Isolating at home: March

In response to the Covid-19 spread, we decided to hunker down at home on the 13th of March. It has been 16 days now, and we were apparently clear of exposure, so far. We are doing our best to keep chins up: we are doing mindfulness practice and yoga a few times a week, I am out weeding and tending to the garden, about to plant some lettuce and arugula so we have some fresh produce in the coming weeks, and we are ever grateful for our dog, Demi, who gives us unconditional love and emotional support. We pray for the health and strength of our family and friends, our relatives in Italy, and all over the world.

My profession is taking a huge hit, both on an institutional level and personal. Work is shuttered. Much Ado About Nothing was postponed until next season, and the new Theresa Rebeck play Enlightenment which I was scheduled to rehearse in August has been pushed back a full year. Can theaters in Washington survive? When I first came here there were 5 theaters, now somewhere around 80. I expect many of the smaller theaters, and perhaps some of the larger institutions will be damaged, if not silenced forever. It is a very sad time everywhere.

However, we as artists continue to express ourselves via the net. My dear old friend and colleague, Michael Gaston, (who was in a production of Fuente Ovejuna with me in the early 90’s at the Shakesepeare Theatre at the Folger) started a hashtag #readasonnet. It’s fantastic. Folks are getting up, recording and posting a piece. Patrick Stewart started reading Shakespeare on Twitter as well. It’ a thing. Check it out. Here is my contribution.

Sonnet 91 #readasonnet

I believe, like the monks of the Middle Ages who gathered and conserved the great books of culture and held them in safe-keeping, we as artists have a responsibilit to bring our culture and values forward through our art. There will be an end to this, there will be a Renaissance, and we will flock to the arts, to meet, collect, reflect, exhult, exhalt, and celebrate our humanity in theatres and concerts halls, opera houses, and art museums and galleries across the world.

Until then,

Be safe.

Much Ado About Nothing POSTPONED

Like many other shows around the country effected by the mitigation effort for the oncoming Covid-19 emergency, Simon Godwin and team at Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) have decided to postpone the production of Much Ado About Nothing rescheduling it as part of the 2020-21 season. I am looking forward to playing Leonato under Simon’s direction, getting to know him, his process, and how he is shaping STC in his mew leadership role. We have met several times and have developed a correspondence. Having been a part of that organization since 1984 to the present, covering a few years leading up to and through the entire duration of the Michael Kahn era, I remain committed to being a part of the new Godwin chapter. However, I certainly am relieved to know that the safety of the artists and patrons is the primary impetus for the decision.

I know this crisis will effect the so-called “gig’ economy, of which we “working stiffs” are a part, for many months. I certainly wish everyone health and safety in the trying days before, and pray for strength. patience, and caring for each other. How will we be different? All I know is that life is precious. Peace. And God speed.

Beginning again

Because of what I felt to be a very successful and satisfying experience of journaling the artistic process with my first blog “The Making of RED,” I wanted to do the same when I began the process of portraying Justice Antonin Scalia with Molly Smith and John Strand on his new play The Originalist. Although it has been almost 6 years since that process began, the idea of the blog was deferred at the time, as the script was embargoed until the opening of the world premiere. That made good sense. Besides, the process was well chronicled in the media. But then in it’s second incarnation and first revival, it seemed appropriate to return as the play was about to begin rehearsals in 2016 at Asolo Rep in Sarasota, Florida, after its very successful world premiere run at Arena Stage from March through June 2014.  I was pleased to return to this script and role, as it had major and long lasting personal significance having spent so much time with the Justice himself in his last full term on the Supreme Court. That is the subject of another endeavor, perhaps with a working title, “My Year with Nino.”  Unfortunately, I did not write that blog. I don’t know. Perhaps because the Justice had passed away, or that there was a new administration. It is a bit if a regret, as the play opened on inauguration day 2017 and had a life span of 18 months, traveling across the country from Florida to California, back to Washington, DC, then Chicago, and on to New York, all the while measuring the temperature of the body politic and the decay of civil discourse that the play was attempting to forestall. Nonetheless, I return here, finally setting up a webpage of my own, to chronicle what I am calling The Working-Stiff Actor, a blog of the day to day ins and outs, ups and downs of a working life in the theatre. I hope you come back from time to time, read, and comment. Enjoy!