I’m working on a solo show for the Midtown Theatre Festival (http://www NULL.midtownfestival NULL.org/plays NULL.html) which has a working title “Actor.Comedian.Negro”
I’m not finished with it yet, but here’s a sample because I feel guilty for not posting in a long while. It just an event i ruminated on for a while and i wrote this stream-of-conciousness about it….
Hmm. What? Yeah. My great grandfather was a big man to me. He did bestride this narrow world like a colossus. There was no one that had greater stature then he. Even when I saw with my own eyes people who were taller than him or even wider than him they still didn’t have the presence and the clarity of mind I believe my great grand father had. I use to (as most children do) wrap myself around his legs and to my amazement, he could walk with me there. This was unthinkable to me. This man could carry my entire existence on one leg. One leg, people! One leg. I always wanted him to pick me up because the world was so different to me up there. At his height, a man could survey all his kingdom around.
My sophomore year of college I was in Boston. It was going to be a great summer. I was going to teach at the summer institute giving advice to high school student and relearning from them what it meant to have a spirit and passion for the theatre. I always go back to that so that I can remember why I’m doing this and that passion and deference these kids have for “The Theatre” is unmatched. I was also going to study with one of the great Improv masters, Paul Sills: founder of Second City, Son of Viola Spolin. This was going to be an event filled summer. I was staying in my friend Brandon’s studio apartment that he paid rent for the summer on and I got a Phone call from my mother…
He was gone. This man, this beast, this god to me was gone. I was ok with it. I had felt like I made my peace with him earlier that year. I had become a stereotypical teenager and lost track of those around me who cared about me because I was so focused on the task at hand. I hadn’t called or seen him in ages, but a few weeks maybe a month earlier I had called him and we talked. I told him I was gonna make sure to visit and I appreciated everything he had done for me. I told him I loved him which to me was a lot to say. I think he said “um…ok” and then got off the phone to go back to the care of his live-in nurse that I just found out about. (A live in nurse? He must be sick.) I’m sure he was a little taken aback by what I had said. Not in the overwhelmed way, but more in the “shit motherfucker, I ain’t dead yet” sort of way. I’m sure when he hung up the phone he turned to his nurse a said “Hmm-mm. That boy gay.” I was particularly touchy feely seeing as I was in theatre school learning how to be in the moment and feel my feelings. I also wasn’t sure when I was gonna get a chance to say this to him again. So I said it.
So this is how we found out he was dead. A family friend called my mother to as why she wasn’t at the funeral.
They had already buried him and put him in the ground. My grandma (JJ: his daughter), my mom, and myself had no idea he was dead and weren’t at the funeral. My (not so) great Uncle Charles went to New Mexico, organized the funeral, sold all the stuff in the house and left without calling us. He said he tried calling JJ numerous times and never heard back. Needless to say, she was livid.
How the fuck you gon’ bury my daddy without me?
I tried to call, but you weren’t at home.
Bullshit! I’m always home. I’m retired. If the phone rings I would have been there.