Posts Tagged ‘Eric Coble’

Manhattan Project

March 13th, 2015 No comments

Scene from St. Patricks


A Leprechaun

Just in time for dear St. Pats I played a Leprechaun in my most recent Manhattan Project performance. I also got to play the role with my dear friend Ron Rothschiller, who, as you can see by his last name, is a fine Irishman. Except that he played Cupid.

Rob Daniels was our playwright, joining a coterie of fine playwrights including Eric Coble, Renee Schilling, and Michael Pullman.


It took a bit for me to get the accent correct. I spent quite a bit of time learning the keys to Irish speaking, including pronouncing my “i” sounds a “oi” sounds (oil), and “e” sounds as “long a” sounds, dropping the “g” off all “ing” endings, and changing “my” to “me”, etc. “Oi’ll bay havin’ me drink now.”

Quite fun, as the Manhattan Project always is. A fine, long-running experiment by my dear friend Peter Roth, whose balls are getting bigger every day.

My Barking Dog

June 8th, 2011 No comments

Went and saw Eric’s play a week or so ago and it was simply fantastic. For the second time this year, Coble teams up with Nick Koesters (Side Effects May Include) and, again, with highly positive results. Coble is a very good writer, and appreciation I’ve gained since taking a course in adaptation a year or so ago and studying his adaptations of Washington Irving stories in Gold in the Bones. I myself was doing an adaptation of Washington Iriving’s The Alhambra, and studying the choices Coble made in his own adaptions was both enlightening and refreshing. Additionally, many years ago I saw his play Bright Ideas at the Playhouse, which is a send up of the Scottish play, based around of all things child rearing. I also have a copy of his play Natural Selection which was in the Humana Festival and is quite brilliant in it’s own right.

My Barking Dog

Coble has the ability to weave complex stories that address complicated problems or longings or impulses in modern society and make them both tight and hilarious. My Barking Dog is very carefully constructed and builds meticulously toward its great truth, which in my opinion is an exploration of how modern society has gone grossly astray: the machine has long been running us.

My Barking Dog begins with two stories of isolation and posits a modern world that is barren of essential meaning and meaningful connection, and therefore psychologically chilling. The two main characters are exemplars of the brokenness of society. Melinda (Heather Anderson Boll) is a socially stunted factory worker who works the night shift at a printing company; there she does a mindless job which she loves because it lets her avoid people and cultivate her yearning to be one with the machine that she “feeds” paper into. Similarly, Toby (Koesters) plays an out-of-work middle manager who finds that he is completely replaceable as a cog in the machine and whose sole pursuit, when we discover him, is identifying wireless networks in his apartment and placating his insomnia. The world changes for both of these characters when a Coyote (barking dog) comes out of the “wild” and onto the fire escape of their apartment building. Melinda turns from feeding a machine to feeding the dog; and Toby forsakes his wireless network hunting to come outside.

There is a natural inclination on both the part of a playwright and audience member to expect the two dysfunctional characters to “find one another” and be saved by this new relationship and human encounter. This is a choice that, thank God, Coble avoids. Instead, Melinda finds a love of revolution and creating destruction from her encounter with the Coyote; and Toby, preposterously, gets impregnated by the Coyote and has its pups–thus entirely re- and comically mis-directing the romantic impulse of this plot line. Along the way, Coble skewers so much of modern life and angst that the play just breezes along gradually unfolding to reveal the dystopian lives we live today enwombed as we are by our technical electronic blah blah blahs and avoidance of meaningful interaction with the world around us.

In the end, Toby forsakes the modern world for life with his mate in the wild, and Melinda vows to bring the wild back into the cities and reclaim them for Nature.

Jeremy Paul
directs My Barking Dog (I wonder if the man ever sleeps), and does a fantastic job with interpreting the meaningless tasks that the characters “live” in their “modern” life into engaging stage images that mirror the textual vapidness of their lives. He also keeps the movement and time tight so that the play moves ever onward to the inevitable conclusion.

As much as Coble probably hates it, there is some comparison to be made to Fight Club with its radical re-creation of a character whose sole “job” becomes the destruction of modern society to create a chaos that frees people from their “things”; but the Coyote and the absurdity of Toby’s character allows the play to avoid too painful and damning a seriousness that the message really does carry. We have lost and are continuing to lose very real and important parts of ourselves and we give ever away more of our humanity to the machines that we have created–both literal machines and systemic machines–the Dark Vaders and Empires which inevitably follow on such concessions as we are making now.

Boll has a tremendous ass and looks great smeared in whatever she was smeared in (lotion?); and I wish I could say the same for Koesters, but alas, I’ll remember the admonition that he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones… and just say admiringly that Koesters is braver than I am–especially as regards playing the “bitch” who delivers Coyote pups by Caesarean section.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that My Barking Dog is in Kentucky some time soon. Now I’ll go back to reading extant texts from a much more civilized time: The Iliad. After all, nothing speaks of intimacy and humanity like running a spear through so-and-so’s teeth.

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