Welcome to Pogue's Pages!

I'm POGUE...known by many as Chuck Pogue, a few as Charles Pogue, and billed professionally as Charles Edward Pogue...just because it really looks BIG splashed across a theatre programme or a movie screen. From that last remark and the profile on the left, you can see I'm a theatre man...And the term "theatre" encompasses stage, film, TV. I've been shooting my mouth off on other people's blogs and message boards for forever. So having finally gotten the hang of it, I've decided to build my own soapbox from which I can pontificate, blather, and muse...mostly on theatre, film, writing, music, books...but ultimately anything that interests me, irritates me, or just catches my fancy. I invite you to join me. I'll try to be faithful and update regularly, so that when you visit there will always be something fresh percolating and maybe even provocative that we can discuss, dissect, or debate.

Charles Edward Pogue

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My wife, Julieanne, and I, moving back to Lexington in December of 2005, immediately became immersed (one might say, “enmeshed”) with Actors Guild of Lexington (Oh, THAT name! Horrible pretentious name for a theatre.), the local theatre that was striving to become the first fully professional Equity adult theatre in the city.

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know that, having been denied its funding allocation for the season, the theatre staggers to keep afloat…even alive. Early this summer, because of serious philosophical differences with the new board president and what threatened to be an untenable working relationship with her, I resigned from the board.

My resignation was quickly followed by the Artistic Director’s, my wife’s as Education Director, and other board members over time. A few days ago, the Managing Director resigned to take advantage of a theatrical opportunity abroad. I fear that the theatre will not remain on a professional track and ultimately return to being yet another amateur theatre in a community awash with amateur theatre.

At an appropriate point, I’ll have more to say about the systematic chipping away at a theatre that was doing some exciting work, had great potential, and was the only real hope for professional theatre in Lexington. There is probably plenty of blame to go around, from both within and without, that has led to its teetering in its current precarious position.

But in all the many discussions about the theatre’s problems, professional theatre, and the state of Lexington theatre in general, that have occurred in the newspaper, online, and just in personal chats, I keep hearing this phrase from a lot of local theatre folk about “pursuing one’s passion.” In light of the fact that many of these practitioners are not attempting to pursue a professional career, have never attempted to pursue a career, and some are even disdainful of it, I wonder if we have the same definition of “passion.”

I always thought that to “pursue one’s passion” meant that you had to pursue it, well...passionately.

Far be it for me to question or doubt anyone else’s passion and I’m sure one can pursue a passion not in a professional context. But “Passion” to me means more than just affection, love, enjoying a diversion.

Passion has always had for me the aura of obsession and compulsion. It conjures up words like “hunger” and “driven”. You eat, think, sleep, live passion. It possesses you. It consumes you. A passion for theatre is not something you dabble in during your off-hours, something you do after work for three hours from seven to ten at rehearsal (or, God forgive, as it is often referred to here, “play practice”).

To “pursue” means “to go after”, “to give chase”, “to try and capture”. I think to some people, the idea of pursuit has the same equivalent of reaching from the couch to the coffee table to pick up a bag of chips. If it’s easy, if it’s fun, if it doesn’t take too much effort; if the gold ring’s within reach, they’ll grasp.

But “pursuing one’s passion” is about reaching beyond your gasp; indulging in it when isn’t fun or easy. It takes a lot of effort and sometimes, no matter how passionate you are, especially in the theatre business, you never snatch the gold ring. Passion is the mistress you woo whether the door is invitingly open or slammed shut in your face.

I liken it to the explorers of old, daring to set out on an endless sea with only the horizon in view. They may drown in that sea and they’ll never reach the horizon, but their belief in themselves and their commitment to their passion, might bring wondrous discoveries.

Pursuing a passion is not a hobby or avocation. It’s not even a job or a career. It’s a way of life. I'm not sure I even adovcate passion. It can make for an emotionally exhaustive existence. Nor am I sure passion is something one can find. It may find you. It may even be a condition of birth -- there are passionate people and then there are those who function quite well imbued with rational equilibrium...maybe function better. But I'll let biologists debate that.

I recently spent a pleasant, stimulating evening with Rick St. Peter, erstwhile Artistic Director of Actors Guild, and Bo List, a talented director with local roots. The conversation carromed all over the theatrical map…sometimes amusing, sometimes serious, and hopefully somewhat intellectually gratifying. At the end of the night, Bo said, “How nice to have conversation about theatre culture and not just theatre.”

What he meant by that was that it was not just about immediate, individual personal theatrical concerns…what shows are going up, who got cast, the latest gossip…but about theatre in general, theatre as an aesthetic, as an idea.

That’s part of having a passion for theatre or drama…being driven to understand its legacy, its history, its place in a world context. Passion fuels curiosity. And curiosity is a necessary component of Passion. Sometimes the curiosity I see with those professing a passion for it extends no further than wondering whether they’ll get cast in a show.

Necessary components of Passion other than curiosity? I have a stone vase next to my bathroom sink that my wife, Julieanne, gave me at the opening of one of my movies. On the vase is carved the word “create”. Several smaller stones adorn the bottom of the vase, each emblazoned with its own carved word, these are “love”, “”courage”, “risk”, and “passion”.

And while each of these words inform the word “create”, I think all four of the others inform the word, “passion”. I’m sure some can create without passion. I don’t believe I could. One of the things I always tell writing students when I guest-lecture is that “I always write to my passion”…which simply means I must find something in the material to get passionate about.

The very few occasions when I was lured to a gig by an obscenely lucrative pay-cheque rather than my initial excitement for the material have been disasters. On such instances, I’d eventually find a way into the material that stirred my passion…but it usually didn’t stir anyone else’s (You never saw JAGGED EDGE II, did you? I wrote one.) and the compensation wasn’t worth the torturous time I spent summoning up my passion. That’s why there’s been “very few” such occasions.

But what about “love”, “courage”, and “risk”? I’m pretty sure one cannot be passionate about something if you don’t love it. Now it may not always be a happy love affair -- running through spring fields and tender spooning under a smiling silver moon. Sometimes it’s more Heathcliff and Cathy in Wuthering Heights, violent embraces mingled with anguish, recrimination, and torment. One’s love affair with passion can be Byronically unhealthy.

Again, whenever I teach or lecture, I impress this aspect on my listeners. “If you can be a happy, whole human being doing anything else, go do it. This is a sickness, sometimes it’s a Grand Sickness, but a sickness nonetheless.” I do this, because I know nothing else…and more importantly, I don’t want to do anything else. My passion has overwhelmed me.

Recently, my pal, actor Larry Drake, and I were joking that if we…who have spent our adult lives pursuing our passion…had to find real work, we’d only be fit for Wal-Mart Greeters…we have no other useful skills. All has been sacrificed on the altar of Theatre (and Theatre with a capital “T”, for me, means any dramatic story-telling endeavour).

(me & two-time Emmy winner Larry Drake)

And that’s where “courage” and “risk” come in. You have to have enough courage (or resiliant innocence) to take the risks you need to pursue your Passion. I was speaking to some high school English classes at my alma mater, Highlands High, in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, a few weeks ago and the inevitable questions of how hard is it to go about pursuing a theatrical/ film career came up. The answer I gave is the same for any career you pursue or any “passion” you have: “How badly do you want it and what are you willing to sacrifice for it?”

A very talented, young friend of mine here who I believe does have a passion for theatre, confessed that it would eventually probably kill him: “I’ll never have a house, a wife, or kids…”

I understand and sympathize with this kind of single-mindedness. I've lived with it. I didn't have a house or a new car until my mid-thirties, after I had made several films. I wasn’t married until I was 37. My social life was dependent on my work status. If I was working in theatre I had one; otherwise I was coming home from pay-the-rent jobs, working another 6-8 hours “pursuing my passion”…writing, reading, working up audition material -- whatever it took to take the next step closer to the dream.

I knew my profession would be in the Creative Arts once I got passed the “I wanna be a fireman-cowboy” stage of childhood ambition. It probably unconsciously became my passion when I was making up stories playing with my toy soldiers, reading Tarzan under the covers with a flashlight, writing copious bad fiction, watching twelve to twenty movies a week on TV (before cable, Video, and DVD). I was always preparing for my ambition and when it consciously evolved into my passion, I stopped having cop-out college majors like journalism and telecommunications and became a full-fledged theatre arts major. I took no minor, I disdained any back-up plan. I was either going to succeed…or fail spectacularly.

And all through college, I continued to pursue my passion. After graduation, I spent one more year in Lexington building up a stake to get out of Lexington, getting a few more plays under my belt, and waiting to see if anything was going to happen with the 1930’s musical I had written with Roger Leasor, OH ME, OH MY (A Musical Idyll) which was stirring some interest. Despite it supposedly winning some contest in New York, we never heard from the promoters or producers again, but it was an experience worth having.

That Spring, at 23, I went to SETC, auditioned, got a gig…got two actually…I took the cheaper of the two (50 bucks a week and a room) because it was Shakespeare (the other was an outdoor drama) and was further away – The Globe of the Great Southwest in Odessa, Texas. The rest as they say is history. I never looked back and never came back (except for visits) until thirty-two years later…going wherever I had to go to pursue my passion.

(Tony winner Deanna Dunagan (Best Actress, AUGUST:OSAGE COUNTY) and me in our salad days at the Globe of the Great Southwest.)

To this day, I have no real hobbies or interests outside my profession. Pretty much everything I do informs my passion. I can’t read a book without wondering whether it will make a play or a film.

I’m not regaling you with this as an example of the way things must be done. God knows, there is no formula in this business. There are many ways to pursue one’s Passion. The point is: I pursued it!

I try to impress this on my young talented, passionate friend who has bared his breast to the sacrifical knife of the Theatre Goddess (why do I think it a woman?): If you’re this committed and willing to sacrifice to the point of abjuring all else, go where you can truly pursue your passion and the sacrifice might pay off. Don’t remain immobile in a small pond where your talent struggles to thrive and grow and your passion can too easily become insular and impotent…where you’re not likely to make a living at it and you’ll become bitter and frustrated, dreaming about what you might have accomplished if you’d only taken a chance. Don’t let your passion sour to sad regret. True, you might have the courage to take the risk to finally pursue it hell-bent-for-leather and still end up bitter and frustrated, but at least you’ll have tried! At least you’ll know. There is no disgrace in failure; only in never having tried. And the small pond will always be there.

The courage to risk is the biggest failing of most people’s passion. They are simply afraid to go out and test their talent, challenge themselves in an environment where the bar is high and the stakes are real. The fall may be greater, but the rewards are also greater.

I’ve known many extremely talented people who didn't have a passion for the business and chose to pursue other passions. Though I might bemoan unused talent, it’s frustrating for my passion, not theirs, and I have to just leave that alone. But it is infuriating to see people…remarkably talented people…who call Theatre their great passion and then don’t really pursue it full throttle.
Maybe I’m just being a hard-assed stickler for semantics. Surely, there is no crime done by those who want to pursue what one friend of mine calls, “non-neurotic theatre” (Though I’m not sure this is accurate, I’ve seen more divas and gleaming stilettos behind the arras in community theatre than ever I did in professional theatre). I may not call it passion, but if they want to call it that, there’s no great injustice being done anyone…except to those for whom it is a passion unpursued. But that is an injustice they do themselves.

Word Baker, the director of the original FANTASTICKS, once said to a group of young actors, me being one: “Every actor has to think he’s going to be a star.” He’s right. Like chasing the horizon, you may never get there, but you’ll travel further than those who never move. Unlike my friends with talent who chose to pursue other passions and use other talents, those folk who dream of being in the Game, have genuine talent, but don’t make the effort, don't dream big enough. It’s as if they’re waiting for it to come to them.

That just doesn’t happen. And the dream alone is never enough. Talent is never enough. Even passion is not enough, it has to be pursued. As my old theatre mentor Charles Dickens used to say: “Ninety percent of talent is knowing what do to with it.”

Or as writer/director Paul Schrader once put it: “Why should we open the doors for young talent? The people who knock down the doors are more interesting.” And that’s because the people who knock them down are more passionate. They may not even be as talented as others, but they’re more passionate. And that gives them the advantage. They’re the hungry ones who want to be there, in the thick of it. They’re the ones truly pursuing their passion!


Jack Parrish as Polonius

Actor and friend Jack Parrish died of cancer last week. Jack had both directed and acted at Actors Guild. I was fortunate to be in two shows with him. THE UNDERPANTS was the AGL acting debut for both of us. Jack had taken the small role of the King at the end of the play as a favour to Rick St. Peter and, in his three minutes of stage time, killed and got uproarious laughs to sweep us to curtain.

We shared more stage time in Hamlet, I as Claudius, he doubling as a marvelous Polonius and funny Gravedigger. I did a rehearsal/show blog for the theatre at the time. Here’s a few snippets I wrote about Jack:

Oct. 7, 2007 – …I was pacing in the upstairs lobby outside the rehearsal room, declaiming. Jack Parrish, doing double-duty as Polonius and the Grave-Digger (both quite amusing) and our most experienced Shakespearen, stormed by me on his way outside for a smoke, script clenched in fist, mumbling iambic pentameter. “I’m too old for this shit,” he growled at me, as he went by. "It isn’t fun anymore.” Jack is younger than me.

Oct. 29, 2007 – Our company is amiable, easy, and very professional. Jack Parrish, a delight to act with and to just watch act, has also become good company backstage. Being roughly the same age, we share common experiences and concerns about theatre. Our conversations range from how to make Lexington…a city with certainly the right demographic and population…a professional theatre town (naturally, a concern for us…both being Equity) to just old war stories. Jack actually mentioned a dinner theatre he had played in Manassas, Virginia…and I went, “My God! My play WHODUNNIT,DARLING?...had a successful run there.”…He and I are probably the only two in the cast old enough to remember dinner theatre’s glory days and steamboat rounds of roast beef. For all their faults and bad plays, dinner theatres were in their own unique way wonderful things and kept a lot of actors employed at the time.

(My dinner theatre mystery written with Larry Drake. Poster art by Eric Johnson)

Nov.12, 2007 – Last week…Jack Parrish gave the rest of us a little seminar in the interaction between actor and audience. During his scene with Gertrude and me where Polonius speaks of Hamlet’s madness and his disaffected love for Ophelia, the audience was lapping up Jack’s performance. Every word, every gesture evoked ripples of laughter and , quite rightly, Jack continued to build and adjust his performance to the audience’s feedback, to where he was evoking guffaws out of them. It was a sight to behold and brilliantly done. After we came off stage, Jack thanked both Gertie and me for our indulgence in letting him “milk” it. I told him that it was his scene after all, the stage was his and he should “milk it till it was cottage cheese”, if he could. Gertrude and I were only there to throw in an occasional line to remind people he was talking to someone. There was no reason for us to try and compete with him or get in the way of him working the house. And work it he did. An awesome little turn; he had them eating out of his hand.


Southern Theatre Magazine has a feature every issue called “400 Words”. It’s my four hundred words for the Fall 2009 issue, entitled “Let’s NOT Give The Audience What It Wants”. I’ll probably slapped it up here in the future, but you can find it online by hitting the highlighted link.


POGUE’S BEEN WATCHING…A lot of live theatre…

BEGUILED AGAIN…at Actors Guild…lots of great Rodgers & Hart songs

33 VARIATIONS…at The Ensemble Theatre in Cincinnati…Terrific production in a great little theatre. This is going to be a regular destination for us. Also saw their SEAFARER earlier this year which was swell. Next seeing our pal, Brian Isaac Phillips in DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE. I also went to their reading of THE LARAMIE PROJECT…TEN YEARS AFTER, commemorating the anniversary of Matthew Shephard’s murder.

SLEUTH…at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park…Still one of my favourite venues. Strange to watch this play, knowing all the tricks and plot points, but quite well done on an stylish set.

LION IN WINTER…at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company…Again, a play I’m so familiar with, it’s strange to re-visit. Once I shook off the indeliable memory of O’Toole and Hepburn, I quite enjoyed the ensemble’s take on the piece.

I’ve also been seeing a lot of theatre on DVD…

CONDUCT UNBECOMING…this is the film version of the British Raj mystery play by Barry England…I’ve been a fan of the play for years, but hadn’t seen the movie in some time. Though they throw some exterior shots in it, it remains essentially stage-bound…which is perfectly fine with me…and has a great cast: Michael York, Stacey Keach, Chris Plummer, Susannah York, Richard Attenborough, and Trevor Howard. The plot is actually a tad shaky, but slick playing carries you through and lets you forgive some of the dubious details. I’m a sucker for any of this “For Queen and Empire” stuff anyway. Michael York, who I’ve met and know slightly (we once discussed doing a film of Gore Vidal’s JULIAN, about the Emporer who tried to reinstate the pagan gods after Rome had gone Christian. He was also slated do to a reading of my play THE EBONY APE at Stratford, Ct. Doug Sills ended up doing it and doing it grandly) does a nice commentary.

LOOK BACK IN ANGER…A production directed by Judi Dench, starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Very nice.

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER…a dvd of a live production that I saw at the National Theatre a few years back, done in collaboration with the Out of Joint Theatre Company and directed by Max Stafford-Clark. I enjoyed it live and I enjoyed it here.

SECRET SERVICE…a stylish production of William Gillette’s classic melodrama, starring a young John Lithgow and Meryl Streep. Also Marybeth Hurt, Charles Kimbrough, and a very young and thin Jeffrey Jones.

SINGING DETECTIVE….never a play, of course. And while it has its moments, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original Dennis Potter miniseries that starred Michael Gambon…The Great Gambon.


TWO FOR THE SEESAW…Andre Previn’s jazz score to the movie starring Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine.

HOAGY CARMICHAEL, Stardust And Much More…the sub-title pretty much says all.

THE UNBELIEVEABLE TRUTH…comedy/quiz show hosted by witty David Mitchell, playing out its current season on BBC 4


UNSEEN ACADEMICALS…Terry Pratchett’s latest entertaining entry from Discworld. The wizards from Unseen University play football.

THE SECOND HANDSHAKE…Will Fowler’s amusing memoir of his famous writer father Gene Fowler and all his equally famous friends…John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, John Decker, Jack Dempsey, etc.

Sorry, I was away for such a long-time. So what’s new with you? Any thoughts about my latest spewings…?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


A few weeks ago, I took some swipes at audiences’ ever-increasing ignorance of the proper theatre etiquette, their abuse of the standing ovation, and their propensity to applaud scene breaks and changes. Now it’s the performers’ turn in the barrel.

I suppose I sound like most old codgers railing against the diminishing standards of one thing or another and how it was better in my day. Well, sorry -- it was!

The source of my irritation this time round? Actors whose voices can no longer hit the back wall of a theatre without electronic aid and who are incapable of writing a bloody professional bio.

Back in 1980, I worked the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in a Sherlock Holmes play, THE CRUCIFER OF BLOOD, with Charlton Heston as Holmes and Jeremy Brett as Watson (and he was just as brilliant as Watson as he was later as Holmes). The Ahmanson is a barn. About two thousand seats. Not an intimate space compared to, say, the neighbouring Mark Taper Forum in the same complex which has only 750 seats.

When I played the Ahmanson, there were strategically placed support mics hanging from the grid and discreetly positioned on the apron, as I recall…mostly there to enhance stage dead spots and give a slight boost to the sound of the natural voice.

But none of the actors wore a body mic of any kind! Let me repeat that. NONE OF THE ACTORS WORE A BODY MIC OF ANY KIND!

More importantly, none of them NEEDED a mic. They had all been trained to project. They all knew how to support their voices, project, and hit the back wall of theatre and the upper reaches of the furthermost balcony. If one had not learned this simple skill, their likelihood of a career in the theatre was probably dicey. In my time, the ability was regarded as a minimal requirement to be an employable actor.

I’m not sure where and when all this microphoning of actors began. I suspect it started in the musical theatre, however. And probably as early as the 60’s. During a Fantastick Evening, a celebration of the songs of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, at the Pasadena Playhouse a few years back, Jones told a anecdote about their production of 110 IN THE SHADE, where producer David Merrick wanted terrific actress Inga Swenson, playing Lizzie, to wear a microphone. Swenson flat out refused, telling Merrick, “If the audience can’t hear me, then you can mike me, but I want to control my own performance!”

Brave words and a great lesson for any actor. “I want to control my own performance.”

But as mics have become more pervasive…first in musicals, now more and more in straight shows…do actors control as much of their performances as they once did? We’ve all heard body mics scrunch under clothing or pick up belches or tummy rumblings. We’ve all heard how they can often make a voice hollow, tinny, and false. We’ve all heard the balance of sound often get thrown out of whack or elicit the occasional ear-splitting whine or malfunction to the point where it’s not functioning at all. We’ve all seen little nub-ends of mics sticking out of wigs and tell-tale cords snaking down the backs of costumes.

Of course, these little distractions to our willing suspension of disbelief have now been abandoned altogether for the dreaded visible head mic that loops around an actor’s ear and slashes across his jaw, utterly destroying any illusion of reality anymore. Who thought this bright idea an improvement? It’s the single worst introduction into the theatre ever. It is always there assaulting you and violating any sense of belief, time, or atmosphere the play is trying to create. It is the Anti-Christ of theatre performance.

I once saw a musical done with head mics in a hundred seat theatre where you could walk from the front to the back in less than ten steps. If it had been any more intimate, the audience would have been sitting in the actors’ laps. Now, granted, it was a student production, but I don’t care. I could stand on that stage and talk in a normal voice and be heard in every seat in the house. Hell, I could whisper and be heard in every seat. How lazy do your actors have to be? And, since it is a school production, shouldn’t we be teaching students basic disciplines like projection and vocal production? How to breathe and speak so you can be heard distinctly?

The local summer Shakespeare festival has also succumbed to head-mics. To hear Shakespeare’s language and poetry filtered through electronic devices is bad enough, but to see the intrusive, ugly head mics twined around Anthony and Cleopatra’s profiles or Falstaff’s jowls defies good taste. Of course, the venue it is done in…a large field…doesn’t at all serve Shakespeare, the actor, or the audience anyway, but here’s a clue: If your actors can’t hit the back wall with their natural voice or because there is no back wall, then your venue’s too big!

I’ve seen plenty of outdoor Shakespeare where the size and shape of venue is controlled and contained…notably the Southbank’s Globe…but also in parks and outdoor theatres that accommodate the actor and the performance and where the actors didn’t need mics…headsets or otherwise…to be heard and where the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief was not challenged or nose-thumbed.

If singers or some theatres really must have mics, can we go back to those hidden in hairpieces and that occasionally rustle under clothing. But, please, let’s at least abolish the horrid head mic. It’s just too Vegas and what happens in Vegas must stay in Vegas.

Oddly enough, the wife and I came across a natural amphitheatre in our perambulations the other day where one, speaking in a normal voice while standing down in the flat performance area, could be heard by one at the back of the rise. We’re not telling anyone about this discovery, but keeping it to ourselves, plotting a performance of some kind there some day…

I realize there is a prevalent philosophy in America that everything must not only make a profit, but must make a HUGE profit, so we want to pack as many bodies as we can into something approximating an airplane hanger…or The Louisiana Purchase. But that kind of greed is rather self-defeating where theatre is concerned.

I really think, in future, performance spaces must be designed with performance in mind, not maximum capacity…it will certainly serve the audience better as well as the properly-trained actor who has mastered the simple tricks of projection and can easily hit the back wall without sacrificing the nuance of his performance.

And while we are training our young and upcoming actors to project, can we also teach them how to write a professional programme bio?

The facts found in programme bios are beginning to resemble the self-absorbed indulgences of a Facebook or Myspace page. They are far too disclosive and intimate, giving an audience member reading such confessional paragraphs far more information than they need or want.

Here’s a tip for actors writing your bios. If I’m in the audience, it’s unlikely that I’m your personal friend. It’s unlikely that I am one of the eight hundred of your nearest, dearest bosom confreres on your social networking site. I’m not coming over for dinner, I’m not preparing your taxes, I’m not arresting you. I don’t need to know your personal information. I just want to know what you’ve done. Tell me your credits. Maybe I’ve seen you in a film or TV show or even on stage before. That’s all I want to know about you.

I’m tired of actors writing bios that sound more like acceptance speeches for awards they haven’t won. Save your Tony/Oscar/Emmy speech for when you actually win that Tony/Oscar/Emmy. Or worse, they use their bio as a platform to brown-nose and suck-up to the directors and producers who’ve cast them, in hopes of future gigs.

You know what I mean: “Arnold is so honoured and humbled to share the stage with this talented cast and crew and to be working with such a distinguished director as Joe Blow in this historic theatre. He wants to thank his lovely wife/life-partner/children/mother/father/pets/God for their love and support and dedicates his performance to his wife/life-partner/children/mother/father/pets/God.”

If you were good enough to get cast, don’t go publicly currying favour with those who cast you. Be grateful on your own time. Otherwise, it smacks of desperation. A professional shouldn’t go Uriah Heeping around for being talented enough to get hired. I’m sure you weren’t cast out of any altruistic sentiments of charity or pity.

And what is this whole thing about dedicating one’s performance? What if one’s performance is lousy or critically-lambasted? What kind of honour is that dedication bestowing on the recipient? And are we talking about every performance or just one specific one? The ones where you missed entrances, or fluffed lines, or daydreamed about getting Chinese food after the show?

I’m convinced a lot of actors invoke their wife and children in their bios just to let the audience know that, despite being in the theatre, they are a card-carrying heterosexuals. And, vice versa, those who dedicate their performance to their same-sex partner want to proudly proclaim their gayness. All I care about is whether you can act or not, not who you sleep with.

If your partner is someone of note or in the business I don’t mind a simple, “Arnold lives in Brooklyn with his wife, a stage designer, and their three children.” But please do avoid cutesy crap like: “But Arnold’s proudest production is little Megan, his two-year old daughter with his wife, Mary Louise.” Great, you’re fertile! But you’re not there to spread your seed on the stage. Puh-leeze, don’t make me want to slap you before ever make your first entrance.

The less I know personally about an actor, the less baggage I bring to the role he is performing. He more easily assimilates the character for me. If I’m thinking, “gee, he plays a straight guy pretty good for a gay guy or he plays a gay guy pretty good for a straight guy”, I’m being taken out of the play.

Be a professional, give me your credits. If you’re young and don’t have a lot of credits yet, then your bio should be short. Don’t pad it with gibberish. Don’t inflict your personal life and views on me. The only way I want to know you is as an actor.

My favourite bio of all time is the one Diana Rigg wrote for the National Theatre production of HUMBLE BOY a few years back in which she co-starred with Simon Russell Beale and long time colleague, Denis Quilley. Here it is: “Diana Rigg has been around a very long time and this is the sixth time she has coupled with Denis Quilley.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009


(Weird Tales Conan cover by Margaret Brundage)

For the uninitiated, an explanation of Pulps. Pulps were fiction magazines published from the earliest part of the 20th century till about the mid-sixties...so called because of the cheap, rough paper they were printed on. They covered a wide array of genres – romance, mystery, thriller, adventure, science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. They bore such names as BLUEBOOK, ALL-STORY WEEKLY, AMAZING STORIES, BLACK MASK, WEIRD TALES, ADVENTURE, MAGIC CARPET, SPICY DETECTIVE. They were usually disdained by the slicks (the more toney magazines like Saturday Evening Post, published on finer grade paper) and their fiction not thought of as great literature (writers were paid by the word).

But, in fact, they were immensely popular and the launching pad for many a fine writer and popular novelist such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Rafael Sabatini, Cornell Woolrich, even Tennessee Williams.

I don’t really collect Pulps….despite their obvious attractions -- great yarns and wonderfully evocative illustrated covers. But between my lack of storage space, my lack of time to read their wonderful contents, and pragmatic concerns like their fragile condition and brittle paper, I’ve only ever just cracked the lid of this Pandora’s Box and reached in to pull out a few desired treasures before slamming it firmly back down lest temptation get the better of me.

Whatever forays I have ever made into Pulp collecting have been because I collect authors. So occasionally if I’ve found a Burroughs tale in Amazing Stories or a reprint of a Rider Haggard novel in Famous Fantastic Mysteries or an excerpt of a Talbot Mundy serial in Adventure and the price is right, I’ll make the leap. Once fifteen years ago, at a book fair in California, a dealer sold all his Weird Tales for ten and fifteen bucks. For that ridiculously low bargain price, I managed to pick up several issues containing Conan stories by Robert E. Howard and Jules De Grandin tales by Seabury Quinn; and, perhaps more importantly, adorned with the provocative cover paintings of Margaret Brundage (below).

Anyway, I love exploring the world and a chance to gaze into its wonders for a weekend appealed to me. I also knew there would be book dealers, movie posters, artwork, and other such peripheral wares that I occasionally dabble in on display.

After having been based for years in Dayton, Ohio, the venue moved to Columbus this year…but it was still roughly only a three hour drive from my old Kentucky home. I tried to entice pal, Roger Leasor in going up with me and making it a collecting- guy’s weekend, as he has more than a passing interest in this stuff as well. And, though enticed he was, work kept him pinned down.

So I soloed it with my usual off-the-cuff planning…which meant a couple hours on the internet, printing off maps of the Hotel and surrounding hotels and a few bookstores that piqued my interest and might require visitation, should the Pulpfest turn out a dud. I didn’t even make a reservation anywhere, though I priced a couple of places. Also having lived in Columbus when I was a wee sprig of a twig of a lad until midway through the second grade (the earliest memories I consciously retain are from my days there), I mulled a vague idea about visiting the old haunts.

Thus armed, I started out a little after noon on Friday, figuring to get there before rush hour. Though rain had been predicted, I encountered none and had sunshine all the way. As I crossed the Kentucky border and tooled up Interstate 71 through Cincinnati, I realized I had forgotten all my printed internet maps. This was hardly dire, because I had studied the info carefully the previous night and knew that, if I stayed on 71 north of Columbus, the Ramada Inn venue was right off the freeway. I even remembered the street.

Nonetheless, I figured I’d better purchase a map just to confirm my memory and to locate those other bookshops. After another hour driving through non-descript scenery at a sedate 65mph…the speed limit in Ohio…I stopped on the outskirts of the oddly named Washington Courthouse. I had forgotten how rural Ohio is…really nothing between Cincy and Columbus but farmland. Which made it even more odd, when going into a travel center to pick up my map, I noticed down the road, THE LION’S DEN, an adult sex shop—apparently part of a rather large franchise in Ohio. Guess those farmers no longer have rendezvous with their sheep.

Anyway, the map confirmed my memory and I arrived in Columbus without incident, found the Ramada Inn where Pulpfest was located and booked myself a room across the street at something called the American Best Value Inn.

I enjoy luxury as well as the next fellow, but when traveling alone, I can occasionally rough it – which for me means no mint on my pillow. Since I knew I’d only be in the room to sleep, my only requirements were a bathroom and a bed and both be clean. While the furniture was knocked about a bit, it met my requirements and, with my AAA discount, only cost me 47 dollars. I called The Lovely Wife to inform her I had arrived and of my thrifty room rate to which her only reply was, “I hope you didn’t get one of those places where bed-bugs are running rampant.” I assured her I hadn’t…but, of course, now that she had planted the idea, it made me suspicious of any little itch I had and probably made me imagine far more than I actually had. I mean it wasn’t glamourous -- no hair dryer, six channels on the TV (one WAS HBO) -- but it was hardly the Bates Motel…or if it was, I wasn’t in room one and my tits weren’t as lush as Janet Leigh’s.

Divesting myself of such speculation for the nonce, I strolled over to the Ramada to get the skinny on the Dealer Room -- the primary reason I had come. They were just closing it up for the night and wouldn’t open until ten tomorrow…which was fine with me and had been anticipated. I had plan to spring for my $15 dollar day pass on Saturday when I’d have all day to browse, if necessary. But I had wanted to scope out everything and see if anyone I possibly knew was hanging around. Collecting is a small world.

Since there was no one, I took off to find a Half-Price Books nearby. Enroute, I came across two better used bookstores -- the good old musty kind of shops that bespeak of forgotten treasures. Alas, it was near closing time for both, so I had to sleuth the stacks against the clock. But I swept up a few goodies -- collection of plays by Bjornstjerne Bjornson who I believe was an inspiration to and a rival of Ibsen’s, a play (originally a radio play) of Tom Stoppard’s I’ve never heard of called ALBERT’S BRIDGE, a nice hardbound copy in dj of SOLDIERS, a controversial play be Rolf Hochhuth that was banned by the Lord Chamberlain in Britain, and a Classics Illustrated adaptation of KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, which it turned out I already had, but for the three bucks it cost, why not another? In fact, all the books were a bargain and very cheap.

(not the comic, the novel with dj by Joseph Clement Coll)

After this delightful detour, I located the Half-Price Books which was a bit of a let-down, compared to others. I remember Half-Price before it became a nationwide chain -- one store in Dallas on McKinny Avenue around the corner from where I lived. The store in Dallas (no longer on McKinny) is still a impressive and certainly the crown in the chain, but even it has lost the charm of the original, where I spent many happy hours.

I left Half-Price empty-handed, ate dinner at a Chinese Buffet, returned to my minimalist hotel room, watched Bill Maher, turned out the lights, imagined bed-bugs and had my nodding off disrupted by about five trains (the hotel abutted the tracks), but finally drifted off to a sound sleep.

I awoke too early on Saturday, checked out, ate breakfast at the Ramada buffet, then took a drive to kill time until ten. I scraped the idea of visiting my old neighbourhood, as it was off the beaten path and I suspected that after over fifty years nothing looked the same or remained anyway. Nor do I confess any overwhelming nostalgia for the place.

Returning to the Ramada, I purchased my day pass and entered into wonderland. It was like the California Book Fairs of old before they became affairs where the same old tired stuff was trotted out, usually grotesquely overpriced, only for dealers to buy off other dealers, nothing for the general punter.

Here we had wonderful, fresh-in-its-antiquity stuff to look at. Now maybe it was not so for everyone, but I was a Pulpfest virgin and most of this was stuff I had never seen or hadn’t seen in years.

At one of the first booths I stopped at, I was recognized by my name tag…by one Bill Maynard, author of the new estate-authorized Fu Manchu pastiche. He knew me by my Conan/Kull script (not the disastrous movie made from it) and was a fan. We had a nice chat about our mutual work, our mutual interests, and mutual friends. I bought his book and he graciously inscribed it, “To Charles Edward Pogue, an inspiration and kindred spirit, Best Wishes, William Maynard”.

(Fu Manchu rendered by the great illustrator Joseph Clement Coll)

As I said, the world of collecting is small, I…or rather…my name was recognized a few more times, which was very flattering; I also met some folks who knew pal Harlan Ellison and got to introduce myself to Otto Penzler who was the special guest. Penzler was the consultant on my Sherlock Holmes films back in the eighties when he was handling the Conan Doyle estate. He is also something of an icon in the mystery fiction world as a publisher, editor, scholar, and owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. We discussed the films, the difficulty of the Conan Doyle estate, mutual pals, and the dwindling of the used and independent bookseller. A few years ago, he said there were about 300 mystery specialty bookstores, now there are about a dozen, if that.

I think it’s one of the reasons I came; I don’t know how many more years this sort of cultural diversion has to thrive. I looked around the room at the greying heads, mostly male, and wondered where the new blood was coming from…or if there was going to be any? I kept seeing my father’s generation, but then realized most of these folks were my age, ten years either side…and, man, was that scary! I don’t see myself as that old. But then I don’t characterize myself with the few younger folk that attended either…most of that geeky variety you envision dissecting the minutia of every STAR TREK episode, the type of guy to whom you want to say, “Get a life!” I somehow…very snottily, no doubt…assume I am more well-rounded than the very folk I am jostling out of the way to get a closer look at some obscure 1933 edition of WEIRD TALES.
But I sometimes feel like a monk in the Dark Ages holding and protecting all the sacred texts and knowledge from the hands of the uncomprehending infidel until the Renaissance. Overheard: "Yeah, but can they make a kindle smell like a musty old pulp magazine?"

Actually, as much as I would have loved to have plopped down and spent the day going through various boxes of plastic-sealed pulps, I pretty much stuck to books. There are several specialty publishers, like Black Dog Books and Girasol collectables that are printing up rare and, in some cases, never collected pulp materials by a lot of my favourite authors. I picked up THE SKULL OF SHIRZADAD MIR by Harold Lamb and IN A RIGHTEOUS CAUSE by Talbot Mundy in handsome quality paperback editions by Black Dog. I also paid a buck for a little magazine called SCREEN FACTS, half of which featured an article on the 1935 movie SHE and the other half on Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors, a favourite from THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN. Oddly enough, it is autographed by her. I suspect it’s authentic because there is also an autographed inscription in the same pen, but different hand by the editor of the magazine.

Speaking of SHE, I saw a poster of the 1935 movie for $130 and figured I had to have it …but, as the dealer brought it over for my closer inspection, I realized I had missed a zero – it was $1300. Probably well worth it, linen-backed too. I was also tempted by a more reasonably-priced small poster of Kirk Douglas’ THE VIKINGS. But I already have three variant editions of this poster on the wall of my TV room…An American, an Italian, and a Polish. So I passed.

It is amazing how much of this merchandise has increased in value over the years have increased in value. I saw some WEIRD TALES and SHADOWS going for $300 or more. There were also plenty of reasonably priced pulps…I saw several ADVENTURES going for 20-25 bucks with stories and serials by authors I collect like Mundy and Sabatini. But, frankly, I just don’t have the room or the inclination to jump at this stuff…besides which, I usually have it in book form.

(a pulp I do own)

Finally my eyes blurred and crossed at all this overwhelming stimuli and I staggered out at about one in the afternoon, hitting the road for an uneventful trip home.



THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939) …Charles Laughton gives one of his greatest performances with a terrific ensemble cast (Edmond O’Brien in a romantic lead before he got paunchy a few short years later) in the best version of the story. A wonderful film with lots of layers, about the Dark Ages stumbling into the Rennaisance.

ENGAGED…W.S. Gilbert’s (of “& Sullivan” fame) play that was a precursor to Wilde’s IMPORTANCE OF BEINNG EARNEST. Amusingly and ably performed by the tight ensemble of The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

PLATONOV…a BBC televised Chekov play with Rex Harrison, Sian Phillips, and Clive Revill. This was an early play of Chekov, which, if uncut, would run six hours. This one ran a sensible two. Michael Frayn did a translation of it called WILD HONEY which played quite successfully with Ian McKellen back in the eighties, which I saw at the Ahmanson in LA.


THE TERROR OF FU MANCHU…William Maynard’s Sax Rohmer pastiche. Just started it, but so far he seems to have captured the style and essence of the original novels.

THE WEEK…the best news weekly around. We finally renewed our subscription.


AL HIBBLER…and his unique vocal stylings…

LA THEATREWORKS…radio versions of classical and contemporary plays. In the last couple of weeks have listened to ORSON’S SHADOW and LA BETE.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Last week on my Facebook page (Yes, I finally succumbed and have found it to be the addictive, totally entertaining, time-wasting amusement I long suspected it was), I bespoke of my puzzlement and not a little irritation of being at the theatre and watching the audience applaud the scene breaks and blackouts. A dear friend of mine, who also attended a performance of the same show where I witnessed this curious phenomenon, accused me of being “the applause police” and said she now knew what folks meant when they said they had been “Pogued”…an allusion, I assume, to my oft-acerbic, jaundiced-eyed critiques of those things that exacerbate my curmudgeonly impatience.

Sorry, I have no remorse. I have already been pretty much chased out of movie theatres these days, because people insist on bringing their living room manners with them and have an utter inability to detach themselves for a couple of hours from all the latest technical gee-gaws and whirl-a-gigs.

If they are not nattering with audible intrusiveness to their neighbour in the next seat, they are nattering to someone on their cell phone…or texting or checking emails. Those “lovely people out there in the dark” that Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD extolled are, frankly, not so lovely anymore and “out there in the dark” ain’t so dark what with the little invasive patches of light from beeping, bleeping, clicky-clacky, tippy-tapping cell phones.

It’s just easier to watch a movie on DVD on the 52 inch flat screen at home in my underwear. I don’t need the big screen experience, the three dollar drinks, and the five dollar popcorn…But mostly I don’t need the distracting communal experience where people are blithely indifferent to the consideration of others and are incapable of focusing on a single experience without attention-deficit multi-tasking.

Given all this, I don’t know why I expect the experience of attending live theatre to retain any vestige of gracious living, good manners, and more civilized behaviour, but I naively do. Nor do I seem alone in this futile expectation. Over the last few months and weeks, I have encountered several newspaper columns, internet articles, and blogs that have been discussing, debating, and bemoaning the alarming increase of “Were you raised in barn?” manners that intrude on and diminish the theatre-going experience.

I confess a considerable amount of these discussions…though hardly all…stem from British sources, where the theatre is a more viable and entrenched part of one’s cultural life, and where these unhealthy audience habits are seen to be immigrating from America. They probably are.

We are, after all, the culture of not only self-absorption to point of total unawareness of others, but also the culture of hyberbole and over-sell, often praising things far beyond their merits where the mediocre is considered good, the good great, the great…usually ignored, because it is not understood by an audience weaned on the pablum of TV. I’m not sure we understand the difference between good and bad anymore. It seems that if one just shows up for the gig anymore that is enough of a commitment to lavish over-abundant praise upon them.

These articles recently came to a terrific culmination in the London Times with critic Benedict Nightingale’s THE 15 GOLDEN RULES OF THEATRE ETIQUETTE( as of this writing, still online). I found them to be pretty good rules…and given the comments to the article, many other disgruntled, frustrated theatre-goers thought so too. Applauding during scene breaks and blackouts was not on Mr. Nightingale’s list of Do’s and Don’t’s (though one of the responders to the article invoked it). I think its omission was only because this habit has not quite made its way across the Atlantic yet and insidiously infiltrated its way into the British audience. It only rears its head with the occasional uninitiated American tourist.

I’m not quite sure when this habit of applauding every scene break began. I actually became conscious of it (though I’m sure I had experienced it before) when I was at a university play. The audience was mostly students. I think I dismissed it…perhaps, unfairly… to inexperience, figuring most of them probably didn't attend all that much live theatre and that some were just over-enthusiatically supporting their pals on stage and others, unsure of proper procedure, followed suit.

But this was not the case the other night. Now, granted, it also wasn’t your typical theatre venue. It was one of those outdoor summer affairs. Blankets, picnic baskets, wine. And its laid-back environment also probably attracts a lot of folk who are not your typical theatre-goer. There’s plenty of chatting, cell phone use, and just inattentiveness that has become somewhat de rigeur for outdoor summer fare…though I’ve yet see it at the Old Globe in San Diego or the Globe in London.

But here every time a troupe of actors trotted off at the end of a scene or the lights dimmed, applause filled the night. It was often sporadic and tentative applause which makes me believe it was more often spurred on by various claques or the mere uncertainty of the proper etiquette.

But, you may ask, why is it improper to show your appreciation of the actors in this fashion? After all, who’s to say whether it’s right or wrong? Unless someone in authority is going to tell you to be quiet or pitch you out of the theatre for creating a disturbance, isn't any response fair game?

So why does it bug me? It’s like applauding after every movement of a symphony instead of at the end of it. And Lord knows, this insidious practice abounds too…I’ve seen it happen at the Hollywood Bowl (And I can remember an Italian producer who drunkenly sang along with Pavarotti there too..but that's another story).

We’re so anxious to show our appreciation or our misguided notion that “we really are hip and get it” that we applaud before the complete performance is over. This is not necessarily an encouraging sign to a serious artist, as it bespeaks more ignorance than true appreciation of the artist’s skills. I remember a story where one esteemed soloist walked off after the audience applauded the first movement.

Why? I suppose because there is a mood, a spell that an artist is trying to create -- a level of concentration and immersion that one hopes envelopes both artist and audience in the same enchantment. Indiscriminate, over-enthusiastic, out-of-proportion, and often as-yet-unearned and undeserved applause can break that spell, dissolve the enchantment, disrupt the concentration.

Yes, we’ve all experienced that moment when a performer has had a particularly splashy, flashy stage turn that overwhelms an audience with such uncontainable exuberance, they must show their irrepressible approbation with a round of honest exit applause. Nothing wrong in that.

But the scene break/blackout applause always seems to me like a bunch of trained seals; as though someone has turned on the studio audience “Applause” sign, generating an unthinking Pavlovian response. It is born not so much out of genuine enthusiasm for what is transpiring onstage but is rather merely the mechanics of an automaton.

It’s all a bit naff (to use Mr. Nightingale's term), disrupts narrative flow and adds minutes to the evening that neither the actor nor the audience needs. And anything that takes me out of the story, distracts or disengages me from the performance, I find inappropriate. Applauding at the wrong time is like laughing at the wrong time…like laughing at the set-up instead of the punchline or at a tragic moment. It’s just as intrusive as someone narrating the plot to their inattentive companion or rustling candy wrappers or texting or taking pictures on their cell.

Now part of the burden falls on the playwright and the director to keep the action of the play flowing, devoid of lulls where an audience feels obligated to fill a scene change or time lapse with applause.

But, please, applaud at the act breaks and the curtain. Applauding every frigging scene break or blackout is simply applauding unfinished work. The performance isn’t over. “So far so good” is not a reason to applaud! Applauding at the Act Break, when everything actually stops, is the perfect place for a progress report of approval to let the actors on stage know you think they’re doing well enough that you’ll be back after the interval.

And despite what is said about actors’ overblown egos, the truly good ones are usually objective enough to be able to assess how they’re doing on any given night and they know when applause is warranted; when the audience is sincerely returning fair measure for the work being done and when it is disproportionate. You’re not fooling the ones who know their trade.

I devoutly hope this habit does not become as pervasive as the empty standing ovation which has long been stripped of any its special meaning. A standing O should be a cathartic response for a truly transcendent theatre experience and a rare event, not a commonplace reward for the actors just because they showed up for the gig. Once again, the pros know…although I do recall a friend who was mortified to be in a show where the largely amateur cast was furious that they were not receiving a nightly standing ovation which they misguidedly thought their automatic due. Naturally, they blamed the “ignorant” audience for this oversight.

Such attitudes, I suppose, are generated once again by a TV/sporting event culture where to ratchet up the stakes, game show contestants are encouraged to pee themselves with excitement, in-house audiences are egged on to holler, hoot, and stamp their feet every time a potential American Idol changes key or goes up another octave, and where the more extravagant, rowdy, and vocal our behaviour in the stadium the better to root on the home team.

But the theatre isn’t TV, baseball, or your kid’s soccer game. And, if your kid’s in the play, trust me, he doesn’t want you cheerleading every time he enters or filming his performance on your cell phone…or if he does, he is a hopeless, hapless dilettante who has no respect for the discipline of the theatre.

Sadly, the obligatory standing ovation, regardless of the performance’s merits, seems to be another American aberration. In England, one sees it only on rare and arguably deserving occasions. In Rick McKay’s excellent documentary, BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN AGE, Stephen Sondheim posits an interesting theory on the overdose of standing ovations these days.

He suggests that it has its origins in the cost of the tickets, plus dinner, plus parking, plus babysitter. To justify and reconcile such an extravagant theatre night on the town, theatre-goers must perceive whatever they saw as an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime experience (and, for some out-of-town tourists, it may well be). In other words to assuage the pocketbook and conscience, the evening…whether it was or not…was well worth it, by God, and it’s getting a response well worth it – a standing ovation!

It’s as valid a theory as any and one can see how it might trickle down from the big cities to the smaller theatre venues. That doesn’t make it right. I mean if I’m not standing for Ian McKellen or Judi Dench (and I have and haven’t for both...despite the fact I've enjoyed them in everything I've seen),the odds of me seeing something so breathlessly brilliant out here in the sticks that would prompt me to instaneously leap to my feet are few and far between – not that it hasn’t happened.

But the more likely scenario is what happened to me and the wife awhile back in a local community theatre. The play itself, frankly, was not great. Though several admirable actors whose work we’ve enjoyed were in the production, neither it nor they could overcome the material and it was hardly anyone’s finest hour. The whole evening was a bit of a slog.

Nonetheless, true to form, at the end of the evening, first the die-hard adherents of the theatre leapt to their feet, followed by the lemmings or those unsure of what proper, polite appreciation was…finally, leaving only Julieanne and I planted in our seats, determined not to surrender to the tyranny of this undeserved standing ovation. We steadfastly did not want to give a mediocre production more than its due. But the bloody audience would not sit down, the cast kept milking the applause, and we kept being stabbed by the icy, outraged stares around us. I finally muttered to Julieanne, “We’d better stand or we won't leave here alive.”

And so we did...bullied by another form of “applause police.” It was just easier than being interrogated as to why we didn’t like the show or why we didn’t stand. If one came up to you after and gushed, “Didn’t you just love it?”, you could just nod with tepid politeness without feeling compelled to ramble off a long impassioned, intellectual dissertation about one’s devotion and dedication to the theatre they neither wanted to hear nor, in all likelihood, had the patience to grasp. After all, it’s my passion... not theirs. The professional versus the layman.

But even if most audiences are of the laymen variety, it should not excuse them from civility and courteous behaviour for both the performers working onstage and their fellow audience members. But while it’s easy to build an agreeable consensus that crinkling candy wrappers, chattering, cell phones, and snoring are all no-nos, a debate on the propriety of applause…generally thought a good thing… is a dicey go. After all, if a little applause is a good thing, isn’t a whole lot more even better? Yes, I can only say, but…only when it’s appropriate!

How many of Benedict Nightingale’s 15 golden rules of theatre etiquette do you agree with? Are there any audience habits not mentioned that annoy you either as a performer or an audience member?



BEAU GESTE…the 1939 classic film of P.C. Wren’s classic adventure romance of the French Foreign Legion and brotherly devotion on TCM.


Still wending my way through the volume of Cornell Woolrich short stories, NIGHTWEBS. Some nifty little tales.


A cache of some 13 CDs containing film scores and obscure musicals released on my pal Bruce Kimmel’s KRITZERLAND label. Among them, THE TWISTED NERVE by Bernard Herrmann, with a great whistling theme that Quentin Tarantino lifted and used in KILL BILL; RASHOMON by Laurence Rosenthal; GOD’S LITTLE ACRE by Elmer Bernstein; ILLYA DARLING, a musical based on NEVER ON A SUNDAY; SHOW GIRL with Carol Channing; and HOUSE OF FLOWERS by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen.
Any media gems you care to share?

Sunday, July 5, 2009



I watched the latest James Bond entry, Quantum of Solace, last week (a stupid title). As much as I like Daniel Craig, this may be the worst Bond film ever. First of all, the plot is almost indecipherable (and I’m very good at following convoluted plots)…very much dependent on knowing too many details from the last one.

If you’re going to be a sequel and can’t succinctly recap in less than five or ten minutes the info the viewer (and one who might not have seen the previous film) needs to know and integrate it easily into the flow of the narrative, then don’t do a sequel.

Even a sequel should work as a stand-alone film and not carry over a bunch of crap from the last one that has no dramatic impact because, if we saw it, we all saw it a year and a half ago, and can’t remember the details. I still haven’t been able to get through the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie because it is so rife with plot points, characters, and details from the first two I don’t remember. I’m going to have to watch them in a marathon screening sometime.

Which I suppose is what studios want you to do--go out and buy those DVDS. All this started with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, it seems…probably the best of the Star Wars movies...except for its cliffhanger ending which deeply disappointed me at the time. But at least George Lucas did not overwhelm us with so much info that we couldn’t hold the elemental strands of the plot until the next film. It was pretty basic…princess in jeopardy, Hans Solo in a form of suspended animation, and hints that Luke Skywalker has interesting parentage.

I know when I wrote PSYCHO III, the biggest challenge for me was to have a stand-alone movie…one that, even if a viewer had not seen the previous two, he could still understand what was going on in this one and enjoy it on its own merits. This required some deft use of flashbacks culled from the first two movies and some hopefully quirky dialogue and scenes that had dramatic impact and did not stand out like deadly exposition.

But back to Quantum of Solace. Not only do they not satisfactorily clear up the dangling threads from the last film for the viewer, characters appear and disappear so fast without any kind of establishment or development (Were they in the last film? Who are they? Where did they come from? Why should we like them, hate them, fear them?), I don’t really know who they are or what I should be feeling about them. Even Judi Dench is boring.

But worst of all, the action scenes are so choppy and kinetic that you cannot get any sense of perspective or know where you are or just who shot at whom or who threw what punch or who jumped down from where. An example: the film opens with Bond in a black car pursued by villains in a black car. The cars are not clearly delineated. The cutting is so abrupt and jarring, in this herky-jerky, mile-a-minute attention-deficit disorder style that I couldn’t tell who was who half the time. My eye was not allowed to linger on anything for more than a few seconds, if that. So much of the action is in fast cuts and quick close-ups or such obvious CGI that you get no sense of geography or spectacle at all anymore.

And that was what was fun about the fights, chases, and stunts in a Bond movie, there was a sense of spectacle and amazement because, first of all, you knew where you were and had a perspective on everything. And secondly, it didn’t happened at such a frenetic pace that you could still absorb it, take it all in, and enjoy. You could revel in the details. There looked to be some stunning scenery and locales in the movie, but it all went by in such a blur, I really couldn’t say.

In the older Bonds, you also had enough slower-paced scenes where you could actually hear the dialogue, get some exposition, and follow the narrative. I liked my Moneypenny and Q scenes.

I know the younger generation is supposed to be able to assimilate images and info faster, but it’s not a race! It’s a story! Luxuriating in its journey…its nuance, colour, and detail…should be the point. I found this, like so much of today’s film-making, to be assaulting and it just wore me out. Give me time to savour the story…visually, aurally, emotionally, intellectually. It’s a movie; not a carnival thrill ride or a video game. And, frankly, it doesn’t even provide with me any basic visceral thrills. It’s just big, fast, and loud. Maybe I’m a geezer, but I’ll take GOLDFINGER.


Sarah Palin reminds me of a certain type I used to be introduced to at Hollywood parties. While they’re talking to you, they’re looking over your shoulder to see if someone more important has come into the room that they should be schmoozing with.

Tip to Mark Sanford: You can’t really say you’re hoping to fall back in love with your wife while, with your next breath, you’re referring to your paramour as your “soul mate”.

Tip to Mark Sanford’s wife: If he’s calling his paramour his “soul mate”; no point in saying you’re trying to forgive him. Throw him out and press on, it’s over.

Sanford’s press conference spewings have been the most bizarre amalgamation of confession, therapy, and locker-room braggadocio I’ve even seen. It’s just not his pants he needs to keep zipped. I somehow can’t quite buy his contrition or his invoking of God and religion when he can’t restrain his own eagerness to enumerate the times he’s “crossed the line” with his romantic dalliances. I’d respect the guy much more if he just owned up to the fact that he’s a randy bugger and he gave up his governorship and went off with his lover.


All technology must now stop until after I’m dead. Most of my scripts have been typed in a Wordperfect macro in an old DOS system (those that weren’t typed on a typewriter). The last time I upgraded everything, my computer guy out in LA had, through some miraculous means, managed to finesse it so that I could not only retain my old DOS files, but also print them up, whenever I needed to produce one of those scripts.

In the meantime, I had already acquired Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, programmes for script writing. I have been able to transfer most of my macro-DOS scripts and other documents over into Movie Magic…though, of course, much of the style was not recognized and so often dialogue or character indentations and other such nuances are not formatted properly and all of these transferred scripts require tweaking and editing to comply with Movie Magic’s formatting, something I’ve yet to do.

And rather than deal with that onerous task, I’ve just kept printing scripts up from the old DOS system. No can do anymore. A few months back, something went wrong somewhere…and I can no longer print out my old DOS files. My new computer guys hardly even know what DOS is.

Of course, I have hard copies of all these scripts which I can run off at Kinko’s. But this ain’t LA. I don’t know what it costs per page in LA anymore, but when I left, it was still hovering around 2 and a half cents to three cents a page. Kinko’s here in Kentucky is at least 6 or 7 cents a page. Even worse, though they can three-hole punch paper, they don’t sell brads…the fasteners used for three-hole punched paper. I have to special order the one and a half inch brads from a local business supply dealer, if I want to bind my script in the traditional way.

These are the little irritants I'm forced to endure here in Kentucky-- which, unlike LA, is not used to everyone and his brother having a script to print and bind. But even in LA, I had become reliant on printing out scripts on my own laser printer. With most of these epics now trapped in DOS, which I cannot longer access, this has become problematic.

Fortunately, most of the film scripts I don’t really have to run off that often. Where I’ve run into a problem is with my Sherlock Holmes play script, THE EBONY APE. There have been a few requests for it (Rick St. Peter, Actors Guild Artistic Director, is a fan of it and has been touting it to several theatres). The script is a hundred and thirty five pages. That can run into the money if I must rely on Kinko's. I can (and have) transferred the script over into Movie Magic and could just go through the tweaking and re-editing process, but...I don’t like their play format. I prefer Final Draft’s format, similar to the one I use and in which the play is already typed. But I can’t transfer my old DOS script over into Final Draft. So…

…I am laboriously re-typing the entire script into Final Draft’s playwriting programme.

In truth, I really need to bone up on both Movie Magic and Final Draft, because I know there are advantages to both these systems that would make my life easier that I’ve yet to discover. But here’s the other wrinkle: despite how little I’ve used these programmes, they are already fairly old and more advanced versions are already out. I’m always behind the curve on this stuff and will never catch up.

My friend, actor Larry Drake, and I were joking a while back that if we couldn’t ply our trade in the drama game, we would be virtually unemployable, because we have no viable business computer skills (Just updating my acting resume the other day was a chore). At our advanced age and with no marketable skills, the best we could hope for would be to become Walmart greeters.

By the way, any representative from a legitimate theatre who would be interested in either THE EBONY APE or my TARTUFFE adaptation, send along your info and let’s discuss.


Speaking of unwanted technology, just as I get into the blogging thing, everybody’s jumping into Facebook with a passion. I keep resisting, knowing I already waste an inordinate amount of time on the internet. But I may have to relent; even every fogey I know is on it these days. And I do see its merits and advantages, just as I fear its time-squandering possibilities on what seems to me mostly trivia.

A pal said he had five different scrabble games going on facebook. Sorry, if I’m going to play Scrabble, I want a card table, the board, and the tiles. Part of the joy of playing Scrabble or any game is the camaraderie, being able to banter and comment while someone is plotting their next move. Face-to-Face contact…it’s what I crave in most of my social activities…which, ironically, is not what “face”book provides.


No more on the LexArts cutting Actors Guild funding allocation for the coming year. But the comments to various articles have been very interesting, as well as bringing up some hitherto unkown issues. Read about it here.



A TCM DOCUMENTARY ON THE FILMS OF 1939…largely considered the greatest year for film, an assessment with which I’d agree. After watching the exhausting Quantum of Solace, seeing clips of these meticulously made movies was so relaxing and calming. It was also nice to see film scholars and pals, Rudy Behlmer and F. X. Feeney, two of the best in the business.

1776…This is a 4th of July tradition with Julieanne and me. One of my favourite musicals and amazing history. When you think of these remarkable, brilliant, talented, committed men who formed this country and then think of the George Bushes and Sarah Palins who actually are thought by a third of the populace as qualified leaders, you get sick to your stomach at the intellectual decline of this country.

More CHEYENNE…starring Clint Walker. Warner Brothers, which produced the series, was great at recycling material they owned. I’ve seen several movies in their library re-fashioned into Cheyenne stories…an old Errol Flynn western, ROCKY MOUNTAIN; THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE with Rod Taylor as the Tim Holt character, character actor Edward Andrews as Bogie, which made Clint Walker Walter Huston, I guess; and, perhaps the weirdest of all, Bogart/Bacall’s TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT, transplanted to Mexico during the French occupation. Character actors Myron Healy, Robert Wilkie, and Andrew Duggan seem to appear in every other episode.


LOTS OF MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS…as I re-type THE EBONY APE script. I need music sans lyrics.

THE NOW SHOW…on BBC Four Radio. Very funny comedy on the week’s current events with Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt.


A FRIEND’S LATEST MYSTERY NOVEL…for which I need to supply a dust jacket blurb.

NIGHTWEBS by Cornell Woolrich…short stories by Woolrich. Woolrich’s prose can gather you up and carry you along, despite his plots’ often-wild improbabilities and frequent lapses in logic. His pay-offs don’t always live up to his brilliant set-ups, but, boy, he can grip you and suck you in.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT (Or: What A Difference A Week Makes)

"Charles Edward Pogue is impeccable in this juicy role."
My return to the stage after 26 years in AGL's THE UNDERPANTS.


“The heart must bleed, not slobber.”
-Frank Loesser-

I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT, OKAY? It’s not the appropriate time. Certainly not now. Maybe never.

So what am I talking about that I can’t talk about? If you scroll down to a couple of blogs ago. You’ll see a letter I sent to the Editor of the local paper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, protesting a proposed 10% cut in the city’s contribution to the local Arts Funding League, LexArts. The letter also went to the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and everyone on the Urban Council. My letter was published in last Sunday’s edition.

I don’t know if my going to bat for LexArts had any influence in swaying the decision, but they didn’t get a funding cut. Then...
...late this last Friday evening, ironies of ironies, we at Actors Guild learned…via a news release…that LexArts was not giving Actors Guild any financial allocation. Zip. Nada. Not a nickel.

So I’m sure folks are rushing here, thinking: Blowhard Pogue has an opinion about everything, he’ll certainly have one about this!

Sorry, I’m keeping my opinions to myself. The AGL Board will absorb this, deal with the matter, and respond. Right now I’m only a reporter. You can find the details here.

Instead, I reproduce here a slightly revised (updated) appeal letter (an earlier draft that had to be winnowed down to one page) that I wrote for Actors Guild last year. If odd bits sound vaguely familiar, it's because I’m a great recycler of what I deem my own well-turned phrases when the need arises.

But it expresses why I believe Actors Guild is a success…a theatre worth supporting and an asset to its community.
After the letter are a lot nice things others have said about our theatre. Even one from far-away Hollywood by LA TIMES reviewer, F. Kathleen Foley, a native Lexingtonian, and, like myself, a recipient of UK’s College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award.
If you’d care to say a “nice thing” about AGL, feel free to post on my comments page. You also might want to send it along to the paper. The letter:

December, 2008

Dear Friends,

Hello. My name is Charles Edward Pogue. I’m a screenwriter. Maybe you’ve seen some of my movies: THE FLY, DRAGONHEART, DOA, PSYCHO III, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, among others…

I am also a native Kentuckian…

…My ancestors helped settle the state with Dan’l Boone, they fought at Blue Licks, built cabins at Fort Harrod; I grew up in Northern Kentucky and studied Theatre Arts at UK. Years later, I was awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award from UK’s College of Fine Arts.

In 2005, after nearly thirty years in Hollywood, I moved home to Kentucky, settling in the Bluegrass and returning to my first love theatre. I was invited to join the board of Actors Guild of Lexington by its Artistic Director, Richard St. Peter. I did so; I have also been privileged to write and act with this innovative theatre company

Under Richard’s vision, I’ve witnessed a wonderful transformation at AGL. The quality of performances became elevated, with our best local actors sharing the stage with artists of regional and national reputation. The palette of plays broadened in scope, embracing both new writing and the great international repertoire of standard and classic plays.

We’ve forged ties with other professional theatres and institutions across the country; giving us a presence nationwide and establishing a strong theatrical networking community not only in the United States with such entities as The Theatre Communications Group and Actors Equity, but also abroad with universities like Rose Bruford College in England. As well as employing established artists, we have nurtured exciting young local talent in the fields of performance, directing, and theatrical design.

To critical acclaim, we initiated Summer Shakespeare at Equus Run Winery—a pastoral setting which restores an intimate simplicity of performance to the Bard and his exquisite language. We created original work locally that has gained wider recognition such as my own adaptation of TARTUFFE which has also been performed in San Francisco and Mr. St. Peter’s dynamic production of HAMLET, featured in AMERICAN THEATRE magazine, which was remounted in North Carolina this January, starring local actor, Adam Luckey. This spring we premiered a commissioned play, LONG TIME TRAVELLING, from the pen of respected Kentucky writer, Silas House. This summer, Mr. St. Peter will direct Brian Hampton’s CHECKING IN, in New York, a play that originated at AGL. Local actress Allie Darden will re-create her original role.

Even before I returned home, I longed to see professional theatre thrive in Central Kentucky. AGL is making this dream a reality.

During my extensive career, I’ve been fortunate to work with renowned artists and enjoy many exciting experiences. None have been more exciting than confronting AGL’s daily challenges as we strive to attain Actors Equity “small professional theatre” status. My enthusiasm is continually charged by the artistic energy and electrifying ideas that crackle in the air of AGL’s ambitions.

I’m impressed by the achievements (often under onerous conditions) that Actors Guild has made in the few short years that I’ve been back and Mr. St. Peter has been here. But AGL’s work is not done.

Every professional theatre struggles for money and support. America’s current fiscally imperiled times have not made those struggles easier. We hear much about city infrastructures, attracting businesses and young professionals and keeping the businesses and young professionals that we already have. But I know of no thriving first-class city that does not also have a thriving professional arts scene. A culturally rich city is an attraction for both visitors and the community.

Actors Guild’s goal is, I think, part of Lexington’s goal: To provide live professional theatre that engages, entertains, and enriches the quality of the life for its citizens; and to be a vibrant artistic presence of which a vibrant city can be proud.

I encourage you to visit us at Actors Guild and see for yourself the work we do and why we have been called Lexington’s “flagship theatre.”. If you’ve been an AGL supporter in the past and, for whatever reason, became disillusioned, I ask you to re-visit us. If you’ve never come to AGL, now is the time. If you are an arts lover, now is also the time to be generous with your support. Attend a performance, become a season pass-card holder, make a significant donation.

The theatre is about Life and Dreams. Come share the Dream that I and others hold for AGL’s future and help give it Life.


Hoping to see you at the theatre in the coming year and for many years to come,

Charles Edward Pogue


“AGL has grown into the area’s flagship theater…” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

“Why more of the press isn’t leaping at the chance to sing the praises of a truly professional actors group is beyond me… -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE

“Rick St. Peter, the director of the play, has been incredibly patient with me and given me so much artistic freedom with the play. When he approached me about doing a play for them, he allowed me a blank slate, which is the most important thing you can give to a writer. Everyone at AGL has been incredibly supportive and focused on making the best piece of art we can make.”
-Award-winning Kentucky novelist, Silas House, on working at AGL for the world premiere of his play, LONG-TIME TRAVELLING



“In fact, the whole show is a scream…rich with witty lines…I suggest everyone see…Underpants over and over again”. – Candance Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

“I recently took in the play “The Underpants”…performed by The Actors’ Guild of Lexington. It was remarkable!...The six-person cast was truly amazing…a comparison of local artists vs. traditional traveling productions could be compared to McDonalds and Malone’s. Both make beef. One is local and one is global. Anyone who has sampled both knows which one is better. Both will provide nourishment, but only one tastes gooooodd…go support our guys: Actors Guild of Lexington! I promise you won’t leave hungry. -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE


“…A FANTASTIC CAST AND A FIRST-RATE ADAPTATION…The infamous ‘table scene’…had the audience in stitches…this ambitious production proves it point… -Candace Chaney, Lexington Herald-Leader


“…A TOUR DE FORCE FOR AGL…What is most alluring about this show is that the cast and crew successfully execute a radical vision with restraint and balance…With its blend of modern elements and ageless themes, it feels like an altogether new kind of theater.”


“In fact, everything about this debut production seems to indicate a deliberate commitment to getting out of the way and letting Shakespeare be Shakespeare in all its simple elegance. That kind of artistic integrity is laudable and refreshing, but what’s more, it’s definitely worth the drive.”


“AGL’S ‘Boston Marriage’ triumphs in its playwright’s and actresses’ talents…a finely executed comedy that offers something for everyone.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“…this show’s fertile material and top-notch performances provide a memorable evening of entertainment, intellectual acuity, and meaningful romance. So rich is its offerings that you could attend every performance and discover new, wildly sophisticated, almost mind-blowing ideas and implications.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“I saw a production of MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIAS…in Los Angeles, a few months ago, and I really liked the cast here in Lexington better. And I thought the direction was top-notch.” - F. Kathleen Foley, LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Dark tale is stark, well-done, and timely." - Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“Actors Guild puts brave new spin on musical standby…The concept is imaginative and benefits from charming performances by new and old local stage favorites.” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“Comic tour de force” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER


“ ‘Travelling’ brilliantly captures poetry of Appalachian language, life…Actors Guild is wrapping up its 25th anniversary season in style…” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTOM HERALD-LEADER


“…keep an eye on Hayley Williams, a soon-to-be rising star whose talent is only eclipsed by her beauty…”

“Director Bo List deserves kudos for his keen-in-the round direction…and sense of comic timing."

“…lighting designer Gip Gibson’s use of contrast between darkened ‘dreamy’ moments and the bright lights of reality is striking.”


“Tartuffe, deliciously played by Scott Wichman…packs a powerful hypocrisy-soaked punch…”

“Missy Johnston…balances restrained elegance with a penchant for comic timing.”

“Laura Blake as the saucey, sharp-tongued maid… has a refreshing air of naturalness…that lights up the stage.

“Charles Edward Pogue penned the adaptation of this Moliere classic…Pogue’s language sparkles with color and is ripe with clever crispness, making versatile leaps from theological discourse to the basest of juicy double-entendre. The ensemble cast proves more than up to the task of its delivery…”

“Eric Seale…as the flamboyant Don Armado…, with his thick-as-mud Spanish accent, exaggerated flourishes, absurd swashbuckling mannerisms, and keen sense of timing made him an audience favourite…"

“Director Anthony R. Haigh has assembled a strong, experienced cast that includes many of Lexington’s best talent…”

“Adam Luckey is clearly at home in his role.”

“[Nelson]Fields’ detailed Renaissance costumes function to beautifully evoke period and tone of the play.”

“Director Richard St. Peter’s gutsy move to set this classical play ‘anytime, anywhere’ pays off, largely due to the cohesion of a keenly devised vision and its refreshingly innovative, well-executed presentation.”

“Everyone knew Adam Luckey would be a good Hamlet. Turns out, he is much more than good, he is phenomenal.”

“One delightful surprise of this production is the discovery of Jack Parrish, a professional actor and recent Lexington transplant…More Jack Parrish, please.”

“With multimedia, sound, lighting, set and costume designers, and even a cinematographer, this show’s many technicians deserves kudos that successfully draws audience and actors alike into a spooky, all too real, yet surreal emotional and political landscape.’

“Chris Rose turns in an absurdly satisfying performance.”

“Tim X. Davis relishes in a thick accent as well delivered as the cast’s ensemble comic timing.”

“Gina Scott-Lynaugh is pure mischief and mirth.”

“John B. Lynaugh is equally enchanting, wielding his lines with much panache and wry humour.”

“A nice surprise is newcomer Kevin Greer…”

“Another rare treat is Maureen Gallagher-Kuehler.”

“[Julieanne] Pogue and [Gina] Scott-Lynaugh are in excellent command of the play’s richly stylized language.”

Laura Blake freshly exemplifies sheer charm…her curt appearances inject vital bursts of coarse humor and sympathy.”

“[Julieanne]Pogue seems particularly adept at wielding an arsenal of multisyllabic Latin derivations. One gets the feeling she talks like that all the time. One also got that feeling when she played a heavily accented megalomaniac male artist in last season’s ‘Anton in Show Business’. Both roles are a testament to her talent and flexibility.”

“Director Ave Lawyer and cast deserve praise for a job thoroughly well done.”

“The number of talented cast members are too great to account for individually, but one enjoyable hallmark of this show is its debut of Rebecca Pearcy…refreshingly animate, earnest, and bright…And naturally, she wins the prize for best British accent, seeing as she is, well, British.”

AGL designers David Probus and Tommy Gatton do a lovely job framing Eric Seale’s set design in lighting and sound.”

“[Walter] May, [Charles Edward]Pogue, and [Eric] Johnson, all seasoned, accomplished actors are excellent casting choices…The trio seem at home playing legendary Hollywood figures. Somehow they manage to ground their larger-than-life characters into fascinatingly flawed mortals.”

“Rising star, Cameron Perry,…and local stage favorite, Carmen Geraci,…deliver warm performances.”

“If ever a lighting designer has made a show in this area work, David Probus has a masterpiece with this production.”

“[Rick]St. Peter, along with Eric Seale and Scott Sherman, collaborated to design the set…one of the productions most evocative technical features and artistic triumphs…”

“[Leslie] Beatty’s performance…is a tour de force of smart comedy and veiled pathos delivered with wry panache and plain ol’ ‘chops’.”

“The casting is amazing.”

“Missy Johnston, brilliant.”
Profuse apologies to those many fine artists who have worked for us not mentioned here. I used the reviews and articles I had on hand. Please know that you're appreciated and a valued part of AGL.

"Any city in America with a thriving downtown
has thriving theatres. Not only does theatre reflect
energy, it inspires the community. We're making
quality of life here."
- Benny Sato Ambush, director, and friend of AGL-