These archives are items I’ve held onto over the years. I always told myself it’d be great if my archives could “live” someplace other than inna cabinet, or inna batch of papers, or tucked away inna dark space on my 3rd floor. So VOILA! I finally scanned them and now, it just brings me joy to see all these bits of remembrances enjoying the light of day. I have lots more, and eventually they’ll make it here. I have quite a few more, but these will do for now. Well worth taking a glance at, I’d say. You want to see the bits and pieces that can highlight a playwright’s life. Here ya go.
Let’s start with the brief acknowledgement in The Daily Iowan about Alonzo’s (“THEY STOOD IN LINE TO SEE A MAN STRIP”) opening night erotic/nude dancing extravaganza. Years later I put this episode into my play “B-Side Man” and recalled how it all came about. At the time, I just rolled with it. Why and How a relatively shy youth came to be dancing nude, to one of my favorite songs — Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle Again” — is a wonderful question. Chippendales was launched in 1979. Alonzo was “out there” in 1977, IN IOWA. I’d say that I did and I didn’t realize what a big deal it was. The club hadn’t had a nude dancer before. And there were a zillion people who came out that night. Right after I started, I knew this would be pretty epic.
Years later, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) publication of “That Serious He-Man Ball” had me jumping for joy. I was on my way. Unfortunately or fortunately, I still am.
He-Man was last done (I’m ashamed to say YEARS ago), in Houston, produced and performed by the Ensemble Theatre of Houston. And I went down there for that. Rented a bike, and ended up sitting about 3 seats from the Critic who’d reviewed (and loved) “He-Man” and — as fate would have it — he LOVED it again! What are the odds, sez I.
Here’s the FABULOUS review from Clive Barnes at the New York Post many moons ago. My friend Roger (who was in “That Serious He-Man Ball” woke me up and told me to get a copy of the Post ASAP. Said I wouldn’t believe the review. And I’m glad I listened to Roger. The review speaks for itself. I wanted t start with this one, since it’s so — well, superlative. As times goes on, it’s still a great read.
I always told myself it’d be great if my archives could “live” someplace other than inna cabinet, or tucked away inna dark space on my 3rd floor. So VOILA! I finally scanned them and now, it just brings me joy to see all these bits of remembrances enjoying the light of day. I have lots more, and eventually they’ll make it here. But for now, these few are well worth taking a glance at. They’re in no particular order, and to prove that I’m starting with some nice little PR about “Zulu Fits” being done for the Baltimore Playwrights Festival (scroll down).
The article gives a pretty good synopsis—-but I don’t know if I said that last quote LIKE THAT. It sounds really loopy, but knowing the propensity I have for loopy, it could well have come out that way.
The Chicago Theatre Company had the smallest stage I’ve ever seen. And how they produced “That Serious He-Man Ball” is beyond me. But, I saw the production and it was easily the most intense experience in theater that I’ve had. The actors are dropping sweat and negotiating around that stage like magic. You were completely drawn in. I was amazed that they chose to do a BASKETBALL play in that space. But it was just freaking courageous and the audience was stunned. They Company is no longer in existence (I inquired last time I was in Chicago), but they stayed around FOREVER. I sat on the plane coming home, and my brain just marvelled at how they pulled it off, and how I felt sitting there listening to my words. Amazing. I guess it’s experiences like this that have made it all the more stunning that a big-time Production of “He-Man” hasn’t come to Baltimore. But boy, that Chicago show was some badazzzzzz Thea-Ate-Er. Great review, BTW.
Jomandi Productions in Atlanta was a true jumping off point. “That Serious He-Man Ball” was done 2, maybe 3 times in Atlanta. I’m not bragging, I honestly lost count. But this production was the first and it was FIERCE.
Here’s an Arena Stage interview when “Vivisections From The Blown Mind” was being done in D.C. It talked about the changing face of Rap, moving from a political forum, to something much more hardcore. And that’s where “Vivisections” starts up. Hardcore Rap arrives on the scene, and consequently other styles and brands were forced out. Castro, the main character, realizes this and we’re off and running into almost surreal territory.
I thought “Cultural Diversity Ate My Lunch” would never work in certain places (very politically incorrect) but BARHOPPERS performed it in a bar in Charlottesville, VA and they loved it. Then, it got a reading at the “ID America Festival” in the lower east side of NYC. And they loved it even more.
“Act Like A Man” focused a chapter on “That Serious He-Man Ball,” and the author, Robert Vorlicky, had some very kind words to say about it. He looked at all-male plays where the conflict was resolved by internal forces not external (drugs, war, alcohol, etc) ones. I was tickled to be mentioned.
We shot this picture (below) in a junkyard right next to the theatre. I found the props (table/chair) and brought a pair of sunglasses and a microphone. I thought the picture looked EXACTLY like I felt — too damn cool for words. I think the background works like a charm — apocalyptic, barren, and completely fits “Life Go Boom”. The Director dropped out, so I took over.
I actually don’t know where this production of “He-Man” is. I don’t remember, and can’t tell my the review. I’m tempted to say Cincinnati, but I can’t be sure. It says “The Ensemble” and I seem to recall some engaging conversation with folks in Cincinnati.
I absolutely ADORED this headline when “Vivisections” was done at Arena Stage. They did this feature on me and I felt I had to say “Mind-Blowing” stuff (it came pretty naturally, actually). Who’s that little cutie-face propped up on his hands? First time I was this pic and this article, you couldn’t tell me nothing.
“That Serious He-Man Ball” was produced out in Oakland, CA. and I don’t remember too much about it. They flew me out there but it was for an early part of rehearsals. The producers apparently were concerned that it was such a “man’s piece” that their female audience wouldn’t support it. Au Contraire. Women loved it. Natch. Everyone wanted a little peek inside the male psyche. Nice brochure for their season.
This was “Vivisections” in Austin, Texas. Apparently they did a bang-up job. It sure looks like it. At the time, I was living in my little carriage home in downtown Baltimore, but getting this wonderful press from points unknown. My mind would envision the effect of an audience in Texas taking in something like “Vivisections From The Blown Mind”. The review had lovely things to say. “The most stimulating African American play since The Colored Museum”. Oh my. And people wonder where my blown up ego come from…
Nice write-up in Baltimore Magazine, and again, I loved the posed-Alonzo—that was at UMBC and I was directing something. But the reason the article “stayed with me” all these many years were the quotes from Center Stage by Rick Davis. I found them to be so incredibly small and petty. The Artistic Director from CS actually came to see “He-Man Ball” in Atlanta and met with me afterwards to say it wasn’t “intellectually stimulating” enough for Center Stage. This was after the New York production and we were having another production in Atlanta. “Vivisections” had fabulous reviews in D.C. but Stan Wojowodeski held fast and firm about not expressing interest in the local boy-making-good. Felt the quote attributed to him was very reflective of Center Stage’s position at that time. But I’m smiling now. Not so much then.
This was “Vivisections From The Blown Mind” at Arena in D.C. They didn’t know it was really THAT kind of dramatic play about Rap. As opposed to being a Rap Play. They were surprised at the reviews we got (which were ALL great). And we received an apology from Zelda Fitchlander for not realizing what the play was all about. It was directed by Clinton Turner Davis, and I won’t say it took D.C.by storm, but there’ an article below (“At Arena, Blowing Their Minds”) that kinda describes the climate about the production. Most of the First Act takes place in a hot tub with Castro, the Rapper and his Agent/Lover, Angelique. Fayard Nicholas of “The Nicholas Brothers” came to the show (he’d heard we mentioned “The Nicholas Brothers,” and I tell you—-I was knocked out. Totally knocked out. If you’ve ever seen film of the Nicolas Brothers, they’re completely exhilarating—-waaaaaaay ahead of any other “Hollywood Musical Dancing” you’ve ever seen.
5 thoughts on “Alonzo’s Archive”
Lonz, so here I am hold-up in Chestertown on stormy night with no cable! Turns out I could not be more entertained. I take that back, I could be! Still, I have thoroughly enjoyed your reads (although a bit disappointed to see that some of our escapades together have not make the cut of stories you need tell). I am very proud of your career doing life’s work. My thoughts of you are always punctuated with laughter, chased by the eternal question: Will you ever just go straight the hoop? Stay thirsty my friend.
One final comment. After re-reading my prior comment, it’s not a good idea to write anything late at night from Chestertown using an iPad. It’s a grammatical accident waiting to happen-as inevitable as a 12 O’clock Boy leaving skin on the street!
You’re right about the storm, it was CRAZY in Baltimore, too. Mike, thanks for reading my posts. I really started the blog because I needed something to “verify” exactly what I’d been doing all these years. And it’s turned into a great “document” that I can refer back to, and use (when I apply for grants, when I’m meeting someone who wants to know my history. You’re right, I don’t have any escapades from us. If you had to pick one in particular, which comes to mind (more than any other). The reason I ask is because I’m just finishing up “B-Side Man” and (now that you mention it), I could use one from you and me. That’s not a joke. I’ll put it in the play. I hope you scrolled through “The Telling Project” (at the top of the page), we’re performing on Sept. 11th here at Hopkins, I’m directing. Maybe you can make it. I’d love to say that another play was being performed…..but no such luck at the moment. I’m gonna send you a copy of “B-Side” just so you can take a look. It’s all one long monologue and you can kinda jump to any page and I bet you keep reading. It’s more storytelling, and not a straight drama. But it’s honest. I think you’ll like it.
I know you watched the Spurs “woodshed” (cause that’s where they took ’em) the Heat. I couldn’t play for Popovich. I’d be the black hole and those passes would never get made. 🙂 I don’t know why the direct path to the basket never took hold with me. I thought getting there should be an adventure. You on the other hand, got there but………you were so CLOSE, so many, many times. And I want you to ponder this: I think you set me up for hoops failure! You know I had no business covering anybody down low. I was an “off-the-ball” defender. WAY off the ball. You put me on people who came off picks, screens, posted up, moved without the ball —- what in my extensive b-ball background said to you — “Lonz can take him” 🙂