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

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NEW YEARS DAY 2018

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2018


Mon, Jan 8, 2018

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GEARING UP:
THE ACTOR PREPARES ICON
AUDITION ICON

Got an audition coming up.

Fortunately it's one for which I have access to the script.

I've been studying it and will soon begin rehearsing the lines of the role I'm targeting, probably this evening.


THE BRILLIANT, RAW, UNCOMFORTABLE DAVID HARROWER STAGEPLAY, BLACKBIRD, HAS MADE IT TO THE BIG SCREEN:
BLACKBIRD & Dayton Theatre Guild combined logo. Play by David Harrower

The trailer above is for the screen version of David Harrower's stageplay, Blackbird, the movie version titled after the female lead character, Una.

You five regulars, and a few other Dayton local theatre people, will know that in 2011, I and the talented Ms. Heather Atkinson, as well as the talented young Ms. Melanie Engber, did Blackbird for a one-week run as an extra production during the Dayton Theatre Guild 2010/2011 season. Unfortunately, It was pretty much under-the-radar; I believe we had a total attendance of 100 people spanning all three performances. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite experiences as an actor. I loved playing the role of Ray; I loved working opposite Heather; I loved our young co-star, Melanie; I loved the work of our director, Natasha Randall; and, I loved bringing Harrower's brilliant script to life.

The non-actors in my life have mostly not understood why I would have been so thrilled to have played the role of Ray, even some of my acting peers weren't too sure why. But the role is ultimately compelling. He did something very bad, but Harrower's ability to successfully paint him as clearly damaged rather than patently evil is brilliant writing. The script's complexities and it's ability to be neutral yet not shy away from the ugly conflicts are a masterclass in story-telling. And, though "unhealthy" may be a drastic understatement, as well as everything else it's about, it is a love story -- though, granted, a love story that should not have happened and should not be.

I do hope the movie lives up to the stage play. I'll know at some point soon. I haven't found it streaming anywhere, except that it's available to purchase or rent from iTunes. So, I'll probably rent it through iTunes.


LATE TO THE GAME, BUT, STILL....:
On TV icon

In a 1° of separation from the entry above, my latest Aaron Sorkin obsession is The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, as well as a very strong supporting cast that includes Sam Waterston with a recurring special guest appearance by Jane Fonda.

Yes, yes, the show's been around for a while now, and, in fact, is out of production, after three seasons on HBO, and I've been aware of it since before its debute. But, I cancelled my HBO subscription long ago; I haven't even had a cable subscription for a few years now, at all. But I have signed up for the one-month trail subscription to Amazon Prime with one of the perks, and the one that I am most interested in, being the Prime Video streaming service. The Newsroom is available through that. So, over my Christmas break I binged on all three seasons -- twice.

It is Aaron Sorkin at his Aaron-Sorkiniest! I love it and I recommend it to those of you haven't seen it yet but like such things as The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The American President, The Social Network, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sports Night, and Charlie Wilson's War, to name a few of the TV shows and screenplays Sorkin has written.

BTW: The 1° of separation from the entry above is because Jeff Daniels played Ray in two separate Broadway productions of Blackbird.

*There's some chance that there's a 0° of separation between an element of this entry and the first entry for this post, as well.



Thu, Jan 11, 2018

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STELLA AND LOU logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
I'll drop into the rehearsal tonight for Stella and Lou at The Guild to watch their full run, which will help me choose the brief moments I'll shoot for the promocast. The plan is to shoot the DV movie footage this coming Sunday, which is, of course, Tech Sunday for the production.


MLK Day, 2018

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 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 equal."

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 brotherhood.

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 Georgia!

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!"

CLICK HERE FOR DR. KING'S SPEECH IN ITS ENTIRETY


Tue, Jan 16, 2018

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TWELVE ANGRY IMPROVERS?:
PROFESSIONAL GIG ICON
U.D. Law - University of Dayton School of Law icon

Over the weekend I booked a gig for tonight playing prospective jurors to help University of Dayton law students practice interviewing such to accept or reject for trial juries.

There is a bit more freedom for the improv in these cases than we actors usual have with UD Law school gigs. We usually have specific facts of a case as well as profile facts about our characters to which we are obligated to be faithful. However, in this case we actors are to create our own characters and their attitudes and histories.

It will be such things as do I believe in harsh sentencing? Am I a racist? Do I think cops and prosecutors are more interested in convictions than justice? Have I or someone in my family been a victim of a similar crime or offence as the one at hand? Yadda, yadda, yadda.....

This time though, none of that has been provided -- we invent it all. We have been given the background of the cases, which a potential juror would really not have been, but this is so we can formulate our characters in a tailor-made fashion for each of the cases.

I got information about three different civil cases and I have derived personnas for each, with names, professions/jobs, marital and family status, and addresses. All three people are based on things somehow or another close to me so I don't have to drill a lot of facts into my brain. I have, of course, created histories for each that could be considered helpful or detrimental to on of the plaintiff or the defendant.

Looking forward to it.

I got offered another gig later in the week but I had to turn it down due to a scheduling conflict. Oh well.


ANOTHER ONE WRAPPED AND POSTED:
xxxx
STELLA AND LOU logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo

Sunday, which was Tech Sunday for the show, I came in, as planned, in the afternoon, and shot the selected footage from the script. It took no time at all. I didn't keep track of the time, but I'd say it was about twenty minutes -- give or take.

I did not stay to watch their actual tech run, and since I'm not otherwise directly connected to this production, I likely won't see the full run until I am in the audience. I will be there Opening Night, but I'll be the house manager, as is usually the case Opening Night, so I'll be busy with other things and won't attend much to the performance.

Back to the DV movie, I did edit it to final cut and then upload it to the DTG YouTUbe channel yesterday. I actually had edited everything but the actual performance footage before hand, on Saturday, both the open sequence and the closing credits, so all I had to do yesterday was plug in the principal footage and the undercore music.

Click here to see the promocast.

xxxx
Been a while since I included some of the ever-humble selfies of me "working"....
xxxx
....So, here ya go.
xxxx
The view out of my "office window"



Thu, Jan 18, 2018

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SIX NOT-SO-ANGRY JURORS?:
PROFESSIONAL GIG ICON
U.D. Law - University of Dayton School of Law icon
The U.D. Law gig went well Tuesday night. It turned out this was the first time for all the students to practice interviewing potential jurors, the procedure know as voir dire. They did nicely for their virgin attempts at this.

There were four of us actors and then of the several students in the class exercise, two of them filled in with us as others conducted the interviews as either counsel for the plaintiff or for the defense.

I must say it was nice to not have to come in with provided facts about the cases or my characters that needed committing to memory. Of course, I came on with my own sets of vital information for my characters:

  • Name
  • address
  • Occupation
  • Education -- including what schools and what degrees, if any
  • Marital Status -- with wife's name and at least occupation
  • children -- names, ages, occupations
  • political leanings
  • general attitudes germain to each case -- positive and negative
  • experiences from my life or from someone close that are or might be relevant to the case
I kept my own age for all three characters but came up with different names and background for each.

1) For the first case, a civil case of automobile negligence with personal injury:

I was George Arthur, an English professor and the director of the Creative Writing program at Wright State University. Dr. Author earned his BA in English literature from Bowling Green University. He has an Masters in The Humanities from University of Illinois, and his Ph.D in Creative Writing from NYU. *(No, I did not bother to be sure these school offered these degrees -- which I usually do). His wife, Sandra, teaches political science at The University of Dayton. Their son Rick is an army staff sergeant station in Heidelberg, Germany. Their other son, Cary, is a paramedic for the Indianapolis fire department.

George is a liberal who usually aligns himself with the Democratic party. He considers himself informed and fair minded and truly believes he can be as impartial as possible in the trial.

His relevant experience is that his wife was involved in a serious accident three years ago, and has a pin in one of her knees and now suffers from on-going chronic lower back pain.

2) The second case was a medical malpractice civil suit. Relevant info is that the defendant is a Jesuit Non-profit hospital and the plaintif is legal immigrant from Mexico:

I was Leon Cooper, the second shift janitorial supervisor for the H.F. Group Bindery Co. in Miamisburg, Ohio. Leon graduated from Stebbins High School, with probably a 2.0 GPA, at best. He's coming up on 41 years at the plant and is about to put in his retirement papers. He's divorced, for 15 years. His ex is Barbara and they do not get along. She left him because he was sleeping with a waitress at his favorite bar. Barbara was a house wife who also worked as a cashier at Kroger. When they met, she was a topless dancer.

They married because she was pregnant with their first child, Debby, who is a housewife working parttime at a Rite Aid drug store. She has two children, Joyce and Marty. Their second daughter is Jeanine, who is an office assistant at a doctors office. She has one boy, Sean. Their youngest is Jenna, who is a waitress at Bob Evans and has no kids.

Leon is a hard-core, working-class Republican, who didn't so much vote for Donald Trump as he voted against "Killery." He's all for stiff prison sentences and the death penalty and though he's very pro Law and Enforcement he's also big on no gun control and he sees how the anti-government militia groups make a lot of good points. He is all for kickin' all the illegals out and would rather there weren't so many legal immigrants, especially from south of the border -- but the laws the law, and if they're legal, that's that.

Leon had a heart attack and thusly underwent a quadruple bypass a couple years ago. His operation was at the hospital named in this case. His heart surgeon was from India, and his cardiologist is a muslim from one of the muslim countries, he doesn't know which one. He must admit they are both excellent doctors. He has nothing but good to say about his experience with the hospital, including with the nursing staff in the cardiac unit. He still nevertheless thinks that hospitals are a racket, the medical profession is full of crooks, and that health insurance companies would rather let a patient die than pay anything out.

3) The last case was a wrongful death civil suit where a driver hit and killed a child:

My potential jurer was David Downing, the executive producer for The Morning Magazine, a local feature news show on WHIO TV. David earned his BA in Communication from Miami University. His wife, Justine, is the programing manager at FM 108.3 WACI Radio. Their oldest is Byron, who is a recording engineer for Columbia Records in L.A. Their middle child is Erick, who just started as an assistant football coach for the Kettering School System. The youngest, Aubrey, is pre-law at The University of Chicago.

David is a staunch Democrat. He totally supports the Black Lives Matters movement, thinks the MeToo movement is long overdue, and is very worried that the very fabric of American Democracy is in great jeopardy.

He is close to two relevant experiences to the case. The first is that 30 years ago, his mother hit and killed a pure-bred Irish Setter, and it upset her deeply and made her skittish to drive for several years. Of more significance, five years ago his wife, Justine, hit and killed a 4-year-old boy who had bolted out in front of her from between two cars. Se wasn't speeding, but the child was small enough the hit was unfortunate enough that he died from head trauma at the scene. No charges were brought and blame was never placed on her, yet it was a devastating event that she still sometimes has bad dreams about and on occasion still feels the pangs of guilt and remorse. She was in therapy for a few years to deal with her trauma from the tragedy.

All that information may look like it was hard to memorize, but, remember, if you read my last post, I harvested the majority of it from own life then tweaked most facts to suit the needs of the gig. So, recall was no problem for me during each practice voir dire. Naturally, not all this information could be bought out since each student only had a total of twenty minutes to interview all six of us.

There was a bit of on-the-spot improvising, too, when questions were asked that I hadn't anticipate or that gave me an opening for something. I'm sure that's true of the others, too, at least the other three paid actors. For instance, I related a story, as George Arthur, about getting a concussion in a car accident as a teenager, when I and some friends were doing donuts in a snow-covered grocery store parking lot and I crashed into a light pole.

Neither George nor David revealed the incidents of their wives automibile mishaps, because none of the students asked the right questions. One of the golden rules of doing these gigs for the law students is that our characters are not to freely volunteer information. The students, in their capacities as counsel are to probe and get the information. It's clearly true that in real life there will be plenty of cases when clients or witnesses will absolutely volunteer information, but we actors in these exercises are charged to make the law students work for the information because they need to know how to do that. A couple times, the other night, particular students came close to getting this information about the wives but then they would give me an out to keep it to myself.

In both cases we were asked if We had ever been involved in a car accident or if We were ever injured in any sort of incidents similar to the cases. Again, going with that golden rule stated above, I said nothing since it was not my characters who had, but instead their wives. For the wrongful death, one student came extremely close to getting the information that my wife had killed a 4-year-old, by asking if any of us ourselves or had anyone we knew been involved in any situations similar to the case; but then the student made the error of qualifying it with, "that would influence your decision in this case." As I stated in the talk back after that interview, my character did not think that it would influence him, so he did not speak up because of that qualifying bookend on the question. But I told them that it seemed clear that the fact that a potential juror in a civil suit involving a child killed by a car had a wife who had killed a child with her car only five years earlier is information both the counsel for the plaintiff and for the defense probably ought to know, regardless of the juror's confidence in his objectivity.

All the potential jurors on each panel, actors and fellow students gave all sorts of feedback after each session, including on presentation, deportment, and style. We actors, especially, discussed such things as enunciation and verbal speed (one student in particular spoke way too fast at first, until the nerves settled a bit). There was as much positive as there was pointing out places for improvement. So all in all, the students did well for doing this for the first time -- and I believe we actors did our jobs quite successfully, as well.



Fri, Jan 19, 2018

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Opening Today

STELLA AND LOU by Bruce Graham, at The Dayton Theatre Guild.

Click here for the promocast of the show




On TV icon
fb post - "ER is now on Hulu. I'd forgotten how good it is. This is bad news for me and my time budget."

YEP ICON



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THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
Since auditions are tonight and tomorrow night, clearly this one is in preproduction. I'm sound designer for the show. I met for a short production meeting yesterday with Director Kathy Mola. The discussion was mostly general and basic, but a baseline was set for the scope of the sound design.


STELLA AND LOU logo.
Can't report much about Opening Weekend, as I was only there Opening Night, and was busy, as is usually the case, being house manager. So it's the same old song and dance: I don't know how it went except that the Friday audience gave positive feedback and the director and cast all seemed pleased. It was a good house size, too -- not quite, but in the neighborhood of sold out.


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ANNOUNCING THE CAST OF THE OTHER PLACE:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.

CHARACTER
      ACTOR
Juliana
      Amy Askins
Ian
      Jamie McQuinn
The woman
      Kayla Graham
The man
      Mark Sharp


Dayton Theatre Guild -- announcing our 2018-2019 season


Here's our forthcoming season at The Guild:

The Little Foxes
by Lillian Hellman

In a small Alabama town in the year 1900, a southern family's selfish pursuit of the American Dream ends up destroying them and those they love. Three siblings -- the manipulative Regina, the cruel and arrogant Oscar, and the possessive Benjamin -- have decided to partner together to increase their already substantial, ill-gotten wealth. But Regina's terminally ill husband, Horace, refuses to give them the money they need. In the end, blood and money mix with money coming out on top, leaving a broken family behind.

Directed by Kathy Mola

Show runs Aug 17-Sep 2, 2018

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, June 4 & 5, 2018*


This Random World
by Steven Dietz

We want to believe that serendipity brings us together, but how often do we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing? From an ailing woman who plans one final trip, to her daughter planning one great escape, and her son falling prey to a prank gone wrong, this funny, intimate, and heartbreaking play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach of our own. Following a web of characters whose interwoven lives collide but never quite connect, This Random World shows us that, through the power of chance, we might be closer to each other than we know.

Directed by Margie Strader

Show runs Oct 5-21, 2018

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, Aug 20 & 21, 2018*


SEASON EXTRA:
The Man Who Killed the Cure
by Luke Yankee

The Man Who Killed the Cure, a controversial new play by The Last Lifeboat playwright Luke Yankee, is based on the life and death of Dr. Max Gerson, one of the fathers of natural healing. Two doctors, who are colleagues, friends, and men of science, survive Nazi Germany and make their way to America. Dr. Max Gerson believes in natural healing techniques while his former best friend and new adversary gets rich trying to stop him. This play is about the times we live in, one man's betrayal of another, and a timeless investigation of the hypocrisy that poisons the world of modern medicine.

Directed by Jeff Sams

Show runs Nov 16-25, 2018


The Shadow Box
by Michael Cristofer

The Shadow Box made its Broadway debut in 1977, winning both a Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Joe, Brian, and Felicity come from different walks of life, different parts of the country, and are each dying of cancer. They are living their final days with friends and family in a hospice cottage on the grounds of a large California hospital. Joe's wife is in denial, Felicity awaits a visit from her daughter, and Brian plays referee between his ex-wife and his male lover. Each day, the patients are observed and counseled by an invisible Interviewer as they talk candidly about their emotional and physical struggles.

Directed by David Shough

Show runs Jan 11-27, 2019

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, Nov 19 & 20, 2018*


Our Mother's Brief Affair
by Richard Greenberg

Anna is in the hospital having the latest of her frequent deathbed scenes, and this one looks like it may be the real deal. She makes a shocking confession to her grown children about an affair from her past that just might have resonance beyond the family. But how much of what she says is true? While her children try to separate fact from fiction, Anna fights for a legacy she can be proud of. With razor-sharp wit and extraordinary insight, Our Mother's Brief Affair considers the sweeping, surprising impact of indiscretions both large and small.

Directed by Patrick Allyn Hayes

Show runs Mar 1-17, 2019

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, Jan 14 & 15, 2019*


Nice Girl
by Melissa Ross

In suburban Massachusetts in 1984, thirty-seven-year-old Josephine Rosen has a dead-end job as a secretary and still lives at home with her hypochondriac mother. She started college but never finished, and has settled into a life that doesn't offer much hope for the future. But when a new friendship at work and a chance flirtation with an old classmate give her hope for the possibility of change, she dusts off the Jane Fonda tapes and begins to take tentative steps towards a new life. This is a play about the tragedy and joy of figuring out who you are and letting go of who you were supposed to be.

Directed by Debra Kent

Show runs Apr 19-May 5, 2019

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, Mar 4 & 5, 2019*


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
by Jethro Compton

Journey into the Wild West in the year 1890, in this classic story of good versus evil, law versus the gun, one man versus Liberty Valance. When a young scholar from New York City travels west in search of a new life, he arrives beaten and half-dead on the dusty streets of Twotrees. Rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home. A local girl gives him purpose in a broken land, but is it enough to save him from the vicious outlaw who wants him dead? He must make the choice to turn and run or to stand up for what he believes.

Directed by J. Gary Thompson

Show runs June 7-23, 2019

Auditions will be held Mon & Tue, Apr 22 & 23, 2019*

*ALL AUDITION DATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE


AND IT'S ON TO THE NEXT AUDITION ICON
NOPE ICON
Earlier this week I auditioned for the role of Col. Nathan Jessep in Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men, however, the answer was:

"No."



Wed, Jan 31, 2018

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AT THE MOVIES icon
Sunday was Movie Day for me. Though technically I wasn't "at the movies," i.e.: in a movie theater, I'll use this category whenever I want to post about movies I have seen, regardless of the venue. I saw two Sunday; both were cinematic versions of stories in which I have been involved with stage-play productions of the same stories, two productions for one of them.

MARJORIE PRIME movie poster.
MARJORIE PRIME logo.
Some may know that this past fall I was in the cast of the Dayton Theatre Guild mounting of Marjorie Prime, by Jordon Harrison. I was Jon, the son-in-law of the title character. Our show ran October 6 though 22 last year. Our cast was Barb Jorgensen as Marjorie, Ryan Shannon as her husband, Walter, Wendi Michael as their daughter, Tess, and myself as Tess' husband, the aforementioned Jon. Our director was Jared Mola.

The movie, also titled Marjorie Prime with Michael Almereyda directing, had a limited U.S. release a few months earlier, opening August 18. It had its debut screening in February at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and spent most of the year on the festival circuit. In the film Lois Smith is Marjorie, Jon Hamm is Walter, Geena Davis is Tess, and Tim Robbins is Jon.

This movie is directly based on Harrison's play. We knew while we were in rehearsal that the movie existed. We mistakenly believed it would have its U.S. premiere on October 19, just before we closed. That date was actually the South Korean premiere; as stated above, it had a limited run in U.S. theatres in August -- though it had played quite a few film festivals over the course of 2017. The point of this being that toward the end of our theatre run we were futilely on the lookout for a showing at one of the local theatre venues that show smaller pictures. At some point, Ryan realized it was now available to view on Amazon Prime Video. If my memory serves me correctly that was just before our production went dark.

Actors and other theatre/movie production people out there who may read this, especially directors, will likely understand that most of us wanted to wait until we were done with our run before we saw the movie. By the time we finally identified our avenue to see the movie the timing had pretty much become a moot point, as there was no time to fit it in before we closed our production, anyway.

PRODUCTION GREMLIN ICON
We ended up with January 28 as the day we could finally get together and screen the movie. Then there was a hitch, a gremlin. We had technical problems accessing anyone's Amazon Prime account from the smart TV at Barb's house, where the soiree was planned -- they have a big flat screen in their entertainment room. The solution: the movie is available at iTunes, so I bought it. We ran it from my MacBook Pro onto the big screen TV.

We all agreed that we liked the movie. There were, of course, many differences between the play script and the screenplay, and I think we all found some of the changes a bit jarring; I certainly did. The most jarring for us is that the mood and tone of the movie is a bit darker than our production was. There were also lines cut, changed, or switch around, even, in few instances reassigned to different characters. There were also, new lines, and added scenes -- some of those added scenes being flashbacks. There were a couple characters added. In the play, also, Tess and Jon have three children: two sons, Mitchel and Micah, and their daughter, Raina. They only have Raina in the film, and just as she's off stage in the play, she's off screen in the movie, only being referred to as Tess' estranged daughter who only talks with Jon. My interpretation is that Raina is only referred to and never seen either on stage or on screen because it emphasizes that estrangement between Tess and Raina.

When you're talking Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, and Tim Robbins, it's not likely you'll be talking about poor performances. I liked all their work, as I think we all did, at least that was what I heard at our little post-production cast-&-crew party. Naturally, I paid the most attention to the difference between Robbin's portrayal of Jon against mine. His Jon borderlines on stoic as opposed to mine who was congenial. Both Jons are nice guys, but his was burdened throughout in a manner that mine was not. He did give one reading of a line the way I wanted to give it but was directed away from, and I find that seeing his reading confirmed my feeling that my instinct was correct: my Jon was far too big on the line, which was what I always believed.

As an aspiring film director (in theory, at least) I find the same lesson in this film as I did in Joss Whedon's 2012 Much Ado About Nothing. Like that Shakespeare adaptation, Marjorie Prime is shot on location, primarily in a house, most of the action taking place in the living room or the adjacent dinning and kitchen areas. The house sits on a beach and there are other locations in the film, like a bar on the beach, and the beach, itself, as well as some exteriors of the house. I have the impression that every location in the film was very likely actually in walking distance of each other.

None of the movie seems to have been shot on a sound stage, as was also the case for the Whedon film. The lesson is that, I, too, could tell a good story in a feature-length film in a limited amount of locations (or just one), that is compelling and worth an audience's time to watch. I also note, from its IMDb trivia page, that Marjorie Prime was shot in 13 days "with the actors working 12 of them."

A little voice in my head is whispering that I should be firing up my Final Draft software and finally deciding on what higher end HD movie camera I might want to rent -- or, dare I say it?: buy.

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS movie poster
SOUVENIR & Dayton Theatre Guild combined logo. Play by Stephen Temperly
When I got home in the early evening from my lovely afternoon with the Marjorie Prime people, I decided I would watch another movie, and that it should be one that also connects to a play I've done or been involved with. My first thought was to watch the film Una based on the play Blackbird, by David Harrower, which Heather Atkinson and I appeared in at DTG in April of 2011. The 2016 movie, which I purchased recently from iTunes, stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn. But, if Marjorie Prime was a dark movie earlier in the day, Una was most likely to prove darker -- based on the stage play anyway. I wasn't in the mood.

I settled on looking to see if I could find, streaming somewhere, Florence Foster Jenkins, directed by Stephen Frears, which is based on the same woman as the stage play Souviner, by Stephen Temperley. I designed sound for two separate productions of the play, one at DTG and then a later mounting at Brookville Community Theatre. Both stage productions were directed by Saul Caplan and starred Renée Franck-Reed and Charles Larkowski. I found the movie streaming on Hulu.

The screenplay is not directly based on the play script, rather they both are based on the real Mrs. Jenkins, a New York socialite of the early 20th century, who was a great patron of the arts and fancied herself an aspring operatic singer, despite that her vocal ability was terrible. Both tell the story of events that led to Florence's concert at Carnegie Hall, but where the stage play focuses on the relationship between Florence and her accompanist, Cosmé McMoon, the movie focuses on her relationship with her husband, actor St. Clair Bayfield.

The movie stars Meryl Streep as Florence and Hugh Grant as St. Clair. Cosmé is in the film, just not as a lead character, though not at all insignificant to the screen version. Where Charles Larkowski took on the lead role of Cosmé on stage, Simon Helberg has the supporting role on screen. Of course, Ms. Streep, who could justifiably get an Oscar nomination for reading pages of the phone book, is wonderful as Florence. Grant, too, does a fine job. Helberg's performance as Cosmé is so different from his work as Howard on The Big Bang Theory, as well as his work as Alex on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, that I have gained a new appreciation for his range as an actor.

Though the movie is the same story as the play, it's from a radically different perspective and I did not find these acute differences as jarring as I did those between the two Marjorie Primes. I think the reason is that these aren't two different collies but rather a collie and a fox.

One thing both incarnations have in common is they both heavily touch on the beauty of the spirit of the woman and her need to engulf herself in music as an expresion of her soul. Though they use different compositions, both end giving the audience a listen to what what Florence heard when she sang, which are lovely performances by the respective actresses. The movie ends with Jenkins on her death bed, her last words being words that are attributed to the actual woman, toward the end of her life. It's not absolutely confirmed that she actually said it, but it is a profound line that illustrates the theme of the movie, the play, and the importance of Mrs. Jenkin's story:

"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."


Sometime soon: Una.



Thu, Feb 1, 2018

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THE LAST 17/18 PROMOCAST:
BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon

Preproduction has begun for the promocast for Bakersfield Mist.

I have contacted Playwright Stephen Sachs about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the DV movie.

I await his response.

I also will be designing the sound, but, we have plenty of time to get to that.



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IN MEMORIUM OF AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING:
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For the record, with the exception of the first photo at the top, which I took in the early 90's at a young peoples conference in Indianapolis, I grabbed all the others from Denny's facebook page. I do not know who took them, or the when and where of each. But they all show the life lover in him and his loving soul certainly glows from them. This includes the bigger pic below.

This is not directly related to "artful things," but I am posting this here anyway. Because, truthfully, this is about my friend Denny, a man who played at least some roll in my being in any sort of artistic life today, if for no other reason than he was part of the community of people who enabled to me to actually be not dead today, whether that means quite literally dead or it means spiritually dead. He was not only a part of that community, he was, for me, a vital, important part of that community. He became the most important mentor I have ever had in my life, as some of you have seen me write previously.

On Tuesday I posted on facebook about Denny, who was in a coma and was not long for this earth. At 8:29 Thursday evening (Feb 1, 2018) he died. I discovered this yesterday at lunchtime when I visited his facebook page to see if there was an update on his condition.

The news devastated me, despite that it was not unexpected. I did not go back to work. I walked around the underground tunnel hallways on my campus for a few minutes, fighting tears. Then I went to my boss' office and through the start of sobbing, I said I had to go, that a very good friend had died. I told my employee I was leaving for the day, gave him some probably vague instructions and left, driving home with a gray pallor surrounding my contenance and sobs escaping from my throat every now and then.

I started this composition when I got home, but only got two sentences down before I decided I wasn't ready to write this. I watched a little TV, sent some texts and some PMs to a few people who would want to know Denny had passed, whose lives he had also touched, then went to bed.

I woke up at 6:00 last evening to see that I had some responses, a couple people wanted to call. I, however, had decided to go out. I went to my home theatre -- The Dayton Theatre Guild, of course -- to see our current production of Stella and Lou. I told those who'd wanted to call that I was going out for the night, that I had spent the afternoon in quiet grief, and I now needed to be out among people. I needed to do a little living. We'd talk later. Another friend, who doesn't know Denny, happened to be at the show so we sat together then went out for a late dinner afterward. I talked some about Denny, the same sorts of things I'm going to share here.

Some people reading this will know that I am what I call a recovered alcoholic -- some people hate that phraseology, preferring "recovering" alcoholic, and that's fine, and it's a debate for another time. Either way, I have been continuously sober for over thirty-five years. I got sober in my twenties. I went to that community of people that Denny was a member of. It's, as some probably have guessed, a community of sober alcoholics (and drug addicts) or those who are striving to achieve sobriety. Groups meet frequently to support each other, to share experience, strength, and hope with each other, to receive support when they each need it and to help others achieve and maintain sobriety. In turn, through the act of helping others with their sobriety, each receives the spiritual benefit of strengthening their own sobriety -- one spiritual philosophy calls that karma, I believe.

Along with regular meetings, this community of sober alcoholics has occasional special workshops and conferences (often annual events). Sometimes these will focus on, but not be exclusive to, particular subgroups, the most prominent of those being young people. One smaller annual conference, that was more or less focused on younger members, used to happen in October every year in Warren, Ohio, the other side of my state from me, a four-hour drive. That's where I met Denny. I said the other day it was 1983, but it might have been 1984 or 1985, I'm not sure, but it was one of the three. It was called the Warren Round Up, and it became an annual trek for me, until the event finally and unfortunately ceased.

That first time, and several afterward, I went with a newer friend who would eventually become a very close friend, for a while I could call him my best friend. We bonded through experiences like this as well as other adventures and treks. At that first round up we met Denny, one of the founders of the round up who was immediately charming, gregarious and intimately loving. In fact, by the time the weekend was over we would find that his loving demeanor could be most intense and intimidating, especially to those who were in their shell, who were afraid of life, who thought nothing of themselves. He would instantly target them and make sure they left feeling the overwhelming love, not only from him, but more importantly, from the whole group of people who were there. I came back year after year after that first time. That annual weekend was one of the highlights of my year.

Denny and I did not spend an exorbitant amount of time together, he did live some 250 miles away, but we saw each other several times every year, mostly but not exclusively at young peoples conferences and events. As I wrote recently about him, Denny was charismatic, passionate, compassionate, arrogant, loving, affectionate, brilliant, and wise. He quickly became that most important mentor to me.

He was an amazing orator, frequently sought after to speak at meetings and conferences, sharing his story, his experience, strength and hope, his wisdom. Every November, for quite a few years, I was the monthly chairperson for a meeting called "Saturday Night Young Peoples," which was ran by my home group in the fellowship. November was/is Gratitude month, which is why I always volunteered to chair. I always had Denny come down to be the speaker during one of those November Saturdays. Local friends of mine would also ask him to speak in the south-west Ohio area. He was a trouble-maker who hated dogma and confronted false heroes and usually spent time on those subjects when he spoke from a podium. He did it one-on-one, too. Not everyone was enthused with this. I think a lot of times it was because he was talking about them or was challenging what they believe. I do believe he was a profound believer in the philosophy that one should "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

A very close friend of mine whom I attempted poorly to play the same role in his life as Denny had in mine, once asked him to speak at a meeting in this area and gave him a coffee mug that read on it, "Everyone's entitled to my opinion." He laughed and said there were a few meetings in his area where not everyone liked to hear him speak, yet he was asked to speak at them on occasion. He said he would be sure to always take that mug and "sit it right on the front of the lectern with the words facing the group." I don't know that he did, but it's a deliciously funny thought.

There were some in my home group who didn't like that I brought him in. One in particular who made an almost effective attempt at stopping it. He made sure I did not get the November chairperson position one year, specifically to stop Denny, and also I think because he didn't approve of the fact that I wanted to chair every November. Well, the person chairing that November had one Saturday that he could not do it, so he asked me if I wanted to fill in. I said yes -- guess who my speaker was? Funny how that worked out.

We lived far apart from each other but I still had many one-on-one encounters with Denny over the years: in hotel rooms or lobbies, or nooks and crannies in hotels or college campuses (wherever a particular conference or workshop was happening), in cars where one of us was passenger with the other driving, or in one of our homes where the other was a guest. And by the time I was seven years sober, phone calls.

He was always patient, but was always honest, brutally honest if that seemed necessary. He was rarely impressed with me, so when he was, I knew it was real. There were those times when he would hold up his hand to tell me to stop talking then he would say, "You're full of shit," then confront me on whatever current dishonesty in which I was indulging. He taught me to pay attention to the real lessons and tools of sobriety -- and life. He taught me to not assume that someone was wise just because they came off as wise, that a lot of people come to the sober fellowship as excellent con artists, they don't lose that skill regardless of whether they grow spiritually or not. There's a famous saying in the fellowship, "Pass it on." Denny use to say, "I think we should change that to: 'Check it out, then pass it on.'" He challenged me and others to also challenge him and his information as well as anyone else and theirs.

He very much believe and professed that recovery, all growth, actually, is an inside job. I can remember calling him to run some current difficulty by him. I'd ask what I should do. There'd be this deadly silence on the other end of the phone. Finally I'd say, "So....I should write about this." Then he'd chuckle and say, "Boy, you learn quick." Other times his response, rather than silence would be an incredulous, "Don't ask me that! How long have you been sober? You know damn well what the solution is."

He wasn't a perfect man, because, you see, he was indeed still a member of the human race. He had his flaws. That arrogance, for instance, sometimes tipped the scale into a little too much. And he, himself, once told me that he sucked at personal organization. Also, I remember that one time as I was introducing him to speak at a meeting I said he was open-minded. When he got up he said, "Open-minded? Not too. It takes a lot to change my mind. I'll be open to what you have to say but you'd better be armed with good information or I'm not listening long" -- now that I've written that down, it doesn't seem like much of a flaw, more like some wisdom. With his human failties he was still a mountain of love, strength, and wisdom.

Denny was an affectionate soul. He was a hugger. He loved to touch people and he loved being touched. He took me dragging my feet into a better understanding of intimacy among people, not just the physical but the emotional and the intellectual. Not that I don't still often closely guard my intimacy and find myself uncomfortable with intimacy. But because of Denny and a few others, I'm much, much better at it than I would otherwise be. One of Denny's heroes was Leo Buscaglia, aka: "Dr. Love," a motivational speaker who professed to be the world's greatest hugger and did seminars on intimacy and love.

Most importantly, Denny believed in the power of love and the power of a spiritual life of action. He truly loved and most certainly was truly loved by very many souls. I can't venture to guess how many people he has helped over his 43 years of sober living -- certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands.

This is very personal writing, of course, and it deals with my relationship with Denny. There's no question there are many, many others who had closer and more frequent contact with him, people who saw him weekly or more frequently, people who shared a closer bond with him. I'm not jealous of them, but I do envy them. I just know that my life would have been lesser had he never been a part of it. I must admit, the last few years we hadn't talked much. And it had been quite a while since we'd seen each other, probably more than ten years since we were in the same room together. But I did still call on occasion, just to keep in touch and to check in. And we PM'd on facebook on occasion. This virtual absence didn't diminish what had been before and his importance in my life never wained.

I'll end now with a small portion of something written about Denny's passing by his very close friend of a half-century, Dharl. Dharl, by-the-way, was also prominent in the execution of that wonderful Warren Round Up each year and is an absolutely beautiful soul in his own right:

....In his gratitude for the program that made his successful reintegration into a sober lifestyle possible he was always willing to be of service to his fellow alcoholics. In addition he was always available for service to anyone who would accept his help. As a meeting secretary, speaker and sponsor he helped hundreds of struggling people find a new and acceptable way of life. He was very active at the Lordstown Wednesday Night meeting at the UAW 1112 Hall from 1973 until this past December only pausing because of his illness.

On February 1st at 8:29 PM Denny finished the final leg of his journey with the same determination and heart as he had exhibited throughout these many years of service. He was loved by and will be missed by many people. His final wishes for his friends was that they continue to allow love and light in their lives....

In keeping with our tradition of closing with a reading...we would offer the following.

    "Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God Bless you and keep you -- until then."
xxxx
Dennis Carter (Denny) Lawrence
May 29, 1942 -- February 1, 2018
My dear Denny, my friend, my mentor, count me among the multitude who love you and feel the great loss of your passing.

I added some passages to this later in the day, as I realized I had something more to say.



Sun, Feb 4, 2018

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Closing Today

STELLA AND LOU by Bruce Graham, at The Dayton Theatre Guild.

Directed by J. Gary Thompson
Produced by Barbara Jorgensen

Lou's South Philadelphia bar is the kind of place where the same faces sit on the same barstools seven nights a week, drowning their sorrows into countless mugs of beer. Lou is happy to run the place and enjoy time with Stella when she stops in. But Stella has decided they need to take the next step in their relationship -- or she's moving to Florida. This funny, wise, and tender story is a mid-life portrait of friendship, and maybe more. At the play's premiere at Chicago's Northlight Theatre in 2013, it was cheered by critics for its humor and honesty.

The Cast of Stella and Lou

CHARACTER
           ACTOR
Stella
           Amy Taint
Lou
           Geoff Burkman
Donnie
           Adam Clevenger

The Promocast for Stella and Lou

In the audience icon
I saw the show Friday evening.

It was an entertaining evening at the theatre with some good performances on the stage.

Another good DTG production.



Mon, Feb 19, 2018

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HERE'S TO THE
U.S. PRESIDENTS
OF VALOR




THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
Preproduction of the sound design has officially begun in earnest. I have identified all the sound cues that I need to pull from my sound library, find and acquire, or Foley. I know there are a couple instances where I am probably going to build sound files.

I have also started curating the small amount of production music there will be. One piece of music will be a series of sound cues at one point in the play, there which a particular composer, Gustav Mahler, is specifically named -- though the composition is not named. There's also a spot where we are probably going to underscore some dialogue; then there will be the curtain call music. There is some strong consideration that these will also be Mahler compositions, but that is not carved in stone as of yet. Although, I am pretty sure I have found a Mahler cello concerto with piano, that is highly likely to be that underscore music: "Adagietto for Cello & Piano, Symphony No.5, 4th mvt."

Pre-show will not be classical music -- well, probably won't be. I have not yet started to curate that. I have contacted the lead actress, Amy Askins, and asked her to give me a list of her character, Juliana's, five favorite recording artists. I did this for the three principals for Luna Gale, too. Though with them, the artists carried over into the production music; Amy's (Juliana's) list won't in this case. Just like then, too, I reserve the right to add artists to the mix, but who those artists are will be informed by who is on her list.


BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
I have yet to get a response from Playwright Stephen Sachs about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the promotional DV movie for Bakersfield Mist.

Looks like it's time to try another avenue.

Probably his agent.



Thu, Feb 22, 2018

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THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
Preproduction of the sound design continues. Amy Askins (Juliana) has given me her five choices as Juliana's favorite musical artists, which I requested in order to inform me while curating the pre-show music. Four of her choices are now part of an extensive repertoire of songs that will make up the pre-show, along with a few other artists I have chosen because, in my opinon, they compliment her choices. As is always the case, there will be far, far more than the necessary half-hour of music needed for pre-show, and I will program the Show Cue Systems software to randomly chose from the probably four-plus hours of music -- so, there will be a different pre-show music lineup before every performance, which is my standard operational procedure.

One of Amy's choices is, rather than a contemporary recording artist, a classical composer. I've pulled him from pre-show eligibility, but some composition by him might contend for either that piece of underscore music I mentioned last time, or the curtain call music. It's not a lock, but it's a possibility.

Now, on to trolling my sound library and/or various other resources to get the production sound that is called for. I am quite sure there are some elements I will have to create as new Foley -- one in particular which I have already thought about how I am going to record. There's also no question that I will build some sound for some moments.


BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
I still haven't received a response directly from Playwright Stephen Sachs about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the promotional DV movie for Bakersfield Mist, so now I have the request in to his agent, Susan Gurman.

I've also drafted an email to Craig Pospisil, the director of nonprofessional licensing at DPS (Dramatists Play Service). As I found out in December, DPS has started to involved itself in this sort of copyright clearance -- they did not use to. I have Craig on the back-burner if I do not hear back from Ms. Gurman.



Fri, Feb 23, 2018

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PREPRODUCTION CONTINUES:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
I've started scouring my sound library as well as contemplating how I will create the necessary Foley sound and what sound file elements I'll use to build tailored sound files.

I had someone give me a quite a few CDs of sound effects, which I have not yet transfered to my sound library hard drive.

I do believe tomorrow is the day for much of this work.


AND THIS PREPRODUCTION ALSO CONTINUES:
BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
I have heard back from an assistant to Susan Gurman, Stephen Sachs' agent, about the clearance to use script dialogue in the promocast for Bakersfield Mist. That response was that they will get back to me. At least I now know I am on someones' radar about this.

I still have Craig Pospisil, the director of nonprofessional licensing at DPS (Dramatists Play Service), on the shelf as a next resort. But, it doesn't seem likely I would use him unless Ms. Gurman's office either abdicates authority on this or actually refers me to him. Neither turn of event is outside the realm of possibility.



Sun, Feb 25, 2018

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE! 25 Feb, 1943 - 29 Nov, 2001
Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away

George Harrison
"All Things Must Pass"



Mon, Feb 26, 2018

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SOUND PRODUCTION COMMENCES:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON

I suppose, really, "production" had already started once I began curating pre-show music. I also, by the way, decided to cull the song list for pre-show by restricting the number of songs by each artist to four songs from the artists Amy Askins gave me as Juliana's favorites, and one each by the artists I then brought in to complement Amy's list. The simplest way to do that was to start over, which I did.

The new curation is a total of twenty-nine songs from seventeen total artists. It comes to just about two hours of total music for the nightly thirty minutes of pre-show music to be randomly havested from by the Show Cue Systems software, eliminating about half the previous four-hour repertoire. And just so you know: when you restrict yourself to a certain amount of songs per artist for pre-show, it can spark spirited debate in your head. I also decided to process each song to even out the sound volume for at least a relatively consistent playback level in the theatre.

Redoing the pre-show was the first thing I did over the weekend, but I did more, directly toward the production sound and music. I'm 99% settled on the production music, allowing for a chance that I might change my mind, but thinking that the concrete is likely hardening quickly around my choices. For sound effects, I have built a few unique sound files, thus far only using prerecorded elements from my sound library.

Though I've pulled existing stuff from my library for many sound effects, I also had to go out on the web and procure some, as well. I did not do any Foley work over the weekend, and I may find that I don't have to. I may be able to build the certain sequences of sound -- children taking a bath -- without recording anything new. Specifically, it was water swishing and splashing that presented as the big possible need, and it was looking like I might be filling my bathtub and turning my bathroom into a recording studio. But I found and added quite a bit of such sound to my library over the weekend. I haven't begun to build those sequences yet, but they clearly on the agenda for this week There may be a couple other potential sound needs that require me to do Foley work; I'll soon know for sure.


PREPRODUCTION CONTINUES:
BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon

Right now the only "preproduction" is waiting for the response from Stephen Sachs' agent, Susan Gurman, about the clearance to use dialogue from the Bakersfield Mist script in the promocast, and whether it gets settled through her or whether I move on to Craig Pospisil at DPS (Dramatists Play Service). Really, until somewhere around late April, that's all there is in preproduction for this promocast.

Preproduction for the promocast for The Other Place is technically up next; that which is the next promocast to be produced and needs to meet final cut on or before March 14.



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SOUND DESIGN & PROMOCAST:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON

Yesterday I worked some on building sound effects for the show. I built all the new sound from sound files in my sound library; I've not yet had to do any Foley work. I have more work during the week to do.

DTG Promocast Production logo
As per SOP, I'll attend at least one, and I hope, two, rehearsals this week in prep for principal photography of the promocast this coming Tech Sunday. On one hand, it's to help me pick the moments I want to use, and it's best to the script on its feet and a live through the actors to best choose the moments; on the other, it's also to be familiar with the blocking when shooting begins on Sunday.


NEXT.................................:
READING SCRIPTS
AUDITION ICON
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
DTG Assistant Director icon
DTG Producer icon
For various reasons I have a few plays to read. There are some upcoming auditions; I'm designing sound for a couple productions coming up. I will be AD for This Random World at The Guild next season. I'll also be producing two others next season at The Guild, The Shadow Box and Nice Girl. There are a couple others I want to read, too, simply because I do. And, of course, at some point the HRTC 18/19 season will be announced and I'll have to look to see for what roles I could be the right type, and then get ahold of whatever of those scripts I can.


NOVEL WORK & SCREENPLAY WORK -- AND PLAY SCRIPT WORK....MAYBE:
The Writer icon

'STARTING FOR THE SUN' a novel by K.L.Storer
Some may know that before I was back into the acting world I was focused on writing. I actually had a few short stories and poems published in the 1990's and in the early 2000's I wrote the early draft of a novel, titled Starting for the Sun, which is planned to be the first in a series of novels about the protagonist, L.D. Cooper, spanning from his childhood (in which the first novel and the several chapters written of the second novel are set) into his adulthood.

I haven't worked on any of the prose for any rewriting of the first novel or any additional work on the second manuscript for a very long time. But I have worked extensively, in spurts, on a few elements that I collectively call the bible material for all the potential novels for this character and his universe.

random Time Line entries sample
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Addendum: I have discovered an error in one of the entries above. The first one states that the supporting character, Donald Richardson, was nominated for a Tony Award in 1943; however I have learned that the first Tony Awards were given out in 1947. I can't fix it in the static png image above, but the original document has now been corrected.
Formost in that are a series of documents, which I am sure I have mentioned here before, the "Time Line" documents. Most of these cover a two year period, such as 1971 to 1972, but the first two and, at the moment, the last few, cover longer periods.

The first one covers 1900 through 1957 and denote relevant births and events that occurred before our L.D. is born. The second document covers his year of birth, 1958, through to the end of 1970. As of 1971, the timeline documents are then two-years each until the we hit the last several, which all cover a decade each up to 2030.

See to the right, some innocuous, random entries from many of the time line documents, each randomly chosen, yet with a triage approach in terms of rejecting any for use if it revealed something I don't want shown.

As "1900-1958," they all denote the relevant events for the universe of L.D. Cooper. The events (births, deaths, achievements, etc., ect.) are not always directly in his life but they are all relevant to where i, at least at the moment, believe the series story arch will go. And the time lines reach very far in the future, far past where I have thus far been with the prose of the novel manuscripts. It's been a while but I think in the second manuscript I stopped at, or just about into, the summer of 1970. The first novel spans the spring of 1968 into December of 1969.

I very clearly have always known where I want to go with this series, from the beginning when it all came to me whole while I was toward the end of my college tenure and I started the draft of the original manuscript, which I chucked and started back at zero with a new rendition, which is the present one. So it was easy to get a lot of time line down quickly, in fact, some of it was done early in the writing of the first good draft, perhaps some beforehand, but I can't remember now.

But I definitely wanted the family histories and backgrounds of both his parents, and his one aunt, who is a key player in the entire series, to be solid when I wrote the first manuscript*. I also knew the exact story of how his parents met, which is key to a particular scene in the first novel* as well as important to the whole of the book.

*For the record, when I refer to the "first" manuscript or novel, I mean the finished draft, titled, Starting for the Sun, not the early draft that I discarded, incomplete.

As of late I've been back working on the time-line portion of the bible material. The last week or so I have been adding car purchases -- see the entry about his purchase of a Rolls Royce in 1977. I've gotten it up through the spring of 1985,when he buys a 331 Jaguar XJS Cabriolet. I also added the purchase of a 114-foot yacht for $16.5 million, when L.D. is 21.

There's also been a lot of more interpersonal plot development stuff like a vignette of dialogue, which may or may not make into a future manuscript, which I came up with weeks back the last time I got on a tear to work on this universe:

    Therese calls back when the jet's about an hour from Chicago:

    L.D.: "Hello?"
    T: "Hi."
    L.D.: "Hey. Well. You called back."
    T: "Yes."
    L.D.: "So? How about dinner tonight, or tomorrow, or both?"
    T: "David, I--"
    L.D.: "--Ah! L.D., remember?"
    T: "....L.D. then. L.D., we've kind of gone over this before. You're a really sweet guy, but, really, where's this supposed to go?"
    L.D.: "Right now it's just me coming to see you and going to dinner, right?"
    T: "...."
    L.D.: "Seriously. I like you. I think about you a lot. I want to know you. It's clear to me you're worth knowing."
    T: "That's very flattering. And....you're obviously worth knowing, too."
    L.D.: "So, let's know each other. Uh, not in the biblical sense, but you know."
    T: "(laughs)."
    L.D.: "We connect. We connected the moment we met. At least I did."
    T: "...."
    L.D.: "Listen, despite how it may seem, I'm not great at this stuff. I'm not Mr. Charmer, or whatever. But, I just can't....I have to try to be....to spend time with you. I just know you are so worth the effort."
    T: "(Sigh), well...."
    L.D.: "So? Dinner?"
    T: "Where?"
    L.D.: "Wherever."
    T: "I know enough about your life to know that 'wherever' is not true."
    L.D.: "Yeah. That's kinda right. But, there are lots of options in your city that will work."
    T: "So....dinner tonight?"
    L.D.: "Dinner tonight."
    T: "When?"
    L.D.: "We're going to land about 5:00. I'll head to my place then I can pick you up about 7:30 or 8:00. Does that work?"
    T: "Yeah. 7:30 or 8:00. Should I dress up or what?"
    L.D.: "Just to go to dinner, not the Oscars or something."
    T: "....7:30 or 8:00."
    L.D.: "See you then."
    T: "Okay....bye."
    L.D.: "Bye."

Whether it makes it into a novel or not, that exchange takes place in October of 1982. L.D. is 24 and a monstrously successful recording artist who's now incredibly famous, and mega-wealthy. The young woman is a twenty-three-year-old college student from Chicago whom he's met through circumstances I won't reveal here. He's just finished a world concert tour and is on his way to his townhouse, which he'd rented while he was doing a play in Chicago (because he's also got a pretty successful acting career) but decided to buy, mostly because the young woman is in Chicago.

Most of the entries in the time lines are career events for L.D., such as when he's shooting episodes of a TV show, or when he's recording a new album, or when an album or a single gets to a notable spot on the record charts, or when some significant business move is made. Interspersed are those personal events, not only for him, but for others in the universe: note the mentions in the sample above of when Lisa Cooper (L.D.'s sister) begins her Masters and Ph.D programs.

But even the things that are seemingly not about personal events have an affect on the personal in the story arch that is ever-developing in my head. What happens when you're one of the most famous people in the world and you want to attend a relative's high school graduation ceremony? What's it like to have a very famous relative or childhood friend? What if you're a regular, middle-class person who often, or always, has to watch your spending so you make your budget and don't miss paying your bills on time, but you're close to someone who can drop $100 thousand, cash, on a whim, for a new Ferrari? What if you're a teenager and other kids in your high school are trying to befriend you because of a superstar family member?

What's it like to be so famous you have your privacy constantly invaded? How does that impact it when you are pursuing a love interest? What's it feel like to have family members and childhood friends resent your success because of how it unfairly affects them? Does a guy who was worth $1 million when he was 16 have a solid memory of being a middle-class child? And do memories of a middle-class childhood affect his attitude when he's a twenty-something worth nine figures?

Not only have a beau coupe of plot events and conflicts occurred to me while working on the time line, the sculpting of characters, in many case, the further development and growth of them, have come to me. I am better forming their personalities by considering what their reactions to things might be.

I've worked on other things associated as well. Such as various different excel spreadsheets that deal with all sorts of business things like income from record sales, concert tours, music publishing, television residuals, and other incomes. I also have Billboard record chart positions for all his recordings, and I have the song lineups of all his albums, and their titles, and the play lists his concert tours, that is up to a certain point in time -- more will be added.

All the original songs made mention of, by the way, (such as in the sample time-line above), are real. They are mostly songs I wrote in my late teens and twenties, along with some written by my actual music partner from that period, as well as a few from a mutual friend -- though I had to make up names for those -- that fellow had either not titled the songs or was vague about the titles.

I've also written a few music reviews for some of his his albums and concerts, and I have a Playboy interview from 1979 almost finished. I believe I shared some of these in an earlier post.

For whatever reason, I derive strong satisfaction from this support work, this background work, this foundation work. At the moment, I feel no urge to get to the actual prose. I think one thing is that I need to go back and do a lot of repair work on the Starting for the Sun manuscript, and that thought seems daunting to me. Also, and more importantly, I know once I start the prose work, all other artistic ventures MUST take a back seat, really probably need to be put on hold. When I was working on that novel, and the several chapters of the sequel, I did nothing else but go to the rent-payer, and eat and sleep -- all other time in my waking hours was dedicated to the manuscript. Right now I don't want that. Honestly, doing this foundation work gets a tad obsessive for me; I put other artstic obligations aside -- ventures I'm doing in collaboration with others, things with real deadlines. So, diving into the actual manuscript of a novel about L.D.'s world will mean no other creative commitments.

However, I can say I am actually working on that universe, if not on the novel proper.

For a while, several years, in fact, I had the first five chapters of Starting for the Sun posted as one of the virtual chapbooks at my slumbering literary website, The WriteGallery Creative Writing Website, which is the current host for this blog. But I pulled the material down a few months back.

Final Draft 8 icon
Also in my mind is a screenplay for a longer short film, which I wrote about a decade ago. That one is about a twelve-year-old girl and her family. I have increasingly flirted with the idea of getting that to a final draft and into official preproduction. Also, over a year back, I wrote the first few scenes of a stageplay, and my mind turns an eye toward that, too, or, if not that, a new stageplay. However, I don't really have a strong idea for a stageplay, right now. There's no notion I feel a passion for, no story in my heart that demands I get it onto a stage. The one I started last year was based on an idea I had for the first scene, but I really did not, and still do not, have a whole story there, yet. I do want to write a play, or plays, eventually.


BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
No word yet about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the promocast.



Tue, Mar 13, 2018

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TECH WEEK, SOUND DESIGN, & PROMOCAST:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.

Of course, the show is now into Tech Week. Tech Sunday went well. Due to circumstances in someone's schedule there was a delay that put the kibosh on the planned dry tech, and we did not do a cue-to-cue. We ended up introducing the sound and light cues for the first time during a full run, with some starts and stops to work on specific cue timings, etc.

But the rehearsal was wrapped at 3:00, which is unprecedented. I did stay and fix some sound levels as well as add two sound cues that I discovered during the run I had missed in the script. I was still home by 6:00.

SOUND DESIGNING ICON
Show Cue Systems icon - http://www.showcuesystems.com/
Due to other DTG business, I spent the whole day at the theatre last Saturday, attending to the other business in the morning, going out for lunch with several other board members, then back to the theatre to finish off the sound design.

I still had to build sound for a series of SFX of kids playing in the bathtub and other kid sounds, as well as a few others. I brought my 8-channel portable digital recorder in case I still found I needed to do some Foley work, but I was able to find all the sound I needed in my sound library.

xxxx
I got to the point of programming the sound design plot into the Show Cue Systems software at maybe about 8:00 -- maybe a little later. I knew I would likely be there into the evening, so I packed my dinner. You can see me and my low sodium pasta in tomato sauce in the pic to the right. At that point I was camped at the box office counter where I was building sound and marking up both my sound designer's and Sarah Saunder's sound tech copies of the script.

Not only did I know I'd likely be at the theatre into the evening, I also knew there was a strong likelihood -- I'd say a 95+% chance -- that I'd observe my quasi-traditional practice of staying over in the theatre into Tech Sunday; so, I brought my sleeping bag, a change of clothes, toiletries, etc., etc; I did spend the night, by-the-way. I think I finished the sound plot programming after 1:00 a.m.; it might have been 2:00.

xxxx
xxxx
The sound designer's & the sound tech's copies of the script, behind the box office counter.
xxxx
In the booth, late Saturday night, programming the sound plot into Show Cue Systems.
xxxx
....probably moments later.

DTG Promocast Production logo
Final Cut Pro X icon
My Canon Vixia HF R40 HD Camcorder icon
As is now SOP, principal photography for the Other Place promocast was during Tech Sunday. That went as smoothly as did most of the rest of the day.

Since I'm the sound designer for the production, I need to be at the tech rehearsals this week, which means I have no evenings to edit the DV movie. So, I did what I do in this situation -- or when I am in the cast -- and I took a working vacation day yesterday to get the movie to final cut, using Final Cut Pro X. I got the movie virtually to the locked edit by noon yesterday, there was only one glitch. I was supposed to take the group cast photo on Tech Sunday but I forgot about it, thus I didn't have it to edit in Monday morning. If I'd had it, the promocast would have been on the Dayton Theatre Guild YouTube channel Monday afternoon. Instead I had to take the photo before yesterday evening's rehearsal then process it and edit it into the movie last night. The movie was rendered at about 10:45 and the upload was finished about midnight.

This is another mean, lean DV movie. With the end credits it comes to 3:26; the credits may be longer than the total of footage of the actors. One thing that makes me happy, I have finally come across a legitimate reason to do a split-screen sequence, as you can see in the screen shot, just below, from the editing yesterday morning. Those are Amy Askins (Juliana) and Mark Sharp (Richard) having a phone conversation.

Click here to see the DV movie

xxxx
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Amy Askins, with the videographer dude in the background.
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Camera B in the foreground & camera C in the background. The tripod setup for the first shot of the promocast principal photography.
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Jamie McQuin & Amy -- a freeze frame from the promocast.



BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
Still no word yet about clearance to use dialogue from the script in the promocast. I believe I am going to check back with the agency.



Wed, Mar 14, 2018

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Stephen Hawking, 8 Jan, 1942-14, Mar, 2018
The brilliance of the Universe is one soul less brilliant today, and it was one brilliant soul. But as Dr. Hawking himself would point out, the universe is, fortunately, incalculably massive and infinitely brilliant.

Still, this little blue planet, less than a spec of a microbe on the scale of the universe, has lost someone of great value.

And, of course, it's intersting that Dr. Hawking passed on Pi Day. It certainly is an irony that he would enjoy -- and maybe he did.

~~~ 0 ~~~

TECH WEEK CONTINUES:
THE OTHER PLACE logo.
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
SOUND DESIGNING, NO, SOUND TECH ICON
I made a few minor tweaks to sound levels after the Monday evening rehearsal, and they proved good last night. I had to cover as sound tech for the first half of the run last night, as our tech for this show, Sarah Saunders, is also the stage manager for the forthcoming youth production by the Undercroft Players, the local theatre company founded by actress/director Teresa Connair. Sarah was able to get to our rehearsal before the sounds with level changes were cued, so I was able to abdicate the sound tech chair and go into the house and judge those new levels. Again, they work.


BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
DTG Promocast Production logo
Copyright © Symbol icon
I did a follow-up email to the Gurman Agency, which represents Playwright Stephen Sachs, to see if a decision was made about clearance to use dialogue from the play in the promocast for Bakersfield Mist. I am happy to report that I have been granted clearance.

So YaY!



Fri, Mar 16, 2018

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Opening Today

THE OTHER PLACE by Sharr White, at The Dayton Theatre Guild.

Click here for the promocast of the show



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OPENING WEEKEND -- BUT FIRST, WALTZING WITH THAT DAMNED GREMLIN!:
GENERAL TECHIE STUFF ICON
SOUND DESIGNING ICON
THE OTHER PLACE logo.
PRODUCTION GREMLIN ICON
Didn't Mozart Compose a Waltz About a Gremlin? -- For a while, now, that damned gremlin has been screwing with the booth computer on which we run the Show Cue Systems software. Every now and then, that computer has, and somewhere around a half-dozen times, suddenly flashed a message that a serious error has occurred and the computer must restart. It thus far has not done this during a performance, but, this past Friday, Opening Night, it happened about twenty minutes before the top of the show, so, it came pretty close. I had already planned on replacing that computer and the event Friday accelerated my time table. It didn't accelerate when I would buy the replacement, but rather how quickly I'd get the new one into place.

xxxx
The Lenovo Yoga 720 laptop setting in its spot in the DTG booth.
By Saturday's show, sound tech Sarah Saunders, was running the Other Place sound cues from our new Lenovo Yoga 720 solid-state laptop. Getting a new sound-op computer was already in the New Business section of the agenda for the monthly Dayton Theatre Guild board meeting, which happened to be Saturday morning. Obviously the board approved the purchase and, as I indicated above, I hastened, not the timing of purchase, but the implementation of the new setup.

The coincidental happenstance on Friday was that before I went to the theatre, I stopped by Best Buy to look at new sound-op laptops, and had settled on one I was already going to pitch at the meeting. The computer crashing during pre-show later Friday simply gave me more ammunition. I left the theatre after the meeting Saturday and went straight to Best Buy to get that laptop -- for which they no longer had in stock. I would have put one on order, but the thing is, I found it important that the current computer be decommissioned before the Saturday night show. It was only going to be a matter of time before that current computer was going to crash during a performance. The Best Buy sales people found me a relatively comparable model, actually a smaller model of the same laptop.

I also bought a Targus 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub because we need four USB ports and the laptop only has two, which is standard. But we need a port for the keyboard -- it's easier for the sound tech to use a keyboard at closer reach than the laptop's keyboard, which is setting on top of the power amps, and I didn't want to reconfigure the layout of the space. We also need one for an external mouse, because they are easier to work with than trackpads. We definitely need one for the external, Vantec 7.1 Channel Audio Adapter sound card, elsewise we would only have the two stereo channels on board the laptop to work with. And, there needs to be one open port for thumb drives or other external drives, for transport of sound files, and for backing up the show cue files off of the laptop.

PRODUCTION GREMLIN ICON
Show Cue Systems icon - http://www.showcuesystems.com/
Naturally, the gremlin hadn't filled its dance card quite yet. Once I had the Yoga up and running, I went to the Vantec website and downloaded the driver for the audio adapter, then, of course, I installed Show Cue Systems on the laptop. Then I migrated all the show cue files from the old computer to the new one. Once I had done all that, I opened the Vantec audio configuration software to check to see of all the channels were sending -- they were. So, I have established that the externtal sound card is functioning properly on the Yoga, right? Right. However.....:

When I tried to open the sound cue file for The Other Place on the Yoga, Show Cue Systems hit me with the message that there weren't enough channels to run the show. The software didn't seem to recognize the Vantec external card. I rechecked the 8 channels in the Vantec software, and, indeed, sound signals were being sent to the speakers. The problem lay with SCS. After some experimenting I finally decided to start a brand new test production cue file -- that was able to access and utilize all 8 channels. The explanation for the gremlin shenanigans is that there must be information about the sound channels embedded in the cue file that is unique to the computer its created on. I attempted to investigate to see if there was some configuration I could, a) locate, b) discern how to modify. No luck. So, guess what?: I had to rebuild the whole sound cue file queue from scratch on the new machine.

There are also sound level differences on the new machine for which I needed to compensate. One big one is that there is, at the moment, parity disparity between the sound levels of different channels. Channels 1 & 2 have a certain inherent level; 3 & 4 have a much lower level. So, to have the same volume level coming from speakers in the front of the house (1 & 2) as the back of the house (3 & 4), I have to set the levels of 3 & 4 much higher than 1 & 2. I believe I know how to fix that, and I will address it after this show has closed. I am pretty sure I can make some adjustments in the Vantec software to deal with the discrepancies -- my memory is that I did this a few years back, but not with such a big difference in levels.

In the audience - Not in the audience animated gif icon
I finished rebuilding the sound cue file for the show around 5:00 Saturday. I wasn't sure that the levels were the same as they had been -- couldn't go with numbers on the mixer fader slides because now they represent different levels than before. I had to go with my ears and my memory. I figured I was close, but I wasn't sure how close and on which side of the levels I might have erred. It was clear to me I had to sit in the audience during the Saturday show and scrutinize the levels during the perfmance. That's why I'm using the "In the Audience/Not in the Audience" icon here; I was there as a designer not a passive audience member. So, though I truly wasn't not in the audience, I did have a specific agenda beyond entertainment. But let's be honest: even when I am an audience member, if I designed the sound, I listen critically for any adjustments I might decide need to be made.

There were a couple problems Saturday night and I can't blame them on the gremlin. In the afternoon, when I was rebuilding the sound files, for a couple very short files, I set them on continual loop (i.e.: repeat) so I could step into the house from the booth and hear their levels -- you don't, you see, get an accurate idea of the house sound levels from the booth. Well, I forgot to take those sounds off of loop when I finished. So, during the show, when Sarah hit those cues, they repeated continuously until some maniac in the audience rushed from his seat to the booth to shut them off. I did at least take a seat close to the vom that leads to the booth, just in case.

So, what did I not do earllier in the day that I should have done? I didn't run the cues after I had finished rebuilding the cue file. I actually had planned on it, but then I went to get dinner and when I got back I was distracted by other theatre related business I needed to attend to. Running the cues slipped my mind, thus, Mr. Gremlin is off the hook, though I am sure he was pleasantly amused.

There was also a particular set of sound cues that were just slightly too loud during Saturday's show. I fixed those and the unintended loops after that show. But, the next day, yesterday, I got paranoid that I had made some other error in the rebuild, so I drove into Dayton in the morning and ran the cues. They were all fine, though it might not come as a shock that I did find a couple things to tweak. I shaved some lag time off the start of a cue -- some music started about 1.5 seconds after the start of the sound file so I fixed that so the music plays the instant the cue is hit. I also elongated a fade on another music cue. Then I went home.

But then I got a text from Sarah about 45 minutes before the show. She had also ran the cues and thought there might be a problem. I wasn't sure there was, but, I still drove back in. There wasn't a problem, but I would have gone crazy if I hadn't went in to check. I also decided that the level of a subtle, background sound effect needs to be just a smidgen louder; I left before the show was over yesterday, so I have not yet adjusted that subtle one. It will be done by Friday's show.

I also will be in the audience again this Friday -- theoretically as an audience member but the designer will be in attendance and scrutinizing.

xxxx
The Targus USB hub
xxxx
The Lenovo Yoga 720, at its perch again.
xxxx
....different angle.

THE OTHER PLACE logo.
Opening Weekend -- As for the show itself, it had a good opening weekend. It's the same old story for me as far as Opening Night: I was house manager so I paid little attention to what was happening on stage since I was getting the lobby ready for the Opening Night Gala. My lack of attention notwithstanding, as is usually the case with our shows, the audience responded well and gave good feedback to us all after the show.

I was enough of an audience member Saturday evening to be able to say that the performances were good, some were excellent. I was only in and out trouble-shooting on Sunday, so I can only guess that it went well then, too.

The big happenstance as far as Opening Weekend was that Saturday was St. Paddy's Day and since we are by the The Oregon District, and more importantly, just two buildings away from The Dublin Pub, we had to be sure to protect our parking for our patrons, since there would be legions of honorary Irish swarming upon the area for planned festivities at the O.D. bars -- the Dublin Pub, of course, being the focus of celebrations.

We started our protection of our parking after Final Dress Rehearsal last Thursday by chaining the entrance ways into the lot. They stayed chained up until right before the Sunday afternoon performance, with the exception of when we were receiving and releasing patrons for the Friday and Saturday shows. Several of us board members took turns as gate keepers before both shows, ticket reservation lists in hand, to ensure that only our patrons parked in our lot. We stood guard afterward, too, to keep anyone from pulling in as our people were pulling out. Let me tell you, there was a bit of a chill out both nights, too, but, we survived and the show is doing great -- two weekends left, if you're close enough by and read this in time.

*For the record: No, Mozart did NOT compose a waltze about a gremlin, though it could be argued that he did compose a few pieces that would be good underscores or theme music for our gremlin.


AUDITION ICON
Got one audition coming up quickly. There is at least one other I am likely to go for. Then I'm waiting to see what the 18/19 season at Human Race will be, even though I am likely to do that general audition, anyway. There will, as summer approaches, also be FutureFest 2018 auditions, and I am probable for them, too. I've also been keeping an eye peeled for movie auditions, but nothing has come to my attention for which I am a decent type.



Wed, Mar 21, 2018

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BAKERSFIELD MIST logo.
The Cast of Bakersfield Mist
CHARACTER
           NOTES
Maude Gutman
           Rachel Oprea
Lionel Percy
           Chuck Larkowski



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