A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Well, as it turns out, last night we didn't get to run the whole of Act
II. We did block that second scene, the last of the play.
But it's a long scene and we ran it twice and we were done.
The deadline to be off-book is ten days away but I'm shooting for sooner, despite
that I am not quite halfway through committing A.I:S.1
To some extent, I suppose, Darren's characterization is coming into focus. Okay, he
is to more than just "some extent." We all talked a bit about the
characters in a rehearsal earlier this week.
Ray gave us a chart
of personality types designated as
The Enneagram Types and
urged us to use this as a possible template to build our characters on top of, or
at least find useful in helping inform us. At the very least the printout has
sparked some thought in me about Darren's personality type.
He's starting to materialize little-by-little anyway. We ran
A.II:S.2 twice last night and I have are two short
monologues that were pretty rough (read: maudlin) the first time through
but showed considerable improvement the second time through -- though leagues away
from what can be called "good readings."
The "Off-Book" gauntlet is laid and
along side it is the "Who Is Darren
Michaelman?" gauntlet. Good thing we are into a three-day weekend --
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them
with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the
separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of
nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are
instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of
the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes
destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or
to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation
on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them
shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long
train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object
evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is
their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to
provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the
patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity
which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove
this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and
pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his
assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly
neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right
of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them
and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public
records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance
with his measures.
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of
annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their
exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the
dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for
that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and
raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his
assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of
their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of
officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the
consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior
to civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign
to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his
assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders
which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring
province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and
enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and
fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and
altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his
protection and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns,
and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries
to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already
begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high
seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners
of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored
to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian
savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction
of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress
in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered
only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by
every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We
have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature
to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded
them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We
have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have
conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these
usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and
correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and
of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity,
which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest
of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America,
in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by
the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish
and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to
be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all
allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection
between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be
totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they
have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances,
establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which
independent states may of right do. And for the support of this
declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes
and our sacred honor.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams,
Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William
Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis,
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis
Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin
Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George
Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles
Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot
Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr.,
Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
My hopes were high to get the bulk of the script memorization out of the way over
last week's extended Fourth of July holiday weekend. That didn't happen. I made
some progress but at the end of the weekend I had only the first two scenes of Act
I down -- and I am still not close to that perfect
Off-Book place as of yet with anything.
The interference last weekend was all about distractions, diversions, and blockades.
The major "blockade" were a couple recurring headaches of not some little
intensity. The first one inflicted me last Friday and I missed both early hours then
the end of my work day at the Rent Payer.
By late Friday afternoon I was in bed trying for sleep as the best relief to my
Saturday was a reasonably successful day in terms of the script work, though part of
my allotted time was interrupted by other matters. Sunday I was getting started when
it came to my attention that my good friend Dave and two of his kids were in town
for his mother's eighty-fifth birthday, so I had to take a few hours out of the day
to visit all of them.
Not long after I left them, that was when Headache, Part Two hit. So, the rest of
the day was shot. It even hurt to watch TV!
Monday, The Fourth, I saw
Zoot Theatre Company's Aesop's
Fables at the Town Hall Theatre
during the Americana Festival in Centerville, Ohio. But, still some good part of the
day was spent on the lines from the play.
Still, the weekend as an engulfing, intense work-shed for memorizing the script was a
bust. So, the memorization work continued during the week with my utilization of any
open spots of time I could find. Though I obviously couldn't focus much on it at the
Rent Payer, I did steal a few moments here and there. Sometimes brief drilling with
long respites is most effective, anyway. So the stacks of flashcards were out on my
desk top (the literal one) in the office. Still the progress was slow.
As for this past week's rehearsals, It was nice to be able to not have my
eyes buried in the script all the time, more so, of course, for
A.I:S.1 & S.2, but more effectively for the other
scenes than I would have expected. Thursday night we ran Act
I and I'd love to think I could've done it without the
script in my hand, but that wasn't completely true. I did pretty well with the
first two scenes and with the early part of the third scene.
Monday is the "off-book deadline" So today and tomorrow, my waking hours
must be dominated by line memorization as much as possible.
So I finish off the mini-essay below about Harold
Guskin's acting book -- because, I hate to reveal this, but I often do not write a
blog entry in one sitting nor necessarily in the exact order as laid out on the
html page -- then it's A Woman on the Cusp flashcard & script time. I do
believe some (much?) of that time shall be spent in forestry.
It's disorientating that we do Act II on Monday, so we
are required to be off-book for the second act before we are for the first, but,
that's just vexing to my instinct for organized patterns.
Penetrating Darren's being is coming along, too. Naturally not as swiftly as my
impatience demands, but I am climbing gradually into his persona. Or is Darren
arriving to me, enveloping me? I suppose at different moments one of the metaphors
is more appropriate than any other.
Monday after Aesop's Fables was over, and on my mile walk back to where my
car was parked, I took the opportunity to shoot a little more footage for movie.
This was more shots of a street fair, this time, that Americana Festival. I hadn't
planned it, but I had the camera in my pocket, so I figured a minute or so more
establishment footage couldn't hurt. There's no such thing as too much footage but
absolutely such thing as "not enough footage."
Meanwhile, finishing off them faux radio commercials sometime soon might be a good
How To Stop Acting, by Harold Guskin
-- One more distraction over the holiday weekend was this book on acting by the
actor and acting coach, Harold Guskin. I happened across it about a week or two back
in the General Collection stacks at my work place,
The Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at Wright State University,
and grabbed it up for a later read. My intention last weekend was just to lightly
browse the book while having lunch. It piqued my interest and I pretty much read
the whole thing in that sitting.
The title of the book addresses the concept of acting that I embrace, which I
express through the adage:
Less "acting," more "being."
A passage from his book that illustrates what Guskin postulates:
Actors always ask me how to get to characters who are different from
themselves. Well, every character has to be us, or they won't be believable.
We will look like we are Acting. But getting to characters that seem
different from us and yet believable and interesting is necessary for us to
fulfill our potential as actors. (p.59-60)
Some years ago (many), I saw some sort of documentary or interview in which
Brian Dennehy, in speaking of the
contrasts between stage and screen performances said, essentially, that when he is
on stage he "Acts," but when he is in front of a camera he
"Behaves." It seems to me he is really speaking of the same basic idea
that I am, and that Guskin is. He's not saying, I don't believe, that when he is in
a play he gives a performance that appears like Acting, but rather that on
stage, actors must be bigger in all of their gestures and vocal emoting so it will
carry to the audience and that the same levels are too much in front of a camera.
Though I'd never be able to quote a word of it, I remember that the rest of
Dennehy's point was that to truly succeed with his performance, his audience, whether
in a live theatre, a movie house, or millions of sofas around the country have to
have a sense of real being and presence from his character.
That's what I believe. I think it's true even about "character"
performances (i.e.: roles that are in some way stereotyped, exaggerated, or
otherwise removed from normalcy). Of course, if it's as exotic as playing The Grinch
for children's theatre the authenticity of being may be measured against the grand
exaggerations of the character performance, but the kids are going to buy it more if
the actor can still make it sincere.
But, getting back to straight dramatic and most comedic roles, the sense of
authenticity, of true being, is critical to a performance that the audience forgets
is a performance. That's what we want as actors, we want the audience members,
including those who know our other work, and even those who are friends of ours, to
be able to suspend disbelief to the point that they forget we are not the people we
are portraying on those stages or those screens.
That's my current place with Darren Michaelman, working to get all the stilted
delivery out of him; to bring as much of my humanity into him as I can yet allowing
Darren to not be K.L.
Without going into great detail about Mr. Guskin's book I will say that one of the
most interesting things to me is his concept of Taking the Lines Off the Page. This
hits a note with me because one of my trouble spots in my mind is the cold read at
audition. Though I must say, I was not as thoroughly disappointed with the ice-cold
readings I had to do for FutureFest this year as I could have been.
Guskin's premise is that when auditioning and actually when beginning one's line study
for a role you have won, the first process you should use is Taking It Off the Page.
At the risk of pushing
to its limits here, these are few paragraphs where Mr. Guskin introduces Taking It
Off the Page:
Here's how it works: The actor looks down at the phrase and breathes in
and out while he reads the words to himself, giving himself time to let the
phrase into his head. Then he looks up from the page and says the line, no
longer reading but speaking.
Taking your time to breathe in and out while you look down at the page to
read the phrase for yourself allows you to access whatever unconscious
thoughts or images it evokes. It doesn't matter what comes up -- however
trivial, simple, deep, or apparently unrelated it is -- as long as it is
your actual response at the time, and not what you think is
The point is to let the dialogue bounce around in your unconscious, a bit
like in the Freudian concept of word association in which the psychoanalyst
says a word and the patient responds with whatever word comes to mind,
before he can censor it. The actor is accessing his unconscious self,
surprising himself with his unconscious response, in much the same way.
As soon as you exhale, say the phrase before you have a chance to censor
whatever thought or feeling surfaces. Don't deaden the line by trying to be
sincere. Just say what you mean, no matter how startling, stupid,
frightening, funny, touching, irreverent, or boring. Exhaling before you
speak ensures that it is your own voice that you are using, not a phony,
artificially projected actor's voice. It is the way we all speak when we are
Once the feeling has surfaces and been expressed, feel free to drop it so
that the next line can take you to a new place. Actors often hold on to a
feeling or thought that's working, out of fear that they'll have nothing
else to replace it that will be as good. But the truth is, holding on to the
or feeling evoked by one line limits the possible range of response the next
line can elicit; letting go leaves room for something new to arise. That's
what exploration is all about. (p.6-7)
One of the reasons that I was not quite as unsatisfied with the cold readings I did
for FutureFest was that, though I had not been introduced to Mr. Guskin's book yet,
I more-or-less employed some of his concept outlined above. I had realized that I
was just not going to be able to walk up on the stage and give any sort of informed
"performance" of the characters as they live in their respective scripts.
I had only vague overviews of the scripts and sketchy understandings of the
characters and the dynamics of their relationships to the other characters in their
worlds. So I just went with the perceived contexts in the moments I was up there,
reading with fellow actors. I just stayed in the moment and gathered context from
whatever it seemed was happening on the pages and between myself and my scene mates
The context was often far afield from the playwright's context, and sometimes that
became obvious at some point while we were still on stage, in scene. But, to
paraphrase Mr. Guskin from another point in his book: for the cold read, which is
almost always the case for a movie, and sometimes, as with Futurefest, with plays,
the audition is about showing yourself as an actor not about showing deep
understandings of the character and the story, understandings you cannot possibly
have -- unless you are auditioning for well-known classic, in which case, you're
not giving a cold-read audition.
When it would dawn on me that the reading was not quite what the scene really needed
in context with the playwright's agenda, I think in a couple cases I started the
line over, in at least one instance, I adjusted from that point forward, and in at
least one other instance, I stayed with what I had going because it didn't feel
necessary to change.
It came back to me, via the spouse of someone who was present when I auditioned for
FutureFest, that I was one of those who seemed far more relaxed and in control, that
I gave some of the best reads. I so very much hope that is the truth, because it
shows progress and growth on my part as an actor.
As for the whole idea of "getting to [a Darren who is] different from [K.L.]
and yet believable and interesting": I'll keep you posted.
The Actor's Miles -- I went to plug in some recent 2011
miles driven as an "actor" only to realize I had yet to record ANY.
So, I spent some time yesterday retracing what I've driven so far this year,
including the two 136.9-round-trip drives to Miami University for the days on the
Ides of March set.
I have a couple auditions that I have to retrace because they aren't on my iCal,
but at the moment I'm at a respectable 1312.94 up to this past Thursday's rehearsal
at Miami Valley Communication Council for
As mentioned above, over last weekend I also saw the
Zoot Theatre Company adaptation of
Aesop's Fables that was produced in collaboration with the
Town Hall Theatre in Centerville. The
(whom you may recognize from other posts here about a certain great theatrical
endeavor of mine [ours], that family-friendly
Patrick Hayes (whom
I was on stage with in The Best Man),
Judy Shaw (whom I've not yet worked with), and
J. Gary Thompson (whom I've been on
stage with twice -- Sweeney Todd and A Case of Libel and worked with
on other projects).
To one extent or another all the actors got to explore an array of character work
and did quite well. Their performances were, of course, geared toward children but
for you non-actors out there, don't be fooled. Playing to kids is not as easy as you
And, of course, the puppets and masks -- which I assume were designed by
Tristan Cupp --
were cool as all get-out! I think my two favorites were both the Tortoise and the
Hare, from that particular fable.
As I told Ms. Atkinson a few weeks back, though I have no strong interest in
long-term involvement with puppetry/mask theatre, I still would love to do
some work with Zoot. It would be challenging and a great experience, I am
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The grand plan for the weekend was to head to one or both of the
Glen Helen nature preserve or
John Bryan State Park for some good bite of
my time learning the rest of the lines for the show. However, the heat index and the
humidity over the weekend sucked in good ol' Southwest Ohio, as I'm sure it did all
over the Midwest and beyond. I elected to stay in the abode.
And so as of Saturday afternoon I began the process of spending the rest of my
weekend pacing my apartment, flashcards in hand, reading, reciting, repeating.
I employed the Harold Guskin "Taking It Off the Page" technique described
above in the last blog entry, at least to some extent. And I have to say, it has
helped my get to some good readings of some lines, especially some lines I was at a
Tonight is the first official "off-book" rehearsal; Act
II. Tomorrow night we are at the
Playhouse on the actual stage doing
our first full run (and the first night off-book for Act I).
Today, flashcards in pocket, I drill myself whenever the opportunities present
themselves. That will pretty much be the SOP from this point forward.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The rehearsal had to be cancelled last night, so tonight we run the whole show
off-book as our first "off-book rehearsal." It's a little unnerving to
run the whole thing as the first off-book night, but what-the-heck, it won't be
fatal; probably won't even bruise us; if it does bruise us, we'll heal.
So last night was another opportunity to work more on the lines. Okay, so I'll
declare myself something like 97-99.5% off-book. Now to squeeze the last of the
hokeyness out of some of my line readings. Actually, one bothersome monologue
toward the end of the play got a good reading from me as I was doing the dishes
before I went to bed last night. But, there are still some spots where I have to
iron out the high potential for maudlin discourse, at least from the Darren side of
Seriously, that Guskin Off the Page exercise works. I'm not going to fall back on
it as the cure for all my acting woes, but it certainly is a good weapon in the
arsenal. (sorry for the mixed metaphor, those of you who are troubled by such)
That last .5 to 3% below perfect off-book status has to do with two problem areas.
One is the verbatim goal, which I always have but which is also even more important
than usual when one is in a FutureFest play, or any other festival production where
the actual aspect being judged is the text, the writing of the play, not the
production or the performances. Of my two big "off-book problems" it is
the lesser of the two, yet it is still a big problem. It's important that we
deliver the dialogue accurately. It's also important that we don't bastardize the
obvious intent of the playwright in any way -- cutting a crucial stage direction that
is clearly germane to the story, etcetera, but this last point is all way more the
directors problem than the actors, though we do share some responsibility for that
goal, too. Our big responsibility as the actors is to way the words as written.
All these concepts of remaining faithful are always true about any production, but
they are especially true about a production for something like FutureFest.Thus, the
paraphrasing I caught myself doing last night, in some instances, was none too
thrilling to me.
The bigger memory problem is a couple spots in the script where Darren
controls the direction of the conversations and he takes them down different paths
from where they were. He's not responding to another character -- actually, in every
case here, the character is
Lynn Kesson's Irene -- so I don't
have cue lines to directly inform me. There are a couple spots where I am not yet
solid on where I take the conversation off of the cue lines I get. As important as
the first problem is to overcome, this one is more so because losing lines, skipping
some segment of the script, is a bigger sin than paraphrasing an idea from the
script. At least the second error doesn't threaten to compromise the logic or drop
an important plot point.
Plus, panic on stage is simply no fun for any actor in the scene.
As one of my castmates has already said, the rehearsal tonight on the
Dayton Playhouse main stage is going
to be a bumpy ride. We are running the whole show for the first time ever, we will
be off-book for the first time, and we will be in a new environment for the first
time. There'll be a lot thrown at us and I have no doubt some disorientation will
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The WOTC playlist on my cell phone
Actor Boy plugged in
There's a reason why the first few off-book nights of rehearsal are called
That bumpy ride that my castmate predicted was in fact the reality of the evening.
But, hey, that's to be expected for the first off-book stumble through. And again,
we had the added distraction of being in a new environment which can affect more
then some might guess.
Another problem, for me at least, was the fans, more so the loud hums and roars
from them, the one big industrial one, especially. The
Dayton Playhouse has an AC problem at
the moment -- the AC ain't working well.
The fans were quite necessary to keep it in the neighborhood of bearable to be there,
but the noise made it difficult to hear and on many occasions I just couldn't hear
my cues, or the other actors' line in general.
The other point is, as always, it's one thing to pull your line up off of reading
your cue line -- you know with certainty that the line is done and it's your turn.
It's quite another to hear your cue line.
It's quite easy to jump the cue or otherwise miss it. I did that a few times last
Not a lot of character work was done last night by any of us. We were all too busy
accessing memory cells and trying to hear each other. Those maudlin-threatening
Darren monologues at the end of the play were in full corn-ball mode last night.
This is a trouble spot that needs nuclear attack by me.
Meanwhile, I have been and shall continue to listen to the audio files of the
script on my myTouch 4G phone.
Mostly to practice hearing the cue lines.
There will be drills with the flashcards, too. Especially afterwork in prep for the
And, in concerns with the flashcards here's a point: one danger of creating the
flashcards is the possibility of skipping something. I found last night I had
skipped a cue line and my pick-up line off that cue line. When I was prompted for
the correct line, it caught me totally by surprise. I've been relying completely on
the flashcards for a week and so the missing lines have not been a part of my
active line study. There a cautionary tale there.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Back at the Miami Valley Communication Council
for the rehearsal last night. We did not stumble as badly at all as we had on
Tuesday evening. There was even a certain amount of character work going on.
I still am unsatisfied with where I am with those troubling monologues at the end
of the play. I also think I will spend this forthcoming weekend building backstory
for Darren Michaelman. For one thing he has incidents from his past that are referred
to and I believe I shall fill in the details of those so when Darren is speaking of
them on stage there will be a strong reference derived from.
There's also another line he has which is more-or-less a vague, throw-away but I
think needs the weight of a strong history behind it. In other words his response
(it's an answer to a question) is close to dishonest by how much he is downplaying
the facts behind his answer. That's what I've been doing and I am going to make it
stronger by having the actual facts in Darren's head. That's just one example
of why I think I want a solid backstory for Darren. I want a real sense of history
for this guy. This is one of those cases where it feels necessary to me.
Fortunately there is a rehearsal tonight; I only say that because through some sort
of misunderstanding or miscommunication most of us originally thought there wasn't
one tonight; we all seem more than happy to add it to our calendars -- I certainly
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
There ended up being no rehearsal this past Thursday night, after all. We have been
charged with attacking the verbatim factor, to attempt
to be as perfectly exact in our page-to-stage delivery of the lines as we can.
Myself, I am not there yet. Close I guess is fair to claim, but not On
And I am chagrined to report that I absolutely forgot all about creating backstory
for Darren, which was a goal for the weekend. I could tell myself that this is a
clear indication that I don't feel a need deep inside to do it. I do not believe
that is true, though, and if it is, than I think perhaps that is proof I cannot
always trust the "deep down inside"
of me -- or at least that I have the right to over-rule such.
MORE "FORWARD" MOTION FOR THE OUTTAKE SHORT:
I am still in the midst of getting actors for the voice work for the faux
commercials. I have some more lined up and I have worked some on more new copy.
I'm about to begin the production of the podcast highlighting the season.
"Production" mostly means "editing."
It's going to essentially be a virtual brochure -- a lot of
Ken Burns effect work
on the still images of the brochure, designed by
along with visual new input of the text of the teasers and some music. Which I am
contemplating composing and recording. myself, pending what time there is to do such.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Rehearsal tonight is on the Dayton Playhouse
main stage and it's going to be a hot-baked challenge unless the AC his been
repaired or otherwise addressed. In a
Dayton Daily News article
it is reporting that "This week's severe heat wave will bring the Dayton region
its longest stretch of days with heat indices of 100 degrees or above in more than
from the National Weather Service
Excessive heat warning remains in effect from noon today to 9 pm EDT this
evening. Excessive heat watch in effect from Wednesday afternoon through
Heat index values up to 105.
Heat indices of 100 to 105 will occur on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat related illnesses will be
possible, especially if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors or
are involved in any strenuous outdoor activity....
As for where I am on the perfect-verbatim-factor scale :
eh; close; still room for improvement.
Yesterday at lunch I decided to browse D.A.W.N. Music
for the underscore for the "2011/12 Season Podcast" and in fact settled on
two variations of a jazzy composition to meld* together and get my background music.
So that idea to compose and record something is moot now.
*) Or, as the hipster youngins say, "mash
I actually planned to begin the editing proper last night but the evening was all
about napping and Woman...Cusp line work -- plus a failed chicken breast
sandwich; frozen-solid meat does not fry thoroughly
through-and-through on the stove top, in case you're wondering.
And though I am keeping the up-tempo acoustical music I used last season for the
main theme music, an instrumental titled "Bakersfield" that I licensed
from Sound Rangers, I think this season
it's going to be closing credits music and I am going to find -- or create -- an
opening musical flourish for the intro and the opening Podcast logo, before the show
logo, at that point I'll introduce the specific underscore music unique to the
specific podcast for the specific play -- or in this "1112-01" case, the
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The scheduled rehearsal on the
Dayton Playhouse main stage Tuesday
night was moved back to our regular lair at
Miami Valley Communication Council, due directly
to the 100°+ heat index encompassing the region coupled with the lack of AC at
the DPH facility.
Tuesday night was a full run and I had a determined goal to not call for line,
even once; Damnit if I did not meet that goal! I actually went up on a line I have
never missed before.
I believe the word I am looking for is: Gahhh!
The good news (in context) is there were few times I did need to call for line. The
better news is that Darren (the character) is, I believe, pretty well present in the
rehearsal hall. I still need to tweak him and I am slightly playing with some of the
performance still, but I'm willing to declare Darren Michaelman as present and
Last night, still at MVCC, we focused on Act II. We did
a line run first then ran the whole act. There is a verbal scuffle of sorts between
Irene and Darren (Lynn Kesson and
myself) that needs precise timing and we stayed after to drill that a bit. We
improved it greatly but we haven't quite perfected it, yet. I am sure we shall.
The big stumbling block for me is one of the monologues in Act
II, which I believe I've at least alluded to before. It's
what I call a litany monologue and it challenges me to deliver it in what I
consider a successful manner. I've tried a multitude of approaches and I have not
liked anything that's so far been manifested. I'm going to try that Harold Guskin
"Taking It Off the Page" technique, again.
Tonight we can't avoid being at the DPH theatre, we simply need some rehearsal time
in the actual play space; nor can we avoid being there tomorrow since that is our
The current heat advisory says, "Excessive heat warning remains in effect until
9 p.m. EDT Friday...heat index values: 110-115°...Heat indices will rise to
between 110 and 115 this afternoon and will persist into the evening. Values are
expected to rise to between 105 and 110 Friday afternoon and evening...Impacts: heat
stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat related illnesses will be possible...."
Tonight also marks the first time we cannot call for lines. With the heat itself and
the fans that will undoubtedly make it difficult to hear one another -- as last
Tuesday, the 12th -- it's going to be a rough night and the very definition of a
We are scheduled late tonight, starting at 8:15, so that may help with the
heat, but I doubt it will significantly. I plan to bring a cooler filled with
PC-Goenner called yesterday about submitting
voicework samples for a voice acting job for a European client. I know nothing
more about it.
I'd recorded a slew of stuff several years back before Peter Condopoulos bought the
agency. That stuff was no longer at the site. I've had it pencilled in to record
new ones. I only made one new one for this audition, along with an updated
slate*, that correctly identifies the agency as
"PC-Goenner" rather than "Roof-Goenner" as does the old slate
file. I put together a 79 second sound file of the new copy and a few of the old
samples and emailed it off this morning, along with a pdf of the new version of
my résumé -- because I can't recall if I already had sent the
new version, updated to include Darren in Woman....Cusp.
*) SLATE: The recorded identification of an auditioner
usually identifying his or her name and representing agency.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
The words above would be spoken (exclaimed) by me in
the car, on the way home after rehearsal Thursday night. We were on the
Dayton Playhouse main stage and it was
our first night, as I previously have reported, of not calling lines. And it was
exactly as predicted, an oven with big fans blowing. I could not hear well and in
at least one place I said the wrong line because I was responding to what I thought
was another cue line.
That's quite an interesting thing about this script. I haven't quite embedded the
structure of it in my consciousness. Our director
Ray has an
observation that the play is a lot of exposition rather than a lot of action. There
is really very little that happens in terms of traditional plot line. What drives
the story is the pealing away of Irene and the progression of revelations about
various relationships, as well as the growth of friendship between Irene and Darren.
This is not a criticism, simply an observation.
In terms of my dilemma, I have found it difficult to keep the structure of what goes
where in my head. Usually in the play the actors have order of plot action to keep
their place. With this one, I often have no idea what's happening next. I am
absolutely dependent on my cue lines. This, I am not happy about. I am so "in
the moment" that if it was up to me to save a scene because a castmate went up,
I would be as helpless and hopeless as my castmate.
There are a few moments in the play when Darren completely changes the direction of
the conversation, and not off the impetus of what was just said. So, I have to be on
my toes to remember, Oh yes, this is the time I ask about the house or
Now I ask about her brother. These two connected dilemmas of mine simply mean
I must further burn the structure of the script, the essence of it into my feeble
little brain. That shall be what most of this day is about.
Meanwhile, I had some bad line flubs Thursday evening, in part because of difficulty
hearing -- actually I hope mostly. Other flubs were just the attempting to be
verbatim. I corrected myself when I knew I was paraphrasing or switching out a word
for a synonym. That is the last time for that. From this point forward, it's: move
on, no matter what.
Friday was our
tech rehearsal and
fortunately (because of the still 100°+ heat index) Ray elected to have only a
straight cue to cue*, which meant we got out much sooner than I had anticipated,
and I cannot say I was the least bit unsatisfied with that -- because of the
friggin' heat! I will confess that it might
have been beneficial to run the whole show, but hey,
Tomorrow we are back at MVCC. This was originally
scheduled as a speed through** but we all agreed Friday that we should rehearse on
our feet, going through all the actions, especially since we only did a cue to
Tuesday is our Final Dress*** at DPH. Thursday, back at MVCC, is a final
pre-FutureFest weekend rehearsal, though we are most assuredly doing at
least a line run (speed through) during the weekend at some point. I would hope we
are on our feet Thursday. It's our last real chance before the 3:00 curtain a week
Yep, our performance is one week from today!
*) CUE TO CUE: sometimes referred to as a "Q2Q,"
this is a type of technical rehearsal and is intended primarily for the
lighting, sound technicians, and often the stage mangers and their crews. It
allows the technicians and stage manager to rehearse the technical aspects
of a performance such as when lights go up and down, when sound effects
are to be executed, and set pieces or props are to be set (placed on stage)
or stuck (removed from stage). It also is often to determine how much time
should be allowed for costume changes for the actors. An important aspect
is to identify and resolve glitches. A whole scene is not run during a cue
to cue; actors only perform dialogue and actions that cue the technical
**) SPEED THROUGH: a rehearsal where the actors do not
do the blocking (take the actions and make the movements) of the play, but
only say the lines, usually as fast as they can, in some cases with no
concern for even speaking in character. The usual point is focus on what
the correct words are. However, sometimes rehearsals that run the lines of
the show at correct speed with the actors emoting the feelings of the
characters as they only speak the lines are often referred to as speed
throughs as well, though quickness is not really a factor. This second type
is more correctly identified as a "line run" or "line
rehearsal" (and when done during the course of a production's
performance run it is called a "brush up") but still is often
referred to as a "speed through."
***) FINAL DRESS: the last rehearsal before a show's
official "Opening Night." Sometimes it's opened to the public as a
"preview" performance with tickets sold at a discounted price or
donations for charities accepted. It is the last chance to stop performance
to fix a problem, usually of a technical nature. All technical aspects and
costuming is ran with the goal of a perfect performance. Except for the
possible event of a halt for that last fix of glitches, the Final Dress is
performed exactly as an official performance will be after the show has
The Cast of The Oldest Profession:
DTG PODCASTS 1112-01 & 1112-02:
DTG Podcast 1112-01 the 2011/12 Season -- Most of yesterday,
well, late afternoon into the wee hours this morning, were the final production work
and the editing of the first podcast for the new season.
No Fleet Mae this year. No personalities. It may actually not be a podcast that
anyone finds fabulously impressive.
Not that I'm suggesting any doors have been blown off
by any I've already produced.
I've created a different variations of the new opening ID sequence musical flourish,
see pics here, and will use slightly different ones for each podcast-- all
the same music theme but with different voices and production processing.
DTG Podcast 1112-02 The Oldest Profession -- It is time
to start production on the second podcast for the season, now that the first show,
the subject of the podcast, is now cast.
I also should try to contact more playwright's from this year's season about
clearance to use text from the scripts in the podcasts. The Oldest Profession
playwright, Paula Vogel, through her legal representation has denied the clearance,
so there will be no rehearsal footage with audio of portions performed for the
I think it's better when we can use text, but I can make a podcast without one, and
in fact I have.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Line study, with the script, not with the flashcards.
Monday rehearsal at the
Miami Valley Communication Council went not too
bad. The same for the dress rehearsal on the
Dayton Playhouse main stage Tuesday.
Wednesday night we were back at MVCC -- I had thought we had Wednesday off and
were to rehearse last night, but it was the other way around. Wednesday night was
I had line problems at all three rehearsals. We all had problems at the Tuesday
dress but we covered all the problems like pros.
As stated before, I always aim for verbatim but since the FutureFest performances
are about the play and its text, it's even more vital than usual to not paraphrase.
Oh that elusive word-perfect status.
My personal paraphrases were usually minor, replacing the word
"evaluation" with "assessment"; minor but not really acceptable.
At least once, at the dress, my paraphrase was a big one. My line is:
"We haven't gotten very far, yet"
What I said was:
"We've only hardly started"
Minor but not really acceptable.
And very important is when you're speaking a line to someone, that which has a word
their line needs. You need to be very sure you say that word and not a
synonym. On three occasions, during the dress, I screwed that up -- the only time I
have done so. Hopefully it was nerves of the first performance in front of any sort
Last night, a theoretically free evening, I spent time on the script, as well as
having done a lot of line study last Sunday.
The good news, the better news, is that our director
Ray told us he was
very pleased with our character work. He thinks we are all exactly the people in the
world of the play that he envisions and that our performances honor the playwright's
intent. That is good to hear. According to Ray, all of the small band of people in
the preview audience at dress were impressed. At least two of them also came to me
and gave me positive feedback on Darren, and one of those is a veteran actor and
The rack in the mens dressing room at The Dayton Playhouse
The greenroom at The Dayton Playhouse.
Setting up the set before the dress rehearsal at The
We have one more rehearsal, tomorrow afternoon, a full, on our feet rehearsal
at MVCC. Unfortunately I will miss the 3:00 show, The Haven. Then, Ray wants
us to do a speed through of the last scene, just before we go on Sunday; the main
point being to rev up the pace and energy right before we go on. Seems like a good
idea to me.
I think you can bet I will otherwise be going over my lines, somehow after the
Sunday morning show and our call for ours.
DTG PODCAST 1112-01 THE 2011/12 SEASON:
Well the DV movie needed to be replaced. I got an email Sunday evening with a new
version of the production logo for Souvenir. The original graphic had a
couple errors so I needed to switch it out in the podcast with the revised version.
The more important of the errors was a misspell of the playwright's name.
I anticipated it being more of a hassle than it was to switch out the image but it
The biggest inconvenience was that I had already rendered the movie and had posted
it on both the Guild's
YouTube channel. So,
if anyone had already referenced the link or placed embed code, when I reposted
the fixed movie it had a new URL form the first version, in both locales, so those
links and embeds would be broken.
Well, since I was able to get the new one posted the next day: probably no problem.
photography by Kirk Sheppard
contributing artists: Terry K. Hitt, Patrick Hayes, Wendi Michael,
& Jacqui Theobold
by M.J. Feely
Directed by Saul Caplan
Charles Castle "Chas" Hunt
Maureen Higgins Hunt
James Castle Hunt II
production Manager: Deirdre Root
rehearsal assistant: Shannon Fent
by Richard Etchison
Directed by Fran Pesch
Deirdre Bray Root
assistant director: Annie Pesch
Allegro Con Brio
by Nelson Sheeley
Directed by Nicklaus Moberg
Maestro Luigi Gemanini
Matt D. Curry
assistant stage manager: Stacey Ward
sound design: Michael Boyd
costume design: Sarah Parsons
by Stacey Luftig
Directed by Richard Brock
& Stan Seymour/
Coast Guard Operator 2
Coast Guard Operator 1
A Woman on the Cusp
by Carl L. Williams
Directed by Burleigh (Ray) Gambrel
FutureFest stage manager: Rick McClintic
light and scenic design: Wade Hamilton
light board operator: Anita Bachmann
sound board operator: Bob Kovach
photographer: Art Fabian
FutureFest 2011 adjudicators: David Finkle, Robert Koon, Robert W.
MacClennon, Ph.D, Helen Sneed, Eleanore Speert.
For those who do not already know,
Jinxed, by Stacey Luftig is the 2011 FutureFest winner. Congratulations to
Stacey and to Richard Brock and his cast and crew who presented the script on stage
to the audience and the judges.
I recognize at least two shots from this trailer from the limited time I was on the
set. I watched them being shot. I know I ain't an insider (yet) -- but it is cool to
be able to say that I witnessed part of a big damned deal movie being made, and
played some part in it if small and unfortunately off screen. There's already Oscar
buzz for this. Man, I can't wait to be further into the circle.
On June 18, Paul McCartney's sixty-ninth birthday, I posted the following in
reference to his concert appearance tonight at Great American Ball Park in
Cincinnati, and more to the hefty price of the tickets for any seats worth making
the trip for:
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.
Enter my niece Beth. A few Saturday mornings ago, July 16th, about 8:00, as I was
lying in bed, the alarm having sounded only several moments before. I was giving
myself the "you need to get up now"
talk -- (I had a Dayton Theatre Guild
board meeting in Dayton in about an hour; and believe
me I am always at least five or ten minutes late; 9:00 am on a Saturday is some sort
of sin against humanity.
As I lay there in the midst of my argument with myself, Beth called.
"What are you doing on August Fourth?" asked she.
Hmm, thought I, That's the night of the McCartney show in Cincy.
Could this call be about that?. "Nothing," I said.
"Do you want to see Paul McCartney in concert in Cincinnati? Bill
[her husband] and I have four tickets and
thought we'd invite you if you weren't already going."
(Well, let's see,
hmmm, how should
I respond to this offer..................?)
I said, "Well yeah, sure!"
To top it off, the ticket is gratis! As is the other one, in which they generously
have allowed me to give to my guest. I first contacted several of my mutual Macca
fan friends, none who could make it. Then after a few more who couldn't I posted a
general call on facebook and got a response in about twenty seconds, from a friend
whom I haven't actually been in physical contact with for something like twenty
years, if not more. So tonight will be a reunion of sorts.
Someone asked me about a week back how many times I've seen Paul live and I said
five, but I was wrong; this will be the seventh time I've seen him live. Not a
record by any stretch -- some will see him that many times on this tour -- but a
fairy decent accounting for a fan.
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
Time has been devoted to a "final thoughts" essay-type composition.
And more work will be done.
It'll be posted some time in the next several days.
The theoretical "film"maker in me is rather busy now, and first up is the
outtake short from the full-length project.
So I need to finish the post-production radio programming for the background of the
scene. And if I am, in deed, trimming the cut down, as my instincts say I should,
that should happen somewhere in the neighborhood of now.
I have finished faux radio spot featuring
Scott Knisley has
just provided the announcer for another spot. I've lined up one the other actor for
that spot, Jeff Sams.
I need more actors quickly to finish it all off.
To quote my dearly departed mother: "Time's a wastin'."
And, I need the final decision on the name for the short. Trying Out Robert
isn't working for me and the original The Audition might work as a heading in
the full-length, but does not as a stand alone.
PAUL McCARTNEY IN CONCERT THIS PAST THURSDAY NIGHT
I wanted a coffee mug but they were sold out before I got to the
counter. The saleswoman said they'd only had ten to begin with --
TEN! I asked her if they had been aware of the amount of middle-aged
people who would be in attendance at a Paul McCartney show and how
popular coffee mugs would most likely be. She told me, based on the
amount of people disappointed already, she had figured that one out.
Sitting here on a Saturday afternoon listening to "Kansas City," the
opening cut from the
Choba B CCCP album -- the
title being Russian for Back in the U.S.S.R. Figured it'd be nice background
music to burn off my little non-review
accounting of the show, Thursday evening.
And now: "Twenty Flight Rock," the Eddie Cockran song that on July 6, 1957,
a fifteen-year-old Paul played for sixteen-year-old John Lennon at the garden fete
of St Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool, where John's band, the Quarry Men, were
performing. Paul did the song on his first big world tour to feature a hefty amount
of Beatles songs,
The Paul McCartney World Tour
(1989/90), the tour covered by the live album
Tripping the Live Fantastic.
Speaking of tours, perhaps I should leave the digressions and move on to the final
show of Paul's 2011 summer tour,
"On The Run."
It was, as would be expected, a really good show. That man knows how to throw a party.
I must say, of the seven shows I've seen, my overall favorite was the last appearance
I saw in Columbus in October 2005 on the
"US" tour. But all
seven shows have had their own personal appeal and there have been aspects about
each special to the event.
The calibre of the musicianship, the performances and, naturally, the repertoire
have always been high, from the American leg of the
"Wings Over the World"
tour ("Wings Over America": Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 27,
1976) to last Thursday evening. So, the highlights and what I liked most about each
has had abundantly more to do with song lists or Paul's particular masterful rapport
with the audience at a given show. And Paul has consummate stage presence in concert.
Thursday, for me it was mostly the songs I hadn't heard him play live before, at
least when I have been in attendance (I.E.: excluding any sort of recorded live
performance). Of the nine new to me, the real rushes were "Junior's Farm,"
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five," "Mrs Vandebilt,"
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "A Day in the Life/Give Peace A Chance,"
and "Day Tripper." Yeah, I know, that's 66% of the new-hears; what can I
Paul's stories and interactions with the audience have been fun, too. This time the
highlight of that was when he pointed out a couple in the audience close to the
stage who had complementary signs. Paul talked about how while he's up there playing
he's trying hard to concentrate on the chord changes and the lyrics to the songs.
"But people hold up these signs and I say to myself, 'Don't read the signs,
Then he pointed out the man's sign, which said: SIGN MY WIFE.
And then his wife's sign that said: I'M THE WIFE. SIGN ME.
Clearly, between the "end" of the
show, the "Hey Jude" finale, now the signature of his concert play list,
and the first encore, Paul had his people go down and grab the couple, because when
he came out for the second encore, the couple was one of two groups that he brought
out on stage with him. They were from Cincinnati. The other group were four women in
Sgt. Peppers regalia; three of them were from Leeds, England, one was from
Australia -- I think Perth, but I cannot rightly remember.
He signed the wife's right shoulder blade: Let It Be.
I don't know if there'll be a DVD of this tour, but if there is, I'm betting that
makes it on. I've looked for some news or blog accounting of the sign-my-wife affair
but haven't found one yet. For the record, here's a news piece related to the show
"Reds Made Good Impression With McCartney Concert,"
from Local 12 WKRC.
In conclusion, to paraphrase an old Beatles album:
And a good time was had by all
Paul McCartney at Great American Ball Park
Cincinnati, OH, USA, August 4, 2011
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes*
The Night Before*
Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five*
Let 'Em In
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
I've Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life/Give Peace A Chance*
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
*): the songs I had never
heard Paul perform live before
A WOMAN ON THE CUSP A New Play by Carl L. Williams:
THE BARD IN THE PARK -- A HOT AUGUST NIGHT'S DREAM:
I had this idea to journal the FutureFest weekend as I was experiencing it, using
an html app on my phone -- something called
Android Web Editor LITE.
I barely wrote one entry, Friday evening, not even worth referring back to. So I
start this all fresh.
First let's look at last Sunday afternoon and the performance of the play.
Overall I'd say it was a successful two hours. There is no doubt that I was in the
company of a fine, fine cast. I believe all my compatriots were absolutely dead on
in their portrayals of their characters.
Lynn Kesson's work as Irene was
nothing less than excellent. She made it most easy for me because she was so very
easy to play off of. I'd seen her in several productions before and was looking
forward to working with her. I never was not impressed with her previous work, that
which I've seen. I certainly can't speak for all of her work but of what I've seen
I liked her Irene the best, and her other work was all very good. Lynn got the
nuances of Irene and translated them most successfully for the audience. It was just
fine work -- though, I may be a tad biased.
Scott Knisley was
a most bastardly bastard in Lonnie, though three dimensional enough for us to see a
human being in there worth salvation. But he played Lonnie as a hard-core business
man, ruthless, uncompromising, who wants what he wants and does whatever it takes to
get what he wants. Scott, too, was easy to work a scene with. More good work.
Cher Collins was Charlotte,
almost the comic relief but a tad more substantial than just holding that duty. Cher
captured the haughty, playful spirit of this rich girl who puts up a pretense of
being shallower than she is. One really great thing was the little subtext of
discord that she and I played at and off of each other. It wasn't anything that was
ever spoken about. Ray didn't give the direction and Cher and I never discussed
the dynamic. I started giving the subtle attitude to her in rehearsal and she gave
it right back. It evolved into a nice little nuance that worked perfectly.
Meanwhile, I told our director
Burleigh (Ray) Gambrel
that his style makes it seem like he's hardly directing you, but in fact he's really
doing a lot. He's a collaborative director in the finest sense of the word. He
trusts you to look into the soul of your character and pull out what you find, then
show him your version. Then he shares the differences and employs you to try out
the differences he sees. It doesn't make you feel like he thinks you have it wrong,
more that there may be another way that is also valid. I think he got a really good
performance out of his ensemble.
I'd share why he credited himself as "Burleigh (Ray) Gambrel" for this
production, but it's not my story to tell. It is a pretty cool story though. If you
know him, you should ask him about it.
I'm not going to really get into critical analysis of the six plays but I will say
that there were none that I felt were awful -- there have been years at Futurefest
where that wasn't the case.
Also, I must admit that I had to miss one play, The Haven by Richard
Etchison, because we cast members of Woman....Cusp were in our last
rehearsal. The concept seems really cool and the pages I saw at audition were
certainly good writing, so I'd say that The Haven too escaped the
"awful" label. And both the script and the performances got good props
from the other FF attendees. And, on a personal note, I am sorry to have missed one
of Deirdre Root's rare
stage appearances, and one that I've heard really great things about.
Of the four shows I was in the audience for, here's some comment:
Drawing Room by Mark Eisman -- really
interesting concept about a visual artist going blind who is tryin to control
the memories she keeps of her art, by placing them in a gallery in her mind.
And there was nice art work provided by local artists Terry K. Hitt, Patrick
Hayes, Wendi Michael, & Jacqui Theobold
Roosevelt's Ghost by M.J. Feely -- Mr. Feely
certainly has a fascination and keen interest in the area of "McCarthyism,"
this being the second time he's submitted a historically based fiction that has
characters somehow connected. As has been the case in the other plays, this one
has well drawn characters and clear conflict with resolution that may not
always be sweet but satisfies the story.
Allegro Con Brio by Nelson Sheeley -- A lot
of really funny lines.
Jinxed by Stacey Luftig -- The winner and a
play that suggests it's about Amelia Earhart but is as much about Jackie
Cockran, her rival in the air and eventual close friend. As for the text, there
is scene when Earhart's plane goes missing that is simply her on the radio and
several different coast guard operator. It is the illustration of her
disappearance and I am betting that on paper, when one reads the scene it seems
like boring sluff. In performance it's quite dramatic and riveting.
And kudos to the fine performances I saw over the weekend, beyond my own castmates.
At some point there will be an A Woman On the Cusp cast photo added here.
Lately I have been more than neglectful about moving it along with this project,
especially the more imminent final cut of the short outtake. I was planning to do
some work Friday evening when I got home from the
Free Shakespeare! show, but I just
was in a bit of a funk so I did nothing.
I haven't lined up actors lately to do the voice work for the faux commercial. I
sort of had one for this weekend but we couldn't get a confirmed appointment time.
So this morning I went ahead and recorded a few voices for some of the commercials
and I may have to do more.
August 15 (Sundance submission
deadline) is not too distant.
About to head off to the annual DTG smorgasbord that concludes the theatre's
in-house theatrical awards, The Murphy Awards, named after Murphy's Law.
I'll let you know who the winners are.
AUDIO TECHING FOR THE NEXT DTG PRODUCTION; & WORK ON ITS PODCAST:
Wednesday night I'm going to record some a cappella vocals by one of the cast
members for use in the stage performance of the show.
Plus, I have had a brief pre-production meeting with Director
Friday about the podcast which we will likely shoot next week.
I've already grabbed the royalty free music, as in several past productions from
Have done some other incidental preproduction, too; things like creating the text
file from which to pull the closing credits roll, filing all the credits that I
know at the moment.
As stated before, we do not have permission from Ms. Vogel's camp to use text from
the play in the podcast. I believe that is a tactical error that is far more an
obstacle to promoting the royalty-paid performances than it is any thin protections
of the work that may be feebly applied. But, if they choose that route, then they
are more concerned with money -- the royalties for the performance won't change
despite whether the house is fuller or not. But the use of the text might just help
put more people in the seats to see Ms. Vogel's work; and I would hope that is what
she wants most.
This coming Saturday night will be the 2011 Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame Gala and
Daytony Theatre Awards.
I am attending to witness the inductions because I like all the inductees quite a
Don & Lois Bigler -- who are two of
Dayton's greatest arts patrons. I think it's safe to say that they have
seen more of my work than any other people, not because they're such big
fans of mine, but because they show up pretty much everywhere!
Carol Finley -- who has been a part of my
entire return-to-theatre era. She was influential in getting me
cast as Johnnypat in The Cripple of Inishmaan
and has been someone I have worked close with -- behind the scenes --
at The Guild the whole time I've been on the board.
Doug Lloyd -- We haven't worked together a
lot, but I did design sound for his Guild direction of The Sugar
Witch and he was certainly easy to work with. I've liked his other
work I've seen, too.
The push is on. That eleventh hour stuff. Most of my creative time right now is
about getting the short into final cut to submit to
Sundance Film Festival by midnight
next Monday. I bet others are doing this, too.
Last night, after getting home from
The Guild (see next) I recorded the
radio announcer for the radio programing. Though I only did enough spots to cover
the segment that will be the short movie.
You see, the radio programming will continue into the next segment that features
along with still Natasha Randall.
It takes place in the same setting, "the fourth floor production suite area of
WACI Radio (Lite 97.5)," and takes place in the next moment after the segment
with Natasha and Craig Roberts
But all I need right now are the announcer's on-airs for the short outtake with
Natasha and Craig.
I have about half a faux commercial written and may write a at least one more. If I
voice these, I will need top process my voice into a woman's or women's for the one
that is half written.
And I'm still thinking I need to shave the cut of the short movie by a few minutes.
screenshot from podcast footage shot last night
another screenshot from podcast footage shot last night
Went to The Guild last night to
record an a cappella vocal for use in the production of The Oldest Profession
only to find that the recording session had to be cancelled. So I used my cybershot
camera to shoot a little bit of the rehearsal as B-roll for the podcast.
This is the debut appearance of this icon and at first it said,
"Non-Pro Gig," but in keeping with my philosophy that
being a professional has nothing to do with whether you are paid or
not, I elected to drop that wording for something that more directly
reflects my intention for the category.
A live, original, multimedia presentation by Wayne Justice and Shane
Smith, Edgar has sparked intense interest among several national
Poe enthusiasts -- biographers and other researchers from around the
country have expressed a desire to contribute to the multimedia aspect.
We are proud to be a small part of this project, not to mention very
excited for Wayne and Shane, and invite you to share in the fruits of
With the exception of attending the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame & Daytony
Theatre Awards ceremony Saturday evening, my weekend was about getting the improv
movie project short-subject outtake into final cut to meet the August 15 deadline
for early submission to Sundance. Unfortunately, I missed that deadline only
because, as the submission guidelines say, "All deadlines associated with the
Sundance Film Festival are the dates that films must arrive at our office in Los
Angeles. They are NOT postmark deadlines."
I did still meet the goal of getting the final cut before going to bed Sunday night
-- perhaps about 1 a.m., yesterday morning. I had to personally finish off
the voicework for the faux commercials so only three actual actors came in to do
voicework for the WACI (Lite 97.5) radio programming:
Scott Knisley and
After wrapping up the production of radio programming on Saturday I started the
mixing of the radio programming before heading to The Daytonys. Sunday I finished
the edit of the movie as a whole and began the artwork for the DVD.
Yesterday I went to the Sundance website and to get the application, and discovered
that since I have an IMDB account I also have a
direct line to join Withoutabox, which
IMDB now owns. So I was able to join Withoutabox then submit to Sundance through
I actually would have been able to make the early $35 fee if I had compression
software that could render the movie file under two gigabytes. Than I could have
uploaded yesterday at the early submission rate. Still, I mailed the DVD yesterday
on the way home from the rent-payer. $50 entrance fee for the Sep. 2 deadline,
which I've met. So, I'm good.
The great thing is that, as the film festival FAQ says, "There are no premiere
or prior screening restrictions for short films. Shorts may have been released on
DVD, broadcast on television or the internet, and/or publicly screened anywhere in
the world and still remain eligible for our Shorts Competition." That means
that Be Or Not may be posted at my
Yes, yes, I'll probably embed here, too.
The movie is 15:37, so I'm hoping the extra thirty-seven seconds can slide by. I
believe the maximum time limit is fifteen minutes.
The production values are less and less stirring to me as time passes --
blame HD video! But, if this movie has a saving
grace it is the stellar work both my principal actors gave me.
And, just to give some well-deserved kudos, here's to the very good work that the
three voice actors gave me, all of them knowing that their voices were going to be
buried in the background and rarely more than ambient noise.
Oh, yeah, the final title you ask? As some will know, the first workshop title for
the short was The Audition, which is fine but all too generic. I then went
with Trying Out Robert, which I was only sold on for a very short period of
time. It's a pretty lame, lackluster name. Be Or Not, came to me on my drive
into Dayton for The Daytonys. And I knew that was it. It derives from the famous
Hamlet soliloquy. Craig's character, Robert, is auditioning for the role of Hamlet.
Marian (Natasha's character), who is the director, even has a rather unique manner
for Robert to use that soliloquy during the audition.
"Be Or Not" just simply works for me.
By the way, the text on the DVD back cover *(seen above) reads:
The Thespian Collective, the community theatre company in the small town of
Bellcreek, Ohio, has just lost their Hamlet for their soon-to-come
production of The Bard's play. Marian Clark, the director, is holding
emergency auditions in a production suite of the local radio station, where
she works, WACI FM (Lite 97.5). Robert Green is a young actor with some good
amateur credits on his résumé. He's about to experience a
different audition process than he's used to, as Marian puts him through the
paces to see if he makes the cut.
Directed by K.L.Storer
Starring Natasha Randall & Craig Roberts
Director of photography: Fred Boomer
running time: 15:37
aspect ratio: 4:3
in Black & White
Besides Ms. Atkinson, Mr. Knisley, and Ms. Williams, here some other credits
for voicework: George Spelvin, Steven Spillmen, Bob Spoolman, Biff Spikman,
Terrence Spackminn, Jerry Spiffman, August Spelldarn, and Georgina Spelvin.
Other production credits go to such "friends" of mine as Kell
Stoor (editor), Derrik Spellman (3rd camera operator), Lee Tonelero (audio
engineer), Lisa Spazzman (costume coordinator), and Ken Spookmoore
Tomorrow morning I have an audition for a pro gig from that phone call I reported
last week. I still am not detailing the audition or the production,
(not wholly sure why), but
I may reveal the facts after the fact. Tonight is an evening devoted to preparation
At The Daytonys I talked with Theresa Abshear, the director of Much Ado About
Clark State University.
Auditions for that are September 13 & 14 and it's up October 28 through November
6. If the above doesn't pan out, this one is a possibility.
I am still looking at Olenna at
Springfield StageWorks, which
auditions in early December. And, I believe I am still on slate for a callback for
August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean at
The Human Race Theatre Company next
spring. Those callbacks are likely around January.
Despite that I do not yet know if this is a lock, I guess I'll do the
The call I got last Thursday was from
of The Human Race Theatre Company. He
asked about my singing, for which I replied along the lines that I am a decent
vocalist but that my singing voice is way out of shape and practice.
I was offered the opportunity to sing for
for a possible small role as Grandpa Gellman in the winter musical production
Caroline, or Change, by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori. The audition was
late yesterday morning.
I was sent a pdf of the score pages I would be singing; they were also going to burn
a copy of the recording but I realized we had the original Broadway cast CD in the
collection at The Dunbar Library on
campus and Scott said that version of the song would work just fine.
Thus, over the weekend, I had all the material to prep for the audition; however,
there was this final cut of Be Or Not that demanded my focus. Knowing that
the audition was Wednesday morning I was not worried; I had Monday and Tuesday
evening and Wednesday morning before the audition to get ready. But then my life
interfered a little and Monday night was otherwise spoken for.
But I did have the whole evening Tuesday -- after a much required nap -- and a few
hours yesterday morning. I actually employed my
Final Cut Express
in two ways to prep. First I used it to edit down the song and burn a sound file of
only the section that the sheet music pages covered; then, I was able to use it to
play only portions of that selected edit so I could piecemeal my study of the song.
Good thing I could do that, too. The song is "The Chanukah Party," and it
is composed in the tradition of a quick-paced Jewish folk dance with fast paced
syllables and some Hebrew (or Yiddish) words as part of the mix so there was a bit
of a challenge for this gentile.
I also was able to put the edited music file onto my
myTouch 4G smart phone, then
use a car audio cassette adapter to listen to the clip in a playback loop on the
drive into the audition. Then I used ear phones to continue listening right up until
the audition time.
I think the actual audition went reasonably well. My voice is a bit out of shape
but I still can carry a tune and I have some volume and support, if not what it is
when I'm at my peak. But I brought off the song reasonably well. Scott also had me
go over just a few bars of another song, just to see where I was in terms of picking
things up. I reminded him as we began that second one that, and I quote, "As
far as sight reading goes, I suck canal water." He said that wasn't a big
concern. It also seemed clear to him i would have no problem with the singing,
which is a good thing. So there is room for hope here. But, nothing is a lock
until it is a lock.
At least I know it was not a bad audition.
It's also gratifying to get a call about an audition because those casting the
show have seen your work and think your talent merits the look. Even if not cast
it's a nice thing for the self-esteem. It's better to be cast, of course.
The irony is that I have deliberately steered clear of auditioning for musicals at
The Race. My attitude has been that I haven't been in a musical since May of 1977
so I ought to be in a few amateur musical productions before I have the chutzpa to
audition on the professional stage for one.
Then there's that whole concept that I am not really all that big of a musical
theatre kind of a guy. That does not mean that I am opposed to it; and I have gone
after a few in the past, since I've been back.
I am quite all right with the idea of appearing on The Loft stage in Caroline, or
PODCAST PREPRODUCTION ABOUNDS:
I was able to obtain permission from Stephen Temperley to use some dialogue from the
play in the podcast. Mr. Temperley was fairly easy to contact and I am starting to
see a pattern emerge: the easier it is to contact the playwright directly the more
probable he or she will grant permission to use text in the podcasts.
The next podcast to go into production after this one is for Neil Simon's Lost In
Yonkers. Hmmm, what do you think my chances are? I'll still give it a try.
The production of this is on hold because a cast member is not in town right now. I
want to do another of those group interview things and so I need all five ladies at
the same time.
My hope is to do this on Monday.
If you go back to Tuesday's post and look closely at the image of the back cover of
the DVD jacket you will see that it says:
Director of photgraphy: Fred Boomer
-- notice it's missing an "o."
Fortunately, no DVD cases have gone out anywhere, so I have made the correction.
Though for historical posterity I'm not replacing the offending graphic with a
As if anyone needs more proof that I need better
As for the project as a whole, I have been meaning to re-transfer the overwhelming
amount of the footage back off the original DV mini-cassettes into the Final Cut
projects for each segment. In the early days of production I was using my old
G4 Mac desktop tower, which was much less powerful than my
I usually could not import more than about five minutes of footage without Final
Cut freezing up on me. With my MacBook Pro I can now get whole 20-30 minute takes
imported as one file and I believe I am going to start doing that. It may be a while
before I get to editing in earnest and I might as well gradually get all the
segments ready for that time, at my leisure.
called yesterday to say that
wants to cast me as Grandpa Gellman in the show, and offered me the role.
I accepted, of course.
So, after several years of auditions I am stepping foot onto The Loft stage.
I am quite thrilled with this, naturally. I was already, as I've already mentioned,
most gratified that I got a call where Kevin said, "Listen, Scott and I were
talking about you," then after telling me they wanted to see me for the role,
saying, "You've given use some strong auditions and we think you'll work well in
the role." I later mentioned to an actor friend that at the audition Wednesday
they didn't read me, they only had me sing; I said how I felt good that from what
they knew of my acting already they didn't need to hear me read.
Then my buzz-kill friend pointed out that Caroline, Or Change is almost an
opera, with very little dialogue, "Ninety-eight percent is sung-through. No real
reason to read people."
Hey! I'm cast! What else?
At the moment I only know two others who are cast. After The Race has listed the
cast I'll repeat that info.
Now it's time to start doing my vocal warm-ups every day. As I was prepping for the
audition my voice was getting exhausted at a ridiculously quick rate. I also have a
Yiddish dialect tape that I'm going to attend to.
Since rehearsal start before the mid-way mark in October, I will have to either wrap
the podcast for Lost In Yonkers at The Guild, or have someone else direct it.
I'm also starting to plot how I will employ vacation leave during the course of
Caroline rehearsals and the run. I'm not likely to be wanting to report to
work at 7:00 in the morning most days, and probably don't want to shift my hours
down to leave later. So I'll probably be piecemealing an hour or two a day to the
tune of about a total of eight hours a week. Something like that.
Meanwhile, the book and libretto should be in the library for my pick-up in the next
few days, so I can start looking at it.
POST-PRODUCTION REDUX UNDERWAY:
Last night I began the process of re-importing the early footage from the DV
mini-cassettes into the
projects, now that I have a more powerful computer
than I did in the early days of production for this project, my old Mac G4 Tower
desk top model, which I still have, by the way. This, again, makes it
possible for me to create movie files of longer duration, like whole 20-30 minute
takes as opposed to needing to cut clips off at about five minutes; on the old
tower much longer imports would crash the software.
It seems to make sense to be chronological so I started with the first of the
official production shoots, the segment with the workshop title, Balboni's,
which features Barbara Jorgensen, Crystal Justice, Zara Justice, Elena Monigold,
Gino Pasi, and Brett Taylor, and
was shot in the basement of the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape, the home of
The Dayton Theatre Guild. I only
had time to import Reel 3 (I.E.: mini-cassette 3) with the footage shot from Camera
1, operated by the project's director of photography, Fred Boomer. Tonight it will be
"Reel" 4, from Camera 2, with
Wayne Justice at
If I really wanted to be chronologically pure, I'd re-import reels 1 & 2, which
are the test shoot in the bar area of the DTG basement, with an improv segment
Duante Beddingfield, and
Craig Roberts. I'll probably
circle back and get that segment after I've imported all the project proper segments
that need re-importing. Some later ones won't as they were originally imported to
the MacBook Pro.
"Early Days," by the way, means fall/winter 2008. Yep, this project has
been hanging around that long.
Some still frames from Balboni's
Barbara Jorgensen as Leola Davenport, while Scene 1, Take 1
You probably can't tell, but the date on that slate is
"11-15-08" -- Almost 3 years ago.
Barbara, Brett Taylor (Jeremy Davenport, Leola's son),
Elena Monigold (Kate Johnson, Jeremy's sister) &
Gino Pasi (Dave Vallas, Kate's boyfriend)
Brett, Elena, & Gino.
Plans to be in the Adult Acting Class at The Human Race this fall are in peril since
the rehearsals for Caroline start before the last two class sessions are
I think perhaps I have managed to re-import all the necessary footage from the
project, that which was originally imported on the old Mac G4 tower, now into
on the more powerful
I finished the files for the Balboni's segment,
features Barbara Jorgensen,
Zara Justice, Elena Monigold,
Gino Pasi, and Brett Taylor.
Then I got all of Balboni's Bar with Duante, Brett, Crystal and Loren S.
Goins -- along with a slew of extras. Again, shot in the basement of the TheatreScape.
Last, I worked on Kate and Dave's, with Elena and Gino. That one, I think,
had already been originally imported via the more powerful laptop, but I saw a need
to reorganize how I had originally cut up the clips. Though I only needed to make
minor changes it was simpler to just start all over again.
So now I'm fired up again about the project and who knows, the ever-elusive
final cut may be at least a little closer.
Crystal Justice as Celeste Balboni & Wayne Justice as
Grady O'Donnell in the Prison Visits segment.
Brett Taylor as Jeremy Davenport & Duante Beddingfield
as Marcus Washburn in the Balboni's Bar segment.
Director of Photography Fred Boomer with second camera
operator Dara Bornstein behind him on the set of the
Balboni's Bar segment.
Loren S. Goins as Clancy in the Balboni's Bar segment.
Gino Pasi as Dave Vallas & Elena Monigold as Kate
Johnson in the Kate and Dave's segment.
Myself, Fred & Dara on the set of the Kate and
Sunday I shot footage of the tech rehearsal.
Since Ms. Vogel's people have refused clearance to use text from the script in the
podcast, it is B-roll footage with no sound; though I could use dialogue that is
not text from the play, such as Director
talking with an actor or crew member. I didn't but that was an option.
Monday night I shot the group interview much like the one done for the
Sugar Witch podcast,
except that there was no on-screen facilitator/(interviewer) this time, as was
for The Sugar Witch.
Having also seen the Sunday rehearsal, and parts of one earlier rehearsal, I had
various moments I knew to grab on camera again, so during the Monday rehearsal, I
Then, due to my usual end-of-summer allergies and the temperature dropping overnight
while my fan was blowing full-blast on me while I slept, I woke Tuesday to a case
of laryngitis; so, I stayed home from work and took the opportunity to edit the
podcast DV movie. It was posted by very early morning Wednesday at our
YouTube channel. And,
then at our
In anticipation of this interview shoot -- and further DV movie production
in general -- I picked up a four-channel mic mixer over the weekend so that
I can mix multiple mics into my laptop at the same time and record the
signals into whatever recording software I am employing. Currently I'm
using Garage band,
and frankly it usually works quite well for my purposes.
My intention is to record the audio separately as a general rule. I have
done that in the past on a few occasions using my analog four-track cassette
recorder only to discover that even when dumping the analog recordings to
digital -- in Garage Band, no less -- there still is a synch problem.
My logic tells me that if I record with a certain machine then play back on
that same machine, the speed should be real-time and should synch with the
video. But, I have discovered, through the production of the
for instance, that the analog-recorded audio and the digitally-recorded
video play back at a slightly different speed. There is, I'm sure, a solid
technological explanation, one I am too technically ignorant to grasp.
Really makes no difference, it is what it is. I happened to have recored the
audio for the
using my laptop and Garage Band and found that the synch between audio and
video was perfect.
I intend to go this route for all DV movie production audio that needs to be
synched; thus, the mixer, which got it's maiden employment Monday night.
Unfortunately, though it looked promising, the use of the mic mixer on
Monday was not successful. A few minutes into the shooting of the group
interview of the ladies I lost the volume. So, as has been the case before,
including a similar attempt for the Sugar Witch podcast last year, I
used the audio recorded on board the DV camera. I believe it was because the
one nine-volt battery died. When I bought the mixer on Sunday I did not
realize that the AC adaptor does not come with the unit. I bought one before
the shoot Monday, but it turned out not be the right adaptor; all I had was
one 9V battery that I've had for a couple years, so I'm sure it drained
quickly. But I know the mixer will work as I got it to work in sound check
both before the shoot that day, and then in one the day before.
At least, every time I produce a DTG podcast I make some instructive
mistakes, figure out a new work around or two, and discover, or at least
try, new cool tricks.
Maybe someday I'll be a decent film maker.
Speaking of another "In Progress"
project that has had its fire rekindled in my heart and soul: a few months back, at
a Cinco de Mayo party, as a
matter of fact, I mentioned, in one context or another, that I had a mostly
finished -- yet, still, unfinished -- novel and one of my friends at the
party said she'd love to read it.
So, I shortly thereafter emailed her a zip of the whole manuscript. I believe I did,
before sending it, try again to fix a paragraph at the start of the novel -- it has
always read as awkward and unduly convoluted and I still don;t think it is in its
Regardless, I sent the book to her, with editing notes to myself still present. I
think there may be a couple places where my "present" rearrangement of
some plot points is in progress that may not make sense, since the moves are not
Got a quick facebook message from my friend yesterday, part of the original string
about the novel, where she said, apparently having now started reading the thing,
"Love it! More comments, discussion, etc. to come when I have time to write
So, with flattery in my heart, I am once again leveling designs upon that
In all the time since I've been back in the theatre world here in the Greater
Dayton Area, I have not yet taken advantage of "Can Night" at
The Human Race Theatre Company,
which is the final dress for the production up at HRTC. The admission is whatever
one can pay in cash, or cans of food. The proceeds from Can Night go to food
shelters or like charities.
Next Wednesday is Can Night for God of Carnage and this looks to be one that
I finally can make.
So, I believe I shall.
Too bad there isn't a "Paying Gig" icon attached to my words about this
You may or may not have already noticed -- probably not -- that the banner
for the blog and some other things are slightly different.
I Created a new banner that is incorporated as of today. I also created a slightly
new look for some of the promotional text below, the items like "AND NOW, TO
PROMOTE SOME THEATRE" and the variations of things like "FIRST, A
PRODUCTION I'M APPEARING IN" or and "THE CURRENT (or COMING) ATTRACTION
AT MY HOME THEATRE...."
They're actually all gif images now rather than actual text, so I could get the
blurred shadow effect. The "promotions" is also new, and a gif, for the
off-set backing, as well.
Other little graphic changes may come, too. The whole WG site,
may get some refurbishing. 'Course I got to find the time.
THE HOST IS A GHOST:
Don't know if I have specifically mentioned this here, but I am not the house
manager at The Guild as of this new theatre season. I am still on the board, my
official designated duty is "Podcast." This is the first weekend in,
what?, five years, six?, that I haven't had some large amount of my focus on what's
going on as far as hosting at performances at Dayton Theatre Guild, whether I was
actually present or not. Though, instinct has had me focusing just a little bit.
Now, I still will host, and I'm betting a lot more than
some of the other board members (please do interpret a
snide attitude). In fact I hosted opening night and have pretty
much pledged to host all opening nights unless I have a schedule conflict. And I'm
also hosting at least once more during the run of The Oldest Profession,
And, of course, my involvement isn't going to wane. The burn-out factor on the
house manager job was just smoldering for a while. I may even work the box office
every now and then -- despite how much I hate being responsible for the money!
ADDENDUM yes, yes: "The Host Is a
Ghost" isn't exactly an accurate title since I will still be hosting; it's just
a title for a section of silly blog entry!
I have a copy of the book and the score for the play, so I can get some sort of a
head start on things. Truth be told, I believe I don't actually need the whole
score, just the sheets for "The Chanukah Party," which I am pretty sure is
the breadth of my appearance in the show.
But, why not be familiar with the show as a whole? In fact, I think it is always a
much better place to be.
Though I have not completely verified this, it looks as if the adult acting class
offered by The Human Race Theatre Company will not be a conflict with the
rehearsals of Caroline, or Change. The last couple session are on Mondays
after the rehearsal period begins. However, it appears that the dark night for the
rehearsals will be Mondays, just like during the production run.
MULTI-DUTY SOUVENIR STUFF:
My plans to finally make "Can Night" at HRTC have been interfered with --
Checked the submission status for
Sundance this morning. The
disk was received on Aug 23. Now, the question is, will I post it on
my YouTube channel, or
will the official release in September take *another form?
*details may follow.
PODCAST & SOUND DESIGN:
Officially start shooting for the podcast tonight.
First order of business is to shoot the DTG house photographer,
Craig Roberts, as he shoots
publicity pics and program headshots. Then some footage of rehearsal, with the
ability (thanks to Playwright
Stephen Temperley's permission) to
use the dialogue in the final product.
An idea for the concept of the podcast has planted itself and is germinating. I think
I have a cool plan evolving. I experimented with a few technical points in
Final Cut Express
not but a few minutes before posting this entry, and I can do exactly what I want
to visually without a problem.
Now to maneuver my schedule in a manner
that accommodates the post-production.
Don't know that I'll be wearing the sound designer's hat much tonight, but I will be
on Wednesday when I record
and Charles Larkowski
performing a song as Florence and Cosme.
I'll then turn that into the sound cue of an old vinyl 78 RPM record.
Will not be shooting on Tuesday. I need to start trolling for some sound effects I
need. I may have most of them but I'm not sure about all.
There's no question that I have some mixing and editing to do. I may need to create
some things from scratch, as well.
Tuesday evening will be dedicated to locating what I have, what I need, and laying
out the game plan.
Last week I wrote about how I had picked up a four-channel mic mixer to run
multiple mics into my laptop at the same time and mix the signals into the recording
software (presently Garage band). I especially want to employ this method to record
the audio when shooting movie footage. Thus far. I have only ever once been
successful at off-board audio synch recording for any movie project:
the podcast for Blackbird.
I tried the latest incarnation of this, running two mics through the new mixer then
into my laptop and Garage Band, to record the audio for the
Oldest Profession podcast. It
failed, but not wholly for the reasons I had determined. As I wrote before, a few
minutes into the shooting of the group interview of the ladies I lost the volume and,
as in all other cases, save for Blackbird, in post production I had to use
the audio recorded on board the DV camera for the movie soundtrack.
The one nine-volt battery powering the mixer died. I had an A/C adaptor, but thought
it not compatible. Before the shoot with the Oldest Profession ladies I had
plugged the adaptor into the mixer. There was a red light lit up on the mixer that
I, at a glance, assumed meant, when on, Power
On. Yesterday, while in the store where I bought the mixer and the
adaptor, the salesman and I discovered that the red light illuminating probably
indicates that the nine-volt battery is low.
At home Monday night I verified that such is definitely the case. I plugged in the
A/C adaptor and tested the mixer. It did indeed work. At the podcast shoot last week,
I assumed, since the red light wasn't on, that the mixer was drawing no power through
the adaptor. I used the mixer to record the audio with only the old 9V battery, and
it died soon after I began the interview with the ladies. I actually had an good
power source, but thought I didn't.
Lesson learned. At least I know the new equipment will do what I want.
FOOTAGE & SLUMBER:
Shot about thirty minutes of footage for the podcast Monday evening, from which
likely less than a minute will be used. The rehearsal footage was on the The
Oldest profession, using a desk as a substitute for the baby grand piano that'll
eventually be on the Souvenir set.
It's most likely that most of that footage, which gets used, will be b-roll behind
the closing credits. Though I may use a particular audio moment -- at this point I'm
thinking it'll be a punch line at the end of the DV movie.
My game plan was to spend last night searching out some of the sound effects
I know already I need. Before that, to finish actually
reading the script.
But -- and this is not the first time
this has happened -- I
ended up sleeping all evening. A lot of that is due to my allergies. Late summer
they kill me, wear me out.
So, I finish the reading the play after work today.
Tonight: we record the song that will become the sound of the 78 RPM record and I
shoot some more footage. Plus,
Mr. Director Man wants to specifically
go through the Act II and get me familiar with the sound
PLAYS TO READ (STILL):
I have some plays to read. Have for a while. I believe I posted a similar entry some
Farragut North, by Beau Willimon,
because of the several once-removed connections I have to the play. Having been at
the FutureFest weekend it won -- though missing that performance; having been on
the set for a few days of
The Ides of March, that
being based on the play.
A re-write of Inside The Gatehouse, by
I was in one of the four leading roles in this at FutureFest 2008. Bill was kind
enough to send me a subsequent re-write of the play, which I have been remiss about
Phantoms, by Don Nigro;
one of several plays with Inspector John Ruffing as the central character.
Mr. Nigro sent me a pdf of this
months back. Again, I never did set the time aside and now can't locate the pdf.
Guess I'll have to buy it from Sam French.
First, "DOH!" moment number
152,375: Turns out that Can Night for God of Carnage is not tonight, it's
next Wednesday night, and I have verified that I am not needed for sound in the
Souvenir rehearsal that night. So I can, Can*.
And in the next couple weeks there are a few other shows I want to see.
Now I turn this recording into the sound of a 78 RPM record disk. There has been a
bit of mention that I should add the sound of scratches to the recording, but really
I should not. This is period work and the 78 that is played in the course of the
play's performance is supposed to be a new product, not a sixty-year-old product.
Having scratch sounds all over the recording would be like watching a period movie
about the 1920's where all the vintage cars were beat-up and falling apart rather
than looking pristine as if they had recently been driven off the lot, or at least
not looking much older than a few years.
My plan is to stick the sound of a record player needle touching down on the lip of
the record at the start of the sound file. And there is a supplemental sound that I
need, but I am at the moment inclined to make that a separate file so the cue can
be a bit more fluid during the performances -- i.e.: the actor who has to instigate
the action that requires the sound will not be tethered to that sound appearing on
the initial sound file at a static point. Can I be any vaguer?
I shot footage of the recording session; that's likely to be B-role with no sound,
if it makes it into the podcast.
The other thing we did, that involved me, was go over the sound cue needs for Act
II. Oh. yeah; I forgot to mention that I also have been
assigned a couple cameo appearances in the play.
I'm trying to get my singing voice back to a decent shape for the late-autumn
production and I must say the late-summer ragweed isn't greasing the wheels.
So there is some podcast work going on this weekend, but mostly this weekend will
about sound design for the show.
And some of it is a challenge. I can't just use some stock sounds in some situations,
specifically most of the audience sounds. The sound files need to be tailored to
fit the needs of the moments. So there's a bit of harvesting then editing to be
done, and it really needs to be done today and tomorrow.
And last night.
I began my harvesting by grabbing audience laughter from several of the on-line
comedy radio channels, I finished that this morning, but just the raw recording. Now
I have to sift through about two hours of stand-up and pull just raw laughter from
in between the jokes, avoiding the comedians' voices.
I also have some amount of stock audience applause and sounds that I will be using.
But pretty much all of it needs to be manipulated or use as an aid to manipulate
other sound files.
I have some mixing to do.
Well, I had every intention of going to see a play tonight, but I don't think I'll
It's the wallet. It's pretty empty.
I also have all that Souvenir sound design work over this holiday weekend so
if I'm not in a theatre seat, I'll be home, wearing headphones.
Well, I probably ought to be working on the sound design stuff rather than writing
I have spent most of the weekend so far on it: Friday night, as I wrote yesterday,
and most all of the day yesterday.
Spent a bit of time harvesting a lot of sound files that I am using for the different
needs of the audience sounds, but, without going into detail, there is a bit of
processing I need to do, including accurately labeling what each sound is, before I
can get to the actual creation of the sound files for the our production.
Last night I was up late (as in, into early this morning) and even woke up from an
unintentional "nap", but I didn't do
much more work. I set an alarm for about 9:00 this morning but it did not wake me.
I was up just in time to get ready and head into Dayton to The Guild.
Tonight, when I have finished and posted this blog entry, I'll get back to it. The
hope is that I get to the mixing of the sound needs.
I really would like to have most of the sound done before tomorrow night.
If I can find the time here sometime soon I'm going to edit a trailer of the movie.
There is an unlisted posting on youtube that I've sent a select group of interested
people to as a private screening. Not sure how long I'm keeping that page up. I have
thought about pulling it down at the end of September. Or I may make the posting
public at some point.
But the other idea, which I am not wholly sold on yet is to market the movie through
Withoutabox. I haven't thoroughly
investigated the specifics and I need to mull over whether I want to make the movie
For Sale -- there are some considerations to contemplate.
But a trailer at some point soon is a high probability.
Hosted today once again at DTG, but simply as a volunteer, not as the House Manager.
The run has been quite successful. Today was the first of the six performances of
these first two weeks that was not sold out, but it was close.
SOUND & PODCAST; NOT BEHIND BUT NOT AHEAD OF THE GAME:
I am not at all as far along with the sound design as I had planned.
At least I do believe I have gathered together all the elemental sound files that I
need to build what the script demands.
I do have one file built, though at the production rehearsal last night I found the
need to alter it, which means shorten it substantially to fit performance parameters.
Having my laptop with me, I made the alteration on the spot.
It looks like if I want to get this sound finished in anything like timely I will
have to definitely have headphones on at lunch every day. I'm going to have to be
mixing on the laptop at lunch every day and in the hours after work before rehearsals
and other evening plans this week.
That means I will not be getting into the gym after
work, because I have been doing
such a bang-up job of getting in
Will be shooting more podcast footage tonight and Thursday. Thursday, in fact, I
will do brief interviews with our two cast members.
It looks like editing the podcast DV movie to final cut will also entail lunch time
and those hours after work, next week. I really do need to have the podcast on-line
before the September 16 Opening Night.
Also on Sunday, earlier in the day, I'll attend the screening of the short movie,
Interrogation, by local film maker
Steve Heman, and
which includes in the cast
Natasha Randall and
Craig Roberts, who of
course, are the stars of Be Or Not.
Between lunch yesterday and the period right after work I mixed together quite a few
of the sound files for the show,
Only Act I was run last night so only three sound cues,
all related to the Victrola and the 78 RPM recording of Florence and Cosmé performing
Mozart's"Queen of the Night" (from
The Magic Flute)
were ran. I had all those cues. I'm pretty much creating the cues in order of
I made most of the audience cues -- which is the remainder of the sound needed --
at The Guild from the booth.rather than mixing them while listening on headphones,
I used the actual sound system they are being created for. That's an edge; I was
able to immediately fix the dynamic difference between hearing them on the phones
and hearing them out of the theatre speakers.
The rest, I have to mix listening with my phones. But adjusting them, if necessary,
will not be a major pain.It's just nice to not need to adjust them.
I shot some footage for the podcast, as well. Probably mostly or completely B-roll.
Tomorrow night I shoot the interviews with
Chuck. I'm thinking about
doing one audio recording, too.
There is one big DOH!
moment, however: The first class session is next Monday -- (which is one of the
precious few Souvenir tech rehearsals). For some reason I was thinking
the first class session didn't happen until after Souvenir was up.
There's already a concession that has to made with the class. Monday, October 10
is the Meet & Greet rehearsal for Caroline, or Change and there are at
least two of us in the Caroline cast involved with the class.
It'll be nice to get back into an acting class again. The last one I took was in the
spring of 2009, with
That was sadly my only taste, of any kind, of Marsha as a director, and one that
left me hungry for the ill-fated chance to be directed in a production by her,
which, unfortunately, will never happen.
Speaking (writing) of
The Race, I am indeed finally, after
seven years back in the acting community, taking advantage of the HRTC "Can
Night" tonight to see the Final Dress of
God of Carnage,
by Yasmina Reza --
whose 'Art' I was in several years back in the
Two different sets of theatre community friends have seen the Broadway production --
one couple with the original cast. They all paid at least three figures for their
tickets; mine will be some non-perishable foods.
I did manage to make my first "Can Night," ever, at The Human Race
Theatre Company last night to see the Final Dress of God of Carnage,
by Yasmina Reza.
I enjoyed it thoroughly. Very funny, and of course, having done Ms. Reza's
'Art', I knew to expect some angry humor.
I give the cast kudos for great physical comedy as well as really playing the
ranges of each of their characters.
A fellow audience member, who'd seen me in 'Art', asked me which script I
thought was better. I said this one. I think it does give the actors and the
audience more range of each of the characters to explore. The three men in
'Art' certainly were not drawn too shallowly nor did they lack three
dimensions, but the four in Carnage are just, in my mind, drawn better.
It's not just New York
It's not just Washington
It's not just Shanksville
It's not just the buildings
It's not just the airplanes
It's not just the field
It's not just the symbols
It's not just the pictures
It's not just the dead
It's not just the heroes
It's not just the hearts
It's not just the sorrow
It's not just the nation
With it now officially being Tech Week for the show it would be rather bad news to
report that the sound files for the show are not done, so I won't be reporting that.
I finished up at about 3:00 Sunday morning.
Sunday was a bit of a busy day for me. It was Tech Sunday for this show, but that
could not happen until after the closing performance for The Oldest
Profession. So, I took that opportunity to actually attend the The Oldest
Profession. But I had the screening of a film to attend earlier in the day, too.
*(see below for both).
My game plan was to get to The Guild in the morning and transfer all the sound files
from my laptop onto the mini-disks I am using to run sound, then get lunch, then see
the film at 1:00 and then head back to DTG for O.P., then the dry tech and
cue-to-cue for Souvenir.
Did I mention I was up till 3:00 a.m. yesterday from Saturday night?
Myself & Jason in the tech booth during the cue-to-cue
When the alarm went off at 9:00, I decided I could wait and transfer the files while
the set for O.P. was being stuck the evening. I grabbed some more sleep
before heading downtown to have lunch (breakfast?)
then see the film.
After O.P. closed, while Lighting Designer/Technician
Jason Lenhart focused lights, I
did my files transfer. Then we did the cue-to-cue. Strictly speaking we didn't have
an official "dry-tech," though, while
Mr. Director Man,
Ms. Producer Lady,
Ms. Production Stage Manager
took Jason through the script to locate light cues, I did my own little private
dry tech, mostly to be sure all the files transfered well. One, in fact, did not.
But rather the re-transfer, I will just run that cue off my laptop in
As for tonight, I had thought that I am completely unavailable for the rehearsal,
but I will be able to get there, albeit late.
In terms of the podcast, I did shoot the interview with
Chuck last Thursday at
Wright State. And this was that
finally-arriving opportunity to get the digital, off-board audio recording for a
movie shoot. Everything was working exactly as it should.
Only problem: I did not execute the record command in
Garage Band, thus, I am once
again using the on-board audio recording, which isn't terrible at all, but does not
sound as good as what would have been recorded had I hit the switch.
This is why you need a specific tech for each specific job,
at least on a movie or video shoot, and the director should be doing NOTHING but
Directing. Perhaps some camera work is okay, but other than that....
I shot some more b-roll footage yesterday, from which the pic on the right up here
is a frame-shot. Either tomorrow night or Wednesday, during Act
I I'll get some final shoots of some portion of scenes,
the footage I'll used as focused on the play content -- the stuff from which I
needed clearance from Mr. Temperley
to use. I hope I can shoot that footage tomorrow rather than Wednesday. I'd rather
have the final cut on Wednesday rather than Thursday. I hate it when the podcast
isn't available until right before Opening Night. It's going to be too close as it
is, that one day later thing makes it worse.
Since God of Carnage on Wednesday, I've sat in the audience a few more times:
Saw this Friday night. A really cool multi-media tribute to Edgar Allen Poe. The
production was conceived and directed by
Wayne Justice, It
started off with a biographical movie of Poe's life, that which featured a couple
dozen local actors in cameos, including your's truly. It was followed by stage
performances of some of Poe's more well-known work. I hope Wayne mounts this again
in the future.
As mentioned above, yesterday I went to the screening of the full-length avant-garde
movie by local film maker
which showed at The Schuster Center.
Steve's own description of the movie is as a non-linear film; such are a bit more
difficult to watch than traditional film, but, I thought the movie was well-done and
thee was a lot of very good, poetic text in the film. Saw a lot of familiar faces on
The Oldest Profession
-- Right after the movie, I
shot down the road for the closing performance at
home. Actually sat down as an
audience member and hadn't realized how much of the show I had not caught while
producing the podcast. It's a cute show.
THOUGHTS ON HOW I WILL "BLOG" THE EXPERIENCE AND OTHER NEWS:
Like the Clooney shoot back in March, I have to be very careful and judicious as to
what I write about relating to the rehearsal and performance experiences of
To some extent I always am. I exercise some good measure of prior restraint. There
are things I just don't touch on. If I relate an event or an observation here it
needs to go directly to my learning, growth and personal experience. It's fair game
for me to discuss, in detail, my mistakes, both in the rehearsal process and in
performance. As for others' mistakes: if there's a good lesson to learn from them
and I can discuss the mistake in a opaque way that doesn't identify the person, then
I will. But I'm not going to show other people's underwear here.
And as for soap-opera-like conflicts and other gossip fodder: I've been back
in theatre for seven years now. Anyone who doesn't realize that I have witnessed
many dumbassed ego bumps in that time, isn't terribly wise. But that sort of back
stage drama is best left there. I've also witnessed more than one hook-up and more
than one nuclear melt-down of romances or attempts at romance. None of that has
anything to do with the focus of this blog; nor would I endear anyone involved
with any such scenarios.
This is a sort of point I've discussed here in time's past. There are two strong
reasons to exercise this prudence. The first and foremost is that I find it rude
to do otherwise. But, let's not bullshit anyone, close behind that is that I am
critically aware that sharing such "juicy tidbits" is not politically
It's a small community, our Dayton area theatre. I'm not stupid enough to believe
that every single member of that community -- or any significant number at all --
are checking on any regular basis to see what this silly little blog has to say. I
am smart enough to know that some do check, at least on occasion, a couple probably
out of a general curiosity, others, making sure I am being prudent, maybe a
few hoping I will slip up and not be prudent.
I'd love to believe I am perfectly judicious and have never offended or angered
anyone; I'm not confident that is true, but I do strive for that.
The last thing I want to do is encourage the audition situation where the director
I am standing in front of finds me a jackass because of something I've written
about them here. I also don't want the legitimate perception out there that if I'm
cast, I'll air the production's dirty laundry in cyberspace.
Also, I don't want my colleagues (read: Castmates) to be concerned about such things.
I don't want to give anyone involved with a production or potential production to
feel a need to distrust me or be wary of me because of this blog. I can't imagine
there are not at least a few who already have such attitudes toward me, but I will
have to assert that if they do, it's on them -- I've given them no justification.
These points get intensified as I begin to step into professional productions,
those of the Equity and
SAG variety. And like the
March 29, 2011 entry, any entries I write
about this production, rehearsals or otherwise, must tow a very strict line of
discretion. I'm not sure exactly what that line is; but, I do know that if I think
or feel that it even might be a bad idea to share something, it will stay off
In that vein, I don't know the whole cast list, but I do know who a few are, the
only one's I can name are those I know that HRTC has publicized already: besides me
there are Saul Caplan,
(both whom, along with myself are named as "local favorites" in the
Inside The Race
Fall 2011 newsletter. Also listed there is Yvette William, from
Wright State University Theatre>, playing
Caroline's teenaged daughter. The Race web site names
Tanesha Gary in
the role of Caroline.
As for prep, I am at least warming my voice up everyday. I haven't read the book yet,
or sat down to give the one song I know for a fact I'm singing a real studied
look. Next week I start having a bit more free time, so I will become more focused
on pre-rehearsal prep for the show, beyond cajoling my singing voice back into shape
First class is tonight. It's earlier than I had thought (5:00-7:00, rather than
7:00-9:00), so I will be able to make the Souvenir rehearsal, though I'll
be late. I should, though, be able to run the Act II
My instructor, if I haven't mentioned it, is Kay Bosse, who is in Caroline
and in fact plays Grandma Gellman to my Grand Gellman. By the end of November we'll
either hate each other or be good friends. Apparently, our class class session, on
October 17 is safe from rehearsal conflict as the rehearsals are dark that night.
The week before, (the 10th) is the Meet and Greet night for the production, so
I don't know what's happening with that class session.
As it turned out I didn't miss the tech rehearsal last night at all. I was out of
class at 7:00 and the run of the show didn't start until about 7:45. The Guild is a
fast three minute drive from The Race, so I not only was at rehearsal before it
began but also managed to fit dinner in beforehand.
each student perform something in an audition-like fashion. I did a portion of the
Blackbird manuscript that I could remember relatively close to verbatim. It
really wasn't audition monologue material, but the point was more to give her an
idea of a skill level, so I used it. So, I suppose in this particular case it
was a good choice.
Begs the point that I really never do have an arsenal of monologues to pull out of
my pocket on the spur of the moment. I need to change that.
Kay has us thinking about what our favorite play is --
right now mine is Blackbird -- and who are
favorite actor is and why. I asked if it could be more than one and she said yes.
Because I have a small group I like. Unfortunately because I don't get to a lot of
professional theatre, all but two of these high-calibre actors are those whose work
I know from the screen. here are mine, for today, in no particular order:
All of these because they understand keenly and are brilliant executers
of the concept "Less Is More." This is an incredibly valuable
skill in front of the camera but it also has great merit on stage. Petersen
I have had the luck to see twice on stage and I am impressed by how he can
still employ the subtleties of Less Is More and yet be such a strong,
vibrant presence in the room. And all of these actors are those who come
immediately to mind when I think of this seaming contradiction of presence
on screen with subtlety of performance. Though all of them certainly can go
big when it's a good choice.
The freakish landscape of range both these actors possess is stupefying
to me. I am in awe of their immense powers to stretch themselves. Now, my
path did briefly (briefly) cross Philip's,
on the set of
The Ides of March,
but all we did, as I described back in March, was exchange hellos, when I
desired to grab and shake his hand and tell him that I believe he is one of
the most gifted actors to ever appear on screen. I don't know that I have
ever seen him play the exact same personification as he has before. Every
performance is of itself. Pretty much the same for Ms. Streep.
No slouch at playing the subtleties either, Bruce is one high-calibre actor I
have seen on stage, if not a lot, certainly a good handful of times, and
more than enough to have a strong idea of his skill. His stage presence and the
ease in which he commands it is spectacular. He also has his own impressive
range and his non-verbal work (the "internal dialogue," as it were)
is spot on. I saw him as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe several
years ago in Cincinnati and the growing wounding he showed during the famous
Martha monologue was a concrete lesson in how to be present, be engaged,
contribute significantly to the emotion stakes of the moment on stage but not
pull focus from the actor who is the focus of that moment.
That's a list as it is today, not what it would have been last week or in two
As for October 10, class will end early so Kay and I can head the next block over for
the meet and greet for Caroline.
Was contacted by somebody who is developing an idea for a close-ended web series
that sounds like a great idea. Don't want to divulge more info than that because
it's not my project and it's not my information to divulge.
But I certainly have an interest and hope this leads somewhere.
At this point it would be a no-pay gig, but there is some chance there might be
salary on the back end.
Please don't tell me I'm foolish to do the gig for only the possibility of pay. Pay
is not the first reason I'm doing it. Though elbow-grease investment in a future
more professional (paid) career is part of it, always is.
And if the subject Icon becomes the "Paying Gig" icon, after all, I am
very much okay with that turn.
Dress rehearsals are going well.
Mr. Director Man asked me to add a
crowd laughter sound at a new point, and rather than try to incorporate it onto one
of the mini disks, I am running that added cue off
on the laptop. In fact, I did not mix something, I am using a raw audience laughter
file that I procured.
I was able to shoot the last of the footage for the podcast Tuesday evening, then
took yesterday off work from the rent-payer to edit the movie to final cut.
Tuesday I shot what I am calling the content performance footage, meaning rehearsal
performances where the dialogue is heard in the movie. This is the footage that needs
Stephen Temperley's blessing to use
with the audio (text of the play) in tact.
Unfortunately I was not able to go the concept route I had conceived because there
was not enough time. I was going to present at least part of the podcast in the
fashion of the old news reels that used to run in movie houses before the feature
presentations. But there was a bit of processing needed, as well as some news copy
and the appropriate music. I had not yet found royalty free music that fit well and
I frankly did not have time to do the rest. As it was, I was at final cut yesterday
not too much before it was time to leave for last night's rehearsal.
The Human Race is an Equity
Membership Candidacy theatre. With my casting in Caroline, Or Change I now
have the opportunity to become a candidate for an
Actors Equity union membership.
There are pros and cons to becoming a candidate. Actually, it's more the pros and
cons of being an Actors Equity card holder in this local professional theatre region.
A few have weighed in already with cons:
One has said, "Do you plan on moving to NYC? [if not] Then I
wouldn't do it."
Another, "Unless you are going to move somewhere that has a LOT of
Equity work available or are pretty sure you are going to be offered an Equity
position in the area, I wouldn't do it. But, that's just me."
Another basically advised that it may take quite a while to earn the 50
weeks to be eligible and that might put me in a pretty difficult castabilty
place -- I could very easily be in my sixties or older when I earn the card.
And yet another advises against it.
The only problem I have with any of these arguments is that all deal with the
absolute of me as an AEA member. They all address the problems of being able
to act on a stage in an area like Dayton when there is only one Equity theatre. They
all address me not being able to act often because I would be prohibited from
non-union theatre, especially community theatre.
But here's the thing: I think it will take a while (some few years at best) to earn
the 50 weeks I will have to work in an Equity theatre as a candidate in order to be
eligible to join the union. Then when I do make the 50, I'd still have five years to
join the union, and I would not be obligated at that point unless cast in an Equity
show (after the 50 weeks).
It doesn't seem to me that entering the program necessarily boxes me in, in this
market for quite a while. And, who's to say I'll stay here?
Despite the advice otherwise I am leaning very toward declaration.
Please don't mistake this for complaining or whining because it is most assuredly
neither such. But, I have some strategic scheduling for the next two podcast
productions. Caroline, or Change rehearsals start on October 10 and the run
goes through to November 20.
Lost in Yonkers
(Neil Simon) -- Because of
Caroline I have to be sure to shoot and edit this early, starting this
coming week. Between that factor and the improbability of getting clearance to use
any dialogue text from the play I need to come up with a concept. The images will be
from early rehearsal only so I have to figure how to make that work. To be honest,
I have not made the attempt yet to contact Neil Simon -- or more likely, his
legal representatives. I am skeptical that I'll hear back at all, and if i do, I'm
not expecting a "yes." Not that I won't welcome one.
Blue Moon Dancing
(Ed Graczyck) -- This one get's
produced late in the rehearsal; Tech Week to be exact. Caroline production is
done on Sunday, Nov 20 and Blue Moon opens that next Friday. Though I will
have Mondays during The Race
production, to drop by Rehearsals, since Caroline is dark on Mondays. That's
likely when I shoot interviews, and probably some rehearsals footage, too. There's a
bit of communication history between The Guild and the playwright here, so there's a
reasonable chance that I'll get clearance to use dialogue text.
(Gérald Sibleyras & Tom Stoppard)
-- I'm producing this one. And the twist here is my hope of again being in rehearsal
at another theatre during the rehearsal period for this. So, scheduling production
of the podcast -- not to mention making the amount of
appearances on set that I prefer to make as a producer. And, again, I'm
not wholly confident about dialogue text clearance for this one. There's more than
one hurdle here. The copyright belongs to both Gérald Sibleyras, the
original playwright, and Tom Stoppard, who translated. That complicates things. I
need clearance from both. Plus, Stoppard is probably as difficult to actually
approach as Neil Simon will be; and I am again skeptical of a "yes." And
who knows about the prospects of contacting Mr. Sibleyras or what he'll answer.
(David Davalos) -- Did manage to get a
request to David Davalos and he has granted clearance to use text. That production
is months off, but I know we can use dialogue in that DV movie.
I dropped all the paperwork (production contract, tax papers, personal info,
release forms, yadda, yadda) at The Race
between end of the day at the rent-paying job and the acting class, Monday. Among
the paperwork was the application for the EMC program and a $100 check for the
If it's a mistake, it's not as big a mistake as looking back and regretting that I
did not declare.
On a related note: when I was filling out the wardrobe information (measurements,
etc.), part of that is one's weight. I had not actually weighed myself for a while.
I would have estimated my weight at about 150 lbs.
I would have
been.....incorrect. Boy! Would I have been incorrect!
-- Class was fun Monday night. We spent some time with each of us
discussing what our "favorite" play is then who is our favorite actors or
at least what actors inspire each of us. Like I wrote a week ago, narrowing it down
to one is a difficult task for me. Then, I listed seven. Last night I narrowed it
down to three, three with basically the same quality, that of knowing and
demonstrating that Less is More. I named
Donald Sutherland and
Jody Foster. But, really, I just
went with one attractive acting feature and the first three I admire greatly who
display that. When I was young I claimed Donald Sutherland as my favorite actor,
but now I just can't narrow it down to one.
I've never really identified a favorite play of mine, either. I had to go with what
is (and has been) my major focus, that, of course, being
as I stated in the Sep. 13 post, above. The reasons are many. Naturally the personal
investment I've had and still have in producing and appearing in it is a big factor.
But, before that, the fact that it's such a well-written play. There's not the
fraction of an ounce of fat in the text. There are so many layers and levels to the
text and subtext. Nothing is accidental in the dialogue. The characters are so
intriguing and strikingly drawn. The concept is bold and daring and has the
audacity to ask the questions it asks and pose the possibilities it poses. And,
as an actor it gives two delicious roles to climb into. I'm looking forward to the
next play that compels me so much. Perhaps that will be Mamet's
which ironically -- and I might add, coincidentally -- is in the same basic
territory as Blackbird in terms of subject matter. The Mamet play is on my
radar because a production is up this season in the area.
The second half we got into small groups of two or three and did some contextless
scenes, which is a great tool for both actors and directors. A contextless scenes
has a small number of characters -- usually no more than three -- who have either
generic, bender neutral names or, more often, either letter or number designations.
The dialogue is all there is, with no scenarios or character descriptions. The
dialogue must not be altered when executing a contextless scene.
A: What are you doing?
B: What does it look like?
A: It looks like the same as always, only...
A: Are you sure that's a good idea?
B: Yes. It's a good idea. It's a great idea.
A: If you say so.
B: I suppose we should do it the way you always want to.
A: I suppose we should.
B: In a word. No.
I just made this example up. Feel free to use it as an
exercise if it appeals.
The first time I was aware of contextless scenes was on the unfortunately
from Ben Affleck and
LivePlanet production company.
There, each applicant director got the same contextless scene to shoot a short
film from as their submission. It was fascinating to see the entirely different
film each created from the same set of dialogue.
Monday, my group of three and another group of two did the same scene. We did
A:, B:, & C:, the other group had the same lines reassigned to just A: & B:.
Our two groups had completely different scenarios and reads.
We closed by doing one of the variations of the Repetition Exercise from the
Meisner Technique. We
did the exact verbatim version of this. There are few manifestations of the
exercise. In one, the first actor makes a statement, and the other virtually
mirrors it. Such as:
A: You have lovely eyes
B: I have lovely eyes
A: You have lovely eyes
B: I have lovely eyes ect., etc....
Each time through the actors give different emotional and attitudinal readings of
the lines, bold declarations or angry statements, or flirts, or jealousy or
bewilderment, yadda yadda.
There's also a version where the actors follow the lead but move down a path:
A: You have a beard
B: You have red hair
A: You look good in jeans
B: You look sexy in gym shoes........
What we did was the absolute verbatim mirroring:
A: You have a beard
B: You have a beard
The same differentiation in readings apply in all the versions of this exercise.
(And let's see how well I stick with this);
to always be actively reading a book on the art and craft of acting, film making or
some closely related calling, at least one book on one of the subjects.
I'm quite likely to procure my own copy of the first one and, perhaps, the latter
one, as well.
The first weekend of this saw some great work from
and Charles Larkowski. It
also saw some horribly anemic audience sizes, which is a shame because this
production is very much worth seeing.
Running sound went well, too. There were a few imperfections, but, ya know,
Live Theatre and all. One nerve-racking
event came after the Sunday show. The mini-disk cassette with most of the
show sounds literally fell apart when I ejected it. I do have all the originals in
a production file on my laptop, so it was just a question of re-recording it all on
Yes: just a question of.....
I went through ten mini-disk cassettes at the theatre before I found one fresh
enough to take new recordings to replace the main one for the show. And I might add
it was the last one available on site! Not that there was an imminent problem for
the production; I did have five days to solve the issue. I have one brand-new
mini-disk at home that can be used. We could also convert to another medium if
Brings to point the fact that new mini-disks are not easy to find. The format is no
longer in fashion, so most of the chain retailers don't carry them; maybe none do.
The disks are almost exclusively a special-order item more easily found on-line. I
suppose I ought to order some, huh?
Okay, absolutely accurately, In The Audience for about the first hour.
After dealing with "The Dilemma of the Malformed
Disk" I zipped down the street to catch The Merry Wives of Windsor
as produced by Shakespeare in South Park and presented at The South Park Green in
Dayton. I was not able to stay as I had to go rescue a friend from a car problem.
I kind of wasn't in what you could call "good attendance," anyway. I got
lost looking for The Green and was almost late, thus I was pretty far back in the
audience in a situation where neither the stage nor the audience area was raked,
so I couldn't see well. Plus, I was already preoccupied with a self-indulgent
personal problem, and I had a headache. So, I wasn't the most attentive audience
member to begin with. Then I got the call from the friend and I was his last-ditch
hope for assistance.
So I'm not even sure why I'm bothering to chronicle this save that I feel guilty for
leaving the performance of some friends.
Before the show tonight I'll do an audio recording of a specific piece of music
from the show. It's not a production need, it's a side recording that will be a
"Souvenir" from Souvenir.
I hope to do a stereo recording with two mics on the piano and a third, which I'm
renting, for Reneé's vocal. If I can use the four-track in the space without
picking up the radio station, then I'll be able to record with three channels, one
each of two of them favoring either the higher or lower registers of the piano, so
I can get a more robust pan of the piano in the mixed master.
If the damned radio station invades, as it is wont to on my four-track at The Guild,
I'll have to use the little mic mixer and record on
Garage Band. But I won't be
able to send a stereo separated signal onto the computer, so the recording will be
monophonic. Not as desirable.
Frame captures from the podcast production footage, cropped down from
-- This was one of those productions
that really worked. It's really a shame that the houses were not bigger than they
were. Chuck and Reneé got a standing ovation at the close of every performance.
Both actors were cast perfectly. Take a well-cast production with a good script
and good direction (and good production values such as lighting design
and sound design thankyouverymuch) and sparks
As for my sound design, the sound needs did not call for the most sophisticated one
I've ever done but it had its challenges:
(As she sings the laughter grows till she can't help but hear it....She
adjusts her wings, provoking a roar from the house. She shades her eyes to
look out. A rhythmic clapping begins, joining the laughter, growing louder
reads one stage direction. Now, since this a live performance and there would be
little variables in the timing of things from one show to the next, all that mounting
chaos could not be one static sound file. In fact, in order to taylor the build to
the vagaries of each performance's needs, there were three separate sound files with
two of the three overlapping as needed.
Despite the usual gaffes that will occur during the run of a live show, cast and
crew worked like a well-oiled machine (well, um, see
below for one "other side of the story)".
Gremlins And Other Mishaps At The Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape
-- First, the major
O h S h i t !
On Friday, I got to the theatre early to record that song performed by Reneé
and Chuck. While setting up, the mishap mis-happened. I had set the Fostex
four-track up and was walking away from the table; my foot caught the power cord and
I pulled the machine off the table; it plummeted some three feet down and tumbled
onto the floor.
And there was, indeed, damage.
Beyond a couple knobs that flew off, but were easily re-attached, there is the fact
that the machine would not power up. Kind of a problem. My first thought was that I
knocked something loose in there. I did open it up to take a look, but where I need
to get to is buried under a couple layers of circuit boards and I didn't want to
risk causing further damage to the machine. Saturday I dropped it off at an audio
repair shop. The repairman called earlier today and the financial damage is nowhere
near where it could have been: he quoted about sixty bucks, which is good. I'm,
well, tight for cash right now as is pretty much everyone else. In fact, I'm
actually going to have to manipulate my finances a little to get this bill paid.
He called back in the afternoon to tell me he was done. The fall had cracked two
circuit boards, one controlling the power, the other, the mixer. He fixed those and
reinforced the power jack input. Still brought the fee in under $70. I pick it up
tomorrow. Could have today, but I need a day to discover how I'm paying him.
The end result of the damaged recorder that is germane to Souvenir is that I
did not get to record the musical performance in stereo as I wanted. I had rented a
third mic, in order to use my two to get a stereo separated recording of the
piano. I went ahead and did mic the piano with two mics and use the third for
Reneé's vocal, but I had to run them through the little mic mixer and into
Garage Band, but I can only run
a mono mix out from the mic mixer so I had to record a live mono mix of the song.
This means that the raw mix is it, at least in terms of volume balance between the
voice and the piano. Since everything is on the same channel, whatever volume
balance is on that is all there can be. No post production tweaking of that aspect
As you who know me will expect, I'm not at all satisfied with that raw mix, either.
It's not horrible, but the piano is a little too up in the mix at times. Being able
to finesse such dynamics in post-production would have been good.
I was able to process an end result that was a little more robust than the raw
mono recording. In
there are still two stereo channels for mono, despite that they are the exact same
audio information. I untethered the two channels then dropped in EQ filters and
favored one toward high end sound and the other toward low end. Then I dropped a
third channel in with the original EQ, stuck a filter with a slight amount of reverb
that runs under at a lower volume. The two EQ'd channels each are either left or
right in the stereo pan and the quieter reverberated one is centered. Thus we get a
simulated stereo and a fuller sound. I still would have preferred true stereo, and
Reneé's voice a little more up in the mix in a few spots.
Later, in production of the Friday night performance the Production Gremlins decided
to be active and play a few pranks.. Who knows, they may have wrapped the cord
around my ankle earlier in the day. First one was for a sound file to
malfunction DURING PERFORMANCE.
It had been fine when I did the pre-show dry tech of the sounds. And it didn't
malfunction ever again. I have no clue what happened, save for the touch of the
Preoccupied with that mishap, I neglected to move the cue setting forward on the
other disk, so when the next sound cue came, I played a jiffy of the wrong sound
Okay, that second one wasn't the gremlin, but let's
blame him/her/It, anyway.
THIS WEEK'S ACTING CLASS:
Shortly after the first class session I emailed
that there are two things I am most keen to work on. One is movement -- as you
five who regularly read this blog know, I hate the way I move on stage. The
other is improving my skills at cold reading.
On the Movement front, Kay has introduced us to a discipline known as
Viewpoints. The technique is
a series of exercise, games I suppose is a good word, that have the actor
focus solely on the body and the moment in a physical sense, shutting out
intellectualizing. The idea, it seems to me (we'll see
what I'm writing later about this) is to focus solely on the physical
task and any immediate responses required for some of the exercises. She showed us
one last week, which I tried and failed at over the weekend, which has the actor
sit at the edge of a chair with his/her knees at a perfect 90 angle. The task is
to slowly stand up without pitching the torso back or forward to gain momentum. It
is not easy and I could not do it. It's there for me to master.
This Monday we did one called Lanes. Several actors stand lined in a row. There is a
vocabulary of three moves: one can step forward five steps, hop backward five hops,
or make a 180 turn. These are all one can do and one can only do one of these at a
time. Each movement is to be a response to another's movement. The only move than
be of sole volition is the first one, to start it off. You also are to keep you
eyes trained forward, so most of you cues from others to take an action will be seen
in peripheral vision. The purpose is to help the actor become aware of the
environment and most especially of the other actors in that environment and what
those actors are doing. It's a stage ensemble building game.
Later in the session this week Kay had me do a cold read of part of a monologue. A
stone-cold read. Like at this past summer's
auditions, I had never laid eyes on the pages before I did the reading for those
who were in the room. That experience at the start of the summer and this one
this week both leave me feeling much better about my cold-read aptitude. I'd
already been on a path toward letting go of the desire to give a perfect
interpretation of the character I'm reading in a cold read, and I believe I pretty
much was doing that at the FF audition. It was shared with me that someone said I
seemed the most relaxed and one of the stronger auditioners all across the board
at the FF auditions.
Reading How To Stop Acting,
by Harold Guskin, shortly after being cast in the FF play A Woman on the Cusp,
this course was reaffirmed by Guskin's writing. In a nut shell -- and in my words,
not his -- his message is that actors need to forget about showing the auditor how
well they understand the character. Chances are they don't understand the character
much at all at that point. The goal is not to make a fabulous presentation of the
character, it's to make a fabulous presentation of the actor. Make a choice and go
with that and look for the moments of change (the beat changes) in the text. Go
where it feels like you should. Be present in the context you understand at that
moment. That context will either be completely improvised by you or somehow
improvised along with whatever quick and probably somewhat vague or incomplete
context the auditors have given you. It's not necessary to create the reality of the
universe of the script or the reality of the character as he or she lives in that
script. Your goal in a cold read is to show those watching that you can
create a reality. Give them something interesting and real to watch and hear but
don't worry if it's a totally created on the spot with little or no clue as to what
the script as a whole suggests.
So I got in front of the class Monday, read the first few lines as I walked up, made
a choice based on what I'd read, started, then changed beats when it felt right.
And here's a point for you: a few times I, as the actor standing up there, needed
to pause for a moment to gather myself and move into the next beat. Thing is, that's
real; those are real moments. A far as my audience was concerned, the character was
gathering his thoughts. The message being, don't sweat the pauses you need, use
A class mate and I have been assigned a brief moment from
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
We will put it up for the class in a couple weeks. We're doing about seven pages
close to the start, for those who know the play, it's the argument about the name
of the movie, the news Martha drops about guests coming over up to where she
sings her twist on "The Big Bad Wolf" song that encompasses the title of
Fortunately this is not one of the many many many many many many sections with
mammoth monologues, a lot of very short, standard dialogue lines. So there's not a
hard task to memorizing these few pages. Thankfully also, Kay will allow us to call
for line, which serves two good purposes for me. First, the pressure is off to be
100% off-book, though I will still give that a shot. But it makes the performances
for class what it really is: that first stumble through. It also gives me the
potential chance, if necessary, to practice calling for line and not breaking
character. I am one of the many many many many many many actors who are bad for
breaking character -- "I'm sorry, what's my line
OCTOBER 10 IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:
So now it's time to give far more attention to prepping for this show. I'd like to
come into rehearsal with some strong idea of the songs I am involved with. Sunday
night I listened to the whole show and followed along in the book. There's very
little straight dialogue and in fact it's all part of the score so nothing was
missing from the recording, save for a few lyric lines that apparently were either
cut from the recording, the Broadway production, or were added later and reflected
in the book. Regardless, I started the process of becoming more acquainted -- okay,
to be honest, "simply acquainted," since I'd only previously listen the
"The Chanukah Party" because that was the song
had me sing to audition. I had thought that was all I sang in the show, but I make
a few more appearance, though not substantial appearances.
I have been doing daily vocal warm-up for the last week or so. I've missed a few
times, but now warm-ups will most surely be a daily occurrence.
Got the rehearsal/production schedule yesterday. I may be taking a few more vacation
hours each week than I'd anticipated. Looks I may be spending at least eight hours
most of the weeks, and perhaps a little more for some of them. I haven't sat down
and budgeted the time out yet, but my cursory look suggests the production will eat
more vacation leave than I'd expected it to. Kind of a bummer, but, so-oh-well.
There was some discussion over the weekend, at the wrap dinner for Souvenir
that much of the score for Caroline is not easy music. It seems most of mine
is not excruciatingly difficult, but still, that prepping now and not showing up on
Day One wholly unprepared is still the way to go.
I officially began production of the podcast for Lost in Yonkers last night.
Shooting b-roll. I have not even bothered to get clearance from Neil Simon's
people to use dialogue in the movie. I am so confident that the answer will be
"no," that I am just making the podcast without said text, not fooling
with the likely in-vain game of asking.
Flip Mino HD DV cam, plugged in to transfer movie clips
I'm trying a new sort of DV camera for this production, new to me anyway, a
Flip MinoHD. The HD
line interlace is 720p rather than 1080p, but I am hoping I'll still end up with
something a little better looking than what I have been getting with the SD footage
I've shot for past podcasts.
I'm not any where close to the tech savvy image that some have of me, so I'm just
sort of feeling my way around in the semi-dark here.
The native screen resolution of the footage shot on the Mino is 1280 x 720, so I'm
going to experiment with the resolution of the final cut, running between 640 x 360
and the native res.
And since this machine writes digital files to a hard drive rather than digital
information to tape, transferring the footage from the camera to the computer is not
a real-time experience. I.E.: it doesn't take one hour (plus set up time) to
transfer an hour of footage, it takes less than a minute or two. Then, however, it's
not imported as a .mov file, it's an .mp4, which means constant re-rendering while
which isn't wildly convenient. But the end result may be worth it.
This morning I created an iTunes play list of only the eight songs that Grandpa
Gellman makes a vocal appearance in and have started the process of listening to it.
Not but a few minutes ago, here in the late afternoon I got those eight songs
transfered onto my myTouch 4G cell phone
so I can get mobile with the study. The song list, well, the whole Broadway
soundtrack is on both my
MacBook Pro laptop
and my work PC.
Have a Yiddish dialect recording on all three of these machines, too.
Shot more b-roll last night with a few more cast members in the house. Actually, I
think maybe everyone was there.
Along with the Flip MinoHD
I also did a little bit of multi-camera work by employing the HD camcorder in my
myTouch 4G cell phone. However,
there some jitter in the phone shots due, at least in part, to the stabilization
software, which interferes with smooth pan shots and such. It may also be that I need
to reboot the phone to clear all memory caches, some of the visual blips and burps
might be due to memory swap.
I still loaded the video files from the phone into the
Final Cut Express
project for the podcast. There will surely be useable portions.
Since I have to go into Dayton to pick up my repaired multi-track recorder (see
below), I'm going to grab more footage tonight, probably tomorrow night, as well.
PAYING FOR THE FOSTEX REPAIRS:
Man I feel so friggin' poor right now!
When I looked at what I have available in my checking, savings, and available credit
on my Visa, it became apparent that I will barely make it to my next paycheck before
the added expense of repair on the four-track recorder. I am seriously scraping at
It makes me feel SO successful.
If you have read or do read yesterday's entry you'll see that I elected to not drop
by the repair shop yesterday to pay off the debt and pick up the machine because I
needed to figure out just exactly how I am coming up with the sixty-four dollars
the repairs cost.
The answer lies in several years worth of penny caching. I took the contents of a
small wicker bowl I have -- some 3000-plus pennies, and a few stray dimes and nickels
and was off to the local Kroger's to drop them into a Coinstar machine.
Originally I was going to roll them into penny coin rolls but after a little more
than a half-hour, I'd only filled seven sleeves, and the mound in basket was hardly
decreased. It was clear rolling the whole basket would take hours, so I sacrificed
ten-precent (the Coinstar fee) of the pile in order to not be up all night.
I netted $35, a little more than half the repair fee. Well, at least there's that
much supplemental financial help.
Picked the Fostex up after work and though I've not given it a spin, I did at least
plug it in and turn it on -- it was good to see all the lights and LEDs and bars
Note to self:
Update your résumé ~
Add your new gig & your new training!
I'm an alcoholic. When I was fourteen I got drunk for the first time. You may
not believe this but it was an accident. I was with some buddies and we were
doing what adolescent American boys are often engaged in, I believe the term is
"Partying." Several times
before that I suppose I performed my first acting gigs. I pretended to get
drunk with my friends.
I grew up around some adults who drank too much. People I loved who were
drunk often and I hated the way they were when they were drunk. I was
embarrassed for them and by them. I decided well before I was fourteen
that I would never be drunk.
On the other hand, I grew up in the 1960's. Alcohol was, as far as I could
see, a fabric of adult life. Most adults I knew drank to one extent or
another. And everyone drank on TV. Gene Berry drank on The Name of the
Game. Patrick McGoohan drank as Secret Agent Man. Bruce Wayne
drank. Mr. Brady drank. Drinking alcohol was clearly one of the rites of
passage into adulthood. And none of those guys got drunk.
My friends wanted to get drunk. I wanted to fit it. I faked it. Until I
accidentally got drunk. I absolutely can guarantee you that was the last
time I ever got drunk by mistake. Because something magical happened for me.
Call it low self-esteem, call it inferiority complex, call it extreme
insecurity, self doubt, whatever you call it, I always felt I should be
better looking, smarter, cooler, funnier. I knew that most people didn't
like me, simply because I was me. I knew I was a loser.
Many years later I heard an explanation for what happens to people like me
when we drink. The man who gave me this revelation said that it's not what
alcohol does to an alcoholic that is different, it's what it does
for an alcoholic. It does the same thing to anyone who drinks.
It starts putting the brain to sleep, affecting minor then major motor
skills as well as impairing intellectual judgment and inhibitions.
Eventually, no matter who you are, you pass out.
That man used a phrase that opened up the path to a new understanding for
me. He said that what alcohol does different for someone like me is that it
is "instantly able to alter my perception of reality."
That night, at fourteen, when I accidentally got drunk, I was suddenly
smarter and cooler and better looking and stronger and tougher and
certainly worth the love of all. It felt like a miracle. So I visited that
state of respite as much as I could.
I soon evolved into a problem drinker and that gradually got worse. And at
some point, somewhere in my early twenties, I wasn't visiting that
respite of a welcomed changed perception of reality as much as I was
drinking to re-discover it, wherever it was it had gone.
I could share a lot of horror stories, or as they are called in some
circles of recovering people, "war stories," but rather I'll
just say that I got to a point where it was a major mystery just which
drunk I would become once I started drinking. Would I be a clown? Would I
be a morosely sad weeper? Would I get cocky or belligerent? Any of those
and more unpalatable characters were a possibility. I also blacked out well
more than 50% of the time.
On the 28th of September, 1982, there was a party at a bar. It was to
celebrate the release of a local home-grown album: a collection of songs
written and recorded by local bands. I knew one of the bands. I dropped by
where they rehearsed and one of them asked me if I was going to the release
Here was my dilemma: Was I going to the party or was I going to work the
next day? I knew both were not happening. I went to the party.
Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning on September 29, 1982 I was
arrested in the apartment complex where I lived. I was mostly in a blackout
with some intermittent moments still in the heaviness of a pretty thick
drunken fog. I had apparently left my apartment and was trying to get back
in but couldn't find which was mine. The police were called.
It was the last straw in a series of ridiculous, pathetic, and in some
cases, dangerous episodes of my failed drinking career.
I sought help and I found it in a community of people who were battling and
winning against the very demon I was up against.
To steal a phrase from the wise man I spoke of earlier, I did not have a
Rocket To Stardom. My life didn't turn around completely overnight. I had
to learn to face the world without the anesthetization of alcohol. I had to
deal with that crappy self image and lack of self love that I had. I
soldiered on, One Day at a Time, as some recovering people say.
Today, I celebrate twenty-nine years since my last drunk, since the last time
I smoked pot or took any pill outside of the subscribed dosage (and in
most cases I take less than the subscribed dosage).
It's not always been a bed of roses. Life still has dealt me some hard blows.
Both my parents died; I've gone through those scary times of unemployment;
I've experienced the varying degrees of conflicts with friends, loved
ones and girlfriends; I've had my back against the wall in many ways at
many times. Not since about the first half of my first year sober have I
ever considered a drink or a drug as a solution or an escape from any of
In recent times I've been feeling a particular loneliness, in a very
pronounced way. Without detailing it, I have been grieving for the lack of
the particular relationship that I want. I don't believe it is ever going to
be the way I want it to be. It's just one of those things that time will take
care of. I'll be damned if I'm going to drink over this heartache.
The point here is that it's not the way it's supposed to be. I have not been
reacting as I should be. When my father died suddenly in 1995, that was
supposed to be a perfect excuse for a weeks-long bender. And my mother's
sad and slow degeneration into death a couple years later? Same thing. Right
now I should be in some state of drunkenness most of the time, wallowing in
self-pity and desperately calling, texting and otherwise inappropriately
bothering a very lovely woman because things are not as I desire.
I did not and I am not, save for some admitted bouts with self pity
currently -- but I'm allowing myself those with impunity because I'm sad and
that's just the way it is; I'll get over it when I get over it and I'll
apologies to no one for my melancholy.
It may not seem like a big thing to you, but it is absolutely amazing to
me that I am able to navigate this world that is foisted upon us all without
depending on the escape of a good drunk every now and then (okay, all the
friggin' time) in a vain attempt to keep it together.
It's because, in an isolated moment of clarity, in the back of a police
cruiser, in the early morning of September 29, 1982, I was finally able to
recognize what and admit what had been quite obvious for several years:
I was powerless over alcohol and my life was in a complete shambles. If
anything was going to be done about it, it would have to come from a wisdom
and a strength that I did not have. I needed to find that power, that channel
to spiritual strength and wisdom that would save me.
I did. And thanks to the God that I have come to see, I am alive and
living a life worth living, despite that it can always be better. But at
least I can get to a better life and have faith that it's there, waiting for
As imperfect as my life is, I cannot fully express how grateful I am to be
I'd planned to post a strategically blurred image of the card, but I forgot to
bring it on campus with me and my scanner at home is old technology that creates
files that are far too large in byte size.
And, oh yeah! I do believe my EMC status is something else that ABSOLUTLEY belongs
on that résumé update!