So the auditions yesterday were quite successful. Jim, Larry (Larry Cedar, a fine actor and director at the helm of my new play, The Promise) and I saw a whole gaggle of very fine actors. We were especially delighted to see some of the extraordinary talent from the younger actors that came in...ah, to be 18 again. Some of those guys were on fire. I was terribly pleased.
Part of our strategy is to use the readings of the two, new plays as fundraisers in addition to gauging how they work in front of an audience. Personally, I'm looking forward to them. Especially Bachelor's Graveyard, which is a piece that, shall we say, has a lot of 'adult' content written into it.
The theatre itself, located in a stretch of Los Angeles called NoHo (North Hollywood, sort of the 'Chelsea' of LA), is perfect for our plans. It's small and clean and has great lighting and sound, a nice little lobby, dressing rooms, and an easily accessible location in a safe neighborhood.
I've called back 20 or so young actors to actually read from the script today. My good bud and whizbang of an actor, Rob Arbogast (for my readers who saw my play, Praying Small, they'll recognize Rob as the edge-of-ruin character of Roman) will be in today to read opposite all of the young actors. The play is a memory piece, the memories of a mid-forties man looking back on his halcyon and reckless final days as a teenager and the clear juxtaposition in age will be readily apparent as Rob and the other actors are seen side by side on stage.
After the all-day auditions yesterday, Angie and I had dinner with some old friends from our Missouri days, Brad and Nelia Southwick and our old friend and favorite photographer, Jerry Hinkle. I believe Jerry works for the A.P. these days and Brad is a busy producer out here in LA...he's done tons of films. Nelia, always one of my favorite people back in my college days, devotes a lot of her time to saving animals, cats, dogs, whatever, from inhumane shelters around Southern California. She has one of the most contageous smiles I've ever come across. Really terrific people, both of them.
So today we continue the auditions this afternoon and this morning is devoted to re-working Act II of The Promise. One of the problems with staging a new play is the unavoidable fact of having to actually WRITE the new play. Bachelor's Graveyard is ready to go. I'm very happy with every single line of it. But The Promise has some work to be done on it. The idea, the theme itself, is solid, but the words, ah the words, must be sharpened. As George Kauffman once said, "A play is never finished, only abandoned."
Yesterday, as I suspected, found Jim and I giggling all the way through the auditions. Not at the actors, of course, but at the ridiculous history we have together onstage. Neither of us could resist telling Larry, between auditions, about our days together in "outdoor drama," causing both of us to periodically dissolve into immobile laughter.
Angie kept things moving along smoothly and only occasionally reminded us to 'keep it short.' I think she's pretty much surrendered to the idea that Jimmy and I can't help but regress when we hang together. She's a remarkable human being (and not a bad wife, too).
But today the rubber meets the road. Today we see who actually has some chops. Sides (snippets from the scripts themselves) will be read aloud and that's an entirely different ballpark than watching a prepared, exquisitly planned monologue. Today we see who can or can't make 'choices.' And 'choices,' ultimately, is what it's all about in this silly, little game of acting.
See you tomorrow.