Traveling Light closed last night, and finally I can post the photos that would contain the most devious spoilers. As always, all photos by Kyle Cassidy. Kyra Baker as W.P.C. Foster, Terence Gleeson as Officer MacDonald, Doug Greene as Joe Orton and Bob Stineman as Brian Epstein. Click on the images to view them full size.
Sad to see this opportunity go, but I’m deeply grateful for the good audiences who joined us, and the hard work, love, talent and skill of the entire cast and production team. Now, on to the next project: I’ve got two feature-length scripts to write this semester, and the writing elves are threatening a strike.
Oh, one more thing:
Not only is Liam Castellan a warrior prince and a scholar, but he’s the most casually photogenic person I know.
“WE THINK: Friel’s incisive script builds on an intriguing what-if: not-so-closeted bad boy Orton (Doug Greene) and very closeted Epstein (Bob Stineman) certainly met when Orton wrote his never-produced Beatles movie, so were they friends, maybe even lovers? Were their tragic deaths somehow related? In Traveling Light, they clash in a moonlit cemetery (set by Kevin Jordan, lighting by Andrew Cowles), and the adversaries — Epstein had just rejected Orton’s lurid work as “unsuitable” for “my boys” — soon realize they have much in common.
Friel and director Liam Castellan turn the play’s farcical absurdities, including the intrusions by two cops (Kyra Baker, Terence Gleeson) and the boys’ trading clothes (Epstein’s tailored Italian suit for Orton’s leather jacket and jeans), into affecting moments of discovery. As in Orton’s plays, the silly events are meaningful, and vice-versa.
Baker’s sincere performance reveals the challenges of women invading the man’s world of police work, an effective parallel for the struggles of closeted gay men. The world was changing fast in 1967 for women and homosexuals, and establishment men (as represented by Gleeson’s hilarious yet brutal dictionary-quoting constable), feeling threatened, lashed out. These relationships may never have happened, but Traveling Light makes them feel real.”
You have eight more changes to see this show, so don’t let it get away.
Kyle’s photos have so much depth and detail that I can’t put them up full size; you’ll have to click on them for a full view. There are a lot of beautiful pictures which I’m hesitant to post, because even though they’re so good, they’ll spoil the story. So, if you’re thinking about coming to see it, and you look at these pictures and you’re still on the fence (I know what it’s like), know that everything you see here is EVEN BETTER when it’s live, 3D and streaming in real time in your face. Much more than this is going to happen, so come join us.
All photos below: Bob Stineman as Brian Epstein, Doug Greene as Joe Orton, Kyra Baker as W.P.C. Foster, Terence Gleeson as Officer MacDonald.
You want to come see Traveling Light. I haven’t been writing much lately, but other people have been, and the hard work of the production team and actors is coming to fruition in a delicate and multifaceted setting. Fortunately, so far our coins in the wishing well are echoing and rippling rather nicely. Playwrights work in planned obsolescence; you write and hope that your work will be handed off to others who will include enough of themselves that the piece can live on its own. So far, this theory holds up beautifully.
Last night, Kyle Cassidy came and took photos of the final dress rehearsal. Having a photographer present seemed to give the actors a strong sense of how they relate to space and each other and remind them of physicality. Kyle has an excellent ability to use light to create texture and palpability in his photos. It also felt like having Obi-Wan Kenobi with us, at the beginning and at the final dress, to bookend the creative process.
I’m going to put photos in a separate post, because they’re big and beautiful and speak for themselves, but for now, here’s a taste:
Last night we watched Living In The Material World, the George Harrison documentary that Martin Scorsese made a few years ago. It’s very good. It’s about half George’s solo career and life after 1970, and the other half is his childhood and the Beatles years, without going into too much detail. Overall, the film makes the point that George Harrison was very good at balancing his spiritual and earthly selves: he could perform, have relationships, produce movies, play jokes, and make money, but he also was the guy who could just float away on a cloud of spiritual sound.
The documentary has no narration, so the individual clips and interviews speak for themselves. Which is nice. You don’t feel like you’re being spoon-fed or distanced. So, for example, it opens with film of the World War II bombings in England, coupled with the song “All Things Must Pass.” The documentary also includes letters George wrote to his family, while the Beatles were in their first years of touring, read by Dhani Harrison, which is heartwarming and also kind of eerie.
Dhani Harrison is totes adorbs, by the way.
So, for three hours, I put away my phone, knitted, and watched this documentary about someone who spent their life trying to make the world a better place for everyone he met. It seems as though he did. George Harrison was no pushover, there is a part that shows him telling a reporter to step off shortly after the announcement of his cancer diagnosis. But in general, people talk about his literal and spiritual generosity, his peacefulness, how he could walk into a room and make everyone there calm and happy. It’s infectious, and leaves you wanting to sign up for a meditation course.
Then I picked up my phone, checked Facebook and Twitter, and found out about the Zimmerman verdict.
When I was young, and learning to drive, my mom and grandmother, on the other hand, gave me the talk about Driving While Female and Dealing With Police. They said, “if you are driving alone at night, and a cop tries to pull you over, drop your speed, get over towards the side, and drive your car to the nearest well-lit and populated area, where people can clearly see you.” and then, don’t sass off, make eye contact, make sure they can see your hands.
One night, I was at home on a Saturday night because my boyfriend was working at the local movie theater. This was back in the days when movies were on magnetic tape in small plastic boxes and you had to go to a store and borrow them in exchange for money. I had a hankering to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, so I went down to the local video store, rented the movie, stopped at the convenience store next door, got some tasty snacks, and thought, I bet my boyfriend would like a tasty snack (not a euphemism). so I took the long way home, stopped by the box office, said hi, gave him a snack, got back in the car and headed home. I knew my parents would be pissed at me for being gone for more than the fifteen minutes it really takes to rent a movie, so I was a little anxious.
It was probably about 8:30pm, after dark, and I turned onto a long downhill stretch that’s clearly marked at a speed limit that is less than your car would take if you were coasting. It’s the kind of road that suburban teenagers and idiots love to burn through, so you almost have to fight your car’s weight a bit to stay under the speed limit. I always liked this strip of road, and I always liked the challenge of trying to coast and stay as close to the speed limit as possible. So I coasted the mile or so to the next stop light. Was I speeding? I don’t know. Was I pressing the pedal to the metal? No.
At the next stop light, I noticed that the car behind me had its high-beams on, as if the driver were trying to intimidate me, or see what radio station I had on, who knows. It was bright enough to make me think, Jeez, somebody’s a bit too interested in me.
Having been followed late at night by guys trying to intimidate women before, I thought, that doesn’t look good. Delaware County has a lot of bored people, and a lot of cars. It wasn’t uncommon for bored male drivers to try to intimidate female drivers around there, and I had been followed by unsavory creepy drivers before (once I had to drive back to the movie theater after a late-night shift because a drunk guy followed me, and as he told my friends after they got between his car and mine, “I was just tryin’ to get some pussy”). I told myself that this was all in my head, and to get home so my mom wouldn’t be mad.
So, I turned onto a winding, forested back road to get home, and the car followed. I thought, okay, please leave me alone, pal. The high-beams filled my rear window, and I got scared. I sped up. Next thing I know, the rearview mirror was full of spinning red and blue lights.
Within sixty seconds, a young State Police officer was shining a flashlight in my face and asking why I was driving so fast on a back road. In a panic, I spit out that I had been followed by Bad People before, that I thought this was happening again, that I was scared and trying to get away from him.
A few seconds of silence passed.
The officer apologized, gave me back my documents, and said I was free to go.
When I got home, I told my mom what had happened. She told me that in my dad’s years in criminal litigation, he’d heard many stories from police officers in suburban areas who used to intimidate young women with threats of speeding tickets and having their license taken away in exchange for blow jobs.
Is this the same as The Talk and Driving While Black? No.
Have I encountered police officers whose ego was bigger than their intelligence? Yep.
-An ex of mine had a story about how, at about age 17, he was walking from a girlfriend’s house to his car, parked several blocks away, after dark, and was picked up by the police because someone had seen trespassers in the area. He was handcuffed to a radiator and hollered at by cops until they got bored and let him go.
-Once upon a time in New Jersey, I carefully made a legal left turn onto a road and was pulled over by a bored State Police cop who didn’t like my rainbow bumper sticker, and offered to take apart my car to search for marijuana. I was dumb enough to say, “Go right ahead, knock yourself out, you won’t find anything.” He decided not to search my car. I guess he didn’t want to do the paperwork. My car was impounded, and when he asked if I understood why he was taking my car and issuing a ticket, I said, “No, I don’t. Why did you pull me over?” he said, “I always pull over cars that have…” then he gestured at the back bumper of my car, waving left-to right, following the pattern of the rainbow sticker, and said, “License plates like that.”
The Zimmerman case isn’t about police intimidation. He wasn’t a police officer. He’s a small man with an ego bigger than his intelligence. It’s “hey you kids get off my lawn” taken to the worst possible conclusion. I’m angry that the prosecution didn’t make a stronger case, and wondering exactly what kind of rocks the jurors live under.
I’m wondering why we’re a nation of intolerance and ignorance. We all have the capacity for compassion and empathy, we all have the opportunity to sit down and quiet our minds or de-escalate a drama. I don’t understand the attachment to violence George Zimmerman must have to not just leave Trayvon Martin alone.
It’s a dangerous precedent.
On that note, here’s a classic piece of American literature which I think should be recommended reading in all schools. Be kind today.
I promise, this isn’t going to turn into The Traveling Light Blog. Really, it isn’t. I really do have other things to write about besides this. But, when life hands you Good Collaboration, you shout it from the mountaintops as much as possible, as well as wrap it up in cool cotton blankets and feed it nice things and take good care of it.
Yesterday afternoon, the cast (or, three-fourths, anyway; Kyra, Doug and Bob), the director and producer (Liam) and photographer and man-about-town Kyle Cassidy packed into the back of Toshiro Mifune (our tough, versatile and quiet Honda CRV) for a drive through the back alleys of South Philly, Grays Ferry, West Philadelphia, and finally, beautiful Mount Moriah Cemetery, for a photo shoot.
Mount Moriah Cemetery is one of those things that everyone should know about, but when you go there, you want it to be kept a secret and only invite your few close friends who will be inspired with the same wonder and respect you do. It inhabits a dreamlike between-space: its ownership is currently legally undetermined, it provides burial space to all faiths, its monuments are of many different aesthetic styles, and it’s wild and cultivated at the same time. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery have established a volunteer committee, responsible for cleaning, gardening and care. However, its 200 acres and decades of neglect can’t be fixed overnight, so despite its accessibility it still has some parts where the wilderness rules.
The forecast called for a 70% chance of rain, so Liam and I brought a total of six umbrellas, to be sure that we wouldn’t need them. It worked. The sky was just cloudy enough to give us diffuse light, keep the temperature not unbearable, and give the sky some rich color.
Kyle specializes in journalistic photography, portraits, and fast improvisation. I’ve participated in one of his photography workshops, and he is extremely good at taking what’s available in a space and using it to great effect. He’s efficient as heck and carries around a positive attitude and sense of humor that is contagious.
So, we turned off of the road and the sight of a lush green hill dotted with stones, punctuated with columns and framed by mausoleums (mausoleii?) made us all squeal like teenaged Goth chicks at a 2 for 1 sale on black lace fingerless gloves.
LINDSAY: I don’t know, you guys, is this grave-y enough?
BOB: Is this grave-y enough?
I turned the car onto the least-beaten path, and then again, and within a minute or so, we were surrounded by Mid-Atlantic Jungle.
On what must have once been brick platforms, rising to either side of the path, were clusters of rich green forest, and a vine-embraced tree that was twisted in the way trees will when their roots defy stone and their branches combat for light. It made a canopy around a granite memorial column from probably the late-Victorian era, and we said, “Yep, that’s it.”
You know you’re making risky art when you’re changing your clothes by the side of a car, using a window for a mirror and someone is offering you bug repellent. The lantern I’d brought was deemed not period correct (I agreed, but it was the closest thing I could find), so Kyle made some magic happen and slid an electronic device up Kyra’s sleeve, and voila: the illusion of a period-currect flashlight.
We played around the monuments for a while and Kyle took pictures, Liam was the Cheez-Itz powered voice activated light stand, and it was a lovely evening in the land of the dead.
and then we packed it up, and went home to brick boxes in which people live.
I don’t think there’s anything better than having good collaborators. There’s a quote about writing, often attributed to Dorothy Parker, which goes, “I don’t like writing, I love having written.” The first draft, and second and third, are always a bear, a tiring process of grunt work, made worse because it’s lonely. But, when you get together with creative collaborators and actually do something with what you’ve written, and they bring their own ideas and resources to the project, that’s the real reason that I write.
TL:DR; Another life peak experience. Coming soon: Real Photos!
Traveling Light makes its Philadelphia premiere this September in the Philly Fringe.
Once upon a time there was a young man who heard some really beautiful music. He’d dedicated his whole life to aesthetic pursuits, but when he went down into a dark cavern and heard the beat and the harmony, he knew he had to bring that beautiful music up out of the dark and polish it and present it to the whole world. This music became bigger and stronger and more beautiful, until finally it could move on its own, and it was too heavy for him to carry any more, and it threatened to break him.
At the same time, there was another young man, almost exactly the same age, who liked to tell stories. Unlike the first young man, he’d been surrounded by a lot of ugliness and anger for most of his life, and the best way for him to deal with it was to create stories in which tricksters gave the bad people the badness they created right back. He went to a school that taught all about beauty (strangely enough, the same school that the first young man attended), and the first time he tried to make something beautiful and strange, it was so strange that people got scared, and he was sent to prison. While he was in prison, he polished his process, and when he got out, he continued making things that were strange and odd and funny and sad, with a vengeance.
This was all at a time when the world was changing. It was easier to make your voice heard over miles and miles, and the world seemed to be getting smaller, and people were starting to realize that maybe if they started treating each other as equals, kindly, amazing things could happen. But sometimes, even that was abused, because it’s awfully hard to get rid of things like greed and jealousy.
The first young man said to the second one, maybe this beautiful music I manage and your odd and strange stories could be put together to make something amazing. and the second young man said, I’ll see what I can do. so the writer went home and wrote a story, and brought it back to the music manager.
and the music manager said, this is too much. this is just too extreme, and rough, and unusual, and I don’t even know how to describe it.
and the storyteller said, but you’re just the same as this kind of story, you’re indescribable in the same way. you’re also that which can’t speak its name for fear of prosecution.
Later that summer, the storyteller came home, to find the person he expected to be waiting for him, waiting, as always, but this time with a hammer and a jealous rage, and by morning, the storyteller was dead.
and twenty-one days later, the music manager took too much medicine that he thought he needed, and the next morning, he was dead too.
the story teller kept a diary. so did the music manager. those diaries are kept secret, as diaries should be. but some things happened that summer, and some of the diaries’ pages are believed to be destroyed. and nobody knows why.
that summer was called “the summer of love.” which is an odd name for a summer in which there were a lot of fires and war and riots and protest. there were also a lot of warm, sexy nights where people broke rules and did what their hearts told them to do.
this isn’t a dissertation. it’s a play. less factual, more fun.
It feels weird to be promoting this play in Philadelphia, now, when I wrote it years ago. The production in Minneapolis, by Theatre Pro Rata, directed by Natalie Novacek, is still extremely close to my heart, and had a lot of magic in its site-specific production at Layman’s Cemetery. Carin Bratlie and I still brainstorm and I still miss Minneapolis, the people I met there, and their commitment to making fun, brilliant theatre. After that production, I somersaulted straight into Temple’s MFA program, and it’s been hard to come up for air at all ever since.
I don’t want people to think this is the only play I’ve ever written, but it seems to be the one people like the most, and I’m deeply grateful that Liam Castellan said, “I am going to pick this play up and run with it.” and finally, this play gets to happen in my home town.
We have a cast. They’re beautiful. We’re still looking for designers and crafting press releases and planning photo shoots and so on and so forth. for now, I get to be so excited about it that I am forced to be experimental with capitalization.
Okay, so here’s my quick review of the giant ham and cheese sandwich that is the Nirvana-McCartney shebang last night. which I did not see until 6:30 this morning, which was this recording, while making coffee.
0:04: Dave Grohl: I am totally gonna do that Namaste bow I learned from the hot chicks in yoga class. Yoga chicks love that shit.
0:10: Krist Novoselic: It’s cool, Sir Paul. Half the room has no idea who you are either.
0:21: Pat Smear: Everybody thinks I’m Fred Armisen.
0:22: Paul McCartney: I Am Gowing To Speaak In My Sir Pawl Vowice So Evaryone Knoows I Hawve Bean Knighted. And Sow I Wawrm Up My Vowcal Cowrds Awnd Down’t Crawk Like I Did At The Olympics. We’re Gowing To Jawm Owt This Rawk Hit.
0:26: Krist Novoselic: Okay, so I let my daughter pick out my clothes. At least I’m not wearing a rug that looks like a refugee duck from the BP disaster.
My thoughts about the music: When Novoselic said “It’s gonna sound like Scentless Apprentice and Helter Skelter,” he was right, but I think it sounded more like Come Together. Again, this isn’t the finest recording in the world, it’s pretty good, all things considered, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and I thought, of course it’s good. It goes on for 60 seconds too long, but of course it’s good. Your lead guitarist has been playing professionally for over half a century and basically is one of the inventors of the genre, your drummer has been playing in every kind of band since he was a teenager, your bass player has been hanging out for the last 20 years playing music for other people’s bands and saying, “fuck the system,” they’re gonna go through the standard book of basic rock riffs and throw all of them at the audience. I don’t know why they had to throw them all at the same time, they could have afforded to back off a little bit, go for finesse instead of bombast, but I’m sure Sir Paul could only give them two hours (including the performance night).
I’m also dying to know what kind of guitar Sir Paul’s playing here.
You know what would not have sucked? All things considered, if they had done this, which has no relation to a hurricane, but it sure would have been fun to listen to:
I just hope this means some more people get heat and electricity and food and clothes and stuff, who need it.
Blogging here has been thin, the semester has been thick. Right now I’m up to my nose in a work in progress and up against a deadline, but I promise some actual content after it’s all over but the shouting.
Back in the early 60’s a small beat combo from Liverpool England invaded our shores. With their (at the time) outrageous haircuts and cute looks, they took America by storm. On the interesting things that most musicians noticed is what kind of guitars they used.
They didn’t use the usual Gibson or Fenders that so many of the other American groups used. They were using guitars made by Hofner, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker. After their initial appearance on Ed Sullivan and later on, the movie screens, The Beatles literally started a whole new guitar craze and a new sound. That guitar George was playing looked like a regular guitar but it had 12 strings. Yes, Rickenbacker provided George with their 2nd 12 string electric. One person who went to see “A Hard Day’s Night” was a musician named Jim McGuinn, he had already teamed up with David Crosby, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman,and Michael Clarke and decided that the 12 string electric was the new sound and immediately acquired one.
Now I have had played a lot of guitars over the years. I have played Gibsons, Fenders, Mosrites, Tesicos, Danelectros, and Rickenbackers. Out of all of them I could never bond with Rickenbacker.
Rics were not always mega-expensive on the used market. Back in the 80’s $500 cash could get you a 360/12. A lot of it has to do with supply and demand as well as trends in music. I remember music stores had Vox amps selling for a song becuase everybody wanted to be Eddie Van Halen or Heavy Metal. Well, at least in Northeast Philly anyway.
Yes, the 60’s and its music was reserved to record geeks and people who listened to alternative radio or “college rock”. Yes, Tom Petty made good use of Rics and old Vox amps, as did Paul Weller of The Jam
but they were not what was selling. REM was starting to gain some notoriety and Peter Buck was playing a Ric as was Marty Wilson-Piper of The Church but here in the NE Philly it was BC Rich, Kramer, and Les Pauls.
Over the years I have ended up owning three Rickenbackers. The first was an off-white 330/12 with black hardware which I bought at Zaph’s Music in Olney. After a month with it I really didn’t like the look of it, too New Wavey, so I took it back to and straight traded for a used 360/12 in fire glow.
Now that was more like it, I now had the same guitar Roger McGuinn started out with before his was stolen. I also acquired a 330/6 in fire glow. So I now had all my bases covered. But there seemed to be a certain something that was still bothering me.
Well, the first thing that was a pain was changing the strings and keeping the thing in tune. The other thing was that Roger McGuinn finger picked and I didn’t, and that I have Truckasaurus sized hands. Combined with the narrow neck of a Rickenbacker 360/12, not a good match.
After owning two Rickenbackers 12-strings I have come to the conclusion that they are not the guitar for me. I have played other 12-strings that in a blind taste test you couldn’t tell the difference. A lot of the Ric mystique is due to the Beatles and the Byrds. If the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan with Teles and Strats who knows what might have happened.
For those of you that have them, enjoy them.
And I will be the first to say that I salute the fact that they are the only major American guitar company that builds their guitars exclusively in the USA. But…
I personally do not like:
-The price (unless you use it as your main guitar, or your name is Roger McGuinn I still find the price a little on the steep side. Even used it seems the prices went up. Back in the late 80’s you can get a used 360/12 for about $600 in great condition)
-The neck on the 330 or 360/12 is too narrow.
-the unstable tuning (but most electric 12-strings suffer from this. Nature of the beast)
-the bridge (6-string saddle? really? If you want a 12-string bridge (which should be on there anyway) it will cost you $125.
-the ridiculous “R” tailpiece
-the over abundance of laquor on the fret board. It feels like playing peanut butter.
-Unless you play the 12-string throughout the gig it’s another piece of gear that can stay home.
Well, that was my little post on the Rickenbacker 12-string. It’s just my opinion