Sunday, August 28, 2011
i've never been able to do it, always misrepresenting myself. say on match.com, you know how the unloved reveal personal likes and dislikes, throw in a million activities, and all the other person wants to know is 1. do you have a job? 2. money? 3. can i get over how you look? unfortunately, for me, the first is yes, the second no, and the third debatable, considering my advanced age.
okay, say i want a theater job, how do i sum up fifty years experience and what would get my foot in the door? at twenty i began writing hysterical psychological plays. my mother an actress in community theater on the presidio of san francisco, so i began running lights and sound. those gave me a great deal of power as i turned up the volume on the nazi footsteps in the diary of anne frank.
three years later i directed my first play, a broadway comedy oh men! oh women! oh boy, i didn't know what i was doing. at the suggestion of the manager i changed casting at the last minute and never quite had faith in myself. it's better to make a mistake that's your own than accept a promise from someone else. eventually, the actors got the hang of it and i discovered with comedy run-throughs the key to get the timing down.
let's see, during the next two years in greece, berlin, and oxford i attended every kind of play. an old fashioned troupe of five actors counted their money over ouzo after performing a heroic epic in a tiny, grubby space. in berlin i either went to a play or a movie every night for six months. where else would i have seen goethe's faust? and from oxford i traveled at least once a week to watch the shennigans of the royal shakespeare theater and visit shakespeare's plot in stratford on avon.
after returning to california, i'd make a yearly pilgrimage to new york city, this being the latter half of the 60's. believe me, i didn't miss a significant show, whether in a basement, loft, or on broadway. i studied play-writing and performance with members of the open theater, savaged my way thru improvisations, fell in love and out of love.
finally, all that burned out, and i worked for arts and lectures at the university of california santa cruz, house-managing, making a photo record of an old barn being turned into a theater, attending acting classes, directing a production of racine's phaedra in aforesaid space. that all lasted for seven years. i swear to god i still didn't know what i was doing. yes, i read every book i could, however either i didn't have the maturity or the confidence to do a really great job.
twenty years now passed, the new york trips sporadic: one spring i attended seventy-one shows in the city. i ended up in chico california, more or less at loose ends, a town of my first three year old memories (i cut off my sister's yellow curls cause everybody thought they were so pretty!) i did keep writing plays. i figured out how to do it, though few performed. 1995 i think it was, bill johnson pulled me into a production of the musical city of angels. i watched every rehearsal and took constant notes. in the end i lay writhing onstage in a giant iron lung.
this led to a whole round of theater experiences, history and directing with randy wonzong, acting and auditioning with bill johnson, styles with cynthia lammel, choreography with sue pate. eventually, after about ten years of this, i became involved with the downtown blue room theatre, directing with a several of my own scripts staged. launching into photography, i aimed my cameras at the actors with a ferocious zeal, hanging a show of three hundred photographs. here's the link: www.pbase.com/wwp/theaterpics