Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Open question.

"The one-man show that is And Then You Die isn't as risky as Hansen's award-winning 2003 work, I Hate This, chronicling the stillbirth of his first son. But the work presented its own set of challenges."

- from Ed Sotelo's Jan. 22 Sun Papers article

So here's my question: Is IHT more risky than &TYD? Please comment.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back on your heads.

Yes! Blue hairs and theater people!

Yesterday went very well, I sped through it as best I could, which I believe is best. There were a few ringers in the audience (Brian, Cat - thank you) who I could count on for huge, knowing laughs.

We have struck the space, and left it for the next company, for next weekend's Big Box. If you can only make one or two, I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to check out the following pieces: InCogNegro and Unethical. I understand BACKspace is also going to be pretty good.

It was a tremendous weekend ... and now the let-down. Only I do not have time for let-down, I need to pack lunches for small children, substitute for an actor-teacher in Medina, plan a personal appearance at a real estate function and cram another long monologue into my head.

And what about the future of this show? Fringe festivals? Solo festivals? Too many people did too much work to get it this far without taking it further.

And am I actually going to run NY09? Well. Let's wait and see. Without the waiting part.

UPDATE: Thanks, Margi!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

That's two.

It is a foolish thing to draw grand generalizations about theater audiences. But here goes.

I cannot speak for large, commercial houses. I haven't had enough experience with them. My time spent in front of (or behind the scenes for) small, alternative theaters is vast and aged. And I make the following observations about weekend audiences.

(As a caveat, this is based on productions which have been well-advertised or have good word-of-mouth.)

Friday night: Loud and open for a good time. The assumption being, anyone who came home from work, had dinner, and made it back out for curtain (especially a 7.30 curtain) are loopy, week-addled and out for a good time.

Saturday night: Bigger turnout than Friday, and suspiciously quiet. They've had all day to relax, and show up at the theater relaxed. And they haved chosen this show for their big night out for the weekend, and it better be good. We call it the "Impress Me" audience.

Sunday matinee: House of ten, maybe eleven. No one sees theater on Sunday - except for senior citizens, and other actors who had shows that weekend, but no matinee. Grab bag. The actors in the audience could make it louder than Friday.

It is a foolish thing to draw grand generalizations about theater audiences. But my Friday and Saturday night fell neatly into those two categories.

I'm not saying last night didn't go well, it went extremely well. But the energy of Friday threw me, and when I was getting less response it threw some delivery - and sharpened some of the scenes.

When you are alone onstage, it is challenging to repeat ... since no one is feeding you lines to react to, you can fall into moments when you think, "Didn't I already say that?" Yes. You did. Last night, say it again.

One more performance. I need to keep going over the script, luckily I have all of Jeff's show to look it over. I remember being in the dressing room in Minneapolis, looking over the script for I Hate This until places. I think I am in a good place.

Pengo crosses the finish line...

...in style. Opening night was triumphant. The crowd ate it up--laughed at all the appropriate places (and even a few that were perhaps...unexpected,) there were people blowing their noses and sniffling, and they were on the edges of their seats through the whole thing. The pace was great, the energy high, Pengo was brilliant, and his professionalism shone brighter than bright. People who matter, both personally and professionally were pleased. Josh and Cat's combined work was stunning. Kelly ran a really tight, calm ship. It was amazing. I am so proud of Pengo...of the whole crew.

Directing a show is more nerve-wracking for me than acting or designing. Opening night is like watching your teenager drive off to college in your brand new car--confident they won't crash it, but feeling the helplessness that if they do, there is nothing you can do to help, and you won't even be there when it happens to hold them and comfort them. And of course, there is no crash. There was no crash. Your teenager has grown to full adulthood and you are no longer connected in the way you were. There is now a distance between you that wasn't there even a night before. And the world changes. It is now glowing with the light of a beautiful accomplishment, a thing of beauty that will continue to change and grow without you, but slightly dimmer because the flashlight that shone on the process has been replaced by the full light of the stage. Always bittersweet, but so fulfilling.

Working on this piece has been an honor. Working with Pengo is always--in all the best ways--an event. I have felt blessed and humbled, elevated and confident, calm and sure through this whole thing. Amazing. It was the right thing for me to be doing. I want to thank Pengo for the words, for the heart, for the art.

Shine on, little Pengo! May AND THEN YOU DIE rise to greater and greater heights.

Always remember--you kicked Mike Huckabee's ASS!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That's one.

We were oversold last night, that's good. I had only read Jeff's piece, CLAUS FOR A MOMENT and so had no idea how it would play before an audience. It went over like gangbusters, Jeff is quite a character and the audience truly ate up his version of Santa. It's a unique vision, and it's really heartfelt. It's also kind of raunchy. You'll love it. Don't bring the kids.

My show ... well, Jesus, I don't have time to reflect on my experience last night. It made me very, very happy. I was shocked by how many laughs there are in the first scene, I thought I was just telling a story. There were a few ringers in the front row, actor-teachers who were cracking up less at me and more at the idea of me.

As a result, however, everything I had been holding back came flying out. And it was exhausting. Seth and Eric C. noted afterwards how astonishing it was that I could run for so long during one scene, and then stop short and breathe normally.

"That," I said, poking Seth in the shoulder, "is because I am a trained actor."

And, I imagine, because I run f*cking marathons. Yeah.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's time to go.


My last run was two weeks ago. It's a beautiful night, come out and see a show.

Distance: 3 miles
Temperature: 43 degrees
Weight: 148 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Soleburner (165 BPM)

And here's your Friday night wake-up call:

.2 miles to go

At 3:30 this morning, I made the last mouse click on the multimedia program. I think it turned out really well. Can't wait to see how an audience responds.

I am so tired.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dress

The dress rehearsal ... not final dress, it was just the dress. All the way through, no stopping, sound and (most of the) slides in place. Exhausting.

One audience member (not counting Josh and Kelly, though they were a great audience) - my boss Lisa showed up, because she won't be able to make the tun. She liked the old, Italian ladies joke ... and two-thirds of the way though I could hear her sniffling.

Yay! I made Lisa cry!

Afterward she told me, "You talk a lot but you're still such a private person, it's surprising how much you share onstage, it's really moving. I know so much more about you than I did."

Wait ... did she say I talk a lot?

Free Times Hires New Cartoonist


The Free Times, March 2 – 8, 1994

Cleveland, OH — Pengo has been hired by The Free Times as its new political cartoonist.

The Free Times will also feature Pengo's syndicated strip,
Angst, which appears in two dozen weekly papers.

Born and raised in Bay Village, he started his work in political cartooning with his high school newspaper, The Bay Window, poking fun at student politics, suburban life and the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

After graduation, Pengo started work as a caricature artist at the Cedar Point, developing skills he would eventually use in his line of work as a political cartoonist. He began college at Ohio University in 1986 and created daily strips for the school's paper, The Post.

After graduation in 1991, his political cartoons appeared in the Cleveland Edition shortly before that paper folded. His work has also been seen in promotions for the Cleveland International Film Festival, and as album covers for Cleveland-area bands.


ALSO: Plays step outside of the box at CPT
Thursday, January 22, 2009
By Edward A. Sotelo, Correspondent
West Side Sun News

When David Hansen, an arts veteran from Cleveland Heights, says, "There was a point in my life when I thought running a marathon was akin to scaling Everest -- that is, impossible," it's almost hard to believe. For decades, Hansen's been a one-man actor/director/writer, and the man defines productive ... (more)

So tired. So cold.

You know that cliche about running a backwards marathon? Yeah. I was going backwards for a while. My "in Central Park" estimation was... overly optimistic. I didn't realize quite how much work was really left to be done. And it's still not all there. Cat's still inking a couple pieces which she is going to drop off at my house... sometime soon. Don't know exactly when. Then I have to scan them and put them in the animation, so they won't see the light of the projector until opening.

I need to sleep.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God That's Good!

Did you miss today's AROUND NOON? Listen now! (Interview begins @ 34:00)

Josh picked up my friend's screen, we knocked that bad-boy together in fifteen minutes, he rehanged the projector, et voilà! Some big ass pictures.

Time: 01:23
Weight: 151.5 lbs.

I need a sandwich. No longer working at losing weight, it's just dropping through exhaustion and lack of time.

Today's carbo loading? Pasta. Tonight's? Beer. Two beers.

Still muffing lines, but it has come together. Like most great pieces of theater, it works best when it's fast.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Wall

I am loathe to admit difficulty publicly, because I have no idea who is reading. But what is the point of a blog if it's not going to be interesting. So here goes.

Today was f*cking disheartening. It's not anyone's fault (certainly not The President's, that part was awesome) but one day of tech stretched into two as Josh struggled for hours to figure out how in hell to hang the projector to make it fit our screen.

The screen - which we were grateful to have at our access was too small for the image cast by the projector we have ... unless you move it closer, which Josh did, unless you jerry-rig the tray so the projector doesn't pitch out of it, which Josh did, unless you move the screen back a few feet, which Ali and Kelly did ...

And then you have an image the size of a tee vee screen at the back of the theater. No one was happy, least of all Josh, whose work on all those slides would be difficult to make out.

The run, which was actually a cue-to-cue, began after I had been waiting for over two hours, closer to three. Thanks to weather, and tech, I have not run the show straight through since Saturday. Ali had to leave early for a different rehearsal, and Kelly & Josh asked if we should just skip from cue to cue, and I said no, I had to say the lines, run the costumes, get it out there.

F*ck, it is a wearying show. That was part of its appeal. But it just sapped me tonight. Again, no one is at fault. But it is beginning to seriously freak me out.

Salvation came in the form of an old friend, who I haven't spoken to for a while. Josh informed me, out of nowhere, that this friend has a large screen, and would I feel strange calling him. Of course not! Which is to say yes, I did feel strange. I always hate calling someone after a long absence just because I need something ... but sometimes, that's just why you have to call someone.

We'll have a big ol' screen tomorrow. And maybe cartoons, all of the sound ... we cobble it together, piece by piece.

Hope, not fear. Right?

Q

Multimedia cue sheet is written. 157 cues. There's still some pieces left to be put in, but the program's got placeholder slides for those missing pieces, so the whole shape of the thing is pretty close to done. Cat's working on her sketches tonight and tomorrow, I've got some more photos to find and the greeting cards to color. I think I just entered Central Park.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wild idea

It would so great to actually take a run before this weekend.

UPDATE: Dig it.

LATER UPDATE:



Where the magic happens.


Fine tech this afternoon, our people met the folks producing CLAUS FOR A MOMENT and got everything straight. Then Ali and Kelly chose furniture from the CPT stock and they lugged it upstairs while Josh worked feverishly on the slides and music.

Eventually I wandered in, and told everyone to knock it off and get busy, I had a show to do.

Seriously, however. Curtis the Man helped us get cues straight and locked while I ran around the stage, changing my clothes and pretending like I knew my lines.

... and scene.

Rough cut of multimedia finally done. There's still some stuff missing, like Cat's drawings (which should be inked soon) and a few more animations and photos, but the music cues, text slides and the bulk of what I wanted to put in are all there. In NYC Marathon terms, I'd say I'm at about... Harlem.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Confirmed: Ali and I will be Dee's guests on Around Noon this Wednesday, January 21 ... around noon.

Next slide, please.

Pretty much every spare moment I have with the Mac has been spent creating the multimedia program for the show. I was really flattered when Dave originally asked me to do this for him, and I knew that I could do a lot better than some boring, static PowerPoint slides. At my office I'm the de facto Flash guy, and I've been getting better and better at it, so I thought, "I'll make a whole visual presentation in Flash, with text slides and photos and animations and sound and everything! Shouldn't take me more than 20 or 30 hours!"

*Bzzzzzz!* Wrong.

I don't know how long it's taken me so far, but I did stay up until 2:30 last night/this morning, expecting to have a rehearsal today and fearing my unreadiness. It was a relief to hear Kelly yell up to me at 9:30 am, while I was still wallowing in bed, "Go back to sleep! No rehearsal today." My eyes shut again so fast, it created a little sonic boom right there in our bedroom.

As Dave would say, "OK, so here's the thing..." Not only am I doing simple text slides, I'm writing sound cues, creating short movies and animations, and programming it all to run from one button on the keyboard. From scratch. I've learned so much about Actionscript 3 in the last couple of weeks. And everytime I solve a problem, two more pop up that I hadn't considered. Do I write the fade-outs into the music cues or let the SM do it on the sound board? Do I guess at how long some of these animations need to be or figure out a way to fade them out if they're too long in performance? How do I jump to a specific point in the program during tech so we don't have to step through the whole thing every time we need to rerun something?

I have a little moment of triumph each time I overcome one of these obstacles. The whole program is looking really cool and I'm eagerly anticipating seeing it in action on a big screen. This is my race.

And snow fell...and fell...and fell...

Well. It is Northeast Ohio, after all. And it IS January, after all. And there's this whole LAKE thing going on, after all. But still. It just isn't stopping.

No rehearsal today. One part of me is upset because it would have been good to work the costume changes and get another run in before we start teching tomorrow...but "upset" is WAY too strong a word. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the show is in amazing shape, and that Pengo will rock out the whole thing. So...disappointed is more accurate. And relieved on one front, as well. Pengo is sick--better now than tomorrow or during the week!--and he could DEFINITELY use the day to fill the reserve tanks, so to speak. I am under the weather, as well (and I have to say that the same thing goes for me, too--directing ATYD/tech week/rehearsing Mrs. Lovett. Better to be sick NOW than later.) We BOTH could use this time to re-coup our collective energies...

Tonight, I look at cueing for ATYD. Another giant step in the process.

Tomorrow, Kelly and I meet at 10 at CPT to pull furniture and platforms, talk through the show. Meet with the cast of the other show for the weekend. Talk to Curtis about the best use of his time. (Four hours. Can we get everything we need from him in FOUR HOURS???) We will be fine. Tech has arrived. It will be a welcome adventure!

I'm glad that Pengo is resting today. It is really for the best. Get better, little Pengo!!! We need you and we love you! There is a great race to be run!

Dumped

There's snow on the ground. A lot of snow. It has been coming down all night and it is still coming down now. And I am ill. Yes, of course, after taking care of sick children for a week I have caught their bug and now I am weary, bleary and in pain.

So. Looking at it this way, at least I have five days to recover. Wish me luck.

In any event - no rehearsal today. If I had the strength to dig us out (and I will have to today, eventually) it would take an hour maybe and I just don't have it right now. Ali's not feeling too good herself. Uh-huh.

Tomorrow ... we get the key.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pasty

The thing about Big Box is you have to arrive prepared. You "get the key to the space" on Monday, and have four days to work before the show opens that Friday.

This surprised my colleague Lisa when she found out she needed to find a space to direct an entire cast for Unethical. It's easier for a one-person show, you can just use someone's living room.



It's the shoes.

Lucky me, Ali (and Sean) had no problem offering their home to get this play on its feet. Thank you, thank you, thank you Ali & Sean. And thanks to stage manager Kelly for taking a few pictures of today's rehearsal.



Does this monologue make me look fat?

Preparing for the Big Box production of I Hate This, my director and I worked in my basement and, ironically enough, in the nursery of my newborn child.



I change my clothes a lot in this show.




1988 - Learning that socks make excellent gloves.




Okay, this is too weird. Is it my pasty, naked torso that makes it look truly weird, the fact that my director is just sitting there on a couch three inches in front of me ... or is it the Christmas tree?

Neither the tree, the couch nor my director are actually part of the set.



Finally dressed for running.

We practice quick changes tomorrow, one more run-through ... and on Monday, we get the key!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Night moves


Moving into tech week, for any production, can be physically testing. But when you are working on your fourth consecutive day in sub-freezing temperatures, with your kids at home because they are either sick or their schools are closed – and your wife’s car won’t start because like so many of us, it doesn’t like to freeze …

Well. Last night was not the night I would have chosen to meet Josh and Cat at 10.30 pm for some work on the show. But I did. And here’s the why:

Pengo is an illustrator and cartoonist, that’s his employment (not mine, not this Pengo, the Pengo in the play.) In the scene You Got Me Sprung (2003) he invites a young woman he knows to model for him. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness monologue while Pengo sketches. What he is sketching will appear on a projection screen behind him.

Last Sunday, when I was out of town, Josh and Cat got together for a trial run. It was an experiment for all of us, and Josh posted the video for me to see while I was still in VT. Now granted, the resolution from the YouTube image and my wife’s laptop combined made for a less-than-impressive image. However, I was concerned about a couple of things, including the camera being hand-held, and Cat’s use of light pencils.

Don’t get me wrong, what Cat drew was beautiful, but between the whiteness of the paper and the brightness of the lights and the cruel nature of video, it just didn’t come through well.

Josh was trying to do close-ups, and emphasize detail … but what I wanted was the time it takes for the entire sketch to be drawn to be condensed to 1 min. 45 sec. – the time it takes for me to say the monologue. And so the camera was just moving all over the place, like a fly trying to land.

Using a tripod, we will (hopefully) have a static view of the pad, and the image will come into view, with Cat’s hand flying all over the place so fast you don’t really see it – just the picture. That is the plan.

Now, Cat usually uses a mechanical pencil, and for this run I asked her to use a wooden pencil, a softer, darker pencil. She was game, though she made several remarks about how odd it felt and that she was more comfortable with her own pencils. The first two renderings she made she was not happy with.

However, that changed. Her third rendering was quite striking, but even then she pressed on to make a fourth. And that one, I believe, is our keeper. I am glad she stuck with the softer pencils, and I am looking forward to how they turn out on video.

Got to bed at 1.00 am. But it was worth it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

High gear

Things begin to excelerate. Two hour rehearsal this afternoon - and every day until we open. Tonight Josh and Cat get together for a second crack at catching the live skecthing. I should be able to make that, even if it leaves me destroyed for work tomorrow.

That's if there is work tomorrow, the cold has shut down a great many schools, I am spending time in the office for the first day in a very long time.

The wife made the kindest cuts of all. She, like the Unit, thinks the Marathon scene is out of place. It's the only scene where I have been standing my ground, I want to try this and if it doesn't work in Big Box, well, that's what Big Box is for.

Original word count: 12,535
Today's word count: 11,446

Yes, we can.

UPDATE: Ali and I will be Dee's guests on Around Noon, Wednesday, January 21. Or maybe Thursday the 22nd. They won't tell us yet.

Pengo is a CHAMP!

Back after a couple of days off, Pengo has been drilling lines. A major break-through last night--lines are now friends, not road blocks! 7 minutes shaved off of run-time, and I anticipate that at least 5 more will come off once the costume changes are streamlined. I was supposed to meet Beth at CPT this morning, but my car doors are completely frozen shut. (Hey, it is officially 8 degrees outside, I can't truly blame the CAR.) Talked with her at length on phone, detailing what we need by way of furniture--she says it should all be there and we can just pull it on Monday. I'll still meet with her tomorrow morning (frozen car doors willing) just to be sure so that I know ahead of time if we have to augment with anything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clothes

Weight: 153 lbs.
Weather: 15 degrees
Run-time: You don't want to know.

Blogging live from Ali's apartment, where we just completed a run-through. She says I have crossed a milestone (is that right? crossed a milestone? or passed one?) in that I appear to have convinced myself that I can perform the show without stopping - my lines may not be perfect, but I know what comes next.

Momentum is an issue, as is rhythm, stamina - humor. I move a lot, not graceful, oh no, no dancing (well, there is a little dancing, but not graceful dancing) and you know, I have to speak. It's a marathon with words. Oh my yes.

In The Short Answer scene (1988) I am having a miserable Christmas break at home with my parents following a near-nervous breakdown. I begin running, but I had never run in the winter and I needed a kit. In reality I put on layers of cotton (which is, as they say, the enemy) like longjohns and multiple layers of socks and sweats. Onstage, I cobble together a kit, making it up on the spot. There's a sweatshirt, there's a hat. Socks make excellent gloves.

I have seen writers use silent moments of getting dressed before. My wife started a play with one, Angst:84, where a girl arrives at high school before everyone to quickly change from her at-home clothes into the Goth gear she wears at school.

But it was today that I realized that I lifted this from was inspired by the first solo play I ever directed, Sarah's Eighth Wonder of the World where a terrorized middle school gear dresses for school like she is preparing for an assault. Improvising, building, thinking, creating. Out of fear, and a strong sense of self-preservation. And because she doesn't know what else to do.

I have to plunge into the blizzard now. Can't say how long it will take me to drive home, I hope things are less fraught following rush hour, it took Ali's husband two hours to get home.

...and they rest

A day off yesterday, due to snow, weather, fatigue, outside scheduling snafu's...tonight we are back--no stage manager tonight, but it will be good to get back into the feel of it, see where the rest has taken the show. I am looking forward to this--everywhen we get back together after a few days off, the race is smoother and more nuanced. Snow be damned. Had a long talk with our illustrator--I think we have a better understanding of where we both are/need to be at this point. Many cogs in this show...many cogs. Tomorrow I go in the morning to look at furniture and platforms. Nuts and bolts. And cogs. And running shoes. Oh, right--we need another pair of running shoes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take the note.

"Think of your show as an escape. A place to go."

Thanks, Ali. I love you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Plainfield

We are in Vermont. My wife began pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Goddard College in 2006. Today, she graduates. Already she has had the opportunity to read a ten-minute excerpt from her novel, part of a presentation of a half-dozen graduates who were presenting today. She went last. Maybe it's me, but the rousing applause she received when her name was announced gives me the impression that people here think she is as special as I do.

There's just a lot of trees here. Trees and rain. And unshaven men in their forties in shorts and Tivas who make me feel good about my sex appeal. - June 26, 2006

Her time here was low-res; she has spent one intensive week here, twice a year, and then come home to write and study. The first two trips (June 06, January 07) the boy was still nursing, and so I took time off from work and played house-husband in our dorm room.

Marathon training begins, officially, today. Out on RT 2, lush trees and mountains ... and the occasional semi. I'd try to find a path through the woods, but it rained for a day solid yesterday, I can't imagine any of them are at all dry. - June 27, 2006

This place holds different memories for my wife and myself. She has made many dear friends here, and professional acquaintances I expect her to hold for life. As for me, it's about the kids. From breakfast through bedtime, I was in charge of them while my wife was in classes. We saw her for meals, most of them though not all, and I with them got to know the surrounding area a bit. I have certainly seen more of Vermont than she has, and I haven't been here for two years.

The boy was barely over a year old when we first came, not more than two since he was last here. The girl remembers it a little. Everyone remembers them.

Can I freaking do this thing? In 2004 I broke my personal speed record. I was doing great. Great shape. Then I broke my heel and there was a cascade of complications, hamstring in my right thigh, now a vicious shin splint, maybe my time has passed, I don't know. - June 29, 2006

At dawn, in June 2006, I ran. It was the start of my 18 week training before NYC 2006. Starting out I didn't know where to go except on the two-lane highway that runs by the college. Maybe if I knew about the USATF mapping program I could have been more adventurous. In any case, I was thrilled and apprehensive about answering a note on the community board from one of the woman at the help desk.

My off-time has been rigorously enjoyed. I have been rising at 5 or 6 to take in a run, today the woman from the help desk and I ran together, and she led me through an old trail I never would have found myself. She and I and a Swiss woman went for the best run I have had so far, though the "railroad bed" because apparently that's what it once was. - June 30, 2006

Yesterday was a nightmare. My wife came on Thursday, she had work to complete to earn her degree. It is the wrong time of year for me to be missing any days of work, so we agreed I would bring the kids on Saturday.

I will make this long story short. Hopkins was socked with snow, our flight was late, we missed our connection in Philly, spent five hours there before boarding the next flight to Manchester and then spent two hours in the plane, on the ground, before take-off. Then I had to drive a rental car through a snow storm a little over two hours from New Hampshire to Plainfield.

Original arrival time in VT: 5 PM. Actual arrival time: 12:30 AM.

The women in their 30s or older treat me like some kind of saint when they learn who I am and what I'm doing here. - June 30, 2006

I had kept my wife up on our ordeal with regular texts. She told everyone, it would seem, they all greet me with relief at my being present. It was pretty harrowing, actually, the driving part. My children are angels, I have to admit. Patient beyond their years. I tried not to let them see my frustration or despair, and they took it with grace.

In the mess hall this afternoon I made eye-contact with Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics) but alas, I do not get to hear him speak. I am the spouse, not the writer. - June 30, 2006

I am so proud of my wife. She has written a great, American novel. She has grown so much through her experience here. She has had little time to contribute to my solo piece, there has been too much to do to finish her MFA. She has agreed to look at it, and suggest cuts. Twelve days to first performance. I could use her talents.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Go for it!

So little sleep, over several days. I feel a little ill, all the time, and woozy, like I am a little hungry. But I am not. I am just ... functionally exhausted.

Tomorrow I get to fly to Manchester - with a lay-over in Philly - and then drive a rantal car to Plainfield, VT. With two kids. Wish me luck. I will not be running in Vermont. I will, however, be crushing lines.

Distance: 2 miles
Temperature: 26 degrees and snowy
Weight: 155.5 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - That Gets My Heart (131 BPM)

And here's your Friday night dance mix:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Josh and Kelly contribute together

Josh: Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

Kelly: I already did that.

Josh: Dammit!

(Then a bunch of BS while Josh corrects Kelly's spelling)

Kelly: What should we write about?

Josh: ....

Kelly Come on, we promised we would contribute something for this blog to help promote the show.

Josh: ........ uh ..........I don't know what to write.... I'm in the middle of making an incredible, amazing ad for Dave to link to off of Facebook(tm) or this blog. I'm really good at that.

Kelly: Hey! You want to hand that horn over here so someone else can toot it?

Josh: I've got a horn you can toot....

Kelly: You're crass. As the stage manager, I must insist that everyone do their part to help Dave in his quest to get as many people to see this as possible. I get paid more if they do. (right?)

Josh: Now who's being crass?

Kelly: Seriously, the rehearsals are going very well. Dave has made some really good rewrites. How he keeps up the energy through the entire thing is beyond me.

Josh: I know, when I stopped in after rehearsal on Tuesday to record some stuff, he was still full of pep and vim.

Kelly: Who says that?!?!?

Josh: People.

Kelly What "people"?

Josh: People you don't know, Kelly.

PENGO runs fast...

Last night was a real break-through in a process that has already been pretty smooth (from my perspective--I believe that Pengo might argue with me about the smooth-up-till-now bit.) After running the back end of the show for glitches, I had Pengo sit down with Kelly and run lines for VERBATIM PERFECTION. Then we ran the whole show. And it was great (it has always been a growing series of great, but last night was a topper.) Up till now, Pengo has been feeling frustrated by line bobbles. None that bothered me--this is a rehearsal process after all--but they were obviously driving him a little nuts. He is, of course, right where he should be in the process. Being an actor myself, I get it entirely. After the line run, things snapped into place. Just snapped. The difference was amazing. Suddenly, the lines weren't in the way--they were LEADING the way. (Well, actually, they were keeping pace with Pengo, who was truly the leader of the expedition.) For those of you non-actors reading this, a small explanation is in order: through rehearsals, most actors suffer "linus-hostageus"--in other words, we are held hostage by the need to get the lines WORD PERFECT and we key ourselves up and up and finally start getting in our own way as learning the lines becomes a friendly enemy, a stumbling block to finding the right performer footing. Then, one night, things just click. Suddenly, you relax into the words, hold hands with the syntax for awhile, make out with the verbage and smile knowingly; you know that the word-sex will be good that night, and from here on, it will be a good marriage. That happened last night. Woohoo!! Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Well, not really. I wouldn't want to encourage smoking. But do a little celebratory dance or something appropriately post-coital. (Is there such a thing as word-coitus...really????)

I am so pleased with the way that all of the characters in the show are springing to life. In one or two conversational lines, Pengo is now painting full portraits of the people he encounters on this 26.2 mile/year course. It is a wonderful story, told by an amazingly talented man.

We break now for a few days while Pengo deals with other things in his life, but when we come back, I know that it will be to amazing character/word-sex for Das Pengo. And we'll be right there with him, happy voyeurs.

the good drawer

When I was in seventh grade, my last full year of traditional schooling, a girl I barely knew wrote in my yearbook, "your a good drawer!!!!" There might have been little smiley faces as well. I was always amused by this.

I'm sketching like a fool, so I don't wanna get out of the groove. I've been struggling with too many plays on my plate, and insomnia, and other stuff for about three weeks now, and I had intended that time for the devout pursuit of Art... Not for being tired and spacey all day. I got an hour of sleep last night after getting all emotionally tense about one of my other artistic projects. But for some reason it is working today, so I'm not going to question my luck.

Josh and I are getting together to film my hands drawing on the 11th.

David, drop me a line on the covenhouse email and tell me which drawing you want, for sure. I'm going to be drawing from my sketches and your drawing together, plus some photographs.
You want the upside down one, the one that's in color in your small book, right?
Or did you want a different one?
Let me know before the 11th, okay?

Back to art until I can't do it anymore and/or have to go to rehearsal for Edward.

Sorry the blog posts aren't better writing.

Plug

Veteran theater manager and playwright Hansen has penned another solo piece for himself. - Cleveland Scene

I don't get it. Am I supposed to be writing them for someone else?

Read about all this year's Big Box productions here. This weekend the kids and I will be following my wife to Vermont to celebrate her completing her MFA at Goddard. So no running - nor rehearsal - until at least early next week.

We had another run-through at Ali's tonight, only the second all-the-way-through run so far. Man, this show is a monster on me. It's longer than I expect, and a lot more physically demanding than the previous solo prod. I am looking forward to getting the rest of the costumes together.

In I HATE THIS, there was one costume. Part of the fun of this one are the changes.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

P.R.

Forgot to have running shoes at rehearsal last night. Bouncing up and down on a hard floor in my socks for an hour, yes - that's the way to justify arthoscopic knee surgery, dumbass.

Josh came in with preliminary slides last night. Very fun, great visual ideas to compliment the perf. We recorded some voice-overs for a potential YouTube advertisement and I wrote down captions and we chose photos and music.

I saw his rough cut this morning and decided to eliminate the voice-overs. That was my original idea, anyway ... but then I saw this piece from Theatre Ninjas, who perform this weekend in Big Box. I panicked and thought - I need to add CONTENT!

I just cannot handle Web 2.0 (my wife hates that term.) I used to have this rep as an amazing p.r. guy - and someone who knew his way around computers. But p.r. has changed and so have the computers. I think I need to keep it simple.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Short stories you probably read in high school

Well. That was the most pleasant run I think I will have for a while. Weather's getting fugly.

Distance: 5 miles
Temperature: 36 degrees
Weight: 155 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Playing To Your Strength (171 BPM)

We are moving into those mixes which were released as I began training for the 2006 marathon - and began listening to Podrunner (big ups, Karl.) Really looking forward to those, some I even listen to just 'cause.

A theme that runs (heh) through the play is short stories I read Senior year in high school. There's a character in the play named Mr. Abraham (just to give him a name, no one calls him that) who is based on my English teacher, Mr. K.

Mr. K. just retired from my alma mater, he was there, what 38 years? I think he started in 1970, a young man then, one of several of my teachers who claimed who have attended Woodstock. I don't know, maybe he never made this claim, he seemed like the one about whom it was most likely true.

A very tall man, he was a track coach and is a marathon runner many times over. A soft-spoken man, I had to turn the character in this play into something not like him. He's there to convey certain bits of info about running, and to speak set the stage for the several classic 20th century stories which will be referenced in the play - all, it may not surprise you, written by white guys.

Why make literary allusion? Because they were all there, in my head, as I trained for that race. The Machine Stops, To Build A Fire, The Swimmer - each one about man vs. the elements or his own nature, or anti-nature ... they just came up, pretty much where they do in the play. And we covered them all in Mr. K.'s class.

This morning I had to truncate Mr. Abraham's big scene. It disappointed me a little, because I had to make him more of a didact, and remove most of his connection to his students. But it's a shorter scene, a more coherent scene, I dare say, a better scene. It worked better tonight.

Original word count: 12,535
Today's word count: 12,113

Can we dip below 12,000? Will it really make a difference?

Work

Writing by the numbers.

5:37 am
THIS WORLD MACHINE: 353 words
YOU GOT ME SPRUNG: 655 words

5:58 am
THIS WORLD MACHINE: 303 words

6:19 am
YOU GOT ME SPRUNG: 625 words

7:29 am
YOU GOT ME SPRUNG: 624 words

How do you write a boner?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Trust

First run-through of the show this afternoon ... if you can call it that. Depends on whether hearing me call for line for entire scenes counts, but I was at least able to prove to Ali, Kelly and myself that I hadn't been sitting on my hands during the holidays.

I just asked bluntly what they thought should be cut, and was grateful they didn't each have a list of things at the tips of their tongues. I will be (I hope) getting up early tomorrow to rewrite one or two scenes.

It is hard being playwright and performer - the actor must commit to the words, the playwright must remain open to changing them. I think I know what I need to do.

MR. ABRAHAMS - Pengo's 12th grade teacher waxes philosophical about Forster's THE MACHINE STOPS. It's an important scene, my 12th grade English teacher was/is a serial marathon runner, and several of his comments about running stuck with me. Shame I was never in track, he could have been my coach.

SKETCHING - Everything in its right place. Blathering is fun, but show some restraint, boy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Take a bow

MIL got me pairs of thermal underpants, 2 pairs of tube socks, and one thermal jersey for Christmas! Tonight I am wearing all of them at once!

Distance: 3.5 miles
Temperature: 30 degrees
Weight: 157.5 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Bulldozer (141 BPM)

Damn! Those are some thermal thermies! I am standing around my kitchen without my shirt on and baby it is cold outside!

Knee acting up, I would expect that in such weather. It's like my car, creaky and whiny.