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

My time of day ...

     There's a song from GUYS AND DOLLS that starts out "My time of day is the dark time, a couple of deals before dawn ..." I think that fits me. The quiet outside my door seems to express the quiet I feel inside.

     I am tired, tired. Weary. Staging two major plays back to back is bad enough, but yesterday I was forwarded a message from the witch who manages the theatre building we just vacated, accusing us of stealing furniture! Fortunately someone in our group reached her (today) before I could. Just as well. Tell me - have you ever met someone who irritates you just by breathing? That's her. For the past year I've dealt  with her through others, because when I'm forced to face her directly, in no time at all I'm so angry that I become something less than articulate.

     My writing partner is now finishing the book based on the play we co-authored. Watching her progress has been fascinating to me. She has fleshed out countless allusions and given depth to the words that normally would only come alive when spoken by an actor. A year or so ago we started writing a novel together that remains in rough draft and wanting an ending. Perhaps when she finished this one, we may go back to that one. I think I hope so.

     All quiet on the political front at the moment. The economy is so poor that schools across the country are drastically cutting back on arts funding of any sort. In a way this is benefiting our  theatre group, as we have taken on a number of fresh-faced interns, eager to please. (And we, of course, are eager for them to be eager.)

     There is one small announcement that is of interest. It is rumored that Sarah Palin may soon announce that she is running for President. I think that would be grand. She is the eternal fountain from which any number of genuinely funny jokes spring fourth. I have looked over the group of Republicans who have already announced their lackluster candidacy. They are a singularly bland bunch.

     I saw on television that former California Governor Schwarzenegger has announced that he is indeed the father of the boy born to one of his servants. It's sad to admit that we, the people, are so jaded that this crumb of information will do nothing but enhance his career as a movie actor.

     I have been truly blessed by the fact that, although it has rained fiercely over the past few months, my house has neither been blown nor washed away. Since I live on the sheltered side of a high hill, storms tend to go around rather than over me. The water in the stream below would have to rise by more than 80 feet to invade my backyard.

     I have added another name to my BFF list. It is "Open The Pod Bay Doors, Hal." If you like movie lore and observations, you might find this man interesting.

     It is now twenty minutes to four, and the sun is throwing pre-shadows over the city to my right. I think I can sleep now, fully sated. As always, thanks for the company.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


     ZACK has closed. It was a good play. The best performance was the last one - it took the cast awhile to "get it." To properly express casual British humor is generally a blue mystery to a number of American performers (certainly to the ones in my cast.) Eventually we discovered where the laughs came and mimicked the actions that provoked positive responses, without (I suspect) never being entirely sure why the reactions came. Clueless we were. But eventually the show took a lumbering leap forward, drew audiences, made money, and everybody went away happy ...

    I was not there for set strike. I was working on another project the day the walls were dismantled and the furniture was covered and trucked away. Just as well - not only did the show close. but the theatre as well. The building will be turned into office space, and the auditorium - minus the stage - will become the temporary home for a church. I wish them well - and also luck. The ghost of Richard III roams the halls, as does Eliza Doolittle, Puck, Major Barbara, and Puff the Magic Dragon.

     I've started work - pre-production stuff - on the next play I'm directing, OF MICE AND MEN. Different play, different theatre. I've been given a real luxury here - allowed to name my own crew. So, with the exception of the stage manager, I brought the entire ZACK crew over to the new project. Happy me.

     So. There you are. And there I am. New project. New goals. New expectations. And I'm all set to start, anxious even. I'm starting tomorrow. Right after lunch. Tomorrow. Sometime tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Night lite

 It's nearish to 1 a.m. Close enough.

ZACK opened to a quite receptive audience Friday night. The show was well received, and the comments were all positive, if carefully considered. What does that mean? I had hoped for gibbering hysteria. On the other hand, the after-the-show crowd hung around until we had to (politely) throw them out in order to close the theatre. So I suppose we did well. This production was not scheduled for a review, and that's too bad. I would have liked validation for our efforts.

I'm scheduled to review HAMLET for a small theatre group tomorrow night. I've seen the actor in the lead role before, and have always respected and admired his work. In appearance and speech, he reminds me of James Mason. I plan to have an enjoyable evening.

Speaking of Shakespeare, I have just committed to direct ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA next spring. Although the announcement won't be made public by the theatre for at least another month, I have already received a number of phone calls from talented and heavy-breathing actresses. I think I'm gonna like my job.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will mention that I'm directing OF MICE AND MEN, starting in mid June, and have been receiving phone calls from men interested - very - in the lead roles. Yeah yeah. Wait your turn.

A friend of mine is directing a play - I don't know the name - which opens the first of June. She asked me today if I had a rowboat I could loan her for the production and/or several large fake boulders. As it turns out, I have a Styrofoam boulder. I used it in an Easter cantata, and the thing has been in the trunk of my car ever since.

My writing partner attended a meeting of movie makers (and the purpose of this gathering was not disclosed to me). She was the only writer, and coincidentally, the only woman. After the meeting she started a ten minute script, and dyed her hair brunette. Okay ...

Would you call a friend and ask if he or she had any large fake rocks you could borrow? I'm not sure which bothers me more - that she asked, or that I did.

Well, it's now close onto 3 a.m. and I've rambled on enough to bore myself to the point of sleep. As always, I've enjoyed your company.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ZACK, part 2

The play opens this Friday. Dialogue is heavy into character building. I'm beginning to have a greater respect for the playwright - the humor manages to be subtle and broad at the same time.

I've Americanized the work in that I'm not having the cast speak with a British accent (which we do badly). The costuming reflects an American perception of British dress, rather than an attempt to be realistic. This became painfully obvious when I stumbled across the London cast picture, above, and compared it to our own, below.