More Weekend Artsy-Fartsying Around

November 24, 2008
Vinnie Penna (center, seated) and friends in "Native Speech"

Vinnie Penna (center, seated) and friends in "Native Speech"

It was another arts-filled weekend for me and The Companion. On Friday night we took in Boomerang Theatre Company’s new revival of Native Speech by Eric Overmyer. Overmyer is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights. His plays are full of verbal gymnastics and offer no easy answers to the questions they raise. Native Speech is one of his more difficult creations, not easily accessible on any level. It’s particularly heavy on the wordplay and opaque about the story and theme. The Boomerangers do a commendable job in wrestling this one to the floor. Nice work by good pals Vinnie Penna (in one hell of a showcase role as Native Speech‘s leading man) and Alisha Spielmann, as usual. A challenging-in-the-good-way night of theater for any and all takers who are game.

Saturday night, The Companion and I were on to a much-needed night of moviegoing: Quantum of Solace. We’re both longtime Bond fans, and she’s got a thing for Daniel Craig, so this was a no-brainer. As usual, Bond did not disappoint, and Craig is once again impressive as 007. He is so ruthlessly tough and bloodthirsty it’s a little frightening. A refreshing take on the character that I like quite a lot. Good choice picking Marc Forster to direct the newest installment, as well. Along with Craig, he brings a welcome gravitas to the franchise. Nicely done, gents.

The bonus prize that went along with seeing Quantum of Solace was catching the new trailer for J.J. Abrams’ forthcoming Star Trek movie. HOLY SHIT DOES THIS LOOK AWESOME!!! You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m a fan of the original TV series. Loved most of the movies with the original cast, as well, so I have a lot of formative years invested in these characters. Glad to see the movie studio is starting over from before the beginning we all know and love. Looking forward to many more adventures with this bunch.

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Random Friday Theatergoing and Companioning

November 21, 2008
John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer in "American Buffalo"

John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer in "American Buffalo"

It’s been another busy week here at the ol’ blog. Last night The Companion and I went to see the new Broadway revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. My review will be forthcoming on nytheatre.com, but I will say this much: it’s better than the lackluster reviews would lead one to believe. 

Earlier in the week, shooting continued on Byron Invented Boredom, the film in which I’m playing a womanizing ne’er-do-well. We crammed a lot into our one night of shooting including my very first on-screen sex scene. Talk about awkward. Now I understand what big time movie actors mean when they say these kinds of scenes are difficult to do.

Imagine you’re laying in bed, totally naked.

Now imagine a total stranger in laying next to you, also totally naked.

You don’t know each other at all. In fact, you’ve just met, like, five minutes earlier.

You have no intention of actually having sex. At this point, sex is about the furthest thing from either of your minds.

However, you have to pretend to be having sex.

With a total stranger.

In front of a room full of fully clothed people.

One of whom has a camera, and is filming the whole thing.

And…GO!

See what I mean? Awkward.

We all did our best to keep it loose – cracking jokes, left and right – but we were all more than a bit nervous, I think. As evidenced by the fact that, after we got the last shot in the sequence, the lady in question and I jumped out of bed in less time than it took you to finish this sentence. You have never seen two people throw their clothes back on so fast in your life.

I should mention, at this point, how supportive The Companion was about this whole thing. As I got increasingly panicky in the days leading up to this shoot, she kept me smoothed out and relaxed and breathing easy. She kept a cooler head about it than me – so much so that I probably should’ve sent her to shoot the scene in my place.

By the way: have I told you all how awesome The Companion is? Have I sung her praises and conveyed to all of you the depths of my feelings for this woman? I would need an entire lengthy blog post to do her justice. Hmm, there’s an idea…

In other news: have you bought a copy of Leonard Jacobs‘ new book yet? You really should – it’s pretty frappin’ sweet. Great pictures, and swell, informative text by Leonard. I’ll be forthcoming with my review of it pretty soon. In the meantime, gaze upon the cover and think about giving it as a Christmas present this year – either to yourself or your favorite theater fan. Here’s what it looks like…

1850-1970" by Leonard Jacobs

"Historic Photos of Broadway: New York Theater: 1850-1970" by Leonard Jacobs

Speaking of Christmas, it seems as if everyone I know has decided to do a show during December this year. And I mean everyone. The Companion and I have spent the past week and a half looking at our respective calendars and trying to figure out how we’re going to get it all done. This person’s show one week, that person’s show the following week, these people’s shows over the weekend – plus time and money left over for Christmas shopping and holiday parties/functions/gatherings. Note to all my friends: YOU’RE KILLING US! (But we love you nonetheless and we’re gonna try and make it. Really.)

Phew. Okay, Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, here’s this week’s Random Friday Top 10, featuring just a mere smattering of all the shows The Companion and I are going to try and see between now and December 20th. Wish us luck…

Oh Lord, please help me get to, at least, some of these shows. I’m feeling the time crunch already. And I thought the holiday season wasn’t going to be busy.


The Nuts and Bolts of Writing Reviews

November 20, 2008

At the behest of The Companion, I’m holding forth today about my writing process – specifcally, how I write a theater review. The Companion has told me time and time again that she’s amazed (and sometimes baffled) at how easily I crank these out. To which I usually reply that it’s not so easy. There’s always the problem of deciding how much information about the show to include (due to either space limitations or the desire to not spoil anything); how many of the actors to mention; whether or not to even talk about the designers; and how to express one’s feelings about the show.

Despite all of these very common obstacles, I told The Companion that I’d made dealing with them easier for myself over time by adhering to a very strict, but basic, structure every time I write a review.

As a reader and audience member the first two things I always look for in a theater review are:

  • 1. What’s the show about?
  • 2. Did the reviewer like it?

As a reviewer, I use those two questions as my starting points every time. Paragraph 1 is usually reserved for what I call The Thesis Statement, in which I state what I thought of the show and why. Take, for instance, the opening paragraph of my review for Theatre of the Expendable’s FringeNYC 2008 production of Mare Cognitum by David McGee (Editor’s Note: this review originally appeared on nytheatre.com and is copyright © The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.):

David McGee’s whimsical new play, Mare Cognitum, asks both its characters and its audience to take big leaps of faith. For the trio of twentysomethings at the center of this poignant dramedy, it’s a matter of believing in the possibility of positive change. Theatergoers, on the other hand, must believe in the magic of the theatre to transport them wherever it wants to. Whether it’s the characters or the audience (maybe—hopefully—it’s both), whoever takes those leaps will be treated to a unique and gratifying experience courtesy of this lovely new production from Theatre of the Expendable.

By starting a review this way, I automatically set myself up to prove (and possibly deepen) The Thesis Statement. So, in that sense, I’ve already given myself a loose structure that must be followed.

But before I do that I feel like I have to tell people what the show’s about. The second, third, and fourth paragraphs of the Mare Cognitum review follow as such:

“Mare Cognitum (the definition of which can be found here) wastes no time establishing its backdrop—a rally protesting some proposed-yet-unspecified government bombing—and its probing protagonists, three roommates who share an apartment. Impulsive Lena attends the protest with idealistic brio, her mantra being, “Think globally. Act locally.” Jeff intends to go but drags his heels and never leaves the house. Thomas, the resident skeptic, skips the rally and goes on a job interview instead. Together, they make up an intellectual triumvirate that debates, among other things, the effectiveness of organized protest, the banality of job interviews, and the therapeutic value of going to confession. (You can tell they’re all recent college graduates because they stretch ideas to their limits.)

“Then, the government starts dropping those bombs and the roommates become fed up with the world. So they build a homemade rocket ship and fly themselves to the moon.”

(For examples of addressing the need to sometimes explain what the show is – in addition to what it’s about – I refer you to the opening paragraphs of my reviews for the recent Off-Broadway productions of Rock of Ages and If You See Something, Say Something.)

Once the plot is laid out, I start talking about the writing, then the directing. In the case of Mare Cognitum, the events of the play rely on both the writer and the director being on the same figurative page, working together to decide how they want the audience to interpret them:

“Wait a minute. Do they really?

“Well, that’s up to the viewer. McGee and director Jesse Edward Rossbrow ingeniously construct the event to be interpreted either way. Whichever way the spectator goes with it hinges on whether one requires a logical explanation or not. (I, personally, found that I did not. I took the leap.) Regardless, Mare Cognitum follows the moon flight with a larger point about the noisy intrusiveness of modern life thwarting all attempts at such big dreaming.”

(Tangential side note: I tend to think of the designers’ work in tandem with the director’s since, for me, they all have to come up with the physical production – and the tangible, visual expression of the play’s themes – together, so oftentimes I will discuss all of these elements together. For an example of what I mean, check out the first paragraph of my review for Rabbit Hole Ensemble’s FringeNYC 2008 production of Big Thick Rod by Stanton Wood.)

Then, it’s on to the acting. Again, the problem of which actors to mention can sometimes be maddening. Other times, as in the case of Mare Cognitum, the cast is small enough that I can mention everyone (you’ll also note that, in this case, I lumped the lighting designer in with the cast – a necessity, I thought, considering the point I make at the top of the paragraph):

“The effectiveness of Theatre of the Expendable’s lovely production lies in the clarity and simplicity of its vision. Flashback events get re-enacted and locations seemingly change with almost no confusion thanks to Solomon Weisbard’s subtle and evocative lighting design, and Rossbrow’s lucid, confident direction. The acting follows suit with a funny and beautifully nuanced performance from Kyle Walters as Jeff. His expert work here, as a young man who wants to participate in life but can never quite find it in himself to join the fray, ought to put him on many a theatergoer’s future watch list. Devon Caraway excels as the spunky Lena, endowing her gung ho optimism with authenticity. As Thomas, Justin Howard brings up the rear with some well-played snarky pragmatism.”

After I’ve covered the writing, directing, design, and acting, I finally conclude with a recap of The Thesis Statement, hopefully giving the review a clean, concise button. Like so:

But, ultimately, Mare Cognitum is about faith and magic, and theatergoers who give in to either/or both will feel as if they’ve left this world for a time and flown to another.

Not every review I write conforms to this formula, nor can they. I bend the structure to the will and the demands of each show I review. These guidelines aren’t written in stone, and I try to keep them as fluid as I need them to be from review to review. But, whenever I get stuck on something they’re a great default because they always get me re-focused and back on track.

So, there you have it! To recap: the elements I use to structure my theater reviews are…

  • 1. An opening Thesis Statement
  • 2. A synopsis of the plot
  • 3. Discussion of the writing
  • 4. Discussion of the directing/production design
  • 5. Discussion of the acting
  • 6. Closing recap of The Thesis Statement

After she heard all of this, The Companion told me that she had no idea my reviews were that methodically regimented. To which I replied, “Good! If you can see the structure, the nuts and bolts of it, that means I’m doing something wrong.” And that, dear reader, is something I try to avoid at all costs.


Revisiting Some Classics

November 19, 2008
"The Fervent Years"

"The Fervent Years" by Harold Clurman

I’ve been revisiting some classics lately, works that I was first exposed to as a kid and have a newfound (or just different) appreciation for as an adult.

First up is The Fervent Years, Harold Clurman‘s seminal firsthand account of the rise and fall of the legendary Group Theatre. I had to read this for my acting class back at College # 1, and could not get through it – only read about, maybe, half of it before putting it down. Honestly, I thought it was the most sluggish, boring piece of crap. I understood, for historical purposes, why we were being asked to read about The Group, but didn’t know why we were being asked to plod through this snoozer. I brazenly suggested to my acting teacher that we read Elia Kazan’s autobiography – which I considered, at the time, to be a far livelier account of The Group years – instead. (Ah, I was such a precocious know-it-all in my youth.)

Since then I’ve developed a fascination with The Group and how they shaped 20th century theater, film, and everything else. Which has now prompted me, almost twenty years later, to give The Fervent Years a second chance. And, boy, am I glad I did. Whatever I once found tedious about this book has dissipated and given way to a keen, hungry eagerness to find out how and why they did it. (I also have an obsession with the idea of a national theater here in America, and The Group seems to be our most successful crack at that yet.)

Reading Clurman’s account of their story, it seems painfully obvious now why they failed: as my old directing teacher, Bob Moss, used to say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Clurman never should have been the managing director: that duty should have fallen to Cheryl Crawford, whose strengths were far more organizational than artistic. Clurman should have started directing The Group shows much sooner, since he seemed to be the organizational figurehead the company most looked up to and followed. Lee Strasberg, who directed most of The Group’s productions up until the emergence of Clifford Odets as their in-house playwright, arguably should have never been put in charge of people in any capacity except, maybe, the one he finally settled on: acting teacher/guru. (Strasberg was far too volatile and sensitive to be trusted with any kind of leadership. He was basically a snobby headcase with a superiority complex the size of Texas.) And The Group’s idealism and enthusiasm, despite being beneficial as a source of inspiration for them, proved to be just naive enough to be their undoing. A firmer governing hand from the leading triumverate of Clurman, Strasberg, and Crawford, and less involvement in matters of policy and management from the rest of The Group, might have sustained them longer. We’ll never know. Hindsight’s always 20/20 anyway.

But their story sure makes for a good read now. I chalk this up to a complete change in attitude on my part. The book hasn’t changed in the years since I first tried to read it – I have. I’ve beceome more patient, more inquisitive, in my old age. Plus, I’ve lived a little. When I first tried The Fervent Years as a teen I hadn’t lived at all (even though I thought I had). It’s amazing how much weight The Group’s story gains from the reader having a little life experience.

Their story also takes on a lot of meaning when one considers everything they accomplished after the company’s demise. The Group was responsible for the birth of The Actors Studio and the subsequent careers of Clurman, Strasberg, Kazan, Odets, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Robert Lewis, John Garfield, Lee J. Cobb, and countless others. If you look at the collective post-Group contributions of these folks, and the influence they had on others, well…I mean, that’s pretty much the birth of post-war American theater and film right there. Who knows where we’d be now without these folks? Fucking incredible.

Paul Newman in "The Hustler"

Paul Newman in "The Hustler"

Another work that attains weightier significance with time is The Hustler, director Robert Rossen‘s 1961 drama about pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson. Eddie is, of course, played by the legendary Paul Newman, in what has since become an iconic performance. But I didn’t feel that way about it when I first saw it (once again, as a teen). Rather, I felt like I could see him “acting” instead of simply “being” or “doing.” In other words, I could see his technique plain as day – working, pushing, huffing, puffing – instead of the result of his technique creating an organic, convincing whole. (This was a common complaint I had about Newman’s early career performances, i.e. before he sprouted gray hair.) It was an obstacle that made it difficult for me believe him in anything prior to, say, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Not to mention that my initial viewing of The Hustler, back in my high school days, didn’t move me at all. In a word: boring. I couldn’t see what all the hoopla was about – a stance made even more perplexing by the fact that The Color of Money, Martin Scorsese‘s 1986 sequel to The Hustler, was (and still is) one of very favorite movies of all time, and Newman’s performance in it is one of my favorite performances by anyone in anything. For me, The Color of Money was everything that The Hustler wasn’t: confident, forceful, clear, subtle, layered storytelling.

Well, after recently giving The Hustler a second chance, I hereby rescind my previous opinion of it. And I may have to reconsider Newman’s pre-gray hair output. Again, this is another instance of the viewer changing over time, not the work in question. I had no frame of reference for The Hustler when I saw it as a high schooler. I hadn’t yet been hurt, or corrupted, like those characters are. I hadn’t yet made decisions I would later regret, the way those characters had. To momentarily reprise that haunting refrain: I hadn’t lived yet. I didn’t know anything about the emotional quagmires at work in The Hustler when I first saw it because I hadn’t experienced them yet.

Boy, have things changed since then. The Hustler makes all kinds of sense to me now. Piper Laurie‘s silent pain, Newman’s all-consuming ambition, George C. Scott‘s icy, pragmatic greed, Jackie Gleason‘s low-key mastery – I have a frame of reference for all of these now, either through firsthand experience or just having lived a few years and seen/heard about a few things. And I have a brand new appreciation for the film’s nuts-and-bolts storytelling. This is, like, Cinematic Exposition and Thematic Expression 101. The Hustler is clean, clear efficient storytelling. Rossen knows what he wants to say and how to say it. He has the entire cast and crew on the same page. Everyone is working on the same movie, figuratively speaking. There is nuance and finesse, lots of effective underplaying, and plenty of room for the audience to engage and fill in some blanks on their own.

Newman’s performance reveals many of these traits, as well. The things that annoyed me about him initially now strike me more as acting choices made for the character as opposed to idiosyncracies of his technique. If it looks like he’s trying too hard it’s only because the character is trying too hard. Newman displays a fair amount of his trademark restraint, humor, and gravitas here – all things that I missed the first time out. (I think it’s time for me to revisit his films from the 1950s and early 1960s.)

Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in "The Producers"

Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in "The Producers"

Finally, I recently sat through a repeat viewing of Mel Brooks‘ raucously tasteless 1968 comedy, The Producers, a movie I’ve seen several times. To my surprise, it doesn’t hold up as well  as it used to. When I first saw it (yet again, back when I was a teen – I see a pattern here), I totally thought it lived up to its storied hype as a modern comedy high water mark. But now…well, it doesn’t seem dated so much as it just feels like it lacks discipline and a ruthlessly objective eye. Running gags get repeated past their expiration date. Flop jokes sit next to real humdingers without a discerning. judicious hand to excise them. It’s almost as if the comedy wears out its welcome. The story begins at such a fever pitch – thanks to Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder‘s frantic performances and Brooks’ unmodulated direction – that has almost has nowhere to go after that. The strain is apparent in several places, especially in the scenes with Franz Liebkind (played by veteran comedy stalwart Kenneth Mars).

That’s not to say that The Producers isn’t funny anymore – au contraire, much of it still is. The performances by Mostel, Wilder, Mars, and Dick Shawn are brilliantly, fearlessly shameless. Their work contributes a lot to the dangerous, unhinged irreverance that courses through the film. And the basic story idea still retains plenty of its yummy, gratifying shock value. I guess I just wish that Brooks the director had more control over Brooks the writer. Brooks the writer is seemingly no holds barred. Anything goes and nothing gets cut out. Brooks the director indulges that impulse, sometimes to the point of disaster, instead of reining it in and creating a more even-keeled sense of tempo and build. It’s as if there’s no joke or gag he can’t make work through force of will.

However, it’s heartening to know that a movie this wild, rude, and out of control could get major respect. Back in 1968, Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as snivelling accountant Leo Bloom. And Brooks won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Tell me that would happen now.


Weekend Recap

November 17, 2008
"Lord Oxford Brings You the Second American Revolution, Live!"

"Lord Oxford Brings You the Second American Revolution, Live!"

I saw a couple of friends’ shows this past weekend – great, lovely stuff that I feel compelled to draw your attention to…

First up was Robert Honeywell’s latest opus, Lord Oxford Brings You the Second American Revolution, Live!, out at The Brick. As I’ve previously stated for the record, I’m a big fan of Robert’s work. This latest show, while more experimental and rougher around the edges than the last two of his I’ve seen, is just as imaginative, challenging, and funny as anything Robert’s done. He loves to push the envelope and, boy, does it get pushed here. It you like your humor twisted, with some socio-political commentary on the side and a dash of musical theater thrown in for good measure, then check this show out. As usual, excellent performances from my friends Robert, Gyda Arber, Iracel Rivero, Alyssa Simon, Lynn Berg, and the scene-stealing Audrey Crabtree (who, on the night I attended, used my arm as a blanket and drank some of my water – nice). Kudos also to my buddy Moira Stone for flexing some impressive directorial muscles. These lads and lassies know how to do cutting edge meta-theater better than anybody else. Go see them.

The cast and creators of "(Not) Just a Day Like Any Other"

The cast and creators of "(Not) Just a Day Like Any Other"

I also caught the latest offering from the New York Neo-Futurists, (Not) Just a Day Like Any Other, co-written and performed by my friend Kevin R. Free. This is a funny and touching show about a day that stands out, for whatever reason, in the lives of each of the four performers. It’s autobiographical documentary theater with a meta twist to it. Good stuff. Some of the stories are sad, others are funny, all are viscerally engaging as these four Neo-Futurists – Kevin, Christopher Borg, Eevin Hartsough, and Jeffrey Cranor – let it all hang out. You will laugh, you will cry, it will become a part of you (and I sincerely mean that). Plus, there are free margaritas and free food. Highly recommended.

Both shows only run until next Saturday, so get your collective butts in gear.

In other news, the Byron Invented Boredom shoot on Saturday went well. Got to throw a guy over a banquette in a faux-bar fight at The Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg. Good fun. Nice work by director Danny Bowes and our cinematographer, the unflappable Bryan Enk. Shooting continues on Wednesday night when I get to film my first ever – gulp! – on-screen sex scene. With a 19-year old girl. (Did I really agree to do that? Does my girlfriend still read this blog? Hi, honey!)

And the voiceover recording for Piper McKenzie’s Granduncle Quadrilogy went swimmingly last night. Jeff Lewonczyk and Hope Cartelli had the troops out in force: Danny, Iracel, Art Wallace, V. Orion Waterman, Roger Nasser, Richard Harrington, Maggie Cino, and Heather Lee Rogers were all on hand. Audio wizard Eric Winick turned all the right knobs to make us sound fabulous. ‘Twas a kooky little bit they made us do that I’m looking forward to seeing in context. (Hint: there’s ceremonial chanting involved.)

Oh, I almost forgot – this weekend I also got inducted into a very special society: The Masons of The Brick. Of course, I can’t tell you anything more about who they are or what they do, or else I’ll get paddled. Again.


Random Friday Pitchforks

November 14, 2008
"The Pitchfork 500"

"The Pitchfork 500"

 I was having dinner with The Companion earlier this week, talking about the ol’ blog, and I asked her what kind of stuff she’d like to see me write about on here. Her response? She wanted to see me talk more about my writing process. She meant reviews, specifically, but I initially thought she meant fiction and plays (both of which I’m giving another go these days). Both seemed like a good idea, and we had a good long talk about it. She’s an inspiration, that one, so I’ll be writing about…well, writing here on the ol’ blog at some point in the near future.

But our talk got me thinking even further: what would you, dear reader, like to see on here? Any requests? Let your voices be heard.

Last year, in prophetic anticipation of the sudden creeping death of arts journalism, a very wise friend of mine advised me to branch out in my writing – to write other things besides theater reviews, to cover more topics than just theater. It was good advice then, and it’s definitely good advice now.

And with that, I bring back a feature that’s been missing from these parts for a while: the Random Friday Top 10. This week’s list is inspired by the new book, The Pitchfork 500, in which the good folks at pitchforkmedia.com pick their favorite 500 songs from 1977 (the beginning of the punk era) to the present. It’s a nice little edition for those of you who are into such things. As with all such books it’s highly subjective. But any book that picks Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur” and “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” by Simple Minds as two of those 500 can’t be all bad in my estimation.

So this week’s Random Friday Top 10 is a brief list of just a few songs that would make my own personal 500 Best of All-Time List. (Special thanks to my iPod for this one. These ten songs always seem to be on it.) Here we go, in alphabetical order…

  • Chemical Brothers: “Block Rockin’ Beats” (1997)
  • Eric B. & Rakim: “Follow the Leader” (1988)
  • Fleetwood Mac: “Hold Me” (1982)
  • Judas Priest: “Living After Midnight” (1980)
  • Juliana Hatfield: “Backseat” (1998)
  • Pretenders: “Middle of the Road” (1983)
  • Prince and the Revolution: “Raspberry Beret” (1985)
  • Talking Heads: “Life During Wartime” (Live) (1984)
  • The Rolling Stones: “Start Me Up” (1981)
  • XTC: “The Mayor of Simpleton” (1989)

Thoughts, comments, questions? Direct them this way.


A Few Projects I’m Working On

November 13, 2008

Just a quick update on some upcoming projects I’m working on. After acting non-stop in seven shows since January, this is my idea of a calm, relaxing autumn…

  • This weekend I’m recording a voiceover for Piper McKenzie Productions’ latest opus, The Granduncle Quadrilogy: Tales from the Land of Ice, which will momentarily reunite me with fellow Babylon Babylon conspirators Jeff Lewonczyk, Hope Cartelli, Danny Bowes, Roger Nasser, V. Orion Delwaterman, and Robert Pinnock, as well as fellow No Applause, Don’t Throw Money castmate Art Wallace. Having no prior knowledge of this current endeavor, I couldn’t tell you what Granduncle creators Jeff and Hope have in store for audiences. However, considering their previous track record, it ought to be nice and fucked up (in the good way, of course).
  • This weekend also marks the beginning of principal photography on writer-director Danny Bowes’ short film, Byron Invented Boredom, in which I am playing the lead role – a womanizing bachelor who has to think about finally growing up when his illegitimate son shows up on his doorstep unannounced. (Am I really old enough to play a 21-year-old’s father? The song in my heart tells one story, the gray in my hair tells another.) Danny has assembled a great group for this shoot – including Samantha Mason (who played Lady M in writer-director Frank Cwiklik’s most recent incarnation of Bitch Macbeth), Brick Theater veteran Stacia French, fellow No Applause castmate Pete McNamara, and the ubiqutous Robert Pinnock – so this ought to be a lot of fun. Now I just have to learn my lines…
  • And, finally, autumn wouldn’t be complete without helping Grand Poobah Martin Denton prep the next annual installment of his famed Plays and Playwrights series. The upcoming edition features new plays by such New York and indie theater luminaries as Chris Harcum, Lenora Champagne, Eric Bland, Michael Laurence, Andrew Irons, and Randy Sharp. The book should be out in February 2009, so you definitely shouldn’t miss it. I’ll let you know more as we get closer to the publication date.

At this point, who knows what else autumn will bring (besides a lot of shows I have to go see)? Stay tuned to find out…