Painting Churches

I saw Tina Howe’s Painting Churches in the early 1980’s in New York. It was one of a few trips I made to the Big Apple during my university days. That afternoon (I think it was a matinee), the group split up to pursue our different theatrical tastes.

I knew I was watching something unique and excellent, but did not have the theatrical vocabulary to articulate it at the time. “How was the play?”, my friends asked. “Good”.

All these years later, I happen to have a poster for the show. (I was lucky enough to obtain it from Toronto’s TheatreBooks when it closed up shop.)

Apart from Howe’s wondrous script about an artist and her loopy parents, I got to see the luminous Marian Seldes at work. I didn’t know how good she was until I got to confirm it seeing her in a number of films, and again in NYC in “Beckett/Albee” in the 2000’s. By then I knew what I was watching. I remembered the matinee I first viewed her in the early 80’s.

My only regret is selling a bunch of Playbills from those early days in New York, Painting Churches among them.

Glad I have the poster.


Bon Mots from David Cale

A sampling from David Cale, monologist, from his collected Shows (2016):

When I die they’ll find intuition at the wheel.

Care and all its relatives seemed to fall out of me.

We were married in a registrar’s office by a man whose accent was so thick that to this day I’m not completely clear what I was agreeing to.

It was so quiet in the open. You could almost hear your moods change.

I felt like someone who’s used to swimming in pools in people’s back gardens, who’s suddenly been dropped in the ocean.

I don’t want to play a game I have no interest in winning.

It’s funny how things that are said at pivotal points in your life are forever imprinted.

Sexually speaking I’d say Keith was like a really good waiter at a pretty good restaurant. Very good service, but ultimately disappointing food.

Sometimes the pleasure was so intense she felt like hailing a taxi.

Sometimes the sex was so intense that the only words to say to him that matched the intensity were the words. ‘ I love you’. But she couldn’t tell him that.

“Oy, it’s brutal out there in the sexual jungle. Not that I’ve been to the sexual jungle, but I’ve flown over it a couple of times, on my way to somewhere else.”

“Oh, longing,” I says, “I used to spend about six months of the year there. I spent so much time there that I ran for office. I became the Mayor of Longing.”

Transcendent Years Complete

I finished Marshall W. Mason’s mammoth memoir about the Circle Repertory Theater Company. I referenced here when I started it Transcendent Years.

Not the least of the book’s pleasures is listing of lesser known plays either produced by the Circle Rep, or plays by playwrights who became a big deal after their time with the Off-Broadway company.

Some plays I want to read:

  • Knock, Knock by Jules Feiffer
  • The Disintegration of James Cherry by Jeff Wanshel
  • The Lesson of the Master by Richard Howard
  • Three Hotels by Jon Robin Baitz

I couldn’t leave the book without another quote by playwright Lanford Wilson. From his play Serenading Louie:

“I don’t actually think…that I loved him then. But I love him then now.”

Thank you Mr. Mason. I learned a lot.

Whenever You’re Ready

Just finished Nora Polley’s memoir about being a Stratford Festival stage manager: Whenever You’re Ready, written beautifully by Shawn DeSouza-Coelho.

What an apt title.

Apart from the famous names, such insight into the art. For example…
– The idea that a stage manager, like an actor or director, can have a favourite blending of actor and text, especially in performance.
– A stage manager works out a careful schedule of cues, only to be thrown off by the timing of actors. And yet, they can throw it off a bit, as needed.

After all, it is always, ultimately, their show.

Transcendent Years

I’m reading Marshall W. Mason’s “The Transcendent Years The Circle Repertory Company and the 1960’s”. For context- I got to see the Broadway production of Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July” in 1980 with, movingly, and ironically, Christopher Reeve playing a paraplegic. (See my blog post Happy Lanford Wilson Day)
More about that landmark play another time.
Mason’s book is a history of The Circle Repertory Theatre company and therefore an overview of Wilson’s output as a playwright (and Mason as a director).
So I am slowing down my progress through the memoir by reading the plays of Wilson, as they come up. Many are short one acts. All are unique. Wilson was a trailblazer from the start. His very first plays (“Home Free!” and “The Madness of Lady Bright”) broached, in turn, incest, and the life of a drag queen. Not easy subjects at any time for a writer. That he could humanize them compellingly speaks to his talent.
More to come….

First Day Back

My brother passed this along to me, from a teacher neighbour of his.

For teachers, July is a month of Saturdays; August is a month of Sundays.

I like that- that August is the second half of the long summer weekend- the night before it changes, come September.

It’s Labour Day Weekend. Back to the classroom on Tuesday. Here’s a monologue from my play Put Up Your Hand suited for this time of year: “First Day”. Enjoy.

And my best to all my colleagues back to it on Tuesday. Rested and renewed, I trust, after all those Saturdays and Sundays.
First Day

Edward Albee liked it

Two years ago I performed a monologue from my script “The Good-bye Play” at the hub 14 in Toronto (pictured). The performance was filmed but needed an introduction. Here it is. Thanks to the people and events that inspired it; to videographers Anthony Da Souza (for the performance video) and to Jason Sauernheimer (for the introduction); and thank you to Andrew Gaboury and the Field of Crowns. And of course, Edward Albee.
hub 14