All Kindsa GHOULS is dedicated to Bloody Mary!
Bloody Mary- Barrence Whitfield Dig Yourself
It's Almost Halloween- Panic! At The Disco It's Almost Halloween
Saturday Night In The City Of The Dead- Ultravox! Ultravox!
Dracula's Daughters- Redd Kross Researching The Blues
Death Rehearsal- Toy Love Toy Love
Keepin Halloween Alive- Alice Cooper Keepin Halloween Alive
In The Room Where You Sleep- Dead Man's Bones Dead Man's Bones
Final Ride- Deadbeats Kill the Hippies 7"
^Children of the Grave- Black Sabbath Master of Reality
Free All The Monsters- The Bats Free All The Monsters
Back From The Dead- Adverts Television's Over 7"
Horror Movie- Skyhooks Horror Movie
Human Fly- The Cramps Bad Music For Bad People
Kottage Kountry Killer- Durango 95 Lose Control
*Graveyard Rockin'- The 3-D Invisibles They Won't Stay Dead!
*Back to the Grave- The Dentists Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now
*Grave Diggers- The Creepshow Sell Your Soul
*Graveyard- Dead Moon In The Graveyard
*One Foot In The Grave- Pernice Brothers Yours, Mine and Ours
*Graveyard Rock- The Joneses Somebody Got Their Head Kicked In!
*Graveyard Groove- The Revillos Attack of the Giant Revillos
Slow Death- The Dictators Blood Brothers
The House On Shady Lane- Plain White T's The House On Shady Lane
Horror Business- Misfits Horror Business 7" >Rockin' In The Graveyard- Jackie Morningstar No Date 7"
The Devil's Bait- The Dead Elvi Graveland
I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement- The Ramones Ramones
I Think Of Demons- Roky Erickson and The Aliens The Evil One
Stake Through My Heart- The Fiends Gravedigger 7"
Dance With the Ghoulman- Fleshtones More Than Skin Deep
Bela Lugosi's Dead- Bauhaus Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The '80s Underground
^Power Pop Prototype: #8 Billboard Album Chart
>Power Pop Prototype: 1956
Woody Allen once said "80% of life is showing up." I recently lived a great example of this maxim. (How unfortunate that the word "maxim" now conjures images of douchey "lad mags" featuring young actresses slutting it up in some sort of creepy "post-feminist statement." I prefer the word's original definition: "a short, pithy declaration expressing a general truth or rule of conduct." But I digress....) Over the summer I was in a Shakespeare stage adaptation called Two Gentlemen of Sonoma with Aidan the Artistic Director of the newly re-named Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Company. The company was just about to start a residency at Sonoma Valley High School and he asked if I was interested in taking a couple of small parts in Julius Caesar. There's a lot of live music in their productions so even though the parts weren't very big, I figured I might be able to snag a spot in the "house band." Another plus is that the school is practically across the street from my house, an easy commute after trekking to Petaluma for Two Gentlemen.
I told Aidan I'd gladly take the parts and didn't see him until the first read-through a few weeks later. Jaime and I had both been in his previous production, Romeo and Juliet, last fall so it was great to see the returning out of town members of the company. The read-through went smoothly and I noticed they had yet to cast Decius Brutus, a larger part than the two I would be playing. I should mention that the whole idea of Julius Caesar was a "punt" for SVSC because they had been planning to do One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest until the play service people screwed them over in some kind of bureaucratic performance rights snafu. (Ahh, good old public domain Shakespeare...) Chad the Director then had about ten days to cut Julius Caesar, which has a 2+ hour run time and 30 characters, into the 90 minute 9 actor production we ended up staging. So, in Chad's cut Decius Brutus had become a bigger role, one I set my sights on after the read-through. I didn't hear from anyone for a few days, but I knew they were busy rehearsing As You Like It, the first show in their season. When I did hear back, they said Decius Brutus was looking good for me but I should stay tuned. A few days later I got an e-mail from Aidan
Other person: So, do you have any plays coming up?
Me: Yes, I have a part in Julius Caesar.
Other person: Oh, which part?
Me: Julius Caesar.
Mentally, on my part at least, this is followed by a big high five, flying chest bump, or "what what" roof raising gesture. Pretty cool.
Chad let me put some of the Caesar lines he had cut back in and I got to work. Among other things, in my research I learned that Caesar was thought to have epilepsy or migranes or about ten other conditions (referred to as "the falling sickness" in the script) and there is a myth that this is where the modern word "seizure" comes from. After a couple of times through the script it became clear to me that for all Caesar's faults, Shakespeare cast Cassius and the conspirators as the "bad guys" and Brutus as the tragically flawed hero. At least that's how I went at the part- as they say, you've always got to find the humanity in your character.
|Our costumes were MUCH easier to fight in|
|The "Stabby Stabby" (That's me on the floor)|
The other conspirators then fall on Caesar like jackals as a horrified Brutus looks on. (The center stage meeting echoes an earlier scene where Brutus comes to Caesar's house to escort him to the senate.) It seems so much more Brutus-like that he start "the stabby stabby," and it makes his later statement stronger: "but as [Caesar] was ambitious, I slew him." I mean it's not "but as he was ambitious, I watched a bunch of other guys stab him for a while and jumped in at the end when he was pretty much Swiss cheese."
You'd think it would be dull playing a part where you die at the end of Act I but Chad started Act II with a slow motion reenactment of "the stabby stabby" set to music and ending with the always surprising, never predictable bursting blood pack. (Limiting the blood to Act II cut our laundry by half- even so, by the third week our white shirts all had a pinkish hue.) Chad's special recipe for "blood" is a tantalizing blend of red food coloring, chocolate syrup and laundry soap. Over the course of the run it exploded, among other places, on my pants, in my face (tasty!) and all over the stage, causing a safety hazard that needed to be surreptitiously cleaned up later. Once I even "body swiffered" it myself during the blackout before the funeral scene. All in all I had to lie on the stage dead for about 20 minutes in Act II and aside from the occasional itchy nose it wasn't too bad. In fact when Nica's 8th Grade class came on a field trip to one performance the only comment she reported back from her classmates was "your Dad can really lie still for a long time."
|SVSC Julius Caesar Cast|
As I said SVSC shows have a lot of musical cues, so throughout each performance I would have to play a scene change on guitar or plunk out the chiming of a clock on the bass. After my "death" things really got fun- that's when I got to play the drums. Despite my deep admiration for the craft and it's practitioners, from Tommy Ramone to Neil Peart, I am in no way a drummer. But when it's a battle scene and everyone else in the cast is on stage, the "dead guy" gets the sticks. I made such a racket during the battle they let me play drums during one of the pre-show songs, an instrumental jam of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." I played decently most nights and was feeling pretty good about myself by closing night. You'd think playing Julius Caesar might have kept me on guard about the dangers of hubris, but sadly no. We had a good crowd on closing night and I had several friends in the audience. Going into the first break in
|The White Stripes|
Shakespeare loves him some ghosts, so even after Caesar died I had one last scene where I go haunt Brutus' tent. In between Act II musical cues, Sharon, who played Cinna, and Chad got my ghostface on- see the picture at the top of this post. We were only using white light in the show (except for one red spot during "the stabby stabby") so it was a challenge finding the right "dead" rather than "dead tired" look. Like the blood splatter, which the night this photo was taken settled in an upstage right direction, Sharon and Chad's makeup was always different- I think this night is my favorite.
The Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Company is an inspiring group- along with Julius Caesar and As You Like It, they also offered an amazing production of Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. In less than three months they rehearsed and staged three shows, all with music, performing each about ten times. During this period they also taught several classes at the high school. What's more they let me play Julius Caesar and the drums in the same show! For that I will always be grateful.
* * *
Since this post is for the ALL KINDSA GHOULS halloween show I would be remiss if I didn't include a picture of this year's costume. I was once again Evel Kneival, as I will be for all future Halloweens, thanks to the awesome suit Jaime gave me last Christmas. She even got in on the action this year, dressing as Evel's nurse. Needless to say, our costumes were a hit!
Click the link below to stream this show or to download, right click and "Save Link As:"
ALL KINDSA GHOULS Halloween Special #89