Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In appreciation

This is a post to thank actors. (I hope I don't get drummed out of the Writers Guild for this.)

They do a lot of work, give their time and talent for free. (A few later make $30,000,000 a picture but that’s a small number.)

Actors, by and large, are extremely generous with their gift. They do readings, student films, web series, videos, and narration for minimal payment or no payment.

You could argue that unless someone hires an actor he can’t really practice his craft. And that’s true. There are classes and showcases, but actors primarily have to take advantage of the roles that are out there and available. They then have to lucky enough to get those roles.  Writers at least don’t need to audition to further their craft. They just need a computer and nearby Starbucks (and maybe an idea).

And writers do their share of pro bono work as well – writing specs. But that screenplay you write on speculation could sell for six figures. Actors doing a screenplay reading rarely find themselves in a bidding war.

I’ve been concentrating on stage plays and theater pieces lately. No one does that for the moolah. You’d stand a much better chance of getting rich by manufacturing phonograph needles. The truth is, other than big productions, theater work is largely a labor of love. No one makes money in small theaters. We do it because we love it.

For me, I get to hear actors performing my work and audiences responding to it. That’s reward enough (although I’d gladly take a nice windfall).

Recently, my new play, GOING GOING GONE, received a staged reading at the Atwater Theatre in Los Angeles as part of EST’s Winterfest staged reading festival. (The photos for today’s post are from that reading.) It went great and provided terrific feedback for future drafts. (What was I thinking with that fucking R2D2 joke?) But what really made the evening a success was the awesome cast I had – a cast that provided their services for free.

So a special thanks to George Wendt, Annie Abrams, Kareem Ferguson, Kevin Comartin, and Tony Pasquilni. And thanks for putting up with me as a director.

From time to time I’ve had other readings (my own or for the UCLA class I teach) or one act plays and wonderful actors have answered the call. Since I’m not going to win any awards and will have no chance to thank them in an acceptance speech, I can at least do it in this space. So a public thank you to Andy Goldberg, Jules Willcox, Harry Murphy, Sara Lukasiewicz, Ryan O’Neal, Chip Zien, Andrew Rannells, Ed Asner, Wendy Cutler, Mandy Kaplan, Suzanne Mayes, Liz Bliss, Paul Pape, Jason Alexander, Matthew Letscher, Kurtwood Smith, Eric Pierpoint, Howard Hoffman, Keith Szarabajka, Wendie Mallick, Joanna Gleason, Jennifer Tilly, Bill Ragsdale, Paul Dooley, Malcolm Gets, Alan Simpson, David Rasche, Paul Lauden, Paul Culos, Julie Meyer, Carolyn Hennessey, Patrick Breen, Michael McManus, Bob Rosenfarb, David Schramm, Evan Arnold, Bess Meyer, Mehera Blum, Sterling Sulieman, Jack Zullo, Kimberly Wallis, Jeremy Licht, Mark Chaet, Ken Jenkins, Nell Teare, John Content, Mark Blum, Dan Ingram, and I’m sure there are others I have regrettably left out.

I know – the playoff music started around “Ryan O’Neal” but I wanted to get in as many as I could. That’s about $1,000,000,000 worth of talent there. And I bought them lunch… well, some of them.

12 comments:

Carol said...

Did you tell George W I said hi? :)

Theatre is a labor of love. It really is. I always say you can tell the difference between someone who is acting to be famous vs acting because they love it by whether or not they do theatre. Being a long time member of various community theatre groups, I can say we've always done it because we love the process of live theatre. We get paid in applause and the knowledge we've put on a good show.

In fact, my theatre group, The Village Players of Hatboro are in the final stages of mounting Ken's play A or B? by the way. It's been a great journey, and the actors have been working their bums off, and it is going to be amazing. I highly recommend anyone in or near Montgomery County PA to come see it. It opens April 1st and runs for the first three weekends in April. Go to www.viillageplayers.com for ticket information and details!

Glenn said...

That George Wendt guy looks like a guy who will go on to big things...

Terry said...

Ken, have you ever heard of the New Theatre Restaurant in Kansas City? Seeing Mr. Wendt's picture made me think of it because he's done many performances here in the past and is always enjoyable to see. I just thought if you were looking for venues for your plays in other towns it couldn't hurt to check it out. Sure, it's dinner theater, but it's extremely well-done dinner theater with high production values and a great mix of local and national talent. Ask George about it, I'm sure he could give you some insider info. Just a thought (and maybe the only way I'd ever get to see one of your plays!)

Boomska316 said...

Man, Norm sure got old. :) It's weird when you watch someone in reruns and then see them in present day.

Jack Zullo said...

Thanks, Ken. Glad the read went well.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Boomska316, I watch the Cheers reruns all the time. Norm looks fine to me.

Cap'n Bob said...

EST? Erhard Seminars Training? I hope not.

D. McEwan said...

The reading was a lot of fun. I certainly enjoyed it. Thanks for asking me.

Di Koob said...

Thanks for acknowledging us actors! Sorry I missed the reading - I was in rehearsal! :)

Speaking of rehearsals, I'd love to invite you to see GORGEOUS, a new play written by Beth Polsky & directed by Paul Messinger - we opened last weekend! It's well written and just good fun. Playing at the Let Live! theater at The Actor Company on Formosa. Info & tix available at http://www.gorgeoustheplay.com/ Industry comps are available - just shoot me an email with your dates (dikoob at mac dot com) or call Amy at (310) 497-3710.

Long live theatre!

MikeK.Pa. said...

Ken: Curious, if you're now a full-time playwright (when you're not blogging) or do you still get together with David and spitball ideas for sitcoms, flesh them out and pitch to networks?

Barry Traylor said...

Ken, you just answered something I have wondered about for years. That is why good actors take parts in awful movies. Of course they may not have known for certain the movie would be bad going into it.

J S Swanson said...

I was fortunate enough to be in the audience and enjoyed it immensely. Always good to see what you've been hearing in your mind and reading on the page come to life. And I'm still chuckling over the fact that the biggest name in the cast of a show called Going, Going, Gone was named Wendt...