Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who am I this time?

I never know exactly where this juggling act will take me.  Which juggling act?  The one for which my Job Description makes use of numerous slashes.  Actor/Theatre Director/Casting Director/Writer.
So far, Writer is the hat that pops on and off the easiest, and always at my whim.  No one's paying me to do it and it happens whenever I decide to jot something down.  The jot might become a blog post, a Twitter tweet or a scene, but there is no discipline involved ... yet.
And Casting Director?  The most fickle.  When it's least expected, I'm selected ... but most recently the jobs have come few and far between.  Little projects, and "scouting" talent as I see everything I can and report back to my colleagues in town.  And just as I get ready to make an official announcement of retiring from that profession, something gets me back into the ring.  
I'm reading plays, and have a few projects I'd love to direct, and if all goes well I'll have a show in production in the not-too-distant future..  But there is no concrete offer yet, no plan in place.  Now, however , it's my return to performing, after a 17 year hiatus, that has me most "pumped".
Acting has been the constant, surprisingly enough.  It's where it all began, with my first grade, after school report to Mom, breathless and beaming ear to ear, that "the teacher said I read with expression!".  In my memory, I've barely gotten my coat off when I'm telling her the news.  Two years ago I followed a Twitter tweet, which led me to the ensemble of "The Miseries of the World" in the World Premiere production of Tod Machover's Death and The Powers: The Robots' Opera.  A collaboration between the A.R.T., M.I.T., and Chicago Opera Theatre, it was how i had the opportunity to work for director DIane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage, who together created a movement piece with our ensemble, which was performed within the opera.  I was cast the following summer in the winter 2011/12 production of Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA as Telegin, for the Apollinaire Theatre Company production at Chelsea Theater Works in Chelsea, MA.  This past spring, I auditioned for area directors, producers and casting personnel through the Annual StageSource auditions.  That audition led to invitations to audition for some projects that conflicted with the revival of Uncle Vanya in Oct/Nov, though callback auditions for the Huntington Theatre Company led to being cast in another ensemble, that of the Citizens of Grovers Corners, who are The Dead in the third act cemetery of David Cromer's production of OUR TOWN.  Since closing, I've been auditioning and will next perform the role of Blue in Keith Reddin's ALMOST BLUE, May 3-18, with Theatre On Fire at the Charlestown Working Theater, followed by The Doctor, the most famous stranger in theatrical literature, in Wax Wings' production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Factory Theatre, late June/early July (more to follow).And then I'll never work again.
That's The Actor's constant fear, in a society that doesn't support the Arts enough to guarantee a living wage to actors in pursuit of a career.  Very few of us make a living out of just being an actor.  The ubiquitous waiters and waitresses aside, actors work in all industries and positions.  Through permanent jobs and in temporary positions, I've had dozens of  titles, from dishwasher to assembly line worker, retail clerk to phone receptionist, insurance claims adjustor to food stylist's assistant (when I "picked out the good pieces" of Cinnamon Toast Crunch from scores of cases of boxes, poured into garbage bags and sifted through for the "hero pieces" that would then fill the perfectly photogenic cereal bowl of hand-selected sweet and crunchy morsels).
We live in hope, which springs eternal.
And my most recent new title?  Playwright ... well, "aspiring playwright".  I finally. after years of toying with the idea, wrote a 10 minute play for submission to this year's Boston Theatre Marathon, but was not selected.  Oh, well ...
But that won't stop me, just as the many auditions over the past 35 years, that did not lead to acting jobs, haven't stopped me from moving on.  And trying. trying. trying again.
And so in the coming week, I'll do another StageSource Audition,and go into rehearsal for ALMOST BLUE.
Watch this space:)

CLYBOURNE PARK: SpeakEasy's 21st Season Continues

CLYBOURNE PARK/SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, BCA

SpeakEasy Stage Company continues  it's mission with a visit to CLYBOURNE PARK

In a statement on it's website ( , SpeakEasy Stage Company says the mission is "to connect, inspire, and challenge our audiences with the most socially relevant theatrical premieres featuring the most talented artists in Boston."  And halfway through the 21st season, following exemplary productions of The Motherfucker With The Hat, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Other Desert Cities, that mission is being fully realized, show by show.  And now, with the sold-out and extended run of Clybourne Park, they once again honor that mission.
The Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play, by Bruce Norris, opens with a first act that parallels Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In the Sun (which, in a great show of mutual support and planning, is being currently  revived by the Huntington Theatre Company at their BU Theatre mainstage).  Bev (Paula Plum) and Russ (Thomas Derrah), the grieving parents of a Korean war veteran whose return home is marked with tragedy, are preparing to sell their home in the white middle-class Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park to the black Younger family of Lorraine Hansberry's play.  The fears and prejudices of the white neighborhood are represented by the visits of the white clergyman (Tim spears) and the Linders, Karl (a character in "Raisin", played by Michael Kaye) and his pregnant wife (Philana Mia).  The other two characters in Act One are the black maid, Francine (Marvelyn McFarlane) and her husband Albert (DeLance Minifee).
In Act Two, the acting ensemble is back for a fast-forward to 50 years later, in 2009, as Steve and Lindsey (Kaye and Mia as the penultimate white yuppie couple)  grapple, with the aid of their lawyer (the chameleonic Plum),  with a black couple (MacFarlane and Minifee) over concerns from the neighborhood organization about plans to destroy the historical home and build a McMansion.  As the meeting careens around issues of race without really addressing them, a construction worker (Derrah) digging in the yard unearths literal secrets while the assembled group exposes secrets of their own.
The drama inherent in the situations is contrasted nicely with a surprising and welcome amount of comedy.  The versatile ensemble fills Christine Tedesco's skeletal set with crisply defined characters, under the keen direction of Bevin O'Gara, who trusts the actors and allows the play to unfold as it  tells it's story.
Originally set to close this Sunday, Clybourne Park has been extended through Saturday, April 6, but tickets are selling quickly for the added week.  Don't miss it.