Sunday, March 15, 2009

'LA Times and Dodging Bullets'

It's been quite the weekend. I was awoken Friday morning at 2am by Kurt, informing me that our review had come out in the LA Times. I was exhausted from being at the airport and theatre the previous day, and for a short time, thought I was dreaming. When I was a little more awake, I realized that he probably would not have woke me if it had been a bad review, and voila! it was an absolutely amazing review! I jumped up and went to the initial posting on the internet, (wide awake now) and was a little taken aback to be compared to Bergman and Proust. It was quite a 'heady' moment. Of course, I couldn't go back to sleep, and finally, I went outside at about 3:30am and went for a walk on the quiet streets of West Hollywood, thanking Gods and spirits for such good fortune. I'm no fool to think that forces beyond my control aren't at work here, and if you could be inside my view of vision, and could see what I have seen, you could not deny the magic of these 'acts of faith'. I don't know if I told you that the night we received our other big review in the LA Weekly we were probably the only theatre performing on 'Oscar Night', and would probably not have had press in at all if we had not been the only game in town that night. Well, of course, after that review came out, the LA Times could not ignore it. The 'Backstage' review was a little 'weird', but still folks, for the LA Times to come and give us a review that was completely positive is definitely a miracle. So, now we are all shaking our heads wondering what to do with all of our positive press. Move and shuffle the feet forward, that's the ticket.

This was also the weekend our tiny theatre entourage produced the world premiere of David Barker's one person show, 'Dodging Bullets' here on Friday and Saturday night. It was a great show, and having David here at the 'bohemian apartment' was a blast. It was non stop entertainment and improvisation. 'Dodging Bullets' is David's personal account of being in the door way of his sister's house when his brother-in-law, (a brain surgeon) shot his sister in the chest and shot at him but missed his head by inches. His sister did survive, and although the bullet missed David, it was quite the harrowing event to go through. David is the department head of the MFA program for 'performance studies' at ASU and a long time teacher, director, and performer in The Valley of the Sun, and we were once again fortunate to have him here for the 'tryout' of his show. Because David has been a teacher to so many over the years, both of the 'houses' were full of people, especially on Saturday, of former students and colleagues of his.  We had a great time with 'David Barker Weekend'. 

Last night, Fernando Teson, my fellow teacher and theatre all around player came from Phoenix to see Barker's show last night, and mine tonight. There were five of my former students there as well.  After, we went to Canter's, which has become our non-glamourous post show work ethic meeting place.

So, here I sit, a few hours again from another show, and of course everything that entails. Although I've done the show fourteen times now, I still have some jitters, and still get a little sinking feeling in my stomach. After I've done twenty-five or so shows, some of that will probably go away, but in the strange world of 'the one person show' I don't think it will every completely subside. Up there alone, there isn't anyone to save you, if you get lost, if you have a bobble, if you miss a line or (knock on wood) a section, no other actor will come to your rescue. You can't ask the audience to 'pardon you' while you go look in your script to find out where the hell you are. If you loose your place for a moment, you take a breathe and start scanning through where you've just been, and hope that the line will come. Doing theatre is definitely a high form of 'thrillseeking', and the one man show is going through rapids by yourself with a very small paddle. Really, though, folks, isn't that really what life is all about? Even though we attempt to secure ourselves and surround ourselves with safety nets and all manner of modern technology, non of us our immune from the 'one man show' that befalls us at times in our life. 

Today, I am filled with gratitude, humbled by the wonderful fortune that I had no control over, and optimistic about the bend in the river just up ahead. If anything, though, what much of this has taught me, is that one must always look down into the water of the present, and take notice of its splendor. See you soon. 


Gerry said...

Sound like you had another full house to the 'bohemian apartment' which will probably live long in our memories, as will the Canter delicatesson restaurant and the Elephant Theater Lab. I am so glad that David Barker came with friends and got his one man show up and running. And Fernando and five of your former students drove over to see your play and his. Good to hear from you and what you are feeling and thinking about everything that has happened down there. Good luck with the performances you have left and the Bukowski night. Mom

Grace said...


Pamela said...

I'm so happy for you Raymond!! I am planning to come see you this week. Will let you know when.

Ann said...

I can just imagine what a exhilarating surprise such a positive review was! I was impressed at the literary excellence of the reviewer, as well as his grasp of your performance. Those LA people know what they are talking about. I enjoyed hearing just how delighted you were and shared your night walk of LA streets. It sounds like David's show was something to see too...sounds like the harrowing experience of his life.

DB said...

Well, reading about your LA Times review I am experiencing a vicarious joy as I hope others are who have been following the build up and opening of your show. Good for you. Good for you.

I also appreciate you comment about theatre being a thrill seeking activity. It surre is. Maybe that's why it's such a rewarding pleasure.

Some years ago I played Zorba, the musical. It's a hugh athletic part. I used to sit backstage before every perfomance at 5 minutes wondering how the hell I was over going to get through it. By the curtain call I was flying.

I also appreciate your comment that life is a one man show. It is that: live, instant, dangerous, perplexing and real.

Congratulations. DB

LaRena said...

So good to have you back blogging about all of your exhileration and anxieties. It is very nice to share the thrill of your success. It will live in your memory forever and give you a special strength to draw on as you go forward. always a one man show keeps everyone reaching for their particular star. May you be awakenedd many times more to a rave review.

FrankandMary said...

I saw that you were following my blog.....and now just realized you are Gerry's son. ~waving~
Yes, be thankful for good fortune, but I am sure it was also A LOT of hard work.

I think the jitters are normal and I would worry about a person who felt they had something so down cold that they felt nothing at all. A rote performance would not be very engaging. Like a play without emotional content. That is the very content I go for. ~Mary