Category Archives: History

The Practical Theatre Company: Scenes from the Early Days on Howard Street

PTC 10

The front window of 703 Howard Street, painted by John Goodrich. Winter of 1980-81.

sc0000c1b2Practical Theatre member Reid Branson (AKA “Reedo”) sent me this cool stash of photos from the very first days and months on Howard Street in the winter of 1980-81 — when the 42-seat John Lennon Auditorium was under construction. Reid took the photos and his wife, Kathy Hahn, made the photochemical magic happen in the darkroom. That’s Reid in the photo above left — in character as Reedo Branson, the PTC’s street theatre candidate for President in 1980. Since we hadn’t built the theatre yet, all of us kids had to play in the street. (It’s the only photo in this post that I took.)

And now, here are the rare early JLA photos from Reid and Kathy…

PTC 17

(L to R) Brad Hall, the author & Rush Pearson — with evidence of theatre construction and band rehearsal in the background. We got a lot of use out of 703 Howard Street even before the John Lennon Auditorium was finished.

PTC 15

Rush Pearson (Left) and a guitar player whose name I don’t recall. (Sorry, sir!)  The stage has yet to be built — but there’s a stack of plywood against the wall. The Chicago Theatre Festival banner came by way of Rush, who had been a member of the Festival’s street theatre company.

PTC 12

Looking toward Howard St., the author is in silhouette — and the seating framework is just starting to take shape. We did all the construction work ourselves, guided by the theatre’s designer, the late, great Louis DiCrescenzo. Work proceeded slowly for two reasons: none of us were great carpenters & we had to raise money in fits and starts to buy lumber and materials.

PTC 13

Another angle on the construction of the 42-seat auditorium. The author can be seen in the background wearing headphones (yes, they had them back then) — and you’ll note some sort of play-pen or crib on the floor in front of me. So, what’s in that crib?

PTC 6

It’s my infant daughter, Maura. She was born in July of 1980 (the same month that the storefront at 703 Howard Street was leased and dedicated) so she’s around 6 or 7 months at the time this photo was taken in the lobby of the unfinished JLA. Lucky for me, Maura was a patient, good-natured baby who seemed to thrive amid the creative chaos of those early PTC days.

PTC 2

Taped to the wall is the poster for “Thrills & Glory”, designed by cast member Gary Kroeger. “Thrills & Glory” (which also starred Reid Branson, Rush Pearson and yours truly) was the first show to be performed in the completed John Lennon Auditorium. We had to work like demons to get the theatre ready for the show’s opening on March 21, 1981. We never lacked for confidence.

PTC 9

It looks as though the theatre seats (donated by nearby Wisdom Bridge Theatre and its director, Bob Falls) have been installed – though the stage and “the monolith” have yet to take shape. That looks like PTC member Al Leinonen at right. The little ceramic chap to his left, wrapped in odd garments is our mascot, Sri Abdul Aziz, whose unblinking eyes watched over the theatre.

PTC 11

Another angle on Al, looking toward the house and those 42 magical seats. Behind Al, Sri Abdul Aziz gazes at the auditorium in wonder. Atop Sri’s head is the hat I wore as Infra-Death in the 1980 Mee-Ow Show. I hope that Al isn’t holding an umbrella because the roof is leaking…

PTC 7

PTC member Herb Metzler naps in the foreground, as Brad, the author and Rush work out a tune in the lobby of the theatre. It doesn’t appear as though the box office as been built yet. But, heck, we’re writing a show — and there will eventually be a finished theatre to perform it in!

PTC 8

This appears to be a gathering of Sturdy Beggars, including (L to R) Rush, Jamie Baron, Danny Deuel, Herb, Jeff Semmerling (?), the author and Brad. Perhaps it’s an early “Thrills & Glory” preview, maybe a break in construction work — or just another opportunity to party.

PTC 1

Casey Fox, Brad and Gary Kroeger — most likely at a “Thrills & Glory” rehearsal. Casey shot short comedy films for the show, Brad did his best to provide some direction — and Gary (the lone beardless cast member) played all the female roles. Ours was a very Elizabethan approach. Not.

PTC 3

Portrait of the author as a young theatre builder. I loved that storefront. Still do.

12 Comments

Filed under Art, Beauty, History, Improvisation, rock & roll, Uncategorized

Our National Embarrassment…

Flanders Trump

2 Comments

November 10, 2018 · 1:34 pm

A Reminder to All You Patriots…

Photo on 11-5-18 Crop

1 Comment

November 5, 2018 · 6:57 pm

Reject Trump This Tuesday!

Donald Trump is a proven serial liar. He has no business being the President of the United States.

We’ve simply got to check Trump’s power on November 6th!

Young voters! This will be your world long after I’m gone – and your future will be far better if you VOTE this coming Tuesday for Democrats.

I believe Wednesday morning, November 7th, will bring good news. Let’s make sure of it!

VOTE!

1 Comment

Filed under History, Politics, Truth, Uncategorized

Whatever Your Age — Get Out & Vote!

Leave a comment

October 22, 2018 · 9:52 pm

A Mid-Term Message to Young Voters

We hear it over and over from the pundit class: Democrats have a chance to take over the House (and maybe the Senate) this year — but younger voters can’t be relied upon to turn out on Election Day.

In fact, many older Democrats that I know agree with the pundits. They don’t think you’ll turn out and vote on November 6th.

They don’t think you’ll vote in big numbers because that’s what history tells them. Statistically, older voters are more likely to vote.

IMG_7069Some older Democrats think that younger voters are not realistic, or too impatient, or too easily swayed by fringe candidates on the extreme left…

But I have three bright daughters between the ages of 38 and 23 – and I know that all of you young people are going to vote this Election Day.

I know you’re going to vote because Donald Trump must be stopped.

I know you’re going to vote because Climate Change is real.

IMG_6422I know you’re going to vote because the Parkland students have inspired us all to fight for sane gun laws.

I know you’re going to vote because GOP white supremacy and misogyny is off the charts.

I know you’re going to vote because GOP state officials are always coming up with legislative schemes to keep college voters and people of color from casting their votes – and that should piss you off!

IMG_6452I know you’re going to vote because Brett Kavanaugh is an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.

I know you’re going to vote because our future depends on it.

And you have a lot more future ahead of you than we do.

So, prove the old farts wrong. Show up at the polls on November 6th– and vote for a better future for America by kicking Republicans out of office. There are lots of exciting, progressive Democratic candidates to support. They need your votes.

But it’s not enough to vote. I know you’re going to vote. But you’ve also got to volunteer – and help get the vote out.

To volunteer, go to: https://multiplyyourvote2018.paperform.co

See you at the polls!IMG_6449

4 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized

DUMP TREASONOUS TRUMP!

My wife and I were privileged to join the march in San Diego a few weeks ago in protest of Donald Trump’s heinous policy of separating immigrant families at the border.

We were proud to be among the thousands of marchers of all ages, races and economic classes who turned out in defiance of the Trump regime’s institutional inhumanity.

But now, less than a month after we hit the streets to protest the sad, un-American fact that asylum seekers and those hoping for a better life in the U.S. were having their children torn from their grasp and sent to parts unknown, that awful policy is practically old news.

90Because during the past week, Trump managed to make our horrible national nightmare even worse than it’s been. And now the rest of the western world hates the Mango Mussolini as much as we do.

Trump’s shambling, shameful trip to Europe – from his awful, insulting performance at the NATO meeting, to his bone-headed, bumbling meet and greet with the Queen, his obtuse abuse of the British Prime Minister, and his treasonous prostration before his man-crush, Vladimir Putin – have pushed all the other Trump scandals to the back pages.

IMG_7056But we must not let Trump scandal fatigue wear us down.

We must get back in the streets — again and again.

And we must keep our eyes on the prize: the mid-term elections.

Trump’s solid wall of GOP support cracked a bit after the shock of Helsinki.

But the Republicans won’t truly abandon Trump until we prove he’s a loser at the ballot box.

Write. Talk. Protest. Blog. March. Demonstrate.

IMG_7059But – above all – vote.

Register people to vote.

Remind them to vote.

Drive them to vote.

Drive the GOP out of their Congressional majorities – and put the brakes on the treasonous Trump train.

Bruised and battered as it is — America is worth saving.

And there are a LOT of good, progressive patriots standing with us!

 

Trump-Putin-Muscle-Flexing0180ff4506ef1861b353e0e99a30bab5

 

 

IMG_7054

 

 

IMG_7063

4 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized