I haven't blogged for a few days. A testament to how busy I've been. Praying Small is gearing up and about to reach full flight. The set is up and painted, the lighting designer engaged, the costume plot done, a marketing committee meeting on Saturday, the poster done and in the lobby, the marquis up with my nerdy-sounding name on it, a top-drawer publicist hired, and a host of other things. Went into the studio yesterday and did a lot of my voice over work for the play. Also got the PSA recorded for radio stations. Kyle Puccia has written some incredible original music for the piece and is also designing a provocative soundscape for it. I've been memorizing the monologues (there are some eight or nine big ones in the play) and having line workthru rehearsals with Tara Orr, the wonderful actress playing the role of Susan in the play. Brad Blaisdell and Rob Arbogast (google them) are both about to come into rehearsal full-time. They're both really fine actors and will no doubt shine in the piece. Melanie Eubank (a fine playwright as well) and Bonnie Cahoon round out the cast. The rehearsal schedule is posted in its entirety (amazing producer for the show - Teal Sherer - who will, mark my word, set the city on fire in a leading role in my new play Heavyweights of the Twentieth Century when it is produced this Fall). In short, we're off and running. A lot of capable people are working very hard to make this a success.
We open this juggernaut on June 11. Our major concern now, in terms of marketing, is to get the attention of the recovery community in Los Angeles. It's sort of a "if you build it, they will come" kind of thing. In past productions, once that community has been alerted to its existence, they come out in droves.
I remember reading an interview with Marlon Brando some years ago. Not sure where I read it. But it was after Brando had completed Last Tango in Paris (the title of this blog is in homage to his work in that film, in fact). He said something along the lines of, "this is the last time I do this. I'll never go that deep again. It gets harder when you get older. It just becomes exhausting accessing all of those emotions." At the time I couldn't understand it. I mean, isn't that one of the reasons we become actors in the first place? To achieve that catharsis for ourselves? Well, yes. But the interesting thing is with age it isn't so important to do it anymore. I completely understand Brando's statement now. I'm reminded of something my old friend Maurice Schlaffer said to me once. Maurice is a fine, New York-based actor with whom I once did a lot of work with in Florida. He said to me after my ulcer complications when I walked off-stage and collapsed in the middle of a show, "I'm glad you got off-stage in time, Clif. We show these people enough as it is."
Couple of things while they're on my mind. REDTWIST THEATER, where Praying Small originally opened in 2003, garnered six Chicago Jeff Nominations a couple of nights ago. I was there at the genesis of this theatre. In fact, my play was the play that opened the theatre. They've come a long ways. When I first walked into the space it was just two offices connected by a doorway. Now it's a state-of-the-art, small theatre churning out some of the most respected work in Chicago. They've come a long ways, indeed. A lot of hard, hard work, sweat, passion and talent went into making them who they are today.
Angie and I watched NIXON last night with Sir Anthony Hopkins. I hadn't seen it since it came out. Of course Hopkins is astonishing. He's incapable of being bad, it would seem. But I'd forgotten how heavy-handed Oliver Stone's direction is in that film. Too many tricks, not enough guts. JFK is a far better film.
Off tonight to do the one-acts again. It's a series of eight short pieces called SANITY 2. Some are good, some not. Some are funny, some not. Some well-written, some not. I'll have more to say on it all once I get some distance from them. At this point it appears to be a somewhat noble effort gone awry. Everyone involved keeps using the same phrase when talking about them, "it is what it is." Not sure how comforting that is.
And finally, the old 'silent killer' seems to be under control. I have to get glasses, that's certainly true. My vision has markedly declined in the past couple of months. My doctor tells me this is directly related to catching the diabetes a little late. I have another retinal scan on the 21st. When I was a kid I always wanted glasses because I thought they looked cool. Never mind that my vision was 20-20. Today, I actually need them and I'm mortified at the prospect.
Rehearsals and lines planned all day, performance tonight. Things could be worse. They can always be worse.
See you tomorrow.