Letters to Holly

Friday, July 25

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Haltingly. Sporadically.

I've noticed bug bites and black growth on the leaves, but some plants are doing well. Your Sister suspects they plants have too much water, but I'm disagree. It's just slow going.

My first intentional tomato

My first squash blossom

My first bell pepper

Thursday, July 24

Script Out of Nowhere

And after all that, I'm getting another script this weekend. The committee chair got his hands on a script he's been curious about for a few weeks, read, it loved, it, and arranged for it to make the reading rounds before the next meeting. One person will not be able to read it -- the tired pessimist -- and I'm sure she'll be ecstatic to read a new play in the last week of deliberations. Thrilled. The chair says it's a quick read, one set, and can fit on the small stage from the Spring murder play. This means, of course, I must destroy it with my score.

I made my initial six picks this morning of the plays I prefer -- my own personal theatre season -- and I'll revise it each day until the meeting.

This is the finalist list. My initial picks are in bold.

A Trip to Bountiful -- downer
The Glass Menagerie --
better-known downer

Crimes of the Heart -- Southern domestic travails
The Rainmaker --
midwest romance

A Murder Is Announced -- Agatha Christie play with kooky maid
Murder By Natural Causes -- modern doctor murder plot
The House on the Cliff -- old-fashioned gothic play
The Mousetrap --
the most popular mystery play ever

Night Must Fall -- English psychological thriller
Night Watch --
American '50s psychological thriller

, Book and Candle -- witchcraft romance
Critic’s Choice -- drama critic's wife writes a bad play
Home Free -- woman juggles two lovers
My Three Angels
-- a kinder Marx Brothers
Six Rms, Riv Vu --
Barefoot in the Park with cheating spouses
Take a Number, Darling -- New York comedy of errors
The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge -- Christmas Carol in a courtroom

Don’t Dress for Dinner -- spouses trade partners, try to hide affairs during dinner
Perfect Wedding -- the groom cheats in the bridal suite

Glass Menagerie and Rainmaker may be too similar; the daughters pine for love but don't know how to get it. I'll probably switch Rainmaker for Crimes of the Heart. It calls for more women in leading roles, and our theater can manage that.Yeah, we have to shelve the better plays because of our locale, audience, and capability. It sucks a bit.

Picture of the Day
An ad for opaque pantyhose.

Wednesday, July 23

Script Meeting

After a much easier interim period when I had just one play to read, we met last night to begin the wrap-up sessions. We've read from about 55 plays. Some were dropped after one person read them and scored them low. That's what happened this week. My play wasn't worth further consideration, and it was shelved. It's the best tact; we have to sort the plays we all like and choose our overall winners. We need to pick six plays in some combination of murders/suspense, comedies, farce, drama, and light drama. At the end of the meeting, we were given a list to score the remaining 25 plays. That gives us a week to individually choose the plays we prefer, and we'll meet next week to compare the lists.

Unfortunately, we have to consider the capability of the theatre for each play. Can we cast it? Can we mount it? Are there too many props or costumes? One of us, who just finished directing the annual kids show, is exhausted to the point of nihilism. She doesn't see much hope in the plays other than the ones she espouses (a drama and a farce). We've already butted heads over her farce choice. I think it's the weaker of two similar plays. She also continues to focus on how recently we've performed a play. She thinks we risk boring our audience with a recent rerun. However, we're also considering a recent survey where audiences told us what shows they wanted. The top vote-getter, The Moustrap, was performed eight years ago. Do we bring back a crowd-pleaser even if it's a relatively recent production? I say yes. Eight years offers a lot of audience-member turnover, and we need to make money this year. We need to do high-profile shows, and Mousetrap is the most popular mystery play ever produced.

The problem is we probably can't mount it until the end of the season when construction on the theatre space winds down. That space construction weighs heavily in our debate. The current building is essentially a shell and a floor. We need to replace everything -- wiring, stage, curtains, floors, bathrooms, etc. Because the season has to start soon, the above person wants to announce a comedy to start the season. And with a shrinking window to find a director, cast, rehearse, and perform the play, she wants to pick now. Luckily, we have a play that needs the barest of sets: an unfinished apartment. When presented with this, she plays the casting card. Who would act the roles of the young leads? I volunteer to do it. She's surprised. I unintentionally make a speech. In for a penny, in for a pound. If we like a play this much, we have to see it through. We have to pitch in. Also, it's a fun script. Why wouldn't I do it?

She did this last week too, calling my bluff on directing a play, and again I jumped at it. She's pooped. She just ran a play loaded with kids. We're not adversaries; I'm new enough to have an optimism unmolested by bureaucracy and backstage carping. We are on the opposite poles. She suspects a show can't be done. I suggest how we could.

What we're thinking now is this: We produce Bell, Book, and Candle for the October show. It's a comedy about witches and would run right at Halloween. Then we present the Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge for the Christmas show. That's two light, fun shows to start the season. We save the drama for later in the season.

There's an arithmetic at work here, and I think we are, in general, trying to make the best season instead of pushing our personal faves. We've each seen a handful of advocated plays fall to the junkpile. We're very near to finishing this committee and cranking up the theatre machine. I have one play to read this week, and I'm halfway through. The others are exchanging plays to pad out the scores. I have read virtually everything already. I can take it easy.

I'm sincere about hopping into that apartment comedy if need be. There's even a role or two I could try in Bell, Book, and Candle. I'll be involved somehow in most plays this year. Just a question of how.

Picture of the Day
They're rehearsing the opening ceremonies in Bejing.

Tuesday, July 22

A Tidbit

Your Sister, upon watching a truly wretched Gary Oldman movie from the late '80s, said that my resemblance to him is "spooky." So it's Commissioner Gordon for Halloween, then. Or Dracula, Beethoven or Sid Vicious.

But Gordon would be easier.

You might remember the oft-told tale of the Target employee yelling that she loved my movies a few years back. That's what started the Oldman notion.

Monday, July 21

Muppets and bats and rabbits

We watched the theatre's annual kids show Friday night. It was The Velveteen Rabbit, a story I only know via Your Sister. The play featured all kids, none over 15 and ran 90 minutes. It was a long haul for those kids and generally they did a fine job. The auditorium's air system made them scream their lines, and it was just like watching the Montford Park Players. You watch a broadly gestured recitation at full volume. There was a horrid five-minute fairy dance featuring the youngest kids stumbling through the dances -- the clear low point of the show. I'm impressed with the kids' effort. The set looked good, and the shift from stuffed toys to kid actors worked well. My courtroom director was running the sound, and I said hi and hugged her. It was pleasantly un-awkward.

We drove to the other Greenville Saturday for a one-two shot of Big Shows. I bought our Dark Knight movie ticket the day before, and thank God, I did. You probably know by now that the film had the biggest opening in the history of the universe. Even our early afternoon show was packed. The line for the 4:30 show looped around the lobby. I hadn't seen that in years and years.

The movie itself is exhausting. I marvel at it. It's intelligent and deliberate and unafraid to go for spectacle on various levels. Ledger gets all the attention, but everyone is good and hitting all cylinders. It's airtight, and you crave the sequel immediately. I turned to Your Sister and said "now you know what it was like to watch Empire Strikes Back in the theatre." She was not amused. But she was satisfied with the film. We both were. It's the goods, and it sets a new standard for comic films. It makes Spider-Man look dinky and childish in comparison.

After the film, we changed clothes at the library and watch Avenue Q. I downloaded the soundtrack the day after the show on the Tonys back in 2004. The hall was only half full, and I suspect the show's relatively low profile and high concept kept casual audiences away. We, however, howled. Because tickets were plentiful, I managed to snag box seats along the left-hand side of the theatre. That was a first. The show is as good as advertised, worthy of stealing the Best Musical awards way back when, and it hasn't dated at all. It's not distracting to see mic'ed actors work puppets, and the show flew by at 2 hours. We made our regualr late-night drive back up the mountain. It's a ritual I enjoy every time.

I went to a farewell party for my fellow actor from the murder play a few months back. He got into the governor's school, to no one's suprise, and his mom put together a party in Hendersonville. Thank God some local theatre people were there because I knew nobody else. We talked shop. Your Sis stayed home to wrangle schoolwork. I took her back some leftover party food. I tried a new drink: half unsweet tea and half Sprite, and it's more fun to order than to drink. I don't recommend it.

I got my framed theatre photos for the bathroom, and it looks sharp. Now I need to rifle through my personal theatre collection to find something else to frame on the other wall. Then I buy towels. This first framing was the largest part of this decorating project, and it came out better than I figured. I may not screw this up after all.

Because we're heading to the Outer Banks in a few weeks, I'm determined to get into better shape for our windsurfing and surfing lessons. I dusted off the exercise ball and twisted myself all up while I watched a taped MMA event. It's good incentive.

Picture of the Day
This is Vampira, the inspiration for Elvira. She sued the latter for infringement and lost. She started off hosting horror movies on a California TV station and later became an Ed Wood actor.