Monday, August 25, 2003

For the Record
Got the "payout" for the Fringe today - I won't go into the money, the money goes without saying (insert comment here.) But I will revise my attendance numbers. We actually had an accumulated audience of 162, which is a few people more than our own count.

Damn, these people are organized, their breakout of attendance is delightfully detailed. The more I have heard about this year's NYC Fringe (blackout notwithstanding) the happier I am I was in Minnesota.

And I HATE THIS lives. One more performance, in Cleveland, on October 10 at the Cleveland Clinic. I think I won't be persuing any additional performances ... for the time being.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Home, again. And, of course, in hindsight, that Fringe Festival KICKED ASS! I promised myself I would keep whining to a minimum on this very public journal, but the insecurities and desperation of the last few days leaked out, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Apparently it made for some good reading back home.

I did get one more online write up, in Matthew Everett’s blog. It’s critical! And after all, how much unqualified praise can one man take. I have been intensely grateful for all of the attention, and we did get a lot (just not in the newspapers, blah blah blah.)

And now, back to the day to day business of housework, preparing for my third year at Great Lakes, reading script offers, considering the future (how about sending something to the Minnesota Fringe with tits in it ...) and acting like the father of a tiny - but not that tiny - living baby girl.

Monday, August 11, 2003

... and another thing ...

HERETIC. HERETIC, HERETIC, HERETIC. I saw one more show and it had to be HERETIC. It was wonderful, thank you, Niki, so much. I cried, too, although not until the drive back to Denny's. It's been a long day, and you gave me a lot to think about.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Thank you, Minneapolis, and Good Night

Nick is on the road for Cleveland, Denny and I are going to see HERETIC this evening at 6. Toni got to see STAGGERING this afternoon ... and I did my last performance. Forty people in the house, a strong Sunday afternoon showing - Clayton the ONE-MAN HAMLET man was in the house, and his lovely wife. Our widwife's daughter made the show! And there were rumors ... maybe Matthew Everett made it (and his mom) and apparently David Mann was there. Maybe he heard we dissed the cantaloupe. I am grateful for the attention.

I had the opportunity to introduce 156 more people to Calvin over the course of ten days. I had a major crisis of spirit last night, walking a very wide awake Zelda up and down the hall in the stroller at four am. What did I think I was doing with this show? In spite of my delight in telling it, it is not the feel-good hit of the summer. And I took box office poison and made it the cult following of the Fringe. The fringe of the Fringe. Beyond the Fringe. We had everything stacked against us. And they came and saw it, anyway.

I am looking forward to getting back to Cleveland, getting back to work with Great Lakes ... and maybe acting in something dumb and funny.

Last Day of Camp

Yep, it's hard to shake that metaphor, even when you are your mid-30s. Yesterday was an act of pure desperation - went to see SABOTAGE: IN FINE FORM at Hey City (okay, all you pikers, now that's comedy) and then rushed my butt up and down Hennepin (in Denny's black Mustang convertible, which would have been funny if you could have seen me make it stall a few dozen times) driving in the bus lane (no one told me about the bus lane) so that I could get lost running around the MCTC campus in 80 degree heat trying to get to THE ART OF RUTH DRAPER, which I also enjoyed. I may not have made time for that yesterday, except the actress in question came to see IHT on Thursday.

... with, apparently, everyone else. Okay, that's not fair, I did have 35 people last night. And I thank all of them. But I have to admit this has been disappointing, especially with "Fringe attendance up!" as they say, and "Lots of shows selling out during the final weekend!" as they say.

My show is just this bastard step-child of the Fringe. I could blame the lack of print media - I have seen the dumbest shows getting reviewed, shows you would just look at the description of and say, hmn, no, I wouldn't see that even if I were getting paid to write about it, even if the kid's father is an editor at my paper - but that isn't correct. I'll tell you why. I will tell you in no uncertain terms why people have avoided this show, in spite of very strong word-of-mouth, w-o-m I couldn't have bribed myself into getting, and in spite of mine and Nick's hardcore meet-n-greet campaign. I will tell you why, despite of all of this, I expect to get (I hope) twenty people at today's matinee and closing performance.

Duh, you already know why, don't you? The show is about STILLBIRTH. Who wants to see that?

That and the crowd that did join us (oh, another influential member of the Twin Cities media was on hand, too little, too late) was another one like opening night. It's very hard to do this show when I make some kind of amusing comment and everyone sighs a little, like "ooh, yah, that's so sad." But at least the show goes faster.

Afterwards Nick, Denny and I went to see ONE-MAN HAMLET at Bryant-Lake. That kicked ass, the man is a FREAK, and not only that, but a CANADIAN freak and we sat in the dark eating cheeseburgers and drinking pints of Summit and watching this guy charge around the stage with music stands with balloons on them representing all the different characters, it was a whoot.

One of the two closing night parties was last night, and it was really great. I only got to chat with a few people ... one conversation was with a Fringer artist, who had seen my show that night - the conversation was very personal and I won't write about it here. But she was torn up about a review she received in the weekly paper, and I think I said all the rights things for her to put it in perspective. I mean, the show isn't for the CP's readership, that and the style of the day of being a complete smart-ass in as few words as possible, a trend which is also popular among the local papers, gives writers the chance to vent all kinds of prejudices, against content, against experience, against, well, absolutely everything. "Your show isn't hip," I said, "my show isn't hip. You know people like your show, they've told you, and that's what matters, when you come down to it."

Well, Amen.

Amy Salloway says she's coming today. I write this in my blog to shame her if she doesn't. ;)

What I Will Take With Me
I asked Leah Cooper via email some time ago how many programs I should bring. She said, how big is your house and I said 110 and she said think positive, bring 500. I thought realistically and brought 100. I thought, if I get 20 people a show, I will be doing all right. I have already beaten that, and today will be a bonus. I had to print more programs.

I met a midwife last night, who came because she read about it and had to see what I said and how, and she and her friend loved it, she said she is so glad to hear I will be performing it for a conference of Nurse Midwives this fall in Cleveland.

I will never forget the spontaneous ovation I got when I walked out onto the sidewalk in front of the Red Eye on Thursday. That's never hapened to me, and it is apparently not some kind of tradition.

Hearing Rik Reppe pimp my show hard after his near-sold out perf. of STAGGERING TOWARD AMERICA earlier in the week. That man is a hair's breadth from signing some kind of deal with HBO or something with hiw show, I am not kidding, he has to be, and here he is shedding light on me. Very cool.

Watching Zelda push herself onto her knees the other day. She's trying so hard to crawl, we can all taste it.

The kids from MXTW. Their director, Jim Hamilton, wrote me a very kind email, thanking me for the support I had given the students - and apologizing for the fact that they weren't able to fir my show into their schedule. I can't say I wasn't disappointed. But it must be difficult to wrangle over a dozen teenagers to even half a dozen shows. They were just amazing, and I am glad I caught their work. After years with the Night Kitchen, I know how much disrespect teenage actors can get, especially when they are attempting work with substance (can we all say "hey kids, let's put on a show!") Those people were just great.

I'll get more thoughts and memories down, I hope. Right now ... well, hell, the Fringe isn't even over yet. And I got a show to do.

Friday, August 08, 2003

And now that I have gotten past last night, it appears we are truly in the home-stretch. This is kind of sad. I HATE THIS has been (and will continue to be) such a bittersweet journey. The fact is, I love this show. I never dread performing it - the way I inevitably end up dreading to perform everything else. It is difficult, but not really, not difficult in the way I love telling it, the way I love sharing our story, mine, Toni and Calvin's, with so many people. It's a mission, I suppose. Is it hard to watch? Sure, but not hard like going-to-church-hard, I have been stunned at the way this show opens people up, it turns people on, it has destroyed a few, but they all have such amazing things to say about it - especially the destroyed ones.

I HATE THIS SCRIPT - a brief history

I began conceiving of it as early as August, 2001 - driving home from the New York Fringe.
I told myself I wouldn't begin writing until 2001 was OVER.
I began writing in January, 2002, and had a first draft before Calvin's first birthday - which I revised shortly after his birthday.
The staged reading was at Dobama in August, 2002. This is where I discovered that the play isn't mere self-abuse, but a good play people enjoyed hearing. And that I could play it.
The reading was attended by the artistic director of CPT, who invited me to participate in BIG BOX at the end of February.
In December, 2002 I get accepted into this festival.
February 28 - March 1 & 2 we do the BIG BOX run.
The rest is pretty much covered from the beginning of this blog.

So how long does it take to create a play? Two years? One? A couple weeks? I wonder how long I will be producing this.

One show I neglected mentioning was TYRANNOUS REX which was stunning. Not only the extent to which diminutive Nicola Gunn is a freakish changeling, but the use of music and lights is nothing short of miraculous. The woman jumps in and out of characters - and thoughts and time and space. It was fabulous.

Today we saw Laura Park in PARK N RIDE at the Brave New Workshop. I was a little nervous at first, we had been looking forward to her show after meeting her first at the end of the out-of-towner showcase last Thursday (oh so long ago) and then again the next night at VOICE-IN-HEAD. The beginning of the show was a little slow for me, I coudn't tell if this were a story or just stand-up, and she is a tremendous physical performer, I fretted we would be bogged down in Wisconsin jokes.

Shortly after that the ride really took off and I was delighted. The characters - her bizarre roommate Jen (I think her name was Jen) that was an excellent turn, and the Gap business, the truck driver ... very good, a very talented performer - and she's got a HUGE face! I am very glad I saw that.

Then Denny and Nick and I saw CRITTERS, we'd seen a bit of that at Balls last Saturday. I liked most of it, especially the subway part. This was my only dance show this week - people have been carping about the lack of dance coverage in the media ... but then people have started to carp about everything. I think they're all just afraid to say good-bye. I know I am.
Damn. Matthew Foster just wrote one of the most eloquent, complimentary, and funny write-ups I have ever received. Thanks, man ... and sorry I ruined your night.

"This show kicked my ass"

There was a lot riding on last night, it was like Opening Night all over again. The last several days have been very hard, I was close to completely wigging out on Tuesday ... I was able to deal with it by rushing around town, dropping off more postcards, I needed to feel like I was doing something. Yes, the word of mouth has been very strong, I have handed postcards to all kinds of folks and I have had other artists from all kinds of shows saying I was at the top of their list. But I had no idea whether or not that would translate into a decent house.

By yesterday, I was a walking ball of nerves. Toni, Denny, Z. and I had a lovely picnic by one of Minnesota's many lakes - the weather, which has been so cool, has turned hot again, but we had grocery store sushi (Kowalski's!) in the shade and just lazed about. Later I announced I was going to see MEDEA, by myself, right before my performance (that was supposed to produce a laugh) which I did. Two women performing the entire show in an hour, female actors from the past, one Chorus and one Medea, with thick Manchestrian accents (they are, indeed, from Manchester) with the actress chosen to play Medea protesting having to play this most villainous of women for so long I thought there was no way they could bring it back and produce the desired, tragic effect. You will be happy to know they did - and that was no mean feat with my mind wandering to my own, imminent performance from time to time.

To cut to the chase, we had 55 people last night. (Oh, and Nick did make his flight.) I fulfilled my mandate to double the house every night ... can't do that again unless we sell-out and though I am optimistic, I don't see that happening. But it was great to see so many people there.

There were friends, Ben and Pam drove all the way from Chicago, I was surprised to see them after the show. We didn't get to talk too much, they needed to head right back, we'll see them again the drive home. And Tim Perfect, late of the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and now of Minneapolis' Pig's Eye Theatre. And Denny brought his friends from the other night, including the certain member of the local media establishment.

And then came the Fringe Elite! Yes, MN Fringe Executive Director Leah Cooper was in the house! I got Leah! And Fringe web designer, Ministry of Cultural Warfare artistic director and all-around cynical bastard (or so he says) Matthew Foster, and members of his company! Fringe Aide de Camp Andrew Cleveland was there, and he laughed in the weirdest places. And Rik Reppe (whose name I completely mangled during my post-show spiel) was in attendance ... afterwards he gave me the low-down on how moved all the aforementioned, hardened theater types were by the show.

I now have (to date) five audience reviews and a collective rating of five stars. You can read them at the above link. I am very fortunate, I am very grateful ... and I also fell a little weird. I was so strung out yesterday, I didn't feel I did a very good job. Or maybe I did, the reaction was quite strong. Sometimes I feel my show is like pizza - when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

And so things have progressed. It feels like we have been here forever, and I still have two performances left, but we are at the weekend, the second weekend, the last weekend, and the four of us are scrambling to figure out how to see as many shows as possible and juggle Zelda. It will all be done before we know it. I think I can spend out remaining days not being a total neurotic freak.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Finding Gabriel

In my Sat., Aug. 2 post I mentioned that I had been tipped off to a book written by a local professor about his experiences with stillbirth. This was inaccurate, but I am very glad for the tip.

The book in question, Waiting With Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby's Brief Life was written by Amy Kuebelbeck, the huband of a professor at St. Thomas, Mark Neuzil - a search for the book under his name was fruitless (you can sit in this rocking chair, Mr. Thayer) though that was one of the titles I looked over when trying to find it. A brief email exchange with him put me on the right track. The Internet is an amazing thing.

Also, their boy wasn't still born, they discovered during pregnancy that he has HLHS, hydroplastic left heart syndrome. Which is to say, no left side of his heart. After birth they could either choose for him an infancy and childhood and life full of high-risk and debilitating surgeries, or to die in the warm care of his parents arms in relatively less anguish.

No, we cannot compare our tragedies. Or maybe we can. Yes, I wish I could have looked down on Calvin's smiling face, just once, or to feel him grasp my finger. And sometimes I think of how relieved I am that he just died and I never had to make a decision like that one.

I am enjoying the book ... you know, the way people enjoy my play.

Learning to Crawl

Zelda has been learning how to push herself up on her knees, it's amazing to watch. I made a prediction that she would begin crawling here in Minnesota. We have a few days for that to come true.

Last night the Vox Fringe board greeted us with this cry in the wilderness: "Who Do I Have To Blow To Get A Mainstream Review?" Ah, yes. The question of the ages. This person went on to lament the fact that all the papers have covered the same dozen shows (this is not true) and goes along with the accusation of local critics ignoring the out-of-town acts (they haven't.) But there is something to be said for the media concentrating on established performers and writers and up-and-coming companies which have already made waves at previous Fringes.

The other night I was having dinner with a certain influential member of the Minnesota media establishment. And this person recounted an encounter they had had the night before with an area theater critic at a solo performance written and performed by an established Twin Cities theater artist. The Fringe show in question is actually a revival from a few years earlier, a piece the artist had chosen to remount because they felt it hadn't gotten enough attention the first time around.

Well. The member of the local media establishment asked the critic, "what are you doing reviewing this, there's over 160 shows and you wrote this up three years ago," and the critic just smiled and said, "yeah, but it's just so good."

See, that story set me into a minor spasm of jealousy - my review was being wasted on a show that had already been covered just because the artist has a local critic in the palm of their hand!

And then I had to back up and say, hey dummy, if the tables were turned and this was your city and you were reviving a show you thought got short shrift and a local reviewer decided to give it another look-see, wouldn't you think that was your right, that you had earned that extra attention? The answer is, of course it would be.

The "sour grapes" conclusion to this barely interesting tale of envious rage is that Toni and Denny went to see the show in question yesterday afternoon. And they said it really isn't that great. The artist is a good actor, to be sure, but it's not a very cohesive or well-written play. Not even the bit about the cantaloupe.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Separated At Birth?

Amy Salloway and Curtis Proctor need to do a brother/sister act. While watching DTMMMLF? I was struck by her uncanny similarities to Curtis - not in appearance necessarily, though they do have a resemblance, but her voice, her gestures, her comic timing, it was stunning. I tried to figure it out, I thought perhaps it was the apparent inspiration Ms. Salloway has received from (among many others) David Sedaris, but that doesn't explain the performance. Anyway, I now have this urgent desire to bring them together - from far-flung Minneapolis and Wichita, to good old Cleveland, Ohio - and direct them in something. Maybe a trans-gendered production of True West or a seriously bent version of Virginia Woolf.

... hmn ... must contact James Mango ...

* * * * * * * * * *

Sweet! I got mentioned in City Pages! Not reviewed, mind you, but mentioned, and mentioned prominently. As Skip used to say, "every little bit hurts ..."

Solo Performance, Spoken Word, What Have You ...

This evening Denny had some friends over for dinner, and I found myself in the position of trying to describe the differences between the style of performance in my show and STAGGERING TOWARD AMERICA. I play characters, but then so does Rik - but he's not really acting, only, well, what are we doing when we impersonate someone else and tell something from their point of view, I mean, isn't that what acting is? But I have black-outs and music, so it's more theatrical, whatever that means.

And then, on the way home from seeing Amy Salloway in DOES THIS MONOLOGUE MAKE ME LOOK FAT? (rock on, Amy - we enjoyed your show a lot) I was struck by all of these deep thoughts about solo performance, and not just solo perf. but spoken word perf., and not just that, but the entire stripped-of-artifice thing - as can be illustrated by the work of the Neo-Futurists. Denny and I saw three of them do a final dress of DRINKING & WRITING at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, which will open tomorrow at Grumpy's. They do the show in a bar, the three of them drink the entire time (well, the two guys do) and talk about drinking and its effect on writing and great, American writers ... or visa versa. That's another show I enjoyed a great deal.

Now, I heard once that the whole solo performance movement sprung from the dire economic straits the arts have been in for the past twenty. They are cheap to produce, to transport ... and actors love them for a host of self-involved reasons.

And some of them are crap, as 98% of anything is crap (or so they say.) But I have been struck by a number of no-frills shows at this Fringe, shows that have a great deal of honesty and heart, without being self-indulgent. Shows that really communicate something, told by people who I am actually happy to listen to. I only hope I can count myself among those people.

By the way, DTMMMLF? was Toni and my first real night out, alone, since we started this trip. Z. was in the care of Uncle Denny tonight.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

My review of EATING DREAMS

Get It - Get It
The dichotomy of writing about adolescence is that if you are an adult you have forgotten most of the really bad stuff and end up producing something sweet and hazy or "edgy" and trite. And if you are a teenager, then you probably do not have the tools or artistic experience to communicate what you are going through without using extremely familiar and predictable language. God bless Jim Hamilton and the MXTW - they use the stylistic methods of the heroes of the avant-garde to produce an urgent and immediate reflection of what they (and every young person) is going through RIGHT NOW. If we all had their creativity, sense of humor, anger, outrage and (sigh) energy, this Fringe festival would fricking explode.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Vox of the Obsessed

The link above* will take you to "Vox Fringe" which is the message board for the Fringe Fest. We are a pathetic group. I think some of us are taking the online reviews (written largely, it would appear, by other Fringers - not that there's anything wrong with that) a little too seriously ... but that's coming from a guy with a solid FOUR AND A HALF STAR RATING!


So ... how do you maintain "buzz" - if I got buzz, and they tell me I do - through four long days between performances, with Nick out of town? Yes, Nick has gone home for a gig (flying back into the Twin Cities three hours before curtain on Thursday - stay tuned for how that one pans out) and he promotes our show much better than I do. When we walk into a theater, everyone recognizes him.

Tonight I did a pretty good job, I saw two shows at the Pillsbury, ZOMBIE MANIA and EATING DREAMS, and zipped into the lobby, like a whore, to hand our cards to everyone who came out. If everyone who says they already have my card and have me on their schedule actually shows up, I am going to do very well this weekend. But it is, as I say, a long time from now - Fringe days are like dog years.

ZOMBIE MANIA ... Nick really wants to see that. I hate to burst his bubble - it's fun in it's awfulness, the acting is wonderfully bad, the script is great in its badness, and there is some really awesome gore, but not enough! I am sorry, I wanted a big old splatter-fest, I was warned audience members were going to get messy, I wanted zombies in the audience - please forgive me for transfering my own desires onto someone else's show, but MAN they could have taken that much further.

EATING DREAMS was as good as I hoped it would be, I am going to think it over a little, probably write a review for the Fringe site.

I was debating staying late to see I GOT A REPUBLICAN UP MY ASS, which Nick and Denny saw last night, they said it was very funny, and unapologetically in-your-face about the people running our country. This afternoon Toni and Denny saw CHARLIE BETHEL'S BEOWULF, which they also said was very good.

We have people coming over for dinner tomorrow, so our Fringe going may be limited ... or perhaps not, we'll see how it pans out. Jesus, I have two more full days without a performance.

Thomas Whitely Cullinan is my guy. He's directed both of my full-length works. Who can I trust to direct my new play about the worst year of my life? Tom. Can he tell me what doesn't work, what rings false, what sounds too harsh, what will make people dislike my "character" - and sit back most of the time and just let Dave be Dave? Oh my yes. I was so happy he could come into town for the weekend, see one of our performances and Balls Cabaret, hang out all Sunday, checking out other shows - we had a great time.

Tom went to school at Macalester, which is literally up the street from Denny's apartment, on Grand Avenue. Macalester was the only other school I applied to. I went to the one that accepted me. I think I would have gone insane at Mac (as they call it) but the place means a lot to him. He took me and Zelda for a little tour on Saturday afternoon, that was really great. Denny had taken Toni and I around the grounds once, but Tom was able to fill the place in properly - "I staged a show here ... this little pig-ride was here ten years ago ... I lived here, and here - and here ..."

I wish he could have stayed with us for the week. It was a great couple of days.

* long dead - 7/13/2007

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Why We Tell Stories

Before I saw STAGGERING TOWARD AMERICA today, Rik told me I was really brave to do what I am doing with my show - this actually happened to me, and he was "only telling other people's stories."

Well, that's one way of looking at it. It's nonsense, of course, STA is very definitely his story, told through everyone else's story, and the fact that he is daring to travel such well-trodden ground (What is America?) and such sorely-abused ground (What is Patriotism?) and over, excuse the extended past the point of breaking metaphor, such hallowed ground (9/11) what he has accomplished is all the more stunning.

I was right there with him every step of his journey because I felt exactly the same way he did. Sure, we felt horror and sadness for all the pain and death, but all the "United We Stand" stuff? I didn't get that, either. And maybe I still don't. But I greatly appreciated the point of view he is sharing.

And that BARSTOOL he uses for his set? Man, that is one amazing barstool.

Other People's Stories
STA was the only show I caught today. Toni has been so helpful, doing double-duty on the childcare so I could spend three nights in a row, out late, not just doing my show, but doing those other gigs. I wanted to do them not only to raise awareness for my show, but because, you know, it's a festival, and I am glad I have had the chance to be a visible part of it. And so Toni went out with Nick, Tom and Denny and caught three shows, all in a row; THE GERMAN SOCIALITIES, GWEN HAIRY GWEN GLOSS and SABOTAGE: IN FINE FORM. Apparently they went from bad to excellent ... in that order. Which is the way I'd prefer them, if it were up to me.

Caught some of the SABOTAGE act last night at Balls, those guys are brilliant. If I don't catch them here, I may see them on tee vee someday.

Don't Fear The Topic
My pitch has really picked up, thanks to Nick. I listen to him talk about my show, he's better at it than I am. I approached a number of people after Rik's show, handing out cards, one said, "I've heard good things about this," and another, "what is it about?" And I said, "Two years ago my wife and I had a child who was stillborn and this is about the year I spent coping with it. Now, whatever you think a show like that might be like, forget it." Then someone asked (no kidding) "Is it a good show?" and I said, "It's a great show - your friend here already heard good things about it."

Big change in three days, huh?
Man, is it late. I have become an old man, and the idea of going to bed at three (central time) is just nutty. Of course, the circumstances are strange, the week should even out from here.

What Am I Talking About?
I woke with something like a hangover this morning, good ol' David "Two Beers" Hansen. Too much activity, too much running around in big heavy coats in other people's shows. Toni suggested bagging seeing any shows this afternoon in lieu of relaxing, and I was all for it - even if that meant not going to see THE HOBBIT with Denny and Nick. Their report made me feel I had made the right choice, and that is all I will say about that.

Zelda has learned to shriek like a dinosaur, in just the last two days. We got some rude looks at Cafe Latte.

Director Tom
Tommy has arrived, and we have been having a good time. I am happy to say that not only did tonight's audience more than double last night's attendance (you do the math) but Nick called it the best he has seen me do thus far. It did feel very good, indeed.

I am working on the post-show speech - the one where you thank everyone for coming, urge them to tell their friends - AND mention some other shows for them to see. I have only seen a few, I haven't known what to say. The fact is, you don't have to have seen a show to recommend it. Rik Reppe reportedly (because I have heard it from a number of sources) blew the doors off the Bryant-Lake telling people to see my show - and he hasn't seen it yet! So I will try something like that.

One show I can recommend is TEECHERS, we caught that right after my gig. Man, that is uplifting. It is a familiar tale, an inspirational high school teacher with a number of delinquent kids. The small ensemble is wildly talented, and tell the story with great enthusiasm - I can't single out any of the performers, they all work together very well.

And then we did the Balls Cabaret thing at the Southern. The host, Leslie Ball, is utterly charming and gave the proceeding a great atmosphere. I did my bit, the "Father's Day" scene (I think it went all right) and saw bits from several shows that have moved to the top of my list, not least of which is EATING DREAMS, an ensemble of 16 high school students from Manhattan, Kansas. They were incredible. They did this Futurist manifesto ... I have to see the show again to describe it, it was their own bit, the words were theirs ... Jesus, it's too late for this, I am doing a crappy job of describing anything. But I am telling you, I am going to make that show.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

The Fringe Is Now Open

Damn, what a long day. It began much too early, shortly after midnight, with Zelda waking up, and thinking it was playtime. I spent an hour or so walking her up and down Denny's long, hardwood hallways, or pushing her around the apartment in the stroller.

So we slept in a little, had muffins and the NY Times and tried to nap a little before Denny, Ncik and Toni went off to see our first show of the week, HELEN GURLEY BROWN'S SEX AND THE OFFICE, which they said they enjoyed all right. You will notice I was not with them, I had a full night and so spent the afternoon with Z., walking up and down Grand, getting smiles from everyone.

Nick has taught me to be a bold promoter - there was the crowd of "young people" standing in a circle, talking, outside the Grand Old Ice Cream Shop. I went up to one of them, the one who looked like the leader (becuase he looked like he was my age) to begin handing out postcards, and when he found what the show was about, he told me about a professor at St. Thomas up the street who has written a book about his experiences when he and his wife lost a child through stillbirth. I have tried to contact this man already.

Opening Night
Our house was very, very small. It was a difficult show for me - I have never performed it without at least a few audience members who know who I am. No one laughed much, The tiny house contributed to this, I am sure, but I just couldn't tell if it was flying.

Afterwards I just sat in the dressing room a few minutes, trying to pull it together. I mean, tonight's show was one of the hardest things I have ever done, ever. Ron, the lighting guy for Red Eye (wait, isn't that the name of that new make-over show on Bravo?) came in and told me how great the show was - he'd only seen fragments during the cue-to-cue. He said I was really "articulate" which made me laugh because that was my biggest problem tonight, articulation, but that's not what he meant. I told him how I felt about the audience not laughing ever and he said, "Oh, that's just a Minnesota thing, you don't laugh at someone else's problems" and that just cracked me up, he totally brought me out of my funk.

And most of the audience, a small crowd, was waiting for me outside when I emerged. They were all very taken by the show. It felt great. We will spread the word about Calvin and this show, a person at a time. And more ...

Nick, Denny and I then went to see one of the most-hyped shows in the Fringe. INDUSTRIALS are the scripts from five personal health/propaganda films from the 50s, perfomed by actors. It was oversold, they couldn't fit enough extra chairs in the space. And it was quite funny. And yet, I kep thinking it would be funnier to watch the original movies, which is usually the case when some theater company chooses to reenact something from film or tee vee on-stage. That's just my opinion. But parts of it were very, very funny, and I can see why it is going to be a big hit.

Nick and I ripped out of there when it was over and handed postcards to everyone in this sold-out crowd. People really dig the cards.

Then up the street to perform in VOICE-IN-HEAD, which was WAY better than I thought it was going to be! First off, it wasn't just me, some others who were signed up dropped out, and so not only did they enlist Nick, but Denny, to perform. We all put on silly costumes, and our headsets. I was crowned with a hat made of dangerously arranged drinking straws - and I got a malicious hand-puppet, which freaking rocked.

The fifteen performers did what ever was told of us on our headsets - and we were each given 90 seconds to plug our shows. I did one of the phone bits, and some "crappy Shakespeare." And Nick gave some sincere speech about me, who I am, what my show is, and why you should come -or at least I think that was what he was doing, I was getting detailed instructions on the next act (a witchhunt) and so missed the entire thing. Denny surprised me no-end by doing a very funny monologue about the differences between Minnesotans and people from Ohio.

And we handed out more cards. Tomorrow's show is at 8 PM, on a Saturday. It goes without saying I hope the word is spreading .. and of course, I am praying against hope for a critic. This show is good, it's very good, and I know that better than I know most things. Some attention in the press would be a real coup.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Red Eye Rocks

What a great, long day. The plan was to drop postcards and/or bumper stickersin as many places as possible. Someone I met through the Fringe website sent me a big, long list of places to leave them - I don't know what I would have done without either that list nor my brother's help. Where to go and how to get there, that's what it's all about.

Pretty much every single place we went already had stacks of cards for other shows, I was proud of ours. They are color, they feature the sitting pose - one person said I look like Stanley Tucci in them (Toni will be so pleased) and a hostess at the Bryant-Lake Bowl said, "Oh! Can I have one?" so brightly when I showed them to her, I was wildly flattered.

The list features over 100 places. Denny and I hit over 30, not bad. And driving around Minneapolis on a beautiful day in Denny's Mustang convertible doesn't suck, either.

Nick arrived a little after three, Toni had made dinner, and the five of us got caught up before Nick and I had to endure Twin Cities rush hour traffic to get to tech by five ... or so.

Red Eye Rocks
The Red Eye Collaborative is a great space. It's not as large as I thought it might be based on the floorplan, but it is certainly larger in scope than either CPT and Dobama - and yet more intimate than both. The seating units are wider there than in the other spaces - so they do not go back very far, I am not very far from anyone. The floor is often used for dance companies, which explains why it is so wide and deep.

Thanks to John and Ron, our technical assistants. And the slides are going to look HUGE. We got all the cues down, but did not run the show, we hadn't planned to. Nick knows the show very well, I am in good hands. Now if I would only stop talking so much so my voice is well rested for tomorrow night.

Big Pimping
After tech Nick and I went to the Bryant Lake Bowl to try and chat up people after the "Out-of-Towner" showcase, the one we missed because I was dumb and scheduled our tech during it. We showed up just as everyone was leaving and stood as part of this narrow, receiving line, one of a number of other Fringers handing out cards: "Hi, I'm from out of town, too ... My name's Dave, come see my show ... thank you so much for attending, come see my show ... this is Nick, he's from Cleveland, too ..." It was quite a coup, and excellent timing.

Oh, and this is good - earlier I ran into some people outside Red Eye, showing up to drop off postcards. They asked what my show was, and I said, "I Hate This" and as they looked at my card one asked, "Oh? And what do you hate?" and I said, "oh ... uh, I, ah, my wife and I had a stillborn child, and,uh, this is about that." "Oh," he said kindly and I said, "Yeah, I really gotta work on the pitch."