Archive for July, 2006

AIR Update

Monday, July 31st, 2006

I don’t know when ass started getting kicked, but I gotta chock it up to a great cast and a brilliant script. God knows the band is struggling through making my music presentable.

I have a problem with ass-kicking.

Anyway, here’s a couple of publicity stills that we’re getting a kick out of.

Clayton as Jammin’ Bread and Jeff as Ulrich make Stephen, as Drew, miserable

Jeff Hiller is normally a really sweet shy… okay, this guy is a handbasket of hell. He looks like a 6’6″ version of the lead singer of “Mr. Big”.

Becca Ayers giving other actors notes ALL THE TIME

And so on. Show’s going great. And how are you?

I’m A Busy Man

Friday, July 28th, 2006

This is from rehearsal with “GODS OF FIRE” earlier. Our cast walked into the studio for the first time, and the band had never met them or vice versa. These guys and gals, all of them, were so frickin’ *game*, we’ve got a recording of the very first thing they’ve ever done. Keep in mind, the first little bit is the first time these people had ever worked together, by the end of the song everyone is kicking ass.


The guy singing on this is playing the role of “Steve”. I’m sure the quality is crap, I’m thinking of starting one of those myspace things so I can upload files that don’t suck.


The New Show

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

On the eve of what I’m pretty sure will be shutting down this blog, I wanted to bring you the news from the front on our latest show.

It’s called “Air Guitar”, it’s a musical, and so far we’ve heard “This is one of the dumbest ideas for a musical that I’ve ever heard. And that’s coming from someone who hates the form of the “musical” to begin with” and “This is just…fucking…gay..” and also, “Al Bundy got AIDS from his dad”. Strangely, all from anonymous sources. So, we’ve got that going for us.

I have to tell you, I’ve got this weird feeling about this play. Last night we did a full read through of the script, and then a bunch of the cast went to Soho and sang through some of the score with the Gods Of Fire and it was breath taking.

The playwright, and worst blogger in history, Mac Rogers is incredibly gifted as a playwright, even his biggest detractors think so. But, for me and for people with my sensibility, his work is actually transcendent. And I use that word very specifically. Under his artistic inspiration, Gideon has been wriggling around inside genres and yanking the carpet out from under people constantly.

There are a hundred examples, but his play “Wine”, which was received pretty badly in some corners, is one of my favorite of his pieces. Two regular New York room-mates are surfing through their next day hangovers, and while they talk, they relive the night before’s debauchery. And slowly, it dawns on the audience that regular stupid drunk people behavior may have gone one tiny step too far, and maybe… wait, no… Definitely, there is a dead body in the bed room and these two people are going to prison for the rest of their lives.

That’s not in “Air Guitar” obviously, even Mac thinks that “Wine” was a bit too aggressive (I disagree). But Air Guitar begins with a man in crisis, except he doesn’t realize how much of a crisis he is in until he starts fixing it. There is an organic movement to the play that is thrilling to watch. A man slowly builds and fixes his life right up to the point where things might start working out for him, and then he musters up every ounce of energy he can to fuck it back up.

At the center of the play is a woman who has given up her life as a performer to be on the production end of the theater world, who is also pregnant and dealing with her juvenile fuck-up husband and his juvenile obnoxious best friend. So, you can see how Jordana fits in to all of this. It was lovely that, during the read through yesterday, the cast kept laughing and looking up at Jordana during particularly brilliant turns of phrase.

You take the subtle knife turning of Mac and marry it to my particular populist musical stylings and you let Jordana’s crossword genius brain figure out the lyrics, and you’ve got a hell of a show. Much better than not including Mac’s knife turning, which we’ve done in the past.

But, holy shit, you take that brew and give the back up music to a hardcore metal band… It’s like you take all of that and turn it into a winter storm at the beach that just keeps hitting the audience. In the studio last night with the Gods Of Fire, the cast members were supposed to just run the numbers, but as soon as the Fire started, they were yanking mics off the stands and running around the room and pogo-ing. It was amazing.

But maybe the best part was when the drummer said to the actor playing Drew, “Hey man, we’re all Drew. We’re all living this story.” The story of a guy hitting his thirties and half becoming a responsible man and half staying a rock and roll monster. In the final moments of the show, Drew’s wife calls him a dick… and I’m not sure why that’s so important to me. But it’s just fantastic.

Last night, and not before, last night I fell in love with this show. I’m hoping other people do as well. If not, at least we’re pissing off anonymous heavy metal fan internet posters…

Do Your Job

Friday, July 21st, 2006


We’ve all got stuff we hate to do, and we’ve all got stuff we’d rather not be doing. But for every single thing you do, there is some kind of incentive to do it, even if it’s just monetary. If you’re a CPA, then you have a job who’s artistry is somewhat limited compared to, say, a guy who sits around his house and thinks up new video games. But you still have a job to do and you can take satisfaction in the fact that 1) You’re getting PAID, 2) there is a deftness to the handling of numbers on any scale, even the personal finances of a regular couple and 3) the job you are doing can’t be done by the average person and still needs to be done for *every single person*, and there’s a lot of pride in that.

But, y’know what? Whatever the justification for the time you spend on your job, that’s really up to you. You figure it out. But for the sake of fuck, if you’re not gonna do your job, then GET A DIFFERENT JOB. If getting PAID isn’t enough incentive for you, then go do something else.

There are many things going on in my life right now. A pregnancy requires a lot of maintenance, and almost all of that has to be done by people who aren’t the father. I CAN’T DO ANY OF THE THINGS THAT HELP THIS BABY. I mean, I make dinner, sometimes, and I try to keep a roof over the mother’s head, but even these things can be worked around if I screw it up.

Here’s what I can’t do: GENETIC TESTING. Oh, and also I can’t BE A DOCTOR. See, I didn’t go to school and… Wait a minute, I don’t have to justify not being a doctor. I don’t want to be a doctor, that’s why I’m not. I became an actor instead.

Oh wait, WHOOPS. I’m not really an actor, right?

RIGHT! And you want to know WHY? I’m not an actor because whenever I was doing a play, there were things about the writing I disliked and things about the producers that I thought were handled badly, and this was a big chunk of what I thought about. So I quit acting and became a writer/producer.

Seriously. As an actor, I wanted to do things like suggest scheduling solutions and give script notes. But you know what? I DIDN’T DO IT. I *wanted* to, but I didn’t. And then when I realized I wanted to much more than I wanted to be in rehearsal, I fucking RETIRED.

(pant pant pant)

Y’see, it isn’t just “do your job”, it’s also “do your job and don’t worry about anyone else’s job”. If a CPA was doing your taxes, and he noticed that you didn’t have any expenses for, say, preschool, and then he started telling you how important it is to have your kid in preschool, and that it’s never too early to start, or something like that, then this asshole isn’t doing his job. He’s doing *your* job.

And the thing I’ve noticed about assholes who do other people’s jobs… they aren’t very good about doing their own job. I didn’t give notes and shit because I was in a MAD PANIC trying to do MY job as well as I could.

I’m currently producing a show that I’m not acting in, because one cannot do all the jobs that one has to if one is writing, producing and acting. Something will suffer. So, if you find yourself in a position where you really feel like you need to fix the scripts and scheduling problems for the shows you’re working on, and it occurs to you that you’re *not* the writer or the producer or the director, then become one of those things before you start doing that job. Just a suggestion. Do your job, completely, and don’t do other jobs unless you are *sure* you’ve done your job completely.

Including the mother fucking doctors. Seriously, you jaggoffs have about two hours to fix all of these problems before we switch doctors. I’m talking about two hours TODAY.

Deep Breaths

Monday, July 17th, 2006

So, I finished up the lead sheets and the recordings that the singers will hopefully be able to use to learn the music with, and, for the moment, we are caught up on producerial duties, so I find myself in a bizarre position of being able to take a deep breath and reflect for a second.

Jordana got in a car accident which technically totalled our car, so we got a new car that Jordana named “Temerraire”. It is lovely and fuel efficient and big enough to fit three in the back, so we hope to still be able to give people rides to and from places. Jordana and I are so starved for our friends that when we get to be with them you can damn near hear child-like gulping noises as we relish every minute.

What I am going to say will make my sweet wife and her family pass out, but the show is in the best possible condition we could hope for. The director is marvelous, I hope to God his talent in the rehearsal room matches his talent outside of it (all indications of his past productions would indicate it does) because he has come to us with a thousand great ideas and I honestly feel, at this point, the show couldn’t be in better hands.

It isn’t often that we find ourselves at this point in the show with every single staff person hired, including assistants, and every single cast member hired and psyched. The auditions were incredible, for every role there were three fantastic people. It is a startling position to be in, all things considered. I was always really cautious as an actor, terrified of getting in with the wrong production, but this troupe of gypsies seem willing to jump in with both feet.

The music is much better, even just two weeks after sitting down with the music director. I don’t know if a director and a playwright have a similar relationship, but it stuns me how much I learn from just talking to a music director. I still treasure the relationship I had with the MD on Fleet Week, he was an ornery genius of the first order, and I completely trust the guy we have now.

The script is in great condition. Mac finally did the version that he’s been wanting to do for six months, and it’s always best to wait until Mac is happy with the draft. Unlike most playwrights, Mac isn’t happy until he’s dismantled the thing and put it back together eleven different ways. I’ve actually learned as much about writing music from Mac as I have from any one of my music teachers at school. You really have to write the thing, and then pull at it where it’s weakest and see if it rips. If it rips, you aren’t done.

All of this to say, last night Jordana was saying “I think I feel something, but I just don’t know”. I told her I could listen to her belly and see if I could hear anything. I mean, it’s crazy, I’m not supposed to feel anything for another three or four weeks, but feeling is totally different than hearing. I laid down with my shoulder in her crotch and my ear right over her womb and we sat like that for a few minutes. I thought I heard a little something, like a miniscule little bass drum, and Jordana said “I feel like I just felt something…”

I said I thought I heard it, but I didn’t get up. We sat there for another three minutes or so and then I distinctly hear a “thub thub”… quiet and deep. Like a kettle drum being tuned at the junior high school down the block. And right as I heard it, Jordana and I said in unison “there! there !”.

It was probably just, y’know, burrito or whatever. I definitely heard a shitload (pardon the pun) of noise in her belly, popping and bubbling and gurgling. I don’t know if those thumps were Esteban. But in my mind, we were lying down, the work was done and Esteban thought he’s stretch out and get comfortable. Maybe for tonight, we can all just hope, cautiously, that everything is gonna work out.

On The Way

Friday, July 7th, 2006

Late last night, five minutes after I thought Jordana had gone to sleep, she said, in a quiet voice “I think I might have felt something.” People have described it as popcorn popping, or a butterfly fluttering in your stomach, but the hardest part is that first time pregnancies have, as part of the process, feelings you’ve never felt before. If we do this again, and I hope we do, she’ll recognize better when the first time is, but last night very well may have been the quickening.

This is the most recent scan we have of what we are calling Esteban House MD Williams, or rather “BABY” which is what I shout into Jordana’s stomach. In the last week, Jordana has gone from looking cute and a little fat to looking adorable and actually pregnant. It’s almost like the bump moved up her body to locate on her actual stomach.

I know that this is supposed to be terrifying. Ian actually said to me, when Tessa was pregnant, that they were both approaching the whole thing with a healthy dose of ambiguity. I am incapable of such maturity. After Jordana said she might have felt the baby, I woke her up an hour and half later to ask her if she felt it again. She said “I don’t even *know* these people” and went back to sleep. Or rather, continued to sleep.

There was a surprise party and a pregnancy, neither of which I could discuss, and now that I can talk about both, I find I have little to say. Jordana had a horrible, horrible cold, made worse by the fact that she could take nothing to help with the symptoms, and for a while it was impossible to distinguish between nausea brought on by hormones and nausea brought on by post-nasal drip.

People are suggesting I take this time to get out and have some fun, but instead we’re taking this time to be deliberate and calm. I might be wrong, it could be that the day will present itself when I’ll need to get the fuck out and drink some scotch, but the great thing is that Jordana will probably try to make that possible if I need it. In 1998, I was trying to get Ian to come out drinking with us and he said, “I’m not going out. There’s nothing to celebrate.” and he was right. So, I figure I did a lot of celebrating then, now is the time I get to make the thing I’ve already celebrated. A cart in front of a horse is still a cart and a horse.

The strangest thing is that this latest step from the liminal to the actual coincides with auditions for Air Guitar. We’re currently cautiously optimistic about everything, the script, the music, the musicians, the director, the staff. Everything seems great now, and if we weren’t many-times-over burned we’d be jumping up and down crowing to the moon about how everything is awesome and seems to be falling in to place.

I’m personally excited about the music and the musicians. These are a group of guys that I would never get the chance to work with under normal circumstances. I don’t know yet if we have a mutual admiration society, an African King meeting a Hungarian Prince and marvelling at the differences culturally but still respecting the titles, or if we will have a hard time finding common ground. They are METAL and I am THEATER and the two don’t really meet. But if they did…

I also feel like we have options for almost every role at this point, just from the first day of auditions. Tonight we’re bringing in the guys who could play “Drew” the character that everyone will misunderstand as being “Sean”. What is strange, and in a way awful, is that this is basically a play that features, at its center, what a relationship would be like if one of my siblings was married to a person with the personality of another one of my siblings. I’m not saying who, but one of the characters is a hard-nosed workaholic who used to be a performer but now runs a non-profit, and the other one is a charming grouch who tackles his problems with a healthy dose of ambiguity.

In any case, Jordana’s pregnant, the baby looks like it has really long legs, so that’s a good start, and we both think it’s a boy, although we’ve still got no idea. We think it’ll be great, but we’re cautiously optimistic at this point.