Tim’s Blog: #12 – Farewells

Farewells

The last show is Josh Radnor. A lovely show to end on. Josh is calm and clear-sighted and up for it. Technically and emotionally connected. He’s an old friend of producer Dan. They went to Kenyon College together. The theatre is full and includes three past second actors in the audience – Floyd Van Buskirk, who is seeing it for the third time, Lisa Wolpe and Jennifer Leigh Warren. Afterwards, a five minute get out and a small leaving do in the February sunshine. We all bundle into cars and head downtown to the RedCat Theatre where we watch an inexplicable North Atlantic by the Wooster Group. In that show are two past second actors, Maura Tierny and Frances McDormand.

The LA Oak Tree company feels like a family this evening. We talk about the experience of North Atlantic in relation to the experience of the last six weeks. An Oak Tree isn’t perfect. It’s not a big show, but it knows why it exists. We feel pretty good. We head to the roof bar of the Standard Hotel. This is my last night in LA – sitting amongst the gleaming towers of downtown LA, helicopters flying overhead, glamorous couples celebrating Valentines day. It’s time to go home.

This is it, then. Goodbye LA. Goodbye Odyssey Theatre. Goodbye palm trees. Goodbye Oakwood Apartments at Marina Del Rey. Goodbye Ralphs and the San Francisco Saloon and EZ Lube and the Magic Castle. Goodbye Jerry and Beth and Ron. Goodbye David and Brian and Jean and Jesse and Clancy. Goodbye Venice Beach and Spongebob and snow-capped mountains.

Goodbye 34 beautiful actors with whom I had the immeasurable honour to work. Goodbye lovely audiences who fell asleep and stood up and gasped and questioned.

And, most importantly, goodbye my most wonderful team of producers. Dan, Michele and Will – and honorary producer, the mighty Dave Bushnell. They saw An Oak Tree when it opened in Edinburgh in 2005 and my presence in LA was the realization of a dream they hatched then to bring it here. What can I tell you about these people? They have done so much for me. Dan Fishbach was my first point of contact. We met in a pub in Chelsea, London, on August 21st 2008. Then again in Seattle. Then in New York. He is a beautiful specimen – with a diet Coke in his hand; a slightly disheveled tee-totaller with a Lexus. He is dry and tender and clever and funny and a bit jaded and has been by my side all the time. Dan, I believe, has seen every performance of An Oak Tree in LA. He arrives at the theatre with his Bluetooth headset in his ear, he flicks me the bird and makes everything all right. He is genius.

If Dan is the soul of the production, Will Adashek is the brain. What he doesn’t know about sound and light, about spreadsheets and bank transfers ain’t worth knowing. He is like a wise gnomic presence floating above the emotional chatter of the rest of us. Dan and Will have known each other for years – and Page One Productions is their baby. Will is unflappable – methodical in his problem solving, a vital support to the team. He and his girlfriend, Marie, are never far away from the show.

The third partner in the Page One venture is Michele Spears. Michele is the heart. She has a smile that cracks her face in half. She is a ball of positive energy. She loves An Oak Tree and isn’t afraid to show it. She believes in it for herself, but also for the future of theatre! She is principled and passionate. She wears her heart on her sleeve. There are some performances when I have no idea how it went – and on those days I trust Michele’s judgement. She sees everything and feels everything. Her enthusiasm is rejuvenating. She is also an exceptional improviser and human being. Everyone needs a Michele Spears in their life. Which is lucky for Dave Bushnell because he lives with her. Dave is mighty. He is modest and sharp and very funny. He deserves his own show. He, like Michele and Dan, has seen almost every show and his engagement has never waivered. He and Michele go to bed discussing the play. Dave is a fine man – in the organ analogy, he is the bollocks.

Finally, some thanks. To you, for reading this. To the Odyssey Theatre for hosting my stay. To Marc Platt, whom I have never met, but whose generous backing made this whole thing possible. Thank you Marc.  Thank you to the infallible Rachel Manheimer, my Stage Manager.  Huge thanks to Stephanie Klapper and Ginny Lee at Stephanie Klapper Casting for finding some outstanding actors for the run.  And – to Flora Stamadiades, the National Director, Organizing and Special Projects at Actors’ Equity. It is not a Waiver, it is a 99 Seat Plan.

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