Stills from the music video for my new song “This is Not a Christmas Song”. Featuring Juanita Pearl Johnson and Leroy Smith Graham.
I Graduated From University Today.
Nevertheless, the weeks leading up to it have been fantastic. I’ve tried to soak up as much of NYC as possible this semester and the last few weeks have included some particularly great experiences.
The opportunity to portray James Agee in a reading of the Agee/Evans project, a new play based on Agee’s novel Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, directed by Obie Award winner Rachel Chavkin.
Cock…No but really you should see it
Trips to museum(s)
Sunrise walks along the Brooklyn Bridge…did you go see cock?
A woman’s attempt to lead me in glossalalia
Boat Ride around the city
(A kind of savory octopus filled zeppole covered in seaweed and fish skin flakes…mad tasty…but seriously you should see Cock)
But one event in particular stood out in this week leading up to graduation which I’d like to share with you now.
my friend Brandon Pfeltz invited me to a Glen Hansard concert.
Hansard is an Irish songwriter famous for his work with his band The Frames, the folk duo The Swell Season, and the movie Once.
Brandon is a huge Hansard fan. He’s seen him 9 times and had recently gotten free tickets to a very small private set that Hansard was performing for about 40 people at the Living Room in the Lower East Side.
I, on the other hand, had never listened to Mr. Hansard’s music and Brandon felt that this would be a prime opportunity for me to become initiated into the musical world of the Irish busker.
He was right.
Personally, “folk music” has always been somewhat of a dirty word to me. Although I often love folk music…local (often working class) music that is isolated from the commercialism or elitism of mainstream music…the genre of “folk music” has always conjured in my mind the American variant of watered down blues and country music which has been Anglicized and intellectualized beyond recognition of it’s emotional and physical roots. No Soul.
So with Hansard sometimes being labeled as “folky” I was unsure of how I would respond.
Well, I have to say…
Loads of Soul.
Seated 5 feet away from Glen Hansard, I experienced one of the most beautiful, energetic, and intimate performances I’ve ever been to.
The room was electric (as they say…who are they?…I don’t know) , but not in a sharp way, more like a low buzz. Surrounded by his close friends (and possibly some family members), Brandon and I later realized we were some of the few members of the audience who were not friends or family of Hansard.
The Last Song
As the set was wrapping up, I felt very content. Pleased that Brandon had invited me to such a performance. Hansard asked us to join him in singing “The Auld Triangle”…the last song.
He then informed us that a buddy of his was going to sing with him.
That buddy, was Bono.
Now in living in New York, I’ve often tried my best not to express excessive excitement over celebrity sightings which occur every so often.
However, I must admit that I was pretty excited to be 5 feet away from Bono as he sang in a room not much bigger than my living room at home. (I quivered a bit…you ever quiver?)
Glen Hansard and Paul Hewson aka Bono
Afterwards I had the pleasure of thanking Glen Hansard for his set and asked if he would mind if I gave him my CD. He was very generous with his time and I think would have allowed for a longer conversation had I prepared anything beyond my simple…”uh…thanks.”
All in all, twas quite the way to end the semester.
And for those of you who are unsatisfied by written word and photographs, thankfully they were filming the performance that evening so I can share the performance itself with you. Enjoy.
Do you know what this is?
It’s a cock of hay…(but seriously, go see Cock.)
Pics from “The Bakery” written and directed by Brandon Pfeltz. I played Neil, the deranged villain. The mustache kinda gives that away tho doesn’t it?
It’s been quite awhile since my last post…
and although I have a lot to say it turns out it’ll still be a bit longer before I have time to sit down and write it out. Either way, before I move on to present business I figured I’d post some pictures of a show I directed mid-December in Pace University’s 2011 Directing Festival.
The one act piece was Pooh Takes a Sabbatical (yes as in Winnie the Pooh), written by award winning playwright Arlene Hutton. The play follows Mac, an aging professor of pop culture who recently has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. His middle aged daughter Polly, unaware of his illness, helps Mac pack for a trip to Europe before his treatment. In his absence, Polly plans to work on her dissertation which explores how the characters in Winnie the Pooh are archetypes for society. As Mac’s illness comes to light, he and Polly deal with the consequences as best they can.
The role of Mac was originally written for late actor Mason Adams.
Both Brandon Pfeltz (Mac) and Madison Embrey (Polly) did a great job with the piece and are pictured here below:
Keep your wits about you for more blogging in the near future!
Postscript: Going into the studio soon to compose for director Brittany Neff’s next film. Will keep you posted!
Here are some clips…
I put together of the actors discussing how they fit into the big picture of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, a show I’m currently directing.
The show opens November 30th and runs till December 4th. Reservations can be made at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/e/212281
Hope this peaked your interest and hope to see you there!
The video above is me describing my next project. Please watch or scroll down to see how you can help this intellectual curiosity become a creative reality. If you’d rather just skip to the bottom line you can contribute to my project by clicking here.
Adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel of the same name, The Gambler brings to life the story of Alexei Ivonovich.
Alexei is a tutor for children of a General who is severely in debt. But Alexei is not only a tutor.
Alexei is a gambler.
Not only with money, but with every facet of his life.
Set in 1863 Roulettenburg, Germany, the tale of The Gambler follows Alexei as he tests the limits of rationality at the roulette wheel, with the established order, and with his love for the General’s daughter, Polina. A story of idealism, greed, and unrequited love. The Gambler poses the question: Is the pathology of gambling really any different than the typical ideals we follow in every day life.
Why Would I Want to Watch The Gambler?
Beyond a compelling story, some features of the show include:
- Audience Participation – Immersion into the theatrical experience
- Original Music Composed by PJ Rasmussen
- A Mural of Roulettenburg
- Art Gallery featuring local artists’ work based on the play
- Spectacle in the form of lights, sound, and some Off Off Off Broadway magic
In addition, all Studio 501 productions are workshops, run and starring university students who are looking to gain more experience and expertise in their field.
This production is no exception and we’re hoping to be able to provide these students with a production which they can be proud to have been a part of.
That’s where you come in.
So What Do You Want Me To Do About It?
I’m glad you asked.
See all the elements and featured content listed above? That’s all going to take a lot more than well wishes and the student budget we’re provided with (both of which I’m still extremely grateful for).
I’m humbly asking you for your financial assistance to make this production as meaningful and fulfilling as it can be, both for the actors involved and for you the potential audience.
In the course of about 30 DAYS we need to raise $450.00 (if we don’t reach $450.00, we don’t receive any of our budget)
$450.00 in 30 Days
May sound like a lot (especially to a college student). But just as Newark Mayor Cory Booker has stated about his own life, I would never have come this far or had any of these opportunities without
A Grand Conspiracy of Love
I’m eternally grateful for this love that has made everything up to this point possible and so I’m asking for your love, support, and yes…for your money…to help create something which you not only will enjoy watching but that you can say…
“I made that happen!”
and claim ownership to a new, invigorating, creative work.
…and That’s Not All
For the mercenary in each of us, there are rewards that will be given for each and everyone that pledges to this project, even those that only pledge $1. So please contribute what you can to our project and remember the words of our protagonist Alexei Ivonovich…
“Tomorrow, tomorrow it will all be over”