Number 9: August, 2000
by Carl F. Gauze
Deep in the dog days of summer, there’s still enough
happening to give any devoted trendiod a good reason not to watch
“Survivor.” This issue – we vote to keep PSO, but WPRK is about to get
the boot from This Island Orlando. And, Nick at Night showed the crucial
second episode of Gilligan’s Island – you know, the one where they
explain how everyone has a fresh set of designer clothes EVERY SINGLE
EPISODE, even though it was just a 3 hour tour.
Portrait of a Woman
By Michael Vinaver
Directed by Chad Lewis
Starring Edward Campbell, Laura Harn, Bob Noble, Stephen Parsi
Sophia Auzanneau shot ex-boy friend Xavier Bergeret (Campbell) three
times. No question there. A bit loose, maybe a nympho, she juggles
multiple lovers like flaming torches, but that’s no capital crime. Yeah,
she hung with the Wehrmacht during the occupation, but they were so
handsome and who knows – they might have won after all. The only
serious question surrounds her state of mind. Did she aim for a murder -suicide and miss the second act? Without suspense, we know the result
before the play really takes off. There’s a teaser plant in the pre-show
audience going on about the morality of the death penalty, but that
never comes up at trial, leaving Sophie to life at hard labor. Open &
shut, n’est pas?
Shattered by the prism of time and memory, Portrait evokes the
simultaneity of reflection on a past event. The actions, relations,
outcomes stroll though our mind providing drama. It’s Cubist Theater –
everything visible from every angle all at once. Sadly, by knowing the
outcome before the action, the play reaches no dramatic climax, leaving
actors fighting hard against a fluffy pillow of dramatic certainty.
Involved in the sordid novella of Sophie’s search for love, the audience
never hangs on the precipice. The sepia set perches Judge (Bob Nobel)
impossibly high, looming over the action. Fluid lighting changes and
on the fly costume shifts make following the time and place of every
event fairly easy, even with two actresses playing two characters
simultaneously. The effect is beautiful, but the action flaccid.
Sophie (Harn) lost all love, even before the war took her brothers, and
searches for the orgasm that might make her whole. The vigorous
assistant prosecutor Lubet (Parsi) makes a good case for eliminating
leniency from her future. Most intriguing are the dual roles played by
Gloria Duggan and Barbara Blake as Sophie’s mother and landlady. The near
simultaneous lines weave these two roles into one – the rejecting mother
and the gruff but supportive friend. Does Sophie deserve death? Not for
the murder. He did reject her, and they were so French. But for the
collaboration, perhaps. After all, some of her lovers were a little too German.
Pardon Me: I Promise To Do My Best
Written & Performed by Ranney and Ize Ofrika
Performance Space Orlando
Let’s begin with a little etiquette lesson about that most infamous of
euphemisms, the dreaded “N” word. If you’re a white boy like me whose
folks just popped over to dodge the draft in the Franco-Prussian war,
you never use this term in public. Not ever. If you’re a moderately hip
black, you may use this term informally with close friends. But never in
public. But, if you’re an Angry Young Black Man, you are required to use
it at every opportunity, particularly in public. Why this apparent
multiple standard? Well, the AYBM is sublimating oppression into irony.
It’s much funnier.
We open the One Man Jam with Mr. Ize Ofrica and a stream-of-consciousness rant about slavery and computer discrimination and the
rotten deal you get being black. Suffused with righteous anger, Ize
leaves no doubt about his intent and motivation. Rejection of the white
economy and the white society and white norms is the only true
alternative for the dislocated black man. Integration is not an option.
Civil rights were a sell out. Heavy, man.
With the stage set, Ranney runs though a broad swath of material.
Besides standup jokes and poetry, we get hysterical stories of super
religious granny, outsmarting the Man, and an occasional a cappella
scratch hip hop song. A small, mostly white audience that didn’t always click
with his intro lines (sorry, none of us saw “Soul Food”) made the stand
up hard going, but the stories were a scream. My favorite was the tale
of Kenny “One Good Shoe”, the only illiterate newsstand operator in
town. Boss’s dog Skippy got a bit nippy, but after the tragic accident
Kenny preaches a eulogy so moving I almost contributed to the Skippy
memorial fund. By far the strongest part of both performances was the
streaming images of chants and rant. While not easy to follow the rhythm
and tone of the voice carried the emotional content as strongly as any
closely reasoned argument. There’s just one remaining question – why are
there two guys in a “One Man Jam”?
Let’s start with the fundamental fact. A radio station is a license to
print money. Period. The license is granted gratis to a given party, and
all the talk about public service and community is just so much fluff to
burnish that one bare fact. Now, for most stations, we see how that
money rolls of the press. Blaring used car ads, fast food come-ons, all
separated by just enough of the hits to keep you tuned in – all a fine
balance, honed by years of experience. Other stations, also acting in
the public interest, hold themselves out as the hand of God and ask for
your money to keep those holy radio waves flowing. Least ingenious are
the arty farty stations with their endless fund drives. Send us all your
money, you cheap so and so, lest we take Barney and Garrison Keillor
away from you. There are precious few stations anywhere not dedicated to
the almighty dollars, and those are all affiliated with Colleges. WPRK
is such a rara avis.
WPRK is now for sale, and the most recent WPRK monthly DJ staff meeting
transformed into a Save The Station rally after a wave of publicity in
several local papers. Two of the station leaders, speaking to the crowd
on the condition of anonymity (they have scholarships, after all) went
through the facts as known. Orlando’s last student run college radio
station (WPRK 91.5) is now on the block. WMFE (90.7), our local PBS
powerhouse offers to upgrade the studio and transmitter in exchange for
complete control over the Morning through Evening Drive Time. Students
will still be allowed to program the graveyard shift, but only as
interns to WMFE. The deal’s not finalized, but may be early in the fall.
All of this is perfectly legal. WPRK is the property of Rollins College,
a private institution. It’s a valuable asset, and they may dispose of it
as they will. Run as a student club the license for WPRK is held by the
board of regents. The school provides the license because it happens to
have one and up until now hadn’t thought of anything better to do with
it. Unfortunate, WPRK also happens to be doing something unique and of
actual benefit to the community, and now that will stop. Ambient music
and Rasta and heavy metal hip hop may not be everyone’s idea of culture,
but in a city that can’t support a symphony and gets excited about
overpriced point guards, that’s about all we have.
WPRK began half a century ago, when a drive from Orlando to Winter park
actually involved passing though orange groves. A broadcasting club was
a pleasant diversion and gave a few students something to do when not
hanging at the I Tappa Keg house or studying for the Life Studies
midterm. Today, however, we wake up and find ourselves in the 33rd
largest market in the country and you can’t even find an orange tree at
Home Depot. That toy radio station is now worth big bucks, and it’s not
being properly exploited. For shame, Rollins. For shame.
Radio is the most transient of art forms. Often banal, sometimes
brilliant, when the DJ speaks, that moment radiates at the speed of
light and is gone. Without realizing it, the puny 1300 watts in Winter
park emits more brilliance than all the rest of the stations in Central
Florida. It should continue providing it’s whisper of weirdness. It’s
not too late to express your thoughts, and if we all sing loud enough,
we just might win this war. Send your comments to Rollins college
(www.rollins.edu), and send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Laughing Matter Presents “Study your Vocab”
Performance Space Orlando
Let’s knock off the mandatory stuff – per the Federal Comedy Act of
1973, all comedy troupes in the United States must perform a Star Trek
swaying.. with…the…photon torpedoes… got it. Now we can move on to
trashing a few local institutions. China Jade, the local restaurant with
the drag queen waiters, more concerned with procedure than selling Moo
Goo Gai Pan to the yang huei takes a sound beating. Personally, I prefer
Jum-Bo, where the waiter has never ever Kung Fu’d me, even when I left a
crummy tip. WMFE and its eternal pledge drive merits some abuse, as
they hold up the Beatles reunion to nag for more money to buy more
programming to use to prop apart the pledge drives … well, at least
they killed off the Teletubbie. They tortured La-La, which was a bit too
nice for my taste.
And what’s an improv group without a little improv? Rick Dickson (the
large black-haired one) and Jim Wert (the pudgy bald guy) went to
Oprah’s house to do some damage, first as Dr. Suess characters, then in a
Pinter play, and eventually as a Blaxplotation flick. Word. We tried a
little ABC bit with the gods on Mt Olympus getting down to about the F
word when Chris Murphy (the …well. YOU know one) broke things up with
a little Survivor Island game that involved voting himself off the
island and onto a rotisserie spit. Good move, Chris.
With a standing-room only crowd and no discernable A/C, the room was
packed with enthusiastic partisans sweating with the comics. Some of the
patrons were stripped down to their wifebeaters, but none of the
audience I wanted to see strip did. Despite this minor disappointment,
NLM put in a solid and worth seeing again show. Catch them when you can,
and toss a few bucks in the PSO Air condition funds. We’d all appreciate
The Chocolate King
Read by the Playwright’s Round Table
There are a million screenplays in the naked city. This is just one of
them. Mickie runs a hopping chocolate shop in Townsville. It’s not clear
what he puts in that stuff, but they don’t call it “Bravery” or “Desire”
for nothing. Emily is dating Frank, but you know immediately she’s
supposed to be going with Mickie. How? You just can, that’s why it’s a
screenplay. Mickie’s about 6 hours divorced, and he falls for some
ultra perky television reporter who is actually seeing a weird
millionaire who’s already married. Funny thing is, he approves of the
marriage. Ok, everyone’s properly mis-aligned, and now we rearrange
them. Frank asks Emily to marry him, and when rejection comes for the
umpteenth time in 3 years, he bolsters his case by confessing an ongoing affair with his secretary. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d brag about
that to my fishing buddies, not to the woman I want to do my taxes with.
Now to split Mickie and TV lady -a world-wise caterer points out that
maybe she’s not right for Mick, and the neighborhood wino stumbles in to
back up the case. Out of the mouths of the help, as they say.
We must understand that this is still a work in progress. While the
main story line is pretty standard, there are a zillion little sub plots
and enough minor characters to fill a sitcom. The strongest and least
developed is wino Jack Burns, who swings between sobriety and
incoherence vigorously, armed with a strong command of creative
profanity. The other characters swear a hell of a lot, but damn it,
they’re not as fucking cute when they do. Ass holes. (See what I mean?)
Mickie is nice, Emily cute and shy, and they’re just sort of boring.
What shows the biggest potential is the stable of side characters, most
involved or implied in seamy side affairs. The best line comes when the
chocolate delivery boy gets seduced by the two “church ladies” in a
hotel room – “We’re here to eat chocolate and drink likker.” I’d join
Extreme Playwrights Adventure
Mission to Planet Zolblatt
Performance Space Orlando July 8, 2000</b>
Critic’s log: Star date July 8, 2000. There’s not much time. Write a
play overnight, shanghai some actors, and put that puppy up on stage in
a week. The Folgers Crystals are nearly depleted, and only 7 writers
survived the ordeal, but at least no junior security officers were
injured. This second session of the Extreme Playwrights Adventures is
set on a space ship to somewhere, staffed by the ever-changing
holographic navigator Precious (Brian Alexander). “Overrun by Over
actors” opens with Shakespearian captain Steve Gardner in cosmic
overdrive, vouching safe and soothing fore in fine Elizabethan form.
His crew – the fluttery Yoga girl and seen it all Miss Film Noir Person.
Can he pierce Precious for the heinous crime of licking Yoga Girl? No,
of course not. It’s a hologram, silly.
Another standout was “Zolbott or Busted”. Captain Tom Ryan and first
officer Jennifer Jackeres are in their jammies, but need someone to tuck
them in with their Thorazine and hallucinations. Each has their own set
of aliens to battle, and the other is always supportive even if they
can’t always se the threat. Eventually the pills kick in, and it’s time
for the real evil alien to hijack what’s left of reality.
Well, we know deep space is conductive to lust. “Eight Weeks” has a
little lovers quarrel threaten to spill into the audience as Captain
Brain Bradley and Crew person Audrey Kearns have it out over sexual
frustration. The Siamese Space Twins provide a small bit of help,
providing calm, factual information that one hears from her in-laws. And
they get in the end, ha ha, hee hee!
Time for one last episode – “Stardate 1-2-4-3-5” with the doped-up Kevin
Snipes as Captain JTK, toking where no man has toked before.
Hyper-supportive director, cheerleader, and general pain in the touche
Kyles Koscoe, cheers him on to the point of near murder, but being the
consummate over-actor, he pops right back into character as the
bitchiest JTK ever when she shouts “action.” God, I love watching
Watch for more Zolbott intrigue as 6 writers extend these skits to half-hour Not Quite Ready For Public Access quality shows later this summer.
And where exactly IS planet Zolbott? Just south of the Flamingo galaxy
and not too far from space station Will’s. It’s sort of a black hole of
unfiltered comedy and short shorts. Beam me up a cold one, Precious.
PriquŽ: A Love Story
By Curt Nichols / NY Acting Ensemble
Performance Space Orlando
Meet Eddie PriquŽ – that’s pronounced as if French – “Pree – KAY “- not
as if American – “Johnson” or “Schlong”. Eddie (Daniel Cory) runs the
Silicon Valley Dating Company, serving up fake dates to Internet geek
millionaires. Serves them right for being so rich. Anyway, office manager
Julie’s (Bet Malloy) in love with him, even though Eddie’s the biggest
jerks this side of a used car lot. Fake dates for big bucks aren’t
exactly truth in advertising, and one of the clients has caught on. Mr.
Grimes sends his oily attorney (Jim Chlopecki) around for a little
customer satisfaction, demanding a date with Julie. Needless to say,
Julie has taken a powder and rolled down to the Whales Tale to drown her
sorrow in cheap Chilean Chardonnay and commiserate with professional
dater Amy (Laurel Robinson). Will Eddie convince her to save his
miserable hide, or will Grimes reformat Eddie’s hard drive? Scary stuff
for Eddie, but they don’t call him Prique for nothing.
A small but competent cast pulls off this light summer spritzer of a
comedy with plenty of Žlan. My favorite charter is Barkeep (William
Poulson) who pops back and forth between a fakey French accent and a
good ole boy back slap. He doesn’t have a name, but keeps up the
Frechified aura of sleaze. Eddie lives up to his name and Julie has
that vulnerable “I’ll wait forever for that big jerk” appeal that loser
guys just love. Eddie sums it up best when he states “I HAD to be a jerk
to impress you.” Women love it.