Jefe's House

Tag: playwright in residence

Dang. Sadly No EVP.

by on Feb.05, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Please enjoy my 2nd Rep Radio interview. This one happened on 1/7/12 at midnight on the stage of Plays & Players, and it’s the aforementioned live ouija board session in lieu of a traditional interview, in hopes that interviewer Kristen Scatton and I could contact one of Plays & Players’ 3 resident ghosts, and we did with help from my frequent Philly ghost pal Mala.  Sadly the recording contains no voices from the dead, aka, electronic voice phenomena.  Why does it always work so well on Ghost Hunters?

 

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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ghost Boy

by on Jan.08, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Photo by Iggy Rocketboy.

Last night my ongoing Ouija-as-theatre experiment continued for another round.   Kristen Scatton of Philadelphia’s Rep Radio, who had already interviewed me several months ago for my 2011 Philly Fringe show, BZ:ABOTD, interviewed me again, this time in the context of my being one of this year’s 3 PDC@Plays&Players playwrights-in-residence (along with playwrights Brian Grace-Duff and Jeremy Gable).

She didn’t want a repeat of my first interview in August so I suggested something different — how about meeting me at midnight on the mainstage of Play & Players on the set of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (which opens January 19th and which is not to be missed) to see if we can contact the ghost of the Small Boy who has been spotted on the stage over the years.  He’s one of 3 spirits said to haunt the hundred-year-old building.

My 1917 original William Fuld Ouija Board.

You can soon hear the full Rep Radio interview and the complete audio of our Ouija session so I won’t go into full detail here. In summary, MALA showed up again in her usual insistent way (MALAMALAMALAMALA) and confirmed that she indeed knew me and had last spoken to me upstairs in Quig’s Pub on 11/6/11.  I asked her if she was doing okay and she said NO.  I told her I wanted her to try and be happier in 2012 because she always seemed sad, and she said OK.

We asked Mala if she knew the Small Boy and whether he was hanging around onstage with us.  He was.  In fact he was standing directly to my right, upstage center, according to Mala. The Small Boy’s initials are AE and he talked about PLAYS and that he was in a play on that stage in 1945.  Does he enjoy living at Plays & Players? NO.  Why doesn’t he leave?  LALALALA (a frequent Ouija answer in my experience, which I interpret to mean la la la la I’m not listening/can’t discuss it).

Broadway and silent film star, early screenwriter and Plays & Players co-founder Maud Durbin Skinner is also said to haunt the building.

In the end, chronically lonely little girl Mala confirmed that she liked the Small Boy and thought he was nice, so I asked if she’d like to stay on at Plays & Players and be friends with him.  She said YES, so I felt good about finding her a much-needed playmate. Apparently in the process I’ve also brought another ghost into Plays & Players’ otherworldly fold. I hope Maud and Leon are okay with that and don’t get angry with me for crowding them out. It’s getting downright lousy with ghosts in there.

Proof of a spirit world, or proof of characters from mine and Kristen Scatton’s fevered imaginations conveyed via subconscious ideomotor impulses?  Take your pick. I’m equally fascinated by both phenomena.  For further reading I highly recommend James Merrill’s epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover.

See you all at Live Arts Scratch Night at the Live Arts Brewery on Thursday 1/12/12 at 7pm. It’s free, there’s cheap beer, and you can RSVP here.

[Maud Skinner photo via findagrave.com]

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Plays & Players Ouija Log – 11/6/11

by on Nov.07, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

I was delighted last night to hear again from spirit MALA during our Ouija session that was part of my Plays & Players playwright-in-residence presentation. I began with a little shtick I wrote just for the occasion, then called for volunteers, BZ:ABOTD-style, and moved us all across the threshold from the Skinner Studio stage into Quig’s Pub where we all stood around a table watching the two volunteers try their hands at my antique William Fuld original Ouija board. Our goal was to contact one of the theatre’s 3 resident ghosts.

At first, lots of jibberish despite multiple partners and switch-offs and trying to get the board warmed up. There were a few early highlights, like my asking, “Look, is there anyone there who just wants to cut the jibberish and talk to us in plain English using simple words?”

The response was a swift NO.

At one point it blurted out OZ which got lots of oohs and aahs. Later one of the volunteers emailed me that she got home and flipped on the TV only to see that The Wizard of Oz was indeed on that night.

But whenever it was my turn to switch in with a partner it shot back and forth from M to A to L to A to M to A, sweeping a wide arc back and forth across the board nonstop. It wouldn’t answer any other questions. It was, like, in this catatonic state. I’d get up and let a new partner take over, but 10 minutes later when it was my turn again it’d shoot back to M A L A M A L A. As obvious as it seems now (duh) I kept guessing at names…”Are you Mama?…Alam? … Lala?”

Thankfully someone chimed in, “My guess is it’s a child.”

“Are you a child?” I asked the board. At that she finally stopped the chant and went to YES.

“You’ve been trying to talk to me all night. Do you know me?”

YES

“Have we met before?”

YES

“What’s your name?”

MALA

“Oh! You’re Mala. From my show!”

YES

“You’re the little girl.”

YES

(to the crowd) “This is a little girl I met during my show. She was killed by her mother. (to Mala) You followed me here from the Blue Grotto to Plays & Players?”

YES

“Are you in the room with us?”

YES NO YES NO YES NO (this indecision was also evident during her previous session with me; the personality and her reluctance or uncertainty with her state seemed consistent, as did her childlike repetitions of “MalaMalaMalaMala” and previously “MomMomMomMom” for emphasis)

“Your mother killed you, right?”

YES NO YES NO YES NO

(In our previous conversation on 9/15/11 her discomfort with discussing the details of her death (stabbed by her mother) and her insistence that she has forgiven her, felt consistent again with her current indecisive answers. Previously her discomfort was indicated by the constant use of the infinity sign when she wasn’t sure how to answer; tonight it was the YES NO YES NO maneuver.)

I got tired of monopolizing the board so I stepped away for a slice of pizza while two others continued the chat. I told them Mala was a lonely little girl who meant no harm and to chat with her for a few minutes. I’m not sure of the outcome but I know their chat with her was brief because the board was soon abandoned. People kept admiring it and discussing it but no one would dare to use it. I offered to use it with someone but no one would take me up on it. Everyone seemed too spooked by the Mala thing.

So, not exactly an earth-shattering session but a good experience overall and I was happy to chat with my otherworldly pal Mala again. Most disappointingly no contact was made by any of Plays & Players’ supposed ghosts. Maybe they’re just a legend…

TO BE CONTINUED.

 

 

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Real Paranormal Activity on 11/6 in Philadelphia

by on Oct.24, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

A post-crypt to Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead will happen next Sunday 11/6/11 when in my first official act as a PDC @Plays & Players Playwright-in-Residence I will solicit audience volunteers to use my 1917 original Fuld Ouija Board to try and contact one of the ghosts believed to be haunting the historic, century-old Plays & Players Theatre on 17th Street and Delancey Place in Philadelphia, PA.

I am told that many of the bar staff who work on the 3rd floor in the private Quig’s Pub have spotted the ghost of deceased longtime bartender Leon passing through the room on occasion. Many actors over the years have often encountered the ghost of a little boy standing on the main stage, and others insist that the ghost of famed Broadway actress and Plays & Players’ first president Maud Skinner haunts one of the dressing rooms. We shall see…

The shenanigans start on November 6 at 6:30pm at Plays & Players’ 3rd floor Skinner Studio & Quig’s Pub (RSVP required, see below) as they welcome playwrights Jeremy Gable, Brian Grace-Duff and myself as the three 2011-12 resident playwrights and bid goodbye to the three 2010-11 residents Joy Cutler, Greg Romero and Quinn Eli. There will be a meet-and-greet happy hour from 6:30pm-7pm with a toast to the outgoing residents, brief presentations from the new playwrights (this is where the Ouija board comes in) from 7-7:30pm, and a pizza party celebration from 7:30pm-8pm.

The competitive residency at Plays & Players aims to provide artistic development for Philadelphia’s professional playwrights. The playwrights utilize the Plays & Players Theater to undertake personal explorations of their work, ranging from traditional table reads to finding a quiet space to write and draw to listening to the dreams of visitors.  All activities are playwright driven. So…

Who knows what this year will bring? Find out with us.  RSVP REQUIRED.  Please email Plays & Players Artistic Director Daniel Student at dstudent@playsandplayers.org.

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Drinks at Quig’s Are On Me

by on Oct.15, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Plays & Players Theatre on 17th and Delancey Streets in Philadelphia, PA.

Fresh on the heels of a highly successful Philly Fringe show I am delighted, surprised,  and thrilled to have been named one of Philadelphia’s three 2011-12 PDC@Plays & Players Playwrights-in-Residence.

The Philadelphia Dramatists Center (PDC) is a membership community of playwrights, collaborating artists and audience members dedicated to creating and nurturing new work.  PDC develops resources, stimulates creative partnerships and participates in the ongoing national dialogue about how and why theater is created.

The historic Plays & Players Theatre turns 100 this year. It  began in 1911 as a private social club, similar to the Players Club in Manhattan, devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its wealthy membership. The first President, actress Maud Skinner, was the wife of the famed American actor Otis Skinner.  The Plays & Players Theatre building on 17th and Delancey, then called the “Little Theatre of Philadelphia,” first opened its shows to the public in 1913 with a mission to produce “American plays of ideas.” And they meant it.   Plays & Players sought out and produced cutting edge work by America’s newest playwrights including Philadelphia premieres in 1916 and 1919 of  some of the earliest plays by Eugene O’Neill (Before Breakfast) and Susan Glaspell (Suppressed Desires and Trifles), the world premiere in 1949 of Bevan & Trzcinski’s acclaimed Stalag 17 before it moved to Broadway, and an early performance by actor Kevin Bacon in 1974.  Once an exclusive club, Plays & Players has grown over the years into a professional quality theatre devoted to supporting established and emerging Philadelphia artists in practicing and performing their crafts.

I know what you’re wondering: is it haunted? Finding out will be my first order of business.  I am told that many of the bar staff who work on the 3rd floor in the members-only Quig’s Pub have spotted the ghost of deceased longtime bartender Leon passing through the room on occasion, then there’s the oft-spotted ghost of a little boy standing on the mainstage, and others insist the ghost of Maud Skinner haunts one of the dressing rooms. We shall see…

Here too is a terrific video tour of Plays & Players made by mysterious stranger Lance Davis last month.

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