Monday, August 10, 2009

The Post Where I Name Drop

So far on my trip east I've seen some theater, met new people, and looked up old friends and acquaintances, and I'm not yet done. Theater people I've spent time with include Mark Nash, Artistic Director of Vermont Stage Company, David Demke, Founding Artistic Director of Stark Raving Theatre (now defunct), and now Education Director of Shakespeare & Company, Kaitlin Henderson, an actress at Shake & Co. with whom I did the One-month Intensive, Chris Graham--a young actor I met six years ago in PDX who nows makes his way as an actor in NYC, to which he appears to be a permanent convert--and Stephan Dweck, who has managed a well-known popular singer since her beginnings. I also spent an evening drinking with Adam Smith, with whom I acted in four shows at Oklahoma Shakes. Last night, I saw Elizabeth Audley--a former student of Jack Young--perform in Our Town, at the Barrow Street Theatre. Tonight, I'll also see a run of Elizabeth's new one woman show, which she's performing at the NYC Fringe Festival. Others I will be spending time with in the next week include Alex Carney and Rob Issen, with whom I worked at Shake & Co., Kim Weild, of SITI Company, Tome Sime, resident playwright at Bleeker Street Theatre, Jon Conrad, Music Professor at U. of Delaware, David Fox, critic for the Philadelphia City Paper, and a couple of Philadelphia/NYC actors who are friends of friends from Portland (yup, I mean Frankie and Macha.) I'm also seeing a dear friend I've known since childhood, Christine M., with whom I'm staying while visiting Philly.

The theater I've seen so far has refreshed my ear for both Shakespeare and contemporary lyricism. Twelfth Night at Shake & Co. was solid, if not brilliant work, the chief virtues of which were it's warm-hearted romanticism and textual clarity. Measure for Measure was more of a mixed bag, since it was an intern show, but it had the virtue of mixing well the comedy and near-tragedy. The Dreamer Examines His Pillow was, to my taste, a slightly over-earnest, dramatic version, in which some (but by no means all) of Shanley's humor was lost, but the text and argument were very clear and easy to follow. It was also a touch more piquant for being played by a black cast, which I supposed could be considered 'non-traditional,' but if so, only because the author is not black. Dreamer moves through the lens of our frequently fervent sexual obsessions down into the universal substrate that is also an explicit subject of Our Town, which, when one gets passed our over-familiarity with it, is a bracing remonstration for the same kind of sleep walking that panics Shanley.

David Cromer's production of Our Town is intimate, done primarily under house lights and in contemporary dress, as if it were a rehearsal. The acting is direct and un-fussy; the choreography, affecting, as actors move through a small space crowded by a full audience. I'd never seen the show before, and have not read it since high school, so this was a rare opportunity to experience a 'classic' with nearly fresh eyes. I was grateful.

Another thing I've done on this trip: been too physically close to impending violence two days running. On Saturday night, Adam and I went over to Jersey City to visit a friend of his who is managing a restaurant there, and at one point I was called a "piece of shit" by a drunken, undercover cop who veered all evening between playing grab ass/yelling at his drunken girlfriend and waving his gun at the bartender, who wasn't pleased. Sunday afternoon, Stephan introduced me to a stand up comic friend of his who got into a shouting match with an extremely aggressive bum. We were at French Roast, at 85th and Broadway, so many upper west side white folk looked alarmed. I tipped the waitress $20 on a $50 to ease her discomfort.

I also spent three days with my brother and sister-in-law at the house on Lake Champlain, visiting with old mutual friends, swimming, boating, eating, and catching up on family matters. Later this morning, I go up to the Bleecker Street Theatre to participate in a table read of a new play by Tom Simes. Fun trip, so far.


Angela said...

Yay for networking. :)

Angela said...

Sharing some Link Love! <3 I have linked to this blog on my post, Link Love 1. :)

Angela said...

Whoops! Fixed!