June 1, 2005
Moving into Summer…

It’s been a while since updating this–much harder, always, to write about our own lives than about our characters. Probably because, well, with characters they have to fit into a structure of meaning, they’re judged by an audience each night who’ve paid money to sit there and watch them, they’re scrutinized each moment by people who really want to love them, and generally it’s their inconsistencies that make them interesting. Whereas, in life…

The big project has been Long Shadow at Foothill Theatre in Nevada City, and it’s been a joy from start to finish. The long process of improvisational exploration produced not only a strong script but an extraordinary dedication by some extraordinary actors. They’ve held talk-backs every night, since it’s based on a local incident, and have had very strong response. We left after the first weekend, as is customary in professional theatre, but went back to see it during the third week of the run and found it going better than ever.

Hard part is leaving something that you’ve been so close to, as if your baby were closing June 5th. But we’ve recorded voice tracks and will be producing an audio version for the radio series, probably playing in August & September.

I was in Nevada City for five weeks directing the show, and Elizabeth joined me the third week to do the music score. In all these years, we’ve never managed to avoid frequently getting into intersections of work where there’s traffic coming from four sides and no working stoplights. In this case, it was the deadline for having our May radio show on CD and in the mail; finishing the score in time for the first tech rehearsal for Long Shadow, and our Final Friday show in Sebastopol, the Hitchhikers Cabaret Cauldron. Thanks to multiple all-nighters, Elizabeth managed to finish the radio editing, the stage score, and drive back to Sebastopol, where, with the help of our glorious volunteers, the April edition of the Cauldron was a roaring success. Now late May, she’s starting to recover.

And in the midst of rehearsals for one play, we wrote another. We’ve often used nutty deadlines to spur us to get started on some project that otherwise might lag for years. In this case, the spur was a BBC-sponsored radio play contest. So we took an idea that we’ve been wanting to do something with–maybe as a stage play or a screenplay or a novel, we still don’t know–and wrote a one-hour version in three weeks, start to finish, to get it in under the deadline. ”Chemo” is a science fiction story about benevolent aliens who want to rid the Earth of its lethal parasite species, while our evil rulers are trying to save us. With a love story, of course. It’s a long shot for the BBC contest, of course, but the whole point was to give it birth and help it grow up from there.

And now we’re in the clutches of Drake’s Drum. It’ll be produced in Sebastopol Sept. 30 – Oct. 16 with Sonoma County Repertory, and now we’re in the process of starting on the rewrite of the rewrite of the rewrite. Some plays, the plot & the form fall perfectly into place; others, like this, keep kicking and screaming right up to opening night. But it’s starting to work.

And we bought a new old car. Still driving our Dodge Maxivan, but as little as possible, given global warming and gas prices. So we found a 1990 Honda Civic, 40 mpg., 200,000 miles, for $1,500.

Summer will be busy, with the radio show and the Cauldron coming up every month, and preparations for ”Drake’s Drum”. But we’re also taking trips. Late June takes us up to Arcata, CA, to attend the National Ensemble Theatre Festival, a stellar array of old & new friends. Early July, we go three days to the Oregon Country Fair, again serving as heralds & go-fers for a stilting troupe (allowing us to camp on the grounds and party all night). Late July, I fly East, visiting DC, Philadelphia, and New York, just to see old friends–that “old friend” business gets more and more important as old friends get older. And in August, Elizabeth takes off to visit our daughter in Italy and more old friends. And returns to the midst of rehearsals.

But then, it’s all a rehearsal, yes?
Peace & joy–