Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Machine Stops (radio drama)

Senior year in high school, Mr. Knapp assigned E.M. Forster's short story The Machine Stops. What seemed charmingly prescient in 1986 has become alarmingly so in the almost thirty years that have passed.

In brief. two hundred years into the future (the year 2109, according to Forster, best known for novels like Howard's End, A Room With a View and Passage to India) humanity will have destroyed the surface of the planet, and created a self-exiled under the surface of the planet where every individual human lives their existence in single room where all necessities are provided by The Machine.

No one desires to come into direct contact with anyone else, all communication is conducted through The Machine. They spend all leisure time (which is to say, all non-resting or feeding time) staring into the screen, through which they communicate and receive thoughts, messages and "ideas".

To my teenage mind, this was a remarkable turn-of-the-century concept of television. I had no idea of how computers and what we would later call the Internet would occupy our potential for expression or communication, and the similarity between Forster's world and this is much more accurate than that of Wells or even Bradbury.

However, let us return to 1986. Mr. Knapp asked what contemporary event came to mind when reading this story. A recent (two weeks ago) return to my alma mater reminded me of how reticent my contemporaries are to volunteering responses. So I do not believe my memory is too inaccurate when I suggest that a fat second or two went by, no one answered, and I finally put my hand up to suggest, "Chernobyl?"

Yes, that is exactly what he was suggesting. The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26. (Side note, at Prom that year we were served Chicken Kiev, which made for a number of tasteless jokes.) Since that time, the threat of and benign disinterest in global climate change suggests that it will not take any specific "accident" to drive us underground.

Also, too ... in reference to our capacity for viewing as a solitary intellectual endeavor, our English teacher inquired about any or all solitary activities, and whether they were not in and of themselves, selfish activities, even if they were arguably healthful. He was and is a marathon runner. Hours and hours on the road, away from his growing children, wasn't that inherently self-involved, even if it didn't render him on of Forster's pale, formless blobs of humanity?

This was an element I made reference to in my solo performance And Then You Die (How I Ran A Marathon in 26.2 Years). Since that time I have questioned my pursuit of running and how much time it takes from my family. I have since reconciled that fact that every minute I spent exercising gives back two that may be lost to a sedentary lifestyle.

In any event, this was one of the formative works of my youth. In my 30s, I thought occasionally of adapting a play from this material. Fortunately for me, Eric Coble did it first.

Commissioned by the Hiram College Center for Literature, Medicine and the Biomedical Humanities, Eric wrote a one-act stage play, which was presented at a symposium at Hiram and later at the Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland in 2005. I missed those productions, but asked Eric if I could read it. Centering as it does on two protagonists, Vashti and her son Kuno, with a dozen or more voices coming through The Machine, I felt it would make an excellent radio drama.

Following the success of our radio version of I Hate This in late 2005, WCPN producer Dave DeOreo asked, and now, what next? I suggested The Machine Stops. Then I asked Eric.

Creating this show was a particular delight, involving as it did some of my favorite voice talents (Jazmin Corona, Tim Keo, Nick Koesters, RaSheryl McCreary, Dawn Youngs) and giving Dennis Yurich the chance to create some truly delicious themes and sound effects. In particular, the subtle, throbbing humming of The Machine was unsettling in the extreme.

Also, we employed a number of Foley effects, executed by Kelly Elliott, inspired by the works of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and Terry Gilliam (Brazil), among others.

Be sure to listen to the Q&A with playwright Eric Coble at the end of the broadcast. The reference to MySpace may startle you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Seven Ages: Stage Combat

Let the beatings begin.

For seven of the past eight years, I have performed in the annual, free outreach tour for Great Lakes Theater. Seven Ages will be my eighth.

Traditionally, we begin rehearsal in January, open in February and close in March. And that's it. As I was invited to write a tour or two in the past several years, my process began in August, and then in April -- I wrote Double Heart in April 2012.

Our combat choreographer staged the sword fight in September of that year. We began rehearsal proper in January, and before we closed found that we would be taking the show to New York City. Over a year with this one show on my mind, it felt odd to be meeting with Emily to begin rehearsal on this new show.

A little background; Seven Ages consists of seven short tales written by seven Cleveland playwrights, based on each of Jacques "seven ages of man" from As You Like It. Mine was inspired by the schoolboy, and is rather literal. What was it like to go to school in 16th century England? One fact I learned was that the odds were very good you were going to be struck by your teacher.
Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love toward school with heavy looks.
- Romeo & Juliet, II.ii
Yeah, no shit Romeo. Especially when your drunken proctor is in a bad mood.

In one particularly nasty moment, the teacher (me) strikes his pupil (Emily, as a boy) from behind and without warning. December 17 our Kelly was in town to work with the actor-teachers, and we brought Emily in to stage the fight. The video here details the extent of the beating. You can see clearly from the second two angles that I am hesitant to get too close to striking her back. I think the way I am holding the stick will make a different, angled more severely it should hide the blow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

DDT-V (1983-86)

From 1983 and 1986 a number of Bay High School students (and a few graduates who never really got away) produced a half-hour comedy program for our public access station. At the time we thought of our work as mediocre, but looking back is it surprising how much we were able to accomplish with so little. 

Most of the bits trod well-covered ground, obviously emulating Saturday Night Live, SCTV and Not Necessarily The News, featuring fake news segments, advertisements and public service announcements. But at least the writing was original and we were able to exploit our suburban surroundings to our best advantage.

We produced two "Christmas" episodes in 1984 and 1985. We had been working on one in 1983, but someone in production rewired the editing facility and got us banned from the studio for about a year.

In the year 1985 alone the company made six shows, but after producing two more the following spring and summer, a large number of cast members graduated from high school and that was apparently that.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simple Gifts (1977)

New York at Night, 1979

R. O. Blechman (born Oscar Robert Blechman, 1930) is an illustrator and animator, you probably recognize his work. He made a name for himself creating sequential editorial cartoons for the Village Voice in the 1970s, later for The New York Times and plentiful covers for The New Yorker.

DID YOU KNOW ..? Like all great men, R. O. Blechman graduated from Oberlin College.

Without actually doing any research on the subject, I imagine the artist he is most closely compared to is Jules Feiffer, because of the shaky line. However, whereas Feiffer's people have detailed faces of angst and giddy nervous energy, Blechman's characters visages are so glyphic they are almost childlike, often succumbed by wonder.


His most-seen animation is probably something like the Alka-Seltzer commercial (1967) in which a man has an argument with his own stomach. My favorite work, however, was when he produced an hour-long holiday program for PBS called Simple Gifts. Seven animators presented works on the theme of Christmas.

Blechman's own piece, No Room at the Inn, retells the story of the Nativity with social commentary familiar to those who treasure his work. This acknowledgement of economic disparity and the plight of the poor is also reflected in Maurice Sendak's Introduction where a shoeless, miserable boy sacrifices his life to become a tree that brings joy to others.

Artist Chwast gives life to a bizarre tale from the bizarre novel Orlando by the bizarre Virgina Wool, and there is an silly Toonerville Trolley cartoon. Three pieces, however, are biographical, and summon up Christmases from America in the 1860s (rich future President Teddy Roosevelt's My Christmas) and in the 1910s (poor future playwright Moss Hart's A Memory of Christmas)
and the tale most haunting, that of the "Christmas Truce" of 1914. story told in this letter from by Sir Edward Hulse was only one example of soldiers, largely British and Canadian, emerging from their trenches to meet and greet Germans (there are far fewer records of any French participating) in no-man's land. First they arranged to retrieve their dead, which led to the singing of hymns, then carols, the sharing of family photos and stories and finally playing soccer and exchanging of gifts.

The afterward to this animation, that Sir Hulse perished in the trenches, doesn't make the story any more poignant, if you are familiar with the wholesale carnage of the Great War. He died on a godforsaken field in France. Of course he did.

Following this dangerous breach of continual murderous violence, those at the top mandated that strict punishments would be meted out if there were any further peaceful gestures made toward the enemy. And once poison gas was introduced in 1915, most Christian amity was successfully broken.

A commercially produced video for Simple Gifts was last released commercial in 1993, and is currently available on VHS for around $130. It has never been released on DVD.

Happy Christmas.
Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pogo (comic strip)

Okay, in the past three days I have experienced as many shouts out to Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. (August 26, 1913 – October 18, 1973). The documentary Dear Mr. Watterson (Joel Allen Schroeder, Director 2013) is playing at the Cedar-Lee, and so my son, who loves Calvin & Hobbes, wanted to see the trailer, which includes this brief comment from Berke Breathed:
My initial impression when I saw him was, the guy's making it harder for the rest of us. Because he's setting ridiculous standards of excellence that hadn't been seen since the 'Pogo' years. he was right. Like many comic strips, Breathed's Bloom County was facile and derivative and a complete rip-off of everything that had come before. Calvin & Hobbes may in fact be in the top 5 greatest comic strips ever made, but Breathed's unnecessary use of the word "ridiculous" before the phrase "standards of excellence" only serve to undercut the compliment, and betray a certain well-deserved shame for his own limp work.

What are the 5 greatest comic strips of all time? Well, before Calvin & Hobbes began its run a Pogo collection was released (The Best of Pogo, Fireside 1982) and foreworded by Doonesbury scribe Gary B. Trudeau, who described Pogo creator Walt Kelly this way:
In my opinion, Walt Kelly had only two peers in the pantheon department, Winsor McCay and George Herriman ('Krazy Kat'), and of the two, only Herrimann could write as well as he could draw ... Kelly, however, was a triple threat; 'Pogo' was beautifully drawn, exquisitely written, and enormously popular.
McCay's weakness as a writer would later be echoed by Bill Watterson himself, though I find it difficult to separate McCay's unfathomable inventiveness from the process of writing. His dialogue can seem less than sophisticated, but as I described in my interview with Dee Perry last week, since most of his work is a representation of dreams, it only makes sense that the dialogue is broken up and non-linear, like snatches of what you heard the day before being processed by your subconscious.

Then again, if you ever read any of his personal correspondence, you would also know that Winsor McCay possessed poor grammar and used what can respectfully be called creative spelling.

To sum up, however, this morning I came across this status update from my university movement professor:

I called him on his Pogo reference, but then my eight year-old told me it is actually Pogo possum's friend Churchy the turtle who is triskaidekaphobic.

For the record, I echo Mr. Trudeau's suggestion that if there is a "pantheon" of cartoonists, it should include Herrimann, McCay and Kelly, but also Watterson and inevitably Schulz, whose writing and popularity are unquestionable, and whose drawing skills are deceptively masterful.

But three Walt Kelly references in as many days, just as I have been introducing my son to his work is a little unsettling, and also thrilling, especially when the comparison is made to Winsor McCay. If there is one character who would slip easily into the Okefenokee Swamp it would be that of Flip Flap, whose slangy American vernacular echoes that of Kelly's band of swamp critturs. 

Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Adventures In Slumberland (performance)

Steve Wagner Photography

Adventures In Slumberland opened a week ago, on Saturday, November 30. The houses have been well-attended, the response from children (and adults) has been very positive. And we have gotten some great attention in local media.
Director Ali Garrigan and I had a lovely conversation with Dee Perry at IdeaStream this week. I get a bit tongue-tied by Ali keeps things pretty grounded as we discuss the psychology of Slumberland. Excuse me for saying so, but listening to this interview really makes me want to see this show.

Also, we never mention that fish. Also, too, we remember to mention Santa. You forget what kind of impression he makes, but children have been spotted leaning forward, wide-eyed when the man with the bag makes his brief appearance.
"If you have kids, you need to check this out." - Sarah Valek

In her warm and enthusiastic review, Ms. Valek does point out that this Talespinner show (and she has seen all of them) "doesn’t have as strong as a storyline as past performances." I can't disagree with this, and excuse me for saying I meant to do that but that was one of my plans for Slumberland, that it resembles the episodic nature of a comic strip while also, eventually, getting somewhere.

Rave and Pan
"It's quite a treat." - Christine Howey
Christine Howey mentions that Imp "speaks in a non-identifiable foreign tongue," and that was thrilling to me, because (and I believe Ms. Howey actually got this) Imp was a character I was most concerned about. McCay's original version is a grotesque racial stereotype, but while most adaptors have chosen to just leave him out, I thought he filled a necessary role as third. Third Marx Brother, third Stooge, or my case, third child.

Lauren B. Smith as Imp

Imp exists to embody the strange, unfamiliar nature of Slumberland, but that also means to know things that the outsider (Nemo) cannot know, and to comment on things without being understood. The children understand Imp, without actually understanding the words. Lauren is so marvelous with the character, and communicating Imp's language, it is flattering that Howey refers to it as a "foreign tongue" when all it is is entire sentences in English written backwards.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Joy of Christmas

Don't smile.

People, all kinds of people, like to kvetch and moan about how much better things were in the past. Some undefined past, could mean twenty years ago, could mean fifty. But things were less troublesome, more gooder, you weren't being inconvenienced by the thought police and gas was cheaper.

Well, I don't know about all that. If you know me, you know I believe society is a continuum where fates and fortunes are rising for some and falling for others. Ask a member of the homosexual community if things are better for them now than they were fifty years ago.

One community, however, which is always being persecuted, because it is part of their charter, is the Christian community. And who can blame them, since Obama took God off our coins, and no one says the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools anymore.

What I can say is this, The Joy of Christmas would probably not have been produced today. Fall, 1979 the choirs of Bay Presbyterian Church were asked to participate in a holiday Christmas special for WEWS (ABC) hosted by Eyewitness News anchor Ted Henry.

Anchorman 2 opens December 13.

The holiday set, with fake lampposts and artificial snow was set into one corner of a large room in the WEWS studios on Euclid Avenue. This one room also included the set for Eyewitness News in another corner, for Morning Exchange in yet another corner, with the much smaller set for the Ohio Lottery wedged between.

Mother tells me I joined the choir for that one year so I could be part of the broadcast, which I do not remember, but may be true. However, if I was hoping to "shine" on local television, that did not happen. While the producer kept asking us to put on a bright and cheery holiday smile for the camera, our choral director, Ernie Hisey, quietly warned all of us to do no such thing. The result is that I look a little pissed off.

The program was repeated a Christmas season or two, but was soon after shelved no doubt because of its strong religious content. This is a Christian celebration of Christmas, including Bible verses from the host, classical images of the birth of Christ, and a family sitting around to read the Bible to each other.

It is not true, however, that the big bad president has taken God off our money, he hasn't. It is also not true that kids no longer recite the pledge in public schools, they do, all across northeast Ohio for certain, because I see and hear them do it all the time as part of my job. The United States government, which is supposed to be religion-neutral, is not.

But a program like this may never again be created by a commercial television station, and for strictly commercial reasons. They aren't worried about offending anyone. They are worried about not pleasing everyone, which is quite different. They are worried about losing money, that same American money that still says "In God We Trust" on it.

Happy Black Friday.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Indie Theater Now

Now I am a member of Indie Theater Now! I have enjoyed saying that, as in: On the Dark Side of Twilight now available on Indie Theater Now! Now! Now! Now!

Indie Theater Now is the product of Martin Denton, whose work I first came to appreciate through his original online theater endeavor, During its 17-year stretch, reviewed almost 8,000 plays including almost every single play produced at the New York International Fringe Festival. For example:

I have also enjoyed the (former) nytheatrecast podcast, which kept me abreast of the alternative theater scene in New York City. This is extremely important if you want to take yourself seriously as an under-known playwright anywhere in the world.

Now, Denton decided shortly after the close of this year's FringeNYC to cease, and you can read more about why and what next in this informative HuffPo interview. Long story short, he is concentrating on his other original online resources, including Indie Theater Now -- of which I am (now) a member.

Indie Theater Now is, among other things, a database of new plays. You can access an online version of a complete text for only $1.29. A dollar twenty-nine. Seriously, for less than a cup of coffee. This is a great deal for not only producers and directors, but other playwrights, or anyone who likes to read original work.

Two of my plays are now available there, And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years) and On the Dark Side of Twilight. You can read reviews and other information about the production (see pictures, access online radio interviews, etc.) for free, and then begin your ITN library by purchasing a copy for your computer or reader.

You should purchase one or both of these scripts. Now.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Little Sammy Sneeze

HE NEVER KNEW WHEN IT WAS COMING McCay's first successful comic strip for the New York Herald was Little Sammy Sneeze. Like Slumberland's final image of Nemo waking up, the gag here was basically the same. Sammy sneezes, in doing so ruins something, and then he is beaten, kicked or otherwise driven from wherever he has caused his destruction.

Contrary to the subhead -- "he never knew when it was coming" -- he knew when it was coming for a good long while, and so does the reader, it's everyone else who is oblivious for four dialogue-stuffed panels. In one classic strip Sammy sits all alone, and when he sneezes he breaks the panel lines which crash around him. Meta McCay!

There is reference to Little Sammy in Adventures In Slumberland, which opens at Talespinner Children's Theatre this Saturday.

Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A great deal of 2013 has been spent either willfully not-writing, or bemoaning the fact that there is no time available to me for writing, or that the act of realizing the result of previous writing (engaged in rehearsal process, say) was justification for not writing at that time.

Writing that has come, does so in fits and starts. For two years writing meant this blog, researching Cleveland history and reporting on that. Then came the work, carving out time in the afternoon on weekends for the creation of specific projects. Staring into the screen, typing and editing. Facebook and Twittering.

Then, nothing. Not for a while. Like exercise, it takes a will. It's not that I do not like writing, I do. It is not that I do not take great joy in writing, I do. It is just tiresome procrastination, like anything that feels good while you are doing, the default pose of not comes much easier, especially when you feel "justified".

That was a long day or I deserve to veg or here is a nice drink or what are my friends up to on Facebook or I'd rather go running or there's cleaning to be done or look I have children or anything else at all.

I do not like to write at night. I cannot concentrate, I would much rather be washing dishes or folding clothes, listening to podcasts or watching TV. Writing in the morning on any given weekday just seemed pointless. There is no time to actually accomplish anything.

Then I remembered something I used to tell my wife when she was going through an extended period of not writing at all. I said, get up a half hour early, and write for a half-hour every day. She said, that's not enough, and I pointed out it would be a half-hour more than she was currently doing.

For I don't know how long I have been getting up at six. She has a new job teaching, and gets up a four quite often, and would wake me at six. Two months ago, when we moved into our new bedroom, and I got my own bedside table and lamp (this was new, our bed used to be in a corner and I got the wall) I asked her to bring me coffee at 5:30, and I would get my half-hour.

This is fair. I have been bringing her coffee every morning since 1995.

I have a steno pad and pen, and I write, longhand, whatever. It does not matter. Just words on the page. This is very hard for me, but I do it. Even if it's a paragraph or a sentence, I can just shift gears and write something else at any time, it doesn't matter. With my hand. My laptop is not allowed in the bedroom -- today is a rare exception, I was blogging last night, and here I am again.

Blogging is not to be confused with writing.

Lo and behold, I started writing a new script. I have to be sure not to make the morning writing about PRODUCING WORK, because then it would all just stop. But some paragraphs are in verse, about characters, very playful, silly writing. I typed some of it up earlier in the week, and that made me happy.

I wrote for a half-hour this morning before starting this blog post. And if the half-hour is up, and I cannot write, I have a stack of books from the library to read until my time is up. This is my current morning ritual, and it serves me very well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Slumberland: Before Dress

Dream Master

Adventures In Slumberland opens a week from tomorrow. I had the opportunity to enjoy a run-through on Wednesday evening, the first opportunity they had to conduct one since the previous Sunday. The amount of work they had performed since my last visit, some ten days earlier, was remarkable.

Having the opportunity to share this comic strip, which had made such an impression on me and countless others, in a live stage performance, has been a, uh, well ... a dream of mine, for some time.

There have been other theatrical productions based on Little Nemo. In 2012, composer Daron Hagen and lyricist J.D. McClatchy were commissioned by the Sarasota Youth Opera to create such a work, and devised a two-hour opera, a hero's quest in which Emperor Sol seeks to destroy Slumberland by making it day all the time.

Lyrics include:
We need a world where things are different.
We need a world we can’t control, 
Where nothing is what it seems.
We need a world of dreams.
Even McCay himself produced a lavish stage production, with a cast of hundreds, of the kind only imaginable in the early 20th century opera houses or in university theater departments. My question was how could I write a script:
  • specifically for children
  • intended for a cast of half a dozen or so
  • produceable with a modest budget
  • running less than an hour
And even more important to me:
  • be always dreamlike
  • jump suddenly from place to place
  • feature a lot of characters
  • have no obviously coherent storyline
  • have always had a completely coherent storyline
  • NOT be a hero's journey
So much of what I adore about McCay's strip is that the language is completely bizarre. Maybe that was convention. Bill Watterson himself criticizes the actual writing in the strip, that the dialogue seems an after-thought. But I just find it all relevantly absurd.
NEMO: Santa Claus! What are you going to do? Where are we going? Where are your reindeer?
SANTA: Never mind, don't breathe.
Don't breathe? wtf?

I want to report here about all those items which are working so well in this expansive dream-in-miniature, but I am afraid of giving away anything. I can say this, every performer is filling his or her intended role just as I had hoped when we cast them.

Eight days now. They will be full days. Haven't even seen the costumes on them yet.

This is another dream I had.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slumberland: Valerie gets a haircut.


Twice before have I had the great fortune to engage the charming and talented Valerie C. Kilmer. First, when I directed Henry VIII for Cleveland Shakes (Valerie is an accomplished speaker of verse) and this past winter in the workshop production of my play, These Are The Times at CPT.

Because Talespinner holds auditions at the end of the calendar year for its entire season (auditions for the 2014 season will be December 8 & 9) Valerie had already been cast as Little Nemo for Adventures In Slumberland when we worked together on The Times last March. Before accepting the role we asked if she were willing to cut her very long, red hair for the role and she agreed!

On Friday evening, I brought my daughter with me to rehearsal, and to take these photos. When I told her Valerie was having her hair cut right there at the theater, she thought that was odd until I explain Ali would be acting as barber, and then it made perfect sense. She knows Ali can sing, act, direct my plays, create costumes, masks and dolls, and really great hats. (Emphasis: My daughter's.)


Annie Perusek (Princess Camille), Valerie C. Kilmer (Little Nemo) and Tim Pringpuangkeo (Flip).

I am forgetting something. Valerie and I worked together one other time -- with my daughter -- at CPT's Pandemonium in 2012, when I wrote and directed a five-minute version of Slumberland. Valerie played the Imp, and my girl was the Princess.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Slumberland: All Aboard for Dreamland

Adventures In Slumberland is the first script presented to Talespinner Children's Theatre which already included a few songs, chosen by the playwright.

All TCT productions include music and singing -- live music, produced with instruments played by the performers or using their voices. To date these songs have been discovered or created through the rehearsal process. And though I was prepared to yield to whatever fantastic and beautiful design ideas Ali and her crew would create, I wanted Slumberland to be in some way tied to the time-period of the comic strip itself.

Some of the dialogue includes period slang (though there are a few intentional anachronisms) and there is a certain turn of the 20th century "popular" music that I truly love. It's the kind of waltz-y, music box stuff you hear at the carnival, or on the Kimball organ before summer movies at the Palace.

All Aboard For Dreamland
Von Tilzer/Sterling (1904)
Performed by the "Adventures In Slumberland" company

Because this story is a dream, which takes place in a fantastic space, I was delighted to find so many Tin Pan Alley melodies of the early 20th century were themselves about remarkable places, or taking fantastic journeys in modern contraptions.

The first attempt to get Nemo to Slumberland is punctuated by a spirited rendition of All Aboard for Dreamland by Harry Von Tilzer (A Bird In a Gilded Cage) and Albert Sterling. The "Dreamland" of the song was in fact part of Coney Island, an attraction known for its wild animal acts and "freak" shows, a place where cartoonist Winsor McCay would no doubt have felt right at home, as he spent his early professional years creating posters for circuses and side shows.

Like many such travel songs (Come Take a Trip In My Airship is another, and in our performance sung by Santa Claus himself) the lyrics suggest a romantic adventure, replete with kissing and spooning and other indecent performances. I took the liberty of adapting such lines to reflect a more platonic experience, description of these intimate acts replaced with the enjoyment of candy.

Come Take a Trip in My Airship 
Ren Shields (1904)
Performed by the "Adventures In Slumberland" company


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mad Men (TV show)

These things happen.

And now a word about Mad Men. My wife and I are behind, because we must be behind, there isn't time in the day to watch TV on any regular basis (though we did begin watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a family event on Tuesdays and I am beginning to regret that) but when we have a free evening, we will catch and episode or two of what must be the best-written program I have ever enjoyed.


On several occasions TV networks have tried to capture the 1960s in a bottle, through movies like The 60's (1999) or more recently the series American Dreams (2002 - 2005). From what I understand, these programs failed because the goal of these projects was to once again remind us what an amazing time the 1960s were, that there was never a period of history more important than that one, and that we must once more venture into these heady days, if only to understand, man.

They were, of course, created by Baby Boomers. Like the movie Forrest Gump, another tribute to that era which ironicly puts a moron at the center of great, historic events even though he has no idea how he got there ... like most Boomers who didn't actually do anything but just lived it and feel they earned their place in history. Like George W. Bush.

Mad Men, however, tricked everyone into thinking it was a cheeky period piece. Created by a member of Generation X (Matthew Weiner, b. 1965) he chronicles the events at a fictional advertising agency during a period before he was even born, starting in 1960. And in its way (because I know too much about what is going to happen already) this series stands out in its ability to tell the story of the times and how they were a'changin' better than anyone has for the obvious reason that he started with interesting characters, cast great if largely unknown actors, and have provided them with powerful writing.

Last night we took in the episodes The Fog and Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency back to back.

Let me start by saying my brother tipped me off, maybe a few months ago, that there will be an awful moment involving a lawnmower. And let me say that, in spite of this warning, when someone literally rides a John Deere mower into the office of Sterling Cooper, I was paying such deep attention to all the details of every storyline, that it didn't even occur to me that I was looking at a lawnmower and that something terrible was about to happen.

Back up. So Don's wife Betty (January Jones) is having their third child. Watching childbirth on TV, anything to do with it, always presents an ick factor for me. Because I know what it is to be afraid, every single time. Sometimes they die, these things happen. But not on TV. Even the episode of Six Feet Under, a TV show about death, gave one of the main characters a preeclampsia scare which concluded with a healthy baby and mother. These things happen, except not on TV.

Well, there was that one episode of E.R. I watched, the only episode of E.R. I ever watched, where Doctor Mark Green misses the signs, but even in that one the mother dies, not the baby. Never the baby.

Actor Matt Bushell has a featured role as a prison guard who is expecting his first child and shares the waiting room with Don (John Hamm).  The wife and I were marveling afterwards at what totally amazing scenes they shared together. Bushnell had this incredible, fully-formed character for these few scenes, going emotionally toe-to-toe with John Hamm, it's just another example of what great writing and acting and directing has the potential to be. The guard's anxiety and fear about losing his wife (who is having a very difficult labor, it is a breech birth) and what might happen if he needs to raise a child on his own are palpable and real. His euphoria at the news of the birth of his first child, a son, are beautiful.

After Don's child is born, he visits Betty in the hospital with flowers. He passes the guard pushing his wife down the hall in a wheelchair, Don smiles brightly, the guard looks blank, catches Don's eye, a smile of recognition flickers but then he looks down and away. Cut to Don, who appears confused.

It's such a brief moment. It's never referred to again. These things happen. Who caught that?

Episode reviews:
TIME: Like many of you, I wasn’t sure exactly what to make of the shamed look Dennis [the guard] seemed to give Don when he ran into him in the hallway. But I wonder if it goes back to his pledge that having the baby would make him “a better man,” and realizing now that it was just nerves and the Johnnie Walker talking.

The A.V. Club: And what does the later scene when the two men pass each other in the hall mean? Dennis can’t acknowledge Don. Is he a reminder of a promise already broken?

The Guardian: When Dennis ignores him later on, you almost wonder if their exchange really happened.
Most reviews I found do not even mention this moment. They were all so preoccupied with the guard, with Don, and with Don's issues, no one notices what is so terribly obvious.

The guard, his wife. There is no baby.

As for Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency - one of the most (literally) painful puns in the history of television - I can hardly share the pertinent details. Suffice to say I woke several times in the middle of the night, rubbing my feet together like a neurotic grasshopper.

What is shocking to me is that this program, Mad Men, which received a great deal of attention at the outset because it featured smoking and drinking and wild office parties, and presented this kind of nostalgia for the good old days when men were men and women were women and no one sued you for being an asshole in the workplace, evolved slowly (but not that slowly) into a rumination on the fragility of human existence.

Even in the midst of an ordinary day, you can die. Someone you love might die. A complete stranger can be horribly maimed, right in front of you. You can put your love hope and trust into another person who will hurt you. You can be vaulted from joy to the deepest sorrow, in a moment, just by moving through the ordinary pathways of life.

I have watched in horror as my wife split her brow, my son's skull was fractured, my daughter's forehead gashed, and I have held a dead baby. Ordinary life fucking scares me.

If moments like the lawnmower incident were commonplace in the storyline, the show would be grotesque. Seeming as it so totally random (except, come on people, don't drink and mow) is to me just one more reminder that these things happen, all the time, and we must be careful.

Originally posted on Daddy Runs Fast.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Slumberland: Rehearsal Process

  • en·sem·ble n. 1. A unit or group of complementary parts that contribute to a single effect.
I was once an actor for an amateur Shakespearean repertory company. It wasn't a repertory company, per se -- there were virtually no actors playing in both productions, but the shows were going to be performed in repertory, if you follow me. 

First night of rehearsal both companies came together for pretty much the only time, to meet and greet. The director of our production made his remarks, stating that he wanted this production to be different, that this would be a true "ensemble" of performers, working together to create this momentous work.

The other director began his remarks by announcing that unlike his colleague director's "ensemble" approach, he fully intended his production to consist of a company of insufferable divas.

Funny is funny, but point taken, and I have been careful not to casually throw the word ensemble around ever since. All acting companies can be called an ensemble, but what, as a director, do you mean when you claim some kind of unique intention to create one?

Nemo and Flip

What we create as playwrights for Talespinner is what Ali calls a guide script. I entered into this process with the complete understanding that what I wrote could be used in any manner she saw fit. This was actually very liberating in writing it. A playwright shouldn't worry very much as to the practicality of what they are writing (one of my favorite playwrights included a stage direction stated flatly that a woman pour the color blue out her shoe) but in this case I worried even less. Whatever I wanted to have happen, happens, and let Ali figure it out.

However, the extent to which she allows -- encourages -- her acting company to participate in the decision-making process is ego-shatteringly breathtaking. The first rehearsal following the first read-through, every company member (not just the actors) were expected to give a brief presentation of what they wanted. Everything was on the table, how would they produce this play, what did they want to see? She reserves the right to say no, of course. More often, however, I hear the word yes.

Come take a trip in my airship!

This kind of free-agency on the part of an actor is presumably what most actors want. One or two rehearsal reports have included the news that a line or two has been cut. I have not been asked whether or not this is okay, but I can tell you that it is, because I agreed that it would be.

Check the ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND Facebook invitation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nemo (1989)

Grip that pole, Nemo.

There has been one full-length animated film based on Little Nemo in Slumberland and the characters of Winsor McCay. A Japanese-American co-production it was released in Japan (titled simply Nemo) on July 15, 1989.

The Miyazaki film Kiki's Delivery Service opened one week later, and as the McCay-inspired work is entirely pedestrian and predictable and Miyazaki is a fucking genius, Nemo was a box-office disaster. Perhaps its mediocrity has to do with the fact that Chris Columbus has co-credit as screenwriter and everything he touches is awful.

I had never watched Nemo until after the rehearsal process for our Adventures In Slumberland began last week. However, I knew exactly what it would be, and how it would fail, and in what shape I wanted my guide-script to take in order to avoid those obvious, traditional pitfalls.

I needn't have been worried. This film never concerns itself with homage, it's just a stupid, noisy kiddie flick.

Things that are awful about this movie include:
  • The first five minutes are a horrifying nightmare rife with nakedly Freudian "rushing train" symbolism.
  • Though McCay's entire concept is predicated on Nemo's desire to meet the Princess, here he finds the idea repugnant because she's a girl.
  • Flip is voiced by Mickey Rooney. 
I could go on. What is most disappointing is just how pedestrian it is. Slumberland is exotic, perhaps, but nothing dream-like. McCay's stationary comic strip images are packed with explosive subconscious imagination, and nothing in this Nemo movie comes close. Huffalumps and Woozles owes much more to Little Nemo than Nemo does.

Nemo (the motion picture) also inspired a popular video game, Pajama Hero Nemo which is virtually indistinguishable from all other cabinet video games released in 1990 (X-Men, The Simpsons) in which a stationary protagonist while the background moves from right to left (side-scrolling) who just kind of destroys everything that enters their line of vision.

"Adventures In Slumberland, a holiday play of Little Nemo" is available in paperback and eBook.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Salesman In Beijing (book)

In 1983, only a few short years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, the playwright Arthur Miller was invited to direct a production of Salesman in Beijing. He produced a book of his director's diary, which I picked up recently as a gift for a colleague.

Between getting it from eBay and wrapping it for presentation, I read the first chapter and promptly found another copy online for myself.

This was an odd thing to do for one significant reason -- I am tired of reading Arthur Miller talk about the works of Arthur Miller. As an undergrad I took a semester-long seminar with Al Kaufman on Miller, where I first dug deep into the works of this most-praiseworthy of American playwrights and was disappointed not only to discover that all of his plays feel pretty much the same (Crucible as one stand out exception) but that he spent an awful lot of time writing about what his writing means.

Didn't you say it in the play? Then why do you need to keep explaining it in The New Yorker?

However, this book is really about directing, and not about writing. His obstacles appear enormous, the most obvious that he has accepted the role of directing a play through a translator -- he speaks no Mandarin, his actors do not speak English. In addition, Salesman depicts a world which he does not believe his company (actors and designers) will be able to comprehend, that of Capitalist America.

But also too and on top of that the fact that the world of Salesman never existed in the first place. People do not actually talk like people talk in Arthur Miller plays. No one.

To his continuing credit, rehearsal day after rehearsal day, Miller reaches to explain his characters' incomprehensible motivations by asking open-ended questions about basic human nature. When one of his actors questions why a character like Charley is kind to Willy, who to them appears, at first, a consummate loser and somewhat deranged, Miller asks if the actor knows anyone they do not respect, but still likes. Of course they do, everyone does. At that time in China, however, such realistic human nature was not something they would choose to perform on a stage. It was not the stories they chose to tell, and so acting it was a challenge to be overcome, and Miller's script is full of those.

In his personal reflections, Miller learns as much about how his actors contribute to his work as his work contributes to their larger understanding of a world which had been closed to them for four decades.

He does have this grandfatherly racist way of describing the eyes of certain members of his company. As a writer, one who records what he sees, using, you know, words, I might have hoped that a man who fancies himself such a deep appreciator of human character could find some other way to look into the face of his Asian actors without saying that their eyes slant. They don't actually do that, any more than anyone else's. His ignorance disappoints and knocks you back a bit. "Someone please ask grampa to stop talking."

By the end of the book (which concludes just as you would expect, after all the pitfalls and setbacks, opening night is perfect) I remain less convinced that Salesman is a transcendent work which addresses the universal longings and love of all humanity, and more convinced than ever that it is the medium -- live theater performance -- that can bring all peoples together to reveal our beautiful commonality.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This time last year I posted about all of the exciting developments on tap for the coming year. Three works in the works -- Double Heart, These Are The Times and Adventures In Slumberland were happening. Even then I was in dread -- good fortune and good works only last so long, for then, what next?

What next, indeed.

Let me begin by stating what now. Slumberland began rehearsals last week. We met the company. We read the script. I am ecstatic! I have to respect the process, and will probably not have much to say in the coming weeks about how it is progressing.

Suffice to say, I had an agenda when I wrote this piece. I know what I wanted it to be. Not just what I did not want it to be, but I wanted it to be a different kind of children’s production, and one which reflects the spirit and style of the comic strip upon which it is based.

Having written said script, I have handed it off to Talespinner Children's Theatre Artistic Director Alison Garrigan, with complete confidence and trust that magic will happen. I do not believe I have ever had as little input into the world premiere of anything I have ever written, and never been so happy to have it so.

The acting company consists of people I have (with one exception) worked with before, most quite recently -- Double Heart, These Are The Times and before that Henry VIII. The designers have made their presentations, or at least announced their intentions, and it is all gonna be one big candy-colored, dreamlike, comic strip, holiday festival!

Meanwhile, the first draft has finally come together for the 2014 Great Lakes Theater outreach touring production, Seven Ages. Nine years ago, when GLT last produced Shakespeare’s As You Like It, seven area playwrights were invited to write a ten-minute play inspired by one of the “seven ages of man” as described by the melancholy Jacques (AYLI II.vii) That play was also titled Seven Ages.

This year seven different area playwrights -- Nina Domingue, Christine Howey, Mike Geither, Anne McEvoy, Michael Oatman, Toni K. Thayer and myself -- were given the prompt to create a brief tale inspired by each of these “seven ages” to be told by one of four characters from AYLI; Jacques, the fool Touchstone, the lady Rosalind (disguised as a man) or her cousin Celia.

The end result is a swift, playful night of storytelling. Each playwright has been wonderfully engaged in not only writing these origial tales, but also helping knit them together into a seamless narrative. After the hectic summer I have just had, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this draft in my hands, and ready to share with our incredible artists and designers.

Finally, and most unusual, I was contacted by a British touring company, Freerange Theatre. They were searching for productions for their 2013-14 season. Their mission states that they produce classic and also new writing, but what caught my attention was their claim that their company is “fuelled by the belief that theatre can, and should, make a difference.”

This past year they found success producing Lee Hall’s Spoonface Steinberg, a solo performance dealing with issues related to autism and cancer in children. Searching for a new kind of solo work, one which speaks to different troubling medical issues. And thanks to the modern miracle of Google, they reached around the globe and found I Hate This.

Had I ever considered letting another actor perform my most personal solo work? If you had asked me ten years ago (and some did) the answer would have been no. I couldn’t imagine it, that would have seemed … odd. Maybe even wrong. Because it is my story to tell.

But I have told it. Two years ago CPT gave me the opportunity to tell it once more, and I said at that time that I was done with it. I had been working with it for seven years, I had no plans to make it a business, taking it to hospitals and community centers and theaters for years and years. I am in my mid-40s. It is the story of a younger man. And if a different, younger man wants to tell it, then why shouldn’t he?

And much as with Slumberland, I have confidence that this company will produce it in a manner which will make me happy. How could they not? Here is the audition notice:
DAVID - mid 20's - Late 30's. Angry yet funny, vulnerable yet strong, and a great observer. A man living in the aftermath of the stillbirth of his first child.

This requires an actor of great sensitivity, capable of holding a stage on his own. Only 'honest' and natural actors need apply. you must be able to tell a story 'without acting'. That said, your story will be interspersed by portrayals of  a range different characters so good physicality is essential.
My work is in good hands. They represent the age and gender, and that is all the story requires. Does it matter what race the man is? Not at all. Does it matter whether he employs an American accent? Now that I think of it, no it does not. The only suggestion I made upon agreeing to enter into this arrangement is that the show is supposed to be only an hour long.

Whatever happens, whoever they cast, wherever they go, I would dearly like to make the journey to see it.

What next?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004)


The other night the Cinematheque was showing all three of Richard Linklater’s Before films - Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013).

When it was first released in 1995, I did not see Before Sunrise and probably and would never have thought again about it, if not for the fact that my brother once asked if I had seen it and telling me how much he had enjoyed it.

Before Sunrise (1995)
Indeed, if I had seen that first part, at the time, I do not believe I would have enjoyed it. I had never been any kind of fan of Ethan Hawke. I was amused by Hamlet (2000), I entirely despised Reality Bites (1994). The guy is my age and supposed to be this important Gen X indie character but he always has always struck me as just a much softer Matt Dillon, and a bit self-serious.

When I imagine watching the movie on first release, as a twenty-seven year-old, when his character (Jesse) lays down the “jump ahead ten, twenty years, and you’re married” gambit to lure Julie Delpy (Celine) off a train to walk the streets of Vienna for one night, I would have bristled at its far-too cleverness. The movie asks, "Don’t you wish you had the stones to say things like that to pretty girls?"

Of course, I know plenty of guys who do deliver monologues like that to pretty girls to try to get what they want. Those guys should know these pretty girls always tell me about these hilariously precious attempts over coffee -- and about the sprawling, defensive emails that arrive the morning after, and we laugh. It’s fun.

Actually, yes. I am one of those guys. Or I used to be. One of those guys who would say those things. Sometimes it worked, especially on one night in July, 1994, and if it hadn't, I would not have been sitting next to my wife at the Cinematheque last Sunday night.

She and I had originally planned to see all three, but her work and my need to continue certain important house projects brought us to the sound conclusion that we should see the first on the big screen, and if we liked it, we would check out the other two at some future date.

As the credits rolled for Sunrise I turned to my wife and said, "We're going to stay for the second one, right?"

Before Sunset (2004)
What seemed bizarre, and as I said, contrived about the “jump ahead ten, twenty years” speech in Sunrise is that we know now that there are now three films (to date) which chronicle a single relationship between two people which spans (to date) almost twenty years. Director Linklater could not have known, making this inexpensive, independent romantic slacker film, that any or all of the artists involved would be available or interested in producing a sequel. Name another earnest, romantic, low-budget movie with a sequel.

Nineteen years ago I couldn’t have imagined sitting where I was, either.

We ran into friends at the theater, between the first and second movies, who assured us the third one (Before Midnight) is actually the best of the three, which I found incomprehensible. My expectations for the second were now high, if only because I had just found the first so well-made film, and so moving. I was actually giddy with anticipation to watch Sunset. But how could this second film be ... different?

The fact that a duology (let along a trilogy) had never even been planned, that the director and actors came together to write another movie about the same characters at a different stage in their lives, made it about what is rather than what was. Sunrise, the fluid meandering of one long night, as two twenty-somethings get to know each other, and the places that evening's wandering takes them (palm readings, poetry for spare change) became in Sunset the frantic, desperate chattering of two people in their thirties trying to recapture something they had, uncertain as to whether they could.

It wasn’t until Monday that it struck me that the entirety of Sunset is in real time. From the bookstore to a café to a boat to a car to home, without a break. An inexorable, 80-minute progression to where they wanted to be but could never have gotten to nine years earlier.

One of the traps the second film avoids entirely is any drama about Hawke’s character being married with children. I was wondering when he would bring it up, his wedding ring is certainly conspicuous. But she already knows. She’s read about him, he’s a published author, that’s how she found him. It’s a fact of life, they’ve been apart nine years. What was supposed to happen?

Before Midnight (2013)
But that walk up the staircase, and then settling into her apartment. Making tea, listening to music, slowing down, he knew he wasn't leaving. I was reminded of when my first marriage was falling apart, when I was already seeing the woman I am now married to. We had fooled around, it was frantic, my wife knew about that. She hadn’t said no.

Then we began arranging visits. Because I wanted to know what it was like to be normal with this new person. I told my (then) wife I was planning to get back to New York, to spend time there doing things with our mutual friend.

“You want to try it out,” she said. She knew. She was absolutely right.

We left after Sunset. We had to. A babysitter was watching our kids, my wife had papers to grade, I had grocery shopping to do. It felt like a such a betrayal, stopping here, leaving Celine and Jesse behind, when we knew there was more to the story, the hardest part -- the part where they are our ages. I mean, the ages we are right now.

She and I meandered around the Case campus, trying to find a place to eat. We walked and talked. I was giddy after the first film, after the second I just ached.

But I was relieved. So much frantic longing, which I am glad to say is in my past. I hadn’t waited, I took the leap back then and while it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t nice. But it is impossible to say that it was wrong.

Ensemble Theatre presents the World Premiere of "The Way I Danced With You," opening March 21, 2019.

This post was edited 3/12/2019. These days I like Ethan Hawke quite a bit.

You can read "The Way I Danced With You (The George Michael Play)" today at New Play Exchange.

Monday, August 26, 2013

FringeNYC 2013 Overall Excellence Awards

Awesome news!

Winners of the FringeNYC 2013 Overall Excellence Awards were announced by festival Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy during a brief ceremony at The Cutting Room in New York late last night.

Our own Lisa Ortenzi received an Award for Overall Excellence in Directing for her work on Double Heart (The Courtship of Beatrice and Benedick)! This honor reflects well on the production as a whole, but most significantly on Lisa's strengths as a director and the entire Double Heart company is thrilled and excited at her achievement. Way to go, Lisa!

Awards were selected by an independent panel of over 40 theater professionals. 

Complete list of FringeNYC 2013 Overall Excellence Award Winners.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sleep No More (play)

My companions at Sleep No More, James and Emily, reported strange, performance-induced dreams the following night. I had no such dreams that night. In fact, it took two days to decompress following that event and to truly sort things out.

I do not normally reflect immediately upon emotionally-effecting events. I can say good-bye to someone I know I will never see again, and be sincere and even wistful, but never cry, not then. That comes later when I am suddenly surprised by a reminder of their being and the full weight of loss and sorrow crash upon me like a fool.

We saw the show on Friday. Our final performance in New York was last Saturday. We packed up and departed on Sunday. James slept for a couple hours in the early afternoon and I drove in silence, and that was when I had the chance to think. I thought about everything, the previous ten days -- the whole summer, really -- and all of it rolled together into one big thing.

This was a theater festival for the record books, if because this time I was not alone. Very little downtime, if I did not choose to act, then someone was choosing an action for me. I did not go from point A to point B without stopping at points C, D & F to meet one or another friend, colleague or family member. So many places, people and things.

And then there was the witch, or nurse, whatever she was. The one who chose me. Because that's part of the attraction, you know? That's what the people hope for, it's not about the one-on-one performance experience. You could get that in one of the open rooms just because no one else happens to be there at the time. When one of them chooses you ... well. That means there's something special about you, right? Even if you are wise enough to know that there isn't. You can't help it.

It was entirely by chance, because I knew these things happened, but it still took me entirely by surprise. It happened like this:

There is this corner room, with a platform elevation, all the walls floor to ceiling painted in black, I passed through it quickly once, but heading through again saw a nurse, a brunette, writing something on the wall. I went and stood next to her. She was writing  the same thing over and over again.
The Thane of Cawdor
The Thane of Cawdor
The Thane of Cawdor
That's when I assumed she must be a weird sister. (Patrick Stewart's recent TV version of Macbeth featured witches in the guise of nurses, too.) The music changed, she stiffened, and walked out of the room. I followed, as did many others, through the branch-maze, but then we encountered another witch, the red-haired one.

They stared at each other, but then she looked at me. Unconsciously, I had put my left hand over my heart. Was that what she noticed, that I was lost in it? That was when she offered her hand.

As I said, I won't describe what happened when she took me by the hand and led me into her little room ... except for this, because this was most troubling.

Near the end of our time together, in that little room, she again took my by the hand, and held me hard. Then she leaned back in her chair, holding me to the length of her entire arm, trembling and shaking me. She sighed piteously, and just I thought she was going to pull me off my seat, she yanked me close and whispered in my ear.

That done, she let me go, and showed me out the door, and as I took the last step turned to see her slowly close the door behind her, and to the last the light of her eyes were bent on me.

This final image has been blazed into my thoughts, as though it were a lost memory of something I had once experienced, some haunted, familiar recollection. It took an entire week before I finally realized where this had happened before.
He tooke me by the wrist, and held me hard,
Then goes he to the length of all his arme,
And with his other hand thus ore his brow,
He falls to such perusall of my face
As a would draw it, long stayd he so,
At last, a little shaking of mine arme,
And thrice his head thus wauing vp and downe,
He raisd a sigh so pittious and profound
As it did seeme to shatter all his bulke,
And end his beeing; that done, he lets me goe,
And with his head ouer his shoulder turn'd
Hee seem'd to find his way without his eyes,
For out adoores he went without theyr helps,
And to the last bended their light on me.
- HAMLET Act 2, Scene 1