Well, Tech Week is wrapped.
Last night was Final Dress,
rather than tonight (Thursday of Tech Week is customary for Final Dress).
The theatre dark tonight,
with Director Marjorie Strader giving the cast and crew the night off before
It's been a pretty smooth tech week all the way around, and
Tech Sunday went quite well.
Of course, there were many adjustments and tweaks to the
sound design, all the way up
to last night. Theoretically, I am done, but that doesn't preclude me from
deciding that a sound or two needs tweaked after hearing it with the house
full of audience members -- their bodies do change the acoustics of
One piece of information that I have been holding out is that 99% of the
production music for the show is written and performed by the amazing local
duo of Sandy and Michael Bashaw of the Dayton-based
Puzzle of Light.
At the start of the summer Margie and I discussed what sort of music was
favored for the scene transitions, and the opening and closing of the show.
She thought something in the new age genre, and I immediately thought of a
few choices, some being music that I already had in my library.
Then Sandy and Michael did a second weekend of performances at DTG of the
Theatre of Sound "'sound Sculptures"
concerts this past June (having done the first weekend in June of 2017).
After the performance I attended I approached sandy and asked if they had
recorded any new-age sort of music. She d=said they had a meditation CD they
had recorded using giant kalimbas drums and the alto and bass flute. She
said it's a based in Japanese style. Margie had said she was interested in
music that had a Japanese sound to it. So I asked if Sandy and Michael
would be interested in allow us to use this music for our production. She
said they would be delighted. Then I heard the music and knew instantly it
was perfect for our needs. Sandy also played a shorter song with
Japanese influence titled "Two Japanese Scales," that also works
for our needs. I'm using that for the music into the show.
The meditation CD is 44 minutes long with drum rolls into flute work.
There's plenty of places to grab the start of the rolls into the flutes to
have something for each of the ten scene changes.
It's the perfect aesthetic marriage.
The curtain music is from
another artist. You'll have to come to the show to find out who.
Opening weekend I am in the booth
running sound. Our crack sound tech,
Sarah Saunders, has a previous commitment, so I am on the sound board.
Hope I can get it right!
As planned, the principal photography
for the promocast was Sunday,
between the cue-to-cue and the
first full tech run. It, too,
went rather smoothly, with the usual nagging problems: the biggest being
keeping it quiet on the set, which has to pretty much be the whole area
around the theatre house because the camera mics pick it all up. I'm
constantly "QUIET ON
THE SET!" The other thing to add is that this was actually a
which may become the new norm for me *(see next entry).
A little over a week back I wrote here about how I had dropped one of my
Canon Vixia HF R40 HD DV cameras during a shoot and damaged it, and that I
recently bought a Canon Vixia HF R800 to replace it. It turns out I only
thought I'd damaged the camera. I actually had only damaged the memory
card. Had I done a more thorough check at the time, I would not have missed
that. So now I have four working cameras.
I could have returned the new one gotten my money back, but, who's surprised
that I've decided to keep it? So my
have graduated to four-camera from three-camera -- the shoot for the
This Random World promocast was the first.
Some glitches came up. Don't they always when technology is involved.
First, when I bought the new camera, I also ordered a 32GB memory card,
because I forgot that I am using 64GB cards in the cameras. Once I realized
this, I pulled the 64GB card from the "damaged" camera to replace
the 32GB in the new camera. That's when I discovered that it was the card
that was damaged, all along.
So I had four cameras and two working 64GB cards for them. I dropped into
Best Buy to pick up two more 64GB
cards. I bought two 64GB MICROSD Ultra Plus cards, only to find that
these particular cards are not compatible with my cameras. So I had to go
back and exchange them for 64GB SD Ultra Plus cards, which, I am happy to
report, do, indeed, work.
Now I have four DV cameras. Of course, we won't discuss the fact that at
some point I need to upgrade from consumer DV cameras to some level of
professional-class DV camera (or, cameras). When I get to the point that I
actual start shooting another bonefide movie, I will need a better camera;
I'll need a DP,
too, but that's another subject.
And, I'm still thinking seriously about getting a good
camera to take better stills with. That which, of course, I could also
shoot better video with than I am right now -- even if I'm not exactly
shooting horrible video with what I have.
PATTON OSWALT AT THE TAFT THEATRE:
Patton Oswalt is absolutely one of
my favorite stand-up comics working today, maybe of all time. I find all
his comedy specials funny as all hell. I told myself that if he ever were
to come to a venue close enough to me, that I'd go see him unless there was
a good enough reason (read: gig) to keep me from his show.
When I saw that he's coming to
The Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, on
April 27 of next year, I made sure to grab a ticket as soon as they went on
sale. I got a decent seat too. I think I am three rows back, but I'm
not absolutely sure of that. But I have a good seat, regardless.
These are less than timely,
but, I wanted to make the acknowledgements,
even if a bit late.
I figure the first three above are well-enough known, legends in
their fields, really, that I need not write any words about them.
But, Geoff Emerick: many may not know who he is. He was the
recording engineer for The Beatles. He is far more influential on
the matrix of pop and rock music than most would have any idea.
He had to invent and innovate to meet the needs of
Sir George Martin,
and of John and Paul, because they wanted things that had never been
heard before, that had never been tried before -- most especially
did John and Paul.
Geoff was known to come up with new, innovative ideas on his own,
Yes, Mr. Emerick had far more of an impact on modern music than most
would ever guess.
I'm doing four more between now and the end of the year.
The show has now been through two weekends of it's three-weekend run and
it's been going quite well. Audience attendance has been a bit anemic,
which I think has a lot to do with the fact that it's a newer, lesser-known
play. The audiences who have seen it have responded positively, however.
As I reported earlier that I would be, I was the
sound tech the first weekend and
I'd love to report that I got through all three performances flawlessly......
I'd love to report that.
Opening Night I did have a
moments. First I moved ahead in the script and skipped an upcoming cue that
I then missed. One would think that the
sound designer, the person
who originally built the sound
and placed it there, would not forget the cue. Yet, the designer did just
that. I also played a cue too early at another spot. But The Saturday and
Sunday shows that opening weekend were not hampered by this ridiculousness.
As for any further tweaking of the soundwork,
there was none.
Tech Sunday is November 11, so
I have some time to get it together, I would hope.
FutureFest co-chair Brian Sharp & playwright
Carl L. Williams
Brian & playwright William C. Kovacsik
Brian & playwright Barbara Snow
Brian & playwright Randy Neale
Brian & playwright Jim Geoghan
Brian & playwright John Minigan
Helen Sneed (with her award) and co-chair Tina McPhearson
-- with co-chair Brian
The adjudicators with Matthew Kagen commenting
Yes, yes, FutureFest 2018 was almost three months ago; what can I say,
priorities are priorities; there've been other things to attend to. So,
late to the game as this may be....
Not at all surprising FF18, as have been the past FFs I've attended, and/or
participated in, was one of the highlights of my summer.
I'm not at all alone in thinking this was one of the best crops of plays,
over all, in quite a while at FutureFest. Of course, I've not been to
every single FF, but I have been to the last fourteen, and I think this
qualifies as the best group of plays since I've been around. That's not to
say there haven't been a few other really good festival line-ups, which
enhances the assessment for this year's weekend.
Helen Sneed was, in fact, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for having
been a FF adjudicator for twenty-five years, and as
an article for The Dayton Daily News,
Helen "has become a festival favorite known for her perceptive comments
Here are the shows and their credits: The synopses are official from FF, not my words
Friday, July 20, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Directed by Debra Kent
A young man intent on living a dissolute, artistic life as a poet becomes
infatuated with a new love. But he soon encounters two life-changing dilemmas.
Economic necessity, along with the insistence of his older sister, may
compel him to forsake his poetic life and accept a mundane, regular job.
And secondly, when confronted with the choice, he has to decide if he's
willing to sacrifice love in exchange for artistic success. Poetry, love,
and self-interest intersect in challenging ways to form the ever-shifting
current of the young man's life.
Norris -- Jared Mola
Debbie -- Kayla Graham
Phyllis -- Wendi Michael
Jack -- Scott Madden
Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Directed by Annie Pesch
In Maryland, in 1620, a white woman could marry an African slave -- but
only if she was willing to become enslaved herself, and to see her children
and their offspring born into slavery. So when a poor Irish immigrant girl
meets an African slave who has been trained by his master to run a large
plantation, and they start to think of spending the rest of their lives
together, choices have to be made. FETTERED asks: what is the price of love?
And how long will it take before we acknowledge the humanity of everyone in
Town Crier (and others) -- Richard Young
Lord Baltimore -- Michael Plaugher
Nell -- Karley Holdeman
Major Boarman -- Ray Geiger
Charles -- Thomas Troutman
Mrs. Boarman -- Jennifer Lockwood
Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 3:00 PM
Directed by Shawn Hooks
This play looks at the experience of aging from the perspective of Baby
Boomers. How does the generation that opposed the Vietnam War and marched
for civil and women's rights, settle into their new role as senior citizens?
The short answer is, not very gracefully. This is a story of life, death,
love, aging, and that most frightening of all experiences: change.
Margaret -- Fran Pesch
Iris -- Becky Howard
Callie/Assistant -- Cher Collins
Donald -- Jim Lockwood
James/John Miller -- Mark Sharp
Gina Mae -- Pamela Byrd
Narration -- Brian Sharp
Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Directed by Kip Moore
On the second day of the riots in Detroit in July of 1967, three people take
refuge from the chaos on the streets in a gas station/convenience store on
12th St. in the epicenter of the riot. While the riots mount, we learn what
has brought these people to be in this place at this time, and we watch as
all three people must come to grips with their losses as a result of the
violence and fires outside, while dealing with each other and their racial
and generational differences. Their differing experiences and points of view
clash even while they are giving each other comfort, until they reach a
point where the violence outside spills over to their refuge. The play
examines the roots of what is happening on the streets through the lives and
eyes of these three disparate people and raises many questions about how
much or how little has changed in the 50 years since the riots.
Ron -- Michael Schumacher
Esther -- Joyce Barnes
Sydney -- Naman Clark
Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Directed by Dawn Roth Smith
Jim stole his father's '39 Ford when he was four and soon realized some of
the greatest events and memories in his life would happen in cars. From the
Bronx to Beverly Hills and places in between, Of Men and Cars follows
Jim's life and his relationships with all sorts of people including his father.
If you want to have a meaningful conversation with a man, especially your
father, it's best to do it in a car.
Jim -- Spencer Berta
Dad -- Saul Caplan
Mom/Anna/NY Woman/Dorothy -- Pam McGinnis
Frankie Two Fingers/Salesman/Warren/Shrink/Man -- Chuck Larkowski
Girl Next Door/College Girl/LA Woman/Saleswoman -- Heather Martin
Dominic/Man/Soldier/Jack -- Brennan Paulin
Russo/Pot Head/Dumb Guy -- Michael Boyd
Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 3:00 PM
Directed by Richard Lee Waldeck
A play about gender, race, academia, and belonging. Kym thinks she's lucked
into the perfect resume-builder for a biracial college senior determined to
find a career in academia: helping renowned feminist scholar Beverly Norden
finish her ground-breaking book on Shakespeare's Queen Margaret before
Alzheimer's makes the task impossible. As the passing months make clear that
Beverly's failing memory is not the greatest obstacle to their work, Kym
reassesses her connection with Beverly, Beverly's son, and academia itself.
What can the Margaret story tell her about her own path forward?
FF Planning Committee: Brian Sharp (co-chair), Tina McPhearson
(co-chair), Fran Pesch, Matthew Lindsay, & Peggy Mangan. Play Reading Committee: Jennifer Lockwood (chair), Margaret Baird,
Marlene Bireley, Sarah Caplan, Cecile Cary, Joyce Emory, Mary Ellen Griswald,
Charlotte Harris, Chuck Larkowski, Heather martin, Jared Mola, Fran Pesch,
Pat Ronald, Deirdre Root, DJ Shade, & Gayle Smith. Final Play Reading Committee: Dodie Lockwood, Debra Kent, Chuck
Nickerbocker, Russell Florence, & Sue Eisner. Production Stage Manager: Logan Dabney Scenic Design: Red Newman Lighting Design & Operator: Richard Waldeck Sound Design & Operator: Hanna Stickel Program: Stacy Ward
Directed by Marjorie Strader
Produced by Deirdre Root
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.
The Cast of This Random World
Matthew W. Smith
The Promocast for THIS RANDOM WORLD
The photos from my excursion. In some cases I might
misidentify some species, but,
I think this is a Common Eland. Of course, that is
another of the open-air tour buses.
A herd of Common Elands, probably.
A Greater One-Horned Asian Rhino
Two Greater One-Horned Asian Rhinos -- one in the
forefront and one in the far back, about to enter the water
(if you can make it out)
Inside Parakeet Landing.
When I was planning my little
this summer, I had originally targeted a return to
The Indianapolis Zoo,
which I had visited in the mid-nineties. But at the time I was laying down
plans for these excursions this summer, someone told me about The Wilds. I
was intrigued. I got on the web and looked it up. I was further intrigued.
I tried to fit both The Wilds and the Indy Zoo into my schedule but could
not quite do it. So, The Wilds won as a destination. It just looked and
sounded like such an interesting place; add to that, that it was the choice
from the two that I had not yet experienced.
Indeed, the Wilds is, a wonderful place. It's seriously interesting for
people of all ages. If you, reading this, have kids, this is a great little
road trip for your family -- I guarantee it!
The Wilds is on a large swath of land (just shy of ten-thousand acres)
outside of Cumberland in southeastern Ohio, that for most of the
mid-twentieth century was mined for coal. It was donated as land for a wild
animal preserve by the Central Ohio Coal Company, a subsidiary of American
Electric Power Company. In 1992 the first animals, Przewalski's Wild Horses
were introduced onto the land, with other species to follow. By 1994, public
tours were introduced.
There are several tours offered, I took the Open-Air Safari, which, just
as suggested, the visitors are in an open-air bus that drives through the
open-range animal areas, where animals, mostly but not exclusively, herd
animals, roam. It ran a little more than two hours.
Here's a list of the animals, all endangered, that one can see on
We didn't see all of the animals, but we saw all but a few. In some
cases, they were pretty far off so we didn't get a good look. This was
another of the cases, here lately, where I've wished I owned a much better
camera than I do, one with a much better zoom lense, for certain.
Some animals were pretty far off and the lack of a good zoom stopped me
from getting a good photo. In some cases I took pictures but they are not
worth posting here. My lack of a good pair of binoculars also stopped me
from getting a good view of such. Some animals just weren't in the area of
their designated ranges close to us, the Cheetahs for instance. The Wild
African Dogs (African Painted Dogs) where all escaping the sun and heat in
the shade of little structures so, though they were relatively close, I
couldn't get terribly good shots of them.
Other animals, as you can see in the photos I took, were quite close. The
Southern White Rhinos being the most exciting one for me. There was a small
herd right by the driving path. We stopped and a couple strolled right up
next to the bus. One was so close that I literally could have reach out and
I fully intend to go back next summer for a more elaborate visit. The Wilds
offers several overnight experiences and I have my mind set on two nights
on Nomad Ridge,
staying in a yurt.
There is a complementary Open-Air Safari included, but I think I want to
add on some other events, which one can do at reduced rates. There's the
Wildside Tour where one gets up close to some animals and feed or otherwise
interact with them, I'm also thinking about doing the Sunset Wildside Tour
-- same tour but, obviously, at sunset, and with the addition of buffet
There's also the Evening at the Outpost, which is similar to the Sunset
Wildside tour, but specifically says to "Relax and enjoy the scenic
views of our pastures and herds while experiencing our newly-designed
Giraffe and rhino encounter areas, where you may get up close and personal
with our herds." If I do this as I'm currently planning it's gone to
run me just shy of $1000, at current rates, anyway.
The best photo of the African Painted Dogs I could
The open-air buses.
The tour guide warned us to stay back when the Ostrich was
close to the bus, and to especially not put our hands
or faces out the window -- the Ostriches will bite.
Scimitar Horned Oryxes
An adolescent Giraffe just after he drank from the
The newest Giraffe at The Wilds, only a few weeks old at
the time. The tour guide was excited because: 1) the baby
had not been that close to the road before; 2) the mother
was allowing it to get that close to the road and allowing
it to stray a little bit of distance from her.
The highlight of the two-hour safari was the visit with the Southern White
Rhinos, with their pasture just next to the Giraffes'. Once again, our tour
guide was excited because the small herd stroled right up next to the bus,
which is uncommon for them to do.
She also said that the rhinos knew her and she could actually have been
able to get out of the bus and mingle with them but that while doing the
open-air tours the guides were not allowed to do that. One big point is that
encouraging that behavior from tour members was greatly discouraged because
how the Rhinos would react to strangers in their midst was unpredictable.
We also stopped and parked on an incline so she was, under that circumstance,
not allowed to stand up, otherwise she would have leaned out the window
and talked to the Rhinos, who love to hear what she called "baby
One wonders of they knew she was in the bus, because several of them came
strolled close to the vehicle, one right next to us, so close that I
actually could have reached out and touched it. It was literally right
This Rhino came right up to the bus....
The best photo I could get of the Grévy's
Some Wilds vistas
Of course, this being a
how could I not at some point in my day have an ice
cream cone? Had to do it.
It's become a
There not being a good ice crem option at The Wilds,
I had to drop by
on the way home.
Too bad I don't keep my ice cream consumption
limited to my litte expeditions. Although, at least
at home I usually do frozen yogurt rather than
straight-out ice cream, which is a little better.
The stage after Benjamin's show and just prior to David's
Minutes before David
David at the opening of the show, doing "Here"
David on the monitor during "Here" -- before
David requested the screens be turned off
The whole band on stage, not sure what song.
Again, no idea what song
During "Once in a Lifetime"
There are a lot of recording artists I've never seen live but have wanted
to, some which it won't be possible to see, because the artist has died,
truly retired, or the band is no more. I regret greatly that I never saw
live, but, in August, I sort of remedied that by seeing their front man,
The Rose Music Center
-- my first time at that venue as well as my first time seeing David in
The opening act was
whom I had never heard of, though some younger folk who sat close to me were
familiar with. Benjamin is a prodigious pianist whose music is a nice blend
of folk and R&B, with flourishes of modern production tricks, that he
delivers with a distinct second tenor voice and vocal phrasing that reminds
me somewhat of Tracy Chapman's delivery.
"music," both before Benjamin's performance then before David's
show, consisted of recordings of bird songs, that at first sounded like
from a forest but gradually more and more as if from a jungle setting.
Shortly before David came on, the recording phased into a rainstorm with
Just as I was sure it would be, David Byrne's show was nothing less than
excellent. The stage was completely bare. David and all the musicians were
wireless, David and his vocal accompanists had headgear mics. Everyone was
constantly on the move in choreographed movements that not only were
reminiscent of, but I think, technically were colorguard choreographies. To
add to the marching band sort of motif, there was not a single drum kit,
but several percussionists that made up the elements of the drum kit work.
It may sound like it was nerdy or dorky, but it was absolutely amazing and
just about as definitively cool as it could be. The colorguard movements of
the band worked excellently with the music. Byrne has been interested in
incorporating colorguard into rock and pop for about a decade now, and has
been involved in several previous incorporations in the past. In 2015,
David even attended the annual
Winter Guard International
Championship, which happens in Dayton every year -- and gave it a shout out
during the show, by-the-way. He even writes about it at his website. One of
his passages is titled,
"Colorguard and the Failure of Irony."
I had never seen David live before, as I wrote earlier, so one thing that I
was not expecting was for David, since he has such an eccentric mystique to
his public persona, to be so normal when he spoke to the audience. I expected
little direct verbal interaction with the audience, and what there was, I
expected would be theatrical in some sort of strange, offbeat manner. But
he was just a guy up there, interacting with his fans, though clearly an
intelligent, eloquent guy. One interesting note: about thirty or forty
minutes in, he said, "Could somebody turn off the big screen monitors,
they're very bright," and then, "the show's here on stage not on
the screens." He didn't continue the show until the screens were off.
I know someone who went to the show the next night in Cincinnati at
and she reported that the screens were never turned on. I suspect any such
screens were off for the rest of the tour.
In one of his first times speaking to the audience, early in the show, he
an organization that accompanied David on the tour, giving assistance and
information about registering to vote. He even engaged with a woman down
front who was at the show with her young adult daughter, saying to the mother,
"I'm sure you are registered to vote," then to the daughter,
"Are you?" Then to the younger members of the crowd in general he
said, "You young people out there, if you want a future, you need to
As you can see from the photos (and the videos I've linked to, below),
David's stage was a clean, open space, there were beaded ropes hanging
three sides of the retangular parimeter, what could be called the
and up stage
walls. All of the band's amplification was hidden behind those walls, and
the band members were free to enter onto stage from just about anywhere,
in their wireless-miked, untethered states.
The American Utopia Tour band:
Angie Swan -- guitarist
Karl Mansfield -- keyboardist
Bobby Wooten -- bassist
Gustavo Di Dalva -- drummer
Daniel Freedman -- drummer
Aaron Johnston -- drummer
Tim Keiper -- drummer
Mauro Refosco -- drummer
Davi Vieira -- drummer
Chris Giarmo -- backing vocalist
Tendayi Kuumba -- backing vocalist
The untethered, colorguard movement of the band, utilizing the entirety of
their clean, open stage was quite a theatrical experience. The unique manner
of instrumentation, which refers chiefly to the marching-band style approach
to the drumming, was striking in that, though it was technically a revisioning
of the music, the band still gave us renditions of the music that may have
been different from the original recordings but still did not stray from the
effect of the original instrumentations nor arrangements by too far a measure.
It was really not easy to detect a difference between what we were hearing
live and the studio recordings.
The concept of the show was an inventive one that succeeded most wonderfully.
Byrne has been quoted as saying that the American Utopia Tour is "the
most ambitious show I've done since the shows that were filmed for
Stop Making Sense."
To give you just a little taste of the show,
for the opening number, "Here," as captured by an audience member
in Houston, last April. "Here" is the closing cut from David's
new album, also the namesake of the tour,
And for one more taste, also from the Houston show, and clearly captured by
the same audience member, Talking Heads'
"Once in a Lifetime."
I'm linking the Houston performances on
the hopeful assumption that
have been paid on these youtube postings. I'm probably grabbing at straws
with that hope....
David's Set List:
I Zimbra [Talking Heads]
Slippery People [Talking Heads]
I Should Watch TV [David Byrne & St. Vincent]
Everybody's Coming to My House
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) [Talking Heads]
Once in a Lifetime [Talking Heads]
Doing the Right Thing
Toe Jam [Brighton Port Authority]
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) [Talking Heads]
I Dance Like This
Every Day Is a Miracle
Like Humans Do
Blind [Talking Heads]
Burning Down the House [Talking Heads]
The Great Curve [Talking Heads]
I have started writing a play that has some good possibility of making it
to a final draft since I have lived with the characters, in their universe,
for a long time. The play is a three-hander
with three of the main characters from that universe of the novel manuscript
that lies dormant, waiting for my return to give it direct attention (and
the potential novel series that might follow), all that which I've written
about here before.
A few month's back, in fact, I wrote some about how I occasionally get obsessed
with working on the story bible,
which spans 130 years -- the novel series, and any cross-overs, won't
ultimately occur over the whole 130 years, the first 60-70 years is for
background for the characters and history of the universe. At the time
I wrote here about the obsession, I was in the midst of a bout.
I believe I wrote at the time that as I work on the bible, as I come up
with events and facts at specific spots on the timeline, I have story
points, conflicts, specific moments that occur to me, and some of them
are more than simply potential, they have become things that likely will
occur, under the assumption that I ultimately write something that happens
at that point or later in the timeline of the universe.
A while back, I conceived of a story idea that happens thirteen years after
the first novel ends, during an annual event that is a family tradition. I
originally assumed that it would end up in one of the planned, future novels.
Then at some point, as I got one of my occasional urges to write a play,
probably during or just after attending
I realized that this particular idea would be particularly ripe as play
My first thought was as a two-hander,
because the conflict is mostly between two particular characters. Recently,
as I was doing dramatic readings
for an Ohio Playwrights Circle
class, the urge to try writing a play resurfaced. This idea came to mind,
again, and I was back on the two-hander idea. Though there are actually a
lot of family members present at the event, technically twelve people.
One thing I know is that, in today's market, with few exceptions, unless
it's a major musical production by the likes of
Lin-Manuel Miranda or
a new play, musical or straight,
has terribly little chance of getting produced with twelve characters --
unless it's written so a small handful of actors can be cast in multiple
roles. Everyone in-the-know that I have talked to and everything I've
read, says that five characters or fewer is optimal for a straight play,
at least on a professional stage.
A new straight play with a large cast might be attractive to
community theatres, high
schools, even college theatres, and these are actually not bad markets,
but professional theatres are going to balk at a large cast size because
that means more cost in actors' wages. I also, suspect that serious college
theatre programs are more apt to go after small-cast ones when they look
for new straight plays because that reflects the professional market.
I started to write this play with pretty much all the family members
present at the event on the page. I quickly realized that for the reason
already mentioned, plus that it would be a bit unwieldy, I needed to pare
it down. I went back to a two-hander, but then realized there was one more
character that needed to be an active player, so now it's a
The play will be a one-act. My
goal is a length of 70-90 minutes. I am at least half-way through Scene
Two. I have a working title, but it is not the final one. I haven't worked
on it in a few days because I've been currently preoccupied with the
sound design for The Who
Killed the Cure, *(see below), but I plan to be back at the
The evening was a casual two-hour talk with Tichenor where he told us the
background of his career and how he came to his current position with
"the other RSC," as he calls it.
He's currently at "Cincyshakes" directing the upcoming production
of Twelfth Night, which happens to have Josh Katawick as a cast member
-- Josh who worked in the past with Springfield StageWorks, and whom I've
shared the stage with there a couple times.
It was a nice evening, though I didn't walk away with many great new
wisdoms about either the craft or the business, save for the fact that
guest appearances on TV shows are paying less and are less available for
unknown actors. Ultimately, I found it worth the 75-minute drive.
The cool thing was that just a few days later, I was watching an episode of
"I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia,"
and there was Tichenor, in the role of
I'd seen that episode several times before meeting Mr. Tichenor, plus he's
got credits on several other shows where I've seen all the episodes multiple
times, but I did not make the connections when I met him last week. This has
happened to me before when I've met actors with a lot of TV credits. So much
for that fleeting fame, huh?
I read again Saturday, the 3rd, at the Ohio Playwrights Circle class. I
was originally scheduled to do it, then I got a paying gig, but then that
gig was cancelled. I will next do a reading for the class on December 3,
then also the next afternoon, which will be a public reading.
We are half-way through tech week. No big issues.
Tech Sunday was a long one for
me. The plan was to have only an involved
cue-to-cue because there are a
lot of sound cues and light changes, and a crap load of set changes. But
what we ended doing was a
full tech run, with stops and
restarts as needed, which worked out well enough.
I, as is often my practice, spent the night in the theatre from the day
before into Tech Sunday, spending most of Saturday finishing the sound
design and getting it programmed, with the exception of a set of
voice-overs from one actor, that
could not be recorded until Sunday evening. It was also later decided to add
some music for some scene changes where we originally thought none was needed.
I had that added in for Monday evening, as well as the VO work recorded the
day Before. There's also contention about one song that is being used and,
right now, the disposition of that is up in the air -- it's a question of
whether we want the irony of the song we are currently using or not. I am
on the side of going with the irony.
We had a production meeting
this past Thursday. There's little to write about here, save that there will
be very little sound design for me to do -- mostly I'll be programming in
the music that the director has chosen for the show, and will add some ambient
sound for a scene or two.
The only other thing to write about is that
open auditions are this
coming Monday and Tuesday -- see just below on this page *(until after
the dates have passed).
I did audition for The Shadow Box, but as you will note below,
my name does not appear on the cast list.
THE FIRST WEEKEND:
The show had a good opening weekend. I was in the audience both Friday and
Saturday and both shows went well and had good audience response. I was
not there Sunday, but the reports on the Sunday performance are comparable
to the first two shows.
Luke Yankee was at the
Saturday performance and gave a talkback,
and even brought a special guest,
the grandson of Dr. Max Gerson,
one of the two main characters of the play, the one who treats cancer
patients and his other patients with natural methods as opposed to
A video of the talkback, to follow -- along
with the video of the talkback Luke gave for The Last Life Boat in
September of 2016
A while back I sent an excerpt to Luke of one of those supplemental
materials I have been cooking up to help me with the universe of the
character from my planned novel series. This is a fictional interview in
the March, 1979 Playboy Magazine with the protagonist. I sent the
excerpt to Luke because it deals with L.A. and it deals with fame. Luke is
from L.A.and, as his mother was the well-known character actress,
Eileen Heckart, he has
some insight into fame -- there were a lot of famous folk around all the
time; as the advert for his book about his mother,
Just Outside the Spotlight,
says: 1) Marilyn Monroe babysat
2) Ethel Merman taught
him how to make martinis,
3) Paul Newman gave him
acting tips in his parents' living room.
I wanted to know if what I had conjured up had a ring of authenticity to
it. Last Saturday Luke told me it did. He also told me what he had read he
found fascinating, which is a good thing, of course. He asked me what I
was going to do with it. I told him about how it's just really part of my
building that universe and doing some character development. I also told
him that I've started a play that happens just a few years after the
Playboy interview and that there will be a reference to it in the
Anyway, a little personal positive stuff from Luke's visit.
I ordered the fiftieth-anniversary, six CD + one blueray, box set of
"The White Album."
It arrived yesterday. I haven't listened to all of it, yet, but I have to
say that a few of the "2018 remixes" I've heard don't particularly
appeal to me.
Perhaps these offending new mixes will grow on me, but I'm not too sure
Last Sunday afternoon, rather than see The Man Who Killed the Cure
for the third time, I went to HRTC to see the final performance of
David Javerbaum'sAn Act of God. It's a funny and quite irreverent comedy that, in
this production, starred Cincinnati actor and Wright State University
acting program alumnus, Sara Mackie as God. Scott Stoney joins her, as the
Archangel Gabriel, and Joshua Levine was Archangel Michael.
Mackie was in the spotlight with an impressive performance. Scott and
Joshua were strong support, Joshua, especially, since the script lent him
some wonderful opportunities to be so.
So, I'd recommend the HRTC production, but, since I saw the closing show,
I guess I'll have to recommend you see it somewhere else, if you get the
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.
Yesterday, I was one of the readers for a public reading of work from the
latest play writing class of the
Ohio Playwrights Circle.
I read in four of seven presentations. It was a lot of fun, and I was able
to finally do a scene with local actor Franklin Johnson, after quite a few
years. This is the first time since
at The Guild in the fall
of 2012 that Franklin and I have worked together. It was nice to finally
do so again.
One of the characters I did yesterday was one I'd done in other classes,
from a play that local playwright Daniel W. Owens has been working on for
some period of time. It's a really nice, fun character that I enjoy embodying.
Although, and there was a bit of discussion about this yesterday, as much
as I would really love to play the role in a full production, it would be
against type to cast me, only
because the character is in his late 30's. I am not going to be able to
sell that on stage visually. For a reading, it's fine to have me in the
role -- and, frankly I was very happy with my work. Hell, in the reading
yesterday I also played a 20 year-old Asian American, and we know that's
not going to fly in a full production.
There will be a public reading, at some point early in 2019, of Mr. Owen's
full play, and he has asked if I can play the character for that, which is
always flattering -- to have playwrights want you, specifically, to take on
the skin of one of their characters.
There were a few other ego-boosting comments about the acting range I showed
during the course of four pieces I participated in, which, of course, felt
pretty damned good. One audience member asked if I was a professional
actor. I told her that I have done some professional work, then I mentioned
Banned from Baseball as my last pro gig and she said, "Oh! We
saw that!" She didn't recognize me, or make a connection to me, as Dowd,
which, to me, is actually a complement.
I've been having great spurts of episodes where I am on the razor-edged
verge of obsessive preoccupation with working on the
three-hander play that I've
recently started, the one I wrote of in the November 14 blog entry.
Not that I think this is a bad thing, whatsoever. I'm into the second scene,
and I think that I may be almost done with that scene, but, I may not be.
I also think that I might be about halfway through the first draft of the
manuscript, and if it stays the one-act
that I've planned, then I'm probably right. I also am mostly certain that
it will stay a one-act.
I've been having such fun writing the dialogue in scene two and it's
going to kind of suck when I go back through to murder my little darlings,
which I have already done to some smaller extent for both this and the
first scene. But, as I stated on my facebook page,
I will be keeping the references, in scene 2, to a rattlesnake rhumba and
how rattlers brumate!
Meanwhile, by necessity of the story, I have a lot of exposition that needs
to be out there, and sneaking it into the dialogue without it being a blatant
maneuver is not as easy as it may seem. I don't want to have my
characters saying awkward, inauthentic dialogue, telling each other things
they would never tell each other because it's such common knowledge between
them, just so the audience will get the information. The best scenario there
would be for the audience to say, "Oh, the playwright wants me to know
(yadda yadda) -- and that's not good, just the best scenario." The
probable scenario is that they'll say, "Oh, jesus, how cheesy and
horrible!" I hope I have been working the exposition in, in some
sort of logical and natural way, with dialogue that makes sense to have been
spoken between those speaking it. I think I have. I guess, at some point,
I'll find out.
Speaking of dialogue, over the last few days I have written a monologue for
one of the characters that, in length, at least, rivals the likes of one
from Whose Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?.
I'd love to think it rivals it in quality of prose, too, but I'm not
I have to say, it's a good feeling to have my Final Draft
software open quite frequently rather than just have the icon, sitting there
in my MacBook's desktop dock, taunting me.
So, recently it's been a good period for this writer!
It's getting ridiculous, how long it's taking me to get to this. But, I've
been preoccupied with a few other projects, and now I am caught up in
working on the new play manuscript. I also am waiting for some clearance to
use some photographs, an answer on that clearance which has not been given,
yet. So, stay tuned, I actually have started some prose for the
One thing I will share, right now: the playbill from our production has
been accepted into the
Baseball Hall of Fame.