Life During Wartime
Volume 2 Book 9 Part 10 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

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[ Book 8 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ]

February 2002.
Rochester, NY.

A Scene From The Hugline
after a performance of TLS in Rochester NY

February 8 - 10, 2002.
The Hugline Part 2.
I told Jimmy that I thought the hugline was the most important part of this whole production. Okay, not the MOST important part but...

From the Discussion Board:


I first saw The Last Session with friends, here in Rochester, and I immediately knew that a dear friend of mine needed to hear your message. In fact, that night, after the show, I told you that and you encouraged me to bring him. Well, I did and not only did he enjoy it immensely, the message got through. He has been struggling with severe depression as the result of a failed marriage, unemployment and countless financial troubles.

He really started to frighten me with talk of suicide and wanting to just "end it all" By the time I got him to the theatre, a couple weeks had passed, he had made some progress and was feeling better--I think that helped him be more open to the message. After the show, when we had some time alone, he told me that it really did make him stop and think about the pain it would cause others if he ended his life and he thanked me for taking him to the play. So now I am thanking you. Thank you for not only being a wonderful entertainer, singer, song-writer and all your other talents, but also for being an inspiration to so many.

Thanks also for the free hugs  :-)


Jimmy and I have a friend named David Rambo who I've talked about in this diary. (David is now a playwright with a new play, "God's Man In Texas," opening at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles -- big article on him in the Sunday LA Times over the weekend.)

It reminded me of a Bonus Round diary entry which Amy recently submitted to me after I sent a note to the lists asking for favorite diary entries: Friday May 3, 1996

I was really sick at the time -- we weren't sure I'd survive the spring. Jimmy and I were in the living room watching a network news magazine story was on Jonathan Larson, the brilliant playwright/composer of RENT who so tragically died of an aortic aneurysm the night before opening off-Broadway. From the entry (and remember, we hadn't even had our first workshop of TLS yet, only a single staged reading), I wrote:

"I'm so proud of this work, I have already seen the opening night. I have already accepted my Tony...

"The one dream I don't think I can actually fulfill is to star in the show myself. I just don't think, realistically -- because of the inconsistent nature of my health -- I can even consider it. My friend, David Rambo, who is always a source of joy to me, said, "Forget that! You'll be doing it in fund raisers all over the world and for special events. They'll be falling all over themselves to get you!"

Well, David, I don't exactly have the world falling all over me but everytime I perform my show, I feel myself falling all over the world. That photo at the top of the diary is my favorite photo of this whole trip. The man in the wheelchair is a patron who is living with a debilitating disease. His body is falling apart but his mind is clear and brilliant. This picture was taken in the hugline at his second visit to the show.

A lot has happened over the weekend. Houses filled to capacity, standing ovations, people laughing, crying, and hugging, a high school appearance, a living room play reading, the Sessionauts (plus Mandy) driving into town, Steve and Amy in a car crash (no one hurt), and finally Amy's amazing cabaret.

We began the week at an appearance in front of a drama class at the High School for the Performing Arts. Jay (our Buddy) is temporarily teaching there. (The students called him "Mr. Jay").

Jay in his classroom. Danette and Amy all dressed up.
Jay refers to Amy as "Grandma" when she wears this hat.
We had a great time with the kids. They asked us about how shows get put together, how casting works, how we felt doing the show, etc. And we sang three songs for them. Some of them were in tears just hearing the songs.

Thursday night we had a full house, Friday was a near sell-out, and both Saturday and Sunday were sell-outs. The people at the theatre tell me it's mostly all on word of mouth. Next Saturday is already sold out, the other nights are getting full. I'm so excited we're going out with a bang!

Monday night a bunch of the "kids" from Downstairs Cabaret Theatre got together a new musical, "Jack and Jill" about two nursery rhyme characters who dream of becoming full fairy tales.
Jay (the one laughing, upper left, sitting on the couch) was the playwright for the evening. Danette read the stage directions. Amy was Bo Peep. Aubry (lower right wearing glasses) played Jill. Rob (also on couch in green shirt) played Jack. Guy played Georgie Porgie. Others (like Nathan) just watched and laughed.
I played 3 Blind Mice (the band).
Just as we were finishing up the reading, Lori, Karen, Julie and Mandy showed up after driving six hours. (They arrived at 1:30 am). Here's the dreaded Mandy:

"Don't take my picture!"

Top: Amy, Karen, Mandy's torso and Lori
Bottom: The whole group and Julie
Mandy and I have this ongoing joke; I say her name like Jerry Seinfeld says, "Newman." The more bitter the better. Then she returns the favor. Okay I know this isn't funny in print but it's funny to us). We promised to take them to the big mall here. So, after breakfast with the girls, I sent them on ahead and went back for Amy, picked her up and just as I was crossing an intersection, we had an accident with another car.

Amy said I was in an absolute panic. I pulled our car over to the side and ran over to the other car asking him if he was all right. The poor guy thought I was gonna have a heart attack.

And I am so absurd. After the cop got there I'm standing in the middle of the street thinking, "Damn! I forgot my camera. This is diary page material!"

Chris and John came from the theatre and they were so nice about this incident. I felt so helpless knowing this had ruined everyone's day and that there was nothing I could do so I turned to the poor guy and said, "I can give you free tickets to my show..."

Remember Leo Buscaglia in the 60s who advocated hug therapy?
But I also know some people don't prefer to hug so I try
not to throw myself at anyone who doesn't want it.
Anyway, he wasn't hurt. Amy wasn't hurt. I wasn't hurt (except for my bruised ego) and weirdly, the car I was driving was barely hurt. So, I guess we all got lucky. However, I did get a traffic ticket for running a red light.

Meanwhile, back at the theatre the shows are selling out and that night in the hugline (after Amy teased me during the curtain speech about nearly killing her earlier that day) the hugs felt really good. So I guess the question is, "How many lives do I have left?"

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 8 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ]

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© 2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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