Sonnet XVII

I could look at you all the live long day,
Like a twilight sky you’re never the same.
Swirls of color, whirls of light born in May,
To radiate the clouds with sacred flame.

When you laugh I love the twitch of your nose,
When you smile I love the plump of your face.
Your perfume is as sweet as any rose,
To smell it is to lose sense of time and place.

Once upon a time I dreamed of the moon,
Flying solo in a dark, starry sea.
The prophet foretold a Cancer in bloom,
Come June, I realized it was you and me.

Inspired by your eyes, your lips, cheeks and ears,
For you I write my first sonnet in years.

 

 

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Deleted Frankenstein Monologue

FATHER: Do you know how your mother and I met? We were about the same age as you and Elizabeth. Two kids who would run into each other in the fields or in the marketplace. Sure, it started as coincidence but then as I began to notice all the little things… The way her nose moved when she laughed or how blue her eyes would be in the sunlight… well, then I began to only pretend it was accident to run into her all the time.

5 Fringe Shows We Want to See This Year

  1. Weekend at Bernie Sanders’s
    Bernie Sanders is dead! But that won’t stop him (and his loyal band of Bernie Bros) from keeping his campaign for president alive! This madcap comedy asks (and definitively answers) the big questions about our democracy in just 45 minutes of HILLarity! But we won’t TRUMPet our own horn! We’re just CRUZin to victory!
  2. The Adventures of Moose Knuckle and Camel Toe
    Follow the amazing escapades of married superhero duo, Moose Knuckle and Camel Toe! Going through a rough patch, can they overcome their differences to get the evil Dr. Cumbersnatch? A classic battle of the sexes!
  3. Clam House Confessions
    When four women find themselves locked in a sex dungeon, what will they reveal and what will they keep hidden? Told in four interweaving monologues, Clam House Confessions aims to break down barriers by showing the strong females within us all.
  4. O.P.H.E.L.I.A.: Stands for Everything
    In her one woman show Cassandra Kempt (MFA YALE REP, PhD RSC, Professor Emeritus Moscow Art Theatre, BFA University of West Florida) combines Ophelia’s speeches with actual news reports from the Gaza Strip to create a portrait of the lives in struggle. Thanks to an exception from the Fringe Festival, the show will be given a special nine hour slot.
  5. Matt and Ben II: Jennifer Strikes Back
    Matt and Ben are back and this time they’re all grown up! But with great power comes great responsibility…Will they be able to resist the greatest temptation of all: THE HOT NANNY?? (**Please note: Matt and Ben II:Jennifer Strikes Back is not produced or related in any way to Mindy Kaling, Brenda Whithers, Matt Damon or Ben Affleck).
  6. The Boob Play: A Musical
    Who doesn’t love a great pair of hooters? Better yet, who doesn’t love guys objectifying them with songs such as “Knock, Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Titties!” and “Jumbo Magumbos No. 5”.

Originally published at hackstage.nyc

Check it out there and more!!!!

Impressions: Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue

This past year at Park Square Theatre, encompassed many themes, and there is so much to look back on with wonder and awe. Least of which was the the fact that it was my first year with the company as a marketing assistant, front of house extraordinaire and theatre blogger! Like I said, many themes to explore but I’m going to make things simple right start at the beginning. Someone once said that’s the best place to start.

I was completely new to the Twin Cities last summer and subletting a studio apartment in Minneapolis, working a nondescript temp job to stay afloat until I could get something solid under my feet. Finally the summer doldrums passed and with the start of the new season at Park Square came the opportunity to come on board.

I distinctly remember sitting down with Connie Shaver, the Marketing & Audience Development Director, fully expecting to interview for a Front of House position, but was wonderfully surprised to hear her interest in my personal blog and social media presence. Eventually I got into the box office, but from the start I was always involved in the actual goings-on of the theatre-making process. My first assignment with the season was the show, Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue, and to attend the opening night party with my handy dandy camera in tow.

The night was marked by good spirits as everyone knew how well the play had gone. For those who missed out on that September night, the play deals with a Puerto Rican family and, Elliot (the youngest of three generations of soldiers), dealing with the effects of returning home after a tour of duty in Iraq. All the actors were on point and effortlessly handled the rich, poetic script by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes. After the show, I got to interact with those actors as both a fan and professional, taking pictures and making memories. I met Richard Cook, I chatted with Rich Remedios about his Meisner training, took candid photos of Ricardo Vasquez, and started my first year in the Twin Cities on the strongest foot I could ever think possible. Elliot was a great show, yes, but as I reflect it was a great experience all around; my first at Park Square and the first of my  year.

 

Looking Ahead: A Raisin in the Sun

Park Square recently unveiled it’s new season for 2016-2017 and one of the shows that most excites me is Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. The story about a family just trying to survive and get ahead it such a powerful one that it resonates as not just an American tale, but a human one. Of course the family at the center of it all is African American, allowing the play to delve even deeper into themes that become as universal as they are unique to the history of African Americans in our country.

This past winter I was in a production of Clybourne Park at Yellow Tree Theatre, which for those who don’t know, is set in the same world as Raisin, only after the events as told in Hansberry’s play. It’s a brilliant script that picks up the mantle for the 21st century and scathingly shows us that issues such as racism, gentrification, entitlement and civil rights continue to nip at our heels no matter how many steps we take forward.

Among the many great things to come out of that experience was just the reason to re-read A Raisin in the Sun (like you need a reason!) and I couldn’t put it down. I remember reading it in high school and definitely not having the same reaction. Obviously I my tastes and sensibilities have matured since I was sixteen but also so has our culture, where minority rights are deservedly back at the forefront of our social narrative. As a white guy, it’s just been inherent that I live with certain blinders on, but with art such as A Raisin in the Sun, those blinders can start to come off and I can do my part to help make the world a better place.

That’s why A Raisin in the Sun is a great play, but the reason I believe it’s a masterpiece of the American stage is how it gets it message across. It’s an extremely well written play! Yes, the central them is that of the African American experience but it is told in such a way that it instantly becomes recognizable to anyone who has ever had a family, had to move, had to deal with life insurance and wills, been taken advantage of, etc. Within this frame, the Younger family’s struggles become relatable to everyone and in this way, it begins to create the social change I’m sure Hansberry was ultimately striving for.

Nearly sixty years after it premiered we are still freakin’ fighting for universal rights and I think there’s a lot of frustration that the years continue to roll without total victory. Again as a white guy, when I was feeling the most frustrated with my seemingly inability to relate, I picked up A Raisin in the Sun, and I got it. Sixty years ago, now, whenever, the story of the Youngers became my story and in that way my whole perspective changed. I have never seen a production of the play so I really look forward to Park Square’s this October-November and I hope you do too.

What is “The Best” Anyways?

 

There are with out a doubt, subjects that can be defined as “best” and… not best. Science, cuisine, and the Minnesota Twins are some starters; you can reasonably say that there’s a difference between what constitutes good and bad. For many things, however, the line is distinctly less obvious and the difference between what’s good and bad often comes down to one person’s opinion. “Everyone’s a critic” rings painfully true for artists, who often feel as if their entire life’s work can be made or broken depending on whether or not the critic was able to find adequate parking or hasn’t fallen ill from an under cooked fish.

An artist will devote countless hours on a project, plumbing the depths of the human condition, often  at the expense of their own pleasures. DaVinci once said that “art is never finished, only abandoned” and as an actor I get that. Weeks go by and you’re still tinkering with the artwork, knowing that at some point you’re going to have to let it fly into the stage lights of opening night. It’s hard to do that, especially when you know there are people actually getting paid to sit in the darkness to judge you  on all of that devotion. You hope they are able to see not just the one tree, but the whole forest.

Exposing yourself like that is, in short, a leap of faith. Yes, the critic is there to do this job but as for power? I believe we give the critic only as much power as we let them. The simple question is, “who do we do it for?” To serve ourselves in the hope that a “good” review will grant us the keys to a sort of acting El Dorado, or to show audiences a glimpse of their own forgotten humanity? In my short career I’ve come to learn that by focusing on the former you lose sight of the latter, leading to a weak foundation that will eventually crumble in on itself.

This of course it not to say that I hate reviews and critics, quite the contrary. I value a good review that sheds light on a production and I’ll even copy and paste a specific one onto my website; I won’t even go so far as to call reviewers a “necessary evil”. No, they’re not evil, but I can see how a disgruntled performer could go there.

All of this then is to ask the question, what constitutes good theatre? Who determines what “the best” theatre is? The reviewers, the audiences, the artists themselves? All of them are intrinsic to the welfare of the art and have a voice. Inevitably those voices clash and no more so than during big “oo-lah-lah” events such as the Tony Awards where suddenly anyone who has seen a play, any play, speaks out about the nominees and not always in the most positive light.

These are the same people who annually disparage the Oscars for not amounting to a hill of beans. Why should we care about an awards show that rewards bloated and stale Broadway? Because I believe, for better or worse, this the face of the industry; practically the only thing Joe the Plumber might think of when someone says “theatre”, and dang it, if Joe the Plumber thinks anything about theatre at all then we’re off to a good start. Of course we artists sticking it out here in the hinterlands know that the American theatre is so much richer than what the Tony’s represent but it pays to be informed about what’s happening in New York, no matter your position. So I would recommend not forgetting to take your grain of salt and just appreciate the fact that Theatre gets its day in the mainstream sun for at least one night a year.

So “The Best”. Can we define it? Can we spot it in a line up? Sometimes absolutely, but more often than not we’re just comparing apples to oranges; whether it’s the critic or some institution like the Tony Awards. I say we as the artists raise our voices a little more in solidarity and less in sniping at each other and then we can enjoy the big oo-lah-lah events as the giant self-celebratory parties they ought to be.

What’s in a List?

The other week on Facebook (I know… I know…) I came upon this list that was circulating among my network of fellow artisans entitled, “25 Most Important Plays Every Actor Should Read“.

Now, first off, when I see a headline like that, I immediately roll my eyes and assume that the list is going to include the already established classics from one’s theatre history class. And guess what? I was not surprised. But here’s the thing: I didn’t expect to be surprised. Did I want to be? Sure! I would have loved to have seen playwrights like Lorraine Hansberry, Athol Fugard, or Lynn Nottage included. It’s frustrating but I’m not upset at the some website for regurgitating the same ten or twelve plays over and over again because the . argument here isn’t disputing their “worthiness” it’s that there should be more diversity among them. While that is an argument we must continue to push, we have to do it the right way. How about the next time one goes around we circulate our own “Top Plays List” so that catches fire in the community and shows up on everyone’s feed. I’m talking the works too: Published on a blog from a reputable company with pictures and everything.

GIFS.

Seriously though, how cool would it be if there if a poll were taken at Park Square Theatre to determine the “The Top Plays Every Actor Should Read”? I like it – I think I’m gonna make it happen because we don’t need some random Facebook post determine for us what’s “important” to read in the ever expanding and diversify canon of Western drama.

Park Square will let you know when we can but what do you say now? What do YOU think should be included?