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It started, as
things often do these days, on Twitter.

A friend of mine
tweeted a half-joking wish list of what, in an ideal world, some enterprising
playwright might include in a play written for her.  Remembering that, in addition to being her
friend, I was an enterprising playwright myself, I tweeted back to her, asking
what this hypothetical opus should contain. 
We brainstormed, had a merry laugh, and then went on our digital way.

Except the more I
thought about the exchange, the more I realized that the idea we’d concocted
would actually make a good play. 
Possibly even – excuse my hubris – a great one.  I was otherwise occupied at the time, however
– preparing what would become my Fringe show, Dragon’s Breath – but I kept
thinking about the play, its ideas and characters and plot points.  I would do what research I could in between
other projects, trying to keep the inspiration alive as life events conspired
to distract me.  And because this all
originated in a Twitter conversation, I recently did an advanced search to look
at the original conversation, and remind myself when the inception of this idea
had taken place.

September 6,
2013.  Two and a half years ago.

Ideas are organic
things; they are born, they grow, they can age and wither, and if not properly
cared for, they can die.  So even though
there’s still more research and planning to do – and this particular play is
sufficiently complex that I could do preparatory research for a decade or more
– I realized that I could leave the idea untended no longer.  Especially since the play in question is
meant for somebody else, who has their own life to lead quite apart from my own
dithering.

Page one of the
rough draft was written last night.  Two
and a half years to the day after the idea for it first came to me.

With any luck, it
won’t take that long to get to the last page. 
I’ll be sure to let you know.

(Sorry to be so
vague as to what the idea for this play actually is, but I need to keep
something secret for subsequent blog posts. 
Not to mention for, y’know, the play itself.)

Semi-Obligatory Post-Oscars Blog Post

I had it
all planned out.  I was going to go to an
Oscar-themed trivia event with my fearsome trivia team, and use that as the
hook for the semi-obligatory post-Oscars blog post.  I would have gone after Hollywood’s Biggest
Night for being out of touch with American tastes, demographics, and realities
by coining the hashtag #OscarsSoTrivial, and everything would have been
terrifically satirical and witty.  But
then my fellow teammates wound up getting stranded out of town, scuttling that
brilliant plan.

So
instead, I returned to my Bronx apartment to watch the telecast by myself,
figuring I could post a detailed, insightful analysis of the telecast.  But just as Chris Rock’s already legendary
monologue began, my digital antenna conked out. 
So as he lit into the systemic benign racism of the film industry, I was
only able to make out isolated words through a fog of broken pixels.

It’s
around this point that I began to wonder why I was even bothering.  It’s the same argument we have with ourselves
every year at Oscar time – why watch a bloated, self-congratulatory, frequently
cringe-inducing ceremony simply for the sake of saying that we saw it?  Especially when the industry it’s celebrating
keeps on demonstrating shocking tone-deafness towards crucial aspects of the
society it’s attempting to entertain – race in America, gender in America, any
political outlook beyond a narrow set of comfortable platitudes?  And when that industry only ever notices a
slight fraction of the vast amount of work its artists are making?

(These two
things are linked, but the way.  Take one
example, the failure to nominate Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation which seemed to crystalize the whole
#OscarsSoWhite backlash.  I’ve lost track
of the number of conversations I’ve seen among industry insiders in which they
say they didn’t know whether they could nominate him in the first place, given
the digital distribution deal that was in place for the film.  Expect to see this more and more, as
non-traditional means of distribution become the means for more and more
diverse voices to get their films out to the public, disrupting the traditional
filmmaking model in the process.  Since
the Academy exists to celebrate and defend that model, the films it celebrates
are bound to get less and less diverse as it circles its wagons, even when this
doesn’t reflect the beliefs of the individual members.)

And yet –
what became clear from the bits of the telecast my malfunctioning antenna
allowed me to see was that this was far and away the best ceremony in some
time.  People love to mock celebrities
for embracing trendy causes, but nothing about this year’s telecast seemed the
least bit trendy or shallow.  This
ceremony mattered to the people on
stage this year.  Representation
mattered.  Issues mattered.  The state of our nation mattered. 

And
believe it or not, the Oscars really do matter, petty and trivial though they
frequently are.  They don’t make a movie
great – indeed they have an alarming habit of ignoring greatness – but they
provide a starting point for people searching for greatness.  Many is the budding student of film history
who starts out with a book of past winners as a way of starting that lifelong
conversation.  This year, a whole slew of
other conversations managed to become part of the ceremony as well; hopefully
they won’t end now that the show is over, and Chris Rock’s daughters’ Girl
Scout cookies are being happily consumed.

Plus Mad Max won a whole bunch of stuff, so
that’s pretty cool.

By Way Of Review

“Don’t read reviews.”

If you are a writer, actor, or most any other creative type, you hear this early and often in the course of your career. Don’t read reviews. They can only cause you to second-guess yourself. The need for their approval only nurtures narcissism and vanity. They represent a distraction from the purity of your art. Whether you hear it as a dictum from a stern drama teacher, or as advice from a cherished idol, it’s one of basic tenets of the creative life. Reviews aren’t good for you; don’t read them.

As you’ll notice from the quotes scattered throughout this website, I have not heeded this advice. 

As this site is largely intended for professional promotion, it contains as many sentences as I could find, from as many sources as possible, stating that employing me as a professional artist is a good idea. And since I am an honest man, I combed through as many reviews as I could find, reading each and every one of them, in order to find these testimonials. (We call them “pull quotes” in “the biz.”)

It isn’t enjoyable, of course. For the problem with a review isn’t that it might be bad – it’s that it’s invariably and ineffably wrong. Questions of merit aside, you know the details of your performance, story, or what have you better than anyone (or so you think), and so the outside perspective is almost always disorienting. It’s as if you were preparing a gourmet meal for an important person and worrying over the details of its preparation – whether you cooked it thoroughly, seasoned it properly, served it with the appropriate wine – only to have them taste it and exclaim, “This tastes like purple!” Regardless of whether this is said with delight or disgust, your response upon hearing is most likely a simple “Huh? What the heck does that mean?”

And yet we force ourselves to read them. Because what those stern drama teachers and cherished idols and other authoritative voices need to understand is that ignoring reviews is not a choice, it is a luxury. It is what one is able to do when one’s next project is already assured, when one is a prize pupil or a leading player of an established company or a star of the highest magnitude. The rest of us can only dream of living in such a rarified state, while we go through the daily drudgery of finding our next gig, our next paycheck, our next meal. And so we comb through these strange funhouse mirror reflections of our efforts, extracting whatever we can find for marketing purposes, and hoping against hope for some flash of insight along the way.

Like what exactly purple tastes like, anyway.

Brand New Website!

Welcome to my brand new website! I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

The Most Literal First Post Ever

Welcome, everybody!  This is the professional website for my work as an actor and writer.  And, while there’s plenty of places on the website where you can see what I’ve done in the past, this blog – the inaugural post of which you’re now reading – will detail, among other things, what I’m working on right now.

So, what am I working on right now?

Well, I’m writing this blog.

Flippant as that sounds, it’s the truth – right now, at this moment, this blog is what I’m writing.  I have other writing projects in the works, but I’m not working on them during the time in which I’m writing this blog.  And in order to get other people to know about and care about those other projects, I need to get the word out about them – hence the need for this blog, which, instead of those projects, is what I’m writing now.

Now, writing a blog instead of the other projects they intend to write is the sort of thing that can make a person feel, deep down, that they’re a fraud – just pretending to be a writer.  But the thing of it is, I’m also an actor, and pretending to be a writer is a perfectly plausible thing for an actor to do.  Especially since, as actors know, the best pretending requires an element of truth in it, so acting like a writer means you are indeed a writer.  And as an added bonus, promoting your acting on the blog you’re writing means you might be able to generate further acting work.  Of course, time spent acting means time not spent writing, unless you’re acting like an actor by writing your blog.

So I’m writing this blog about acting and writing in order to act like a writer, which is what I am when I’m not an actor, even though I’m acting right now by acting like a writer, even though I have to actually write about acting in order to act like a writer, in order to generate further work as a writer and an actor, about which I’ll then write in this blog in order to act like a writer.

Oh, well.  Beats catering.