I closed a show six weeks ago and consequently found that my next month's Scene4 was not forthcoming; I had snuck out to see some films and a couple of shows, but between working 9 to 5 and getting through five-performance weekends, the writing part wasn't going to happen.  Every month I think the same thing: is Arthur going to tear me up & throw me away if I don't get my copy out?  Answer: apparently not.  He is so gracious to us as writers, I feel guilty—and yet how would it be if he gave us a hard time?  Forget the paternal crap!  I don't need someone to slap me around & teach me hard lessons.

So I'll tell you about my month.  It has been tough.  I don't get paid much & the acting side of it usually consists of a stipend—nice but not enough to change my tax bracket.  I need soul food.  I got my Callboard, now known as Theater Bay Area, and slog through the audition listings. Oh, man!  Mira Theater Guild is doing "Rose Tattoo"! Damn!  I did "Lettice & Lovage" there and it's a hike all the way from Oakland to Vallejo.  Still, I'd do Serafina in a heartbeat & nobody ever does this play.  Depends a lot on who they get for Burt Lancaster & do they get Burt Lancaster or do they try to cast it the way Williams wrote the part.  I know a guy who would be great. I leave two messages for an appointment: one with the director and one with the theater.  Then, on to the next.   

I knew this was coming having seen the upcoming season; the first theater I  'wicked-witched' at gonna do a play that I knew had a part in it for me.  The reason I knew is because I've done the part before.  Twice.  Some quick calculations: I can't do this & Serafina cause they conflict on the performances by one week.  Rats! Well, this one is an open call. I'll just show up at the last minute if Serafina doesn't work out.

A couple of weeks with no return call for an appointment would only make sense if they were screening. They can't screen if they haven't seen anything from me.  I didn't send them anything.  They didn't ask.  What is going on with these people! I'm rereading the play & trying to figure out how to get my hair to do something even remotely Sicilian and they're not even making an effort.  It's okay, people just have to get their ducks in a row sometimes.

Choice #2 is rapidly approaching, but then something marvelous is also on the docket:  an open house at Seydways Studios, where Director Richard Seyd teaches Stretch and Trigger Approach, along with Bobby Weinapple and others.  I've approached Trigger (not the horse) for a few years now & it gets me.  This after a single workshop one evening during which a couple of actors did a scene for us that they had not looked at or rehearsed for three weeks.  This is serendipity that I can go over to Seydways and check this out on a Saturday morning between gigs & get a boost like they're my own personal rechargers.  That would be good news, but it has a price.  More on that later.

I gotta make choice here. #2 is looking good, I've worked with one of the guys who show up, I don't lie, the director wants to know how come I want to do this show again & I tell him straight out "I loved the script". I did not look at my old notes, I dropped any old blocking & just went at it as though for the first time. Did not  tell him that I Triggered it the second production and I bet I could do the whole thing with maybe two days rehearsal, that's  how thorough Triggering is for me. I did not  say anything about my love affair with Trigger approach because Richard Seyd answered my question when we chatted at the open house: "how do I do Trigger when nobody else is doing it in the show?  I been getting such grief from directors & actors …" He said, " Don't tell 'em. Work on your own."  I must have done something right; I don't even have a callback, I have an offer.

I must find out what happened to Serafina.  I get the director at home & he's clueless, wrong area code, left a message for somebody in Palo Alto which is 50 miles from me and a good 80 miles from the theater.  Wasn't my answering machine. The theater didn't offer any excuse. What karma.  That was my last chance at Serafina.  I'm too old as it is, but I read young.  Except she's got this pregnancy thing at the end. Ha! What a joke.  More importantly, I feel less and less Sicilian by the minute even if I'm half French.   

Of course,  Richard and Bobby are there, in my head,  to disabuse me of that thought.  Stretching into unknown territory.  Where would I go as an actor if I had complete permission from God & my Mommy…

So I'm going to start a six week run of Don Nigro's "Ravenscroft" and maybe I'll even get fearless if not Sicilian.


Fahrenheit 9/11

I subscribe to many an online group & get messages, exhortations, surveys, questionnaires. Lots of activist stuff I can send off painlessly.  I signed up to be one of the audience on the opening weekend of Michael Moore's latest film; bought a couple of tickets through moviefone for Saturday night.  We headed downtown Berkeley a bit after 6pm for a 7pm show & I insisted we drive past the theater just to be safe.  By God, the line was already around the block, the shows all sold out and a midnight show added.   

Just two things to say, really. One is that I think if I had had something squooshy to throw at a certain point, I really might have spattered the screen.  I know I was too far away & it would have been ridiculous & silly and a mess to clean up for someone, but the anger was there.

Secondly, I felt nothing while the grieving mother was mourning her son.  I watched unmoved.  Then on the sidewalk afterwards, with hundreds of people around me, I started to shake.  I could grab onto my partner, but I couldn't talk.  It took us a couple of blocks of walking before I could come up with the words: my big brother.

Phil spent a tour in Vietnam as a callow 21 year old, on the roof top of the army hospital at Tan Son Nhut Airbase during the Tet offensive of '68 and he wrote this to me on his birthday (which was two days before mine.)

"So your 19 year's Ha Ha! And I am 21…that Magical Number pulled from a hat that Allows you to vote, Drink, Sing and be responsible for what action your country does.  However small they are I will use my number to say a word or two. To those who can't and for those who aren't able.

Newspapers on strike would tend to show chaos there. and not here. Saigon has suffered great causalities on all sides. 3rd field was on Red Alert the morning of Jan 31. Mortar attack. Now on the morning of Feb 5 at this moment things are cooling off. the O.R. list is at 248 causalities.  the worst in all history of 3rd Field. Hue was completely taken. Many ARVIN troops killed in the first days 2 days fighting. We have all been on 24 hour guard with 12 hour shift.  TET is the Vietnamese new year.  Fighting was expected but not this heavy.  The raids got within 100 meters of us on all sides but that's the closest so far.  Its all been pretty much of a nightmare But the worst is over, for a while.  I was getting beams of things at Home while on guard. Here's the scene.  Its 3:45 in the morning 2 hours and fifteen min. to go a 6pm 6am shift. Flairs in the air lighting up the dark corner and places to hide. I am up on the roof on ward 8 like 75ft. off the ground. Helmet, Flack Jacket, M-14, and 100 rounds of Ammo.  And I know that if they come its gonna be all over.  So while I am watching I got pictures going through my head things that have happened, dances, people I know places I been the feeling of the buttons on the couch light because its day time over there and its nighttime over here thats a bad. So I let myself wonder around feeling leaves and hearing music in stereo and sitting behind the "A", [his model A Ford] having coffee at the table late at night. looking at your faces and discussing some "pholosophy". taking you to ballet [lessons] to the store for some goodies.  turning you on to smoking. waking up in your own bed and now I realize just how unsure I was on that roof top.  a few moments from friends and reality the other out there in the dark.  It is so good to know that you are safe and among friends on the other side.  I am allright now.

Happy Birthday My Sister 

                                           love Phillip"

 He came back to us on New Years Eve, 1969.

©2004 Claudine Jones

For more commentary and articles by Claudine Jones, check the Archives.

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has
worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.  With her
co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs
for local venues.  As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS
IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time
technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his
latest render.

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