Thursday, March 29, 2007

Eat Dessert First. Life is Uncertain.

Hosted the Radical Faerie potluck last night, here at our house in the Bywater. Miss Gloria and I gave the place a good scrub, swept all the cat hair, and vacuumed. Sparkled. A lot of Faes showed, young and old, with a preponderance of desserts. Three kinds of cookies, three kinds of cakes, and two ice creams. Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One Man Clapping

From Ambush magazine review by Patrick Shannon:

"The last play is one of my favorites to have been found among the trunk ruins of Mr. Williams' “lost and or hidden works.” This work, And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens, can become a campy, drag-show comedy unless just the right note of desperate loneliness and Williams-esque despair is struck.

That note was pretty well struck with this production; and Frederick Mead did a convincing job in the lead role as Candy Delaney, who does one of the gay world’s most convincing speeches about how tasteless and boring the world in general would be without artistic queens/queers and what has come to be known as “The Gay Sensibility.” Mr. Mead exuded a sense of world-weary sadness and isolation in his moving interpretation."

Monday, March 26, 2007

How Not to Break Up

1) Don't break up by email, voicemail, or sticky note.
2) Don't make me figure out that we broke up by just not calling.
3) Don't even try "let's break up but still have sex."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Frederick Reads Cuthbert

Hear my voice, live on the radio, reading David Cuthbert's review of the play I'm currently in, Tenn X 3, three one-act plays by Tennessee Williams at Marigny Theatre. "Once again, Marigny Theatre's reach exceeds its grasp" is Cuthbert's opening sentence in the Times-Picayune.

I volunteer at WRBH 88.3 Reader Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped. On Saturday, 2pm to 3pm Central (or after the Tulane baseball game ends), I'm the lucky reader who reads the review of my own performance. I'll also read other highlights from the Langiappe, including a stirring column by Chris Rose about Mardi Gras Indians.

SAT 2 to 3pm Central
88.3 FM WRBH (livestream over the Web at 2pm)

All the Shoes Dropping

Rejection makes a great catalyst for artistic expression. I have a binder full of rejection letters from the finest literary magazines in the nation. I look over them from time to time, to remind myself that I'm on the right track. One proof that I'm a "real writer" is the rejections.
Yesterday I received the rejection letter from Stanford University, declined for the Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing. I knew it was iffy, about 1500 writers apply each year, and only 5 are chosen. I like to think I got the "good" rejection letter. When I read the slush pile for literary magazines Zoetrope All-Story and Cranky, there were two levels of rejection. "No thanks" and "Please send more". I got the "Please send more" kind of rejection from Stanford. Maybe everybody did, but because I know of the existence of the two levels, I'm hopeful the wording of my letter indicates I survived pretty far into the winnowing process, at least.
Been an odd week for rejections. My phone still hasn't rung.
Another rejection: the David Cuthbert review in the Times-Picayune. It's laughable. Last weekend I read his fawning review of a production I thought well-intentioned but clumsy, and today his harsh review of our Tennessee Williams production. "Once again, Marigny Theatre's reach exceeds its grasp." Talk about an opening salvo. Having seen both productions, I can tell you, it's opposite day in Cuthbert-land. This may sound defensive, so what, but I read personality politics into the mix. I got harshed because Cuthbert personally hates my director, Glenn Meche, and perhaps the producer too, Timm Holt. "Who's my friend, who's not my friend" is modus operandi in much of New Orleans culture. Look at local politics.
My only note to David Cuthbert: The role of the critic is to illuminate audiences about the themes, purpose, and necessity of art. Today critics merely criticize, feeling they've protected potential audiences from wasting time while flaunting their own cleverness, often at the expense of comprehension. Mr Cuthbert, acknowledge sincere effort when you see it.

Finally, I've Arrived in New Orleans!

Yay, I got a *harsh* Cuthbert review! Woo Hoo! I must be really good!

We gonna have a packed house now! Thank you sweetie! See you at Dramarama!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sound of One Shoe Dropping

Think I'm getting dumped. It sounds like my phone not ringing, and no emails from my beau. We had a *difficult* talk over a week ago, and I sense him withdrawing. The talks we had since then were very circumspect, ended with "well, ok, talk to you later" instead of "love you."

Solitary Art

Writing is a solitary art. Most arts are solitary, except theatre, ensemble music, and pep squad. But writers are notoriously solitary artists, perhaps by inclination but also due to the demands of the form. I have to be alone to write, in a cafe maybe, but alone with my thoughts. Oddly, I've also discovered that I write well in the company of other writers, all of us alone--together. There's something potent about group concentration. Write Club serves that express purpose, of bringing together writers of any genre, skill-level, publication experience (or none) simply to shut up and write.
The annoying thing about writers is that we *talk* so much about writing. Or worse, we talk about publishing, which is tantamount to the purest form of bullshit. It's as though writers have a pathological need to convince each other and ourselves that we're "real writers" by dropping names, bragging, and talking shit. Write Club is just about writing. Not critique, not "industry-news/bullshit" and definitely no name dropping. It's been a useful tool in my toolkit. I maintain my personal writing discipline by also meeting with other writers, 2 or 3 times a week, to shut up and write for an hour and a half.
Lately, Write Club's been letting me down. Or perhaps, my expectations are too high. But I think I'm bumping up against the motivation wall in New Orleans, where artistic motivation (motivation of any kind in fact) wanes when the weather turns warmer. Mardi Gras is past, I'm back on the stick, but the clubbers are not following through with me. For a few weeks there, the writers stood me up. I'd ride my bicyle to Esplanade Avenue to meet 2 or 3 folks at CC's Coffee and not a one would show. I still write. That's why I'm there. But it disappoints me. Nowadays, nobody's even bothering to set up the appointments in the first place. So I find myself writing on my own, which is the way it usually goes for writers.
Ok, here are the practical solutions. 1) Create a Yahoo group for Write Club, so that people who really want to write can subscribe and unsubscribe at will, and so that writers can post their own times, rather than depend on my schedule matching theirs. 2) promote the list on Pat Jolly's community list, to the Radical Faeries, Craigslist, etc.
I like practical.
Shouldn't be too harsh on the Write Club though. Two writers have really emerged as compatriots: Caitlin Corrigan and Brian Piski. Caitlin is very much a kindred spirit, dedicated to both her writing and performance. Brian gave me some poems which I critiqued. He also loaned me the Mario Vargas Llosa novel that I'm enjoying right now.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter has me very stimulated to write. It's a novel about writers, a novice coming of age and his mentor slowly losing grip. It's also a raucous soap opera, which is perfect because the mentor is a soap opera writer, radio serials. It's time to get my own radio play moving, as in, produced. Want to apply for a grant, approach WRBH and WWNO, and move forward with auditions. Mandi Turner asked me when I'd direct something. Origin is the project I want to direct.
Last night I attended the readthru of a new play by Lew Routh, the friend of Marigny Theatre who wrote the gushing review of our Tennessee Williams one-acts. It's an engaging script, not profound, but solid. It was interesting to notice the difference between the way actors hear a script and writers. I was there listening and commenting as a writer. My concerns are structure, missed opportunities, and waste. The actors commented more on logical inconsistencies and interpretation. They also asked for further character development. With the exception of one character, Ted, I thought the character development was fine, in fact, overdone in the case of his wife, Darby. More is fine, sure, but I'd prefer more *story*. The two are integrally connected, character and story, but in the case of this particular script, I'd put the emphasis on story.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Made the Papers...

Opening Night went off without a hitch. Was a bit low energy for my tastes. The preview dress rehearsal was stronger. I think the actors shot our collective wad, so to speak, at the preview, then came in tired for Opening Night. We did fine. A flubbed line or two, a dead quiet audience, and fatigue can slow the pace on any night, even Opening Night.
Afterwards, handsome co-star Launey opened up to us last night over copious cocktails and onion rings at the Golden Latrine, er, Lantern. He's a character that one. So earnest about theatre (notice I've adopted the New Orleans spelling of "theater". No point swimming upstream.) He gave us heart-felt thanks for a fun production, explaining "this is why I ever got into theatre." He speaks with the Brooklyn-esque accent of local Italians when not in character. I'm very happy to work with him. The versatility he shows, his seriousness, a young, brooding Brando.
I'm most happy to be working with Mandi Turner again. We did one short weekend together around Christmas-time, when I stepped into the role of Comet in The 8: Reindeer Monologues. She gave the strongest performance in that large cast of mixed skill-levels. She brings her professionalism with her to this production too. My only note to her: "speak in your lowest register." She plays a woman nearly double her actual age, and her girlish trills betray her girlish age, 23.
Lew Routh gave a flattering, somewhat gushing review of our preview dress rehearsal. Bless his heart. That review went out by email, and has made the rounds:, Patrick Shannon's theatre list, Pat Jolly's community list, the Radical Faeries, the entire nomination committee for the Big Easy awards. We made the papers too. A photographer from the Times-Picayune did frolicsome portraits of us, actors trying to "act" natural, me with my face caked in Ben Nye make-up, mascara, and fresh coat of coral lipstick. We might as well have staged a pillow fight, for all our "naturalness". It was fun. We'll appear in the Sunday Lifestyle section, an "out on the town" sort of society page. And then, hopefully, we'll also get a Cuthbert review. A favorable review would be nice.
Now that Opening Night is behind us, we fall into the regular pattern of shows, pick-up rehearsals, and free time(!) in between. I've spent the entire day in my sweats, eating chicken soup and reading a novel. Hey! Remember novels? Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, by Mario Vargas Llosa. I'm eager to get back to writing too. Sunday Write Club at CC's coffee, and hopefully some additional appointments during the week. My characters are calling out to me.
And I can get back to the serious job of finding work. Tuesday I have an informal interview with Carl Mack Productions. Would be great to work as a reveller at conventions. A reveller is a performer, hired to greet convention guests and put on little shows, in costumes provided by Carl. Pays. I could sure use the dough, as I can't even afford to buy razor blades, a necessity when you're playing a transvestite.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My Name Is Not Blondie...It's Candy

Something really clicked for me last night, and Candy Delaney came to life. My director, Glenn Meche, said it was because I was focused. I think so. Plus repeated practice, memorization have finally freed me to be more in the moment. And the physicality is a major factor. Yesterday I clipped my entire body again, and shaved my chest. Wore the full makeup, and as much of the costumes as we have. Her body came alive in mine. I love Candy Delaney.
Handsome Keith Launey, my costar, came to life also. He’s very good, and last night was responding in kind to me. There was definitely more dynamic between us, and I expect even more tonight. It’s a tenuous thing that only happens on stage. Otherwise, he’s standoffish, avoids eye contact. I think I throw him. He could stand to relax around the entire cast, and maybe other people feel the way I do. He’s quite handsome, and everyone flirts shamelessly with him. But I think he’s especially standoffish with me, except on stage. I do think the element of tension between us is probably a good one, considering the relationship between our two characters, a violent, reluctant hustler and his mark.
This week I’m an emotional mess. Bit of an exaggeration, but I do feel very emotional, like I could get upset or cry at any time, or plunge into depression. Haven’t so far, and I’m glad to be writing, out of the house, waiting on Caitlin Corrigan and possibly some other writers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Planting Sweet Olive

Spent a 3-day weekend in Picayune, Mississippi with my new beau, Mark Harris. He's a cutie, such a sweetheart, and a good man. That's the thing I like saying about him most, Mark is a good man. He's a good-guy attorney who helps abused and neglected kids trapped in the morass of the Louisiana legal system. And he just has kind instincts. He's practical and can fix anything.
We're in love.
Been a long, LONG time since I've had a boyfriend, and Mark is a good one to have. We're healthy together, our communication is good (although I think he'd like more communication. Just gotta ask, buddy.) We finish each other's thoughts, click intellectually and aesthetically.
He lost his house in hurricane Katrina, and had a couple other big losses in his life in the past two years. The new house in Picayune is a fresh start. I enjoy decorating with him, shopping for household items, and working in the yard. We're planting Sweet Olive trees under his bedroom windows. Last weekend we planted ornamental grasses. We're designing a contemplation garden, and he offered to let me plant a vegetable patch, which I'm excited over! Two kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of squash, eggplant, peppers, kitchen herbs in terracotta pots, maybe butter beans on strings.