There's been a bit of development on the draft of the play I've been
writing. I had a log jam there for a few days. I had come to a point in
writing where I wasn't sure if much of what I had was going to be compelling
to anyone but myself. It was a mixture of unrealistic self-doubt and quite
realistic honesty. In other words, what I came to see was that some of it
was bogged down in detail and some of it was just fine.
I was able to leave it for a few days and come back and address the concerns
that were on the right track. Besides addressing the issue of decluttering
some prose, I also rewrote a portion to put more conflict, (read: argument),
into a scene which gives it more energy. This last thing was a problem that
had bugged me but that I wasn't readily recognizing when I'd hit that wall.
At this very moment the manuscript is at 52 pages. I read it out loud, not
speaking any of the written directions, but leaving estimated time for any
action, and the spoken reading took me about 75 minutes. That, when it was
a few pages shorter. The general rule is that it should take about a minute
a page, but there are a lot of monologues, which adds length to the dialogue
per page. That's why I got a timing at about 50% more than the general rule
Here's my quandary of the moment. My goal has been a
one-act. Quite frankly, since I
had a fairly complete idea of the story arch, I didn't think it could be a
two-act play. But it may
end up one. I am just about to breach the climax of the story, and then
the resolution, which I am less clear of at the moment than what the
climax is. I'm not at all sure how much more there is in words, so the play
running longer than what should be a comfortable length for a one-act seems
possible. I don't think I want it be two acts.
For one thing, the spot that would logically be the place for the
act break is not as strong
of an act break as I would want. It's not a bad act break, but it's not a
tension-builder nor does it really introduce a new plot twist or
complication, except for perhaps in a subtle way. One might say,
"well then, rewrite it." The problem there is that I'm quite
satisfied with that segment of the play so I am not inclined to mess with
it. Like I said, it's not a bad act break, just not the strongest.
I actually would rather keep this thing to one act. I'm trying to write
something as marketable as I can, at least in format, and a one-act with
fewer characters (as I've written before, this is a
three-hander) is the goal.
So, of course, there's always the ruthless cutting, which is likely what I
will go back and do after I have the first draft done and have had some
people read it. I may wait until after I've had a
reading, but I'm not sure
One other thing I did was upgrade my Final Draft software from version 8 to
Final Draft 11.
Then, just a few days back, I added
Final Draft Mobile
on my iPhone
so I can work on, edit, etc., the draft at pretty much any given time. I
suppose this is mostly for when I get an idea and I want to deal with it
in the now and my MacBook Pro
isn't immediately accessable. Hey, the app was only ten bucks, so what-the-hell.
Sometime here soon I should be hearing back about a public reading of local
playwright Daniel W. Owens' play, Jimi's Guitar, that will be done
through the Ohio Playwrights Circle.
I've read some scenes as one of the characters in some class workshops and
Dan has requested that I reprise the role for this public reding of the
I believe I've written in past blog entries that I am actually
against type, for the role
only because of age -- the character is in his late thirties; I can possibly
sell late forties, but late thirties? I don't think so. Fortunately this is a
dramatic reading not a full production,
so my being out of type is not as critical.
Dan's play is one that fellow local actor Franklin Johnson and I did a
scene from a few months back. I think it's likely that he is coming on board
again as that character -- but don't quote me because I may not know what
the hell I'm talking about.
There may also be a new U.D. Law gig coming up in the next month or so. I
was solicited a few weeks back and am now waiting for further word.
For those who don't know what this is about. The
University of Dayton Law School
commissions local theatre diva Fran Pesch
to hire actors to come in and play clients and witnesses for the law students
to practice their skills with. Pretty much any situation where a lawyer
encounters a client or a witness may be covered: mock trial testimony and
cross examination, initial interviews with potential new clients, counseling
such new clients, deposition prep, and depositions.
We actors are given documents with our stories -- our facts -- and, within
the framework of the facts, we improvise
performances as the said client or witness -- sometimes this is referred to
as guided improv.
It's not a massive paycheck, but it is some extra money in the pocket and
it is technically a professional gig, so....
FINALLY, A TRIP TO BROADWAY!:
Over the course of the last decade, I have, on occasion, usually around at
least once a year, but not exactly every year, taken a trip to Chicago to
see some theatre -- often at steppenwolf.
And I've kept telling myself: sooner or later, you have to go see some
theatre in New York. Really, I ought to go see some theatre in a lot
of other cities -- there's a lot of good American theatre out there.
Anyway, I knew I was eventually going to get to NYC for some theatre, though,
to be honest, I always expected that I'd see an off-Broadway production
before I saw a Broadway show. A lot of that has to do with just how much a
ticket for a decent to excellent seat costs on Broadway, with the numbers
going up from the one through to the other. Also, though not at all opposed
to seeing a musical, I have been
more inclined to get to New York to see some sort of interesting
straight play. For the most
part. Broadway seems to be heavy on the musicals, because they have a longer,
and bigger, box office life. But there are clearly exceptions to that rule.
Here's my seat!
Along comes the three-way marriage of
and Jeff Daniels.
That's a pretty damn potent combination. Just alone, To Kill A Mockingbird
is an American classic regardless of the medium (novel, movie, stage play).
Then to have the brilliant Mr. Sorkin write a version of the stage play from
the novel. Then to have such a fine actor as Jeff Daniels step into the
body of Atticus Finch. You just can't get much better of a combination
Then, since its opening this past December, the reviews and the buzz have
been overwhelmingly positive. Several of my New York theatre friends as well
as a couple from my neck of the woods have seen it and they have all raved
about it. New York theatre critic,
one of my FutureFest
(and facebook) friends also has written a most positive review,
"To Refresh a Mockingbird,"
which simply aggravated my already mounting urge to make the trek to
The Shubert and experience
this wonderful merging of talents and brilliance.
My ticket is for the May 11, 2:00 matinée. As you can see from
the graphic here, I have a damn good seat. Why am I going to travel 600
miles and go see such a monumental production and settle for a crap seat?
Answer: I'm not. Yeah this is going to be an expensive weekend for me. I
also am just going to bite the bullet and stay downtown -- though,
since I haven't priced hotels yet, I reserve the right to amend that
proclamation. My plan at the moment is to drive over on Friday, the 10th
-- that will not be changing -- spend Friday night and Saturday night in
the city, and I hope also Sunday night, then drive back Monday. It's all
got to do with what budget I have to work with. Regardless of what the weekend
turns out to be as a whole, the main event is still going to be the main
ANOTHER WINNER AT HOME:
The Shadow Box opened Friday evening to a most receptive audience. I
wasn't there for the rest of the weekend, but I have no doubt the audiences
were just as pleased. The Saturday audience may have been rather small due
to the winter storm that moved in. I actually was at the theatre before the
show, shoveling snow and laying down salt, but I left before the curtain
came up. Anyway: TWO MORE WEEKENDS!
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!"
L-R: Marc Moritz, me, Doug MacKechnie, Patrica O'Hara,
Brian Dykstra, & Scott Hunt. -- (Photo: Heather Powell)
Brian Dykstra as Pete Rose -- (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Doug MacKechnie as Bart Giamatti -- (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Scott Hunt as Fay Vincent -- (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Marc Moritz as Reuvan Katz -- (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Me (aka: K.L.Storer) as John Dowd - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Director Margarett Perry & Playwright Patricia O'Hara
It's four months now since the show closed. Like I've written lately,
one cannot say that I now don't have the perspective of distance as I write
this post mortem. Having
acknowledged that, I still can report that this was a great experience on
Of course, the show also had some wonderful designers attached:
Tamara L. Honesty (scenic),
John Rensel (lighting),
Jay Brunner (sound), Janet G. Powell (costuming), and Heather Powell (properties).
Last, but certainly not least, we were all banded together to bring to life
this excellent script written by Ms. Patricia O'Hara. I think it's important
to note that this is her first play. It's pretty impressive to turn out a
strong manuscript worthy of a professional debut as your first play out of
When I did the Generals
for HRTC's 2018/2019 season,
last May, I believe, in the section of the form that asked what shows I was
interested in I wrote that I was specifically intersted in this show as well
as "any other that I might seem the right type
for." Actually, I think I may have identified this show as
"Band" From Baseball rather than "Banned"
because I kept making that malapropism, in writing, for quite a while.
I did two contrasting monologues.
The first was a cut of a Joe Keller monologue from
All My Sons.
It's a monologue that I worked on in a recent acting class I did at The
Race that previous fall, with the most excellent
at the helm. That was my dramatic monologue. My humorous monologue was
something I took from an acquaintance of mine who used work in television,
Robert (Bob) Earll,
who just passed away in December of 2017.
I did have the option to do a two-minute monologue from a play in the HRTC
18/19 season, but, with Banned from Baseball, being the one I was
most interested in, that was problematic because it's not published yet, so
I had no access to the script. I figured Joe Keller would be close enough
in type with several of the characters in BfB, at least in attitude
and personality -- or, if you'll forgive the pun, close to being in the same
ballpark -- that Joe was a good choice.
I can't say for sure if Joe was the reason, but, within a few days I recieved
an email from HRTC Associate Artistic Director Tara Lail informing me of
my callback for BfB. I was
to submit a video audition of
the sides provided for the role of
attorney John Dowd. I did a
DIY video at
The Guild with the help of
fellow Dayton actor, and fellow DTG board member, Scott Madden, off-camera
reading the role of Pete Rose.
Now the funny part. Up to this point, I did not know who was directing
BfB. So let's jump back to about a week or two before the Generals.
A friend of mine from highschool contacted me. She and her son, who is a
most talented musical director whom I have worked with, have written a
musical and were looking for theatres
or institutions where they can workshop
it and I was one of the people she contacted about recommendations of where
it might be workshopped. After establishing that geography was not an issue,
I contacted any theatre folk I knew, anywhere who might have good suggestions.
One of those was Director Margarett Perry. In the midst of our back-and-forth
I wrote at one point:
Hope to see your work again -- hell, who knows, at some point you
might be tricked into thinking I'm right to cast
I had no idea when I wrote that, that just a few weeks later I would be asked
to submit a video audition to Ms. Perry, whom, of course, it turns
out was the director of Banned from Baseball. When I said something
to that effect to her later she responded that I should never feel bad about
contacting a director to request that they keep me in mind for a project.
As for the audition video. I think I did okay. I had done what research I
could on Dowd. I looked for some video of him speaking; all I found was a
very short clip of him telling a reporter to F off. So I had no real
sense of a speech pattern or dialect. So I just came up with a no-nonsense
lawyer, lobbing questions at Pete Rose. As I said, my self critic was
neither disappointed nor overly impressed with the finished project. My
big thought was that I was not at all sure I was right for the role. I was
prepared to not be cast. I expected I would not be cast.
I was proved wrong about a week later, when HRTC Artistic Director
called. Our conversation, in part, went something like this:
Kevin: "Hey, K.L., Margaret really liked your read as Dowd and
would like to offer you the role."
Me: "Well, I'd like to accept!"
That was early June. About a week after the call, the script arrived. Dowd
has one scene in the play and in the draft that was originally delivered I
believe there were 11 pages to the Dowd scene -- there are 10 pages to the
scene in the draft that we eventually performed. The scene is somewhere
between 10 to 15 minutes long; it probably usually hit around 12 or 13
minutes during performance.
I started to look at the script almost right away, though, I have to admit,
not intensely. I was soon to take a
trip to the Hocking Hills Ohio area
to spend the weekend in a secluded cabin, and do some hiking at
Old Man's Cave,
Ash Cave, and other
local forestry. I brought the script with me, but it was the same as when I
was in college and would take occasional weekend trips. I always brought
my books and notes to study at some point during the trip, and never did.
In Hocking Hills there was a lot to do so I did not get to the script at
all. But, the next weekend I took a
trip to Chicago to see a play and visit the Lincoln Park Zoo
and did manage to find at least a little time to do line study.
My original goal was to come in pretty much off-book,
but then a local theatre colleague advised me that with this being a debut
production, the playwright was sure to be there and there were sure to be a
lot of re-writes, and that person suggested that I spend more time on
dramaturgy focused on Dowd. I
read quite a bit about him and his many major accomplishments as a lawyer
and as a prosecutor for the DOJ. John Dowd, by the way, was one of Donald
Trump's lawyers until early last spring when he left because his client
kept ignoring his counsel and because it became clear to Dowd that Mr.
Trump would be incapable of not perjuring himself in a deposition or in a
trial. Dowd later denied these things, which was rather foolish, and ironic,
since there is record of him having made the statements. But I digress.
I never did find good video of him, which was apparently just my bad
research skills because once I got into rehearsal, Margarett turned me onto
a video of a full classroom lecture about this Pete Rose case, that he gave
a couple years back at his alma matter, Emory University School of Law.
Between myself and Margarett we didn't approach my version of Dowd as an
impersonation anyway. First off, John Dowd is much larger man than I. He's
got several inches in height on me and more than a few pounds on me. Once
From that Emory video I was able to hear good sampling of his voice I decided
it would not work well for me to try to imitate his vocal aspects, as well,
because the tenor and quality of our two voices are quite dissimilar and I
would have sounded like and actor on stage trying to do a voice -- I do not
believe I would have sold it well, at all, as a natural voice of the Dowd
who stood on stage.
Margarett, in fact, told me at one point that she didn't think I needed
to do any real dialect work, that what I was doing pretty much worked. I
already have just a hint of a generic Eastern seaboard accent to my speech,
to begin with, so I was essentially using my own dialect, just slightly
modifying some vowels and, as Margarett told me to, softening my Rs.
In my estimation, Margarett also had me give my Dowd perhaps a little more
drama to his aggression during the deposition than Dowd probably had in
reality. There are two reasons I believe this. First, in that Emory
lecture Dowd says that Bart Giamatti instructed him to not go after Rose
in the deposition, to keep it conversational and avoid confrontational
tactics. The second reason is that listening to him speak during the course
of the hour-long video, I didn't get the sense that Dowd was a lawyer who
relied on dramatic theatrics when going full speed in a deposition or
cross examination. That second one is a guess, though, since I did not see
any video of him in a courtroom setting, nor have I read anything that speaks
directly to his style of presentation in court. I think his style is a
down-to-business and no-nonsense lawyer in these situations, but it's more a
steady, understated approach with an onslaught of evidence that backs a
witness into a corner.
What we did was present a Dowd that was more confrontational, more
demonstrative in his reactions, not over-the-top, whatsoever, but still
more theatrical in behavior and voice than Dowd probably is. The point
obviously being that we needed a more dramatic scene, and Dowd being
confrontational helped Rose be more emotional with his defences, to be
angrier and more demonstratively frustrated, because our Dowd was putting
the screws to our Rose with some measure drama.
There was little adjustment from my performance in the audition video.
Margarett even said at one point, early, when we still doing
table work, that she wanted me
to do what I did in the video, and that her big concern was that during the
course of rehearsal I was going to get bored with it and start messing
Overall, I'd say I felt good about my work as Dowd. It was a little
frustrating to have had a few line glitches during performances. A couple
times I went up for a moment or
two. A few other times I misspoke lines. A couple of those misspeaks were
problematic. In once I said the wrong name, in the other I asked if Rose
had ever borrowed money from a person instead of if he'd loaned money to
that person. Brian was able to fix the errors. but still, they are errors
that call attention to themselves. I'd say that one solace is that I've
seen well-seasoned, veterans, including some big-name actors, make errors
as big, but there's not much solace there. Ahh well....Live Theatre.
When it was all said and done, I had it much easier than all the rest of
the cast -- much, much, much easier. The most difficult thing I had
to deal with was rangling a bit of paperwork in a rather self-choreographed
manner -- that had to look spontaneous. I had to lay documents in front of
Rose (Brian) at given moments, documents to bring home a specific question
or point. Integrating that propwork smoothly in with the lines took a little
planning and practice, but it wasn't some anxiety-inducing task. Well, at
first it was awkward, but, you know, once the rhythm was down it was no
longer a challenge at all.
The only other person that had this particular prop-wrangling issue was
Marc Moritz, who play Rose's lawyer, Reuvan Katz, and I think his
process of mastering that propwork was probably about equal to mine.
No, the big challenge for cast was the rewrites. The play was still in
development so there were changes pretty much at every rehearsal up to
Tech. There were all varieties of
change, minor changes in lines, major revisions of scenes, scenes cut, and
scenes added. My one scene changed but only a little, and given that I
didn't have but that one scene, I was not at all in the same predicament
as the rest of the cast, who sometimes were subjected to major changes.
They were all up to challenge, but as one of my castmates said one day,
"I'm having a hard time remembering which version of the scene we're
doing now." Fortunately that actor and the others are all real pros
so they all brought it together and gave stellar performances. All of them
were impressive in their roles and I'm happy to have been their fellow
Just as I did not do an impersonation of Joh Dowd, neither did anyone else
do such for their characters. Pete Rose was, of course, the one figure who,
if an impersonation was going to be expected, it would be of him. Between
Margarett Perry and Brain Dykstra that did not happen, yet, Brian was able
to capture Rose's essence regardless. Veteren sports writer, and
National Sports Media Association
Hall of Famer,
Hal McCoy, who has
known Rose for decades, said after seeing the show that he felt like Pete
was on the stage.
Doug MacKechnie infused his Bart Giamatti with an enthusiastic love for
baseball, a deep reverence for academia, and tremendous respect for the
mantle of leadership he wore. Scott Hunt's Fay Vincent was unwavering in
his sense of principled justice. Marc Moritz gave us a practical and
level-headed Reuvan Katz, trying, often in vain, to get his client, Rose,
to understand the realities of his situation. Yes, these things were already
there in the script, but these actors brought it all to life with great
finess. A bad performance can kill an inherent aspect of a character as
written in the script; we were in no danger of that.
And again, I liked working with Margarett. This was the second time I've been
directed by her and I've enjoyed both ventures. The first time it was a
dramatic reading, but,
really, because of the nature of my scene in this one -- sitting at a table
for the whole scene, thus no blocking
-- there was little difference. In both instances she and I focused on
character work and
line work. Margarett was most
helpful to my development of the Dowd I brought on stage. She also got out
of the way when she thought she should and let me get to some things on my
I only disagreed with one note from
her, but it was a small point that I didn't push. Some of Dowd's questioning,
in the script, are more rhetorical statements than direct questions. In other
words they are questions that end with a period. They are questions not
spoken with an upward inflection in the voice on that last word. "So,
you never bet on baseball." rather than "So, you never bet on
baseball?" Margerett's note was for me to put that definite question
mark, that upward vocal inflection, on all of those said lines as we got
toward the end of the scene. Her reason was to set up my line "I ask
the questions, Mr. Rose," so that the statement makes more sense to
the audience. My though was, and still is, that it is so obvious that those
lines are still clearly inquiries without the question marks that I felt the
change was unnecessary. On the other hand, it was not really an important
point to me at all, so I didn't bother to bring it up; I followed the note.
And I couldn't end this without mentioning the great happenstance that
the production was able to get
the voice of The Reds for four and a half decades to do the sportscaster
voice-overs for the production.
So, essentially, he came on board to play himself. Kevin Moore said that
when he called Marty to see if he was interested his response was that he'd
have to read the play, because he wasn't going to be involved if he felt
the play was unfair to Rose. Kevin said that Marty said, "I'm a Pete
guy." Obviously he approved of Pete's treatment.
Rose's record-breaking night, the night he reached his 4,192nd career hit,
which happened in 1985, is part of the show. Marty recorded the sports
announcing for that. The cool thing is, every night, I would stand in the
vom, waiting to go on stage, and hear that recording and think, wow, Marty
sat in Jay Brunner's studio reliving what had to be one of the most exciting
nights of his life, since he was the one who called that game back in '85.
To close, and to repeat myself, it was a great pleasure to be a part of this
world premiere of Patricia O'Hara's most excellent script. It was a pleasure
to again be directed by Margarett. It was absolutely an honor to have been
counted among this cast roster.
And now, more photographs:
The Theatre front
Designer Tamara L. Honesty's wonderful set - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Photos that I took of the set.
Doug MacKechnie & Scott Hunt - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Doug MacKechnie, Scott Hunt, & Brian Dykstra - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Brian Dykstra & Marc Moritz - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Brian Dykstra & K.L.Storer (Me) - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Marty Brennaman & Margarett Perry in the studio,
recording Marty's VOs for the show - (Photo: Christine Brunner)
Marty Brennaman & Jay Brunner (the show's sound
designer and the recording session engineer) -
(Photo: Margarett Perry)
Jay Brunner, Marty Brennaman, & Margarett Perry - (Photo: Christine Brunner)
Brian Dykstra & Marc Moritz - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Brian Dykstra & Doug MacKechnie - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Scott Hunt, Doug MacKechnie, Marc Moritz, & Brian Dykstra - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
The whole cast: Scott Hunt, Doug MacKechnie, Brian Dykstra,
Marc Moritz, & K.L.Storer - (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
Production stage manager Jacquelyn Duncan
Intern Kamryn Cosby & assistant stage manager
Line study in Chicago, last summer, in a little plaza between
the North/Clybourn L Red Line station and the Lincoln Park
Last June, setting up to shoot my DIY video audition.
Me and Scott Madden, who read Rose for me, off screen, for
the video audition. Notice that I'm in wardrobe for the
desk -- just like every news anchor in the business would
A frame from the audition video.
Early rehearsal set-up of the Dowd-Rose deposition scene
(my scene). Notice there are three chairs. That's because
in earlier incarnations of the scene, Rose's lawyer,
Reuvan Katz (Marc Moritz) was in the scene. He was later
In the front of the HRTC lobby, working out my props and my
prop wrangling for my scene.
The Equity actors
(I.E.: the rest of the cast) voted in their meeting to allow
the EMC (me) to be in
the dressing room with them. That is usually what happens,
but, they could have voted to not allow it. I have heard of
the vote going that way.
John Dowd in my dressing room.
My station in the dressing room.
Cast and crew
back: Scott Hunt & Marc Moritz
3rd tier: Doug MacKechnie, Brian Dykstra, & K.L.Storer
2nd tier: Margarett Perry
front: Andrew Ian Adams, Bailey Olean, Jacquelyn Duncan,
Morgan Jergens, & Kamryn Cosby
- (Photo: Scott Kimmins)
The Dowd deposition table, back stage, prepped to
be brought on stage
Morgan Jergens & Kamryn Cosby on stand-by,
waiting for the Go to set the Dowd deposition
desk on stage.
L-R: Marc Moritz, me, Doug MacKechnie, Patrica O'Hara,
Brian Dykstra, & Scott Hunt. -- (Photo: Heather Powell)
THE NEXT GIG WITH A PAYCHECK:
That forthcoming U.D. Law gig is locked in. Just recently booked it with
the U.D, Law acting coach,
This one is the Region 7 regional of the 2019 National Trial Competition,
which takes place February 8 through 10 at the Franklin County Court of
Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio. As is often the case, I have the facts and
the stories of two characters to learn for the
There's a rehearsal at U.D. tomorrow morning, which I will miss all or most
of because I have an important
Dayton Theatre Guild board
of directors meeting starting at the same time. The DTG meeting was
rescheduled from this past Saturday because we all thought the winter
storm that did eventually materialize was going to arrive sooner
than it did. There's another U.D. gig rehearsal a week from tomorrow at
the school that I will make.
The latest is that it will be "in February." I'm hoping that my
new U.D. Law gig does not cause a conflict that can't be worked around.
UPDATE ON THE NYC TRIP IN MAY:
Well, I went on
found a great deal, with a great location,
and will be spending the three nights I wrote of hoping for in the last blog.
I check in Friday evening and check out Monday morning. The Belvedere is
less than a ten-minute walk from
where the play is up,
I've given myself two full days for the excursion. Of course, Saturday afternoon
I'm also going to try to put an off-broadway show on the agenda for Saturday
evening. I've further decided that if I'm going to New York City, there's
no way that I'm not putting
on the agenda, I mean, come on now. My research tells me that the path to
The Met from The Belvedere is a two-mile, 40-minute walk through the length
of Central Park
-- yep, I'm staying right in downtown Manhatten, just minutes away from
Central Park, and my excitement about this clearly makes me a mid-western,
yokel tourist, but I don't care.
Being this tourist -- but hoping to not be too
"touristy" -- I greatly look forward to experiencing Central
Park, uh, during the day, that is. As a major Beatles fan, how will I
not make a point of visiting
while at the park?
I'm also hoping during my weekend to catch some time with
a few of my New York theatre peeps. I already have a couple hook-ups
potentially set up.
Back to the main event, I know that
as well most of the rest of the cast, come out the public stage door and
meet with fans for autographs, and perhaps photos. I know two people who have
gotten Jeff's autograph. Jeff and I share a role in a play, one of my favorites,
for reasons most have a difficult time understanding -- the character of Ray
in David Harrower'sBlackbird.
Jeff actually originated the role in America in 2007 at
The Manhatten Theatre Club,
and then reprised it in a production at
The Belasco Theatre
in 2016. I am taking my actor's edition for his autograph. I'd actually love
to spend some time discussing that play with him and sharing our experiences
climbing inside the role of Ray, but I think we know that is not going to
ANOTHER ROLE I'D REVISIT, GIVEN THE CHANCE:
While searching for some links for the entry above, I stumbled across this
great article penned by Jeff Daniels for
The New York Times in 2016,
about doing Blackbrid and playing the character Ray. I, of course,
also played the role of Ray, as did Jeff. My experience , at least for
doing one production, was pretty close to exactly parallel to his. If I
could also revisit the role, I would do so, as would my talented co-star,
Ms. Heather Atkinson, revisit the role of Una.
For those few who are familiar with the show, this article explores the
scary depths of the script and what the actors playing it face. For those
not familiar, and for even those who are, it has some great insight into
"from-page-to-stage," at least in terms of the actors and the
I knew this was what was going to happen. I knew because so many whose
opinions are aligned with mine, so many of them said what they've said. I
knew that if I watched the pilot for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that
I would be condemned to immediately watch both seasons in as condensed a
period as was possible.
And that, my friends, is exactly what happened....
Check out Bert Saidel's review of the show:
I set the manuscript aside for a little while. I've gone back to it but it's
slow-going at the moment. I'm still at that breach of the climix, which I
wrote of being at in my Jan 14 entry. I've progress a little passed it,
but not much.
It's getting to the breaking point for one of the characters that is the
sticking point. I have a vague idea how to get there, but I haven't
discovered yet. I keep writing then deleting, writing and deleting. But
each time I gain a little ground, so I am moving forward.
I attended a brief meeting yesterday at U.D. Law school
about the upcoming 2019 National Trial Competition, taking place at the
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio in a couple weeks.
As I wrote above, there was an actual rehearsal going on but I had to miss
it because of a Dayton Theatre Guild
board meeting I could not miss. But I did meet for about an hour with one
of the instructors and with the leader of the student team to which I am
There was another rehearsal I did not know about this morning but I was
not able to rearrange my plans for the morning to attend. But I will be able
to make the next rehearsal next weekend and then, of course, the gig, itself,
the second weekend of February.
Directed by David Shough
Produced by K.L.Storer & Ryan Shannon
The Shadow Box made its Broadway debut in 1977, winning both
the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Joe,
Brian, and Felicity come from different walks of life, but all three
are spending their final days with family in hospice cottages on the
grounds of a large California hospital in the mid-1970s. Joe's wife
Maggie is in denial, as they both struggle to accept the truth. Agnes
dutifully cares for her mother Felicity, who pines for the return of
her other daughter, and Brian must play referee between his brassy
ex-wife and his male lover. Each day, the residents are observed and
counseled by an invisible Interviewer as they explore their
emotional and physical struggles.
Melissa Kerr Ertsgaard
The Promocast for SHADOW BOX
ANNOUNCING DAYTON THEATRE GUILD 2019/2020 SEASON:
The Musical Comedy Murders Of 1940
by John Bishop
Directed by Doug Lloyd
Showing Aug 23-Sep 9, 2019
by Meredith Dayna Levy
Directed by David Senatore
Showing Oct 11-27, 2019
by Alena Smith
Directed by Debra Kent
Showing Nov 29-Dec 15, 2019
Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting
by Ed Schmidt
Directed by Rick Flynn
Showing Jan 24-Feb 9, 2020
Morning's at Seven
by Paul Osborn
Directed by Kathy Mola
Showing Mar 20-Apr 5, 2020
The Old Man and the Old Moon
Book/music/lyrics: Pigpen Theatre Co.
Directed by Jeff Sams
Showing May 29-June 14, 2020
Over the weekend, musical director, instructor, and performer Scot
Woolley died. Scot was the musical director of the first professional
musical I was in, Caroline, or Change, at the
Human Race Theatre Company
-- actually my first professional theatre gig, period. Scot was kind and
patient and most helpful to me as the freshman I was to that world.
Since then I would see him on campus at Wright State University
on a regular basis, usually when he was at Starbucks in the library getting
coffee. He was always friendly and most interested in what production I was
currently, or would be soon, involved with, be it a pro gig or not.
A lot of people in South West Ohio feel the loss of this man. I did not know
him as well as most of them did, but I always made a point of saying hello
to him because he was always so friendly and supportive.
First, let's do some tech talk. As I wrote earlier, I bought the
Final Draft mobile app for iPhone
so I could work on the play whenever I had a free moment or had a thought
occur to me when I don't have access to my laptop -- also any future scripts
for stage or screen, for that matter. I have done so, too. I haven't worked
on any large chunks on my phone but I have done a bit of tweaking to things
already written and in a few cases, added new material.
In adding new material on the mobile app, specifically some new dialogue,
I discovered that the mobile app does not seem to format play script
dialogue properly. New dialogue that is created in the mobile app appears
to be in the screenplay format,
rather than the stage play format -- for the uninitiated, it has to do with
paragraph indenting: screenplays and teleplays
have specific formating rules about indenting dialogue paragraphs on both
the left and the right. Stage plays have no indents, the text goes to the
general page margins.
I discovered this issue when I did just that, added some new dialogue. I
have things set up to sync between the mobile app on my phone and the
software on my laptop, via iCloud.
My assumption was that I was going to have to open the script up on my
laptop then reformat that new dialogue to meet the proper formating for a
play script. As it turns out, however, the new dialogue was properly
formatted. My guess is that the software reformatted it automatically when
I opened the document on my laptop.
This automatic synchronization/updating (with adjustments) between the two
devices is a great thing!
As for progress on the manuscript, it's going sort of slowly, but, there
is progress all the same. There's work being done, it's just that the pages
are not advancing quickly. I've been tweaking previously written dialogue,
including adding material to previous sections and making other areas more
concise, or changing the wording.
Also, in looking though my story bible for something specific, I realized
that I got something else wrong (or, inconsistent) with the bible. Some
writers would contemplate ignoring that. I will not. Nor will I alter the
bible to conform with what I'm writing now. As far as I'm concerned, I'm
adhering to historical fact. Fortunately, it was an easy fix, just an
addition to a sentence and the alteration of another -- all in the same
The slow pace has to do with the fact that I have reached the climax area
of the story and decisions about exactly what's going on and how to write
it are becoming more challenging. Still, I think I will have a finished
first draft in the near future and will be ready to have a
Over the weekend I did the U.D. Law gig at the 2019 National Trial
Competition, at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, Ohio.
I was assigned to one of two teams of U.D. law students and I portrayed either
the director of the Lone Star Division of Forensic Sciences, who is also
a toxicologist, or I was a forensic toxicology specialist for the Sunshine
Toxicology Associates of Ardmore, Oklahoma. The former for the prosecution,
the latter for the defense. With each round, the team was assigned as one
or the other side.
The case problem was one of a young woman who is charged with DUI and
vehicular manslaughter. The problem does not make it cut and dry for
either side. There are, I believe, purposeful flaws, errors, and
inconstancies built into the materials (the deposition transcripts, and the
varies police, medical, and lab reports). There may also be a few errors
that are simply inadvertent. The aspiring lawyers had the challenge of
presenting their case and either avoiding or exploiting those flaws as was
in their best interest.
During the course of Friday evening and Saturday during the day, the team
I was assigned to competed in three matches, two as defense, one as
prosecution. Unfortunately, they did not go on to the final round on
Sunday morning. As is always the case in these mock trial competitions
there was a lot of talent and a lot of stiff competition. It's always a
joy to be a part of it and see great young talent at work.
We had a production meeting
last week, during that polar vortex weather and have launched into various
degrees of preproduction.
The production team is
pretty much put together. Auditions are still slated for Monday and Tuesday,
March 4 and 5, at the theatre, 7:00 pm until 9:00/9:30-ish.
We've also determined the cut-off year for pop songs that we'll use for
production music. Let's
just say: "mid-80's." I haven't started to actually curate but I
do have a few specific ideas already.
I've also not yet been able to secure clearance to use dialogue in the
promocast. I am going to give it
This playwriting thing has been painstakingly slow, as I have written here
already, yet, there has been steady progress. As the wise saying goes:
"It's okay to take one step backward then two steps forward."
One thing I have discovered is that sections with a lot of fast-paced,
overlapping and interrupting dialogue are slow-going to compose; at least
they are for me. The characters are reacting, usually in a rash manner to
one degree or another, and quickly spewing words -- the writer, however is
carefully determining just how rash those words will be, what the intent
is, and calculating how the story is moved along by each "rash"
Not only are those points important to consider, but also how to best get
these arguments onto the page is a consideration. In at least one such
section, there are a lot of these overlaps and interruptions that involve
all three of the characters, each engaging in at least one, and often two,
of these dialogue elements at the same time. Communicating, on the page,
the placement, timing and pacing of the lines to the actors and to a
director is not as straight-forward as some might imagine.
I've also been having mixed emotions and differing opinions in my head about
the energy level during a section that I've recently written. One of the
characters finally gives a truthful reveal of what's going on with them, in
an angry burst. There's a seething anger and then an out burst, but then,
because of where the dialogue goes, the character calms down. I'm not
completely sure I want that to happen, but here's my dilemma: I want the
dialogue to go where it's going at that moment, it's the right place to go,
and muting the angry energy at that moment is what should happen. I have
built the character back up to an angry energy again as the scene progresses
from this point, though I'm concerned that it may not be enough.
I'm also very aware of how the whole section could slip into something
maudlin and cliché. There needs to be a lot of sadness and pain, a
lot of built up, deep hurt, and the line between something effective and
something that rolls the eyes is a finer one than some might imagine. I
have a similar concern about an earlier section, in another scene, where
there's a danger of melodrama. I've occasionally gone back to that section
to scrutinize and do a little tweaking.
Going back to earlier parts has been the norm. When I'm at the end of the
manuscript and I come to a wall about what's next or how to get down what I
know I want to be next, I have often gone back and gone through the whole
manuscript, tweaking and tightening, on a couple occasions adding things I
realized needed to be there, and cutting things I saw should be cut.
I have had people emphatically tell me that I should not do it this way,
that I should get a whole draft done then go back. But I what I'm doing works
for me. I have on occasion realized that I need to refer back to something
from earlier. Now it's clear I would have made that discovery by doing it
the other way, but here's my thought. It seems terribly likely that I\if I
were to get through one draft then go back through and fix that drafts (in
Draft #2), then go back and fix that draft (in #4), or if I do what I'm
doing, go back and tweak when I come to a wall, then work may way back to
the wall, by which time I know how to break through that wall, I am
likely to wind up with the same result with me first finished draft as I
would have with #4 the other way, and in likely about the same time period.
So, I'm just fine with my method, thank you.
Some other theatre people have a tainting of their own to deal with. In my
own neighborhood that would be the good people at the
Dayton Playhouse who, until
recently, expected to open a mounting, this past Friday evening, of the
original stage adaptation
by Christopher Sergel.
However, less than a week before the production would have gone into
tech rehearsals they had to
pull the production, as many reading this will already know.
For those who don't know the story, DPH and more than a half-dozen other
around the country, who were on track to mount the Sergel version,
recently received cease-and-desist letters from Atticus LLC, set up for the
new Broadway production by the main producer of the new production, Scott
Rudin, through his company, Rudinplay. The letter claimed the theatres were
in violation of a provision of the original license agreement that precludes
them from performing the play within 25 miles of any city with a population
of 150,000 or more, "if a 'first-class dramatic play' based on the novel
were playing in New York or on tour" (*Miller) --
"first-class" meaning, major professional production. The
theatres were told they had to pull their productions or face legal action.
Atticus LLC even threatened a planned tour of the Sergel adaptation by a
in Great Britain, and the tour was cancelled.
I have heard of rights being pulled for local productions in the past. I
don't know the details, but one of our long-timers at
The Dayton Theatre Guild
once told me that one of our shows had its rights pulled because a
professional theatre had picked the play up for its season, and it was close
enough in proximity to be able to do such a thing. I know that a few years
back we had a production of
Neil LaBute'sFat Pig
slated, and just about the time we were going into rehearsal I saw that a
Broadway production was going to be mounted shortly, starring
I was waiting for the shoe to drop, for use to get notice from
Samual French that the rights had
been rescinded by request of the B'Way producers. It could have happened.
For some reason that B'Way production was scrapped. I just wonder what
would have happened had it not been.
But that was a production of the same script. Here we are dealing with two
adaptations of the novel, two separate derivatives of the original work.
It's easy to see how at least some of the parties involved could see no
issues with the two different scripts being produced at the same time. I
saw one person equate this to more or less like My Fair Lady
The first sign I saw of the Mockingbird trouble was when a facebook
notification popped up that the fb event for the DPH production had been
cancelled. I assumed there was some sort of problem with the event page and
the social media person was going to rebuild it from scratch, or something.
A few minutes later I saw the DPH posting that they had to cancel the
Their announcement, in part, said that though they had properly acquired
the rights to the Sergel version, and had done so 14 months previously,
"the opening of the new production in New York has changed the business
landscape and appears to have rendered [our] rights no longer valid."
Their statement went on to say that they had sought legal counsel and
determined that "under threat of substantial legal action from Rudinplay
the decision was made to cancel the production" and that the theatre
was "not in a position to risk an expensive legal battle that could
threaten the corporation's future viability." Clearly, comparable
statements were issued by the other theatres who have had to cancel their
At this point in the story, Scott Rudin looked like a major asshole and
the absolute bad guy in the scenario. On our local front, and I would guess
on the other local fronts, the cry by some was "Fuck Rudin!" and
some were adding "Fuck Sorkin!" Rudin, as it has turns out, is not
the only bad player in this game, though he still comes off less than
stellar in the end.
For me, at the top of this fiasco is how ridiculous is the notion that the
new version, enjoying record-breaking attendance for a
straight play on Broadway,
would have any competition from the
of a different adaptation. To begin with, the B'Way production is sold-out
into June -- when I bought my ticket in early January for the May 11
matinée, there were about a dozen seats left, maybe fewer. I also
know that I was planning on seeing both versions, and I know several other
people in Dayton with tickets for the Sorkin version who were planning to
see the Sergel version at DPH. Granted, everyone I'm referring to is a
theatre person (all actors), and all people who have a tendency to support
local theatre whenever we can, so there is a bit of a skew going on, I admit.
I am still betting that any ticket that would have been lost from the B'Way
production because of a local mounting of the earlier script, would be
swiftly absorbed by another ticket buyer.
I don't even think the argument flies that there'd be competition for the
national tour, which Rudin has on the docket. I know several people, some
local, some theatre connections closer to New York, who have seen the new
version and all of them have declared it an amazing script. The reviews of
Sorkin's script have been consistently rave, with only one that I've seen
having any negative critiques. The buzz is hot. People are going to go
see it. My thought is that many will go because they are curious about
how it is different from the original play and from the
Again, the idea of serious competition by the non-professional theatres to
the Broadway production, and eventual tour, is ludicrous. This is why Rudin
was immediately branded as "a greedy bastard." I saw that specific
label more than once on social media.
The initial assumption was that Rudinplay/Atticus LLC was the 800-pound
gorilla coming in and foisting a legal ploy without likely having the legal
standing to win in court, but having the pocketbook to out-manuever the
little theatres who wouldn't be able to financially sustain the fight in
court to the finish line. Rudin certainly appeared the big-ass bully.
As more information has come out, he's not looking like the only one who's
at fault, and he may not be all the much at fault -- though he still ain't
comin' off with the kindness and demeanor of a Fred Rogers by any stretch
of the imagination. I haven't seen the text of the cease-and-desist letters
that Rudinplay was sending to the small theatres, but I know of several
accounts that describe the letter as aggressively threatening. If those
accounts are so, one must ask, was it not possible to relay the same
message with less antagonism? Still, Rudin's aggressive threats aside, he
may not have been totally out of left field in terms of asserting rights.
But he still hasn't shaken that bully image.
It's looking like a complicated mess, and the publisher of the original
Dramatic Publishing co.
(DPC), seems to have possibly made at least one misstep, if Rudin is to be
believed. As one article quotes Rudin:
"We had let Christopher Sergel's grandson and DPC know months
ago they had no longer any right to license it under the conditions,"
Rudin [said]. "They basically ignored about a half a dozen
cease-and-desist letters and continued to license it, then we started
to see these productions pop up and we said to the people who were
doing them, 'You don't have the right to do this.'"
Here's the thing about Rudin's credibility here: he's mentioning
"about a half a dozen cease-and-desist letters" and there is a
record of cease-and-desist letters. They are registered letters, or are
served, so that there is record of their receipt, including the dates
thereof, and there is record of the content. It's difficult to doubt that
Rudin sent those letters to DPC. I can't imagine he's dumb enough to offer
up a lie that is so easily challenged.
The Miller article says:
Why did Rudin go after the theatres rather than Dramatic Publishing?
"We don't do anything about enforcing these rights issues without
the estate's participation and consent," Rudin said, adding that
the Lee estate has put Dramatic Publishing on notice "a dozen
times" about their violation of the original licensing rights.
He added that while Atticus LLC isn't in a position to confront
Dramatic directly, the Lee estate -- and the theatres who suffered
losses here and in the U.K. -- do have legal standing.
DPC president, Christopher Sergel III, grandson of the original playwright,
has countered that Rudin and the estate of Harper Lee lied to the small
[Mr. Sergel] accused the estate of the "Mockingbird"
author, Harper Lee, acting in concert with Mr. Rudin, of causing
financial losses to Dramatic Publishing by making "false
statements" to local theaters.
(*Alter and Paulson)
I think it's all going to boil down to: does the stipulation in the original
rights agreement about 25 miles from a city of 150,000+ population if a
first-class production is up, apply to another adaptation of the play.
According to the Miller article, the stipulation was "if a 'first-class
dramatic play' based on the novel were playing in New York or on tour"
then the 25-mile stipulation applies. The new version meets that criteria
as it is "based on the novel" and it's playing in New York. Now
the question is: did Miller get that right?
If Miller's article is correct, DPC may have some problems, since
Rudinplay or Atticus LLC was demanding that the stipulations of the original
agreement for the Sergel version be adhered to. If Rudin is telling the
truth that he and the Lee estate have been warning DPC for months, DPC may
end up holding the bag. It makes it appear that DPC was issuing rights when
they knew it might be a problem and there was, at the very least, question
as to whether they still had the authority. It's clear they believe they did,
but they did not even warn any of the theatres there was a potential issue
as they were continuing to grant performance rights. It also appears that
they didn't contact theatres they had previously issued rights to but who
had not mounted the play yet, such as The Dayton Playhouse, to give them a
heads up, which is the least they could have done.
There's been a lot of talk bantered around on social media about a
class-action suit. The question is who would that suit be best aimed at? My
guess is, when this all plays out, the Lee estate, DPC, and Rudinplay are
all culpable of something. The thing is, who's culpable in a manner that
would be credibly actionable? The only ones who are clearly not culpable are
the theatres who applied for rights in good faith.
Mind you, this is all a layman's opinion on my part, so, I don't suggest
using this blog post as a citable source.
Then of course, late in the story, as the Rooney article describes, Rudin
has offered up a solution, but one that for some theatres is not presently
practical. He will allow them to mount the new script, so long as it's one
of the theatres involved in the dispute. For DPH this gesture will not solve
the immediate problem of the dark theatre
at the moment. There was no way they would have been able to get the new
script on its feet by the scheduled opening night of March 8. It's quite a
different script and the cast of characters do not line up completely
with the version they had rehearsed. And they have another production slated
to go up on May 3, a musical, which needs to start rehearsals shortly.
Though DPH chairman Matt Lindsay has said that he will investigate the offer
and speak with the Playhouse's board of directors (*Evans). So, it's
not impossible that DPH mounts the new version at some point. I am not clear
on whether this Rudin offer has a royalty fee attached or a time limit. At
one point I thought I'd read that it was free and there was no time limit,
but I am not finding that information, so I may have misread something.
Of course, for me the question is: if he's going to let the theatres do
the Sorkin script, why not let them go ahead with the Sergel script? It
causes me to think that I did indeed misread something and he's
charging the performance royalties. Not an evil thing, but not doing
anything to push him closer to Mr. Rogers territory, especially since the
theatres are taking the financial hit for their unscheduled dark theatres,
most of those to the tune of far more than $10 thousand.
Also bantered around on social media is a call to boycott not only Rudin's
production of Mockingbird but any other productions he backs. Once
again, I'm starting to think he may not be the one to boycott, or not the
only one. DPC looks quite irresponsible in all this, too. As I wrote above,
I think the universe of the new script is in little to no danger from
productions of old script, so, I don't believe Rudinplay has needed to
take any action. But, there may be legal cause there in his favor. That
idea that he was coming in like the 800-pund gorilla and asserting
something that wasn't valid just because he gambled that he could be the
bully that got away with it may not be true. That doesn't address the
alleged aggression of the cease-and-desist letters (again, "alleged"
because I am not privy to the text of the letters).
Moreover, it looks now like the local theatres were caught unawares because
DPC was holding out information that they could have shared, hoping the
problem would go away. DPC may, themselves, have had the right to issue the
performance rights, as they certainly have concluded, but shouldn't they
have informed the theatres they were dealing with that there was a legal
conflict brewing that the theatres should be aware of, that might directly
affect their productions?
Did Harper Lee, before her death (or did her estate), grant Rudinplay rights
she should not have in violation of the agreement with DPC? Or, is the letter
of the agreement quite clear, as it seems it may be, that non-professional
theatre companies cannot mount a production within 25 miles of a city with
a population of 150-thousand or more "if a 'first-class dramatic play'
based on the novel were playing in New York or on tour." Is the estate
in the wrong for siding with Rudinplay against DPC, or are they legally
sound in their stance?
Some people are also in the "boycott Sorkin" frame of mind. I had
a debate with someone, with me stating the fact that Aaron Sorkin was
commissioned to write the new adaptation, so his control over the rights
is likely non-existant and may not revert to him at any point. The argument
from the other side, not without some merit, is that he still has a bully
pulpet and could speak out against what Rudin is doing. Except, that, first,
he may be contractually or otherwise legally gagged from commenting; second,
the assertion that he should and could speak out against Rudin was made in
the early period of this when DPCs lack of action and possible culpability
was not yet out there -- Sorkin may not find Rudin's interpretation of the
legalities incorrect, and, as I've written above, I can see that as a valid
And I'm going to give Jeff Daniels a big pass for not commenting publicly.
Letting himself get mixed in this fray can invite some serious interference
into his work on stage as Atticus. My guess, completely based on my idea of
where I would be if I were in his position, is that he's staying as removed
from this as he can for the sake of Atticus.
Yeah, it's a mess. As I wrote previously, everyone seems to have screwed
up on something here. But some may have made minor transgressions compared
to others. Who is the one with the biggest act of bad faith does not seem
absolutely clear-cut to me -- though, despite the seeming unpopularity in
the theatre communities of this notion, I'm leaning away from Rudin. And
I'm betting by the time it's truly sorted out, a lot of the attention on the
story will have long since died.
As for me boycotting the Broadway production? -- that ship has sailed, at
least a financial boycott. I can't financially boycott them because I bought
my ticket in January and the Shubert
ain't giving my money back, not unless the performance is cancelled, and who's
dumb enough to take that bet? I also have a non-refundable hotel reservation
in a 4-star hotel. Plus, I am not holding malice toward the cast and the
crew of the show. I'm personally not holding malice toward Sorkin. I'm
not even completely faulting Rudin, though I do believe he handled things
terribly and has taken some unnecessary actions -- he could have played far
nicer, even in the gesture of his "solution."
Plus I have other plans for that trip. I'm seeing another play,
off-Broadway, that evening:
Sam Shepard'sCurse of the Starving Class
at the Signature Theatre. I
also am planning a visit the next day to The Met.
I don't know how I stay two miles from that museum and not take the
45 minute walk through Central Park
to visit and spend some serious time there. At this point it's the only thing
on my agenda for the day, so I can spend plenty of time there -- and,
no, I won't be strolling through the park in the evening or at night.
I'm definitely visiting the main museum, and I may also check out
The Met Breur.
There are a lot of things to check out in Central Park, too, but of
great interest to The Beatlefreak in me is
the John Lennon memorial. And I
know I am fitting in a lunch or dinner, or whatever, with at least one of
my New York City theatre people, and between now and them I might line up
some more such rendezvous.
But in terms of me still attending the B'Way Mockingbird, I have to
came back to how everyone I know who has seen the production has given high
praise both to Sorkin's script and to Daniels and the rest of the cast.
So, simply put, I have a ticket to see it and I want to see it. The boycott
of the most value is out of my reach anyway, as I've said. Even if I were
to sell my ticket, that ticket was still purchased. And, again, I am not as
sold on the idea that a boycott is best leveled against Rudin in the first
place. Plus, I go back to how the artists involved in the show are not
involved in this mêlée. My refusal to see their work would not
take any forceful stand against the stupidity that is this whole mess --
and I still laid down just shy of $1200 for my ticket and my hotel room.
So, any body who wants to give me grief: I'm more than willing to accept a
check, but cash would be better.
It's still tainted for me. I would much rather not have this new legacy
as part of the texture of the experience. To know that the cast and crew at
DPH had the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute, that their
excitement and anticipation was shut down, that their shared bonding was
redirected to such a disappointment, and that other theatres share the same
experience, it takes a bit of the giddiness out if it for me.
You can also web-search many other articles about the issue. It's been
covered a lot this past week-and-a-half or so.
THE CAST IS SET....LET'S GO!:
Auditions were last Monday and
Tuesday evening. Three-quarters of the cast was picked Tuesday eve, shortly
after the audition ended. However, we had no woman show up to read for the
role of Francine (Jo's mother). We had to reach out to a few actresses that
would be typed for the role. We held
off announcing the cast until we filled that role.
Here is the cast:
Carly Risenhoover-Peterson as Josephine (Jo)
Cassandra Engber as Francine
Heather Atkinson as Sherry
Scott Knisley as Donny
I have begun the curating process of music for the show,
pre-show music, and
intermission music. I
grabbed some lists of the pop hits from the era and am looking at and
gathering the most popular songs as well as others that are a good fit for
the show. Of course, there are a lot of songs on the lists that I already
own. There are some others I most certainly do not own and would not under
any other circumstances. But, when curating for a production, it's about
what's right for the show, not what the sound designer
Finally, after my most recent attempt, I was able to get in contact with
current agent to seek clearance to use dialogue in the
promocast. Friday I called the
agency and spoke with the agent's assistant and after a some follow-up
emails I got word from the assistant that approval has been granted. So,
we have received approval for every show this season. More importantly, I
don't have to come up with how to shoot the video without using dialogue!
Though I was happy with what I came up with for
Marjorie Prime, which
was the last one that had to be handled that way.
I dropped by Troy Civic Theatre
Friday night to catch their production of
Neil Simon'sThe Sunshine Boys,
featuring Saul Caplan
as Willie Clark and Dave Nickel as Al Lewis. It was a fun night out with
one of Simon's most popular scripts. Here's to The Sunshine Boys and their
supporting cast and crew, Scot Atkinson (Ben), Barrie VanKirk (Vaudeville
Stage Assistant), Dean Shipley (Vaudeville Director), Chuck Melvin (Patient),
Julie Zalar (Vaudeville Nurse), Jessica Fox (Registered Nurse), Cathie
Melvin (Director), Esther Marko (Stage Manager), and all the designers and
I'll be seeing a few more shows in the near future, including the
dramatic reading of
Hand of God by
which is tonight at the
Human Race Theatre Company.
Originally I was going to have to miss this because there was a dialect
coaching session for the cast of Nice Girl at
DTG this evening, and I
have to be involved, but that was rescheduled. There are a couple other
professional productions coming up that I'll be seeing, and I'll get to
them as they occur.
Over the course of months I've missed a lot of these that I've
wanted to recognize. So many that I'm going to break them up.
Here are the ones from the last part of 2018 that I missed, in
order of their passing. I'll do 2019, I Hope, in the next
I've been stuck on my next move at the end of the manuscript. There still
has been progress. I've had this nag about the start of the play, that
Scene One was taking too long to pick-up steam. The other day, as I was
driving home from somewhere (I don't remember where) I thought, what if
I move some things around? So, the other night I rearranged the
beats of the first half of Scene One,
and I have improved the sense of action and energy greatly. No new material
was added, except for one little connector line that was necessary between
to sections that previously were not next to each other.
I had to print the scene out on paper so I could mark the beats (the
sections) that should move, and number each section as per their new order.
Then I was able to go in and highlight and cut-and-paste in
One other thing I've done is go through the whole manuscript and clean up
some formatting things. I'd had this idea of putting a lot of internal
parenthetical directions, those which appear in dialogue, on their own
line if they appear at the start of the dialogue. I've decided to nix that
with one exception of a specific direction that has to do with dialogue that
overlaps a previous piece of dialogue by another character, or if the
directions run more than halfway across the page.
Now to get back to the end of the manuscript and get the thing to its
This was a test balloon by HRTC to measure response toward a possible
full production on their stage
in the future. I vote "Yes!"
Since the new year has begun,There have been quite a few celebrity
passings that I want to give attention to. I won't remark on them
with the exception of
were my very first "favorite" band. When they hit the scene
in 1966 I was eight, so I was on the lower end of the commercial
demographic that they would appeal to. I religiously watched the
and had their debut album
memorized, despite that I misheard (mis-learned) some of the lyrics.
During that period when The Monkees were number-one with me, before
I crossed over into Beatleland, I had a great affinity for Peter.
I'm not sure why. It was that performer's presence thing. Later I
came to admire him because, as I got older and learned real things
about him, though I was never an expert on his life, I found that
he seemed an honorable and admirable man. Like all the others
recognized below, I wish his friends and family all they need as
they grieve their loss.
Just shy of twenty years ago, I posted an essay at the host site here
titled, "The Deadline Is Our Friend"
and it may behoove me to read that damned thing!
Nah, I don't need to read it.
Here's the thing: I've been butting up against the ending of this play
and finding it difficult to get the climax completed and then get into
whatever resolution there will be -- if there will be one. Thus,
I now have a deadline for a completed draft, one that we'll call
"draft 1," though with the third-millennium ability to so easily
rewrite any section at any time a "draft 1" has really already
had a bit of rewriting and revision done to it; as example: my
March 13 entry about
rearranging Scene 1 of the play.
declare the deadline of midnight, March 31 to have the first completed draft.
I hope to have a table read
coming soon after -- "soon" being vaguely defined.
Here's some interesting math, the Mockingbird, Broadway
ticket, after services charges, etc., ran me $440. Though I have a
pretty great seat for Mockingbird, I'm nine rows back, my Curse,
off-Broadway seat, after its
services charges, etc., was $42, and as you can see from the chart on the
right, I'm three rows back. That's one-third of the distance for less than
ten-percent of the cost compared to Mockingbird.
By the way, I got an email from The Signature with the cast list:
Haven't done them yet. I'm thinking there's a good chance I will owe this
year due to the wonderful new tax laws. I had a few acting gigs last year
and since most of the deductions have been disallowed, there was a bit of
withholding that wasn't taken out that may present a problem for
Directed by Patrick Allyn Hayes
Produced by Christina Tomazinis
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.
I posted the above on facebook about mid-evening yesterday. I am happy to
say that later in the evening I found a good way to advance toward the
right direction. It wasn't a lot of new materail, only eight paragraphs,
but, progress forward all the same.
That midnight, March 31 deadline to have the "first" draft
finished is still the hard deadline.
The table read, I hope, will
be scheduled soon after this draft is complete; I'm shooting to have it
before the end of April, if it's possible.
Around the World in 80 Days
at Human Race Theatre Company
-- Friday evening I was in attendance for this stellar production featuring
nothing less than a top-notch ensemble cast. The production was impressive
from top to bottom. I hate to single out one of the fine performances,
because they were all excellent, but I have to give major kudos to
Jake Lockwood for his
tour de force performance as seventeen separate characters and his
wonderful comedic execution of each and every one of them. But, as already
stated, the rest of the cast gave strong performances, too:
Jared Joplin (as Phileas
Fogg), Lovlee Carroll,
Patrick Earl Phillips, and
Darlene Spencer, the
latter three also performing as multiple characters. Kudos to them all. And
kudos to Director Joe Deer for
navigating such a great trip around the world. And the designers.....
Our Mother's Brief Affair
at DTG -- I saw the
closing performance of our Guild show yesterday. A really nice little
story that the cast and crew told well. Here's to the cast (Cathy Campbell,
Tim Rezash, Mark Sharp, & Kerry Simpson), Director Patrick Allyn Hayes,
and designers: Patrick Allyn Hayes (scenic, costumes & props), Scott
Wright (lighting) & Ryan Shannon (sound). Christina Tomazinis was our
producer and Scott Madden was the stage manager.
A Winter's Tale
at CincyShakes -- Next up
for me "in the audience" will be Wednesday at CincyShakes where
I'll see my recent castmate
Marc Moritz (Reuvan Katz
in Banned from Baseball). Also in the cast is another former castmate
of mine, Josh Katawick.
Adding to the NYC trip: Fiddler on the Roof -- (A Fidler Afn Dakh)
at Stage 42
-- Another past castmate, Bruce Sabath
(Caroline, or Change),
has been appearing for a year or more in the Yiddish version of
Fiddler on the Roof,
which is directed by Joel Grey.
Bruce has been in a role I played once, in high school, that of Lazar Wolf,
though in this case, Bruce is Leyzer Volf. There's more than a 99.9%
probability that I'll be seeing this production on the Sunday evening that
I'm in New York City in May. I looked just a few days ago and there are plenty
of good seats left for that performance. I'm waiting on the possibility of
greatly discounted ticket for one of those seats.
I was at first thinking, do I want to sit through two and a half hours
of a show in a language that I don't know? But then I had that
DOH! moment: I've done the show twice,
I've seen the damn thing several times; I kinda know the story. Plus, there
will be English subtitles scrawling on a panel, but I may not attend to
My self-imposed deadline of midnight, March 31 to have the first draft of
the play done is looming large. I have a week. So today will be primarily
about work on the manuscript in between trips to the laundry room. Since
I've not done laundry in a while, both will occupy the rest of my waking
hours. Well, technically, the writing can go longer because the laundry
room closes at 9 p.m.
Of course, now there's a big monkey wrench thrown in. When I woke up
yesterday, I had this thought that I tried to dismiss but could not. As the
day progressed I pondered the idea more and more and it has now grown into
a conundrum for me. The idea that came to me is to have one of the characters
narrate, break the fourth wall,
and I'm now at odds with myself about it.
One advantage is that I can more easily take a lot of
exposition out of the in-scene
dialogue and put it in the mouth of the character as he breaks the fourth
wall and talks to the audience. It's actually much less awkward since that
is almost always one of the purposes of such narration. The big danger of
"slipping" exposition into the regular dialogue is how forced it
can be. You can easily end up with a character uttering sentences that are
not at all natural in conversation between people familiar with each other,
that have no verisimilitude, that would not be uttered in a real conversation
between two people who know each other and have a history together. In other
words, people don't explicitly state facts of their lives that are well-known
between each other. Audiences pick up on that, too. They will very quickly
recognize something that is only being said for their benefit, and that
takes them out of their suspension of disbelief
because it makes them aware of the playwright giving them information.
For some reason, the conceit of a character breaking the fourth wall to
address the audience and give them exposition does not interfere with
suspension of disbelief. I guess it's that the character addressing them
becomes a go-between, a liaison, between them and the playwright and this
is an acceptable way to get the information out. It works well. Look at
some of the strongest famous examples: The Stage Manager in
Tom in The Glass Menagerie,
or Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The disadvantage in my mind is that to have my character do this would
change the mood and the tone in a manner that I am not sure I want. I do
still find this new idea compelling, but I am in a big debate with myself
about the pros and cons. My decision is to not start over at the
moment, not do an overhaul. For one thing, to do so at this time
would render the current deadline a lost goal. I'm going to proceed with
the script in its present form. I'll invite in actors, at least one which
I've already approached, have the table reading,
see where I am after hearing that, and keep this particular new idea as an
option for later in the process.
Now, if you don't mind, I'm off
to start the first load of laundry, and multi-task with: a) finishing this
blog entry; b) finishing the dishwashing I started last night; c) the rest
of the night working in Final Draft in between them later trips to the
This past Tuesday evening the cast had a session with the excellent
via a Skype session, which is how we
have worked with Mr. Smith for something like a decade, at one point when
he was living in New Zealand. Now he's teaching at the
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music,
but we're still doing a Skype session since it's not a short drive up to
Dayton for him -- it's an hour's drive and why make it if you don't
This is at least the third time that D'Arcy has taken a DTG cast to Boston,
or, a script has taken both D'Arcy and the cast to Boston, whichever way
you want to see it.
As a passing note, one of D'Arcy's mentors was the late, great
Rocco Del Vera,
a truly brilliant dialect coach, whom I had the great pleasure of working
D'Arcy, Skyping from Cincy
D'Arcy, Skyping from Cincy -- 2
The Nice Girl cast, during the Skye session.
L-R: Scott Knisley, Cassandra Engber, Heather Atkinson,
& Carly Risenhoover-Peterson. In back: Director
The midnight March 31 deadline for a finished first draft of the play (this
coming Sunday evening) is looming large
on the horizon. There has been a lot of progress on the manuscript this week.
It's gonna suck hard when I have to go back and start
"killing my darlings!"
So, my self-imposed deadline to have the first draft of the play manuscript
done was midnight tonight. I beat that by fifty hours, give or take a few
minutes. I typed "End of play" somewhere around 10:00 Friday
evening. So, sometime soon I'll be in the first round of
"killing my darlings."
I think next up, though, is just some tweaking here and there -- actually
some tweaking has already happened since 10:00 Friday night.
Along with a little bit of tweaking that's happened I also have retitled
the play. Though at the moment I don't want to share the new title, I will
now share the dead title: Who's Who in Andromeda and the Milky Way
-- yeah, I liked it less and less as time went on. The new title is much
better. It fits much better and is far more appropriate. I can't swear it'll
be the title of the final draft,
but, at the moment, the new title works for me.
Another thing that I did was time it. I read it out loud, paced as it would
be if being performed and, at this stage, the damn play's two acts! My
intention was a one-act, but it came
in yesterday afternoon at an hour and fifty minutes. That's too long for a
one-act. I'm sure there are some out there that long, but I find it too long.
Sometime soon I'll have a table read.
Not sure when I can fit it in, but I'm hoping it's not too far into the
future. I'll invite a few others besides the readers, people who can give
me valuable feedback. As to whether or not I can get it down to a one-act,
guess we'll have to see what happens after the kill-my-darlings slaughter,
if it turns out to be a slaughter, rather than just an assault.
Did a table read, yesterday,
at the playwright class for the
Ohio Playwrights Circle,
of Act 2 of a script I have been involved with reading several time. Was
supposed to read another one later during the class session but they
ended up not needing me.
So I came home and tweaked my own play manuscript.