Friday, May 21, 2010



Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, John Patrick Bray.

     Hello, all. Thank you for reading my blogs this week. I have had a number of responses on this site and via personal email. It means so much to me that the good folks at IT asked me to participate, and I appreciate your reading my thoughts, rants, and manifestos.  This last blog will be basically a list. I found myself inspired by a previous blog writer (Tim Errickson) who posted a blog titled Mailbag!, which was a series of questions and answers.

First OOB experience:
My play Cookies was produced during The Riant Theatre’s Summer 2002 Strawberry One-Act Festival. I had a few readings between 2000-2001, but this was my first production. I ended up participating with the SOAF a handful of times. On Top was a semi-finalist; A Play About a Guitar (retitled “Resonator Blues”) was also a semi-finalist; Goodnight Lovin’ Trail, my MFA thesis,was a finalist in 2004. So, I owe a debt to The Riant Theatre (Artistic Director Van Dirk Fisher), and director Dennis Wayne Gleason for believing in my work.

Mostly music. I go to a lot of concerts. In Louisiana, I’ve seen a number of Zydeco bands as well as Taj Mahal, Philip Glass, and Ani Difranco. In NY, I was able to catch David Johansen and the Harry Smiths a few times. I miss The Bottom Line.  My favorite song by DJ is “Heart of Gold” (available on his second post New York Dolls album and his first Buster Poindexter record), not to be confused with Neil Young’s song, which is also excellent. And of course I was also able to catch Tom Waits, The Pixies, David Byrne, Iggy and the Stooges, and Ani Difranco. I guess I’m an audiophile at heart.

Several people have asked how I balance work and family. I just do. If you want a career in theatre, academics, and academic theatre you need to find a balance. If you have a family on top of that, you just make it all work. It helps to have an awesome wife like Danielle and a great little boy like Danny.

Favorite OOB production:
Really hard to say.  The ones I’ve seen have been wonderful. There were also a handful I missed because I’m down here in Louisiana.  I’m really sorry to have missed As we Speak  and Trickster at the Gate. Tom Berger and Dan Horrigan are both terrific guys, and I feel a pang of guilt whenever I think of how I missed these productions.  I’m also sorry to say I missed a reading of Liner Notes directed by Marc Eardley featuring the excellent Jerry Zellers. The last one I worked on (and I was actually able to see) was Hound with Rachel Klein, and it was really fantastic. I’m looking forward to Liner Notes with the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.

Read. Read plays, read scholarship, just read. And improvise! Life and writing rely heavily on improvisation. Try new things!

Don’t ignore critics, neither the ones who love you nor the ones who wish you’d go away. It’s important to be a part of the critic/artist conversation, no matter how painful.

Favorite current scholarship:
The American Play by Marc Robinson.
Postdramatic Theatre by Hans-Thies Lehmann.
Spalding Gray’s America by William Demastes.
Being Given by Jean Luc-Marion
Ethics and Infinity by Emmanuel Levinas

Current favorite plays:
The Sea Farer by Conor Macpherson
The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel
Self Defense or Death of Some Salesmen by Carson Kreitzer
Two Small Bodies by Neal Bell

Other Advice:
Listen to music. Eat bagels. (I was a bagel-baker at the New Paltz Bagel CafĂ© in New Paltz, NY for six and a half years. Great place, great people!  There’s a shout out for ya.) Read opinions that you agree with. Read opinions that you don’t agree with. Be responsible for who you are, and take responsibility for what you see, even if you believe it has nothing to do with you.  Oh, and listen to Ani Difranco.

Thanks, all for reading!  Keep believing in independent theatre.  I think we’re a part of a major cultural turn. Check out this article by Stephen Leigh Morris called “Why Theatre Matters.” See? We’re seriously onto something most excellent!



1 comment:

  1. You know, after reading this I realized I was in error. My first experience Off-Off Broadway was actually as an actor. I had performed in a one-act play, "Only the Color Has Been Changed to Protect the Innocent," by Steve Press, directed by Clifford Olsen as part of the Samuel French OOB Festival at the Clurman Theatre back in 1998. I had also produced the play as the student president of the drama club. Good times :)