Trish and Harold's Weblog

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Much News, Little Time

Howdy folks

Well, Trish and I are officially back... we actually got back to Portland on Thursday the 26th, but between hectic running around to get caught-up with "real life" and temperatures in the 90's and 100's here in Portland, I haven't really had the liesure to post anything of substance here on the blog.
This morning, though, before I head out for my first call of the day, I wanted to share some news with you. Below you'll find four posts just full of exciting information. Go ahead and scroll on down... you'll be glad you did!
Now that we're back, the priorities are to take off the weight I put on in Alaska (good food, but not exactly low calorie), pay for the trip (things are just more expensive there!), get prepped to shoot my scenes in Crackin' The Code in mid-July, and get prepared for a new web series in pre-production... that I'm not really authorized to talk about just yet :)
And with that, I have to hit the road! Talk to you all soon!

The Outbreak Trailer is Live!

The trailer for the new internet zombie film I'm in, The Outbreak, is now live at Pop on by and check it out - it's way cool!

One of the things revealed in the trailer that the producers didn't want me to mention before this... The Outbreak isn't just another internet zombie film. It's a "choose - your - own - adventure" experience. I don't know the details about the interface Chris has built into the film... but knowing his mad web skills, I can only assume that it's going to rock!

No word on the release date as yet... but I'll keep you posted!

Return To The Wasteland

Big Lady Wasteland news hit my inbox this weekend... I've had a couple of conversations with director Mark Roush over the past month or so about the series, and his future plans. I don't know a lot about what he's planning (Mark likes to play his cards close to the vest), but I do know that he's been working 40+hours a week on the series, and he's laying the ground-work for something huge. In any case, here's the official press release I received from Mark over the weekend:

Episode 0: The Lady and the Wasteland A five-minute teaser trailer about the new pilot webisode series, Lady Wasteland, goes live this Friday morning at 12:01am PST.

The new episode can also be found on numerous other video sharing sites as well as our flagship site Wasteland Films creators Mark Roush and Greg Demchak have just signed contracts with and about promoting the series both online and downloadable in full resolution. Vuze has Lady Wasteland front page and thus far the videos have been downloaded in full HD resolution thousands of times. These two revenue sharing sites have a combined audience of over 30 million viewers.

Since its inception last November 2007 the Lady Wasteland pilot series has accumulated over 750,000 views from numerous video-sharing sites such as Veoh, Crackle, Revver, Metacafe and many others. Our numbers are consistently growing with a huge European push and we are expanding rapidly in China and Japan.

The website, Lady Wasteland is now featuring Episode 0 along with a new downloads, history and contact page. Flash Designer Josh Kneedler and Creative Director Brian Treleaven have worked long hours to bring a unique style to the website by creating it in a flash based, decayed aesthetic. Downloadable desktop images can now be downloaded and sent to your colleagues and friends.

There are also new links to the new official

Lady Wasteland Blog Site


Merchandising Store Site

Merchandising Store. Please be sure to check them out and get involved in the wasteland blog. We are excited to hear from our audience.

Wasteland Films is currently planning on filming additional episodes of the series, which will be longer in length and will expand upon the storyline by diving deeper into the story of Lady and her quest to avenge the death of her best friend. Welcome to the wasteland. Enjoy the decay.

Mark Roush - Director

Greg Demchak - Producer

Wasteland Films LLC

A New Crackin' The Code Teaser

In the process of this morning's battery of blog-posting, I happened to visit the Crackin' The Code page on Steve Coker's Hunters Moon Productions web site... and what did my wondering eyes behold?
A new teaser at the bottom of the page. Take a look - it's just a teaser (no footage as yet), but it'll whet your appetite just a wee bit.

North To Alaska: Epilogue

So, I didn't want Trish and my Alaska adventure to just peter out with no closure... you know how it is. You get home and get busy playing catch-up, and before you know it you've forgotten to record those precious memories and such in favor of the crisis-of-the-moment.

First off, a word about the photos we took while we were up there. Photobucket is a great free image hosting site. It gives you a lot of space to post your images, and allows you to freely link to them.

Unfortunately, it doesn't allow you to organize the photos in your galleries (at least, I haven't figured out how to do it yet). That means that the order the photos were uploaded in (in batches of 50) is the order they're displayed. This can make it kind of hard to display images thematically, for easy browsing.

We took around 275 photos while we were there, which makes for a lot of wading through when people just want to see specific stuff. So, to make it easier on you, I've created a few "slide shows" on our Photobucket page. Hopefully these will be easier for casual browsers. Check 'em out (the slideshows do require the latest version of Flash, and are probably viewed best over a high speed connection - sorry dial-up users).

  • Picturesque Valdez: The road to Valdez Alaska (from Anchorage), and some shots of the town we spent most of our Alaskan Trip in.
  • Last Frontier Conference Highlights: Really, there are far more memories of the Conference than we managed to capture in photos. Still, here's a few shots of some of the attendees, the divine Patricia Neal, and (hopefully) a sense of the feeling of community instilled by the conference.
  • Glacier Cruise: On the third-to-the-last night of the Conference, Prince William Sound Community College sponsored a cruise out to the Shoup Glacier. We took far too many photos to fit in one of Photobucket's free slide shows. The scenery is gorgeous, though (and there's a couple shots of Trish and I on the deck that I just love!)
  • The Road Back To Anchorage: More Alaska scenery. Beautiful... though after the glacier cruise, it may be a little disappointing :)
  • Old Friends In Anchorage: This one kind of lumps all the photos I took in Anchorage together... there's some shots of my friend Kert, people from UAA touring the theater arts building (and the theater arts building itself), shots around town... kind of a mish-mash.

That's the drill on photos... if you want to browse through all 274 images, you can do so by clicking here; I thought the slideshows might make things easier, though.

So, to re-cap my time in Anchorage... well, it was pretty damned awesome. We stayed with one of my best friends in the world, Kert LaBelle. I took many drives around town revisiting old haunts... of course, the town has changed, but what struck me were the things that hadn't changed. Anchorage has gone through an amazing period of growth in the past nearly-20 years since I lived there... but some things remain constant. Old hobby shops sit next to new buildings in mid-town. The New Seward Highway and Minnesota Drive are wider, but they go out to the same retail shops in the Dimond district. Boscoes Comics is still across from Chilcoot Charlies. Kalladi Brothers Cofee is in the same storefront, off a frontage road, that it opened in. East High School may have gotten a fresh coat of paint and a new entry way... but it's still pretty much the same.

Tom Wolfe is right... you can't go home again. But the ghosts of the past still haunt their old plots of land, no matter how much time has passed.

While I was there I got the opportunity to tour the UAA Theater Arts Building (where I got the majority of my theatrical training) with some old friends from my college days. Like the rest of the town, things had changed... but they remained largely the same. It was amazing to walk those halls again and head up to the techie loft in an older body, with many more years under my belt. I won't say that I felt 18 again, but I certainly got a chance to commune with my younger self.

I also got to meet up with my old high school friend Christine Caples (used-to-be Coxey) for a drink. We had a good time talking about friends from our past. It was a nice touch back on my younger days.

But alas, all good things... in the end, as we boarded the plane that took us back to Seattle (it was cheaper to fly out and into Seattle than Portland), I felt immensely satisfied with my visit. There were plenty of people I would have liked to have seen... plenty of spots from my past that I would have liked to have visited (I didn't go back to my old house in South Mountain View - that neighborhood is looking a little blighted these days)... but it was enough. It was enough to help me remember the good times that I had in my younger days, and to confirm that I love the life I currently live. Anchorage is a wonderful town, and it helped to shape me into the person I am today... but I live in a different continuum today than I did back then. I have a life I never could have dreamed of when I was going to school at UAA, with a lovely wife, a career, and a home - not just a house, but a home - in the Pacific Northwest. And it's a good place to be.

That doesn't mean I'll be a stranger up there, though... even with the higher gas prices (that result in higher plane fares), I'm planning on heading back up before another 10 years has passed. Anchorage's pulse still beats in time with my heart; I'd prefer to get up there a lot more often than I have in the past.

Ok, that's it for now... time to re-enter real life. Hope you're all doing well!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

North To Alaska Day 8: Winding Down

Howdy folks

And so, here we are... the final day of the Last Frontier Theater Conference. It's truly been an amazing week; I've reconnected with a lot of old friends, seen some wonderful shows, read some amazing new plays (a stack of which I'm taking back to Portland to show around to production companies), have met tons of new people, and have generally loved being back at the top of the world, surrounded by eagles, mountains, and nature.

In a way, today feels like the closing performance of a show... Trish and I are tired, and are looking forward to our return to "normal life" (after a couple days in Anchorage), but we're mourning the passing of this wonderful week and the new family we've formed with the conference attendees. It's easy to see why people make a yearly trip up here to attend the conference again and again; this week has been more than just a chance to see new plays and network. It's been a communal, artistic experience in an isolated corner of the world. All of us have come together here to rededicate ourselves to our work... and I'm taking that rededicated feeling back home with me.

So, with that, let me bring you up to speed on the past couple days:

Wednesday saw me rehearse Samuel Brett Williams' The Revival and then hustle over to the reading of Sandra Hoskings' play Detours. Detours is a wacky little play that deals with corporate America, trying too hard to reach for the American dream (however you choose to define it), con artists and space aliens. The feedback session was, I think, very useful to Sandra. I think the play is in great shape; with a little polish it'll be ready for a fully staged production.

That evening, the Civic Center Main Stage was taken up with two selection from Anchorage's Out North Theater's Under 30 program. Under 30 gives Alaskan artists a place to develop solo shows to be performed on the Out North stage. Wednesday's program featured Brian Hutton's 20th Century Man and Allison Warden's Ode To The Polar Bear (you can see the Achorage Daily News' review of the two pieces - when they were originally performed in Anchorage - by clicking here).

Thursday morning was the performance of The Revival... I have to say, I feel so privileged to have read the lead part in that show. The play deals with a Southern Baptist preacher who's struggling to draw people to the church his father built, while fighting against his own homosexual feelings. When a young drifter comes into town everything (if you'll excuse the expression) "goes to Hell." At turns funny and heart-wrenching, The Revival is a powerful play, and amazingly even-handed in the way it treats people of faith. It's ready for a full production, with the most minor of massaging. Whomever gets to play Eli, the lead, is in for a ride.

That afternoon I had a rehearsal for Kluonie Frey's The Lighthouse, a wonderful little seaside fable. Kluonie is a first-year playwrighting student at the University of Alaska at Anchorage. One of the requirements for the playwrighting course at UAA is the submission of the finished works to the conference for consideration... and much to her surprise, Kluonie's play was accepted. She seemed a bit dazed by it all in rehearsal... but having read it, I can see why she was accepted.

Thursday evening saw an evening of plays by Alaskan artists entitled The End: A One-Act Showcase of Earth, Heaven and Hell on the main stage... my good friend Dawson Moore's play Bile In The Afterlife (a very funny show that's been performed all over the country and in Italy) started things off with it's tripped-out view of a corporate CEO's decent into the Egyptian afterlife. Then, Linda Billington's Hot Spot took over the stage with a day at the beach... at the end of the world (both literally and figuratively). The evening closed with P. Shane Mitchell's Omega, a light-hearted look at St. Peter's last day at the pearly gates. It was a great evening of the theatre; all three plays were very strong, and the overall production flowed easily from one play into the other (with the help of a stage crew made up of "elements," who moved the very simple set pieces and performed a brief introduction to each play). TBA Theater, the company that produced the evening, really deserves a lot of credit for how smoothly things went.

Friday was another light day for Trish and I... I had nothing firmly scheduled until my reading of The Lighthouse at 2:45, so I slept in. The reading went really well; Kluonie got some good feedback. I really think the play is in good shape and only needs a little more re-working (one of the major things she needs to decide is whether the play is intended for young audiences or adults. My own feeling is that it's a great young audience play).

After the reading Anchorage's Cyrano's Off-Center Playhouse their three person Cyrano DeBergerac. The treatment of the play was interesting - all the female and male parts were played by two actors except for Cyrano. Broadly comedic, I found out later that the adaptation was intended as a children's show. A much cheaper form to produce that still gets the story across to audiences of all levels.

After Cyrano the attendees boarded two boats in the harbor (there were too many of us for just one), and we took an hour-and-a-half cruise into the harbor and up to the Shoup Glacier. It was wonderful to get out of the town limits and see all the natural wonder around us up close. The glacier was particularly impressive, if smaller in recent years than it has been in the last 50 years of Alaska statehood. We even got to taste a little glacier ice fished out of the water!

Saturday morning came early. We had to be at the Civic Center at 8:30 am to tech the Ten Minute Play Slam. As it turned out, we didn't need that much time; all we had to work through was entrances and exits, and a few other details. The slam itself was a great close to the conference; 9 ten-minute plays that were at turns funny and heart-wrenching (and no feedback panel afterward).

Then, after a brief lunch, we filed back into the theater to see Patricia Neal, the grand dame of the American Theater, describe her life in a simply produced one woman show. The years have not been easy on this giant of American stage and film; she handled her own story of triumph and tragedy with grace and dignity, however. It was truly a wonderful hour.

Finally, it was time for the closing night's gala. Everyone got a little dressed up and met on the Civic Center's back lawn for champaign and chocolate covered strawberries. Photos were taken and final goodbyes were said. Then it was inside to a marvelous buffet dinner and speeches by representatives of the State House, the Univeristy of Alaska, Dawson, Doug Desorcie (the president of our host institution, Prince William Sound Community College - a great guy who works hard and still keeps a smile on his face), and the presentation of the Jerry Harper Service Award to a true Alaskan artist, Jim Cucril.

As I say, a very satisfying last day of the conference... a little bitter-sweet, since we're leaving our new family and scattering back to the four corners of the world, but a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the week that we've had together.

So, that's it. The Festival is officially done. Now it's time to pack our suitcases and leave our little enclave in Valdez (the Best Western Harbor Inn has been very good to us this week), and hit the road back to Anchorage. I've posted more photos on our Photobucket page; stop by and take a look (a word about the Photobucket gallery - Photobucket doesn't let me re-order the images, so they're up there in the order they were uploaded. Some of the curise photos, particularly, are scattered throughout the gallery... you'll have to sort of hunt around for them).

Hope you're all doing well...


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

North To Alaska Day 5 - An Easy Morning

Good Morning, folks

Trish and I have an easy morning today - there are no official conference activities scheduled until noon (though I do have a rehearsal for Samuel Brett Williams' play The Revival at 11:00), so I can take a little time this morning to get caught up on the past few days.

And what a few days it's been... I really can't describe to you, folks, just how exciting and possessing the the tide of literary and artistic energy is that permeates the Valdez Civic Center during conference time. Sure, the readings, panels and workshops - the "official" functions of the conference - are highly educational and, in many cases, inspirational. The real power of this conference, though, is the gathering of artists from all disciplines in theater: playwrights, actors, directors, producers, designers... all these people from around the country (and around the world) in one place at one time, surrounded by the natural beauty of this small Alaskan town, meeting each other and engaging in discussions that range from the latest play read in one of the Playlab sessions to the current political situation to what they had for breakfast and how it makes their insides feel. There's a real, palpable sense of community and shared purpose, even though we're all from different communities and working on our own projects. The people I've met here (and reconnected with, in the case of the Alaskan artists in attendance) are all at the conference for the same reason: to make their work better, and to meet others who can help raise their artistic game to the next level.

This feeling is only reinforced by the environment... there's really not a lot to do here in Valdez except focus on the conference activities (and attendees); it's a small town with a few restaurants and a lot of natural beauty, but there aren't a lot of distractions; no all-night clubs or movie theaters. The midnight sun helps to keep people active and thinking, as well - since the sun doesn't go down until around 2:30 am (and then only for an hour or so), people are up and writing, or talking over coffee, or just sitting by themselves allowing their brains to free-associate and come up with new ideas.

So, anyway, on to the re-cap...

Monday was a pretty full day. Trish had a reading of Jon Kaiser's Hyperion (a very funny play about the New York art - and - collecting scene) at 9:00 am, I had a rehearsal for Meredith M. Taylor's The Cocoonery (a historical play about the post-civil war South and the struggles of newly-freed slaves) at 10:30 am, then a rehearsal for Arlitia Jones' Another Hollywood Ending (a very funny ten-minute play) and, finally, the Playlab reading of Daniel Damiano's Day of the Dog at 2:30.

The reading for Day of the Dog went swimmingly - the audience really loved it, and Danny got some good feedback from the adjudicating panel. I'm really very keen on this play - I know that Dan's going to be doing a little re-working of it, taking the panel's feedback into account... and then I've asked him to send it to me so I can shop it around in Portland.

After such a full day, Trish was pretty wiped. She elected to stay at the hotel in the evening while I went to see the fully-staged production of Arlitia Jones' Sway Me Moon on the Civic Center's main stage. I'm SO glad I saw this play; it's a lovely, lyrical play about an older woman with dementia who thinks she's married to Dean Martin (who makes several appearances as a ghost... Martin was played by my good friend from high school Frank Delaney). The woman is taken care of by her burned out, blue-collar son, a man beaten down by life. As the play progresses the son might just have finally found love, and his mother may have found her final happiness in the arms of "her husband..." nothing is tied up neatly, but the ride is worth the uncertainty. This is another play I'd love to see produced in Portland - it's a lovely, lyrical meditation on life and love that I think the audience down there would adore.

After the performance (and a too too brief congratulation to director Schatzie Schaeffers, her main squeeze and tech director Aaron Wiseman, and of course Frank) I headed out to Mineral Springs for the annual bonfire... not an official conference event per se, but a tradition nonetheless. Since Sway Me Moon had started as a reading at the conference, then moved on to a full run in Anchorage, and a final performance to close the circle back at the conference, the production team elected to burn the set at the bonfire. It was a wonderful cathartic moment (I posted some dark photos of the bonfire on our Photobucket page if you want to take a look -

Tuesday morning was a little ragged, after staying up so late at the performance and bonfire. I performed in the Playlab reading of The Cocoonery (some very good feedback in that session... the play has a long way yet to grow, but there's some very good things in it), grabbed a quick lunch and chatted with Trish and my old friend Mike Daniels, and then headed down to one of the Civic Center's dressing rooms for the rehearsal of Detours by Sandra Hosking. Detours is a blast - it's a fun little romp with type-A corporate exec's, con artists, clowns, and an alien or two. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the audience (and the adjudicating panel) thinks of it today.

After the rehearsal I got into a conversation with Laura Phizenmayer, a playwright from North Carolina, about how active that state's film and theater scene is. There's a huge amount of production happening all throughout her state, and the cost of living (and therefore the cost to the production companies) make it a very attractive place to shoot. Add to that the number of theatrical training schools which turning out local talent for use on the incoming films, and you've got a very active community. I may just have to jet down there some time in the future and check the place out.

After walking down to the room for a quick bite and to check in with Trish, I popped back up to see Laura's play Livin' and Comin' Back. It's a wonderful little examination of growing up in a small Southern Town in 1968 (one adjudicator said it was a "mythic time and place," and her treatment of it certainly fits that bill). After the play, she mentioned that Livin' is actually a prequel to a trilogy of plays that were very well received throughout the Southeast, all of which deal with the same characters that I met in the reading. Here's another bunch of plays I'll be bringing back to the Rose City - Laura's got a real gift for language and characterization that I think Portland audiences would just love!

So, that's the nutshell of what's been going on the past couple of days... it doesn't begin to do justice to the inspirational feeling instilled in me by just being around the conference, though. I have to say, yet again... if you folks can manage to get the funds together to come up here for a future conference, you really should. It's an experience that has to be... well, experienced.

Well, I'm off to my rehearsal for The Revival... hope you're all doing well, out there!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

North To Alaska: Day 2

**NOTE: Edited 6/16 after some sleep
Hey folks
I didn't do so well at posting a wrap-up last night... Trish and I were just too wiped out after all the travel (and performing in Two-Thirty by Rand Higbee for the Fringe Festival).
The performance was a pretty rough; Trish and I had the lines down all right, but we never got to work with the props needed for the show (it's a broad, Marx Brothers-style comedy). Still, the audience laughed a fair amount and we go through it.

The conference is in full swing now... I've had an amazing day full of connecting up with old friends (like Mike Daniels, Laura Forbes, Michael Hood, Paul Swaigert, Shannon Siedel, Bostin Christopher... the list goes on and on). Valdez is, of course, beautiful; overcast and a bit chilly (the average temperature this week is supposed to be in the mid-50's).

Around noon I sat on a panel focused on actors' decisions to move to different markets and the business of acting. Frank Collison, Laura Gardner, Darcy Halsey and Bostin Christopher were also on the panel. A lot of good informaiton got shared about the business of acting, in LA, New York, and even in our small little burg of Portland, Oregon (people seemed surprised to find out that there's so much going on in the Rose City). There was even a student from Forest Grove in the audience that I had a nice conversation with afterwared.

After the panel, I rehearsed an amazing play by Daniel Damiano called Day of the Dog (the Playlab reading is tomorrow afternoon- Some theater in Portland would be wise to contact Danny for a review copy - it's funny, poignant, and wonderfully well written).

After a quick dinner at Valdez's Fu Kung restaurant (not the best Chinese food I've ever eaten, to be sure... but it filled us up), we attended the Alaska premier of Bostin Christopher's movie Otis. It's a hoot - intense, and graphic, but funny.

It's amazing up here... well worth the trip! Any theater person who can manage to get up to Valdez for the yearly conference would be wise to invest the time (and money) needed to get up here. Trish and I are surrounded by writers and actors from all over the country, there's the excitement of new work and a mass of artists in one place... all surrounded by mountains and the waters of the Valdez bay. The beauty of the place makes a perfect backdrop for dramatic exploration and innovation. Really, "amazing" doesn't begin to describe things up here.

I'm going to hit the sack (finally), but I wanted to let you know that I've posted some photos from Alaska on our Photobucket page. I'll try and post more as the week progresses.

Hope you're all doing well...


Saturday, June 14, 2008

North To Alaska Day 1

Hey folks

Just a quick post to let you all know that we arrived in Alaska safely last night. After driving to Seattle and taking off from SeaTac (after our plane's arrival was delayed for about 40 minutes), we got into Anchorage at around 12:45. After a quick overnight stay with my good friend Kert, it was off to Valdez this morning.
The drive was long (though not as long as our GPS thought it would be... "Jill" was very confused!), but we made it here to the Best Western Harbor inn around 2:15 in the afternoon.
We're in the process of unpacking and cleaning up, then it's off to the Valdez Civic Center to rehearse for our first play, 2:30 by Rand Higbee. I may post more tonight after the performance... Trish and I are pretty tired from the short night last night, so we might crash. Then again, the sun will be up until around - well, 2:30 - so I might be up!
Gotta hit the shower... Hope you're all doing well!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Internet Action

Hey folks

It's getting pretty close to zero-hour for our trip to Alaska, so I don't have a lot of time this morning... there's day-job work to finish up, packing to be done, last minute rehearsals for the play Trish and I are supposed to be performing on Saturday... it's going to be a full day!
I did want to take a moment, though, and let you know that my First Federal commercial started playing this week in Yamhill County, Oregon. If you live in Newberg, McMinnville, or the surrounding communities you might see me on your cable channels. Those of you not living in Oregon wine country can still see the spot on; just click here to watch it.
We got another piece internet-news this week: Trish has been listed on IMDB! You might remember earlier posts where I talked about how I use Google Alerts to notify me when my name is mentioned in the news or on the web. I check Trish's name, too. We generally expect these alerts to tell us about other people in the world who share our names... the Harold Phillips in San Berardino who was just convicted of murder, the Trish Egan who works for Vision Australia... A recent alert we received, though, listed a Trish Egan on IMDB. "Crap," I said to her, "Looks there's another Trish out there who got onto IMDB first."
Trish got listed for a short film she did a couple of years ago, Biography of an American Hostess. It's great to see that director Shilpa Sunthankar got the film accepted into a couple of festivals, and got it listed on the site. Of course, getting listed on IMDB doesn't have any real career advantage for Trish, other than giving her a certain sense of "legitimacy" in some people's eyes... but it's certainly a career milestone for her.
Anyway, that's all the news at the moment. Time to get crackin' on packin'. Hope you're all doing well!

North To Alaska - T Minus 2 Days

It really hit me around 12:15 am.

Maybe it was the romantic feelings left over from finally watching Stardust on DVD (I don't care what the critics or the first-run box office said - that's a wonderful little film. As Niel Gaiman says, a fairy tale for adults. Well worth the rental!). Maybe it was that special time at night when Trish was asleep, the house was quiet, and I was alone with my inner self. Maybe it was just time to listen to what the inner self was whispering in my ear.

In any case, around 12:15 it finally sunk in with full clarity. I'm going back. Back to Alaska and back to Anchorage... the home I chose after so many had been chosen for me by my army brat upbringing. Back to Beluga Point, Pont Woronzof, Northway Mall, the Diamond Center, 5th Avenue, Spenard... all these places which are as fundamental to my memories as calcium is to my bones. I still mentally drive the the streets of Anchorage from time to time... from my parents old house in South Mountainview to East High, from my apartment on Boniface Pkwy to the university, from my house on 15th to my friend Kert's parents' house... all those mnemonic road trips, though, are merely ghosts haunting the brain. They have no substance to grasp onto. To tell the truth, I'm almost afraid to confront their concrete realities when I hit town Friday night.

Anchorage has changed a lot since I lived there. Then again, so have I. I'm not the awkward kid in that photo any more. I know that the streets have changed, the buildings have grown... I know that Tom Wolfe was right, and you can't go home again. I also know that the horizon meets the sky up there in a way that's unproducable anywhere else in the United states, that the air tastes different, that the "Anchor Rats" walking the streets are undeniably real, forthright, and independent; in short, undeniably Alaskan.

Maybe the Anchorage of my memories, that kid's Anchorage, is a lot like Neil Gaiman's Stardust; a fairy tale for adults. It's not home any more. If home is where your heart is, then home is lying in bed a few rooms away as I write this. Still, I can't help hoping that as I drive down Northern Lights Blvd. I might pass that kid on the street, driving his old beat up Toyota on the way to Point Woronzof looking for a quiet place to think under the midnight sun. If I see him, I might just follow him there, and introduce him to the man he's become. They've got a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Drammy Night 2008

Last night was the Drammy Night here in Portland. The Drammy's are Portland's answer to the Tony Awards; an evening for our local theater community to come together and celebrate the year thats passed, and honor the most outstanding work (in the judgement of the Drammy Committee) to be found on Portland stages.

This year's ceremony, held at The Crystal Ballroom, was MC'ed by celebrated Portland actors Vana and Eleanor O'Brien. In keeping with the festive attitude of the evening and Portland's reputation for quirkiness the O'Brien girls asked the award presenters to tell jokes before each presentation, and handed out brownies to the presenters (they also asked the presenters to throw the plates holding the brownies into the audience - a nod to two productions in Portland that "lost" a plate on the same night). The jokes were a mixed bag (though special mention should be given to Chris Murray's "Ode To A Followspot Annonymous Poster"), and the plates didn't catch much air as the ceremony went on... but all in all, it was a great night for the Portland community to come together and celebrate their work.

EDIT: Winn Goodbody was nice enough to post some photos from the ceremony... you can see them by clicking here.

So, after that rambling introduction, here's the info on who won what (apologies for misspelled names; I tried to get them all right, but sometimes even I can't read my chicken-scratched notes):

Young Performer: Eli Hirsch (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing)

The Portland Civic Theater Guild's Mary Brandt Award: Robert Caulkins, Destiny Stegal

Vocal Direction: Alan D. Lytle (Plaid Tidings)

Music Direction: Alan D. Lytle (No Way To Treat A Lady)

Sound Design: Jen Raynak (Grace)

Actress In A Supporting Role: Brittany Burch (House - Not a dramatization of a TV show, but part of this pairing :). And even though the slide on stage said "Portland Center Stage," it was actually produced by Artists Repertory Theater. )

Puppeteering: The Cast of The Long Christmas Ride Home

Musical Performer In A Supporting Role: Michele Mariana (Cabaret)

Lighting Design: Dan Covey (Sometimes A Great Notion), Don Crossley (Einstein is a Dummy), Michael Mazzola (Grace)

The Portland Civic Theater Fellowships: Third Rail Repertory, Stumptown Stages

The Portland Civic Theater Guild Leslie O. Fulton Fellowships: Victoria Parker, Jen Raynak

Actor In A Supporting Role: Ken Albers (Twelfth Night), Brad Bellamy (Twelfth Night), Garfield Wedderburn (Streamers), Tyler Caffal (Garden)

Costume Design: Deborah Trout (Twelfth Night), Claudie Jean Fisher (The Clean House), Mary Rochon (Go, Dog. Go!)

Choreography: Mike Barbur (Good), Rober Guitron (The Wild Party), Jessica Wallenfels (Sometimes A Great Notion)

Musical Actress In A Lead Role: Erin Charles (The Wild Party)

Lifetime Achievement Award for Bob Hicks - The recently retired Oregonian theater critic was introduced by Gretchen Corbett, and was to all appearances stunned by the standing ovation he received. Portland arts and culture blog Artscatter has more on the lifetime achievement award. Check it out -

Scenic Design: Tony Cisek (Sometimes A Great Notion), Sean O'Skea (No Way To Treat A Lady), William Bloodgood (Twelfth Night), Curt Enderle (Nobody Here But Us Chickens)

Musical Actor In A Lead Role: Todd Hermanson (The Wild Party), Joe Theissen (No Way To Treat A Lady)

Actress In A Lead Role: Luisa Sermol (9 Parts Of Desire)

Actor In A Lead Role: Brent Harris (The Beard of Avon), Bruce Burkhartsmeier (Shining City), Leif Norby (Grace), Darius Pierce (The Beard of Avon)

Director: Jane Jones (Twelfth Night), Slayden Scott Yarbrough (Grace), Sarah Jane Hardy (The Lesser Magoo)

Outstanding Production: Good, Grace, Twelfth Night

After the Drammy Awards were given out, Jen Raynak took the stage to present the PATA Spotlight Awards, honoring those in Portland "who do things for our community behind the scenes" (full disclosure time - I was actually up for one of the awards).

At Large: Bibi Walton

Crew Member: Samantha Curren

Stage Manager: Nicole Gladwin

Congratulations to all the winners, of both Drammies and Spotlight awards. As Darius Pierce said in his acceptance speech, Portland has a wonderful theatrical reputation... and it doesn't disappoint.

(Oh, who am I kidding. It's an awards presentation... of course SOMEONE is going to be disappointed... I prefer to keep this post positive, though. If you want to hear bitching, head over to Followspot.)


Monday, June 09, 2008

North To Alaska - T Minus 5 Days

Howdy there, folks. It's been a while since I checked in with you, and I thought I'd take a little bit this morning over a cup of coffee to bring you up to speed with what's been going on.

As the title indicates, Trish and I have been focused on getting ready for our upcoming trip to Valdez, AK for the Last Frontier Theater Conference. It's going to be a great trip... the first time I've been home in over ten years. Even though the UAA Theater Department reunion isn't officially happening, I should still be able to see some friends who are still up there, and re-visit some old haunts when I get back to Anchorage after the Conference.

The trip is definitely going to be a working vacation, though... as much as Trish and I are going to enjoy taking in the scenic beauty of Valdez and hanging out with my friends Dawson and Bostin, we're going to be busy. The very first night we get to Valdez we're performing in a short play called Two-Thirty by Rand Higbee for the Last Frontier Conference Fringe Festival. We'll have to leave Anchorage early in the morning to make it to Valdez in time for a noon tech... then a quick rehearsal before we go up at 9:30 pm (schedules are a little different up there. Since the sun won't be going down until around 3am, many events start at 10 pm or later).

For the rest of the week, Trish and I will be doing readings in the Conference's Playlab, a week-long reading-fest of new works by a variety of playwrights selected from across the country. Between the two of us, we'll be part of ten play readings. Then, on the final Saturday, we're both going to be part of the Ten-Minute Play Slam that closes out the conference. So, a busy week... we'll generally be rehearsing for one reading and then performing another each day.

This schedule makes our suitcase packing plans a little more interesting... aside from packing enough clothing to last us for a couple of weeks, we need to tailor our clothing choices to the pieces we're reading. We're not (for the most part) packing costumes... these are staged readings, after all, and not fully staged productions (the exception being Two-Thirty). We still want to represent the character's we're playing, though; we want to give the audience as good an idea of these characters as we can, so they can judge the play appropriately and give the playwrights the best feedback possible.

Thankfully, Portland's weather is preparing us for our Alaskan adventure. Generally, Portland has temperatures in the seventies this time of year, with a little rain from time-to-time. This year, though, we're experiencing decidedly Alaskan temperatures in the mid-to-lower sixties. At least we're not going to have to worry about a twenty degree temperature drop when we get off the plane. :)

So, that's what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks... reading plays, planning for our time out of town, and generally getting psyched up for our trip to "The Great Land."

This evening we'll head out to Portland's Drammy Awards at the Crystal Ballroom... maybe I'll see a few of you there!