Some questions.

For some reason, it terrifies me to state outright what I want. (Apart, of course, from

my Tumblr proclivities

.) I'm not sure why. Fear of failure? Need to please? Neurotic (for sure)? This aversion has even put my toes in the fire once or twice (including one especially memorable high school moment when my girlfriend yelled at me in the hall between classes, "You don't know what you want and that terrifies me!") yet I've not changed it significantly for the better. So when a career survey I was working through tossed a few questions at me, I thought it might be interesting - success or failure - to post the results.

Interesting to whom, I daren't contemplate.

1.) What do I want out of life?

Well, (I love thinking-pauses in text) I want a storied experience. Preferably those stories involve overcoming adversity and making things a little better than they have been, but even failure and disappointment can make for good stories. My personal definition of success has changed repeatedly over time, but coming out of it with stories has always been redeeming. To me that means taking as little for granted as possible, and saying yes to any opportunity I possibly can. I want to create stories, and for my personal story, I want to create a family. That's a part of my story I've known I've wanted for a long time.

2.) What do I want to give to this life?

Everything? I don't want to leave anything undone, or have regrets about the efforts not attempted. There's balance in how much one gives and keeps but in terms of anything related to my life, I see no reason not to give my all: time, effort, aspiration. If there's something to keep, I'd say perspective, or at least sanity. And even sanity is overrated in a number of situations. If I'm going to be as specific as possible in responding to this question, I'd say I want to give love. (Lately I keep thinking of that amazing line from the film

Adaptation

: "You are what you love, not what loves you.")  Sorry to take it down a bit of a golden-brick road, but anything done with love really does come out fantastic, and there's all different kinds of love. I think love is a decent legacy in terms of what one gives to the life they want.

3.) What is it about the world that I dislike, am most bothered by, or hate the most; and would most love to correct, fix, or eradicate if I could?

When it comes to little things, this list is pretty endless. When it comes to big things, I get overwhelmed before the list can become endless. From petty annoyances like people who

rush into the subway without letting people off

, to, you know, War, there's plenty to change. In most of the work I've done for myself, I've aspired to break people out of windows. I see our world as one in which people have become too comfortable with the idea of personal distance and routine, experiencing stories on a cold plastic screen (as though through a window) and ignoring anything around them that isn't a practical part of getting through a day. I hate - in myself most of all - that sort of appetite- and survival-driven zombie-ism. I'd eradicate it if I could. As it stands, I try to create experiences of perception and gratitude to counteract it.

4.) What product or service does my community or the world really, really need?

I'm going to try to answer both of these, to see where it leads.

A service is the easiest for me to conceive of, since that's essentially the role I perceive my theatre work to have been. Theatre creates a communal, personal experience that transports people through an idiom with which they are generally comfortable (audience/performer relationship) into personal connection, imagination and discussion. But if I were to name a new service that my world badly needs, it would be a conduit to this sort of experience - be it theatre or some other live art, church or a wicked karaoke scene. In other words, a service that connects audiences with genuinely new experiences they really want to have. What it means to be a "community" has been rapidly changing, and needs a service that is a new connective tissue.

All of that invariably leads me to my notions for a product. I'm drawn toward technology, naturally, as it fascinates me as much as anyone else within my demographic. Yet I also value artifacts - physical objects that are unique and tactile. We need a product that really exists, without being divorced from computer-based application. An "app" is not enough. It would be very nice to figure out some new and appealing social-networking software, but our miraculous "phones" are still windows, barriers of glass, illuminations of connectivity, and not the community itself. My product would be some kind of compass to community, but one that opens your eyes rather than keeps you staring into your palm.

5.) What is it that I would love to do more than anything else in the world?

Absolutes are tricky, but I most often pass satisfaction into the precious world of fulfillment by way of creating or improving things with rigor and attention to detail, as well as broader implications and effects. This activity most often takes the form of inventing comedies and characters, but also applies to writing in just about any form and other things, such as marketing and entrepreneurship. More than anything in the world, today, I'd love to write and critique and teach . . . with perhaps the occasional opportunity to perform.

6.) What is it that most energizes me? What work most exhausts me?

You know, I think exhaustion has a place. Working on shows usually does both of these, and I think that's part of what's so appealing about it. I believe I'm exhilarated by the innovation and collaboration, and exhausted by the chaos and collaboration. I'm energized by projects and newness, be it work at a computer terminal or bouncing around outside, and I'm exhausted by disorganized, maintenance work. What tires me out is a hopelessness that comes from a lack of direction.

7.) What turns me on the most?

Heh-heh.

Beginnings, effective communication and emotional content. I crave an audience at all times (probably especially when I least wish to) and so working in a group is as wonderful for me as a solo project, so long as what's taking place involves listening and caring - caring about what we're aiming for and caring about how we get there. I'm excited by things that transform people's perspectives, and offer challenge and reward in some kind of accessible balance. Great words and great movement turn me on, and a sense of rhythm (kind of like a sound procedure or protocol) will carry that excitement forward indefinitely. I like ideas. Scratch that. I

love

ideas; I adore them. Amongst people who enjoy thinking creatively, challenging themselves, is hands-down the best place to be for me.

Tiny Black Specks

Ed.: This was supposed to post on Halloween this year as a companion piece to

Pavarti's post of the same story

from another perspective. Alas, I was too occupied with more important writing-related work (I'll get no arguments from Pavarti) to finish it, so I'm clocking it in late. Sorry, super-fans!

Even as the seeds of our relationship's destruction were being sown, my first love saved my life.

Let me back up a bit.

I got sick a lot as a kid. I have to some extent been a method actor all my life, which is to say that I've felt that believing the circumstances wholly is the best way to a convincing performance. A healthy dose of masochism doesn't hurt either. Odds are that about half the sick days I took in high school were more like anxiety days, or self-flagellation days. Still, I believed them, even without that important DefCon 1 of childhood illness: the antibiotic.

You knew if you actually went to the doctor, and the doctor actually prescribed something, then you were sick, real and true. In the autumn of my senior year of high school there was a lot going on, and I really did get sick. I was put on just such an antibiotic, and deemed therefore fit for society once more. I was glad for that, since the day was a holiday, and my favorite one at that. On Halloween Day, 1994 - a Monday, as it is this year - I returned to school, fortified and ready for all the excitement once more.

The thing I will always remember are the tiny black specks.

It could have been caused by anything. My mom always gave us a double-dose of whatever antibiotic we were prescribed right away, to jump-start the blood levels. I could, in fact, be allergic to this particular cocktail of micro-organic missile, as my every doctor's form has reflected ever since. Or maybe, just possibly, I rushed through my regular breakfast routine that morning without stopping to consider that the semi-viscous substance suspending my Rice Chex in that bowl was, in fact, milk. And maybe, yes, there was a certain bovine injunction on the side of the orangey, childproof bottle. I may never know.

I may never know because the day itself is an astonishing blur. Not the kind of blur one associates with tremendous speed or urgency, either. Rather, the sort of blur that happens when something is smeared across, or great heat melts something, or some synthetic psychoactive drug chooses to make a mess of your internal relativity. Or, as was the case with me that Halloween Day so long ago, all three, concurrent and consecutive (see note about internal relativity).

Sometime not too far into the school day, maybe after first period, I started to feel nauseous and following fast on the heels of that sensation I vomited into a garbage can. I had the nurse call my mom. Luckily for me, she worked at an elementary school just down the road and had the time to swing by to take me home. I remember lying on my left side in the back of our maroon minivan, trying not to be sick even as I contemplated whether I was making the right choice. I was feeling better. Maybe I could make it through the day, and on into the night's festivities. This thing could still be saved.

It's difficult to remember these events, but not solely because of my altered state. No, as with many other times in my life that proved to be turning points, I've blocked out a lot of details of sequence and experience in my memory. Although I recognize I have a tendency to get mired in my past, I also have a great deal of trouble letting go of my own volition, and so I frequently and by default "forget." That is, "wall memories off where they are forced to live in confinement forever and/or until some silly, silly suggestion that I give them some air is made." It's a bit of an effort to dredge some of this up.

At the time, in the fall semester of my senior year, we were rehearsing a show called

Stage Door

, in which I played the closest thing to an antagonist the story had. Senior year represented a sea change in my high school experience, having gone far too quickly from chubby band nerd to skinny, upperclassman, leading-man-somewhat-by-default drama nerd. My dearest, passionate, first true love was a junior, but making more headway in choosing a college for the next year than I was. I had also - extremely unexpectedly and as a result of an acting exercise brought to us from a summer intensive our stage manager attended at Northwestern University - recently fallen for my co-star.

A memory doesn't have to be painful for me to quietly wall it away in the intervening years, just embarrassing. This one happens to be both.

I

think

 I went straight to bed when I got home that morning. I

think

 I might've tried water and toast at some or several points, in the hopes of hanging on to the idea of healing. I

think

 I heard the phone ring once or twice. But I know that by the time the phone started ringing I had already vomited at least three more times, and resigned myself to staying in the bathroom. Eventually, the floor of the bathroom became the best place I could imagine and so I laid there, years before I would ever experience the divine punishment of alcohol. By the time I heard the front door opening and my girlfriend's voice calling my name, I was pretty certain it was  a hallucination.

The door to the bathroom was closed at first. Was the bathroom door closed at first? At this point it's all a mess of fingerpaints in my mind. She was always lightly on the goth/punk side - Doc Martens strapped on over fishnets, but a girlish giggle as easily and likely as a throaty guffaw. I'm not sure, but I think my guardian angel was even more punk that particular day, in a nod to the holiday. Regardless of when I let her see me, I somehow remember bright sunlight coming in from the open door downstairs, that same door that still displayed the knuckle-dents from when I punched it in frustration the previous May and broke my metacarpals. The pain of that was fresh in my mind, and it had nothing on what my abdominal muscles were going through as I spasmed and vomited yet again.

"Jeff, I'm calling your mom."

That's a bold sentence when you're a teenager, for any occasion, but especially when you've just skipped school to check on your sick sweetheart. I didn't try to stop her. I stared at the results of my latest heaving in the bowl, and was baffled. Nothing but a little clear fluid, but swimming with tiny, black specks. It was almost funny.

Later, in the emergency room, they would tell me that those black specks were the scrapings of the bottom, the digestive granules produced by the...bile duct? Something. By that time I had been on an IV for dehydration for hours, so I really should be able to remember. Strange that I would let that particular detail go. Maybe it takes days for dehydration to kill you, even when it's accelerated by an allergic response (or whatever) but I certainly wouldn't have made it to the emergency room until late into that night if it hadn't been for my girlfriend knowing it was time to break the rules.

She's always had that kind of unconventional clarity. That's the quality, I think (though also to a lesser degree the fishnets) that made my initial attraction to her so strong. I think of her as one of those kids who never knew they weren't an adult, and now that she is an adult she's got all that assumed authority the years bring to back up her keen perception and audacity. I'm proud we're still friends after all these years, after long stretches of no contact, after I shoved the self-destruct button quietly down on our relationship, after all kinds of personal emergencies and my inauspicious and unrelenting crush on her that started it all.

Having now lived twice the number of years I had then, I'm not sure I can claim any greater wisdom. Nowadays, a lot of the gusto of that time of my life seems smarter than where I am. Certainly not all of it, but much of it. Teenagers have an emotional sincerity from which we can always learn a little something. While age may not have increased my wisdom, distance has bettered my perspective.

I can see now that it was all a little funny and a little horrible, and even that those two aspects are usually paired up to some degree. I see past the imagined drama and the true consequences that it's a story about people who love each other. In fact, struggling through the melting, smeared mess of my memory of this event has helped me see myself a little clearer, even as the teenager I was, the woman who loved me, the girl who surprised me, our teachers and parents and friends of that time fall farther and farther away, into the distance, into tiny black specks.

Subterranean Design: Qanat Irrigation & Adventure

Hello, nerds!

All right, you're not all nerds. But if you have any interest at all in the subject to which I am about to link, you may be on the nerdlier side of the coin. I've finally gotten around to a writing assignment Friend Younce handed me back in the spring, and it's up at our joint venture,

Subterranean Design

Qanat Irrigation & Adventure

explores some of the more exciting design aspects of desert gravity-irrigation techniques.

Okay, I'm going to have to ask you to CALM. DOWN.

Get ahold of yourself!

 It's actually far more interesting than I thought. On a related note: Hey, who's got two thumbs and is a raging nerd...?

Everything Under the Sun 3: Favorite Productions

Everything Under the Sun

 is a short series of posts we'll be doing here at the Aviary, motivated by a potential collaboration on a project that might end up being sort-of/kind-of personal. I have what amount to assignments of exploration of my own interests in particular areas, so I thought I'd put them out there to provoke any responses that you may find irresistible.

Favorite Productions

(With, it must be said, some apologies. Loving certain shows more than others does not decrease my love for said others. I love you both, all, in part and sum, uniquely, whoever you may be. If my choices here enrage you, you may want to evaluate the weight you give to my opinion, rather than my opinion itself.)

HIGH SCHOOL

Ten Little Indians

As my first show approaching any kind of production value, it's hard not to choose this one. However, I believe it ranks for more than just the thrill of beginning. With all the tumult and confusion of becoming a teenager, I still manage to understand that I found something thrilling and fulfilling about theatre with this show. Maybe the first hints at how a show and a role can be believed, rather than just enacted.

The Dining Room

Great play, to begin with. The production I was in was an abbreviated version and student-directed. I had given up theatre for a couple of years in high school (apart from an almost stunt-trick audition for 

Midsummer Night's Dream

) and this production of 

Dining Room

 was something of a return. Because it was student-directed, I could engage in a real dialogue with the director about ideas and process. I remember it as a wonderful experience of how simple effective theatre can be (mar it as I'm sure I did with over-performing).

Illustration cropped from a work by Ted Michalowski.

COLLEGE

The Three Musketeers

This was only my second main-stage role in college, and I played d'Artagnon. If you'd asked me at the time, I never would have guessed this would be among my favorites. The production seemed to me to be plagued with indecision, uninspired writing and unbalanced trickery, plus I was naturally insecure about playing someone supposedly dashing and a fencer to boot when I hadn't even touched a foil before. Yet it set a lot in motion for me and introduced me to conventions I love to use to this day: live music, transforming set pieces and 3/4 staging. If it weren't for this production, I might not have ever gotten involved with physical theatre.

The Bacchae

Another student-directed production, this one was a graduate student assignment, and for about a month in our program just about every grad student was directing some undergrads in a Greek tragedy. Fun month, let me tell you. I played Pentheus, and had some good incentive at the time to explore unrepentant rage. The production was a relatively colloquial translation economized into a fluid one-act, and featured the gods Apollo and Dionysus seated on either side of the stage at the start. My destruction at the Bacchanalia was portrayed in a dance in which I was stripped just shy of naked and the women smeared stage blood all over my body. Later, when my mother awakes from her trance to realize she isn't holding a lion's head, but her sons, I walked slowly up behind her, stopping just at the point she sees that she's killed her son. It was an abstract, visceral and I think 

very

 effective production.

Hotel Paradiso

And now for something completely different. 

Hotel Paradiso

 was something of an adaptation of a translation of a French farce, directed by my favorite acting teacher. I'd previously played a lead role in a contemporary tragedy under his direction, but 

Hotel Paradiso

's Maxime turned out to be a better fit for me. Essentially, I learned from this production that my sense of comedy had roots in traditional farce, and that the physical comedy I started with as a little kid could carry me into a great adult work. I simply had a blast feeling the symphony of a well-coordinated comic play.

Cropped from a photo by Jimmi Kilduff.

PROFESSIONAL

The Hatfields and the McCoys

Ridiculous. So ridiculous. Theatre West Virginia was my first professional contract, and it is a classic, outdoor, summer-stock theatre. They produce two standard shows every summer, and one change-up. The historically obligated show is 

Honey in the Rock

, the story of West Virginia's 

secession

 from Virginia, and the real crowd-pleaser is 

The Hatfields and the McCoys

. It's violent and sprawling and sad and funny by turns. In addition to running around a huge space, firing guns and wielding knives, I got to play dual roles as a McCoy in act one and a Hatfield in two and make them as physically broad as I liked. It was ridiculous fun.

The Glass Menagerie

For a little while, David Zarko wasn't sure if he hadn't miscast between myself and the actor playing Tom. In fact, I remember the common response I got when I mentioned I'd be appearing in 

The Glass Menagerie

 was, "Oh, you're perfect for Tom." It wasn't too long before David realized it was the best way to go, however, and I definitively agree. "The gentleman caller" surprised me with his depth, and his earnest insecurity. This show began my long collaboration with David and Electric Theatre Company (née The Northeast Theatre ["TNT/ETC"]), and was a beautifully simple and sensitive production.

Circus of Vices and Virtues

A raw space in a former bathhouse in Brooklyn. Self-generated work. Allegory and agit-prop. Clown and monsters, and lots of aerial acts. Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the second Bush era in government. I was young and passionately committed to any work, and the dark imagery and new, dance-like world of this most abstract show impressed me so much that I worked on it off and on over a course of two years.

Summertree

A Vietnam-War-era drama that plays loose with time, I got to play a young man at various stages in his life in 

Summertree

 until he ultimately dies, in the war and on stage. I loved the way this play had a clearer emotional through-line and cause-and-effect than a chronological approach, and though I know that ultimately I could've turned in a better performance I'm still proud of where I and the rest of the cast got with the material.

Plus they built a climbable tree with a swinging rope and an actual swing on stage, so you know I had some fun with all that.

One Perfect Rose

Pictured, clockwise: Melissa Riker, Leah Abel, Bronwyn Sims, Jen Colasuonno & yours truly.

Ah, 

One Perfect Rose

! This was ostensibly a children's show, created by Kirkos - the circus-theatre troupe of which I was a founding member - and performed at the old Chashama home of The Bindlestiff Family Circus, on 42nd Street. It was a "fractured fairy-tales" story, with a different act/routine for each tale, hung on a somewhat chaotic framework that involved Snow White and Rose Red, Mother Goose and my character, a rather anal fellow named Phineas Grimm. I got to use direct address, do a bit of circus in a severe-yet-clownish sort of way, and even fell in love in the end (an ending I actually wrote myself). Bliss.

Silent Lives

Photo by Sally Wiener Grotta.

Some common themes here: self-generated work in a raw space, highly physical, and more than a little melancholy in-between moments of manic hilarity. This was also undeniably one of the most successful original shows created by my commedia dell'arte troupe, Zuppa del Giorno. The silent-film informed show was performed to live music and entirely without dialogue, and introduced me to two very influential mediums: clown work and the great silent comedy tradition.

Over the River and Through the Woods...

Compared with the rest of these productions, this probably wasn't as formative to my aesthetic, but it couldn't be more dear to me. An crowd-pleaser, we performed it every year for three years at TNT/ETC,  and it was in the third year that I reached the exact age of the character. It got to be hard not to think of  my fellow actors as my grandparents. It's strange to think I almost turned down this role - it had been suggested to the theatre by my Laura from 

Glass Menagerie

 for she and I, and they subsequently didn't cast her, plus I initially saw my character as a frustrating exercise in playing the frustrated straight man again. I was, of course, wrong. The show is hilarious, and there are moments I only have to think of playing that bring me to tears. And I'm still considering the final thoughts Nick shares with the audience.

The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo and Juliet

Heather Stuart as Juliet Capulet.

At some point, actors have to begin letting go of famous roles they didn't get to play before aging, and I had begrudgingly released Romeo before Zuppa del Giorno came up with this concept for tackling Shakespeare. In a world full of commedia-masked and grotesque characters, Romeo and Juliet are two red-nosed clowns who find one another. Somewhat amazingly, our concept worked quite well, I thought. It was a far-from-flawless production, but every piece of it found something profoundly good. And for me, there was something magical about playing young lovers once again with my long-time collaborator Heather Stuart, both of us older with the youthful permission of the clown nose.

The Spectacular Scrantonian Spectacular

8oclock.JPG

Well, gosh. This wasn't even theatre, and I hardly performed in it. Somewhere between cabaret and vaudeville, 

TSSS

 was a little second-stage pet project of mine wherein I gathered some of my favorite performers from New York and Scranton to create a weird evening of variety in the same smaller ballroom in which 

Silent Lives

 was performed. It was all brought together over about 48 hours from start to finish, and was fun, pretty, and pretty funny.

I feel like I've gotten a lot of clarity about my tastes and influences by going through my resume like this. Please keep in mind both that there are shows I've participated and loved that didn't make it on to this list, and that this list is by no means about which ones have been influential. If either were qualifications, I'd have included shows such as

 As Far As We Know

 and 

Noble Aspirations

. No, these are just favorites, and in spite of how much importance we place on that word growing up, it implies some malleability and prejudice. Perspective, in other words.

Everything Under the Sun 2: Fictional Figures & Archetypes

Everything Under the Sun

 is a short series of posts we'll be doing here at the Aviary, motivated by a potential collaboration on a project that might end up being sort-of/kind-of personal. I have what amount to assignments of exploration of my own interests in particular areas, so I thought I'd put them out there to provoke any responses that you may find irresistible.

Fictional Figures of Interest

Batman (Dionysus) & 

Superman (Apollo)

It should be pretty clear by now that comicbooks experienced a kind of new golden age of interest in the 80s, prompted in no small part by

Superman: The Movie

's release in 1978. I was Superman for Halloween from a ridiculously low age for a few years. Once I was also Batman, and happened to get my picture in a local paper in that costume. My burgeoning teenage years were ushered in by the nearly-maudlin interpretation of Batman in 1989, and that locked me on a perfect course of obsession for the character. Frankly I think a significant cause of our current superhero movie boom has to do with all those kids like me growing up on them and now being in positions of power - decision-making and simply spending power.

The analogy of these two "World's Finest" and the Greek gods is not perfect. It is, in fact, pretty weak. It's just that there's a personal connection there for me. I played Pentheus in a college production of

The Bacchae

, which was the introduction to me of the idea that there was an essential opposition between Dionysus' chaos and Apollo's order. Batman is really all about order, but when viewed through a certain lens (e.g., Miller's

Dark Knight Returns

) he's a rule-breaker as opposed to Kal-El and his strictures of right and wrong. So personally, I see these two characters as representing different sides of me.

Superman is the ideal, an exceedingly humble person who has enormous power that he wields with faith. Not the religious overtones so many interpretations lay on him; rather, faith in goodness and human spirit. (Incidentally: really bugs me when he's portrayed as the Second Coming; seeing as he was created by two Jewish guys, if anything he's the First.) Miller calls him the Big Blue Boyscout, and I don't always see that as an insult. I was a boyscout.

It's only natural that I connected with Batman with such intensity when I was turning 13. The glasses I started wearing in 4th grade - that thrilled me at the time for the Clark Kent parallelism - had contributed to a wealth of factors making me a less-than-desirable layer of the social strata. Real adult problems were just starting to come through the bright-colored camouflage of childhood, so someone who turned adversity to their advantage, who had to grapple with seemingly uncontrollable emotion and impossible odds ... well. He's pretty badass, that Batman.

James Bond

I am no James Bond, nor would I want to be. But: I was raised on the movies by my dad, and they have indubitably influenced me. Plus there's a lot Wayne and Bond have in common.

Winnie the Pooh

(NOT. DISNEY.)

This would be among my earliest, if not

the

earliest, influence on my imagination and understanding. My mother read me these stories with all the voices, just as hers had done, and I still can't help but use the characters as archetypes when analyzing group dynamics. I think something about my mom's reverence for the character of Pooh also influenced my thinking about philosophy.

The Tao of Pooh

 is by now something of a cliché, but I certainly do find a lot of truth in Taoism.

Taran

Friend Davey is responsible for introducing me to the fantasy genre back in sixth grade with the Taran series, the

Myth

series and Narnia. In case it wasn't already growing obvious, I'm a sucker for the hero's journey when it comes to my fiction, and few have told that story as comprehensively as Lloyd Alexander when he takes Taran from young scamp to embattled leader.

Hamlet

I know. I KNOW. He's another one who caught me early but, even now as well-aware as I am of his many foibles, I less-than-three Hamlet. I have an alarming affection for righteous murderers with daddy issues.

John MacClane

Die Hard

 is another of those movies I affectionately share with my dad. And it's incredibly over-revered, to the point of being another 

cliché. But I love it so. I can't get enough of a guy as absolute underdog, in a finite space, just getting the job done any which way he can. A hero flawed as hell, and in the end he's rewarded for his suffering with love. I mean: damn.

Perseus/Theseus/

King Arthur

Speaking of flawed heroes. They don't all belong together - this is another personal lumping going on. In fact, Arthur really has a different brand of hubris than the other two. But they are each in their own way a crusading hero who meets with tragic just desserts. I like quests. I used to operate from them more, but they still appeal to me a great deal. Life is exciting to me when it's a puzzle, or a maze, or a dance with destiny.

Romeo/Mercutio

TVNPCRJ.jpg

I had the good fortune

to play Romeo

- albeit a comic one - well past my prime for the role. He's a good archetype for me and the protagonists I've played in my youth. Hopeful to a fault, believers all. So I've always identified with Romeo and his longing. But I've also always wanted to play Mercutio, and always tried to give it up. I'm not born to be the wild one, but I'm drawn to them. A little of the old order/chaos dichotomy at play here. (Though once again it's nuts to associate Romeo with anything approaching "order" on his own.)

Morpheus

Photo & manipulation by David Younce.

Speaking of tragic lovers. The nice thing about the dream king's blighted love life is that it's a consistent background action to his stories, until it isn't anymore and it destroys him (or he allows it to, depending on your view). In high school Friend Dave recruited me to pose as Neil Gaiman's Morpheus for a photo project, and gave me access to the whole run of

the Sandman comics

to boot. Still enjoy reading through them all to this day. He values duty and responsibility in a darker way than the Big Blue Boyscout. I wouldn't say I identify with Morpheus exactly, but I definitely had a touch of his brooding style in my teendom. I still want a pet raven.

Odin

Where are you? You're here! In his aviary! I took that name for the 'blog because of his ravens - Huggin and Muninn, thought and memory - but I like this old God with his one eye. There's something about Norse mythological figures that's satisfying from an iconic perspective, and I like this feeling that Odin has the wisdom of an old father, and a lot of the fallibility you expect from Greek gods. And let's not even get into how many of the characters on this list are Christ analogues at this point. Of course, my view of him is rather colored by how Mr. Gaiman has portrayed him in a couple of different mediums.

Martin Blank

From

Grosse Pointe Blank

, the John Cusack semi-satire film about a mercenary hitman returning to town for his ten-year high school reunion. This movie really resonated with my sense of humor, with its swift dialogue and plenty of deadpan, and Martin Blank is interesting as someone capable (all too capable in some regards) who's trying really hard to work some things out with very little success.

____________, P.I. (The Noir Protagonist)

If you scramble a lot of these together with a dash of my nostalgia for a time when men wore hats when they were outside, it's not hard to come up with the prototypical anti-hero. He's beaten down, he's got a job to do, he can't help but give you a peek past his gruff exterior to see that he might've really loved that dame ... once. It's not original. Men just love this shtick.

Well, this is quite a little list of heroes and anti-heroes. I could blame the media, but the fact is that from my beginning that's what's connected with me. Interestingly enough:

  1. I haven't played too many outright heroes.
  2. I haven't included here many of the archetypes I commonly portray on stage (reactionary straight man, fish-out-of-water, young idealist, etc.) nor much along the lines of commedia dell'arte archetypes.

I'll let the jury decide the why and wherefore of all that, though.