Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I was working in my den yesterday morning and heard a peculiar sound. A "Clunk" from somewhere in the house; I walked into the living room. Nothing. The bedroom. Nothing. Kitchen, no, but looking thru the doorway into the dining nook I saw my cellphone lying on the floor near the table and thinking my cat the culprit I hollered "Kitty, I told you not to get up here!" in the general direction of where I thought the princess might be skulking, picked up the phone and saw "You have 6 new voice mails!" streaming across the screen. I'd had it set on vibrate and the poor thing had almost committed cellular sepuku--BZZZZZZ'd itself off the table into near oblivion.

I checked out the voice mails. Zombie Voodoo Scream Party is ON.

They'd actually offered me the lead a few weeks back, but being superstitious (aren't most actors, in some way?) didn't want to mention it till I knew for sure as years ago, while young and green, I'd turned down 3 definite offers on the "solid promise" of employment elsewhere (I won't say where--yet) and wound up unemployed for 5 months. A lesson I had to learn I suppose.

Here's the chronological order of events:

1. I audition. I'm fabulous.
2. Two days later I'm offered the role by the director/writer, Rider McDowell, who left a message on my phone that I'm keeping till the end of my days. "Who IS this guy, we asked?", "You were Great!" etc.--I told you about my comedic self unbound......
3. I receive a contract, and realize it is not an Actor's Equity sanctioned contract and cannot work under it.
4. I go online, check out the various agreements Equity has listed and find a workshop contract that looks as if it might apply, call the local Equity office and talk to Joel. Joel is wonderfully helpful, has never seen this particular agreement but agrees to assist me even though Monterrey is not in his jurisdiction, it's in the Southern California Equity jurisdiction. (Huh? Now that makes no sense to me, but there you have it.)
5. Joel calls Rider and the Southern California office.
6. I'm contacted by some wise and knowledgeable friends who inform me I need to ask for more money.......

Now it's getting sticky. I don't have a theatrical agent--I find all my own work, as do most of the actors in the Bay Area, and there's usually no negotiation involved--you either take the offer or you don't. But now I need someone who can play hardball for me, because I do want more money, but don't want to scare them off.

7. I call my Commercial Agent, JE Talent in SF, and ask Deedee (yes, that's her name and if you make fun of it I'll kick your butt--she's a rock star) "I know you guys don't usually handle theatrical contracts, but do you think....?"
8. Deedee and JE agree to it and now I'm out of the middle of the negotiation process. Whew.
9. Joel gets back to me and informs me that the workshop contract I found isn't applicable but the Guest Artist contract is and can be modified to fit the situation. I inform Deedee and give her Joel's number.

There is a lull in the action while everyone talks to everyone else. I'm beginning to chew my nails.

10. Deedee calls me and tells me Rider is willing to work with this agreement, I tell Deedee that I'm asking for more money. She says how much, I say gee I don't know what do you think I should ask for, she says we need some negotiating power here, Jim. No kidding, Deedee.........

I mean, how much AM I worth? I try to use a formula to help. I'm playing the lead, I'm signing and possibly dancing (oh Dear God), I'm considered one of the top actors in the area and I'm up for two awards, one for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor. Does that help? A dubious pause from the other end of the line. "We'll see what we can do." she says and says goodbye. I've a vague feeling I've let her down.

11. I get an email from Ryder telling me he's sending a new script plus the music. I guess he's still on.
12. I read the new script. I've now got 2 solos, a duet, and will sing parts of others--5 total.

I notice I'm losing more hair than usual and my dreams have become exceptionally weird.

13. Another email from Ryder asking if I can do the splits or partial splits. I laugh, then I cry. I write him back saying yes, I can do the splits. Once. Then you take me to the hospital.
14. Deedee calls back and says "Rider's a kind of shoot from the hip kind of guy--he wants to know how much you want. Ah, Jeez. Here we go again, how much am I worth? I take a deep breath and blurt "$200.00 more a week!" Deedee smiles over the phone. "Good!" she chirps, "We'll get back to you." and says goodbye.

15. I have a very long weekend. I get drunk. I clean the house. I plant things.

16. Monday morning. "BZZZZZZZ!"


Blogger marshlady said...

Hmm there's almost a play within a play here. I mean wouldn't Kafka say we are ALL in a workshop of a Zombie Voodoo Screan Party? Or wait Brecht would have to call it Zombie Voodoo *Silent* Scream Party...or some such. Anyways, cheeers!

March 6, 2008 at 9:06 PM  

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