Pack Up the Moon : July 6 – August 10
“Everyone grieves differently.”
As most of you know, my theater company Brimmer Street develops original works for the theater from scratch, collaborating with writers, actors, designers and producers from start to finish. Our latest mainstage offering is Pack Up the Moon, by Christina Cigala and starring yours truly.
We have spent a very long time on this play. We have poured volumes of thought, heart and practice into it as well. It started as a handful of scenes which Christina wrote under the title ‘The Nursery’ and later ‘Stillborn.’ By the time the idea got to us, the characters had shifted from a straight M-F couple to a gay M-M one, but with the same sad story – their infant son has died of SIDS and in their grief, they seek a new baby with the aid of a surrogate. When their wild-child cousin appears on their doorstop seeking refuge, a serendipitous if precarious trio is born, and the drama unfolds from there. From this kernel of a plot, our ensemble ate, digested and reconstituted some amazing characters (some of which changed genders, or fell off along the way, R.I.P. Gerry!), flung them into the scenarios predicted by such a strong and focused set-up, and helped Christina as she bashed away at the ending, looking for something that satisfied the potential and spirit of this mournful and uplifting play.
I was lucky enough to participate in the development of this piece, from improvising characters and scenes, working in a closed room to refine the script, and generally rap with Christina as she put it all together. But when the time came to cast the final production, I was a long shot to continue that involvement, since I hadn’t acted in a major part in a full scale play since I was 21 years old. (That was ten years ago, btw.) Since I was not the director (the brilliant Amy K. Harmon has been saddled with that task) I was likely to retreat to some supporting production role, very important still, but sadly distant from the continued creative life of this magnificent play. But feeling as close as I did to this story, and to the character of Andre, I nutted up, did the work, lost some weight (with rehearsal eating into gym-time, it’s coming back, unfortunately) and auditioned. I must have done alright, because I somehow beat out our ensemble’s best actors to nab the role. I could not be happier, prouder, more nervous or more excited.
This play deals with some very heavy shit, with an incredibly light and playful touch, but it’s centered very closely to this specific family and the love they share together. It’s about two gay men and their attempts to build a family, but it isn’t about ALL gay men or their families. It’s about this birth, not all births. It’s about a very specific grief. An individual love.
I am ecstatic to bring this play to audiences and I cannot wait until the public comes on July 6. If you live or travel in Los Angeles and want to see something special, please let me know. We have worked tirelessly to mold this play into something so unique and real, with brilliant design and polished performances (hopefully), and this writing is so so so good – you really can’t miss it.
Check out brimmerstreet.org for more info. I hope I’ll see you there.