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We concluded a selection of excerpts from the monologue: ROMANCE, with a bittersweet look back at OUR JUNIOR HIGH LOVE TRIANGLE.
We begin a new journey through my extensive theatrical resume, with a slew of wild and hair-raising stories compiled in a manuscript euphemistically called:
> COMPLETELY EFFING CRAZY!
. I wasn’t more than eight years old, before I could tell- that compared to, well, everyone else, I was completely fucking crazy. All I had to do for this observation to become unavoidable, was tune out for a moment from that rich inner-life that kept me so entertained, and pay a little attention to the outside world of people. When measured against the vile ‘norm’, I came up different on nearly every count, but I never cared much. I wondered why everyone often seemed so dour when there was a universe of fun to be had. Was I a lunatic to so relish the world of the imagination, when the harsh alternative was an alternatingly cruel and generous wide world, that may just as well make of you an exalted prince, as a broken peasant?
. By seven, I had developed an imagination which could not be bothered by the petty limitations of the supposedly ‘real’ world. After all, who’s to say where your reality ends and mine begins? I was fevered with barely containable passions for living, loving, creating, becoming, pretending, envisioning and discovering. If I was captivated by the flickering cathode-ray tube, I was hypnotized by the silver screen. I didn’t watch movies so much as live in them, but passive observation was never enough for me. Great performances always made me jealous of the performers. I wanted to be them- to be onstage with them, tearing a passion to tatters, against Hamlet’s explicit direction. I was an Artist… an artist of what I could not yet say.
. All my youth, I was a willing slave to this capricious muse. When inspiration would ring her irresistible bell, whatever wasn’t bolted down would become raw material for aspiration. I didn’t see anything in that outer world surrounding me that I couldn’t do better myself. So I began to design and construct of my own alternate homemade realities: small neighborhood do-it-yourself Disneylands. Anything not bolted down was fair game to become Art. Garbage held enormous untapped potential. Junk was treasure. Cardboard was bliss. Abandoned boxes, wood-piles, and anything left collecting dust the garage too long, became fodder for my vision du jour. We devised intricate obstacle courses to test our physical prowess, concocted elaborate back yard miniature golf courses that seemed inspired by Rube Goldberg, enacted spontaneous playlets, formed exclusive clubs, and held whopper contests to see who could fabricate the most outlandish lies. Our haunted houses became the things of local legend. Someone drove about 50 miles to see one! (But it was designed for kids and could not accommodate them.)
. As I’ve matured (if you can call it that), I’ve had occasion to wear many hats in my never-ending servitude to this maliciously voracious muse: I’ve been a stage actor and media ‘talent’- a questionable job title at best. I’ve produced and directed, written and adapted books for the theater, made short movies and written hundreds of poems, short stories and comedy pieces. I’ve contributed to a new-age bliss-ninny magazine, orchestrated live events and emceed fundraisers and ceremonies. I’ve been a DJ, a TV talk show host, a publicist, impresario, and now a raconteur, troublemaker and stand-up philosopher. In all this fun work, the most transcendent moments have always come from surfing the moment without a net, gyrating meaningfully in the turbulent currents of time. To perform live, is like treading that razor’s-edge of real time where anything can and does happen. I savor the danger, because it’s balanced with the tantalizing prospect of stumbling onto actual bona fide magic.
. In the autumn of 1964 I turned an (ab)normal eight years old. There were things I saw my neighborhood peers do, that just kind of clicked a switch inside me, causing something to shift in the deepest levels of my psyche. Maybe this fuse was lit the day some kids threw a truly paltry garage pantomime. For five U.S. cents, audiences could purchase the privilege of sitting on the dirty ground in a back alley and watching four kids under mophead wigs prance around a greasy garage, lip-syncing atrociously to upbeat Beatles anthems. They were awful. It was a train wreck. But nobody seemed the least bit embarrassed by the spectacle or pissed-off by the loss of their hard-begged nickels. They just clapped and swayed merrily, along with the familiar beat.
. Or maybe my epiphany occurred the day that another batch of kids staged a ragtag theatrical revue in one boy’s back yard. For an impressive audience of about 25, they performed simple stunts and short, silly skits based on tired old jokes everyone had long since tried to forget. It was nothing really, but they got TEN of my pennies- and I was impressed to see how many people would actually pay cash to see a young twerp swing down on a rope from his treehouse, delivering a lame impersonation of Tarzan the apeman. (I added up the profit in my head. Two dollars and fifty cents was a chunk of change, and certainly not a figure to be sneezed at!)
. Or perhaps this sea-change happened the day the Shoemaker twins staged the first-of-it’s-kind neighborhood media-show. Mr. and Mrs. Shoemaker had more bucks than the average neighborhood suburbanites, so Craig and Ted were the first on the block to get a much-coveted and highly-hyped ‘Show-n-Tell’. All we kids had seen the commercials between the parade of Saturday morning cartoons. The mysterious gizmo was a big plastic box combining an opaque viewing-screen in front, a turntable on top and built-in-speakers on the sides. Together, vynal records synced with a series of filmstrips retold popular folk-tales. It was a multi-media machine for the young masses. The medium of the future!
. As I entered, I found the Shoemaker living room packed with paying customers waiting in small groups to see multiple showings of ‘Goldilocks and the Seven Dwarfs of Oz’, which was being screened in the adjacent hallway- the darkest place in the house. As they ushered my group in, I silently counted the crowd. I was doing that kind of thing now. Wow! The industrious twins had managed to cram dozens of kids into each showing, and at two bits a head- they made a killing! Dollars, not cents- bunches of dollars!
. Follow my drift? At some point, I began thinking like a producer- an ominous turn of events, God help us all!
We hear some interesting TALES FROM THE TEEN DRAMA WORKSHOP.
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© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.