Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Bad Connections...

Sorry I haven't written in a while... things have been busy.

As some of you may know, I appeared at the Hunger Artists Theater on Saturday afternoon (well, I didn't appear there... I drove) to perform in "Love and Politics", a staged reading that Steve directed. Well, to keep this short, let me just say that I've done better. I got tripped up on the very long monologues, trying to interact with the audience while reading - and losing my place multiple times. Oh well.

In addition to that show, I'm also involved in a staged reading of my third play, Whatever Happened to Me, which will be presented at The Chance in Anaheim Hills on June 15 (Father's Day!) at 8pm. I hope you can all make it. It is my experience thus far with the show that is the topic of this email and you should soon see why "Bad Connections" refers to more than just my inability to make an entry here.

Ken La Salle - Writer

This reading came about as a lark. New Voices, a playwriting group in Orange County had a staged reading planned in June but the writer of the play scheduled decided to pull his play and New Voices was left high and dry. John, the producer (in as much as one can be a producer of a staged reading), put out an open call to New Voices members to have their plays read. Somehow, I received this email. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I replied, saying something along the lines of, "Hey, I'm not a member. Wanna put on one of my plays?"

You can imagine my surprise when they said, "Yes." It sounded something like, "... erm?"

Ken La Salle - Director

As I had done with my previous two plays when they were read on stage, I went to Steve and asked him to direct. He said, "I might be busy but I want to do it." Well, I had to give New Voices an answer and, so, figuring that opportunities such as these do not come up every day, I told them, "Okay. I'll do it on the 15th," hoping to give Steve as much time as possible. (The 15th was the last day available, you see...)

You can imagine my surprise when Steve said, "I'm sorry, Ken. I'm too busy... but you can direct it!" It sounded something like, "... guh?"

And, so, I became the director. I hadn't directed in 20 years. Back in the early 1980's (yes, a long time ago, folks), I had been assistant director on a product of Harvey. Then, a few months later, I directed Ionesco's Improvisation... a production that collapsed under it's own weight about a week before it was to be produced and, so, wasn't... ever. How sad!

My directorial skills are, he says understatingly, rusty.

So, I sat down with myself and made a list of things I'd have to do. Get a cast. Get rehearsal space. (The Chance wasn't going to let us rehearse there.) Wrangle props. Prepare a cd of sound cues. Make blocking notes.

Then, of course, we'd have to rehearse...

But where to rehearse? Every place I could think of became immediately unavailable. Then, I had to get creative. What did I need, I thought... Well, a big room or empty space... like a patio... I knew someone with a large patio - Rosa! I asked her and, surprisingly enough, she happily agreed to let me hold two rehearsals on her patio.

I lucked out with the cast. Basically, I said, "These are the people I want and I better get them because I have no other ideas." Well, I got them. But there was one problem. The show requires some tricky casting, being about a 35-year old whose 21-year old self shows up at his door. I needed two guys who looked about the right ages and, at least, somewhat related.

... But who? Who did I know? Who could pass as even REMOTELY related.

I didn't like the answer when it occurred to me: Chris... and Me.

... You can imagine my surprise.

Ken La Salle - Actor

And, so, I would also star in the show. Now, before you start giving me grief as writer/director/actor, let me save you the time and tell you that I've been hearing nothing else. It's so annoying. People are calling me an egomaniac and I DIDN'T WANT TO DO THIS! I wanted to sit back and watch it! I wanted someone else to direct! SHIT! So save your insults, peanut gallery. You got beaten to it.

So, I had my cast. I had my rehearsal space. I had some ideas on sound cues. I was starting to wrangle my props.

Then, I got a call... and you can imagine my surprise...

Bye Bye Rosa

You were wondering when this was finally going to happen, weren't you?

The call I got was from Michael, Rosa's guy... so to speak. He told me that they're far too stressed out to have me over and rehearsing there. They didn't want to clean their house, act as hosts... be conscious! I told him that all I needed was his patio. I didn't need the house clean. In fact, I offered to clean his patio each day when we were done (mind you this is for two three-hour rehearsals). Nope. No dice.

This made me so angry. I mean, I'd helped Rosa out and I'd helped Michael out and I really needed their help with this relatively small thing. So, I called Rosa to try and get her to understand. I begged. I pleaded. Her reply? "You know I care a lot about you but we're just too busy." I tried to reason with her and tell her that they could do their regular routine - we wouldn't even enter the house! We'd stay in the back yard! Her reply? "This is just a hard time for Michael and I have to consider his feelings."

And this is what it really came down to. As in need as I was and as easily as she could have helped me, I just wasn't that important to her. And I realize that I never really have been. Rosa never really gave me that much and she never really wanted to. As sad as it sounds, is it any surprise that, having gained her degree and her home, she told me to find someone else? Maybe Rosa doesn't understand love - and, maybe, she does and simply used me all those years for what she could get. But when it came down to and I needed her, she refused to be there for me. And what better sign is there of disinterest than that?

And, so, I gritted my teeth, choked back the rage, and found another place to rehearse. Over the past week, I realized that it makes no sense for me to wait around for her because she'll never be there for me. I'm tired of being used and tossed aside - I deserve better than that. And I deserve better than Rosa. I deserve to be loved and appreciated.

Now... let's hope it happens.

So, you can see why I haven't written in a while. Lots of stuff happening. This week, I have to get together the props for the show, make my blocking notes, and start getting familiar with my lines. Next week, we're talking rehearsal, baby!

... I'll try to write before then...

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