Friday, October 21, 2011

Dancing in GLORY Alfredo


Alright. It’s time to talk food.

How much can one properly express their complete lust and adoration for a food? 

‘Food’ is a word that leaves the mouth like a dog crooning for a treat. It does not resound with enough elegance and regality to justly describe Maine Lobster. Maine Lobster should not be called ‘lobster’. Maine Lobster should not be called ‘food’. I propose that Maine Lobster should forever now be called ‘GLORY’. And if I could afford it, I would stuff everything I consumed the rest of my life with GLORY. GLORY stew, GLORY jerky, GLORY mothaclawin’ flapjacks. It’s all glory, baby.

I had an omelet  from this badass place called 2 Cats stuffed with smoked gouda, green onions and GLORY. It was served with hashbrowns, homemade biscuit and strawberry butter. Throw in a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, and organic, fair trade coffee and tip, I’m out 25 bucks. But very, very happy. 

Daniel Stevens and Pinchy

At Stewman’s, I discovered the meal I will order my final night on death row:
 - 2 double whiskey-cokes
- cup of best clam chowder ever
- GLORY, crab, spinach and tomato fettucini alfredo
- ‘Whoopie-pie’ sundae
- Other people’s leftover Glory, shrimp and blueberry pie.

$74 later, I was broke, but ready to die happily.

But I didn’t die! And that allowed me to taste the uncontested natural beauty of Bar Harbor and Acadia park. Maine has many bumper stickers with the motto: “Maine, the way life should be.” And it’s hard to argue that point between the breath taking beauty of the trees and water and lobster. Often we’ll drive by trees with orange or red leaves so vibrant that for a second I actually am alarmed that I just saw a tree on fire. I am not exaggerating. I swear the leaves glow in New England. Rosey reds, fiery oranges, beiges, pear, sophisticated light browns, auburns, pale pinks, purples. Have you ever seen a purple leaf? I have. Looking at the ground may give you even greater beauty than looking up because all of the leaves mix and mingle creating smatterings of shape and color coating your path. 
Bar Harbor is definitely a vacation-touristy-town. We were there right at the end of their heaviest tourist season. Lots of people there just to eat, others for tours of the Acadia park, others to participate in the Bar Harbor marathon. Many eastern European immigrate to Bar Harbor to work thru the tourist season. The first day we were there, I ran into more Europeans than Americans.

There is an internet cafe. If you go there, look for the desk with a drawer. There are messages from tourists of the last 15 years in there. We had a similar deal in a very special table at Root Cellar Cafe in San Marcos, TX. 

Our beloved intern Alicia Hynes who worked with us for all of our time in Staunton met up with us and brought Daniel and I to a magical place where you could walk out on to the rocks and see three islands off of the coast. Also the abandoned ruins of an ex millionaire’s house out in the woods. It was very special for Alicia to come out and see the show. 

Oh yeah, we did a show. MidSummer. It was starting to feel more and more like we were on vacation and not so much at work for a little while there. This was the smallest stage we have performed on thus far, and we navigated thru somebody's office to get to our dressing area. There was a girl hired to hang out in the office to make sure we didn't steal anything. I think this is funny because when you are on tour, the last thing you want is more STUFF to haul around. I have discovered that whenever we have challenges that truly make us have to change the show in some way or other, brings out the best in my performance. Adversity solicits magic. Except when I injure the crap out of myself. Speaking of which, my bald head is starting to look massacred from shaving accidents. I will come back from tour with a bass case plastered with bumper stickers and a scalp plastered with "AHHHH!!!!!". 

But anyway, Maine is wonderful and I definitely will be returning. Alicia, we all miss and love you, and I want you to know that people LOVE your stenciled t-shirts.

My only regret is that I didn’t see a moose. I wanna see a goddamn moose. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Schenectady and NYC, or, Why you always bring a phone charger.

SCHENECTADY, NY: And this is where Mother Nature orgasmed all over our lives. The most beautiful weather I have ever experienced. 

We stayed at an older, but BEE-AUTIFUL hotel with dark wood banisters and a labyrinth of red and green staircases. A classy Mad Men-esque billiards room and even a small ballroom. They have the tiny elevators that are behind a regular door, looking' like a broom closet. When you go in, there is a tiny gate you close, and you see the inner walls as you go up. If you are in there with one other person, you might be all up in their grill and you might be a little afraid for your life. The first night we stayed there, the hotel was hosting a giant wedding reception that went until 2 am pumpin' the bass and rejoicing in merriment. This didn't really bother me, it was kind of fun feeling like some unintended wedding crashers, although I did not partake and opted for a reading of the first act of my play instead.  But then the next night around 11:30pm, the door man asked Eugene, Kevin and I to 'keep it down' while we were playing pool. (Jake Mahler also taught me a game called STRIKER that I must teach you if we ever are at a pool hall together.) This is ridiculous, as we were doing nothing more than speaking in our normal voices with the door closed while playing. HOWEVER, I chose to take it as a compliment that us three actors have powerful enough voices to overtake 150 hollering New Yorkers and Mexicans plus an entire sound system blasting early 90s hits. Your game is WEAK, wedding party.

We performed Winter's Tale and 'Tis Pity at Union College. The set-up of the playing space was similar to the chapel space at Franciscan, but with less pictures of Jesus. We also performed MidSummer at Schenectady County Community College. Their space was an elevated proscenium theatre space. During load-in, I noticed that the arrows were missing and had not been packed with the long skinnys (term for pole-like objects that we bungee together in the cargo van). Four of us had to make a spy mission back to Union College where Patrick stealthily invaded a meeting and spied the arrows in a tube behind a table in a corner. Well played, Patrick. That evening the gallant stools filled up immediately with eager theatre students. The stage was a concrete slab covered with wood, and was a little hard on my Puck body, but the energy from the gallant lords made it a very fun show. Also interesting to note, students from the community college watched our performances at Union and some vice versa. I spoke to one girl that actually takes classes at both, which is kind of a cool option. The students reminded me a lot of some of my high school friends back in San Antonio. 

We had a day off in Schnectady. Eugene and Ronald (New Yorkers) Daniel and myself set sail in Blue Van for NYC at 7:30am. I truly wish that I had found a way to horse tranquilize myself to sleep a lot earlier than I managed to. (This is not a distasteful reference to Michael Jackson … until I just typed that. Urgh..) Every time I go to New York it seems that I am tweaked out on coffee and sleep deprivation. Although this is not on purpose, I feel like it helps me fit right in. 

It is three and a half hours to the George Washington Bridge, it is another half hour to move 100 feet from there. We blasted 'Empire State of Mind' on repeat for 10 minutes, like you do. You quickly learn a particular NYC frame of mind while just trying to commute to Manhattan. People do not let you merge, you must take what is yours. Latch onto that lane as if you were traveling thru the desert for five days without food and you just found the juiciest plum supine and vulnerable. If one were to take a bird's eye view of the bridge, I suspect that you would see a parking lot of cars in all sorts of diagonal shapes, perhaps even some turned the completely wrong direction and upside down. You can hear the honking from Mars. 

This is also a good time to mention that our dear friend, Icabod, the Pumpkin, who was only traveling with Almost Blasphemy Blue Van for a short while, fell victim to Daniel-Sharp-Turn-Stevens and an open window. Our good graces to his remains splattered somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. Sorry Denice. At least he got to see some of the city before his early demise. (Daniel actually is a lovely driver, we were just all high on Jersey fumes.) 
We dropped Ronald off in Upper Manhattan, and he began his journey. By the end of this day, I swear that he was radiating in a way that I hardly ever see anybody glow. The rest of us followed to Gene's apt in Brooklyn. They began their journey, and I fell asleep on Gene's couch for an hour. Rock and roll. When I woke up, it was noon and I met two of Gene's roommates, who didn't seem to find a stranger passed out on their couch to be such a bizarre thing. By 12:30 I threw myself into the clusterfrack. 
On this trip I was much more interested in seeing people I miss than sight-seeing. I typed out a physical list of people I know in NYC. 23 or so. I managed to drop texts or Facebook messages to most of them. Halfway thru the day, my phone died. And in classic Michael fashion, I did not bring a phone charger. Out of the 23, I thought that 8-10 were a definite possibility. We had windows of time, we had general locations, there was some sort of interaction via modern electronic device that day. 


Things I didn't really think about:
*People have the strangest windows of available time. ie: "I am available from 1:30 to 2:45 depending on what part of the island you are on." 
*I don't take the commute into consideration. My buddy Seth lives on Staten Island and works at a resteraunt in Manhattan. He has to take a ferry everyday and it is an hour commute. 
*Cell phones don't work underground. Duh. So there are frequent long lapses in conversation planning. 
*Cell phones DIE when you use them. Especially if you were born with the superpower I have.
*You need a cell phone CHARGER to UN-DIE your cell phone.
*I don't know what the hell I am doing. 


I set up shop at 'Mud' at 9th st and 1st avenue. I managed to meet with Jack DiBlasi who seems to prospering here. He says maybe he got lucky, but he thinks the city is easy. If you just decide that you are going to do it, things can just kind of fall into place. 

A few hours later of meandering I found myself at Lunasa Pub at 9th and something or other to use the restroom. Five hours later, I am still there and am tipsy. It began to rain and I wrote a 3 page stream of consciousness, which unfortunately got lost somewhere in AutoSave and is never to be seen again. I got to do some serious people watching though, which is never better than in Manhattan. 

You fall in love every 15 seconds. It is such a place of extremes, that you will stand in one place for 1 minute and see eight super models walk by. But behind ever supermodel is an insane person covered in duct tape flinging poop and masturbating to a department store mannequin. People walk directly, quickly and heavily. During a cigarette break, not a single person will look you in the eye or smile, except for the insane people. The insane are actually rather personable. So many designer glasses. Do many designer boots. All women seem to wear boots. People walk with a 'street' face. They look numb, serious, and in a hurry. This place is so bustling with life and so dead at the same time. Although you cannot garner a person's perspective from their face, you can garner a definite, portrayed identity by the clothes they wear. You are in 'commute' mode until you pass into a fortress of destination and then instantly come to life. So much life. 

Seth Miller met me at Lunasa, which was amazing. I have only seen him a few minutes since high school. 

I ask people what they think of New York City, and most say 'amazing'. The ones that do not, say something like "it is shitty, and great". Seth compared it to the most beautiful women walking the streets, impossible to look away from, but when you get closer, you realize she has horrible onion breath and smells of shit. But then she walks away, and you fall in love with another side of her. 

I cherish any taste of my former life I can grab on this tour, and seeing Jack and Seth was refreshing. Only 21 more folk to go. 

Eventually the four of us met up at Union Square, and shared our New York stories during the ride home. Ronald was glowing like a superhero covered in beautiful radioactive goop. Gene got us presents and snacks. He and Daniel both experienced Occupy Wall Street, among other things, Ronald saw 9 of his close friends at 8 different locales. We all felt like we accomplished something for our souls on that day off.

Needless to say, I probably had the least eventful experience out of the four of us. But I soaked up NYC energies all day, and have been wondering ever since, "Should I move here?" I have been having dreams taking place in Manhattan ever since we left. It is where dreams are made of, and I'm half-way there in my mind. But who knows. I do know that Staunton is only 6 hours away, and next time I'm bringing a phone charger. 
Love and a slice o' pie, 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rivers and Roads to Oneonta

It was late in a very long drive. We woke up in Steubenville, Ohio, and God knows what state we were in at this point. 

Time moves slowly in a van. Time moves even more slowly in the cargo van. There is you, another soul, and hundreds of pounds of theatrical crap in the back. I compare driving cargo somewhat to riding a buffalo. You tell it where to go, but sometimes the mass has a surly mind of its own, and will often win. But either way, you feel like a man when you drive it. It was particularly dark, and Daniel (author of malapropcast, if you are interested in another take on this tour) was particularly tired.  

We, as usual, were arguing about the music that was playing in the van, musing on the sights and sounds of the road and what's up with our fellow cast-mates. Daniel is a rather energetic, go-getter of life, but he also is the only 25 year old I know that would go to bed sometimes before 10pm. When Daniel gets tired, it sort of feels like he is melting. But he doesn't melt like the Wicked Bitch of the West, screaming in a shrill and irritating howl, he is more like an ice cream bar sitting on a kitchen counter that just kind of gives it up, dripping in the most zen fashion. 

We had been silent for awhile, I, the spastic, nicotine-deprived driver of a buffalo, and Daniel, the ice cream sandwich, until we had crossed state lines. It was dark and one couldn't really see much of anything. If I hadn't seen the sign, I would have never guessed that we switched states. But. It felt ... different. As cliche as it sounds, there was something in the air. We had crossed into New York. 

I said to Daniel, 'I feel a connection to this land.' 
He chuckled and melted some more. 

But it is true. I heard once from a cook at the Root Cellar Cafe in San Marcos, TX, Chris, who is of Scottish descent, that the first time he went to Scotland, he immediately felt like he was home. This was kind of how I felt. All of my family originated in New York. My mother's parents migrated to New York City from Brazil. My father's family all migrated from Italy to New York, my dad grew up in Hamilton, my brother and sister were born in Buffalo. Many of the family have stayed in NY for generations.

New York. Not even necessarily NYC (although I have been having dreams about NYC ever since I spent a day there recently, which I will get to) has always felt kind of right to me. 

Also, one nice thing about riding in cargo with Daniel, is he lost his sense of smell because he was hit by a car the day that he got his ASC contract offer. This is not a good thing. But the fact that you don't have to hold in farts for 7 hours, or feel guilty subjecting somebody to them is a plus. The flip side is you must endure the wrath that is Daniel's hippie elixers. Love you forever and always, Daniel. 

ONEONTA, NY: CHARMING as crap. Makes you want to snuggle with a chipmunk and then knit a sweater. As Daniel said, 'Oneonta is as much a suburban surge of commuters and community centers as it is a college town'. College towns always provide a good mix of weird, hippie-friendly establishments; dives; and, in the North especially, high-end, dress in slacks or get the stink eye, places.

I made quick friends with a fellow smoker named Joseph outside the hotel. We ran into a similiar smoking cycle, and I was graced with awesome stories from his travels as a Wal-Mart construction manager, Army dude, and a volunteer disaster relief guy. I mentioned a random location, he could name three Restaurants to eat at and where the city keeps the pretty ladies. He said to me, some people don't understand traveling folk, and you cannot understand the liberation of it until you do it. He has been traveling for decades, has a family, and doesn't seem to be bored with life at all. I hope to have that as well. He also happened to tell me a fairly captivating story about when he bought his granddaughter a lap-dance. However I don't feel that I am drunk enough to share this with you at this time. 

We performed 'Tis Pity She's A Whore at Hartwick College. 'Tis Pity is ALWAYS a treat to do because we perform it so rarely, and it really gives you perspective on the audience by how they react to it. We have had audiences that laugh uncontrollably, we have audiences that gasp and even some people leaving because they either find the content somewhat offensive (which is odd to me, because SPOILER ALERT, all the 'wrong-doers' get their come-uppance by the end, and they never once by any means condone incest, despite how pretty the actors are).

But where Winter's Tale is a buffet of different genres of content, 'Tis Pity is a buffet of audience reaction for the performers. When we gagged Putana, I heard gasps all the way from the back of the auditorium. When a brother and a sister kiss, you heard grunts of disgust, 'ooo's' and 'aaah's', laughter, and the slightly heavier breathing of some rather stoic individuals. Who knows what they are feeling, but they haven't left yet. 

When you have a venue with college students, you immediately know who is excited about the performance possibly because they are Theatre or English students, or just genuinely interested in culture, and you know who is a business major who is here for extra credit. The most thrilling sight is when you see the frat dude who looks like he has sworn off Theatre ever since his mother dragged him to Annie when he was 10, go from scowling in the first five minutes, to being completely invested and jumping to his feet by the end of the performance.

Love and Leaves, 
Rivers and Roads, 

P.S. If you have not heard the song 'Rivers and Roads' by The Head and the Heart. Listen to it. It perfect captures my version of homesickness that you experience on tour. 

Denice packs up herself/'Tis Pity. At one point in this performance I had to go fishing thru this cargo van to find a cup. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Elevator Boogie

So I'm sitting in the hotel lobby of Hampton Inn in Oneonta, NY. When people hit their floor button inside the elevator, the elevator hesitates for a few seconds as if to wait for other possible passengers. I am sitting near the elevator writing this right now. Everytime the elevator hesitates, I have this very agressive yearning to dance crazily in front of them until the elevator closes because they really can't do anything about it, and it would only be for about three seconds. Yes, I think this will happen.

Quick? Recap:
Lexington, VA – Theatre at Lime Kiln. Our only outdoor venue which happened to be soaked. We played on their alternative stage under a tent .  We had to spend a good amount of time re-blocking some moments and sweeping the stage of moisture. The stage was very shallow, but extremely wide.  The pipe and drape system ran extremely wide and because the dressing room was so far away, we had to try to fit everything and everyone backstage. I love the challenge of having to adapt to these new spaces despite the fact that I almost died on a stool.

We stayed in the most beautiful bed and breakfast I have ever. ever. ever. seen. However, I cannot remember the name of the gaw dang thing.

Percellville/Sterling, VA/Washington D.C. - Huge Leaf Bug that stowed  away in the discovery space curtain bins. Dropped a billion dollars on bar b q wings, buffalo strips, fried fish, fries, Fat Tire and Guiness. Day off allowed a day trip to Washington D.C. with the Earls and the Rick and Bridget. Saw Lincoln Memorial, White House, Capital, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, saw Jake’s older brother, Mike Mahler, perform at the Kennedy Center for free. Ate awesome cheap burgers and beer with the Earls and a U of H grad student friend, Amelia and her cousin, Emily at badass dive bar. Bought President playing cards for a million dollars at the Lincoln Memorial so that we can play “Presidents and Assholes” proper. I must admit, being in DC just makes you feel patriotic. Go America.

Baltimore, MD/Loyola University – Holy crap the students here dress nice. Private Catholic University. Food court in same building as the theatre. Performed all three plays for the very first time, which was good for all of us. Great acoustics. I got in a big argument about how people in Baltimore don’t pronounce the ‘t’ in Baltimore so it sounds like Ball-i-more. Witnessed Gene the happiest I may have ever seen ANYBODY when we got fresh steamed crabs at Conrad’s Crabs. By far the best crab ever had, ever, ever, ever. Wacking things with a mallet is fun. They salt the exoskeleton so that it can inflame the cuts you endure from the experience. I started writing three songs. One about pimping to the tune of Lily Allen’s “Smile”, a punk rock song about loneliness (wah wah) and in the works about a song about Baltimore Crabs. Had first reading of my play, ‘Over-Seasoned’ in Daniel’s hotel room. And the greatest thing of all, I got a surprise visit from Travis Emery Hackett and his badass current tour partner, MJ. Travis is one of my life-long besties and it’s amazing whenever I get the slightest taste of whatever HOME is on this trip. He graced me with a picture of Baltimore’s Voted Best Vet holding a cat that appears to be extremely uncomfortable. This gives me great joy ever morning. 
Nelsonville/Logan, OH – Stuart’s Opera House is a beautiful old vaudeville looking theatre. The staff was awesome. They extended a platform from the stage over the orchestra pit, which transformed into this magical thrust. One of the most brilliant experiences of this tour so far was when during our rendition of ‘Wimoweh’, like 15 kids got onto the stage and danced with us. This also was the most I had adventured in terms of exploring a town on my own. My goal: to find a coffee shop. I googled like a heathen and found a promising destination.  I took the fat clunky-ass cargo van into town by myself in search of L and J’s coffee shop, ended up getting lost, drove thru the country side, turned around in somebody’s mud drive-way/front-lawn (half way thru the U-turn I realized there were some graves in the front yard … whoops) and then parked the car in downtown and walked around for an hour unable to discover said coffee shop. I finally stumbled upon another coffee shop called The Spotted Owl. There was a fountain inside, and pictures, murals and miniature statues of owls all around the cafĂ©.  This was a good sign for Michael, as I adore the owl as a symbol. I worked up the courage to talk to the barista as she seemed roughly my age and was the first person I had seen in this town with an unconventional piercing. I invited her to the show and quickly made a friend. I also met her dog, Artemis and her Eyore collection. I wish to continue getting over my fear of talking to strangers on this trip.
Steubenville, OH –VENUE option!? Yup. We chose, Winter’s Tale performed in a chapel that was converted from a rec room. Very awesome attentive audience. Interesting performing that play of repentance with religious paintings and statues surrounding us. Damon’s grill in the hotel is crap, and we are still upset about it.
(9 hour drive featuring Ruby Tuesday salad bar and red velvet cupcakes.)
Oneonta, NY –  (… to be continued)
Awesome things about touring:
1. Every person you meet from a small town seems like a character in a novel because you only get the stories of their life and little of the hum-drum.  It is a surreal romantic experience.
2. Texting Denice quotes.
3. Beltway Fine Wine in Baltimore. (‘t’ not pronounced)
4. Conrad’s Crabs in Baltimore. (‘t’ not pronounced, GLENN.)
5. Watching Patrick learn to play guitar.
6. Taking the melody of ‘Smile’ from Lily Allen and co-constructing a song about pimpin’ with Eugene. And yes, I will play it for you. And yes, you will fall in love with me. ;)
7. Witnessing Jake and Patrick’s Car-side Cribbage rivalry.
8. Witnessing people fall in love/be in love.
10. YMCA trips with Daniel. Fighting the good fight for vanity. (health optional)
11. Talking to awesome worldly and cultured volunteer disaster relief volunteer ex-Walmart construction big-wig retired army guy during cigarette breaks outside the Hampton Inn.  
12. Yellow Deli in Oneonta.
13. Glowing red trees on the drive thru Pennsylvania. FOLIAGE HOLY FORKING FOLIAGE, BATMAN.
13. Running into Travis Emery!!

Interesting, less-than Awesome things about touring:
1. Down time / nine hour drives can be rejuvenating, sometimes can be fun, but often are just kind of boring.
2. Stinky clothes.
3. Trying to parallel-park the cargo van.
4. Motion sickness.
5. Damon’s grill. Meatball sub sans marinara? Brown iceburg salad. 4085 minute ticket times. Gassy times. I hate to hate on restaurants, but screw that place. (If our waitress happens to be reading this, you were very sweet, Darlin’, I’m sure it was the kitchen’s fault.)
6. Witnessing people fall in love/be in love and then going home to Evan Williams. (He is not gentle.)
7. Farts. Just in general.
8. People having to drive back to a different state because of lost keys.
L that sucks, guys.
9. Un-intended celibacy.
 Peace, Love, and New York Autumn Leaves,

Friday, September 23, 2011

"What are those leafy plants over there?" "I believe those are called Trees."

The question is, with six Shakespearean actors crammed into one van for 4 hours, how many ridiculous quotes can you walk out with? A lot. Later in this tour, I hope to share a couple of my favorite things that have been said in an American Shakespeare Center van (the publicly acceptable ones, unfortunately). But let me say this, a dude can start getting delerious in those vans. More often than not, giggly and absurd arises before frustration or annoyance does (thus far) which is a very very good thing.

We are four shows into our tour, and I already believe that I will love life on the road. Good things about road life:

1. Per diem. Cash-money in yo pocket.
2. Somebody gets paid to clean up after you.
3. We played a town with 1200 people. There were 300 people in the theatre. 1/4 of an entire town in Virginia came to see Shakespeare, and they loved it. This gives immense hope to the Theatre and civilization. 4. High schoolers and college kids that want to learn from you. And happy children that want autographs.
5. Hollins University
6. Awesome photography opportunity
7. Car games
8. Counting the number of Shoney's in Virginia.
9. Workshops!
10. Getting to see a new Theater space every day and figuring out how to adjust to it.
11. Glenn Schudel
12. Hot tubs

Things that are not good:

1. Powdered egg mcmuffys from hotel "breakfast".
2. Questionable drunken folk that talk to you about their planning stages of a bank robbery on the front porch of a Holiday Inn Express.
3. You don't get a chance to talk with the purty girls that you get to meet as much as you'd like. Because you just loaded in/did a show/loaded out/want to sleep/have to leave the next morning.
4. Trying to keep track of card keys/keys to vans/keys to housing/keys to life/your personal home keys/Florida keys/ keykeykeykeys.
5. Living in fear of leaving something in a state you may never return to.
6. Car sickness/ Eating Chinese Buffet and then sitting in a car for hours.
7. Gas station prices for nourishment.
8. Shoney's
9. Finding leftovers in your hotel room that you would have rather lived without.
10. Missing Austin
11. Missing Family, and leaving phone charager back in Staunton.

Awesome places we just played at:
1. Lawrenceville, VA (population 1200 somethin, happy child standing on a chair, discovered that we were not in possision of the Mandolin so Jake had to do impromptu Guitar and Banjo work)
2. Cedar Bluff, VA (awesome high schooler talk-back, and lotsa free pizza, I sprained my hand again, Stephanie accidently closed her head in a door in a hilarious manner)
3. Roanoke, VA (Hollins University. All girl liberal arts college. AWESOME people. New friends. AWESOME times. Lampshades.)
4. KilMarnock, VA (Population 1200 something, 300 something people in the theatre, Kids sitting on stage, gigilly Catholic School girls are amazing to do asides to)

This is a succinct way to get some info out quickly. List format will probably appear more often unless I am inspired to actually write some jiggity junka junka.

Love from the Road,

Monday, September 12, 2011

No longer shall you gaze on't, lest your fancy may think anon it moves.

No longer shall you gaze on't, lest your fancy
May think anon it moves.

Touch it. It's real.

Behold, The Things this week that made me realize that this shit is fo' real.

Transition Step #1:

This past week we began our preview performances. The Blackfriars Playhouse seats 300 people, below you, above you, on stage with you, and a few select lords behind you. We have been running these plays for six weeks, rehearsing scenes and songs in kitchens, living rooms, basements and on stage, but never for more than a couple handfuls of people. We walked on stage and began our acapella version of Big Yellow Taxi as we usually do:  I spit my beat-box while Patrick bum-bu-dee-dee's his bass line to an empty theatre. And then four doors clanged opened and a boisterous crowd of 300 people started filing in. As the seats filled, the volume climbed and climbed to an amazing clatter and hub-bub. My heart raced and I struggled to maintain my interna iambic pentameter while we were struggling to hear each other play on stage. There were a few hilarious instances in a couple of those pre-shows, that, even though we  are standing at max, six feet away from each other, it felt like a singer might be playing in one world while the guy on the kahone (a box with a hole in it that we substitute as a drum set) would be playing in another. <-- Lots of parentheticals there. This solicited impromptu drum solos in new and ...interesting... places, and some improvised versions of a few songs. However, now we know, that if we see a mob coming in, we all cluster together like some hobos around a trashcan on fire.

These previews host the most supportive and loyal of ASC fans it seems. I have heard that one should not use these preview audiences as a prototype of most audiences we will receive. They have been going very well sans a few hiccups here and there. It is thrilling listening from backstage to audiences falling in love with the actors that I have been living with. You always have a completely obtuse perception of what happens in these plays as an actor in it, because you are so used to what everybody does. Certain things that are hilarious to you, are not to the audience. And sometimes you do not realize how BRILLIANT your peers are until they get in front of the audience and you can bear witness to their true gifts.

When we went out for the third curtain call of MidSummer, I felt like a Roman God. But I'm sure that will not be the same case when we are performing for a high school full of English classes required to see the play they probably spark-noted their way thru in class. I been there, kids. Believe me. Most people that do this thing did not pick up their first Shakespeare play and fall in love. This is a point that a lot of the workshops we have been learning to teach emphasize.

Transition Point #2:
We are now taking workshops on teaching workshops. Holy lordy, I wish I could find my middle school English teachers and tell them that I will be teaching Shakespeare, they never would have seen that coming. There seem to be LOTS of teachers in our group, so I have a lot I can learn from. Not to mention I was made by two teachers.

Transition Point #3:
Last night we did our first load in/load out. In the Rain.

THIS was the moment that it all started to feel real. We took apart the entire Tyson Center (essentially the basement of the Blackfriars Playhouse) and loaded all of it into a van. This includes 'Tis Pity furniture, benches, table, Hermione podium, Hippolyta Bower, three bins of props, Laundry, Sewing, Steaming, Repairing, Fixing, Road Supplies and tools, 33 bags of costumes, Merchandise binds, Sound Effects and percussion instruments, 3 guitars, banjo, bass, mandolin, kahone, melodica, a couple ukeleles, the discovery space and pipe and drape system (the stage we build every time we go to a new venue) and 12 suitcases. This crap was scattered across the theatre for six weeks and now fits SOMEHOW into one van in a tetris game that made one-act in high school look like ... well, high school. (Thanks to the Geometretical genius of Jake Mahler, and Daniel 'Iron Tongue of Midnight' Stevens. )

Then. We unpacked it. And put it back where it was. In the rain. Now i have sniffles.

We will be doing this 34974 times. (Hopefully not in the rain)

Transition Point #4:

Cleaning my room. I have yet to do it. But when I do, it'll be weird.

Other Stuff: Half of my face was swollen with pain for four days and three performances as one of my wisdom teeth started doing awful things to my life. It took me four hours Friday morning to get antibiotics and painkillers because there is not a single dentist in the tri-county area apparently works on Friday. And none were on emergency call either because they all were apparently attending the same workshop. Bogus. I went to a walk-in clinic who hooked me up with some prescriptions to tide me over. The swelling has since gone down and the pain has subsided, but when I will get those suckers pulled ... um ... don't ask me about it yet. My sprained thumb is still kind of jacked up, but I can do essentially everything except snap with my left hand.

Patrick has a herniated belly button. This makes him the third of our cast of 11 with a hernia in the past 4 months. The most (unfortunately) amusing part of this, is that in the company accident report, the cause of the incident was somehow attributed to his leather pants. Speaking of which, wait until you see these freakin' sexy 'Tis Pity costumes. They'll change your life. And I want to buy this punk rock military leather jacket like nobody's business.

Happy September 12th.

Love and Drum Solos,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Case of the Mondays


We are in the final moments of rehearsal. The bones are built. It is tweaky season.

We tweak, sustain the monsters we created, and let them ravage.

Monday is the new free day. Saturdays are now double-header performances.
Rainyday Labor Day. I hope the parking bitches don't work on Labor Day. And if they do, I hope they do not work on Rainyday Labor Day. But they probably do, because they are parking bitches. No offense to any parking bitches reading this.

Coffeeshoppy quality internet. I have discovered that if you sit in Coffee on the Corner long enough, you will always run into Glenn Schudel (our beloved Tour Manager/Assistant Director/Man with the sharp wit to keep us sane) and nearly ever Mary Baldwin Renaissance Graduate student.

Recovering from first MidSummer run since August 18th. Sprained Thumb (hopefully just sprained).
When I played Caliban for Austin Shakes. I went balls to the wall physically every performance. Flinging myself onto the floor and reveling in the masochistic body bruising that I personally translated into Caliban angst and suffering. It was tough enduring, but lots of fun. I was not asked to do half of the things I chose to do with the flinging. But it was for only 12 performances, so why not?

Now I find myself in a similar situation with Puck. Choosing to do physically taxing things that I was not always directed to do, but stuff that I brought, and was kept. The difference here is ... there are 3980483 performances of MidSummer Night's Dream. I am going to be in rather good shape, if I don't screw something up. Last night was a reminder that you should always block things that you can repeat without fear of injury. It has been a tendency of mine to over-exert myself on stage, which actually is not always a good thing. Working too hard, looks like working too-hard. And often, that is not what a character wants to be presented as. Complication with ease can be glorious. Simplicity with ease can be, and often is, just as effective.

 Remember this:

Always be in control. Always know where your foot is going. Because the second you don't, you step on Lysander's foot while he is "sleeping", and this does not bode well for your production.

Know where your hands are going. Because the second that you don't, your thumb lands on the floor before the rest of your body does, and this does not bode well for your thumb.


The second it seems hard to do. You know that you either need to run it 3809384 times, or you have to modify. Because this shit has got to run. And your body needs to keep up with it.

I used to only believe that you were only doing things right on stage if you were completely lost in it. That is not true. Only when part of your brain is reserved for hitting marks and safety, may the other part feel free to get lost. But one eye must always be in the moment, and the other outside looking in. At least until it becomes clockwork.

I am losing money. But I am gaining ... stuff. Good stuff. A guitar case. Bass case. New bass on its way. Contacts. Microsoft word. Now that the plays are almost built, I feel like I can pick up the play I was writing months ago, and resume work. I am fortunate to have 11 brilliant, experienced theatre artists at my disposal, and, unfortunately for them, cannot run away from me because my laptop and I will be lurking next to them all the time.

Stencil Spray Paint parties rule. My soft guitar case got ambushed with ShakesNerd all over it. The light-headedness isn't too bad, either.
Party at Ralph Cohen's mansion tonight. He and Jim Warren built this thing. Now I will drink and eat things in his home.

Starting to reconnect with some old voices. It feels good to have them around again. Even though it makes me question a lot of things from the past. Wow, is this vague enough?

Omelette and waffle outtings are also fun. Getting to know strangers is something I should have done more of a long time ago.

Too much coffee. Have to pee. Bye.

Love and Blueberries,