Thankful ruminations over the years….

Since we’re getting into the full “giving and thanking” spirit that’s Thanksgiving, I’m continuing to reflect on my own writing history. If you’re reading this, you may have guessed that I don’t exactly keep a blog for crowds. I’m not looking to be trending in any direction. I’m not even particularly looking to build an audience. Surprise.

I keep this going so I can look back and see the accomplishments, disappointments and all the in-between passages that writers navigate through. Certainly, I can recall and recollect what my writing life has accumulated over time, but seeing it in B&W reinforces in a concrete way what may ultimately, dim with time. That’s what kinda happens with Theater anyway. There’s no visual history to speak of. Whereas cats and kids on youtube are killing it…..

I was invited out to the Oakland Ensemble Theatre for rehearsals and loved what I saw. While I was there, someone on the OET administrative staff questioned me about having an all-male cast (3 characters), and would this possibly “inhibit” a female audience from attending. I responded that they should be ready for a female audience, since that made up so much of other “He-Man Ball” audiences. And that was indeed the case. Audiences were very mixed on the male/female scale. I think the person asking the question was somehow trying to “showcase” whatever misogynistic brush she wanted to paint me with.

I went out to Chicago for this production, directed by my good buddy and first-rate Director, Chuck Smith. Sadly, the reviews were not so hot. One called the play a “hip hop flop”. I thought that was catchy. Well, I still believe in “Vivisections,” and take heart from different perspectives about the play. I still think it’s mind-blowing stuff.

So all in all, I’m very thankful for all the “look backs” I can do.

Here comes December — and another reading

Yes, you read right. “B-Side Man” has come up big once again. It was chosen to be included in an evening of “Some1Speaking” monologues (scroll down I’m there!) on December 7th. I’ll be reading an excerpt, in fact it’ll be the very beginning of the play.

And people say this pandemic is all bad. (I keed). What it’s done is transform the world of theatre into a more creative dynamic. Actors are dying to act, directors to direct, and theatres — along with all the entrepreneurial spirits connected to theatre — want to keep things moving forward. Most especially surrounding “spoken word” drama since all the alternatives for traditional plays are now officially open for business. Who’d-a-thunk I’d be on the spoken word forefront? It’s as if I found myself in “Being There,” only I was there all along.

“B-Side” has had it’s share of readings. I don’t know what it’ll take for some lucky artistic director to say, “huh, maybe I need to get on this B-Side Man gravy train and produce a full production.” Till that happens, I’ll take everything that comes my way. Being here, there and all points in-between.

Career Hurdles

A couple thoughts for fall…..as the seasons change it seems as though revelations drop like pretty colored leaves.

I’m channeling my archives again with the article below. This is from Baltimore Magazine. Not sure of the date (again!!!) but I think it’s around 1993. I was mentioned as one of “Baltimore’s most prominent playwrights,” and aside from talking about what yours truly has been up to, the magazine sought out Center Stage for a comment about why I hadn’t had a play produced at Center Stage (CS). I thought the comment they received perfectly reflects what I’d felt towards CS for years. To me, their quote had the same snarky, condescending and privileged air that I’d been fighting against for years.

Here’s the final quote if you can’t make it out: “I’m sure I speak for Stan when I say Alonzo is a talent. Stan just hasn’t felt strongly enough to devote one sixth of our season to him.”

I’m reminded of this when yet another CEO apologizes for his comments about the obstacles in finding qualified candidates for jobs at Wells Fargo. I’ve heard similar sentiments regurgitated from the mouths of Artistic Directors, and other theatre personnel. Somehow, there’s always an elusive standard that some “candidates” (or playwrights) don’t meet. Somehow, we’re either hard to find, or when they do find us — we come up short.

At this point in my career, I’d been produced off-Broadway, had a production in LA and written for network TV. Yet, I couldn’t get in the door at my local regional theatre.

But hey, I still LOVE this picture.

Playwriting — Forward and Back

Let’s see where the next zoom opportunity comes from. When I look back at my creative history, I’m amazed at some of the achievements that run across my radar. I was looking back at several amazing productions in Austin & Houston Texas that seemed to have generate lotsa buzz. More reviews, pics and Alonzo Activity are available in “Alonzo’s Archive”. It’s a true gift to be able review moments from my artistic life. If the coming years are even half as good, then I’m one lucky fella. One theme I’ve heard several times over, and this comes from Corona-V, that it’s time for American Theatre to re-evaluate the classics that have been passed over, most especially from African-American playwrights. Such as moi. Our work from the 1960’s on has never really re-surfaced. And speaking from experience, this is most definitely true from my early days in the 80’s. But, life goes on. I think folks are “warming” to black theatre, and/or white theatres performing more works by playwrights of color. (That be me)

And this poster from Houston is sooooooo jazzy it’s positively outta-sight.

Getting a virtual read in Atlanta

So as events unfold, I was asked to have “That Serious He-Man Ball” be part of the Dominion Arts Foundation “Powerhouse Readings” in August.

Quite a thrill I must say. They’re doing a retrospective of the best plays ever written.

Kidding! Their retrospective is of plays that kinda knocked people’s socks off, and then maybe they — “disappeared”. He-Man Ball has been my most produced work, and it put me on whatever map I was on. It has a long and illustrious history. (below, from the Houston Ensemble Theatre production, 2005)

Oh, it most certainly DOES have a history…

(Los Angeles Theatre Center, I think 1980 or thereabouts)

Lots of history…

(Clive Barnes, big-time NY Theatre Critic put me on a pedestal)

So I’m very proud and excited about the reading. To be thought about on any level is a privilege. Truly. There’ll be t talkback afterwards, and I’ll share what I know with anyone who’s curious. Robert Connor, Founder of Dominion Arts, saw the original production of He-Man in Atlanta and it stayed with him for — what? — about 25 years (or more!).

Here’s the pertinent info. Anyone’s welcome to join in.

I just love showing off all this fly PR they’ve put out there. You can usually judge projects by the PR — and right now I’m all smiles.

Breaking: chick peas invade chocolate chip cookies!

But there it is in black and white. Chick peas! This was sent from my sister-in-law who also made them. And I gotta say, they’re pretty darn lovable. I recommend you eat-em-while-they-re-hot. When you insert something like chick peas and almond butter you’re definitely swinging from the healthier (less sugar) tree. If you make the jump over that, then your tummy will love the new ingredients. Getting your mind over the store bought concept will set you free. Give it a whirl. The key to any of the paleo recipes I post is thinking more digestive health and giving your tum-tum a rest from what the usual intake is.

By no means do we eat this way everyday. It comes and goes. But it’s a lovely change of pace that won’t bite ‘cha. I love the taste of regular pancakes. Love ’em to pieces. And while I still keep them as one of my go-to’s, I’m also making paleo pancakes (Bob’s is easier especially if you have a little one who wants breakfast quick/fast/inna hury) on a pretty regular basis.

Add a banana in the mix, and if you desire, a tablespoon or two of honey. I do. By the time you sprinkle with blueberries and get that maple syrup cascading down the sides — VOILA — they’re pancakes.

Who knew I could be an Adventure Cycling Bike Ambassador

Pic from Adventure Cycling magazine. Their photos are usually breathtaking. Like this one.

Last week I gave a presentation to a few of my co-workers about called “joyful riding”. Since everyone’s home for “da covid” I thought spreading a little good news couldn’t hurt. Adventure Cycling sent me a ppp about biking overnight, but I really didn’t focus much on that. Instead I used my time to espouse the values of just going out for a bike ride, the way you did as a kid. I let everyone know that you didn’t need a special bike, or shoes, clothes or anything else — just go for a ride. I think there are a few folks I work with who’d benefit from knowing how simple it can be.

Over time everyone’s probably been bamboozled about all the “intricacies” of bike riding, as opposed to thinking it can be easily done — and you don’t have to look like a professional.

The city is Pittsburgh home of the Steelers, but I didn’t let my Baltimore Ravens love color my vision.

I see more and more families like this out for a spin. I think the bicycling marketing community has now realized what a tremendous potential market families present. They probably had a few eureka!!! moments.

I’ve told people that when I’m riding my personality changes. I suddenly love most everybody, and just want to enjoy a wee bit of happiness. As you ride in and around your surroundings, it’s like watching “Scenes From The World Of Life.” Normally, when I’m off the bike passers-by, might think I’m quiet and maybe even —-dare I say — distant. But biking is a transformative experience. However near or far you ride, it’s bound to have you smiling at some point. It’s bound to get your adrenaline up and running. Behold! A brave new world lays at turn of your pedals.

My supervisor proclaimed that he and his wife jumped on their tandem after listening to my presentation. It had been collecting the usual garage dust, but now it was something they could smile over.

Paleo Brownies

From “time to time” my sweet tooth can’t help but show it’s unruly head. Of course, “time to time” could be multiple times during the avg. week. Hey, I’m only human……so do I resist or succumb?

So how simple are these to make?

1/ cup maple syrup (but I go for a bit more, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons ghee, teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 cup almond butter. Feel free to add nuts and to throw in some enjoy life chocolate chips on top or mixed in. You’ll have guilt free munching and won’t feel bad for adding a dollop (or two!) of ice cream.