Almost unbelievably, it's 2022. I'm hopeful for a terrific year though I imagine it will also have its surprises. Speaking of which, I'm just getting over the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which Santa brought me. Wasn't too terrible but it did lay me out for a week and then I felt strange and tired for another week. Thankfully, now I feel fine.
My last project of 2021 was another incarnation of UP CLOSE (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE!) with JOHN McGIVERN. John has won 5 Midwest Emmy Awards as a public TV host. He's also a gifted storyteller and comedian with whom I've collaborated for years as a director, sometime set designer and editorial ear for his original work. On Dec. 9 we opened for a two week run at the Northern Lights Theatre in Milwaukee's Potawatomi Casino. I directed, designed the set and helped develop a few of the stories.
In mid-December, in Santiago, I auditioned for actor/director/screenwriter Manny Perez for a role in his next film, LA SOGA 3. The role is a corrupt engineer, a gringo living in Santiago. I really enjoyed the audition and I have a callback. The role has a number of scenes and they're are filming in March. We'll see what develops.
I've also received encouraging news regarding my application for a Fubright Scholar Award for 2022-2023. I've passed the Peer Review and the review by the IIE (International Institute of Education). Now the application is sent for review to the State Department and the country in question. In my case, I've designed and proposed a program to use theatre and creative writing to teach English in to advanced university students and for teacher training. Although I've indicated an order of preference, the grant is for 5 possible countries in Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan (although I've indicated I wouldn't accept an offer for Turkmenistan). Kyrgyzstan is my first choice and I hope I made a persuasive case for that country. My second choice was Kazakhstan, but given the current chaos and near revolution there right now, I doubt they're reviewing Fulbright applications at the moment, and perhaps there won't be any Fulbrighters there in the coming year. My third choice is Uzbekistan. But ideally, I will spend the first half of 2023 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and I should find out sometime this spring.
On other fronts, I'm currently in discussion with Rech Entertainment and Tony-award winning actor Anthony Crivello to mount a touring production of McGUIRE in late spring or summer. It's a biographical one-man show about former basketball coach and NBC commentator Al McGuire. Tony premiered the show a few years ago at Milwaukee Rep, and it will certainly bring out audiences (at least in Wisconsin), given McGuire's national championship at Marquette and his national fame as a broadcaster for NBC. There may well be a wider audience for it. At present, we're exploring production approaches, possible venues and schedules.
I'm scheduled to teach a weekly, virtual class this winter called GET CAST! through the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. I haven't yet taught a virtual class like this, so hopefully this will be my opportunity to get one under my belt.
That's my news for the start of 2022.