"Hysterical, campy fun!"
- Tony Brown, cleveland.com

"Full of suspense, romance, drama and lots of laughs!"

- Dan Shaurette, Out of the Coffin podcast

This extraordinary one-act drama deftly explores the evolution of the centuries-old vampire myth.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lake Over Bourbon Street

New Orleans, legendary home to vampires. Reading about the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi has made me ill. Words cannot convey the feeling of helplessness. In addition, I mourn for those places lost which I once had the opportunity to visit. Even then, I felt the city had the word disaster written all over it. But it is one of the few American cities that bleeds true, deep history. Everywhere else has been built or rebuilt so recently. No wonder dark people dig it so much.

We will do what we can. Send money, send blood, send our thoughts.

New Orleans is not actually a point of reference in The Vampyres. But director Tom, dramaturg Toni and I, playwright David, did go there in advance of the original production to - well, to celebrate New Year's 1997, to be honest. But also to get the feel of this ancient city.

Monday, December 30, 1996 New Orleans, LA

For New Year’s Eve we’ve decided to go to New Orleans. It was actually Tilk’s idea, after Tom expressed a desire to get here (for "research") before The Vampyres opens in March. She said New Year’s would be super, and he got stuck on the idea.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but I was surprised to learn Toni thought it was a wonderful idea. So I instantly changed my mind.

And here we are. The magical land where chicks show their tits for plastic beads.

What a day. The three of us (we are all staying in a lovely B&B hosted by Eliot & Laura Kamenitz) had a long "lunch" at Café Degas – one bottle of red, a the best French Onion soup ever, and bread, cheese and pate trays.

Toni stayed in for a bit to work on her cover story while Tom and I skulked the French Quarter.

Some zydeco lured us into a bar where I laid down $18 for two tumblers of pure peppermint flavored alcohol which was undrinkable. As a result, it took us a long time to drink them.

By the time we returned to the B & B to get Toni for dinner (9 pm) all the alcohol and smoking had given me a waking hangover. I took five Advil.

We made it to a super little restaurant with a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street where we ate, drank, and watched a surprisingly large crowd stage a mini-version of that fabled Mardi Gras tradition that begins with the invitation, "Give me something, mister!"

The fog picked way up, it was the New Orleans you see in pictures. We approached Jackson Square. I’ve been there before. The whole "I’ve been to New Orleans before" thing is depressing me because I really wasn’t. My ex-wife and I were here during spring break, 1990. I was afraid to leave our hotel. I think we spent a whole day in it one of the three days we were here. And I had been terrified to go out at night. I was 21. She was 19. I didn’t know if I could protect her.

New Orleans has a reputation for being dangerous. I suppose it is. Last night I urged Tom to stick to the well-lit, populated areas. I even have two wallets this time out, one with cash to give a mugger, and the other with credit cards, so it doesn’t ---- up the trip.

That’s not planning to fail, that’s being smart, I think.

After midnight (for that is when it opened) the three of us went to this place called The Dungeon.

It’s got two floors with different levels, it’s small with three bars – all black and brick and lots of gargoyles and nasty (cheesy –
Lord of the Rings?!) paintings. There are barred cells to sit in.

And the music! Guns N’ Roses! Motley Crue! Also Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails and Garbage. Weird. Not what I was looking for.

There was this one life-size painting of a woman with her hands shackled way over her head. She was nude, and her hands were so high over her head she had to stand with her legs spread a little, on her toes.

Sick, right? I couldn’t stop looking at it.

Tuesday, December 31, 1996 New Orleans, LA

Our plans for the final day of 1996 are relatively secure. We have 9 pm dinner reservations at Olivier’s and on Tom’s first day (he arrived one day before we did) he found a Goth club with an "invitation only" New Year’s party he managed to get invited to. They said we need to dress appropriately, so we may not get in. I am hoping our suits (they’re good suits) will be sufficient.

Can we look forward now? Can we abandon the false image of a perfect time, the one from the middle of the 20th century, to concentrate on the future? Is it just me? Is this a pressing-30 thing?

Today we had a leisurely breakfast and read the paper and chatted – waking up at 8 and leaving the house at 11. We took the streetcar to the Garden District to admire the twenty-plus homes owned by Anne Rice (and, I hear, Trent Reznor) and Lafayette Cemetery, where we took lots of lovely photos.

Wednesday, January 1, 1997 New Orleans, LA

Happy New Year! We all looked smashing. Tom looked better in my jacket than I did, but I looked better in my whole outfit than he did, so it all evens out.

Olivier’s was truly super. It was formal, like we wanted, but not too formal as the waitress was young, emotive, and friendly – from Indiana, close to Chicago, actually. The owner, a wizened old Creole man with a kind smile, made the round of all the tables to thank us for coming to his restaurant.

Then to Jackson Square around 11:30 pm for the "Baby Drop" (as Tom called it – it was just a ball, he was confused) and the countdown. Tom got us cigars. We were the swankiest crew in the crowd.

A lot of the crowd was there for the Sugar Bowl – Florida State Seminoles vs. the Florida Gators. A HUGE crowd that just drove here.

What a bunch of assholes.

Onto The Convent; our private invite to this Goth club secured. The door was gated and unmarked. We had to ring for entry. We were greeted by a woman in a tutu named Cynthia. We didn’t know how to announce ourselves but she took one look at us and said, "You must be the theater people."

She showed us upstairs and showed us around. The place (and the people) were neither tacky nor menacing not pretentious. It was dark and gloomy, but the people said "hello."

There was a red smoking room, a small, high ceilinged bar, an almost pitch black room for lurking in, a dance room (although the band playing hardly encouraged dancing) and finally there was a long balcony from which to watch the fights.

Lots of firecrackers were being thrown indiscriminately under cars.

The evening ended on an off-key note. We had decided to head home around 2 am, but as we walked to find a cab, we passed an open air bar where a band was playing blues music. Tom decided the evening was not through and that we should dance. I did not want to dance, and so I felt stiff and awkward. It soured my mood a little, because I was desperate to keep smiling and laughing as not to disrupt the otherwise most excellent New Year’s Eve.

Today we will see the Quarter in daylight, have breakfast, and come back soon so Toni can finish her story.

By the way, Lonely Planet travel guides are the best guides in the world.

- LATER –


We spent the day out and about, eating and walking around the riverfront.

We found a nice hat for Toni at
St. Germain’s – the boutique operated by Pierre, who also operates The Convent.

I wonder if their club is legal. He wanted to have a coffee shop downstairs, but couldn’t get the permit. He suggested to me they might "go underground," pulling a curtain across the boutique and making the coffee shop invite only. This explains the club upstairs, and its secrecy.

Did I mention this place is infested with people here for the Sugar Bowl?

New Orleans. Moist, moist city. It crumbles around the edges, but it stands. The
Lonely Planet guide explains the economics here, and how poor the people are. And yet thousands flock here to drink a lot and act very stupid and spend a lot of money. Strange, screwed city.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Everything In Its Right Place

Cool logo. CPT came up with this, we have no idea who the model is. It conveys the correct mood.

We have our company. Sadie, Matt and Margi return, and Tim and Doug round out the cast. I have always been looking for someone like Doug to play Percy - blonde. More of a "man who fell to earth" type. Yes, Doug is an alien.

Sarah Kunchik will stage manage. Another lifetime ago, little Sarah K. auditioned for THE VAMPYRES at Dobama's Night Kitchen. She was 15 then, Claire's actual age. I was squeamish then, as now, about letting minors get involved in the actual production. And now she's coming home from England to run the show! (Okay. she's in town for Ali's wedding - but now she has something else to do!)

Randy sharing the postcard with me (see: the logo) got me to thinking about promotion. Who will come to see this show, especially on Wednesdays, Thursdays or Sundays? Should we be hitting up nightclubs - or haunted houses? Will any haunted houses be open the first weekend of October/last weekend of September? We could dress up and pass out flyers to thrillseekers.

Hmn. Haunted house schedules. That's what the internet's for.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Ghosts

Lately I have been seeing old ghosts everywhere I turn. Just today there were several former teenagers, a number of dead marriages, and an ancient, angst-ridden porno zine.

Bringing the script down from a little over ninety minutes to a little over sixty minutes was not as difficult as I had believed possible - and I intend to make it a clean hour before we open on Oct. 5. The question is whether we lose any of the tormented souls of the original, or if I can keep them all trapped in there, in a smaller home.

Wouldn't that make them angrier?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Faster, Pussycat ...

How exciting. The auditions were this week, and went very well, according to Ali. She met some wonderful men. As soon as all roles are accepted, we can announce the new company.

And then the party begins.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ode to Vlad

There's good Goth, and then there's bad Goth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lost Colony

August 18, 1587: Virginia Dare is the first English child born in the Americas, on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

By 1590, Virginia and the entire colony of Roanoke vanishes without a trace. They leave only only one word - Croatoan - carved upon a post.

It's a haunted land, America.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Reunions

Goodness. Ran into almost everyone except Ali yesterday. Saw Sadie at the Feast of the Assumption on Little Italy last night, first time I have seen her in several months. I was there with Toni, Zelda was in the stroller and Orson was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier. She threw a big glowing smile my way, and as I moved to give her a hug she said, "I'm not interested in you," and zoomed in on the baby. I forget he's not even three months old, the last Sadie saw Toni was probably opening night at Big Box when Toni was only massively pregnant - and still over three months from giving birth.

I will see Sadie again tomorrow for taping for the radio version of I Hate This.

Later, I met up with Matt and Margi after opening night of You Can't Take It With You. They looked well-rested. Shame about Matt's hair, it had a perfect length in February, he'll just have to act that sexy.

Have an experience down south, you two. I noticed "George" logged on as a contributor - I am a big fan of Mexico's rituals regarding the Dead, please let me know of any discoveries you make on your journey.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'll be right bat.

Okay, how did a bat get into our basement?

I ---- you not, Toni and I were sitting at the dining room table around midnight, having a glass of red wine (no I am not making this up) and suddenly this thing flutters up the stairs from the basement and into the kitchen when I could not see it.

It took a moment for me to register what I had seen. I must have blurted out something original like, "what the hell was that?!"

It was this tiny bat, and it made circles around the kitchen, and then the dining room, and then the living. Toni tried to calm me down as I shrieked like a child and used a newspaper to shield me from the poor, terrified animal.

We opened the back door, and the front door - and it flew up the stairs.

I stayed downstairs, you know, to take care of it if it came back, while Toni bravely went upstairs, opened a window in the tee vee room, and lured it outside, warmly cooing, "This way, this way now, you're all right."

I made sure no more bats came in through the front or back door, though I think one of our cats ran away.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Very Spare Oom

Paring an unwieldly ninety-minute-plus show down to something closer to (though not quite) an hour for last February's BIG BOX production was enjoyable work. However, some elements stood out as less-than-cut. There are several "artistic" set pieces in the show - set apart from the dialogue - the two songs, naturally, Claire's poems, and John's Vision in the Spare Oom scene.

John's previous vision, where he witnessed something happen in front of him, has been thrown out and replaced with a scenario where he becomes the characters in the story he tells - and so do all the "vampires". There's a lot less talking, leaving Ali plenty of room for interpretation, and the point is much less obvious or preachy. The whole thing should be more physical and interesting. Here's hoping, anyway.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Things are rarely set in stone.

We have negotiated a string of conflicts and arrived at a powerful, two-week schedule at CPT in the month of October (Halloween season, yay.)

Opening Wednesday, October 5 at 8 PM
Performances Wednesdays at 8 PM, Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 11 PM and Sundays at 6 PM
Closing performance, Sunday, October 16 at 6 PM

We have announced auditions for Tuesday, August 23 at Gordon Square to fill the roles of John and Percy. Josh and John did great work last winter, but each of them have conflicts that prevent them reprising their roles.

John G. is moving to New Orleans. How spooky is that, huh? Good luck, John, our dark thoughts go with you.

New on the webite: Claire's Room. Claire spends time that might be better spent straightening up the cushions or cleaning the bathrroms, writing into her little, black journal. Margi composed some hysterical poems during the BIG BOX run in February, you have to read them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It begins ...

ROMEO
I dreamt a dream tonight.

MERCUTIO
And so did I.

ROMEO
Well, what was yours?

MERCUTIO
That dreamers often lie.