Monday, June 15, 2009

DVD of Picasso at the Lapin Agile production now available

Thanks to Michael O'Connor and Arch Street Video we have a very slick dvd of our production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. A few people (and I do mean only a few) asked about getting one so I'm putting the word out that you can get one by contacting me. In some cases I've lost track of who inquired and/or what their contact info is.
Michael has made a two disc set. Disc one has the show recorded with a single camera set up but extremely high video quality. The audio is mixed from multiple sources and is better than one would expect for this kind of thing. Disc two has an extended interview with the director, some shorter interviews with cast in the make up room before curtain, and a few "cut scenes" where certain scenes were captured with closer shots or from different angles.Let me know if you want one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Help Sam Laugh

A high school student of mine, Sam, was diagnosed last Friday with agressive leukemia. He's in intensive care receiving treatment. He can't have visitors right now because of his depressed immune system, but he has sent word that he'd like some humorous get well cards. Sam is a great kid with an equally great sense of humor which is a little off beat. My heart aches to give this kid a reason to smile or even chuckle. It so happens that we are off the Portland this weekend and we'll be at Powell's Book Store. If you know of any book titles that might do the trick, please let me know in the comments section or email me directly.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Farewell Mr. Potter

My principal, Doug Potter, is retiring. He is the best principal I've ever worked under, and I will miss him. He was our champion in the Picasso Affair. When that whole business hit the big media, there were a lot of no nothing commentators who just assumed that my principal was the villain in the story. He was anything but.
Today at a farewell staff meeting I had the chance to mark the occasion by delivering a few ocmments. Satire is always a bit of a risky choice. Early in the speech people seemed unsure of where I was going, but then they more or less relaxed into it. Some of my colleagues in the room laughed, others not so much. My remarks are reprinted here below.

I’m reminded of something our superintendent Larry Glaze said this morning at our staff breakfast. He said, that it’s been busy year for all of us. I thought about what he said, and I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve been busy doing this year. Frankly, I was astounded by what I came up with. Here are just a few causes that I’ve been preoccupied by this past school year:

· promoting drinking among teenagers

· promoting casual sex

· promoting vulgarity

· lowering educational standards

· corrupting the moral fabric of our community

· undermining respect for authority

· alienating and excluding kids and community members

And this was only during my extra duty hours! And with precious little help from many of my colleagues, I might add.

In all honesty though, I have a lot of people to thank for helping me make so much progress in these important areas. Without their efforts I simply could not have achieved what I did this year. Here are their names.

· Melissa and Bret Jackman, Tim Gerdes, Stacy Shown, John Sprenger, Bruce Kevan, Chris Panicke, Larry Glaze, and the La Grande School Board.

To these people and others whose names I have forgotten or never knew in the first place, I want to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I now know what Sir Isaac Newton meant when he said that if he had seen farther than others it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. Thank you for lifting me on your shoulders and allowing me to see… Steve Martin.

It may seem ungenerous of me then to mention yet another name here in view of the fact that this person did everything in his power to prevent me from having the success not to mention the notoriety I so enjoyed this year. That man is my principal Doug Potter. From the very start, he did all he could to ensure that our play would be performed only in the shadows, consigned to the margins of public attention. He worked tirelessly make sure that our play would be witnessed by the smallest possible audience; in effect, he tried to make our play disappear into obscurity by insisting that it be produced on the LHS stage.

There were times when I watched, amazed by Potter’s persistence, his willingness to buck all the forces arrayed against him. I was awed by his command of the law and his grasp of policy issues, and there were times when I feared that despite all the odds stacked against him, he might actually prevail. Fortunately for me and my cast, he was foiled in the final moments by a school board that miraculously recovered its wits just as it teetered on the brink of sanity and voted 4-3 to propel our project into the glare of public limelight. Doug lost, and I won. The rest is history.

But this story has a post script. Despite everything, I have forgiven Doug for the things he did and said during those tumultuous times. I have forgiven him for almost depriving me of my fifteen minutes of fame. As I reflect back on all that happened, I understand at last why he did it. It occurs to me now that it might have been hard for Doug to see me become more famous than him. I see now that he was only jealous. And so I say to you Doug, be patient. You are still young. Your fifteen minutes is still primed and ready for prime time. There will be time for future scandals, for your name to appear in the headlines of news stories and to be bandied about recklessly by people who neither know or care about you. I think that Doug finally realizes this. For this reason, He and I are and always will be friends.

Good luck to you,


Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Oregon in Oregonian

Last Sunday the Oregonian newspaper ran a piece by theater critic Marty Hughley on the Picasso Affair. Marty spent several days here and watched rehearsals and most of the shows. He made, I thought, a very good faith effort to inform himself. I remember chatting with him on more than one occasion and hearing him muse about the challenge of shaping the Picasso Affair into a short form story that was not only coherent but also pointed at the essentials of the experience. Vestiges of his struggle are apparent in the way he and his editor ended up structuring the story. The italicized lines signal three storylines, any one of which could have supported a longer piece of its own. Given the constraints he had to work with, I thought he did a nice job.
His story, titled "Behind the Scenes, A War of Words" can be found here. There's another photo here.
I haven't heard much local response to the story, don't know if many people read the Oregonian in NE Oregon. I know that on the Sunday that it came out, we were spending the weekend in Cricket Flats outside of Elgin. I drove into town just to get the paper in hopes of reading Marty's piece. I was informed by the clerk at the service station that the Oregonian doesn't make it to Elgin anymore. Dubious, I went to the small grocery store. The clerk there told me the same thing. She said to me matter-of-factly, "It used to make it as far as Imbler, but I'm not sure it's even there anymore."

Later that day when we got home to La Grande I did finally purchase a copy, but it makes me wonder -- what happened to the Oregon in Oregonian?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Call for scripts...continued

A few days ago I put out a call for suggestions for next year's play...I've already received in the comments section a pretty hefty list of titles to read this summer. Check them out here and keep'em coming if you have more!