Drama with James Nov Dec 2014

Written by James Lee

with James Lee Walker II

Drama With JamesI got my first theater buzz in over a decade, and by no means do I mean any offence to any beautiful experience I’ve had in my public cubical, the stage, my house, my home. What I mean is I walked off stage and all of the colors were more vivid, sounds were brighter as if they were the production of Tokyo Pop engineers, and I felt stronger than ten minutes before. The thing I performed was written and directed by me. It was written years ago, edited heavily recently, and was performed for The Citizens of the Universe one act showcase, The End of the World Sampler Platter.

All of the one acts were written directed and performed by locals. James Cartee has been working on the concept and execution for a long while now. To date it is my favorite COTU production. There was a script written by Cartee titled Vortex that never made it to stage. I want to mainly blame myself due to the lack of availability I offered. Just me and James on stage talking our existence into oblivion with a coin vortex as our metaphoric engine. Darn it. Yet, the theme ‘End of The World’ lay heavily as it exploited variation. Such contrasting commentary on the same subject grabbed your focus and forced it to find the end of each.

OK, so my favorite piece was called, ‘The End of the World - The Play’ written by Matt Kenyon and directed by Mary Mo Sharpe. The script was 15 minutes of hilarious substance and camp. Well-acted camp is a knack you can catch even if you don’t have Bruce Campbell’s blood. These guys got it, and the translation of the text was master crafted by Mary Mo. I mentioned Tromaville (They produced such film gems as ‘The Toxic Avenger’, and ‘Class of Nuke-em High’) later on the evening on the night I revealed my appreciation of her work. We both smiled and our conversation was liberated from a sentence of over analysis.

Stepping off of that stage, watching the other one acts and watching my peers work and perform wasn’t at all the end to my arts induced high, not at all, I’ve been on a bender. I am to start hosting a local film night at The Common Market in Plaza-Midwood. This localized sense of patriotism isn’t a new thing for me, but the last few months I’ve had some experiences that make me feel so right in my choice to stay here and cultivate my art. This arts community feels more important, more credible than I believe another community can be. Hopefully if you find that sentiment naïve, and you live and play in Charlotte, you will still hope it can be or be active in making it true anyway. 

A few months ago, I ran the actor auditions for the 48 Hour Film Project. I wrote a monologue, trying to keep in mind that these films are going to be short, in many different genera, and that I was writing it for men and women. I titled it ‘Trust Me’, I copied and pasted it to the great Will Fisher, who was the mastermind behind this year’s 48. I sent it via Face Book, and never saw where he posted it, but I imagine the title ‘Trust Me’ was not left in bold. It wasn’t when I’d copied and pasted it in the message, but I didn’t think anything of that. So when the first actor started their monologue with the words “Trust me” I was a little taken aback. Then I reveled in the awesomeness of watching thirty different people say, “Trust me” and read a 150 word monologue that I wrote. Some delivered it very seriously, some were hilarious. I haven’t written a New York Times listed best seller yet, but I can’t imagine that would make me feel as proud of what I’d written. It’s not like I’d be able to get thirty different people to read it to me no matter how great the book was.

So no particular reviews out of me, this issue, of any show in particular or any artist or actor in particular. I am writing this because I am buzzed. I am high off of community right now. I like writing about art, writing as art, performing art, and patronizing art. There were so many shows that went by over the last few months that I wish that I’d gotten to see, Footloose at Theater Charlotte, The Vagina Monologues at Upstage, and so many others were on my list. I’m disappointed when I don’t make shows that I say I’m going to, but over the last few months I have been having a strange drive for making and nurturing new connections that almost dulls my disappointment.

I saw so many theater actors at the 48 Hour Film Project Auditions. There were so many first time actors and directors in the End of the World Sampler Platter at Upstage. Film makers hear about my ‘Local Film Night’ and you can hear them dusting off their lenses, or polishing them, or whatever film makers clean up before they start using it to make film. “I’m excited.” They say. I say, “I’m excited, too!”, and what’s crazy to me is that I mean it. I really do.

I picture many new multimedia theater presentations in the next coming year. I see a bunch of well-versed stage actors setting screens a blaze and taking a film to a place where is echoes all the way to Indy film fame. I see gig musicians replacing pit musicians in order to take a stuffy old musical and rock the average nineteen year old ‘Book of Mormon’ fan so hard they get mad at their parents for not telling them how cool ‘Anything Goes’ was.  I get exhilaration from performing, sure, but it isn’t about me, it’s about us. It’s about art. Do art, hard.

Image courtesy of Colby Davis


James Lee Walker II   James Lee Walker II
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