In 2008, I wrote and directed a play that went on to win a couple of national and international writing awards called Max Dix, Zero to Dix. A modest video was made out of two performances, and I’ve taken the decision to start posting some snippets and scenes of it.
The quality of the videos does not live up to the quality of the acting, but I hope generous viewers will be forgiving. The video was shot over two separate evenings in front of an audience during its run in Brussels, and sometimes the lighting, the cuts, the grainy images, aren’t all they could be. Yet the videos will certainly give a taste, and one hopes, pleasure, in what was presented.
I haven’t spoken at length about this play because there hasn’t been a need or an urge, but perhaps in time, and with interest.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE VIDEO
Archive for March, 2010
If you haven’t been listening to these yet, this clip is a good place to start. It can be listened to (or read, see below) almost as a stand-alone story, that is, it holds up without your having to know a great deal of what’s gone before.
To listen, Podcast of “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”, PART TWO – 6
It is a 30-minute plus audio clip (or podcast), so save it for a nice, long moment. These clips, as you may know, happen every Monday, and I’m getting (or the audio clips are getting) as regular as happy intestines digesting proper food and end that metaphor here.
This was also excerpt you can read here and that I posted previously. It was originally published in “Other Voices”, a once big deal literary magazine out of Chicago, now defunct.
Enjoy, and thanks for reading.
My big toe detached itself from my foot and took a walk. My foot said, Ah shit, not again. I said, You let him go. My foot said, I didn’t let him anything. He does this when I’m not looking. I never see it coming. He just ups and—what’s he doing?
I looked at my big toe waddle over to the nearest corner and stand, like a little bald egg with hands if he had hands tucked behind his back rocking slightly to and fro and staring intently at the corner as if he was in a museum and he had finally come upon a painting worth his attention.
He’s looking in the corner, I told my foot and my foot said, What’s he doing that for? What’s in the corner that’s so special? I said, Nothing special that I can see. It’s just a corner.
My foot shook itself slowly back and forth. Toes. I’ll never understand them. And with that my other big toe detached itself.
Oh no! my other foot moaned. Oh please, I said.
This big toe headed over to my trash container and stood before it. I watched my toe watching itself in the metal reflection of my trash container and my feet tried to tuck themselves up under me to keep the other toes in place but I wasn’t having any of it.
Feet, I lectured. Feet. Two things I ask, one large thing, one small thing. I ask you to get me from one place to another. Also, I give you the small duty to keep my toes attached to the front of you. And you fail.
Hey, we tried—
I don’t want to hear it, I told my feet, who shut-up. Now I have to get up and go over there in the corner and then over near the trash thing, and retrieve them.
No! said my foot. No! said the other foot. We don’t have any experience walking around without the two big toes and cannot guarantee your safety. We would instead highly recommend that you remain seated until both the big toes return of their own accord.
What if they don’t return?
My feet thought about that. You could crawl?
For my toes? For my toes! I have my self-respect. So I sat there, waiting for my big toes to return but I waited so long that I got drowsy and fell asleep and when I woke up the light from outside was beginning to dim its end of the day light giving the room a soft blue look I always liked and I stood up without thinking and didn’t fall over. I looked down to make sure everything was back in its place before taking my first step.
I said, Hello, again, Big Toes, and welcome back, and then I went for a short walk.
Audio book/podcast from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” — Part Two, Chapter 5, Alisa’s Statement, Psychologistic’s ReportMonday, March 22nd, 2010
Monday. Following previous Mondays, the next podcast/audio clip from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”. This one is short, less than four minutes. It readies the listener for the crucial intense next chapter coming next Monday.
To listen or download, click here: Self-Portrait of Someone Else, Podcast, Part TWO, Chapter 5, Alisa’s Statement, Psychologist’s Report.
Enjoy, and please leave a comment, if you have one.
Tombé sur la Tete” was this TV movie for French television I acted in a bit part last Autumn/Winter 2009. I got the local Brussels TV Guide this week and saw it was premiering on local TV on Sunday afternoon. Never a good sign.
In fact, this magazine I get had a wretched review in it (French only):
Worse, it doesn’t mention me. But then, I’m having problems with the Belgian production company over payment, so maybe I’m being punished for not being easily exploited (yep, worker’s rights fights on!). The film was shown today, as I write, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, in Belgium (never a good sign, like a major film going straight to DVD), from 14:35.
Tomorrow (March 22) the French are broadcasting it on TF1, their Big Deal commercial channel, at 20:45. Here’s the official listing: I’ll record that one and judge how wonderful I am, in my bit part.
I got the gig through a casting call. One of the few times the director wanted to see me back (usually I get the job straight off or never hear back). He was worried about my French, I had to speak French, and he wanted heavily accented French from an English speaker and I told him I was his guy.
It was a full day’s shooting, in Brussels, but acting as though we were in Paris — cheaper here to shoot in Belgium, tax breaks.
The main actress, who I did not know, was Michéle Bernier. We chatted some, she tried out her okay English on me. I was playing her art dealer in the movie, who encouraged her during lack of sales. Only when we ventured out and people came up to her throughout the day to ask for autographs did I understand she was a big deal outside my limited universe of French TV stars.
One of the reasons I quit television in Hollywood at the beginning of my adulthood was due to the hurry-up-and-wait that is all films. Yet, even though or because we were working on a low budget, things clicked along.
Here’s one of the make-up spaces:
The changing rooms were very make-shift. In fact, they were large cardboard strips propped up. Here’s the wide view of the three “rooms”:
And here’s the seat to sit and change upon!
There was lots and lots of stuff to run a few short scenes, as always.
And even more lots and lots of stuff … trucks full….
Here’s the view from “my gallery” to the crew across the street for a long shot (establishing shot).
The crew, across the street, waiting for the word “Action”. The director is the only one seated, of course!
Hot shot camera.
SNACKS!!! Yum-yum in a yuck-yuck sort of way….
Above, the floor manager managing the extras who had to walk back and forth at precise moments. Below, cars passed by, but with French license plates:
During a break, I had been eying a guy brown bagging and sucking on a bottle, watching from a distance. For some reason, he picked me to come over and audition. He came over to me and without preamble, began shouting some decent though slurry opera at me. I had the camera in my hand and took photos without him knowing it.
When he completed his aria, he bowed and walked, weaving, off.
At the end of the day, I got this shot of myself, actress-star Michèle Bernier, and director Didier Albert.
Some people like to know this sort of thing: Michèle was as kind, natural and unpretentious as could be; most of my scenes were with her, and there wasn’t the touch of diva about her. A professional doing her job, and wanting to do it right.
The director, I was told, had been difficult and impatient, and had been yelling some during previous days. He did not raise his voice to me. After the shoot, the production assistant, who I knew from another movie (still in post-production — lots of special effects) told me, “You had him eating out of your hand.” Whatever. He kept smiling and encouraging and liking what I did. Just corrected my French some.
A few months later, I had to go up to Paris to dub in one sentence that the director wanted clearer, and record a new voice mail necessary for a plot point. Here’s the outside of the post-production studio.
In there (below), through those doors and down.
Here we are, under the ground, in the studio, some offices, a door leading to the dubbing studio (I spent too many young years in such places and they creep me out if I stay there too long).
Here’s the dubbing studio. The screen, the microphones, the recording board. There’s a line of dialogue that goes along the bottom edge of the screen, and you say the words as they hit the end line to get the lip motion right.
Over over my shoulder (above).
This is one of me, standing at the microphone, ready to do my dubbing (photo taken by the director, Didier Albert, who spontaneously offered. I smart-assed him, asking whether he had any experience with cameras and framing).
Everyone was satisfied, except, it seems, the reviewer at the top of this blog…
The very first thing of the very first morning at the very beginning of the twelve-day writer’s conference, I was waiting outside the dining hall to take an initial tour of the campus lead by some young post-graduates who possessed minimal tour guide skills.
My reader, the professionally published writer-teacher guy who would be reviewing my manuscript and conferencing with me, came up out of a crowd of people, and introduced himself—later, from co-conference-goers more experienced than I in such matters, said this was out of the ordinary, your reader approaching you—and because of this they looked at me as though I was someone of potential special interest.
He introduced himself to me. “Mr. Roberts? I believe you are one of my victims.” Then mumbled, “I never remember titles and names”–then remembered me and mine. He asked if I had really, truly selected him to be my one and only favorite reader over all the fourteen other prominent teacher-writers available. I indicated I had, tactically avoiding saying he was my second choice, really. He said, “I want to know because I apply the scalpel differently to those who have specifically chosen me compared to those who have not.” I then definitely allowed him to believe he was my first, best choice…after all I wanted to get my full money’s worth.
He asked me what I was most worried about with my manuscript.
“…I am not confident of its shape…?”
We began walking on this tour, taking up the rear, chatting. He thought that I needed to rethink the material more as a straightforward memoir, just as a possible alternative.
He was intense, focused, sardonic.
He confided that he wasn’t too sure of the value of this conference, or any writing conference, although he was there for the third year. “There are four levels this works at,” he told me. One: socializing: drinks, receptions, parties. Two: business contacts, literary agents, editors, visiting publishers. Three: physical favors with the opposite sex. Four: writing. With so few hours dedicated to actual writing discussions, he seemed pessimistic about any in-depth fixing of writing. And there were a 144 of us 12-day students. He led me to believe, without stating it too obviously, that it would be up to me to reverse the order. Writing first, sex second, etc….
“I’m going to cut off here because this tour isn’t going anywhere.” He turned, noticed a woman passing, a student. Made a remark to her: “Where you staying?”
“In the French dorm.”
“You’re lucky.” He eagle-eyed her. “And why don’t you invite me there?”
She smiled and shrugged and kept walking. He watched her as she moved away, then turned to me.
“Is that number three on your list?” I asked.
He smiled and cut off.
* * *
I had to wait till mid-way through the conference to get my chance at some of that “physical favor with the opposite sex” stuff which was supposedly so rampant at these conferences. It was to be from an auditor. That is someone who sits in on classes but cannot participate. Like a groupie, like an auditor, like a hanger on. Kathleen was her name: a wanton healthcare professional, I was to find, with whom I had spoken now and then during the first week.
One evening, at a mini-celebration halfway through the conference, she told me she had three favorite people at the conference, and that I was at the top of her list.
She was already pretty drunk when she said this.
I said, Ah.
Just like that she placed her hand flat against my chest, and alarmed my delicate artistic sensibilities by suggesting, “Blow jobs and the clitoris. We could do that.” I tried to think of a witty retort to this, but nothing in my background or social skills had prepared me for this type of provocative suggestion.
“Yes,” I murmured, “we could.”
Now for eight days it had been hot and muggy and sticky and for these eight days I had grown plenty horny so what-the-heck I tried a kiss on for size, just to sort of get the lay of the land, check if my testicles would tingle as our tongues probed and partied.
I was anticipating, even hoping for slightly parted plump lips, and gradually to work our separate ways to a more sophisticated tongue tango. What I got was the romantic equivalent of the Grand Canyon.
She placed her upper lip somewhere just below my nostrils. I believe she hooked her lower lip under my chin.
Startled, and not a little concerned, I nevertheless tossed my tongue in there to see what would happen. No slick, moist porpoise of a tongue rose to meet mine in order to frolic and splash. My tongue hung in the dark, in the void, alone, like a diving board over the deep end of an empty swimming pool.
I made a valid effort, and waggled my tongue in the generosity of her whole-hearted though unskilled desire. I believe I licked a couple of molars.
It was at that moment that my testicles realized that they would be retaining their testosterone burden for another sticky night.
Monday. Podcast, ongoing & going on. Part Two, Chapters 2-4 plus Bob Collin’s Statement from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”. The author reads it. 22:38 minutes
Previous chapters can be found under Images & Performance on this blog; they have been posted every Monday. Part Two continues next Monday.
To listen, click here: Self-Portrait of Someone Else, audio, Part Two- Chapters 2 to 4 & Bob Collin’s Statement
To read sample chapters, purchase or read reviews, click here: hidden-people.
This Friday, instead of my usual short-short Noises from the House story, I have a longer story that has just been published online at The Cortland Review issue 46.
The story is called “Interruptions” and is taken from my collection of short stories that will be published near Christmas this year under the title, “Intimate Dialogues”.
Hope you like. The link: INTERRUPITONS at The Cortland Review. Thanks for any commentary you have…