Thanks to Shentel you you can win a free cellphone from Sprint this weekend at the performances of Dead Man's Cellphone at Wayside Theatre. All you have to do is see the show and sign up for our mailing list. If you are already a Sprint customer you can have the phone as a free upgrade. Come see the show and have some fun.
Three cheers for our Wayside Theatre costume department and three more for Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The costume department entered a local radio contest to win free lunch for an office staff and we won! Great stuff. Everyone is noshing down and enjoying the small victory. And the smoothies of course.
I rarely beg. I often don't even suggest beyond putting things on my Amazon.com Wish List. (See I didn't even link to it.) But, ever since I saw video of the Parrot AR.Drone from CES2010 last year, I knew I wanted one of these lovely little hovering, flying gadgets. Turns out they are available for pre-order exclusively from Brookstone as of now. So, those who are thinking ahead to the holiday, think this.
Quite an afternoon at our production of Always Patsy Cline at Historic Jordan Springs. As everyone already knows we've been suffering from extreme heat of late, and of course that means there is the potential for violent summer storms. They were called for today and we got one. Well, we got a doozy. About 3 songs into the show, the power went out in the area where the venue is located, and of course we all rushed into the theatre to make sure everyone was OK. They were. The show had come to a stop as all of the electronics were off, musical instruments, lights, sound, etc... But as we started to assess the situation it was apparent a major storm was coming through. Our stage manager who was in communication with our backstage dressing area told me they needed help and I took off in that direction.
Well, to tell the truth, the backstage area is a small tent on the back porch of the building. It's a large porch that wraps around the historic structure. As I rounded the corner the wind caught me, and blew back a step or two. I saw the actress playing Patsy Cline holding onto our costume intern holding onto the Exec Director of the facility with all three of them trying to hang onto the costume rack as it had blown over. The tent was blown apart. At the same instant I saw trees being snapped one by one coming down the hill towards us. If was as if some invisible giant was knocking them over one by one as it made its way towards the building. I screamed "get inside" at the top of my lungs and everyone did. The trees continued to fall as the microburst or whatever it was moved on through. The rain was intense for awhile and then let up just as quickly as it had arrived.
Of course without power we had to end the show for the day and we offered all who were there to come back next weekend. Everyone was "greatly relieved" that all were OK, but the folks out on that porch were quite shaken. The pictures at this Flickr Feed are from the aftermath and you can see some of the tree damage. I understand from a friend that there was considerable damage like this north and east of us as well.
It's been quite a weather year for us, what with two extreme snowfalls this past winter, extreme heat, and now this wind storm or whatever it was.
Oh, and Patsy's scarf blew off to who knows where from the rack it was hanging on. I guess we'll make another one.
The Shirley Sherrod farce continues and everyone is falling over each other trying to define racism again and look for a teachable moment. Frank Rich weighed in as did Maureen Dowd, but they aren't the only ones. Each have some good thoughts, but both only exacerbate the problem in the end. The dancing around and on this issue (both the current firestorm and the bigger picture) has long become an insult to anyone's intelligence, or rather anyone who chooses to actually use the gift of intelligence they were given. Face it, racism and all other forms of prejudice exist. Always have, always will, and those who feel like or hope that it can be eradicated see Don Quixote when they look in the mirror. The comments and commentary and political posturing are indeed hurtful and destructive in any case, but especially when they are used to gain an advantage (on all sides), and if you ask me anyone who does just that is guilty of a far greater sin.
Set aside skin color or physical appearance or any other blatant difference for just a second. Look for a moment at our current political scene. I ask you, is not the current climate of political speech on all sides just as capable of being described as "hate speech?" It happens locally, nationally, and globally, and I dare say if there ever is some sort of intelligent life on other planets discovered, it would happen galatically. It is accepted as normal behavior because, well, it doesn't matter if you destroy someone if they are playing the same game you are. But it is just as destructive, and I dare say more insidiously hateful. But, my point is this, humans love and humans love to hate and despise. Whether they are hateful of someone who looks different or believes different the root cause doesn't matter. Whether those beliefs are religious or political it doesn't matter. What matters is that vilifying "the other" gives some sort of weird comfort or succor to those who fear their own existence.
The funny thing about all of this is that we hide behind accepted norms and pretend that the hateful spirit behind all of this is something new, and dare I say, hateful when it emerges. The energy expended on trying to deflect a charge of racism or any other -ism is astounding.
In my view, the sniveling and shirking that prevents any honest discussion of our predilection as a species to be hateful and destructive to those we don't like (for whatever reason) by hiding behind accepted norms is more harmful because it is an unnatural and forced veneer that hides what and who we really are.
The reviews are coming in for the Wayside Theatre production of Dead Man's Cell Phone and so far we're up 2 to 1. The Culpeper Star Exponent liked the show and you can tell the reviewer gets Sarah Ruhl and our sense of humor. The Winchester Star (which I won't link to because it remains stubbornly behind a paywall) also picked up on Ms. Ruhl's intent, and our intent in producing the play. Unfortunately, the Northern VA Daily, seemed to miss the fact that the audience was in stitches laughing at the opening night performance he attended (reviewers never comment on that when they want to trash something). You can tell from the offhand style of the writing in that review that the reviewer either had a bad night, the play hit too close to home, or he just doesn't like what the play has to offer. No harm there, but I'm surprised at the lack of a sense of humor and the focus on the vulgarity, given other offerings we've produced that this particular reviewer as loved because of those same things. I happen to know him well, and he's been known to be fond of some vulgar humor, although I don't think the play, or our production stoops to that at all, as he contends. Perhaps he should have seen the production of the play at another theatre where the big fight scene was conducted with oversized penises. But then, there's that subtle thing going on.
In any regard, we knew from the get-go that this play wasn't for everybody, but then no play is. As they say, you pay your money and you take your chances.
So, we'll take the good with the bad, and be very happy for the good, recognizing just how crazy this game of producing professional theatre really is.
I can't say I'm completely up to speed on this whole political fracas concerning the NAACP, Andrew Breitbart, and Shirley Sherrod. That said, this looks like one heck of a summer firestorm that has brought out the worst of everybody from the politicians to the media. I briefly caught snippets of a press briefing on this and you'd think by the questioning and the tentativeness of the answers that we were going to war.
Everyone seems out of breath, everyone seems out of brains, and everyone seems out of balance. You'd think we might have some bigger issues to deal with these days, but then again, I think the idiot who got this whole thing started got exactly what he intended. But then that's politics these days when showmen (or those who'd like to be showmen) substitute for the real players all around.
I'd say what a spectacle, but then would demean the concept of spectacle.
I haven't done a Sunday Morning Reading post in awhile, simply because I haven't had the time to do much Sunday morning reading. But here's some Monday night reading. See if you can find the parallels between the two articles.
We opened our production of Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone last night at Wayside Theatre and it was a remarkable opening. The humor, the story, and the production all seemed to connect with the audience and the house was rocking with laughter and fun times. The excellent cast did a great job, lifting their performances to new heights. It was a great birthday present for yours truly to have such a wonderful opening night communion of audience and the production.
Today is my birthday. More importantly, today is when we open Sarah Ruhl's play Dead Man's Cell Phone. This last month has been a wild and exhausting ride as we've prepared and opened (or will have opened by tongith) two shows. We opened Always Patsy Cline last weekend, and then plunged into technical rehearsals for Dead Man's Cell Phone the next day. Don't ask me how they are going, as I've almost been reduced to taking one step at a time without having any clear perspective given the workload.
But then, that's not entirely accurate, because I can say that all the artists involved have been doing stellar work and I'm very, very pleased and proud of the efforts they are putting forth. Always Patsy is doing quite well and is a treat to behold. Dead Man's is one of our best efforts at Wayside Theatre, and is going to rattle a few cages as it is a different kind of show than we normally do. (Yeah, it makes our audiences think and I know many don't like that.) But the two preview audiences enjoyed it immensely yesterday, and in very different ways. The afternoon audience laughed quite a bit and applauded at the end of almost every scene. The evening audience was a listening audience that then came alive with laughter when Jeanne met Gordon and all the pieces came together for them. It was quite a ride. Tonight's opening audience will probably be somewhere in between, but then I imagine Ms. Ruhl's play will have a different response for each of the performances here at Wayside Theatre during the run. Call me twisted, but I relish that thought.
Back to the birthday thing. I'm somewhat blessed that I'm doing what I want to be doing as I tick of number 54 today. I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to do it given the fiscal challenges we continually face. It's weird as the challenges that surround making the art grow more difficult each and every day, the joy of getting in and doing the art becomes more powerful for me. It also becomes easier on some levels as all of the other bull shit seems like it just wants to make walking to the stage feel like wading through a dung heap. The dichotomy is astounding and sometimes almost too much to handle these days. I'm questioning more and more whether or not the highs are worth the lows, even though, like an addict, I find the thought of losing the highs terrifying.
But then, we get a moment like the many we had in each of the two previews yesterday where the audience and the show meet in some sort of union or communion and I realize how precious and fragile this all is, and how much it needs to be preserved. More importantly, how much I need to keep doing it and how much it is like oxygen for me.
As truthful as that is for me, I have to admit I'm finding it tougher and tougher to convince those who need to support this thing to do so, and that's wearing me down quite a bit. The bitch of it is, in our circumstance, while the challenges are large ones, in order to manage our way through it, the support we need really isn't that enormous.
Perhaps I delude myself when I wrestle with all of this and think it is all worthwhile. There's no doubt that art (in any form) is increasingly more disposable, which implies the artists are as well. The truth that art exposes is also increasingly disposable and maybe that's the key. Why dwell on the truth, when it is easier and more numbingly intoxicating to swallow bromides and half-truths and call it a day?
Anyway, it's a birthday today, and another opening night. Along the way, I'll be at the Always Patsy Cline performance this afternoon. I doubt I'll blow out any candles along the way, as we'll all be working too hard to make both a success. In so many ways, that's a gift given better than any other.