first five show weekend and the best television ever…

i dig these five show weekends…ok, i’ve only done one…but i like how much yer forced to learn about the piece by doing it so many times in such a small span of time…

offday: rodewald and i went to sausilito and hung forever at a really cool italian cafe that looked like it would only hand us coffee and pastries but actually served amazing food…and the name was…i’ll tell you tomorrow…the music was so utterly euro-vibe that rodewald pointed out that the cafe felt like some place in A’dam…like a mix tape that fell in the bathtub but was so good you kept playing it…a little muddy sounding but fine…after twilight the place let go with this candlit vibe..not just predictable romantic candles at your table… they put candles everywhere…candles on the counter…candles at empty tables…candles for absent lovers yet to arrive…candles on the unplayed piano…and then someone entered and the wind tickled each flame like a key on a xylophone…

when will flickering candles, orange haze, undulating shadows and the face of the one you love cease to be the best television ever?

/s

in the middle of it…

three shows into my first 5 show weekend and i’m feeling energized by the jam-packedness of it all…doing a matinee really puts a nice edge on the late show… we, the cast/band, took a cool step forward last night…

nice seeing the amazing composer brian woodbury at our saturday matinee. he flew in just for it and we were quite flattered indeed.

sundance folks were in the crowd last night and that was so nice…they saw this thing when it was me reading it at a table in a dusty room with heidi and charlie z backing me up quietly. sundance turned me into what you might call a writer. they gave me a table, a chair, a big comfy room and a view and said “do it.” they put me and dorsen and heidi in a big beautiful house in the mountains and said “make this crazy play.” they were the first to give me actors to write for. I got introduced to the addictive high of writing words at 5am and hearing them spoken by amazing actors by 11am that morning. they preseted me with utopian vision of how art could be made and i carry that with me always. sundance is such a part of this piece that i am quite certain that without their nuturing we would not have made it this far. it was very cool having them there.

today’s big question is: is flint’s open on sunday?

/s

we’re all gonna wake up one day and be…

during last night’s acid trip (the one in the play i mean, silly) Chad taught me so much about the character Terry that I never knew…stuff I will either be applying to later versions of this play…or simply stuff for me to clock and apply elsewhere…what I’m getting at is I’m seeing how the writing process is now working in reverse…Chad is revealing aspects of Terry that writing alone could not know…and of course all the actors are doing this…for old theater hands this insight is as old hat as saying “break a leg” but for me it’s continually astonishing…in one way it’s nothing new cuz since I began working with actors I’ve always written for their particular voices…but those situations were strictly workshop/rehearsal…doing it live makes it as real as biscuits…Thank you, Mr. Goodridge…

met a large table full of super cool people last night (at the burger joint on uni and milvia that i can never remember the name of even though i go their practically every other day)…they had just seen passing strange. and since they weren’t demanding their money back I agreed to join them.

One of them was an OG TNP fan and that’s always cool. For me, every fan is a board member of the anarchist shadow corporation known as TNP/STEW which operates on the dirty DL. We’ve never had a giant media company (or even a small one) force feeding us into the public’s consciousness. We’ve been under the radar since day one and it’s been working out just fine. People who have no idea how little this silly media game has to do with art keep saying “Whoa, you guys are on the cover of the LA Times Calendar section! You guys are about to make it!” And me and Heidi just laugh into our mojitoes. I “made it” when I was 17 years old on the day I decided to be an artist.
/s
ps: I’ve had a Rolls Royce on lay-away now for 28 years. I’ll be picking up when I’m 90. By then maybe I will have learned how to drive.

that shicket is gonna be wicked…

frenz,
OUT Night at Berkeley Rep was a blast. Met and got to talk to some cool people at the after party. I talked too much, however. You’d think after running my mouth for two hours or more I’d be able to shut up a bit. To the prof from Berkeley who teaches aesthetics, I was serious: I like sitting in on classes. Get in touch w/ me.

After everyone left the party the actors (all of whom are most definitely “passing strange” in the most wonderful way) along with DJ Russ created a PS live extended disco mash-up which raised my excitement level about our cast album to an even higher degree. I can’t wait to get these people into the studio. That shicket is gonna be wicked.
/s

wake up pillow huggin’ son of mine…

…cuz surely it was a dream…angela davis herself standing in the doorway of our dressing room smiling and telling us how much she liked our show…angela being the aunt of the utterly amazing eisa davis who plays the mom in PS, the eisa davis who writes plays, poetry and music…the eisa davis who makes me forget where I am onstage because I get lost in listening when she’s singing…as for her aunt angela, that’s the only kind of star power capable of turning me into a stuttering fanboy…genuine OG star power… not based on publicists, trends, or the fact that you might have a highly rated tv show but no talent…no, I mean real star power…based not on polls but on deeds, star power based on time served, star power based on spirit, actions, fire, a sunlight smile and a commitment to the questioning and transformation of things as they be…you put a blessing on this show tonight with your presence…I don’t care what the old fogeys think… if you liked it – we’s a hit.
/s

and it was always OPENING NIGHT

So,
We had an amazing opening night. It was like soaking in warm bath water with bubbles and some close friends. 400 close friends. The day of the show I was having a tough time getting into the whole opening night spirit cuz on a rock and roll tour the 4th or 5th show would be no big deal. But in this world it’s OPENING NIGHT! Our wunderbar cast/band brought all the joy and pain necessary to make this show click. It was really a complete collaborative blast. The audience was ready to go with us and we took them there.
And it just keeps getting better and better and better and better,
/s

a tough day for scorpios

church,
i think my favorite thing about theater is that monday is an off-day. there is something beautifully perverse about being off on the day when most people are on. HR and I went to saul’s deli (the matzoh ball soup will make you stop waiting for the messiah) then escaped to Tilden Park and chilled on the biggest stretch of grass in the world. We heard the wings of a very large bird flying over us. It was that quiet. We could hear the bird’s wings fluttering like a machine designed by god. Later that day the smiling check-out guy at elephant pharmacy who was checking out Rodewald in more ways than one told her today was a tough day for Scorpios. And since I’d started the day by behaving badly to a certain scorpio (rodewald is aries) I actually felt a little bit new agey for like 6 seconds. I emailed an apology to said scorpio when I got home. But I love it when people who work in stores say shit like “Today is a tough day for Scorpios.” The chicks at Sav-On drugs in north hollywood cali never talk about scorpios. And certainly not on Mondays.
/s

berkeley

hi,
we’ve been in berkeley for a month or so… and getting groovier by the minute…. me, heidi (who co wrote the music and musical directs), annie dorsen (director co creator) spurney (co-musical director, guitar/piano hero of joe’s pub fame), marc doten keyboards (negro problem/stew longtime family member) and russ kleiner – young groove pimp extraordinaire from new york…cast members Daniel (B.D.) Breaker, Eisa Davis, De’Adre Aziza, Chad Goodridge, Rebecca Jones and Colman Domingo, we’re all here working on this thing called passing strange that me and heidi and our director annie dorsen created. our cast is amazing and you’ll hear more about all them a bit later….and then there’s karole armitage living legend who did the choreography…and then theres pod-pimp dave korins who did the set and then there’s the flourescent freak daddy kevin adams (lighting designer)…stage manager cyd cahill tells us what to do and we like it.

i’ve always wanted to live in the bay area. and what a nice excuse for being here. it’s such a beautiful groove. we live on shattuck and walk to the theater every morning to rehearsal…once the show officially opens we’ll have our days back to ourselves…then we’ll be real bay area residents…we’re exhausted now from all the long hours of rehearsing…

we just finished our 3rd preview – at least i think it was our 3rd. we had some big fun tonight. we got the first taste of what it could feel like once we get warm. we’ve got a ways to go but there’s going to be a point where the actors and musicians become one and when that hits it’s gonna be church fo’ real…when you come to the theater bring a fan with a picture of vanilla jesus on it and one of them old lady purses with some old life savers stuck to the bottom and just sit a spell…tap your foot and nod your head to and fro…ah, but you don’t hear me though…we’re artists… so don’t hate…just pass the collection plate…

this is the hardest i’ve ever worked in my life…and i’d be fibbing if i said every minute of it was pure joy…but when we are live and in the groove or just fooling around at rehearsal trying to make each other laugh all the hustles and hassles fall away and it’s all more than good…the cast is teaching me on a regular basis a multitude of lessons about art and life…annie and heidi continue to be more than i could ever put into words and and the band smokes…and you can’t get a bad meal around here…and there’s a bar on the corner…holler…whether you hear me or not…

love,
/stew