"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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Out of the Coffin Podcast

LATER: My own brother! A g-d damn, sh*t-sucking vampire!

EVEN LATER: Apparently, Edward Cullen's face is perfect.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Engagement

Most notes, thoughst on the first reading ...

THE GIAOUR
This first section is quite unlike the rest. Honestly, I am thinking of making the third and fourth parts most different from each other, which they already are only less apparently so because each are "contemporary." But it remains that this adaptation of Polidori's The Vampyre was a stretch, to use a great deal of archaic vocabulary to set the tone, the era, etc. It borrows the most from its source than the others - but then, it is the least well-known of the the four.

Can there be less exposition, more showing, less telling? What is this "bond" Aubrey agrees to, and for what purpose and to what end? Put a different way, how can it be made clearer that he is inviting disaster through his choices, that he has broken promises, than he has brought this onto himself?

Can that be made clear at the end - can Lucy show him how he deserved what he got?

Does Darvell look better when we last see him? And if so, why?

The Giaour - Emotion and Engagement. Yes.

The World Is a Vampire

Another Sexy Boy Vampire Playlist
Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins
Reckoner - Radiohead
Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
Brand New Colony - The Postal Service
The Sound of Settling - Death Cab for Cutie
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
All I Need - Radiohead
Breakeven - The Script
Wake Up - Arcade Fire
No Surprises - Radiohead
Great DJ - The Ting Tings
Blue Light - Bloc Party
Mrs. Robinson (interlude) - Simon & Garfunkel
Walcott - Vampire Weekend

I think I figured out the Twilight Hate ... listening to today's playlist - which was generated by the GENIUS feature of iTunes - I realized that today's plump and balding Gen X-er's are hellapissed that vampires are no longer GOTH. I mean, vampires pre-existed Goth culture - Goth was an offspring of vampire culture, to be sure - but any mother can produce varied children. Today's "vampires" descend not from Peter Murphy and and Poopy Z. Brite, but from a different branch of the family tree.

From the bourgeois, from white trash, from America - not Europe. They are no longer pretentious. They are the kind of ordinary embraced by, well, Sarah Palin supporters. They aren't special. They are repressed. They are Puritan.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Distance: 6.15 miles
Temperature: 50º
Weather: cool and clear
Pavement: Uneven

A weekend at the rents, my brother and his family are in town from Minnesota. It's a big, small child weekend in Lakewood (missing the fifteen year-old in London whose birthday is today!) Took that lap around the west side of town ... West Side of Cleveland, that is, the run is the length of Lakewood and back, usually I go down Lake and Clifton, this time it was the other way 'round.

My right arm aches, I can only imagine it is from poor weight training. Every now and then I use it, but these day I mostly don't. In my imagination I do sit-ups, but in the real world, I don't. Josh told me about a study that indicated that thinking about exercise can actually be as effective as doing it. Well. Works for him (Ooh! That stings! Good night, Cleveland!)

Tomorrow, by the way, I will be performing on the stage of Severance Hall, playing Dvorak as we explain the origins of the New World Symphony. Come and check it out, it's fun.

Anyway, my arm hurts. I hope tonight's physical activity helps. Now back to eating like hell.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Okay, now that's funny.



(Thanks to G.A. for facebooking this one.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First Reading

Arc One: 12 minutes
Arc Two: 14 minutes
Arc Three: 14 minutes
Arc Four: 12 minutes

Total: 52 minutes

Not bad, not really. Listening to it, I got a bit sleepy during certain extended passages. There will be cutting, no doubt. But certain questions ... I am getting ahead of myself.

In attendance at the reading yesterday; from the Unit - SG, DM, FS, EC & ES. From Great Lakes - Daniel and Esther, who will be designing the costumes. Andrew was unavailable, we previous believed a Monday would make him available, but as this is a holiday weekend, they could rehearse Christmas Carol on a Monday, and the director is kind of necessary there, too. However, if I were to have asked a single designer to be there, it would be the costumer. She is going to be creating more of the set than the set designer.

Terry would have been nice ... props ... but the Schubert is small and after all, this was supposed to b a Unit event, not a production meeting for GLTF.

The rehearsal on Sunday really paid off, the actors truly sold it, there was nothing about the reading about which I could point to during notes to say, "WELL ... the actors just SAID it wrong!!!"

Notes weren't difficult, anyway. Jesus, the two days I've had, I need people to stop saying nice things about me, I'll pop.

Brian really pressed the NARRATOR's earnestness, I need to keep that voice in my head as I rewrite his entreaties.

Eddie can be even looser in INTERVIEW ... "You dare?!" is a bit pennydreadful, he could say "Are you kidding?!" It is 1985, after all.

Hearing the play as a whole, FS was the first to state that the connections between scenes work, that the connections are wonderful. Several remarked that the concept works - having distinct styles between scenes, and yet having them be one complete narrative, was fun to hear, and not confusing.

Most criticism dealt with GIAOUR. FS said the language is too dense - "Poetry that hasn't been earned yet." SG commented that unlike the later pieces, there is no suspense. Just a couple of guys, what is the tension between the two of them, where does it come from? It is not clear.

ES pointed out that know we know what happens to XANTHE, perhaps her part can be enlarged, the romantic attraction can given more attention.

Brian believes it is anout the society mores of seduction - AUBREY desperately wants to seduce Xanthe the right way, but no that he has seen DARVELL's cavalier attitude, there is frustration in that. The "gaming" argument? There's no danger yet.

DM mentioned the fact that PORLOCK later says, "I loved him." Where was that in the 1st scene?

SG was concerned that people will be confused by the NOSFERATU arc ... having been pitched on actor/character switch, will are they expecting this to be a different scene? And why does Porlock become this grostesquery, it is not clear.

DM suggested LUCY's blog entries are too formal for a seventeen year-old, though ES disagreed, the Internet is where people write like that. FS: "On the Internet, no one knows you're a vampire."

Or that you aren't one, as the case may be.

I asked if it felt like I was mocking TWILIGHT. No, they agreed, TWILIGHT exists to mock convention, and I am playing off that.

Asking about the different endings, those who were familiar with it felt the "insane" narrator was more compy fun. If it is who it was in this reading ... then why? Why out yourself? Pulling a Lestat, I said. "HERE I AM! COME GET ME! IT WILL BE A GREAT WAR!"

Very heplful comments, all. A lot to think about. I may have time to work on this over the weekend, and get a clean copy to Andrew by December 1st.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Crazy

Today is just crazy. And the crazy will keep going, and deep. until the weekend is over, actually.

Which sucks, it being Thanksgiving and all.

The reading today went swimmingly, as did some other things. I will detail this all eventually.

It's late. Caught up on the end of Project Runway. Must sleep, hope the children stay in their own beds tonight.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Anticipation

We gathered this afternoon to rehearse tomorrow's reading.

The Playwrights Unit meets once every two weeks during "the season" (September to May) to share 10 pages of whatever it is we are working on. If we want a period of time devoted to a single, complete work, then that is scheduled for another time, usually between regular meetings.

The playwright is responsible for putting together the actors, the stage direction reader, a director if necessary though in most cases, at this stage we are our own directors. SG can help if we need suggestions.

I have seen readings at the table, or stood up with music stands in the case of musicals with a live piano player. They are as fancy as we wanna be.

So today Brian (older man), Chris (younger man), Caitlin (woman) and Cat (stage directions) and I read through the play. It was a matter of making sure all was clear, that it was going to be "sold" properly to the assembled.

Not that I need to sell it to anyone, it's pretty much a done deal - it will be done. But I need frank feedback on what works, what does not, what is unnecessary, the length, etc. We could not get duration today, not with the starting, stopping and background. Daniel will be present, and Andrew, who will direct. Others from the office have been invited, a designer, our marketing guy. I do not know if they will show.

I know DM will attend, and SG. I have confirmation from ES as well, the others I do not know. This is the first time I have had a special scheduled reading for a new work. And this is fabulous. Last spring, I did not believe I could ever write anything ever again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comic

I read Interview and Lestat in pretty rapid succession. They came at an interesting time - when I was performing the part of John (William?) Polidori in Howard Brenton's Bloody Poetry. I can't recall what kind of research I did into the character at that time, or if I even read The Vampyre then or later. But it was a Gothic time.

I am sure we watched Gothic.

So, anyway, I was reading these novels over the fall and winter of 1988/89. They were sexy fun, but also put me into a deeply troubled state of mind. I mean, I was already in a deeply troubled state of mind, verging on suicidal (or at least unhappily conflicted about the value of living) and so the idea of becoming something completely else, especially something so attractive and adventurous, was distinctly appealing.

Vampires in all these stories are cute. There's a reason for that. Well, Not Dracula, at least not originally.

My memory is that I enjoyed Lestat so much more than Interview. Reading Lestat was like a dam breaking open. He's right! Louis is a f*cking whiner! And how couldn't he see what a totally amazing guy Lestat was, man - even a vampire can be shallow and short-sighted, who knew?

The graphic novel adaptation came out in the early 90s. I just picked up my copy, which I have not opened in well over ten years, to reacquaint myself with the book (I re-read Interview last month.) I almost couldn't get past the first few pages. All Lestat's praise of 1980s rock - his desire to be a rock star - is truly embarrassing.

And I never want to read the phrase "succulent little tough cookie" again.

But once the story delves into the past I am reminded of why it was originally compelling and now I am enjoying it again.

LATER: Hey, I just remembered ... I had a cassette of the audiobook of Lestat, narrated by Michael York. (Never get an abridged audiobook, by the way, they're terrible.) I can't remember what impression hearing him speak these words aloud made, but he could not have made the phrase "succulent little tough cookie" any more bearable, no matter what your affection for Tybalt might be.

Saw Mr. York last spring, at the 2009 Creative Voices Summit last May. What a nice man, and hugely modest, he kept referring to other actors he'd worked with and how he suffered in comparison to them

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sprockets

February, 1995: My (first) wife had left a month earlier, at the beginning of the year. I took the Lakeshore Limited to New York to visit my girlfriend, she worked in the legendary Broadway & 81st branch of Shakespeare & Co., which is unfortunately no longer with us.

I was writing a play, a different play about vampires. Most of it was composed on my new PowerBook 150, the last of the monochromatic Apple laptops. Sitting in Cafe lalo, waiting for her to get off work, I was very self-conscious about sitting there in the corner, tapping away on a computer. "Oh, look at me. I have a laptop and I'm using it in public." I was afraid someone who worked there would come up and say, you can't just plug in an appliance in our coffeeshop. It was 1995.

She gave me a galley proof of a book called Throat Sprocketsby Tim Lucas, an exciting and upsetting book, not about vampires but about vampiric tendencies.

Let me see if I can remember ... there's the underground porn film (there could never again be such a thing) that features neck biting. It becomes a sensation, there's an underclass of young people who bite each others' necks. I remember a minister or a priest suggesting that there's a generation of young people who do not know the fear, horror, privation of war, and that they have found a new way of experiencing that.

It was 1995.

Man, what cold a February. Standing on the platform with her, waiting five minutes for a train, the air was so still and frigid (sub-freezing for several days in a row) I stood in fear that if the air moved even slightly it would remove a layer of skin. Her apartment was very warm.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Proof TWILIGHT is a real vampire story:

"The hair is 75% of my performance." - Robert Pattinson

Actually, Twilight is not a vampire story. It's a teen novel. I am reading it, for real, now. And it reads like a teen novel, so that's what it is. There's nothing wrong with that - what amuses me is how big, burly guys get all bent out of shape, raging against the twilight, protesting it's not a real vampire story.

It's not. It's not for you. It's not for me either ... but I'm readin' it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Silly

"Once I was what you feared. Today I am what you desire. Tomorrow I’ll be handing out candy."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WHAT ARE YOU ????????

The past few days I have had the chance to talk over the script with those who will be participating in the reading. Here's the question - what attacks Aubrey Porlock in the first arc?

Not who. That is evident when you read the play. But what? It that a vampire? How does Aubrey become what he is?

This is the story of the evolution of the vampire, or how what we think of when we think of vampires came into being.

They did not use to glimmer. But then, they did not always burn to a crisp in the daylight, nor did they always become a vampire from drinking the blood of another vampire.

Once upon a time, the words witch and vampire were exchangeable. So, too, was the idea of a ghost or a revenant - an animated corpse. The rules were flexible. They were evil, unholy, they could curse you, or drink your blood. Did they need the blood to survive? Who knows. Did they like Peter Murphy? They don't say.

Like a werewolf, there were beings who walked as human during the day, but the power of the moon would change them. I believe we have a being like this in this play. The rules bend as the years progress. But it all goes back to the power of the night to scare us, and transform us into our worst nightmares.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Raven

A couple years ago, my wife got a book out of the library for me, written by an associate of hers in one of her writers groups. She thought I might like it, it is a collection of two stories that have to do with vampires or vampirism. But that's not why she thought I would like it.

One of the stories, The Flesh, The Blood and The Fire is a (fictional) tale about Eliot Ness's time as Safety Director in Cleveland. It - of course - has to deal with the Torso Murders. One day someone will write a compelling story about Eliot Ness in Cleveland. This may even be it, I don't know, for some reason I didn't read it.

I read the other one, Raven, a contemporary cop story with a vampire twist. A great deal of it takes place on Coventry, my old stomping grounds (did I just say that? hmn. if I have stomping grounds, I guess that's where they are ... or in Tremont - I stomped there even more ...) though a lot of places it references aren't there any more, but he did really nail them.

It lays out some fabulous new vampire rules - I was truly freaked out by what happens when a vampire is exposed to sunlight. I mean, if you are completely exposed to sunlight, you basically become what you are - a corpse, dead flesh. But what if just, you know, your hand is exposed to sunlight.

(Think about. Count to three. SHUDDER.)

We discuss rules a little in my play. There may be some confusion. This is not a bad thing. I have tried to avoid the serial villain route where things are just spelled out for you.

We're working on putting together a reading of it for the 23rd. I already have BP and CL on board to be two of the three performers. Still looking for a dashing young man. (Sorry, Brian.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dusk

Okay, here's some nice Twilight cakes.

"It's cute." That's the first thing SG said when we reached the end. I think I deserved that.

The fourth arc was read by the Unit today. The overall reaction was positive, I received a few comments, primarily from SG, regarding the piece as a whole.

The comments that surfaced last session, after we read The Interview, were reinforced this time. Why does the contemporary stuff work better, feel more original, are simply more enjoyable? The answer may - be because they are contemporary, accessible.

Maybe I need to make the language of the earlier pieces more modern ... but the point is to share the flavor of literature at that time. Maybe the later pieces should be less original, more like their source material ...

Another observation was on how much commenting is done in the second two pieces, there is little or no commentary in the earlier ones (this cannot be true, The Count has its tongue firmly in cheek.)

The Narrator, whose agenda is a secret until the end, may need to be more obviously contemporary, from the beginning, for this to fly.

Regarding the final arc, The Dusk ... First off, SG noted that Eddie's revelation that he is a vampire has no mystery, it comes too quickly and easily.

I have to check the book again. I think it comes pretty quickly and easily there, too. Right? I mean, he doesn't try and kill Bella, she doesn't catch him feeding off an antelope ... she figures it out, confronts him, he admits it. Am I missing something? I mean, I am agreeing with SG here, there is no mystery - it's TWILIGHT.

DM was tipped off as to who Lucy is by her last name, but most missed it. So I'm sticking with it.

FS thinks North Pole, Alaska is a silly sounding location. I think she's right.