Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, March 12, 2007

Colm O'Reilly as Jim Lehrer and Guy Massey as George W. Bush in The Strangerer

Congratulations to my old friends Mickle Maher and Theater Oobleck on the reviews of their current play The Strangerer.

Wish I could be there.

The premise knocks my socks off.

It's the first debate between Bush and Kerry (played by Mickle) for the 2004 election. Melding Bush with the character of Mersault in Camus' The Stranger (which Bush claimed to have read recently), Mickle's script has him attempting to murder Lehrer over and over throughout the play. Lehrer and Kerry respond calmly.

The allegory is too close; and, knowing Mickle's writing and acting, and knowing Colm's acting (another old comrade I greatly esteem), I'm sure the play is hilarious as well. (I don't know Mr. Massey or his work.) Wish I could get to Chicago to see the play.

"Reason has no chance in a street-fight with madness. Madness knows no rules."

"That bit of madness which is poetry."

The past is fated -- or at least it seems so. With the press rigged to shoot down any politician who fought back against Bush, it's hard to imagine a different outcome in 2004. The past is fated. On the horizons of my imagination I can vaguely see a magesterial Limbaugh-ean mockery from the left over-riding the intensely stacked deck of the press and Bush's own crazy . . . charisma. But that time is past now. Here's hoping the D's do what they can to prevent further damage.

I'm glad Mickle wrote his play.

I'm ashamed that Bush is our President. Ashamed for my country.

I hope to see that this weekend. Guy is really great -- as an actor and a human being.

I'm glad to see Theater Oobleck is still going strong. I saw pretty much every show they did back when they were getting started in Ann Arbor--including (as I recall) before they changed their name from whatever it started out as. I've always felt that their departure from Ann Arbor for Chicago was the beginning of the slow, steep delcine of our local theater scene--which was awesome in the mid-to-latish 80s but is nothing to write home about now.

The thing that set Theater Oobleck apart for me was its ability to ceate experimental, intellectually-driven, often only tenuously narrative--and sometimes plain wacko--original plays that were fun to watch and somehow managed to sustain a real sense of drama through all the craziness. Good stuff.

Did we ever meet? I was in all those plays! I was thinking just the other day that 20 years ago we were making arrangements for the one full-length I wrote, "St. Berdoo and the Devil," the last one we did in Ann Arbor before moving to Chicago.

We were Streetlight Theater back then. I remember another local company, the Performance Network, did a really good production of "Waiting for Godot" around that time. And a bunch of the Streetlighters, me included, were also in the Brecht Company.

Kerry -- let me know how the show is!

I doubt we ever met, but if you did PR for your play (or any others), you may have talked to me, since I did (and still do) the calendar for the Observer--and in those pre-web, pre-email, pre-fax, pre-voicemail days, that meant I talked to EVERYBODY on the phone.

I do remember St. Berdoo--vaguely--wasn't it in a church? The Brecht Company was another company I never missed--defunct now, though Martin Walsh is still here & occasionally surfaces. The Performance Network included a lot of my friends--I was on the board for awhile. I pretty much saw anything these 3 companies did-unless I was out off town on vacation. The Godot producton you remember must by the one with Jim Moran & David [?] Bernstein--I think Dave Hunsberger must have directed it. They all saw the play as a high-class vaudeville show & played it that way. Moran is still in town, Bernstein movede to Minnesota in the 80s--he may even have come back just to do that Godot, which he & Moran had done somewhere else some years earlier--and Hunsberger, sadly, killed himself in the early 90s. He had been a big positive influence on my younger daughter, when she an aspiring actress in high school.
By the way, while we're reminiscing, I first discovered your blog when I stumbled over a post about Arwulf. You'll be glad to know he's still going strong--his Thursday evening WCBN show is still on (though he's changed the name from "Modernistic" to "Face the Music," and he has a wonderful jaz show on WEMU ("The Sunday Best"), Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. You can catch them on the web.
John --

Bernstein & Moran! I couldn't remember their names, but they're the ones -- really nice guys, and that was a terrific, indelible production. I remember hearing that Bernstein (yes, his name was David) moved to Minnesota after that show. Terribly sad about the director, whose name I remember now that you mention him.

I met Arwulf when Streetlight shared an evening with a one-act "absurdist vaudeville" he wrote. I was in an experimental 2-person one-act that my friend Ross Lipman wrote, which preceded Arwulf's show. It was at the Performance Network. Arwulf seemed like a nice guy -- glad to hear he's still DJ'ing!

Martin Walsh is a great guy too, and a marvelous, unique actor; I spontaneously looked him up when circumstances brought me to Ann Arbor last February, but he wasn't in his office.

Yes, we put on St. Berdoo in a church basement.

All a long time ago now . . .

Thanks for the memory jog!
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