Monday, February 18, 2013

20th Anniversary Memories: A Shylock

Uma Incrocci and John Blaylock in
Fairy Tales of the Absurd
John Blaylock, who first performed with us back in 1996, when he played the lead, Jacob Levy, in A Shylock, tells of his memory of his first day with UTC61.  In a side note:  I had been listening to actors read a monologue from the play all day, and I was feeling in despair by time he arrived, thinking perhaps it was the fault of the monologue, not the actors.  Then John came in and let me live longer in the delusion that I should be a writer...

Well, although I go back pretty far with UTC61, there are certainly folks who go back farther than I do, and also have done far more than I have with the company. Still, I guess it's best to start RIGHT at the beginning, and it's not a stretch for me to do so with, literally, my first day on the job…

I had been cast as Dr. Jacob Levy in the UTC61 production of A Shylock back in 1996. As fate, (or perhaps more accurately, my own particular reverse luck) would have it, I had only just recently moved to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side. The first rehearsal for A Shylock was to be held at a location on, you guessed it, the Upper West Side. Had I still lived on West 75th Street, I could have taken a leisurely stroll into the 90's for the rehearsal. Instead, on this Saturday morning, I had to hike it in from the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Not that this is a big deal, but we all know what the subways can be like, particularly on the weekends. Good native New Yorker that I am, I allowed PLENTY of extra travel time but, needless to say, to no avail. At 5 minutes after the appointed time for our first reading, I'm fast-walking down the block to the rehearsal location. Just as I spy the correct address, I also notice a tall, chisel-featured gent dismounting from a motorcycle in front of the same address. He calls out to me when I turn onto the steps, asking if I'm there for the Shylock rehearsal. When I reply that I am, he introduces himself as Dan Leventritt, who will be playing the titular character. I introduce myself along with my own character name, and we enter the building together. Naturally, I'm silently pleased that while I still feel like an idiot for being late to the first rehearsal, at least I'm not alone. Once we're in the rehearsal room, Edward Einhorn greets us both pleasantly and it's clear that he and Dan have worked together before. I'm thinking this is more good luck, because Edward's not going to chastise me for being late when here I am walking in with someone who is clearly both friend and colleague. As we are settling ourselves down at the table with the rest of the cast -- no mention whatsoever having been made of our tardiness at this point -- and I am breathing a SERIOUS inner sigh of relief, Mr. Leventritt announces to the group, "Sorry we were a bit late, everyone. Actually, I would have been on time, but Blaylock over here was talking my ear off outside, like, forever and so, well, here we are." To this day I hope that the laughter that ensued masked the redness of my face, but that little episode set the tone for the work on that show and every one that I've done with Edward Einhorn and the UTC61 since that day. Namely, that it's always been that all-too-rare combination of some of the best fun and most rewarding theatrical work that I've had the pleasure to experience in my career.

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