CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION is now two weeks into the run with 3 weeks to go. Every show but one has sold out so far and the reviews are glowing. It has been a magical experience; a potential dream run that is on par with PILLOWMAN, KILLER JOE, and TALK RADIO. I had serious doubts that I could pull off this role when rehearsals first started and called Ken Webster to voice my concern. Without going into the details, I will reiterate a sentiment that I have voiced many times...Ken Webster is not only one talented mo-dee-foe and the Best theatre Director of all time, but is also the best personal acting Mentor I have ever had. Reassuring, wise, calm and confident...and it's the confident part that I often need help with when I feel like I'm sinking. The end result is that I have fallen in love with the character I am playing and with each of the 31 scenes in this incredible play. Getting into Schultz's skin was difficult for me; he is not an alpha male, he is not prone to loud words or acts of bravado to prove his point. Ariel in PILLOWMAN, Joe Cooper in KILLER JOE and Goss in BUG are characterizations of people I have seen in my life that I greatly admire and would like sharing a beer with, but the scary truth is that the real Ken Bradley is more like Schultz than any of them. And perhaps that was the problem to begin with. I didn't want to face the truth. Many reviews and after show comments have been made suggesting that I am playing against type in Circle Mirror. Perhaps my physicality supports this argument..but the truth is that I have had to reveal parts of who I am in Circle Mirror that I WOULD NEVER REVEAL to anyone in real life...it just wouldn't be manly! The long and short of it is that I have grown as an actor in this role and I have also learned that at 46, you're never immune to learning new things if you will just open yourself up to them.
On a different note I also shot a television advertisement this week. I had originally turned down the audition, thinking that it would conflict with my theatre schedule. It shot on Thursday and they had me out of there in plenty of time to get, home, get showered, get a teeny nap and get back to the theatre for Circle Mirror that night. The spot ought to be pretty good. I felt very good about my work during the shoot and left with the feeling (based on the producer, writer and director's comments) that they were happy with what they got.
There will be a time, in the not too distant future, when perhaps I will look back at this moment with great fondness. At least I’m smart enough or maybe just old enough to be able recognize those occasions now. Currently, I spend seven days a week at Hyde Park Theatre. Three at rehearsal for CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, three in performance for BUG and one long day (Saturday,) where I rehearse during the day and perform that evening. The short interim I have on those Saturdays between rehearsal and performance has been filled with a meditative walk to New Word Deli followed by their turkey pastrami sandwich and a bowl of tomato-basil soup. That has been my only ME time for three weeks running. After I finish my sandwich, it’s back to the theatre to ramp up my Jerry Goss character for BUG. The effect has been devastating to family functions, get-togethers and holidays (Father’s Day almost became an after-thought.) The effect on my household has been similarly disturbing…bills are commonly paid with late fees, laundry stacks up, as do the dirty dishes and it has been over seven thousand miles since my last oil change…all things that I usually stay on top of with a fervent overzealousness. My current schedule is the crescendo to a journey that began 17 months ago; 12 projects now in a little under a year and a half. This does not include the numerous auditions that occasionally interrupt my schedule. Be careful what you wish for. But amongst all the chaos, there is finally an end in sight, and believe it or not…that saddens me.
BUG has three shows left of its run…one final glorious weekend. No, it wasn’t the stratosphere ride we enjoyed with KILLER JOE, but nonetheless, an amazing show, with stellar performances, an outstanding crew, an unprecedented set, incredible effects, and its share of sold out audiences and encores. On closing night just before our last performance, I will lift a silly plastic neon shot glass to all these folks, look them each straight in the eyes, as has been the ritual for 36 performances, and I will say goodbye to these great friends who have become loving family over the course of the past year. Katie goes to D.C. to act for Woolly Mammoth, Mel goes to L.A., Matt becomes a teacher etc.…We all retreat to different corners of the world to pursue what it is that we think will make us, us. But future dreams realized or broken or changed or evolved will probably never match the joy of the journey we shared when we were together. Life goes on. So be it, but not without a few tears. And honestly, wouldn’t life suck if there was no event, or person, or experience special enough to shed tears for?
My part in DRIVE ANGRY has long since wrapped and BODY AWARENESS closed last Saturday night after amazing run. And just while BUG is enjoying a short scheduled break from the rehearsal process, I GET SICK! I felt this crud coming on in the final couple of days of BODY AWARENESS and eventually had to overcome the hurdle of a semi-raspy voice on closing night...but now...just in time for my LONG AWAITED break in all the action...is this friggin sickness! After an audition on Monday, I had plans to hang out with friends and family, swim in the pool, eat BBQ right off the pit and welcome the Summer to come with festive quaffs and whatnot, but instead I stood, coughing and sputtering over a simmering pot of mint, honey and lemon with a towel draped around my head!!! FUN. I guess I should be thankful. If this would happened ANY earlier it would have spelled doom for the projects I was involved with. Still, I was SO looking forward to having some time AWAY from all the madness. I guess, the body, or mother nature, or God,..or all three know just the right time check out for a while and refresh the system. It's been almost three years since I was sick and I'm not dealing with it very well. Being a dang baby to tell you the truth.
Body Awareness Cast and Crew at Strike
When I was a tot I called my security blanket...which was actually a pillowcase, my "Frau" pillow. The personal etymology is a mystery to me now. Nor did I know what the word Frau meant at the time...I just said it to describe my unwashed pillowcase. But what is ironic (and how in the world could I have known at 2 years old?) is that my Frau; (the person I would choose to spend the rest of my life with) would, over time actually become my adult security blanket. Most of the time, unless it’s just impossible, Cathy will accompany me to auditions, shoots and performances. She provides the strength and confidence which I tend to lack when going into an unfamiliar environment. The present day is one of those rare occasions where our schedules just didn’t jive. I now sit in a hotel at 9PM, six hours from home…A jaunt I started at Noon today, leaving my niece and nephew playing a game of "Hotbox" that I started with them at my home, then had to leave it to them while I drove through gray ominous clouds and drizzly rain, with a well-timed Astro game on XM...which...thank god, went into extra innings...and without my greatest security blanket…her. She was here on the previous trip, and so I became somewhat familiar with the “routine” and the friendly faces that this particular production has to offer. So it’s not as daunting as I make it seem. Still, when we got here last time it was so festive…on the eve of making magic on a film set…tequila shots, great Cajun food, laughs…This time I’m just tired. My call is EARLY tomorrow morning. I have to be in the van headed to the set at 6:30. So…it’s a subway sandwich instead of voodoo shrimp this time…a little HBO and some sleep, rather than rounds of celebration in neon shot glasses with my lady. ...well...um...ok, maybe I'll just have ONE on my own, just for the sake of tradition...wink wink...
KWB's Security Blanket
Body Awareness enjoys a healthy run and some great reviews, but the second week into the run is no time to relax. The cast and crew of the upcoming play BUG by Tracey Letts will reunite today for the first time since shocking the world...or at least Austin, Texas with KILLER JOE last Summer. This is an extremely talented group of folks, but more than that, I cannot wait to be in the company of their friendship again. There is an intangible called chemistry that, if lucky enough to have, lends itself to the overall excellence of a production. This is what we had with KILLER JOE..and there is no mistaking the feeling of chemistry that I have with these folks. God willing lightening can and will strike twice in this particular instance.
Opening Night of KILLER JOE with cast and Crew
With the first two hectic days of shooting on DRIVE ANGRY in Shreveport, LA. out of the way (which in included blood squibs, hard falls, deafening shotgun blasts, a bloody icky gross looking prosthetic knee and a hilarious car salesman toupee, Cathy and I made the "Angry" 4AM, six hour "Drive" back to Austin just in time to get a long nap and then head to Hyde Park Theatre to open the new play I'm in by Annie Baker called BODY AWARENESS. Tired is an understatement. Good times. Thank you FIVE HOUR ENERGY!!!
KWB bloody and broken on the set of DRIVE ANGRY