Thursday, August 19, 2010

T-Gar n' Me!

August 15, 2010

Dear Diary:
SO bored with my life. Not a lot going on this summer. What's an actor to do?
I know!
I'll write in my blog!
That outta kill some time!
Til Soon,

August 16th
Dear Diary:
Just wrote a sassy post in my blog about the professional distance between actors and critics, and you won't BELIEVE this, but an ACTUAL critic actually responded to it! His name is Thomas, and I have to admit, our exchange was a little odd.
He was all like: "I'm a critic, and I talk to actors ALL the time! I have six or seven bitches - I mean actors - in my posse. But you know, we're on the down low."

And I was all like: "Whoa"

And then he got all cranky and was like: "You're slimy" (which was REALLY awkward!)

And then I got all cowed and conciliatory-like.

And he was like: "That's beneath you. But you know what? I'm just going to ignore it."

And I was all like: "OK. Me too."

Whew! That sure was a close call!

August 18th

Dear Diary:
So, I just found out that THOMAS has a blog! I thought that was MY idea!

And even though he said he was going to totally ignore me, I JUST discovered that he's actually been tweet-trashing me ALL day! Oh my god: SO unfair!

He said I was "petty" and "conniving", which is kind of like Bjork calling you weird.

He also accused me of using my blog posts to "angle for an acting job" and to "seek revenge on my former co-stars" which was REALLY out of left field! I'm not sure, actually, if those are accusations or just old plot lines from "Models, Inc.".

Anyway: SO pissed off!

But you know what, Diary? I am NOT a quitter! So I just called Thomas up and said : "Listen. I think we got off on the wrong foot. Let's meet for coffee and totally hug this out."

Thomas agreed and we met later that day at the Starbucks in the CambridgeSide Galleria.

We said our hellos and made some initial small talk and then I just HAD to ask him the most obvious question: DID he play Cousin Oliver on "The Brady Bunch"?

"People ask me that ALL the time." He said, in his adorable squeaky voice "And the answer, of course, is "Yes". That's why I'm such a good critic: I was an actor once myself. I KNOW what it's like."

We purchased our lattes and started wandering around the crowded mall.

"I HATE Cambridge" Thomas intoned, "Filthy liberal hippies, everywhere."

It was a little strange being with Thomas, as he kept yelling unsolicited comments at random strangers:

"You're ugly!"
"You're worthless!"
"You call that a facial scar?"
"Nice wheelchair, stupid!"

Some people got upset, but when Thomas explained he was a theatre critic they totally shut down. Some even asked for his autograph!

In the food court, Thomas fearlessly approached this hugely pregnant woman.

"Listen" He said to her, between mouthfuls of Panda Express "I know you might THINK you want this baby, but I'm a theatre critic, and I can tell you right now that you will make a TERRIBLE mother. I would abort immediately. You just look fat and silly."

Her eyes grew wide. "Do you really think so?" she asked.

"Take my word for it." He answered "I have a BLOG."

August 20th.

Dear Diary:
My friendship with Thomas is really deepening.
Hanging out with him is like being a Super Heroes' sidekick.
Captain Truth Teller!
and Actor Boy!

Na na na Nuh na na na Nuh na na na Nuh na na na na na na na Nuh Nuh!
(that would be our theme song!)

Being around Thomas is so exciting! He can make up a review for just about anything!
We went into CVS today and he actually reviewed the shampoo I was going to buy.

"Pretentious. Over-priced. Vapid. The A.R.T. of hair-rinses."

"But Thomas," I said, "I like this shampoo."

He suddenly, savagely grabbed my arm.

"Don't EVER question ME." He stammered.

His grip tightened.

"Thomas..." I gasped, "you're. hurting. me."

And just as suddenly he let me go.

"I'm sorry, baby" He said, stroking my face "I didn't mean that. But you just don't LISTEN. Do you think I WANT to hurt you? I don't want to hurt you. But you just have to learn when to shut up."

He's right. That has ALWAYS been such a problem with me!

"Thomas" I said, with a lump in my throat "I'm so sorry."

"That's OK, baby" He whispered, still stroking my face. "And hey, you don't have to keep calling me 'Thomas'. We're friends now, ain't we? Call me by my street name. Call me T-Gar."

Sept 1st
Dear Diary:
I don't know WHY I never had a critic as a best friend before! They are the best!

Started rehearsing a play today.

I had Thomas -Oops! I mean T-Gar - on speaker phone the whole time.

Whenever the director told us to try something, T-Gar would just pipe up: "Wrong! That's WRONG! Who HIRED you? You couldn't direct TRAFFIC! You are pissing on Shakespeare! Believe me, I KNOW Shakespeare. And I mean that literally: I actually KNEW Shakespeare! Personally! He even begged me to review his first performance of "Coriolanus", but I turned him down, because I was just TOO busy! Believe me: he is spinning in his GRAVE right now!"

It was a bit distracting to work like that, but I think it was for the best.

I LOVE the collaborative process!

T-Gar made me quit the show after that first rehearsal.

"You don't need those dilettante losers, baby." He said, smiling "You have me now. I'll gladly tell you why you suck."

Then he took my face in his hands.

"Just remember" he said, gazing into my eyes "I am your ONLY hope of ever being understood. By anyone. Ever."

God, I'm SO lucky!

Sept 14th

Dear Diary
Went over to T-Gar's apartment today.
He's never invited me before, and I have to say, I was intrigued.
It was very dark and musky inside.
Milk crates. Manacles. A large empty, newspaper-lined cage on the floor.

An effigy of Ryan Landry hung from a rope in the corner. T-Gar went over to it as soon as he opened the door and started punching it viciously. "Call ME fat, will you? Well, take THAT! And THAT!", he panted.
He kept striking at it until he was out of breath and collapsed on a milk crate, which seemed to be the only furniture he had.

After a while, he pointed to the cage on the floor.

"Wanna get in?" he breathed "It's really cool. I sleep in it."

"Why don't we eat something first, T-Gar?" I said.

Suddenly a strange groaning sound emanated from behind a closed door at the end of his hallway.

"What's that noise?" I asked "It sounds like Carolyn Clay with a ball gag in her mouth."

"Uh, yeah" T-Gar stammered, "Listen, why don't you make yourself at home? I just have to take care of something first."

He grabbed a box of garbage bags and a handsaw from under the sink, went into the room down the hall and closed the door. There were some faint sounds of struggle. Then silence. The groaning stopped.

I opened T-Gar's fridge. There was no food, just an old milk carton with "Human Bile" written across it with a black Sharpie. And some pickles.

In the freezer was a big round object wrapped in plastic labeled "Terry Byrne".

A half hour later T-Gar emerged from the back room in a bathrobe. He had apparently just taken a shower.

"Who wants Creme Brulee!?" he yelled.

"Me Me Me!!!" I clapped. I curled up on the floor of the cage while he busied himself in the kitchen.

About six hours later, T-Gar shook me awake: I had apparently dozed off. That cage IS comfy!

"Hey Sleepyhead." He murmered "You ready for dessert?"

We sat on the milk crates and I dove into T-Gar's take on French Cuisine.

"Well?" He said, "What do you think?"

"It's...well, it's..." I really didn't know what to say.

He stopped chewing.
"What?" he said. There was an ever-so-slight edge in his voice.

"Well, it's just not a very...traditional creme brulee." I said.

"What do you mean?"

"Weeeelllllll" I said slowly, "It's not very sweet. It's actually kind of sour. And green. It looks, in all honesty, like you just chopped up some pickles and served them in a ramekin."

T-Gar dropped his dessert spoon. A dark, vengeful cloud suddenly formed over his head. His eyes began to twitch, and his face became very puffy and red.

"" he whispered, and then a low, dark hum rumbled in his throat which quickly, frighteningly grew to an awful, ear-splitting wail.

He threw his dilled creme brulee at the wall and hurled his milk crate at me. I ducked and scampered behind the kitchen counter while he threw himself into a violent rage: clawing the walls, rattling his cage, ripping the chains and shackles from their fastenings.


He beat his chest and ripped, Hulk-like, at his clothes; flailing about the room wildly like a featherless, rabid owl.

And then finally broke down in a heap on the floor, weeping.
I came to him, held him in my arms while he sobbed.

"You don't understand what it's like to be this smart." He whimpered "You might think it's a blessing. But it's actually a curse. No one likes me. No one UNDERSTANDS me."

I held him and dried his eyes.

"T-Gar", I said "I understand you. I really do. You're beautiful. I used to think you were just a mean-spirited, pompous, dogmatic, arrogant bully with a blog. But I was WRONG. So wrong. You are special. You have feelings. Deep, complicated feelings. And I'm glad you're my friend."

We lay in the cage together, until T-Gar fell asleep.

(Note: any resemblance in this piece of fiction to persons living or dead is PURELY coincidental.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Miss Price and Me

My good friend Paula just send me this great pic of us from 10 years ago, on the set of "Miss Price", a solo show I wrote for her to perform.
She was magnificent, of course!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Killer Klowns

Am I old fashioned?

Could this be true?

I just heard that there are actors who actually contact critics and invite them to review shows in which they are performing.

I would just NEVER do that!

First of all, I just don't have the balls: critics are second only to clowns for scaring the crap out of me.

Second of all: isn't it just inappropriate/a conflict of interests?

I have (politely) invited directors and artistic directors and other theatre professionals to come see my work in the past.

Friends and family, of course.

But Critics?

That's like putting a half-loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger.

That's like spending all your rent money on lottery tickets.

That's like asking John Wayne Gacy to be the clown at your kids birthday party.

At best, you are playing with fire.

Of course, it could turn out just fine, I suppose.

I hear Gacy was a regular Patch Adams at the Childrens Hospital...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Michael Balcanoff

I have just heard some very sad news.

My friend and co-worker, the actor Michael Balcanoff, has passed away.

I knew that Michael was dealing with some recent and serious health issues, but I am still very surprised and shocked and so so saddened to hear this: he always seemed a picture of health and energy, and he was just an overwhelmingly positive person.

I was lucky enough to have just performed a play with him, a little less than a year ago: Pinter's The Caretaker, in which Michael was absolutely brilliant as the desperate, conniving and complicated tramp, Davies.

It's a back-breaking, demanding role (he never leaves the stage), and he tackled it with such vigor and love and humor.

There is one moment I will never forget in that play:

Towards the end, Davies tells my character, Aston, how hot it is in mental institutions.

His character is clearly trying to persuade mine to let him stay in the dilapidated, drafty room we have shared up until that moment.

Now, Aston is kicking him out, and the stakes are very high.

Arguably, Davies might say anything at this point in order to gain Aston's sympathy, and his allusion to his stay in a mental home is probably one of his many lies, a clear attempt to connect with Aston, who had a harrowing and crushing experience in such a place.

But Michael decided that this was not another lie of Davies: it was a rare moment when he told the truth.

Every night, he would deliver this line to me with such brutal honesty that my only possible response is to turn around and face him.

We would stare at each other in a total state of quiet vulnerability.

It was one of those rare magical moments that happens on stage with another actor, where you are both so in the moment, so connected and honest and out there that you actually forget everything else.

He was a generous, thoughtful, funny man, and a great actor and artist.

I will miss him very much.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Google Myself

I do.

I admit it.

I'm just curious.

What are all the other John Kuntzes up to?

Like John Kuntz, the news photographer for the Cleveland Plaindealer?

Or the OTHER photographer named John Kuntz, who apparently is annoyed about being mistaken for the news photographer?

Or the kid who plays video games?

Or the deadhead musician on YouTube?

Or the strange, sad employee of the month?

Talk about Narcissism!

It's an endless crackling video pool, with a thousand little reflections.

I'm dead here.

I'm 15 there.

I'm running some faceless corporation over there.

They are all ME!

There's even another PLAYWRIGHT named John Kuntz (John B. Kuntz, that is), who has written for soap operas for many years and, apparently was the librettist for a musical named "Lady Aubrey's Fan".

And our identities have somehow merged on Wikipedia: Cyber Conjoined Twins.

And I even met this man, years ago, while performing a solo show.

He came because he saw my name. And it was his name, too.

I hear he came to see Starfuckers while I was doing the NY Fringe.

But we were sold out, and he was turned away.

And I never saw him again.

A Funnyhouse of endless Kuntz.

All the choices I never made.

All the things I never did.

All the mistakes I could have made. Or did. Or will.

Even stranger are the Images that pop up, like the one above.

Now what in the world does my name have to do with that?

And yet, there it is, somehow: two sexy gay anime video warriors, holding hands, bathed in pink, strapped into spandex.

And it changes daily, like a kaleidoscope.

And I know we all do it. We chase our Google doppelganger down this rabbit hole.

And I know what I'm trying to find: something about myself that I didn't know.

A surprise.

A satori.

I want the mirror to appear and say:

"yes, we are all doomed.

But for now, you're OK.

You exist.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Othello at CSC

CSC's Othello opened recently, this years' free offering of Shakespeare on the Boston Common.
Be sure to go in and see it!
I'm so glad that CSC and Steve Maler are still around producing this wonderful event for everyone: it marks Boston as a world-class city that cares about the Arts, and I really can't imagine a Boston summer without it.

My friend Marianna Bassham is playing Desdemona, and I'm sure she's wonderful. Also, James Waterson, who was in Julius Caesar with Tommy, is playing Iago.
I performed in three past shows at CSC, and they were always a great deal of fun, sort of like summer camp, only in iambic pentameter.
And full disclosure: Tommy and I first began our courtship during 12th Night. (He was Malvolio and I was Sir Andrew).

So, in a way, I owe my marriage to CSC.
Even better than performing is being in the audience: there is something really magical about being outdoors, at night, surrounded by people sitting on blankets, watching Shakespeare.
Here's all the info:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fully Committed

Since I'm trying to be a Boston Arts Booster these days, I wanted to get the word out about "Fully Committed", which is being performed outside at Christain Herter Park (where The Publick usually performs).

My friend Gabe is performing the one-person play, which is a work-out and a half - 39 roles for one actor! - , and my pal Steve Barkhimer is directing.

It should be quite fun, and you can have a Bar-B-Q before the show, if you like, which sounds heavenly.

Here's the web-site, in case you can go, which you should!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the hotel nepenthe

Some pics of the sad, haunted little hotel where we stayed in DC.
I love and am afraid of hotels, so I tried taking some pics of the room in an attempt to at least try to understand why that might be.

Hoping the images might help me as I dive into another re-write of the script for a read-thru later this month.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hound of the Baskervilles

I saw "Hound of the Baskervilles" the other night, which is the play Tommy directed at the Central Square Theatre this summer. It's running for another two weeks and all I can say is:
Go See It.
(If you can, that is: I'm hearing it's selling out quickly, so get your seats sooner rather than later.)
It's Hilarious.
Now, I know, I'm biased.
I'm totally sleeping with the director, and all my friends are in the cast.
But it is such fun!
And I'm an Aries, and we're just no good at lying. So you can really believe me here.
First of all, Remo Airaldi is playing Sherlock Holmes (and a menagerie of other characters) and I could watch Remo read the phone book, he's so funny. And he's just a born clown. And hugely talented.
And Trent Mills is playing Lord Baskerville. Trent is a student at BoCo, which means he'll probably be on Broadway next year, so it's your chance to catch him now before all that happens. I got to work with him on "Midsummer", where he was just a perfect Flute/Thisbe - he's just such an adept physical comedian, and he has a face like bowl of Jell-O.
Then there's Bill Mootos. Now, Bill is one of my oldest (and I mean OLDEST) dearest friends, but I usually throw-up or fall asleep when he's on stage. Or just pass out in my own filth. But he is SO freaking funny as Dr. Watson. It's like watching a really dim appliance bulb try to turn itself on again and again.
The play is this total goof on the famous Sherlock Holmes mystery, so don't expect a faithful re-telling. It's total "Irma Vep"- run-around-velco-ripping-off-stage camp.
And it all looks great (I loved the little proscenium stage that moves about the room!)
And Tommy is just a really great director. The choreography alone is so complicated/hard to pull off/organize here, and he just did a great job. The world is just so specific and right.
Here's the Central Square Theatre website, if this sounds interesting to you: