Friday, February 26, 2010

On Steaks, Trivia and Plays

I've got a meeting today with the Artistic Director of NoHo, James Mellon, about the future of scheduling for both From the East to the West and Praying Small (see posters to the right). No idea whatsoever what's going to come of it. Naturally, I'm hoping both are on the schedule for full productions. But I'm not counting chickens just yet.

In 2003, I sublet a small apartment in Chicago on Bryn Mawr (a street). It's full of quaint little shops, Starbucks, Italian restaurants, etc. One day I'm walking back to my studio apartment and I see one of the storefronts that had hitherto been closed, with a sign on the door that says, "Actors Workshop. Now accepting students for Wednesday night acting class." Hm, I thought.

So Wednesday rolled around and I decided to stop in and see what was what. At that time I was working as a drug and alcohol counselor and had put theatre away for a bit. Trying to change the world one addict at a time. How naive of me. Anyway, I stopped in. There were only three of us, the artistic director, his wife and myself. No one else showed up.

So we got to chatting. It came up that I had a new script called Praying Small. That I lived around the corner. That I had a rather extensive background in theatre. So, since no one showed up for the "acting class" he suggested I go get my script and bring it over. "Let's read it out loud," he said. So I did.

We read the script out loud, sitting in that gutted storefront, and by the end both of them were weeping openly. We finished and he said, "Well, I don't think there's really anything more to be said. I'd like to open this theatre with this play." And we did. And it was a huge hit. Sold out for months. The play is about the first, shaky, terrible, joyful year of sobriety. It caught on with the recovery community in Chicago, entirely by word of mouth, and was suddenly this surprise hit. The reviews came out and we were suddenly and quite unexpectedly the critic's darling in Chicago. They were tripping over each other to say nice things about us.

The reason I tell you this is because that's how I like things to happen when it comes to my work. Read it, do it. Two simple steps. But, of course, that's not how it works generally. It is the playwright's version of being discovered at Schwabb's drug store.

So even though EAST/WEST was embarrassingly well received in the three day "benefit performance," there are no promises that it will run. I wish I could say there were, but there are not.

So, I don't know what's gonna happen today.

I am sufficiently far enough along with my personal beliefs to know that whatever happens is exactly what is supposed to happen.

On a lighter note, Angie and I had two friends over last night for grilled steaks and trivial pursuit. Not to brag, but I won. I won big, I kicked ass, I mauled the competition, I was a trivial pursuit machine, I was like the computer in 2001, spitting out answers, unstoppable, nearly super-human, really.

Okay, I did win. But not by that much. But the important thing is we had a great time. Lots of laughs. Chad and Lacy (our two funny, hip, smart, young guests) were a delight. In hindsight I'm a little sorry they were beaten so soundly. But they're both strong and young and they'll recover. Angie, the surprise smarty-cat of the evening, came in a close second.

Sorry. Off message there, but I promised them I'd write about it.

But really, in the final analysis, it was just too easy. It was tantamount to the New Orleans Saints playing a co-ed, high school football team. Just rolled over them. Heavy sigh.

I hope From the East to the West goes on the schedule at NoHo. I hope Praying Small runs a little further down the line. But life is cool even if they don't. Because I've got good friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and many nights ahead of me to thoroughly humiliate all trivial pursuit pretenders.

See you tomorrow.