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Two Plays Opening in New York!

I’m proud (and very humbled) to announce that two of my plays will be performed this very week in New York.

The first is part of the 9th Annual Northport One-Act Play Festival held on Long Island.

InkedNorthport Plays 2018 Festival 8.5X11 FLYER FINAL_LI

Pamela Harris had a Near Death Experience and has applied to be part of a study to explore what happened. Dr. Edwina “Edie” Richter is a clinical researcher who conducts a series of questions to quantify and categorize the events Pamela experienced. A problem arises when Pamela reveals that she has an hidden agenda for taking the survey. What she doesn’t know is that Dr. Richter has her own agenda and that both will unleash unintended consequences that will forever change Pamela’s life.”

Judge nothing until the end. — St. Augustine

~

The second play happens just four days later.

It is a staged reading of my full length play, THE WISE WOMEN. It’s being put on by the up-and-coming powerhouse The Theater Collective, a group of extraordinarily talented women you are going hear a lot more of in the days to come.

On April 19, 7:30 p.m. If you are anywhere near Manhattan, check it out:

Alchemical Studios (fabulous performance spaces)
104 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
Get (cheap!) Tickets and View Map Here

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“Three days before New Year’s Eve, Lin (Starhawk) Wise makes a surprise visit to her daughter (Billy Wise) and granddaughter (Omie Wise) in New York City after not seeing them for years. She’s there on a mission that throws everyone into a state of chaos – as is her way.

Omie Wise, a talented young singer, might get to experience a once in a life-time event: to sing in a small club where Beyonce is scheduled to stop by. It all depends on her new ‘business manager’ – if he can pull it off and…if she can keep a secret until after the performance.

Her mother, Billy Wise, has been floating along in disappointment about her life and musical career for so long that she’s in denial of a burgeoning dependency on prescription pain pills.

Three generations of women who have struggled with the personal cost required to have a life in the arts. The Wise women know all the stories, know how to push all the buttons, but still have secrets that make every revelation have dire consequences for each other.

Question is: Will they do things the way they always have, or will they find a way to rise above the scars of their pasts?”

 


Thailand Redux

redux
ˈriːdʌks/

adjective:
brought back; revived

I share this with you because there was just no way to tell the whole story the first time around. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get close enough to tell the tale; I still have hundreds of unseen images and hours of video.

Every photo, every piece of video would require a minimum of four typed pages to explain their context, the story behind them. It is truer than ever here: a picture is worth a thousand words. This is simply another view of a wildly exotic and impossible-to-forget place on this planet.


Stalking The Centre For The Unknown

This place has fired my curiosity ever since we moved here. It’s instantly recognizable looking out from the train to Lisbon. What the hell are they doing in there? Unknown what? Artificial Intelligence? Extra dimensional travel? Galactic Alien Relocation Center? What’s going on? Turns out the Champalimaud Foundation (named after a wealthy Portuguese benefactor) is a world renown cancer research facility. I’m glad they’re doing good work there, but I’m a wee bit disappointed they didn’t quite fan the flame of my wild imaginings.

My curiosity built to the breaking point after I recently wrote a short science fiction play and entered it into a contest (The Future of Art). The  intriguing theme of the contest is Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Conflict: How will AI change the nature of human endeavor? Sounded like a challenge to me so I answered it by lobbing a Molotov cocktail into the discussion.  Hey, it’s what I do sometimes.  A filmmaker pal thinks we should shoot it as a movie here.

Here is the animated view of the facility a full three years before it was built. Looks amazingly like the final product in real life.

Pretty cool, yes? Just another day in one of the world’s oldest cities that also happens to have it’s eyes sharply focused on the future.

If you are interested, let me know and I’ll email you a copy of the play; it’s a pretty quick read. And my take on the theme has to do with AI, self-aware robots and NDE’s (Near Death Experiences). Yeah, it’s that far out there, but as in a lot of sci-fi…is it?

 


New York Minuet

What is a minuet? It’s a dance, a social dance. And that’s what the entire eight day excursion was in the wilds of New York City and its even wilder environs. It was one continuous dance.

We stayed in the Bronx, the more up-and-coming area known as South Bronx, or Sobro. Still, even though I was the OWD (only white dude), I got the same feeling I often get when we travel: we are the foreigners, the minority. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing. We never felt threatened, in danger, nor did we get robbed, beaten, stabbed or killed — not killed even once! Though on a couple of occasions I did get extra looks, smiles mostly.  The area where my daughter and granddaughter live (‘Sup Brooke Ave!) is not yet used to seeing many white people of a certain age. Their neighborhood is mostly a mixture of Hispanic, i.e., Dominican Republic, Central and South Americans and blacks; not only African Americans but from all other African countries. On the street and especially in the subways, you hear the music of languages that originate from every culture on earth.

I was thrilled and honored to be a part of the 4th Annual Schreiber Shorts play festival (check it out here, if you have a moment). I felt like a famous playwright for a night and even got to schmooze the after-show reception with my granddaughter, Aisha Carpenter (an acting student at the T. Schreiber Theatre and Studio) by my side.

cowboy-cutCOWBOY CUT

Corruption, Greed, & Deception on an Arizona Ranch
By Nelson Clark
Directed by Ann Cooley
With: Bill Barry, Ivan Sandomire, Tai Thompson

For me, the whole time was an exercise in gratitude; every minute I tried to appreciate exactly how lucky a creature I am.

aisha-and-big-b

Going to New York is always big, brash and busy, and we loved our visit…but honestly? Despite all the energy, the vibrancy and never-ending noise,  traffic, subway congestion and even the snow falling gently down and covering the freshly heaved vomit on the sidewalk, it was a relief to return to Portugal. We love our girls and wish them all the success and fulfillment the city can help them achieve. But it sure was nice to get back, after a long and exuberant dance, and relax on the veranda with Wyatt Earp Clark.  The three of us sit close and look out over a magnificent vista where we watch the big winter waves crash on the beach at Pria da Poça. It was a good trip.


Guess Whose Play Is Going To Be Produced Off-Broadway?

This year’s lineup of 10-minute shorts explores the idea of CHALLENGES with plays that reflect various creative interpretations of the theme. Out of nearly 1,000 submissions from around the world, 10 short plays were selected for this year’s production!

10 Playwrights.

Bob Canning
Eugenie Carabatsos
Nelson Clark
Alex Dremann
Jim Gordon
Peter Kennedy
Dan McGeehan
Rosemary Frisino Toohey
Michael Weems
Nathan Yungerberg
10 Directors.

Raquel Alamazan
Janet Bentley
Page Clements
Ann Cooley
Ivette Dumeng
Crystal Edn
Joan Kane
Clarissa Marie Lignon
Gregg Pica
Jake Turner

That’s right, me, your humble Raging Traveler. Yes, the one whose picture is second from the end. Yes, the same guy who looks like he’s about to plant a big French kiss in the ear of the last fellow in line (he’s so handsome!). Seriously, it is a serious honor to be part of this group. I’ve been in communication with the director and she has a great cast; they’re having fun rehearsing the piece and bringing out the humor in what is a fairly dark story.  The festival is having a three week run from January 25 through February 11. So if you are in NYC…come see it! Very exciting as you might imagine.

So, as I jump through hoops to try and tie all this to a travel blog, Virginia and I will be traveling to New York City for the opening night festivities.  So much will be packed into nine days, including staying with daughter, Layla Angulo, and her daughter, our granddaughter, Aisha Carpenter, who just so happens to turn (my God you’re old, this blog should be called Raging Geezer) 19 the day before the opening!

Not only that, but…Aisha is an acting student at the very theatre and studio where my play is being performed (Hey, grampa kinda looks cool now, oui? What do you mean, non?).

Not only that, but…she will be acting in a one-woman show I wrote (sort of, be honest) for her later this year.

Not only that, but…there will be lots of interesting places, people and experiences to report on once we return, and each and every one of them I will share with all of you.

Before I go, let me leave you with one more bit of pride from my heart — as if I haven’t been Mr. Braggadocio until now. (Geez, isn’t this guy done yet? These toe nails aren’t going to clip themselves.)

Aisha just finished performing at one of Manhattan’s premier supper clubs, Feinstein’s/54 Below. And she simply, well, see for yourself.

Ah, yes, you are correct. I am one lucky so-and-so. Cheers and ciao for now.


An Affair To Remember

As a writer I kind of hate to say it: Sometimes it’s all about what the pictures tell you (‘worth a thousand words’ and all that). In this case I found it was difficult if not impossible to describe this experience in a way that was satisfying. Yet, when I put this video together, simply pictures and music, it felt perfect. What do you think?


Journey To Chichicastenango

134_2648-005“She is speaking Quiche, the Mayan language,” said Pascual, our excellent guide.

“Why is she trying to give me money?” Virginia said, as the old woman kept offering coins from a leather pouch.

“A little hard to understand, I’m afraid,” he apologized. “Her accent.”

The old woman kept eyeing me as she continued to push coins on Virginia .

“She wants to buy your husband,” said Pascual, finally, with a tortured look half-way between a smile and a grimace.

“For what?”

“I can’t be sure. The word she’s using is either for ‘boyfriend’ or ‘blood sacrifice.’ ”

“Whichever one’s the case,” Virginia held up the money, “she’s giving me way too many coins.” 134_2654 We had traveled three hours from our cozy cliff-side retreat on Lake Atitlan to Chichicastenango, the largest and longest running market in Central America. I approached Pascual as we got off the bus and secured him as our guide. Why? Because that’s what you do in a country where you don’t speak the language. Plus, he was wearing an official-looking guide vest with his name on it and he looked honest. Oh, you mean that’s not how you’re supposed to do it? I understand it’s possible, with technology and travel forums, to do a reference check. Even here. But sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

“Hungry?” he asked.

“Starving!”

He walked us through the thrall of the market as peddlers called, cajoled, waved and whistled after us to buy their wares. Pascual led us up a set of stairs to a second-story restaurant overlooking the marketplace. I was sold on Pascual. The breakfast was great (fresh brewed Guatemalan coffee? Sí, I will have another cup, gracias!) and it was a wonderful first move. From our table on the long veranda above the busy market, we got our bearings; the two controversial cathedrals that faced each other in the square, and in the distance the sacred hill still used daily for Mayan ceremonies. 134_2646 The Medicine Man (squatting, and not a Mayan priest as I mistakenly blurt out in the video) working the crowd. He is making a pitch for the healing powers of the of the plants and herbs he has collected and laid out from the jungle. In the video you can see a venomous snake wrapped around his neck as proof of his power over nature. (Retraction: Okay,Virginia says I have to take it back.  I admit it; the snake is probably not poisonous. But, really, wouldn’t that be the coolest?)

http://youtu.be/qJcRL1OeB6w 134_2647-001

Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is (some) malnutrition. Yes, they are sending children to our borders so they can find and be with their parents again and escape the crushing conditions the poor are exposed to – don’t get me started. This is not the forum. The situation is too complex to make simplistic judgments from media reports – of any flavor, be it mainstream or fair and balanced. If you think you know or have heard the ‘real’ story, you simply don’t. As is the case with every major event or condition, social or political, very few people on the planet actually know what is going on. And it is not me or you. That’s the only ‘fact’ you can count on and that’s all I’ll say about it. For now. In an indoor portion of the marketplace, fruit and vegetable sellers display the full bounty of Guatemala’s verdant land.

http://youtu.be/VnDtNtbz8Z8 134_2647 http://youtu.be/OI64uProG14 134_2648-003After we barely escaped me being sold, Pascual wanted to know if we would like to see a Mayan ceremony.  We were on our way, walking out of town and up the side of a mountain faster than you can say, “human sacrifice.”

See, yet another reason you need a skilled guide. To get you to the places many tourists haven’t bothered to tread, and to give you the inside scoop. For example, there hasn’t been a human sacrifice in about four hundred years. They switched to poultry in the late 15th century and, apparently, it works for them. Still, we were not disappointed, human sacrifice notwithstanding. 134_2650-001We climbed Turcaj hill (the Sacred Place) through a corn field (the god of corn: very important).  Everybody carries a machete in Guatemala. But this gentleman had two. I did not ask why. 134_2651-004We reached the hilltop and looked down on the…Mayan cemetery. We looked around. We were in an open space. There was a cement gazebo with several fire pits within. But the focal point was the outdoor altar. The entire area around it was charred and blackened from hundreds of years of fires for ritual and prayer. The altar itself was a carved block of stone called the Cofradia of Pascual Abaj.

Pascual our guide (the most popular male name in the region) told us the story of how this altar came to be. 134_2652 You can read the official version here.  And yes I know the stone looks rather, um, phallic. And yes, of course I have my own theory, thanks for asking! 134_2651-006Because the Spanish, who had already dug in and ravaged the country by the mid-16th century, were such incredible dicks on every conceivable level, I see the Pascual Abaj as a kind of subversive salute from the Maya to those who would try to own them body and soul. 134_2651-005We saw this kind of not-so-subtle message everywhere at this important Maya city. The Maya may have long ago submitted to their Spanish overlords, but they never surrendered who they are at heart. 134_2651-002Mayan priest burning candles and the traditional incense, copal, while performing prayers.

As we were the only people at the site, obviously tourists, I kept noticing the priest casting agitated glances our way. So did Pascual. So did Virginia.

“You should stop filming,” Pascual said. I did, but the agitated priest picked up the pace and volume of his prayers to the fire, but with direct hand gestures toward us.

“That doesn’t seem like a good thing he’s doing,” said Virginia.

I suddenly felt a force take hold and hurl me to the ground. Gasping for breath, I could feel the power from the words of the priest as they –

“Stop it,” said Virginia, standing over me. “Get up. Stop fooling around and let’s go.”

We moved quickly but in an orderly fashion away from the ceremonial site and onto the trail leading back to the marketplace.

Apparently, Virginia informs me, it was not a spell or whatever from the priest. I had slipped on the waxy ground from all the burnt candles and simply tripped and fell. Though I would have preferred a more, shall we say, dramatic telling of the incident.

“No incident,” she would later say . “You fell down, period.”

On the way back down the hill I asked Pascual point blank if he was Maya or Catholic. I had a bit of a clue since he sported a small and tasteful tattoo on his hand of a Mayan deity, between his thumb and index finger. But his answer surprised me. 134_2649-001Catholic (he pronounced it: cat-TALL-ick). Married with two daughters of his own, he said his mother and father and grandparents are all Maya, but that it is too tough a religion for many younger people to practice. Too strict in its tenets. For example, they make Catholics look like liberal atheists when it comes to birth control. Don’t even think about it. It was made for a people who could withstand anything thrown at it. And needed all the followers they could get to help them survive whatever came at them. get-attachment.aspx The one mask we bought.

17th century replica of a mask featuring the corn god on the headdress.

We also bought two stone images that ‘looked’ ancient. Then we said good-bye to Pascual, tipped him generously, as that was his only pay, and got back on the bus to Lake Atitlan. When you’re traveling, despite all the precautions and research, in the end you need a guide and you have to trust your gut in picking one. We had a great time with Pascual. Can’t tell you all the other people on the bus with us who didn’t and fumbled and floundered with guide books and were constantly hassled by aggressive vendors. They were miserable and complained all the way back.

On the bus ride back to Lake Atitlan, I caught Virginia looking wistfully at the leather bag she’d purchased from the old woman who tried to purchase me. She held up the pouch, jingled the coins inside.

“You owe me one,” she smiled.

Back at Lake Atitlan we geared up for the third and final leg of our trip. One we were not going to do. I cut it out of our original plan. It was just too hard, too reckless, too dangerous and expensive. All of the criteria you use to determine whether something is worth your time and money and safety was laid against it. But we were told time and time again while we were in Guatemala, you must do this. It didn’t seem feasible, it was hundreds of miles out of the way. We decided we just couldn’t let this opportunity go by. What if we were never able to return? We would kick ourselves if we passed up this one chance.

So this chance we took.  And I ask you to take this chance with me. Come with us. Come to one of the most important — forget important. One of the most amazing places we have ever visited. Come with us as we go back in time. Come with us to a civilization that rose, flourished as one of the most enlightened, intellectual and spiritual civilizations ever to exist…and then vanished, almost over night, more than a millennia ago. To this day no one knows why.134_2683-EFFECTS Come with us to the ancient city of Tikal. Where written language, astronomy, and mathematics were developed to an astonishingly complex degree. Experts are still trying to work out their systems. It’s where the search for the ultimate meaning in the universe came within in striking distance…before simply disappearing off the face of the earth. Gone without a note as to why. Ah, but what they left behind for us…

Shall we, then?
Good.
Oh. Bring water. And insect repellent. You won’t survive without either one.


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