Helsinor, my 2001 play that tells Hamlet from the point of view of his uncle Claudius, is now for sale through the Indie Theater Now! archive.
The original production starred Vine Superstar Mr. James Urbaniak as the mad prince and Mr. Steven “Dr. Orpheus” Rattazzi as Polonius. It debuted in the first week of September 2001 at the Theatorium on Stanton Street in NYC. On 9/11, New York was put on lockdown south of Houston Street, so it actually became illegal to see my show. The terrorists won.
Longtime WADPAW reader and commenter Marie Brennan has a new book out, A Natural History of Dragons, a Memoir by Lady Trent and you should buy it because it’s awesome.
“Urbaniak’s Last Cast,” the podcast I wrote for Getting On with James Urbaniak, is now available at iTunes, for those of you who enjoy free podcasts but don’t like to sully your computers with non-Apple services.
A few weeks ago I saw an electronic billboard here in LA for Flight, Bob Zemeckis’s tense drama about alcoholism, but the original poster image had been altered. Star Denzel Washington was no longer standing in the rain on a stormy day, he was now standing in much less rain in front of a blinding blue sky and the quote “FLIGHT SOARS!” blared over his head. I thought, well, for the sake of the quote they want to make the movie look like an inspirational drama, which it is, in a way, so I guess that’s okay.
Now I see that that billboard image was merely a dry run for the DVD cover, and that Flight, the studio had decided, needed some cheering up for the home video market. Pilot Denzel is no longer facing his demons in a storm, now he’s peeking at God as the rain comes to a stop. I’m sure this image is a mock-up, but I like how someone has placed the quote “POWERFUL,” without attribution, below Denzel’s face. I’m sure if Denzel wins the Oscar his expression will be changed to “beaming triumph” and the font will be changed to Trajan.
The actor James Urbaniak, who readers of this blog will know as the voice of Dr. Venture, or as the polygraph guy on Homeland, has been one of my closest friends since I met him on this very date (well, yesterday on this very date) in 1989 at a shoebox theater in lower Manhattan during a blizzard. True story.
Lately, he’s been doing these podcasts, Getting On with James Urbaniak. He emailed me and asked me to contribute a piece, and of course I was happy to do so, and you can hear it here. It turned out pretty awesome.
The assignment was very specific: not a monologue or a rant or a routine, but a monodrama: that is, a drama, with a plot, and conflict, and events occurring, premise, development, crisis, denouement, all that, starring one actor, James, playing a character named “James Urbaniak.” I’m a huge Samuel Beckett fan from way back, and the only thing that popped into my head as a suitable monodrama was an adaptation of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, where an elderly man, a failed writer, reviews tapes he made of himself when he was younger and wonders about what happened to himself.
So that’s what I did, except I made the elderly writer James. His performance is more than I could have hoped for.
All the events James talks about in the podcast are true stories. James really did audition for the part of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, he really did do a hit show off-Broadway where he really was too busy to meet Paul Newman, he really did walk the red carpet at Cannes, he really so forth. The only one of the stories that isn’t true at all is the first one, where he auditions for the part of Eugene in The Miracle Worker in high school but loses the part to the school quarterback. That didn’t happen to him, that happened to me, exactly as set down.
He didn’t really do an impression of Mackensie Crook at his audition for the role of Dwight Schrute. Rainn Wilson, to my knowledge, does not have a three-story mansion in Santa Barbara, and James does not live in a crappy bungalow in Eagle Rock.
The cassette recorder referred to in the text was one my family owned in the late 1960s, one very much like these:
Finally, a “frustum” is a truncated pyramid.