Posts Tagged ‘ Miller’s Crossing ’

What NOT to Do While Attending a Stage Show


I was a fat boy. A big ‘ole fat fat fatty. I am, from long being among their number, quite sensitive to the plight of the overweight, and I denounce those who denigrate people based solely on their waistlines.

Except for this fat, disgusting slob who was at my show this past Sunday.

I know, I know, the fact that he was fat had very little to do with his being a disgusting slob. But it’s very difficult to parse subtleties when you want to wring someone’s jowly neck.

My show was playing in New York for a brief, three night stay, and this was the last showing. Productions in New York are rare for a playwright, unless you have a lot of money and don’t mind losing it all in one glorious shot. They need to be cherished. Like newborn babies, or a really good Jewish deli.

So there I am in the back of the theater, soaking it all in. I always wait in the lighting booth until everyone is seated, then slip out into the last row. I do this for two reasons. First, I frequently have guests in the audience who know me and I would like to avoid that, “Hey, there he is, there you are, you’re about to see my play, yes I am, isn’t this freakin’ awkward?” moment. Second, if nobody likes it they don’t know where to aim the rotten fruit. You have to think these things through.

The play starts and I am right there with my cast of two, living the lines the three of us rehearsed in my livingroom for the past five weeks. They’re starting off strong, right from the first scene. I am completely invested, until…

There’s the rustling of a plastic bag. Then there’s more rustling, as if somebody is stuck inside the bag, trying to get out. I look for the source. It’s coming from about three rows in front of me, to the left. There is a woman to the left, trying to watch intently. There’s a man to the right, trying to hear the dialogue.

And there’s a fat slob in the middle, EATING HIS DINNER! He reaches into a tin plate, grabs some dripping, meat-like substance WITH HIS FINGERS and shoves it down his obese, repugnant gullet. I looked up synonyms for “disgusting” to help write this blog: odious, repellent, vile, distasteful, foul, repulsive, revolting, nauseating. None of those words do justice to what I was watching in (thank God!) the dim light thrown from the stage. He looked like this guy from “Miller’s Crossing”, except with hair:


For those keeping score at home, this is the second blog in a row with a “Miller’s Crossing” reference. If I was making up a syllabus, “Miller’s Crossing” would most certainly be on it, along with every single Bugs Bunny cartoon. Its 7.9 IMDB score is about 2 full points too low. And my comparison with the disgusting fat guy in the theater is nothing against fine character actor Jon Polito, whose work as Johnny Caspar in the aforementioned film is the stuff of film legend. And Jon would most certainly NOT inhale mysterious meats during the first scene of my play in New York.

I forgot to mention the smell. How to describe it? Pervasive is a word that comes to mind. All-encompassing. The type of redolence usually associated with a county fair falafel stand. Which is not a bad aroma…if you happen to be AT THE FREAKIN’ COUNTY FAIR!

I didn’t know what to do. I heard that Laurence Fishburne once stopped dead in the middle of “Othello” when a cell phone rang, then stood at the edge of the stage with his arms crossed and stared at the offender until the phone was safely turned off and tucked away. Should I run to the front of the theater, stop the actors mid-dialogue and demand that Fatty McFatneck stop stuffing his cheeks? Was this a Morpheus moment?

Of course not. First of all, I’m approximately 1/1000th as cool as Laurence Fishburne. Second of all, I wanted to be invited back to this particular festival, and a good way to make that not happen would be to publicly excoriate a paying customer for his slovenly ways. But boy did I want to excoriate! I wanted to excoriate all over the guy! I’m not by nature a violent person, but I gladly would have throttled him within an inch of his life, if I could get my hands around his enormous neck.

Instead I sat there and stewed—no pun intended.

In the end, my actors won the gastronomical battle, or the guy finished eating—whichever. Despite the myriad of distractions, both audience and cast managed to hear enough of each other to create a good show. The fact that the fat guy was fat had nothing to do with his mistaking my show for dinner theater, I’m sure. His despicable habit of eating from tin plates in inappropriate places was his true character flaw, not his poundage.

But if I see him at one of my shows again, I may need to go all Matrix on his fat ass.


Desperation is NOT Pretty


Last night (and I mean ALL night) I emailed every LGBT organization within a 50 mile radius of my upcoming NYC play, The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein. There are a LOT. Besides the usual community centers, there’s a gay cycling club, a gay wrestling group, a few gay synagogues, a gay chorus, gay country-western line dancing… Out there living the glorious, childless life I could have had if God in his wisdom hadn’t made me so damn straight! There is even a group for bear lovers where you have to press a big hairy belly-button to get into the website. Who knew gays loved wildlife so much?

My show opens a week from this Friday and I am slowly reaching a level of panic usually induced by looking in my rear view mirror and realizing those shiny red and blue lights aren’t a UFO. You know, that moment of sheer terror when you make a quick mental checklist of whether you actually have the car registered, inspected and insured all at the same time and search frantically for your license so you don’t have to spend the rest of the night trying to arrange a ride back home from the police station? No? Maybe this example only applies to my wife and me.

Needless to say, I am freaking. Except for the livingroom where we rehearse, my house is a disaster area. There’s a new tire next to my piece of crap car waiting for it to stop raining so it can be restored to its rightful place. My fantasy baseball team is crumbling into disrepair. The kids have resorted to (gulp) getting food and drink for themselves! Because of my strange, three-hours-at-a-time sleep schedule, the cats pounce on me 12 to 15 times a day to be fed, probably thinking each time that it’s morning again. I’m a downward spiral, wrapped inside a hurricane, surrounded by an inferno of lava. And that’s just my stomach.

Every week the good people from All Out Arts who run the theater festival send me an email with our ticket sales to date. For the last three weeks it’s been the same—four total tickets sold for three shows. Four! Now of course more than four people will see the show. Rationally I know that festival audiences are usually spur-of-the-moment and rarely lock themselves into tickets beforehand. But irrational, sleep-deprived, obsessive Brian reacts like Oskar Schindler at the end of Schindler’s List: if I sold these cufflinks, I could have had three more audience members…this ring, I could have melted it down and gotten four more tickets sold…this car…why did I need the car?…it could have been 20 tickets…

See, if I was thinking rationally I would know that our car would be lucky to fetch the price of one ticket, and only if you sold it for parts.

My problem is I’m a playwright, not a producer. Oh, I’ve learned how to do the things I need to do to promote my show, and I write a helluva press release. But there’s that…glaze-eyed, single-minded, slightly manic INTENSITY good producers have and I lack. I’m not willing to call and call and call until I get what I want. Although some of my Facebook friends might disagree, I am not comfortable with the all-out, Super Bowl marketing blitzkrieg necessary to sell tickets. I’m not above asking friends to come support my work, but I’m no good with the follow up phone call where I ask, “So what day are you coming? Are you bringing friends? How many? Get more, I’ll arrange a bus.” Naked ambition and the ability to use people I like without a conscience aren’t in my DNA. Which is why I will never succeed as a producer.

I’m more of a soft sell guy. The kind who would write a passive-aggressive blog about how freaked out he is over ticket sales with the hope that everyone who reads it and can travel to New York “gets it” and instantly goes to the website at and buys tickets to make my stomach stop hurting. See why I suck at this?


You want to know how I view the art of selling tickets? You ever see Miller’s Crossing? If you haven’t, go out and buy it RIGHT NOW. We’ll wait. OK, you remember the scene where John Turturro is being taken out into the woods to be shot by Gabriel Byrne and he’s begging, begging, begging for his life to be spared? “I can’t die… out here in the woods, like a dumb animal! In the woods, LIKE A DUMB ANIMAL!” Sniveling, pride-less John Turturro, pissing himself and crying, on his knees in the woods. “I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart! I’m praying to you! Look in your heart… ” Producing, ladies and gentlemen!


I want the world to see my new show. It’s my latest child, and he’s just learning to walk. I want to show you the video and the endless pictures of his first step. But…I know there’s a limit to how much you’re going to listen to me go on about my miraculous kid. At some point you’re going to smile, nod your head knowingly, say something like “aren’t children great” and try to get away from me as quickly as possible without being rude. Oh, how I wish I could be one of those blissfully unaware people who think whatever is important to them is equally, if not more, important to the rest of the world! If only I lacked all empathetic ability, and cared not a whit about what the other guy was thinking as I’m saying, “So, you gonna come to my show? It’s going to be fabulous. Ten tickets or an even dozen?”


I need to send more emails and lie down for no more than three hours, if my stomach stops churning. Feel sorry for me? Good, here’s the flyer: