Tonight is the final performance for this run of Doric Wilson’s “Street Theater” presented by The Other Side of Silence at the Eagle. 12 performances in 15 nights. We are over-sold. It’s been an incredible whirlwind experience jumping on board with this project. The life and history of the play written by someone who was at the Stonewall all 3 days of the riot was palpable. I have rarely been part of a play that was such an event. Some plays have a special meaning for people but this was something extra.
It was incredibly kind of Kathleen Warnock to suggest I audition for the part and so great that the director Mark Finley and producer Barry Childs could see me play the undercover vice cop. From the moment I got the script, I knew this was going to be an experience that required me to push past my fear and to bring it.
10 of the 14 actors returned to roles they had played previously. From my first rehearsal, I could see the difference. No one was searching for how to play their parts or trying to understand what the play was saying. The roles were already in their bodies. Russell Jordan took me under his wings early on and helped me find my way with this. He warned me that many people know this show and frequently with mouth your lines along with you. Mark could feed you your lines without looking at the script during rehearsals. Chris Weikel, who did a tremendous job with making subtle choices with the costumes, also stepped in during a rehearsal and knew most of the lines and blocking.
Michael Lynch has been playing Boom Boom since the first production of this play in the early 80s. Watching him with Chris Anderson as Ceil has been a nightly master class in timing and ease. They are so funny together. The delight I feel is like watching the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. They are indelible characters. I also get to watch Jeremy Lawrence and Tim Abrams do a scene each night that is hilarious to watch but really tragic when you think about it. Doric put so many shifts in it, it’s like watching a repertory play season in 7 minutes.
Jasmyn May Abuarab, Christopher Borg, Josh Kenney, Desmond Dutcher, T. Thompson, Ben Strothmann, Patrick Porter, Gabe Morales, and Sarah Smithson are all wonderful people on and off stage. A cast of 14 and no egos in sight!! I wish the run was longer so I could get to know them all better. If you get the chance to work with TOSOS or anyone involved in this production, do it. They are all so nice and very, very talented.
Our playing space is about 3 feet wide and 30 feet long with audience on both sides. This keep you on your toes. The final scene requires we all be onstage. I quickly grew to enjoy playing in this space. It’s alive and it keeps you fresh. You can’t phone a single moment in or the audience would know. The staff at the Eagle were just great to us. Really helpful and supportive. You can tell a show works when the techies laugh and react at a show. A show rocks when the bouncers and bartenders are enraptured.
A couple people mentioned that I had become jacked since “Martin Denton, Martin Denton.” I was a little worried about this since I read the play and knew I needed to be the tough guy so I hit the gym a bunch and did push ups on my off days. Truth be told everyone working at the Eagle is more ripped than me by a mile but there are all so nice to me. I guess I did pretty well with the show because a couple of the bartenders would buy my drinks after the show. One person said I broke her heart a little because she didn’t like seeing me be the bad guy. It was great fun playing a bad guy. I haven’t really played one since 2003. Not sure what that says. Aimee came to the show 4 times. She said it was a little hard for her to see me be mean at the end of the play.
Most nights after the show I was able to quickly get to the Hudson River Greenway to bike from Chelsea up to Harlem along the river. Some night the wind pushed hard against me. Extensions of the hurricanes, I’m sure. Made me think how there is a connection between all of us and sometimes you have to push your way through forces going against you. Sometimes you have to to do it for others who can’t.
Very few people or bikes were on that path at that hour. The gentle splashing of the river. The implausible beauty of New Jersey in silhouette. The boats docked around 79th. The whooshing of the cars on the West Side Highway. A moon hanging over Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. A peaceful end to a great night each night.