Man-Made Natural Disaster Show Biz Story

October 15th, 2007

After my play, BOTANICAL GARDENS, was cancelled I sent out an email blast encouraging people to read my blog, ‘Theater Camp Sucked.’ In that email I also offered a six-pack of beer to the best career or show biz disaster story. I was recently reminded by the only entrant that I hadn’t announced a winner. For this I sincerely apologize not only to our winner, ‘Norma Rae,’ (gee, how original), I also apologize to all of you who’ve also been waiting anxiously. While Norma Rae’s tale doesn’t top ‘Theater Camp Sucked,’ it is prize-worthy.

Norma Rae writes:

Todd, here is my “Man-Made Natural Disaster Show Biz Story”:
I wish they would cancel the show I am currently “in rehearsal” for. Now, mind you, there is nothing I enjoy more than embodying a fully-realized character in a very well-written play. And this play won the Pulitzer Prize. But, the performance space is currently under water. Which also means the rehearsal space is currently under water (and untreated sewage). The director took an acting job – in Rockford! and so he won’t “be around very much, and won’t be able to attend the performances…” – but “assured” the other actor and myself that a stage manager may be able to attend one of the rehearsals – at one of the actor’s homes, maybe? – when he is not there. The play is scheduled to open in two weeks. Did I mention that the performance space is very precariously near (in) the Des Plaines River? Did I also mention that my rain dance should also win the Pulitzer Prize (if there is such a thing for dance choreography?) There should be. The river crests at nine feet. I never would have known that before this “process”. I also never thought it would be possible to fill out an Actors Equity Association Application WHILE performing a rain dance. It is.

Pretty good, don’t you think?

There are three postscripts to this story. The first is Norma Rae’s play was cancelled. For this she’s extremely grateful. The second is Norma Rae has decided to take a break from acting. The tipping point wasn’t her torrential tale of woe; rather it was the insulting experience of a director not casting her in the role of ‘the wife,’ because in ‘real’ life she’s never been married. Can they do that, you wonder? They can do any damn thing they want. Finally, Norma Rae is thrilled to have won the contest. Just one problem, she wants to swap the six-pack for a Starbuck’s cappuccino, grande, two-percent, extra foam. Yeah, Norma Rae, good luck with that!

Theater Camp Sucked

August 16th, 2007

8/15/07

After 5 days of rehearsal, my play, BOTANICAL GARDENS, was cancelled by the producers. Their decision was neither fair nor rational. The way they went about making their decision –one in Scotland, the other in Wyoming — was torturous, leaving the two actors, the director, and myself hanging in the proverbial breeze for 48 hours. The details are not juicy; rather mundane. What can I say? Theater camp sucked.

cancelled play email

Yes, to have my play cancelled is a disappointment. Three things I like about playwriting are:

1. Writing. When I’m writing and the characters finally come alive on the page and begin talking to each. It feels like I’m taking dictation. I wrote PERSISTENCE OF VISION in a weekend. The other plays and screenplays have taken at least 8 months. And, in each instance it was at least 6 months before the characters started talking to each other. Before that happens, I write a lot and throw away a lot.

2. Rehearsals. I get tremendous pleasure watching terrific directors and actors practice their crafts. BOTANICAL GARDENS’ Anne Carney and Malachy Cleary are amazing actors, Rob Urbinati, a successful playwright himself, is a high-powered director. Watching them work together was like watching musicians learn a new piece of music. Within just five days, they were already hitting the right notes for the first 4 scenes.

3. Watching performances. Many people tell me that they catch me laughing during my plays. It’s true. I have a great time at performances.. It’s not because I think the plays are great. By the time they make the stage, it’s been at least three years since I finished writing. By then, I hardly remember having written it. I laugh because the actors are so good. They make me laugh.

How are you doing? How are you taking it? You must be crushed? Are you going to live?

The last one my mother, who has never blogged, asked.
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Theater Camp

August 6th, 2007

Yes, I know, everyone and their mother has a ‘blog.’ Not true. My mother doesn’t. This is the first time I’ve ever blogged. Self-consciousness is what I feel. Complete and utter self-consciousness. Otherwise, Inc., the marketing and graphics firm that designed this site, insisted that I blog. It’s mandated in their marketing plan. I quote, ‘While generating buzz to drive community building on the website, it will be equally important for Todd Logan to maintain his own relationships with existing readers and frequent listeners of his plays (while also building a base of new visitors/readers). To do this, we suggest that Todd Logan maintain his own blog on the Todd Logan website. The Todd Logan blog will be a powerful relationship-building medium that will be accessible to all site visitors to share their ideas, suggestions, ask questions and interact with Todd Logan.’

Wow! A lot going on there. And, not part of the original Otherwise, Inc. plan. The ‘original Otherwise, Inc. plan’ was to create a site to draw people interested in the themes of my movie and my plays, get them to watch and listen, and then join in discussion groups. It was made clear to me that I was not a selling point. ‘No one has ever heard of you.’ they said. Not true. Many people have heard of me — family (obviously), friends, colleagues, and people who have been to my plays or seen my movie (yes, some memory jogging may be required). After some debate, Otherwise, conceded the point but not without making it clear, they had never heard of me. There was no mention of a blog until early last week — when I read the revised marketing plan.

So, here I am, on a plane to New York — off to theater camp — writing my first blog entry. The person sitting next to me is craning her neck to see what I’m writing. My dilemma, should I or should I not show her? I’m an airplane neck- craner, too. Yes, life would be much easier if your seatmate just shared what they were writing. They don’t; I’m not going to be the first.
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