Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back In the Saddle, Again.

Yes, You Are Seeing Double. The 'Fares' of Langhorne Players' Production of "Bluebird"
Next month will mark the first anniversary of my mother's passing. Uncle P's life has changed so drastically in such a short time that it seems both much longer and hardly a minute later at the same time. Of course, this probably only proves that time is an illusion. There can only ever be now. ("Whoa! Dude, too heavy..."  "Shut up, ya bloody wanker!"*)

Most of the inside of my house looks almost nothing like it did 11 months ago. It is very much starting to finally feel like my own place with my own distinct sense of style. That's helped a lot. I've also recently taken on a boarder (something I didn't want to do - I'd grown accustomed to being alone), but not something I regret. He  is a friendly acquaintance I first met while performing as Cassius in Julius Caesar in 1997. He needed the place, I had the room and I certainly like the extra money. Our schedules are different enough that we aren't often home at the same time and even when we are, we seem to get along quite well. He likes to boast that he is sharing a house with a gay man. I like to complain that he leaves the lid (not the seat) of the toilet up (toilet seats have lids for a reason - I don't want to have to fish anything out of mine, thank you) and he claims an inefficient freezer in a former home has left him with a habit of only filling ice cube trays half-way. But I will break him. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! No, seriously. It's working out well... so far. And yes, being a 12 year-old bartender means I must have a full ice bin at all times. Thanks again. Dad!

To tie all of this in with this post's title and the sprawling publicity photo above, despite the crazy crap that's been going on since she passed, I know Mom would be very upset to know that I'd put the thing about which I am most passionate on hold for so long. I was contacted by a director I knew by name only, at the suggestion of my very own Q (who knows me well enough to know it was time, as well). I was asked to come in and read for one or possibly two small roles in a play I'd never heard of, Bluebird by British playwright Simon Stephens. I got both parts and joined a show already two weeks into rehearsals with a bit of trepidation. Yes, they weren't huge rolls, but they were obviously important to the story and both have some hefty monologs. Thank His Great Noodly Appendages for my "Line Nazi" K, who always gets the job done! (LOVE you, Honey!). We officially opened last night (Friday) and while it was good, I still had a flub that almost threw me. 

Tonight, however, I was feeling particularly 'on,' as we say. I was calm and collected; focused and and firing on all cylinders. The performers among you will totally understand the feeling. Even better, two performances in and I am still finding new things about these two characters, both of whom are as different as can be, yet have so much in common. Bluebird is mostly set in a London Bluebird Mini-Cab and revolves around it's driver and a single night of fares who both inform and reflect his own story. I play Robert (a middle-class father returning to the scene of a crime on the day the perpetrator is being released from prison) and Andy (a tough-guy bouncer with a heart of gold, on his way home to his family after a rough night). Stephens' spare dialog is delicious to work with and immediately made me decide Andy was Cockney, which really gives him some delicious linguistic energy that's so very fun to play (and his very dirty mouth doesn't hurt - I love swearing on stage - it's very liberating)! Robert is much darker and sadder (and very drunk) - still a good exercise in character and mood, which is not as 'fun' to play, but equally satisfying. *And while I don't actually say it, "Shut up, ya bloody wanker!" seemed the obvious response in a post that has somehow turned out to be about dichotomy; death; life; theatre; acting; change and growth.

"Dude! What'd I say?"  Yeah, I know, but I'm not going to stop, because if there is one thing I have had reaffirmed these past few weeks (and especially tonight), it's that theatre can and should be transformative, for both performers and audiences. I can't speak for the audiences of any work in which I am involved, but as stressful and wonderful (I've not only made many new friends, but reconnected with one I hadn't seen in 30 years) as Bluebird has been, it reminded of why I do what I do. It is my 'religion' and it feeds my 'soul,'  however you decide to define either. And I am so very glad to be feeding so satisfyingly. Of course, I used to have to add silver to my hair to age me. Now I have to spray it darker to 'youthen' me. And don't get me started about mascara in my goatee!

Depending on when you are reading this, there are still 9 performances left. Be forewarned, this will not be everyone's cup of tea, you should pardon the metaphor. It's dark and spare and doesn't have a lot of action (almost the entire show is set inside the cab - cleverly designed and executed by the director and a fellow cast-mate, so it's never static for too long) but every 'episode' - no matter how brief - informs, echoes and/or foreshadows the bigger picture that is ultimately Andy's path to a sense of closure and self-redemption. Chewy, yummy actory stuff and exactly (as Q knew) what I needed, when I needed it most. For info and tickets, visit

Well, there's a ramble for you, eh? One of Andy's admonitions is "Enjoy the sunshine!" This is my sunshine. It is warm. It is friendly. It is good. Thank you to Mr Ken Junkins, who saw something he liked and trusted me to do what needed to be done.  And forever and forever thank you to Q for knowing this was the right project to ease myself back into and K for the line drills. Small enough to not have the line-load of 'Prospero,' but still artistically challenging and rewarding, I am so happy I agreed to do it.

Things are really starting to look at least a little bit better. At least, I hope so. Change is both inevitable and good. While embracing change isn't always easy, stagnant water both looks icky and stinks!

Here's a bit more about Bluebird and the London company that developed the original production:

I'm not saying it's all roses and lollipops. Hardly. There's all sorts of nonsense still going on that you would think I was making it all up if I told you. But the newest sense of normalcy seems to be a thousand times better than the worst possible scenario. 

Shameless Self-Promotion/Nonsense/Philosophizing over.

More, anon.

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