This was my second year as a member of the graduate creative writing faculty at Western State Colorado University, in Gunnison, Colorado. I was first hired in 2016 by my Harvard classmate David Rothman, head of the program and of the poetry concentration, to teach a summer intensive on presentation skills to second-year grad student poets. Once I got there and the genre novelists heard about the work I was doing, they asked me for some sessions, as well. This year, we baked that into my teaching schedule. So I had a handful of morning sessions with five delightful and talented genre fiction writers, all of whom were seeking coaching for their final pre-graduation presentations. And in the afternoons, I taught my 8-session summer intensive “Poetry in Performance,” coaching three extremely talented poets.
This photo is of me with the 2017 graduating genre fiction novelists after their final presentations: from left, Kaleb Erickson, their wonderful writing instructor for this year, Candace Nadon, and Carla Mercado on my left. In the back: Vincent Harper, Marissa Harwood, and Ketura Barchers.
And in this picture, talented composer Justus (Jay) Perrotta (L) joins me in congratulating my three poets Ellen Metrick, Brian Calvert, and Brian Palmer, after their final 25-minute presentations. Jay has interest in setting some of the poems he heard to music. All three poets knocked it out of the park, and brought tears to many audience members’ eyes–including mine.
Well done, all! You did me proud, and I look forward to seeing and hearing more of your work.
At last I can share this news: I’m playing the fabulous role of the mysterious Eric Finch in the upcoming Cheers Live On Stage national tour, which opens this September where I grew up: Boston, MA. I’m beyond thrilled to be working again with the fantastic and delightful Matt Lenz (who directed me in the award-winning 30th Anniversary production of The Foreigner at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in 2014), along with my buddy Sarah Sirota (we just appeared together in Like Money in the Bank in NYC), costume designer extraordinaire Michael McDonald (who designed costumes for The Foreigner) and a host of other lovely people. The web site is still in progress, as is the itinerary; I’ll provide updates as soon as I have them! (And if you don’t remember who Eric Finch is, don’t do research–just come see the show and be surprised!) This is my first national tour, and I’m very excited. I hope to see you when we come to your town.
You can read the press release by clicking here.
A while back, I reported on filming a very brief scene with Mark Ruffalo for John Carney’s new independent feature film. The film was titled Can a Song Save Your Life? back then, and when it was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in Fall 2013, the Weinstein company fought for and won the right to distribute the film in the U.S.. They also renamed it Begin Again.
Whenever it plays at a theatre near you, I hope you’ll check it out. Even if I wasn’t in it, I’d still love it. Mr. Carney is such a good writer and director–so generous to his actors, so good at letting them live in the little details of the moment. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Condon, Catherine Keener, and a lot more wonderful people. Their performances are all absolutely lovely: simple, honest, revealing. Mr. Ruffalo outdoes himself; he is painfully human and you can’t take your eyes off him. As with Mr. Carney’s hit film Once, the healing power of music is a major theme, and the songs sung by Ms. Knightly and Mr. Levine are really catchy.
My one little scene is with Mr. Ruffalo, who was a blast on set — kind, funny, and eager to improvise with me. John Carney was equally easygoing, super nice, and open to playing with his lovely script. What a great shoot. We only did three takes, and I’m so glad one of them made it into the final cut of the film. I sure hope I get to work with these guys again.
My brief scene is early in the film, on the subway. I play a preacher (the character’s name in the credits is “Christian Father”) who gives Mr. Ruffalo some surprisingly helpful advice. I’m so thrilled that Mr. Carney kept some of the “preacher speech” I improvised as a voiceover leading into my scene. If you see the film, post a comment here or on Facebook to let me know what you thought!
Here’s the film’s official trailer:
It was so exciting having family members at “The Grapes of Wrath” last night! Tonight more family and friends arrive, and they all see “Philadelphia, Here I Come!” tonight, then “Vanya and Sonia” tomorrow, and the new arrivals will see “Grapes” on Sunday. I’m so grateful for the ongoing love and support, both in person and online. Here’s a “Grapes” interview I did recently. I wish more of you could see this fantastic season of shows here!
Well, it’s here already. The past two nights we’ve had great previews, and now tonight at 8pm, we’ll officially open Asolo Rep’s production of Chris Durang’s wonderful, Tony-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, directed by the inspired and inspiring Peter Amster.
I am beyond thrilled to be playing Vanya with this director, cast, and theatre. And judging by the audience responses to our preview performances, the audiences are going to love this production. This play has all the offbeat, wacky humor you’d expect from Chris Durang, but it also has an undercurrent of deep feeling that is taking us all on an amazing journey. And for anyone who grew up during the 1950’s in the U.S., the play will have an especially strong resonance.
I have been advised that this production is expected to sell out its entire run; if you’re in the area and planning on coming, please do buy your tickets soon! You won’t want to miss a couple of hours in the company of this zany and lovely cast of characters. You will leave feeling very good, indeed.
There are only two papers that review Shadowland Theatre productions up here in Ellenville, NY, but happily reviewers from both came to see The Dangers of Electric Lighting and both loved it. The first link also has a number of photos from the show. Enjoy!
The science is secondary to the human drama in this eye-opening play. If you thought you knew Thomas Edison, or knew nothing about Nikola Tesla, this play by Ben Clawson, directed by Brendan Burke, will set you straight on both!
This all happened so quickly that I didn’t even find the time to post that I was cast in this production, but I open tonight as Nikola Tesla in the NY Premiere of The Dangers of Electric Lighting, about the War of the Currents between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. It’s at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY, and plays from 9/14-30. If you’re going to be in the Catskills area, come see the show! It’s a great cast, and an excellent production of a surprising and thought-provoking look at an unknown chapter of U.S. history. Sometimes, even geniuses who think they know it all still have something to learn….
Click Shadowland’s nifty animation in this post to visit the site for more information and for tickets.