Tuesday, March 2, 2010

'Los Angeles Calling'

Two very significant events occurred today. I'll start with the second one first. I got a call from the young actress who is spearheading the production of 'Under the Desert' in Los Angeles. Apparently, there is quite the 'buzz' going on in the theatre about this play. They are currently 'workshopping' the play, which is stopping everyone in the theatre to watch and comment. It’s the first substantial conversation I've had for awhile with Agatha, (the actress) and let me explain that there is nothing like it in the world for a playwright than to speak to someone who sounds exactly like the character you created and 'gets' every nuance, every gesture, every beat of the action. I think in the life of a playwright it doesn't happen often enough, but when someone really 'gets' your play, and is ready to stop everything in their life to find the means to do it—it becomes a great day. More good news. Apparently, there is an actor attached to do the play who is equally connected to the play, who also happens to be great friends with the Artistic Director, who is ready to commit to directing the play. What's that children's story about the spider? This is that story. Its interesting to note that a play often has a life of its own if enough copies of it get spread around. Generally, if you can get a play laying around in a theatre, an actor, a producer, a director, or someone may pick up that script and read it. If the Gods are in your favor, that person will find an instantaneous connection to your play. One note on the actual script. The title, the character description, and the set description are on that very first page. Usually, whoever that someone is who reads your play will have to get immediately attached to what they read there. I spent lots of time on that first page because I loved describing the set, but more importantly, I knew that someone would read it and it had to have immediate impact. This is not something I knew, this is something I learned. Also significant is that this would not have happened had Mr. Todd__________ believed enough in 'Bohemian Cowboy' to send me down to Los Angeles to develop it. I gave six plays to Dave _______, the artistic director there, of which, whenever I would check, were sitting on a shelf inside the office. This is probably what happened. Dave, who also teaches acting there, probably was rummaging around the office for some 'scenes' he could do for his acting class. There— those plays were on the shelf. He probably opened up the one on top, which was 'Under the Desert'. He probably took the first scene of the play into an acting workshop and gave it to the actress to read. She read it and the reaction was immediate. Now I'm speculating here, but I think this is how it went down. Of course it helped that Kurt and I were hanging out around the theatre rehearsing day after day, and of course it helped that the play 'we' were doing was getting some attention, so in the end, we had that little bit of credibility to warrant 'a look'. Still, do you see how many variables have to line up? Let me tell you, though, when you start analyzing all of those odds, something had to be working there. I'm not talking about divine intervention, I'm talking about being on the inside of theatres long enough to know how this sometimes can work. A cliché now, but it works here, 'Luck is when preparation meets opportunity' could be one way of explaining it. Now, the second part of the story has to do with this addiction to theatre, this mistress, this unrelenting love affair with ghosts and characters, real and imagined. Miracles occur because after ascertaining the muscle of belief in something relentlessly, the circumstances finally appear to facilitate the miracle. Now, this is not a Broadway production, its probably not going to make me a dime, but this is the thing that is hard for me to explain about a play. When the click happens, and the play is on its way to 'going up', the entire world could be burning up around you. You could be starving, you could be in a hospital. You could even be living on the street, you could be going through the worst hell of your life, but when that something happens with a play in a miraculous way and its going up, you can't help but think about the infusion of God, or the way the universe had to converge to create those circumstances. You have an epiphany that every year of struggle suddenly becomes worth it. This is why I do what I do. The wonderful thing about this situation is that I am not in the driver's seat spinning belief in the play, someone else is doing it. That becomes real, that becomes a spiritual experience. Isn't that cool? Brenda, if you are reading this, get out your plays. I'll talk to you on FB.

The first, (which is not nearly as exciting but exciting enough) is a job. Not a real secure one, but one I am excited about because it has to do with something I believe in. Last Friday, I volunteered to work a show called 'The Austin Variety Show', which is well, a variety show that is taped live and then broadcast on local cable and streaming internet. The show opens with a monologue by a man named Tom Booker and the producer of the show, Troy Dillinger. Troy has the studio that I am going to be performing in and also teach acting and playwriting. It was a great show! I really liked it! The room it was set up in was The Highball, which is a hip retro club in South Austin. The show is sort of Rat Pack meets Marilyn Manson meets Chuck Barris, (the gong show). It's taped live, with a 'studio' audience, which gives it an extra kick of enthusiasm. The line up is as follows: The opening monologue, sort of spoofing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, followed by a comedian, a band, a game show, and then, this is the kicker, a burlesque show. I don't know how to really explain how it all goes together, but it does. So, I will be doing advertising sales for this show. I went to my first 'sales' meeting this morning. The interesting part of this is that they are doing exactly what I envisioned for Caffeine!, so it will educate me on the business of selling advertising for television. I'm excited, scared, nervous, but determined.

Anecdote: I was probably nineteen years old and answered an ad for a sales job in Phoenix. It was to sell ad for a start-up company, The Construction Yellow Pages. Now, it had nothing to do with the 'real' yellow pages, I think they even called it 'Canary Pages' or something like that. Anyway, I lasted a week without one sale. It was brutal. I was terrorized. So I know how this works, however, I did not believe in The Construction Yellow Pages, I do, however, believe in this. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I start Thursday, I'll let you know how my 'sales' job goes. I hope I don't have to 'eat crow' here. If I do, I'll let you know that as well. Hopefully, I'll at the least 'eat turkey'.

I wanted to also tell you not to be concerned over yesterday's 'down' blog. My intent was to make you laugh, not to have you worry. I do understand how awful a day can go, and I know you do as well. I was blue, but I knew it wouldn't last, but thank you so much for your comments. Your comments really make my day so much better. It gets me excited to write, its like going to a rehearsal only it's only on the page. Love it. I really am beginning to care about all who read this blog. Your comments help me know how it effects you, and that is always encouraging! Onto the next right thing…

Try this. Get yourself a composition book. You can get them for a dollar at some dollar stores. Use it to write phone numbers, notes, lists, memories, stories, anecdotes, lines, quotes, poems, songs, ideas, etc. Jumble them all up together. It will become a little piece of art. After about a year of doing this, it will have a 'presence' in your home. Its really ultra cool!


Gerry said...

This was a fun entry to read. It really resonated with me about the experience of having someone fall in love with your play enough to do it. That happened when Bryan John fell enough in love with Happy Hello, Sad Goodbye to want to do it. Oh, that production was sheer pleasure for me, him bringing in all those trees from the nursery to create the mountain cabin set, having my daughter and your sister Ronda play one of the granddaughters as well as sister Linda playing Martha. Bryan writing and singing a song for the show, having a talk with the character who played Jimmy because he was slacking off, he had come back from Hong Kong, sort of a spoiled guy but attractive. I was a lot more worried during the production of Prince from Saturn. I was also very strained when we took Aunt Santhea on the road up to Utah. Each play can be such an experience in your life, and all the memories you take with you from the experience are in a category all their own because this was art, theater, that some how had some success in spite of all the obstacles.
I know how many times you took on this experience either with one of your plays or someone else's. I will never forget some of the Amy's Attic productions, a precious children's play, really one of your finest. You made that little clown I gave you a special part of that play. And the children all dressed up as clowns. It must be something to get some royalty on that play each year and imagine that somewhere somebody was having fun recreating Amy's Attic for a bunch of kids seeing the magic of theater. Yes, a playwright can have some wonderful experiences if he perseveres.

Chuckh said...

Exciting news. I don't remember which play that one is. I may have read it a while back. Hope it happens!