As is often the case with that run toward the end of the long first tech day,
the energy and the off-book
quotient was a bit wonky for the cast as a whole. But it was far more, in
terms of our lines, that we were flubbing them. I'd say there were less
than a half-dozen instances of anyone
calling for lines. Still,
overall, the day felt good, or, at least, not horrible.
Human Race Theatre Company
acting class has been cancelled for this evening. I was going to attempt to
pick my monologue for class (which would most likely be one of Joe Keller's,
from All My Sons)
during my lunch break today. Now I have a little longer to narrow it down.
I'm feeling pretty damned good about this show. I'm happy with my own work,
with, of course, a few caveats, yet still, overall I am happy with my work;
at least it mostly feels pretty good. I most certainly am in the company of
damned good cast mates and production team members.
Last nights tech/dress run
went relatively smoothly. I know for a fact that I dropped three lines. I
also switched the sentences in another line, and I had to once correct a
line because what i said was contrary to what needed to be said. But I did
not correct it in a terribly good fashion.
The line is supposed to be, "Do you know your name?" I said,
"Do you know my name," then immediately backtracked and gave the
correct line. The thing is, I broke character and did an obvious line
correction. What would have worked better was for me to stay in character
and have Jon correct himself:
Overall, however, my work felt good to me, though there have been some times
recently when it's felt better. I think all the cast was on this same page
with me, so we were all a little surprised when our director, Jared Mola,
said it was the best rehearsal thus far. It goes back to that
William H. Macy
quote, which I regurgitate here -- still paraphrased: It doesn't matter
what you (the actor) are experiencing in the scene -- it's what the audience
sees your character experiencing that matters.
That goes doubly, or, perhaps, threefold, for the emotional Jon moment,
which was the cause of my invoking this thought in the first place in the
Sep 29 blog entry. Once again, last night, I did not feel like I was bringing
it off successfully. Apparently, i was incorrect, and I'm okay with that.
Also have to say that the design team (Chris Harmon: set; Allen Shotwell:
lighting; Gary Thompson: sound; Kathy Mola: costumes; & Kelly Engle*)
have worked some lovely stuff for the show, too. And let's not for get
that often unsung hero of the theatre, the
stage manager -- our's being Ms. Sarah
A couple developments have occurred for the promocast. Last night, Rick
Flynn came in and shot stills of Part 1 of the show, during our run. Those
will make up the photomontage for the DV movie, with a couple additions
that I will shoot tonight. I also have received clearance from
Moby, through his
Mobygratis website, to use a piece
of instrumental music as the underscore for the video. I have used his
service a couple times in the past. Tomorrow, I edit the promocast to
final cut, and, I'm sure it
will be on-line by tomorrow evening.
Marjorie Prime opens this Friday. I'll see you there,
*It may be Kelly "Wright" now. Kelly married Scott Wright this
past Saturday, but I don't know if she is taking his name or not.
Another voice from the soundtrack of my youth has gone silent.
Rest Mr. Petty, in peace.
We reach our Final Dress Rehearsal
tonight. Opening Night is only
a day away. It doesn't seem like we should be this close, but here we are.
I can say that I am most happy with where I am at, and I think the show as
a whole is in a great place. Looking forward to getting this thing in front
of an audience.
Last night's rehearsal left us all feeling damned good. On the other hand,
the rehearsal Tuesday night was what could be called "lame." The
energy was at an ebb and we all had more line problems than we have been
having. A lot of the chemistry between characters in various scenes was
weaker, too. I think it was just that inevitable last-stretch mediocre
rehearsal that is quite common. Last night, however, was perhaps the best
run we've done thus far. Nah, no "perhaps" about it; it was.
We are right where we are supposed to be: the only element missing is that
The promocast, featuring the still photography work of one Rick Flynn and
the music of Moby (courtesy of
Mobygratis), has come to
final cut and has been posted
DTG YouTube channel
as well as the DTG website
DTG facebook page.
As is usually the case, I took a
day from the rent-payer
to edit the DV movie (yesterday). The edit went essentially pretty well,
but there was one hitch. I got it edited to a final cut, had created the
compressed version for the YouTube and was in the process of uploading to
YouTube when I realized the dates of the run were nowhere in the movie. I
had to add that information, then again go through the process of rendering
the master filee and the compressed file. Set me back just long enough in
my day that I could not make the gym as I had planned. But, it's done and
it's out in the world.
Our Final Dress last night went
quite well. Yes, there were imperfections, mostly line flubs of one sort
or another, but, that's live theatre, with or without an audience. But the
bottom line is that we are most definitely ready and eager to get this thing
in front of a large group of eyes, and tonight.....:
Hey! Come see the show tonight and you get to attend the Opening Night
Gala, featuring gourmet pizza from
Wheat Penny Oven & Bar,
We had a good opening night. We all felt very good about our performance.
We didn't quite have the virtual sold-out audience we thought we would,
because some season ticket holders didn't show for their designated opening
night slot -- which is not uncommon -- but we did have somewhere between a
half and a three-quarter house, and it was a good, responsive audience.
The audience members were quite complementary to us afterward, too.
There were, of course, the inevitable line flubs, but no catastrophes. My
worst was toward the beginning of my first scene where I
went up on a phrase and stumbled a
little verbally to recover. In my mind I struggled to come up with a word
or a substitute phrase to get the point across, and I managed to save it,
and I think, in character. I did a straw poll later that supported what I
suspected: that the actors in the audience could tell I'd gone up but the
other audience members detected nothing amiss. A few other times I was less
than verbatim from the script with my lines, but no cardinal sins were
In the end I feel good about my performance, and I certainly think my cast
mates did good work. I received a lot of kudos and praise from audience
members. post-show, as did the rest of the cast.
So the ride has started, in earnest. This weekend you you have tonight
at 8:00 and tomorrow at 3:00 pm to catch it.
This weekend I have to make my decision about the monologue for
the Human Race Theatre Company
acting class so I have it ready by this Monday evening. I'll probably do
that this evening after the show -- well, after the cast and crew have gone
out after the show. A Joe Keller monologue from
from All My Sons
is still the likely choice.
I'll be reading a script over the weekend for an audition coming up
shortly. Seems like I have to allot tomorrow morning for that. Plus I
have received in the mail another script that I ordered for a future
The screen shot is of facebook posts of mine, in between scenes, during the
show Saturday. I had gone up on
a word during my scene with Barbara Jorgensen and it clearly frustrated me.
The line is: "Honesty, the secret weapon of the elderly." My
brain would not grab hold of "secret." So it was:
Honesty, the secret...(pause of about 2 or 3 beats)...
The secret of the elderly.
I suppose it wasn't a horrible thing, and it's likely that the audience
didn't pick up on it, that it probably seemed like written dialogue from
the script -- but it was the second night in a row that I had something
like that happen -- and I hate that crap.
Verbatim from the script is the name of the game for me and though I suspect
that there will never be a 100% perfect performance by me, in that respect,
it's my goal to come as close as possible. When I err on this, I'd much
rather it be some sort of slight paraphrase or some slight syntax change.
That being said, or "bitched," if you will, it was a good
performance for all of us and for myself, despite that irksome moment.
I suppose I should also admit that I dropped a line, too, but at least it
was one that was close to a throw-away, and that the absence of it did not
hurt the moment, nor the scene.
The Sunday show was solid, too, and none of that annoying going up by me.
The closest I can remember is that I switched two words around, saying,
"Tess always got the sense he was a little...." rather than
"Tess got the sense he was always a little...." Again, though I'd
rather not make such an error, it's the kind I am far more accepting of.
But the Sunday show, all in all, felt really very good to all of us.
The whole weekend was a good weekend, in fact, though it would have been
nice to have had bigger audiences. The audiences we did have liked the show,
some quite a bit. One facebook comment I'll share, leaving the writer's
name off, said, in part:
Just saw this spectacular show at the Dayton Theatre Guild. SO much
in this short play to think about and to unpack. Everyone needs to
go see it SO I CAN TALK ABOUT IT!!!!
The funniest complement (as in humorous, and a little cute) came after the
show yesterday. I left through the stage door and there was a young lady
standing there, under the little roofed area, out of the rain, and she said
how much she enjoyed my performance. Then she said she also liked me in
All My Sons.
She was, of course, confusing me with David Williamson, another bald,
middle-aged white-guy actor. Hey, not at all a bad talent to be mistaken
In conclusion: despite lower than desired attendance
(SM Sarah Caplan reports 178 in total
attendance), our opening weekend was otherwise artistically successful.
To the best of my knowledge, at this moment, the class session is still on
for this evening.
Full disclosure, I have not yet picked my monologue. I will by class
this evening. Something from Joe Keller in
All My Sons
is, frankly, the only contender, so now it's just a question of which chunk
from which act. There are two that are at the top of the heap.
Just this morning I sent an email to
Lucas Hnath's agent
seeking clearance to use dialogue in the promocast. Over the course of the
last several weeks I've tried several avenues to contact Mr. Hnath, himself,
but those have not been fruitful endeavors. I always like getting hold of
the playwright his or herself, because my experience is that the playwright
is more apt to grant clearance; the agents are often reluctant or downright
The Human Race Theatre Company
acting class with
did have the regularly scheduled session last night. In terms of the
monologue for class, I did, as expected go with a Joe Keller monologue, one
from Act III of
All My Sons.
Though at the last minute something from another play became a contender:
a rather well-known monologue by a character I will be auditioning for
later this season. I ended up going with the Keller monologue, anyway,
because there are more beat changes.
We all did the cold reads of our
monologues, then got feedback from Jennifer and classmates, as well as some
direction from Jennifer, which included blocking.
And now, that I'm off-book for
I have to get off-book for this monologue. At least it's not the whole play.
But, who knows, I may have to start getting off-book for a whole play
As soon as possible after our production is wrapped, I want to check the
movie version out. It stars
Geena Davis (Tess),
John Hamm (Walter),
Tim Robbins (Jon), and
Lois Smith (Marjorie).
But it's in limited release and it may prove to be
difficult to locate a theatre screening it. I'm hoping it shows up at one
of The Neon, in Dayton, or
The Little Art Theatre, in
Yellow Springs; they both show the small-release films. Thus far it
doesn't seem to be on either theatre's agenda in the near future.
Tuesday evening I auditioned for the role of Pastor Paul in our third DTG
show for the season,
I was not cast, and I didn't expect that I would be. My reading was okay,
but I just got the vibe that I wasn't what was being looked for. There
might also have been some problem with my Monday evening availability for
the next several weeks due to the
HRTC acting class, which
would have pushed my arrival at rehearsal to past 7:30 -- and since I put
on my application that I would only accept Paul, a role that dominates the
script, that could very easily have contributed heavily to not getting cast.
But, you know what, I was fully prepared to not be cast and I have my eyes
on some other plays this season, so it's all good.
Since we're on the subject of The Christians and its auditions,
here's the list of those whom were cast:
This entry has been updated to
reflect a cast change.
I have my flash cards done up to start memorizing my
All My Sons
Joe Keller monologue. Our instructor,
has designated this coming Monday's session as that which covers
script analysis, and I
think she's going to cover its close sibling, line study.
OUR SECOND WEEKEND IS WRAPPED-- SIX DOWN; THREE TO GO:
This weekend felt as good for all of us as the first
weekend. Unfortunately we're still getting some rather skimpy audience
sizes, which is a shame because perhaps I'm bias but I think this show
deserves bigger audiences. We did have two two-thirds full houses over
this past weekend, so the situation is not dire, but I know I speak for
the whole MP company when I say we'd love to have still bigger
houses, and a couple performances have had most disappointing audience
I am perplexed that we are getting these positive responses after the
performances from audiences members, yet I'm not seeing a lot of
endorsement posts on facebook, or
have heard of such on other social media formats. Especially from particular
individuals who were most complimentary -- in manners that did not seem
disingenuous -- after the show and whom I know post about shows on fb.
There are a few good responses on facebook however, such as the following:
Go see 'Marjorie Prime' at the Dayton Theatre Guild next weekend.
It is such a thought-provoking story. The performances are beautifully
restrained and will leave you both loving and feeling a little creeped
out by (in the best way) the most unusual family. Bravo Jared Mola,
KL Storer, Wendi Michael, Barbara Jorgenson, Ryan Shannon, and Sarah
As for my obsession with the perfectly-off-book
target, I remember that I had some sort of line flub Friday, but I can't
remember exactly what it was, but I do remember that it was minor. I do
know I went up on a line for a
split second that night, but that only resulted in about a half
beat pause before I delivered the line.
The exact same thing happened with a different line on Saturday, then again
with the same line Sunday. I also dropped a portion of a line Saturday night.
None of these were things that the audience would know, however.
The ol' ego has been sufficiently petted with positive strokes about my work
as Jon. The best of the weekend coming from a person whose opinion I
respect greatly, who said, "You just keep getting more and more
monumental." I think "monumental" was the word used,
if not, then something similar. Anyway, it's hard not to like that! I, of
course, have my introspective complaints, but I'm going to attempt to ignore
them for the moment.
So, I did get my Joe Keller,
All My Sons
monologue down on the 3x5 index cards (my flash cards) a few days back, but
I have to admit I have not done much to start the memorization process. I
started last night when I went to bed but fell asleep not to long after I'd
I discovered today after I arrived at
the rent-payer that I had
left the flash cards by my bed. But I have my rehearsal bag with me, with
both the side that has the monologue
and a good supply of blank index cards, so I just re-created the flash
cards, and did some work during part of my lunch break.
On a side note, a couple of my class mates came to see Marjorie Prime
over the weekend.
Monday night, Jennifer Joplin
took us through script analysis,
as was planned. There were specific focuses on beat changes
and on acting verbs. The point
is to identify where changes in mental, emotional, or attitudinal state
occur and to attach descriptive verbs to those states, like: manipulative,
or fury, or intimidated, ad infinitum. We are charges to put little slanted
slashes in the script at the points within a line that these beat changes
occur, then to write the chosen verbs close by. This isn't a new tool to me
but I must admit I don't do it; I make these decisions intuitively and make
mental notes. It certainly can't hurt to give the tactility of the slashes
and the writing of the verbs a try. It may not make a difference, but who
knows, I might find myself getting grounded in the moments sooner than I am
We most definitely are charged to be off-book
by next Monday's class. That means a lot of tonight is about that. Though I
do also have a social engagement that I don't want to miss. It looks like
it's time management time. I do have some gym time scheduled on the
elliptical machine, which is a time and place for both memorizing lines and
for running lines. I've been
running my Marjorie Prime
lines on the machine here the past few weeks. I'll sacrifice today for the
Keller monologue. I'll be running the MP other times today, anyway.
I have heard back from Playwright
Lucas Hnath's agent,
who has granted clearance to use dialogue from the script in the
promocast DV movie for
The conditions are, as usual, that we only use so much material -- I always
use less than is allowed -- and that the promocast goes off-line when the
show closes; the latter is a stipulation that I occasionally get. I like
leaving the DV movies up, but, sometimes that can't happen, and at least
we have the clearance to use dialogue, which is always better, though I can
make a promcast work without it, and I think sometimes quite well, as in the
Marjorie Prime promocast.
The show is a comedy that features (in alphabetical order)
and Alex Sunderhaus.
Vince I met last summer at the new play festival,
in which the play he wrote, Wake, was one of the six finalists. I
have worked with Caitlin twice, once in the aforementioned Gingerbread
Children and also in the HRTC production of
Fiddler on the Roof.
Scott, I have worked with twice, once as a fellow actor in, again,
Gingerbread Children and then once when he directed me in
Caroline, or Change --
my first professional theatre credit -- also at HRTC. Alex, I have not shared
a production with, but I have seen her several times on
The Loft stage.
She and I also share Wright State University
as our alma mater.
Margarett and the cast talked some about the play, careful not to share
spoilers, then the cast did a short staged reading
of several pages of the show, as a preview and teaser. It looks to be a
funny show. I plan to catch it on
Pay What You Can Night, and who knows,
I might go back later in the run.
In the entry about this class in the post yesterday I failed to mention another
component Jennifer Joplin
went over in the script analysis
lesson on Monday: looking for words to hit, as in to emphasize, even if
only slightly, in each line. Usually it has to do with the importance of
the words in context with the moment in the play; sometimes, it's more of
an aesthetic consideration, especially if the line has alliteration or
assonance, or both. Hitting key words, even if subtly clarifies intent for
the audience. playing with the alliteration or assonance has a further
affect on the audiences's reception. It can be one of the reasons, and a
strong reason an audience members says, "I just love the language in
In the not-too-distant future and the age of artificial intelligence,
eighty-five-year-old Marjorie is trying to cope with the loss of her
deceased husband through the use of a prime, an exact replica of him
programmed to interact with her in human-like ways. What would we
remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? Would we
rewrite the past? This play explores loss and memory, the mysteries
of human identity and the limits (if any) of what technology can
replace. Marjorie Prime was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer
Prize for drama.
It was one week ago yesterday that
at DTG went
dark for good. I truly wish
we'd had a few more weeks, myself. Those of you who missed it:
You Missed It! We had a great
run with everyone kicking ass in their particular roles, whether those
roles were on stage or on the production team.
I certainly am happy with my work as Jon; I put it up there in personal
satisfaction with my work as Ray in
or Carl in Opus,
and a few others I am also quite pleased with. it doesn't seem I could be
accused of having ever been "caught acting" on the Marjorie
Prime stage, which to some may appear counter-intuitive but is exactly
how an actor's performance should be. Less acting, more being, is my motto
and goal as an actor. I don't want the audience to see an actor on stage
playing a role; I want them to see that character as a person living those
moments in his life. Apparently I succeeded; apparently they saw Jon and not
K.L. performing Jon; they witnessed Jon's behavior, and looked into his
heart and soul, rather than did they consciously watch K.L.'s acting moves.
So, Kathy Mola was costume designer for the show. Everyone
liked very much the wardrobe she came up with for Jon (me),
so much so that they kept telling me I should buy the whole
thing from the theatre. So I did.
Meanwhile, I was in the company of stellar performances by the rest of the
ensemble of which I was privileged to be a part. Barbara Jorgensen, who is
a staple of Dayton area non-professional theatre,
and not just at The Guild, was true to form as Marjorie, delivering a
rock-solid, compelling performance, which is exactly the norm for her.
Let me just say that technically, Barb may not be a professional actor, but
her work on stage is as high a calibre as any actor who earns a living at
the craft. I believe I stated this back when I announced that I was cast in
the show, but this is the first time Barb and I have shared the boards in
more than thirteen years. The last (and first) time we were on stage together
was when she played Mammy McDougal, the mother of my Johnny Pateen, in
The Cripple of Insihmaan,
in March of 2004 -- my first foray back into acting in more than twenty-six
This was the first time I have been on stage with Wendi Michael, to whose
Tess my Jon was husband. I've been producer and/or sound designer for
quite a few shows she's been in, but until now we've not been on stage
together. I've always liked her work and I was most impressed with her as
Tess. She certainly explored the depths of Tess' complexities and rendered
an excellent performance. I believe we worked quite well as a couple and
she was most easy to do so with; the marriage we portrayed was authentic to
the audience, and that is due in great part to Wendi's work. I look forward
to the next time we work together, whenever that shall be. She gives
professional quality performances, as well, and this was absolutely no
exception to that.
Ryan Shannon, who's relatively new to stage acting, gave us a really nice
Walter Prime, the holographic image of Marjorie's dead husband (Tess' dead
father). This is his fourth appearance on the Guild stage, and I may
be wrong about this, but perhaps only his fourth appearance on stage,
period. Either way, at DTG it's been a steady graduation of roles from a
one-scene bit part where his only line was a stammering, "Huh, umm,"
or some such, to a supporting role, then a bigger supporting role, then to
one of the ensemble principals in this four-hander. He rounded out this
ensemble quite nicely and certainly he, as well, approached his work with
a professional demeanor. We should all keep an eye on this guy.
It was also a great pleasure to participate in Jared Mola's debute as a
director. He was a very easy-going director but had so much entusiasm and
wonderful insights. Those in the know in local Dayton theatre already know
the guy is an excellent actor but he has also shown himself so as a director.
Now that I think about it, I should hate him....ah well, at least as
an actor he's not in my age range
or type, so what do I care
Sarah Caplan was our great stage manager.
My first thought, and hers, too, was that this was the first time we've
worked a show together where I was on stage, but, she was also crew for
production of Playing God, my second stage appearance for that
festival, which was in July of 2007. I can't remember if she was SM or not
for that. She was certainly SM for this one, and a most reliable and
amazing one; we all knew we could count on her as a stage manager
Then there was the design team, all who did their parts well to bring the
universe of the play to life in vibrant and imaginative manners. As is
always the case, Chris Harmon's set was fantastic (see in the pics below).
Alan Shotwell lit the stage in some provocative ways that complimented
the script and our performances on stage. J. Gary Thompson, likewise did
much to help tell the story with his choice of scene transition music and
some in-scene SFX that, in at
least one case, enhanced the odd mood that was intended at that juncture.
Kathy Mola, who usually directs at DTG, costumed us all skillfully, in
fact, as stated above in the sidebar to the right, I bought my Jon wardrobe
from the theatre -- everything but the shoes, which looked good, but I
never could get comfortable in, so they were only on while I was on stage.
Kelly Wright did good work as properties designer, providing us with a lot
of nice stuff, that despite that she was in last stretch coming up to her
wedding, which was the day before our MPTech Sunday
(she was, until then, Kelly Engle).
And I'd like to thank the Academy, as well
as my agent, George Spelvin, at William Morose.....No, wait! No, don't play
me off....my MOTHER'S watching!
To repeat what I wrote above, our run was great and everyone kicked ass
whether an actor or a production team member. It was another example of the
standard work at The Guild that epitomizes why newcomers to the area have
sometimes been known to ask things like: "Wait, that's a
not an Equity house?" Now,
here are some photography stills of the show, mostly without comment except
for one exception:
Director, Jared Mola
• Photos with red borders are by Craig Roberts
• The photo at the top of the entry, the cast portait with the show
logo and cast names, is by Rick Flynn
• All other photos are by K.L.Storer
Last Monday night in class we presented our monologues
off-book, and we each did with
varying degrees of success. I was on book
for most of the other students. When it came to my turn, I was not
one-hundred-percent perfect, and did have to
call for lines a few
times, but, hey, it was the first time off-book. We each did the monologue
once, then Jennifer would give us some direction and we do the monologue or,
or at least part of it, again. I held my side
in my hand the second time, to minimize the rhythm interruptions when I
Jennifer gave some me very specific points on where I could change the
emotional and the attitude levels of Joe Keller in my
All My Sons
monologue. As she gave similar guidance to the the other students. All in
all, I felt pretty damn good about the work I did in class, and thought my
classmates in general did good work, too, a couple of them especially.
Tonight we revisit the monologues as well as do some work on
cold reads, on which I can always
use the practice.
NEXT GIG, AND THIS ONE HAS A PAYCHECK:
I've picked up a U.D. Law gig
for Saturday, Nov 11, via Fran Pesch,
who is the acting coach for those gigs. It's a new scenario so I will be
committing new material to memory. I have no other scripts between now and
then to memorize, so I'm good -- the Keller monologue for the class is
already under control.
NEXT ATTEMPTED STAGE WORK:
I'm gearing up for the next audition, not coming up right away. but also
not too far off. I haven't yet finished reading the script but I have
started to research the regional dialect associated with the character I'm
going after. It happens to be a particular accent that is not in the cannon
of David Alan Stern's recorded
resources, and I have thus far been only able to find a couple short
YouTube videos that deal with it.
Though those videos will prove helpful, they are not enough. I've been in
Dialect Specialist D'Arcy Smith
about possible resources and he's given me a URL, which I haven't had a
chance to check out, yet. I have some time to get this together, both a
handle on the dialect and some multiple good reads of the script, all
before auditions, so I'm good.
There is still at least that one other play coming up this season that I
have my eyes set on, the one I bought the actor's edition script for a few
"Something magical is around the corner! Keep tuned later this week
for more news cometh."
My suspicion was that this fine little short,
starring the talented young Ella Gallagan and me, was about to be available
for public consumption at Vimeo. I was
correct. It is now up and available to stream.
This is, of course, my last screen appearance, which was shot the summer
of 2015, just months before my heart attack and open-heart surgery. I'm
starting to hanker for another on-camera acting gig, by-the-way.
Recently, we EMCs (Equity Membership
Candidates) got word from Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
informing that they have modified the points system in an important manner.
Now, once a EMC has earned 25 points (as in one point per each week the
candidate has worked on an Equity eligible production -- rehearsal and
performance), that candidate can opt to join the union.
The previous rules still apply once the EMC reaches 50 points: he or she has
five years to join; or if she or he is cast in an Equity play (or otherwise
works one as, say a PA)
during that five years they must sign an Equity contract and join. If the
five years passes and the EMC hasn't joined, or doesn't join when working
the Equity show during that time, then all points are lost.
The important thing is that the points have not been lowered to 25 for the
start of the stipulations in the paragraph above, but the option is now open
at 25 points earned for the EMC to join. Right now I have 15 points, so it's
not yet an issue. But it does mean that with a likely minimum of two more
Equity shows, I could join Equity if I so desire.
Right now, an Equity card would not be a wise choice. Had I card at the moment,
I would not have been able to be Jon in Marjorie Prime, and that is
an experience I would not have wanted to miss. The two auditions I mention
above are non-professional gigs, and were I in the union, they'd be off
If I were Equity right now, while I still have a full-time job -- my
rent-payer as I like to
refer to it -- the only Equity theatre
it would be practical to audition for, is, in fact the only one I currently
do, as an EMC: the Human Race Theatre Company,
in Dayton. It's the only one close enough that I can reasonably commute
back and forth to rehearsals and performances while maintaining the said
full-time job. Cincinnati or Columbus would be two hours of driving each
day; Indianapolis would be four hours. Of course with an Indy gig I'd be
far enough away that the theatre might house me locally -- but that would
mean six weeks of vacation leave, which A) I'm just never going to have
built up, and B) I'm not going to get authorized, not six weeks in a row.
The problem with only one professional theatre being a viable place to
audition and perform is that my chances of being cast at all are limited --
any actor's would be, but mine especially would be, and in fact, are now in
terms of being cast at the Race, because I am in an age range
and parameter of type for men that is
not a small pool in the professional acting world. Right now I have the
additional factor, at HRTC, that I am a local non-union actor, which often
is a hindrance just by itself, at least for principle roles.
If I have my Equity card, that last point might go away, to some extent,
though there's no question, my slimmer professional résumé
would rarely be ignored in conjunction with considering me along side those
more experienced Equity actors in my age and type group, most especially for
major principal roles. There's
also the fact that HRTC auditions Equity actors from far more than just a
local pool. They audition actors from New York and Chicago, and professional
actors from a several hundred-mile radius of Dayton make the trek for
the Generals at HRTC in
the spring. So it's not at all a small pool of candidates. Bottom line is,
if I wasn't allowed to appear on non-union stages (community theatre
or paying, non-union theatre companies) then my chances of being on stage at
all would be greatly reduced as long as my only option was one local
Equity house, which produces only five productions a season.
I am however, skirting closer to the point where I am eligible to retire
from the rent-payer. Retirement could theoretically open me up to more
options as far as Equity houses are concerned. Further, to the best of my
knowledge, all regional theatre,
including most theatres in Chicago, are
Even steppenwolf is Equity/non-Equity
-- though I would not hold my breath for the role of Father Flynn in
Doubt, a Parable
on that particular stage, even with the card.
So that last point, and a few similar points earlier, draw us to a major
consideration for me, that of the roles I can be likely or unlikely to
land. Let's look at a random sample some of my favorite roles I've had
since I started this blog, reaching back to 2004:
Included here are only community theatre productions. A while back, one
spring when I did my audition for the Generals at HRTC, Marsha Hanna (may
she rest in peace) was the auditor. She had, at previous Generals, asked me
if there were any roles I was intersted in from the respective seasons. That
year, Doubt, which I mentioned above, was on the roster. She didn't
ask me that year, but if she had I would have answered Father Flynn. Now,
let me level here, I was not delusional: I understood that there was
virtually no chance that I'd be considered for such a lead in such an
important play on that professional stage. I still would have told her
had she asked -- I certainly had nothing to lose.
If you look at the roles on the above list, likewise, there'd be little chance
I would get a callback for most, if any, of those roles on a professional stage.
I most certainly proved I was capable of stepping into all those skins,
and at a professional class. At this point, perhaps my chances have
increased somewhat of landing one of those on an Equity stage, but I don't
believe significantly. With the card the odds bump a little more in my favor.
At some point, if I managed to land a significant role like one of those above
in an Equity production and deliver the perfomance level I am good for, the
door to such subsequent roles would probably open a bit more. The best
scenario would be if I could land one while still an EMC and before the
50-point mark is met, that way I wouldn't be obligated to join the union
and I could gage the climate for me after that show closed. I'm skeptical
of that scenario morphing into reality.
The dilemma is between having the status of being an AEA member and receiving
some actual paychecks but with reduced chances at some of the juicy roles
I've had, or actually feeding my actor's soul and climbing into the lives
of such interesting characters, of having the better chance to perform these
Of course, I have some bit of an uncertainty about how much my skepticism
about my chances is too skeptical. I'm not enthused about having an unrealistic
optimism that ignores the practical realities of this, on the other hand, I
don't want to be so pessimistic that I'm blind to real opportunities that
are in my reach. I have to say that most of the time that "professional
actor" seems a carrot inches out of my reach that teasingly moves
forward as I do.
I do know that if it's a choice between being able to actually land the great
roles or have a card and likely be consigned to lesser roles, I have to go
with the first option, especially since there are some local non-pro theatres
where the productions are not simply the quintessential "community theatre
productions," most especially at my home theatre, DTG, where, as I wrote
in the Marjorie Prime entry above, "newcomers to the area have
sometimes been known to ask things like: 'Wait, that's a community
theatre, not an Equity house?'"
I suppose I can also say that I am closer to landing such good roles on an
Equity stage than I was in January of 2004, when I did my first audition as
an adult. Stay tuned as I figure this shit out.
It's hard to believe that there's only one session of this class left.
Next Monday is the final where we present the final performances of our
As scheduled, Jennifer had us start the session this past Monday with
cold reads -- not stone-cold, we
did get some chance to look the sides
over before we presented the pages. She paired each of us up with another
student and gave us two-hander
sides. The contexts of the whole plays were unknown to us, each team had
to extrapolate a context and decide on the energies, motivations, and
personalities of our characters, sometimes logically from the text we had
in hand, sometimes filling in the blanks. It goes back to the actor's
adage: Make Bold Choices.
So, my partner and I had to do quite a bit of that extrapolating, though
some parameters were reasonably obvious from the context we could glean.
We were playing a couple, probably married, and it seemed had been together
for a while. We were waiting for a friend form high school who would
liven thins up. Our relationship seemed tp have fallen into a rut and it
further seemed that neither of us were ever known as "wild ones."
It was an interesting exercise to garner a breadth of levels in the
several pages we had to act out. I think we were reasonably successful but
certainly could have pushed the envelope farther.
The second part of the session came back to our monologues. As for my Joe
Keller, All My Sons
monologue, I think I executed it well, the off-book
quotient was good, though I did have a classmate on book,
and I did go up once and have to
call for line. But the
dynamics of the delivery were strong and I felt successful, save for
that one line problem.
Another session has been added to the upcoming
U.D. Law gig. As well as
Saturday, Nov 11, I'll be doing a session Thursday, Nov 9. I received the
case material last night and haven't yet had a chance to look at it. I'll
be breaking the index cards out, likely sometime later today.
1) "CAN NIGHT" AT HRTC -- THE HOUSE;
2) OTHER SHOWS:
2) -- Once again I find myself in that situation where there are several
productions I want to support with attendance, but I don't have the
cash-on-hand to get to them all. I guess we'll see in which audiences I
Ran out of time to sit down
and work out what I want to say. Not that it's going to be deep thoughts
I did the first leg of the U.D. Law gig
on Thursday evening. This morning it finishes off. Thursday went well
enough. That and tomorrow are law student tryouts for an upcoming mock trial.
In these tryouts the students only have five minutes for examination or cross
examination. It's judged by a panel, made mostly of actual judges, who I
think actually looking for the students style, technique, and poise, because
five minutes is not a lot of time for the student to accomplish much in
laying a foundation, etc.
Wednesday night I watched most of a full run
rehearsal of the show to help me determine what moments I want acted for
the promocast. I have as of yet to make my final choices, but probably
will today. One actor couldn't be there Wednesday, so a portion was skipped.
I'll have to chose that actor's moment from the script alone. I also left
before the run was done since I never use material from later in the play
for the DV movie.
And while we're on the subject of Guild promocasts, this week I was in
contact with Stella and Lou
playwright, Bruce Graham
seeking permission to use dialogue from the play in the promocast. He had
said yes for
The Outgoing Tide
last season, so it seemed likely he'd say yes again, which he did.
So my latest actor's training ended a week ago this past Monday. Granted,
it wasn't the full-on, deeper, advanced, professional level I would love
to get in a class, it was a mixed-level class with some experienced through
to some quite inexperienced actors in the room, a couple absolutely new to
the craft. Jennifer did, to some extent, tailer her instruction to each
student to their level, which kept the class beneficial to me, as well as
to the small handfull of other actors with some experience and work under
She certainly gave me some good instruction and direction for my Joe
Keller, All My Sonsmonologue. We did divert the
interpretation somewhat from what would likely be done in a production of
play, but not wholly so. As they were elements of the class, I purposefully
and consciously analysed for such things as what
energies, and what acting verbs
would apply to each beat of the
monologue. I write "purposefully and consciously" because I
approached the study of the text and the sculpting of my performance with
a deliberate mental focus on these concepts. In all honesty I truly
approach my work as a character with these sorts of elements instinctively
active in my interpretation, but the specific, mindful focus is not a bad
thing -- the key word being "focus." I'm sure that the purposeful
and conscious use of the concepts helped make them sharper and more focused
in the final product.
Of course, all that needs to be incorporated in as does the
blocking so that by the time one
gets to performance there's no thought involved, rather it's instinctual
execution, or, more to the point: habitual action and intent that seems
spontaneous. It's also probably safe to say that though there are good odds
that I'll be more conscious of these elements during the study period when
I'm climbing into the identity and persona of the characters I'm privileged
to portray from now on, there are equal odds there will still be a large
factor of me incorporating many of those elements on an instinctual level,
What is here above, is the most valuable of what I took from the class
sessions, that plus the always-important aspect of some focused work on
improving my acting craft. It was beneficial to get the constructive
feedback of a professional actor whom I admire, as well.
There's a rumor of another attempt at an advanced class this coming spring.
I'm all for it!
The U.D. Law gig wrapped last
Saturday morning with the bulk of the sessions. Again, these were tryouts
for mock trial. The students each had limit time to make their opening
remarks, the examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses, and their
closing remarks -- five minutes for each, in fact.
Most of us actors who worked this were assigned two characters to play,
the plaintif and the defendant. Last Thursday I played both, but Saturday
morning I only played the defendant. I always walk into these gigs, whether
it mock trail or some sort of clinical interview-and-counseling class,
fearful that I don't have the material down as pat as I'd like. That always
turns out to be unfounded, and often much of the material is never covered
in the law students' inquiries anyway. When they are limited to five minutes
so ask questions, as they were for this, a mountain of information is never
asked about. In these tryouts they each barely had a chance to lay their
foundations before their time was up.
These are students so on occasion they make some serious tactical errors.
I'm, of course, not a lawyer and don't have even paralegal training, but
sometimes I recognize when the student is making a major blunder. There was
one big example of that Saturday morning.
In a nutshell, and leaving many details not directly relevant to this
example, the case was about a teenager, driving a jeep early in the
morning in a rich neighborhood. The passenger was smashing mail boxes.
Two residents, both doctors, were laying in wait. Both had guns, one gun
was unloaded, the other was not. The character I played is an experienced
hunter who owns several dozen gun, mostly rifles and shot guns. He claims
that his neighbor, who has never shot a gun, wants a gun for their vigilance
in order to shoot out the tires on the vandals' car. My character says
that he thought it was a bad idea but acquiesced after the neighbor's
insistance. The claim is that he grabbed two new Beretta pistols, of the
same model, that he'd just purchased, and unloaded one to give to his
partner; the loaded one was for him, in the unlikely case that the neighbor
managed to attract the vandals attention and some sort of confrontation
ensued. My character's testimony is that he inadvertently switched the guns
so the neighbor had the loaded gun. Then, as the vandals drove by, the
neighbor fired shots at the jeep. The other pertinent information is that
my character is a neurosurgeon and had performed brain surgery for over
four hours, ending a little after midnight that same morning.
The plaintif law student, on cross, took me down a path to establish that
I was tired and had impaired judgement. I was asked how long I had been in
surgery the night before; I was asked how long I had been awake before the
incident -- I said I had been up since about 6:00 the morning before, after
getting about six hours sleep. Then the student said:
Is it safe to say that your judgement was impaired to the point
that you might mistakenly confuse the loaded and the unloaded gun?
To which I responded:
Not only is it safe to say that, that IS what happened.
And I said it with an aire of "well YEAH!" in my voice and my
I remember that as the student began pursuing the line of questioning I
thought, Oh, really? This is exactly the point my counsel wants to make.
Are you really going down this path? When I said, "Not only is it
safe to say that, that is what happened," I could see it the
dawning in the student's eyes that this was an erroneous direction to have
There were, as always, plenty of opportunities to give a myriad of attitudes
and emotional responses, both as the nervous, intimated teenage victim and
as the self-assured, occasionally arrogant neurosurgeon. The former, of
course, I only got to play with on Thursday evening.
I am hoping to have a lot more freedom in the relatively close future to do
a lot more of these U.D. Law gigs.
Yep, I ran into some technical difficulties, not at the theatre, but at
home when I began the process of editing the footage. It started, I do
believe, with an "upgrade" to the latest Apple Mac OS
High Sierra (OS
10.13.1). Turns out it's a tad buggy. A few older applications do lose
total functionality because they are rendered obsolete by the new OS;
that's not a bug thing though it can be annoying, even if one knows to
eventually expect it. But there are other applications that have bug
problems, functionality issues, that need attention. One of those is
Final Cut Pro X (FCPX).
It would not import my AVCHD
files from my Canon Vixia HF 40
I suppose I could have done a workaround of just editing from the original
source, i.e. from the camera, which is possible to do. But the problem is
I shoot three-camera,
with each camera catching the exact same action from each of three different
angles. When everything is imported onto the drive where I store movie files,
I can easily pull from any of the three angles to show various parts of
each moment from different angles than the other parts of that moment. I
can only have one camer plugged in at a time, so the other two angles for
any particular action are not readily accessible. Though I could jump back
and forth between cameras, attaching and detaching each camera as needed,
that would be enormously time-consuming and gothically frustrating.
Other applications, by the way, were also not fully functional. So, boys
and girls, this is why you do a complete system back-up before you
upgrade your operating system. I was able to revert back to just before
the upgrade via my Time Machine
back-up. I lost a small handful of files, but it was nothing that I couldn't
recreate, so it was barley a bother at all.
Dealing with that did delay me, but I did get everything set by bedtime
Monday evening. I had all the properly imported and
transcoded movie files
labelled as I needed them, I had processed all the graphics needed for the
DV movie, I had assembled the closing credits, and I had the underscore
music ready and in the FCPX project. I also chose the order to use each of
the eight moments from the play that I had shot. Last night I edited
together the meat of the movie, those eight moments.
*DEC 3 ADDENDUM:
THE CLEARANCE AGREEMENT TO USE DIALOGUE IN THE PROMOCAST
STIPILATED THAT THE PROMOCAST BE TAKEN OFF LINE WHEN THE SHOW CLOSED, THUS
THE LINK THAT WAS HERE IS NOW REMOVED.
Last Saturday night I saw a very pleasant production of
Ed Graczyk's'Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
at the Dayton Playhouse.
Directed by Michael Boyd, it featured (as presented in the playbill):
Cheryl Mellen, Rachel Oprea, Samantha Stoner, Jill Proudfoot, Diana Round,
Cassandra Engber, Cassidy Manley, Melissa Fowler, and Nathan Strawser. The
performance provided a nice evening of theatre. Unfortunately, the show
closed Sunday, so if you're close by, missed it, and might think about
catching it, your chances to do so are gone.
I did auditioned for this. This is the one where I was studying the regional
dialect, in this case, South Philly. I gave a strong audition that clearly
and demonstratively displayed Lou as he was written by the playwright in
the pages of the script; despite that, the answer was, obviously and
Directed by Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp
Produced by Jeff Sams and Kathy Mola
Pastor Paul's modest church of twenty years ago now has a
congregation of thousands, classrooms for Sunday school, a coffee
shop, and much more. But today Paul will preach a sermon that will
shake the foundations of his church's beliefs. What happens when
something we believe will always remain the same suddenly changes?
A finalist at the Humana Festival in 2014, this play opened
off-Broadway soon afterward. In 2016, it was chosen as the eighth
most-produced new play by American Theatre Magazine.
I saw the closing performance of this at my home theatre. I didn't realize
it until yesterday at the performance, but this was actually the first time
I had seen a full run of the script from start to finish. When I monitored
a rehearsal run in prep to make the promocast, I left before the end because
I knew I wasn't going to use the end of the show. At any rate, kuddos to
the cast for a fine collective performance. More so, there were some new
faces that we all hope are back on our boards in the future.
This will be my second time seeing "The Sad Clown With The Golden
Voice" (AKA: Puddles Pity Party)
in concert. This time it will be at Bogart's,
also in Cincinnati, as was the first time I saw him in this past March, only
then at the Taft Theatre.
Last time I saw him he encouraged photos and videos be taken and posted.
I'll be curoius to see if his policy is still the same. Since that March
show, he's done his appearance on
America's Got Talent
and I will note that the raw ticket price went from $24 for his gig at the
Taft to $39.50 for this show. That's a 65% increase: not astronomical by
any means, but I will be interested to see if his philosophy on photos and
videos has changed.
My Ticketmaster eticket has
no policy information on it so if there are restrictions, I have not been
made aware of them. I probably ought to have looked on the Bogart's
website for any standard stuff, but I haven't.
CLEARANCES FOR ON-LINE PROMOTIONAL DV MOVIES APPEAR TO BE
ENTERING INTO A NEW PHASE:
My initial reaction, which I did not communicate, was: No, no they don't.
Because I have been down this road before. I have actually contacted them
when I could not make any contact with a playwright or that playwright's
representation. DPS, on numerous occasions has said, essentially, "We
only handle the live stage performance rights; for other rights, you must
contact the copyright owner." I have had similar responses in the past
from Samuel French as well as
other play publishers.
Clearly, however, there is a sea change going on. Mr. White's agent passed
my request on to DPS and I shortly got a message from Craig Pospisil, DPS's
Director of Nonprofessional Licensing, whom, I have met, by-the-way, and
his message, in part, was that DPS "can allow [us] to make up to three
promotional video clips...." There are length and purpose stipulations
that I always meet anyway. And, of course, I'm only making one.
I know that there have been some license changes at Samuel French, but I
don't know specifically that they have introduced clearances or stipulations
about promotional videos. So far, whenever we've done a SF play I have been
able to deal directly with the playwright to seek and receive clearance,
and as they are the copyright owners, they get final say.
But, mostly, pro theatres tend to do commentaries with selected production
staff members and/or selected cast members. I'm wondering if there might
be questions of royalties being imposed if a professional theatre company
wants to use material from the script, even on-line -- I have, by the way,
never had that happen when I have sought clearance. There's also the fact
that Equity actors must be
paid for any promotional video or spot, regardless of the outlet (broadcast,
cable, or internet) -- but that applies whether or not the actors are
performing in the video, so it can't be much of a factor.
It's good to see signs, however, that the play publishers are starting to
recognize that they can streamline the process of granting the necessary
clearance for this and help to better protect the material from copyright
violations. Let's face it, there are a lot of promotions similar to
what we do at DTG, in which the producers have not done their due
diligence and are infringing on the copyrights. One thing I'd bet: if we
are seeing the play publishers involving themselves in granting clearance,
we are likely going to see them involved in curtailing violations, as well.
Now, on an only slightly related note: I mentioned above that I have met
Craig Pospisil. Well, his
position at DPS is his day job. Craig is a playwright and was one of the
The Dayton Playhouse FutureFest 2016,
that being where we met and had several nice chats. Of big importance to me
is that Craig is a McCartney fan -- so I can forgive him pretty much any other
faults he may have. I also have borrowed two of his plays from the library
where I spend forty hours a week, those being,
Months on End,
Somewhere in Between,
both which I borrowed months ago and haven't gotten around to reading, yet.
I think I need to check those off my agenda list, especially since I have
met my renewal limit and they are both due this coming Friday.
Plus, there are lots of good performances by the kids in the cast, including
Noah Rutkowski (Bert in DTG's
recent All My Sons)
and Jack Lockwood, whose family I believe is somehow connected and involved
in the Dayton Theatre scene (AKA: Dad Jake,
Aunt Jennifer, Grandmother Dodie,
and Grandpa Jim).
Anyway, it plays through this coming Sunday. So, if you're close by,
go see it -- it's fun!
So, as you five regulars might remember, in the late 90's and early 00's I
wrote a novel, one that had started germinating in the late 80's while I was
in college. I got a full draft done and had started into the re-writes, and
even started a few chapters of the next novel in the series.
Then, of course, in 2004 I started acting again after a twenty-six-year
hiatus, and the novel and most other "creative writing" have taken
a back seat since then. I think I've mention before here recently that I have
been delving back into the universe of the novel(s), doing some supplemental
background stuff and furthering the time-line and bible for that universe.
I'm sure that I am making my way back to attacking a draft that turns into
a manuscript that can be shared with readers. Who knows when that'll be.
As examples of the supplemental material I am writing to help me fully form
my protagonists universe, for the one or two who will actually read them,
here are a few things. I will offer no further background or info about my
protagonist or his universe. Also, these all are later in the time-line than
when the novel takes place, which is 1968 & 1969.
My second time seeing Puddles
was just as much fun as the first. I'm glad to say that even though the
two shows were only ten months apart it was not the same show both times.
Much of it was the same but a lot of it was new, so that was good.
Back in March I was introduced to his mash-up that puts the lyrics to
The Who's "Pinball Wizard" to the tune and music of Johnny Cash's
"Folsom Prison Blues" -- here's the video of that:
Folsom Prison Blues/Pinball Wizard Shmoosh Up.
There was, as last time, a lot of "audience participation,"
although it is better described as "friendly shanghaiing" where
Puddles picks someone from the crowd to come up on stage with him for
some sort of antics during a song or a bit.
Along with that fabulous voice, which an acquaintance of mine, who was also
there, describes as a voice that "makes angel's cry," there was
a wonderful element of humor, which all those moments of "audience
participation" had in them.
There were several videos, most that played during songs and usually
leaning into the elements of humor. There are a couple videos each featuring
one of two famous Kevin's (Bacon and Cosner) that Puddles used in both
shows. Another video, the best one, which was in both shows, is a mash-up
of its own, where he sings "Oh, Danny Boy" over the
famous viral video of the baby crying as her mother sings to her.
I had this imaginative idea before I went to the first show that I went
into a restaurant before the show and ran into Puddles' friend Michael Geier
(Big Mike), who
coincidentally is the exact same 6'8" that Puddles is. I'd tell Mike to
say hello to and to tell Puddles to break a leg. Or I'd see him after the
show somehow and tell him to relay to Puddles how much I enjoyed the show.
Well, since I'm probably going to share this entry on my
facebook page where I can
tag Puddles, at least Puddles will have an opportunity see it, if Mike won't.
There are a few DV movies that have been on the shelf waiting for me to
edit to final cut, and all of
them have been waiting for a while, some for quite a while.
Four of the projects are connected to The Guild. I have a lot of footage
from the dedication and lighting of our marquee back in the spring of 2014.
Next is the memorial for our beloved, late Ralph Dennler, in January of 2015,
Then there's the 70th anniversary celebration, in late summer, 2015. And
lastly, there's the talkback with Playwright
Luke Yankee from his visit
when we mounted his
The Last Lifeboat,
which opened the 16/17 season.
I am off for Christmas from the rent-payer
from this Saturday through January 1. It stands to reason that I have time
to edit at least some of these, if not all of them. Yet, though there's
probably time, I will be surprised if I get them all to final cut.
Then, there's that much tardier project that has sat on the shelf for what
seems like an eternity. The improv movie, tentatively titled, Vignettes
in Bellcreek, which wrapped
in June of 2009 -- I THINK it was 2009; it's been a while.
If you don't know, there's been one excerpt from that production out there,
my 2011 short, Be Or Not,
which was not accepted into the 2012
Sundance Film Festival
-- though I did submit it under the "what the hell" rationale.
I'm not too sure I will get to that whole full-length feature edit over
this break as there is a lot of work to put in to salvage anything even
close to being watchable. However, the project is not scrapped, though the
actors who appeared in it probably think so. I admit I can relate; there are
a couple movies I've appeared in that have yet to make a final cut, at least
that I know about.
At Christmas dinner the other day, my brother-in-law found it hard
to believe that my whole heart attack episode and the resulting
surgery were two years ago. But they were. I'm not going to do the
recounting that I did last December 28,
but I do feel like I need to write something here.
On December 28, 2015, at about 7:00 am, I was rolled into the
operating room where
Dr. Surender Neravetla
performed a most successful
quadruple bypass surgery
on me. I remember when I was lying on the gurney the day before,
when my cardiologist, Akber Mohammed
was doing the
I was a little scared. When he told a little while later that he
was contacting the surgeon and I would have open-heart surgery the
next day, I was terrified. I calmed down some, but then it ratcheted
back up when Dr. Neravetla came in and told me that he woud be doing
at least a triple-bypass. I went to sleep most anxious for what the
next day would bring. People die on the operating table, you know.
It may be true that open-heart surgery has become commonplace but
it's still a serious major surgery. As it turned out, I went under
the knife of one of the best thoracic surgeons in the area. I'm glad
to be here on December 28, 2017 to as evidience that he is and that
this was one of his many successful procedures.
For some reason I feel like I'm being overly-dramatic about how
scared I was for a few weeks, but, I was scared. Now I know several
people who have been faced with, or are currently faced with,
diagnoses of cancer. I have a very dear friend who at the present
time is incapacitated because of a series of strokes. Some
of these cancer patients have beat the cancer. Some are in the
midst of their fights. My stroke-victim friend is in a nursing
home, apparently quite cognitively aware, but unable to
communicate with those around him; and if you were to know the
man you would know that this sitation has got to be terribly
difficult, frustrating and stressful for him, because communicating
successfully with other human beings is one of his most valued
traits about himself -- for as long as I have known him he has
lived to interact with others. I know all these people have been or
are in places of fear. I'm not going to compare my fears with
theirs, or theirs with mine, for that matter. I can only deal with,
and I can only address, my own fears in my own situations.
This post-op world I was just thrust into was full of unknowns.
Dr. Neravetla, Dr. Mohammed, and all the wonderful nurses and other
staff members stopped me from dying. It doesn't have the impact on
me today that it did, that phrase, "stopped me from dying."
Yet, it's no understatement, is it? But these were the questions on
my mind: What's next? How much time have I bought? I remember, one
night early in my convalescence at my sister's house, crawled up
in the fetal postion on the roll-away in her den, pulling my knees
into my chest, quietly weeping to myself and saying, "I'm so
The fear, the anxiety, the recovery from the shock and trauma of
major surgery, and the post-op depression, the latter which I can
see in retrospect affected me more than I knew at the time, that
was where I was at. But it got a little better everyday. I was
always full of gratitude for having not died; I was filled with
hope for the future. Eventually these last things balanced out
then overcame the fears, anxiety, the residual trauma, the
I still sometimes wonder about how much sooner my heart finally will
fail than it would if I weren't a man who's survived a quadruple bypass.
But today it's really a philosophical question much more than it is
any sort of anxious question -- though let's not completely discount
any anxiety over the mortality question. I do know that that
final heart failure is delayed, or hastened, by the life I lead today.
So, it's watching my sodium intake, my cholesterol intake; it's
being in the gym several times a week; it's taking my medications;
it's actively pursuing the conditions that keep me healthier. It's
all just like it has been for the last two years and will continue
Sometimes life sucks -- that doesn't mean I don't want to be around
to bitch about it when it does. I CERTAINLY want to be around
to enjoy the hell out of it when it doesn't suck!
Here's what I did last year on the first anniversary of