Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do Do That Voodoo

For those of you jonesing for a piece of this new play Centennial! ... the first public performance of one short scene from my unofficial history of Cleveland theater will be presented as part of Cleveland Public Theatre's annual benefit extravaganza -- PANDEMONIUM!

In 2003, then-Artistic Director Randy Rollison had the brilliant idea to kick out all the stops and create a mammoth benefit which would not only entertain and intoxicate (in all sense of the word) as many monied patrons as possible, but also to show off as many square inches of CPT's burgeoning campus as possible. At the same time, he solved the seemingly unending bane of the theaterworld -- mooching artists. Why yes you can have a free ticket! But you have to perform.

And we do. And we love it. Because no one wants to miss this party.

That first year Randy asked me to shepherd some actors together to present Neo-Futurist plays in the scene shop. And so for one night Magdalyn, Josh, Kelly and I were the New Guerrillas presenting Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (by permission) an attempt to perform ten plays in ten minutes. A dozen audience members were seated in the freight elevator at the Levin lobby, were handed a menu of plays, dropped down to ground level, the doors swung open and the four of us started shouting at them for which play they wanted to see. After ten minutes a buzzer went off, the doors closed and the audience went away. It was such a hit we were asked to reprise it several additional times during the evening. Yes, I kissed Christine Howey on the mouth. Yes, I paid her two dollars.

What we were unaware of, sequestered in the bowels of the theater, was how expansive the rest of the party was. We simply hadn't seen it. After we were released, we went above and found a huge dance party going on in the Gordon Square and out into the then-unpaved parking lot. It was huge! Since then, we the acquisition of the Church and Fellowship Hall spaces, it has gotten even bigger.

In 2005 we were about to open the revival of The Vampyres and I provided a cutting from that play ... which was presented out of doors on a platform stage. It was just one of those cases of bad planning on my part, I was unable to participate in any of the technical preparations and just distanced myself from the entire event. It wasn't the year for it for me, with a two year-old and a new baby at home. When Beth asked if I was interested in providing something this year, I made sure the scene fit the venue.

Two years ago, my wife wrote a piece especially for the event, a tribute to the goddess Kali in the form of a Mary Kay party, a scene I was delighted to have participated in. Last year the theme for the night was Wild Thing and though I was unable to attend, I was very happy to send the actor-teachers from Great Lakes to teach happy, adult partygoers how we coach first graders to perform Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. Apparently, it was quite a hit.

This year, my scene Do Do That Voodoo takes place in the Intimate Bar at the Alcazar Hotel following a performance of the Federal Theatre's Negro Unit touring production of Macbeth, directed by Orson Welles.

The scene will feature Toni K. Thayer as the Voice of the Living Newspaper, Emily Pucell as Dare Wright, Geoff Hoffman as Bernard Schrader, Joshua D. Brown as Orson Welles, Eric Perusek as the bartender ... and your truly as William F. McDermott.

Saturday, September 10. Pandemonium. Be there.

Evan Palazzo
"You Do Something To Me"

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