The major work begins tonight.
I got together a couple times to run the script. Tonight is the official read
through plus other business.
During the two readthroughs Heather and I did I referred to the script usually
only when there are tricky overlaps that need a little timing, and since I had
never worked them with her before it was easier to just read the script.
There are also a few places where I am not yet attuned to "hearing" the
cue line. It's one thing to have a flashcard where the cue line is ended on the
card or being in the book and seeing the obvious end of Una's line and I know it's
time for my line. It's another thing to listen and recognize the end of the cue
But, despite this very short rehearsal period, I believe we are starting off in
T-minus 18 days, and counting
till Opening Night!
GREAT OPENING WEEKEND!:
Fabulous audience response and stellar performances abounded this first weekend for
the Guild's current show.
As I often say, I absolutely am bias, but still, setting that aside, we have a
very fine production up and running. The script is smart, funny and poignant and
the performances are great, in some cases amazing, in no cases weak.
There are a few moments in the show that I made a point to watch each of the three
performances this weekend, and will every time I am at the theatre and not in the
Really, if you're local, check this one out. It's fabulous.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob are, for those who don't know, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith,
the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. This play is the story of how each of them,
themselves, became sober alcoholics and then moves onto the sobering of a man named
Bill Dotson, the third of them to gain long-term sobriety. The addition of Bill D.
is generally considered by many as the birth of A.A., despite that the
"group" as an entity defined as Alcoholics Anonymous was not distinguished
as such just yet.
Though a little rusty in present times, I have a strong familiarity with the
history of A.A. and the play seems quite accurate to me.
And this production, directed by Dodie Lockwood, was a great way to spend Saturday
afternoon. Unfortunately the show only ran one weekend, so if you'd like to catch the
play you'll have to find another production.
Had our official table read last night and did some business. Shored up our sound
operator and our light operator. Have a line on our stage manager but that don't
have a firm commitment. Can't wait much longer; have to move on if that first choice
isn't confirmed today.
I also talked some on the themes and some motivations but we have more of that sort
of talk to go. Also at the rehearsal was our young lady actress, Melanie Engber, who
plays "Girl" at the end of the play, and she's a talented youngin', too.
She is a great addition to the cast.
Some other production things are coming into play, too.
We're two-thirds through the blocking. We've been working the acting, too, for the
most part. Tonight we finish off the blocking. Monday
Natasha works with
me on my monologues. Then Tuesday it's
Wednesday and Thursday we run the whole seventy minutes and, lord all mighty, the
next Monday we are into Tech Week!
I must say that rehearsals have gone more than well. I am fortunate and privileged
to be working opposite Ms. Atkinson and under the direction of Ms. Randall.
T-minus 15 days, and counting
till Opening Night!
Throughout the week some very positive notes and missives have come our way about
the first weekend of performances.
The show is striking a good chord with people.
See Burt Saidel's very rave review, "DTG's Boys Next Door a
kaleidoscope," in the Apr 6, 2011 edition of the
Oakwood Register (page 14).
So the blocking's done and we've have a few days off -- in theory. I think
I are spending as much time on the script and such as we can.
Again, it's just
Natasha and myself
tomorrow night. There is an inherent rhythm in the text of some of my monologues,
especially the two longer ones. I have not found the voice yet to break cadences
which are easy to fall into but not terribly interesting the hear. I have been
working on them but we will still attack those on Monday.
Meanwhile I did some really cool production stuff for the show over the weekend
but don't want to share what, for a variety of reasons.
T-minus 12 days, and counting
till Opening Night!
The second weekend was just as successful as last weekend and with two sold-out
shows both Friday and last night and more strong, positive feedback.
And the last leg of the brief laps of rehearsal will begin tomorrow. Since last I
posted we've had some most productive rehearsals. The intensity will pick-up
tomorrow evening -- as if they hadn't already
been intense enough. And, we will add young Melanie to the mix for this
As you can see below, I have the DTG podcast done and out. It's not exactly the
podcast I wanted to do, but it works, even though I am featured in it a little more
than I would prefer.
I know that in all reality this is my project in many ways, but in a more
superficial way. I really want to do all I can to keep it from being known as mostly
but that attachment may be harder to divorce from the product than I wish, even
though in other aspects of the same reality it is as much
Natasha's, as it is
T-minus 5 days, 4 rehearsals and
counting till Opening Night!
A BIG CHUNK IN TRIAL RUN FOR MIX MASTER FORM:
For the underscore for the Blackbird podcast, I used an old recording of
mine. The final work from the Heart Walks project, and twenty-four minute
instrumental titled "Seeking."
Of course, I didn't use the whole recording since the podcast is seven minutes.
This was something I wrote in the 80's off influence by the then newer genre of
New Age music.
I don't know for sure that the mix I have is the finished one, there are a few
things I may clean up, but it's pretty close.
So, I guess I've been multi-tasking this past week, while in production of the
Just want to check in to let all of you know (all five of ya) that I am still alive
and that the wind-up to Friday is indeed the big thing on my event horizon!
Since last we spoke (i.e.: since last I blogged) I spent the night -- Sunday eve --
at The Guild to do a minor tweak to the set to transform it from the remnants of
the Boys Next Door set to our Blackbird set. Which, in terms of
my work into the wee hours of Monday morning means: painting.
Between myself and
over the course of a few days done some set decorating. The set was originally
planned to be essentially a black box but DTG's Creative Ops VP,
thought that since there was a counter up from Boys that we might as well
use it as the counter in the lunchroom where BB's action happens.
And so we went ahead and kept the refrigerator as well, and then painted and set
decorated so this is not exactly the "bare bones" black-box show that it
was intended. On the other hand there was minimal effort put into the metamorphosis.
I have had an draining week so far, but it's not a bad thing. Our sweet little
co-star Melanie Engber has been on set this week with us and just doing darling work.
There are still rough spots to iron out, but with eleven rehearsals for each of
heather and I and a total of five for Melanie we are in very good shape.
Also on board this week are
Dave Pope who
is stage managing, running sound and making a couple uncredited appearances in the
play. Also on deck is our light operator,
Jason Lenhart, who happens to
also be the lighting designer for the next Guild production, Mauritius.
Our lighting designer is
Dara Bornstein, who
has run lights a few times for DTG and happens to have been Camera 2 for most of the
shoots for my improv movie project -- remember reading about that? (you will
again, I promise; and I think soon)
So I was off all day Monday and seem to be doing half days the rest of the week from
the bill-payer. I will have successfully depleted most of my vacation by the
end of this week. I am in today at the job at 11:00, just less than an hour from
now as I type. It's been hard getting enough sleep. I come home exhausted but I am
so wound up from rehearsals that I do not fall asleep until long after I would
wish. If I had more vacation time, I'd sleep for the next several hours.
Unfortunately I cannot. But man do I feel like I could use a couple more hours.
Perhaps I can sneak a nap in later today, before rehearsal. We'll see.
T-minus 2 days, 2 rehearsal
nights and counting till Opening Night!
We had a very small audience, about six people, for the final dress. It was good to
work the show in front of a few fresh eyes. It was good to start dealing with the
jitters. And, I only am aware of one very small line drop. Of course, in terms of
the verbatim factor, I had several snafus, but at least I am aiming for the target.
I am sorry to say that we are closing this show today. I was okay for a long time
with the limited run but now I desire greatly that
I have more chances to work these two characters on stage together. I very much
enjoy sharing this stage with her and I am sorry we will be finished almost as we
I'll be back to write in more detail about it all.
I am now almost two weeks out on the other side of the Blackbird experience
and I am still in a lingering state of sorrow over its final curtain. I also feel
strongly that there is a lot about the whole affair that is much
Too Bad, and I am not the only one. My co-star,
described our run as one "which truly deserved to be longer," and I am in
absolute agreement with her. We are not alone with that sentiment. A couple DTG
board members have stated as much, one, who was a little nervous about its run
at all, even said, after having seen it, that it should have been a main stage
production. Many audience members held the same opinion.
Another Too Bad in my mind is that we only had
the total of twelve rehearsals for such a difficult show -- and, only eleven a
piece, as we both got one night off while the other worked alone with
misunderstand me, I really feel like we did great work -- I am very proud of my
work, from the way it felt, anyway; And Heather was just damned fabulous! Our young
supporting actor, Melanie Engber, did good work, too. However, we were not on the
even more solid footing that another week or two of rehearsal would have given us.
We were slightly under-rehearsed. It harkens back to my experience with American
Buffalo, another show I feel good about but know another week or two of
rehearsal would have pulled even better than the great work all of
Ryan Hester, and myself
The third Too Bad for me is the small audience
count. The big culprit, of course, is the Easter weekend scheduling, which was a
miscalculation on our part last year. We were trying to keep it as far away from the
opening of Mauritius as we could, so we picked the first of the alloted slots
for an extra show, in that Spring period between the two main stage productions. No
one thought about an Easter conflict since April 24 is a traditionally late date
for the holiday.
The total count was 100 paying guests and a few more (most of the latter connected
to the board as well as the small crowd of guests for the final dress). So, not a
lot of people saw it.
Despite that we were a bit under-rehearsed I still feel more than a little satisfied
with our work. I think it was, if not my best work, some of it. Of course, there is
no video for me to watch to cringe at myself, and that's probably best. And, as
seems to usually be the case, as I rank it as some of my best work, there seems an
obligatory small audience count for the run so that fewer people saw this "good
work"; just like Endgame, American Buffalo, and 'Art'.
As for Ms. Atkinson, she was just as fabulous as I knew she would be. Her Una was
The people who have commented have given strong positive response to our work and
to the show itself. I believe, and I am betting Heather and Tosha agree, that the
Saturday night show was the best of the three, though it was strong all three days.
But Saturday we were both deeply in the zone and sharply focused in way that had
never happened before and that was not matched on Sunday.
And that one weekend had us at a stride that we would have strengthened in
subsequent weekends. And, beyond that, I just simply was not done with the show. I
was not done playing Ray, I was not done working across from my amazing counterpart.
I guess where I am at is that I can look back and celebrate the artistic success
but then still shake my head a little and whisper to myself, "Damn, this could
have been so much more!"
I'm not done reflecting on this, but I will end this here. I'll write more
ponderings later: specifics on my work and the team as a whole (Ms. Randall's work),
Meanwhile, following are some Blackbird pics taken by DTG house photographer,
Craig Roberts. The first few
are promotional shots, the rest, the Final Dress production shots --
more will follow:
Obscura the Movie
-- Like many others in the area, I did an audition screentest for this short-subject
movie. Some actors auditioned last Thursday. I was part of the overflow who did it
Saturday. As for how well I did. I suppose it went well; it didn't seem to go badly.
However, that was last Saturday and I've heard nothing, so I'm guessing I did not
win the role.
Human Race Theatre Company
-- Again, like many others, I have set my appointment for the general auditions
for the 2012/2013 season. There really isn't a lot of opportunity for casting in the
straight plays, and I didn't schedule for musicals because I am not in (or at) a
place where I would go for a spot in a musical on professional stage. There may not
actually be a role for me this year, but I am going to keep my face in front of the
Race folk, anyway. At the worst, it's a rehearsal for the next audition.
I am mostly set on what my monologues will be. It's safe to say that Ray from
Blackbird will make an appearance, I'm just not sure which text, as of yet.
And I have decided that Neil Simon's Jake will be there, too.
I saw Permanent Collection at the Human Race last Friday. That would be the
production that threatened to have been a conflict for Blackbird, due to my
callback for a role in it.
I'd actually originally bought tickets for last Thursday but then realized the
Obscura auditions were that night. So, I changed the tickets to Friday and
contacted the film producers. They, of course, had to schedule my audition for
Permanent Collection was an enjoyable evening of theatre, and had I not
already had something awesome to have been a part of I might have felt some regret
I wasn't cast in this one.
I'm trying to slate voice work for the faux commercials and such for the
workshop-titled Trying Out Robert. I've been attempting to hack out the copy
for these and am lining up friends to do the voice work.
As always, a need to find focused, dedicated time to deal with this segment and the
project as a whole, is a looming cloud.
DTG PODCAST 1011-09:
Production is officially underway for the last podcast to bear the "1011-"
numbering in its title. That includes procuring royalty free music from
D.A.W.N. Music, a jazz instrumental titled,
"Make That Move."
Actually, the production stage is over. I am ready to start assembling the edit. I
have all the footage and photographs (save for one), all the graphic artwork, the
audio commentary from all the participants, all the music.
Depending on what else may call on my time tonight, the editing may start then.
John Riley has been approached to put together a new film festival and he approached
me about screening The Chorus for Candice as one of a group of shorts to be
shown on Saturday afternoon. I, of course, said yes. I know few details at the
The only sticking point is that this festival is the same weekend as the
2011 FilmDayton Festival, which
runs May 20-23. I had made tentative plans to attend this one, and may still be
there for the Big Lens screenings on Friday; Big Lens being the showcase of work by
Wright State University film students.
It's a dilemma for me.
Sunday is my general audition at
The Human Race Theatre Company for
the upcoming 11/12 season. I still have not pick the exact Ray -- from
Blackbird -- text I am using, but, as I wrote before, I am pulling out the
Neil Simon Jake's Women "cockroach" monologue, because that is a
good light, humorous one for me.
Meanwhile, speaking of
I am likely to audition this year; those are coming up the first weekend in June.
There are a few other camera acting opportunities bopping around, too. I haven't had
a close look at them, but that is on my agenda.
And PC-Goenner just called about a shoot this
Sunday, that which I originally told them to submit my picture for..... Before I remembered the little detail about my Race General audition!
More commentary is coming. Meanwhile, as promised, more
Blackbird pics taken by DTG house photographer,
The line-up for this summer's annual new play festival, FutureFest, has been
announced. Native Daytonian M.J. Feely is back for his third run -- his last being
the 2009 winner, Night and Fog, in which I had the supporting role of Col.
Greg Stratton. His new play is, Roosevelt's Ghost.
I am just about, right after I send this post to the server, to spend time on my
two monologues for the general audition tomorrow for
The Human Race Theatre Company's
I have decided what text from Ray, in Blackbird, I am using. I just have to
hone it down to one minute. The Neil Simon, Jake's Women, "cockroach"
monologue is already honed; I just need to rehearse it to freshen my delivery.
I'm off to the race --
The Human Race Theatre Company that
is. I switched the text from Ray, in Blackbird, from what I had originally
chosen. There's much good material to use, but a lot of it really needs more than
just a minute of dialogue to fully demonstrate. I picked a spot where I could get
the maximum emotional range and still end with the monologue making sense. Jake,
from Jake's Women, on the other hand, is just fine.
did warn me that my even being considered would be heavily contingent on the casting
of Aunt Esther. Of course, other casting decisions is always a contingency, but I
think he was trying to let me know that it was a very big contingency here.
"But I want the director to at least see you," he said. And that is not a
bad thing in the least.
As for other audition opportunities in the nearer future:
X*ACT: Xenia Area Community Theater is
opening its 11/12 season with A Street Car Named Desire and I am
seriously considering Mitch. He's a great role and I think I am suited for him.
That one auditions in early July. I guess my involvement with this summer's
if I indeed am, might be a factor.
auditions are coming up in a few weeks and I am likely to audition this year.
Springfield StageWorks will,
later in their 12/12 season again give us Mamet, this time Oleanna. John
is a great role. I'd say John and this play are somewhat like Ray and
Blackbird, but that's really only true in a fractionally slight sense.
There are a few on-line video submission opportunities through
Now Casting that I ought to take a look
Some Plays To Read -- I have plays to read for a variety of
I have a copy of Scott Hudson's
starred in this past winter at
The Gorilla Theatre in Tampa Bay. Why
do I want to read it? Because a colleague and friend was in it and got good review
and is most enthused with the show. These factors pique my interest.
There are several of the 2011/12 DTG
shows I need to read. There are two I need to read because I am the producer:
by Tom Stoppard and the
The Story of My Life
by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill, which is a season extra. I'm told there's a role
for me in the holiday extra,
Ed Graczyk's Blue Moon
Dancing. I am pretty sure there is one for me in David Davalos'
as well as in
Dividing the Estate
by Horton Foote. It's not
unthinkable that there's a role for me in the Bartram/Hill show.
Last weekend I travelled sixty miles south of my little abode to Hillsboro and The
Colony movie theatre for a modest but relatively successful first incarnation of a
film festival. I spent my weekend at what I have christened as the
"Unintentional SW Ohio 2011 Slamdance Film
Festival" since the
2011 FilmDayton Festival was going
on at The Neon movie theatre in Dayton at
the same time as Indies at the Colony.
The festival was put together rather quickly and not terribly much prior to the
weekend, so much of the planning was a bit less than I think the organizers will do
for the next one. There was hardly any publicity and the conflict with the
FilmDayton Festival, was, in itself, a big problem. An awful lot of the target
audience for Indies at the Colony spent the weekend at The Neon.
I, in fact, had more than just tentative plans to attend the Dayton festival. I
certainly had strong plans to attend Big Lens on Friday evening, that being the
showcase for work by
Wright State University film students.
But, since "Indies" was screening work by me, I elected to throw all my
support to it. And it was nice to see a movie of mine on a bigger screen,
despite that the movie's native 4:3 aspect ratio was
stretched to 16:9 on the movie house screen.
Pretty much, the attendees were the film makers and, in a few instances, actors or
others involved in a production. And this was only a screening festival; no prizes
The festival population overall was pretty light, but it was a good opportunity for
a few of us to meet and "network" and such. In fact, I may have
been able to turn an actor on to a decent screen opportunity. A director is looking
for a particular type for a principal role in a movie and I was able to get that
director and an actor, who seems to fit the bill, together.
Another thing that I found of some interest was information about two web sites,
one of which I had heard of but was not at all familiar with. Both are what are
called "crowd-funding" web sites. One is
KickStarter, the other is
IndieGoGo. This weekend both were endorsed
by a film maker and both have my attention to investigate. To be fair, there seem
to be a few out there in cyberspace who find KickStarter a scam at varying degrees
of intensity. The first and one of the most tempered arguments comes from Windy City
Blogger whose article is
"Kickstarter website is a scam!"
I haven't come to any conclusions yet, myself, but both sites at least merit a look.
It's also relevant that both sites happened to be mentioned in the May 19-25, 2011
issue of Back Stage, (v.52:no.20), in
an article titled, "Helping Thousands Receive Millions: 'Crowd-funding' sites
enable DIY artists to raise real money." I just happened to stumble across the
article this past Monday, on the heels of the festival weekend.
There was some discussion on Saturday afternoon about the
DSLR (digital single-lens reflex)
cameras, designed for still photography but with HD video capabilities of which
many film makers are taking advantage to get tight shots, shoot whole sequences, and
even shoot full movies. For instance,
Mark Pellington's latest,
I Melt With You, with
Rob Lowe and
Jeremy Piven, was completely shot
with a DSLR camera.
The major plus about using a DSLR is that they are incredibly portable and easily
used to maneuver a shot. The drawback is that the processors start to get too
hot after only about ten straight minutes of shooting. But most directors are hard
pressed to ever shoot a scene take for much longer than a minute or two unless it's
a master shot.
The other downfall, in the minds of some directors, is that it's safer to record
the audio externally, i.e.: separately, then sync that audio in post-production.
For myself, though using on-board audio would be great, I don't have a big problem
pairing up separate audio and video.
In my optimum film maker's universe, I'd have a DSLR for some shooting but other HDV
cameras for the main production work. One most very important point is that my
Final Cut Express
will accept and edit HD video. I used a short HD video clip I shot with my new
myTouch 4G phone to experiment.
The screenings, over the weekend, as one should expect were a mix of quality and
level of expertise. I'd put Candice in the middle ground as far as expertise
and I will not be so arrogant as to judge its level of quality against the other
work. I will say that I at least did not find it in the lower end of the spectrum.
I missed the first film, Friday night,
Night Without Justice by
Michael Azzarello, because I got
lost a couple times on my trek into Hillsboro. And I missed a big portion of the
second movie, the documentary, T's in Tiffin, about the Annual Ohio Model T
Friday ended with two longer shorts. The fantasy/magic-realism film,
Rose, written and directed
by Hoku Uchiyama, who is a winner
of the Cannes Young Director Award. The last screening of the night was the film by
John Riley (aka: John Adrian Riley),
The Line Shack, this being
the final cut, as opposed to what screened at
The Dayton Playhouse last year.
Saturday afternoon consisted of sets of short films.
The Chorus for Candice was in the first
grouping, along with Derek W. Beck's
Y Not. Derick actually
held his initial auditions for Y Not at the
DTG old Salem Avenue building.
Carol Finley and I were
the board members on site while he held them. Low and behold, there were our names
in the credit role under the thank you's!
The other shorts in the first wave were, Dreamland by Mark Sweeney,
Reincarnate by Trey Kauffman, three Emmy Nominated Man In Black shorts
by Jeff Sindiong, Held In Sway by John Mays, and a series of award-winning
commercials by Zach Daulton.
The was a late afternoon session consisting of horror and supernatural type shorts:
Don't Talk to the Dead, a Kevin Birchfield/T.W. Komisar film
Read a Book by Aaron Roth
Durp Da Derp Cereal by Aaron Roth
Laundro-Matt by Aaron Roth
Zombie Punk Attack, an Aaron Cline/Mike Giannott film
The Shack by Zach Daulton
Zombie Michael Jackson Fights Crime by Zach Daulton
That was followed by the
Adam Bolt thirty-one minute movie
Vanished Acres. Now,
John Riley makes an appearance in a few of the movies over this weekend. He is the
lead in his The Line Shack and he's the lead here. I saw this one at his
home a few years back, while The Line Shack was in production. This is my
personal favorite of all the movies that screened over the weekend. I'm not
generally going to comment on the work from the festival, but I have to give my
praise to this film. It's a strong film -- not the only one from the weekend, to be
sure; also not the only one with really good cinematography, but it is my pick of
the weekend. Might I add, here, I am rating it over my
That was followed by
The Crib, a silly comedy
directed by Justin Dittrich.
John is one of the leads in this eight minute short, too. This one was the theatre
staff's favorite of the weekend.
State Route 73 North, circa 10:20 Saturday night
I did stay through until the end of the last movie on Saturday evening,
Cain and Abel, a buddy-cop
comedy farce written by, directed by, and starring
Shane Woodson. Woodson appeared
this season in
an episode of Criminal Minds
and I recognize him from other things, as well. He's also been on a couple soaps
-- which I do not recognize him from -- and he was in
Resident Evil: Extinction.
And, according to his IMDB page, "He is a lateral descendant of legendary
filmmaker D.W. Griffith."
His co-star is
Terrence Flack, who's also been in
a Criminal Minds episode,
though a different one, as well as other episodic television and some movies. John
Riley was in this one, too. Also making an appearance is
I headed out about 10:00 Saturday, and about forty-eight hours before the heavy-ass
storms, hail, winds and funnel clouds thrashed through the Hillsboro area. The drive
home took at least half the time as the first trip over on Friday, since I knew the
way this time.
DTG PODCAST 1112-01 & THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD'S 2011/2012 SEASON:
The 10/11 season isn't quite over yet and already I need to move into some
pre-production for the first podcast for the 2011/12 season, the DV movie about the
whole forthcoming season.
Fleeta Mae will not make an appearance for this one.
(I pretty much think Fleeta is finished with Dayton)
I have a vague-moving-toward-formed concept of what I want to do. My persuasion is
much in the realm of an all-stills, Ken-Burns-affect movie.
Whether there will be voice-over work or not I am not sure yet.
Meanwhile, here is the 2011/2012 season:
THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD 2011/2012 SEASON:
TRUTH & CONSEQUENCE!
The Dayton Theatre Guild presents five area premieres, and one
American classic. Join us for an unforgettable 2011/2012 season that
shows you the truth and the consequences of that truth again and
again. As you've come to expect from the Guild, these are plays
from "every part of the book."
Plays that explore every facet of the human condition; sometimes
with a smile, sometimes with a serious look and sometimes with a
shrug... but always with a fresh, original take.
Come find out how life ends for some old girls, see what happens to
two young boys in the land of Yonkers, learn what really happens at
a French army rest home, listen in as three titans of our culture
have at it, follow the drama of two very determined women and
eavesdrop as members of a famous Texas family square off against
each other. What a season! WonÕt you come join us?
And, don't miss our special holiday presentation and two season
Season tickets membership is $75
* add the Holiday Show for an additional $10 for a total of $85
** the other season extras are sold at regular individual show prices
THE OLDEST PROFESSION by Paula Vogel
August 26-September 11, 2011
Once the toast of Storyville (the infamous red-light district of
New Orleans) five very senior ladies of the night have transferred
their talents to Reagan-era New York City. They now find both their
clients and their own appearance slipping away with time. But every
girl has a right to go out in her own style, doesn't she? Don't miss
this laugh filled chronicle of five very special ladies -- how they
lived the life and how they say goodbye.
Directed by Greg Smith
**Season Extra! SOUVENIR by Stephen Temperly
September 16-25, 2011
Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy society eccentric, believed
herself to be a great coloratura soprano when she was actually
incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Even so, her
recitals in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel where she resided,
along with her single concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, brought her
great fame. Souvenir is based on the real life of Florence
Foster Jenkins and tells her story through the eyes of her
accompanist, Cosme McMoon, a talented musician who first saw her as
merely a way to pay the rent, but who came to regard her with
friendship and affection.
Directed by Saul Caplan
LOST IN YONKERS by Neil Simon
October 21-November 6, 2011
Simon's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning laugh-filled piece
tells the tale of two young boys left by their widowed father in a
strange world called Yonkers. Their father must travel to pay back
loan sharks so the boys are entrusted to a tough-minded grandmother
and a child-like aunt. The aunt, now in love with a man who is just
as unable to cope with the boysÕ care as she is, tries to figure out
the next step in this funny, touching and unforgettable drama.
Directed by Fran Pesch
*Holiday Extra! THE BLUE MOON DANCING by Ed Graczyk
December 2-18, 2011
Our Extra Holiday Presentation, is a new work by the author of
Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. The
Blue Moon Dance Hall provides an escape from the daily doldrums of
meaningless lives and lonely desperation. For its cast of
idiosyncratic regulars it is also a refuge for hopes, dreams,
fantasies and lies. This particular day at the Blue Moon includes a
wedding, a tornado, Elvis, an attempted suicide and the face of
Jesus in a water stain on the ceiling.
Directed by Greg Smith
HEROES by Gerald Sibleyra's
(Adapted by Tom Stoppard from Sibleyra's Le Vent De Peupllers)
January 6-22, 2012
Three aging WWI French army veterans, a very different "band of
brothers," muse on life, the past and what is over the next
hill as they confront, comfort and sometimes ignore each other. This
wistful and often hilarious piece takes place on the terrace of a
French military home in 1959 where these heroes have spent the last
forty years recollecting it all.
Directed by Fred Blumenthal
WITTENBERG by David Davalos
February 10-26, 2012
This comic fantasy has Prince Hamlet (yes, that one) at the famous
German university with Dr. Faustus and Martin Luther battling over
faith and reason. The battle culminates in the nailing of the theses
on the church door in this witty thinkalong that is less like
university finals and more like spring break. Sometimes the truth is
funny... and the consequences even funnier.
Directed by Saul Caplan
GOING TO ST. IVES by Lee Blessing
March 16-April 1, 2012
The dignified mother of a ruthless African dictator travels to
England to seek treatment for her failing eyesight from a renowned
ophthalmologist, who in turn requests a favor. At first glance, it
looks like one woman helping another, but each woman brings to the
other her true agenda, triggering a profound moral dilemma and a
chain reaction of events with great personal and political
aftershocks that reveal the truth and its consequence.
Directed by Greg Smith
DIVIDING THE ESTATE by Horton Foote
April 27-May 13, 2012
Two generations of former Texas gentility connive and grope to wrest
control of the once-cherished and valuable family estate from the
hands of the venerable matriarch, who still wants the estate to
remain a proud symbol of a vanished way of life. A host of family
members square off against her, and each other, in a comedy that
precisely captures a time, a place and a way of life.
Directed by Ralph Dennler
**Season Extra! THE STORY OF MY LIFE
Music and lyrics by Neil Bartramby
Book by Brian Hill
June 1-17, 2012
Thomas Weaver, a successful writer, returns to his hometown to
perform the eulogy for his childhood friend, Alvin Kelby. He
struggles to find the appropriate words, but comes up with nothing
but blank pages. With the help of Alvin, who appears from the
recesses of his mind, Thomas sorts through story after story of the
events that made up their friendship, searching for his role in his
friend's untimely death. We follow the lifelong friendship between
the two men, an inspiring story told mostly in song.
Directed by Debra Kent
Commentary, Part 2"
has been being and is being written and will be posted soon.
Over the course of time that I wrote this I off-and-on used my new
myTouch 4G mobile
smart phone to compose this entry -- (yes, yes! believe it or not it's true,
I did not get an
a monthly plan was simply too expensive with either AT&T or Verizon, so I
stayed with T-Mobile and went with an
Android-powered phone instead). It's a bit slow going, this composing on my
phone; first, it's a new toy so I have the learning curve; second, typing on
a phone obviously hasn't the ease of using a bigger keyboard, even for a
two-finger typer like me. But, for the "new-toy-fun-of-it," I at
least started this entry on the phone. By the way, I'm using an app
called Office Suite Pro,
which emulates MS Office. And, I might add, formatting a document is as
moronically irritating and unintuitive as with the actual Word Program; so
we know the developers of this app either decided to mimic the nitwit logic
of the boobs at Microsoft or they share a same-such indefensible
*Blackbird program designed by Wendi Michael
On to the subject at hand. And please forgive the reiterations of things
past-written that will be an inevitable part of this essay.
Despite the ultimate frustration that the run was finished far before either I or
my co-star were finished, this still was a most satisfying production in terms of
personal artistic achievement and as far as the whole of the production. I rate it
my best show, to date.
I clicked on stage and worked well together.
Natasha was most
insightful and brought a really complementary vision of the script and the
characters to us. Young Melanie Engber was perfectly effective in the role of
"Girl," who appears toward the end of the act. The script is excellent.
It all gelled fantastically.
Concerning my own work, again, I'm more than happy. My biggest worry wasn't getting
to Ray; it wasn't the characterization; it was the words; there were a lot of them.
So, if you are one of the five who actually attend to this silly blog, you'll
remember that I started working on lines as soon as I got word that I wasn't cast
in Permanent Collection. You remember Permanent Collection: the
HRTC production I wasn't supposed to
be called back for -- because "it was an 'All Black' cast." It was the
production that would run the same time as what we saw as the only viable slot for
Blackbird. (You five will remember that).
But I digress.
How good it was to walk on stage with no nagging uncertainties about whether or not
I was really off-book or not. Naturally, there was that heightened taste of anxiety
about my lines, but I ultimately felt secure that I had them down. I won't have the
same sort of luxury every time I have such a big role, that I did this time, of so
much time ahead of rehearsal. I was able to be far in front of the game, which I am
more than simply grateful about. I'd love to report that I was absolutely verbatim
with every start and stall and repetition that Harrower wrote into Ray's dialogue.
I was not. I was enormously close, though.
I wanted to be, if not entirely off-book, virtually so when we started rehearsal.
We had a total of eleven rehearsals, each, ten rehearsals with both of us on stage
together. I wanted to focus on character and movement, not words, at least not
words in the sense of: "line, please."
On April 4, the first rehearsal, I was perhaps a little short of my goal -- I was
almost off-book. I did have the whole show "memorized" but was not
at the stage where it all could flow out of my mouth unfettered. I needed the book
in my hand; but, I needed the book in my hand to write notes and blocking down,
anyway; and, I did not need, in any sense, to keep my eyes glued on the text. That
was good. That allowed me to expend most of my mental and emotional energy working
Beyond my fortune of so much good lead time to get the words in my head, I was also
very much blessed to work across from Heather; the woman is an actor of serious
skill. This production could not have wanted for a better Una than it had. As I've
written countless times before, I knew as we were reading off each other as Neasa
and Ian -- our rehearsal for the winter 2009 audition for Shining City --
that Heather was perfect for Una.
*For the record, I wasn't auditioning for Ian, just reading him with
Heather because her scene was with him; I was going after John. She in turn
also read Ian's lines in the scenes where I was John. Naturally, it was her
readings as Neasa that informed my assessment of her as Una.
In fact, when we opened Blackbird, her work as Una was so much better than it
already had been; and it already had been good. I think we both were at the top of
our games by Opening Night. We had one line snafu that first night that did throw
us both, but we recovered quickly and the audience was not the wiser about any
problems. To be honest, it was Heather who volleyed the recovering ball. Our
Saturday night show was immaculate. If I could achieve half that much artistic
success on stage on a regular basis I could consider my acting life as greatly prime
and highly rewarding.
Melanie Engber was a treat to work with. Melanie, thirteen, played our
twelve-year-old Girl -- that's the character's official designation. Melanie is the
youngest daughter of
another most talented local actor, and her husband Jeff Engber, who used to act, but
hasn't for quite a while. Our young co-star came in with a most professional
attitude, paid attention to Natasha's direction and gave the production just
exactly the tone and energy needed for Girl to be the plot twist I'm sure
intended. In her lovely bio, which you can see over to the side here, note her sweet
"...I have a lot of inspiration for acting, especially my mom who has
appeared at the Guild. I want to follow in her glory and be as great as she
The young lady need not worry, she is her mother's daughter. The acorn fell close
to the tree.
For any who have enough familiarity with the Blackbird script to think,
Oh my! They had a thirteen-year-old around THAT dialogue?, don't worry. Our
young co-star was sequestered away from earshot until it was time for her to make
her appearance at the end of the play. We even kept her out during the table
read-through on April 4, until it was time for her lines. And then she was
completely absent from rehearsal until Tech Week. Her calls were then not until
perhaps 30-45 minutes
before her entrance on stage for those rehearsals and the performances. Our stage
manager, Dave Pope,
would take her immediately, upon her arrival, to the green room -- where the monitor
was off -- then would get her when the cue came for her entrance into the scene.
You may have also noted the acknowledgement to her parents in the program:
"A special Thank You to Jeff & Cassandra for your precious
They showed us a tremendous amount of trust!
As for our director,
Ms. Natasha Randall,
I haven't been directed by a whole lot of directors -- I'm actually a bit sorry to
say because it reflects on the low number (much lower than I am happy about) of
plays and shoots for which I've acted -- she is one of the better ones I've been
directed by. And when it comes to engaging and collaborating with the actor in
terms of character development and understanding, I think she is the best
I've worked with.
She clearly came into the project with strong ideas and visions that were, in most
ways, parallel with my own, which, of course, helped, that we mostly had like ideas,
ideals and concepts. On the other side, she had me take Ray a few places I hadn't
thought of; some of them were clearly better, some were just different, not better
or worse and not, in my mind, detrimental in any case. I believe I speak for both
myself and Heather when I say that we were most fortunate to have her as our
director. She had two great artistic successes in a row, our Blackbird and
The Boys Next Door right before that. It was a good year for Tosha as a
director and my hat is off to her. And if she gets no award then those doing the
judging had their heads up their asses.
Final notes on my own work as Ray. Several people have told me it was my best work,
but, none of them really are in a place to make that call. None of them have seen
all my other work, especially the comparable roles. At one point, someone connected
to the theatre said that this was the first non-character role I had ever had, which
was spoken in ignorance. It was the first non-character role they had seen me in.
There are few, I am sorry to say, who have seen anything close to the body of my
work (miniscule as that body is). So, I take such comments in the spirit they are
intended and know that few can really assess that with legitimacy.
Now, those who told me it was the best work they had seen me do: they spoke with
Internally, it's difficult for me to know, absolutely, if Ray is my best work. I do
know I have the strongest sense of accomplishment from him. And he probably
is my best work. He certainly is in the room with Teach from American
Buffalo, Serge (or in our production, Stefan) from 'Art,' and Zipper
from Inside the Gatehouse. Now that I write this, Teach may be the only
performance that matches Ray. I know I was inside Ray the way I hope to always be
inside my characters. I also know that I had more focus in this production than I
have ever had before, which is good news to me as an actor who wants to always grow
in the art and craft.
An observation from our director during this one was that as an actor I don't stay
in the moment as I should, which I have two seemingly contradictory reactions: 1)
she is more correct about that than I am usually willing to admit; 2) she's not
nearly as dead-on as she thinks she is about it. I also appreciate her observation
that I rarely need to build myself to the proper emotional level when we might skip
around in the script during rehearsal. Often an actor needs to start a few lines, or
more, before the spot to be worked on, so they can get to where they need to be.
"You can just jump in and be where you need to be emotionally and just go,"
she told me. I hadn't really thought about it before then. That ability certainly
fares well for film work, though, doesn't it?
To be fair, it's not always true. There was a point during Heather's (Una's) long
monologue where I (Ray) cried. I would never have been able to just be there
emotionally for that moment without the buildup to it. I needed Heather's work,
emoting the anguish in Una in the several minutes prior to that moment for me to be
there when the moment came. I am happy to report that I was, indeed, always able to
be there when it came. Feeding off Heather's work was how I could be there, though,
I readily admit.
Here's a good example of the collaboration and like-minded vision between myself and
Natasha. One night in the later rehearsals, after I had already picked my spot to
cry in reaction to Una Natasha, in her notes said, could you pick a spot to cry
during Una's monologue? She had missed me doing it because she was focused on
Heather's work at the time. But, by god, Dave Pope saw me crying. And really, I
knew, over a year before then, before Natasha was even on board as director that
Ray was going to cry in reaction to Una's pain in the monologue. To me, it's a given.
There is still one pesky demon for me, on the Guild stage at any rate. I was able,
as Fred Alston in A Case of Libel, to not once make meaningful contact with
any audience member. But Fred was in one scene for a total of ten minutes or so
(maybe fifteen). I did make meaningful eye contact a few times during this one. And
it is a bugaboo that I need to work on. I may have been more focused, overall, in
Blackbird than ever before, but this is one sort of focus that I still need
to work on. And it's an amateur's error on my part, to say the least.
That notwithstanding, and regardless of the frustration of the premature closing,
Blackbird has been the single most rewarding theatre experience I have yet
had. I have had several people who saw it ask if we were going to do it again. I
believe I already wrote that a board member who was originally skittish about us
mounting it at all said, after seeing the show, that it should have been a main
stage production. A few others who couldn't make it said they'd heard nothing but
good things and wonder if we were going to do it again.
There are no official plans at the moment to mount it again, but I am all for it.
Hey! I (Kinda) Know That Guy! -- This really is only likely
interesting to me and in a very tryin'-to-feel-connected manner. But, a few
days ago I was watching a rerun of
How I Met Your Mother,
one of which I have seen several times before, the episode entitled,
and I realized that Michael Mantell,
for whom I was the stand-in for during the Miami University shoot for
The Ides of March, is in
this episode. He's the wedding guest with the bad toupée who refuses to
acknowledge to Ted that he
is wearing one -- that he could lend to the groom,
Marshall. I had seen that
episode a few times before I was on the
Clooney set; so, this episode is
one of the many screen appearances by Mr. Mantell that I recognized him from. The
next time you see that episode you'll know that I was a stand in for him, for two days in
March of 2011 in Oxford, Ohio. I'm sure that will be a
big thrill for you.
Progress on the short outtake -- that with the workshop title Trying Out
Robert. It may be about time to seriously think of what the actual title
Copy for the faux radio commercials has commenced; such is now my lunchtime
assignment at work. I also plan to browse at
www.mobygratis.com* for a song that will
work as a pop hit on WACI (Lite 97.5 FM).
For the outtake, I absolutely have plans to submit it to
Sundance Film Festival. The short
is cohesive enough and has good enough performances for me to take the shot The
festival begins accepting submissions on June 3, in two days. The deadline for
U.S. and international films is August 15, and the entry is only $35. That's all
quite doable. There is no reason to not have a final cut of the short well before
I'd love to have submitted it to
The Secret City Film Festival but
it has moved to summer, and is up June 17-18, so that deadline is past. I'll be
looking at others, though, including next year's
Film Dayton festival, as well the potential
second annual Indies at the Colony festival.
As for the "eventual" full-length movie: who knows when that will
reach final cut, and even when it does, I am doubtful it will be something to submit
anywhere. As I have, in one way or another, said before the improv movie project as
a whole serves as a workshop experience for me as a director and an editor.
I was told a few months ago to just go ahead and abandon the project if I think the
end result is not much worth screening. I disagree. I think the worth is the
practical, technical exercise. But, I do need to get the thing to final cut and
move on. What I really probably ought to do is abandon myself to the goal of
getting the whole thing final cut and slog off other artistic ventures -- but my
loyalties are too split. I wanna act, too.
It's a dilemma.
* I'd already gotten clearance to use some music
from Moby Gratis as underscoring for the Boys Next Door podcast, but
by the time the edit was assembled, the music didn't fit any longer. I'm
hoping to find a song at the site that will sound like it belongs on
"Lite 97.5 FM."
Last night I worked on a lot of the graphics for the opening podcast for the new
DTG season. I do believe that the DV movie will be all stills and text with music
underscoring: no video footage; no voiceover.
This is not cemented as the concept. Regardless of what the final concept is, the
graphics that I assembled last night, based on Wendi Michael's logos for each
individual production, will be used.
Heading over to The Dayton Playhouse
today to audition for
I have almost no idea what I am eligible for. A couple directors have indicated
that I probably am not right for their plays. I'd say there's some chance that this
will be the second year in a row that I am not on the FF stage. Last year, I
didn't audition due to my big plans to
spend the summer on the improv movie project. This year, it may just be because it
doesn't work out.
-- I auditioned for this yesterday at
The Dayton Playhouse. Talk about cold
readings! As has been the case at least once before at FF auditions, I literally
read nothing in the auditioning that I had seen before. I delivered lines in
character, from the stage, the first time I laid eyes on them. This is always a good
exercise but it is not my favorite way to audition. Still, I must say I am
getting better at infusing real response, attitude and emotion into these dead-cold
readings. That's good. And I suppose I did well enough; at least I don't feel like
it was a bad audition.
There was no air conditioning in the theatre and it was a little close, a little
humid. It's likely to be that way again tonight. I'm not completely sure I'm going
back tonight and tomorrow, but I probably am.
Obscura the Movie
-- I know of at least one person who just had a callback audition for this one.
Since I have not, yet, I can only assume I am out.
So another director apparently has made a serious
St Mary's Hospital Commercial -- Last week I got a
referral from PC-Goenner about an audition for
a local spot in the Evansville, Indiana market. Due to work commitments I could not
make the initial audition, which was in Cincinnati at
Dare to Dream Casting last week.
Yesterday, PC-G called me back about submitting my pic and résumé
because the commercial producers want more choices. So, I may be headed down to
Cincy on Thursday for the commercial's callback date. I may actually be on the
set next week shooting a commercial spot on the day that I turn
Because I burned up so much vacation time during Blackbird rehearsals, I am
working over most days this week in anticipation of possibly being called to Cincy
on Thursday. I may try to do the same thing next week if I get the gig, to burn as
little vacation time as I can, and perhaps none.
Only problem is that depending on what happens with Futurefest casting, I may,
once again, have no way to fit the gym into my day. Not that I have been doing so
-- I didn't go to The Dayton Playhouse
last night for the second night of auditions (fully staged shows) and am not likely
to go tonight (staged readings). I'm trying to get other project ducks in their own
Yesterday I emailed all the FF directors to let them know that I was not available
either Monday evening, the 13th, or Tuesday evening, the 14th. That was before I'd
receive the call from PC-G about the Indiana gig. I actually have other plans that
now may have to be changed. Now, as I said in my email, I know my conflicts will
not be relevant to all of the directors as I am sure not all of them find me a fit
for their respective shows, but I wanted to be sure the info was out there for
whomever. One did respond with the edict, "Don't book anymore dates!"
which at least means my name is being thrown around a little bit. I still wouldn't
assume I am a lock, but it's better than some clear indication I am a wash.
The bipolarization, the manic-depressiveness, the
yin & yang, the green-and-red of my neurotic self-esteem mechanism is up and
running and threatening to overheat!
Despite that I just had an incredibly edifying
-- though partially un-sated -- artistically
successful experience with the Blackbird project, with some strong kudos and
a deep feeling of accomplishment, I feel like a hack actor right now.
-- It may have been true that "my name [was] being thrown around a little
bit," but it seems clear that it was wise to not "still...assume I
[was] a lock." It's just after noon on Thursday as I write this and had I
been cast, a director would have contacted me by now. So, it appears I will be in
the audience at The Dayton Playhouse
the weekend of July 29-31, and the audience only.
St Mary's Hospital Commercial -- Got no call from
PC-Goenner and thus did not go to
Dare to Dream Casting today for
the callback for this Indiana gig. Pretty clear I don't have a paying gig next
So, the negative, vulture voice in my head is having a
field day chiding me about how I apparently am not terribly desirable on stage. He's
also reminding me that I essentially cast myself as Ray in Blackbird and
suggests that even the directors who saw me in that and thought I was very good
would not have cast me in the role beforehand.
And, actually, on that last point, the vulture is, I believe, mostly correct.
But, as I pointed out earlier today: it's not like I don't have projects I'm
ignoring a little too much as it is.
Click this image for a PDF of my current actor's résumé
I've slightly revised the look of my actor's résumé and decided to
keep an updated version of it on-line here in PDF form. The one here won't be honed
down to one page like the other versions. At some point I may create an html
version to replace the PDF, or perhaps to supplement it.
I always configure a few different versions for different purposes:
a "Community Theatre" version that lists first my more
prominent "Stage & other in-person performances," then
a "Professional Theatre Version," which lists only the
"Stage & other in-person performances."
a non-professional (small, college and like productions) screen
version with first, "Screen performances," then "Voice
performances," then "Stage performances."
a professional screen version with the same listings as the non-pro
version but also including agency contacts (just as the professional theatre
the version that the agency gets, which is the same as the other screen
one, save for the fact that the personal contact information is gone and
only the agency info is there -- like the PDF to the left here.
All of them have the skills and training section at the bottom, though I do change
out some of the skills listed on different résumés.
Besides eliminating the distinctions between professional and non-professional
gigs, I changed the top graphic of my name; I also now have three small head shots
in the header area, one with a beard, just so a casting person can see what I look
like with one -- since I'm usually clean-shaved when I audition.
The résumés are composed in a word processor but I do always save a
PDF version that can easily be emailed and won't lose any formating in someone's
software on the other side. Now that I have my
myTouch 4G smart phone I am
keeping a folder on the phone with all the different versions in it so I can email
the appropriate résumé from the myTouch if I need to send one in a
So, K.L., do you have a résumé
John/Sam/Lisa, I have a PDF on my
phone. Can I email it to you right now?
Great! Yeah! Send that to me. Here's my email
Fabulous! Let me pull it up, and....... Presto!
One of you five might remember when I represented
Still Me at the
Secret City Film Festival in
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in October of 2008. One of the directors of photography I met
there, who also produces and directs, himself, asked me, right before I left, if I
had a business card or a résumé or a headshot on me.
And, I did not!
Now that I think about it, I'd started designing a business card, something like a
year or two ago (if not longer ago), that I've never finished.....
OPENING TODAY AT THE
Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape:
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP BY CARL L. WILLIAMS -- OR, SOMETIMES IT'S
GOOD TO BE WRONG!:
Ray Gambrel, the
director of the FutureFest 2011 play, A Woman on the Cusp, called me
yesterday morning and offered me the principal role of Darren Michaelman.
I made my incorrect assumption last Thursday that I had not been cast in any of the
six plays, such being guided by impatience and my terminal sense of pessimism --
all a part of the Neurotic Actor Boy syndrome.
At the last that I've heard, one of the four roles has yet to be cast, and I won't
post the cast here until I know it's good for public consumption. I will be working
with one person whom I've seen on stage a few times and whose work I like and for
whom I am happy to get to work with. The other is someone whom I know slightly and I
look forward to becoming more acquainted with.
Meanwhile, I know only vaguely what the play is about. I do know that Darren is
basically a nice guy put into a precarious position. I haven't read it yet, but I
am supposed to get an initial PDF version this weekend so I can read it before the
table read, which should be some time next week.
Darren was one of the reads I did okay with at the audition. At least it wasn't one
where I realized by the end I had totally misunderstood the context of and gave a
wholly incorrect reading.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
I now have an electronic copy of the script and have started reading it.
My home printer is nearly dead so I created a PDF version and put it on my phone,
which is where I began my reading last night. For that "new-toy-fun-of-it"
I think I'll finish it off today using the same medium.
Meanwhile, I know of at least one actor who is reading today for the role that is
not yet filled.
I also didn't remember if WOTC was one of the three fully staged or one of
the staged readings. I went to the
page to see both that and when our play is up. I don't think it yet says which slots
the plays occupy but it does indicate that WOTC is fully staged, which means
it shows one of Friday or Saturday at 8:00 p.m. or the last slot on Sunday
afternoon (at 3:00, I believe).
CLOSING TODAY AT THE
Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape:
Some people need continuous change in order to feel alive. Others are
terrified of unsettling the peace that they have established. In a sprawling
New Jersey Victorian, a taciturn Yankee widower and a vivacious grandmother
from Tennessee find a second chance at love. Their funny and enchanting
romance is filled with surprise and unpredictable tribulation. This
off-Broadway success is an affecting, late-in-life journey of compromise
and rejuvenation, of personal risk and the rewards of change.
I saw Southern Comforts Friday night. It's a charming little script with
sweet performances from Greg and Barbara.
You have a last chance to check it out if you live close enough and it's still
early enough on Sunday, June 12, 2011.
The last curtain is at 3:00, at 430 Wayne Avenue, Dayton, Ohio, 45410.
A LITTLE PICK-UP SHOOTING, & JERRY RIGG'S SOUND STUDIO:
Screen shot from footage shot at the Yellow Springs Street Fair.
A Little Pick-Up Shooting --
This past Saturday was the Spring
Street Fair in
Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is not
far from where I lay my head at night. One of the segments in the movie will have
establishment shots of a street fair. Back in June of 2009 when I shot that segment
I walked around after and shot some footage of the street fair there in Tipp City,
which happened to be going on. Actor Barbara Jorgensen made a reference to that
street fair during the improvved scene. Incorporating street fair footage seemed a
good idea. I've always wanted more and of a different flavor and The Yellow Springs
Street Fair will give me diverse footage to incorporate with the other footage.
I used my Sony Cybershot to shoot the video. I've incorporated footage from my
Cybershot into some of the DTG podcasts this year and it works, especially if the
cuts are quick. Plus, since the improv movie is 3:4 rather than 16:9 I won't be
zooming the images in (closer) to fill out the aspect ratio on the sides.
Jerry Rigg's Sound Studio --
In anticipation of the need to very shortly record a small slew of actor friends in
the voice-over work for the faux commercials for the WACI (Lite 97.5 FM) radio
programing running in the background of the outtake short from the project, I did
some makeshift sound studio-like building in the humble abode over the
weekend. How's that for a run-on sentence?
In truth, "clearing out" is more accurate than "building."
The idea, of course, is to keep this setup for future endeavors, which really means:
keeping it cleared out.
More so, I've written far more copy for said radio spots, yesterday, in the midst of
the humdrum average household work I also did.
Before Jerry got there
Jerry's moving staff
Jerry's cleaning crew
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The cast is now rounded out, and I am happy to report the list is completed with an
actor I recommended.
The cast is:
I did do the "new-toy-fun-of-it" bit and read the whole script in PDF
version on my myTouch 4G,
yesterday, before I moved on to the business of Jerry Rigg's sound studio.
Now it's time to break out the index cards and get the flashcards up and running
for line memorization. The table read-through is next Monday at the
Miami Valley Communication Council. Between now
and then, some line study is in order. And, in fact, such has been requested by
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
And so, the process of line study begins with the ceremonial
highlighting of my lines in the script.
And so, the line work, in earnest, has begun:
Yellow Highlighter -- Tuesday evening, after dinner
with my family -- (to celebrate
Flag Day) -- I grabbed a yellow highlighter and highlighted my lines
in the hardcopy of script I've printed from the electronic copy
Ray sent. We'll
probably get another print out at the read through on Monday, the official
copy of the script. I'll re-highlight if that happens and that will become my
flashcards -- Yesterday at lunch at the rent-payin'
job, I began creating my flashcards for line memorization. It's the same as is
usual for me: unlined side has the cue lines from the other characters in
cursive handwriting and the lined side has my responding lines.
My hope was to have the "flashcards" done by bed time last night, but
that goal is not met. The sooner the better. Though I may regulate writing them
to the lunch room -- mostly, anyway -- and start on the audio file
tonight so I can get that out of the way.
At least, of course, line study proper has already begun. As I am transcribing
the lines I am giving some thought to Darren's intent, to what's going on with
him in the scene. It's the bare bones beginning of that, but it has already
started. It'd be dishonest to say I have, at the moment, more than only a
vague idea about this guy, however.
Also have to admit that a good portion of my transcription last night was
mentally numb. I had the TV on and was attending more to that than the script.
Still, the study has launched.
Audio Files of the lines -- I have plans to make my
standard audio files of my scenes in the show. These will follow the precedent
of my lines on the recording being flat and dead-panned. I'll probably do the
pitch-bending for the other characters, too -- the newly added feature as of the
Blackbird audio files.
The big question is when will I get this audio done? It looks like perhaps it'll
be this Sunday. That seems the only major window of opportunity, though perhaps
I will get at least some of it done tonight.
The very start of creating the flashcards, at a lunchroom
table, yesterday, in the library break room at
Wright State University.
At the break room table, writing my lines on the flashcards.
Continuing the "flashcards" undertaking at home,
Second, You're wonderful live. The 2005 show in Columbus was the best
concert I've ever been to. But for the new tour, the seats worth sitting in
are beyond the practicalities of my current wallet. So, I won't be seeing
you this time.
I tried to justify it in my mind, but I just cannot do it. Guess you'll have
to work on your third billion without me.
The Natasha/Craig sequence is, of course, what will be lifted out of the full-length
to be a short outtake, still with the current workshop title of Trying Out
Robert, and that which I want to get to a final cut by August to meet the
deadline for Sundance Film Festival.
Dream big, right?
Saturday it was
Ms. Heather Atkinson
(Una in Blackbird, if you remember) who dropped in to be Maureen Dalmond, the
general manager of the family-owned Dalmond's Jewelries.
I have a few more spots written, but I haven't locked anyone in for them. I really
need to attend to that.
Although, there is some opportunity to work on cultivating my own voice work by
practicing the creation of more distinctively diverse voices. Between that and the
ability to change the pitch of the recorded voice, I could do some of the faux
I voiced all the news soundbytes (I'm not even sure if that's technically the
correct term) for the radio news spots that
did for me, as the WACI news announcer Wendy Davis, back in March. I took on, if I
remember correctly, three characters.
Still want other local actors involved though.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Meanwhile, I've been diligently attacking the first stages of my line work but must
admit I am a little behind where I would like to be.
I have not yet completed the creation of flashcards and it was what much of my
Sunday was about as well as most of my lunch hours at work the last several days
I am almost done with this process but it's taken longer than I expected. Part of
the length is accounted for by writer's
cramp! At the moment there are 352 flashcards. I will say that most of
Darren's line are not more than a sentence, and often short sentences. Darren does
not have the plethora of monologues that Ray had in Blackbird.
I do want to get the lines into audio form, too, as soon as possible. I'd hoped I
would be able to plug them into my ears during much of the day this week, and as of
today. But that is not the case.
More lunch with a script and some index cards at home over
As per the norm, I've missed a lot of theatre I wished to see of late, but I did
manage to get to The Mystery of Edwin Drood at
Beavercreek Community Theatre Saturday night.
It's a silly, farce of a musical comedy and my hat is off to the cast and crew for
a most enjoyable night out.
I will confess, as I'm sure I have in the past, I almost never go to see musicals
for other than to support my friends who are appearing or otherwise involved and
that was absolutely the case here. I usually dread it as I am leaving the apartment.
"Oh god! A musical!"
Usually, by ten minutes into Act II I'm done and restless
for the closing curtain. It's not always the case but it is S.O.P. for me. I am not
a musical theatre kind of theatre person. Guess Neil Patrick Harris was
addressing me during the opening number at the Tony's two weeks back.
I managed to make it to the end of this one due to a fine production and a lot of
wonderful performances. The music itself was, mostly, standard musical theatre fare,
which does not impress me much.
Ea-gads; this reads suspiciously like a review.
Please disregard any resemblance to a "Review" that these words may have.
The last thing I am is a theatre reviewer. Just a shlob with an occasional
But, of course, ever-impatient to get to the soul of the character, my head was
busy making mental notes all over the script of where and what I have no clue about,
yet, as far as what's going on with Darren. "No,
that's not it!" my mind said consistently as I read this line or
Of course, it was Read Through so I was (am) as far along as is reasonable to
expect: not very. But, as is my usual lot, my modus operandi, I'm chopping
at the bit to get Darren Michaelman fully rounded out into a strong and believable
three dimensions that works with the other cast members' work for their characters
and fulfills the needs of the story (the playwright's intent).
As of the posting of this entry, I still have a few flashcards left to create,
though at lunch yesterday I came relatively close to the end of the script. I
anticipate having that done today.
Then onto the audio recording which I plan to get to tomorrow. With luck, I'll
record and mix the thing by bedtime tomorrow night.
Tonight we block A.I:S.1 (Act
I:Scene 1). Then we have two nights off -- well, two
nights off from meeting together in rehearsal -- and then pull a long
rehearsal Friday to finish off Act I with
A.I:S.2 & A.I:S.3.
Our official off-book date is July 11, but since that's an Act
II night, I'm going for the rehearsal before on July 7,
which is Act I. But my actual personal target is one
cycle through the acts before that, which is Act I on
Tuesday, July 5. And getting my eyes off the script as much as possible before that
is quite all right by me.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
A.I:S.1 & S.2 are blocked -- in pencil, of course.
Actually, most of scene 2 is blocked. The first couple pages are not because
not everyone in the portion could be at the rehearsal last night. As the result of
the absence the blocking of A.I:S.3 was cancelled for
last night. Due to the problems last night and another actor's sudden change in
schedule conflicts, further scene work is switched out from this point forward,
and a lot of those changes have yet to be determined by
But, blocking has started. Granted, for me there's very little movement in the two
scenes we have blocked (which is surely to be the case for the show as a whole).
So far I've spent most of my time on stage sitting in the center stage left chair
and I am likely to be in that chair for most of the show.
The plan is still for most of the rehearsal run to still be at the MVCC
(Miami Valley Communication Council), but we do
get a few rehearsals on the actual theatre stage. The big challenge is that ours is
the closing show, Sunday, July 31 at 3 p.m., which puts our Final Dress on
Wednesday, July 27. We have a "speed through" the next night and some
sort of rehearsal during the FF weekend, closer to curtain.
* A.I:S.1 = Act
I:Scene 1 -- (A.I:S.2
= Act I:Scene 2, etc)
* Blocking = The process of determining the placement or
location of actors on stage and planning their relative movement in a scene.
* Final Dress = The last "Dress" rehearsal before
actual performances. The dress rehearsals being the several just prior to
opening in which lighting, costumes, makeup, costume changes, set changes,
properties, sound effects, and any special effects are executed.
* Speed Through = A rehearsal in which the actors deliver
lines and possibly perform the action at fast pace. It can serve several
purposes, one to help with slow or dragging pacing, or just simply to force
quick mental acumen as per line recall based on rapidly approaching cues.
The term also simply refers to a line run, as well. Also referred to as a
"Brush Up" rehearsal if the context is such a rehearsal during
the run of a show after several days of a dark theatre.
Finishing up the flashcards
Flashcard number 392 -- AII:S2.
The three-inch tall stack of finished flashcards; 400 cards
covering 399 lines.
Darren Michaelman has given me a few glimpses of himself but he's mostly vague in
my heart and head right now. There are a few places where I clearly already see
what is going on with him. Some of that is simply the clear-cut context and the
necessities of his role in telling the story. These factors demand particular
motivations and character traits from Darren. Other points are suggested by
observations by other characters. These certain other characters may be incorrect
in their interpretations of Darren and his desires and motives, but their reactions
still inform me as to the possibilities for Darren, and in some cases, measured
against the other factors, narrow the choices.
Another challenge for me, not dissimilar to one for Blackbird, is to infuse
some variety into the patterned rhythm and cadence of Darren's dialogue. His
dialogue is dominated by short, one-sentence lines, the overwhelming majority
being questions. It's proved so far a challenge keeping a monotonous pattern from
prevailing in Darren's verbiage. I may find that a certain measure of rhythm, and
even melody (dictated by the fact that most lines are questions), may be more fixed
than I would like. At some point, fighting the built-in cadences will become
forced and will draw attention to itself as unnatural delivery. There's a happy
compromise that I search for along with fleshing Darren out.
Back to the line study techniques. I recorded the raw tracks for my audio files
of the play. As soon as this entry is posted, I'll open up the
Final Cut Express
project I created last night and produce audio files for each scene with the same
methodology I used for Blackbird: delivery of all the lines in monotone, up
the pitch on Irene and Charlotte, lower it for Lonnie, and attach reverb to stage
CONFESSION: I did have the TV on for the predominance of this
editing process, as, believe it or not, most of this audio editing
How did I spend my weekend?
Mixing the audio version of the WOTC script, giving each character's lines
and the stage directions that I deemed necessary to verbalize, all the attributes I
said I would.
Darren -- just my monotone delivery, no effects
Irene -- the pitch made a bit higher
Lonnie -- the pitch bent down about a half an octave
Charlotte -- the pitch bent up but not as high as Irene's
Stage directions & Act:Scene slates -- no pitch bend, but reverb added.
And when I say I spent the weekend doing this, that is pretty much not an
exaggeration. I had not remembered the Blackbird one being quite so laborious
or time-consuming, but then, it was only two characters and a shorter play. I
finished at around midnight last night. Though there were a few errors that had to
be corrected today. But I have the files in my iTunes library and on my phone.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
One of my castmates asked me last night if I was off-book, yet. The answer, of
course, is: Not,
Granted, I've expended a lot of time writing the index flashcards and recording
& mixing my audio version of the script. Those things play a big part in me
becoming familiar with, getting inside the script and it's world, or help me
start the journey, but the working road to "off-book" has barely
Now that the audio's mixed, I am starting to give the script a listen, but the real
work is the drilling with the flashcards and study of the printed script proper.
And that has just started.
I am only a little ways into memorizing A.I:S.1.
We still have A.II:S.2 to block out tonight, having
blocked A.II:S.1 last night. Then getting the scripts
out of our hands, our eyes out off the text, is the big push. Obviously we
are all pushing toward that with the earlier scenes, now.
Meanwhile, the performance agenda for the weekend is as follows:
DATE & TIME
by Mark Eisman
Friday, July 29, 8:00 p.m.
by Michael Feely
Saturday, July 30, 10:00 a.m.
by Richard Etchison
Saturday, July 30, 3:00 p.m.
Allegro Con Brio
by Nelson Sheeley
Saturday, July 30, 8:00 p.m.
by Stacey Luftig
Sunday, July 31, 10:00 a.m.
A Woman on the Cusp
by Carl L. Williams
Sunday, July 31, 3:00 p.m.
I have one faux radio commercial fully produced to the finish line. That August 15
deadline for submission to
Sundance Film Festival is not really
terribly far away.....
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The rehearsal for last night had to be cancelled, so we block
A.II:S.2 tonight then run all of Act
The newly freed-up time last night was a perfect opportunity to further line
memorization; unfortunately I fell asleep watching a
Bones rerun early in the
evening, and though I did wake up about 10:30 and get some line work in, it was not
the big chunk of work I had planned.
Some progress is better than none, I suppose.
I do anticipate a longer-than-usual rehearsal tonight, and in fact,
Director Ray has
warned us it probably will be. But, really we've had some shorter rehearsals than
some productions -- many -- that I've been in, so there's not much room for