Last November, Kristen Abate and I were at the Filmstock Festival UK with our feature film, PRE the first aftermath comedy. This was our second year in a row there. It's the kind of festival that restores your faith in humanity. The founders Neil Fox and Justin Doherty made you feel like a friend not the victim of a Ponzi scheme like some other festival$. The first time we were there in 2008 with our short, Busted Walk, we also went to see the Alan Ayckbourn play, Norman Conquests at the Old Vic in London.
Ayckbourn was one of my original inspirations and teachers. I didn't take a class with him but many years ago when I was at the lowest point in my life, having barricaded myself in my room for seven years (this is not an exaggeration for dramatic effect - I was fucked up), I saw a BBC program in which he wrote a play during the program - not before the program aired; but while it was airing - to demonstrate his craft.
This year we went to see a revival of another Ayckbourn play, Bedroom Farce, directed by Sir Peter Hall (who directed the English language premiere of Beckett's Waiting for Godot and is the father of Rebecca Hall of Vicky Cristina Barcelona. You decide which is the greater achievement.). We almost didn't see it because it was over an hour's train ride outside of London and when we got there they initially said they had no record of our tickets and it was sold out. Fortunately I tried variations of my name and found my tickets under my new favorite alias - Tanen Von Stevis.
The play was classic Ayckbourn beautifully performed by the ensemble, although one of the actors stood out from the rest. Definitely worth the train ride. After the play, when we got out of the tube in London it was late and we headed for a restaurant across the street. As we approached, one of the actors, Orlando Seale (pictured above), from Bedroom Farce - the one who stood out - was exiting the very same restaurant. We were over forty five minutes away from the theatre and he was coming out of restaurant that wasn't any where near his neighborhood - what were the odds of that? We started talking and I mentioned that I would be shooting a film in February. Half kidding, I said you should come to New York and be in it.
It appears that the most successful way to roll the dice is when you are half kidding. I wrote a part for Orlando and we rehearsed on skype. He flew in a few days before his shoot (sick as a dog). But he is part of that stage tradition that lives by the Beckettian adage "I can't go on, I'll go on". His scene in the film is a tour de force which he performed at the highest levels take after take. The other day, after watching the footage, our editor Ryan Garretson suggested that we turn his scene into a short. Tanen Von Stevis agrees. We had every opportunity to crap out at every step of the way - long train ride, London SUBURBS, lost tickets, chickening out when we saw Orlando after the show - but we didn't and let it roll.