Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Staged Reading of Nero/Pseudo by WSC/Avant Bard on May 30

It's been in the works for a full year now, and at last I can finally break the news.

One of my new plays, Nero/Pseudo, will receive a staged reading by WSC/Avant Bard at Artisphere on Wednesday, May 30.

As they say on TV: "And that's not all."

Last January, Chicago musicians Jon Langford (of the Mekons, Skull Orchard, Waco Brothers, Three Johns) and Jim Elkington (of the Zincs, the Horse's Ha and one half of a guitar duo with Nathan Salsburg) signed on to set the lyrics that I wrote for the play to music.

That in itself is pretty exciting for me. But we've also worked it out so that Langford and Elkington will also be coming on May 30 to play along with the actors. (Langford and Elkington will also be playing at the Iota Cafe in Clarendon, VA on Thursday, May 31.)

Nero/Pseudo is being read in conjunction with WSC/Avant Bard's upcoming spring repertory of Euripides' The Bacchae --directed by Steven Scott Mazzola -- and Sam Shepard's Tooth of Crime -- directed by Longacre Lea's artistic director Kathleen Akerley. (The repertory opens on May 14 with The Bacchae, while Tooth of Crime opens on May 21.)

That intersection isn't an accident. The Bacchae is one of the greatest plays in the classical repertory. (Duh.) And Tooth of Crime is one of the great American plays about rock'n'roll. Nero/Pseudo is something very much in between -- a play that I wrote as a mash-up of the Greco-Roman world of 69 A.D. and the spirit of glam rock that seized the world's imagination about 1900 years later.

While this one-night only event is a staged reading and not a full production, we have every intention of making it a performance that will give the audience a sense of just how the music and the words might work together eventually.

I am immensely grateful to Christopher Henley and Kyle Jean Fisher-- artistic director and managing director of WSC/Avant Bard -- for taking a chance on a reading of my new work. Sara Barker -- a member of WSC/Avant Bard's acting company -- has been the play's champion over the past few months, and has my eternal gratitude. And my friends Daniel Flint, Jim McNeill and Gwen Grastorf also helped me immensely through this whole process of writing and revising the play.

And, obviously, I owe an immense debt already to Jon Langford and Jim Elkington -- who have tapped into their own affection for glam to help bring my version of the Emperor Nero's (lost) poem about the Fall of Troy to a loud and glittery and melodic place.

Stay tuned for more news. And more about WSC/Avant Bard's spring repertory. And click here for more about how I came up with this idea and about the play itself.

Hope to see you May 30.