Domestic Knight

I decided to spend the afternoon in the AMC 42nd St. watching The Dark Knight. I have an affinity for Batman. I grew up pretending to be him and in large part owe my life as an actor to portraying Batman and Spiderman as a boy. Who better to be in the school play than the kid always wearing a cape?

I will have to see this one again in a month or so. So I can forget it a bit first. I have a few bones…

I guess they overdubbed Bale’s Batman barking wolf voice. It was weird and it doesn’t give him a lot of places to go. He spoke less as Batman in the first one. For that matter, everyone did. This has a lot of speechifying on morality. AND IT MAKES NO SENSE!! Christopher Nolan and his brother gave everyone these diatribes about being more than a hero or less than a hero and it all comes down to dealing with terrorism or not. Breaking rules after others have broken rules. Batman, Joker, and Two Face are supposed to be crazy but they aren’t. They’re just angry. They’ve come up with their own codes but you lose patience with what they are saying because in the bigger scheme, IT MAKES NO SENSE!!

Cillian Murphy makes a cameo that pretty much wipes away his performance in the first movie, rendering it worthless. Why was Scarecrow there? Why was he being a vigilante? Why did he have just a few cheesy throw away lines?

Michael Caine was indecipherable in the back half of all his big lines. Not because of the Cocknye accent but because he stopped paying attention to what he’s saying. The meaning was dropped. Let’s face it, these guys were really doing a George Bernard Shaw play here in a graphic novel veneer. God bless them, I know from experience it’s hard speaking Shavian text and making it engaging.

Gary Oldman and Eric Roberts are doing good things in this. Oldman is the heartbeat and backbone of this movie and I’m glad he got more to do on this one. I used to think he was masturbatory as an actor but he has really added humanity to his arsenal. Just a few years ago, he’d be top choice for Joker.

Aaron Eckhart looks like Aquaman in a suit. The Two Face make up did not disappoint later in the movie. I wonder if he ever asked himself “What Would Billy Dee Williams Do?” while they were shooting.

Chicago looked good in this one. Best use of that town since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Ledger was truly spellbinding. I didn’t know what to expect moment to moment. He made my palms sweat. While I didn’t care for the Bush agenda/anti-terrorism thread in the movie, I thought he was marvelous. Such freedom. They gave you just enough to start coloring in the rest about this person. His Joker is actually a person. I thought a lot about Hitler being a failed artist. I think that was a bit of Bob Kane’s impulse with the character. An evil creative genius. He never slipped into silly or took it to some hammy place the way others have with the Joker. You would never get to the bottom of this Joker.

I hope they keep replacing the Rachel Dawes character. Maybe America Ferrara can get a swing at it next. You just have to be female and brunette. Maggie Gyllenhaal was good. Nobody’s talking about this switcheroo. Poor Katie Holmes. Maybe Batman will save her in real life.

This movie got me thinking about a few things. Here we go.

I just read 1 in 37 of us are on some database for being a suspicious person. 1 in 37. I would guarantee I am one of them with those odds. I’ll be standing naked in some humiliating way having to justify my writing and performances.

So let me go for broke here with the simple stuff. Some of it’s old hat now but…

1. Why does no one talk about the plane hitting the Pentagon? Where’s the hole in the building? Where’s the video on all of that?

2. What was supposed to happen with the 4th plane?

3. Why did it take almost a month before they said it was Al-Qaeda? Why haven’t we found them?

4. Why has no one taken responsibility?

5. Why do they use “Homeland” like the Nazis?

6. A plane hit the Empire State Building years ago but it didn’t fall down. I bet no one planning the attack thought they would go down. Hmmmm. It disturbs me because I don’t feel we have real answers. What if it was a botched job? What if we will never understand the full plan?

7. Oil and money. That might have been the plan somehow but now they want us out of Iraq. The folks they put into place want us out. Don’t be too shocked if Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suddenly disappears or is taken out.

8. What happens if the oil companies profits go away and the government has to bail them out like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

We need a Batman-hold the FISA-to get us out of the corruption cycle. Like with dealing with the Joker, we’ll never get to the bottom of it and find the answers. There’s a point where it just needs to stop. The world needs to be covered with a thicker ozone and self-esteem layer.

The trick is we don’t know who the bad guys are. But no matter how confusing the truth may be about the events, we can’t turn on ourselves so much we can’t trust ourselves. Eventually, we have to stop fighting everyone or we will become more than just weak.

Back in the Ring

Festivals are funny animals. You have odd schedules and wind up having to do a revival in the middle of it. I had my first show last night since my matinĂ©e on Saturday. The 6pm Weds crowd was good but it was a little disjointed. I can tell now where they are before I make my first entrance. This bunch was talking over the recorded announcement I made so I knew I’d have to grab them with physical work to get them on the same page. They were not listeners first and foremost. Some crowds respond to things visually more while others ride on the emotions. The stage combat bit in the beginning was what clinched it for me.
The mechanism for the slide projector was jostled early in the show so all the videos were about 3 feet higher than the target. That threw things off a bit but the crowd got used to it and was good after the 2nd or 3rd clip. I came out for my 3rd monologue and saw that. I wanted to stop things and adjust it. It would have only taken 2 minutes but the festival wants to run on a tight schedule.
The great thing about last night was that a lot of people from the film Two Toms came out to see the show. They were a good crowd and seemed receptive. I was worried they might be offended by parts of it but it didn’t seem to be that way. A couple of the guys are firefighter/actors, which I think is the coolest combination in the world. It was a relief that they liked my New York guy in the show and found him believable. That’s the real test.
I feel like I’m finally getting it where I want it to be but only have 2 more performances. There are a lot of little things I’m beginning to do now that give the characters more dimensions. The old man I play steps up on a chair to get out a candy bar. At first, I was doing that carefully and steadily. Now I add a little more wobbling so no one’s if he’ll stay on the chair or not. There’s other pacing things and emphasizing or framing certain words that make it all ring differently. While I do need to run the lines a couple of times a day to be on top of them, I don’t feel it’s as difficult getting through the show anymore. If I were doing the show every night, it would be a different animal.

Promoting We Will Go

Started the day watching McCain be recalcitrant. If he goes out the door because of a scandal and Huckabee gets the nomination it will be a very weird time. McCain’s wife looked pissed but that might just be from the plastic surgery. Then I went to an audition for Connecticut Lottery. It’s the third state lottery commercial I’ve auditioned for since last summer. It’s a meta-lottery for me. Chances of winning 1:40+.

Found a putter for my George W. Bush monologue. I went to a sports shop first and they were $109-$179. The one I got was $5.41 with tax at the Salvation Army on 8th St. It even has an American Flag sticker on it. Small but present. People looked at me a little funny as I walked with it to the Kraine Theater. In the papers today they said people have less time to play golf. I must’ve looked like a real gold-bricker.

Went on a 4-hour postcard “walking tour” of the East Village with Dan who created Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface. He is only 21 and is still in school at the University of Kentucky but has already performed in 8 different fringes around. He was an all around nice guy. Go see his show.

It’s good to get to the bottom of your stack of postcards and flyers for a show. I don’t know if it’s worse to do that in 28 degree weather or in 105 degrees. I was certainly less dehydrated by the end of this afternoon but I did sneak in a nice nap. It can feel weird asking people to let you put out your cards. I hate going in places where the postcard area is wrecked and no one’s taken care of it. How is anyone going to find anything? I understand it at dive bars but at New York Theatre Workshop and the Ontological Theatres, it should be better kept. I do try my best to be a good citizen with cards and not knock others out of the way or fight for real estate. The thing I hate most is busking during the actual festival. To see people turn down your cards to your face is awful. Even worse is having them look at it, grill you about it, and then hand it back.

I’ve been doing more online work tonight to raise the show’s presence. I dug on the net and found emails for local universities to send blasts to their students. At this point, my number of sales is holding steady but I think my number of critics coming is going up. Tomorrow I will email people from my personal list and remind media outlets.

Bricken’s friend, Maryanne Ventrice, came to the run in the mini theatre at Roy Arias last night to take some pictures. Maryvel Bergen, my cool lighting designer, and Chris Foster, costume designer and now board op (thank God), were there too. The room is beyond tiny and it is full of crap. You feel like you are playing in someone’s rec room and the junk has been pushed to the sides and covered in curtains. I included a few of my favorites here and added the Uncle Sam, which will be added in the show now. On an odd note: Maryanne sent the link to her Flicker page (she is freakin’ amazing) and on my gmail I get these ads in relation to what is in the email. I don’t know why but one is for a colon cleanser product so I clicked on it. Oh, good Lord, the had all these testimonials with pictures of satisfied customers, and the disgusting shag ropes made of horse anuses and death they scoop up on metal hooks from the toilet to show what was inside them. So gross.

I think I’m going to do that after the run is over. Cleansing, massage, dermabrasion, and teeth whitening. I won’t recognize myself.

Solo Harvest

Last night was a good night for me as a teacher and solo performer. My solo performance students did their short pieces at the Gene Frankel Underground, where Groove Mama Ink currently resides. It’s a lovely black box theatre just north of Houston kind of smack dab in between the East and West Villages. It’s been an interesting process. I’m a bit concerned that people don’t care about this unless it has some cheap sexy title but last night restored my faith somewhat. Mariah Freda, Laura Mannino, and Josh Kauffman all got up and gave some thrilling performances that were quite moving.

Monday Monday

Had my second rehearsal for Core Theatre Co’s new series of short works based on the seasons called SPRING. We’ll be reading them on April 16th at 7pm at Center Stage, which is at 48 W. 21st St. on the 4th floor (pay what you will). It’s the old LABrynth Theatre Co. space. Vampire Cowboys are ending a run there this week. My piece is called THE THREE-MONTH FREAK OUT. Tim Flynn and Lisa Bruno are reading it and they do a bang-up job of getting the broken psychology of this pair of people trying to decide whether they should be together.

It was funny at the first rehearsal when I said to Lisa, “It’s like when it’s easier sometimes to let the other person break up with you.” She responded with a “YES!” before she had a chance to think about it. I’ve never done that but I’ve certainly had it done to me. I don’t know why some people would rather let something good fall apart than face it and deal with it. I guess it’s less messy.

It’s been good writing short plays for other people. I’ve been learning my own sense of dramatic structure. Revealing action and character through dialogue rather than monologue, which is what I am more used to doing with solo performance. It’s also nice to sit in the back of the house and take in an audience’s reaction to what you wrote rather than having to keep pumping through the performance. I’ve learned a lot about being clear for the actors. I think if the actors can get what I am writing in the first cold read of a piece then I’ve done my job well enough that the audience will be hooked and go for a ride rather than struggle their way through it. I like making my audiences think, feel, and make connections so they stay alive through a performance but I don’t want them to have to labor. I also like hearing an audience laugh. Usually that lets me know they understand what’s going on.

the winter/spring continuum

I heard yesterday that there are over 200 million blogs on the internet that have been abandoned. This was one of them and now I am hoping to make up for lost time. Since my last post, I’ve written several short plays, performed a revamped version of my solo, ANHEDONIA ROAD, started a solo performance workshop, taught a few hundred kids/teens, and started a run of a play from 1798 called ANDRE. Tonight I felt I was beginning to get sick so I took an Airborne, a Cold-eeze, and 2 Sudafed. Carolyn was kind enough to make me some peppermint tea with honey. If I didn’t have a head cold, that would taste nasty. My body must be throwing in the towel after the stress of opening the show and gearing up for the Times coming out on Monday night. We had a nice full house of allies. My neoroses were getting the better of me as I was doing a New England accent for the first time. More of an historic New England accent with more leanings on the Scottish. I wanted to give the feeling this soldier I play was second or third generation in this country and that he worked hard and had a strong moral center. You don’t get that from the text and our director was pushing for something unique from me. It was birthed rather late in the rehearsal process but I only rehearsed 4 or 5 times. I also have a limp from a wound from a bayonet. If I’m not careful, I can seem kind of pirate-like. Johnny Depp squeezed one Oscar nod out of that and pretty much plumed whatever riches can be found from that.

It’s been a cold couple of days and we were blessed with a little snow today. Last Saturday was in the 50s and I was wearing a light jacket. I bet I got this from Kara Tyler the other day. She is one of the Groove Mama’s in whose space I run my solo performance workshop. I met up to give her back her key and she gave me this nonsense. I’ll get you yet Kara Tyler!! I’m used to having spring come in by now and not getting sick until November. I don’t know about you but I got through most of this winter without a cold and now I’m rambling like some Civil War soldier in a Ken Burns doc. Feel free to add your own violins underneath as you read. It’s blissfully warm in this apartment. The only place I’ve lived in New York without the nefarious chill sneaking in through cracks and enveloping me in a nasty shield of pain. As I was crossing 9th street, I was thinking how I have to sit down and pop out a 10-minute play about spring for Core Theatre Co. I am rarely not inspired but this weather is really busting my chops here.

And what about Captain America dying? I don’t get that. I don’t have much of a relationship with him but still….