Pack Secure, Marching Forward

2014-09-28 11.35.18

I’ve arrived back in America Junction after the very long drive from New Orleans today. I was finding it hard to leave The Big Easy after what turned out to be a great weekend. I have a couple of songs left for which to write the lyrics but other than that, my new musical, RUTH, is ready to start shopping to composers. I’m very excited about the piece in that it touches so many issues close to my heart and is filled with the music of that beautiful city on the crescent crook in the Mighty Mississippi, a music that seems to be in my DNA. They always say write what you want to read (and in this case, see) and I gotta tell you, I can’t wait to sit in the house on opening night for my baby to take flight. I’ve promised to stayed tight-lipped about the subject matter of this Jazz musical until some of the legal stuff is finished but suffice it to say that the story and the music have come from some of the deepest parts of my soul. It was great to be back in the world of that play if only for a weekend.

I spoke with a preeminent Tennessee Williams scholar at the end of last week and he has agreed to read Lilac and Liquor.  That’s my new straight play (non-musical), a meditation on PTSD and the creative process. It’s not meant to be any kind of historical treatise on the Ascended Master Playwright; I just want Mr. Kieth to read it to get his take on the premise and to hear his opinion of my version of Tennessee. The character in my play is not the real Tennessee Williams or even his ghost. The character is a projection of the playwright’s idea of Tennessee Williams the playwright too is a character in the play. Confused yet? I swear when you see it on stage it will all come together. I know it came through me and not from me because this is a premise I would have never come up with on my own. The play is basically the story of the writing of itself. I’ll tell you more about it when I make sure we’ve got it registered with the Writers’ Guild. I’m incredibly excited to see it as well although I imagine it will take a while for it not to be tinged with a bit of sadness. I had high hopes (and even a few leads for getting it in his hands) for Robin Williams to play Tennessee Williams. He would have knocked it out of the park. American Theatre Magazine Editor in Chief, Jim O’Quinn has been an early champion of this piece and is convinced he knows an actor who is perfect for the role. That reminds me, I need to follow up on that because I’d like to get a reading of this one up as soon as possible so I can start to make any changes before shopping for a producer.

This is the newest news: it appears that the performance space has been secured (time and place announcement to follow) for the workshop production of my next solo show, Yankee Doodle Faggot. This is a show a few years in the making as I began writing it while still touring The Eyes of Babylon. I have both loved it and been a little bit terrified of it from the first strokes to the keyboard. It covers a lot of territory in 90 minutes but if we can get on that stage what it looks like to me on the page, its going to be a fun and crazy ride. My greatest hope for this one is that it turns out to be the “conversation” between the audience and me that Babylon always was. To me, it was never about me but about the collective meditation that happened in all those theatres over the seven years that I performed that play. Performing that play saved my life after Iraq. It also changed my life. I’m guessing that Yankee Doodle Faggot will do the same. Everybody who knows me knows that I love my country. There are also a lot of them who’s heads spin every time I criticize it (us, US). But to me that’s what being a true patriot is all about and I am determined to get us talking about a lot of stuff to include where exactly LGBT people fit into this Star-Spangled fabric we call home. But don’t worry, this ain’t gonna be no heavy political agitprop. As the title would suggest, there’s going to be a lot of laughs along the way and we all might just learn something in the process. But don’t tell anybody that last part. We want to fill the seats after all.

As I’ve shared with you before, my revised vision for The Mehadi Foundation builds on what we’ve already done successfully and adds a new component to the mission. I benefited so much from The Eyes of Babylon and it was more than just expressing creatively my experience in the Marine Corps and at war. US Servicemembers are tasked with defending the free world (or at least that’s what we’re told). I’ve heard from veteran after veteran that their post-war lives and careers just don’t hold the same importance and excitement for them. There are myriad jobs inside the entertainment industry and I want to bring those jobs and these veterans together by offering them paid internships through my foundation. The world of entertainment (from animation to television to rock concerts) is an exciting world and if the purpose of the art is important, my thinking is that my fellow servicemembers may just find there the same sort of joy and purpose I have. I want to share with them what I have. That’s the way it was when we were still in— we share what we have. To me, the Esprit de Corps is not something that ends when one is discharged. We are not broken. In my opinion, my fellow OIF/OEF veterans can be part of what will come to be considered The Next Great Generation.

Things got pretty rough there for me about a month and a half ago. I’m a year and a half out of the end of a relationship to which I had given my whole heart and I buried my father only seven months ago. Many of my current financial struggles stem from having made an unwise and unstable investment over seven years time. I lost a lot. I may be down but I am definitely not out. I am a United States Marine. God help me, I seem to have forgotten that for a second. I may have “dropped pack” momentarily but it is securely on my back again and I am marching forward, more determined than before. The encouraging news with regard to these three new scripts comes at a good time. I am, once again, hopeful about the future.

I have had many of you write to me and say some version of “I know you don’t want to talk about the blog and I respect that but I want you to know that I am reading and I look forward to it daily.” I appreciate that and don’t worry, I welcome the notes of encouragement too. Something else you should know though is that I too look forward to this time each day we spend together. I picture you there reading in all the different ways and locations that happens for each of you. It gives me great comfort to know that I’m not in this alone and I want you to know I appreciate the support, even if it’s just reading the blog and holding good thoughts for me. There’s a lot of talk these days about how best we can help the veterans. You shouldn’t discount the great service you are doing this one veterans by simply lending an ear. You have my heartfelt gratitude.

See y’all tomorrow.

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