Saturday, May 04, 2013

Saying Good-bye to Minneapolis...

Dear Sam,
Just moments ago, I watched you say good-bye to your bestfriend Stefan.  I would be lying if I described it as a tearful heart-breaking movie moment for you two.  The truth is you’re both 3 and responded much the same way any 3 year old responds to saying good-bye.  You said it, you laughed, hugged, laughed some more, and waved good-bye to each other while you were in the car and he stood on his front yard.  If I would have recorded this moment and played it back, it would have looked no different than any other time you’ve said good-bye to each other.  The big difference this time around was that I knew it was different.  Your mother knew.  Stefan’s mom knew.  And it broke our hearts. 
The irony is that for the last 2.5 years as our little family has been entrenched here in Minneapolis, I always knew we would leave one day. In the last 2.5 years, I was ready to pack up and take off at a moment’s notice because, well, that’s the nature of our business.  In the last 2.5 years I thought that I could easily say good-bye to this town without any tears.
Boy, was I wrong.
Because in the last 2.5 years something extraordinary happened, the 1-year old toddler that I brought to this Midwestern city became a 3-year old kid.  This little guy who used to suffer “poopslosions” and had a heavy addiction to his “pa-fier (pacifier)” suddenly became this little man with opinions and preferences and, most importantly, friends.  Real friends.  Kids he didn’t just “co-play with”, but kids he shared laughs with, pretended with, grew just a few inches more beside. 
And though you had a ton of great buddies here in Minneapolis like Silas and Ila and Olivia and Eric and Ravi, the one kid you always clung to was that first kid you met here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes - that kid that you saw at least once a week for every week that you lived here – that kid that on more than one occasion strangers would mistaken as your brother, sometimes even as your twin.  We saw you fight and laugh and fight some more and hug and giggle and grow up.  And again, ironically, though I always knew we would one day leave Minneapolis, the one fantasy I allowed to play out in my head was the idea of seeing you two boys grow up next to one another, play your first team sports together, venture awkwardly into junior high and high school, and ultimately become men who luckily always had their “bestfriend” right next to them along this amazing journey of adolescence…but of course that’s now not gonna happen.
I never knew I’d be sad about leaving Minneapolis and the truth is if it weren’t for you I’d be fine.  The friends I’ve made here are people I have no doubt I’ll see again in this small small world of entertainment.  But for you and Stefan, the next time you see each other, even if it's only a few months from now, it won’t be the same.  That’s not how time works when you’re little.  In a few months, you’ll both be chasing tomorrow with new buddies and new partners-in-crime, remembering very little that your bestfriend in the world at age 3 was each other.  And as your parents, all we can do is watch and remember and hopefully one day share with you all these wonderful stories that you won't readily remember of friendships that helped shape you into becoming the man you'll one day be. 
Stefan’s Mom and I jokingly said we’d meet each other in LA next year as TV writers, heroically reuniting our families and allowing you two to continue your epic BFF journey…but we all know that is far more easy to say than do.  If I were a betting man, I would definitely not bet on us actually pulling that magic trick off. The truth is neither one of us wants to believe that you two boys aren’t going to be “besties forevs”. 
So, yeah, I thought I could leave Minneapolis without any tears.  But in all honesty, I’ve never been this heartbroken about leaving a place since when I first left New York 2.5 years ago.  And if I’m being completely honest with myself, I'm even more heartbroken now because my sadness in this moment has very little to do with my own experience here and it has everything to do with yours.  As your dad, all I want is to do right by you.  I really hope that I am.  I love you, Sam Samurai.  You make me very very proud.
So thank you, Minneapolis, for these last 2.5 years.  You’ve been far better to me than I deserved.  We will miss you.  And to all our friends that we ran beside while we were here, you made the hard times bearable and the good times remarkable.  Thank you, I look forward to seeing each of you very soon.
Much much love,

Monday, June 27, 2011

The world changed a little bit this weekend...

Clearly, I'm not much of a blogger these days. With both a two-year-old and a very cramped deadlines-calendar keeping me busy, the writing life isn't really leaving me much room to do what I used to do here in my corner of the interwebs. Maybe one day I'll get back to it, right now I'm just happy to have a place to drop in the occassional entry on matters that really need some expressing.

Two huge events happened this past weekend. One regarding the macrocosm, the other just affected my microverse of downtown storytellers, but both touched my heart in profound ways that will leave me forever changed.

First off, gay marriage is now legal in NY! To see justice and decency prevail in the state that I consider home overwhelms me with happiness. I'll admit I'm not the most leftest leftee in the world and I'm open to discussion on many different issues, but this one I've always only seen one way and I've been very frank in dismissing anyone who considers otherwise. I've never bought the "state's rights" argument, I don't care about people's religious views in regards to gay marraige since in my opinion church and state should stay the fuck away from eachother, and I'm constantly ashamed that in 2011 there are still people so backwards that they're willing to pass hate-legislation like Prop 8. To me, this has always been about freedom, allowing everyone a chance to "life, liberty, and happiness". If you disagree with me, please, I encourage you to defriend me now because I personally have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who would deny the people I love a chance to marry the people they love.

The second huge event was the closing of The Battle Ranch, my company's home of four years (even longer if you consider the years we used it when it was still under someone else's management as Studio 111). It was our playground where I created my shows, taught people how to fight (both in stage combat and at times in self-defense), an affordable rehearsal hall for all our downtown peers, and, easily the most important element to me, a place to showcase and celebrate my favorite artists in NYC at the show/party that gave me my real "MFA" in theatre, THE SATURDAY NIGHT SALOON! It breaks my heart that it's now gone, but the memories and lessons I learned from that small box in Bushwick I will carry with me forever. Thank you to anyone and everyone who walked through the Battle Ranch's doors, you made it my home.

In case you were curious, this is the origins of The Battle Ranch (From a blog interview Michael Criscoulo did with me a few years ago):

I ain’t gonna lie - I wish I could say I was the one who thought of it, but all cred goes to my wife and our company’s producer, Abby Marcus. The Battle Ranch was her brain child. If you know my wife, you know that she’s a girlie with a lotta passion and a lotta heart. And that heart of hers truly beats for Indie Theater. Seriously, I’ve never met someone so relentless in wanting to promote Off-Off Broadway. And I only say this to help explain how The Battle Ranch came into being because it all goes hand in hand with her dedication to the Indie Theater movement.
When Vampire Cowboys first began, we had very little in the coffers just like any other small theatre starting out. And instead of trying to shell it out to tiny little holes out in Manhattan, Abby decided to bring us out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to rehearse. There, we were able to work at Studio 111, a large beautifully maintained space that not only was available for only $10 an hour, it also gave us free storage so we didn’t have to tote our many weapons, props, and costumes back and forth at every rehearsal. It essentially gave us an affordable home. And it was here that Vampire Cowboys was able to grow and develop all our shows.
However two years ago, Tanya and Ken, the two curators of the space needed to let it go. And instead of letting it die, Abby corralled all of Vampire Cowboys together and announced that she wanted to take it over. Our response was a bit of a raised eyebrow. One, we could now easily afford rehearsal rental at any hall we wanted in the city. Two, this was a huge financial risk. And three, her plan involved keeping the rental price of the space down at $10 an hour, meaning that there was no way we would ever see any kind of profit from this venture, only potential loss. So why the risk? Why add the burden of running a space on top of our already busy schedules at producing shows? Because it was important, she insisted. Her mantra, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the community. Don’t you think it’s important that others have the same opportunities we had when we first started? We can’t let another affordable space disappear in NYC. It’s for the good of all. We have to do this. Cause if we don’t, we’re just making it harder for everyone else.”
And so, she won. And after two years of seeing all the good it has produced, I thank God she did. Countless numbers of small companies regularly rehearse there and the work that has come out of The Battle Ranch has been awesome. It’s also the home of “The Saturday Night Saloon”, our monthly show we produce during the fall and winter of serialized plays. And the sense of Indie Theater comrade we’ve been able to help promote has been incredible. As most know, since opening the space, we have had to move The Battle Ranch once (since our landlord decided to gut the original building and turn it into apartments), but the spirit and community still thrives in the new Battle Ranch. Again, it was a gamble, but one that has thoroughly paid off.
As for how it got its name . . . that's a question you have to ask Abby

I just wanted to share that with you guys. Losing the Battle Ranch makes me sad and it made me really sad that I couldn't be there to close the old home this past weekend, but the thing that really breaks my heart is the person who dreamt it all up couldn't be there either. The Battle Ranch and all the things that came from it all started with Abby's vision that a small little box in Bushwick could be something profound...or at least be a really great place to throw a party. Thank you, Abby, for creating a place for all of us to play. I love you, my beautiful wife (Thank God they legalized interracial marriage years ago...yep, another "issue" many churches also had a problem with back in the day).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My next show...

Please come see this. This is literally the best piece of theatre I've ever created. Seriously. Runs March 24 thru April 16 at Incubator Arts Project.
More info at

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Vampire Cowboys return for a 9th Season!!!

Yep, that's right, Vamp Fans! We're back! And this season's a big one! After eight years of blowing up the NYC theatre scene with our special brand of geek theatre, this season we're taking our genre-bending pop-culture irreverence and using it to tackle a true-life story with our Spring 2011 show, "The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G". Using autobiographical indie comics like Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor", Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home", Art Spiegelman's "Maus" as a starting point of inspiration with a heavy dose of mischevious fun from books like "Scott Pilgrim" and Gene Yang's ABC mixed in, we're out to bend some theatrical genres this time, not just cinematic ones. But make no mistake, this is not going to be the typical talking-heads historical dramatizations one usually finds onstage. This is Vampire Cowboys afterall, so expect all the innovative action, bad boy clowning, and clever dialogue you can always expect from the undead wranglers of the theatre.

But before we get to Agent G, we start the season off by bringing back our extremely popular show/party, THE SATURDAY NIGHT SALOON, for a fourth season (begins September 18th!). As always, the show's free, the all-you-can-drink beer (or until we run out) is $5, and for this year we'll be rocking it out every third Saturday of the month from September thru January. Who do we have this year? Here's the lineup!!!

written & directed by Temar Underwood

by Mac Rogers; directed by Jordana Williams

created by Adam Scott Mazer & Dan Rogers

by James Comtois; directed by Pete Boisvert

by Brent Cox; directed by Padraic Lillis & Courtney Wetzel

by Crystal Skillman; directed by Hope Cartelli

VC will also be returning to the NY Comic Con with a booth and performances. And, finally, before the season ends, we have a couple of other surprises we're keeping secret for now.

So get ready to party it up with VC! We're ready to play!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

ALICE IN SLASHERLAND: Closed...for now

Thank you, everyone, for making "Alice in Slasherland" such a truly amazing experience. It's been one of the most fun projects I've ever worked on. Seriously. From gore FX to swearing teddy bears to watching cast members crack each other up, this production has been like a two-month party. It's a bummer to see it close.
But, between you and me, I have a feeling this isn't the last we'll hear from Vampire Cowboys' bloodiest show yet. I mean, what self-respecting slasher ever really stays dead, right? (Insert evil laughter) See you soon, VC Nation! We love ya!

Monday, April 05, 2010


That's right, Vamp Fans! For the third straight year, you've once again completely sold out the ENTIRE RUN of another Vampire Cowboys show! And I have to say that I am feeling absolutely overwhelmed and moved by your continued support and love for the work we’ve been doing. In our short history, you’ve sold out performance after performance of our productions including last season’s Off-Broadway run of “Soul Samurai”, “Fight Girl Battle World”, “Living Dead in Denmark”, “Vampire Cowboy Trilogy”, and now “Alice in Slasherland”. I can truly say that all of us here at Vampire Cowboys appreciates each and every one of you. Thank you, VC Nation, for allowing us to entertain you. Thank you for giving us a home in New York theatre. And personally I want to also thank you immensely for allowing my voice as a playwright to be heard. You’ve allowed me and my company to write and create shows the way we’ve always wanted to make them regardless of our race, age, experience, sex, or sexual preference. Each time you sit in our houses, you prove that an audience will in fact, not just accept, but be hungry to see an artist-of-color (like myself and many of our actors) do work that doesn’t just center on our ethnicity, that when done correctly theatre can attract a sizable younger geekier tech-savvy mainstream audience, and that nontraditional theatre audience will in fact cheer for a Black, Asian, Latino, Gay/Lesbian, Transgendered, or female superhero without the story having to draw attention to or making a political or social issue out of the matter. To some, that's pretty revolutionary. It's, as they say, "a big fuckin' deal". And who knows, maybe one day with all of you at our side, we'll be able to bring this VC brand of entertainment to a much larger audience through new mediums and grander productions (Or, at least, have enough money to extend a show for once). I won’t say that we’re the only company out there trying to do this (I always hate it when folks claim they’re the first or only group doing something when those kinds of assertions are rarely ever true), but I will say that your support of Vampire Cowboys does prove that this kind of work is not only wanted or needed in entertainment, but that it can also be quite successful and have a strong and loyal following. Thank you. It’s inspiring and humbling to know that you have our back. We love you all, whether you’re new to VC Nation or have been with us since the very beginning, YOU are the heart and soul of Vampire Cowboys. And we are honored to have your asses in our seats.

Now as for all you procrastinators out there that didn’t end up getting your tickets in time (And I'm not saying that with any kinda hate cause I've definitely been guilty in waiting until the last minute too), if you still haven't seen the show and still wanna find a way to squeeze into the theatre, the box office opens at 4pm at Here Arts Center. You can go by and put your name on the daily wait-list. We always have a handful of house seats (seats we hold in case of emergency) that we release to be sold on the day of the performance. It's first come, first serve. So don't give up just yet, young Jedi, you still can get your geek on with the undead wranglers! You just gotta do it old school style by waiting in line. Much love to you all! You mean the world to us. Truly.