creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Monday, September 30, 2013

Producing Robert Patrick Playwright

poster by Andrew Adam Caldwell
On Sept. 27, 2013 I produced the icon of gay theatre, Robert Patrick, in a brand new, one-man memoir show called "What Doesn't Kill Me...Makes A Great Story Later". It proved to be a very historic evening; not only was it celebrating Mr. Patrick's 76th birthday (our original title for the show was "The Spirit of 76"), but the audience was filled with long-time RP friends, fans, the "newly converted", and several performers from The Caffe Cino, THE historic NY performance venue that became the origin of Off Off Broadway theatre. Robert Patrick has done a great job of archiving much of the Caffe Cino history - one can see his presentation about it here.

Myself alongside 4 Caffe Cino "originals": Gwen Van Damme, Jacque Lynn Colton, Robert Patrick, and Jenny Ventriss
Robert Patrick thrilled the audience, taking them on a 90-minute ride through his humbling experiences of celebrity, with occasional outbursts into song and supported by video clips from various theatrical productions. He transformed the tragic into magic, bringing laughter through his witty remembrances, which hindsight has redefined into a very memorable and informative history.

Robert Patrick was a triumph! (photo by Jason Wittman)
His performance was a revelation to many. Only a theatre professional with the pedigree like Robert Patrick could pull off the amount of memorization, character impersonations, and a cappella singing as he did. Here are a few comments/responses to the show:

"I was expecting a good evening, but this was much more than I anticipated. It was a wonderful evening from a gay pioneer." - Wendell Jones 
"A brilliant evening of theatre. Wonderful to hear of your work through such a talent of story telling. Enjoyed meeting you and every moment of the show." - Robert Babish
"What a fabulous show. I'm so glad to finally get the full story on Robert! It was hilarious, and moving, what a ride!!"-  Ian MacKinnon
"Bravo! The singing, the stories, the celebs, quite the sleigh ride!" - Duane Otis Boyer

Robert watches Shirley Knight perform in his play "Kennedy's Children" for which she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Play (photo by Jason Wittman)
It was a sublime honor to work with Robert in producing this show, and naturally it feels good to have inspired such fantastic, new work from a pioneer of gay theatre. 

PRODUCER'S NOTE (from the program)
Whenever I meet Robert Patrick for coffee or lunch I always leave having been entertained by his stories on a multitude of levels. They usually contain some element of theatrical history, a twist of fate, a dash of wit, a heaping helping of philosophical perspective, a dirty detail or two, and a rotating cast of celebrities thrown in for good measure. 
As a gay performance artist and writer I relish this unique and vibrant connection to the origins of gay theatre and these lunches become extravagant banquets for feeding the mind and spirit leaving me filled with ideas and chuckling amused by his.
It became obvious these memoir stories deserved sharing with an audience. We set a date for the show (which just happened to be his birthday), I left for the summer, I returned and he had a whopper of a story ready to tell as only he can. So now there is a fabulous opportunity to celebrate and go along on his journey with his new piece. One feels there is much more to come! The man is a walking treasure of stories and consummate entertainer, but with a very unique point of view that is singularly Robert Patrick playwright.

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