Jenny McConnell Frederick dug out a role of film the other day and had it developed. What was on it were pictures of some very young people creating. Here is the link to all of the pictures but I thought I would give you all a taste.
It was the summer of 2001. It was a different world for Rorschach, almost all of us were in our twenties. There was no war to protest and it was hot as hell in the confines of an art gallery in Blagden Alley, NW.
Rorschach was doing its fourth production. The Illusion, adapted by our old friend Tony Kushner from the play by Pierre Corneille. It was so long ago that it hard to remember anything but the heat. I do remember the audiences though. Making their way down the alley. Walking up to the door of an old stable which had been converted into an art gallery. This was when Rorschach was still finding spaces. Being homeless we turned whatever space we could into a performance space. We had spent time in greenhouses, theater lobbies, and abandoned high school auditoriums before we found our way to Casa.
And I remember the people. Jason Stiles, Mike Glenn, Yasmin Tuazon, Grady Weatherford, Jesse Terrill, Rahaleh Nassri, Tim Marone and Scott McCormick. All of us still feeling our way through the bottom of DC theater. Before any of us had found any of the success that we would on stages like Woolly, Arena, Shakespeare, The Folger and Studio. We were all fresh off of tours, or classes and we were all looking for the next big thing. The Illusion was that thing.
It was a success with both the crowds and the press. That oft used quote from Delores Whiskeyman at the Washington Post:
It's not hard to find talent among the more than 80 theater companies in Washington. But brilliance -- that rare confluence of perfect design, direction and performance -- that's something else again… The Rorschach Theatre achieves it with The Illusion, Tony Kushner's adaptation of the Pierre Corneille classic. It's sharp and sexy, brilliantly played by a strong ensemble cast, smartly directed and crafty in its design -- and all the more exciting because it is not performed in a theater.
That review helped bring people into a part of the City they wouldn't have visited, unless they got lost. Here was the show that Rorschach did on its own. No Theater J looking over our shoulder in case we stumbled. No Art-o-Matic support to help with the advertizing. This was the show that meant we could do it all on our own.
During the rehearsal the other day for References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot the other day I had a flashback to The Illusion. My character Matamore having shown himself to be a phony as a lover and a fighter has decided to leave this world behind and go to the moon. After the play a young lady, well known to many of you but I will protect her identity here by just saying she is an actress around town and leave it at that, came up to me in tears. She had loved the play and had her own take on why Matamore wanted to leave earth for the moon.
She thought that as actors we all were reaching for something beyond ourselves, something higher than the world that surrounds us. Matamore reaches for the moon because he wants to be more than he is.
I am now playing the moon.
Hope you all enjoy this blast from the past as much as I.