'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Thursday, March 14, 2002 ]

Previously, on BK3…

…I kinda went apeshit with the guns, but I figured, y’know, what if everyone needs guns in their show?

…For some reason, I really need corn dogs.

…I make a dare to get as many of the playwrights tonight to fit the phrase “serious assplay” into their show.

…I draw the title “Brownie Points.”

…There was a wait at The Dane, so we came back. So all our fuckaround time has been eaten up by the whole looking-for-the-bar thing.

“…Jesus Christ, that is fucking cool,” Lisa says. “I am so using a gun in my play now,” she says, running off to write.

“…Good Lord! It’s the vicar!”

…Hey! I yell. Where the fuck did all my Red Bulls go? There’s only one left.

“…I say! You had better shower; you smell like a distillery!” “How does a distillery smell?” “With its nose! Haw-haw-haw-haw!”

…Carmine, you’re the only one who understands me, I say, and pass out.

The following takes place on the second night on the first week of Blitzkrieg 3D between 12:30 pm and 8:00 pm.

If events occurred in real time, we’d be here for eight and a half freakin’ hours.

12:30 pm.
I awaken to find that Carmine has left me for one of the milk crates that holds the back half of our futon up.

You just can’t trust dog puppets.

I look at the clock.

I am no longer tired, but I did the calculation in my head last night—oh, yeah, that’s right, this morning—that I really should sleep until 3pm, as that would give me the full eight hours of sleep that they tell you you should get.

But I’m not tired any more.

Which makes no damn sense.

I get up.

I walk into the living room.

I walk back into the bedroom.

My wife, Betsy, is down at the theater.

Right now, my biggest joy is that I’m at home, in my sleepy-pants (that’s what I call them, and shut up about it, you bastards) and have absolutely no decisions to make, except: Do I go back to sleep or watch t.v.?

I compromise. I pull the shades and decide to sleep while watching t.v.

But first I feel the need to check my email.

This is when my wife walks in.

Which also makes no sense, since she’s supposed to be downtown, at the theater.

What’s going on? Shouldn’t you be—

“We think we broke one of the guns,” Betsy says.

Inside, I think: Of course you broke one of the guns. The actors always break one of the guns.

That was fast, I say. What’s broken on it?

“One of the springs, I think,” she says—but I also know that Betsy doesn’t know anything about guns, and this could mean anything.

She heads into the bedroom closet, looking for clothes.

“Oh,” she says, “Daina wanted to know if you had a holster.”

Yeah. I actually brought it down there.

But, of course, only I know where it is, and plus, I’d have to show her how to put it on.

Did you want me to come down there?

Betsy is too frazzled to give me a straight answer—the roads are covered in snow, and it’s still coming down out there.

She stares at me, like she doesn’t understand the question.

Then she says:

“If you want to come down, you can. If you want to stay, then stay.”

Betsy, do you want me to come down there or not?

“I would like the company, but if you want to stay—“

I’m not asking you what I want, I’m asking you if it would be better for you if I came down there.

“Do what you want to do,” she says.

In Betsy-speak, this translates to “PLEASE COME WITH ME!!!”

At this point, I’m still in what I slept in.

1:02 pm.
I’ve showered, dressed, and am now standing outside of Betsy’s car trying to get the ice off of the wipers with my bare hands, while inside, Betsy is mouthing the word “Sorry.”

1:49 pm.
We’re in the car on the way back down to the theater.

Betsy’s chilled out for the most part.

I still haven’t accepted that I’m going back to the theater.

“Well,” she says, “you got your dream cast.”

Oh, really?

“Yup. All the people you wanted are in the show.”

Cool. How’s Daina?

(Daina Zemliauskas, who was my pick for Megan “The Gun” DuCott.)

“Daina’s really cool. I like working with her a lot.”

She also tells me that Many Vang (an actress Buck recommended for me) is very perky, very upbeat, and very positive, considering the situation.

The situation is that we all have very little time before the show, and that the snow is going to extend the length of everyone’s lunch break.

This was supposed to be forty-five minutes for Betsy.

It’s going to be two hours.

Two hours that she can’t rehearse.

3:07 pm.
Betsy and I walk into the theater. Betsy goes ahead, as I take in the whole scene.

I walk though a group of people acting like they’re in a HMO waiting room. Two girls are practice cheerleading.

I step through a door, and I am in another hospital scene, as Mickey Crocker, an actress I know, sits in a wheelchair, muttering “Green River.” I turn to see Caleb Stone, another friend of mine, waiting to come in.

I keep walking.

I am on the stage. There is a scaffold constructed to help focus lights.

Ahead of me is the seating.

I keep walking.

3:10 pm

Buck and Aaron Anderson sit in front of a laptop.

Buck points at me, mock-mean: “I went to the bat for you, man! I got you your dream cast!”

I heard! Thanks!

I look over Buck’s shoulder. He and Aaron are working on the program.

“Did you want to check the credits on yours?”

I look. They spelled my name right, so it looks okay.

“Do you mind if I put the descriptions you had in the script of the characters in the program?”

Oh, I insist.


So he enters in:

Brownie Points
Written by Rob Matsushita
Directed by Ray Dvorak

Megan “The Gun” DuCott…………Daina Zemliauskas
(the baddest hit woman in the Midwest)
Chelsea Fatt…………………………Many Vang
(a talented amateur)
Marsha Doe………………………Betsy Matsushita
(ex-CIA, now a professional assassin)
Phoebe Candice…………………Jill Kachur
(a humorless psychotic)

3:20 pm.

I head back to the mezzanine, where I’ve been told that the “Brownie Points” cast is rehearsing.

As I walk in, everyone sees me and smiles.

Ray comes up to me.
“Heeeey,” he says. We shake hands.

I hear we broke a gun.

“Well,” he says, “it’s just the clip. But I don’t think we—“

--You don’t really need that—

“—really need that, no.”

I fact, I shoulda just taken it out.

Betsy hands me the pieces to the gun’s magazine. I put it back together in seconds.

Okay, so—

“Oh,” Many says, “Um, we broke the knife.”

“It happened when I throw it to her, in the script,” Jill says.

Let me see it.

Many hands me the pieces of the knife.

Not a big deal, I say, I’ll tape it.

“But don’t we have to throw it again?”

I’ll use a lot of tape.

I turn to Daina.

Also, you wanted a holster, right?

“Yeah,” she says, “Did you bring one?”

Yeah, I actually had it with me last night, so it should still be here.

I turn to Jill.

Do you need a holster? Because I’ve got one for that gun.

“No,” she says, “I always have it out, so I don’t think I need it.”

Okay, I’m off to get that stuff.

3:28 pm.
I walk out of the Mezzanine to see Buck wave at me.

“Does Many Vang want to go by ‘Many’ or ‘India?’ She put both.”

You got me. I can ask.

“Could you?”


I go back and find Many.

How do you want to be listed in the program?

“Many’s fine. India’s just a nickname.”


I walk back up.

Many’s fine, India’s just a nickname.


And now I’m off to find gaffer tape and a holster.

“Oh, Rob?” Betsy asks.


“Can you get your leather jacket, so I can use it for the scene?”

Yeah, sure.


And now, I’m off to find gaffer tape and a holster.

And my jacket.

3:41 pm.
I walk into the backstage area (where Lisa Konolipsky was writing less than fifteen hours ago) and find the gaffers tape.

Pete Le May, an actor in Kitty Dunn and Kate Hewson’s show (“Crimson Tide”) stands by, as I grab the gaffers tape.

God, I love this tape, I say, wrapping it around the broken stage knife.

“It’s great tape,” he says.

Oh, yeah, I say. Solves everything. Global warming, everything.

“Knives, too, it looks like.”

Yeah, luckily, this is just a big hunk of plastic. Should be easy to fix.

Pete heads into the scene as I head around the corner, waving hi to Meredith Berlin, who’s directing the scene.

I see the door to the dressing room where I was writing last night. The door is closed.

I knock, but I can’t hear if there’s any response, since it’s so loud around me.

I open it the door to find Micheal Herman lying on the floor as Doug Steckel points a hammer at his head.

Nearby, Craig Johnson sits, watching them.

They must be doing Dave Pausch’s play.

I see my bag under one of the tables, so I slip by them and open it.

I grab my holster and my jacket. I take the liner out of the jacket so it’ll be more comfortable for Betsy to wear on stage.

I also went as far as giving Betsy the smallest, lightest gun in the group. Betsy really doesn’t like using the guns, and doesn’t know how to use them—and doesn’t want to know, so I gave her the most user friendly gun I had.

I walk out with my stuff.

All of the scenes are in full swing, so I decide to go around the back way.

4:03 pm.
I walk down the back stairs, running into a few other actors, and as I get to the downstairs door, it opens, and Dave Durbin’s there, already reading lines with David Hannes, Michael Du Fer, and Amy Bethel. I wave hi to Dave, walk a little more, and see Alex Peterson, crouching down a bit, holding a note pad, a script, and wearing a suit jacket. He’s in director mode. I wave. He nods.

I keep walking, until I get to the door to the lobby.

I open it.

“Good lord! It’s the vicar!”

Ah, they must be rehearsing Doug’s show in here.

Deanna Reed, directing, sees me and smiles. I wave to her, and say hi to John Eichenlaub.

On my way up to the mezzanine, I wave to Linda Hartay, who’s also in the scene.

I’m still chuckling over the vicar joke as I head back to the “Brownie Points” rehearsal.

4:24 pm.
I enter with the shoulder holster and jacket. I hand the jacket to Betsy, and show Daina how to put on the holster.

4:55 pm.
I walk backstage again, to find the comic books that I left behind earlier. I go back into the dressing room where they’re rehearsing Dave’s show (“Yellow Journalism”) to find Craig giving the cast notes.

Micheal slaps me five as they head out, moving to another space to rehearse.

I find my comics.

5:01 pm.
I find a spot to crash out.

I sit down, pull out my copy of “Cage” and lay it on my face.

5:02 pm.
I realize I’m not going to get any sleep.

I get up to see Mark Penner, sound designer and friend, already working on stuff.

I shake his hand.

You have gun sound effects?

“I saw your name and knew to bring them!”

Good man.

The big problem, he tells me, is the rapid-fire shots. He’s got everything on CD, and that’s usually just single shots.

“But I’m trying to find something that sounds like if. Maybe machine gun fire?”

We listen to a track. It sounds like machine gun fire.

“Well, I’ll keep looking.”

5:35 pm.
I am in the mezzanine area again. Jill’s telling me that she’s happy to finally get a gun. She once marvelled that she was able to get through an entire show of mine and never got to carry a gun. Point of fact, she’s one of the only ones in it who didn’t.

She also mentions that she read the first act of Orange Murder Suit. She’s interested in acting in it.

“I didn’t realize…I mean, it’s just two people. For the whole scene. I kept thinking ‘well, he’s gonna bring someone else in,’ but no, it was just the two of them.”

Yeah, each scene has just two people.

“It’s gonna be tough.”

That’s why I’m being really selective. I’m getting really tired of drunks and people looking for drug connections showing up for auditions at Broom Street.

The rest of the cast returns. Everyone is in costume.

Daina’s shoulder holster has somehow made it around her waist, so I help her with it. The problem is that it’s sized to me, and I have a much broader back than she does.

Betsy suggests that I should call and reserve a hotel room, and I agree.

5:37 pm.
I walk into the lobby to use the phone, and see the cast of “Yellow Journalism.”

Hey, I say, did you guys ever get your gun?

“No,” Craig says, “We never got one.”

Oh, great. I always get antsy when guns go missing.

I’ll find you your gun, I say, and head back up stairs.

5:45 pm.
I don’t see the gun for “Yellow Journalism” where I left it yesterday.

I do see Doug Reed.

Hey, man, what are you doing here?

“I was just wondering that myself.”

5:50 pm.

I head back past the mezzanine.

“Did you call for the hotel?” Betsy asks.

Crap! No, not yet. I’ll do that now.

I walk downstairs to the lobby again.

The “Yellow Journalism” cast is still rehearsing.

Sorry, guys, I’m still looking for your gun.

“No problem,” Craig tells me, “take your time—we may have another lead.”

Well, I brought an emergency gun, just in case something like this happened.

I grab the phone book and find the number for the hotel.

I pick up the phone.

Remember to dial nine.

I dial the number, but the phone starts beeping at me.

Betty Diamond walks in and sees me.

“Ah, you’re the person I’m looking for.”

Just a second.

I try dialing the number again.

The same beeping.


“We have a problem with one of our guns,” Betty tells me, “and were wondering if you had another.”

Um, well, one of the other casts—I’m sort of already in the middle of another thing—and why won’t this phone work?!?

I walk over to the other phone in the lobby.

“Do you have a smaller gun, like a purse gun, or something?”

It’s in use by another show.

I don’t tell her, but it’s the one my wife is using.

“Well, can we use that one?”

No, they’re using it.

“Well, is there someway we can share?”

No. NO. Bad idea. Then the gun gets lost and the other cast is screwed.

“Well, our cast is screwed right now if we don’t get a gun.”

Nathan Caracter walks in with the rest of Betty’s cast (Shannon Barry and Karen Moeller). He waves and says “Hey, baby,” to me.

Hey, I say, grabbing the phone. What was that number?

“So we need a smaller gun. The scene doesn’t work as well with what we—“

I’ve got a whole other thing to take care of before I get to that—and do we have a phone in this lobby that works?

“No, not really,” says Craig.

“Try upstairs,” Karen tells me.

Betty still wants the gun situation resolved.

Are you guys gonna be down here? I ask Craig.

No, we’re moving upstairs.

I’ll find you your gun.

“Good, thanks,” Betty says.

I head back upstairs to the mezzanine.

The “Brownie Points” cast are all pointing guns at each other.

I pull a chrome Beretta 92F out of my backpack.

Trade ya, I say to Betsy, taking the Walther PPK out of her hands and replace it with the Beretta.

“Oh, thanks, she says, “this thing is twice as heavy—“

Not my fault, not my fault, I say, scampering away like an earwig.

I head back downstairs.

I hold up the PPK, showing it to Betty.

Thank you,” she says.

Who gets it?

Karen raises her hand: “I do.”

I hand her the PPK.

Where’s the other gun?

“I got it.”

She hands me the gun she’d been using earlier.

It’s the gun I had set aside for “Yellow Journalism.”

So that’s where it went.

Thanks, I say.

“Oh, this gun works much better for the gag,” Betty says. “The other gun—“

Not my fault, not my fault, I say, scampering away like an earwig.

6:03 pm.

I head back upstairs, to the backstage area, and find Craig Johnson and Doug Steckel.

Here’s your gun.

They just finished their dress rehearsal.

They have to pre-tie Micheal to a chair before they start, they realize.

Doug takes the gun, thanks me, and I head to the phone as Craig pats me on the back.

I grab the phone.

I get the hotel.

I can barely hear the woman on the other end of the phone.

I tell her I need to reserve a room for toni—

Ten feet away from me, someone turns on a power saw.

I can barely make out that the woman is asking me what kind of room, smoking or non.

I tell her non. My wife just quit.

She asks if I want to get a room that includes a continental breakfast and turn down.

It’s only twenty dollars more.

I pull out my credit card.

Marcy Weiland walks up to the phone, sees I have a credit card out, and backs away.

I order the room.

Dear God in heaven, I order the room.

6:12 pm.
I head back to the mezzanine area, muttering.

Never go to Blitzkrieg rehearsal.

Never go to Blitzkrieg rehearsal.

Never get out of the boat.

Never get out of the boat.

Didja see the size of that fucking tiger?

Doug is in the audience, with his friend, Fred (short for Friedrich) Petri. He introduces us.

“He called earlier and told me he couldn’t be here,” Doug tells me. “So you see, he can’t be trusted.”

Doug also tells me that Matt Cibula probably won’t be here tonight, as his mother-in-law is very sick. This makes me feel bad—it doesn’t seem right to have this go off and not have us all there.

I head down to the mezzanine.

Hey, honey, I say, walking in. I got the room. I even got a room with super cool special stuff ‘cause it’s only twenty dollars more.

“Cool,” Betsy says, hugging me, “You’re the best husband ever.”

That’s the strong rumor.

I need a corn dog.

6:24 pm.
I open the backstage fridge to find that all of my corn dogs from last night are exactly where I left them.

I see Alex Petersen again.

Corn dog?

“Sure,” he says. His director-issue suit jacket is now being used in the show.

How’s the directing going? We head over to the microwave.

“I guess it’s going okay. I like the film directing more, but I’m learning a lot. I’m beginning to see the Blitzkrieg thing, and why you guys like it. I want to write next time.”

Mention it to Buck, definitely.

Our corn dogs ding.

We pull them out of the microwave.

I've been eating nothing but corn dogs for the last twenty-two hours, and yet, I'm still not tired of them.

That's a little scary.

“I’m still a little weirded out by the whole ‘well, it’s not as good as I wanted it, but it’s there and I guess I have to live with it’ aspect of this, though.”

Welcome to the world of directing, kid, I say, patting him on the back.

6:30 pm.
After watching the dress rehearsal for “Brownie Points,” I turn to Daina and say Next time, I’m writing something that doesn’t take three days to get right.

She laughs and smacks me in the arm.

6:42 pm.
I head to the lobby.

Matt Cibula walks in.

Matt! I didn’t think you’d be here!

“Hey, can’t miss this,” he says. He pulls out a cel phone. “But I could get a call any minute and have to run out of here. They letting us in yet?”

No, they’re still rehearsing up there.

“Because I’m having dinner next door. With my brother, and a friend.”

Mind if I join you? I don’t want to get roped into any more work.

“Sure, work sucks, let’s go.”

6:50 pm.
We walk into Café MontMarte.

I shake hands with Matt’s brother, Jeff, and Matt introduces me to his friend.

Hi, I’m Rob, I say, shaking hands.

“Actually, we met earlier.” I suddenly realize that it’s Fred Petri again.

Damn, I suck.

Jeff tells us that he’s still not sure whether or not he should try acting again.

Oh, you should, both Matt and I tell him.

“But I haven’t acted for ten years.”

Yeah, but you should see some of the fuckheads in this town who think they can act.

“Seriously,” Matt tells him.

7:32 pm.

“So Doug writes,” Matt’s laughing so hard he’s nearly choking. “’You smell like a distillery!’”

How does a distillery smell? I say.

“’With its nose!’”

One second.

Two seconds.

And the table bursts into laughter.

This is our cue to head to the theater.

7:55 pm.
I sit next to Doug.

“It was so not my night,” he says.

Yeah, but I hear you’ve got the funniest show.

“That may be all due to my lovely wife.”

Deanna, sensing her cue, waves to me.

We’re still laughing about the distillery joke.

Doug laughs and shakes his head.

“Not my night!”

7:59 pm.
I label the tape I’m about to put in my camcorder.

The lights dim.

I snap shut the camcorder and turn it on.


8:00 pm.
A spotlight goes up.

Buck steps out.

Huge applause.

It is twenty-four hours from when we pulled our titles.

It is twelve hours from the script deadline.

It is ten hours from when the casts read the scripts for the first time.

It is seven hours from when I headed to the theater.

It is three hours from the final dress rehearsal.

It is two hours from my last corn dog.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Buck says, “welcome to Project: Blitzkrieg 3D.”

It is showtime.

To Be Concluded…

posted by Rob on 4:04 PM | link



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