Friday, May 28, 2010

Timon of Athens Opens!

We have opened Timon of Athens, and I couldn't be more proud of it: it just looks so beautiful (from the parts I can see when I'm not on stage). Allyn is doing an AMAZING job with the title role, which is a real back-breaker. He makes such sense out this incredibly difficult and dense text, it's a lesson in acting watching him every night. I really love the cast. The design is simply incredible, which I suppose people might come to expect from Jeff, Peter and Anna-Alisa, but they all really out-did themselves here. The real surprise, to me, is what a gorgeous job Bill did as a set designer: it really looks stunning, not only that, it's surprising and so original, and Bill isn't thought of as a set designer, per se. But now he can add that to his list of talents. To think that he did all that AND directed the show so well is really inspiring.

I hope you can come in to see it!
Here's all the info. We have only two weeks left after this!

Timon of Athens
by William Shakespearedirected by Bill Barclay*
May 19 – June 13
Midway Studios Fort Point ChannelMore Information
Featuring: Steven Barkhimer*, Daniel Berger-Jones, Allyn Burrows, Joel Colodner*, Michelle Dowd, John Kuntz*, Will Lyman* & Bobbie Steinbach*.
or call 866-811-4111 8
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

"...bringing to life a most-timely story...the Actors' Shakespeare Project succeeds"
-Jonathan Donaldson, The Boston HeraldRead Full Review

"...a staging that impresses from start to finish"- Matt Robinson, JimSullivanInkRead Full Review

"The Timon production is tremendous--truly memorable in every way."
-Audience Member

"Timon of Athens is the best play I have ever seen! I am just amazed with what I saw yesterday!"
-Audience Member

Monday, May 17, 2010

George Alan Rekers Excellent European Adventure!

I am going to admit something: I have sinned.

A while ago, I worked in the box office for a show called "Late Nite Catechism", which performed inside a church near the theatre district shaped like a brick coffee can, called "The Church of All Nations" (sadly, I believe the church no longer exists).

During our lunch breaks, we were allowed to eat in the small church library sometimes. It was there that I found the book "Growing up Straight: what every family should know about homosexuality" by George Alan Rekers.

I picked it up and read a few random paragraphs and immediately put it in my bag.

Yes, I stole a book.

From a church.

And yet, I would defend this action now and onward. I didn't want anyone to read it, especially a depressed, confused gay teenager trying to cope with coming out.

Because this book was truly one of the most disturbing, backward piles of crap I have ever read in my life. It claimed, among other crazy things, that homosexuality could be "cured".

You know, like the flu?

Oh, and that if you are gay you are "not normal" and a "sinner" and will probably lead a miserable life (if you do not die or get murdered from your disgusting, sinful lifestyle).

Albeit, this book was written in 1982, but here is was, in 1997, laying around for people to read - encouraged even - its passages perused by someone and underlined with a pencil, the way one might underline a really insightful sentence in "Pride and Prejudice".

And it LOOKED so clinical and believable and well-researched and fact-filled: ALL those important looking footnotes after each chapter (until you looked closely and realized that most of the footnotes referenced other works by Rekers) and the author was a clinical psychologist. He had a degree in psychology from SOMEWHERE, it seemed. Or, at least, a PH.D in something. He HAD to know what he was talking about, didn't he?

But the 61 year-old Rekers, who is also the co-founder, with Jim Dobson, of the truly deplorable "Family Research Council", was caught at a Miami airport recently, returning from a 10-day European vacation with a 20-year-old male escort he procured from

That's right.

I visited the door of their web-site (you needed to sign a web form stating you were above 18 years of age before entering. But I didn't need to. The shirtless, shackled stud on the web-page pretty much said it all for me.)

There is no mistaking, no accident in Rekers being at the web-site, as he claimed. The very excuse is laughable. So why did Rekers hire, essentially, a male prostitute?

The "rent boy" was there on the trip, apparently, to help the recuperating Rekers with his luggage (though the pictures show Rekers handling the luggage, not the rent boy).

This is all hilarious. Until I remember how miserable, how hurtful, how damaging Rekers has been to gay people and their families for a very long time. It would really take a courageous and patient team of researchers and detectives to figure out just how much damage and destruction Rekers and his disciples have wreaked on gay people and their families, decade after decade.

I found my copy of "Growing up Straight": I didn't destroy it, as I had planned. I kept it. There needs to be a record, a history of the things that were said about us. It would have felt great to destroy it. But it feels even better to throw this history back into the face of the hypocrite who wrote it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ramin Setoodeh is a MORON.

I just watched the MSNBC interview with Ramin Setoodeh and now it's all become clear to me: he is a fucking IDIOT.

Really, how is this man even EMPLOYED, as anything, in this country?

He is dimmer than a small appliance bulb.

But then again, this is the country that has given Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter and Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh careers and millions of dollars just to say outrageous things on TV and in print.

Just watch the interview above: he makes NO sense.

He says he wants more gay actors to come out of the closet. Why? So he can destroy their careers?

And yet he states that audiences only believed Rock Hudson in straight roles BECAUSE he was in the closet.

And THEN he says that it's wrong that gay actors aren't starring in more Hollywood movies. actors should stay in the closet?

No, they should come out.

No, they should stay in the closet.

Don't even try to make sense of his argument, or him.

The man is a FOOL, but he is a DANGEROUS FOOL. He is in a position of power and he needs to be stopped. He can't say outrageous, bigoted things, state them as facts and then try to reframe the whole conversation suddenly so that he is some sort of gay activist defending the rights of homos everywhere. What? Where in your gay-bashing rant can you find the justication for THAT notion?

And the editors of Newsweek need to be FIRED for letting this go to press.

Aaron Sorkin, WTF?

"West Wing" writer/creator Aaron Sorkin has strangely come to the defense of Ramin Setoodeh and his homophobic rant over at Newsweek.

Sort of.

Here's the link:

Sorkin defends Setoodeh, but still says he is wrong, as are all the angry people (like myself) who are upset by Setoodeh's Newsweek article, "Straight Jacket", which proposes that openly gay actors are not equipped to play straight roles.

We have all "missed the point", apparently.

Sorkin's advice is to direct our anger at... bigots. And our voyeuristic culture. Oh, and Congress.

Uh, OK. Already doing that. Thanks.

But we should not direct any anger at Setoodeh, who apparently is a misdirected, innocent lamb that just happens to write a column for Newsweek that is read by millions of people.

Sorkin blames Setoodeh's brand of internalized homophobia on our reality TV/Entertainment Weekly culture that cannot separate an actor's personal life from the roles that he plays.

And Sorkin's prescription? He basically recommends that gay actors stay in the closet, so as to avoid this nasty occurrence and maintain a "blank canvas" for their public, after making the jaded, but sadly true statement that gay actors "know that even in 2010 there is no such thing as an actor who is gay, a movie star and alive all at the same time."

Oy. You know, there are some behaviors that an actor would need to hide: murder, incest, public sex with barnyard animals. But being gay is NOT one of them.

And Sorkin agrees with that.

Sort of.

It's tricky to understand WHAT, exactly, Sorkin thinks is right or wrong here.

He is clearly opposed, or says he is, to all the bigotry and gay bashing. But he also seems to think that gay actors should stay in the closet. Not, mind you, because there's anything WRONG with being gay, it's just that so many people are homophobic in our culture, or just obsessed with gayness, that it would destroy their careers.

It reminds me of the "don't ask, don't tell" General who didn't want his gay son in the army because the army is a homophobic institution and always would be. Better to exclude gay people than change an unchangeable culture.

But ultimately, Ramin Setoodeh is NOT on my side, as Sorkin would suggest. He's a homophobe. And anyone who agrees with him is a homophobe.

And sure, Congress should pass more laws, and people shouldn't hold up signs that say "God Hates Fags" and we shouldn't care, as Setoodeh does, that a gay actor is playing someone straight. And we shouldn't be engrossed in gossip and the minutiae of an actor's life, as well.

But I don't see how those things are mutually exclusive. I don't see why I can't abhor Setoodeh's opinions AND all those other things. Why, as Sorkin suggests, does it need to be one or the other?

Why are all those other things homophobic, while Setoodeh is just "wrong"? Couldn't they just ALL be homophobic?

Why am I "missing the point", when really I am trying to address ALL the points, Setoodeh being one of them?

And ultimately, why should a writer who has a powerful position at a major national news weekly be given a free pass and forgiveness for writing what is clearly a bigoted, misguided, sloppy piece of garbage? And, no, it doesn't matter to me that he's gay.

I think Sorkins' heart might be in the right place, but I really just don't understand where he is coming from here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Emerging America Festival

The ART, Huntington Theatre Company and the ICA are hosting the "Emerging America Festival" this weekend, a festival of new plays and theatre pieces that I hope you can go see, since I can't (I'm in tech all weekend for Timon).

The Festival doesn't really include many Boston area playwrights or actors (though the Huntington really tried their best to include the Playwrighting Fellows, which was nice, and Boston superstar Ryan Landry of The Gold Dust Orphans will be performing in a piece), the focus being more on making Boston a theatre destination, a la The Humana Festival, by bringing/hosting nationally recognized (albeit new) playwrights TO the city, rather than showcasing works by writers FROM the city.

I would encourage ANYTHING that gets people interested in new work, especially here in Boston, which can be a rocky terrain in which to grow new plays.

The Festival sounds quite interesting, and the hope is that if it goes well, they might try it again next year and include more writers, actors and directors from Boston.

I and most of the Huntington Fellows wrote cell phone plays for the event (yes, that's a play you listen to on your cell phone) which you can listen to here:

and the Superheroines are slapping on their spandex once again and performing at a brunch event on Sunday.
Go Super Gals!!!!

And tickets are cheap!

Here's all the info:

TWO EMERGING VOICES/ONE DOUBLE BILL - Saturday, May 15, Performances
at 1pm and 4pm

Love Song In Two Voices
Written and performed by Amy Herzog
Directed by Portia Krieger
In the wake of a whitewater rafting accident, a mother and daughter
redefine their relationship in Amy Herzog's poignant solo piece.

Seven Minutes In Heaven
By Steven Levenson
Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Relive all the party games you loved/loathed from middle school in this
manic, hyper-charged, genre-blurring comedy.


Mix and mingle, watch and explore. The Huntington Theatre Company
throws a brunch on May 16th as part of the Emerging America Festival.
Performances from local acts sprawl throughout the Calderwood Pavilion
from the lobbies to the rehearsal halls. Brunch drinks available, and
great eats provided.

In the main lobby, performances go musical:
- The strings duo Cello Chix perform electric renditions of classic
rock, jazz, latin and pop. Two classically trained cellists ditch their
antique cellos for amped-up ones and perform an eclectic song set.
- Ryan Landry leads the Gold Dust Orphans in a hilarious song selection
from his classic Provincetown mainstay Showgirls.

In Deane Hall, excerpts of the best of original work from locals take
the stage:
- Company One's ARTiculation explodes as poetry slam meets
performance piece. This autopsy of life, love, youth, religion and art
uses spoken-word poetry, improvisation and a hard-hitting hip-hop beat.
- The Superheroine Monologues is a parody of super proportions. John
Kuntz and Rick Park's lauded comedy serves up a hilarious look at the
lives of your favorite comic book heroines.
- Huntington Playwriting Fellow Martha Jane Kaufman presents dance
theatre work

Snack on sweet and savory brunch items from Panera Bread with your
admission, or grab a mimosa or Bloody Mary from the bar.

$5 admission, Doors open at noon

Timon Week Three

We are barreling towards tech of Timon!
Very exciting.

I just found out that this will be the Boston premiere of Timon of Athens, I had no idea (I really should read the press releases once in a while...)

It's never been done professionally in this city before, which I find really hard to believe.

I'm also not sure why, exactly: it's not a bad play. It has some definite problems, sure. But it's interesting to watch. The story is quite compelling. It's wildly funny at points. and Strange and heart-breaking. Interesting to see a not well known Shakespeare play, to see him trying new things out, taking big risks as a writer (and he really does, the play is really all over the place at points!)

What is pulling us together is a sense of the difference between the first part of the play and the second part.

Our First Act, which comprises all that happens to Timon until he goes bankrupt, renounces his flattering friends and heads to the wilderness, is quite bright and colorful. A mural, which is referred to quite often at the top of the play, is up: a bright, Kandinsky-inspired piece that echoes the garish nature of Timon's surroundings and clown-like court of flattering buffoons.

Our Second Act is almost a Beckett landscape: the mural has fallen over, becoming a platform on which we stand. The world is now black and gray and vast, expanding back to the far wall that was hidden by the mural. There's even a Godot-esque leafless tree! Likewise, the tone of the play shifts to darkness, brooding and melancholy, as Timon renounces his former materialist life and curses all who come to visit him.

We begin our tech Saturday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

acting straight 2

I have been tossing and turning in bed I'm so angry at Newsweeks' Ramin Setoodeh (of whose existence I was blissfully unaware until yesterday - thanks a lot, information age!) and the unbelievable homophobic rant he wrote (if you can call it writing) in Newsweek (see below). And part of me feels guilty: shouldn't I be upset about more important things? The Times Square bombing attempt? The Oil Spill? Gays being executed in Uganda?

But I think I'm upset because I AM an actor, and I am an openly gay actor. To be told by someone - another gay man, no less! - that I can't do my job as well as a straight person really, really bothers me.

Something that occurred to me this morning concerned Setoodeh's example of Jonathan Groff as an out actor apparently too "queeny", (according, of course, to Setoodeh) to play a straight high school student on the TV show "Glee".

Now, I will admit that I haven't seen Sean Hayes in "Promises, Promises". But I HAVE seen Jonathan Groff in "Glee". Not only that, both Tommy and I had NO idea that he was gay (we missed that memo, what can I say?) and the notion that he was some queen playing at being straight NEVER occurred to us. Really, I had no idea about his (Groff's) sexuality outside of the character he was playing. In other words, Ramin Setoodeh is a shit-house rat crazy self-hating homophobe.

Satoodeh tries to make the case that straight actors are better at playing gay characters than gay actors, using Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall, of "Brokeback Mountain", as an example. Again, this is a PROJECTION of homophobia, only in reverse: Setoodeh knows, on some level, that these actors are straight, that Eric McCormack on "Will and Grace" is straight, that Sean Penn in "Milk" is straight, and somehow that is OK, because they are just PRETENDING to be gay, they aren't REALLY filthy disgusting fags in real life. So it's OK.

Was Sean Penn brilliant in "Milk"? Of course he was. Great actors TRANSFORM, as Sean Penn does, again and again. His sexual preference doesn't make him a better actor. What openly gay actors need to deal with, over and over, is the negative stereotypes that are projected onto them by a homophobic culture. Do not tell me that Ian McKellan is not a great actor. Or Cherry Jones. Or any number of openly gay actors.

That said, are there gay actors (or, really, ANY actors) that do not have the ability to transform? Of course there are. But bad straight actors (ie, Keanu) do not have to deal with the rampant homophobia on top of everything else as another obstacle to thwart their careers.

Everyone makes fun of how Tom Cruise is gay but won't admit it. We all "know" he is, somehow, on some level. We joke about it, again and again. Maybe he is. Or not. I really have no idea. What is interesting about Tom Cruise is that he will famously sue ANYONE who claims that he is gay. And he wins. And the sad reason he wins is that a gay actor, an openly gay actor, does not make the same amount of money to pay the lawyers to sue someone when they say they are gay (of course, if they were out, they wouldn't need lawyers, but they also couldn't afford them, because they would not be making the same money as Tom Cruise. Because they wouldn't be hired. Because they are openly gay. Which, of course, is wrong.) Part of the reason he is so successful, one could argue, (and Cruise does) is because he is PERCEIVED as straight. Even with all the gossip, as long as he never says he's gay, he is straight. Period. And perhaps, that is the way it should be. People come out of the closet only if they want to. And perhaps it's unimportant. And perhaps it's no one's business.

But I would say: come out, closeted actors. Please. We need to start dealing with this head on, and this is no time to hide. Really.

See, this is NOT about gay actors not being able to transform into straight characters. It is about the CRAZY INSANE HOMOPHOBIA that exists in our culture and still does. This is the PERFECT example of it: Satoodeh only has trouble believing actors who are OPENLY gay, ie, he CAN'T GET PAST HIS OWN OBSESSION WITH THEIR GAYNESS TO SEE ANYTHING ELSE. That he is a gay man himself only makes it more offensive and sad. You do NOT have to be straight to be a homophobe, clearly, and Setoodeh, in my opinion, needs a lot of therapy.

Likewise, it shouldn't take a gay person to see that Setoodeh's article is clearly HOMOPHOBIC BULLSHIT. But somehow this flew over the heads of the editors of Newsweek. Perhaps they figured that calling an openly gay writer's article homophobic wouldn't be kosher. My guess is that all these editors were straight and a bit cowed by Satoodeh. After all, questioning/critiquing a gay writer's stance on gayness: isn't that bigotry? No, it's not. Not in this case, anyway. And thus Setoodeh's article went verbatim to press.

The irony is that the target of Setoodeh's poisonous rage is Sean Hayes, the television actor best known for playing Jack on "Will and Grace", who famously expressed reluctance at coming out of the closet for fear of the very thing that is happening to him right now. I am so sorry that this thoughtless rant confirms his previous fears, I really thought that such things were past us.

But they are clearly not.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

acting straight

I've been reading all the ruckus over Ramin Setoodeh's "Newsweek" article entitled "Straight Jacket", which asserts that, among other things, gay actors cannot convincingly play straight characters.

Setoodeh is remarking on Sean Hayes' performance in the recent revival of the musical "Promises, Promises", contending that Hayes is unbelievable as a straight man, since we all know him to be gay. To make things more complicated, Setoodeh, in a response to the myraid negative posts he has received over this opinion (including a lengthy one from "Promises, Promises" co-star Kristin Chenoweth), has written a follow-up article, revealing that he himself is gay and claims that he "doesn't hate gay people or himself".

I will admit that I haven't seen "Promises, Promises", but I have read both articles and I can safely say one thing about Ramin Setoodeh: He hates himself for being gay, and doesn't even know it.

Sorry. That's a really sad thing to have to say about someone, especially a fellow queer. But there it is, and it's painfully obvious to anyone who might read these articles (who isn't, of course, a freaking homophobe...). What is even more saddening is that this behavior and point of view is so common that it can actually make an appearance in such a reportedly middle of the road magazine like "Newsweek". Frankly, I would expect such behavior from FOX.

If a magical fairy god-mother were to suddenly appear and offer Setoodeh one wish, here is what it would be: "MAKE ME STRAIGHT".

The self-loathing positively drips from his article and rebuttal.

To assert that gay actors cannot play 90% of the population is absolute hogwash and so insulting that it actually boggles the mind. What is even more astounding is his complete ignorance to his own homophobia.

Setoodeh's article will drive more gay actors further into the closet, where his own monsterous, interalized homophobia lurks.

To be fair, Setoodeh states that he wanted to open a conversation, and he raises some valid points: why ARE there so few openly gay actors? Why must all gay characters be played by openly straight actors (ie, "Brokeback Mountain")? This IS wrong. But he places the blame on gay actors not being convincing in straight roles, rather than the fact that our culture is overtly homophobic, and the minute an actor is brave enought to identify themselves as gay, there is a backlash where a majority of Americans begin to pigeon-hole them and place them into a very limited (and limiting) box.

In other words, it is not Sean Hayes who can't play a straight man (and btw, what, exactly does that even MEAN? Are all straight men alike? Is there a way they behave that is too complicated for a gay person to understand? Frankly, this is insulting to gay AND straight people!), it is viewers like Ramin Setoodeh who can't see past their own obsession and homophobic notions of gay people (and that, ultimately, being openly gay - for them- is a bad thing).

Only by coming out and proving that a great actor can play ANYONE do we stop this sort of bullshit.

Friday, May 7, 2010

memory lane

In my never-ending journey to figure out how to use this blog, I was thinking of starting something like a memoir here, where I would try to give every play I've ever been in an entry, in no particular order, and see if I can get thru all of them. It would be interesting somewhat, as by now I've been acting in Boston since 1990, and that was 20 years ago. Which seems impossible. So it would be a look at Boston Theatre, and how it's changed, or not, in the last two decades. And whether I've changed or not (I have, but some things never change...) and how the two things coincide.

Where to begin?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

hooked on phonics

As we rehearse Timon, our lovely ASM Laura takes "line notes", meaning she writes down all the lines you missed, flubbed, called out for, stumbled upon, etc. This is a great help for actors who have just put the script down, but are still a little shaky with their lines. I received three or four line notes after our last rehearsal. Unfortunately, I WAS STILL HOLDING THE SCRIPT. This means, sadly, that I can't even READ!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Timon Week Two

Timon is coming along quite well. I am a bit behind on my lines, as I've been buried in finals at BoCo and Suffolk, but school officially ended last night, so I am all set to jump in and get my hair wet, finally.

I'm not so worried, line-wise, anyway: the four "clowns", as I've been calling us, don't have that much to say. And as far as characters go, none of us has a great deal of psychological terrain to machete thru. What's more of a challenge is the "Irma Vep" like way we are expected to play all these different people. We leave and come right back as someone else, so differentiating these people, both physically and vocally, with a style that we all agree on, is the challenge, but one that I find to be great fun, as there's so many ways to go!

The world Bill has created is quite arresting and unique, I think. His inspiration, visually, is the art work of Kandinsky (particularly his "Improvisation" series, above)

and Sol LeWit. The time period is vaguely thirties in style. The gigantic mural that the Artist is working on in the first scene, depicting Timon's ascent towards Fortune on a sleepy Mount, is actually being constructed by all four of us clowns (ie, Steve, Michelle, Joel and me) as our "Painter" characters. We wear white, paint-splattered cover-alls thru out the play, adding/taking away costume elements for each different character, but the idea is that, at our core, we are these omnipresent, rather cosmic painters: we know all and see all, we have a sense of what will happen and go about pulling the strings. We have an eye into the future, and like the painting, can see ahead towards Timon's downfall.