Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Producing Theatre in a Polarized America

Got this month's edition of American Theatre in my mailbox yesterday... as I was perusing its pages this morning over my wake-up cup of coffee, I was struck by this report of TCG's annual conference in Seattle. The title of the article was "Unto the Breach: Conferencegoers debate art's role in a divided culture."

The topic of the article (and indeed, of the conference in general) really resonated with me. As I'm sure you've read in other areas of my Blog, attendance at Mt. Hood Rep's American Classics Theatre Festival was way down this year. We're still tabulating the numbers, but at least anecdotally everyone involved with the Festival agrees that the crowds were significantly less than in previous years.

Now, there are a lot of reasons for attendance to have lessened. The chief among them is the high cost of gas and the continued economic uncertainty that the Pacific Northwest is living in (the economy may be "improving," if you believe the numbers, but that doesn't mean that people aren't still worried about their finances and watching their pennies).

One thing that really stood out this year, however, were some of the complaints that we got on The Front Page. We got two letters from audience members who were offended by the language in this nearly-80 year old play. To be sure, for its day The Front Page was pretty racy; the script is peppered with "Goddamns," "Hells," and a few "Bastards" for good measure (the audience may be surprised, however, at the things that the director decided to cut out of the script: several very racist terms - yeah, the ones beginning with "N" - were removed from our production); by contemporary standards, however, the language is pretty tame. I haven't found the current list of "bad words that get you an 'R' rating" for the MPAA, but know I've seen worse language on basic cable.

The play is about hard-drinking reporters and government corruption; it only seems natural to me that gritty reporters and corrupt politicians wouldn't be quite so worried about keeping their mouths lilly-white.

This didn't seem to matter to the people who complained, however... which brings me back to the article in this month's American Theatre. Is it possible that the "culture wars" the news media so loves to talk about (a phrase which makes me groan, incidentally) are playing themselves out on local stages? According to PATA President, A.R.T. Marketing Director and Front Page Director Trisha Armour theatre attendance is down across our region. While the Portland Area is, in many ways, a "Liberal" bastion in these conservative times, I see plenty of "W" stickers on cars driving down our PDX roads.

One of the constant refrains heard from the neo-conservative right is that artists (and anything you might consider to be part of "the arts") are nothing but a bunch of elitist liberals who are trying to tell the American public what's good for them, no matter what "community standards" may hold. We saw this argument brought forth in the late eighties when they tried to abolish the NEA, in the mid-nineties when they tried to do away with PBS, and earlier this year when another putsch against PBS nearly succeeded. Right-wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity bring it up time and time again in such a way as to make their listeners assume this "liberal elitism in the arts" is a proven, researched fact. No one in their echo chamber bothers to challenge the assumption, but rather moves on from there fore-armed with the divinely imparted knowledge that artists are out to subvert America.

And it just may be that our audiences are marching to the beat of their drums.

Sure, there are die-hard theatre lovers... but that pool seems to be shrinking. Many are advancing in years, and there aren't nearly as many young theatre lovers stepping into the seats these supporters inevitably vacate. Many want to see theatre, but are being forced to choose their ticket purchases carefully because of the uncertain economy. Some are just tired - it's much easier to stay at home and watch a DVD or television or surf the internet. And some, sadly, may just be in agreement with the prevailing conservative mind-set in the country that the arts are a waste of time and resources. "If it can't make money commercially," many people who identify themselves as conservative would say, "it must not be any good."

So, where does that leave us as we continue to produce live theatre in the 21st century? Do we need to try and find plays that people drinking George Bush and Karl Rove's right-wing kook-aid (oops, that must have been a typo :) ) would find appealing? Do we soldier bravely on telling the stories WE want to tell whether the audiences want to hear them or not? Do we try to foster dialog through our work, trying to heal the scism which demands Americans to identify themselves as "Red" or "Blue?"

I don't know... obviously, there's no easy answer. As we at The Rep plan our next season, however, we're certainly going to be asking ourselves these questions.

Inquiringly yours...


Monday, August 29, 2005

Ok, the dust has settled. Now I have to start cleaning it up!

Hi all. What did you do this weekend?

I did nothin'. Absolutely nothin'... and it felt GREAT!

Oh, sure, I did a few things, but nothing of tremendous consequence. Trish and I played our fair amount of City of Heroes (got my "alt" scapper Bloodpath up to level 13), I watched the winners in the Paragon City Film Festival (One of the reasons I love this game is the sheer creativity of the community playing it... The game engine allows players to capture video of gameplay and edit it together. This is the second year City of Heroes has run a film festival; aside from the winners of this year's festival, many many other movies have been produced by players. Check out this thread on the City of Heroes message boards to see more of the films submitted to the contest), read a little, went to a couple of parties (sorry I didn't make it to yours, Royal)... but generally, Trish and just loafed around.

And that's exactly what we needed.

After the long hard haul of running this year's festival, we're pretty whooped. The last thing we want to do is start getting caught up on all the housework, yardwork, and homework that's been neglected while we were "otherwise occupied."

Unfortunately, you can only hide out so long... this morning I'm sitting at the Mt. Hood Rep office getting things put together for our new Readers Theatre season. Then I have to head out and do some paying work for a couple of clients.... and when I get back home, it's laundry time. Oh, and I suppose I should mow the 3 ft. tall dandilions in my back yard (we just got our first rain in weeks last night, so the grass is going to start growing again. Better not let it get the upper hand on me again).

Ah... I think I'm ready to go back to London... sigh...


Friday, August 26, 2005

Some fun links

Hey Video Game fans of yesteryear (like, ya know, 1982 or somethin'); can
you identify these sounds?

Name That Game!

Also, Theatre Vertigo has taken
to making Trailers for its upcoming productions... check out the trailer
to The Flue Season, their next production, below!

Click here
to watch the trailer... beware, though: you'll need
Quicktime, and it's a large-ish movie, so be prepared to wait while it downloads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fireside Coffee Lodge

So I have to let you all know about a wonderful little place I found in Southeast Portland!

I had a "hole" open in my schedule, and I just happened to have my laptop with me (not a daily occurrance). I figured I'd grab some lunch and try and find a wifi hotspot (that's "place with wireless internet available" for those of you non-digital types) (Oh, if you're a non-digital type, you're probably not reading this) (Anyway...).

I usually drive into downtown Portland on Powell Blvd. I rememberd seeing a coffee shop on the way in that had put a sign out front advertising internet access. Seemed like a good place to check out, so I popped on by.

The Fireside Coffee Lodge, located at 1223 SE Powell (just a block east of McLoughlin) is a delightful, homey little place! Along with free Wifi and internet terminals, they make great sandwiches and coffee.

If you visit their home page above, you'll also notice that they're open 24 hours a day, and they've got a nice "rustic" feel to their place. All the furniture is rough-hewn, there's a nice flagstone fireplace on one wall, and it's nice and airy. Even if you don't need internet access, it's a great place to come down and visit.

Check it out! I think I may very well become a regular...


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The dust begins to settle...

And so... like that, it's over.

Yesterday, we struck the set for both festival shows (I should say "all three" festival shows, but Sunday Night By The Philco used the Front Page set). It was an exhausting process that went from 9am until about 4pm. Thankfully we have a GREAT crew of interns, and the stage managers from the shows and a few of the actors showed up to help out too.

Truth to tell, I did very little of the de-construction work... I mostly flitted from place to place making phone calls, directing people, and keeping the pace of the strike moving. I'm so very grateful for the commitment and dedication of the people working with us; the interns, especially, really blew me away with how on-task and ready to work they were.

Strike (that's what we call taking apart the set, for those of you not in the theatrical world) is always sort of a bittersweet process for me. As you're taking down walls and carting off costumes and props, you're remembering the good times you've had over the course of the run. In some cases, strike will be the last time you'll see the people you've been glued to over the course of the rehearsal and run of a show (though we had an after-strike party at Tobias Andersen's to give us a little more time together last night). There's a certain feeling of finality to the whole process.

A festival strike like the one yesterday is even more emotional for me, because I've been working on these plays since before work started on the sets we were charged with taking down. In the course of an afternoon I saw six months of work, which culminated in a four week run of three shows, slowly dwindle away until there was nothing left but a (freshly painted) black stage.

For all the emotion of that process, however, there's a sense of liberation. To be sure, many parts of life get put on hold while we're in production. The grass doesn't get mowed. The house doesn't get cleaned. The bare minimum of laundry gets done (just enough so you have a pair of underwear and dark socks for show nights)... the restoration of time, that most precious of resources, is something that both Trish and I look forward to.

And yet...

There's something so magical about the worlds we put together on those two stages. For the span of a few hours the audience (and we, the actors) left this plane of mundane reality and stepped onto another planet, where quick-talking wiseguys, snake handlers, radio detectives ruled the day and war, political corruption, your jerk boss, and all the other troubles of the "outside world" didn't exist. As I stood looking across the now-bare black stage that just seven hours earlier housed the Criminal Courts Press Room, I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss. It happens every time.

Then I turned out the lights, packed the last of the stuff I needed to cart out into my car, and locked the door.

Sure, there's still stuff to do... return items to people we borrowed them from, get the keys back to the college, hold the "post mortem" on Thursday to decide what went well and what we need to do better next year... but that one moment lingers in my brain. That one moment looking across the blank stage encapsulates the hope and sorrow of this strange theatrical life we live.

Awright, enough waxing philosophical... I gotta get to work.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

But, on the up-side...

... we found a new tenant for our Duplex. Her name is Cindy, she loves to take care of yards, and works at home. She rocks! And we're oh-so-freakin'-happy to have that side of the duplex rented out again. Maybe now we can stop taking money out of the savings account to pay the mortgage!

Of course, the universe being what it is, there has to be a yin to this yang. I just realized I have a nail in my tire and it's slowly going flat. Off to Les Schwab... sigh...



So... You wanna be a producer...

Well, the past couple of days have been a mix of frenetic energy and exhaustion. As anyone who follows David Millstone's Blog already knows, Thursday night was pretty hellish for The Front Page.

When I got to the theater Thursday night it was the typical routine - I put away my stuff, called the actors involved with fights onto the stage for "fight call" (for those of you not on our side of the curtain, we run all the physical violence in the show before the show starts to be sure we've got the moves "in our bodies..." skipping fight call is a good way for someone to get hurt!)... it was a typical Thursday night. Then I heard the news.

The light board wasn't working. We had no control of the stage lights at all - we couldn't even turn them on.

So much for "the usual routine." The next forty minutes were spent running back and forth from the light booth to the small "Stage Manager's Panel" backstage to the dimmers located underneath the stage and back. We were on the phone to everyone we could think of (coincidentally the head of the Mt. Hood Community College Theatre Arts Program was there to see the show that night, so even HE got into the act), we were trying everything we could think of... to no avail.

As the clock ticked closer and closer to 8:00, we had some decisions to make and fast. We found that we could bring some lights up and down from the stage manager's panel backstage, so we decided that all the fancy light cues we were used to would go out the window. The audience would get "lights up" at the top of the act, "lights down" at the end, and that was it.

We were a little late in starting, and there was a lot of nervous energy amongst the cast because the technical glitch. Once we actually got on stage, we got another bit of bad news... the "house lights" (the lights above the audience's head which usually go off when the play begins) wouldn't go off. We did the entire show with a fully lit audience... and sadly, it made a difference.

Many audience members don't know that there are three reasons for bringing the lights down at the start of a show. The first (and most obvious) reason is that light from the audience bleeds onto the stage, and many of the lighting effects lose their potency if the "house" isn't dark.

The second reason is the legendary "fourth wall." If you think about a standard "box set," you'll note that it has three walls (one to the right, one to the left, one in back). The "fourth wall" is an illusion agreed upon by the actors and the audience - we act as though there's a wall between you and us, and that we can't see through it (assuming it's that kind of show). You in the audience get the feeling of looking through that fourth wall, of observing events transpiring as if you weren't there. When the house lights are up and we can see the audience from the stage, however, it's much harder for us in the cast to believe in that "fourth wall," and sometimes our concentration can suffer for it.

And what about that third reason? The third reason we bring the lights down is so the audience can feel safe and anonymous. Sounds funny to say this out loud, but there's a certain feeling of security that comes from sitting in a group and knowing that no one can see you. You feel more at-ease, you laugh and react to the play better, because you're not worried that your neighbor or those weird people up on the stage will see you acting like a fool out in the audience. When the lights are up in the audience, people are more self-conscious. This was the effect on Thursday night... we could tell from the stage that the audience was enjoying the show, but they didn't feel "loose" enough to be vocal with their appreciation. The laughs weren't uproarious, the reactions weren't as strong... and since we weren't able to easily perceive the audience's reactions on the stage, the timing and energy of the show suffered.

In any case, we got through it... Friday is still kind of a blur to me. I was on the phone from the moment I got up with the Artistic Director, with our contact at the college, with the company that installed the lighting system, with the stage manager... as I flew down the road to an appointment (oh, yeah, I had a full day of work scheduled on top of everything else. You didn't think something like this was going to happen when I had time to deal with it, did you? HA!!!) with my head-set in my cel phone I found out that Hollywood Lights (who installed the system) couldn't send anyone out to help fix it. They suggested calling the 800 number for the light-board-maker's technical support line. I arranged for one of our student interns (the blessed Eamon Dixon) to meet up with our Artistic Director at the theatre that afternoon so that they could call Strand Century (the light board manufacturer) to work out the problem. Later that afternoon they called me back to tell me they were successful, and I was much relieved (I then had to contact about 12 other people to let them know that we had lighting control again).

Until I got to the theatre... and found out that they'd been only half successful - we had control of the lights hanging above the stage, but not the lights behind the stage or rigged up on the floor. Another tense 20 minutes or so passed by... but our lighting designer Phil McBeth was there, and he managed to get the beast tamed and back into its cage.

So... I'm kinda exhausted today. It was a heck of a lot easier just being an actor... and don't even get me started on how poorly the shows have been selling...


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Six - to - Eight - Weeks???

Well, I had to do something really hard today... I had to write a letter to the Circuit Court of Oregon for Multnomah County and ask to be excused from jury duty.

This may not seem like such a big deal... people try to get out of jury duty all the time, after all. It's a big deal to me, though. I really do believe that it's a duty every citizen of the United States is honor-bound to partake in. It's one of the prices we pay for living in this country - that we'll take time out of our lives, come together, and apply our own community standards in judging people accused of breaking the law. The fact that so many people get out of jury duty has helped to put our legal system in the state it's currently in - where the right to a speedy trial is laughable, and court verdicts are hard for people in the community to understand. Not to mention the fact that the "jury of your peers" you'll be judged by if you ever get put on trial is going to be made up of people who weren't smart or ingenious enough to get out of jury duty.

All that being said... I had to write the letter asking to be excused, and it pained me to do so.

Why, you might ask, did I do this if I feel so strongly in our individual responsibility to take part in the jury process? Because the proposed period of the jury panel they wanted me for was six-t0-eight-weeks long! I don't work a nine-to-five job with a boss who'll pay me while I take that much time to be on a jury panel; I'm self-employed, and I only get paid for the hours I work at a client's office. If I'm unavailable for six-to-eight weeks, Trish and I are going to have a hard time putting food on the table, let alone paying the mortgage (I don't mean to minimze Trish's financial contribution to our household income, but at the moment I'm the one bringing in the majority of the money). I would get paid for my Jury service, of course... $10 the first two days, and $25.00 for each day after that. That's not going to cover our expenses. Not by a long shot.

I dream of a time when we'll be able to pay people called for jury duty a stipend commensurate to the wages they'll be losing by engaging in their service. I certainly don't think that we have to pay people full salaries for service they're required to engage in for the community (that'd kind of defeat the purpose of manditory service, and we'd bankrupt the coffers when we called high-paid executives to be enpanneled), but something approaching minimum wage would be nice.

So, I wrote the letter, and hated myself for doing it. We'll have to see if I get excused or not... if not, I don't think I'll be laying out much cash for anything but bare essentials for quite a while.

Hope you're all doing well...


Monday, August 15, 2005


Click this to visit Evanescance's Web Site
Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a bit behind the times. I'd heard Evanescences single "Bring Me To Life" on the radio, and (apparently) on the Daredevil sound track (not as good a movie as it could have been... but that's another post), but I hadn't really heard much more of their work. Mark Twohy changed that after yesterday's matinee performance. As I was taking him home he popped their CD into my car's CD player... and wow. I mean, wow wow. I was so stunned by the power of their music that I actually went straight to Everyday Music and bought it.

Their orchestrated heavy metal sound matched with soulful female vocals is something you've got to hear... click on the album cover above to go to their page. You can then click on the "music" section to listen to some samples. Good stuff!

Unfortunately, I hear from people that since this 2003 album the band has "broken up." Their web page would indicate otherwise, but apparently the guitarist who was one - half of the creative team has left (I hear rumors of romantic entanglements...). Hopefully the singer will continue to produce new songs, though. She's got a great voice.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Get better soon Ritah!

Well, last night's show was wonderful... the cast was really in sync with each other and the audience was loving it.

What they weren't loving is Talking With... because we had to cancel the show! One of the actresses in the show called Trish up in the afternoon to tell her that she'd gone out to breakfast earlier in the day, and was now thowing up and had diarrhea. When we called her back closer to show time to check in, she told us that there was no way she could do the show.

This added a little pre-show drama to Trish's life... should she just do the show without those pieces in it? Remember, Talking With is a series of 11 monologues - taking two out of the show reduces the evening by about 20%.

Another thing to consider was the "flow" of the performance... the show is carefully orchestrated to allow one piece to "flow" into the other - music bridges the gaps between the monologues and covers scene changes and the like. By removing two monologues there would have been siginificant gaps.

After a lot of soul-searching, Trish decided that the better course of valor was to cancel the show, apologize to the audience, and offer them free tickets to another performance. As it turned out the house was pretty light for last night's performance (both good AND bad news...), so if it had to happen last night was a good night for it to occur.

We talked to her last night after the show, and she's feeling much better. They should be able to do the Sunday matinee today. Still... a reminder that you never really know what might happen in live theatre!


Friday, August 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's TV Spot

Hey guys

Gotta run to the show... but check out this TV spot that Gold Star Families for Peace is broadcasting on Crawford's local television station:
Cindy Sheehan's TV Spot.

Leeeeeroy Jenkins!

I told you I'd explain this inside joke:

The infamous Leeeroy Jenkins Video (note - there is swearing in the video, so be forewarned)

Sadly, too many of we gamers have had this experience. Bad groups ruin a good night of gaming. Those of you who aren't gamers probably won't think this video is hilarious... those of you who are know the humor comes from the hurt inside.

Remember, friends don't let friends be a Leeroy... even if they DO have chicken.


P.S. It turns out the video was staged by the participants... but it's still damn funny to us MMO gamers out there...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bush Comments on Cindy Sheehan... Sorta

How do you know that Cindy Sheehan is starting to scare Bush and his handlers? He actually acknowledged her.

This is, of course, in direct contrast to the way he usually deals with criticism - stolidly ignorning or
joking about his major failures. Instead, Sheehan is making a big enough splash that he had to say something about her in his press conference today.

Kinda. Click here to see what Bush had to say in relationshon to this grieving mother's simple question: "What is the 'noble cause' my son died for?"

Strangely enough, he didn't answer that question. No, he instead redirected the topic to "pulling out of Iraq," a nice little tactic to make people think that Cindy Sheehan and the people who support her are just a bunch of pansie quitters.

Nice try. Unfortunately, people aren't buying it. It's more of the same from Bush ("We have to stay the course," "We can't leave because that'd embolden 'the enemy' "), and a larger and larger show of support for Sheehan.

Meanwhile, the right-wing hacks are mobilizing in greater and greater numbers to attack... a woman who lost her son in war. Think about that a minute: this is a mother who lost her son, and wants to know why we went into the conflict that took his life. Bush can't come up with an answer (obviously "Weapons of Mass Destruction" doesn't work any more, and "Bringing Democracy To Iraq" isn't playing too well, since they've already got a constitution and parilment...), so the only thing his supporters can think to do is savage the messenger.

Bill O'Reilly last night said that Sheehan's "behavior bordered on Treasonous." He's also trying desperately to link her to Michael Moore, the ACLU and other conservative boogeymen. Of course, he now says their coverage was respectful.

Mike Drudge is trying to portray Sheehan as a "flip-flopper," who met with the President once and loved him, but is now "politically motivated" in changing their story. This was of course picked up by several right-wing Faux-News-like outlets. It only took a day to debunk Drudges story.

There's only one reason for all this fuss... the neo-con-men who currently hold power are afraid of all the attention Sheehan is getting. Not that she's getting much in the way of coverage from TV News anyway... but people like me aren't letting it go away.

Oh, and Karl Rove, we're not going to let you get away, either...

Unless you're a PC Gamer, you probably won't get this...

The title of this piece is "Autorun and You." When playing PC games, your movement is usually controlled by keys on the keyboard. The W for forward, the A for left, the D for right, and the S for back.

A common problem when playing City of Heroes, or other games that have an "autorun" feature (ie you can click on something and just take off in a given direction without having to keep your hads on the keyboard) is that people will chat while they run, forget they're in chat mode, and try to turn or back up away from the bad guys. So, you'll be chatting away with your buddy and he'll say something like, "Yeah, the other night I WAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSDDDDDDD".

The photo above is a good representation of what happens on their end. I laughed at it. Maybe three of you will :)

-LEEEEEROY JENKINS (another "inside joke" I'll explain to you one day...)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: Day 5

(Posted at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: David Horsey)

I'm sure you all know what the cartoon is referring to... though if you don't, it's not surprising. As usual network news is more interested in covering whether Paula Abdul is going to return to American Idol than

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, has camped outside Bush's Crawford, Texas "Ranch Set." Of course, she was quarantined in a "Free Speech Zone" about three miles away from the "Ranch," and is under police surveialance because she and a her companions represent a "national security threat."

Must be nice to pull "national security threat" out whenever someone disagrees with you... I'll bet Woodrow Wilson would have loved to be able to play that card during the Women's Suffrage movement.

This is going to get messier and messier... not that you'll hear a thing about it on CNN or Fox news. Keep an eye on this page...

If you want to support Cindy Sheehan, here's a web site with information.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

New Photos

Oh, I forgot to mention that I've added some new stuff to the Theatre section of our Photos Page.

These photos (and many more from the session) are posted on the Front Page and Talking With sections of the Mt. Hood Rep site... but I copied a few which featured Trish and I specifically over to our photo site as well.



Christian marketing

So I've been noticing something recently.

I get a lot of spam. Sure, everyone does... but I get A LOT. This is largely due to the fact that I run multiple web sites and have my many email addresses posted all over the internet. Spammers "mine" these addresses and add them to their lists (I had to reinstall my Norton Antispam program on Friday. Since reinstallation, I've received over 300 pieces of spam... nice, huh?).

I've got a spam filter on my email (the aforementioned Norton package... a great product, by the way, if you use Outlook, Outlook Express or a program like that to read mail), but some slips through occasionally. More and more I've been seeing spam marketed specifically to Christians.

Note, this isn't dogmatic political stuff... it's just plain ol' spam.

Subject lines like "Do you go to church every Sunday? Answer our free survey and receive a big screen TV"; "Christian Loan Advisors Can Get You The Best Rate"; "A T-Shirt Sent From Heaven" all speak to the increasing presence of people who identify themselves as "Christian" as a buying and political power.

Now it's perfectly fine for people to identify themselves as Christian, and for marketers to market to a specific population. A marketer's job is to identify his or her audience and to create messages they will find appealing so that his or her product sells.

I find it interesting, however, that the volume of this spam has increased in recent months. This would indicate that people are responding to it - if the message is pitched to "Christians," rather than getting immediately trashed as so much spam is, a lot of somebodies out there must be clicking-through.

I don't know that I have an opinion on this per se... but I do find it interesting...

Monday, August 08, 2005


Hallelujah! After the god-awful show on Friday night, the rest of the Front Page shows went off pretty well this weekend... made EVERYONE feel a lot better to hear the audience laugh again :)

My parents came down to see all three Festival shows over the weekend. It was nice to be able to hang with them for a long time this time... far too often, our weekend visits consist of either them or us driving all day (they live near Blaine, WA, a mere 275 miles away), seeing each other for an evening and morning, and then driving back. This time, however, they stayed through Monday morning and we had a nice long time together.

One ironic thing about this year's festival: we've gotten more complaints from the audience about The Front Page then we have about Talking With. There was a little trepidation from some people on the Mt. Hood Rep board about staging Talking With... it is a bit "edgier" than some of the past shows The Rep has done (Check out the "Past Performances" section of The Rep's web site to see what I mean), and since it was written in the 80's the language is a little rougher. The audiences have universally loved that show, however (or at least haven't been vocal about their displeasure). The Front Page, by contrast, has gotten a little heat about its use of language (particularly "GD")... and it was written in 1928!!

It just goes to show... once you think you know your audience, they're bound to surprise you.

Hey, if you're in the Portland area and you have a chance to see these shows, you really should. The Front Page is one of those big-cast shows that you just don't see anymore on Portland stages (it costs a LOT to pay 22 actors, not to mention build a set that can hold them all), and Talking With features some of the strongest actresses in town. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to miss them!

Of course, I might be biased...


Friday, August 05, 2005

Show of the Living Dead!

Oh my freakin' God!

I just got done with the worst performance of The Front Page... ever!

It's not that we in the cast did anything wrong (though, to be fair, we weren't picking up our cues as quickly as we should have been in the first act). It was just a night that conspired against us. Props malfunctioned. The heat up on the stage was sweltering (we turned the air conditioner down in the theatre this week because the audience was getting too cold). And worst of all... the audience gave us nothing back. No laughs, no reactions, nothing.

People who aren't on my side of the curtain don't necessarily understand how important it is for the actors in a show to hear and feel the audience's feedback. David Millstone, who plays the Mayor, put it best tonight in the green room: If this show was a body, the laughs would be the bones. If the laughs aren't there, the show just sits there in a sloppy pile, unable to do anything except twitch.

That's the way tonight's show went. After an admittedly "loose" first act, we all resolved to tighten things up and make the second act clip along.

Nothin' from the audience.

By the time the third act came along, we were racing to the end, just hoping that the crowd would find something funny. We got a chuckle here and there, but overall it was silence until the final line... and then the audience bust out laughing and roared with applause.

Turns out (I heard this from some people who spoke to friends in the lobby) the audience was having a great time... they just weren't vocal. Go figure. A hard night, to be sure.

Ah well... time to put some hurt on the bad guys in Paragon City. 'Night all...

- Harold

Geek Food

Sigh... all right, one more post and then I've got to get ready to head for the show (call's not until 7:00, but I've got to get cleaned up, eat, and run to the bank on my way to the theater).

So, as you've seen in previous posts I've been pretty gol-durned busy. Which means that I haven't really been able to play City of Heroes all that much. Lame, huh?

Since we opened, though, I've been trying to make up for lost time. Not only have I managed to buff up my three core heroes, but I've added a couple of "alts" who are also connected with Mandum deCaelum, that nefarious apocolyptic sect intent on winning the final battle with Lucifer's minions.

That's one of the Alts to the right, "Azriel's Breath."

You can read all about my City of Heroes characters at Crey Industries, a "fan site" set up to emulate the database of a villian group in Paragon City. Visit to find out more about Mandum deCaelum, Bloodpath, Mindcrash, Bilskirnir, and the two "heroes" pursuing them, Azriel's Breath and Lt. Gabriel (I may very well send those two over to the Rogue Isles when City of Villians comes out at the end of the year). There's also a link to the Mandum deCaelum case file on the right; as my heroes exploits continue, expect that villianous Crey Industries to keep updating their casefiles on them.

Up, up and away!

- Harold

The Buddy Counter

(Yup, I'm liking this "post on the fly" stuff a lot!)

Someone just sent me an email about the re-set Buddy counter. Yes, indeed, the little bastard got out again 10 days ago.

It wasn't anything as dramatic as previous escapes, though... he wasn't gone for days or found waddling back from the Dairy Queen up the road.

He just saw an opportunity when Trish was going out the door with her hands full and darted out of the house. She managed to get him back in within 10 minutes or so... not that he was all that willing to come back in, you understand... but he got back in with a minimum of trouble.

Finally Coming Up For Air...

Ok, enough with the historical why-we-moved data... you wanna know what's going on in our lives.

Well, to begin with, to the right you'll see a photo of our house... no, wait, that's Hiroshima in 1945. Sorry, after opening the American Classics Festival last week, the photo to the right is just what we feel like :)

Actually, with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off we're beginning to feel a little more normal. It was a hard push, though. Basically from June 1 through July 29, our focus has been Mt. Hood Rep, Mt. Hood Rep, Mt. Hood Rep.

In many ways this year's festival was a lot more work for both Trish and I... to begin with, this year I took the official job of "production manager" (I was already "the guy you called to get things done," but this year I got the official job title). This meant a lot more interface with all aspects of the production: the directors, the stage managers, the TD and students, and the college (though the college was very very good to us this year... Diana Rosvall, our contact there, was divine. Very responsive, and always available. We owe her big for everything she's done for us!)

Add to that the fact that Trish was not only directing Talking With, but doing the costumes and props AND playing a part. I can usually work pretty closely with Trish when she's directing a production and take some of the load off of her, but this year I was too busy being production manager, selling tickets in the office, and playing a part myself in The Front Page.

And then there's the snake that we "adopted" for Talking With who wouldn't eat for two months... but I digress.

The good news is that it all paid off... we had an amazing opening for The Front Page. 180 people - some invited, many who paid for their tickets. Talking With's opening wasn't as good, but it's not as "known" a play (we're relying on word-of-mouth to start building audiences for it). Sunday Night By The Philco had a great opening as well... and we capped off the weekend with a great review published in the Oregonian on Thursday!

So... life's going pretty fine for us at this point. We've still got three more weeks of the Festival's run, and the audiences are building. Best of all, we've got three days off again (yay!) in between shows. Makes the living a lot easier.

Ok, I've gotta get some client work going... more later.


Welcome to the new Weblog!

Hey all... welcome to the new weblog, hosted at

Why did I change from the old one? Well, there's a lot of different reasons... but to begin with, I got tired of being called the "Worst blogger on the internet" (thanks so much, Mr. LaBelle!). The old "blog" was just a page I kept hosted on my business web site, at I had to do all the HTML coding myself, which meant that adding an update was a lot more time-intensive than it needed to be (ok, those of you who know me know I never really shy away from doing things "the hard way," but when it takes you three months to get up the gumption to do a post... lets just say things were getting out of hand).

The system is much easier to use. I can just log in and make a post, instead of having to code html, upload the page, check for errors, re-upload the page, etc.

Another thing I wasn't satisfied with was the "shortcut address" I'd been using ( You may remember the notice at the top of the left-hand-nav bar about software trying to download... as "spyware" becomes more and more of a threat to internet users, I didn't want to be part of the problem. The "" company that provided that "shortcut address" was starting to try to download spyware to people's machines, and I spend enough time trying to defend people from that stuff. So, they're outta there.

Finally, I wanted something that would allow me to easily update the blog but still give me the flexability to add my own little touches, like the "buddy counter" (it's still there... look to the right!) and the "Notify me when this page is updated" box (also on the right). There are a lot of free "blogging" services out there, but many of them make you pay for the priveledge of customizing your page. doesn't, so that's why we're here.

Ok, that's the low-down on why we moved... please update your bookmarks accordingly, and re-sign-up for the notification service ( is a legit company. I've been using them for years). You shouldn't get any more notifications about being updated... because it won't be. But I'm going to leave those pages there for archival purposes.

Hope you're all doing well...