'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Friday, December 14, 2001 ]

Fall, 1996.

Almost midnight.

Four actors sitting in a car.

The car is in a driveway.

One actor is packing a bowl.

At this point in my life, I am only marginally sure that I get that term right.

“I figure this’ll be good for all of us,” says one of the actors, “especially you, Rob. This is your first show with Gersmann.”

I figure now’s a good enough time to try pot as any.

“Exactly. Exactly. You tried this once before, right?”

Yeah, at your house. But it didn’t work.

“It’ll work this time.”

This actor, I know, knows what he’s talking about.

Hope I don’t “Volcano The Bowl,” I say. See, I add, goofily, I’m up on the lingo…

The people in the car are cool enough to know I’m kidding. But the truth is, I’m a total square when it comes to this.

How long should I hold the smoke?

“I’m a firm believer in as long as humanly possible.”

In this car, in what may be anywhere from one hour to three or four days, the four of us smoke four bowls with the windows rolled up.





At this point, nothing happens suddenly.

One other the other actresses laughs at me simply pivoting my head right and left.

At this point, it’s enough to amuse me.

I turn my head to the left.

A few seconds later the world catches up to me.

I turn my head to the right.

A few seconds later the world catches up to me.

Hey, I say to Mr. Expert, can you briefly run over the symptoms of being stoned, because I think I am…

He looks at my eyes.

“Oh, yeah. You’re one of us.”

I am indeed.

Rock On, Sisterfriend.
Part 3: Once We Start, There's No Going Back.

The show is called NaziBoy.

This is the story of Horst Wessel, the first skinhead, founder of the Hilter Youth Groups, and writer of the song "Die Fahne Hoch."

It is part two in what will be Joel's Nazi Trilogy, I have heard, which started with The Case of the Nazi Professor in 1994.

I walk toward the theater as someone who may or may not be Lenny rushes by me.

This is how I find out that Lenny Maki, my roommate and friend, is no longer in the cast. At this point in Lenny's life, he has a job that will keep him from making the commitment.

It's a shame. Joel is so impressed with our performances in Please, Please, Please Love Me, that he's cast us both without having us audition.

The cast, currently, is as follows:

Mandy Jones, who I just worked with in Please, Please, Please Love Me. She's a lot of fun--and it's nice to have a familiar face in the cast.

Doug Banasky, who was in Irish Lesbian Vampire and will be directing his first show sometime after this one.

Nate Beyer, who was in The Abortionist, and whose work I really admire.

Alisa Farrens, who I saw in I Am Star Trek.

Shelley Johnson, who was not only in The Abortionist, she was The Abortionist. She's pretty much Broom Street royalty, as far as I can figure.

Bob Moccero, who has been in too many plays for me to count. I remember meeting him once, through another friend in front of a coffee shop. He said something about auditioning for a Broom Street show, and he's pretty much been doing them ever since. He is another person whose work I admire. Bob's physical comedy intimidates me, it's so good.

Isa Norwood, who was stage manager in Please, Please, Please, Love Me and now wants to act.

Megan Ryan, who I know from college--which I'm still in at this point.

Dan Konar, who I met under odd circumstances.

Rick Vorndran, who will now be working with me as a fellow actor. He's the one I look to if I want to check to see if any of this is normal.

And me. "The Kid."

Actually, I'm by no means the youngest person at Broom Street, hell, Joe's younger than I am, but still, I am New Guy Mike, as far as anyone's concerned.

Not that I'm complaining.

And not that anyone in the cast doesn't make me feel right at home. They all seem glad to have me there. Especially Bob. Bob always makes you feel like he's glad you're there.

My life becomes:





Let me explain something else about Broom Street rehearsals. You may remember the typical method for auditions at Broom Street, and the reasons given for it, well, there's another reason I didn't mention earlier as to why the director doesn't have you read from the script at audition.

Because there isn't any script.

See, some of the directors like to write the script to the cast they get. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the main reason is that you can slip in all of the main strengths of your cast, without hitting any of the weaknesses. If you end up getting a cast that isn't that strong, you can make them seem stronger by only having in the show what they do well.

So, what do we do in the meantime?


We practice singing "Die Fahne Hoch" and "" Deutschland uber Alles," until it sticks in all our heads. They're still in my head as I type this. There are only a handful of songs I know all the words to--how happy would you be if two of them were "Die Fahne Hoch" and "Deutschland uber Alles?"

We work out stuff--Joel comes up with an opening bit where as large group of us play skinheads and then proceed to beat the tar out of two praying jews. I get chosen to be the one who slits Doug Banaski's throat and steal his talus.

Finally, when we have script, this is incorporated in the show.

Bob is playing Joseph Goebbels, a role he is reprising from "The Case Of The Nazi Professor." He walks with a hideously exaggerated limp, and is directed by Joel to scream in horrible pain with every step.

I am playing the bartender in the scene, and am told to wipe the bar (which is being played by three of the actors) with the talus. The talus is Joel's from when he was a kid. He's more than delighted to see it used this way.

Bob, as directed, walks over to me.

"Stop!" Joel yells. Joel has a habit of stopping the actors before they really do anything.

He gets up and walks over.

He offers to show Bob how he should really greet me.

Joel staggers in my direction. This is the most he's worked with me for the whole process.

He grabs the back of my head, and pretends to sob with glee.

Then he yanks me over the bar and hugs me tight.

He lets me go, and says to Bob: "That's how I want you to do it."

Now, Bob is directed to take almost a half a minute to walk over to me. It sounds like:




And so on.

He gets to me and says his line:

"BARTENDER! Do you run this SHIT HOLE?"

Yeah! I yell in an over the top Jersey accent. Da Blue Lamppost is da best shit hole in Alex-And-Duh-PLATZ!

This is easily my favorite line I have ever said on stage, ever.

The rehearsal process goes on.

Mandy drops from the cast early on--she needs a break and has done a few shows in a row.

My hair is getting really, really long--I hadn't expected, for some reason, to be on my hands and knee a lot, and Joel has us down there whenever possible.

So, at one point, for reasons I can't hope to explain, I decide to ask Luke, my other roommate, to shave my head. I have never done it before.

"Are you sure?" Luke asks me. "I mean, I'll do it, but, I don't want you to change your mind, because once we start, there's no going back."

I'm sure. My hair's driving me crazy and I can't afford to go to a barber.

"Be sure, because I ain't stopping, once we go."

Well, maybe we shouldn't take so much off...

He points to his head. He's been shaving it for years.

"It's this," he says, "or nothing."

Fuck it, I say. It's go time.

Later that evening, Jeff, another roommate, catches me, thinking I'm alone, compulsively rubbing the top of my head.

"Weird, isn't it?" He asks.

You have no idea, Jeff.

To Be Continued...

posted by Rob on 5:36 PM | link



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