Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Scenes you didn't see...

...unless you saw one of the first two previews.
Here's a scene that we cut after the first two performances. Kyle has a dream in which a plushie character appears and in several different guises advises him to go back to the Bruno Bettelheim book for the solution to Dave's dilemna.
We kept it in because we liked it. Sure it didn't make much sense or add much to the plot but we liked it. Before we even started rehearsal Chris ordered a plushie pig costume so we had it. (The head appears in some of the promo shots.) Moe looked really great (funny/creepy) in it. I had it staged on the two of the forestages simultaneously--one being Kyle's apartment and one being "dreamland".
The truth of the matter is, it just didn't play. As much as Chris and I laughed we were pretty much the only ones. Everyone else was scratching their heads. So we cut it. And the plushie suit. And the bean bag chair. On a much smaller scale it reminded me of that part in ACT ONE when they're (Kaufman and Hart) are trying to come up with an ending to ONCE IN A LIFETIME. Hart writes this big casino scene with showgirls, a big stage on stage etc. but ultimately it doesn't work and they end up chucking everything. Hart writes about seeing all the glittering scenery in the garbage behind the theater and wondering what to do next. Granted, we're talking about way different budgets here and someone will get a lovely new bean bag chair out of it. But I can't help thinking...poor plushie.

Scene 13A??

(Lights up on KYLE dozing. We hear a dreamy, echo-y voice calling from off-stage)

Kyyyyyyle. Kyyyyyle. KYLE!

(Bolts upright)

(A PLUSHIE PIG enters. It looks like a giant pink furry sports mascot for a gay motorcycle club complete with cartoonish leather chaps and vest or perhaps a harness like Dave’s. The PLUSHIE strides sexily toward KYLE)

Whoa. What are the odds?

(The PLUSHIE puts his arm around KYLE and grabs his crotch with the other hand. He then pantomimes for Kyle to follow him offstage using oversized sports-mascot gestures.)

I am totally buggin’. Dude, Dude. I have no idea what you’re saying, man. I don’t understand pig language.

(More, even broader gesticulating from the PLUSHIE who then looks to Kyle. KYLE shrugs, not comprehending. The PLUSHIE hangs it’s head )

Hey, I’m sorry, plushie pig man.

(The PLUSHIE takes of its fuzzy big-head revealing the head of the actor who plays Mama Truth.)


(Relieved that they speak the same language)

Dude, you’re killing me. C’mon. Let’s go make some static. (Indicates off-stage)

Oh man, Dude, I’m sorry, but I’m not really into synthetic fur. That was like a one-time thing.

Aw dude, that’s bogus.

Sorry Dude. You know, you look like somebody I know…


Naw, it’s crazy.

(Suddenly speaks in Mama Truth’s voice)
Crazy? What you talking about crazy, little Maricon?

Mama Truth?

What’s the matter cutie? You don’t like what Mama Done?


Or was Mama just a “one-time thing” too?

I-I-I… Oh man… (realizing) Oh Man, I am so tripping.

(Drops Mama’s persona)
Ya think?


Dude, your subconscious is one dirty place, man.

Yeah well…

I mean hot, but whoa Nellie.

What can I say?

Go-o-o back to Bruno-o-o…


I don’t know, just… go back to Bruno.


In the meantime Cutie… LET’S DANCE!

(Music plays, they dance)


Monday, December 29, 2008

Week in review and a review

Monday 12/22:
Monday before the holiday. Monday night shows are always a bit tricky. The show's consistantly strong but I never know what to expect once I walk through the doors of Wings. This Monday was no exception. I was expecting attendance to be a little light but we a good little house. Good thing it wasn't a stampede since Wings Box office didn't show up. (see above) The audience enjoyed it except for 2 freebies from the Stein Senior center who yawned loudly through the 2nd half of the show. And maybe they enjoyed it also, but you know....okay, part of the reason why I stay away from a show once it's up and running is that I start directing the audience, but if it's not costing you any money and your sleepiness is going to affect other people's enjoyment, stay home and watch Murder, She Wrote okay? There, I said it.
No show on Thursday b/c it's Christmas and we got some lovely presents from the critics. The Blade voted us one of the years 10 best and nytheater.com lists us as pick of the week!
Friday I was taking a long winters nap when I awoke to three phone messages from Chris. Patrick, our lead, had a temperature of 102, couldn't hear out of one ear and had a terrible soar throat. We went through a couple of different scenarios and I consulted Doric, but ultimately decided to cancel the show. Jen and Chris stayed at the theater, did laundry and set up for the next show. Robert M. called back our reservations and turned people away who showed. I stayed home and fretted.
Saturday everybody's rest seemed to pay off. Patrick was much better and gave a great show to an almost full house.
Yesterday, Sunday matinee at Wings (which comes close to Monday nights but is a little more predictable) was well attended and I'm assuming well played. I made myself leave lest I start checking people's IDs at the door. When did I get so obsessive? I will watch the last 3 performances, so be warned....

Monday, December 22, 2008

That's so nice!

I've been going to the theater, checking in w/ Jen and Chris, doing the curtain speech and leaving. The show is completely theirs now and I felt I needed to stop hovering in the back of the house imagining things to worry about. I saw the whole show again Saturday and yesterday and was impressed at how solid it is--how much it's own little world it is. I sat back there (okay, hovered a bit) feeling proud and priviledged to have had a hand in it.
Reaction to the show has been great, too. After the show yesterday, two guys came up to Chris and I after the show and told us how much they loved it. That it was great to see a show that was about commitment--and that they'd been together for 35 years! Very cool.
Warning--watch for dropping names: Tina Howe (there's one) told Chris that Edward Albee (oops, there another) had been talking up the show at the last Dramatist Guild meeting. These kind words were posted by our founder (okay, one more) Doric Wilson. Very nice indeed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weekend in review

Catching up w/ the blog today. The show gets tighter and tighter. I have probably said this before, but it's so exciting to watch these actors really take the ball and run w/ it. We had a "magic of live theater" moment when Patrick cut open his hand on his key chain in the first few moments of Saturday's performance. We stopped the show, patched him up and started over--w/ Patrick and Jesse covering brilliantly and the audience getting a good laugh out of it.
We got some press, too!
Check these out!
Q on Stage

How about them parsnips?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Congratulations are in order!

Moe Bertran and his partner David Pumo are getting married today! As of this writing they are in Connecticut tying the knot. They are 2 of the coolest people around so we wish all the best. YEA!!!
The show last night seemed even fresher and more on after the two day break. It's really thrilling to watch great actors grow into and inhabit their roles like this. The audience was terrific and they delivered an amazing show.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First Notice

A very quotable review came out on Tuesday from BACKSTAGE. This is great! So frustrating when reviews come out closing weekend and don't have a chance to help your box office.

"Let's face it: Men are pigs - and frankly, some of us have dated more than our fair share of oinkers. But none of us has been as bad off as poor Johnny Lovejoy when his long-term trick, Dave, transforms into an honest-to-goodness pig in Chris Weikel's charming queer confection Pig Tale: An Urban Faerie Story. Whether it's the snout or Dave's unseemly habit of rooting through the garbage, one fact is clear: The boy is swine....With witty banter, Weikel turns the notion of happily ever after on its well-worn head, injecting camp and fetish gags (furries, anyone?) into Pig Tale's fractured fairy-tale format....Weikel creates an engaging metaphor for modern relationships as Dave transforms from sexual object into human romantic partner." Paul Menard, Back Stage

To read the whole review go to BACKSTAGE. He has some quibbles w/ the structure but I think we addressed most of this in the subsequent previews.

We're back at the theater tonight. Our fantastic lighting God, Ahmed saved the day on Tuesday. There was an issue w/ the hay bale that we're going to take a look at.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We officially opened on Monday. It' s been great having these preivews. The cuts we gave on Sunday shaved a little more time off the show and officially the script is frozen. Of course, today I woke up thinking of more stuff, but we'll save them for the next go round. I'll include some of the cut outs in the blog.
I was inordinately nervous. Probably b/c my work is not officially done. I thanked the cast for their spectacular work. To tell the truth, I've got a little post partum depression going on.
The show itself is solid despite the fact that five minutes before we were to open the house we noticed that we had lost a dimmer. Can someone please give WINGS some money so it can give itself a tune up?
It was really cold outside on Monday, so I was happy to see the turn out. Ray Klausen was in attendance as was special surprise guest, Edward Albee! I got to meet Edward Albee! He really enjoyed the show and Chris said he was thrilled to be getting feedback from the man who wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
We had a casual pizza/cake and beer reception for folk afterwards that was really nice. It moved across the street to Gaetano's. I went home. After busting ass pretty solidly since Saturday of Thanksgiving week, the next two nights of no show are going to be great!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Preview update

dress rehearsal photos:

Sorry I haven't posted for a while but have been busy in dress and previews.
As Wings was passing the basket before the first preview, someone from the audience asked me what the toughest part of putting this show up was, something that made me thing "oh, it'll never happen." Now that we've had three successful previews, i can answer that questions honestly...the tech.
Tech is always tough. Everyone's exhausted and on edge. I'm always insecure going into tech because though I can tell you tech-wise what I want, I can't tell you how to get it there. I also came to directing from acting so I'm always apologizing for keeping people waiting around. Its always trying teching in an unfamiliar space and though i'd worked in the Wings Theater before, it's been as an actor or playwright never as a director. It's a nice facility but like most theater spaces that have been around awhile it's very idioscratic. just figuring what connects to what and what actually works and what doesn't was really time consuming. Tuesdays was a really late night. Wednesday our first tech was really really late night. The dress was arduous b/c though most (definitely not all) of the lighting cues had been written, only about half of them had been run. So there was a lot of button pushing and finger crossing going on. We had a small invited audience that night and if any of you are reading this blog I invite you to come back and see what the show really looks like.
Morale was pretty low after the dress. From out front, the show was all there it was just floating around in a sea of tech and tentativeness. I gave some notes and we regroup for the next night Friday (our unoffical opening)
I hate to believe in that old addage that if you have a crummy dress then your show will be brilliant b/c i think it belies the work that goes into making a show happen after a really tough dress. But happen it did. We had a great turnout. The technical and performance elements snapped into place. I dedicated the show to Tina Howe--this show's patron saint. The audience had a good time and, in short, we did it! I had an acting teacher at school who referred to big breakthroughs like this as "shitting the grapefruit". That's what we did--though thankfully not literally. The nice part was everything that Chris and I got to see on stage what we had been working on for the past 3 weeks on stage and could make constructive textural and technical cuts. As solid as everything was, it was running too long.
Second preview was an even tighter show. All the technical glitches had healed and the actors, having one show under their belts gave even sharper performances across the board. Didn't want to give them the cuts Chris and I were talking about until after the second show b/c i wanted them to experience running the show in it's entiretly without the pressure of opening night jitters. But we did cut off six minutes.
Before the third preview I met with Chris at the theater and went through the proposed script cuts. The largest one was cutting an entire scene which though we loved it and through nobody's fault, just wasn't playing. The rest were internal cuts to help move the action along. Everyone was fine w/ the cuts, and the show lost four minutes! I expect it will get even tighter as the show picks up its own rhythm and momentum.
So tonight is our official opening. Script is locked down and frozen, though we may try one technical element later on. We're planning a little reception in the lobby afterwards for the actors and crew. Nothing fancy just a "thank you for all you really hard work and enjoy your two days off". For me, I feel like it really is my opening since my work is essentially done. I'm in that awkward letting go place. My director friend Jeff Seabaugh said the night before the opening is always his least favorite night in the process b/c he's so invested in the play and now has to let it go. Often I'm so exhausted by opening, I can't wait to get it open so I can relax but this time, I'm totally getting what he means.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

so far so fast

First a testimonial: If you have any sound needs go to cdm studios . They are awesome. Went there Tuesday and Wednesday to put together the sound cues which was kind of challenging since they come from a variety of different sources and also required some live in studio recording. Eric, our sound technician, was awesome! Seriously, if you need anything sound-wise check these guys out. Convenient, knowledgable, friendly and affordable. Tell them Finberg sent ya!
Anyway, Tuesday was the actors Equity day off. Michael (TD) and Chris (playwright) spent the day in the theatre working on the set, Ahmed was installing lights. Jen and I arrived to help out, look out cues etc.
Yesterday, we finished up loading lights, checking out resident equipment and discovering all its idioscycracies. We called the actors at 7 for a 7:30. Um. We meant well. We didn't go at 7:30. I think it was closer to 8:30. Okay, it was nine. The first few cues in the show are the most complicated and had to be written a number of times. But we eventually got past them and soldier on through the 1st half of the play. At this point all the sound cues had been captured and I wanted to give the actors a chance to work w/ them having never heard them before. Because of the hour, we switched over to a cue to cue and but we did finally get them all written. Okay, almost. We're going to redo the final cue and the curtain call at 7 tonight.
I have to say (again) how much I LOVE this cast. Everyone was game to press on and though stressed remained focussed and in good spirits. Unfortunately, Michael had to leave early b/c after adjusting the hay bale he stepped back and there was so stage there. I talked to him this morning and he is feeling a little better but still in pain.
Tonight is our dress rehearsal. We'll have our first audience on Friday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

and...we're back!

What a weekend! Our last rehearsal was Wednesday. I can't speak for everyone, but I got some much needed rest, recreation and food. Then Saturday morning rolled around. Company members Rick Hinkson and Paul Batchelor met Chris and I over at the storage space at ten am and started moving the set out of storage. Then we met Ray at the theater. He moved in props and set dressing and taped out the floor as we lugged the set into the space. Then the walls went up. I was amazed at how fast they went up and they look great. Actors arrived at 7 and did a line through in the lobby as the crew finished up on set. Then actors got a chance to walk the set and spaced out some of the larger or more complicated scenes on the set. We broke at 10:30.
Last night, crew went back in at 10 and worked until five when actors arrived. We reblocked a couple of the scenes and did a run through that went really really well. Steve came by to talk w/ actors about costumes and try some pieces on. Ray finished dressing the set and will be back on Thursday for the final dress. He's dividing his time b/w us and Liza Minelli at the Palace (I love saying that.) Ahmed came in to look at lights saturday and will be back tuesday. We record sound cues tomorrow. Actors have an Equity day off tomorrow so we will use the time teching. So it's coming together!
I know I've mentioned here that I'm constantly impressed by how resiliant and focussed this cast is. Did I also mention they're funny and smart? Here's an interview that Jesse May did for United Stages: nice!