Sunday, April 26, 2009

West Palm Beach

So M and I did a pair of shows in West Palm Beach, Florida, and some of you sent your grandparents and in-laws to come see us. Thank you!

I'm a fan of older people. I grew up in a home with three grandparents, and my grandmother and I were about as close as could be and I miss her terribly. In fact, if any of you readers have leads on good places to volunteer in NYC in providing company to the elderly, please send them my way.

This pleasant preamble has an obvious "but" coming, doesn't it? And here it is: But having an audience that consists solely of people over the age of 70 is . . . challenging. They don't hear as well, they're not as comfortable with Mike's sailor tongue, and it feels like they don't have the lung capacity to laugh as loudly.

In any event, we had some clue as to what the houses would be like, and we did our best to keep up a good attitude. And after both shows we had great conversations with folks in the lobby who really connected with the material. And the sun was shining and we stayed at a hotel with a pool, so really, what is there to complain about?

Also, our dear friend Nancy decided to fly out and visit with us since her mom and sister live nearby, so we got to spend time with an old friend, too.

It's all about gratitude, people. At least today it is. That's why I'm not going to talk about the old man who crawled to the door in the middle of the show saying loudly, "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT BILL GATES."

Instead I'm going to mention the butterflies, dragonflies, and curly-tailed lizards who hung out at the pool with us (anybody know what these guys are called?).

And I'm not going to dwell on the audio technician whose neck I wanted to wring, because in the end, I got to leave. And I got paid. And I still have my youth. (While not actually being a youth who has to live in West Palm Beach.)

And I even have a bit of a tan. Which is a remarkable accomplishment for me.

In fact, I'm in such a good mood I'm not even going to make a self-deprecating comment about how this photo makes me simultaneously crave a drumstick and a pedicure. Uh-uh. My mama taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

So goodnight, WPB, land of neon and sun. And thanks for the head start on summer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Terrific News!

The Surprise--the show I worked on in March with Martin Dockery and winner of the coveted Audience Choice award at the 2009 Frigid Fest--is being transferred to the DR2 Theatre at Union Square as part of this year's soloNOVA Festival.

From the press release:

After winning the Audience Choice award at this year’s FRIGID Fest, New York storyteller Martin Dockery will once again team with director Jean-Michele Gregory (How Theater Failed America, If You See Something Say Something) to present his latest autobiographical monologue, The Surprise, at the DR2 space from May 7-13 as part of this year’s soloNOVA festival.

A veteran of the New York storytelling scene and frequent performer on the stages of The Moth, The Liar Show, and Speakeasy, this is Dockery’s third full-length monologue. Set amidst the ruins, cities, and beaches of South-East Asia, The Surprise is the true and comic story of an uncertain girlfriend, an enigmatic father, and a most epic game of emotional chicken. Told with equal parts humor and heart, it is the tale of a family rife with secrets, and clueless as to how to reveal them.

“The Surprise is funny, warm, and entertaining…. A superlative storytelling show, one that offers plenty to laugh about, relate to, and ponder long after the storyteller has left the stage.” —

“Dockery is a master at weaving his own personal life into his family saga. Travels, girlfriends, ecstasies and disappointments are masterfully layered with his own brand of neurotic, self-effacing humor.”—

Tickets are already on sale here and at the DR2 box office (it's that big theater in Union Square that's doing Fuerzabruta). Just five shows, so don't delay!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Colorado Springs

Sometimes, dear readers, our bookings take us to parts of the world we never thought we'd willingly go. This March, we found ourselves in Colorado Springs, a place I'd only ever thought of as the base of the more creepy aspects of the evangelical movement--Focus on the Family, the Ted Haggard debacle, and everything depicted in The Civilians' brilliant docu-drama "This Beautiful City."

Political, moral, and ethical leanings aside, I'm not a mountain person. We did a show in Denver last spring and I had a headache from the altitude the entire time. I grew up in Seattle, a city that is ringed by glorious mountains but whose altitude is decidedly sea-level. Every day I'd see the enormous cranes that line the Port of Seattle as I rode over the West Seattle Bridge. And today I live in Brooklyn, about half a mile from the Redhook waterfront, so when I look west I still see cranes. Though they are less spectacular than Seattle's, it's funny how comforting to me they were in my first few years here.

It took about 48 hours for M and me to adjust to the altitude in Colorado Springs, 24 hours for the pug. (Is it just me, or does he look grumpy?)

Just in time for our first performance. And that was the million dollar question, of course: How would the audiences be? The show we were doing has secular content, but how would they deal with M's sailor tongue? I took it as a bad sign that I had to chase away a pair of missionaries who came to our door our very first morning there.

But when I got to the theater and saw some posters still hanging for Urinetown, I felt better. An audience who can appreciate that wonderfully bizarre show could probably also deal with multiple narratives about corporate creep in our lives, even if those threads were peppered with expletives.

(My new favorite phrase to warn audiences: Not "obscene" or "profane" or "mature," because I don't actually feel that the language is obscene or profane or particularly mature. No, my new favorite way to describe it is "unrestricted," as in, "This production contains unrestricted language.")

It turned out that the theater who booked us knew what they were doing. The audiences were slightly older and quieter than we typically work with, but the houses were full and judging from the conversations we had with audience members afterward, they really seemed to enjoy the show, unrestricted language and all.

After our first night, an unexpected development: Blizzard! In the last week of March!

I'll come clean and say that the picture above wasn't taken by me and isn't even of Colorado--it's from a spring blizzard in Norway two years earlier. I found it online when I searched for images using the word "blizzard." (It's a great photo, isn't it? Click on it to go to the photographer's website.)

And why don't I have any photos of my own of the blizzard that was bad enough that we had to cancel one show and almost cancel another?

Because I was busy being my own stereotype. Yes, if Colorado Springs did their part by sending me Christian missionaries, then I played the part of the liberal coastal girl by insisting that we drive to the Whole Foods on the other side of town "before the weather gets bad" because I wanted the gluten-free crackers and hummus I knew Whole Foods would carry. Seriously.

Long story short: five minute drive there, hour and forty-five minute drive home. As my husband said to me later, "I really hope you enjoy that hummus."

And I did.

Almost as much as I enjoyed using our suddenly-free night to watch all the episodes in the final season of Battlestar Galactica back-to-back-to-back, for one of the most intense eight-hour viewing marathons I've ever had.

And things just got better from there. The weather improved and a show that had been canceled became uncanceled, so we only lost one of our five scheduled performances to the blizzard.

My friend Krista--who moved from Brooklyn to Denver several years ago and for whom I've been pining ever since--drove down from Denver with her boyfriend Micah. He's such a good guy even I had to concede that he might be worth leaving New York for.

And my father and his wife Kathy drove up from their home in Albuquerque and spent some time with us. We discovered some amazing Korean BBQ in an unlikely place--the best I've ever had--and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Adam's Mountain Cafe in scenic Manitou Springs.

Their visit really made this trip special. For Michael especially, who'd been away from home for three months solid, it was a lovely ending to a very long tour.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not a Coca-Cola Family

This photo was missing from my L.A. roundup. It's a picture of my great uncle and great aunt, Jan and Victoria, whom I got to visit with while I was in the area. Uncle Jan is my grandmother's youngest brother, a mischievous guy with a twinkle in his eye and a whip-smart wife and daughter--also named Victoria, though the family gets away with calling her by her childhood nickname, Pepsi, and somehow she doesn't hate us all for it.

When I was in Washington D.C. in January, Pepsi and her husband James came out for Obama's inauguration and we all spent some time together. Pepsi told us stories about her father's wild days, when he drove across the country with a gun in his glove box "just in case."

And James, who is Korean, told a very funny story about picking Pepsi up for their first date. He said he knocked on her door but instead of Pepsi answering this old Polish guy appeared. James was sure he had the wrong address but the man invited him inside and urged him to sit down, so James sat on the couch and watched television with Pepsi's (Polish) father and (Filipino) mother until she was ready to go.

I didn't get to see James and Pepsi this time around because they were vacationing in Acapulco, but I had a nice lunch with her parents at a Chinese buffet with signs that read "ALL YOU CAN EAT! Only take what you will eat or we will charge you extra."

At the end of my visit, Uncle Jan loaded up a bag for me with four bottles of water, a six pack of miniature Baby Ruth candy bars, and one orange and one lemon from their own fruit trees. I protested that I would only be traveling half an hour by car, but they insisted I leave with provisions "just in case."

I'll tell you something: That lemon was delicious. I drizzled it over the green beans Mike and I had for dinner that night and sliced up the rest to flavor our water. I hope to make it out to Los Angeles again soon, and maybe next time we can all go fishing together.