Friday, February 19, 2010

"What's next?"

We finished up our three day benefit last night. I think we made a little cash for the theatre. I'm pleased about that. After all, that's what we set out to do, originally.

So, what next? That's one of my favorite lines in The West Wing (in my opinion, the single finest show ever done on network television). Martin Sheen, as President Bartlett, always said it. "What next?"

Well, the play will run. Somewhere. I hope at NoHo Arts. That's my first choice. With the cast intact, the set, the support people, everything. That is my first choice.

Last night was a really wonderful night for the cast and the play. Not that this matters much, but I was mildly surprised to hear the whooping and yelling at the curtain call last night. That sort of reaction is generally reserved for big, splashy musicals. Not for a deeply introspective, savage, blood-letting drama. Kind of amused me. Not to say I wasn't pleased. Just an odd moment for me.

Had my buddies, Theo Marshall, Ken Still and Jamie Kelsey in the audience last night. All three have done my words in Chicago and are now out here. They liked the show, I think. Always nice to hear good things from people with which I have a history. Theo, especially, seemed to "get" it. He's a good actor. Look for him on television and film screens near you. He's also a nice guy. And these days, that goes a ways in my book. I'll take a nice guy over a brilliant fuck-head any day of the week at this point in my life. Didn't always feel that way.

The NoHo group, some 40 actors, artists, musicians, writers, designers, composers, singers...they all came out in droves to support my little skit. You are all deeply appreciated.

Chad Coe, playing the lead role in the show, rose to unimaginable artistic heights. About a week before the opening, maybe even less, he plugged into something personal. Don't know what it was, don't care really. But it was staggeringly obvious. He went from good, young actor to troubled, writhing, raging, gentle demon right before our very eyes. Nice, Chad. Be proud of this, no matter what happens next. For the rest of your life, know that these three days were great, even life-changing, acting. The next time some dim-witted casting director looking for a guy to sell Tide detergent doesn't cast you...think of what you did these past three days. Guaranteed to make you feel instantly better.

Nickella Maschetti and JR Mangels were both white-hot last night. Even though JR stole my whiskey bottle onstage and refused to give it back. I am forever a fan of these guys. For one thing, they constantly reminded me of the passion of the young actor. They were like racehorses every night, jittery with excitement to come flying out the gate. Your passion made my passion. You made me remember why what we do is important. Nickella just leaves me aghast. JR had some moments so funny and immediately after, so touching, well, that's why we do this stuff.

Alex Robert Holmes, Malcolm Devine, Mary Evans, Teal Shearer...all stunningly talented, all blazing with ambition, all perched on the edge of something extraordinary. All my friends now.

Four months ago I was trudging daily to my acting studio, teaching all day, enduring the dirt and boredom of Chicago. Teaching while the sun was out, writing at night, wondering if anyone would hear or see my words someday from a dozen or so plays I had tucked away in my imaginary theatre trunk. Occasionally, I'd send one out for a reaction. Never heard a word. Well, they did this week. They heard my words and some of them liked them.

I really can't expect much more from life than that. I am content and relaxed this friday morning. I...we...did the best we could. And that's what it's all about. And I think we did okay.

See you tomorrow.