Jay Johnson:The Two and Only has become available to purchase or watch starting this Saturday. I feel like it is once again opening week at the Helen Hayes. There is not much to be done now but try to get people into the theatre. In this case the theatre is in your living room, but you still have to get it and watch it.
|Art and Harry O'Shea|
"Of more the ordinary significance" in my life
In New York there is never a time when you are not promoting your show. Especially if it is not one of the ones that get the "instant buzz" that comes with a huge investment and big opening splash. Doing the show was a dream, promoting it was work. I'm still not sure how anyone gets anybody else to take a chance on a show. I always felt incapable of getting the audience into the theatre, but once they got there, they usually came back a brought friends.
I have never been able to explain my show very well. Yes it is about ventriloquism, yes it is about my connection to the art form of ventriloquism, but it is really a Valentine to my mentor and figure maker Art Sieving. We crossed paths almost accidentally, became friends and the connection took on a rather supernatural patina. There are still times when I am doing the show that I feel the presence of Art Sieving so completely that I know he is performing it along with me.
Once at the Colony Theatre in Burbank we were doing a tech rehearsal. These are slow and laborious rehearsal sessions that seem to take forever. I call it a stagger through because you slowly do the show step by step, backing up and doing things again for lighting and sound cues. I have gotten to where the task is almost mechanical.
The set involves a lot of trunks that dress the stage. Some trunks contain the puppet performers, others act as chairs, small stages and step stools for the "business" of the show. Even in the traveling set there are two dozen trunks.
It was late at night when we were "staggering" through the show and we were to a part where I recreate my first meeting with Art Sieving at his house in Springfield, Ill. The blocking at that particular moment had me saying, "As I walked into his house that day..." and I move toward a grouping of trunks stage right. John Ivy (my fabulous Stage Manager) had me do that phrase and start that walk more than a few times to rehearse the timing of a lighting cue he was working on. One last time I said, "As I walked into his house" and John stopped me once again. Out of frustration I made a joke and said "And I wish I was there with Art now". At that very moment one of the latches on a closed trunk in the very area I was heading toward sprang open with a distinctive metallic flutter sound. It was loud enough to be heard in the booth where John was working. It stopped that tech rehearsal cold.
I do believe in ghosts, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was Art interacting with me from whatever dimension he is currently. It was just to let me know that although it was not the most glamorous part of mounting a show it is extremely necessary, and to let me know that I didn't have to go very far to "be there now with Art".
So here we are once again. I am trying to lure an audience into watching that show on DVD or PPV or whatever form it is now. I love telling this story. I love the reaction that people have to this story. I would love for millions of people to see it just to understand how one Master can effect the entire life and career of a willing apprentice. Trying to let people know that it is available now, in their living room at a price that is less than a 10th of the price of a Broadway ticket seems to be a job I am not qualified for, I would much rather be telling the story live.
I hope you will watch. I think you will be surprised at what the show really is about. You will laugh, you might tear up, and you will probably learn something about Art. Not just Art the man, but Art the process.
Here are some links to find it.
As you were,