Josh (multimedia) and Joshhawk (light) are present, we are working tech tonight. They are currently trying to get the video projector set, I am getting a few glimpses of Josh's animations ... and OOOH! I am getting excited. Looking good.
Rolling through the slides of I HATE THIS. The music of Dennis Yurich.
Finished setting cues for I HATE THIS. We are a happy family. So happy with Josh's work. Christopher is our tech booth guy, taking over for Josh when he runs FEVER DREAM.
I have been dismissed, we skated through slides from AND THEN YOU DIE in short order so I could see the changes -- this multimedia rom this piece will largely resemble the 2009 production. Well, no that's not true, either, there are some great additions to clear things up ... good gravy we will be going much faster this time.
We are not tech'ing this evening. Poor Josh. So excited about being to ask to design multimedia for three shows ... only they all are happening at once. My show requires some deceptively not-simple tricks (a speedometer? that's easy ... right ..?)
So ... yesterday I had asked for a speed through for Wednesday ... so Kelly announced today we'd be having one tonight.
Okay. Not prepared for that. I should be, no one's fault but my own. And here we are, during the first break.
I sped through I HATE THIS in 38 minutes.
AND THEN YOU DIE in 45 minutes. Whew. That means Josh & Josh get 15 minutes to mess around.
Spent the evening at Arts Collinwood for the Sunday Roast, featuring writers Lee Chilcote, Catherine Donnelly and Toni K. Thayer. I like Lee and Catherine's work, but I was really there to see my wife. You know how it is.
When I first presented the staged reading in August 2002, someone, I think it was Faye, said it is a long-standing belief that it takes ten years to be able to grapple with and present a major life trauma as a piece of writing. I had done it in less than two. I don't know if it was the right thing to do or not, but that's the way I swing.
When Christine Howey reviewed I HATE THIS after the 2003 Big Box run, she had one little thing to quibble about, and that was that Toni didn't get much of a voice. This is true, but I also think it is only correct. This is about the father, the guy on the outside. Her story, her voice, is hers. If she weren't a writer, maybe I would try to tell that story for her, but I knew I did not have to, that her story is hers, and that she would tell it.
It has taken ten years.
Tonight she told the story, her story, in person. She has incorporated aspects of her experience into other works, but not THE STORY. Calvin's story, as told by the mother.
She'd written this some time ago, and it has sat. It needed work. Her peers had several extremely helpful notes about elements of it which led her story in different directions which strayed from this story. This time. What happened, to her. And she spent a great deal of the day today finishing. She never let it rest - not even when I told her just to let it go, that what she had was fine, that the crowd tonight would eat it up, that she needed distance, and that she could polish it afterward.
Shame on me.
Thankfully, she did not rest. And she got it right. And she read it, out loud. And now her story is ready to reach a larger world.
I HATE THIS 1 hour 6 minutes. This will change, we are used to holding for music, this will change. I am delighted to be more animated in this production. We are sharing. We are getting close to the audiences. We need to stop writing in first person plural.
Broke out the sweater for today's run. Ten year-old Land's End sweater. Pale green, iconic. I feel comfortable in it. The sweater acts for me in places. I hold the sleeves every now and then, and connect with my 32 year-old hipster self.
AND THEN YOU DIE 1 hour 23 minutes???!! How the hell did that work? The show was 1:20 BEFORE I CUT ALL THESE LINES AND ALL THE COSTUME CHANGES ...
Something has got to give.
After notes. I am feeling a little sore. I need to hammer down these lines and have a speed through. One day. Not yet. We do have time, a lot of time. In fact, we are teching tomorrow. I will have sound and video and light by Wednesday, I will be running with full technical elements a full week before we open, how awesome is that?
So. If it is all too much, we have time, to cut, to shape. To make it work.
I would bemoan the fact that my current schedule still makes it very challenging to get a run in ... except we worked AND THEN YOU DIE tonight, from 6:30 to almost ten. Bouncing up and down on my toes for three and a half hours, leaping onto and off of cubes and platforms, running circles around you sooner than you know. ... and dancing. Don't forget the dancing.
Exhausted and hungry, my throat very tired -- my neck even hurts, why does my neck hurt? And then there are my knees. They are both very sore. This is going to be a joy.
At a little after eight, Ali asked if I wanted to "run" it again. And I said ... yes.
That's how I said it. "...yes."
I have been working, in my so-called spare time, on running lines. New lines, to be sure, and old lines. It's just not all in there for me, yet. I keep changing things -- cutting things, mostly. There was a lot of stop-and-start but hearing the first run took an hour twenty was disheartening. I mean, yes, I stopped and started a lot but I have to know, to believe it will be an hour. I cut more. Do I hate saying that? It's out. Have I made my point? It's out.
I had more ideas for revisions before I had even left the parking lot.
What comes through? Repetition, comfort, knowledge ... this play is not, actually in my bones. The words can surprise me. "It has been so long since he died." How do you say that when what you mean is that it has been two months when you also know it has been ten years. Which do you play? You must play two months, only that is a lie, and I hate lying.
The joy emerges, the joy of telling. It has been hard to feel joy. I am just too tired. And busy. Distracted. This is nothing new.
And then there's Ali and Kelly over there, commenting on my blogging. This is my ten minute break, yo.
Working AND THEN YOU DIE in the Storefront tonight. First night in the Storefront, first night with actual space to move, to run ... and something hurts in my left knee. Kelly, the stage managerest with the mostest had ICY HOT and an ace bandage, and so it feels better, but come on. Major suckage.
UPDATE: My knee is fine, actually. But ever since ... well, ever since my knee was first damaged in 2008 I have worried about re-injuring it. Or the other knee. Or anything. I first performed ATYD four months after knee surgery. It's been over two years. But only two years. I just stepped off to jog to my right tonight, and the knee hurt. No popping. Nothing odd. Just couldn't put much weight on it any more. Really dragged down my mood. But we reblocked the entire act.
Tomorrow, Kelly and I crunch lines. Wednesday a run of IHT in the space, Friday ATYD. And Sunday -- run-through. I am looking forward to that.
We had a "run-through" tonight for the benefit of our video sound guy, Josh, and the lighting designer, Josh. They are two different guys named Josh. The LD has a mohawk so Ali calls him Joshhawk, but that is confusing to Josh because it makes him think there's an actual bird in the room.
Act One (I HATE THIS) went not so piss-poorly. There was a performance of DARWINII going on nearby in the storefront, so I have not been speaking full-out ... which means I cannot "bring" much to the performance (as the kids say) but at least it makes sense. It has been sketched out in blocking, I have an idea of where to be. And the lines are, well ... okay, let's not talk about the lines. They exist. They are simply not accurate.
As for Act Two (AND THEN YOU DIE) well, crap. The running, all the running ... the truth is, my ass is bouncing in the most unpleasant way. This is not where I wanted to be right now. Oh well. Let's see what I can pull together in the next few weeks.
Then there's the text, thing. I mean, even that is not so horrid. We only attempted it so the designers, especially Joshhawk could get the gist of everything and have something to work with. Tomorrow afternoon, Monday, we will get this sucker into some blocking order.
Plans are coming together for Sunday's festivities. Need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, make arrangements with Mom and Dad, we may see them on Sunday, too. Weather suggest 50 degrees and partly sunny. I'd like it to be warmer, but as long as there is no snow or rain, I should be satisfied. I'd like to run around the zoo with the children.
I am supposed to be off-book my next Tuesday. This was an arbitrary date arrived at Monday night when it was decided that rehearsal would proceed even though my director needs to be absent. Kelly and I will read lines, I must be off-book. This worried me ... until the past two nights when I discovered exactly how valuable to human mind is and how much can be retained through sheer repetition. So much, locked up there, waiting to re-emerge.
Ali has cut my tethers. So much of the original I HATE THIS was static. Sitting. Telling stories. Until I suddenly leap into action, bolting around the hospital bed in order to hit the intercom, movement is pretty slow and measured. These things will change. Working in Fefu's Kitchen, a tiny room but pretty much the dimensions of the stage in the Storefront, I am encouraged to address everyone, on all four sides, in close. This is new. Turning around, putting my back to the corners, using the entire space. We have been playing, I have been speaking low -- so as not to interrupt performances of DARWINII, but also because I am reserving strength, I am very tired from work, and am aware of how much energy the ATYD rehearsals will take out of me.
Bounce on your toes for three hours. It's a little trying.
We play with gestures, those I was aping for ATYD, get folded back into IHT. Reflection. Memory.
My family is making plans for Sunday. Calvin would be ten. Calvin is ten. How do you fill a decade? With words, to be sure. The girl is looking forward to visiting the zoo. The boy ... has been invited to someone else's birthday party. How do you tell a five year-old he can't go to a birthday party for his schoolmate so you can commemorate a dead sibling? That's easy -- you don't. You take him there. You make it work. It's all a celebration.
No, I have not read these plays out loud, back to back, at one time. Ever. Until tonight. The rehearsals begin, Ali, Kelly and I huddled in Fefu's Kitchen, listening to me read the complete script of I HATE THIS/AND THEN YOU DIE.
First act (IHT): 50 minutes Second Act (ATYD): 53 minutes
Hey, what? Really? Well, that's good news already. I mean, that's not run time, no way, we'll tack ten minutes onto each, I am sure. But IHT used to be 1:07 and ATYD was at least 1:20. Cutting is good. Cutting is very good.
Ali set some of my fears to rest tonight. She says they have the same voice, even if they have different energy. Her concern, if I understand it correctly, was whether these pieces are realistically about the same "character." Can we believe David in the first act is Pengo is the second.
She wanted Pengo to be called "David" once during the second act. I think I put it in the right place. Doesn't matter to me, neither of them are my proper name, anyway.
My voice is tired. I need water near to me at all times. I must be careful.
Seated in the Storefront Studio Theatre at CPT. IHT/ATYD opens here in what, four weeks? I am here to see Brett Keyser in the solo performance Darwinii. The family is out of town for roughly 36 hours so they can visit Toni's ailing grandmother. I take this freedom of responsibility to check out theater and later, to fold laundry.
Went to the bathroom. It is a little jarring. This bathroom. It is comfortable. I mean, it is warm. My earliest memories of this bathroom are cold, the coldest kind of bathroom. Cold toilet seat. Hateful thing, a cold toilet seat. As a performer I subjected myself to that seat numerous times, practicing for Junk Bonds, for Love In Pieces. Before CPT bought the building this was an appliance store called Giant Elephant or White Elephant or something. In the mid-to-late 90s it was a frigid rehearsal space, later an independent bookstore. Now it is a proper black box-type space. The Storefront. This is a keeper. This makes me happy.
I would be happier with beer. No beer for this show, just self-serve soda, water and candy. I neglected to have dinner. I trust that will sharpen my attention on the show.
I understand all 50 seats for Darwinii are sold tonight. The reviews have been very good. I'd see it even if they hadn't been, Brett is an immensely watchable performer. The show lasts 70 minutes, I am sure I could watch him sit still without speaking for three hours.
We begin rehearsals this weekend. I have a production meeting this Sunday morning. I go over lines in my head. I will be in this space. I open my mouth, running lines, in the car, and I am surprised by the sound of my voice. Less insecure, unsure. I told myself, and everyone else, that I play a character in I HATE THIS, but I was so much closer then. I sound authoritative, to myself. Expert. Deep-throated. Wizened. Is that a good thing?
I am 42. I was 32. Which do I play?
The show starts in five. I must put away my laptop. I am looking forward to this. All of this.
Investigating my 2001 journals has not been an emotional journey. And I have felt bad about that. I mean, they are interesting, to me anyway. They make me feel kind of sad, wistful, what have you. I know these things, and there have been a few surprises but largely I see a callow youth, walking blindly into a dark forest.
At least, that was how I had been until I began peeking ahead. The last entry before we learn the truth will be that of March 18. The next day we go the hospital, and emerge five days later. My next journal entry is several pages long, detailing our experience. If you know I Hate This, you know that part. And you would think I know it, too. But I was surprised.
Surprised because, up until this point, reading about the expectancy, the planning, such as it was, for this first child, I have been reading the words of a stranger. I am no longer that guy, and have not been since March 19, 2001. When I pick up the story after, then the words I am reading are mine. That's me, ten years ago. When I was born into this new world. I know who that guy is.