Category: Stoney’s Blog

A New Play-Debut!

It’s been busy lately and if there is one thing that keeps this actor off social media and my own website, it’s rehearsals! We’re doing a great play by John B. Keene called Sive. That’s not a typo. Sive is a great Irish play here at Pittsburgh Irish Classic Theatre and we open May 4 running till the 20th.

Being sold to an old decrepit man(me)for 200 pounds is not every girl’s idea of a fairytale marriage, but for Sive, it’s the only way her family can find some relief from their poverty stricken existence. Sive tells the story of two star crossed lovers set against the backdrop of the 50’s in County Kerry showing the simplicity and difficulty of everyday life.

It’s directed by the great Alan Stanford with a great cast of actors. We’ll stage it at our theatre: Union Project, 801 North Negley Avenue in Highland Park.

I surely hope you can come. Tickets are now on sale at:http://picttheatre.org

 

Dave Diamond

If you weren’t in Los Angeles in the late 60’s or early 70’s you may not know who Dave Diamond was. He was a top rock DJ in Top 40 music on the legendary KHJ and on to other stations in LA like KBLA(really was a station)KFI and KiiS where I met him as we worked together as part of the air staff. I was a young kid at 22. Came to LA from Cleveland and before that Detroit. Dave was probably about 34 and he took me under his wing and taught me what it was like to be cool in LA in 1972!

Hey, he helped discover The Doors! Yeah, that’s right and he was as cool as anything Jim Morrison ever wrote. I think he worked 6-9 AM and I worked 9 to noon and after that we’d hang out for the rest of the day. He lived in an apartment on St, Andrews Place, a terrible neighborhood by most accounts but I thought it was as cool as any urban neighborhood in an amazing city like LA and there was no city more amazing than Los Angeles. We’d have breakfast lunch at Tiny Naylor’s, walk down Melrose to some bookstores, head back to his apartment light up some weed and sit back and the stories. Dave kept to himself but I liked him and I was interested and fascinated by his stories of the Doors and Linda Ronstadt and the Whiskey and radio stories about Bill Drake who was the Top 40 guru of the time. Dave and I were radio artists but it was the counter culture that really kept us going. We were always looking for different ways to say things on the radio. Dave used to feature short poems and poetic rants that he would chant over intros to Donovan and Helen Reddy.  We’d write stuff and compare notes. He had some books published and he was working on a play that he finally had produced in 1980 called The Deals Are Going Down. He had the life I wanted and essentially I’ve found my way in life that’s a credit to his light.

There is a certain time in life that you start to look back. Look back on friends and people that had an influence and encouraged you. So it was a shock when I read that he’d died on May 5th of 2014. Dave dead. I remembered a short essay he wrote in his book Street Scenes called Last Day in a Writers Life. I just read it over again after finding it in my bookshelves. Bookshelves that look like the ones he had in that old apartment on St. Andrews street. I spoke to him last sometime after he had moved to Cincinnati where it was winter and freezing cold and we laughed so hard over the phone about his hate for the cold. He said, “I sit in a hot tub with a wet towel with my hands cupped around a pipe suckin’ on a  short snifter of Bourbon and still the shivers Stone man.” It’s cold here

Looking Ahead Beats Looking Back

After running and completing 20 marathons I know just how impossible it would have been to run each of those 26.3 miles going backward. You’ll never find your next subway stop or parking place by looking in the rear view mirror or turning your head around

 

And now, with the way the fabric of this country has changed it’s really important to look forward. The country hasn’t changed; the leadership has and while many will swear they saw it coming most weren’t even aware of what hit them.

As we go forward into 2017 I’ll be bringing back my podcasts but in shorter form. There will be some long form productions as obviously, digital becomes THE chosen communication medium.

For years, we’ve been told that the web is important but it was really not a money maker for most of us using it. Now, the web and its many apps and pages has become not only an instant mode of communication but something that everyone wants to make money with. I still think it’s the most instant and for the most part reliable way to share information.

I’ll be concentrating on media as a partner to my talk show on KDKA radio(remember radio?)as well as the arts, acting, theatre, film and TV as usual but I also feel it necessary to add and focus a bit on politics and social awareness as citizens. As is typical of my posts,I’m still figuring out what “social awareness as citizens” means. I’ll get back to you on that. Have a Happy New Year in the meantime. (Stoney)

“Friended” by Shakespeare

It all started a few decades ago as I was working in a production of Hamlet directed by James Cromwell in Los Angeles. That’s when, thanks to Jamey I realized my love for and interest in William Shakespeare. One thing led to another as happens when you follow your heart in these matters and I discovered a little known actor named Jon Sincler in Will’s company who never played any big roles but for some reason was always given special attention by Shakespeare.

A number of men in the company put them together in folio form and published them in 1623.
A number of men in the company put them together in folio form and published them in 1623.

So I created a one man play based on their relationship and what that might have been like. Over the years, I’ve added to the play as my research became deeper and more involved and now it has become a full one act, one man show. We did it last year as a reading to see how it would be received, a preview of sorts I guess and the audience really liked it. So after a trip to London to Shakespeare’s Globe and home in Stratford on Avon and much research from wise people like Andrew Gurr and Ben and David Crystal I was able to put together this story of what might have happened. To add to its authenticity the production is spoken in Original Pronunciation which is what the English language probably sounded like in Shakespeare’s London.

The Globe London

This time it’s a more fully staged one act and from after this we’ll do it as a touring production but first things first. We are at the 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie, Monday April 18th at 7:30. I still think it’s more of an art piece than a play at this point so that’s why I chose to stage it at this beautiful gallery owned by Phillip Salvato and urged by Robert Podurgiel.

Performance

It’s so rewarding to see this man, Jon Sincler come to life and also to hear the wonderful words of William Shakespeare. I hope you can join us.

I Love LA!

It’s an old song. A city’s a city. Get over it.

All those comments could and probably did follow that headline but I’m sorry I simply love Los Angeles, California. We all have cities, places, towns that strike a chord with us and for me it has always been LA. Obviously as an actor I am in love with the movie magic Hollywood holds over the city that’s always referred to as “this town”.

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“I gotta’ get outta “this town”! “This town” is killing me! You’ll never work in “this town”.

But it’s not just the movies. It’s the permanent impermanence of the City of Angels. The only thing that seems to be constant is the sun. Blue skies, sun and temperatures that please your body’s skin. We lived in LA for about fifteen years back in the early 70’s, the 80’s and the 90’s, Laurel Canyon, the Marina, Brentwood, Hollywood and the Valley.  Really after a while, the sun and azure blue skies got to be a little boring. Once doing a play at an Equity waiver theatre on Melrose, we had a rare thunderstorm. The whole cast went out in the alley during intermission just to hear that strange rumbling sound in the sky–that many in the cast had never heard before!!

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Yes, there are the freeways which are moving parking lots most of the time but LA is also the ocean.You’re never far from it even if you are stuck on the 405.

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Los Angeles can surprise me, entertain me and disappoint me. It has done all on several occasions. But whether I’m sitting in traffic, reading a script,diving near Catalina or just watching the waves and the ocean, LA always comes up with something new and it’s usually displayed in bright, warm sunshine.

Runner Or Actor: 1@x

Something very dramatic has been accomplished. A year and a half ago I was told that I would have to give up marathons and running altogether. With a little medical help, a lot of help from my chiropractor and my own daily rehab, I was able to not only get back to running but able to train and complete my 20th marathon just yesterday here in Los Angeles.

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My training method was something I created and called it 1@x. That means One At a Time. I started like I began my running 35 years ago, with a quarter mile and a half a mile a few miles, five, ten and so on till I was ready for 26. But it all started with that first step.

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Now before you think this only applies to runners think again. Especially if you are an actor. We actors are faced with a lot of “no’s”. That’s the business. that’s how it goes. But if we are going to find our way we have to take it one step at a time 1@x to get where we are going. Time doesn’t figure into it. The wrong step doesn’t figure into it. 1@x… until you get it right, whatever that is.

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So get your running shoes or your monologues out and get out there and hit it. And remember 1@x.

What Do YOU Think Of You!

Sanford Meisner once told us in class at Playhouse West in Los Angeles that “it will take you all 20 years to become actors.”

We all had good credits and considered ourselves then actors. So what was he talking about we wondered.

Charles David Richards

Now it all makes sense. To be an actor and understand what that means, how to handle the rejection, the elation, the doing it for love, the doing it for money—it’s all part of becoming an actor. And only after you’ve done it, or struggled to do it over twenty years do you then realize what Mr. Meisner meant about truly becoming an actor.

Country music star John Rich in the same vein told me after I’d shown him a couple country songs I’d written, “Now, write 500 more and you’ll be a songwriter.”

“Once in awhile” is considered a nice percentage for most actors but keeping at it, and going from job to job or project to project or disaster to failure to triumph is all part of the territory. Remember to remember it’s not what they think of you but what YOU think of you! Yes, what they think of you matters. After all it may get you a job but in the long run what YOU think of you is what will keep you going in this business whether on stage,behind a microphone or in front of a camera.

The Organized Actor

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This is good advice and perhaps one day I’ll follow it. All too often good actors who can recall lines on a moments notice, remember the blocking of a long forgotten scene or call up an emotion from a way past memory do not have a clue where they left the contact number of a casting director they just met.

If you have an office like I do or just a work area, no doubt there are piles of pictures, resumes, plays you want to read and a smattering of loose papers with numbers for workshops, scene study and maybe even potential jobs.

Organize my friends, organize. In the old days we carried notebooks(and I still do) but now it’s merely just the action of an entry in a smartphone to stay in touch with someone who may have said,”Call me”.

Here are some good organizing tips that I too should follow;

Keep your head shots and resumes ready to go(meaning updated) and always in the same place.

Keep a daily(or however often) log of who you saw for auditions, call-backs or meetings, who they are(their title)and an actual  contact address. Note: (“Casting Dept.” does not count as a legitimate Contact Address!)

If you have resumes on IMDB and other online web pages make sure you update them as well. You never know who checks these things or when.

Stay in touch on a regular basis with the contacts you do have. Not in a pushy way(I really, really need a job)but just a note reminding the recipient of  an upcoming, show, showcase or role you’ve been cast in or just, “checking in  with a reminder to keep me in mind if you have anything coming up.” It doesn’t take much.  And a postcard in  a business envelop I think adds a little class. An e-mail can be sent from anywhere and while convenient is more easily deleted than, sorry to say, chucked into a wastebasket.

I write this simply because I realized I don’t do enough of this. My friend Ron Canada who works all the time(I meaning all the time)has a photographic memory. He can walk into a cold audition, remember everyone in attendance and greet them by name when he gets his call backs. I’m not blessed with that talent as most of us are not, so all the more reason to …organize those piles a’ paper!

Actor’s “Time”

We’ve all heard the term, “time is what you make it”. But to an actor, “time” can be a period that leads to greatness, failure or possibly insanity. As actors, we all have probably too much “time”. Most of us don’t work steadily, going from one job to the next. Yes, all is well when our time is consumed creating a character for a play, waiting on the set for a movie or learning lines for a commercial. But what about the “time” in between. The “time” when seemingly nothing is going on?

That’s when we as actors have to use that “time” to our advantage.

Ben Slack

A friend of mine, a great character actor Ben Slack taught me a valuable lesson when he was alive. We would get together from time to time, usually when he had some down-time which he had much less of than I did. We would come up with projects, acting projects, one act plays, short film scripts, a study of a play. I would usually get all involved with the project saying I would get something together for the next time we met. A short time would pass, I’d call Ben and ask if he wanted to see what I had only to be told that he just got a TV series or he was off to Europe for a months worth of filming and we’d talk when he got back. The next time we’d meet, he’d have a new project he wanted to explore. After a while I learned that these “projects” was how Ben spent his downtime. “Time” to keep his mind off not working and “time” to keep his actor muscles working.

Think about it…but don’t take too much “time”. Get busy.

“Quiet Your Actors Ego!”

How many times as an actor have you wondered about a class, a refresher, a workshop and been stopped by hearing that little voice in your mind telling you that “you don’t need this”,  Probably you’re ego, that little voice essentially telling you you’re better than all those schlubs sitting in those little wooden seats.

In the words of any number of cast members in the movie Goodfellas, “fugedabotit!”

Don’t listen to that voice. Go ahead and sign up.  Especially if you have experience in the subject you’re about to work on. As a matter of fact, all the better. Because of your experience, you will likely learn newer things at perhaps a higher level than others in the class. We all learn based on our own experience.

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I have seen so many of us, myself included say, “I don’t need to do that” when in fact if you think it you probably need to do it. Freud published “Das Ich und das Id” a long time ago but what he explains about our Ego and our Id makes a lot of sense. Don’t substitute ego and bravado for real seat of your pants learning. As an actor, it’s an invaluable lesson