Winter storm Ion is, at least in my area of the mid-west, not some sort of
"snowzilla" as much as an "ice-tastrafy." We have snow,
but not a great accumulation. It's all about the 40+°F temperatures we
had yesterday morning and afternoon, the rain and the melting of previous
snow fall, then the temperatures that dipped down to almost zero. Note the
temperature on the right, for my zipcode, at 6:05 this morning; note the
forecast for mid-day of 1° and the overnight low of -10°.
That report goes on to say:
...Temperatures steady to 0 to -4F....Today:...Dangerous wind
chills may approach -35F. High 1F....Tonight:...Dangerous wind
chills may approach -35F. Low near -10F.
Note that "Dangerous wind chills may approach -35F" part. It
also talks about wind speed and I hear the whine of wind outside my window,
The upshot is that
is closed today, which seems to be a trend in the Miami Valley, and
probably much broader in the mid-west and on the east coast. No "sleep
in" for me, though. I take this opportunity to get as much editing on
the Roses podcast done as I can. I may shoot for final cut, though
that's a lofty goal.
I'm wondering if there will be a Roses rehearsal tonight, or if
I still have the first night of the new acting class series, which is
scheduled for 5:30 today.
INTO TECH WEEK:
Tech Week officially began
Saturday with what was mostly a dry tech,
meaning that it was a dry tech for the sound cues. I had all but two cues
for the show -- one scene change for which we had not yet settled on what
music to use and then some engineering for the end of the show. The sound
technician for the show, Jessica Opper, who has ran sound now several times
for us, was there, as well as the lighting technician, Fr. Scott Wright.
All the cues were talked through and all ready sound cues were rehearsed.
Director Marcia Nowik had given me some choices for production music, and
I had some choices, too. Independently, we had chosen the same compositions
in a few instances, (once the exact version), though not always for the same
spots in the show. Saturday, before the dry tech, we went though all the
choices and ended with a blend of what each had brought to the table.
We had one scene change that we finally decided none of our choices worked
for. Nettie (Angela Riley) has a monologue scene in Act
II that I had already underscored, but we had
no good choices going from that scene to the next. Ultimately, it was the
underscoring that gave me an idea that ended up being the right choice.
Because of the mood necessary for the underscore music in that scene, we
switched from Big Band Jazz to Classical music, which is coming from the
radio in the living room set. Nettie is listening to that music on the
radio as she tells a story to her son, Timmy (Alex Chilton). Other than
there, we have been using Big Band music for all the scene changes, and
the top and bottom of the show. So we spent time trying to find a Big Band
Jazz number that suited the mood and color going out of that scene into
the next. As stated, we were stuck. Then I thought: Why can't it be
classical? Does it have to be Big Band? I put that to Marcia and she
agreed a classical piece would probably work. We both agreed a solo
concerto would be the best bet. I submitted a portion of Bach's,
"Suite No. 1 in G major: for solo cello," and Marcia found it
The only thing that was left was to do a little engineering magic for the
end of the show. The music out of Act II and
into curtain will, at a certain point, move from coming out of the radio
into the four house speakers. The reverse of what we do out of Act
I. At some point I will write about that
effect, which I conceived of how to engineer months ago and finally had
the appropriate circumstance to execute. My conception, I might add, was
I am also taking advantage of having sound run to the radio on set for the
pre-show and intermission music, well, not all music. I have
edited together mock radio programing for both those spots. In that
programing are popular Big Band songs from the era as well as radio shows.
Pre-show has two radio shows. One is a truncated version of a radio
variety show; the other is a full program, a six minute radio drama. I
also throw in the WNBC: New York City station jingle from the era. I
pepper it in there several times in both pre-show and intermission.
Intermission has a ten-minute radio program, followed by music. Of course,
both come from the radio rather than the house speakers.
The hope is to have cue-to-cue
tonight. That is predicated on whether or not conditions make it safe enough
to not cancel rehearsal.
I will, as soon as I send this blog post to the server, start editing the
podcast. Like I wrote above, getting to final cut would be sweet. It's
about 8:30 right now, I've taken a chunk of my morning already. final cut
may not happen, but I can still get the lion's share done. Also, I could
shoot more principal photography tonight, for some
b-roll A HREF="filmmaking_terms.html#CUTAWAY">cutaways.
There will be no principal footage where dialogue is used. Clearance was
I shot the commentary interviews on Friday. Since I could, I did a
three-camera shoot. Two cameras, on tripods, were positioned favoring
left and right POV shots, and one
was centered and setting on a stool as its "tripod." You can see
the commentary set, on the left here. It's a wall of flowers because those
resources were easy to use put the set together quickly; time was of the
WITH MY ACTING "COACH":
Unless it's cancelled, tonight, before cue-to-cue for Roses I will
start what I think is my eighth advanced acting class with
at The Human Race Theatre Company.
So, as I believe I've said before, I might as well call Kay my acting
coach. Technically, I suppose she really isn't my "coach," but
she's pretty close. As has been the case at least once during each
installment of these classes series, if we do have class, I will have to
leave early to get to that cue to cue rehearsal -- providing that it
A CAUTIONARY TALE....AGAIN! :
So, somehow or another,
(Okay, perhaps the
"somehow" is not exactly a mystery), a few days back
I managed to drip water again on the track pad. Just a small amount that I
wiped off immediately. Some minute portion of moisture still seeped in and
put the cursor into chaos for a little while.
Monday night, about 6:15 or so, I got a text message concerning
Wright State University's Dayton campus is closed, Tuesday,
January 7, due to severe winter weather and dangerously cold
The Advanced Acting class was underway -- it had not been cancelled,
though we did not have a full complement of students. My cell was out and
on vibrate; I was monitoring to see if Roses rehearsal would be
cancelled. When the phone vibrated, I expected a text message from the
Roses stage manager, Kelly Engle, about no rehearsal. What I got
was the message above, which, by the way, translated into:
Wright State University has afforded you another day to get your
final cut on "DTG Podcast 1314-04 The Subject Was
In all reality, I suppose, yesterday was less an "Ice Day" and
more of an "Arctic Freeze Day." As of 10:30 in the morning, the
local temperature: -4°F. According to the weather service it was going
to reach a balmy 8° today and only drop down to 4°, over night.
The high today was predicted at a tropical 29°. When I left the abode,
this morning, to go into the work at said rent-payer, the temperature was
reported at 8°. As I post this, it's 10°.
The show opens this Friday!
Rehearsal was not cancelled either Monday nor last night and save for the
likelihood of a few tweaks, sound design is officially done. Done, with
one small exception: there is a musical number in the pre-show "radio
programming&quit; that, after I had edited that together, was elected to
use as production music to exit out of Act I. I
have not yet replaced it in the pre-show, but will be doing that later
The two closure days from the rent-payer did afford me some good time to
start and get a lot accomplished on the edit on the podcast, but I am not
quite done. However, I got a big chunk finished. I am, at this point,
dropping in the b-roll cutaways and need to shore up the ending as well as
drop in the key-mat titles in the body of the documentary -- i.e.: the ID
titles, such as "Marcia C. Nowik (Director)," etc., etc. The
closing credits roll is already overlaid. I brought the 4TB external
hard drive to continue editing during lunch today at rent-payer --
which didn't work out -- and then at DTG tonight, before the
Though I had certainly gotten to the home stretch toward final cut by the
time I got to rehearsal last night, I did still shoot a little bit of
footage. I wanted some shots of the light and sound techs (Scott Wright
and Jessica Opper) to throw into the closing credits sequence.
As to the concept of the podcast being posted pre-opening: it's doubtful
though not impossible.
Again, the Advanced Acting class, at
The Human Race Theatre Company,
was not cancelled.
has given me, at least to start, Roy Cohn from
Angles In America
to work on for this class. She had me do a cold read of what I would call,
"Roy's Self-Identity Justification Monologue." I think my next
move needs to be to read the whole play, which I have never done, before
next class -- in the event, of course, of working on the assigned scene
Along with the prep I need to do for acting class scene work, I need to
refresh myself on the facts and situations of the medical malpractice
case, as I have my first meeting (as Dr. Hill) with U.D. law students a
week from today. The good thing is that this is the third year, so much
will come back to me with little effort.
Meanwhile, I have another play to read for a potential audition later this
month. I am not committed to the audition, but I have not ruled it out,
Final Dress went well last
night. The director, cast and crew have a show. I believe the sound has met
the peak of its tweak; at least until I or Marcia decide differently. As
you can see above, the podcast actually managed to make final cut before
the show opening. There actually is at least one flaw, but it's minor and
I am not going to point it out.
Hope to see you in the audience during the run....
A LESSON LEARNED:
With the Roses podcast I learned something most valuable. With
HDDV movies it's not always necessary to push the quality. In this case,
it's not that "less is more" but rather that "less is the
same" or at the very least, "less is more than enough." I'm
writing of the quality of HD that I have been recording with, in the first
two podcast shot in HD and then the third one: Roses.
The Canon Vixia HFR40 can shoot at three different qualities for the
camera's high-def format,
HVCHD. The highest
quality is 60P, which essentially translates to sixty frames per second. I
shot all the footage for the first two podcasts at 60P. The big problem I
had was that this meant that the accumulated footage for each project rose
to a little more than a terabyte of data storage. The archive for two
podcasts ate more than two terabytes on my storage drive. The master
QuickTime movies of
the final cuts, each are 30-35 gigabytes.
The third quality is "LP" (long play) and I have not worked
with that. Though this is an assumption prior to investigation, I doubt it
would suit my needs.
The first night I shot for Roses I decided to try an experiment,
since I knew from a chart in user manual that the HVCHD FXP used
considerably less memory for the data strings. The quality of the FXP
footage seems to match the 60P. I shot the all the Roses footage
at FXP, and the finished product looks as good as either of the first
two HD movies. All at one-third of the real estate. All the source files
are sixty-some percent smaller, the master movie file, in at around nine
gigabytes as opposed to the thirty-some for each of the first. And the
compressed file, uploaded to YouTube,
is just under 900 megabytes rather than the 3.7 gigs the first two
averaged. Again, the visual quality of this last finished product matches
the others just fine. So: lesson learned. I'm still going to be buying a
new more multi-terabyte external hard dives, unless I decide to not be so
archival about the footage (which i doubt happens). At least those
externals will have more movie footage than they would have.
The 60P, I have come to believe, is for footage, for movies, that will be
projected onto big screens -- as in, at movie houses. I certainly hope to
have the need to use 60P; it's just not necessary for podcasts.
I was there all weekend, but I was hosting so my attention to the
performances was minimal. The audiences seemed please and the cast felt
okay, so it appears it was a good weekend.
The only things I attended to were certain sound cues which I needed to be
sure were at the right levels and lengths. As suggested a couple posts
ago, between Director Marcia C. Nowik and myself, we did tweak a few
things: two volume levels and the length of the show-close/curtain call
One notable performance was Taprena Michelle Augustine having her
"And I Am Telling You" moment as she brazenly slayed the
audience with "Today I Sing the Blues." The audience
nearly caught the Holy Ghost.
*As always, I will warn that there may be a whole lot of giggin'
by my friends and colleagues that I have missed or am completely
ignorant about. If one or more of these many talented people has
a forthcoming or current gig that has not been mentioned here, it
is not because I am slighting them, I promise you -- rather, it's
because I am ignorant. Of course, it may be because I have
one or more mentions elsewhere on the blog, though
First segment of the annual medical malpractice series -- the initial
interviews with the law students -- is complete. The class size is much
smaller this year; there were only half as many individual sessions as in
previous years. Unfortunately, that will translate into 50% less on the
paycheck. Have deposition prep exercises with the law students on Feb 12,
then the deposition exercises are two weeks later, Feb 19.
"A record setting 73 million people tuned in that evening making it
one of the seminal moments in television history. Nearly fifty years
later, people still remember exactly where they were the night The Beatles
stepped onto Ed Sullivan's stage....The genius of The Beatles and the
American institution that was The Ed Sullivan Show combined to
create one of the most defining and indelible moments in the history of
music, television and pop culture. It was a remarkable convergence that
came at a special time in America, making an impact on the world that will
never be duplicated."
The last I heard, the Expecting Isabel cast roster was not
ready for public consumption.
In related news, I will, today, attempt to contact Playwright Lisa Loomer
about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the podcast.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always
march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are
asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you
be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as
the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of
police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as
our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain
lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of
the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's
basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.
We can never be satisfied as long as our children are
stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by
signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be
satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote
and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which
to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be
satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and
righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of
great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh
from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas
where your quest for freedom left you battered by the
storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police
brutality. You have been the veterans of creative
suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned
suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to
South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana,
go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities,
knowing that somehow this situation can and will be
changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the
difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and
live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these
truths to be self-evident: that all men are created
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia
the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave
owners will be able to sit down together at the table of
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi,
a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering
with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an
oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color
of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its
vicious racists, with its governor having his lips
dripping with the words of interposition and nullification;
one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black
girls will be able to join hands with little white boys
and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted,
every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough
places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be
made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the
South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of
the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith
we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our
nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this
faith we will be able to work together, to pray together,
to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up
for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be
able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of
thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my
fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every
mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become
true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of
New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains
of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening
Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of
Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when
we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from
every state and every city, we will be able to speed up
that day when all of God's children, black men and white
men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be
able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro
spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God
Almighty, we are free at last!"
Considering that I am on a holiday day from
the rent-payer I will not
be working over tonight, thus won't miss the Advanced Acting class, at
The Human Race Theatre Company.
Honestly, last week was an absolute anomaly, anyway.
So, I spent a good portion of yesterday, as well as some other time this
weekend, working on Roy Cohn from
Angles In America
for the Advanced Acting class
The Human Race Theatre Company.
However, in class last night, Instructor
had myself and classmate do a cold read of a scene from
Speech & Debate,
by Stephen Karam. I played the
role of sixteen-year-old, budding journalist Solomon, in a quite funny
scene toward the start of the show, where Solomon is getting in his
teacher's face over school censorship in the form of prior restraint.
It bothered me not at all that Roy was benched last night; I wasn't as
ready as I wanted to be. Next week I should be.
Yesterday, I contacted Playwright
to request the clearance to use dialogue from the script in the podcast.
Now I await a response.
Meanwhile, the cast list is not quite filled out. I would assume there
will be an official announcement of the full cast sometime soon.
That time of year. Time to start getting all the correct expenses together
to file the tax returns.
Tonight I am in the booth covering for the production's sound technician,
Jessica, who had a prior engagement for tonight when she took the gig in
I haven't actually sat at the console since
Tech Week, so, ironically, even
though I am the sound designer, I could actually be off on my timing for a
cue or two.
RETHINKING DTG "PODCASTS":
I enjoy producing the DTG podcasts. They have been a great lyceum, in
certain manners, for me as a motion picture director, producer, and
editor. However, the "mini-documentary" style, as
once dubbed the format I have employed, is becoming untenable, or,
impractical, or, inconvenient, for me to continue generating.
I have decided to reinvent the promotional DV movies for The Guild, more
so back to what I had done in 2007 with several DV movie "trailers"
that were eventually pulled from the
DTG youtube channel,
(because we weren't as conscientious about obtaining clearance to use
dialogue text from the scripts as we are now). Basically, I need to be
producing DV movies that are shorter and for two reasons:
1) shorter is usually more palatable and more people will be willing
2) I want to shave down both the principal photography
and the postproduction
time I spend on the projects
I have on many occasions used one or more days of vacation leave from
the rent-payer to get the
DV movie editing finished. On one occasion I had to use three days of
vacation. Burning eight hours is bad enough, but when it climbs to
twenty-four, that is too much of what is premium to me as an actor to use
for, well, acting gigs, especially the professional -- read:
"paying gigs." You five regulars may remember that I have
stated before how I want as much vacation time built up as possible so that
if I ever needed to take, say, three or four weeks off to act in a
full-length feature, I would have the vacation time to do so. Even though
using vacation to edit the podcasts has been an artistic use, still, it
cuts into the actor's use.
Shorter post-production time needed also will help the DV movies make
final cut and get posted before the plays go up, too. This year I have so
far only made that deadline once.
It's almost a guarantee that Expecting Isabel will see a transition
from DTG PODcasts to DTG PROMOcasts. The new goal will be
DV movies that are under seven minutes -- including 90 seconds of credit
role -- and under five will be optimal. The other change that I'm 90+%
sure will be is that the interview/commentary is going to be gone when
possible, and greatly reduced whenever such becomes necessary. If I have
clearance to use the script dialogue in the movie, that content will speak
amply for the production. If I do not have clearance, than there will be an
interview/commentary, but I am probably going to pare down to one
spokesperson for the production -- probably the director, but perhaps not
always so. Most of those involved with productions will not at all be
unhappy about this development. The actors and crew tend to dread the
interview section, some going as far as claiming they hate it. They always,
of course, do just fine and often do excellently. These are people talking
about something they are passionate about -- I have found that they tend
to have much more to contribute to the conversation than they believe they
do, and they are usually far more eloquent in saying what they have to say
than they perceive themselves to be. Still, most would rather not do it.
Some viewers will miss the old format, I'm sure. In some ways I will.
Mostly I'll miss it because I still have some ground to gain at learning
to edit the "mini-docs" into lean, concise final cuts. I don't
think there is one DTG podcast that could not stand being trimmed by at
least a minute, and usually more, I'm sure.
Although, let's be honest here: "some viewers" is not going to
be a large number. The podcasts have never been some great local internet
sensation, mostly because, I think, we've done a poor job of making people
aware they even exist. I'd have to check, but I doubt even one of them
has ever broken the 1000-views mark; hell, I think the majority have not
had even 100 views.
As for their effectiveness as a promotional tool: I have no data to prove
success or failure, save for the low-view counts, which in itself does not
suggest a grand marketing coup. In terms of "positive evidence,"
there are only a few anecdotes, I know of, of people who have come to see
a show as the direct result of seeing a podcast. Don't get me wrong, I get
a lot of good comment about them, but those kudos typically come from
people who were coming the see the play anyway, or the complements come
from cast and crew on the show -- choir members, if you follow the
analogy. So, I don't know if "vanity endeavor" is a wholly
appropriate label for this whole venture, but it's much closer to accurate
than my ego cares to admit.
The new promocasts might get better view counts since they will be shorter
and more streamlined; the youtube link to them will be put in email blasts
to those on the DTG email list, too. We have been good about posting the
podcasts to facebook, and that will continue, but I believe a lot of our
patrons are not on facebook and thus never become aware of the DV movies.
This mid-stream correction is, I believe, good for the promotional tool,
and it's good for me. The shorter, more concise DV movies may be more
attractive to view. I need to corral in the time for principal
photography and for post-production -- most especially for post-production.
I also need the practice at editing shorter, more concise DV movies.
Of course, I would prefer to tell the stories, needed to be told, by using
footage of the actors speaking the words from the plays. I would love it
if the first PROMOcast, (for Expecting Isabel), was such a
DV movie. As of yet I have not heard back from Ms. Loomer about clearance
to use the text from the script, so that may not happen this first time
out. If I can't always use the dialogue, that is a way to mix it up and
keep everything from being too cookie-cutter, which is not all that bad of
a thing, after all. Sure hope Ms. Loomer does grant clearance though;
showing moments from the play is so much better.
I assume that tonight I am giving the Roy Cohn monologue from
Angles In America
another try. I really haven't been working on it, however. I have a little
time before class today, but "totally off-book" may not be in
I also am bringing the
The Subject Was Roses
script, as there is a nice monologue in there, one which was part of the
audition for The Guild
production, that I wouldn't mind taking a crack at in class.
I will actually make the January filmdayton
meeting, which is tomorrow night and will feature local flim maker and DP
Mike King. It'll be at
the Dayton Convention Center.
Fred Boomer is borrowing two of
my HDDV cameras to document the presentation -- quid pro quo, as Fred
has, without hesitation, loaned me cameras in the past.
The rent-payer was closed
again yesterday, and again due to the newest wave of the extreme cold front
which has hit such a large swath of the northern hemisphere. The closing
was announced Monday afternoon.
If you five regular readers remember, I agreed to loan two HDDV cameras to
Fred Boomer so he can document
the January 2014 filmdaytonFilm Connections
meeting, which was last night at the
Dayton Convention Center
and featured local flim maker and DP
Mike King. I gave one to
him last weekend so he could get familiar with the model, but I needed to
keep the other one so I could use two of my three to shoot the archival
performance footage of
The Guild's production of
The Subject Was Roses,
which I did shoot this past Sunday: one for the
master shot, one for the
cutaways. Fred needed a second
camera for the exact same reason. Originally I was going to bring the second
camera with me to the Film Connections meeting. Monday I began to wonder
if I would be at the meeting. Of course, big weather issue was going to be
the extreme subzero temperatures, and for me it was a two-part question:
a) would my cat start? b) should I risk trekking the twenty-some miles,
one way, into Dayton and risk the car not starting there?
I ended up missing for another reason. I fell asleep and didn't wake until
just about the time the Film Connections was starting; I was not about
to rush into Dayton and arrive at least a half-hour late, if not later.
I will probably get with Fred tonight or tomorrow to transcode
the footage he shout from the
AVCHD movie file format
to the ProRes format
(aka: the high-quality
It's broken-record-time with me listing all those things
which have been on the back-burner, some for far too long:
(revision & update)
(signing with a new agent)
(seriously, I have been badly negligent -- again)
It's funny how I often, when having just completed some
current project, such as a DTG production, will be at home in the early
evening and think to myself, Hey! I don't have anything to do!,
and, of course, be quite pleased with that "fact"; However,
in fact, I have A LOT of unfinished business to attend to.
All this above is part of that.
And, this is on the horizon, too. As soon as Director Saul Caplan gets us
together, I have some pre-production technical stuff to help out with.
The big question here is: Do we have the technical director we want? I am
almost qualified, but not quite as much as I believe is needed to do the
production the justice it deserves. So, I got all that stuff above, plus,
probably things that haven't occurred to me, and this one in the queue and
the verge of "Now."
Not that I'm trying to overwhelm myself or
anything. . .
Once upon a time, there was a guy who at least attempted to make
some music. Thirty years ago, that guy started to record an album, one he
worked on occasionally over the course of about three years. He actually
gave the album a title, Heart Walks, from which he also based the
title of a rather avante-garde-like instrumental from the project,
"March of the Teachings; Heart Walks," which is a fugue of
sorts with three distinct musical themes fighting for the focus. Over the
course of those several years in the mid 80's he recorded somewhere in the
neighborhood of about ninety to one-hundred minutes of music for Heart
Walks, a "double-album" or "double-disk," by the
standards of the time. WIth the exception of one bass guitar line, the
actual recording of the Heart Walks project has been done since
I recorded it at the East-Dayton home of my friend and then music partner,
Rich Hisey, on his Tascam analog four-track cassette recorder. Throughout
the years I kept the master multi-track recordings safe. As I wrote, a
little more than a year ago, I had just digitized the master analog tapes
into four track masters to mix into a final digital album. I then
started to mix the opening song at that time.
As for that bass guitar line. It's for the song, "Seems Like A
Crime," for which I produced a simple music video featuring the
analog demo mix (minus the bass line, of course). I know what the bass
line is for the song, and I will need to woodshed for quite a while before
I can lay the track down. I just am too, too, too out of shape as a
musician to play what I have conceived.
In the late 70's through the mid 80's I would guess, on average no less
than one hour and more like at least two hours pretty close to every day.
I haven't played my bass, save for a small handfull times, since I wrote
and recorded the theme song for the trailer for
The Dice House,
back in 2007.
So, the entire Heart Walks project, the bass part for "Seems
Like A Crime," and just simply, being a well-oiled bass player again,
in general. More for The Agenda.
Here's the demo mix music video of "Seems Like A Crime,"
There will be a remix, of course -- with that bass line I can't play
So, yeah, I piled a little more on The Agenda. Not that I'm
trying to overwhelm myself or anything. . .
On March 4, 2011, probably about 10:00 in the morning, I walked up
the side isle at Hall Auditorium on the campus at Miami U. I was
on day 2 of two days on the set of The Ides Of March as a
stand-in. I walked by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The orders were very
clear: don't engage the principals in conversation unless they
engage you. He was seated close to the isle. All I said was,
"Hi, how are you." He smiled and said the same back. Now
I wish I had at least said, "You are one of the best I've
ever seen." I would have liked to have at least told him that.
He was an actor's actor with an amazing range that was to envy.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
July 23, 1967--February 2, 2014
*Just a reminder this can only be a small sampling of the
professional work of my friends and colleagues. I'm simply not
going to be aware of all their good fortunes. Plus, I may screw up
and learn of something and forget about it -- I can be that
way, easily. But if I know (and remember), I'll give a shout
out for the pro gig successes!
No Roy Cohn last night --
Angles In America).
Last week I did the monologue, somewhere at about 95%
off-book. Kay wanted me to try a
different approach to Roy. We ddi not get to the redux last night. I did
cold read a vignette play, called
a ten-minute play, by Christopher Durang, last night. The play is called
DMV, and I was partnered with Heather Gorbe, who's been acting in
the Dayton area for something like ten years.
A RELUCTANT DECISION:
"Triage": the process of determining the most important things
from amongst a large number that require attention.
I made a painful choice which I acted on last night, or at least started
to act on. It goes like this: Electronic movie files are big. Even
standard definition (SD) files are big. High def (HD) files are bigger.
There's our first factor.
Second factor: for every one minute in the final cut
there is at minimum three minutes of raw footage, and, honestly, that's
pretty tight. Most of the time there is more than that. I've done projects
where there was four hours of raw footage for a fifteen minute final cut.
That's a ratio of sixteen to one. That's an example of the far end, but
eight to one (eight minutes of raw for each one minute of final) is getting
somewhere close to average, especially for more documentary style footage,
which has been most of what I have been shooting. The ratio probably does
get into the three to one ratio (maybe five to one) when it's a narrative,
especially a scripted one, but I've not shot one of those in a while.
The third factor: large hard drives may indeed be coming down in price,
but when you start needing multi-terabytes of memory space, and the demand
for more space keeps mounting, the monetary cost adds up.
"Murder your little darlings" is a maxim that originated in the
field of prose writing, but is effortlessly adaptable to every other form
of art and craft. The phrase essentially means that even though you, the
composer, artist, etc., have created something for your work that you love,
that you are proud of, that you find amazing, if it ultimately does not
wholly serve the project, if the project does not suffer from its loss, it
needs to be cut. Based on my limited funds and the amount of free
external memory I have, I have adopted this maxim, along with the related
practice of triage. Another maxim the incorporates these ideas, that
boils them down to one unit is: "Be ruthless with your sword."
I have had to wield my sword ruthlessly. I have culled more than a
terabyte of raw footage, whole DV movie projects, essentially the raw
material for all the DTG podcasts. I did not delete the final cuts,
the end products, but I have trashed all the source files: the DV movies,
audio files and still pictures. It was painful. I really wanted to hang on
to the material; you never know when it might come in handy. I needed to
free the space up so I could archive and back up footage that needs such.
Projects I am currently working on, including whatever the current DTG
promocast -- remember? it's PROMOcast now, not PODcast. Bottom line:
those old podcasts are done; the source materials would be good for some
sort of possible future purpose, and I would much rather have them
archived. I just don't have the money on hand to procure enough hard drive
space to keep that which I do not need for set current or future use.
Now, please be assured, I have absolutely not deleted any of the
footage from the Vignettes in Bellcreek project, or from the
even older The Chorus For Candice
project. But the podcasts raw materials are more transient to my
priorities, thus they have be triaged into oblivion.
There was a few minutes of terror when I was doing this reluctant forced
evacuation. All of the materials for Vignettes was in a subfolder
on one of my external hard drives; I had forgotten that fact. When I
looked at the root directory on the drive, at first it wasn't readily
apparent that the raw material was on the drive. And I knew at this point
there was no other drive the material could be on. I panicked!
WHAT HAD I DONE? WHAT HAD I DONE?
Then I rechecked the drive, desperately, and found the material. I have no
illusions that Vignettes in Bellcreek will be a well-received work
lauded as brilliant. But, even though it's been on the back burner for a
very long period now, I would still like to get a final cut, molded into
the best finished work that I can craft it into, however flawed that may
be. So, I sighed with great relief when I discovered I indeed had not
destroyed any chance of a final cut.
I'm still not happy that I have killed all that material. However, one
must do what one must do.
* 02/08/2014 ADDENDUM: IT OCCURS TO ME THAT EVEN HAD I
DELETED ALL THE VIGNETTE FILES, I DO STILL HAVE THE ORIGINAL
MINI-CASSETTE TAPES WITH THE RAW FOOTAGE, SO THE PROJECT WOULD NOT HAVE
BEEN LOST -- DON'T KNOW WHY THAT FACT DIDN'T HIT ME AT THE TIME, SAVE
FOR A POSSIBLE PERSONAL NEED FOR DRAMA
Final acting class and another installment in the
UD Law gig this coming week,
both that I need to prep for.
As I said in the last blog post, last Monday in the
HRTC Advanced Acting Class we
did not get to my Roy Cohn monologue
Angles In America).
has it on the agenda for our last class session this coming Monday.
Honestly, I'm pretty off-book (memorized) but I'm still going to be going
over this a bit between now and then; I believe that the concept of being
"over-rehearsed" is mostly a myth.
Wednesday is the next day in the semester-long, mock-trial process of the
medical malpractice case gig for UD Law. It's the deposition prep sessions
with the law students. Two weeks later, on Feb 26 is the actual
depositions -- okay, "mock" depositions. Of course, as
this is the third year I've done this gig, I'm well-versed with the
material, but I do need to get a few hours of refresh in before Wednesday.
Working on the redesign of my actor's résumé and have called
to get rates for a new set of actor's headshots. I will soon be contacting
the person I am confident will be my new talent agent to start getting
back to that part of my professional work. But, new résumé
and pics, first. The plan for the pics is to do half the session on one
day, the second half, the next; day 1: beard; day 2: clean shaved.
I will start dropping into rehearsals next week to shoot some footage for
the promocast (formerly known as the podcast). I am in town anyway
on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday so those are the days I am potential to
drop in. I won't stay for long periods any night I come in to shoot. I
have yet to get clearance to use dialogue, thus at this point I highly
doubt it's coming. So, if any dialogue is used from rehearsal footage it
would be conversations that are not dialogue from the script. It's not
likely I will use such extraneous verbiage, but I should not rule it out.
I will drop in at least once during Feb 17-21. I also plan to get some
footage from Tech Sunday and
absolutely from at least one tech/dress rehearsal.
Since it's almost assured I can't use text from the script, I'll get
commentary from Director Robb Willoughby. That commentary will be far more
focused on the show than these past "interviews" have been.
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50 YEAR MARK OF THE BEATLES' FIRST
TIME ON THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW:
Starting this year, and it's already started, there are going to be
fiftieth anniversary after fiftieth anniversary of hallmark events
connected to The Beatles. Unless you've been held up in a cave for a few
months, you know that today one of the major hallmark events has met its
fiftieth anniversary mark: The Beatles' first appearance on
The Ed Sullivan Show,
February 9. 1964, their professional debut in America.
To be honest, I don't have a connection with any of the Ed Sullivan show
episodes that the Early Beatles appeared on. I saw none of them. Feb 9,
'64 I was five and not the slightest bit interested in The Beatles, or,
well, anyone else on the top 40 charts in 1964. I remember a few songs
from the radio I liked, but it had little to do with any consciousness of
pop music or who was making hits; I just liked the songs: "My Boy
Lollipop," by Millie,
"Blame It on the Bossa Nova,"
"Walk Right In," by
The Rooftop Singers.
It was simply that the hooks, the dittiness, if you will, appealed
to my five-year-old's aesthetic sensibilities. Further, I did not know the
names of the recording artists; I just liked the tunes.
So, though I am writing this "on the occasion of the 50 year mark of
The Beatles' first time on The Ed Sullivan Show," it's not
about that. It's a small glimpse into how these men have affected me.
It was really three years later, in the summer of 1967, at the age of nine,
that I got on The Beatles bandwagon. My older cousin Greg turned me on to
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Because I was a child of TV, my first favorite band was
The Monkees. But, Sgt. Pepper's
Magical Mystery Tour
(the American, full LP, not the British EP) made me a convert, though the
previous releases of
certainly had caught my attention. It was those two 1967 Beatle albums
that turned the tide, that moved me from Davy, Peter, Mickey & Mike to
John, Paul, George & Ringo. Though I'll interject here that I still
have a healthy like for The Monkees; they are the only manufactured
"Boy Band" that commands my respect, and rightfully so. Their
catalogue has some of the best pop rock of the 60's.
The first album I bought with my own money was
famously referred to as The White Album. That two-vinyl-disk LP set
is an important element in the cultivation of my creativity. Elaborating
on that, well, I could easily write ten-thousand-plus words. In a nutshell:
I listened to The White Album incessantly. I studied it: the
arrangements, the stereo mixes, the poetry, the performances, the vocals.
Side one and the start of Side two
("Back in the U.S.S.R"
is one of my favorite musical experiences. That's not to denigrate the rest
of the White Album collection, it's just that I find something
personally magical about that particular musical assemblage.
It was, however, another musical experience that was an even more
important artistic hallmark in my own life, to my own consciousness, one
of the most important ones, to date. It was a track The Beatles
recorded during the same period as The White Album, but which was
not intended to be on it, and was not. It was their late-summer (August)
1968 45 RPM single. The first time I heard this song was the first time in
my life that I was consciously aware that I was being exposed to a
masterpiece. Even though that word was not part of my ten-year-old
vocabulary, I recognized the masterpiece as such. I knew it down to my
Below is about 650 words, an excerpt from that
novel of mine, which you five regulars may know has not made it to final
draft. It was on the way to final draft a decade ago; then I started acting
again. Some work has been done post-acting-return, but not much. But I
digress, some. The novel takes place in 1968 and 1969. In this extract, it's
August, '68. It is, of course, fiction and the scenario is fictitious, but
the psyche and reaction of the protagonist, L.D., is virtually autobiographical.
In the living room Aunt Linda leaned over the sofa and searched in
her big, beaded purse and pulled out L.D.'s present and handed it
to him. It was a 45 record. The paper sleeve was black and on it
in cursive green writing it said "Apple." The sleeve had
a round hole in the middle just the size of the record's label.
That label was a green apple on one side. The other side was the
white of the inside of an apple. It was like the apple was cut in
half. It was a new record by The Beatles. The green side was called
"Hey Jude." The white side, the half-apple side, was
"Wow! Cool! A new Beatle record! Thanks Aunt Linda!"
He hugged her tightly.
"Well you're very welcome."
Aunt Linda kissed L.D. on the top of his head. L.D. led his
friends to his bedroom and his stereo. Aunt Linda went toward
Mom's studio. In the hallway upstairs, L.D. heard her knock on the
"Hi, Birdy," she said.
Almost from the very second Paul McCartney started to sing, with
no instruments before his voice, it was like L.D. got caught in a
tractor beam from the starship Enterprise. He had never heard a
song like it. The singing pulled him in. There was something almost
perfect about it. Paul's voice was smooth while it moved on the
wave of the notes.
The way Paul sang the words made them true, like the line where
he sang how the movement Jude needed was on his shoulder. Chills
ran through L.D. while he listened to the music, the words, Paul's
voice. Just after the build up of the last verse, as they sang
"Better, better, better, better, ahhhh!" each word a
higher note, just after Paul shouted, "Oh, Make it! Yeahhh!
Yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah yeah," L.D. whispered to himself,
"Whoa." It was the best song ever made. He felt the art
of it in his bones. He felt like lightning. He knew he would never
like a song better for the rest of his life.
"Na, na, na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, Hey Jude"
The Beatles, with John's voice the loudest, sang the na-nas over
and over and L.D. looked at his friends. He could tell they thought
it was a cool song, too. He could also tell they didn't get it.
They didn't have the lightning in their eyes. L.D. felt like he
would cry. He felt a deep, warm flow inside himself. It was like
It was like Old Mrs. Chaney getting The Spirit every Sunday at
church. Especially when Tabitha Brice sang "The Old Rugged
Cross" at alter call. She ran up and down the aisles, waving
her handkerchief, bawling and shouting, "Praise the LORD!"
Her wailing was like powerful music, and though it was loud and
almost wild, it still had this soft feeling to it, maybe way down
inside it. This must be what she feels like, he thought.
Then a full orchestra came in, very big and dramatic. Paul
then sang more stuff, in a shout, he probably made up as he sang it.
L.D. fell deeper into the heat, into the greatness, into the
beauty. He couldn't say the words to his friends because the words
wouldn't mean anything to them. So who? He wasn't even sure if
Aunt Linda or Dad or anyone would know, would understand him, his
need. He wasn't even sure Mom would understand, at least not
understand all of it.
So in his head he said the words to himself because he had to
say them. He felt the muscles of his lips form them but his lips
didn't move. He felt his tongue and his throat move the words but
he didn't make a sound. He knew he was the only one who had to
hear his words.
I'm sure to write more Beatles-related stuff from this point forward.
For the next several years there are going to be loads and loads of
The Fiftieth Anniversary Of..... Beatle hallmarks to get me
contemplating. Perhaps at some point I'll write those ten-thousand-plus
words on The White Album. I have a few years before that one
As I post this, the final session of the Advanced Acting Class at
The Human Race Theatre Company
WITH Kay Bosse
will be starting in just a few minutes, but without me;
I have a bad chest cold and it's simply unwise to go out in the frigid air.
So, Roy Cohn(Tony Kushner,
Angles In America)
will have to wait until some later date and another in advanced acting
Lately I've not had the time to create special graphics and such
but I want to make mention of the passing -- and pay honor to the
lives -- of several performers who were at various levels of deep
importance to American and international pop culture.
1) The Honorable Shirley Temple Black,
who will be, of course, best known as perhaps one of the
biggest stars to have ever come out of Hollywood and with
little argument THE BIGGEST child star of the
twentieth Century and since. Yet. Ms. Black's most notable
and valuable contributions to the world were her decades
of service to her country and the world in the U.S.
Diplomatic Corps and her unflinching work to improve the
plight of women, globally.
2) Sid Caesar,
who is far more The Father of Modern Television Comedy,
and comedy in general, than many young people have any
idea. Mr. Caesar is more personally responsible for the
invention and nurturing of sketch comedy than any other
single human being. And he was a master at its execution.
3) Ralph Waite
will be forever remembered for his portrayal of John Walton
on the iconic 70's TV series,
His John Walton was the gentle, stalwart, ever-patient
patriarch and considered one of the most idealized
father figures of the twentieth century. Mr. Waite had
many other fine performances to his credit, including a
performance as Pozzo in a 1977 PBS television production of
Waiting for Godot,
but John Walton secures Waite's place in pop culture
On another, non-graphic-created note:
Happy Presidents Day!
Meanwhile, the standard
"Diary of Artful Things" fare will be
back, likely as soon as tomorrow.
The mock deposition preps went well last Wednesday. The actual mock
depositions will be Wednesday, February 26. I'll be setting as much time
aside to study up on all the information and be familiar with any printed
material the opposing counsels might show me during either deposition. I
even arranged to have the whole morning off from
the rent-payer to allow for
that last cram before the sessions.
The Expecting Isabel promocast
continues tonight and tomorrow night. I should also be shooting at the
show's Tech Sunday and during
Tech Week. My realistic goal --
I'm gonna INSIST it's realistic -- is to have the final cut uploaded
and ready to consume on Thursday, the 27th.
Opening night for The Dead Guy is just a little more than three months
away and, for many of you who don't know, the tech aspects of this one will
be pretty heavy. A production meeting is imminent. I am on board as what I
suppose could be called second technical director. The tech director -- at
least that what I see him as -- is Greg Nichols, whom I suggested for the
role. I do believe he has the level of expertise needed, and certainly has
a leg up on me in terms of the tech knowhow needed for this show. I am on
board as sound designer, too.
At some point I do need to figure just exactly how to produce the
promocast. I think there's no question that I will be bringing in another
camera man for at least some footage. Maybe more depending on how busy I
am during rehearsals. I may be quite so.
There have been many local productions with various friends and colleagues
Seems the Expecting Isabel production has developed a last-minute,
emergency need for a sound designer. It's not one of those sound-cue
heavy and sound-effects-complexed shows, so I have agreed to come on board.
I will admit though that I had wanted to have all of today open to work on
at least the bass foundation of the promocast for the show. Last night I
was scheduled to record a few needed pieces for the production,
but most unfortunately, and I cannot stress just exactly how unfortunate
it was, the person I needed had to cancel because of a surprise problem.
With this being so last minute that presents a very big problem. I will be
leaving shortly to get these sound cues recorded. It's so much better that
we do it today rather than tomorrow; We're running the
Tech Sunday and both recording
and then producing this stuff right before the tech rehearsal would not
have been good.
I was able to do other work on the sound design last night. The
hope was that I have it all done by end of day today, save for tweaking
that will inevitably happen at tomorrow's tech; there's a bad possibility
it'll be almost save for critical plot-necessary sound cues.
Last Wednesday I recorded the audio for Director Robb Willoughby's
commentary voiceover for the promocast. It was short and sweet, which is
good because it helps force me to edit a shorter final cut. A shorter final
cut is a most certain goal. I also shot a little bit of footage that night.
I will shoot more tomorrow during the tech rehearsal, then also during
Tech Sunday. I really want it
to be only Monday night so I can be dropping b-roll in Tuesday. However,
with this new role helping to design sound, I may have to spend a bit of
time in the booth on Monday.
Audio recording set up
Director Robb Willoughby
The sound engineer
I have booked another UD Law gig for mid-March. It's a Trial Practice
Honorable Mary Katherine Huffman,
and a scenario which I have done, I believe twice, perhaps three times,
before for Judge Huffman. I will actually play both the victim and the
accused, neither of which is a type I would be cast as for stage or screen.
In the meantime, my time to bone-up for the mock depositions this coming
Wednesday for the current gig has been encroached upon by this emergency
situation where I took on the sound design for Expecting Isabel.
That is, of course, save for those last-minute tweaks, such as revitalizing
the Pre-show and Intermission music, which I will do this afternoon.
This one got me a little on edge simply because this time last week I had
just become the sound designer. I essentially did in three days what I
would usually have done over several weeks. Most of it was done in two
days, or a span of about forty hours. But then changes and additions
needed to be made. I also had the promocast DV movie as well as the
upcoming UD Law gig in the mix, and I have been perpetually sick the last
few weeks. Still am, actually.
The needs of this sound design caused me to add eighteen hours of vacation
to my week -- where, before this sound design, I ha only slated two, to
cover time off Wednesday morning to do final study prep for the Wednesday
afternoon UD Law gig.
The compact period to get the sound down, the compromise of the time to
edit to final cut the promo movie, my ill condition, the loss of some
study time for the UD Law gig, the burning up of vacation time, the loss
of work time to adress some projects at
the rent-payer: all this
has had me feeling a bit of stress. I hink it's safe to say the stress
helped me stay sick.
Today, I'm almost on the other end, despite that there's a lot about this
past week I'm not happy about.
Obviously, the goal of having the promocast published by Thursday --
yesterday -- evolved into a pipe dream. I've done a slight bit of
precursor work on the edit, but have not started the edit yet. I may start
it this afternoon, as I am off sick from the rent-payer today. I slept
until 1:00 this afternoon. So even though this trailer-style DV movie
will be edited quicker than the old min-documentary versions, it's going
to take longer than the time I have this afternoon. The promocast is not
likely to be published until late afternoon tomorrow, at the earliest;
it very well may be Sunday.
I only really had Wednesday morning to study up, to refresh myself with
a lot of vital information. I needed more time. I feel I wasn't as on
target as I should have been. Add in the level of overall stress I was at
and I think I did all the students (the lawyers) I was working for a
disservice. Most especially the student in the last mock deposition where
I made a couple ridiculous mistakes.
In my last post I was in the midst if a bit of stress, but as the graphic
I'd created revealed, I was on the verge of the end, since I had enough of
a sense of humor to create the graphic. One major stress point, as you
five who read this may recall, was that I was placed behind on the
promocast production. Well last weekend, Saturday to be exact, I decided
to surrender to the situation. My new involvement with the show screwed
the deadline for the promocast to be published and that was just the way
The new plan was to get to the editing on Sunday evening after the Sunday
matinee performance of the show. Well, I was spent. I did not feel like it.
I started the edit Monday evening after a nap. I finished it Tuesday
night -- after a nap. There were further "opportunities" to get
stressed as I had to re-render the final cut several times; I kept seeing
errors when I watched the rendered
First I saw in the closing scroll that I misspelled costume as custom;
then, somehow I had managed to flip a clip 180°. The thing was already
five days late, later in the night on Tuesday was not going to be a
soul-crunching catastrophe. About 12:30 or 1:00 am Wednesday morning I
began the upload of the compressed
DTG YouTube channel
version. By 8:00 yesterday morning, the movie was posted to our
wall and has made the front page of
the Guild website, as well.
It is short and sweet, mean and lean:
CLICK HERE to watch the
Last Saturday Director Saul Caplan held a production meeting with most of
us designers and tech advisors. I was there mostly as one of the video
technical advisors, along with
Greg Nichols, and I would
call myself perhaps the "deputy" technical advisor to Greg's
sr. technical advisor status. My impression is that most people give me
credit for knowing way more than I really do know.
The ideal equipment scenario, and a couple alternative scenarios, was
discussed and some leads on how to get it all and not kill ourselves
financially were explored. Expeditions have begun; calls and emails have
The Cast of An Inspector Calls
Apr, 2014 addendum -- added to the cast:
Speaking of -- (writing about) -- the next two shows up at The
Guild, I have made initial contact to request clearance to use dialogue in
scenes for the promotional DV movies. Last night for the Priestley play,
this morning for Coble's
The Expecting Isabel stage from the sound tech POV
in the booth.
I covered sound over the second weekend. Our young and promising sound
tech for the show, Maximillian Santucci -- who you may note is cast in
An Inspector Calls -- had a conflict for the second week, so I
agreed to cover it when he was brought on the production team. Actually,
it was so he would be able to come onto the team.
Friday went okay, though I made a couple minor errors -- which is
mostly me being nit-picky. Saturday I jumped a sound cue by a little,
but not in a way that was disruptive to the scene. Yesterday, I had a
sound cue malfunction. It would have been transparent had the computer not
blurted an error beep through the sound system. Fortunately I had enough
time before the next sound cue to reboot
Show Cue Systems; whatever
glitched up didn't happen again after that.
As for the show itself, it continued to go quite well: very entertaining.
I let the tenth anniversary of my return to the stage escape me. March 5,
2004 was the first time I stepped on stage in front of an audience as an
actor in more than twenty-six years, almost twenty-seven. I'm going to
have to write a little about that. It will be posted sometime this
Did the Trial Practice class with
Honorable Mary Katherine Huffman
last night, which was held in her court room at the
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Building.
It wasn't exactly the scenarios I thought it would be. At first I was to
be both the victim and then the accused from the same case. I've done this
particular case several times in the past. Sunday morning I got an email
that there was a bit of a change up. This time I was the defendant from
that same case, an armed robbery, and then the defendant from a drug deal
case. I'd not done the second one before so I had to learn it Sunday. It
really wasn't difficult to get all the facts down though.
I also picked up two more UD Law gigs for April. I've done one of them
before. It's a wrongful death civil case. The other is a murder case that
I'm not sure if I've done before.
I've been approached about designing sound for a production at another
theatre next fall. I have to look at all the variables before I go on
I am working on an essay about my ten-year anniversary back into
the world of acting and associated activities. It should be posted
Carrie: the Musical
at Beavercreek Community Theatre
-- A week ago I saw a really nice production of what I have always thought
of as a pretty unlikely musical based on Stephen King's horror classic.
Many very fine performances on that little stage last Friday evening. I
was not enthralled by some of the actual music score, but thought the cast
and instrumentalists performed it all well. Kudos to Director Chris Harmon
and all the production crew. Kudos to Ms. Samantha Creech (who did good
work as the title character) and all her cast mates: Aaron Brewer,
Kaleigh-Brooke Dillingham, Ben Douglas, Danielle Kubasky, Meagan Kuchan,
Kelli Locker, Bethany Locklear, Bobby Mitchum, Jared Mola, Natalie Sanders,
Lewie Smart, CJ Suchyta, and Taylor Winkleski. *note that all but one
cast member from The Gifts of the Magi from last winter at DTG were
also in this cast.
Of course, Dr. Kaku spoke at the level of the layman -- but, not a stupid
layman. He briefly discussed many fascinating topics. Two that struck me
were his concept of consciousness and the fact that that technology can
now successfully decipher brain signals to the point that the words a
person thinks can be successfully translated and rendered.
I'm not going to lay out his ideas of the stages of consciousness here,
but I will tell you he had a great explanation for why human beings seem
to be the only living things with a sense of humor. His explanation is
that it is because we are the only beings that have a conscious that
predicts the future. Jokes are funny because we predict the normal outcome
but what we get is an abnormal outcome. I'm not sure that this explains
how such things as irony or schadenfreude are experienced with amusement,
but his is an idea I am going to think upon.
Dr. Kaku briefly discussed how his colleague, probably the world's most
famous living scientist,
communicates to the world via his computer generated voice through a
technology that receives his brain signals and translates them into
data that his computer reads as the words he has thought. That's how
Dr. Hawking communicates with the world.
Click here for a brief account of this concept.
I suppose, strictly speaking, this event has little to do with the
"artful things" that this blog is supposed to chronicle, but,
you know what? I went, it was cool, and I want to drop a note about it.
And this IS "K.L.'s Blog." And I probably could justify
this as being relevant with no effort. Some of you may have, already.
Referring to the Human Race again, the company's general auditions for the
2014/15 season are later than has been the practice since I have been
auditioning there. The Dayton generals will be in late June this year,
with the Chicago generals being in April (a more traditional Dayton time
period). I don't have an opinion pro or con on this. I suppose if I were
to look at it any certain way it would be that I have a more time to put
my audition program together and oil it up.
Back to Beavercreek Community Theatre: there always seems to have been a
conflict of some sort -- usually scheduling -- whenever this theatre has
put up a show I might desire to appear in. Well, I really want to try hard
to avoid that in the summer of 2015. They are mounting
I once again have a chance to go after Nicky/Trekie/Bad Idea Bear 1. Some
will know I came close for the Human race production last season; got all
the way to the call back; gave a damn good audition, too; but, alas, I
was passed over. So, this would not be a professional gig; but still,
Beavercreek is becoming quite adept at producing musicals, and I know I
have the skill to pull off Nicky/Trekie/Bad Idea Bear 1.
Beyond The Human Race and beyond Avenue Q at Beavercreek, I am
starting to eye out the 14/15 seasons at the Dayton area theatres in
general, including my own*, to see what's what for auditioning purposes.
*You see, the DTG 2014/2015 season hasn't
been announced yet, but being on the board, I know what it is.
On this date ten years ago, my first production as an adult actor,
The Cripple of Inishmaan,
closed at The Guild. That essay on my ten-year anniversary back
into acting, etc, is close to finished and very likely will
be posted this weekend.
Well the good news is that I have clearance from both of the remaining
productions to use dialogue in the promocasts. The "not bad news but
not as good" news is that the J.B. Priestley people want the DV
movie pulled after the show closes.
My plan is to create an alternative version with the background music
placed up as foreground music and the audio from the scene shots dropped
out. Then I will replace the original with the alternative version when
the shows close.
Tonight is one of those infrequent times that I can make the monthly
meeting. I am mostly in the mind to be there. It does look like an
interesting night, as illustrated by the write-up about tonight's program,
that text which I have stolen from their Film Connections web page:
March 25, 2014: Filmmaker
returns to Film Connections to present a kind of "state of
short films" presentation, where he'll show successful recent
short films and discuss trends in shorts. What kinds of shorts are
film festivals seeking these days? Why are some shorts chosen and
not others? Join this Oscar-nominated filmmaker and co-founder of
FilmDayton, who just premiered his own new short at the
True/False Film Festival, for
a lively, informal discussion.
TEN YEARS AN "ACTOR";
STILL KNOWING -- or
an Inventory of a Decade
March 5th marked the tenth anniversary of the first time I appeared on
stage in front of an audience as an actor in twenty-six and a half years.
This past Friday, the 21st, was the tenth anniversary of the closing of
my adult debut on stage,
The Cripple of Inishmaan, by
showing at The Dayton Theatre Guild.
It seems silly to go back over the events that cornered me, confronted me,
and thrust me back to acting at the age of forty-five. That's all detailed
at the start of this blog and more so in the
"The Knowing In Me,"
which, if you can wade through the convoluted prose at its start and ignore
the pervading naïve pretentiousness, covers the subject of my
motivation back to acting, fairly well. This essay should be more about
what I sometimes naïvely, sometimes not naïvely, saw ten years
ago as I looked forward.
I had some ambitious ideas and ideals about what the next decade and
beyond of my life might be like. What a brief inventory will show is that
a sizeable amount of the "success" markers have not yet been met.
I am not a full-time screen actor nor a full-time stage actor. I have not
worked on screen or stage with any of the professional actors whose skills
I so admire. I'm not a member of
Actors Equity Association. None
Ellen, yadda-yadda-yadda, have ever
had any reason to even have me on their radars, much less invite me to be
a guest on their shows. Neither
Aaron Sorkin nor
David E. Kelly, nor any
of their professional peers, would think to have an assistant contact my
agent because they thought of me for their next project. My hope ten years
ago was that at least a little bit of this stuff might be true by now,
certainly the "full-time actor" status, if nothing else.
Yeah, none of it is true.
I do not mean to suggest that good things have not come to pass. They have,
albeit on different scales, or in different veins, than those lofty items
above. I've accumulated an almost decent canon of acting work, stage,
movies, no-pay, low-pay, better pay, but mostly no-pay. I became
represented by an agent in 2007 and have booked a few professional acting
gigs on screen (commercials and industrials), though the best gig I got
through the agency was not an acting gig. That gig would be as the
stand-in for successful character screen actor
Michael Mantel on the set
of George Clooney's
The Ides of March for
two days in March of 2011. I have three times been a working stage actor
on the professional stage at
The Human Race Theatre Company.
I have a few other smallish paying actor's gigs under my belt. At least I
have reached the status of semi-professional actor and have been able to
legitimately use actor's expenses on my tax returns the last several years.
Though it's not been exactly a juggernaut or skyrocket to major
success, which I have and I still dream for, it yet has been a relatively
nice run thus far. Mostly the up side is that I have been able to do
a number of fine, challenging roles. Some I have loved:
Jim Lockwood, Barbara Jorgensen, & I
Johnny Pateen in
The Cripple of Inishmaan
at The Guild -- My 2004 return to acting could not have been
much better than it was. I landed a great character role in a
smartly-written script in a magic production. I still have people, and
not just a few, tell me this is one of the best theatre productions
Dayton has seen. This was my first audition as an adult. My assumption
was that I'd audition a few times before being cast. I also went to
audition for Dr. McSherry, who has only two or three scenes. Director
read me for Johnnypat and my assessment was that I was horrible as
Johnny. I was stone-cold flabbergasted when Greg cast me in the role.
I was further flabbergasted when I indexed my lines against the phonetic
Irish dialect cheat sheets I had made up and realized I had a lot of
lines. Johnny is a substantial featured supporting role. He is also a
chunk of challenge and a great amount of fun. I was set in the midst of
an amazing cast and production crew. My castmates where each perfectly
suited for their roles. Greg was at the top of his game as director.
Actor/artist Melissa Young (now Melissa Nicole Henry, and most notable
today as the soulful alto Miss Lissa in the blues band
Miss Lissa & Company)
designed a fabulous set. Cripple and Johnny will forever be a
hallmark experience for me. It was a magic show.
Wayne Justice & I
Clov from Beckett's
at Springfield StageWorks
-- It was almost two years before I landed another substantial role,
this time one of the two leads. Though if you know the show, you know
that my co-star, Wayne Justice had WAAAAAAY more lines to
memorize than I. Only partially jesting here, my lines consisted of a
heavy diet of variations on "I'm leaving now, I have things to
do." Wayne, as Hamm, had run-on, non sequitur monologues that
sometimes spanned more than two pages. The role was still fascinating
to climb into and the dynamic between the characters, especially Hamm
and Clov, made for a strange dichotomy of "family" and
"not family." Beckett's script made where I took the
character inevitable, yet gave me wide breadth to take whatever
labyrinth of paths I wanted to get there.
Director Larry Coressel
gave me just as wide a breadth.
John Bukowski, Ryan Deity & I
by David Mamet
also at StageWorks -- Without reservation and I can say,
whole-heartedly, that my fellow castmates, John Bukowski and Ryan
Hester, and I had great chemistry and brought Donny, Bobby and Teach to
life. Bob Weisman who was then a colleague of Larry Coressel's from
WDPR saw the show the first Saturday
and wrote a very flattering email to Larry. I got Bob's permission to
reproduce it, in part, back in 2007, and now I share an even more
truncated version here:
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the play Saturday.... All
three actors were terrific. They worked well with each other and
the script. The dialogue is terrific, quite funny in places, and
realistic sounding.... Teach was very good. I like the concept that
he wasn't a raving, off-the-wall threat from the minute he walks on
stage. I thought it was very effective that he didn't seem that way
at first, when he had elements of uncertainty, almost a whining
quality. This gave way to a different Teach as the plans unfolded,
tough but controlled, in a certain way, almost sensible. So when
he worked himself up to that explosion, it was all the more
impressive an eruption....
I was gratified to have generated a response to Teach and the
unfolding of him that affirmed the goal I had. I wanted Teach to appear
as an annoying, erratic, whinny, know-it-all chump at the start of the
play, but, to have revealed himself to be a truly dangerous man by the
Geoff Burkman, Cheryl Mellen, Saul Caplan, myself, Greg
Hall & Dave Williamson
Zipper from Inside the Gatehouse, a
Dayton Playhouse FutureFest 2008
finalist, written by
-- Another character who seems much less capable at the start of the
play than he does later. Zipper is a civil defense attorney who is a
foul-mouthed, limerick-singing, frat-humored goof at the start of the
play. Later though, he is the member of the group who starts to figure
things out and eventually has the opportunity to go into lawyer mode as
he essentially cross-examines one of his friends. He changes completely.
One could wonder early in the play how he's a successful lawyer;
as the plot thickens and unfolds, Playwright Hollenbach shows us more
and more just exactly why Zipper has a winning record in court.
A Woman on the Cusp adjudication
Darren from A Woman On the Cusp, by
a FutureFest 2011
finalist -- Loved playing this gentle, thoughtful man who was
pulled into a game of subterfuge that made him uncomfortable. Darren
is a three-dimensional character who ultimately has good integrity if
still being flawed. I also enjoyed playing opposite Lynn Kesson who did
wonderful work as that woman on the cusp.
Matthew W. Smith, myself & Michael Boyd
at The Guild -- I didn't really want the role of Carl when I
first got it. I was also pretty sure when I auditioned that if I
was cast it would be as Carl. After I got to know him and see
his character arch, I more than warmed up to the role. I think in many
ways his is the most fully developed, the most complete character
drawing in the play. Though it most certainly is not his story,
he does change the most; he's forced to change the most. As with all
the characters I've already mentioned above, I was well pleased with
my work as Carl. It was nice to be in that ensemble of actors, too.
Heather Atkinson & I
also at The Guild, and thus far, what has been my favorite role --
There may be a few people reading this who know the story of how this
production came to be. As concisely as can be, here's what happened.
At FutureFest 2008 I became acquainted with one of the adjudicators,
Andrea J. Diamond, who was at the time a resident director at
The Victory Gardens Theatre
in Chicago. A topic of discussion between us at one point was
whose work I admire very much, and who had recently left the cast of
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
to return to stage work, and had made his native Chicago his home base.
Ms. Diamond, as it turns out, had worked with him several times in his
earlier career on stage and told me, "If you think he's good on
screen, you should see him on stage. He's mesmerizing." It turned
out that he would be appearing in Blackbird at The Victory
Gardens during the next summer, 2009. I went to see him on stage. I
left completely blown away by not only the work of both Petersen and
his co-star Matty Hawkinson
but by Harrower's intense, gutsy, brilliant script. I knew as I walked
from the theatre that I had to do that play, and I set about hatching
a plan to make it happen.
Enter Heather Atkinson
(who played opposite me, as Una) and
Natasha Randall. Heather
being my co-star who was also interested in doing Blackbird and
joined me in the quest to get on stage with it. Natasha, who wanted to
come on board as our director. We took it to The Guild and did a
private stage reading for the board, essentially and audition
presentation to persuade the board to put it up as a special production.
They were persuaded and over the weekend of April 22-24, 2011 we did
what we all three immediately afterward decided was a far too short
run of three performances.
For those not familiar with the play, Ray did something in his past
that was, to be the kindest, foolish and ill advised, and in the eyes
of many, depraved and dastardly. Fifteen years earlier, when he was
forty he had a three-month, intimate relationship with Una, who was
twelve at the time. Some of my friends were perplexed that I would
want to play this man. There are a lot of reasons I wanted to. The
play, the playwright, and Ray, himself, never deny the actions he took
in the past. But the play and Ray both challenge the nature of his
guilt. The play dares to ask questions most people would not be willing
to entertain. Can an adult have sex with a minor, a twelve-year-old and
not be a pedophile? The play does not answer the question, either way,
but it is a compelling dialectic on the theme. The script also compels
the actors to play the characters, both Ray and Una as their past
involvement being more than sex, more than molestation, they cared
about each other. Ray loved Una, be it unacceptable, be it abnormal or
deviant. There is such complexity to the play, the dialogue, Ray and
Una, such depth and edge to it all. It is compelling to watch and was
compelling to play. I played Ray with sympathy; I played him as if he
would never think or fell about another twelve-year-old as he had for
Una. It made for great theatre and it made this the most challenging
and most rewarding work I have done, thus far. Ms. Atkinson, by the
way, did amazing work.
As an aside, I recently discovered that Petersen also played Teach
in a 1991 production of American Buffalo at
a theatre he, Gary Cole, and
others founded in 1979.
Above are the ones I favor the most, but I've enjoyed many other roles as
"Aspiring," though not yet impressively "accomplished,"
film maker has been a part of the last decade, as well. If you go back to
the start of this blog, and perhaps even the "Knowing in Me"
essay, there's mention of the goal to shoot a short movie, starring myself,
to get the acting "CAREER"off the ground. I did a little practice,
five-minute short, Muse, which has never been shown or posted because
I cut it to Pat Metheny's
instrumental, "Midwestern Night's Dream," and was never able to
secure clearance to use said music. Still it was a nice little exercise. I
did write a screenplay that I have scrapped, based on a short story I wrote,
This was to feature myself. I then wrote another screenplay, which, though
on the back burner, like another movie project, is still slated for
completion. Though I need a strong young woman to play a twelve-year-old
and the particular talented young lady I wrote the script for can no longer
pull that young of an age off.
The Chorus for Candice,
featuring Kimberly J. Reiter,
Charity Farrell and Benjamin
T. Sadai, was the first, since Muse, to make final cut. That
screenplay was based on
my short story of the same name.
Then I got a few other thus-far unrealized ideas, none which I have retired,
and I paired up with Fred Boomer to do a test project. What we wanted to
see most was what worked and didn't work, what was easy and what we needed
to be careful about, when shooting multi-camera. Over the course of Nov
2008 and June 2009 we shot several segments, with talented friends of mine,
for an improvisational full-length. The project as a whole, now known as
Vignettes in Bellcreek is nowhere near final cut, but it will be.
Some may know that out of it came the short, starring
Natasha Randall and
Be Or Not.
Undeniably, the "film making" I do the most, and am known the
most for are the promotional DV movies I produce for the stage productions
at The Guild. I'd done a small handful for a few shows when DTG was still
on Salem Avenue, we called those trailers. Some concern was expressed that
without getting permission to use the dialogue from the scripts, we might
be running a foul of copyright license. My initial reaction was that our
us was fair use, but after looking into it, it seems not quite so cut and
dry. We stopped doing them for a while. But they came back with the
2010/2011 season on Wayne Avenue with an introduction to the season
starring Fleeta May Bryte (Greg Smith) as interviewed by Blake Senseman.
From then, on into the start of this 13/14 season we have called them
podcasts and they've been seven to fifteen minute mini-documentaries where
I have gotten comments from the cast members and the directors and blended
those with rehearsal footage. I have sought clearance from the copyright
owners of each play to use dialogue in the podcasts. Usually I get it, but
not always. When I don't, the rehearsal footage is silent, under
commentary. When I do get clearance I show some good, non-spoiler
moments from the show. With
which just closed last weekend, I have changed to format from the
"mini-documentary" back to the old "trailer" approach.
It would be nice for me to get to the other film making, the
narrative-fiction sort, that which I am really most interested in. I can
start by FINALLY editing to final
cut, Vignettes in Bellcreek. I could finish that screenplay
mentioned above. I could get to the other movie projects ricocheting around
in my addled brain.
I've regularly produced shows at The Guild, at least one per season, some
seasons two, and do a reasonably good job. It started with
Grace and Glorie
(up March 2005) and I've produced at least one show per year at The Guild
-- sometimes twice -- every season since, up through
Time Stands Still
earlier this season. I am already slated to produce one next season, so
long as I don't get a pro acting gig that would cause a conflict; the
understanding is always that if I get a good professional acting offer, I
am accepting it.
Many professional development opportunities have come my way through
workshops and classes, most have been at The Human Race. At The Race, I've
done twelve acting classes, nine of them have been advanced acting classes.
Eight of those advanced classes have been with
whom I have appeared with twice professionally -- see a few paragraphs
As for the rest of those bone fide professional acting gigs. Most of them
have been industrials and local commercials through the Roof-Goenner Talent
Agency, which later became the PC-Goenner Talent Agency.
You five regulars will know I often do the paid UD Law gigs where I play
clients and witnesses for UD law students in scenarios from client
interviews, client counseling, and all the aspects of trial (interview,
deposition prep, dispositions, trial prep, and direct/cross examination in
mock trail settings. One benefit of the improvisation workshops and the
portions of workshops that included improv is that I've honed a passable
skill at improvisational acting, which is the meat of one of the UD gigs.
It's not as free-forum as most improv; I am bound to whatever the facts of
the case and my characters involvement is. Plus there's always a character
profile the may be sketchy or may be relatively robust. I have freedom as
there is not script, but I cannot betray the stated facts of profiles.
Still, it's great exercise and a little bit of income.
Over this decade there have been a few paid stage gigs but the big ones
have happened in the last several years, all at The Human Race Theatre
Caroline, or Change,
Fiddler on the Roof.
Caroline and Fiddler were
productions which means that non-union actors have the chance to join the
Equity Membership Candidacy Program.
Essentially each week of rehearsal and performance is one Equity point.
When actors have earned fifty points (with no limit on how long it takes)
they then have a five-year eligibility period to join Equity. If they
are cast in an Equity show at any time during that five years they must
be signed to an Equity contract and join the union. If don't join within
the five years, or when cast in an Equity show the accumulated weeks of
credit (points) expire, and the actors must start over. I elected to
become a candidate. Gingerbread was a workshop contract, so no
points, but between the two eligible shows I have fifteen points, six for
Caroline, nine for Fiddler.
I could have done those Equity shows as a local jobber, i.e.: a local,
non-union performer. I debated a little as to whether I should go the EMC
route or play on the Race stage as a local jobber. A few of my actor
friends advised me against joining the EMC program. Their main point was
that once I became an Equity member, I would be prevented for appearing in
any productions in any Dayton theatre except The Human Race. Clearly I
have shown I can make it onto the Race stage, but, the most I would likely
ever get on that stage would be once a season, which so far has been the
case. I don't think that I can be complacent enough to believe that such
will always be the case. That's just not wise. If I were Equity right now,
still living here, I would have to be auditioning in Cincinnati, Columbus
and probably Indianapolis.
I elected to join the program. First off, it would take likely no less
than ten years to get to the fifty points, especially if I only depend on
The Race to earn my points. I would be retired from my
rent-payer job so I would
have the freedom to take contracts at theatres outside of this area. I
could more easily move outside of this area. Honestly, there would not be
a big obstacle keeping me from moving sooner than that if I decided it was
The involvements in these professional stage productions has been an
experience I am humbly grateful about. I've thus far had a chance to
work with some wonderfully talented professionals who have shown me even
better how to be a pro. I'm not going to list all the amazing talent I
have crossed paths with because of my fortune to be in these shows, it's a
long list. I will say I have had the chance to take the professional
stage with a few colleagues from my current and past non-professional
I have twice been on the Race stage with Saul Caplan, in Caroline
& Fiddler. Saul has directed me four times and is about to
direct me a fifth time, later this season in
The Dead Guy
at The Guild. Saul and I have twice appeared on The Guild stage together,
as well. The lovely Charity Farrell
and I have now shared a professional stage together twice, in
Gingerbread and Fiddler. When this talented young lady was
only about fourteen, we did a little musical at The Guild, The
nine years ago. Two years later, Charity was a featured player my The
Chorus for candice short. I took my first advanced acting class with
Kay Bosse in the fall of 2011. Just before those sessions ended we went
into rehearsal for Caroline as Grandpa and Grandma Gellman. About
a year ago, we were on stage again in Gingerbread, where Kay and
Charity both played my daughter, at different stages of her life. I've
also been on the Race stage with local actor Jeff Sams, in Fiddler.
Jeff and I have not directly worked together, otherwise, on stage. But I
have produced a show he was in,
The Story of My Life,
and Jeff serves on The Guild board of directors with me.
As for The Dayton Theatre Guild Board of Directors, within that first year
that I was back to acting I was invited onto the board. I have remained a
member and currently play a role on the executive committee. The Guild is
my home and even if I leave, even if something extraordinarily unlikely
were to happen and I was, say, a resident artist at
steppenwolf in Chicago, The
Dayton Theatre Guild will always be, in my world of theatre arts, my
native home. I've logged a lot of miles getting to and a lot of hours
being at The Guild. I have been facetiously accused of living in the
theatre by some. There have been times when it has been pretty close to
Why am I so dedicated to The Guild. When I was in high school at Wilbur
Wright High in East dayton, Ohio, the man who directed all but one of the
plays during my time there was Charles (Chuck) Scott. Chuck was a long-time
board member at The Guild. He would take the WWHS Thespian Club, of which
I was naturally a member, to the dress rehearsals of Guild productions.
From the perspective of a teenaged actor what I saw on that little thrust
stage was tantamount to professional level. When I cam back to acting my
first audition was at DTG, because it was a familiar place to me and I had
a memory of high quality theatre. I was auditioning for Cripple and
I had no illusions that I would be cast. I did not believe I would be. I
assumed this was just me introducing myself to The Guild and the Dayton
theatre community. When I was cast as Johnny I was floored. What I found
with that production and then in my time since then, is that my impression
all those years before was not simply the perspective of a kid watching
adults perform. The Guild is a quite exceptional theatre that holds its
own against any professional theatre in town. There are many local
theatre goers with quite discerning tastes who favor The Guild over all
other theatres in town. I will not engage in trashing other community
theatres, and there are a few that I frequently find do very fine work,
but, bias as I am toward DTG, it is the one that most consistently reaches
the level of professionally high-quality theatre, in performance and design.
But of course, the Guild is not flawless. Other theatres in town are ahead
of us as far as lighting hardware, for instance. We still need to fix some
acoustical problems. Both of those issues are slowly being addressed. I
also, without naming shows or names, will not willingly stand proud behind
every production that has gone up at DTG since I've been around. There are
a couple that were simply embarrassing and a few others that did not meet
our standards. This is community theatre, in the end, so not every actor
to walk on our stage is remarkably talented. But our standard mode of
operation is doing great work with talented actors, many of whom ought to
be doing it professionally -- and some that are doing it professionally
whenever they can
The Dayton Playhouse FutureFest 2008
deserves a special note, too. For most of this subject decade I have been
involved in this annual summer new play festival. I've been there three
times without being cast in a show, and twice I didn't audition. This is
one of my favorite activities as an actor. I like the idea of participating
in early birthing process of plays. I like the convocation of theatre
artists (casts and crews), theatre aficionados (the adjudicators) and
theatre enthusiast (a collection of savvy, thoughtful audience members).
Also, as I was able to once express to
Dayton Daily News
with FutureFest I get to play a role that nobody has defined. When I was
Teach in American Buffalo, I was following in the footsteps of
Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and now we know, William
Petersen. Those were some big shoes to fill. When one is doing a role in
a performance for a new play festival, that sort of baggage isn't there;
there is no high bar hurdle to match. Plus there is a very clean slate.
Even if another actor has done the role in another festival or in workshop,
that is an innocuous factor, as opposed to: Pacino played him on
Broadway. It's satisfying to step into a fresh, new role in a fresh
new play. And since I've specifically identified two of my FF roles as
some of my favorites, sometimes those roles are great roles to step into.
So what does all this mean? Okay, so, I am not a full-time screen actor
nor a full-time stage actor. I'm not a member of SAG/AFTRA or Actors
Equity Association. None of Letterman or any of his contemporaries are
vying for my appearance. My agent's phone number isn't on file with Aaron
Sorkin. The odds aren't amazingly in my favor for any of these, either,
even less so since I live in south-western Ohio -- though a few medium
and big-budget films have shot here (Ides of March) and because of
the Ohio movie industry tax incentive more are coming.
The point to all this is that to catalogue what I have done in the last
decade is important, for me, if nobody else. Those naïve ideals and
ideas from a decade ago of where I would be today are sorely unmet, that
can't be reasonably debated. Yet, when I look over what all has happened
in the last decade, it's a pretty robust inventory of events and
involvement. Have I even been on the non-professional stage or screen as
much as I would like? No. Some of that is because of the other artistic
distractions; somewhat in conjunction with that last fact, I haven't
auditioned as much as I could have. Another factor is that you just don't
always get cast. A few of the times I haven't I am convinced were mistakes,
but, there's an admitted bias there. Overall though, I have had some
wonderful roles that I am pleased to have landed. And despite my
self-critical affinity -- which I defend as ultimately a good thing -- I
overall believe I've done some good work. I pine to get to brilliant work,
but don't believe I've reached that yet. I've perhaps had some brilliant
moments, and perhaps a few performance that were very, very good, but
being labelled a brilliant artist in any of my ventures would be a misnomer.
But the value of me writing this essay, of stating where I have not yet
been and where I have thus far reached is for me to have a
reasonable reckoning of it all. I have an occasional tendency to adopt the
stance that I've truly done little or nothing, that it has all been a
futile waste of time and energy, and that my ambitions are a joke. Well,
that is simply not true. I am not as far along the path as I wish to be,
but when I look behind, the junction I turned left at to head this way is
only a small, blurry dot. And I have liked the hike.
I did make the
meeting Tuesday night to see
Steve Bognar, film maker
and faculty in the
Wright State University Motion Pictures Program,
give a presentation on the state of short film. It was an illuminating
night. What struck me most was the current trend, or movement, or whatever
it is, away from traditional narrative in shorts. It actually gave me a
little more hope for Be Or Not. which is most certainly not a
traditional narrative, at least not much of one. To be honest, it made me
feel a little better about all that raw footage for Vignettes in
Bellcreek, which when brought together is in no way going to be able
to be a traditional narrative.