Sunday, July 14, 2024

Escape the Overwhelming Present for 80 minutes! See HICK @ 5pm!

 

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July 14, 2024


Last HICK 5pm Today!

Escape the Overwhelming Present for 80 minutes!

(Links & Info @ bottom of blog)



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My last performance for HICK: A LOVE STORY will be 5pm today at The Marsh. I've grown so much over the last six weeks as an actress. (I like "actress" more than "actor." It's more glamorous.) I'll be sorry to leave these two wonderful women. I don't know when I'll see them again.


I'm having a Q&A with the audience after, in honor of it being the last show. And then we (at least Joyce and I) will put in an appearance at the very good Indian restaurant, Aslam Rasoi, across the street. Please join us, if you wish.


Terry

When FDR became

President

in 1932,

his wife had a lesbian lover...


BEST OF 2019 SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE

"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun


FINAL SHOW!

Sunday, July 14, 2024

@ 5pm

THE MARSH

1062 Valencia St., San Francisco

(near 24th St. BART)

Tickets

Parking Info


Friday, July 12, 2024

HICK Meets AI!

 

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July 10, 2024


HICK Meets AI!

+

This Sunday is the LAST Show!

(Links & Info @ bottom of blog)



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I checked out Evite to see if that was a way to publicize my performances. It turned out it wasn't. They charge a hefty service fee for every ticket sold. But in the process of engaging with the website, I was offered the services of AI to help me come up with publicity content. I declined but that didn't matter. AI decided to participate on its own, and came up with this:


Get ready for a down-home,

country-fried love story

with

HICK: A Love Story

It's gonna be a hootenanny y'all won't wanna miss!


I laughed so hard. AI, you sure went down the wrong wormhole with this one!


I hope some of you will make it to my very last outing. I'm getting better and better. Last Sunday, I felt very loose, in a good way. I felt like I wasn't just playing the part, I was playing WITH the part. Joyce, my stage manager, is the ultimate connoisseur of my performance, having seen it so many times. She said it was my best ever. That might be true. My friend Susan sent a bunch of her friends to the show, and two of them texted their appreciation to her and used the word "phenomenal." I don't think anyone has ever described the show with that word.


I don't take the good reviews personally. Contrary to getting a swelled head, I always have the feeling that they're talking about someone standing right next to me. But "phenomenal" is a pretty nice word.


And now, the same old info about the show, with links for tickets at the bottom:



THE MARSH PRESENTS

Terry Baum in

HICK: A LOVE Story

Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's 2336 Letters to Lorena Hickok


When FDR became

President

in 1932,

his wife had a lesbian lover...


BEST OF 2019 SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE

"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun


FINAL SHOW!

Sunday, July 14, 2024

@ 5pm



THE MARSH

1062 Valencia St., San Francisco

(near 24th St. BART)


Tickets

Parking Info


Friday, July 5, 2024

BIDEN'S PERFORMANCE & MINE

 

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JULY 6 2024


Biden's Performance... and Mine


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BIDEN'S PERFORMANCE


"The Presidency is a performance." That was the last thing that Lawrence O'Donnell, the MSNBC host, said months ago when there started to be talk of finding another Democratic Presidential nominee. O'Donnell spent a whole program piling up evidence to convince his viewers that replacing Biden as the nominee would be a catastrophe. It seemed strange to me that he ended on that note, because President Biden has never been a consistently good performer.


The Presidency is a performance. This seems to me an important and profound statement. Any position of leadership has an aspect of performance to it. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the quintessential performer. He'd give a rousing speech that filled the audience with optimism and strength at moments when all looked grim. Then he'd roll back into the White House drained, exhausted by his effort. FDR's upbeat cheerfulness was an important aspect of his leadership. He gave people hope.


Joe Biden has done good things. He has been a far better President than I expected. I'm grateful for the landmark environmental bill, for support for Ukraine. The economy is doing well. All the statistics say that, despite the inflation.


But Biden has not been able to CONVINCE the majority of people that the economy is doing well.


He convinced the leaders of Western Europe to support the Ukraine. But he has not convinced Americans that the economy has recovered.


Part of being President is convincing the people that you have done good things. Biden has not been able to do this.


The Presidency is a performance.


Early in the Democratic primaries in 2020, Biden repeatedly came in last. It wasn't that he didn't win. He was last. I never understood why the Democratic power structure continued to support the worst performer. The seeds of that disastrous "debate" with Trump, which we just witnessed, were planted then. There were many good candidates in the primaries. The Big Dems didn't have to switch their weight to Bernie, who was certainly the best performer. They could have switched to someone milder, more compliant. But no, the Big Dems remained committed to one of their own. I'm looking at you, Rep. Pelosi.


In the end of the 2020 primaries, the Big Dems succeeded in shoving Biden down our throats. That's how I felt about it. I did everything I could, from my bluest of blue states, to elect him. I have been surprisingly satisfied with him -- except of course for his shameful failure to stand up to Netanyahu and stop delivering Israel the means to slaughter innocent Gazans.


But even so, I was completely willing to throw myself into the Biden campaign, because Trump would be horrific on the issue of Gaza. No question he would happily give Israel the means to slaughter all Palestinians in Gaza AND the West Bank. Genocide of shithole people? That's Trump's kind of foreign policy!


But Biden's performance in the special debate that he himself requested was unforgivable. I cannot forgive him.


Biden gave 82 a bad name.


Hey, I'm 77. I'm only five years younger than Biden. I have friends who are 82. Even older! I have a friend who's 90 who's completely on the ball. Biden's performance was inexcusable.


It's not a matter of how good a President Biden has been.


It's not a matter of how much better even a senile Biden would be, compared to Trump.


It's a matter of his ability to get himself elected,

when his opponent is the quintessential performer.

And I don't believe that's a possibility.

Even if Biden never fails again,

video clips of this debate will be shown

incessantly by the Trump campaign.


So now all the Democrats are in despair. We all fear the certainty of losing to Trump. Some of us fear the certainty of losing if Biden is the candidate. Some of us fear the certainty of losing if Biden is NOT the candidate. But we all see the Doom of Trump barreling towards us and we are terrified.



MY PERFORMANCE


I perform at 5pm on Sunday. I woke up Sunday in despair, as did many people. But I knew I could not perform from the place of despair. I had a job to do. I had to become Lorena Hickok at 5pm and tell her story, in the deepest, most vivid way possible, to whoever showed up to hear it.


I struggled to push away my despair. In the end, I performed the entire play in my living room, as a way to build my concentration. That helped a lot.


Once I got to the theater and was in the dressing room, I felt fine. Theaters and dressing rooms are rarely lovely places. By definition, they have no windows or sunlight. But if you are a theater person, you are always at home in this (usually black) space. You are happy to be doing your work.


The audience that night was... how can I describe it? Disjointed, scattered in its response. "Audience" is singular. And indeed the audience somehow forms a unit during the performance. Two weeks ago, it was a totally silent unit -- but still a unit. This audience was not a unit. There would be a laugh here, a laugh there, a rustling in the back. I think these people, like me, were trying to concentrate, to turn away from the despair they also felt during the day.


When the play ended, many stood to applaud me. I felt good that we had joined together to contemplate Hick's world, Hick's story for an hour and a half.


And then a bunch of audience members and my stage manager and I went across the street to Aslam Rasoi and ate delicious Indian food and had a damn good time. And I went home to bed, feeling the satisfaction of doing a good job and the warmth of companionship and told myself I would probably feel despair again but not now, not that night. That night I was happy and satiated and I went to sleep.


All for now, Bloggellinnis. Below is info on HICK: A Love Story. ONLY TWO MORE WEEKS! Terry



THE MARSH PRESENTS

Terry Baum in

HICK: A LOVE Story

Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's 2336 Letters to Lorena Hickok

SUNDAYS THROUGH JULY 14



BEST OF 

SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE


"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun


"A solo performance full of love, pain and eloquence. Baum is mesmerizing."

--DC Metro


Sundays, June 9-July 14 @ 5pm

(Masks Required on June 30)

THE MARSH San Francisco

1062 Valencia St., (near 24th St. BART)

$20-$35

Tickets

Parking Info











Thursday, July 4, 2024

The Joy of Suspension of Disbelief

 

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June 22 2024


HICK Blossoms!

Do Come!

Sundays 5pm thru July 14

(more info below)


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PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED.

PODCASTS, EVENTS, INFO, POSTERS: LilithTheater.com


Well, the first night wasn't exactly Theater Heaven, as I had hoped, but with the second performance, I hit my stride.


I mean, the only one dissatisfied after the first night was me (at least as far as I know). In the beginning I kept stumbling over my words. I call it bobbling. It's just a mental glitch, but if you fall into "Oh no! I'm bobbling!", you cannot get out of it. You have to somehow find the flow, but you can't say to the audience, "Folks, I need a couple of minutes here to focus," because then you've destroyed the illusion that you're Lorena Hickok. You become a human being PRETENDING you are Lorena Hickok. Which of course you are. Not only that, you're having a bit of trouble with the pretending business. So the audience starts worrying about you. About YOU, the human, not HICK, the character.


And there goes the suspension of disbelief. And that's the most wonderful thing about theater. The audience at some deep level forgets they're in a theater, forgets you're telling a story, forgets you're an actress playing a part. They leave their own world and enter the world you have created. I AM Hick. The empty space I'm talking to IS Eleanor Roosevelt. The invisible Eleanor and I HAVE just left the restaurant and are going to Hick's apartment to make love.


I just love that about theater. Suspension of disbelief doesn't really exist in other art forms. When you attend a ballet, you don't forget that the Black Swan and the White Swan are really dancers and not swans. When you listen to music, which is the art that most easily touches my emotions, I never forget I'm listening to people singing or playing instruments. And in movies, everything is done by the filmmaker to create the REALITY of the story, so that the audience doesn't have to imagine it. In a film, if Hick professes her love to Eleanor in the Russian Tea Room, you damn well rent the place so you can do the scene there!


But theater demands something different, and the audience glories in giving it (if you're not bobbling every few minutes and reminding them that you're an actress whose mouth can't seem to deliver the right words.)

Well, I finally righted the HICK ship, and was able to merge with Hick in the way I love. And I was rewarded in the last scene when Hick tears up one of Eleanor's letters. The whole audience gasped. Now, audience members had told me after a performance that they found Hick tearing up the letter shocking. But no one has ever audibly responded at the moment until June 9.


That gasp was very precious to me. I will never forget it. The audience had completely suspended its disbelief. At that moment, the piece of paper was not a prop. It was an actual letter from Eleanor to Hick, and they had witnessed its destruction.


In contrast, at the second performance, the audience was totally silent the whole time. I'd never experienced that before. I was used to being energized by the audience's laughte. There are many humorous moments in this very serious story. I started worrying -- was I doing something wrong? Were they refusing to get involved?


And then I righted myself. I said to myself, I'm here to tell Hick and Eleanor's amazing story, and it's alright if people don't laugh. I'm quite proud of myself for being able to adjust to the silence. And at the end, I was rewarded with the audience cheering what was perhaps my best performance ever.


Please do come see HICK: A LOVE STORY. My performance keeps changing -- enough so that people comment on the differences. I'm going much deeper emotionally, with the help of Sarah and Bill, my wonderful directors. All the info is below. Terry


THE MARSH PRESENTS


Terry Baum in

HICK: A LOVE Story

Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's 2336 Letters to Lorena Hickok


When FDR became

President

in 1932,

his wife had a lesbian lover...


BEST OF 2019 SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE

"Valiant, valuable & vivid." -- Baltimore Sun


June 9-July 14, 2024

Sundays @ 5pm

(Masks Required on June 30)


THE MARSH

1062 Valencia St., San Francisco

(near 24th St. BART)


Tickets

Parking Info



Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Ah! The Glamorous Life of the Theahtah!

 

March 31, 2024


Ah!

A Glamorous Life

in the

Theahtah!


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PODCASTS, EVENTS, INFO, POSTERS: LilithTheater.com

I live in a flat that was once an Italian bakery, and am thus blessed with big storefront windows where I can advertise anything I want. This time it was my own one-night performance of HICK: A Love Story.


When last heard from, I was telling you ghost stories and urging any Bloggelini within driving distance to attend the show so that I could convince the artistic director of The Marsh that HICK was a great audience draw. Mission accomplished, on that point. The 100-seat theater was sold out. So thanks to all the Bloggelinis who made it.


And now I'd like to tell you about the performance itself, which is quite a story.


Carolyn, my long-time collaborator, had come down a week ahead of time to direct me. She has been directing HICK since the first production in 2014. I had promised I would be off book (ie whole script fully memorized) by the time she arrived. In the 10 days before I

had been working on my lines with our Gift-from-the-Universe stage manager, Joyce. Things were coming along.


But I wasn't off book yet when Carolyn arrived.


You see, the ability to memorize declines as one ages. I'm not saying I'm old, but I am 77. And even though I had done HICK so many times, it wasn't exactly the same play. I am always rewriting. I had added some very important lines, I had cut lines that weren't really necessary. And, as I'd aged (that word again!), I did have to re-memorize the script any time I hadn't done it in a while.


I was pretty solid on pages 1-23. But pages 24-34 were shaky. And the last scene had the most new writing.





But hey, I have always considered myself The Ultimate Trouper. Everything would fall into place by the time I walked onstage on Wednesday night. Right?


RIGHT?


So Carolyn and I rehearsed in my living room, with Joyce on book so I could ask for my lines when I went blank. I just love being directed by Carolyn. We have been collaborators since 1972 because we have a common vision of theater and the world. Everything she tells me to do, I do, because it makes sense to me. Carolyn's direction opens me up, helps me see Hick more clearly, go more deeply. When we're rehearsing, I trust her completely. We have a very joyful working relationship.


So I was going deeper and deeper into Hick's story through rehearsal, but I still didn't have all my lines down.


On Tuesday afternoon, the day before the show, we finally got to work in the theater. We had four hours for a rehearsal with our wonderful technician, Alexa. That's all The Marsh allows for its Marsh Rising series, which HICK was part of. At the tech, the director works out the lighting cues with the technician. That's how it always is. The lights only come in at the very end. Finally everything comes together -- the lights, the sound, the set.... the actor.


In a normal tech schedule for a performance of a full-length play, you have at least three full rehearsals in the theater. (Theater is a very labor-intensive activity. There are no lazy people in theater. You have to like to work.)


  • First rehearsal: Cue-to-cue. The actors are there basically to stand around so the director and lighting and sound tech can see how they look under the lights and to very precisely time all light and sound cues. (This is the rehearsal we had with Alexa on Tuesday.)


  • Second rehearsal: Tech run-through. The actors run through the play with all the cues. The director stops the run-through whenever something isn't exactly right and that moment is re-worked until it is exactly right.


  • Third rehearsal: Dress. The dress rehearsal goes without any stops. If there are any mistakes, the show goes on just as if an audience was there. The actors need that experience of a whole performance. Hopefully, there would be time before opening night to re-work the rough spots.


Carolyn and I had realized a few days before the performance that it had been a mistake to make this one-night production so full -- ie, set, lights and sound. But we just laughed it off. Oh well, it was too late to change it. We were both troupers. We would pull it off.


So I went home after our one tech rehearsal on Tuesday, not having had time for a full run-through. I thought to myself, "I have all evening to work on my lines, and all the next morning. And in the afternoon before my evening performance, I'll have a full run-through. And I'll be ready for my performance that night.


I devoted the evening to learning my remaining lines. That didn't go very well. I always have a harder time memorizing at night. Oh well, I thought, "I'll get up really early and work all morning. It'll be alright. After all, I'm The Ultimate Trouper."


I woke up in the middle of the night with this crystal-clear

realization:


I can't do it.


I cannot walk out on that stage and go through this one hour and twenty minute play without looking at my script. I cannot memorize any more lines because I'm terrified. Once you're afraid, it's Game Over. I couldn't memorize new lines and I couldn't even remember the lines I'd already memorized.


I told Carolyn first thing in the morning. She understood immediately and completely: "The only important thing is that you're comfortable." We both knew what needed to happen:


I had to have a music stand with my script on it, center stage.

I would go through the play

standing behind that music stand,

so that I could consult my script if need be.

What had been advertised as a full performance

would become a reading.


We decided to keep all the sound cues, but Carolyn needed to figure out how to transform the lighting cues because I would be stuck behind the music stand that held that precious script -- except for two moments when we decided I would move. We eliminated all the furniture in the set that Joyce had so carefully repainted. The set was used to designate three different areas: Hick's apartment, Hick's office, and a center stage area that stood in for every other location. The set had always seemed absolutely necessary to clarify to the audience what were happening and where. Oh well. Goodby set.


We eliminated all the props except Eleanor's letters. There would be a table to my left with all the unread letters and a box on the floor to my right where I would deposit the letters after I read them.


And then: Goodby typewriter. I would just move my fingers like I was typing. And goodby phones -- we had three. When the phone rang (Remember, we still had sound cues), I would put my hand to my ear as if I held a phone.


Oh, as Carolyn and I sat there discussing everything we were throwing out, I felt myself getting lighter and lighter. My fear evaporated. I knew now what my job was: I had to give a performance so fabulous that the audience wouldn't care that they were seeing a reading instead of a full performance. I had no doubt I could do that. I love a good challenge.


We went to the theater at 1pm and worked through all the transitions with me behind the music stand. At 5:30, Alexa arrived, and Carolyn presented her with the new light plot she had created and they worked through that. Then at 7pm I was backstage getting dressed, for the 7:30 curtain.


In the first scene, I'm old Hick, in a dressing gown. I enter and read a letter I've just gotten from the FDR Presidential Library. I've always been a little worried about remembering to bring that letter onstage with me. Now I was even more worried because, you know, the memory thing. Then I realized I could just put the letter in the pocket of my dressing gown, relieving me of the necessity of remembering it at the last minute. Problem solved!


Then I went to take a final pee before going onstage. As I got ready to sit by hiking up my costume, the letter fell into the toilet bowl. Yup. The letter that motivates the action of the entire play was not peed upon, but it was soaking wet.


I went back to the dressing room and tried blotting it with paper towels. Joyce came in and we both blotted. The letter was unblottable. It was falling apart. The situation seemed absolutely hilarious to me, and I felt it was a sign from the universe that everything would be alright. You know how people say "Break a leg!" to actors to wish them luck? I felt "Drop your letter in the toilet!" was some kind of equivalent. It was like the universe had just wished me luck. A sopping letter could not derail me. I love Hick and Eleanor so much, and the story of their love is so incredible and complicated and real. I couldn't wait to become Hick and tell that story to the audience, letter or no letter.


I told Joyce to tell Carolyn what had happened. I didn't want her to be surprised when she saw... What was she going to see? I wasn't sure how I would solve this problem. Maybe I could improvise something about a big rainstorm that wet the letter. Maybe I could enter without any letter and just tell the audience what it said.


Blot blot blot. It was hopeless. I couldn't stop laughing.


Then, right before I had to go on, I found, in the chaos of extra letters lying on the table, another copy of the FDR Library letter!


And I went out there with my pristine dry letter, and ....the audience applauded me!


I had never experienced that before! The audience was applauding me for the work I'd already done. I was completely startled. I loved it. I had no idea how to handle it as an actress. Should I bow? That is the usual response to applause. But who was it who was bowing? Once I stepped onstage, I was Hick. Why would Hick bow? The applause was for Terry.


In the event, I just pretended to ignore the applause and went on contemplating the lovely dry letter that I (Lorena Hickok) had brought onstage with me, until the audience quieted down.


Then I said the first line of the play, "Look what came in the mail today!" And somehow, from that moment on, I was Hick. I was more in love with Eleanor than I'd ever been. I was more gobsmacked by her love for me. I was more overwhelmed with all the difficulties that arose. I was more filled with joy when I finally decided to give the letters to the FDR Library. It was all really real.


In the end, when the lights came up for the curtain call, I got a standing ovation. And I finally faced the audience and bowed, as Terry. But I didn't speak to them as Terry, as I usually do, to thank them for coming. I wanted them to remember Hick's voice, not mine. I wanted them to remember Eleanor's wonderful, quirky letters. I wanted to give them a little more time to savor the amazing journey these two women took together.


I left the stage without a word, knowing that what I had done was not just a performance. It was an event.


With that night, I came into my own power as an actress.


I can't wait to be Hick again.


After all, I really am The Ultimate Trouper!


All for now, Bloggelinis!