Impressions, Theatre and Thoughts From Bay View
A Thursday that started at 8am for me was going to end around 10pm. Over a quarter of the day spent in Bay View. Got into the Hi-Fi CafÃ© around 3:00 pm to meet with playwright Patrick Schmitz to talk about the theatre script heâ€™s working on. Hadnâ€™t been there in at least a year. On my way in, I see a girl in front of a laptop looking very professional in a full Mohawk and hipster glasses. Thereâ€™s a bright, floral tattoo tapestry from collarbone down. Then I spot Tom Smithâ€”a musician friend from way back. Heâ€™s having a cigarette with a book and it feels like the east side. Patrick Schmitz is running late, but it gives me a chance to talk with Tom about life, politics and the Lewis Carroll I finally got around to reading.
Talking with Patrick Schmitz
Patrick Schmitz arrives, apologizes for being late and proceeds to ask me a dozen questions for his new script. Itâ€™s the same dozen or so questions heâ€™s been asking theatre people all over Milwaukee. He tells me what the scriptâ€™s about and itâ€™s another opportunity to get vaguely upset at someone coming up with a brilliant idea that someone shouldâ€™ve thought of earlier. . . yes, Schmitzâ€™s Rudolph The Pissed-Off Reindeer is a fun comedy, but itâ€™s a fun little highly commercial show. Schmitzâ€™s new script may be commercial, but thereâ€™s some real existential bite to it that doesnâ€™t detract from its commercial value in any way and THAT is very rare . . . donâ€™t want to give anything away about it (Schmitz isnâ€™t even really finished with an early treatment of the script the way it sounds) but if he drops the ball on this premise, Iâ€™m going to be really disappointed . . . and then probably write my own version of the way it shouldâ€™ve been, if only for catharsis . . .
Dreams of Redefining Professional Conservative Fashion
Iâ€™m sitting around in the cafÃ© after Schmitz has gone on to his second interview waiting for my wife to drop by. The beautifully tattooed Mohican girl with the professional business presence drives off in a car with progressive values written all over it in the language of bumper stickers. I imagine the next generationâ€™s high-powered hipster business professional women with tasteful tattoos and conservative Mohawks making important decisions by exoitc neon light in offices high above the business district on Wisconsin Avenue. Itâ€™s an aesthetically pleasing idea . . . the topography of what is considered to be fashionably conservative really shouldâ€™ve changed sometime in the past five or six decades. Itâ€™s getting boring. My wife shows up and weâ€™re off to do the therapeutic pin cushion thing at a place name after a flower somewhere else in Bay View. Somewhere in the midst of a very relaxing session, Iâ€™m distinctly recognizing the music of Jan Hammer from Beyond The Mindâ€™s Eye.
Morrie Schwartz through Don Devona: It's Really About The People
Later on, Iâ€™m at the theatre on the fifth floor of the Marian Center. Itâ€™s an intimate theatre, but I like sitting in the front row anyway . . . Iâ€™m off to one side and it ends up being within a couple of feet of the spot where Don Devona delivers monologues. Over the course of Soulstice Theatreâ€™s satisfying production of Tuesdays With Morrie, Iâ€™m learning to think of Devona as the title character Morrie Schwartz. Heâ€™s talking about life and death in monologue and Iâ€™m close enough to catch a glimmer of what might be his eyes moistening at certain moments . . . and Morrieâ€™s talking through Devona about the importance of other people, remaining me of how much time I spend alone in a theatr over the course of a year . . . and Iâ€™m looking forward to two consecutive evenings of comedy shows with my wife this weekend. Itâ€™s almost our wedding anniversary. . .
A full review of Soulstice Theatreâ€™s Tuesdays With Morrie runs in next weekâ€™s Shepherd-Express. The show runs through October 10th.