Mast from the past.

So I'm not going to go into 99% of the Tempest in this much detail... but this adventure is pretty darn goofy and it will give you a taste of the insanity that has been the past two months.... Ok. So here's the thing... in The Tempest this guy who has been stranded for 12 years on an island which, as Rich likes to point out, even though it is one mile long by 20 miles wide in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, he happened to run into while surviving for several weeks on a very small dingy exactly 3,936 miles from the point where he was put to sea (Milan.. Ok well, Milan doesn't really have sea... so they kind of got them TO water FROM milan - and then pushed them overboard or whatever.) Anyway - they were pretty lucky to just HAPPEN to run into this island. Then 12 years later the dudes who shoved him OFF to sea HAPPEN to sail past the exact same island (3,936 miles away from home)... on their way back from Algiers. Which is only 680 miles from Milan. So they got very lost. Very very lost.

Ok - so anyway - since it seems like this is the first ship that has passed by this island where they are stranded in 12 year (or at least prior to that they didn't want to say "hey there... rescue us, I'm a duke and I'm stuck here with wild pigs and this lizard-dude") then HOW did Prospero (the guy) know that the people on board the ship were his enemies. (Because - see the play would be so much easier if Prospero said 'I'm a magic dude and so I got these dumb people to get on a boat and I steered them here". But it DOESN'T say that - the play says they just HAPPEN to be sailing past because he talks about it being an act of good fortune. Ok. So - lucky coincidence. Anyway - if it's just a boat in the distance how does he KNOW that it's his enemies on the ship.

I'll tell you.

The ship was flying FLAGS. They were flying the flags of the rulers on board - so that Prospero recognized that BOTH bad guys were on board. So I decided that the audience needed to know this to help make sense of the situation that Shakespeare decided to pull out of his (highly genius-ish) butt. Of course - the flags of Naples and Milan have changed substantially since 1609 when our play is set. So we had to use the correct insignia from 1609 (to avoid criticism from the thousands of 'history if italian flag chronology' fans in the audience). So I was now determined to get video footage of two full-size ship flags fluttering on a wooden ships mast to make my point.

This is why Rich drinks.

Anyway - so we painted the flags...


And then Mom accidentally dripped red paint in the middle of one and we painted the flags again :). So now we had a life-size ship flag of Naples and Milan. Now all we need is a life-size ship with a olde-fashionede-woodene-maste. Hey, we're in Bermuda - they have boats. Lots of boats. Honey bunches of Boats in fact. So we went to the yacht club looking for a wooden mast. Nope. Dingy club. Nope. We could NOT find a wooden mast. This became a great point of consternation. I really wanted this footage (because I need to be proclaimed legally insane) and we had painted the flags. So after about a week of searching everywhere for a wooden mast (people stopped using wood because they invented this stuff called fiberglass that...y' better). So we needed a plan B.

Plan B was so dumb it belonged more in line with like Plan U or V at least.

Here was my plan. We couldn't find any large wooden pole attached to a boat. So instead we would use a large wooden pole NOT attached to a boat. Likely candidate numero uno: a Telephone pole. But not just any telephone pole. We needed a telephone pole that was isolated enough that I could get a shot of it pointing up toward the sky where you would see two flags (totaling 6 foot in height) and no buildings... no nothing. Especially telephone wires. So my mother gets permission for us to staple these flags up to a electric pole (after the flags had been beautifully rigged in the appropriate period manner by some gents at a local marine shop - they didn't have spring-loaded caribeeners in 1609). We just needed to find the right candidate. Which we finally did - right next to a traffic roundabout (so it was isolated away from stuff). And then we had to wait for good weather. And of course I was now leaving soon and the weather decided to be crappy. And rain. And rain. And rain.

Finally the day before I was leaving the weather was OK. No rain. But also - no wind. None. And we'd run out of time. So we decided that we would have to rig these 6 foot long flags with fishing line. And MAKE them flutter. So my Mom and my Dad and I get in the car on a Saturday, drive to this place... park as close to it as we can... carry a 12 foot ladder to the pole. I climb up the pole. I staple the flags to the pole and we rig them with fishing line. And I set up the camera. But we can't get them to flutter at the right angle. Unless....

My parents cross the street with the fishing line. The STREET. With traffic. Running fishing line across it.

This is why Rich drinks.

So for about half an hour at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon my parents were frantically waving fishing line (attached to a stick to make it flutter higher) from across the road. As about 12 people we knew drove past and basically said "WTF?". Every so often a bus drove past.

Not good.

Anyway - we got the shot. Which made a very pivotal 1.5 second appearance at the beginning of the show and alleviate any confusion on the audiences part regarding the plot. Mebbe.


The upside is that my parents now can operate the marionettes for the Lonely Goatherd when we do the Sound of Music.

In the process of all this pig-making and flag-flying etc. we did have some spectacular news. We managed to cast our Prospero (the lead dude on the dingy). When had a really hard time finding someone we were excited about in the US so we cast the net further afield and ended up with an Anthony Stewart Head. Who my Mom's generation gets very excited about when you tell them that he's the guy from the Tasters Choice soap opera commercials...


But Rich and me and our generation know him from his six amazing seasons as Giles the Librarian/Watcher on Buffy...


and Little Britain... tony-little-britain.jpg

He's a brilliant actor with a great passion for Shakespeare, but now - we pretty much think of him like this: tony-and-nick.jpg

Of course, when we hired him I had no idea he's be so much fun - so that was a big bonus. We had a long conversation on the phone (he was in London), he decided that no matter how dimwitted I sounded, two weeks on a sub-tropical island away from English weather was worth it, and he signed on. I was thrilled.

So we had a Prospero - which meant I could finally start frantically cutting the script and making some really important decisions which I had been stalling on until I knew who my lead was (sometimes it's impossible to get a grasp on the tone of your show, until you know who your lead was). Tony and I both really were excited about the fact that this guy has a sense of humor which is normally passed over completely - so that was a great springboard for us to work from.

We also, as the clock was ticking, found a fantastic sublet in New York. We got hooked up with a guy who's a wonderful Broadway character actor who was going out on the road with Phantom for about a month - and the timing worked out perfectly - and it was right in the neighborhood we were comfy in, and a few blocks from rehearsals. Which was soooo much better than the hour commute from Brooklyn I was afraid we were going to end up with. And we all know my sense of direction (and skills early in the morning) ain't all that hot.

So. We had a pig. We had a flag. We had 16 hours (really) of video footage for kevin the poor projection designer to sift through... I was kinda, sorta, almost, not-really ready for New York City...

xo jo jo.