The Stunning Return of Stella Starlight: Queen of Space


The world's prayers have been answered. Children sing in the street. Trees erupt into bloom, and not because it's springtime, but because of theater. And by all that I mean, I've got a goddamned play going up! Once again, I've combined forces with the brilliant women of Squeaky Bicycle to bring you theater the likes of which you've never seen, unless you've seen some of our work before.

And not just one play, but three plays. Three not-very-long plays which, like Voltron, combine to make a supercharged evening of theater that can crush monsters and knock over power lines. Three plays which operate under the combined title of:

Tales of Love & Lasers

Sounds pretty all right, right? I thought that baby up myself. So, just what are these Tales of Love & Lasers? They are as follows:

Hyperion Calling: A saga of a woman stranded in space, with nothing to comfort her but the knowledge that this 10 minute short is way better than Gravity

R. For Roxy: First produced in last fall's Bad Theater Fest, this story about love aboard a derelict space cruiser will make you laugh, cry, and hunger for liquified cake.

Stella Starlight: Queen of Space: Oh boy, this is the big one. The one y'all have been waiting for. The one with jokes, and fighting, and dancing, and leaping, and, oh my god I'm just too excited.

So, when does this magic come to pass? Just under two weeks from now, at the Drilling Company on the Upper West Side. We'll be running Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays (May 6 - May 21) at 7 PM. Come on May 6, and afterwards you can watch me get drunk around the corner at The Dublin House. I promise, it's just as exciting as the play will be.

For more details, see the Facebook invite here. Please do RSVP, so we can let you know when tickets go on sale, and so on.


Two Plays By Me: As Short As You Want Them To Be

Those of you who read this blog may sometimes ask yourself, "Who is this W.M. Akers?! And what gives him the right to talk about theater?!" Well: 

  1. W.M. Akers is me.
  2. I have absolutely no right to talk about theater. 

While I'm not blathering unfounded gobbledywhatnot about other people's plays, I am writing my own. This month, I've got two short plays in production, both of which are utterly ridiculous, and both of which want you to see them very bad. The relevant info: 

 October 29: As part of their monthly TinyRhino theater/drinking game, the Gowanus theater company UglyRhino is producing my stirring ten minute play "The Most Dangerous Cat In The World"—a comedy about love, evil, and the dangers of the atomic age.

November 2The wonderful women of Squeaky Bicycle are producing my sci-fi one act "R. For Roxy" as part of the Bad Theater Festival. (Which is not for bad theater so much as it's for unpretentious theater.) While I can guarantee the delightfulness of my play—which is about a lovelorn astronaut composing an encyclopedia in space—I have no idea what the rest of the programming will be like. Let's assume it will be spectacular.

So, come one come all! Or come none, come none! If you do happen to be at either of these events, come introduce yourself. Or if you can't make it, but are interested in reading either of those little tidbits of inspired nonsense, email me.

Does Anybody Want A Play About The Mets?

Ain't no pathos like Stengel pathos.

This post is not a joke. Bronx Bombers closed Off Broadway Saturday, and though it was been dismissed as (big surprise!) hagiographic pap, it is on its way to Broadway come January. This play, which centers vaguely around the 1977 Bronx Zoo, but features ghostly cameos from Ruth, Jeter and all the rest of the fresh faced Yankee heroes, is not a play for people who care about plays. It is probably not really a play for people who care about baseball, either, since those in the know understand that the only important lesson to be drawn from the sport is how to deal with heartache, 162 games at a time. There is no possibility of heartache in a Yankee story, and so (it seems, anyway, to me) no possibility of real drama.

But there is heartache in Flushing. Permanent, asinine, endlessly churning heartache. A cycle of disappointment and false hope and disappointment that has gone on for some time now—climaxing endlessly, like a bad piece of organ music or a particularly drawn-out high school break up. I speak, as I do too often, of the New York Mets—a team bad enough, beautiful enough, interesting  enough, to deserve a spot on the stage.

Does the horrifying futility of the New York Mets make them a more worthy baseball team than the Yankees? Of course not. Although at this point I'm more comfortable with a losing franchise than a winning one, I'm not Stockholm syndromed enough to suggest that failure is superior to success. (Though some May nights I think it may be.) But as far as tragedy goes, the Mets are Death Of A Salesman . The Yanks are a second rate middle school Thanksgiving pageant. 

Bronx Bombers has a good shot at a long, healthy Broadway run. There are enough fans out there of inspirational codswallop to keep the theater lit up. And the longer it reigns on Broadway, the sharper acid reflux will hit theater-minded Met fans, who expect the offseason to be a time when Mets and Yankees are equal, and will instead be confronted endlessly with nightmares about the pinstriped minstrel show on 50th Street.

So it seems right to even the score. The Mets don't need a play on Broadway, and they certainly don't deserve it. But somewhere in New York there is a 99 seat theater perfect to host a play about misery and meaningless failure and ceaseless anxiety which is a good thing only because it keeps us from worrying about the real problems that life has a habit of tossing our way. The potential topics are endless. Some pitches:

120: A riff on crinkly-faced Casey Stengel and his 1962 Mets, who lost more games than any team in modern history but won the city's heart

SATURDAY NIGHT MASSACRE: While the boys of the Bronx Zoo were jibing and jawing and winning championships, the Mets imploded, trading Tom Seaver for peanuts after a nasty Dick Young column soured him on the city.

THE COLLAPSE: A collection of 162 vignettes, telling the story of the Mets' epic 2007 collapse. Or maybe just an hour in the life of a family watching Tom Glavine implode. (Couldn't find a clip of that, so enjoy this vintage Carlos Beltran.)

THE PASSION OF JOHN MAINE: A moment in the life of declining Mets prospect John Maine, whose fastball deserted him just two years after a near-perfect game at Shea Stadium. Based on an article by Patrick J. Flood.

LET'S GO METS—A TRAGEDY: A fantasy based on one of my recurring nightmares, when I'm at a stadium but can't find my seats or see the field. So it's the Inferno , but set on the escalators of crumbling Shea Stadium.

I'm not interested in putting famous sports heroes on stage. What could be more boring than a not-quite-portly-enough Broadway star trying to cigar chomp his way through an impersonation of the magnificent appetites of Babe Ruth? I'm interested, as ever, in the fringe players, the grounds crew, the sportswriters and the fans, whose stubborn refusal to quit on a lousy franchise—badly run, badly managed, badly owned—is a testament to all that is great and stupid about mankind. 

This is not something I want to write on spec. But if there are any Met fan/theater producers out there, or directors, or actors, or anyone who's interested in providing some counterprogramming to Bronx Bombers,   drop me a line.  We can bat around ideas, come up with an outline, get started on a workshop. I like to write about the universality of sports pain, the sadness that comes even in success, the pleasant futility of the whole mess of corporate nonsense. I think it could make for a cathartic night at the theater.

This play is not meant to be self-flagellation. Met fans love to harp on their failures, picking at them like old scars, but most of us understand that this is how most fans feel, most of the time. Most people, even. Like Jimmy Breslin asked in 1962:

“The Mets lose an awful lot? Listen, mister. Think a little bit. When was the last time you won anything out of life?”