By The Way, Meet Vera Stark in Chicago & Meetup in Boston


Production Still from "The Belle of New Orleans"
Me on set with actors Kara Zediker and Amelia Workman. Photo by Lee Bey.

The Goodman Theatre’s production of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark opened last night. Previews run through 5/5, and then the run continues through June 2. I produced and was the assistant director for the film clip from “The Belle of New Orleans” that opens the second act of the play. We shot on beautiful 35mm black and white film and tried as much as possible to make it look like something that was created in the mid-1930s.

If you’re in Chicago, if you like live theater, if you like GOOD live theater, if you like film history, if you’re interested in the history of African American artists in Hollywood, if you like fantastic set and costume design, come see the show. There is a neat talk with the playwright, Lynn Nottage, and the play’s director, Chicago theater legend Chuck Smith, scheduled for Sunday, 5/5.

P.S. I’m seeing it this Wednesday night, 5/1. If you’re around, Tweet me and say hello.

Production still by Lee Bey
From left to right: Tamberla Perry (Vera), Me, Kara Zediker (Gloria), and Amelia Workman (Anna Mae). Photo by Lee Bey.


In other news, the Boston-Area Wicked Awkward Sitting Around And Chatting Meetup will be on May 26. From thecynicalromantic:

Hi Captain,

Since a couple people have expressed regret at missing and/or shyness at participating in the T meetup (including myself), I’d like to try and host a more stationary, Awkwardeers-only meetup for the Boston area.
At 4 pm on Sunday, May 26, I will be hanging out at the tables in Davis Square outside of JP Lick’s, the same site as the last Boston meetup. Plushie Cthulhu will be with me. I have not yet decided what entertainments I will bring, so if anyone wants to suggest or bring anything, feel free! In case of inclement weather, I will seek refuge in Diesel Cafe.
Davis Square is accessible at the Davis Square stop on the Red Line and by a number of buses. There is not really anything resembling easy parking in the area, although I believe there is better parking along the Red Line at Alewife.
If anyone wishes to contact me privately beforehand, my twitter handle is @bloodygranuaile, or you can email me at (I do check the twitter much more frequently than the email).

This one is less public performance art, more eating ice cream and chilling out in (hopefully) nice weather.

69 thoughts on “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark in Chicago & Meetup in Boston

      1. Argh, I hardly know what to reply but feel I must, I feel like this is some bizarro-world (or, like, regular-normal-world which we are all working on trying to change) where you post information about your amazing successes, things to be really proud of, things that I am proud of you for and I don’t even really /know/ you, and it looks like it must be totally fantastic, and the first comment has to do with appearance, and *brain explodes …..*

        1. Yes, indeed. Besides, the Captain looks great in that picture. I wish I had that kind of fashion sense.

          1. Aw, thanks. Get the look! What you need is: 1 tshirt, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of super-comfortable shoes for standing on feet all day, 1 dusty warehouse + many hot lights to add that certain touch of derelicte, myopia + astigmatism.

          2. And you know what, director-on-set-wear is NO JOKE. Comfy shoes, baseball hats, and glasses are all a must for running around / standing / looking into glaring lights all day. (I learned this the hard way on my first project. My poor feet, oy.).

            By all accounts Cap, you look positively radiant and fresh! And stylish to boot.

          3. A 15 hour day on five hours of sleep is my beauty secret when directing (shh, don’t tell, the sweaty hair and the athlete’s foot really add to my feminine glow and wiles).

        2. Congratulations indeed – it looks awesome!

          And… yup. ‘splodeybrain. I cannot get my mind round the idea that people *don’t know what size they are* and therefore need to be told, often (as in this case) with additional hyperbole.

        3. Pretty much anytime there is a photo of a woman at work on the internet, someone will jump in and try to make it about her looks one way or the other. Either the work doesn’t matter because “she’s hot” or the work doesn’t matter because “she’s not hot enough.” They are both exactly the same thing, delivered with the exact same level of insight that a toddler has when he proudly runs up to show you a handful of his own shit, and they are both designed to make sure that the woman (and other women reading) know that their work doesn’t matter.

          I mean, if you don’t look like a chiseled movie star, what can you possibly know about making movies?

          1. That is the perfect analogy, right there.

            I remember when Natalie Dee posted a picture of herself, which she doesn’t do often (before her Stuff I Put on Myself blog launched), she got an epic fucktonne of comments saying that 1) she was ugly, and therefore a bad cartoonist and 2) she was attractive, and therefore a) a bad cartoonist b) only successful because she was attractive but that e) she should stop cartooning because she was too ugly/pretty.

            All of this! Simultaneously! And then we were sucked into a Paradox Universe where two opposite things exist at the same time and everything exploded and the Internet was sucked into a black hole and then turned into a chubby cat wearing headphones.

            The end.

        4. Back in my Shapely Prose days, when I posted a short tribute to my mom right after she died, the second comment in the queue told me that she was probably ashamed because I was so fat. BLOGGING IS FUN

          1. What the actual fuck? I’m so sorry that happened. And yay Captain the show and film looks great, as do you.

          2. Wow, that’s beyond awful.

            On another note … You’re the person behind Shapely Prose? Author of “The Fantasy of Being Thin”? I LOVED that essay.

          3. Cinderkeys, I’m one of the people behind Shapely Prose. It was a group blog, and I was one of the original three. Kate Harding is the founder, and she’s the author of that particular (awesome) post.

          4. I think I remember you writing about that before; it never FAILS to make me want to put fire ants into that person’s ENTIRE WARDROBE.

            @ Cinderkeys, don’t let Sweet Machine fool you, she is every bit as awesome. She authored the fierce “Would It Kill You to Be Civil” on Shapely Prose*. Though she is undoubtedly more renown for introducing us all to the Ticklish Slow Loris.

            * (Which of COURSE as EVERYONE knows, is the birthplace of “Schrodinger’s Rapist”.)

          5. I remember that post. “She loved the whole world unconditionally.” We should all be so lucky to be remembered that way.

            And the person below who says those actors are giving you all their attention… so true.

          6. i would never be ashamed of my child’s body size.

            i would, however, be ashamed of them for being a complete and utter asshole.

      2. Captain, I love how you let that asshat’s comment through, just so we could all LOL at it.

        Your film looks awesome, I wish I could go see the play! Damn you, Atlantic Ocean! *shakes fist*

        1. I’ve banned the person more than once, but s/he keeps flaring up like Internet Herpes.

      3. The first thing I noticed about the pictures is that the people you’re talking to seem to be giving you their full attention and respect.

        The fact that you can respond to a negative comment so awesomely (not to mention all the other amazing stuff you’ve done on this site/in real life) tells me that the actors are so right to regard you in that way!

        1. I’m giving them *my* full attention. Those actresses are SUPERB performers and great to work with.

          1. Respect: It’s a two way street. I love how the photo is a perfect demonstration of that.

      4. Oh Captain, my Captain. Sometimes I don’t know if I want to marry you or be you.

      5. Attack of the snort-laugh! You’re the best, Cap’n.

        On a fashion note, though, I do covet your jeans. They look like they’re cut like my One True Pair of jeans, which were discontinued late last year. If’n you don’t mind saying, who makes them?

    1. What’s wrong with houses? Houses are sturdy and pretty. They offer us many valuable things, like shelter and warmth and comfort. You should be more like a house. Right now you’re more like those house-swallowing sinkholes in Florida.

      1. I was honestly confused because the only thing even rhetorically house-sized in the picture is the hoop skirt, and I was like “Wait, no, that’s an actress in costume, not a director or producer….”

        *Then* I remembered about trolls and assholes and was sad, although I still had to go back to the pictures because I was seeing all the awesome instead of any of anyone being fat.

  1. Aah, such a small world. I’m from Ireland, but I was interning at the Goodman this time last year and I had an amazing time! Also, I remember when the Vera Stark script came across my desk, I thought it was fantastic – my reader report is still probably floating around upstairs somewhere!

    Mega congrats on the show and I wish I was still around to see it!

    1. It’s a pretty brand new play. So far there have been productions in LA, New York, Boston, and now Chicago, so, possibly!

  2. Congratulations — it looks sufficiently awesome to make me wish, if only temporarily, that I lived in Chicago! Somehow, I think it’ll be a while before the show wends its way to Burlington, Vermont…

    1. It either is just finishing or just finished a run in Boston, probably as close as it will be for a while.

  3. How cool that you produced and co-directed that clip–that’s awesome! If I lived in Chicago I’d definitely go see the play.

    1. Thanks! The AD isn’t the “co-director” – I keep everyone on time and knowing what comes next and help troubleshoot problems, but I don’t have any say in visuals or performances or story.

  4. So many 😀 for you Captain! LOVE these photos of you at werq. :snaps:

    (One of the very first spaces I performed in was at the Goodman – so yay Chicago!).

    1. It wasn’t guild. I explained what a Line Producer and First AD does when I announced the project (linked in the OP), but if people are curious, they can read this, this, and also Jerry Zeismer’s great book. In correcting Sheelzebub (hi Sheelzebub!) I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking credit for “codirecting” the film.

  5. I saw the play on Saturday and it was really good — one of those plays I wish I had dragged a friend to so I could have someone to talk to about it afterwards. I highly recommend it! Lots of discussion about race, the nature of celebrity, academic interpretation and analysis of fiction, and lots of meta/story-within-a-story stuff. If those things intrigue you and you’re in the Chicago area, you should go! (And if you’re like me and like lots of post-theater discussion, bring a like-minded friend.)

    1. I would talk about it with you! Except I can’t because I can’t get to Chi. to see it in time. Which bums me out because it looks so good!

      1. 😦 Hopefully the play will be a huge success and a theater near you will put it on?

        (Or you could borrow a TARDIS. I hear that works, at least when it’s plot-convenient.)

  6. Yes. I wish that I could go to this performance and see it. Sadly, I live absolutely nowhere near the Midwest. Any chance it’ll be touring?

    1. I don’t think this production will tour. It is a brand new (2012) play so might take a while to get where you are, but it’s a juicy one for actresses and really funny so will probably get performed a lot.

  7. If nothing else, an asshat comment always gets the blogger lots of hairpats. You are so young, you have plenty to time to reinvent yourself a zillion times.

  8. Congratulations! AD AND Line producer?!? I must tip my hat – that is just an AMAZING amount of work in (largely) thankless roles! My experience being no one comments on your job unless something has gone wrong.

    Alas, there was no budget to see the Lyric’s production here in MA, but I hope to catch it somewhere, sometime. I’ve only heard good things about the show, and I lurve mixed-media theater.

    1. I cannot lie, it was a lot of work. And we had less than 2 weeks for Post, which included shipping film to and from LA. But everyone is still speaking to one another, and we did it on time and only a tiny bit over budget (in that we had to spend our contingency -production insurance is expensive, budget way extra!). And I want to do it again, because film people are the best people.

  9. I love seeing pictures of women working together so well like you have up there.

    Tomorrow night I have a long-standing appointment, so I am going another night and won’t see you there. I will definitely consider the talk on Sunday; I love those bits of extra context.

  10. It looks fantastic – lucky Chicago! Congratulations and good luck for the run.

  11. Oh the Goodman — one of the things I truly miss about Chicago. I’m old, but I’ll never forget seeing the original run of HurlyBurly there … that, and Steppenwolf’s performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Ill. State High School Theater Festival in … 1978? 79? — I so wanted to be an actress, but, um, can’t act. Wound up a writer. Memories.
    And congrats Captain — I love those photos!

  12. Any chance to see some pictures of the costumes? They look gorgeous. All those ruffles! And it looks like there’s pattern/detailing on the apron, but I can’t tell if that’s the lighting.

    1. I could email you some photos if you like? Don’t want to put the whole play on the internet.

      Costumes overall are faaaaabulous.

      1. I would love a few photos! And I would never ask you to put the whole play online, that would seem very unfair. (thecatdragon at yahoo is a good one for that)

        Sadly, my one play experience was a low-budget supply your own costumes South Pacific, full of drama of the bad sort. “Everyone must attend every single practice or you’re out! Except this group of people, who can show up the day before dress rehearsal.” And so on

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