot, I would have to join the union, then could not do any none-union commercials.

    MY OWN MOVIE STUFF

    • FILM FESTIVALS FOR THE CHORUS FOR CANDICE: I have yet to find a good fit for my little short. I am on the lookout, though
    • CO-PRODUCER FOR THE LONGER SHORT MOVIE: I have put some feelers out for my co-producer. I need a co-producer who knows how to raise the money; I hardly have a clue. I am about to compose a posting for Craig's list, MySpace, yadda yadda. I'll post that text here, too.

    SOME AUDITIONS COMING UP:

    1. Catch 22 for Springfield StageWorks at the end of this month. I want Maj. Major.
    2. I, and most of the better actors in the Dayton area, will be doing the general auditions for the Human Race Theatre Company in mid-May for the 2008/09 season. I haven't researched the shows yet, but I will. This time when I go in I want to have some idea of what shows I may be interested in going for.

    HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY CLASS, "INSIDE THE AUDITION PROCESS": The next four Mondays I'll be in session with Dayton Equity actor, and one of the co-founders of the Human Race, Scott Stoney trying to improve my audition skills. Again, that cold read stuff is always a concern of mine.

    By the way, I happen to know that they'd like to get a few more actors enrolled in the class, so if you are a Dayton area actor.....

      Ages: 16 and up
      Fee: $120.00 for the 4-week session
      Days: Mondays from 6:15 to 8:45 p.m.
      Dates: March 10-31
      Instructor: Scott Stoney

      Learn the secrets for landing that role! Being cast in a college theatre program or a community or professional theatre production requires careful planning and expert advice from a professional actor/director. In this class, learn to select appropriate monologues/songs that will enhance your unique talents.

    Marilyn Klaben Education Director (937) 461-3823 x3132 for more info.

    You can also get access to a pdf of the registration form at www.humanracetheatre.org/0708adult.htm.



    Wed Mar 5, 2008

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    GREAT REVIEW OF THE BEST MAN: Terry Morris did indeed write a good review of the show for the Dayton Daily News. The review, which appeared in yesterday's edition, said the play was "wonderfully cast by Barbara Coriell." He says of our two leading men:

    Hayes projects a greed for power from every pore. Shough achieves the more complex portrayal of a man who might easily come off as sanctimonious.

    Morris then declares that they are "superbly supported" by the rest of the cast, listing each of us and our roles. It's the first time I have ever been mentioned in one of his reviews beyond simply "also appearing are...." A new hallmark.

    March 6 addendum:
    Click here for the whole review, though at some point it may no longer be available.



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    THE SHOW MUST GO ON (!!!!!!): First, I have a sinus infection, isn't THAT lovely? Then, the national weather service is predicting a shit-load of snow by tomorrow night. Not only is Dick Jensen in jeopardy of sounding hoarse and stopped-up, but the audience size is in jeopardy. Hell, if the snow falls in a compressed enough time period, the show might be cancelled!

    I am sure the other theatres in the area with stuff up are in the same anxious spot -- like X*Act, which has The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) up right now, and then there's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The Dayton Playhouse.

    What weather people are actually saying is that there will be periods of snow and possible sleet during the day tomorrow, with up to four inches of snow. Then tomorrow night, more snow and gusty winds with some snow drift; the kicker is "four to six inches of snow expected," which I take it to mean four to six MORE inches of snow.

    As someone put it in an email earlier today: "<Insert long-assed stream of vile, filthy, not-in-front-of-company, potty-mouthed profanity here>.........snow!"

    MORE ON MORRIS' REVIEW OF THE BEST MAN: I found the URL to the on-line text of Terry Morris' review that I reported yesterday. The Dayton Daily News has a habit of not keeping articles available on-line for an extended period of time, but it's available right now:

    "Guild's 'Best Man' pits might vs. right
    The casting is just right in this campaign drama
    of characters who have mud to sling around
    .

    ANOTHER AUDITION, THIS TIME FOR THE INDIANA LOTTERY: Looks like I will schedule an audition for the Indiana Lottery. The shoot would be in Indianapolis, a great chance see my buddy over there.


    Well, I feel like crap and it's getting late and I need to try to rally my health a bit before tomorrow's show. I could work some on case facts for the upcoming mock deposition gig for U.D. Law, but I need to try to assure at least seven hours sleep tonight -- I have blown eight, unless the bad weather comes early and the campus opens on a delay tomorrow.



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    LET'S TAKE OL' MAN WINTER OUT AND BEAT HIM 9/10 TO DEATH!!!

    So check this bullshit out:

    MAR 7 2008

    ...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 4 PM EST SATURDAY...

    THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WILMINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 4 PM EST SATURDAY.

    LIGHT SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE REGION LATE THIS MORNING. THE SNOW WILL BECOME HEAVIER THIS AFTERNOON...AND LAST THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON. FIVE TO SEVEN INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED TONIGHT...WITH AN ADDITIONAL FIVE TO SEVEN INCHES FALLING SATURDAY MORNING. SNOW WILL TAPER OFF AND END SATURDAY AFTERNOON. IN ADDITION...NORTH WINDS AT 20 TO 30 MPH WITH HIGHER GUSTS WILL CAUSE SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING...AND LIMIT VISIBILITIES TO NEAR ZERO AT TIMES. BY LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON...A FOOT OR MORE OF SNOW IS EXPECTED WITH DRIFTS OVER TWO FEET.

    REMEMBER...A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE IMMINENT OR HIGHLY LIKELY.

    Meanwhile, I am home sick with that sinus infection, though it is actually a little better. But, several theatres have already cancelled performances tonight and at the moment, about 3:50 I expect ours will be, too. In fact we may be about the only ones left. And my county is at a Level 2 which means the streets are getting mean. At Level 3 they will arrest non-essential drivers -- like actors going to performances.


    LET'S TAKE OL' MAN WINTER OUT AND BEAT HIM 9/10 TO DEATH!!! -- Part II

    Now it's about 7:10, I am still home; the show was cancelled. Let's beat the old bastard 19/20 to death.



    Sat Mar 8, 2008

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    LET'S TAKE OL' MAN WINTER OUT AND BEAT HIM 999/1000 TO DEATH!!!

    We've had to cancel today's Best Man show, too. So I say we take hours to beat the worthless sonofabitch within the very fraction of an inch of his miserable, selfish life.

    Again, the snow outside of my apt -- March 07, 2008
    From my front door, yesterday afternoon; forward
    Again, the snow outside of my apt -- March 07, 2008
    From my front door, yesterday afternoon; left
    Again, the snow outside of my apt -- March 07, 2008
    From my front door, yesterday afternoon; right
    My car covered with about 10 inches of snow -- March 8, 2008
    Taken not long before this entry was posted;
    you can see how much I've driven my car since the blizzard started

    We have added a performance this coming Thursday at 8:00 to help make up for the loss today and yesterday. I have the U.D. Law gig, the mock deposition, also that Thursday; it had been scheduled to start at 5:30. My character is to be deposed by two teams, each which will have up to one hour with me. That would potentially put me leaving U.D. at 7:30 to get to the Guild for an 8:00 curtain -- and since I am on at the top of scene one, that's cutting it pretty close. I was able to arrange with the Law professor to move the start of the mock depositions to 5:00, which will put me getting to the Guild no later than 7:15-7:20. And I would guess that both teams will each use their entire respective hours.

    The good news is that we are likely to do tomorrow's performance of The Best Man.

    Meanwhile, as I write this I am waiting for the friggin' county sheriff to downgrade the local snow emergency to Level 2 so I can get to the grocery store -- providing it is open. The damned blizzard is over. The damned store is less than a mile from me! I need some bottled water; my tap water is so limed up it leaves barnacles on the tongue.

    Oops -- Little Bit of an Update or Addendum: Forgot to mention that it looks like my only opportunity to see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf has slipped away. Even if The Dayton Playhouse schedules an extra show, it is likely to be this coming Thursday, like our added Best Man. Too bad. I was hoping to see the work of the folk in that cast.



    Tue, Mar 11, 2008

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    NOT MY "BEST" BEST MAN: Sunday's performance was not the best so far for the production as a whole, and especially for me. Were I to venture an explanation -- and I would -- I would say the seven days off took the company as almost a whole (but, I don't think, in its entirety) off its game a bit. And I am sure the forty-eight hours of cabin fever messed with our mojo.

    The energy did not seem to suffer, seemed to me to be as high and hot as it has been, but many of us had trouble with the words. There were multiple incidents of the wrong name for a character coming out of an actor's mouth, including one incident with me where it turned into my biggest screw-up of the performance.

    I caught a few minor flubs from others in scenes I was in; I had one of my own that comes to mind. I'm supposed to say, "before the Garden of Eden was the Word...." What came out was:

    "Before the Word was, uh, before the Garden of Eden was the Word...."

    Not a major deal, but it still bugs me. However, the other more glaring screw-up, the one alluded to above, well, it glared, or glowed brightly. Now, to make a half-assed attempt at being fair to myself, I do admit that I come from the same pseudo-perfectionist, ultra-self critical angle as usual. On the other hand, it cannot be denied this was less than fabulous performance. It's the top of Act II, scene 4. Jensen is alone in the main room of the hotel suite. He's furiously doing delegates math on a legal pad and sits at the small desk with the phone next to him. Lights go up, the phone rings and he quickly answers it.

    "Senator Joseph?" he says, obviously having expected this call. The audience hears his side of the conversation for a minute or so, then Jensen's candidate, Bill Russell, walks in. Jensen acknowledges him then says to him:

    "Bill, it's Senator Joseph.... He's in the convention hall.... They're on the sixth ballot and it's still deadlocked.... Cantwell is leading but no-one's got a majority yet and Merwin's sitting tight.... Joseph says if you let him blast...."

    The first part of that came out as it was to, then this was where it was my turn to get the name wrong, and the words just nose-dived from there:

    "....Russell is leading, no, uh, Cantwell has the majority, no, he doesn't have a majority -- (a pause that was probably only a split second but seemed like several seconds) -- Well Joseph says if you let him lower the boom...."

    A strong argument can be made, and in fact I have admitted it as well as have others offered it without my help, that this can be valid from Jensen's mouth in his mental and emotional place at the top of that scene. And, I will at least give myself credit for not having slipped out of character. Still, there is a certain rhythm and a certain import to the words as they are supposed to be that was trashed on Sunday. And Dick was a little more flustered than I wished for him to be, at least for a minute or so there.

    And, of course, this was another case where a local critic was in the house for a lesser performance by me. Actually, all the way around I wish he'd seen another performance from the company -- we were not at our very best that day.

    Plus, our stage manager/assistant director, Duante Beddingfield had to go on as Don Blades for a very ill Steve Strawser. Duante was not an understudy, so he had to go on with the lines on a clipboard. Audiences are quite forgiving about such circumstances, however. And Duante did a fine job. I must especially comment on an argument Jensen and Blades have toward the end of AII:S4 that requires high energy and quick cue pick-ups; Duante delivered his end of that moment superbly. And neither Steve nor Duante get any credit for the low mojo of this particular curtain to curtain.

    PREP FOR THURSDAY'S MOCK DEPOSITION FOR UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON SCHOOL OF LAW: I am still sick, too. I had a restless night Sunday, my throat was hurting a lot and I kept waking up with this arid cavern from nasal cavities down my throat; one that had steel wool crammed into it. So I was off from work Monday morning. Then I went home early today, at almost the insistence of my boss. And I am pretty sure I will not be at work tomorrow, least a miracle happens.

    How does that apply to prep for Thursday's mock deposition for U.D. School of Law? There are some good number of facts to know, and I have not been acquiring them at the rate I would hope for. I will be good on Thursday, but I'd rather be on top of it better than I am. I lost a bit of study time today because I lay down for a ninety-minute nap that ended up closer to three hours.

    It would make me happy, too, if I wasn't spending two hours just before the Thursday performance of Best Man as another character, besides Jensen. I'd rather be drilling Jensen's lines most of that afternoon. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I am going to wear Jensen's suit to the U.D. gig. A defendant wearing a suite in a deposition is appropriate. And I don't have to worry about it between the end of the gig and the opening curtain at the Guild.

    YESTERDAY'S AUDITION FOR THE HOOSIER LOTTERY: It was rather simple and relatively easy. I had no lines. All I did was focus my eyes on the camera lens and open and close my mouth as a fish would. We tried it with several different attitudes, If you are willing to accept that -- but, even if not, it's true, we did. I had two ladies audition with me, each as my wife. It's an AFTRA shoot, but it does not pay like the other AFTRA shoot I auditioned for would have. But, there is a residual for each time it runs past thirteen weeks. The cynic in me would guess these spots run for about ten, then are shelved long enough to void residuals, but I may not know what I'm talking about, either. I mean, is it not evident that I often do not?

    "INSIDE THE AUDITION PROCESS": Last night, after the Hoosier Lottery audition I attended the first session of this Human Race Theatre Company class with local Equity actor and HRTC resident artist, Scott Stoney at the helm. We have seven people enrolled, though one of them wasn't there last night. Such a small enrollment is fine by me; everyone will get good time spent on themselves.

    It was the introductory session, and Scott got some good discussion going and further talked about a few important fundamentals and laid out some good general tips. I was aware of a lot of it but had some new thoughts thrown at me, too. A big tip is to always have additional monologue material ready -- beyond what the audition specifies -- just in case they ask for more. And them asking for more will be a GOOD thing. He also suggested that one introduce both required monologues (it's usually two) before doing the first one, then just move into the second from the first, giving the auditor some sort of clue of the change. The thought is that if the actor can communicate a clear change from the first to the second, and important performance skill has just been demonstrated. And it will keep the momentum from being interrupted.

    Another tip that has been on my mind is to develop as many relevant skills as one can. So, I have seen today that one of my acting friends is taking a dance class. I have been letting the idea of dance lessons sort of aimlessly bounce around in my head for a long time -- this may be the first time I have ever admitted it in any outward manner. I cannot deny, as I have written many times here and elsewhere, that I am in dire need of good dance instruction.

    We talked about the "special skills" part of the actor's résumé. I have not put bass player on mine because I am so rusty at it that I feel like it's a lie. The only serious bass playing I have done in years was the closing credits music for The Chorus for Candice and then the theme song for the Dice House video trailer -- you know? One of those videos I am no longer allowed to show you. Both of those were relatively simple lines to run. I occasionally bitch about how I am not practicing enough; I do suppose if playing the bass was on my résumé I would have that guitar in my hands on a regular basis.

    Our discussion about this particular subject also got me to thinking about other sorts of things I could put on the list like computer graphic artist and sound designer. I am also wondering if this is a place to place my technical credits as a stage manager, a theatrical producer, DV movie director and editor, writer, etc. I go back and forth with the value of some of this on my actor's résumé and have so far taken the conservative approach of leaving it off. Would not hurt to revisit these.

    We are to bring audition monologues to class next Monday. I will bring a few that I have done and liked -- the Jake's Women cockroach monologue, which works well for me. I also have my eye on one from I Ought to Be in Pictures that I had already planned to prep up for the Human Race generals in May. Plus I will bring the one I used for my Fuente Ovejuna audition, "The Great Constable Explains the Folly of Virtue to His Son, His Prisoner," from The Ambitious Statesman by John Crowne. Now I need a lighter classical piece. Actually, another point that Scott brought up was that your monologue does not have to be from a play as long at it is a character speaking and it's not too narrative. So, I may consider perhaps something like a passage from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Twain, given that it is one of my favorite novels and has a great edged comedic voice to it.

    OKAY OKAY: It's about 9:30 Monday night. I have been writing at this entry, off and on, since after my three-hour nap (though portions of this were written in the note pad of my cell phone yesterday as I killed time between the lottery audition and the audition class). In between I have been working on the facts for the mock deposition. I am, however, feeling no less crappy right now than I have all day. I am going to bed and I am more sure than ever I will not make it to work tomorrow. So while I am home I will struggle on with the mock dep facts, though I am skeptical at the moment that I will retain much.

    Maybe tomorrow morning I will jump out of bed feeling fabulous and being a better dancer than I have ever been -- and suddenly I'll be as profoundly skilled on the bass guitar as a Paul McCartney or a Stanley Clarke. Yes, and I'll suddenly be a shoe in for People's sexiest man alive, too, right after I pick up my Oscar and just before I go to accept my Pulitzer for an unfinished novel. See!: I am ill and I am sleepy.....



    Wed Mar 12, 2008

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    YEP....: I am home sick and I am working on cramming all the facts for the UDSL mock deposition gig tomorrow. I will drill my lines for Best Man a few times today, too.


    Thu Mar 13, 2008

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    I'M STILL UNDER-THE-WEATHER, SO I FEEL OVER-BOOKED: Off work again today. Thought I could rally a bit and at least knock out a half day in the office. At 11:30 I called off the rest of the day. I want to call off both acting gigs for today, too, but I can't do that. With luck, by 5:00, when the UD Law mock deposition starts, I'll feel better than I do right now.

    As for prep for that gig, I suppose I am ready. No, I am ready. Except that I feel like crap and would rather sleep from now until tomorrow morning.

    I drilled my lines for Best Man yesterday and also once earlier today when I was awake. I am on top of them. Let's see about 8:00 tonight.

    SPEAKING OF THE BEST MAN: So tonight we start a run of five performances. We have two on Saturday because we have a special performance for The League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area at 8:30. So, with these five shows over the next four days and a double-book on Saturday, it will be sort of like working an Equity house, except, no paycheck.

    A POSITIVE MINI-REVIEW OF THE BEST MAN: Russell Florence Jr. gave a capsulated one-paragraph review in yesterday's Dayton City Paper that was favorable in what it mentioned. He gave kudos to David Shough, Patrick Hayes and Bert Staub, saying that Bert "nearly steals the show." He mentioned no other performances and for me that may be just as well, since he was the critic in the seats on Sunday.



    Sun Mar 16, 2008

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    CLOSING TODAY AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD:

    THE BEST MAN by Gore Vidal at the Dayton Theatre Guild,

    The cast of The Best Man

    David Shough            Sec. William Russell
    Patrick Hayes            Sen. Joseph Cantwell
    Bert Staub            Pres. Arthur Hockstader
    Debra Strauss            Alice Russell
    Ame Clase            Mabel Cantwell
    K.L.Storer            Dick Jensen
    Steve Strawser            Don Blades & Reporter/Texas Delegate
    Cheryl Mellen            Sue-Ellen Gamadge
    Rick Flynn            Sheldon Marcus & Reporter/Texas Delegate
    Dave Nickel            Sen. Clyde Carlin & Reporter/Texas Delegate
    Harold Fox            Dr. Robert Artinian & Texas Delegate
    Jeri Williams            Catherine & Reporter/Texas Delegate
    Carl Smith            voice of News Commentator
    Barbara Coriell            voice of Convention Official
    Ralph Dennler            Pres. Arthur Hockstader (Mar 15 & 16)
    Duante Beddingfield            Don Blades (Mar 9)



    Mon, Mar 17, 2008

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    A SHORT ACCOUNTING OF THE END OF THE RUN FOR THE BEST MAN: I don't have time right now to write all there is to write about the final five performances. In short, for now, we had a great end to the run despite more tribulation. Bert Staub became ill and missed the last three performances (the two Saturday and the closing show). Ralph Dennler went on in his place, with the script in his hand and still did a fabulous job saving the day. As one cast member said, Ralph reads a script better than many can act. Audience members were overheard commenting that they forgot he was holding the script. And as another cast member said, just after the first scene with Ralph on Saturday afternoon was over, "It's too bad Ralph has no personality on stage" -- that, of course, meant as an ironic comment on just how much personality he in fact radiated. We had a great end of a great run, I am happy to say. I will be back to overflow with sentimental self-indulgence on this in the next few days.

    VOICE WORK FOR A STUDENT MOVIE: This afternoon I will spend about a half-an-hour doing some voice work for a student film by Mr. David Sherman, a talented actor in his own right. I have no details what-so-ever, and I am under the impession that many other local actors and theatre people are also involved in the project.

    SECOND "INSIDE THE AUDITION PROCESS" TONIGHT: Have the next session of this Human Race Theatre Company class with Scott Stoney tonight. Got some monologue stuff together and I am bringing copies of the different versions of my actor's résumé for him to tear apart -- because I am willing to bet I can have a better résumé construction.



    Sat Mar 22, 2008

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    THE BEST MAN (WRAPPING UP THE WRAP-UP): That closing long weekend of five shows in four days was, in the end, a nice experience, despite an occurrence that was more than a little unfortunate. I liked the professional-like depth of performance scheduling myself: that idea, again, that the five shows in four days was more-or-less like doing an Equity show, save for no paycheck. Of course, I'm all for paying my bills -- with good money to spare -- by doing Equity theatre, SAG movies and AFTRA TV. Of Course, too, this didn't honestly compared with a professional run of, say eight or nine shows in six days for several weeks (or months) in a row, but it was nice little taste that I enjoyed; though I realize that it was isolated into a short span compared to even the comparatively limited professional run a production has at The Race.

    Our Thursday "make-up show" was, I am sad to say, not well attended, at least in terms of numbers; but it was a responsive audience of, I believe, fourteen. They were, I admit, friendlies, mostly other actors who knew most or all of the cast members. So it was a good warm-up for the rest of the weekend. It is too bad that the word about the Thursday show did not get out sooner. Many of those who had reservations for one of the cancelled shows from the previous weekend had already rescheduled when the Thursday show was finally announced. The rest of the shows this last weekend were technically sold out and I think we ended up losing audience members because some seats were shifted from Thursday to the rest of the weekend due to the delay in announcing it. But we did give a good performance Thursday evening.

    It seems to me I had a few minor line flubs on Thursday but I only remember one and it was quite minor. I was supposed to say, "So!...what did you win?" but instead I said, "So!...what was the score?" This was my biggest problem so it was clearly a good show for me. That error was because, by suggestion of the director, I tried a new reading on the line, emphasizing the "So" in order to catch/distract Russell from following the pretty young aide out the door. It was also a hallmark show for me in that I was involved in two places where there were dropped lines and neither of the instances were my fault.

    The consensus is that the last Friday night was our best performance of the run. I was told that it was my best performance. Whether these assessments are on the spot for me or not, I don't know. It was a good show and I felt good about the company overall and about myself. I will just have to assume those who make it the best of the run know what they are talking about. There is no question we had a great audience who was attentive, got all the jokes, laughed hardily and gave us a lot of energy to feed off.

    Saturday we had that "unfortunate occurrence." Bert Staub fell ill and was not able to be there so Ralph Dennler went on as President Hockstader for the last three shows, as I'd mentioned in the March 17 entry. Again, like when Duante had to go on for Steve the weekend before, the audience was understanding and forgiving about such a circumstance. Ralph made it easier for them, too. To repeat the ironic quote from a fellow cast member that I had reported last time, "It's too bad Ralph has no personality on stage!" We did have a few timing problems and several blocking problems while working with Ralph -- but, come on, he was essentially on stage doing a cold reading from the script in front of an audience. Even Duante, who also did a fine job himself covering as Don Blades, at least had a more intimate knowledge of this production and its rhythms and blocking as worked out by the director and cast, by virtue of being the production's AD/SM. Ralph, who, by-the-way, played the role of Dick Jensen mbplnplldll years ago, was, despite familiarity with the play, still essentially on stage cold, especially on Saturday afternoon. Yet, the audience soon began to ignore the script in his hand and that his eyes were often on those pages. Much of that is attributed to his strong stage presence.

    The (quote) -- problems -- (unquote) were never terribly intrusive. The rhythm and pacing off-sets were likely far more obvious to us on stage than to the audiences. I'd say the audiences mostly did not know, though I would assume some more theatre-savvy audience members sensed some of these. Again, I bet, due to the circumstances, those people forgave the timing blips. And I think we mostly covered these small beat missteps. We were also especially able to easily fix the blocking problems. All we had to do was get particular characters to important spots at key moments and to the best of my awareness we always did.

    Only one blocking casualty was a bit of a disappointment to me -- very personally and quite selfishly. It was a little move by Jensen that was not able to happen during either Saturday performance. Dick Jensen (I) stood next to Sheldon Marcus (Rick Flynn), actually to keep him from bolting the room. Toward the end of that scene (Act I: Scene 3), Hockstader was to make his way over toward us and then walk Marcus to the couch to have him share his damaging information about the other candidate, Joseph Cantwell (Patrick Hayes). One of the things I tried to do with the Jensen character -- and think I in fact did -- was make him very attentive and aware of what was going on around him. So, the very instant that Hockstader would begin to move toward us I had Jensen subtly step back from Marcus to make room for the ex-president's approach to take possession of Marcus. Hockstader didn't move toward us either performance on Saturday, so, instead, Jensen gestured Marcus toward the sofa. Now, the scene was in no way compromised by this change, but I liked being able to show Jensen's acuteness, strictly as an ego-feeding proposition. But, no harm, no fowl, except to my megalomania.

    Sunday saw another flub from me that was somewhere between minor and half-way significant. I lost some momentum on that same bit at the top of Act II: Scene 4, the "He's in the convention hall.... They're on the sixth ballot and it's still deadlocked.... Cantwell is leading but no-one's got a majority yet and Merwin's sitting tight.... Joseph says if you let him blast....". It did not melt down as it had the previous Sunday, but I did experience some synapse short circuits so threw in a few "um's" as I momentarily groped for the words. For me, that broke character: the Jensen I created would never say "um." I had people in the audience who still were impressed with my work as Jensen in that performance; and the one who was especially impressed is a man who does not give faint praise, so I know if he says, "Hey, good job, man!" he's not dispensing polite bullshit.

    The last four shows, Friday through Sunday, were all well attended, each technically a sell-out, but each with a few open seats, because some season ticket holders had not shown. Even though we had a great audience in the fourteen who saw us Thursday, and despite some flubs, including several missed sound cues (a couple important ones that were terribly conspicuous in their absences), in the subsequent shows, the full houses led overall to greater communal energy between us actors and our audience. I will say, we did have one rather subdued audience, polite chucklers who later raved about the performance but did not feel like they gave us massive feedback as we played for them. That happens, as every theatre person reading this knows. I also, at least personally, felt a little energy-lite for our last performance on Sunday.

    As for my feeling about my Dick Jensen: Overall I was satisfied with the work. I am still upset with myself about the glaring fowl-ups that I have discussed over the coarse of posts about this run -- and again, don't they all come back to discipline of focus? I think, still, there was a bit of improvement, which is good. Concerning his persona, Jensen ended up much less subdued and reserved than I had originally planned for him to be, especially in Act I. Most of that came from the need to show an intimate friendship and equilibrium between him and Bill Russell (David Shough) -- perhaps all of it did. Regardless of his departure from my original intent, Jensen was authentic, I think, anyway. I seemed to get that idea from those who gave me kudos. That assessment from the audience member who said my portrayal was "effortless" would suggest he seemed real, that I was not coming off as an actor acting. Though I got no direct criticism, constructive or otherwise, from any audience members, there were a few people from whom I really could sense did not have as "enthused" a reaction to my work as others had. The megalomaniac has not allowed me to asked any of those folk, "Okay, what problems did you have with the work?" The Serious ActOR, however, ought to ask, in case someone has something valuable to share.

    At the after-party, or whatever ya wanna call it, IE: pizza at Dewey's in the "U.D. district (as it is sometimes known as)," after the set strike on Sunday, our director Barb Coriell did give me one piece of constructive criticism. She told me that as the play progressed, that during Act II, there were places where, in her estimation, I "forgot [I was] on a stage and began to perform as if for the camera," that my vocal level got a little softer and my performance perhaps a bit too subtle. Jensen spends a lot of time in II quite emotionally agitated, so I would guess she was referring to the end of Scene 2 and my brief appearance in Scene 3 where Jensen is bit more subdued. I was close to yelling in most other II moments. Unless, she meant toward the end of the run, as an overall comment on my overall performance, rather than toward the end of each show. It is not a phenomenon I was conscious of, but I don't discount it.

    Now for the Sentimental Kiss-Up Section

    THE BEST MAN by Gore Vidal at the dayton theatre Guild, Feb 29-Mar 16, 2008 -- the Best Cast and Crew won!

    Here's to (in pure alphabetical order):

    Anita Bachmann (lighting design), Duante Beddingfield (assistant director/stage manager & Don Blades sub), Deirdre Bray Root (run crew), Bruce Brown (playbill design & set construction), Brian Buttrey (box office manager & host), Josh Castle (run crew), Ame Clase (Mabel Cantwell & set construction), Barbara Coriell (director, costume designer & set construction), Kerry Corthell (set construction), Ralph Dennler (Pres. Arthur Hockstader sub), Tony Fende (lighting operator), Carol Finely (set construction & host), Rick Flynn (Sheldon Marcus), Harold Fox (Dr. Robert Artinian & set construction), Patrick Hayes (Sen. Joseph Cantwell), Barbara Jorgensen (producer, costume designer, set construction & host), Debra Kent (host) Sarah Lipps-Clase (poster baby), Alan Louie (photographer), Me (Dick Jensen, set construction & house manager), Cheryl Mellen (Sue-Ellen Gamadge), Bob Mills (set construction & host), Dave Nickel (Sen. Clyde Carlin & set construction), Melissa Rhodes (host), David Shough (Sec. William Russell, additional sound design/engineering & set construction), Carl Smith (sound designer/operator & News Commentator), Greg Smith (set designer & set construction), Adrienne Soden (run crew), John Spitler (publicity), Bert Staub (Pres. Arthur Hockstader), Debra Strauss (Alice Russell), Steve Strawser (Don Blades), and Jeri Williams (Russell's campaign assistant, Catherine).

    Usually, when I account what others have said I don't attribute the statements, so as not to make people uneasy about talking around me, for fear that they may be quoted in the blog when they wish to not be, regardless of how positive the accounting may be. I will make an exception here for something that Debra Strauss said about this production. She essentially said this was one of those show closings that did make her sad because it was so much fun to work with her fellow cast members and that we all got along quite well. I agree one-hundred percent. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot and no one was a diva or any of that brand of nonsense. There was a lot of good-humored ribbing and everyone was gregarious and good sports. Some of the humor was a little blue, but, after all this is theatre. I enjoyed working with many new people, some who I had looked forward to working with for quite a while. As actors our personal performances ran the gambit from pretty good to excellent (not sure I care to try and place my own on that spectrum -- I'll let others do that). And there was that ever-important professional deportment toward the work itself from the whole cast.

    I won't bore you (or myself) with my half-baked assessment of everyone's performances, but I do want to make a few specific comments. First, as I have already told her on several occasions, the lovely Jeri Williams is a welcomed addition to the Dayton theatre scene and I look forward to seeing her in more substantial roles. I saw her audition for this show and knew immediately, as the others there surely did, too, that Jeri is a talented actor who deserves our attention. I also congratulate Steve Strawser on a very respectable sophomore stage appearance. I was pleased to have been a part of Ame Clase's return to the stage -- her rave reputation proceeded her and she proved it is valid. I was happy to finally work with all of the fine actors Patrick Hayes, Rick Flynn, Cheryl Mellen, David Shough, and Bert Staub; as well as Debra Strauss (as far as on stage together -- previously we worked together on Belles with her as actor and I as producer). I was also glad to truly be introduced to Dave Nickel, who I had seen previously at auditions but whose stage work in a show I had yet to see. And this must be my third show with fellow Guild board member Harold Fox. I also appreciate the great freedom Barb Coriell gave me with my approach to Jensen. She did form some of him but I never felt frustrated by any of the minor conflicts between her vision of him and mine and think we were able to come to compromises that satisfied us both. I also think all we actors created a synergy that made the chemistry gel. This was a very collaborative effort. It's not the first time I have had such an experience, but man does it feel good that this is one more to count among them!

    As has been the standing joke during the last few weeks, this is a show we will all list in our playbill bios and on our résumés -- in contrast to those productions that will not make it into either. Okay, I am finished with my self-congratulatory indulgence.

    SECOND HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY "INSIDE THE AUDITION PROCESS" CLASS: We brought in our monologues and each did a table read of them. That was followed by a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each, including whether they were good or bad for each of us as actors and whether or not each was interesting enough and had enough potential. Of course, Scott Stoney, our instructor, led the discussions.

    Each of us was to pick the one we liked best, so I went with the Jake's Women cockroach monologue, because of what I brought, it was the one I think works best for me. Next week we are to perform them off-book, so a discussion about memorization ensued. It was the memorize a sentence, or part thereof, then move on, repeating what has been memorized and add to it. We also discussed flash cards, recordings, and people to run lines with.

    Next week we will also look at our actors' résumés. One change that I suppose I will need to make to mine is the order on which I list shows. I have been listing them based on the importance of the roles to me. Scott has pointed out that the auditors will assume the role/production on top is the most recent and so on. So, I guess I might as well go with reverse chronology. As well, we will delve into some of the other things I mentioned in the March 11 post, such as what special skills to list.

    VOICE WORK FOR A STUDENT MOVIE: That voice work for Mr. Sherman was moved from Monday to Tuesday afternoon. It was quick work and was really for an audio play which I assume the purpose is to make the film maker concentrate on sound production. It's actually not a bad exercise for anyone interested in movie making. I actually did one such "audio play" on an old reel-to-reel when I was about ten. It was my own version of The War of the Worlds. I used an old AM/FM radio for static as sound effects as well as my own voice, And, of course, I did character voices. It is, I believe forever a lost relic of my youth, never to be found. My dad thought it was brilliant work, and who's to argue with that?

    But I digress.

    There were only a few lines. David cast me as a British limo driver. I kept missing some British pronunciations. Saying the "A" as a hard one, as in the standard American pronunciation of "cat" rather than as a softer vowel, as in the standard American pronunciation of "want" in the word "answer." I kept forgetting to drop the "R's" at the ends of words, too. Goes to show that though I do a relatively good British accent, I don't do so well on the fly. I have to have sat down with text and thought it through, probably re-written the text into a phonetic code that works for me. I really ought to keep myself more in practice with dialects, so I can slip into them with more proficiency, sans front-loaded preparation.

    Well, good luck to David Sherman with his project.

    OTHER STUFF:

  • Rabbit Hole at The Loft -- Several people had come to me and said, "Go see Rabbit Hole!" So I went this week and saw Rabbit Hole. Made me cry. And I liked that though the story was about dealing with the grief of a recently-killed four-year-old child, the play ends with the sense of hope. Yet, it wasn't neatly wrapped up with some contrivance.

    Plus, it's always hopeful -- as well just nice -- to see a local actor new to the professional stage up there, such as Andrea Young who played Izzy in this. Yay to Ms. Young for starting her Equity candidacy! Some of us are jealous!

  • The Oedipus Circle in The Dayton Playhouse FLIPside Series -- Speaking of Ralph Dennler, both he and fellow Guild board member Fred Blummenthal will appear in a few weeks in this FLIPside production at the Playhouse. This is an adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus Cycle that was written by Dayton area playwright and theatrical director Tony Dallas based on his reactions to the 9/11 attacks and the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. The production consists of three plays with performances as follows:

      Oedipus The King - Fri., April 4, 2008
      Oedipus at Colonus - Sat., April 5, 2008
      Antigone - Sun., April 6, 2008

      all curtains are at 8:00 pm

    See more on The Oedipus Circle at: www.daytonplayhouse.org/FLIPside.html.



  • Sun Mar 23, 2008

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    MONOLOGUE, MONOLOGUE, WHERE IS YA?: I am leaning toward throwing out the use of the Jake's Women cockroach monologue for the "Inside the Audition Process" class at HRTC. The big reason is I really want to use this prep for the HRTC generals in May and I used the cockroach monologue there in 2006. I decided a while ago that It's best to change up monologues for the same auditor, (in this case, Marsha Hanna), and I have read and heard repeatedly from those who are auditors that this is a wise thought on my part. So though these may not be my final choices for May, I am going with these two contrasting monologues: Herb, from I Ought to Be in Pictures, explaining to his daughter, Libby, why he left her and her mother, (more Neil Simon); and, the Connecticut Yankee from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Twain) recounting the Kingdom cascading into slumber as Merlin the Magician bores the Round Table with the same, moldy story he always tells. Since today is Easter Sunday and I have neither committed to memory, and I have to be at a family gathering this afternoon, I'd better post this crap and start studying.

    And, again, by May, one or both of these choices may have changed. Then there's the concept of having more than what is asked for, just in case the auditor asks for more -- which would be a good thing.

    PEOPLE NEEDED FOR CROWD SCENE FOR VIDEO PRODUCTION SUPPLEMENT TO THE OEDIPUS CIRCLE: Dayton Playhouse Executive Director Amy Brown recently issued a general call to most anyone whom wants to be involved in the making of a video clip for the Sophocles productions. One does not to have acting skills. Please pass this on to anyone you think might get a kick out of participating:

    On March 24, 2008, at 6:00 PM (provided the weather agrees), we are in need of about 100 (give or take a few) people to help us make a film for our upcoming production of Oedipus Cycle. The clip is only about 10 seconds, so the time commitment is very minimum (maybe 1/2 hour). We are planning on taping this in front of the Bell Tower at Carrillon Park. We need as many people as we can get, so please let me know if you can be there. If we do not have enough response, we will have to reschedule.

    Bring anyone you can get your hands on.....even people off the street!

      NEEDED:
      Who: Anyone (all ages welcome)- no dress requirement (come as you are)
      When: 3/24/08 at 6:00 PM
      Where: Bell Tower at Carrillon Park
      What: Short clip for OEDIPUS CYCLE


    Wed Mar 26, 2008

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    MONOLOGUE, MONOLOGUE, WHERE WENT YA?: Ever feel like your life gets in the way of your life? The Jake's Women cockroach monologue, is, as it turns out, what I used Monday night for the third session of the audition class at HRTC. All sorts of crap from the non-art part of my life came in and took over the time I had allotted for committing the two new monologues. Now, for the sake of simplicity I'll use the Jake's Women monologue along with the constable from The Ambitious Statesman by John Crowne. I plan to use neither for the Human Race generals in May but they will do for my audition program for the last class session.

    I have also decided to nix the Twain material from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court because, though I get some opportunity to do character voices, the passage I've chosen is too narrative, even if in first person, and I donít have the breadth in it to show my characterization of the speaker the way I should. But, it would be a very good choice for a voice-work audition sampler. I, in fact, will use it as such.

    CATCH 22: Tuesday I will audition for this Joseph Heller political satire for Springfield StageWorks. The usual practice is to cast actors in multiple roles and I assume that will be the case here. I am going after the roles of Maj. Major and Colonel Cathcart, which are usually assigned to the same actor.

    THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI: This Friday night, speaking of Springfield StageWorks, they will show this classic silent film with another new live score by the ensemble Equinox.

    The showing will be for one night only, this Friday, March 28, 8:00 pm at The State Theatre, 19 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield, OH, 45503. There will be a Pre-show party and reception at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $5.00 at the door.

    Springfield StageWorks presents THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI March 28 2008


    Mon, Mar 31, 2008

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    LAST "INSIDE THE AUDITION PROCESS" CLASS TONIGHT: Spent part of yesterday committing the monologue of the constable from The Ambitious Statesman by John Crowne to memory. With that and my old stand-by, the Jake's Woman roach monologue, I am set for the audition program that instructor Scott Stoney wants us to have tonight. I had, of course, had the constable monologue memorized -- well maybe 90% -- for the audition for Fuente Ovejuna last fall. I did, during that audition, go up on part of it but I covered; and it's such an obscure piece that no one would be able to tell unless I had telegraphed the error.

    Yesterday I came to embrace this monologue as most worthy of further use. Scott had said in class last week that it was a good choice because it was obscure and -- though I am extrapolating upon his words here -- it gives me a great chance to show a strong character. It has occurred to me that it might be good for the upcoming HRTC 2008/09 generals. I don't know that it addresses one of the shows in the season, but it would likely be a powerful contrast to whatever else I do -- which may be the Herb monologue from I Ought To Be In Pictures that I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

    Scott will also have us do cold readings, which is always good for me to practice since my personal assessment is that I suck at it, as I have stated here time and time and time and time again.

    I have also revised my actor's résumé to address a couple pointers Scott gave me. I did go ahead and list my roles/shows in reverse chronology with the most recent at the top, I.E. Dick Jensen, for now. I also have dropped all film and video work off of the résumé tailored for professional theatre. But I did stick high school roles on. I did not include roles from high school where I had been age appropriate -- it makes no sense to offer up Peter Van Daan, now, when I am technically old enough to play his grandfather. The exception is that I do list Sakini from Teahouse of the August Moon because it was/is such a great character role.

    Some minor or small roles from my recent past are gone. Peggy Sue from Sordid Lives is off all versions of the résumé. I have enough other credits to not use such padding as that. The high school stuff will, of course, not endure, either; as my body of present work grows, of course, the stuff from the 70's will be crowded off.

    And I have placed a headshot in the masthead of the résumé. I have seen others' résumés with such and it is really a very good idea. Plus I have added to the skills section, though to be honest, I am still in flux about some items and the appropriateness. What I have on my new master version of the résumé, which lists ALL credits, including Peggy Sue, is this list of skills:

      - dramatic improv
      - second tenor vocalist
      - dialects *(with study)
      - voice work
      - sound design
      - Film maker *(DV format)
      - DV movie editing with FinalCut
      - writer fiction, screenplays & songs/instrumentals
      - computer visual arts

    Like I said, not sure all these really belong here. The list also may be able to be expanded. I need to legitimately add some things like dance, horseback riding, fencing, etc, to the list. And yet until I can add the comparable entry to the training section.... And I am still so out of opractice as a bass player that I will not put it on there -- it would be a lie at present.

    CATCH 22: Of course, tomorrow night I will catch the second night of auditions for this Joseph Heller satire, based on his novel of the same name. I gathered some bit of material together for research, but must admit, save for studying the script itself, I have availed myself of none of the other material, including a VHS of the 1971 movie. I usually shy away from seeing the movie versions of plays I want to be in -- I didn't watch The Best Man -- but this time I, for some reason, am not concerned about undue influence; perhaps that it is more of a farcical entity gives me less pause for concern. Don't ask to me explain that because I have no idea if it's true, or why so, if so.

    Well, tomorrow I audition. And to show you how easily entertained I am, I find it a clever -- or something akin to clever -- irony that I will miss tonight's audition session for Catch 22 because I am IN an audition class.

    THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI: Larry Coressel, Doug Baumle and Wayne Justice, AKA -- Equinox, performed their live scoring of the silent horror movie The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari last Friday might at The State Theatre in Springfield, as a production of Larry's Springfield StageWorks. Equinox is in the neighborhood of a new age band, but perhaps a little more quirky. Though I must admit, most of my exposure to their music has been when they have been scoring silent movies -- and that calls for more tailored, specific quirkiness.

    Anyway, it was a fun night, and the band is superb at this type of work. If you are close by and get a chance to attend one of these, I recommend it.

    They will reprise their scoring of Nosferatu this next October at the Schuster Center in Dayton, after a performance of Dracula by the Dayton Ballet.

    K.L. THE MOVIE MAKER (?): Last night, during one of my brain-drain respite breaks from working on the John Crowne monologue, I bit the bullet and ordered Final Draft's "Scriptwriter's Suite", which is the recognized screenwriters' writing software. It keeps all those pesky formatting specs in order, updating them all whenever material is added or removed from a page. The biggest deal is keeping the "CONTINUED:" and "(CONTINUED)" and like required tags on the top and the bottoms of the pages and placed correctly, too. Plus, since I bought the deluxe version, I'll have templates and auto-formatting for pretty mcu every kind of script there is: screenplay, theatrical play, teleplay, various video productions, commercials.

    The really nice thing is that I can import what screenplay work I have already composed in other word processors into the screenwriting template.

    $299 plus shipping. I got the box rather than downloading the installer -- always want the CD and the books.

    Have not perfected the text for the post for a co-producer for the movie project, mostly because I am in dilemma about what exactly I want to do. Tomorrow is April 1. The longer short movie calls for a lot of sets and exteriors, some (SOME) of which I have scouted. Casting will not be the cinch it was with The Chorus for Candice, I will have to have a casting call and screen test people. The college campus footage will need to be shot in the summer for many reasons: the admin will be more amiable about access; the student body will be greatly reduced, thus less interference by walkers-by and looky-loos; it will be damned close to impossible to get a class room during the regular school year (of course, shooting on weekends, which would be the staple of production days would help that); all exteriors -- campus or otherwise -- are best shot in the summer because, let's face it, warm is more comfortable than cold -- and it's possible to suggest a hot summer eve as a cool autumn eve, where it is not possible to suggest a winter's snow-covered eve as anything but such.

    So, I am thinking, with all the pre-production, scouting, auditioning, yadda yadda, there is to do, summer of 2009 is a better target. But, I have another movie idea that I believe can, indeed, be done in the next several months, and in fact, can be open enough in concept that climate for exteriors is not much of a hindrance. And it would give me and that co-producer a warm-up project.

    This second one has been in my mind for a while, but I got a new inspiration about how to approach it as I was watching The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari Friday night. This particular movie project was conceived as part of a bigger idea, for which I am not now necessarily separating the movie idea from, but, more so I am edging myself closer to embracing the bigger idea and jumping into the deep end with.

    So, won't it be interesting to see what the text of the post calling for a co-producer will say?

    Tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll post something here about my "almost" semi-professional status as an actor(*) and how it is causing me to prepare to use acting related deductions when I do my 2008 taxes next year.

      (*: COME ON NOW, IT'S TECHNICALLY TRUE EVEN IF IT IS VIRTUALLY A GROSS OVER-STATEMENT!)



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