14/48 2023

I have lived in Seattle for 30 years and been an actor for the past 12, but I have somehow never been to 14/48. Tonight, I went. It was a revelation. First, some impressions: There was an actor who I had only ever seen playing very serious roles but tonight played a wacky goofball. That was so fun. Wow, look at what they can do! Then there was another actor who played the same kind of character as I had seen before and I loved that too, because they are so good at it. Play that one again! It’s never been more clear that the audience is responsible for the play. Everyone was ready. Ready to cheer. Ready to engage. Ready to love. I would guess that most of the audience was friends of the writers, actors, band members – theater people, eager to help make it a success. I have seen many short play festivals. This is not to denigrate any of what I saw tonight, but if I had seen these same seven plays in the unusual short play festival set-up, I don’t know if they would have landed as well.


My father passed away in March. It’s not over yet. This is about one of the ways. I was waiting backstage on Sunday, Father’s Day, to go on for Act 3 of the current show I am in, Angel Street, at the Sammamish Valley Grange hall in Woodinville wine country. The black cloth masking the nearby window was no match for the afternoon light. It filtered onto the sportcoat, overcoat, and bowler hat – costume pieces – lying over the back of a chair, waiting for me to hear a certain line on stage and put them on for my entrance. My dad would have loved the show, and my character, if he had been able to see it. It’s a crime drama, melodrama really, with a suave yet snarling villain, pursued by a witty detective, with the victor to be determined by their ability or inability to gain the trust of a woman, the real hero of the piece. It’s noir, plus Sherlock Holmes plus a little bit of Columbo and Javert. Act 3 is when my character wins. He finally has the goods on the lout and is just waiting for

Thoughts on Playback Theatre

I was talking with a friend tonight about playback theatre. It took me back to the first performance of that kind I went to, when I was hooked. A woman told a story about her sister who had died. She told the story of their relationship. And the actors played it back, while she, the “teller,” short for storyteller, sat at the left of the stage. They got to the part of the sister dying, with one actor playing the sister and the others playing the teller and her other family members. The actor playing the dying sister had been laying across three acting blocks, representing the hospital bed, placed in front of a curtain, and then she simply rolled off the back and disappeared behind the curtain. It might sound corny or cheesy, or even slapstick or something like that, but the effect was kind of profound. You were left with the complete absence of the sister. You could feel the loss. The woman was moved beyond words and could only, at first, with tears in her eyes, hug the actors at the e

Adelante, inch by inch

I know a tiny bit of Spanish and in the Puerto Vallarta airport recently, as I approached a uniformed agent at the gate, they asked me, in English, for my boarding pass and passport. "Aqui estan," I said. They looked at the documents, said a few words in Spanish that ended in "... adelante," which I know means "forward" or "move ahead,” or something in that vein. And so I did. I knew it meant I was allowed to proceed. This is not to brag or anything, because I know pitifully little Spanish, but there is something really satisfying or gratifying to me about getting through a small interaction like this in a foreign language. Maybe it's something like lifting the burden of this language, English, that has formed the parameters of my thoughts and actions for 59 years. I don't know, maybe that's too dramatic. There was another time, when I was in Armenia. I had taken the time to learn the basic phrases. We were looking to book a tour. So I cal

Leicester Square: it's a travel blog now

I'm in a writing mode again. I probably should be going to bed but I saw something online about Piccadily Circus in London, which reminded me of the time I met a friend in Leicester Square, a different, but nearby place in that same city. It was on this corner, I think, that I waited for that friend. While standing there, feeling 100 percent out of place -- after all, earlier in the day, when I had asked a passerby to point me in the direction of the British Museum (I was very close but the map program on my phone just could not grok the spider's web of streets in that area, so I decided to ask), the person gave me the information, but as I walked toward the destination, I stopped and asked myself, "Did she just answer me in a mocking American accent? Would someone really do that? Yes, I think she did." Too funny! But on this corner, outside the Leicester Square tube station, several (OK one for sure and at least two, I think) other passers by took me for a local and

Happy Endings

In the Blood, recently put on by UW Drama, does not have a happy ending. The run is over now and the play has been published for many years, so it’s no spoiler to say that.  The main character, Hester, ends up killing her oldest child, ruining her own life and the lives of her other four children. You sort of see it coming and sort of not. Chekhov’s gun is brandished multiple times, as Hester says, to her children and others, “Don’t make me hurt you.” But you think, if you are like me, that that is maybe the end of it, and meant to show the impact of her circumstances. The world, embodied in the other adult characters, has treated her horribly. Anyone in her place would be justified in being angry and lashing out in some way. Alas, the lashings move beyond verbal in the final scenes.  Buried Child, by Sam Shepard does not have a happy ending either. Each character is more desperately pathetic than the next. Instead of empathy, the suffering portrayed produces distance between you and t

But If There’s Still Time

I see these black-and-white photos of old men sitting around conference tables negotiating an end to a war, or whatever. I say to myself, look at them. They’re old. What do they care? They’re going to be dead before their steamship gets them back to London or wherever. Why do they want to waste their precious remaining years, months, moments (it’s all the same) in these stiff collars talking about bullshit that’s all going to be undone by the next group of old men in stiff collars. Theatre maybe has the answer. Two shows in February, at least pointed to something important. I was lucky enough to be given a role in An Incomplete List of All the Things I’m Going to Miss When the World is No Longer, produced by Dacha Theatre. It is explicitly about the end of the world. The idea is, it becomes known that a comet (etc.) is going to collide with the Earth and that will be the end. Contra the Bible, we know the date and the hour. On the last day, a group of friends throws one last party.