Sunday, January 31, 2010

"The Dog That Lays the Golden Eggs'

"Most of the time, the story you want to hear is the one that doesn't make any sense."

Jesus, in 'Bohemian Cowboy'.

It's Sunday night, the shows for the FronteraFest are over. Usually, at the end of a show I always feel a sense of doom, as if there will be nothing else to purposely drive life. Even though I know that it isn't true, its still the collateral damage from pursuing something with unyielding passion. Along the way, however, you look for the last minute oracle or the encouragement that will allow you to keep your wits about you and continue. Both of the shows, Wednesday and the last one, yesterday at noon, were very good shows yet again, ill attended. Yesterday, however, there was some hope. After the show, the mother of a young man I met at the dog park who came to the show said to me after, "I can't believe this theatre is not packed! You must bring this show to San Antonio…" So, again, the last minute efforts yielded something, however small it may have been. It was an affirmation of what I am convinced of and have been since I started this process. My father's story is a moving one, and people respond, 'if' they are in the theatre. There was another young woman who stayed afterwards to talk about the show. I asked her how she came to know of the show and she said, "It was the one show I read about in the FronteraFest program that appealed to me." These are sometimes small affirmations, but they are sufficient to warrant a continued persistence to find an audience for the show.

After doing forty-five shows now, I have a pretty fair command of its delivery. I continue to find small spots of elevated understanding, and feel the surge of power as the show reaches its climatic moments. I feel the undeniable energy of the audience engaging, and now have six great reviews. I will continue, even if it means more preparation, more moving, more raising money, and more talking about the show. In other words, I have sufficient affirmation to continue finding a larger audience for it. How can I leave it with such positive reinforcement? I can't, I will continue.

This week, however, I have to get down to the business of bringing income, and so I will go to work on the music. Last Monday, I finally found an open mic where I could sing some songs. As with the show, I always get very positive feedback with the music, and usually sense a sincerity in the ensuing discussion. I will shift my focus to this manifest, as I know that many of my songs are strong. Even though this is Austin, one of the most competitive cities in the country of music and songwriters, experience has taught me that I can rise and find my place. I will go to work on selling some songs, further, I will try and market myself as a musician and a songwriter for hire. I am not the most academic of the school, but as I look down the fret board of my guitar, it is sufficiently worn and bruised, evidence of the many years and hours it has been played. I don't have the most celebrated of voices, but after years of doing theatre, I am fearless when it comes to performing. I understand the rehearsal process, and will look for others with that ethic.

Oh, the most significant happening of the day has been the departure of Rustin, who has been with me here in Austin, handling all aspects technical. He has been here for ten weeks, and all twenty of the shows, and was a great asset to the production. I could not have asked for a better roommate and technician, as well as the company. We spent many hours playing guitars, talking music, life, and songwriting. Rustin is a very disciplined guitar player, and even though we are from a different school of music, I learned much from him, and hope he also picked some things up from me. I will miss Rustin, already it is to quiet in this apartment, still, Baby is with me, and I think she is staying. 'She is the dog that lays the golden eggs'. (Today, I met another writer at the dog park.) Baby is the gift that keeps on giving. I am convinced that she knows her job to find the people that will help supply the bread and butter for this enterprise. Oddly, she knows just which dogs to play with, and how to draw attention to herself. This is a wonderful variable to have in 'dog heaven' Austin. She never fails to attract dogs and people. As I look back, I am convinced that we were destined for each other, all the lugging and chugging that is a part of owning a dog, is really worth it. It all pales in comparison to the unyielding love from a dog. Even though I consider her a teenager right now, she never looks at me and says, "I hate you, I didn't asked to be brought into this world!" She forgives in an instant, knows when I'm down and gives comfort, smiles at me constantly with her tail, in short, she is a great companion. As odd as it seems, I don't ever feel lonely as I did before she came into my life.

Although I am not at liberty to share all the details of the other project I picked up here in Austin, for now I can tell you that I am writing the book for a musical, and am having a great time doing it. My friends Lucy and Donnie have been a great comfort and creative motivators for me, and I am in the midst of creating a play with Lucy's story, and the only thing I can tell you for now is that it has great potential for eventually giving me another source of income. It has an unbelievable back story, and without much effort, it's something I know how to write. Although I think it a 'fluff play', its still the kind of theatre that people are going to. It will also bring me into collaboration with Robert X Planet, a wonderful composer and songwriter from my old city, Phoenix. As this story unfolds, I will unfold with it— the details. For now, though, there is a 'gag clause' in my 'gun for hire' contract. I will reveal more at a later date. Think Paris Hilton. Think punk rock. Think celebrity and the Beverly Hills elite. What am I getting myself into? Nothing that is emotionally draining, that's for sure. Fluff and fun to write.

As for the quote in the beginning of this entry, "Most of the time, the story you want to hear is the one that doesn't make any sense." Yes, life is filled with stories. Stories we hear, stories that unfold before our eyes. Stories that we tell in retrospect, stories that explain our trajectory. Stories that are about us and the characters that fill the void in our lives. If I asked you, "Who are the characters that are players in your life?" What would you say? There are villains, heroes and supporting characters. There are prophets, teachers, and leaders. There are motivators, tragedians, family members, and all the bit players that make up a story and a life. Sometimes the story doesn't make any sense at all, sometimes it makes perfect sense. As we begin to examine a life lived, it stands in reason it is probably not the life we may have envisioned for ourselves, but if we examine it more closely, it is a story that is filled to the brim with meaning, with levity, and mystery. There may be characters that we need to subdue, fire, or filter, but as Shakespeare so adroitly said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…"

A perfect place for me to exit for this evening…


LaRena said...

So happy to hear your spirits are on the rise. Also that new and exciting projects are on the horizon.Kudos to the dog Baby for alleviating your loneliness.

Gerry said...

Odd, when I saw the one comment to this inspiring entry I thought LaRena, and it was. A little psychic there. I really enjoyed reading how you can remain optimistic and hopeful even when a theater run did not rise to any heights. Because you are able to see that the audience has to see something before it can truly reject it, so getting the people there to see it still remains a viable goal because of the reaction of those who do see it. You know you have a show to offer, which I know, too, that will be worth coming to the theater for. So carry on. Good news about writing for a new show, especially for Phoenix! That will be fun. said...

I was interested to hear about a fund for the less famous singers and band people provided through the music people at the Grammys. It gained a couple of million. What is that? Have you heard of it? I know they help fun arts for education all over. I know there are more starving artists than fat, rich ones.
I enjoyed this entry. I hope new doors open every day.