Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Transitions

     I am being called again ...

     I look over the past few years and realize with a growing clarity that I have missed my mark. I don't know how it happened. My goals certainly were clear enough, and for a period of time I was meeting them on a regular basis.

     Perhaps that was the problem. I never had a real struggle - doors always opened for me, and I had a lust for achievement that sent me down a number of most interesting paths.

     And I still lean heavily toward those activities in my life that have always been enjoyable, notably, directing stage plays. I joke - and it's true - that the best therapy in the world is to yell at people and constantly tell them where to go ... and they thank me for it. Apparently I have skill to some degree. I have one room filled with awards, certificates, engraved commendations, and on and on and on. Nice, but constantly in need of dusting.

     Would you like to know my secret? I'll tell you my secret - actually three secrets.  And I will give them to you - no charge.

     When you cast a show, bring in the very best people you can find, and then have the good sense to stay out of their way while they do what they are supposed to be good at.

     In herding actors around the stage, make pretty pictures with people.

     Never ever ever ever bore your audience. Pace a play fast, so that the people watching your production will still have time for a drink or two after the show.

     That's it. All my secrets. Now go out there and direct something!

     ... because I won't. Maybe I'm finally growing up. I went to see a show the other night that had several talented friends in it. I couldn't wait for it to end so I could leave and ... and ...

     Ah, the mark I missed. I am directing plays I should be writing. I have a number of works in progress, inching painfully forward. It occurs to me that since I bill myself as a writer, perhaps I should actually take some time and write something.

     And there is a chance that I will.

     j
     

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ANNIE, OVER AND OUT.


Okay, so ANNIE opened this weekend. In the span of less than a week it went from being still dismally God awful to marginally acceptable. Like an elephant in a tutu it lumbered around the stage for two hours pretending to be Tinker Bell. The dozens of stage mothers were entranced. Their small unwashed spastic and tone deaf  children had been magically transformed into small unwashed spastic and tone deaf stars of the stage. With the exception of a few seats available on opening night, the entire run is sold out! The theatre is making a $1,500 profit per performance.

It's not fair. It's just not fair.


Rotten orphans.

I'd love to give you more details, but I've been nursing a cold now for a week, lovingly given to me by a chemical weapon in pigtails.

j

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ANNIE

I'm acting as an unofficial coach (for want of a better word) on a production of ANNIE. I figure that if I have to suffer thru this, you should too. 



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OF MICE AND MEN final


I kept five of the slats that made up part of the wall in the barn. They now hang in my living room.

j

Thursday, October 27, 2011

j


 
from j

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The future ...?



This I could afford ...


j

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Kind Of Fool

      About a year ago I started experiencing a vague restlessness. I recognized this was not my normal wanderlust – I have always been drawn to what is around the next corner, over the next hill. This was not even my companion desire to slip away; to avoid the very repetition in which others find comfort.   

      This was something new – a slowly growing “awareness” of my surroundings as if I had been living for years in a fog, and for no purposed reason on my part, that masking grey shroud was lifting.

      When did adequate become acceptable? When did mundane become marvelous? It occurred to me that I’ve been directing more and more plays of late. I thought I had been moving toward something. But what? True, the work is enjoyable, but the thrill only comes now when the shows are bigger and bigger and bigger …

      I’ve become jaded, complacent. Blindfolded.

      Last weekend my eyes were opened. For the first time I realized that I had been settling for considerably less than I could have. I had dreams once, and a very keen appreciation of more than manufactured truth and beauty.

      The dreams eroded. Can’t blame anyone but myself. I sold myself cheap. 

      The dreams came back. Inspiration unexpectedly handed to me; a gift.

      What shall I do? What will I do?

      I shall take inspiration by the hand and look for bright horizons.

     This time I will settle for nothing less. 

     j        

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writer Retreat



In spite of popular belief, our Writer Retreat was not strictly for the birds.

j

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

AIDA


     Today I was informed that of the directors applying to direct AIDA next spring, I had been selected.

     A-A-A-A-A-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H!!!! E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-!!!! O-O-O-O-O-O-O-H-H-H-H-H!! (Pause for breath.) H-H-H-H-E-E-E-E-E-E-E. WHO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!!! (Oh baby.)

     I thanked the committee politely, and, in as dignified a manner as possible, informed them that I would be pleased to present my plans at the first opportunity.

     ... whatever those plans are. At this point I have no clue.

     j 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Memories

     Someone asked me about the music that influenced my life during the time when my life could still be influenced by music.

     Her she is; the voice that defined a generation and the song that so reflected my own wander lust.

     j



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Xanadu

A picture taken by my writing partner during her quest west, while researching background material for a book based on a play we co-authored.


Not exactly the way I pictured it, but the thought was there.

j

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post Script

     Just learned that the production of OF MICE AND MEN that I directed has placed as the third largest ticket sales in the fifty year history of the theatre.

     La-de-dah.

     j

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Observation

     I have been constant in directing one show after another lately. I am aware of that as a fact. Add the classes and seminars I occasionally teach plus the reviews I write, and I seem to find a barrage of projects in front of me at any given moment. I am rarely home (explaining, in part, why these posts normally find life at somewhere around three in the morning.)

    I tell myself these are all things I sincerely want to do. And this is true. I love my work.

    I tell myself that I am finite, that eventually there will be an ending, and that I should go and do now, while I can, because there will come a time when I will want to make other choices.

    I tell myself that, because of the constant string of shows, mostly successful, I am in demand - that if I stop, even for a relatively short period of time, I will be forgotten. No, I'm not being paranoid. This is also true - the nature of show business. What have you done for me lately - like, this morning?

    But events over the past few months (which you might refer to as "life") have given me pause. Is there the (of course) remote possibility that I'm using all this as an escape? Might there be other things worth doing, worth saying?

     I am tentatively reaching in new directions. So far I haven't had the greatest of successes. But I'll let you know how it all works out. 

    j

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Update

     I am presently working as a production advisor to a nearby theatre group now in rehearsal for a December production of ANNIE.

     (And just where did that come from?!)

     The director had called me to borrow the bunks used in OF MICE AND MEN. I was flattered, told her they belonged to the theatre that had produced the show, and thought that would be the end of the matter.

     It wasn’t. She called again, this time with questions. Over the next few days we talked often and at some length. Since I had directed ANNIE (twice), it pleased me to point out a few land mines written into the show.

     She offered me a position with the company. I declined. She offered again. I told her that, having directed this epic with thousands of smelly children and a dog, I would rather die than be involved with yet another production.

     Call me Lazarus.

     The first actual rehearsal was today. I had to admit I was impressed – the major roles have been cast with seriously talented people. On the other hand, surrounding them were the two dozen or so “orphans” and the equal number of stage mothers (who could have given Hitler lessons in aggression).

     Suddenly I remembered why I hated this show with a passion. Too late.

     Oh well. The cookies are free and I get along great with the dog. 


j

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wanderin' Star

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Art work

     OF MICE AND MEN closed, as all plays do. The set was taken down, dismantled, some sections placed in storage for future use, some portions deemed of little or no value, destroyed.

     But this set was different - literally a work of art. A number of people involved in the production (including the art director) rescued sections of "skin" as they were heading toward large no-nonsense dumpsters. I have an entire section of what had been the barn.


These panels are now momentarily occupying space in my den. They are safe and saved. When I get an afternoon free, I plan to have them mounted and framed. I already know where they will hang.



What do you think?

j.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

At Sixes And Seven eights ...

     The bewitching hour never announces its arrival. I wait for it, start writing in faith, and discover it has been waiting for me – or, more often passed me by, offended that I might presume upon the nature of the beast.

     So sit closer, please. I am uncertain tonight. I am two-dimensional, desperately in need of taking definitive actions. The speeches are all in my mind – complete – edited and amended and augmented and articulated a hundred times. Tiny stitches in an old sock. But I am unsure, sore afraid of not being taken seriously or worse – being laughed at! So I hesitate, and by example live in parable. Who makes up these silly rules, anyway?!

     The play closed yesterday. The set is gone. Bare stage remains. As I have done so many times before, I stand there, alone, listening to echoes of echoes. It was a good show, excellent by the standards of this theatre – two standing ovations. And I should feel a sense of relief – this is the first time in 15 months that I haven’t been in production or pre-production for one show or another. But I feel nothing inside – empty. Why is that, do you suppose? Why this rush from one project to the next to the next? What void do I pretend to fill? I know the answer, of course. Fulfillment is finite. What increases one person diminishes someone else. I won’t have that. For the life of me, I will not.

      So maybe a vacation is in order – I haven’t taken one in at least ten years. At the moment the orient has some appeal. I’ll send you some postcards from Xanadu!

 j.      

Thursday, August 25, 2011

25 Thinks You May Not Know About Me

  1. I’m doing this under duress. I prefer being a more private person.
  2. The vast majority of my friends are involved in the Arts. Talented people allow me to breathe.
  3. My youngest friend is 14. My oldest friend is dead.
  4. I avoid other people who are Mensa (with a few exceptions). They are not nearly as provocative or interesting as they think they are (with a few exceptions.)
  5. I consider myself a gypsy. I’ve already stayed far too long in one place.
  6. My hobbies are horseback riding, sailing, and fencing. And I used to be damn good at two of ‘em.
  7. I’m learning that true intimacy with a few people may not be such a useless practice after all.
  8.  I’m running out of things to say already.
  9. I firmly believe that children should be seen and not often.
  10. I think marriage is a wonderful state. But I feel the same way about Nebraska, so what do I know?
  11. My favorite author is Dorothy Parker. She and Darth Vader could have been bff.
  12. I’ve always been a Feminist. There was a time when that meant something.
  13. I never wear socks; only wear shoes when I’m out in public. (I don’t think that has anything to do with being a Feminist, but if they ever need a sock burning, I'm there.)
  14. I like rum an’ coke, Greek salad, baked potatoes, and a really good steak – my favorite meal. But I’m open to new experiences. (Sam? Are you getting this?)
  15. I am at my most creative between three-thirty and five in the morning. I have idly wondered why that is so.
  16. I bore my dog to sleep on a regular basis, but he loves me anyway.
  17. I appreciate having friends in Canada and Europe. They give me a more balanced perspective on where I live … and where they live. I wish I had a friend in Russia. Or Nebraska.
  18. I just got SKYPE – yesterday held a video conversation on my computer. This is absolutely positively the best toy ever!
  19. I used to write plays because I thought I had something to say. I was wrong, but that realization has never slowed me down. (Nor anybody else.)
  20. I used to be a Republican. Then I became a Democrat. Now I’m looking wistfully toward limited monarchy. Come on, people – there’s gotta be SOMETHING out there that works!
  21. My ancestors were German and American Indian. They fought a lot – often against each other. Still do. Early on they worked as whalers, mule skinners, and educators. I’m the black sheep in the family.
  22. My favorite composers are Sergei Rachmaninoff, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paul Simon, Scott Joplin, and George Gershwin. I plan to invite them over for lunch on Tuesday.
  23. Some of my friends are gay. Some of my friends are not. Most of the time we get along just fine.
  24. I've done almost everything in life that I've wanted to do, and I think not too many people can say that.
  25. And then there is you, managing to hang in through all my ranting, highs and lows. Thank you – you are pretty cool. And appreciated.

Okay. There. I did it. Your turn.

j.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Late Night Again

     My occasional dip into a melancholy mood always catches me by surprise. Slowly I become aware of the signs – it’s 4ish in the morning, I’m sitting here nursing the last of the rum an’ coke I poured several hours ago, and those who are dear to me are not within the arm’s length of where I want them to be.

    
 
In the background I hear Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. It could as easily be Willie Nelson (except that is whisky sipping music, and I don’t normally keep a bottle of whiskey in the house.) Or it could as easily be a tune by Hank Williams Senior – except for that, you need to be sitting beside strangers in a dingy bar where you can truly feel all alone in the world.

      So Rachmaninoff it is. A kindred spirit in a way. A tortured soul (largely of his own making.) His true brilliance came when he was relatively young, and he spent most of his career chasing his own shadow. He was artistic, and by being sensitive he was easily offended. I don’t know if he smoked, but he did drink some (or so I’m told), and, by being the poster boy for the Russian fatalistic temperament, he found women – especially in America – were particularly  drawn to him. When I was studying music theory seriously I discovered he had been the teacher of my teacher. I heard stories … perhaps that’s why I feel a relationship. If he was here now we’d both be sipping rum an’ coke and listening to his music. And probably crying for no good reason I know. And feeling good about it.

      The artist on this recording is Yuja Wang, who has done just enough to start attracting attention. Rachmaninoff was a huge hulking man, with hands like meat hooks. Ms Wang appears somewhat diminutive, with not the physical strength to attack some of the passages the way they were intended. On the other hand … Ms Wang has dexterity the composer could never have matched on his best day.

       So it’s a draw. Enjoy.

  j.   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

JUST A THOUGHT ...

      Huh.

      OF MICE AND MEN is winding down. Granted, it has a couple of more weeks to run … but it’s going well – very well. And once a show opens, there’s not a whole lot for a director to do beyond keeping the show from evolving. In fact, most directors depart after opening night, leaving already strict adherence to vision in the hands of a Stage Manager who speaks directly to God, and hands out judgments accordingly.

      And …

      My next official (read “paid”) commitment is Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, scheduled to open in August of 2012, with auditions next June. The two leads have been signed already, and I’ve had initial conversations with both the costumer and set designer. Blah blah blah. In fact, the entire crew has been optioned, and I am now simply waiting to audition the supporting cast ten months from now …

     Yawn. Ten months. Being left to my own devices is not a good thing for a lengthy period of time. I tend to tap dance eagerly into marked fields of land mines. (If you don't believe me, please let me introduce you to colorful and expensive ex-wives.)

     And so …

     I just learned that the same theatre producing OF MICE AND MEN now will offer the Elton John/Tim Rice musical AIDA next May, (as a replacement for something). Auditions are in February, and they are suddenly looking for a crew and a director … Out of curiosity I inquired, and by the merest of coincidences, my entire A&C crew offered to step in.  All that remains is for me to decide if I want to apply to direct … This is, of course, a rhetorical pondering. OF COURSE I applied!

     Director interviews are in mid September. I’ll let you know how it goes. I presume the decision will be shortly thereafter. I’ll let you know how that goes, too.

     Things are lookin’ up.

     That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh uh-huh …

j.       

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday, 5pm. Everything at Sixes and Sevens

      I’m bored. Rare for me. Recovering from a quite nasty infection which kept my physical activities at a painful (an understatement) minimum for over a month now. Drugs are definitely kicking in. Feeling better, but still officially “on leave.” I wanna go play. Something. Somewhere.

      Just finished reading “Metaphoric SilverBand,” a post from my favorite writer, Julie. If you have the inclination, check it out. It touched me on several levels. Maybe it’s the drugs. Yeah, I can tell myself that …




     Dear friend Malmesbury (if I may be so bold.) A White Castle slider purports to be a sandwich, square, which would fit comfortably in a teacup. It appears to suggest a foundation of a ground meat (of undisclosed origin) cooked with aged onion chips. This delicacy is then almost surgically inserted into a spongy bun lightly brushed with their trademark grease. To appreciate this treat fully, a most solemn ritual is required; rise early, work hard, only have a salad with perhaps a biscuit on the side for lunch. Skip the evening meal altogether. Instead, gather perhaps a half dozen close friends near and start drinking heavily just before the sun starts to set. (The time here is critical.) At somewhen between 3:30 and 4 in the morning, boldly invade your unsuspecting White Castle restaurant and DEMAND six sliders. With a little practice, you will be able to swallow each one without even a pretense of chewing. I guarantee, promise, and solemnly avow that manna from heaven could not possibly taste better! This will be followed by a few hours of unconsciousness (that you may claim as sleep if you wish.) Likely you won’t have any idea where you are when you wake, and be wrinkled both outside and in. You will most certainly be surprised that you had not died during the night, coupled with the fervent wish that you had.          

      I have acquired a new friend. I reviewed her in a play, and when I asked for cast pictures, discovered she had taken many of them. She is a truly remarkable photographer – every picture she takes is interesting and tells a story. I have introduced her to a local organization accustomed to promoting  the outrageously gifted. Unfortunately she is 15 and I am certainly old enough to be judged as having ulterior motives by people who don’t know me. A shame sometimes that life is the way it is. I feel cheated.

    Friday is our next performance of OF MICE AND MEN. The play is awesome! It took leaps during the last days of rehearsal, certainly beyond my initial concepts. I think that if I have a “talent” at all, it’s in casting truly gifted people, putting them on a stage, and then being wise enough to stay out of the way while they do what they do. (And, trust me, I’m not being modest. This happens too often to be coincidental.)

     So. Done now. I didn’t get to take my sprint around the neighborhood, but I’m learning to live with disappointment …


j.

    

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh Yeah, There's That ...



     OF MICE AND MEN opens Friday. Finally. In spite of everything that has happened - certainly I've not been as physically and mentally there as I normally would have been. But both cast and crew had been wisely selected, and our collective vision has remained remarkably intact. It's going to be an excellent production, with moments of great sad beauty and soul-wrenching honesty. As with every show I direct, my goal is to be a tough act to follow. I think we're gonna pass that benchmark without even breathing heavy.

  

Monday, August 1, 2011

For The Record

      I have received several snide comments recently suggesting that – based on blog comments I’ve made – I must certainly hate and/or enjoy degrading the entire population of Great Britain.

     I was shocked – enough so that I feel obliged to respond.

     So let’s be clear here. I love the Brits. When you are privileged to befriend the common individual (and not just the fa├žade), they are (generally) funny, loving, generous, inventive – in other words just like the Italians and the Russians and the Greeks and the Germans (well, maybe not the Germans) and ta-da – just like us!

     There are some interesting similarities. The English largely poke fun at their class distinctions. We claim to not even have class distinctions, but take our social levels very seriously.

     In England they speak English. In this country we speak dubious gibberish . The comforting factor here is that both nations butcher pronunciations equally.

     In certain parts of the British Empire a man in a dress is called a Scot. In this country that same man would be called “under arrest.”

     I learned to drink beer at room temperature from a friend who lived for years near the white cliffs of Dover. (I don’t know if they still do that, but it doesn’t matter – I’m hooked.) And I make the trek to Disney World in Florida every chance I get because that’s the only place I know where I can get a real Stout.

     On the other hand, the English eat … something … stuffed into skin that revolts me to even think about. In fairness here, we encourage the unsuspecting to swallow without thinking meaty time bombs called “White Castle Sliders,” so …

     Both Great Britain and the United States take great pleasure in royalty worship. The only difference is that in this country we hunt for stupidity to idolize, while they have to wait for someone to marry into it.

     With all that said, there is one mystery that eludes me. When a politician in this country makes a pronouncement, somewhere in England his equal believes it! I mean – honestly – haven’t you learned anything yet?! (I admit to a big prejudice here. I like Tony Blair. I always thought of him as being an honest and honorable man, and if he hadn’t followed the lead of a former US President quite so closely, he might not have been so rightly dumped, and set an example of something.)

     But what do I know? I listened to the same people HE did.

     So, We clear now?

     Next time we will talk about the Russians, okay? I like them (the people, not the politics). They have a fatalistic outlook on life – enjoy today because tomorrow the bomb may go off in Moscow (and they’re not at all sure if it’s one of ours or could be one of theirs …)

     This has been fun. Comments?


j.         

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Have This Suddenly Brilliant Idea.

     I have been watching the news with ever increasing feelings of gloom and depression. The United States, starting with naked greed and galloping stupidity, augmented by indifference and pomposity, has been in a monetary free fall for some time, heading toward a financial depression the likes of which this world has never seen.

     Even today – moments ago – I heard that Congress is debating a bill that, in theory, would keep the country from defaulting on debts that will become due in just a few days. Only – funny this – it’s already acknowledged that the bill will be voted down after the tedious debaters have been sated.

     Here’s my first idea. When a foreign country acts in a way we consider irresponsible, we impose sanctions against them. At this dramatic point in time wouldn't it be quite reasonable for the UN to invite Poland or France or Spain to come over and sink a few concrete barges in New York harbor until we come to our senses?

     Or – here’s an even better idea. All the people “in charge,” from the President on down, keep telling me that they all work for me, and that if I’m not happy with their work, I’m certainly encouraged to vote someone else into office.

     Well, I gotta tell ya, I am NOT happy with your work, and I’ve tried that “voting someone else into office” thing, and that hasn’t seen much in the way of change, either.

     So here’s my second idea. If the Congress and the Senate and the Executive branch all work for me, sorry guys, your efforts are appreciated but not good enough. In other words, you are fired. No, actually those ARE the words. Your services are no longer required. As of today. Now. Please turn in your keys at the front desk by four o’clock this afternoon, and your personal property may be picked up in cardboard boxes on the loading dock starting at nine tomorrow morning.

     At the same time, suddenly we have a large number of employment opportunities. “Line forms on the left,” we can say, and “no experience necessary.” (Certainly that would be the truth.) Everybody is on a 90 day trial period. Love it!

     Or finally … if all else fails, we look up the person or organization or business who is in fact running Great Britain these days and tell them “we were only kidding” a couple of hundred years ago and “couldn’t they take a joke” and “it was all just a misunderstanding” and stuff like that … (God knows they’ve bought our line before. Maybe if we promise to give India back to them … or Nebraska.)

     Thoughts?

j.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Half the circle complete,


This is the way it begins and ends - bare stage. I paced off every inch, side to side, front to back - walls here, doors here, furniture ... before the first tape mark was placed marking an entrance, I could see it all - every stick in place.


Here IS every stick in place, Oddly, this is very close to my original design, and a first. Normally I oversee day-to-day construction, making changes where inspiration moves me. In this case I handed drawings,color swatches and various cryptic smudges over to artist Kat Wexler, and - because life got in the way, I basically walked away until she proudly/hesitantly led me into the completed setting last night. 

I had pointed out craggy texture from a few of my  favorite Max Parrish paintings, and asked "Can you do the walls like this?"  She could and did. The walls you see here are not painted. Instead, various bright colors were mixed with wet plaster, and the colors were trowled on (rather than painted). 

Wow. I love it.

But the bottom line is this; does it work? Granted, this is a Steinbeck work, dark by nature. But is it too oppressive, too distracting, or does it enhance the mood? Here are a couple of rehearsal cast pictures. You tell me.








































































































































































































































Tuesday, July 19, 2011

5:48am

I've been writing on scene three of THE TEAPOT COLLECTOR for about three hours now. I don't know why. I woke up out of my usual mildly fitful sleep with dialogue going through my mind and I knew I wouldn't rest until I got it down on paper - (or whatever the electronic equivalent to paper might be.)

My dog Willie mumbled something under his breath as he begrudgingly vacated the corner of the couch I claim as my own. He watched me for awhile until his eyes glazed over and he went to sleep sitting up. At some point he must have fallen over, because all I see sticking up from the far side of the couch pillow are two hind paws and a bit of tail. Something else to add to my colorful resume - I bore dogs.

So. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that for whatever reason, I'm writing again. I thought I never would.

j.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Update

     The funeral went well. (And you may certainly interpret that comment to mean any funeral that is now behind you, has gone well.) I lost count of the number of cards and emails I received. I invited five dear people to support (protect) me, and straight out lie for me if I did something more inane or inappropriate than usual. In addition, well over a hundred of my theatre friends attended the funeral. I have not received any complaints about silverware missing, but I don’t recall much in the way of silverware being there in the first place. Looking back, I was – and still am – beyond expressing how I feel. Absolutely … I am a very private person. This outpouring of love falls well beyond my experience, so I have little with which to compare it (and, unusual for me, utterly at a loss for words.)

     I love my daughter, miss her already. But she would be the first to remind me that this funeral business is morbid at best, and then scold me (with one of those looks) if I thought of her any way other than the way we always were together – at ease to speak or not, because we understood each other in a way that didn’t need words. And she would remind me that we will meet again, be together again soon enough.

So when I think of her, she is always smiling, so I smile as well.

j.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rachel Mock

                                     This is Rachel Mock.


She is young, attractive, witty, smart, shy in a most charming way. Five minutes after you meet her you will fall in love with her. Guaranteed.



Unless somebody gives her a sword …


Or a gun … (photo by Craig Lawrence)

Rachel is the fight coordinator for our production of OF MICE AND MEN, and she is very good at what she does.  

Every once in awhile I've been fortunate enough to inlist the services of just the right person for the job. Every once in awhile I've been fortunate enough to actually recognize greatness on the way up. 

Watch for this one. You will see her again.

j

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Teapots and daughters

Because I never saw a teapot I didn't want, my daughter gave me this one for Christmas ....



.. and because she wanted to be sure I understood the sentiment behind the gift, she made and included the sign.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My daughter

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Candle Burns At Both Ends

My candle burns at both ends,
it will not last the night.
But ah my foes, and oh, my friends,
it gives a lovely light.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

     Auditions for OF MICE AND MEN are in 5 days. Auditions for ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA are in 14 months. There are people eager to start work on both productions now. Uh-huh. Unfortunately I'm one of them. Suggestions?

     My writing partner completed the writing of her novel based on the play we co-authored. I'm most interested in reading the ending. In the play the bad guy is eventually dispatched by the good guy. In an early version of her book, the bad guy (who is not overly bright) tries to shoot it out with the three thousand attendees at a police marksmanship competition ... (or something to that effect. I remember it was a whole bunch of people). In a way I'm sorry she's not going with that ending - it had a Butch Cassidy sort of feeling about it. So now she has this new ending that she is excited about. Since she is an excellent writer, I can't wait.

     I got a new stove today. Not that anything was wrong with the old one. A friend of mine inherited furniture and asked several of us if we wanted any of it. The stove was better than mine - more bells and whistles, so I said yes. It arrived today. I put the old one out on the curb for garbage pick-up tomorrow ... (and yes, I called first). Ten minutes after I set it out, an old man in an old truck picked it up and drove away. Free enterprise. Don't ya love it?

     While the movers were here, they carried an antique library-style bookcase from my living room up to my study on the third floor. I had loaned it out for a play, and didn't at all remember it being that heavy when it came down. I have my living room back. My joy knows no bounds.

     All the foreign restaurants within 40 miles of my door are either Mexican or Oriental. I don't mind, I suppose, but a little variety would be appreciated. I mean, if I want an occasional real draft Guinness, why do I have to go all the way to Disney World to get it? Not fair. Other people eat at English Pubs and Russian Tea Rooms. Other people eat Hungarian and Spanish and Italian and German. Here even Tim Horton's has "Americanized." Ah-h-h-h-h-h-h!! 

     The Republican Party has started gathering forces together (already) for the next Presidential election. With one or two exceptions, the candidates are a pretty sorry looking bunch. There is talk that Sarah Palin might run. Every Democrat in the world hopes so - I'm convinced the woman is an idiot.

     Speaking of which, the other Sarah (Ferguson) appeared on TV earlier today. She confessed to the world that for years she has been an "utter and complete fool." To the best of my knowledge, not one person has disagreed with her.

     On the other hand, don't you think we need at least a few people like these in our lives? I mean, the occasional cold water of creative utter stupidity thrown in your face causes at least a jot of involuntary response in even the most jaded of temperaments.

     Aw well. Sorry. Sort of got off the theatre fence tonight, if that's what you were expecting. Sometimes - too often - with the work I do and love, it's far too easy to forget that there's another world if I simply choose to see it. And Will Rogers was right - "I never met a man I didn't like." And that's how I feel as well. If I run out of stories, it's because I've stopped listening.

     As before, it's late, and I feel much better after our conversation. You really are the best of company.


j   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another Openin' Another show ...

     Auditions for OF MICE AND MEN are now two weeks away. I'm ready. I've augmented the crew I had on the last play with a few specialists - one being a fight coordinator. I've never used a fight coordinator before. This one is warm and friendly - until she has a gun or a dagger in her hands. I've not worked with her before, but I've seen the results of her efforts. Impressive. Should be interesting.

     About every actor I know has contacted me - they all want in the play. If half of them actually show up for auditions, I will have a galloping good cast. And of course it helps that I have one of the best scripts I've ever worked with.

    The play has a large number of men and only one woman. Since the main woman's dressing room is quite large, I'm tempted to move her somewhere and use that area for farm animals. (I'll have to look - I'm sure there's a form that covers things like this.) Several women I know are interested in the role - it's a chance for an actress to die on stage ... on purpose.

    More relaxed now. Paperwork is done, forms forms forms, audition forms, character break-downs, rehearsal schedules, budgets, publicity, yadda yadda yadda. The "director packet" of papers alone is a dozen pages long. I suppose this should bother me, except I have no plan to actually read any of it. I've worked with this group before, I know what they want. As long as the shows I direct for them make money, everybody is happy.

     I do miss the days before spirit-killing contracts - when a handshake was enough.

     I've had almost all my pre-show meetings. One more to go. I meet with the set decor artist on Friday. I love the designs I've seen so far. The set is going to be light and airy.  At the moment I don't know who is going to build the set. At the moment I don't care.

     And there you have it - a theatre director's version of a pre-flight check list. I'll let you know how it goes. Count on it.

j

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pictures

Facebook offered to assemble a collage of my friends. This is way too cool.



j

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


- Lt. Colonel John McCrae, 1915