Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

First Rehearsal

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

It has finally arrived!  After auditions, call backs, and months of practicing lines (Ok, 1 monthly of really practicing lines, The Baron’s Men held the first rehearsal for The Spanish Tragedie yesterday.  Good News, I don’t suck!  

This is the first play I have been in since high school, and that was less about being a thespian and more about getting high with the director on the catwalks above the stage.  We certainly didn’t do anything as formal as a table read.  Needless to say, I was nervous.  Other than being expected to know my lines (105 of them!) I really had no idea what to expect.  Am I to play my character at the table, or just read straight through?  Am I overacting?  Are they all going to laugh at me?  20 people gathered around a table at a rec center.  I keep hearing murmurs of what a talented cast this show has (One guy has even been on Broadway!).  Geez…I am going to stink up the place.  

And just like that, the apprehension was passed and we were in the thick of it.  I said my lines when my part came up, and no one laughed.  Well, they laughed at the funny parts.  And all of the sudden, this troupe of actors that I have admired for so long, the best kept secret in Austin, they are human.  They struggle with their lines, they make inside jokes about the script, they are supportive of me and I can see in their eyes that they want my support as well.  This paradigm shift has not lessened them in my eyes, but quite the opposite.  Despite the nerves, doubt, and obstacles, their love of the art, their desire for greatness, and their commitment to each other persevere to produce a masterpiece.  

As I have said, and will undoubtedly say again, I am honored to be part of this troupe.

More rehearsals this week.  More updates to come!

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Kids Today Are Pussies

Posted: October 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”  A lamentation of the underpaid teacher?  Perhaps the latest rant from Bill Maher?  Nope.  This quote is from Socrates, about 2,500 years ago.  So I understand that I will not be the first to criticize this latest generation as wanting for something more.  I, however, am not critical because our media fuel children are too beastly…quite the opposite…Kids today are pussies. Image

            That’s right, I said it.  The children of today just do no have what it takes to cut the mustard.  Papers graded in purple ink so as not to hurt their feelings, trophies given for participation, Smart Phones that assure they are never too far off the reservation…this all adds up to a generation that if the world ended tomorrow….Dire times my friends.

            Let me give you an example.  I believe I am of the last generation of children that got to truly enjoy Halloween.  We were not encumbered by chaperones, our parents didn’t drive us to nice neighborhoods to get the good candy, hell we were thrown out in traffic with masks that covered 90% of our peripheral vision and told to go get whatever we could.   And the idea of X-Raying our candy for needles was ridiculous. 

            Kids today, what with their Rock & Roll Music, their video games…..just kidding. I am not going off on that rant.  My point is that we as a society have become too removed from danger.  Too insulated from our own mortality.  We have allowed ourselves to forget that Death is constantly looming over our shoulder and can tap us at any time.

            This is why I am so excited about the new production from The Baron’s Men, Medieval Macabre.  The Elizabethans were a people that knew about death.  Plague, Pestilence, and war were obviously present, but so were more mundane reminders of death.  When was the last time you slaughtered your own dinner, or burned the plague-infested carcass of your own mother?  These were regular occurrences for these people.  Luckily for us, this macabre sense of mortality found its way into their art.

            Medieval Macabre is based on a simple premise…can art be terrifying?  Submitted for your consideration, The Baron’s Men have stitched together several of the more gruesome acts from Elizabethan theatre in an effort to prove that it can.  Performed in the authentic surroundings of The Curtain Theatre, a 1/3 replication of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, by the masters of authentic Shakespeare, The Baron’s Men, I am sure the stage will be set for a terrifyingly good time.

            Some of you have been to a Baron’s Men production and you know what to expect.  For those of you who have not been, here is a little of what to expect.  Show up early so you can wander the grounds.  The show starts at 8:00, but festivities begin at dusk.   Bring some snacks and beverages.  A pre-show picnic is nice and who doesn’t love some ale with their Shakespeare.  Bring your enthusiasm.  The Baron’s men love a rowdy crowd.  Boo, Hiss, Cheer your way into their hearts.  Bring $15 ($12 for students) CASH.  Pretty cheap for one of the best times in Austin.

            So come out and remind yourself what Death is.  For without the threat of death, what is life all about?

Coffee yum

Posted: July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Today I closed a deal with my first major client. Sure, I am blogging about insurance and investing (not exactly crushing bones) but for the first time in my life I am being paid for my passion. Floating on air.

Bonecrusher’s Playbook

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Spanish Bonecrusher

I know Elizabethan Theatre is not everyone’s bag, baby.  Tell someone you are going to see Shakespeare and it often conjures up the image of ball gowns and opera glasses.  That is what I enjoy so much about The Baron’s Men.  They understand that the theatre was meant for the masses, not the high brow, monocle wearing, I-like-fancy-words-and-that-makes-me-smarter-than-you crowd.  The Baron’s Men want the crowd to get into it.  If you don’t like a character, let him know by hissing.  If you think something is funny, laugh.  (And trust me, there is plenty to laugh at in The Spanish Tragedie, We like to think of it as the Portuguese  Comedy).  The point is to immerse yourself in the experience.  Suspend belief for a few hours and pretend you are going to the theatre 400 years ago.

 

Here are some tips on how to have a Bonecrush’n good time; 

Bring Cash – tickets are $15 dollars each at the gate, they now take credit cards.  Also, there are chairs for  rent and various accoutrements for sale.

Show up early – The grounds are a wonderland and it is a perfect time to enjoy a pre-play picnic.  We usually get there around 7:00.

Rent a chair – they are only a dollar and serve two purposes.  They save your seat and save your rear from the wooden benches.

Bring your own tasty beverage – nothing goes better with an evening at the theatre than a nice white wine or a fine ale.

Bring a coin to toss on stage – the finest compliment an Elizabethan actor could enjoy was having coins tossed on stage during the encore.  Tossed, my friends, not pelted.  It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Become a participant – cheer for the good guys, hiss the villains.  Not sure who  the villain is?  Hiss at the man  in black…usually a good plan.

Follow your senses, not your ears – Elizabethan English can be befuddling.  Don’t worry about it.  Watch the play, follow the crowd and I promise you by the end you will have had a great time.

Be Respectful – The Baron’s Men work hard to provide a wonderful service to the community, with very little compensation.  The crowd is there to enjoy theatre as is should be played.  Get into the show, but boo the character, not the actor.  Keep the extemporaneous noise to a minimum, as the actors have no microphones.  Have a drink, but abstain from  becoming the drunken fool.

The stage is set; the actors are dressed; the play is rehearsed.  All that remains now is for the seats to be filled.  Go see the Baron’s Men and  have a Bonecrush’n good time!

The Baron’s Men Present – The Spanish Tragedie by Thomas Kyd

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays October 17th – November 9th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://thebaronsmen.org/theater/directions/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/

When I say Ben Jonson’s Alchemy I am not referring to the steroid abuse of the Canadian Olympic Sprinter in the 80’s, although this Jonson’s acerbic wit can make your scrotum tighten up.  Got your interest?  Let’s talk about plot

I wish I could tell you for whom to cheer and whom to hiss, but Mr. Jonson does not make it so easy.  There are no heroes in this play, per se, but only anti-heroes.  There are definitely three main characters: Subtle, Face and Doll, whom we follow as they connive money from other undesirables; but,  it does not make them heroic in any way.  With the plague setting  upon London, our three anti-heroes find themselves in residence of a magnificent mansion and use it as the center piece to their devious schemes.  Posing as an Alchemist, Subtle, the mastermind of our tale, uses the bait of the Philosophers Stone (Jonson did not make it the Sorcerer’s Stone for us Yanks) to cheat people out of their money.  But before we become too sympathetic to our pigeons we are reminded that no honest man can be conned, and the perspective targets are all too willing to expose their greed, lust, and wrath, marking them as easy prey for the ever-angling trio of grifters.  The lustful knight who mocks chivalric ideals, the wrathful Kastrel who wells with hate larger than his stature should allow, the greedy Pastor Tribulation Wholesome whose piety falls before his desire to counterfeit money; all these characters prove Jonson a master of creating archetypal sinners for the audience to hold up for inspection.  In the end, we welcome the open crookedness of our trio compared to the hypocrisy of their sheep.

As far as playwrights from the 1600’s go Ben Jonson is to Shakespeare as Plato was to Socrates.  The Bard came first, a storm of genius that flooded the theatre world, but Ben Jonson perfected the storm and made it dance.  Yes, Dance!  There will be dancing, a nod to the fact that Jonson was one of the first to incorporate dancing and music into theatre.  He also pioneered the grand set design and elaborate costumes, which is one of the reasons Director Casey Weed chose The Alchemist as the Spring play.  Casey Also noted that “This town is saturated with Shakespeare, I wanted to do something different.”  As to the content of the play, bring your naughty side.  “Shakespearean era comedies- and Jonson’s The Alchemist particularly- is almost always bawdier than anyone thinks, but it gets downplayed by most troupes so as not to ‘offend the cultured’” states Casey, but he tends not to agree,  “To hell with that. Play it like he wrote it.”

The modern-day con-man film can draw a direct line to The Alchemist.  The Sting, Grifters, even Ocean’s 11 (the original, not that Matt Damon crap) all borrow from the ideas Jonson put on stage 400 years earlier.  Similarities between The Alchemist and Se7en, the unblinking look at sin in the 20th century are also easy to make.  Casey Weed is providing our modern day culture with an unvarnished look at the very nature of man, as viewed by people that were much closer to death than we will ever know.  Go see The Baron’s n and glimpse into the unpleasantness that is the human soul…and get a good laugh as well.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

Thu-Sat evenings at 8:00 from April 12th to April 28th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/278532692221245/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/

Have you ever seen Historic Theatre?  Have you ever seen Historic Theatre on Weed?  That’s some crazy shit, man.  Easy there, Killer.  Get your half-baked mind back to earth and know that I am talking about Casey Weed, director of The Baron’s Men’s Production of The Alchemist.  The line still stands, though…crazy shit, man.  When I first heard that Casey was going to be directing the Spring performance for the Baron’ Men I knew it was going to be good, raunchy humor that isn’t afraid to smack the audience in the face.  Known as ‘King of the Groundlings’ by the other troupe members (the dirty jokes in Elizabethan Theatre were written largely for the Groundlings) Casey never lets ribald wit go unnoticed.  His first production with the Baron’s Men, The Bawdy Five, was actually done to prove that Chaucer wasn’t boring and stiff but lewd, crude, and downright rude.  I know his handling of Ben Jonson’s masterpiece will be equally lascivious not only because of the motley crew of characters in the cast but also because of the excitement Casey had sharing a quote that basically boiled down to “I fart in thy general direction.”

There is more to Casey’s direction than dirty words though.  What stands out most is his passionate insistence that the actors play with the audience, not for them.  He encourages every player to look for opportunities to tear down the fourth wall and have a dialogue with the audience.  Elizabethan Theatre was much more interactive than the passive theatre we have on both stage and screen.  Ferris Bueller was the last Hollywood character I can remember that had a dialogue with the audience.  It is this interaction with the crowd that drew Casey to the Baron’s Men.  He wasn’t in their inaugural production but he was in the audience and is proud to be their first convert.  He is now a veteran of nine Baron’s Men productions and this is his second play to direct.  Although he strives for historical accuracy, as do all The Baron’s Men, he is not above building a bridge to the modern to help the audience follow along.  Was that ABBA I just heard sprinkled into the soundtrack?  Could be, my friend, could be.

We are particularly lucky this season as we get a double hit of Weed (puff, puff, give!) for the Alchemist.  Casey’s wife of ten years, Cherie, is responsible for costume design this year.  And if that is not enough Weed for you she will also be playing in the accompanying band, The Nimble Marmosets.  When the Weeds aren’t pouring their souls into the Baron’s Men they enjoy fixing up their home, Chez Weed, and playing with their two dogs.  Casey is particularly proud of Daisy Mae, their female bird dog whom he swears is on wanted posters across the quail community.  Whether playing with their dogs or playing with the audience the Weeds truly know that “All the world’s a stage” and they are writing their own scene.  Go see the Baron’s Men and get high on Weed.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

Thu-Sat evenings at 8:00 from April 12th to April 28th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/278532692221245/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/