Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Welcome to Minnesota

Okay, I was looking to avoid basking in my insecurities. Besides, so many go without saying - not only am I doing a show about stillbirth but this is not my town, I don't have any contacts, no following, I've got both hands tied behind my back when it comes to dragging an audience in to see our show.

So Toni, Z. and I had just rolled into town after driving for two days (baby's first road trip - memo to myself: don't just add a few hours, take the estimated driving time and double it) and we were excited and a little punchy. My brother Denny helped schlep everything up to his apartment, we're all sitting down to order Thai from this great new place up the street ... but I have to dash to the bookstore to get a copy of City Pages and check out my listing.

This is a big deal, people - the weekly newspaper, the only weekly newspaper, the one "our crowd" reads, you know - who knows which people will see more of, the website or this paper. As a matter of fact, no, this is not just the City Pages listing, in fact, CP has their own abbreviated listings of the Fringe (and I ain't in 'em) this is the official Fringe guide, included in CP as a supplement.

They took my photo, the sitting one, and cut off my head and my feet. No Dave face, no little shoes. Just big Dave crotch. Welcome to the Fringe.

Okay, that's it, it all goes up from here. The bumper stickers arrived (thanks, Brian, they look GREAT) and tomorrow Denny and I and maybe another Fringer will drive around town and drop them and the postcards as many places as humanly possible. Nick arrives around 3 PM. We're off.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Remember to pack costume, press kits, contact lenses, publicity materials, barstool for Rik Reppe (“Staggering Toward America”), programs, fresh fruit, sandwiches, mix tapes and CDs, digital camera, cellphone, Nick’s phone number, wife, baby, sunglasses, wallet ...

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Why Nick Koesters Is A Genius

We had an intimate, receptive audience last night. Is that putting too nice of a spin on it? Yes, the audience was small, and what followed began more as a reception than as a party. My old high school drama coach, Mr. Siller and his wife were there, which was very nice - he hasn’t seen anything I have produced since I graduated high school. Someone came from somewhere between here and Toledo. Christine’s folks came.

Now, after 9:30 the party crowd came rolling in. And the games Nick had put together were just amazing. I had my doubts. Why? Because I am a stick in the mud. But he went around, signing people up, I don’t know how many arms he twisted, but every game had a lot of participants.

Nick is one of those delightful people who have no shame. Nick kept the energy up, got every one real excited about playing “Pin the Hair on Hansen” (a poster-sized, cartoon headshot of me, drawn by a friend of ours, with a variety of hairstyles to pin on it - mohawk, Klingon head, Marge Simpson, Jesus Christ) as well as the Marathon “Twister” game. There was also the “Siñata” which was a large high-hell shoe with toys and candy and condoms and small bottles of liquor in it.

Ever since the “Sin” benefit in 1999, Nick has been invaluable at the benefits. He turned our gag phone sex line into a real one. In 2001, at the Mardi Gras benefit, it was his idea to sell the beads for money (don’t ask me why this was a sticking point) and raised hundreds of dollars on his own, charging around the place, sporting a massive racks of fake tits, getting everyone to buy far more beads than they might have otherwise.

It was a great party last night, there was more than enough food - good food, too - and alcohol. I didn’t drink much at all, but I was up later than I have been for perhaps a year, getting in around two.

What was most disappointing was that Toni could not attend. Zelda has not been very helpful when it comes to taking naps during the day lately, and so Toni needed to stay home with her. This is also going to be an issue in Minnesota, I am sure.

More party photos.

Barry
When I got home, Barry was still up - we have a few house guests this weekend, Barry, Harris, his new girlfriend Elizabeth who is simply wonderful, they all came to see the show last night. What I hadn’t noticed was that the show left Barry almost entirely destroyed. He says he spent large parts of it just weeping, I didn’t notice this, in spite of the fact that he was sitting in the front row. I think I thought he was laughing or something.

So I was exhausted, but he is a nocturnal creature, the kind of guy who can sit up coding until four in the morning. And he has always been more of Toni’s friend, anyway, though I like him just great. We had a super conversation in the kitchen for about a half-hour. He says my play is one of the best plays ever written - I just kind of laughed uncomfortably for a few moments saying, “Well, geez, ah,” and then just said thanks. Just so you understand, Barry reads a lot, a whole lot - more than you, I can guarantee it - so I was not underwhelmed by such a statement. As he says, he can hack apart Chekhov and Shakespeare, so I shouldn’t have felt too bad when he gave me some criticism of the show.

And I didn’t. He said some very good things, things others had not bothered to mention yet, like the transition from “Cloisters” into “Nurse Evil 2” - it rings false, he said, and last night, more than any other night, I agreed. I need to change that sound cue - in my defense, I never thought it fit anywhere in the show, but Tom and Dennis wanted to keep it in. He was also taken aback by the “Members of different clubs” line ... for all of the aforementioned reasons (see July 17.)

I finally had the opportunity to ask how he has been doing through his divorce - after all this business about pointing fingers at people who do not inquire about others’ emotional well-being, I really needed to do this before the weekend is over. That was a large part of the reason he found the play so hard to take. It reminded me of my bit about 9/11 - new traumas revive old traumas.

Anyway ... Jesus, so much to do and not very much time left. We have today and tomorrow to pack everything, pick up the house, and well, that’s enough, isn’t it? My work here is done. The show is more than ready. I am more than ready. It’s onto the Fringe.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Happy birthday to me. I share my birthdate with Mick Jagger and George Bernard Shaw. Not bad company.

Today’s matinee was hard ... well, you know, parts of it were superior to last night, but the bits that weren’t - I mean, I was messing up all kinds of lines, but you know, they’re my lines, aren’t they? I can mess them up if I like.

The real problem is my head. I have this thing, I call it a “Dave Hangover” - I can pretty much assume that any day I have the chance to sleep in (I am talking, oh, 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning) I am going to get an unhappy headache, right behind one eye. The only logical explanation is that, given my daily intake of dangerous amounts of caffeine beginning at 6 or so, it doesn’t matter how much coffee I drink when I do wake up, the damage is done.

So doing a 3 PM show wasn’t something I was looking forward to. That and I knew the house would be smaller than last night’s. But the first thing I encountered when I came to the theater was a very nice card from someone who saw the show last night, along with a very kind check. So things started looking up almost immediately.

Of the twenty or so people who were in attendance was a critic from the Plain Dealer, and one of this show’s benefactors, who chooses to remain anonymous. He’s a local businessman and one-time congressman and I don’t imagine we share many political opinions but he has been supportive of our work, and of this show in particular. I was relieved to see him nodding and laughing at key points. Does that make me a whore?

Several theater people who are currently in other shows attended ... pretty much the only people left from the Cleveland theater community who hadn’t seen it yet.

At this very moment there are friends and supporters scurrying around Dobama, setting up everything for the big post-show birthday party. Though reservations for the show are slight, a number of people have announced they will be coming afterwards for the soiree. I hope they do, and not because we need to money, though that’s important, too. There’s over a dozen people who have worked really hard to throw me a party, and they deserve a crowd more than I do.
One down, two to go (not counting Fringe.) Reservations have been low - I could write a few pages on my theories regarding attendance, I am a p.r. guy, after all, but I am too sleepy. Suffice to say, given the reservations, I was pleased at the turn-out - thirty people, perhaps?

And they were prepared. Almost a year ago I first shared this show with an audience, with a staged reading right in that very space, Dobama. And at that point in time, my question was, “Is this a play, or is this just me acting out my journal?” I am sure the audience’s questions were starker than that. We were all relieved to discover this is not only a real play, but a good one.

Then, at CPT, I was confident, but the audience was probably still on edge. Is this going to be ugly? Is this going to hurt? They were relieved as well.

Now the show is established, can we say that? And people have a good idea of what to expect, though I believe they are still pretty surprised.

So they were ready for the humor - all of the humor, I had people laughing at things they had never laughed at before ... and that was good - and kind of weird. It seemed harsher than usual, maybe because I continue to gain distance from that time, from that place (I always will) and so I really can play up some moments, I am not as afraid to go all out, but I don’t want to be a DICK or anything.

Playing the first “Julie” scene I never heard so many audible gasps. And that was fun. But by the time I got to my parents, I felt like I was beating people up. But they were with me. And it felt good.

The response following the show was good, too. People made additional donations for the trip to MN. People stayed to talk to me - Susanna, and old friend from school, asked me a question no one had asked before; how were we able to try again so soon, after all this? It was a great question. And I didn’t have a firm answer. “‘Cause we had to.” That’s all I could say.

By the way, the Dobama dressing room SMELLS.

Ode to Brian Pedaci
Our managing director, our co-founder, our man in the ticket booth, Brian. He takes on the hard work, the acquiring of concessions, the wrangling of house staff, he makes the contracts with the theaters, he writes the checks, now he is the one who copies the programs.

Brian’s artistic contributions have also been invaluable, acting in Hamlet, The Alchemist, directing SantaLand one year, and The Censor. But he also does the less glamorous stuff, and the more important stuff, the stuff hat makes the company continue to exist. As I have scaled back the hours I spend running this company, the more he puts in - and he has a wife and two very young daughters. And puts in a ridiculous amount of time at his paying job.

Why? I do not know. Does he feel his time is well spent? I cannot say. But I can say his dedication to Bad Epitaph is unquestionable, his efforts are invaluable, and his friendship means a great deal to me.

Here’s to you, Brian Pedaci. You fucking rock.

Friday, July 25, 2003

A successful final “dress” - that is in quotes because I wasn’t wearing my costume. Fortunately the weather has been cool this week and today’s heat has not made it down into Dobama, but I still wear a sweater in the damn thing. We shall see whether or not I pass out tonight. Have I asked whether or not the Red Eye is air-conditioned? No, that would have been smart.

Biffed a couple lines, I should have known better. Tommy has been taking very good care of me. It will be fine. I’ll just keep telling myself that. I got no idea how many people are showing up to any of these performances, I will be happy to see any or all of them.

It seems Nick is going to be flying home to do an industrial during the four day break we have between the Saturday and Thursday performances. I was looking forward to hanging out more with him, but I think we’ll get enough face-time in St. Paul as it is.

And hey, my new contacts arrived today. Disposable!

Nick is supposed to pick me up in couple of minutes and we will go get our refurbished rocking chair.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

My, what an exciting day. We had our first technical run-through this morning beginning at 10 am - and it was virtually flawless. Kudos to my men Tommy & Nick, they had everything so perfect from the get-go I was able to get a complete, uninterrupted rehearsal in. We’ll do another tomorrow and be good to go for tomorrow night.

I have gotten so comfortable with the show I was really able to play around today. Unfortunately, a lot of it sounded flip or arch, a little too funny and not very sincere. And you know what they say about sincerity ...

I was in the middle of one bit, and I hear someone enter the stage behind me. I mean, Tom is the only person in the house, sitting right in front of me, and he looks a little concerned, but not enough. I almost stopped it was very distracting - but it was only a rehearsal, and I chose to plunge through.

Afterwards I asked Tom if there was a gremlin onstage during the show, and he confirmed that yes there was, and the only gremlin he would not choose to get outraged about - it was the Fire Marshall. You know, the guy who lets theaters exist sometimes in spite of the million violations that are apparent to the lay electrician.

Toni, Z. and I then went to fill my new contact lens prescription, and to get new sunglasses. I lost my old pair at Blossom a few weeks back, and I will be damned if I am driving six hours a day, two days in a row without sunglasses.

So I needed my eyes dilated. They still are, I am wearing my new sunglasses in lieu of my real glasses, because I am still to blinded by bright lights to look at a computer screen. Am digging these new frames - Toni says I look like a hit-man.
´

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Yep. We’re gonna need all three hours of tech in Mpls. Today we began cue to cue at 8:30 - conflicts required us to break by 11:30. I thought it went very smoothly, for a show that has already been done. Tommy and I knew where and when things were supposed to happen, and Nick had a pretty well organized book, which was only missing a few cues we had to reimagine. As I said, it was all smooth, we got along great, no headaches, no confusion. And it took three hours.

I am losing my voice. My supervisor at Great Lakes and I talked for hours the other night about next year, it was very exciting and when it was all through I thought my, is my throat tired. Trying to match Lisa in conversation will do that to you. And after this morning ... I just need to force fluids and shut up.

* * * * * * * * * *

Got the cards from Hotcards, they are AWESOME! I am dropping these puppies off in every square corner of the Minneapolis AND St. Paul - I better make sure to keep some archive copies because I ain’t bringing any home.

* * * * * * * * * *

Got mojo plug-a-rama action in Cool Cleveland today - Mr. Mulready’s arts e-zine is the hot new place to be mentioned, and I, for one, am digging the attention.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Things are looking up - that place on Mayfield (hey, isn’t that a restaurant - sorry, dumb east side joke) will do the work by Friday! So I have the rocking chair. Guy says the chair must be a hundred years old, I don’t believe him. Didn’t keep him fro m making the repair expensive, but I don’t have much of a choice. Besides, we have wanted it fixed since March, anyway.

This morning I couldn’t get my head on straight - Nick and Tom were setting light cues and I was running around, chauffeuring rocking chairs and then I forgot to bring the slides and CD of music.

We cleared the stage (it still hasn’t been painted black) hung the slide projector, stripped the last noticeable remnants of the kids’ playwriting festival from the upstage facade. So now we have three more mornings to whip this show back into shape, beginning with our first cue-to-cue tomorrow. I continue to run through lines in my head and out loud whenever possible.

Toni is at the bookstore this afternoon and I have Zelda. Now I know w hat Toni has been talking about, this girl is not to be pleased these days. Must be the teeth or something.

I finished the program design last night, looks good. One sheet. Way to go! We’ll be using the same one at Dobama that we are taking to the Fringe.

Oh, and Brian got the postcards yesterday, he says they look good. And with the mad promoiton money we saved on the cards, he has suggested getting bumper stickers. The original gag was the paste them over other Fringe shows - just a big sticker saying I HATE THIS!

Ha ha ha - of course we wouldn’t do that.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Okay, this stuff is just getting dumb ...

First off, someone on the Dobama staff (who shall remain nameless ... let’s just say she is blonde and short) scheduled an audition during our tech this morning. A 10 o’clock tech is strange enough in this neighborhood, but an audition is simply ridiculous.

The guys were creating the light plot, a simple affair that we can count on replicating in Minneapolis. Meanwhile I have forgotten to tend to the furniture. The Wolf family rocking chair, which was damaged during the last run of IHT has not been repaired. The place Nick suggested on Mayfield takes “three to four weeks” to do the job ... I’d feel bad about putting it off, but Nick made the suggestion last week.

So I need a rocking chair. And a hospital stool. I went to four resale shops this afternoon and came up empty. Oh, and I need new contacts, the last pair ripped on me before that audition last week. They were supposed to be good for six months, I have been using them for four years, so I can’t complain.

Yes, I am procrastination boy. Always something.
There’s a party going on, only I haven’t arrived yet ...

I was reading Brian’s “Vox Fringe” run-down on the showcase at Balls’ Cabaret on Saturday night. Sounds like a gas. The Fringe has begun and we won’t be leaving for a week. Feels weird.

I am physically pathetic this summer. I worked like hell to get back on schedule, I ran every day through the month of June - making time for personal exercise just hasn’t seemed a priority since the baby was born - and that was really, really hard. I never seemed to enjoy it, I was simply exhausted all the time.

Did the five mile run on July 4th, beat my personal best time ... and I haven’t been running a day since. I dropped dead with a cold right after that, and I just haven’t gotten back into it.

Why is that relevant to this journal? I am not sure, but I think it is. IHT isn’t the most physically demanding show I have ever done (sit back, children, and I will tell you about when I played the Elephant Man) but it does require a great deal of mental stamina, these things work together, you know.

* * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday was the final birthday benefit meeting. This thing is going to be a gas. Everyone has done a tremendous job, we’ve got food and drinks and decorations and music and games and I think everyone is going to have a great time. Like all other benefits, we have NO IDEA how many people will attend (no one RSVPs anymore) but as usual I am expecting we will be surprised.

That’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Hey! Matthew A. Everett just fingered my show!

Friday, July 18, 2003

Toni just threatened to kick my ass if I ever again use the word “journal” as a verb.

Oh sure, the rest of the United States uses the word “impact” as a verb, and I get my ass kicked.

So today has been non-traditional. Actually, the morning started the way it has most days this week - with the door of the theater still locked at 10 AM. We had gotten used to running lines in the coffee shop until whenever the skeleton crew that runs Dobama during the summer gets in, but today we just said the hell with it and I did scenes out in the Courtyard, in front of the former Arabica.

Man, that place used to be so nice. Now it isn’t. Maybe the Grog Shop relocation will help things, but I doubt it.

Anyway, actually moving around makes it easier to get the lines perfect. Later I ran into someone downtown who saw me there, acting. Cool!

So anyway, downtown they were having some kind of arts fair near Playhouse Square. There were vendors outside where E. 14th and Hudson meet Euclid, and then the Cleveland Theater Collective had set up a place they were calling the “Rehearsal Room” in the Halle Building - a little trivia for those who don’t live here, the Halle Building, in particular the Wyndham Hotel facade part of the Halle Building, is the establishing shot for Drew Carey’s department store, whatever that place is called.

The “Rehearsal Room” was a former men’s store or something, and they set up a stage in front of the window on Euclid, with folding chairs facing it, and of course, the street. Anyone standing on the stage, facing the audience, gave Cleveland’s busiest thoroughfare a great view of their ass. For a half-hour today, that would be me.

Yes, I had agreed to do part of IHT for the event. Greg Vovos’ directed a piece that came before me, Michael Sepesy was doing bits from his play “Loserville” (which he is taking to FringeNYC this summer) and I got what was supposed to be twenty minutes, which was expanded at the last minute to a half-hour.

At first I was kind of cheesed, but then I thought, well, that’s half the show - and why not? It may be good promotion for the Dobama gig next weekend.

And it didn’t go badly. No lights, sound, slides, props, nothing, just me and a half dozen people who wandered off the street - and they stayed! They watched the whole thing, it was very nice. We were all nervous at first, it was awkward, I had to introduce myself, and then I didn’t know where to look, at them (seated below me) or above their heads ... but as it went along we all got more comfortable.

I can do this play anywhere, any place, any time. Bring it on!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Interesting discussion at rehearsal this morning - when is the narrator? Is he speaking during the events in question, just after them, when I wrote the play or as I am performing it. This was easily answered last August (the narrator was speaking at that point in time) and last March (the narrator was speaking from that point in time) but what of this August? What about the future?

The words do not change, but the point of view certainly does. Case in point - “... but they are different clubs.” My friend has a child with Downs Syndrome. I have a child that died before birth. She says we are members of a club we never wanted to join, I agree - but observe that they are different clubs.

In August, I was harsh. It was as if I were saying “at least your child lives.” That was not what I was thinking, I was really thinking, “you have your situation, I have mine, we should accept that we do not understand each other” or something to that effect. But everyone thought I meant “at least your child lives.” You can see how that interpretation might seem a tad, oh, unsympathetic. But there I was, and I was not apologizing for voicing my thoughts at the time.

In March, things had changed. I had visited my friend, and met her beautiful daughter. The fact that our own, healthy daughter had recently been born did not really enter into it (well, okay, she must have, but I didn’t realize how) and the line was much more “Zen”. You have your club. I have my club. They are different. And we may, someday, understand each other, if we do not at this moment.

And today? Today I look at my own, healthy daughter - super healthy, uberhealthy, a monolith of an infant. And I see my friend, loving her child, cheering her child’s accomplishments, and I think, I have had my tragedy, and I live with it every day, and I think I am strong ... but I will never know if I could be strong like that.

And so the delivery is different - if I am speaking from today. And though I do a lot of acting here, it is a play after all, it is hard to be the narrator and not be me, the real me, the me that is standing on stage right now and talking to you.

I got hided by some members of the pre-natal death community in March for something I was quoted for in the paper. I said Zelda had changed my play. They thought I meant I had changed the play, the words, because I now had a living, healthy child. This is not true. But I could not articulate what I did mean by that comment. And now I just have.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

An unfortunate work conflict kept Tommy from rehearsal again today. Nick was assisting me in running lines though we did spend most of the time chatting about theater in general, the show he is doing out at Porthouse in specific, and just about really anything to keep us from work. This is all right - I mean, all right for him, I was not able to look at my lines at all since yesterday, so the work we were doing seemed a bit perfunctory. I need to make time today to really do my homework.

Ad in the Free Times today. Thank you, Sponsor, my Print Sponsor. I was a little cheesed when they said an advance article was not a possibility - they said this a month or so ago, the theater critic sheepishly informing me there is a bizarre amount of theater at the end of July. I thought he was full of it, but it turns out he is absolutely right, I know of three shows that opened last week that didn’t get reviewed this week, in addition to the two that did.
Lot of talk on the “official” Fringe blogs about the value, or lack thereof, inherent in autobiographical one-man shows. And I am here to weigh in - I, too, would encourage people to stay away from them.

Ha ha, funny funny, I am doing a solo performance I wrote about my own deeply personal experiences, I am joking. I joke. Only I am not joking.

I have seen a lot of solo performances in the past few years, they are the thing, aren’t they? Their cheap for theaters to produce, and easy for artists to d o - I write! I act! I can make a show for me and take it absolutely anywhere!

Some of the best are based on historical material, and I am not just talking about your Hal Holbrooks of the world doing Mark Twain (though I have seen that - there’s some le gendary theater for you) but the ones where people find some obscure but important figure and tell their story. It’s hard work - how much exposition, how much “playing the scene.” Playing the scene can be so cheesy, but exposition, direct address - I me an, why not just give a lecture? But I dig history, so it helps. I want to enjoy those shows.

It’s the ones that are based on personal experience which can be difficult - though, man, there was this one at FringeNYC two years ago about this guy who did puppet ministry, he was dynamite. Very funny.

And that’s the thing, if you are funny, then you can’t lose, right? It’s the overwrought stuff ... I have seen no less than two one-man shows that were not only all about coming-out, but also about how messed up their mothers were AND they both included really, really bad, middle-of-the-road ballads at all the “emotional highpoints.” They sang. They sang their own original, really bad songs.

There is no singing in my show. That’s not true - I sing one verse of one song, and it’s very, very brief. And I didn’t write the song, Bob Dorough wrote the song, so you know it is a very cool song.

So, I guess what I am saying is there are enough very bad, autobiographical solo performances out there to make th e average audience member wary, especially if they feel their time is limited and want to make the right choice.

But then, that is entirely not what a fringe festival is about. It is about taking a risk - go see the show you know is going to be excellen t and you may very well be let down. And if you walk into the solo performance about the guy’s personal experiences losing his first child, well, you may be surprised there, too.

* * * * * * * * * *

Can you feel the love? I’m feeling it.

Not only did Amy send me a very kind message (Amy's Blog) reassuring me that I am not a complete loser because I didn’t get a spot in a showcase. That was really cool.

But then - I got offered a spot in the showcase! Just this morning! So I will be there at the Balls (what?) sometime after midnight on Saturday, August 2nd.

It’s a great morning, already, and we haven’t even taken Zelda swimming yet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Note to Brian at Shortened Coffin: at least you have two chins, I do not have any.

Shortened Coffin's Blog ˇ
Adventures in P.R. They say I am very good at p.r., but trying to promote my show in a different city, a city where I have no contacts (well, that’s not exactly true) is proving a major challenge. Especially when you are one of 160 shows. Especially when yours in from out-of-town. And perhaps even because the show is about stillbirth - but what do I know?

In addition, I do not help matters when I shoot myself in the foot. I did not get my application for the “out-of-town” showcases in soon enough, and as a result I am in neither of them. This is really disappointing, but oh well, regardless, I will attend them. Just another misstep. I will still take the opportunity to meet people and hand out postcards.

We missed Tommy this morning, he was at work until the wee hours last night, and feeling ill this morning. Nick helped me cram lines - I know them, but I need to get them perfect, again. Nick said he wouldn’t quibble with a small word change here or there, but I asked him to anyway. Yes, I wrote it, but when I start paraphrasing my own work, I get “mushy” - add “y’knows” and “I means” and there are enough of those in the script already.

It’s nice hanging out with Nick, he’s really funny and he’s all about the work.

Got an audition this afternoon for a film they’ll be shooting in town in September. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Back into rehearsal. Tommy, Nick and I met at Dobama at 10 this morning (God, rehearsing in the morning is a great thing ... must be nice to be a professional) and discussed technical matters, pertaining more to the Cleveland performances than the Minneapolis ones; what set pieces do we have, do we need to get from the Salvation Army, what is Denny finding me in the Twin Cities ...

... is anyone reading this ..?

... and then I did a speed-through of the entire show. Strange, I haven’t performed it since March, just crammed lines the past few days, didn’t even block it at home, and most of it is still right there. The brain is a tremendous thing. My brain, anyway.

Tommy, the director and Nick, the technical coordinator. It’s fun to watch them work together. Tom keeps suggestions what additional stuff we might be able to add once we get to the Fringe, and Nick plays the hard realist, “we didn’t ask for that, we can’t have that.” They are both important roles. Tom is just trying to make sure the show looks the best it can, and not all of his suggestions sound like they will be challenged at the festival - it’s hard to say, really, because we haven’t been provided with a light plot. So they each make up all of these theories for how it might work, once we get there.

Meanwhile, I have been fiddling with a few lines in the show - the ones I mentioned earlier, about “Nurse Evil,” they felt undercut the strength of the piece, but we changed it a little and made it stronger ... I think. We’ll see how it plays tomorrow.

Right now I am challenged to see how much time I can spend running trouble spots - I don’t want to walk in tomorrow with the same errors I had today. That’s the worst thing an actor can do - the director gives you a number of helpful comments and notes, and then you show up at the next rehearsal and make it painfully obvious you haven’t thought about the show at all since you left the building the day before.

See, this is why I tell people being a director has made me a better actor.

Now the big question is ... Cedar Point or Six Flags? Cedar Point or Six Flags? Cedar Point sounds funnier ... but do the people in Minnesota know what it is?

Sunday, July 13, 2003

The “birthday benefit committee” met today at the Juniper Street Arabica. I am extremely grateful so many have signed on to help, everyone is so enthusiastic. I try not to think too hard about it - this is a benefit to help send a show we are producing to a theater festival. It is also a birthday party being thrown for me (my idea) to send me to a theater festival to present a show I wrote starring me.

Me, me, me.

The Bad Epitaph board initially balked at the idea of having a post-show birthday party (balked is a strong word - they had reservations) because it might be seen as kind of weird. And I thought of that, too. A birthday party for me, after a show about how my son doesn’t get any birthdays. That’s not accurate either - it ends with his birth, and his first birthday, and arrrrrrrgh - anyway, it’s odd. Seems kind of selfish.

But then, we wanted to have a party, a fund-raiser, a celebration - were we supposed to all wear black crepe and sing hymns?

Several weeks back Nick (who is on the board, too) talked us back into treating it like a real birthday party, with games, adult games - there will be a pinata with little bottles of alcohol in it, and “Pin the Hair on Hansen” (yes, love that one) and a Twister tournament with rules I cannot begin to fathom.

I am glad it’s going this way. I think it is going to be an excellent and joyful send-off.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

In a different life, I would be taking this show to a number of festivals this summer. I think back to my work with DNK, or Guerrilla, and I had no idea what was going on in the larger theater community. There were so many of those shows which would have made excellent fringe material.

It wasn’t until 2000, when Toni and I happened to be in NYC when their fringe was going on. I was like, what the hell is this? And that led to Toni’s show, ANGST:84 getting into the ‘01 FringeNYC.

Of course, we had already lost Calvin then. It was a difficult trip for Toni - she had a great time, to be sure, but it was all a little overwhelming for her. I have to admit I had the time of my life, I was “only” running sound, but that was great because I wasn’t nearly as exhausted as everyone else (though it was pretty damn hot in that booth) and took the time to see thirteen different shows. And almost all of them were really good, if not really, really good.

But my choices were somewhat limited as to what festivals I could take this to, because at the beginning of the year we still didn’t know where we would be in the fall, if we would be selling the house or what. I was relieved to discover the Minnesota festival fit into our schedule (such as it was at the time) because I love the Twin Cities, and because my brother lives there, which has made planning for it much, much easier.

So, as I was saying, in a different life, I may have attempted an entire Fringe Circuit for myself, running all over North America this summer ... but then, in a different life, I wouldn’t have had to write this show. We’ll see if I can take it anywhere else next summer.

Friday, July 11, 2003

No one has asked me so far if I have done any revisions, and I really haven’t, not since February ... well, that’s not true, a word creeps in here or there, or a phrase is added or eliminated, as it was during the run at CPT.

The piece I think I am least happy with in the entire show is the final “Nurse Evil” segment, which just kind of ends. Well, it used to just kind of end, and then I tacked on a little, conspiratorial laugh between David & Toni ... but I still feel something is missing. I came up with something that plays up my impotence in the situation, and brings up issues such as “informed consent” ... that and I am replacing “Cedar Point” with “Six Flags” - it didn’t get a laugh as Cedar Point, anyway.

On a different note, I am disappointed to learn I cannot participate in the night-before-opening “Out Of Towners” showcase on the 31st. We’ll still be in tech when that is going on. Oops. And scheduling tech last minute on Thursday was our first choice. I guess we didn’t know how soon we would be ready to go after arriving ... Toni and I will get there the day before, so I guess it didn’t make any difference.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Oh Jesus. Nike is acquiring Converse. I am pretty lame when it comes to sticking to an altruistic lifestyle (do I eat at MacDonald’s? Not as much as I used to ... but yes, of course I do) and as it happens, Converse was purchased by an independent company a year or so ago, and they were the ones who ended Converse’s reign as the last American company to make tennis shoes. Since then I have looked the other way as I bought my beloved Chuck Taylors, aware that the “Made In Indonesia” tag meant they were made by little hands at pennies an hour.

But this I cannot abide. I will not buy products that go to make money for Nike until the change their methods of production. So my world-famous collection of sneakers has reached its end.

Now, the really difficult question ... do I continue to wear the Chuck’s I already have?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Welcome to my blog, created specifically to chronicle my experience with the Minnesota Fringe Festival. This is an experiment, I do not really approve of these things, as I try to avoid one-sided conversations and, evidence to the contrary, do not like posting my inner-most thoughts where just anyone can see them.

Having said that ...

I am spending way too much time clocking the MN Fringe website (fringefestival.org) and it's making my eyes hurt. Perhaps I should be spending that time busy rehearsing, or promoting my show - not just in Minneapolis (although that wouldn't hurt) but here as well. I have less than three weeks to get IHT back on its feet for a weekend at Dobama Theatre (dobama.org) before packing up for the Twin Cities.

Toni is participating in a big writers' conference this week, and so I am spending more time alone with Zelda than I have ever done before. Today we went swimming and then I took Lady Z to the art museum, which she enjoyed an awful lot. People all smile when they see her.ˇˇ