Monday, December 22, 2008

Behold!

The new, retooled, redesigned, NYC Performing Arts Spaces website, powered by Fractured Atlas.

This was a big project at my job in the last few months and now it's live. We're all pleased as Christmas punch. Check it out! Multi-disciplinary searches, a nifty new Jumpstart menu - hell, we've even got a filter for spaces that explicitly allow flamenco dancing! (You'd be surprised by the calls I get. I'm just saying.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Werner Herzog Narrates the Documentary of My Life

An excerpt from a new one-act.

***************************************

(A bedroom. A bathroom sink. A bed. A stack of DVDs and a cup of coffee near the bed, and a toilet case near the sink. A broom stands in the corner. There is a pair of pants on the floor. A MAN stands in a tattered, yellowed t-shirt in front of a bathroom mirror. He coughs, spits, and begins to put toothpaste on a brush. Suddenly, a heavily-accented German VOICE speaks from above.)

VOICE
Now he will brush his teeth.

(The MAN looks up, startled. He listens. There is no sound. He starts to brush his teeth again.)

As he does every day.

(The MAN drops the toothbrush. He looks around. Doesn’t see anything. He slowly picks up the toothbrush again, starts to put toothpaste on it.)

He will brush his teeth approximately 36,000 times in his life. Before his death.

MAN
HEY!

(He drops the toothbrush again. Silence. He looks around. He is now visibly agitated.)

VOICE
He is now visibly agitated, responding to some stimulus.

(The MAN is now looking around the room, trying to find the source of the voice.)

He will spend approximately three years of his life brushing his teeth, seventeen months searching for his sewing kit when he loses a button, approximately four and a half years waiting for service in the corner diner…

(MAN looks under the bed.)

MAN
Why am I hearing things? I’m hearing things!

VOICE
This is the same routine he goes through every day – he coughs, he spits, he brushes his teeth, many mornings he will attempt to masturbate before –

MAN
Shut up!

VOICE
- leaving for work, but will often abandon the half-hearted attempt due to lack of interest.

(He tears off all the covers on the bed.)

Every day, the plodding march of insignificant details – a life without worth or purpose -

(The MAN seeks under the bed.)

- an accumulation of mundane and banal routines – until the final toppling into the grave.

MAN
SHUT UP!

VOICE
The banality is terrifying. Let’s observe.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Erwin Schrott is One Sexy Beast


Matt P. had told me about the guy who was singing "Don Giovanni" at the Met - Erwin Schrott, from Uruguay. He sang it beautifully last Tues night and he is one sexy beast on stage, even from the cheap seats. Ildebrando d'Arcangelo as Leporello was marvelous as well. For some reason, the psychology in this production seemed more complex to me than the one I saw at City Opera a few years ago. Characters seemed a bit more fleshed out here, not so easily pegged.

Schrott looks like the cover of a cheap romance novel, all long hair and white shirts and this exquisitely tailored black coat that flows behind him. He showed off his chest in the first scene where he practically went back to Dona Ana for sloppy seconds on the staircase. In a later scene, where they exchange clothes, Leporello had an inspired bit – as soon as he finds out he is to impersonate Giovanni, he drops to the floor and starts doing push ups.

He also ‘impersonated’ Schrott – sang his phrases like him. Which threw into relief how distinctive Schrott is in the part – he can do the hushed pianissimo thing and you don’t have to strain to hear. The song to Dona Elvira’s maid is so hushed and lovely and seductive, I can’t imagine anyone’s clothes not flying off of their own volition.

One thing I love about Giovanni - that thing starts wham bam and keeps going. Not a lot of exposition – 'oh my God I’m so tired sitting in the garden waiting for my master, 'I've got to go,' 'no if you leave me I’ll kill you,' Dad runs in 'what’s that noise' and then he's pushing daisies. It’s a breakneck opening and Mozart and da Ponte really sustain it. It’s not until the opening of the second act that the plot starts to meander for me – and by that point, really, I could care less. The plot is a loose weave, but who goes to an opera for dramaturgical structure?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Road to Perdition

So-so. Sam Mendes is a good storyteller – the picture is beautifully framed, shot, realized. A little too beautiful. Mendes falls in love a bit with his own images – every shot is a little too artful, a little too studied and scored. As a result, all the humanity leaches out of the film.

It’s a gangster tale set in the Depression, with Tom Hanks as a hitman beyond redemption trying to save his kid after the child accidentally witnesses a killing. Hanks is a fine actor, but his instincts are light, comedic –they’re about connecting with others. The result is a good actor who has to smother all his natural impulses to play someone dead inside.

All the humanity in that movie comes from Paul Newman in his last role, as an elderly crimelord sick to death of the killing. Newman only has a few scenes, but he dominates. He is the only one who injects some sense of real human feeling, while the pretty pictures plod along.

The ending is an eye-roller. They try to tack two or three shockers onto it, and it just becomes a little silly. I started mouthing the lines before they came. Jude Law is fine as a creepy, murderer/photographer with bad teeth but the character is too one-dimensional to make much impression.

If you’re watching Paul Newman –in his final screen role – get killed, and all you can think is ‘wow, beautiful shot’ –there’s a problem.

CALL ME ANNE at Blue Coyote & Access Theater

Phillip Taratula got a great review from the NY Times for his one-man show, CALL ME ANNE at the Access Theater.

It's Jubilee Time

My review of Liza's at the Palace! on nytheatre.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goodbye Indeed

Got this from Wayne. It's a bit long, but as we all approach Thanksgiving, and count our blessings, here's one I'm very thankful for - the end of the Bush presidency.

**************************************************************

Goodbye and Good Riddance

Tuesday 11 November 2008

by Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

After eight years of President Bush, we almost don't know how to
function without him - almost. But before we move on, we should pause to
remember just what we're leaving behind.

Just over two years into George W. Bush's presidency, The American
Prospect featured Bush on its cover under the headline, "The Most
Dangerous President Ever." At the time, some probably thought it a bit
over the top. But nearly six years later, it's worth taking a moment to
reflect on the multifaceted burden that will soon be lifted from our
collective shoulders.

Since last week, I have stopped short and shaken my head in amazement
every time I have heard the words "President-elect Obama." But it is
equally extraordinary to consider that in just a few weeks, George W.
Bush will no longer be our president. Let me repeat that: In just a few
weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. So though our
long national ordeal isn't quite over, it's never too early to say
goodbye.

Goodbye, we can say at last, to the most powerful man in the world being
such a ridiculous buffoon, incapable of stringing together two coherent
sentences. Goodbye to cringing with dread every time our president steps
onto the world stage, sure he'll say or do something to embarrass us
all. Goodbye to being represented by a man who embodies everything our
enemies want the people of the world to believe about America - that we
are ignorant, cruel, and only care about foreign countries when we
decide to stomp on them. Goodbye to his giggle, and his shoulder shake,
and his nicknames. Goodbye to a president who talks to us like we're a
nation of fourth-graders.

And goodbye, of course, to Dick Cheney. Goodbye to the man whose naked
contempt for democracy contorted his face to a permanent sneer, who
spent his days in his undisclosed location with his man-sized safe. And
while we're at it, goodbye to Cheney's consigliore David Addington, as
malevolent a force as has ever left his trail of slime across our
federal institutions.

Goodbye, indeed, to the entire band of liars and crooks and thieves who
have so sullied the federal government that belongs to us all. We can
even say goodbye to those who have already gone, to Rummy and Scooter,
to Fredo and Rove, tornados of misery left in their wake.

Goodbye to the rotating cast of butchers manning the White House's legal
abattoir, where the Constitution has been sliced and bled and gutted
since September 11. Goodbye to the "unitary executive" theory and its
claims that the president can do whatever he wants - even snatch an
American citizen off the street and lock him up for life without charge,
without legal representation, and without trial. Goodbye to the
promiscuous use of "signing statements" (1,100 at last count) to declare
that the law is whatever the president says it is, and that he'll
enforce only those laws he likes. Goodbye to an executive branch that
treats lawfully issued subpoenas like suggestions that can be ignored.
Goodbye to thinking of John Ashcroft as the liberal attorney general.
Goodbye to the culture of incompetence, where rebuilding a country we
destroyed could be turned over to a bunch of clueless 20-somethings with
no qualifications save an internship at the Heritage Foundation and an
opposition to abortion. Goodbye to the "Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva
job" philosophy, where vital agencies are turned over to incompetent
boobs to rot and decay. Goodbye to handing out the Medal of Freedom as
an award for engineering one of the greatest screw-ups of our time.
Goodbye to an administration that welcomed gluttonous war profiteering,
that was only too happy to outsource every government function it could
to well-connected contractors who would do a worse job for more money.

Goodbye to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Goodbye to the lust for
sending off other people's sons and daughters to fight and kill and die
just to show your daddy you're a real man. Goodbye to playing dress-up
in flight suits, goodbye to strutting and posing and desperate sexual
insecurity as a driver of American foreign policy. Goodbye to the
neocons, so sinister and deluded they beg us all to become fevered
conspiracy theorists. Goodbye to Guantanamo and its kangaroo courts.
Goodbye to the use of torture as official U.S. government policy, and
goodbye to the immoral ghouls who think you can rename it "enhanced
interrogation techniques" and render it any less monstrous.

Goodbye to the accusation that if you disagree with what the president
wants to do, you don't "support the troops."

Goodbye to stocking government agencies with people who are opposed to
the very missions those agencies are charged with carrying out. Goodbye
to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the agencies that are
supposed to regulate those very industries. Goodbye to madly giving away
public lands to private interests. Goodbye to a Food and Drug
Administration that acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the
pharmaceutical industry, except when it acts like a wholly owned
subsidiary of the fundamentalist puritans who believe that sex is dirty
and birth control will turn girls into sluts. Goodbye to the "global gag
rule," which prohibits any entity receiving American funds from even
telling women where they can get an abortion if they need it.

Goodbye to vetoing health insurance for poor children but rushing back
to Washington to sign a bill to keep alive a woman whose cerebral cortex
had liquefied. Goodbye to the ban on federal funding of embryonic
stem-cell research.

Goodbye to the philosophy that says that if we give tax cuts to the rich
and keep the government from any oversight of the economy, prosperity
will eventually trickle down. Goodbye to the thirst for privatizing
Social Security and to the belief that the success of a social
safety-net program is what makes it a threat and should mark it for
destruction. Goodbye to the war on unions and to a National Labor
Relations Board devoted to crushing them. Goodbye to the principle of
loyalty above all else, that nominates Harriet Miers to the Supreme
Court and puts Alberto Gonzales in charge of the Justice Department. And
goodbye to that Justice Department, the one where U.S. attorneys keep
their jobs only if they are willing to undertake bogus investigations of
Democrats timed to hit the papers just before Election Day. Goodbye to a
Justice Department where graduates of Pat Robertson's law school roam
the halls by the dozens, where "justice" is a joke.

Goodbye to James Dobson and a host of radical clerics picking up the
phone and hearing someone in the White House on the other end. Goodbye
to the most consequential decisions being made on the basis of one man's
"gut," a gut that proved so wrong so often. Goodbye to the contempt for
evidence, to the scorn for intellect and book learnin', to the
relentless war on science itself as a means of understanding the world.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to it all.

Though President Obama will be spending most of his time cleaning up the
mess George Bush made, we probably won't have Dubya to kick around
anymore. It's hard to imagine Bush undertaking some grand philanthropic
effort on the scale of the Clinton Global Initiative, or hopping around
to international trouble spots like Jimmy Carter. Republicans won't be
asking him to speak on their behalf, and publishers are reportedly
uninterested in the prospect of a Bush memoir. His reign of destruction
complete, Bush will return to Texas and fill his days with the mundane
activities of a retiree - puttering around the yard, reading some
magazines, maybe enjoying that new Xbox Jenna gave him for Christmas
("I'm the Decider, and I decide to spend this afternoon playing Call of
Duty 4").

This presidency is finally over. We can say goodbye to an administration
whose misdeeds have piled so high that the size of the mountain no
longer shocks us. In our lifetimes, we will see administrations of
varying degrees of competence and integrity, some we'll agree with and
some we won't. But we will probably never see another quite like the one
now finally reaching its end, so mind-boggling a parade of incompetence
and malice, dishonesty, and immorality. So at last - at long, long last
- we can say goodbye.

And good riddance.

--------

Phillip Taratula in CALL ME ANNE at Blue Coyote



Saw a reading of this months ago and it is fantastic. Phillip - who was in "George Place" at WHAT this fall, is a staggeringly talented guy. (And a doll to boot.) Go see it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Local Nonprofit Theatre, Just in Time for the Holidays!

Dear Nonprofit Theatre,

After you reject my play, I'd appreciate it if you didn't add my address to your mailing list of potential donors.

Best of luck with your fundraising campaign,

David Johnston

Yet Another Cogent Argument for Gay Marriage

From a friend's email. He's in the midst of a separation from him wife.

"...as for gay marriage, I'm all for it. I see no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to suffer like the rest of us."

I Close the Iron Door on You


Went with Wayne to “White Christmas” last night. It was delightful, well-performed, well-executed - so of course it got a very snarky, dismissive review this morning from Charles Isherwood. Jeff Denman played the Danny Kaye part, and it was great to see him. (I had done stock with him in Buffalo about seven thousand years ago.) Jeff's a great guy - talented, terrific hoofer, and a real facility with this era's music.

Friday night, we watched “Dragonwyk” with Vincent Price and Gene Tierney – also, “Wall-E,” which is brilliant. Saturday I met Dave down at Film Forum, and we saw the Lombard double feature – “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” with John Barrymore. Dave had never seen Lombard before. “Twentieth Century” I had not seen in forever, and it made me laugh till I wept.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It is a scandal and a disgrace to our play-going public, that the refuse and trash of the London theatres, minor as well as major, attract ...crowds, while the highest efforts of our own countrymen are neglected." - George Pope Morris, writing in The New York Mirror, 1823, quoted in Francis Hodge's "Yankee Theatre"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"American Briefs" Reviews

It's closing this weekend, so hey - if you're in London, go see it. Here's a batch of fresh press.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"What Have You Done to Its EYES!"


Saw "Back Back Back" at MTC on Friday night. Had never seen Itamar Moses' plays before - he writes good dialogue. This is one about doping in baseball, seen through the eyes of three fictional players. The actors - all young guys I've never seen before - are excellent.

Saturday afternoon was "Rosemary's Baby" at Film Forum with Dave. God, this is still a great movie no matter how many times I see it. Just a successsion of creepy, seemingly unrelated details - the suicide of the nice girl from the laundry room, the note left by the previous tenant on the desk, that says "I can no longer associate my self," the rival actor who wakes up blind one morning, the chocolate mousse with an undertaste. Ruth Gordon is as good as it gets on film in this one - the whole supporting cast of over-the-top theatrical neighbors - Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Patsy Kelley - set off Mia Farrow's simple innocent lamb to the slaughter. Years after seeing this film for the first time, the Dakota still gives me the heebie jeebies.

Sat PM was "The Seagull." An excellent production. Simple, to the point, no onerous directing concepts inflicted on unsuspecting masses. Just a top drawer translation (Christopher Hampton) and a fine cast. That's all you need. Kristin Scott Thomas is the star - and she's aces - but everyone delivers in this cast. Some friends have problems with Peter Saarsgaard but I liked his low-key Trigorin. I knew I was in it when I was thinking as Constantin goes for the gun, 'don't do it, think about it, this is not a good idea.'

The rest of the time? Reading Sheridan Morley's "A Talent to Amuse," the Noel Coward bio. Perfect for the train. And I've been listening to a lot of Offenbach - don't ask me why. I have no idea. Maybe the weather is just so dang gloomy, I want to hear happy people singing about sex and marrying well when I get home. Right now, it's the Natalie Dessay "Orphee aux Enfers" - goofy and endearing - and "La Belle Helene" with a bunch of French people I've never heard, but they sound like they're having a great time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Children, my very dear children, if I were a magician the gift I would bestow on you would be Lightness of Touch. But being just an ordinary man, I can only whisper to you a little advice; enjoy yourselves as much as possible, it will pass the time pleasantly and lead you into old age with a few gay memories to cheer you - and don't ask more than that." Noel Coward, "The Marquise"

Coney Island History Project

My new favorite site to browse.

Flu Shots

So my dad bugged me about it, so I went and got a free flu shot last week at Actors Equity. I was also in line next to Dylan Baker, and all I could think was, "You were in Spider Man! You can't afford your own flu shot?" But he was so good in "Happiness," I let it slide. Anyway, for those who need them, here's the info on the free shots through the Actors Fund and MusiCares, a great organization that helps musicians, run by a terrific lady named DeeDee Acquisto.

********************************

MusiCares, in conjunction with The Actor’s Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, North General Hospital, and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention will be sponsoring a Health Fair for musicians, music industry professionals and all entertainment industry professionals. Free services available at the health fair include:

• Flu shots
• Glucose testing
• Blood pressure screening
• Cholesterol testing
• Hepatitis C screening
• Alexander technique consultations
• Chiropractic consultations
• Health Insurance Information

The fair will take place on Thursday, November 20th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Aurora, 475 West 57th Street, 2nd Floor Community Room, New York, NY 10019. No appointment is necessary.

Friday, November 7, 2008

End of the Week





President Obama has a nice ring to it. Here's a great piece my friend Jonna sent along to me, from the Huffington Post before the election.

Wed night my fabulous boss sent me to the Met to see Doctor Atomic. She said, "I think it's important and you need to see it." It's a stunning piece, and I have not usually been a fan of John Adams in the past. The act one closer, set to John Donne's "Batter my heart, three-person'd god" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard in a long time. (Plus, I sat right behind Marian Seldes.)

Last night, I watched Charlotte Rampling in "Under the Sand." It's a compelling movie by Francois Ozon, whose "Water Drops on Burning Rocks" I loved. "Under the Sand" is a movie for grown-ups, a study of grief and denial. Oddly for such a depressing subject, it's an exhilarating flick.

Also watched a nice DVD of Murnau's "The Last Laugh" with Emil Jannings. I wished I was watching it on a big screen, but Murnau was one of the greats. I'm nuts about "Sunrise" and "Nosferatu." This one - about a doorman who loses his job and spirals down to death in the course of a day - is incredibly touching. And weird. You've never seen neighbors turn so fast on anyone.

Tonight- Cecil Taylor at the Village Vanguard. I'm really excited about that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

AEA Showcase Code

This is from my friend & colleague, Michael Bell, regarding the Actors Equity Showcase code in New York City.

"Wanted to let you and your readers know that Equity is re-evaluating the Showcase Code, and I'm on the sub-committee. This may be a chance to bring about some changes in the Code that will make it easier to do Off-Off-Broadway theater. So if any of your readers are actors (Equity or not) who work regularly under the Showcase Code and would like their voice heard, here's one way: Drop me an email at showcase@michaelbell.net. What about the Code works for you? What doesn't? How could it serve the needs of Off-Off-Broadway actors better?"

Follow this link for more info.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

London Reviews for "American Briefs"

Just got these.

American Briefs : Whatsonstage - Off-West End

The Stage / Reviews / American Briefs

So far, so good.

First Look "Last Things"

Below is an excerpt from the first draft of the new play, written as a commission for Next Theatre in Chicago.

***************************

(Blackout. The thunder rumbles, then there is a sound of electronic static, a TV set with snow. A darkened stage. A handsome older man stands before us. He is confident and energetic. There is much in his appearance to make people trust him. He is addressing an audience. This is DR. BILLY BOWLES. Like all of the characters, DR. BILLY has a gentle, courtly Southern accent. Not a hillbilly drawl.)

DR. BILLY
God has balls in the air. God has papers in His inbox. God has a lot of people interrupting His workday with their concerns and needing to set up lunch. God needs help to carry out His plan. That is what we are going to do. We are going to be God’s temps. We are going to go in and file and copy and make back-up disks and check the mailing lists and load paper into the copy machine and get God’s computer running right. We are not going to take lunch and if God asks us to go off the clock because we’ve hit forty hours that week and God does not want to pay overtime, then that is what we are gonna do. We have to. We’re temps. God hasn’t offered us a full-time position yet. We are going to do the best job for God that anyone has ever done. After He sees the job we do for Him, God is gonna turn to all of His angels and say, hey you angels look at this, look at these new temps! You never fixed my coffee the way I like it, Gabriel. You always forget to take out the mail at the end of the day, Michael. Look at these guys! Look at how they work for Me! And at the end of our probationary period, God is gonna call us into his corner office, God is gonna smile and say, we are prepared to offer you a full time position and let me tell you something people God’s benefits package cannot be beat you want full medical coverage you want dental you want a 401K with a 4% company match you want personal days and sick days and profit sharing and accumulated vacation days I tell you God’s got it all! And we are gonna shake God’s hand and then we are gonna call the temp agency, and say take us off the earthly temp roster! We just took a full-time position with God. Don’t bother sending anyone else! And I tell you, brothers and sisters. There will still be those at the temp agency. Still without a full time position. Still without benefits. And there’s no room for them in God’s organization. No sense crying over them. That’s how it works in a free market economy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Opening Night at Above the Stag

"Letters" opens tonight in London, as part of "American Briefs" at Above the Stag, Peter Bull's new theater space near Victoria Station. Interesting piece in the UK Guardian today - mentioning Peter's upcoming production of "Busted Jesus Comix" in 09 - on whether London needs a new gay theatre, since gay plays seem increasingly mainstream.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last Things

Wrote the most beautiful word on Saturday - "Curtain." Will take a few more days to dither over editing, then send it off to Next.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Culture Vulture

Have had quite the week of culcha. Steve Reich Wed night at BAM - review below - last night, "Mouth to Mouth" at the New Group with some superb acting across the board, particularly Lisa Emery and David Cale. Last Sunday was "Nowadays" at the Metropolitan Playhouse with Frank Anderson, Lisa Riegel and Matt Trumbull. An excellent production of a completely unknown turn of the century work, directed by Alex Roe. It closes this weekend, so go see it. And tonight, I'm off to Carnegie Hall to see Kevin Newbury's staging of the Bernstein Mass.

Then over the weekend, I'll lay on the couch, drink red wine and watch more Dietrich movies. I gotta stay in sometime.

Steve Reich at BAM

Saw this on Wednesday night at BAM, part of the Next Wave Festival. My review is up on NYTheatre.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Busted Jesus Comix" in London

Plans are underway for an 09 production of "Busted Jesus Comix" in London. No dates yet, but information is here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Letters" in London



Got this picture from my London producer, Peter Bull, for his evening at Above the Stag Theatre, entitled "American Briefs." These are rehearsal pictures for "Letters," Leon Ancliffe (on the left) and Richard Gee (right.)

Have no idea why Peter has hired such homely kids to act in my play - what the hell was he thinking?

If you're in London - and hey, even if you're not! - tickets and information are here.

UPDATE: Here's a nice mention of the project in Martin Denton's Plays & Playwrights blog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This Morning

I finished the first act of the new play. Parts are not heinous.

Friday, October 3, 2008

HOAST


If you have a chance this weekend, go check out Art Harlem's annual Open Artist Studio Tour. I've done it a few years running and it's a lot of fun. My friend Gina Fuentes Walker puts this event together every year. Go to their site and download their map - then plot out where you want to go and whose art to see. Plus, there's lots of places to stop for snacks, coffee or cocktails. Go see all the artist studios and funky places before Columbia eats them.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

London

Exciting news. A one-act of mine, "Letters," will be opening in London on Oct 28, and running on a bill along with Jim Dalglish (Managing Director of WHAT) and Jack Heifner (Vanities.) This is my first production in the UK, so I'm pretty psyched. Information is here.

UPDATE: Here's a write up on the evening in Broadway World.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Salome, Material Girl


I really enjoyed this at the Met last night. An utterly batshit opera filled with dreadful people doing perverse things. Karita Mattila is quite good, in a role which would seem to be impossibly hard. But the Dance of the Seven Veils looked like Madonna's "Material Girl" video from the early eighties. And that kinda took me out of the experience. And I know that they're supposed to be the Angel of Death...but what's with all the creepy looking ducks upstage left?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cape Cod Times


A nice article in the Cape Cod Times for "The George Place."

Above, George C. Hosmer and Barbara Tarbuck, picture by Jim Dalglish.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Food Play

OK, so I wrote a play where people consume onstage - macaroni and cheese, green beans, spinach salad, ham biscuits, iced tea and water. There's dessert in the script but we don't get to it. So, today we used food - and of course last night I was thinking why did I write a play where people eat so much onstage? This is fraught with disaster. Fortunately, my cast doesn't have any weird dietary restrictions. No one started choking, though Florence did have a great big mouthful of ham biscuit and then had a devil of a time getting the whole line out. And you know what? Food today was really good. The cast loved it. Then we had to break for lunch but no one was really hungry. Well, I was. I was just sitting there watching people eat.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More from the Cape

I go to rehearsal, then come home, have a drink and end up going to bed exhausted around 10 PM. I sleep eight to nine hours, get up, write, do some work, and go to rehearsal. Went to a clinic yesterday and I have gotten a touch of bronchitis since I've been here - a big part of why I've been feeling just generally lousy.

The actors have to work all day at rehearsal. Gary has to work. I sit there and chew pencils, yet I feel like I want to be at rehearsal, watch the work that’s going on, see if there’s any chance of improving on the script before it really gets too close to opening. All I’ve done now really is a handful of line changes, maybe a page of cuts overall, a few word changes here and there, and constant conversations with Gary on the ongoing shape.

I’m just never happy. If a lot of rewrites were required, I’d be unhappy. If few are required, I’m nervous. If it’s going well, I’m wary. Rehearsing a new show if you’re the writer is just a misery – there’s no way around it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Later, at the Ranch...

Gary has been released from the hospital at Hyannis and is back resting comfortably. They feel like all should be well now, and it explains why he was feeling crappy all last week. Tomorrow is our day off, and he says he feels fine to be back in rehearsal on Tuesday. Whew.

I Want My Plays to Be Dramatic, Not My Life

Got a call this morning - my beloved director, Gary, who was feeling under the weather all last week, woke up in the middle of the night and was taken to the hospital in Hyannis. Turns out he's got kidney stones. So I'm taking the reins for rehearsal in the meantime. My cast is fabulous - we ran the first act today on the stage, break for lunch, then we'll start on Act 2. G. was feeling the morphine this morning, so we really didn't get into deep discussions of what needed to happen at rehearsal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back in Wellfleet

Been back in Wellfleet for a few days, in rehearsal and fighting a head cold. We ran the first act today. The weather here is August beautiful, and the traffic is maddening. Everyone tells me it changes radically after Sept 1. I'm staying at Jim and Rob's fabulous place in Eastham.

So what do I do in rehearsal while Gary puts them through their paces? A few things from my legal pads, and hard copy revision notes.

'What does Brian leave the stage to go do? Add to fix list.' 'Bear = tacky, but pool table = blasphemy.' 'He doesn't need to look at her when he comes in, he knows where she is and what she's saying.' 'Her memories are right there. No need to reach - they're on the bottom shelf.' 'I'm sorry here does not mean I'm sorry.' 'Chewing tobacco, Slurpee cup - connect the thoughts.' 'Remember - Mexico is full of Mexicans.' 'I'm not in love with this transition.' 'Remember - 'in-laws' is the trump card.'

The rest of the time - I'm taking Nyquil. Stephen sent me some great lyrics for "Effie Jean" - one where he rhymed 'vacation' with 'free trade negotiation.' It filled me with delight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cast for The George Place


They haven't finished updating the WHAT site yet, but everything is in place for rehearsals. I'm very excited about the cast we got for this play; Barbara Tarbuck, George Hosmer, Frederick Walters, Florence Phillips and Philip Taratula. Performances begin on Sept 11 in Wellfleet, MA on WHAT's Julie Harris stage. This one is brand new. Ticket info is here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Devil in the White City


Here's one I can't put down. (Thank you for the birthday present, Matthew!) A nonfiction page turner about the Chicago World's Fair, its architect, and a serial killer before the term was invented. What's astonishing about this one is you can't believe you've never heard this story before. I am eating it up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Called You So Many Times Today, and I Guess It's All True What Your Girflfriends Say...


Plus the B-52s.

Today I have a ringing in my ears and a dull headache and it was all totally worth it.

I have not smelled that much weed in one room since 1983.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NYC Performing Arts Spaces in Time Out/NY

A fine article by Raven Snook on the downtown space crunch.

Do You Ever Wonder...

Bush is an oilman. Cheney is an oilman. Bush’s father was an oilman. Condoleeza Rice – the worst Secretary of State ever – has an oil tanker named after her.

Now in the (blessed) last days in office for this moron, the most pressing issue on the table is drilling for oil in Alaska, a move which will undeniably enrich oil companies.

Even though the government's own energy people concede that drilling in Alaska - like if they started today - would have no efffect on production for at least twenty years, and would never significantly impact price.

Conservation efforts and research into alternate renewable energy sources will not enrich oil companies. Reducing carbon emissions will not enrich oil companies. And by a fascinating coincidence, these options are not discussed much by this administration.

Like Bill Maher said, if Colonel Sanders was President and the price of chicken went up ten times, you’d start to wonder.

Patti Smith's Dream of Life


Last night- Patti Smith doc at Film Forum with Kirsten. The doc is good, but probably only for hard core Patti fans. Very forward looking, very much what she’s doing now. No archival footage of CB’s, no seventies footage of “Radio Ethiopia.” Nothing like that.

There is a gorgeous scene of her and Sam Shepherd fooling around on guitars for the camera. It’s touching and lovely – there is still this spark of passion between the two of them from forty years ago, and now the two of them are towering figures in their own fields. They are so lovely, so unassuming. He refers to a small tattoo near his thumb, and the only comment from both is – “Yeah. That was a really crazy night at the Chelsea.”

The film is shot beautifully – the guy who made it is a fashion photographer, and spent ten years filming it in between gigs. What’s interesting about her is how she has aged. She was never a model but there was always something beautiful and otherworldly about her. Now she’s a woman close to 60 and she makes no attempt to disguise that. And yet when her face breaks into a smile at times, you see everything – the young girl and the older woman at the same time. I don’t know that any rock star – certainly any female rock star - has allowed themselves to age right in front of their audience, and somehow turned it to advantage.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Superman Returns" = Yawn

Watched “Superman Returns” last night and thought it was pretty dull. I like Bryan Singer a lot, but this one he doesn’t get. Superman has an illegitimate child? What? Superman is basically a sunny optimistic myth. He’s the opposite of Batman – he gets his powers from the sun. Singer tries to do something new by having this whole set up that Superman has disappeared for five years looking for the remains of Krypton. He adds in archival footage of Marlon Brandon, brings out Eva Marie Saint for a few scenes, and she’s gorgeous. But the story isn’t that interesting, Lex Luthor has never been as colorful a villain as say the Joker, Kevin Spacey is OK, and Parker Posey couldn’t be more annoying if she tried. Honestly. She makes me long for Valerie Perrine.

Brandon Routh is beautiful and kind of dull. Plus – if he and Lois had sex before – why don’t they do it again? Once that barrier has been broken, why aren’t they just shagging all the time? Or does he only need sex once every five years? Superman as camel. I found myself wishing they had placed it in the thirties, the time of the Depression and the first appearance of the character. That would have been fun and interesting. The whole visual look of the film is generic and vague. Placing him the world of computers and cell phones seems to work against the innocent, fun, otherworldly feel of the comics.

Monday, August 4, 2008

NYC Theatre Spaces on Facebook

Check out the NYC Theatre Spaces page on Facebook, with links to Lower Manhattan theatre spaces like the Access. (Where I spent Friday evening repainting risers.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taylor Mac at HERE, Continued


Last night, I headed down to HERE for Taylor Mac's “Young Ladies of.” I’d seen “Be(a)st of Taylor Mac” before I went to the beach. Gary had told me “See ‘Be(a)st first, it’s a good introduction to him.”

I’d seen “The Hot Month” several years ago, and must admit, I didn’t really get it. But Gary and Stephen were the ones who always told me, you have to see his solo performances.

Well, I loved 'Be(a)st.' And “Young Ladies” is a great follow up. It’s Taylor’s meditation on a father he never knew, a young soldier from Texas who died in a motorcycle accident when he was four. The father was a rough, macho Texas type, and “Young Ladies” is Taylor’s (one-sided) conversation with him, after discovering a cache of letters. Robert Mac placed a personal ad for young ladies (from 19-26) to correspond with him while he was in Vietnam, and hopefully meet up for some R&R. it’s a touching concept – a son thirty years after the fact trying to learn something – anything – about the man who was his father, and the violent, male-centered culture he came from.

Watching plays like this is always tricky for me. My own parents were (and still are) stable, loving presences in my life. My father was anything but withholding, alien and distant. Every family has its own quirks and weirdness – the most normal can look dysfunctional if examined closely enough – but my story is, I was raised by people who showered me with love, even if we didn’t (and don’t) always understand or agree with each other. That love was a given in my life, no matter what differences arose.

Taylor is an exuberant, unique performer and “Young Ladies” has the high polish of working and re-working. The stage is filled with letters as he tries to enter the minds of the lonely desperate Australian women who wrote these plaintive letters to a man they would never meet. This being downtown and proudly drag, Taylor pulls in uke music, politics, family pictures, memories, "Carousel" and – a constantly repeated word in the show – ‘assumption- - to figure out who this man was, and conversely who Taylor is – a young gifted artist who feels himself perpetually on the outside of family, society and country.

Ultimately – for me – the show was not so much about the inner workings of a dysfunctional culture and family. There’s too much unknown in between the two men to even nail that down. But it is about self, and – cheesy as it sounds – self-discovery. What I found particularly moving about the piece is how for me it also becomes about those knotty things in our life – relationships, people, family – that never can be known and never bring us peace, only a constant, restless search. At one point near the end, Taylor leads the audience in a whispered chorus of a line from “Carousel” – ‘what’s the use of wondering?’ (Besides the writing, Taylor is brilliant at simply leading the audience where he wants them to go. No hectoring, no shaming, no stand up comedian tricks, just a gentle tug that puts us where he wants us, and tells us its OK to feel uncomfortable in the theatre.)

So I came home, went to my bookshelf and promptly pulled out my copy of “Red Tide Blooming” in one of Martin Denton’s anthologies. Put on my jammies, stretched out, and read it. I wish I’d seen it. It’s Taylor’s Ludlam-esque carnival of freaks, politics and Coney Island memories. Even on the page – where it reads as more of a series of stage directions and bits with puppets and boobs – it’s exciting to envision. I’m a freak for Ludlam, and “Red Tide Blooming” feels to me like “Big Hotel” or “Salammbo,” amazing theatrical drag pageants that I never got to see. I don’t know but I would bet Taylor’s learned from him – and a lot of other great gay/drag and performance artists – but “Red Tide” is also completely his own in its emphasis on community, otherness, corporate greed, and the perils of a conformity that stamps out all that’s beautiful, exotic or just fucking weird. (Plus, it’s damn funny, like in Lynne Cheney’s line: “We’ve never met but I know all about you from when I used to censor history.” I nearly spilled my cocktail.) “Red Tide” – like both pieces playing now in rep at HERE – is one hundred percent his own undiluted voice and vision.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Busted Jesus Comix in DC

Excellent production in DC well directed by Ryan Taylor. Here are some reviews from DC.

UPDATE: This is an interview I found with Ryan for the Fringe.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yes Yes Yes at Rude Guerrilla

And Yes Yes Yes, which was commissioned by Rude Guerrilla and premiered by Blue Coyote, has its So Cal premiere Friday July 25 in Santa Ana. Part of Rude Guerrilla's Seven Deadly Sins.

Busted Jesus Comix at Cap Fringe


A reminder - Busted Jesus Comix, produced by the Washington Rogues, and directed by Ryan Taylor - opens this Friday at the Cap Fringe in Washington, DC. Times and tickets are here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Republicans Are Beyond Satire



Larry Craig, who got busted in the airport men's room for lewd conduct, and David Vitter, who hires prostitutes to diaper him, are co-sponsoring the Marriage Protection Amendment. This ways, gays can never marry and we'll all be protected from - wait- what?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Edward Albee: Stretching My Mind

My fabulous summer stock pal Dena Douglass brought me a SIGNED copy of Edward Albee's "Stretching My Mind" yesterday at brunch. She had seen Albee and Kathleen Turner at an event at Westport Country Playhouse a week ago and scored me a personalized copy. I love it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

I've been reading a terrific book, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," by Paul Elie. It's a book describing the lives of four writers in mid-century America, and where those lives intersected, particularly through faith, activism and literature. The four writers are real favorites of mine - Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day. The book is like encountering old friends you haven't spoken to in a long time - then you wonder why you were out of touch in the first place.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Busted Jesus Comix at Cap Fringe

The Cap Fringe site is up and running, and tickets are on sale. It runs five performances, July 18 through July 27 at the Flashpoint Mead Theatre Lab in DC. I haven't been directly involved in rehearsals, but I've been corresponding with the director, Ryan Taylor, and I'm very excited to see it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You Know What Sucks? A1Books

A1 Books sucks. I ordered a book from them in early May. They say they shipped it on May 14. I waited. Then I asked where my book was. They said shipping could take 7 to 14 business days. That passed. I asked where my book was. They said oh sorry sometimes shipping can take up to 21 business days. I waited. Then I asked for a refund because by this time it had been – oh – five weeks since I had ordered the book. They refunded half my money. They said it had been delivered at my post office, where it sat until it was returned as undeliverable. So they took half my money and gave me bupkus. These guys suck. Don’t buy anything from them. They will crush your research and reference dreams.

Now, I am not one of those people who would tell you to – oh- go to their site, set up an account and then email their help desk and say “You owe David Johnston nine dollars and forty eight cents.” I would not encourage you to go to Amazon and let them know their vendors are douchebags. I would not tell people to do that.

But rest assured, A1 Books, vengeance is mine. A river of hot blood by moonlight will not slake my thirst. Know that I have left curt feedback on Amazon, in response to your high-handed, smirking so-called ‘Help Desk.’ You snuff-dipping, handkerchief-waving, cake-munching aristocrats, determined to oppress the masses with your ‘restocking fees’ and your ‘Thank You Reward’ discounts. Madame La Guillotine waits. Vive la Revolution. Assholes.

In the future, I plan to use ‘A1 Books’ as a synonym for ‘sucking.’ Like “Hey man, doesn't global warming suck?” “Yeah, dude, but not as much as A1 Books.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today's Featured Performer


Laura Desmond, star of "Great Escape," "Most Wonderful Love," and Freeman's "White Swallow," where she plays a woman who gets off sexually by watching her husband weep. That's her in the picture choking a guy.

I Heart Werner Herzog


If you have ever wondered if penguins are really gay, or just occasionally disoriented, this is the movie for you. I particularly loved the Salvador Dali jellyfish.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Michael Stuhlbarg's Hamlet

Last Friday night, my friend Matt scored tickets for "Hamlet" in the Park. The production was marvelous – one of the best Hamlets I’ve ever seen, certainly on the short list with Bergman and the Wooster Group. Michael Stuhlbarg is kind of the un-Hamlet; small, quick, fey, comedic, unheroic in the swashbuckling sense. He has a keen, quick intelligence, and makes every bloody word and moment crystal clear. His Hamlet is a good man –sensitive and kind and insecure – in a horrifying predicament. Oskar Eustis stays away from anything smelling like his concept of Hamlet, and tells the story. It's three and a half hours and it sails right by.

Sam Waterston is a fabulous Polonius. The girl in front of me screamed when he got stabbed. The rest of the cast – Andre Braugher, David Harbour as Laertes – are excellent. Lauren Ambrose was Ophelia – good in the early scenes, not quite there in the mad scenes yet. In a terrific touch – and I kept wondering if Eustis had seen the Bergman – her ‘flowers’ in the mad scene are stones. At the end of the scene, she puts on a heavy overcoat, fills the pockets with stones, and exits upstage towards the lake.

Sam Waterston went up at one point, big time. But he’s an actor of such generosity and egolessness, the audience quickly forgave him and applauded his attempts at recovery. There was a long pause while he stared forward – a looong pause – and he said very quietly, “Where was I?” One of the supers around him fed him a line. He fumbled a bit more, running through where he’d been. Then back on track.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Plays & Playwrights Blog

Rochelle Denton over at NYTE posted a nice update for me. It's here. Her granddaughter Julie also has a play in the Cap Fringe. I'll post more info as it comes to me.

Don't forget Playwrights for Pets tonight at Baruch. All proceeds benefit Animal Haven. The evening includes "Yes Yes Yes" with Jimmy Ireland, and Beau Allulli who is graciously stepping in since Joe was unavailable. Gary Shrader reprises his direction from "Happy Endings" in February.

Friday, June 6, 2008

You Get Exhausted Every Night, You'll Wreck the Van!


Saw this last night, and it is good fun. The boys are cute, they work hard, the show clips along, and it does have genuinely enjoyable music and moments. Great to take your out of town friends to. Also good to take anyone whose tastes might be a little - conservative. It's like "Nunsense." Everyone can get the jokes and any satire is so gentle no one could get their panties in a bunch. For cheap seats, I'd go again.

It's a great last-minute impulse buy if you're at TKTS.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gold Dust at Cake Shop


Saw Kirsten's band at Cake Shop last night, Gold Dust. Loved it. She plays Moog. They're playing at Goodbye Blue Monday in August.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Vote For Our Tagline - "Where Actors Find Their Space"

OK, do me a favor. At NYC Performing Arts Spaces, we are up for the 2008 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Award. This is for our Theatre site which launched a year ago, NYC Theatre Spaces.

We are one of five (!) taglines in the Arts & Culture category. So - go to the link below and vote for us. Vote for "Where Actors Find Their Space." Go do it. Now. I don't ask much.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Ds_2bH0f2i2JHSyXIa8wulKw_3d_3d


If we win, we get a toaster. I'm kidding. I don't know what we win. A toaster would be nice, though.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lilly Lilly Lilly Legs Lilly


Went out with Dave on Friday night to see “Vivre sa vie” at Film Forum, a Godard film with Anna Karina. This is like Godard’s Sirk movie, the story of a girl who slides into prostitution, then falls in love with a beautiful young boy who reads Poe in French. Then a pimp shoots her and she dies. I loved it. It’s a beautiful strange little movie, full of weird Godard tics like shooting a whole scene from the back of the actors heads. Karina is beautiful. At one point she watches several minutes of Jeanne D’Arc with Falconetti and Artaud. Jeanne D’Arc is all about those obsessive close-ups of Falconetti, like Karina an extraordinary looking woman.

In honor of Harvey Korman, I bought a new DVD of Blazing Saddles. Came home and of course watched it for the millionth time. And I still laugh out loud at parts. Some I laugh at because I always laugh at them, sometime I laugh at something I’ve never thought was funny before, and sometimes I start laughing because I know that really funny thing that always makes me laugh is about to happen and I start laughing IN ANTICIPATION OF SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENING.

They have some extras on the DVD and they are OK. There’s something supposed to be ‘An Intimate Portrait of Madeline Kahn,’ which I thought would be a documentary or something. “Intimate Portrait,” right? It’s about three minutes of Mel reminiscing on Madeline’s audition for him. About three minutes. Really. Then it’s over.

I watched my new DVD of “Demons,” which was swell and very scary. Dario Argento produced it, and co-wrote it. Great set up. It’s Berlin, and these two girls get free tickets to a screening of a horror movie. They go, and it turns out to be a cheesy movie about teenagers discovering the tomb of Nostradamus. (There's the requisite spooky Nostradamus quote about cemeteries being their cathedrals and the cities our tombs! Or something.) And they start turning into demons. And then the plot of the movie starts happening in the audience. It’s mid-eighties, so everyone has hilarious clothing and hairstyles. The effects are really not bad for the time and it does have some genuinely scary stuff in it, before it turns into a nonstop bloodbath with eyeballs turning red and demons with eighties hairstyles tearing off the tops of people’s heads. And it’s got music by Rick Springfield!

Sunday went with Deb, Doug, Keith and John to see Catered Affair at the Walter Kerr. It’s modest stuff but well done, a Broadway musical about people with small dreams. Faith Prince is enormously touching in the lead. For a while listening to this show, I kept thinking these are not people who burst into song. But then she has the number after receiving the dead son’s medals and and effects. She sings to her husband how they are going to take the money and give the girl a wonderful wedding, a catered affair, they lavished all on the son, ignored the girl and now he’s dead. And she sings about how they have never given her anything and now they are going to give her a day of joy to look back on the rest of her life, some bit of joy her parents gave her when they had given her nothing else. And the number was exquisite, and I can’t imagine someone doing it better than Faith Prince. Tom Wopat is fine as a good man dealt a bad lot. Leslie Krietzer and Matt Cavanaugh are both good, but have little to do in those roles. And Harvey. God Bless Harvey. He can get a laugh out of a line like “I’m not invited?”

It’s interesting. Some of the critics complained how they had rewritten the show from the original. Harvey plays the uncle who everyone knows is gay but they all still refer to him as a ‘confirmed bachelor.’ And many critics complained that the character is now an anachronism, a modern gay man in the midst of this fifties story. And it’s nothing of the sort. He’s playing a gay man who has a measure of self-esteem. I don’t know what’s anachronistic about that. No gay man had any self-esteem before Stonewall? And they are very careful to always use the language of the time. The character would have been an anachronism if they were recreating a TV show of that period. But not if we’re talking real life.

It’s intriguing that it took two gay men – Feirstein and John Bucchino – to write a musical that’s about the importance of marriage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oedipus Loves You

My review of "Oedipus Loves You," at PS 122 by the Irish troupe, Pan Pan Theatre.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bloated Disgraced Pariah



Karl Rove writes in a new WSJ column his unbiased advice about how Obama can come clean with the American people. Which is a bit like getting kids' party planning tips from John Wayne Gacy.

My New Best Website Ever

Don't worry, you can look at it at work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Before I Die, Take Me to Sammy's Roumanian

Went with Dave, his brother in law Stephen and Bob to Sammy’s Roumanian Monday night down on Chrystie near Delancey. What a heavenly meal. The kind of meal you’d want if you were going to be executed at dawn. The place is shabby-looking –I think it’s meant to put off people who don’t know what they’re getting into. Menus that look like they were run off on a mimeograph machine from the 70s, a guy behind an electric piano doing disco and Jewish wedding music, fluorescent lights. No matter.

First, there’s a bottle of Ketel One in a block of ice on the table. Now, the last place I went to where they put a bottle of vodka on the table, and left it, was a Russian place in Brighton Beach I went to with friends in the late 80s. Some of the worst food I’d ever had. Everything tasted like it was made from beets and lard. The only thing you could do was drink. I vaguely remember dancing to Russian music, too. It was a ghastly meal.

Not so at Sammy’s, not so. There was the requisite fast-talking waiter, who pegged me as the only Gentile at the table. Bob ordered appetizers – always a good idea to let Bob order for the table. Have never known him to make a bad call.

Kishkas, chicken liver, and these delicious sausages – forget what they were called, but they’re made with veal and lamb, and they come without a casing. But the rock star was the chicken livers. They mix it in a big bowl with onions that have been fried in chicken fat and then they POUR RENDERED CHICKEN FAT ON TOP.

Seriously. There’s rendered chicken fat in a syrup containers on the table. So you can just pour it on anything like it’s maple syrup. It looks like Tang.

Remember Tang? Astronauts drank it.

If you’re a vegetarian, you’re probably heaving right now. But I don’t care. More rendered chicken fat for me, you cry-baby vegetarians.

The waiter came for the entree orders and I said, “Stuffed cabbage.” He said, “No. You want the steak.” I said, “Yes, you’re right. Bring me the steak.”

The steak came. Sweet Mary Mother Macree. It was stuffed with about a thousand cloves of garlic. It was lapping over the sides of the plate, like something Fred Flinstone would eat. No potatoes, no broccoli, nothing to distract from its awesome steakness. I put the first bite in my mouth and almost fainted from deliciousness. Then I had another shot of vodka to buck me up.

We didn’t do a lot of conversing. Other than “More bread” and “Are you gonna finish that?” and “Try this.”

Oh! Wait! I forgot dessert. And there were latkes with applesauce, did I mention the latkes with applesauce?

So – Bob ordered egg creams and rugelachs for dessert. And you make them at the table. They bring you the glasses, milk, Fox U-Bet chocolate syrup, and seltzer. Dave got chocolate pudding which comes with its own pint of heavy cream. I’m not kidding. They should serve it with a side of lipitor.

It was so excessively wonderful, so over the top. We all walked a few blocks. I was clutching a tray filled with a few leftover dabs of chicken liver, a few bites of my delicious prehistoric dinosaur steak and clutching a bottle of recently thawed Ketel One. We said our goodbyes at Broadway Lafayette, and I decided to walk over to Houston on the Number One, feeling happy and at peace with the universe. And filled with steak.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The George Place at WHAT

The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre site has been updated, and they have the info on "The George Place," which will be premiering there in September. It's not on the site, but I am happy to say that Gary Shrader, who directed "Busted Jesus Comix," "A Bush Carol," "Leaving Tangier" and most recently, "Yes Yes Yes," will be taking over directorial chores this time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nice Try, Bambi

“Curtains” last night with my friend Wayne and his folks. It's a lot of fun – tuneful, zips along, some great raunchy laughs. It didn't change my life, but I didn't want my life changed this week. David Hyde Pierce is the most unlikely musical comedy lead, but he makes it all work. He’s a gifted actor, and seems to wink at the audience and say “OK, I’m your romantic lead. Work with me here and you’ll have a good time, I promise.” And we do.

Didn’t get to see Debra Monk, which was disappointing. Edward Hibbert does Baby Stewie in a tux. Did get to see Jason Daniely, who I don’t think I’ve seen do anything since “Candide.” He’s fine in a thankless part. He does get to sing the hell out of one Kander & Ebb song, written by one after the other one had passed away. (I forget which is which, honestly.) And he does have that glorious voice. Karen Ziemba is a joy to watch and hell's bells she doesn’t age at all. I’ve been seeing her in shows since “And the World Goes Round,” at the West Side Arts Theatre. They do give her a number – the act one closer – where she gets to show off what a wonderful dancer she still is. She’s always been a trouper, a real treasure, but never had the career of a Bernadette Peters or a Kristin Chenoweth or a Betty Buckley. She’s just a hardworking gal who gets the job done and I loved seeing her again.

Some People Don't Even Die Empty Handed

My review of The Actors Company Theatre's production of "Eccentricities of a Nightingale," now running at the Clurman.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Yes Yes Yes" at Playwrights for Pets

My friend Sue Yocum has been running Playwrights for Pets for several years now, putting on readings of new plays and donating the entire proceeds to a no-kill Animal Shelter. There's another event coming up on June 9 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, where we will re-present "Yes Yes Yes" as part of "In the Rainbow," an evening of gay-themed plays. Even if you can't come - if you love animals, think about making a donation.

UPDATE: TheatreMania is now selling tickets to Playwrights for Pets on June 9.

AND YET ANOTHER UPDATE!

Here's the evening write up in Playbill.

Schedule Change for "Yes Yes Yes"

Rude Guerrilla in Santa Ana, CA, has changed their performance schedule for "Seven Deadly Sins", an evening of one-acts featuring "Yes Yes Yes" which premiered at Blue Coyote in February as part of "Happy Endings." It now runs July 24 through August 30. Catch it if you're in that neck of the woods. Rude Guerrilla originally commissioned "Yes Yes Yes" a year ago, and very graciously allowed us to premiere it in New York.

Monday, April 28, 2008

When Is A Clock

It has wildly divided the critics. Go see it for yourself. It runs for two more weeks, and you can bet the last week it'll be sold out and you won't be able to get a ticket. Matt Freeman's When Is a Clock at Blue Coyote.

Last Tango in Paris


Fri PM I went to Film Forum and saw “Last Tango in Paris.” Brando’s acting is so raw, it’s uncomfortable to watch. His torment feels too private, like you're watching something you have no right to see.

Here's the story - a woman kills herself. Her husband doesn’t know why. He begins seeing a much younger woman, but insists when they are together in this empty Paris apartment, they are never to use each others’ names, and are never to give the other any information on their lives. The young girl has a fiancĂ©e, a nitwit avant-garde filmmaker she plans to marry. The sex with the older man becomes rough, sadistic – borderline rape. She’s unable to break off the relationship. Suddenly, he decides to open up to her. He tells her his name, his past, that her loves her, that they’re going to spend their lives together. She doesn’t want him anymore. He refuses to take no for an answer. She flees. He pursues. She shoots him dead.

I have no idea what it means. Grief, depression, using sex as a band-aid. The temptation to dehumanize another, to think of another person strictly in terms of your own physical needs. The false lure of something anonymous, without strings, without messy human emotions - but of course that can’t exist for long. We form connections, whether we like it or not.

Bertolucci said the movie was about his experiences with psychoanalysis. Brando said on the set Bertolucci just kept saying the movie was about his penis.

It was always easy to make fun of Brando’s acting – the mumbling, the scratching, the mannerisms. Anyone can do it, and we immediately recognize it as Brando. It's like imitating Dylan. I can do it and I don’t even know Dylan. That’s what happens with a talent that’s that distinctive, one of a kind. Now that Brando's gone, it's so clear we will never see his like again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tamar Teresa Hennessy

I read in the new CW that Tamar Hennessy, Dorothy Day's daughter, died on March 25 at the age of 82. She is survived by seven children, eighteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

She seemed to keep a low profile much of her life, although she did appear in the recent Dorothy Day documentary, "Don't Call Me A Saint." However, in at least one article, she expressed resentment at the rumors that Dorothy was a 'bad mother.'

“She loved her family so much, and in so many, many ways she kept me going,” said Hennessy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back from the Cape

The residency was lovely and the new theatre space is spectacular. I'll be back there in August for the show.

Now this week, it's readings, Ned Rorem's "Our Town," and a Candy & Dorothy backers reading.

Meanwhile, my Arch Nemesis Matt Freeman just got a sloppy wet kiss from the New York Times, for this new show at Blue Coyote, "When Is A Clock?" Go see it now.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Friday from Gladiator's Siren



Many thanks to Phantasmaphile, who just read me for filth for my lack of crediting to her graphic skills.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Guess Because It's Spring...

I just want to go hear music. Went to City Opera and saw Falstaff week before last. Then went to their Tosca on my friend Liz's rec. She knew the tenor, a gent named Raul Melo, who was incredible. Liz worked with him in Binghamton, and said he's not only a world-class tenor, but that he and his wife are some of the nicest people she knows.

I snagged the Sonny Rollins CD I'd been coveting, Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert And last night I went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue for a night of klezmer music from classics of Yiddish cinema, with Metropolitan Klezmer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Left Behind: Crappy Apocalypse


OK. I read the first "Left Behind" book, the mid-nineties apocalyptic end-of-the-world serial for right-wing evangelicals. I was stuck in an airport.

The writing - by right-wing kooks Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins- is terrible. Really really bad. Bad. But one thing I’ll say for it - they knows they're crummy writers, so they don't aim for any effects they can’t pull off. Mostly, they aim low and hit half the time. But the book keeps moving. You can see it coming a mile off, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, they speak to each other as if they learned to communicate by watching TV, but hey it moves. There are no long asides to describe architecture or someone's childhood traumas. The authors know we don't care and we're waiting for planes.

(Example of the crappy writing: a young reporter is nicknamed 'Buck' because - he bucks the system. He bucks convention. So people call him Buck. Really.)

The book proselytizes to this very specific brand of end-times born again Christianity. Interesting though, because a lot of what it reveals are the political prejudices of these folks. The Antichrist is an East European (they’d never be so crass as to make him Jewish or a member of an easily identifiable ethnicity) whose vehicles for world domination are - the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other targets of right wing paranoia. The Antichrist preaches peace and disarmament. That's how you know he's the Antichrist. Good Christians need guns.

The writing is too incompetent to really describe something – so the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia (he’s from the Carpathian Mountains, just like Dracula!) is always described as being ‘handsome like Robert Redford,’ ‘passionate,’ ‘articulate,’ ‘with a photographic memory,’ and People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive,’ not to mention he somehow manages to become President of Romania and Secretary General of the UN in about – I don’t know – two weeks. He gives a speech where what really impresses people is his ability to recite a list of all two hundred UN members in alphabetical order without missing one – and this is what impresses everyone so much they make him Secretary General. And then they hand over all their weapons. So, theoretically any competent soap actor with a good memory and six hours to kill could take over the world.

But I digress. All my snarky bile aside, clearly the Left Behind books are not to be looked at as models for fiction. That's obviously not what the creators are interested in. They’re interested in scaring the crap out of people so they’ll turn to Jesus. It’s the “Love God, or He’ll kill you” method of evangelizing, Isaiah by way of Stephen King.

And yet – I breezed through four hundred pages waiting for planes this weekend. Because after a while I realized – any important point is going to be repeated eighteen times –so I don’t have to pay attention! And I wouldn't miss my boarding call! I whipped thru 400 pages rolling my eyes and gazing in slack jawed wonder at the craptastic nature of it all.

Does God really need such crappy fiction to get His word out? Shitty cliche-ridden, lazy prophecy?

If something is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing well?

And does it matter if it sells 100 million copies?

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Drink. My Wife Takes Pills. It's a Bargain We've Struck.

August: Osage, to no one's surprise, wins the Pulitzer. I'm going back to see it in May and I can't wait.

Monday, March 31, 2008

More on No Song, No Supper

Martin has graciously plugged the night on the One Night Only readings page for No Song, No Supper, part of the America in Play Project at the Tribeca Peforming Arts Center tonight at 7 PM.

Gesundheit


Last night watched one of my favorite movies, "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three." Robert Shaw, Hector Elizondo, Walter Matthau, Jerry Stiller. It's still as exciting to me as it was when I was a kid watching it on TV. (More so now - I recognize the locales.) Peter Stone's screenplay ought to be studied as a model of clarity and story telling - not a wasted word or image. It's brilliantly constructed - all trying to answer the question, how are the hijackers going to get out of the tunnel once they've got the money? Matthau actually looks like he could be a transit cop, and the cast is full of fine character actors like Doris Roberts and Martin Balsam doing great turns.

It's a film that makes dirty, dangerous early seventies New York look oddly...fun.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ah, What the Hell...

OK, I've been holding off on it. The paperwork hadn't been signed yet, and they haven't updated their website. But the contract arrived, it's been signed, and my friend Dave just emailed and said it's been posted in the breakdowns for the EPAs in Backstage. So, if Backstage can talk about it, dammit, so can I.

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre is premiering my new play, "The George Place," in September in Wellfleet, MA.

Have a good weekend. I've had a fucking awesome week.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New York Innovative Theatre Awards

I wrote this article on space issues in NYC theatre for the people at NY Innovative Theatre Awards. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No Song, No Supper


Info below on No Song, No Supper, the America in Play Project, part of the Work & Show Festival, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. The evening includes a reading of a short new piece of mine, entitled "Greenland."

***************************************************

a variety entertainment
conceived by Lynn M. Thomson


featuring The Stage Struck Yankee [1840]
by Oliver Durivage
with Tangents and Interruptions
by the writers of America-in-Play [2008]



Playwrights: Beth Blatt, Erin Browne, Lawrence Dukore, Stephanie Fleischmann, Adam Gwon, C.S. Hanson, David Johnston, Andrea Lepcio, Jenny Levison, Quincy Long, David Myers, Dominic Taylor, Susan Tenneriello, Gary Winter



Also see Exhibits of American curiosities from across the last two centuries, with songs from now and then, and a few surprises.

When: March 31 AND April 7 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Doors open at 6:45 for exhibits and music



Where: TRIBECCA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Theatre 2
199 Chambers Street

FOR MORE INFORMATION: americainplay.org and read about us in the New York Times

NO SONG, NO SUPPER is an event in the Work & Show Festival at Tribeca Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Borough of Manhattan Community College. http://www.tribecapac.org

Don't Lie to the Easter Bunny


Phillip Taratula, who stole the show in Blue Coyote's "Happy Endings" as the Easter Bunny, is working on his one-man show at the Access. In it, he plays - yes - Anne Heche and a dozen of her closest and dearest. Phillip is a hilarious, talented and adorable guy, so after you attend the Candy & Dorothy reading on Saturday, toddle on over to the Access at 380 Broadway for 'Call Me Anne.' He had told me about this show and it sounds like a panic.

Candy and Dorothy reading this Saturday



A Warhol Superstar. A Catholic Activist. A Match Made in Heaven.

On the heels of two sold-out productions (in New York City and Cape Cod), rave reviews, a GLAAD Media Award (Best Play) and a Drama Desk Award Nomination (Best Actor: Vince Gatton), CANDY & DOROTHY is off-Broadway bound in the fall of 2008.

Reading details:

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Doors: 4:30 pm

Reading: 5:00-6:30 pm

Reception: 6:30 pm

RSVP: dhjnyc@att.net


Featuring: Sloane Shelton, Vince Gatton, Nell Gwynn and Brian Fuqua.

Directed by Kevin Newbury

Stage Manager: Mary Kathryn Blazek

Produced by Matthew Principe, Kevin Newbury and Adam Blanshay

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WHAT Playwrights Alliance

Up at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, they have started a playwrights group and I'll be heading up for the first residency period in mid-April. WHAT is the theatre on Cape Cod which did Candy & Dorothy in 2006, and the Boston Globe named us one of their top picks of that year. It's a great place, and I love the people. I'll be working on a new play, entitled "The George Place."

The White Star

An old one-act of mine, "The White Star," is going to be done at the Studio Theatre at William and Mary April 21 and 23. If you're in Williamsburg, VA, on those dates, go see it and tell me how it goes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Old Coney Island


Reading “Good Old Coney Island” by Edo McCullough. Interesting stuff on prizefighting and horse racing in the late 1800s, but the remarkable chapter is the one detailing the Dreamland Fire of 1911, which ended Coney as a high-rolling Saratoga-style resort. All of the circus animals kept there were killed. McCullough also recounts the story of the Brooklyn cops tracking a Nubian lion, Black Prince, down Surf Avenue, when it escaped, singed, from its holding area. They had to put over two dozen bullets in the lion to kill it, and the next day exhibited the carcass for a dime a look. It’s an amazing story. 5.2 million dollars worth of damage in 1911 dollars.