12 November 2011

Review of Mike Palecek's Johnny Moon

Mixing absurdist flights of fancy with poignant memories of a time that was never as innocent as we pretend, Mike Palecek has crafted a free-wheeling novel of the adventures of Johnny Moon, a young Catholic boy who strives to live up to the idealistic credo of his hero President John F. Kennedy: “A strong boy makes a strong man makes a strong nation.” A chubby, pants-wetting target for bullies and strict authority figures, Johnny chants this mantra while walking to school to lose weight, struggling to complete a push-up or stoically coping with everything from icy puddles to attacking S.W.A.T. teams.

When his hero is suddenly gone, Johnny finds himself the unlikely leader of a league of truth-seekers made up of classmates, nuns (who just might really be space aliens), and the coach and janitor (who just might believe that the school boiler is a time-travel machine – and they just might be right). Through darkly hilarious twists and turns, intriguing mysteries and downright oddball WTFs, Palecek leads us into the JFK conspiracy, anti-communist paranoia, and the myriad eccentricities of Church and State. And, as in all of the writings of this Dali-Vonnegut-Chomsky conglomeration of a novelist/activist, the path by which he leads us is unlike anything we could imagine.

But beyond the surrealistic wildness that always marks a Palecek romp, what’s truly best in this novel is its profound empathy. We fall for Johnny Moon because we are Johnny Moon. Palecek remembers details of our childhood that we’ve long forgotten, and when we see (and feel, taste and smell) these minutiae of adolescence being lived by Johnny Moon we wonder how he was able to get into our heads and hearts unnoticed. In this most-enjoyable of his novels to date, Palecek shows himself to be a skilled cartographer of our collective dreams, fears and memories.

And if you don’t remember what you were doing when you heard Kennedy was shot, don’t worry; read this book, and you’ll always remember exactly what Johnny Moon was doing.
~by Marc Beaudin

04 July 2011

Blue Slipper Theatre Hosts Theatre Workshop Series

The Blue Slipper Theatre, 113 E. Callender, Livingston, will host workshops in acting, set-building and play directing this July and August. The workshops, facilitated by director/designer/playwright Marc Beaudin, are open to those of any experience level (including none), ages 15 and up.  Cost is $25 per session.  Registration is required and can be made at info@crowvoice.com or by leaving a message at (406) 222-7720.

The series kicks off with a two-session Acting Workshop on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.  The July 23 session focuses on the audition; offering tips and techniques to give more successful readings and taking the mystery and fear out of the process.  It will also cover the basics of the stage from directions, terminology and personnel to blocking, vocal projection and pacing.

The July 24 session builds upon the concepts learned the day before; focusing on fleshing out a character and living the scene.  It covers discovering a character's personality, motivations, subtext and path, as well as identifying beats, arcs and dramatic units.  It then examines the concept of The Moment: what it is, why it's absolutely vital, and (most importantly) how to find it, create it and stay in it.

Next in the series is a Set-Building Workshop on Saturday, August 6, 1:00 – 4:00 pm.  Participants will learn the basics of set design, tool use, stage carpentry, and scenic painting.   Safety and terminology will also be covered.

The series will end with a Directing Workshop on Saturday, August 13, 1:00 – 4:00 pm.  This session will cover script analysis, research and developing a production vision. Participants will learn techniques for building a rehearsal schedule, managing the production team, casting, blocking and guiding actors toward a successful and artistically rewarding experience.

Those interested may sign up for any sessions, or all four. It is encouraged; however, that those planning to take the directing workshop first attend both acting workshops.

Teaching the series is Marc Beaudin, a director, designer, playwright and educator who has directed and/or designed over 40 stage productions and has taught artistic workshops to hundreds of students for many years.  Six of his shows have been named to the Top 10 Arts Events of the Year by Michigan’s Saginaw News.  This fall, he will be directing his play Frankenstein, Inc., a modern adaptation of the Mary Shelly classic, at the Blue Slipper.  More information can be found at Crowoice.com/theatre.htm.

04 April 2011

The Jump Club, Chapter One

Below is chapter one of my novel-in-progress, The Jump Club.  For full details on how to subscribe to receive a chapter-a-week directly to your inbox, CLICK HERE.




Marc Beaudin

[NOTE:  This work is fully copyrighted and intended for the private use of subscribers. Please do not post it online or print more than one personal reading copy. Feel free to share your copy with friends and family, but if they enjoy it, please encourage them to buy a subscription. Write info@crowvoice.com for details. Thanks and enjoy. ~mb]

“If it’s not love
then it’s the bomb
that will bring us together.”
                                                                           –The Smiths





Chapter One

On the short list of things Heron hated, which included smooth jazz, religious hypocrisy and pickled beets, more than anything, he hated the smell of hospitals.
            That stale, metallic, chlorinated death smell. It reminded him of jail, but that wasn’t why he hated it. His aversion to this smell started years before that first night he collapsed into the bunk of his cell, and the hopeless steel of the frame, the anonymous history of sweat & urine & blood of the mattress filled his nostrils and sent him reeling to the stainless steel toilet in the corner of the cell to vomit again and again. Perhaps then, it was the smell of jail that reminded him of hospitals, or perhaps the similarity was just a coincidence; if there were any such thing. He no longer believed in coincidence; then again, he no longer believed in much of anything. But he knew one thing for sure: he had hated the smell of hospitals ever since the train accident.
            Nicholas Heron sat enveloped within this hated smell, enveloped within the steam rising lonely from his cup of cafeteria coffee, waiting. His eyes flashed back and forth across the half-empty room. They were the kind of eyes you though twice about. Dark brown that seemed to plummet toward black. Eyes that struck one as friendly and honest, but suddenly a shift would reveal some dangerous mystery. It was, in fact, their honestly: too deep and demanding for most people. It was a brutal honestly that cut out as deeply as it cut in. It was terrifying.
            He sipped a little too loudly from his wax paper cup; too loudly for one needing to “keep a low profile.” This is what he had said to Dora when he told her that he was coming down to the hospital. She said, “You can’t Nicky, they’ll be looking for you.”
            “Don’t worry, I’ll keep a low profile.”
            Dora, his best friend’s wife, was the only person who called him Nicky. He would hate it from anyone but her. She was the only person that Heron allowed to play the role of older sister, or even sometimes mother, to him. Even when they had been lovers for that short, disastrous time a decade ago, she had been his elder, his protector, his worrying advisor. “Nicky.” How it sounded so reassuring, but only in her voice. To most in his close circle, he was simply “Heron.” To those who knew him less, he was “Nicholas.” Nobody ever called him “Nick.”
            He had been waiting now for almost an hour, with his beard shaved and his long, light brown hair tucked under a baseball hat, waiting for word from Dora about Martin.
            He wished he could be up there with them. He cared more about those two people than he did for anyone. But he couldn’t risk it; it was dangerous enough for him to have even come to the hospital. His escape from the courthouse was big local news, and with all the flag-waving fear mongering going on these days, many patriotic citizens were on the lookout for the “terrorist-at-large.” On top of that was the fact that the cops would suspect him of trying to contact Martin –  it was learning of his best friend’s worsening condition that precipitated the escape in the first place. Actually Heron had been looking forward to the rest of his trial. In his mind it wasn’t him, but the government, that was on trial, and he was ready to lay out its guilt for all to see. In a way, it would be his greatest act of what they define as terrorism, but to him was merely following the advice of two of his heroes: Edward Abbey’s “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul” and Thomas Jefferson’s “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny.”
            Heron slurped his coffee again, then noticed that a group of nurses at a nearby table had paused in their conversation and were stealing furtive looks at him.
            “Shit,” he thought, “low profile.”
            A sudden eruption of laughter at the cafeteria entrance pulled the nurses’ attention away from Heron. A group of teenage girls bounced in, seeming to all talk at once, all in the same voice, all with the same boundless energy. They bought tall Styrofoam cups of fountain pop and sat around the table next to Heron’s, chewing on straws, giggling, and carrying on a conversation generally unintelligible to anyone over twenty.
Through the steam of his coffee, Heron watched the girls. One of them; lanky and freckled, fiery hair and eyes, reminded him of someone he knew long ago. Someone he had thought he’d forgotten entirely, but that was probably only wishful thinking – Anna would forever by lurking somewhere in his heart, waiting to gently stab it again when he least expected it. He wondered where she was now. Certainly married. Kids. A house on the outskirts of some city. Somewhere far, far from those days in Ann Arbor; even farther from those nights.
A voice from one of the girls pulled Heron from his reverie. It somehow cut above the birdlike chatter of the group. “What was that thing, that happened in Russia, you know, that was bad?”
“The Cold War?”
“Yeah. We had a test on it the other day, and…”
Heron stared into his coffee. He stared at his hands which, he noticed for the first time, looked like his father’s. Could it be true that he was this old? That they could be this young? That something as ever-present and looming, scarring and life-defining, as the Cold War could now be nothing more than a misunderstood topic on a high school history test. That nightmare of paranoia and hatred. That national death-wish. That vividly-imagined red button that made the entire world disposable. Heron was suddenly struck by just how long a road it was that separated who he was now and the boy he once had been.
 He thought of that boy, and it occurred to him that his earliest childhood memory, before the people and places, before the sights and sounds, his earliest memory, was the smell of rain.

28 January 2011

Acting Workshop at Pit and Balcony

Pit & Balcony Hosts Acting Workshop

Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, 805 N. Hamilton, Saginaw, will host a two-session acting workshop on Saturdays, February 12 and 19, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.  The workshop, facilitated by director/playwright Marc Beaudin, is open to those of any experience level (including none), ages 16 and up.  Cost is $25 per session.  Registration is required and can be made by calling 754-6587.

The February 12 session focuses on the audition; offering tips and techniques to give more successful readings and taking the mystery and fear out of the process.  It will also cover the basics of the stage from directions, terminology and personnel to blocking, vocal projection and pacing.  Finally, it will explore the beginnings of building a character, creating relationship and finding motivation.  This session lays the foundation for what's covered in the next one.

The February 19 session focuses on fleshing out a character and living the scene.  It details how to analyze a script to discover a character's personality, motivations, subtext and path, as well as identifying beats, arcs and dramatic units.  It then examines the concept of The Moment: what it is, why it's absolutely vital, and (most importantly) how to find it, create it and stay in it.

Marc Beaudin is a director, designer and educator who has directed numerous productions at six different venues and has taught artistic workshops to hundreds of students for many years.  Four of his shows have been named to the Top 10 Arts Events of the Year by The Saginaw News.  Originally from Michigan, he now lives in southwest Montana, and is temporarily back in the area, directing The Woman in Black at Pit and Balcony.  More information can be found at CrowVoice.com/theatre.htm.

05 December 2010

19 October 2010

Director's Note for "Dracula"

From the program for the Blue Slipper Production of Dracula ...

Like Count Dracula himself, the appeal of the Vampire legend seems to be immortal. Ever since Bram Stoker popularized the eastern European myth with his 1897 novel, we’ve been fascinated by the mysterious stranger who comes in the night. Each new generation adds its own twist on the motif, and each generation is again mesmerized by the Vampire’s spell.

I think the enduring quality of this myth lies in the gifts that the Vampire offers. Unlike most monsters and creatures of the night, who merely want to kill and eat us, Dracula brings the boons of immortality, power and sexual abandon – the very things that many of us seek or yearn for through the avenues of religion, money, and lewd entertainment. But unlike those opiates that make seldom-kept promises, the Vampire fulfills his commitment to us with a sensual bite to the neck. Yet, the cost is the same: our soul.

This play, true to Stoker’s novel, takes us into the heart of this myth, exploring the complexities and contradictions of good and evil, as well as raising complex questions: Does society teach morality or demand repression of our natural selves? Does Dracula, as society’s opposite offer depravity or freedom? Like all great art, Dietz’s play doesn’t give the answers. Rather it holds up a mirror and forces us to search for those answers within ourselves. Hopefully, what we see reflected in that mirror (if anything) doesn’t terrify us … too much.

17 October 2010

Dracula at the Blue Slipper, Livingston, MT

Dracula Haunts Blue Slipper

This Halloween season, Livingston’s Blue Slipper Theatre will offer a terrifying and erotically-charged production of Steven Dietz’s Dracula, directed by Marc Beaudin, from October 8 through 30, at 113 E. Callender Street, downtown Livingston. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, with Sunday matinees on October 17 and 24, at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $12 ($10 for students and seniors) and may be reserved by calling the Blue Slipper Box Office at 222-7720.

Dietz’s Dracula, based closely on the iconic Bram Stoker novel, takes the audience on an exhilarating and frightful journey through the dark and mysterious world of Count Dracula. With powerful delving into the complexities of good and evil, as well as un-nerving effects and music, director Beaudin hopes to give Livingston a show to remember (and be haunted by) for a long, long time.

Beaudin, who has directed numerous shows in Michigan, including acclaimed productions of Amadeus, The Exonerated, Macbeth, and The Women of Lockerbie, as well as several plays written by him, most notably Frankenstein, Inc., makes his Montana debut with this production. He reports, “It’s exciting to finally have the chance to work with the talented people of the Blue Slipper, and inspiring to dig into such a challenging script with such an adept and hard-working cast.” In addition to his theatre work, Beaudin is also a poet who performs his work at venues around the country and often at the Pine Creek CafĂ©. His website is www.crowvoice.com.

The cast features veterans of Livingston and Bozeman stages, as well as exciting newcomers. James Guglielmo is “Dracula,” the mesmerizing count newly arrived from Transylvania. Aaron Scheurr is “Renfield,” an incarcerated lunatic who has a mysterious connection to Dracula. Alexis Weinkauf and Larissa Holdorf play “Lucy” and “Mina” respectively, young women who are drawn into the vampire’s deadly power. “Dr. Seward,” the head of a lunatic asylum, is played by Bret Kinslow, and Chris DeJohn plays “Harker” a lawyer lured into the horrible secrets of Castle Dracula. Rebecca Thomas, Justin Weisgerber, Scott Romsos, Rose Boyer and Jenny Jo Allen round out the cast, playing a collection of asylum attendants, servants and undead vixens under the control of Count Dracula.

Parents should be warned that this production contains scenes of a graphic and terrifying nature that may not be suitable for all ages. Reservations are highly encouraged and more information can be found by visiting www.blueslipper.com.

31 May 2010

Memorial Day

It’s another Memorial Day. The annual chance for everyone to post some sentiment about honoring those who died “protecting our freedom.” Really? Do people actually believe that the soldiers who’ve died since 1945 were protecting our freedom?

I don’t in any way mean to disparage those who suffered and/or died while wearing a uniform. I am saddened and sickened at such a waste of life and potential, and for all the suffering endured by their families. But I have to be honest: These are victims of the corporate military-industrial complex. They are victims of propaganda and jingoism (i.e. patriotism). Their deaths are tragic, but have nothing to do with protecting our freedoms.

Vietnam, Korea, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, The Philippines, Columbia, Syria, etc. have never been a threat to our freedom. They have only, if at all, been a threat to some U.S. corporation’s freedom to make a profit. The only attacks that have been made on our freedoms have come from our government and our corporations, and often these attacks are backed up by someone wearing a uniform with an American flag on the sleeve, rather than the flag of one of our so-called enemies.

The reason I’m writing this (and taking the risk of offending some people) is that I believe until we observe this holiday with honesty; that is to say, until we use it to mourn the tragic and avoidable loss to the youth of our nation, to recognize (however painful it may be) that these soldiers are not heroes but victims, we will only be making it easier to send off a new generation to kill and die for causes which have nothing to do with democracy and freedom.

Today is not an occasion to wave a flag and perpetuate empty rhetoric about freedom and glory. It’s a day to mourn and to dedicate ourselves to stopping such horrid madness from continuing.

Love and peace to my friends (and to those we’re told are our enemies).


(P.S. – I know some who are reading this will be angered and offended and may leave comments reflecting such. That’s okay. That’s one of the freedoms that you have because you’re a human. No one gives you that freedom. No one protects that freedom for you. No one can take it away. But if you find yourself angry, take a moment to ask yourself why. Could it be that you have bought into the propaganda that uses Memorial Day to make us willing to allow killing in our name and with our money? Something to think about.)

06 May 2010

If I were a songwriter ...

There are no mountains in Montana today
This fog has washed them all away
And it seems this snow is here to stay
There are no mountains in Montana today.