Wednesday, September 29, 2010


When I was around 22 or so years old
 many moons ago
I had just finished college
and I was determined that I would make a living as an actor,
so I was performing in just about anything I could find:
dinner theatre
children’s theatre
improv comedy.

You name it.

And there was this one gig I had
which was an improvisational murder mystery.

No script.

Three actors.

It was about this boozy female cabaret singer,
her rival,
and her smarmy agent
(which was the part I played).

And the singer gets murdered,
and the audience had to figure out “who-dun nit” by solving various clues

and we would travel to different places
 and perform at office parties
and people’s birthdays

 and things like that.

and it was a lot of fun.

and helped pay the rent.

So one day I get a call from the murder mystery people
 and they ask me if I could perform the show that afternoon.

I said “sure”.

and then they told me that it wasn’t the agent that they wanted me to play.

They wanted me to play the cabaret singer.

Apparently what had happened was the actress who was supposed to play the role had suddenly fallen ill and they had gone thru the entire pool of actresses and no one was available.

and then they thought of me.


And could I just jump in?

They would pay me double, they said.

and I said, well, all right.

So they give me a sequin dress
and some heels
and a Dolly Parton wig

and I meet my friend Julie, who was playing my rival,
and we drive to the location,
which was in New Hampshire.

On a moving sight-seeing train.

So we get there, and it’s a bit unusual, because usually we aren’t performing on a train,
And there's no place to change.
so we change in Julie’s Honda Civic.

and then I’m walking around in drag at this train station,
in New Hampshire

and people are staring at me,
and wondering what’s up,
and I just say “Oh, I’m doing a show”.

So we get on the car where the performance is supposed to take place
and it’s for a group to senior citizens
who didn’t know they were watching a show.

They just thought they were there to look at the foliage.

So it was a surprise for them.

but since they are so very old,
they are very confused
and slightly horrified
when I come out in drag
and start to sing.

I’m sure,
for some of them,
it was actually really happening,
that there had been a murder.
That their lives were in danger.

or else they were planning to call their doctors to adjust their medications.

I immediately learn that it’s hard to sing, act and walk in high heels on a moving train.

Meanwhile, the only place to perform our scenes in the train car was in this tiny aisle in the middle, which we had to share with a woman serving prepared turkey dinners
out of a little cart.

Also, when we had to “exit” the stage, we did so by entering the car in front of us,
which was filled with regular leaf peepers who had nothing to do with our show.

I would stand there in my sequin dress and smile benignly,
holding the prop gun from my earlier scene,
and mouth “I’m doing a show!” at them.

The senior citizens really found us profoundly annoying.
At one point in the middle of a scene I heard this awful “SSSSSSSS! SSSSSSS!”
and I turned to the guy playing the agent and said:
 “Oh my god, they hate us! They’re hissing at us!”

To which the woman in charge of the group said:
“Oh, no, don’t worry.
That’s just their oxygen tanks releasing air.”

When the show was finally over, we took our cramped little bows
and I changed into my boy clothes in the tiny bathroom.

The caterer, feeling sorry for us, gave us the leftovers from the dinner,
and Julie and I sat in the caboose of the (still) moving train,

eating cranberry sauce and stuffing.

The train turned a corner,

and there,

staring at as with serene boredom,

was a moose.

I had never seen a moose before.

And somehow it made sense

 that I would

at that moment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Young Jean Lee

Gone all weekend visiting relatives and missed Young Jean Lee's The Shipment at the ICA, which made me sad: I have been reading so much about her, and her plays, and really was hoping they might extend it beyond this weekend, as I've been dying to see something by her. 

Her Lear (above) from last season - a re-imagining of King Lear from Goneril and Regan and Edgar and Edmund's perspective, or something like that -  sounded really fascinating and jaunty and cool, and seems to have pissed a lot of people off, or thrilled them, or both.

(the NYTimes called it a "hot mess"). 

Here's some samples of Lear, from the Times review:

"EDGAR: Edmund and I just enjoyed the most wonderful meal.
REGAN: What did you have?
EDGAR: Six different roasted meats and fowls, new potatoes, spring sausage, onion soup. And gooseberry tart with country cream.
GONERIL: Lovely.
EDGAR: The soup was covered by nearly an inch of baked cheese.
GONERIL: Goodness, Edgar. How did you—
EDMUND: I’m a bad person!
EDMUND: I only care about myself.
REGAN: Everyone is selfish.
EDMUND: I betrayed my father. He’s out in the storm with his eyes gouged out.
EDGAR: Our father was a traitor.
EDMUND: Plus everyone is starting to look fat to me.
EDGAR: What do you mean?
EDMUND: Everyone looks fat. Regan looks fat, you look fat. Unless someone is completely skeletal with no muscle or anything, I think they look fat.
GONERIL: That’s really evil.
EDMUND: I know! . . .
REGAN: People’s bodies are just tragic.
GONERIL: I’m a bad person.
REGAN: I’m the one who did it.
GONERIL: That’s true.
REGAN: I’m the one who did the bad thing to the old man with the gouging of the eyes and so forth, letting him bleed into the snow.
GONERIL: There was no snow.
REGAN: There can be snow if I say so.
REGAN: I say there was a lot of snow and that his eyes bled rings into the ground, burrowing down.
GONERIL: Stop it, Regan.
REGAN: I can see our father.
GONERIL: Don’t say that.
REGAN: I can see him in the storm, bleeding rings into the ground.
GONERIL: That’s Edgar and Edmund’s father.
REGAN: Our father is out there too.
GONERIL: Shut up.
GONERIL: Something is different with Cordelia’s teeth.
REGAN: Her . . . she looks like she’s been sharpening. . . .
GONERIL: She’s shiny, somehow.
REGAN: Maybe she just needs to blot. . . .
(Cordelia enters.)
GONERIL: Hi, Cordelia, what have you been doing all day?
CORDELIA: Nothing.
REGAN: It’s nice to have you back home.
CORDELIA: I’m happy about it. . . .
GONERIL: Did you have some work done with your teeth?
GONERIL: They look lovely. Very sharp.
CORDELIA: Thank you.
REGAN: So what is France like?
CORDELIA: Lots of blue. Lots of gray. Massive clocks embedded in the stone, with the clouds drifting by. Lovely.
GONERIL: Lovely.
REGAN: We were so sorry about how you left.
CORDELIA: I’m sure you were. "

Friday, September 24, 2010


...and that night I dreamed I was in Mexicali,

on the Salton Sea,

a lake so full of sodium that it is completely toxic and pale.

Dead fish lay about its shores

among a Stonehenge of ripped, disgorged inflatable rafts

shaped like bunnies

and smiling kitties

and inner tubes like giant, used prophylactics

A rusty jungle gym

Abandoned slanted shacks of tin

A man in drag lay on a beach towel in the white sun.

A blond, Tippi Hedren beehive.

His make-up dripping off his face like candle wax.

His gown a shimmering sheath of green sequins.

A gorgeous, masculine mermaid.

I noticed he had no eyebrows.

“I melted them off in a freak blow torch accident. I was burning sugar over flan.”

he said.

There was nothing here that I could ever hope to save

There was nothing here that was not gutted

and desolate

and ruined

and blasted

and beautiful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Quit

I was slated to work on a project this fall, and I was looking forward to it. 

It was a new piece (which, of course, is exciting to me), and the writer/adapter was going to be involved in the process as well, (which, in theory, is also exciting).  We spoke briefly over the phone once, months ago, but that was the extent of our interactions until he flew in from Los Angeles for the casting/call backs last week.

And we didn't hit it off.

Not only did we have unresolvable artistic differences, but we also approached the work in completely different ways.

And, frankly, I just didn't like him.

And he didn't like me.

Our conversations were pretty tense.

I thought I could get along with anyone.

Until this guy.

It happens.

So I quit.

I called the people in charge the next morning, explained that I probably was not the ideal choice for the project, we quickly found a suitable (and I think excellent) replacement for me who was able and willing to jump in, I stayed to help with the remainder of the casting as best I could, we were civil and professional to each other thru out.

 And then I left.

  Rehearsals don't begin for another month, so there is plenty of time to adjust to this unforeseeable event (I probably would have stayed on otherwise).

I have never quit anything in my life.

I suppose I should feel disappointed, but I don't.  Given the circumstances, I feel only happiness and relief. 

I remember being young and so hungry for work that I would do absolutely ANYTHING and work with anyone, no matter what.  Just being wanted was enough of a reason: how flattering, to be wanted!  How wonderful to have an acting/writing/directing gig!  To have anything AT ALL!

So this was a bit of an epiphany for me, I guess:

I'm just not that hungry anymore.

And I'm certainly not that young.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ghost Story

I haven't been blog writing all that much lately:  I was cast in a short film that's been shooting the last two weekends on Georges Island.  It's called (at least right now) "Independence Day" and it's about a repressed, schlubby, Walt Whitman-obsessed gay guy (me) who spends his July 4th on Georges Island -  misses the boat back to Boston - and is forced to spend the night alone in the dark, playing creepy (and somewhat erotic) cat and mouse games with a hunky, Civil War-era ghost. 

Now, I know what you're thinking:  "Not ANOTHER gay, Civil War, ghost story!"  But this one is different, I swear!

It's been great fun working on a film: so different from theatre - the tech, rehearsal and performance are all happening simultaneously.  And it's somewhat comforting to know that if you totally mess up, someone can just yet "Cut!" and you can do it all over.  Can't do THAT onstage!

The cast and crew are great.  Grant MacDermott plays the ghost, and he's terrific and very nice (if you're going to be haunted, let it be him!) and my good friend Rick Park is going to play my draconian boss in the office scenes (the whole island is a flashback).

I could see why someone would want to shoot a film on Georges Island - (I've never been, even though I've lived here my whole life, and it's really great.  If you haven't yet, you should go: the ferry is only 14 bucks): the light is absolutely incredible, and Fort Warren is genuinely creepy and beautiful at once.

Here's some pics I took!

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Exploit 9/11 for Fun and Profit!!!!!

I just read this and literally puked.  How low can these people get?

"Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are getting together Saturday to commemorate 9/11 in her home state. But unlike Beck’s recent controversial rally in Washington, DC, you'd better bring plastic if you want to see them. The ticket prices start at $65.50 each (plus Ticketmaster service fees), up to $115 plus fees. They are also selling a special $200 “Meet & Greet” ticket, according to the Ticketmaster website, allowing special access to Beck."

                                                                                             - Radio Info. com

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BoCo's New Theatre Opens!!!

So excited to be back at BoCo, with the new theatre building finally opened!
It's a beautiful space, we needed it so badly, and I couldn't be happier for the school and the students and the faculty: it really is a great, beautiful new space!

Giovanni's Room

"I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls,

the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life.

I have a drink in my hand, there is a bottle at my elbow.

I watch my reflection in the darkening gleam of the window pane.

My reflection is tall, perhaps rather like an arrow,

my blond hair gleams.

My face is like a face you have seen many times.

I may be drunk by morning but that will not do any good.
...the countryside is still tonight, this countryside reflected through my image in the pane.

This house is just outside a small summer resort—

which is still empty, the season has not yet begun.

It is on a small hill, one can look down on the lights of the town and hear the thud of the sea.

My girl, Hella, and I rented it in Paris, from photographs, some months ago.

Now she has been gone a week.

She is on the high seas now, on her way back to America.

I can see her, very elegant, tense, and glittering,

surrounded by the light which fills the salmon of the ocean liner,

drinking rather too fast,

and laughing,

and watching the men.

That was how I met her,

drinking and watching,

and that was why I liked her,

I thought she would be fun to have fun with.

I had asked her to marry me before she went away to Spain;

and she laughed

and I laughed

but that,

made it more serious for me,

and I persisted;

and then she said she would have to go away and think about it.

That was how it began,

that was all it meant to me;

I am not sure now, in spite of everything,

that it ever really meant more than that to me.

And I don’t think it ever really meant more than that to her—

at least not until she made that trip to Spain, and, finding herself there, alone, began to wonder, perhaps, if a lifetime of drinking and watching the men was exactly what she wanted.

But it was too late by that time.

I was already with Giovanni.

And the very last night she was here, the very last time I saw her, as she was packing her bag, I told her that I had loved her once and I made myself believe it.

But I wonder if I had.

 I was thinking, when I told Hella that I had loved her, of those days before anything awful, irrevocable, had happened to me, when an affair was nothing more than an affair.

Now, from this night, this coming morning, no matter how many beds I find myself in between now and my final bed, I shall never be able to have any more of those boyish, zestful affairs—

which are, really, when one thinks of it, a kind of higher, or, anyway, more pretentious masturbation.

People are too various to be treated so lightly.

I am too various to be trusted.

If this were not so I would not be alone in this house tonight.

Hella would not be on the high seas.

And Giovanni would not be about to perish, sometime between this night and this morning, on the guillotine."

-James Baldwin

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Paramount Opening Weekend!

The beautifully restored Paramount Theatre is having it's official opening in a few weeks, and, to me, the programming couldn't be more exciting: some really rare opportunities to see some brilliant new work by major, respected theatre artists from all over the world!

I was especially thrilled to see that they are hosting Doug Elkins' "Fraulein Maria": a dance re-telling of "The Sound of Music":  T. and I managed to catch the piece last summer at Jacob's Pillow, and it was just AMAZING, with three dancers playing Maria, (including, when we saw it, a muscular, bald man) and the brilliant Doug Elkins himself as The Mother Superior, popping and locking in a hoodie/wimple.  If there's a talk back with Doug after a performance, I would recommend going to that: he's a very funny, interesting guy!

The opening weekend also has our plays being performed in the space, for free!  Here's the link with all the info:

Between Time & Timbuktu & Leaves of Grass & Giovanni's Room

School is now back in session, and I'm teaching five days a week once more.

So summer is over now, at least for me.  I'm going to miss the free time, especially for reading and writing and doodling in this blog, which has been a lot of fun.

In the fall, I'll be directing a workshop production at BoCo of a new musical based on Kurt Vonnegut's "Between Time and Timbuktu", which should be quite interesting and exciting, as I am a huge Vonnegut fan.

 This piece is based on the screenplay of the same name (which apparently exists in film form, somewhere, though I honestly have never seen it!).  It combines a selection of Vonnegut's short stories from "Welcome to the Monkey House" into a time-traveling, "Sirens of Titan" motif with a dash of "Slaughterhouse-5".

Really kooky.

I've decided that we will adapt James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" into a theatre piece this year with my senior emphasis class at BoCo.  One of my favorite novels of all time.

And strangely, I was cast in a short film being shot on Georges Island next weekend, in which I play a repressed man obsessed with Walt Whitmen's "Leaves of Grass", who is subsequently haunted by a gay civil war ghost while trapped on the island at night.

So it's a very literary-gay-devastating-spooky-spacey autumn so far!