Sunday, March 28, 2010

Okay, I'm almost recovered now...

Almost a week after from the Dublin Benefit, and I'm just now managing to get it together to blog about it. Well, it was a very intense time.

...and a successful one, too. We raised about $1,000 (about 745 euro for those counting along at home in Europe) for our friends at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. The Big Basket o' Gay & Lesbian Plays, Books & Music is going across the ocean, won by someone who purchased a raffle ticket at the Opening Launch for the 2010 festival, which was also on March 22.

Next time, I will remember to get a photographer; oh, we HAVE a camera, and we even brought it, but the difference between a real photographer and us is that we'll look at something and say: wow, I'm really enjoying that, and a photographer will go: there's a shot. And, you know, TAKE it.

We did get a few photos however, and I'll do my best to get 'em right side up and sharpened, and we'll see how they reproduce on the internets.

We also had the loveliest programs for the event, courtesy of United Stages. (Take a look at the cover, right.)

After my last post, which was when I was flying out the door Monday afternoon, I picked up the programs, my dress from the dry cleaner, some supplies for the bar, and made sure that all the books we'd received were loaded into the back of the car. Also, I'd received an email saying that the lead actor in my play had completely lost her voice, so I'd better be ready to go on, maybe. (actually, that's not the first time that's ever happened to me).

At the theater, the first wave of volunteers, including PE Nolan and Lea Robinson arrived; we started wrapping the books for the basket, and writing out a ticket (or 3 or 9) for every person who had purchased a raffle ticket online. We had a lovely influx of raffle tickets bought on the last day, and Gar in Dublin sent me a spreadsheet of everyone, and we double and triple-checked the list, so if you bought a ticket, your name went into the basket. They were later joined by Adam Weinstock, who worked the basket and the buzzer (letting people in).

Our terrific trio of techs, Terra, Alison & Jen were also all over it as soon as they arrived. The stage was bare, with a large white hanging backdrop, which worked out fine for everyone. Soon there were chairs and blocks and a sofa carried from upstairs onstage and in the wings. We never did find the mic, though, and the two acts who requested it said: all right, here's what we'll do instead...

It was a hurried but thoroughly professional tech; Mark Finley supervised the talent, Chris Weikel turned up looking spiffy with a green carnation in his jacket to be the MC, Peter Saxe brought along lyrics to "Seasons of Love" so we didn't have a stage full of people singing "Five hundred thousand mumble mumble mumble..." Jamie Heinlein decided her voice could make it through the show, and I wouldn't have to go on, which was a relief to me, if not her.

Janice Mann arrived to handle box office, Derek Jamison and Jacqueline Sydney to do the bar. Deb Guston to supervise tech for "The Adventures of..." AND with a case of beer. J. Stephen Brantley brought green oatmeal cookies. Paul Adams was here, there, everywhere. Joe Godfrey came straight from his vacation and brought a bottle of duty-free to contribute to the bar, and his play "A Queer Carol" to contribute to the basket. Kevin Brofsky also turned up with a copy of "Claymont" for the basket.

I'd invited Brendan Fay of St. Pats for All to come, and he turned up in the lobby and I buttonholed him to say a word during the show; Chris wrote it all down on his notecards. More people were arriving, and miraculously, the tech seemed to be finished. Chris gathered the troops and they did a runthrough of "Seasons of Love" for the finale, accompanied by Peter.

We opened the house, to the accompaniment of pre-show music I'd burned to CD...two years ago in Dublin. Aimee Howard found it in her prop bag when she was pulling together the remounting of "Tom Cruise Get Off the Couch." People filed in and at fairly close to 7:30 (ish) Chris Weikel kicked off the show by reading a letter from Brian Merriman (see previous post).

Elizabeth Whitney (as Wonder Woman) kicked off the musical portion of the evening, with "This is for All the Boys," and she worked her way through the audience, ending up on a block about two seats from us, and finishing her number with copious blasts of Silly String, which delighted us all. As she left the stage, she let Chris twirl in her American flag cape!

Jamie Heinlein, Jason Alan Griffin and Hunter Gilmore were next up in "The Adventures of..." which is my play, directed by Deb Guston, and also one of my favorite plays. They added a few things that had me totally cracked up, and Jamie powered through her laryngitis, Jason added some kicks and falls to the fight scene, and Hunter added a sibilant "s" or two that had me spitting my drink.

Moe Bertran was next up, doing his PFLAG monologue from "Love Scenes" by David Pumo (directed by Donna Jean Fogel), and it's a beautiful piece, and he really put it over. With Barbara Streisand as accompaniment. Lovely!

The sofa that was carried from the lounge upstairs came in handy in the next piece, Kevin Brofsky's "Tom Cruise Get Off the Couch," directed by Aimee Howard. Kaolin Bass and Joe MacDougall from the original cast reprised their roles, and Desmond Dutcher stepped in to pitch in as a rather mangy, pornographic golden retriever. It killed, of course, and Desmond added a new skill to his resume (playing a dog).

Dan Bernitt joined the merriment with a slam poem that had the poets in the crowd melting (yes, there were some poets in the crowd!) and then a monologue about being a character stripper/poet in Provincetown at a talent contest one summer at the Crown & Anchor. Oh, how much do we love Provincetown? (Enough to write a few plays about it, if you must know...)

Chris Weikel then displayed his pipes and terpsichorean stylings with a Peter Marks song (aka "The Gay Caveman Song") which showed off his fabulous cabaret talents.

Andrea Alton isn't actually a lesbian, but she plays one, a lesbian poet, to be exact, onstage. Her character Molly hit just the right tone with her compositions: "Lips," "Nipples," "Things That I Like" and a Mother's Day Poem that met with gales of applause and laughter.

Our final play of the night was Mark Finley's "Swans Are Mean," directed by David Winitsky, with Elizabeth Bell, Matt Boethin, and the versatile (flexible?) Hunter Gilmore. It's a lovely short play, set on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, and maybe one of these festivals we'll get to do it there!

Brendan Fay came up to speak before the drawing, and tied the many diverse threads of the evening together with his observations.

Then we brought "the world's largest leprechaun," aka Paul Adams, Artistic Director of Emerging Artists Theatre, onstage to do the raffle drawing. Paul drew the name of the winner, to great applause; Mr. Richard Manley of Dublin, you are one lucky fellow!

And then the cast gathered onstage, as they do at the end of the festival in Dublin, and everyone sang "Seasons of Love," or "Five hundred thousand mumble mumble mumble" if they didn't have a lyrics sheet. Trust me, it was transcendant.
In photo: (l. to r.) Elizabeth Bell, Jason Alan Griffin, Desmond Dutcher, Dan Bernitt, Jamie Heinlein, Matt Boethin, Chris Weikel, Hunter Gilmore, Andrea Alton, Joe MacDougall, Kaolin Bass, Moe Bertran, Elizabeth Whitney.

And afterward, everyone congregated in the lobby for one more drink & green oatmeal cookie, planning their next trip to Dublin, and wishing they'd won the raffle.

I hope you've enjoyed following this blog for the duration of the planning/execution of the benefit, and if you are so moved, that you'll send a little something along to the Festival. You can donate here.

Thanks to all the friends, artists and techies who gave of their time, talent and work, and everyone who attended or bought a raffle ticket. I'm honored to know you, and we'll catch you on the flipside.

Five Hundred Thousand somethings!

Kathleen W.
Ambassador of Love

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