Thursday, October 25, 2007

Radio Legend John Barber Joins ORIGIN

A legend of New Orleans radio theater, John Barber, lends his baritone to the role of Radio Announcer, the voice of the Golden Age. John Barber's theater resume is deep and long, including film, television, stage, and radio drama. I'm excited to have John bring his radio expertise and enthusiasm to ORIGIN. "It's a super script," John says. "We'll have a hell of a good time!" He's 74 and bright-eyed and chock full of suggestions.

The theater reviewer from the Times-Picayune called me late last night with questions about ORIGIN. I expect there will be some kind of short write-up in David Cuthbert's weekly column. He said he really enjoyed my performance in Love at the Lounge. I didn't mention the bitchy review he gave me for Tennessee Williams' And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens, which I still consider the best stage work I've done in New Orleans so far, or been involved with. But I'm glad for the positive attention.

On the phone, he asked, "Is this Frederick Mead, the actor and dramatist?" Dramatist? Moi? No one's ever called me a dramatist before, although I do write for the stage and direct. But I've just never thought of myself that way. In my mind, I'm a novelist who acts.

Does it matter? Aren't these all just labels? Yeah, but no. I think my reflection comes from a time in San Francisco, when I abandoned my very lucretive software career for art. I traveled the country for 5 years, couch surfing and housesitting, touching base every 6 months or so in SF, visiting New Orleans often. I wrote, went to writing conferences and workshops, and visited my people.

At the time, I clung to the title "writer" because it justified the privations I endured (still endure, but less so now). I sat up crying one night in a brown flop house, an SRO in SF. I've stayed in a few, but this one brought me to tears. People died in this place. That's not what I had signed on for when I decided to put writing first. So I fired up the laptop and wrote that night, almost an entire short story, about a Pastor's daughter and his wife. I love that story. I learned about conflict development in fiction. Can you imagine why that story's emotional journey wanders occasionally into the histrionic? Writer. It was something to cling to. And it led me here, to New Orleans, and to Goodfriend.