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Palm Springs International Playwrights’ Festival

December 21, 2009
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(My brother found this. The Bill Evans deck stands out.)

Two weeks ago I auditioned for the Palm Springs International Playwrights’ Festival. After spending the previous week searching for an audition piece through plays I own and plays I’ve never heard of, I was lamenting to a patron – one I often talk movies and Jewish culture with (yep) – that I couldn’t find a monologue after he’d asked me, “What’s new?” He beamed and told me about a play he was in 30 odd years ago, Moonchildren, and that its closing monologue might interest me. With little time left to prep for the audition, I asked him for his copy – which turned out to be his acting copy, full of notes and grime, when he was in the L.A. debut in the mid-70s. I photocopied the closing monologue, chopped it up a bit, and read the play in one sitting.

The play is incredible. It’s set in the late-60s, with eight college students shacking up in a strange yet workable arrangement of friendship, disgust, love, lust, and of course, “No, I haven’t touched your fucking hamburgers.” The play opens blacked-out, with the students – trickling in – waiting to catch the cat (that may or may not exist) give birth. This scene sets up that there’s something wrong with Bob, and most of his housemates are sure its the draft notice that he received recently. (The only thing Dick is sure about is that Bob is probably responsible for some 40 or so frozen hamburgers of his that he ate without putting them on the common stock.) The play covers a school year, with the winter break dividing the play in two. It’s a great play and I’d love to see it staged.

As for the actual monologue: it was my best audition yet. In the last year I’ve realized that it’s not about line memorization as it is about telling the story. That seems so obvious now, but “learning the lines” was how I was taught (and I bet the common way it’s taught). I learned it from Brian Raffi when we were working on Our Town, but it’s similar to how my father told me to tell jokes: just make it yours. And I made the Moonchildren monologue mine.

I was cast in a reading for Like Mother Like Hell, which, by title alone, sounds great. It’s a comedy so I’m looking forward to that change. I was glad to just be cast in anything for the festival, but just searching for it online didn’t return much, so maybe it won’t have the exposure as I had originally thought. But that’s okay; I’m just looking forward to working.

The festival is in late January and I will be posting dates, location, etc. soon – if anything, to advertise for the damn thing.

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