Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pix from Cape May Point

Once again the highlight of visiting Wildwood NJ was going to nearby Cape May Point. Once again I got to see dolphins, although unfortunately I didn't get any good photos - you could only see their dorsal fins above the waves for a second and they were pretty far away so  my photos show dark triangular specs, basically, not worth posting.

Other than dolphins there isn't much to see in Cape May Point, which is kind of the point - it's very peaceful, in contrast to Wildwood.

Wildwood wasn't so bad though, it was fun riding in one of those multiple person surreys with family.

Cape May Point

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More pix from Wildwood NJ

My sister and Lydia the tattooed lady

Carousel details

I don't think this is a chain store...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wildwood 2014

So this is the "ocean" I've heard so much about.
I took pix this year, like last year - although we are in Wildwood proper this year - last year was Wildwood Crest.

My newer phone takes better photos than last year - but it would have been really nice if I hadn't dropped it in the Wawa parking lot this morning. It still works though... it just has a cracked front screen which I McGyvered with clear packing tape.

We made a friend on the beach.

There's plenty more ocean where that came from.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Standing Oh!

Who knew Schopenhauer would
turn out to be such a rock star?

We got our first standing ovation at the fourth performance of JULIA & BUDDY on Saturday. Only one more performance left - which you can see this Saturday at 5PM - tickets.

And the best part is that neither of the standers were friends or family - I had no idea who they are. Although one of them appeared to be a full-on philosophy nerd - I was sitting facing the woman, who was in the first row, and I could see her visibly perk up every time philosophy or Schopenhauer was mentioned... and when Schopenhauer actually appeared in Julia's fever-dream, she was ecstatic.
She came up to me afterwards to tell me how much she loved the show (she came on a friend's recommendation) and to ask me about my thoughts on Schopenhauer, etc. Unfortunately I had too much to do, not the least of which was to thank the members of NYCPlaywrights for coming. Many of them participated in readings of J&B over the years since I first began writing it (2009) so they were a more discerning audience than usual - and they all really loved the performances.

Which you will have one more chance to see, this Saturday.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Howdy Howdy Howdy!

Cowboy karma - right in the middle of playing a Space Cowboy in the MITF production of JULIA & BUDDY, Matt DeCapua played an Earth Cowboy... or cowboy, in the MTV series "One Bad Choice" -

“One Bad Choice” is a new series that explores the consequences of young people who made a single, terrible decision that irrevocably changed their lives forever. Shocking, surprising, and deeply emotional, “One Bad Choice” takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride filled with twists and turns, suspense, drama and redemption through scripted storytelling based on true stories. (Source:

Matt doesn't know when his cowboy episode will air - you can check his web site for updates.

Friday, July 25, 2014

But I suffer, you know?

One of the reasons I dislike going to the hairdresser - or hair stylist as they are known these days - is because I always feel awkward about having a conversation with the stylist. So I usually ask them questions about themselves - I'm a pretty good listener. Although it is difficult at times if the stylist has a thick accent as was the case the other day with the stylist whom I'll call F, who is from Romania. Then it's hard work, straining to make out what she said, with all the rolling Rs.

Another reason I dislike going is because I have thick unruly hair and it takes hours to do something with it - in this case highlights and a blow-out.

Anyway, so during the hours of hair styling time, I mentioned to F that I had a date, with a younger guy, and I think it made F jealous - although if she knew anything about my pathetic dates she wouldn't be. But she apparently wanted a shoulder to cry on (not literally, what with all the hair chemicals) and my talk of a date set her off - so she proceeded to fill almost the entire time while doing my hair with telling me about her sad situation - her husband of 30 years recently has heart problems and is now suffering from depression and erectile dysfunction and so F isn't getting any sex these days. However, she is mighty tempted by various men she knows, but she doesn't want to betray her husband of 30 years. But she fears she will never have sex again and so she's trying to learn to become at peace with the Universe. And then she said: "but I suffer, you know?"

Yes. I know. Although our situations are different, the frustration is similar. I went on a date with a straight Taiwanese hair stylist. In fact that's what finally got me to go to my hair stylist - I figured my date would be looking at my hair with a critical eye.

He had longish hair and seemed like a sort of Asian surfer dude. And he had amazing tattoos on his forearms, which caught my eye in the first place, which is why I offered to buy him a drink in the West Village.

Well it turns out he doesn't really drink. So what I thought would be a nice hour, at least of drinking and chatting turned into 20 minutes of me drinking and him eating some bruschetta and then the two of us walking briskly through the Village towards his apartment, while I regaled him with the story of the Son of a Movie Star Booty Call.

OK but here's the thing - I wasn't expecting true love. And I don't mean this in a snobby way, but I really don't have that much in common with a Taiwanese hair stylist. But since when did the phrase "friends with benefits" end up meaning "benefits" without the "friends"? Don't people need friends any more?

This guy was royally put out by the fact that I wouldn't come up to his apartment with him, having just met him in-person less than an hour earlier. I said I thought he was cute and we should get together again so that I could get to know him well enough to become intimate with him. But no. It was now or nothing. What is wrong with guys these days? And this wasn't even the 20-something son of a movie star - it was a 38 year old hair stylist. You would think he would have some interest in humanoid conversation - he talks to women all day long. Is it really that onerous? I like to think I'm not a completely tiresome conversationalist, and if nothing else, I'm a decent listener.

I mean, yeah, he was cute, but really? I'm supposed to hop right up to his apartment? Doesn't he realize that the dating site through which we met specifically advises against going into the date's residence on the first date?

I guess it was a bad sign when I took his iPhone from him to do a search for my play JULIA & BUDDY - I was flattered he was interested enough in it to Google it but he kept typing Juliet instead of Julia so I offered to find it for him - and right in the middle of my Google search on his phone a message popped up from Tinder telling him he had a match.

And then he had the nerve to claim during our brisk walk towards his apartment that he wasn't all that interested in Tinder because it was just about hooking up. Not 10 minutes later he was giving me attitude because I wouldn't immediately hook up with him.

But since my self-confidence has been set to close to zero for years now, I thought maybe he wasn't really attracted to me and was just looking for an excuse to be rid of me. But he insisted on walking me to my subway stop and wouldn't you know it, when I gave him a good-bye hug he grabbed my right breast? WTF?

I did get something out of the date though - although the Taiwanese hair stylist doesn't really drink he admitted he's done "Molly" which is apparently a pure form of Ecstasy. So I learned something.

Yeah, my hair stylist F has absolutely nothing to be jealous of.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More reasons why the Bloggess makes a living blogging

The fourth in the irregular series.

Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism
An excerpt:

So...yeah.  Right now there’s a lot of talk about a tumblr called WomenAgainstFeminism.  It’s just pictures of some women holding up handwritten signs entitled “I don’t need feminism because...”  Some of the reasons they give for not needing feminism almost seem like a parody (“How the fuck am I suppose to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband?”) and some (“I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men”) just make me wonder where in the world they got their definition of feminism.
At first I considered starting my own “I Don’t Need _____ Because” tumblr with people holding equally baffling signs.  Signs like:
But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist...  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A shout-out from Hidden City

I blogged about the poor Boy in the Box a year ago, and recently got a request from a guy from the web site Hidden City Philadelphia, which "pulls back the curtain on the city’s most remarkable places and connects them to new people, functions, and resources."

He wrote an article and links back to my original post:
Beyond the soccer field’s goal, in the center of a windbreak, a small space framed by two concrete median barriers opens near the ground. The opening is not visible from midfield. The trees in the windbreak look like the beginning of the woods, but beyond the barriers is instead a mown field 500 feet deep and 200 wide. This was Philadelphia’s last potter’s field; hundreds of unclaimed people are buried here. 
“The boy’s headstone was right about in the center,” says Nancy McClernan, who grew up in nearby Bensalem. McClernan remembers riding her bike down Century Lane toward the Parkwood playground to use the pool in the summer with other kids from Bensalem. “Walking past that grave was the most unnerving aspect of going to Parkwood and back,” she writes in a blog about her experiences growing up nearby
Back then, in the 1960s, the potter’s field at Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville contained a single headstone. The inscription read, “Heavenly Father, Bless This Unknown Boy, February 25, 1957.”
The unknown boy, like the other people buried in this city cemetery, was never claimed. He was found in a cardboard box in Fox Chase and despite an investigation that lasted decades, was never identified. In 1998, his body and headstone were moved to Ivy Hill Cemetery. Now, in the center of the field, right about where the stone stood, a pair of groundhogs peak out of a hole leading into a network of tunnels in a mound of lumpy earth.
The Boy in the Box - my first inkling of the tragedy of human existence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What the other critic said...

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the other critic for JULIA & BUDDY completely trashed the play. It's amazing how two people could have such completely opposite responses to a single play.

Although I will say about the other critic:

  • He's fresh out of Columbia University
  • He's a fledgling playwright 
  • He appears to have very little experience as a critic - so although he expresses his deep deep sorrow and regret for the necessity of hatcheting my play, he can't even bother to discuss the work of the actors, who are excellent, even as they struggle through the irredeemable shit.
  • He's not a big fan of romantic comedy since he declares that the relationship between the two characters is not high enough stakes. Romantic comedy is considered extremely uncool in the theater world these days. It's much too girly to be cool.

What I find most interesting is that although he mentions the appearance of Schopenhauer in the play (the other critic mentioned him not at all) he completely misses the significance of Schopenhauer's philosophy in the context of the play, even though I put the quote "we want what we will, but we don't will what we want" right at the top. And here I thought I had made it much too obvious. I figured anybody who bothered to consider the Schopenhauer issue would get it. Guess I was wrong.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Julia & Buddy at the Midtown International Theater Festival gets a rave

The bare stage at the Jewel Box Theatre, one of the venues for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, does not deter the new play “Julia & Buddy from instantly making it a playground for wit, intellect, and heartfelt affection as two actors inhabit the stage and begin their ninety minute banter. Claire Warden playing Julia and Buddy inhabited by Matthew DeCapua seem to capture and understand the age old quip that “opposites attract” and give evidence of proof to this notion with exceptional clarity. The panic ridden philosopher and the forgetful maintenance man are the perfect example of the odd couple: each examines her or his actions carefully, peeling away shallow facades and gently exposing their sensitive cores. Both actors manage to appear real and in control and never waver from an honest and truthful performance. Ms. Warden is strong, mindful and focused, yet frail, vulnerable and distracted and always tempts the audience to wonder about her path and intent - always with a distinct emotional investment. Mr. DeCapua is a pleasure to watch as he morphs into impressions of unseen pertinent characters. He produces a character study which is complex, precise, honest and filled with integrity, resulting in a sensitive portrait of a hopeful soul with fractured dreams and the will to survive. They are generous actors providing for each other and allowing the audience to enter their intimate world, always searching for creative ways to establish an emotional connection."
The writing by N.G. McClernan is quick, intelligent, purposeful and entertaining, never wasting words. Her script provides fuel for the actors allowing them to cruise at full speed never faltering or second guessing their commitment. As director, she knows her voice and characters well, taking all opportunities to squeeze every morsel of emotional energy from each verbal encounter. It would be worth the while to treat yourself to this little gem and witness some fresh, new and interesting New York theatre. 

 Joseph Verlezza, CEOExpress

Responses to my play JULIA & BUDDY

We've had three performances and at least one person has come up to me afterwards to offer thoughts on the script for each show - much of it very complimentary.
“So are you going to sell the movie rights to this?” 
“This was as good as a Neil Simon play.” (I believe this was meant as a compliment) 
“I could see how you worked out the plot - it unfolded nicely.”  
“I think it really came together in the Schopenhauer scene.” 
“The writing was so intelligent.” 
“You did good, Nancy G.” (my daughter's girlfriend.) 
“I was hoping that ‘dinner with L. J.' would turn out to be a humorous misunderstanding. I think Buddy is a jerk!” (My daughter.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some kind of progress

While waiting outside the Jewel Box theater for the show in front of ours to finish up, I couldn't help noticing the poster for the Workshop Theater Company's upcoming DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION - I critiqued the artwork for a previous production of the show because it featured a photo of a woman bending forward and sticking out her butt. Which shouldn't be surprising since according to a woman I know, one of the big-wigs in the WTC is a world-class creep.

So this poster is definitely an improvement - the focus is on the contents of the back pocket of the jeans, not on the butt.

And their coming season almost makes up for their past male dominance - at least 50% of the main stage plays they are producing this season are written by women.

Of course, they are only doing two main stage productions between now and April 2015 - this one and a collection of short plays by an as-yet unnamed group of company playwrights. Which I guess is some kind of progress.

The smaller Jewel Box theater productions balance out the gynocratic tyranny - all three of their plays in progress are written by men; and of the staged readings planned, two out of five are by women, which sounds pretty good. But I find it fascinating that both women have written plays with males as main characters. And all but one of the plays by men features males as the main characters. Well, you don't want too high a percentage of girl germs ruining serious theater.

And speaking of theater parity for women, it just occurred to me that the revered Slings and Arrows presents no women as creative artists except for actors and singers. In addition to Shakespeare, they presented a musical author and a playwright during the three seasons, both male. The vast majority of the non-performing female characters were involved in backstage support (costumes, stage management etc.), administration and business. The only non-performing female creative was a director, and she was
a. portrayed as a non-stop talker and
b. given a broken neck and taken out of the show after a minute of screen time.
And one of the writers of the show is Susan Coyne, who portrayed Anna, an administrator.

I don't think it was necessarily a deliberate and conscious choice, but rather a reflection of what is considered a natural state of affairs in the theater - a woman's job - preferably a young and pretty woman - is to present the writing and direction of men.

A realistic aspect of Slings and Arrows was that the company's leading lady Ellen often fretted about the crappy minor roles she would have to play in Shakespeare productions (the dreaded nurse in ROMEO & JULIET) as she aged. The sweet irony is that Shakespeare actually wrote more, and more varied parts for women than most contemporary male playwrights do - unless you count an endless parade of prostitutes with hearts of gold, hot chicks and screwed-up mothers as "varied."

A curious fact about many of the over-30 female actors - they don't seem to go out of their way to be friendly with female playwrights. In fact, in my experience quite the opposite. And it doesn't seem to make sense - female playwrights are far more likely to write roles for women, especially women over 30, than men are (except of course at the Workshop Theater Company.)

However, if you look at it in another way, it does make sense. In the minds of many theater people (conscious or not) playwright is a man's job, and the highest place on the theater pecking order for women is actor - but if women are entering male roles - which are naturally higher status than women's roles, that means those female playwrights will be given higher status than female actors.

And that's what disrespecting female playwrights is all about - status and power and conventional gender attitudes. It's probably a good short-term political strategy but not a good long-term career strategy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The coming cougarocracy

I actually dislike the term "cougar" for women dating younger men, since the term for a man dating younger women is "man" - cougar merely highlights the male entitlement that humanity has lived with for millenia.

But I think the age of extreme male entitlement is winding down, which has men's rights activists (MRAs) freaking out.

You do have to kind of feel sorry for Tom Junod in his cluelessness. I'm sure he felt he was delivering a compliment to the ladies - and even feminists - when he wrote in Esquire:
A few generations ago, a woman turning forty-two was expected to voluntarily accept the shackles of biology and convention; now it seems there is no one in our society quite so determined to be free. Conservatives still attack feminism with the absurd notion that it makes its adherents less attractive to men; in truth, it is feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.
For his troubles he was mercilessly mocked by Tom Scocca (whose work I have admired here in the past), as well as others.

Tom Junod is willing to entertain the thought of intimate relations with women all the way up to 75 percent of his own age. Tom Junod, age 21, cruises into the high school parking lot to tell the 15-year-olds they're still OK. (He shakes his head at Sweet Sixteen parties, though.) Tom Junod, age 30, is ready to consider dating a summer intern in his office, even if she has already finished college. Tom Junod, age 85, tells a 63-year-old woman not to worry, she's still got a little something going on, in his eyes.
Junod didn't help his cause by regally declaring that women under 43 are fuckable when he himself is 56, and a worse-for-wear looking 56 at that. 

The subtext, as the mockers rightly understood, was not a celebration that male privileged had ended, but rather, according to Tom Junod, male privilege had lessened slightly. For Tom Junod your sell-by date is a full 14 years earlier than his (probably more.)

Fun fact: back in the 1980s a Japanese woman's sell-by date was 25, which is why unmarried women over that age were called "Christmas cakes."

This is the very essence of male entitlement - the right for any man, no matter how old he is or what he looks like, to sit in judgment of the sexual value of any woman, and to express that judgment publicly. It's such an in-grained state of affairs that I'm sure it didn't even occur to Junod that he would be called on it. I expect he's thinking: "why didn't they give me any points for that?"

One of my favorite comments in the Gawker thread under the article was this:
Oh, Tom Junod, women didn't need to read your article to learn that men - even ones who seemingly bring little to a relationship other than a nasty sense of entitlement - expect to date women who are 10 or 15 years younger and consider themselves rather saintly for passing on the opportunity to creep out teenage girls. We have OkCupid for that, and it comes with some nifty quizzes too. Your article could do with some nifty quizzes.
That's been my experience too, with online dating sites. And the men my age presented to me by dating sites are as a rule extremely ugly. Which may be indicative of the site's algorithm's opinion of my own appearance, but it doesn't matter any way - men my age, no matter how ugly, think they're too good for me. They want, and fully expect to get, a younger and very attractive woman to marry them. Their entitlement is sickening and as common as dirt.

But the joke's on them. Many women writing into the Scocca Gawker thread had comments that very much reflect my experience too:
That is exactly what happened to me when I hit 40. Young men coming out of the woodwork, and the older men that I just didn't find attractive at all. Impossible to find someone in their late 30s. I'm 52 now, and it is still true. There is an endless supply of young men out there who appreciate older women.
56 yr old lady here, and i had a FWB thing with a guy a year older than my daughters. Bragging? Indeed!
yup. can't find a guy my own age, but anyone way older or way young is game. sexism at work.

Like many women my age, I could be banging a different 20-something-year-old guy every week if I wanted one. My problem is that I have to get to know somebody a little bit before I can bang them, and I have to like them at least a little too, and many 20-something-year-old guys are in a big hurry to get right to the sex. They have zero savoir-faire.

For example: a couple of years ago I met the 24-year-old son of a movie star (you would recognize his name immediately) at my friend Renee's Halloween party. He immediately started hitting on me, which was not only unexpected but a little embarrassing, he was so blatant about it. He didn't try to have a conversation with me, just kept saying suggestive things at me. So eventually I decided to get out of there -  I had drunk two glasses of red wine and had a huge headache coming on already and I wasn't comfortable with the guy's attention.

So I get home and there's a phone call - it's him. Renee gave him my number. And here is a paraphrase of the conversation:

Hey what up? What are you doing?

Going to bed.

How about if I come over?

Now? It's 3AM.

I like you.

OK thanks. I'm old enough to be your mother.

I don't care about that.

Well OK, I think that's very progressive of you. But I have a huge headache now. Listen, how about if I buy you brunch tomorrow and we can get to know each other a little?

I don't have time for that.

You don't have time for brunch?

I'm not interested in brunch.

Listen, I have a show coming up - maybe you would be interested in being in it. We could talk about it over brunch. 
(Of course having the son of a movie star in my show would be a huge draw.)  
No, that's OK.

Look, of course I'll pay you. We can talk about your fee to be in my show. It's a good play - you'll like it.

I'm not interested in talking about your show.

Oh, well OK. Look, I'm really tired.

What if I just come over now?

Really, look, I'm flattered. It's been a while for me, if you know what I mean, so your offer is very tempting. But I'm just not feeling that good right now.

Well that's a shame.

Yeah. Well give me a call if you feel like brunch OK?

Yeah right.
(I hang up.)

What a creep. If he had exhibited even an ounce of charm - or really, just plain human decency instead of treating me like some middle-aged blow-up doll something could have happened.

I guess he isn't used to being turned down - or even being asked to have brunch first before the sex.

I guess that's what the kids refer to as a "booty call."


My point is, if that is going to be the choice of women my age - men the same age, who don't even want us, or old men, or twenty-something guys, clearly we're going for the twenty-something guys.

Which means that before long there will be a whole cultural phenomenon of young men making their way in the world by bedding older women, and using those connections to get ahead - or at least be supported. Young women have done it for eons, and the only reason that young men haven't had the opportunity to do it much (unless they were gay) is because women didn't have any money. And we still don't have as much as men. But that is changing. And that is why male entitlement is eroding. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Good show!

We had our opening for JULIA & BUDDY last night and it went very well. Yay!

Since I was doing stage crew work (mercifully minimal - although next play I write will have no costume changes or props in case I have to be stage bitch again) people knew I was with the show and came up to me after the show to tell me how much they enjoyed it, mentioning the actors, the direction and the writing. How cool is that?

And I was sooo thrilled that for the first time ever we got a laugh for this:

You want to get into a debate with me about Schopenhauer? Don’t even try. 
Wasn’t he an anti-Semite? 
No! That is a misconception. He simply contrasted the materialism of monotheistic
religions with the metaphysical approach of the East. 
And he was a big misogynist. Doesn’t that bother you? 
If you ruled out every great man in history on the basis of misogyny, you wouldn’t have any left. 

I always thought "if you ruled out every great man..." should get a laugh, and it never has until last night - finally! I don't know if we just has an audience with a more heightened feminist sensibility than usual or if it was the way Claire delivered the line - probably the latter. So basically this production has completely fulfilled my vision of the play - the rest is just gravy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More production photos - yay!

The pimping continues...

I was impressed by the brief but exciting chase scene that Claire (fight director)
and Matt came up with. One of the highlights of the play.

I will be adding a cast credit for Arthur Schopenhauer as... himself.

OK you have no excuse - get tickets to see JULIA & BUDDY right now!

@Jewel Box Theater, WorkShop Theater Company, 312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor East between 8th & 9th Avenues, New York NY 10018 MAP
Tickets $18 - call OvationTix: (866) 811-4111 or buy tickets online:
  1. Thursday July 17 @6PM ~ GET TICKETS
  2. Friday July 18 @9PM ~ GET TICKETS
  3. Saturday July 19 @3PM ~ GET TICKETS
  4. Sunday July 27 @4:30PM ~ GET TICKETS
  5. Saturday August 2 @5PM ~ GET TICKETS

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More J&B artwork and a meditation on body hair

photo by Linda Jaquez
New production photos, which means new inspiration for a new J&B poster. This is what I have so far.

Am I pimping out the leading man's attractive torso? Why yes, yes I am. However, as I mentioned before, it was his idea to wear his shirt like this. I suggested a T-shirt for this part of the play and this is what he came up with instead. I mean if he's going to offer it, I'm not going to turn it down.

So I do not feel guilty about this at all!

(Well, maybe a little guilty. There's only so much you can do about your Catholic school indoctrination, no matter how much you consciously reject it.)

But they are on a boat. So it's valid. And the actor is not shy about being seen dishabille - or less - in public, as this article demonstrates. Although please note it was a "social experiment."

I'm old enough to remember when it was fashionable for men to have lots of body hair as this image of Burt Reynolds will attest, not to mention this Al Pacino-esque looking cigarette advertisment model, but these days men are depilitating almost as much as women. But since men are into wearing beards so much these days it seems silly to me - they don't shave their faces but they do shave their bodies. What's up with that?

Monday, July 14, 2014

J&B Pre-show playlist

  • One Divine Hammer by the Breeders - with the immortal line: "I'm just looking for a divine hammer, I'd bang it all day."
  • ABC by the Jackson 5 - sung by tiny little baby Michael Jackson
  • I Saw the Light by Todd Rundgren (fun fact: I knew his mother) "light in your eyes" is kind of a big plot point in the play.
  • If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder - only one of the greatest songs ever written. I talk about it here.
  • Sacramento by Heavenly - a wonderful instrumental but this unjustifiably obscure band. I talk about it here.
  • I Believe in Miracles by Hot Chocolate - the wonderful one-hit wonder by the pride of the 1970s

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hanging with the gay cowboys

My friend Renee the actor and Lady Gaga impersonator and costume creator extraordinaire took me to this gay cowboy bar on 9th Avenue recently.

I knew I was going to like this place when the bouncer carded me - although I suspect he just has to make sure that everybody who enters has photo ID.

Renee promised me that we would get to see guys dancing on the bar, but in the end we didn't wait around long enough to see it - the music was just so. damn. loud. and we were trying to have a conversation.

And don't worry, I wasn't slacking off of my production - I had to meet Renee to get the gloves for the Schopenhauer costume anyway. The gay cowboys were just a bonus.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My piece about the J&B actors

An Actor's Life: Rubber Cat Suits and Lorenzo Lamas

In which I talk to Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua (Now performing in JULIA & BUDDY at the MITF.)
Working with great actors is the most fun you can have and it's been a blast directing Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua in JULIA & BUDDY, a two-hander romantic comedy being performed in the fifteenth annual Midtown International Theater Festival on July 17, 18, 19, 27 & August 2 (Get tickets here.)

I've known Claire since she showed up at an NYCPlaywrights meeting. Early on I realized she would be a great Julia, and so asked her to participate in all readings in the development of the play since 2009.

Her next project is to star as Henry in Accidental Shakespeare's "Hit and Run Shakespeare" HENRY V which I was curious about:

Why did they pick you for the role, being a lady and all?


They've wanted me to work with them for quite a while now and each time they have their shows I've been busy doing other work, but this is one of the times when I'm in the city and free and they said they needed someone really strong Shakespeare-wise and actor-wise to carry it and they thought it would be fun if that was me.
To which I say, kudos to Accidental Shakespeare for picking the strongest actor and not being all hung up on the standard gender binary - although of course there is a long tradition of cross-dressing in Shakespeare starting with the fact that boys played all the women's roles in the original productions. 
The show is August 16 at the Pearl Theater.

This isn't the only time Claire has been one of Shakespeare's guys - in 2012 she was the Player King with the Shakespeare Forum. It was a very interesting take on the play within the play in HAMLET.


I played the role with Dan De Jesus, who is the most phenomenal mover, physical actor-dancer I've ever known. The director said: "I want to do something different with the play within the play. Here's the music I want to use, do something weird. Go."
And just gave us space and time to play around. And we came up with this really awesome dance movement piece. I wore a rubber cat suit and four-inch heels and massive hair and black make-up.
Obviously she's perfect to play the agoraphobic, Schopenhauer-obsessed philosophy professor Julia.
I also needed just the right actor to play Buddy and after looking at dozens without success decided to search through Facebook friends of friends. It so happened that Oliver Butler, a director I worked with ten years ago (and who won an Obie for directing this year) had an actor friend named Matt DeCapua. I took a look at Matt's web site, which includes reels (you should see him as a reporter confronting Tom Selleck) and I knew immediately this would be the perfect Buddy - I didn't even audition him, I just sent him the script and offered him the role. And he said yes. Just like that.

So don't tell me Facebook is a bad thing.

Matt recently wrote/produced a web series called Space Dogs.


It's about a highly dysfunctional workplace environment in the future. I play the captain.


Do you identify with the character?


The chief engineer of the ship, played brilliantly by David Niles, is me in all of the crappy survival jobs I've ever had, just trying to cope, mostly with sarcasm and alcohol. I'm very proud of it and it will be posted soon.
Matt has also worked on stage a lot, including in DRACULA with Lorenzo Lamas at Keane University. So of course I had to ask:

How was Lamas?


He is so hot. He has that amazing quality where he looks at you and he makes you feel like you're the only person in the entire world. He would tell us all these stories when he was working on other shows, like Renegade. He couldn't eat any desserts because he had to take his shirt off in every episode. And they had such great desserts at the craft table. I guess he would take home some dessert and put it in his freezer.
Claire and Matt, not surprisingly, admire each other's work:

Working with Claire Warden is a dream come true, she's an incredible actor, she is so present and grounded and with you and I love working with her every night.


I knew the second I met Matt that everything was going to be fine. I learn a lot working with him every day - he keeps me very real on stage, which is I think probably quite hard to do with me. And a dashingly attractive gentleman.


But also a big geek too -


Yeah, a sexy geek.


I'll take that, sexy geek.
They are both right - they both do amazing work. Come and see for yourself:

Tickets $18 - call OvationTix: (866) 811-4111 or buy tickets online:
  1. Thursday July 17 @6PM ~ GET TICKETS
  2. Friday July 18 @9PM ~ GET TICKETS
  3. Saturday July 19 @3PM ~ GET TICKETS
  4. Sunday July 27 @4:30PM ~ GET TICKETS
  5. Saturday August 2 @5PM ~ GET TICKETS

Friday, July 11, 2014

That hardcore abolitionist John Brown and his Smokehouse

Life-size cut out of John Brown by the door
My manager took our team out for lunch today and for the second time I got to enjoy the ambience of John Brown, the "serious smokehouse." And by ambience I don't mean the whole BBQ thing, which is fine, I mean the serious love shown by the proprietors for John Brown the hardcore abolitionist who...
...commanded forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie.[1] Brown's followers also killed five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie.[1] In 1859, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry that ended with his capture.[1] Brown's trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by hanging.[1]
And I mean, they have pictures of John Brown and memorabilia all over the place. It's very educational. Although sadly, not one of my co-workers had any idea who John Brown was, and barely had enough intellectual curiosity to ask me who he was, when I excitedly pointed out all the artifacts.


The Harpers Ferry WV pennant is a nice touch.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wow, I'm exhausted

Being a writer/director/producer/music supervisor with a day job means you have to sacrifice a full-night's sleep, so I am exhausted.

On the up side, the actors are doing amazing work, and JULIA & BUDDY is coming together. Today Renee Cole, aka "Lady Gaga" - that is her day job - provided us with the pieces needed to really pull the Schopenhauer costume together with the top hat/mutton chops and neck cloth I asked her to create. She did a great job, and like an idiot I failed to get photos of the costume pieces.

Well that will be remedied on Saturday when I bring in a stringer from the New York Times (who happens to be a friend of my daughter) in to take production photos during our tech rehearsal.

Blogging of course will be light during the next f... zzzzzzzzz.

Monday, July 07, 2014

J&B promo video

I think I might have to fiddle with the volume levels though...

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Both sides are idiots

Wow this is a hard call - Richard Dawkins or Social Justice Warriors like Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism?

Any follower of this blog knows I have contempt for them both: Richard Dawkins for being a cranky old misogynist, his ongoing support for evolutionary psychology and for his Islamophobia; and Social Justice Warriors like Adam Lee, who engage in both censorship and smears out of an extreme and misguided political correctness.

Apparently Dawkins only recently encountered the term "Social Justice Warrior" and Lee reported on it:

So I had to take a moment from all the JULIA & BUDDY blogging to comment.

On the one hand, at least you could argue with Dawkins without fear he would censor you, unlike with Adam Lee. On the other hand, at least Lee's heart is in the right place, no matter how egregious his logical failings, whereas Dawkins is just a petty, arrogant upper-class twit as I found out through a brief exchange with him on the Pharyngula blog several years ago. But then Lee is a big un-self-aware hypocrite, actually complaining on a blog post that atheists still face censorship. But then Dawkins is such a ridiculous reactionary at this point.

Conclusion: both sides are idiots.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

New J&B ad

Posting a graphic with link on the NYCPlaywrights web site resulted in a disappointing number of click-throughs to the J&B web site - it's a wonder I make any money at all with Google ads.

Well this graphic is much more compelling, I believe - to paraphrase Pap Finn, if that don't fetch 'em, I don't know theatre folk.

Friday, July 04, 2014

OK, so apparently I was wrong

Remember yesterday when I posted Could my actors be any cuter (no)?

Well I got the rehearsal photos by Allison Stock back today and her skills have proven me completely wrong - they could be cuter.

Not to brag or anything but I believe that this is the first time that philosopher
Arthur Schopenhauer has ever been embodied on the NYC stage.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Could my actors be any cuter? (No)

Wow could Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua be any more adorable? I made them give me a video interview about the play and they did so, graciously.

No doubt about it, promotional work is tiresome crap. I'm lucky I found such a pair of troupers.

I will have a complete edited promotional video online soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

More from the fountain...

The birds around the fountain (across the street from my office building) are almost tame. People talk about pigeons, but look at this sparrow - he was not at all shy about letting me know he wanted some of my lunch.

So of course I had to give him some. Come on, he's just too cute.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

More rehearsal fun

Wow our rehearsals are such fun - I give full credit for recruiting such great people - not only Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua (on the left) but also Katie Kavett, with whom I worked back in 2011 when she was but a baby stage manager - now she's doing off-Broadway and Broadway and won an award in 2012.

And on top of that, Claire recruited her friend to take serious professional-type production photos - I'm really looking forward to seeing those. Luckily I will have most of the 4th of July weekend to spruce up our publicity with these new pix.

Notorious R.B.G.

Mother Jones:  The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg's Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision -
  • "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"
  • "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."
  • "Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby's or Conestoga's plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman's autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults."
  • "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."
More at the link.

And this Tumblr Notorious R.B.G. features Jonathan Mann doing a song about the heinous Hobby Lobby ruling.

Mann is the guy who brought us the immortal Hey Paul Krugman.