Stoneleaf – the last day
Yep, two whole days with no updates, but I’ve been in full theatre festival immersion, so not much in the way of blogging. Let’s play a little catch-up, shall we?
Friday night’s performance of Intim@te E-Pistles was great, Glenn has made a lot of improvements to the show since I saw it in a reading two years ago, and the cast has fantastic chemistry, so it was a helluva show. Small audience, about 16 people, but they were very appreciative, and I felt like it would give us some good word of mouth press, in addition to the posters and postcards we were passing out right and left.
Then on to the opening night gala at Windows on the Park, at Pack Square. What a blast! We had the Kat Williams Band returning from last year, and what a singer Kat is. Kristian, one of our actors, was the belle of the ball, shaking his sexy Latino booty all over the lawn/dance floor, much to the delight of several Stoneleaf donors. I jokingly told him that if I’d had a poster with me, I would have stapled it to his ass, since that’s where most eyes were focused for much of the night. I realized later that I wasn’t joking, and he passed out boatloads of postcards at the gala. Good marketing sometimes consists of having a hot guy with a Spanish accent passing out your press materials.
There was drinking. There was quite a bit of drinking. I had a couple, but Emily got absolutely plowed. Suzy and I told her on the walk back to the car that we knew she was drunk because she had stopped limping. Em had twisted her ankle loading up the van Wednesday night, so all the walking inherent in a trip to Asheville wasn’t working so well for her.
Saturday I had the greatest of intentions of getting up early and going to see a show at noon, but like so many great intentions, that went straight to hell. We rolled into downtown with enough time to drop Em at the Bebe and for Suzy and I to get our tickets to I am My Own Wife up at UNC-Asheville. Playmakers Repertory Company from Chapel Hill brought this show, which won the Tony and the Pulitzer a couple years ago, and it was absolutely fantastic!
It’s the story of Charlotta von Malsdorf (almost certainly misspelled, deal with it), a German transvestite who lived in Berlin from the 1930s until the late 20th century, and the tale of how she survived the occupation by both the Nazis and the Communists is absolutely stunning. She became a collector of artifacts from the 1890s, and at one point relocated an entire Berlin gay bar into her basement to save it from destruction. The guy playing Charlotta plays about 8 characters through the course of the play, and he was absolutely flawless. His characterizations were specific, crisp and his vocal work was distinct and clear. He managed several different accents and genders, and all his characters were fully fleshed out, not caricatures. An amazing production top to bottom.
At 8 that night our whole company (minus Suzy, who left to go home and take care of the pets) went to see our buddy Charlie in NC Stage Company’s production of Stones in his Pockets. It’s a 2-person show where the two actors portray the residents of a small Irish town that’s overrun by Hollywood types when a movie is being shot in their town. I described it to someone as “Irish Tuna, with a point.” There’s a lot of hysterical scenes, but also a very touching point in the show, as these two extras who are the focal point of the play pick themselves up by their bootstraps and move on to greatness (relatively speaking). Charlie and Scott Treadway were the two actors, and they’ve worked together several times (including last year’s Stoneleaf smash production of The Compleat Wrks. Of Wm. Shkspre (abridged)), so their chemistry is fantastic. Their comic timing is also great, and they handled the serious moments of the play extremely well. A great show, and a packed house to boot made for a great evening of theatre.
Sunday was a jammed day for our folks, with a show at noon and 8PM, then 5 hours to kill between. For me, my role this time ‘round was strictly producing, so once the checks were written and the introductions made, my work was done. So I crammed three different plays in two theatres into my day.
I started off at noon with War Bonds, by EbZB productions, a husband and wife touring company out of Raleigh. Honestly, I didn’t have a ton of interest in going to see a musical revue of songs from the 1940’s and letters home from soldiers from WWII, but David (the husband part) is a friend of mine and I wanted to support him.
Good call, me. It was absolutely charming, an alternately poignant and funny show looking into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people during an extraordinary time in our nation’s history. One particularly telling moment was when David read a letter from Chester zum Brunnen, from Morehead City, NC, telling of the horrors he experienced liberating a Nazi concentration camp. David’s dad wrote that letter and was the inspiration for the show. It was a great piece, and I need to look into bringing in to Charlotte for a weekend run, I think it would do well.
Next up was ice cream at the Marble Slab Creamery with Glenn, Emily, Christy and Mykel. Christy was in The Vagina Monologues for me up here last year and she and Mykel had such a good time they planned their entire vacation around the festival this year, planning to see 18 of the 20 shows on offer this week! After ice cream, we went back to the NC Stage Theatre to see Elephant Sighs, a co-production of Greensboro’s Broach Theatre and Asheville’s Occassional Theatre Company.
It’s the story of a men’s club, and a new guy in town comes to join, and tries to figure out why he’s there and what the club is about. It’s a small play that asks big questions, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Very well done, with a great performance by my friend Derek, whom I’ve met at NCTC and SETC conferences, but never had the chance to see him onstage before. That’s one of the things that’s great about this festival, the opportunity to see companies from all over the state without driving all over the stage. It’s such a fantastic concentration of talent, a must for any theatre lover in the area.
I also bumped into an old friend up here. Dan Kelly was in my senior directing project at Winthrop in 1994, and I haven’t seen him since then, until I noticed he was ushering at I am my Own Wife on Saturday! He and his wife were driving up from G-Vegas each day, volunteering for a shift, and then getting free theatre tickets in exchange. Not a bad deal to see free theatre! It was cool seeing Dan, and boy, did he marry up! I can’t remember his wife’s name, but she’s very pretty and very nice. Funny how a dozen years will change folks.
Last night I went back up the hill to UNCA to see Beautiful Thing by Raleigh Ensemble Players. Last year, REP brought Killer Joe, one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen. This one was very well executed, but it’s a coming-of-age play about two British boys in the ‘80s realizing that they’re gay. And like so many issue-oriented plays, it just felt a little dated. It’s a very well crafted play, and was brilliantly acted, but the script just feels slow.
So I’ve seen 6 shows in three days, and I’m very re-energized about doing my own theatre work. I’m ready to get home and meet with Chris about the Tower Project, plan a season with Glenn and do some art again. I’m not interested in pointing lights for a show I could give two shits about, I’m not interested in being a gun slinging director-for-hire for any POS community theatre Neil Simon piece of drek that they’ll send me a check for, I’m ready to go back and do art that matters again.
It’s been a little while (almost a year since God’s Country) and I’m gearing back up. Not sure I’m ready to jump fully back into the fray of producing a full season, but I’m starting to be ready to produce something, but only on my terms, and only something that I can really get behind. That’s why the Tower Project is appealing, because it will be my art on my terms; with people I trust and care about, about things I care about. And that’s how I’ll change my world. How will you change yours?
Go see a show, especially if you’re going to be anywhere near Asheville next week. The festival runs through next Sunday and Suzy and I are gonna day-trip up next Saturday to see two or three shows. Lemme know if you’re interested, maybe we’ll see you up here.