When I was little, I was afraid of the dark. Not anymore. That is where answers hide. The Tobolowsky Files is a podcast from the people who brought you the /Filmcast, featuring a series of stories about life, love, and the entertainment industry, as told by legendary character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. You can always e-mail Stephen at stephentobolowsky(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or you can e-mail David at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also follow Stephen on Twitter or follow David on Twitter. You can now become a fan of Stephen on Facebook. Please let us know what you think of the show! You can find Stephen's new book on Amazon.

Download or Play Now in your Browser:

Subscribe to The Tobolowsky Files:

  • No Related Post
United States


00:00:37hello everyone and welcome to the double outski files a series of stories about life love and Hollywood As Told by Actor Stephen tobolowsky I'm David Jen from and joining me today he is the man who played Clyde Barrow's in the ABC original series The Practice Stephen tobolowsky Stephen how you doing today I'm doing great I'd love The Practice I'd love that show if you know sometimes you're able to be on shows that you were a fan of and that was also when I was in my David Kelly phase I was in every David Kelly TV show that came on and I believe that individual show of the practice someone asked me how I memorize lines and this work back then but I put it out there for four young actors who are trying to figure out how to memorize lines
00:01:37and that is don't say them out loud it when you say them out loud your mouth and your tongue sore muscles and you end up getting a muscle memory of things that are incorrect so it's better to read through silently and then let what happens happen when you get in front of the camera and then you are surprised this is this is something I have found David A lot of times people say that when you get older you develop perspective and I think perspective is just a polite way of saying that like doesn't surprise you anymore
00:02:12but it's good it's good to let like surprise you especially if you're an actor yeah and the practice man I really like that show back when I was on the air in the 90s and early 2000 I feel like it's a show that doesn't get talked about too much these days but I really enjoyed it when it was still airing so what what's an amazing thing about about television you have huge hit shows of the practice or 30 something or how about ER these are enormous hit shows that people don't seem to talk about it anymore when they were actually defined the culture at right when the practice was on people would gather around the TV too so I don't want to miss this week and it's harder to just do that because with a movie or something you can just buy it and with the season season of TV if it's not on Netflix or Hulu it's really difficult to check it out the world
00:03:12this change David the word world that's change and dude dude was speaking of change let's talk about what is going to happen with the Pulaski files this is the season finale of the tell Pulaski Falls this year and we've been going for I think it's been 12 episodes this season so we delivered on the promise we made at the beginning and Steven for you it has been a Herculean task because we could episodes right how many you said how many words did this season involve writing while I think according to Simon & Schuster book is 80 thousand words but I think this podcast season was somewhere between 90 and a hundred thousand words so more than a books worth of content in the last 12 episodes of total loss Cabela's delivered to you listeners for free and Steven loves doing it I love working with Steven I love consuming the final episodes and so
00:04:12I want to continue doing the show Steven wants to continue making it but we we like this model that we have right now where is Steven hibernates away with his notebook and writes many many episodes worth at a time and then we can release them all at once and that you we can have like a whole Ark and you can expect us to be part of your lives on a consistent basis from week-to-week but in order to do that Steven needs to produce another you know 80 to 90 thousand words and that's going to take a while so Steven when do you think the next season of a double asked if I was going to be
00:04:47I think when it's springtime in Seattle yeah it's springtime in Seattle again right so we're talking about probably spring of 2018 or sooner depending on how Steven how quickly Stephen can get things done but yeah spring of 2018 is wake you when you can expect the next episode of a double asked if I was so in the meantime what are you going to do what's what's going to happen without any new till Pulaski files I have a few things to share with you first lie obviously you can access every existing episode of the double asked if I was right now got a couple ASCII click on any episode you can subscribe and iTunes subscribe by RSS weren't run Google Play now that's another thing is very popular and people can use those links and get to every episode of the show that already exists so hundreds of hours of Pulaski content for
00:05:47the taking their up for free so check that out but I'd also say that Stephen and I just filmed a live version of one of his shows very similar to the primary Instinct would you find the primary but it cost a lot less it's a lot smaller and terms of the scope and we are going to release it publicly and maybe we might shoot more of them and if you want to follow what's going on with that if you want to find information on that follow Stephen on Facebook that's Stephen tobolowsky that's Stephen tobolowsky we are going to be sharing the new life show that Stephen did on that site Stephen tobolowsky when it is ready and that should be in the coming months it between now and then is definitely going to be one video of Steven of the top Alaska files live that we're going to share and possibly Lasky Stephen you want to spell it first that's s t e p h e n t as in Tom o b as in boy o l o w s k y the Russian spelling has a bunch of his stuff at Stephen tobolowsky calm and so that's where you'll be able to keep in touch over the next few months until the next season comes out before I get to today's Story season you know what has been your experience this season training out of these episodes been at a different pace that we've done in the past the stories have been of a different character Adam part of your life than in the past what's the season been like for you
00:07:30it's been a great experience first of all I have always said that there's a difference between an event and process and an event and a story and by doing a series of stories like this I was able to kind of take on a bigger subject that I was afraid that I was maybe a little reticent to take on before and that was Summer Stock and my relationship with my college roommate Jim McClure and I was able to take it on in this format so I look forward to
00:08:07to trying this process again and taking on more big subjects when I say we are looking forward to it so thanks for sharing this season of story to Steven but let's get to today's episode and as a way into that you know you recently had a birthday right Steven oh yes yes and by the way there but I would I really want to thank everyone on Facebook for all of the Facebook wishes I got so many Blast from the Past. I'm talking about I got wishes from people back when I was in single digits they knew me back then Carolyn Vincent Joe Wortham Jane Arrington Nancy Arrington all the people in my neighborhood in Perryton when I was 2 3 4 years of age thank you so much for all those wishes but you may know David because you access Google frequently I just turned 66 and you know what that means
00:09:04it means I am now old enough to spend my IRA without a tax penalty nice not that I will I've always been more of a safer than a spender but my father's started my IRA back in the early 80s when IRS weren't cool it was hard to comprehend putting money someplace where you couldn't spend it
00:09:27I remember the phone call it was my birthday I was 30 something I was living with Beth and the Hollywood Hills in the house with the swimming pool dad called and said is a gift he opened up an account in my name for $2,000 at the time I never imagined I would ever live to be old enough to spend it but I think them anyway
00:09:54years went by I often forgot I had the account and I never touched it and now drum roll it is worth over $100,000
00:10:07the one of the joys of the IRA is that my dad is still alive to thank him again properly with a hug and a kiss which I did a few weeks ago when I was in town that's for the book tour
00:10:21I reminded that about the IRA and it 95 dad forgets many things but he remembered the IRA and he asked me how much it was worth He was thrilled when I told he smiled and with the sort of Pride offered the moral to the story Steven you always have to prepare for your future my father was right but his advice isn't as easy to follow as it sounds we never know what our future will be to prepare for dad never prepared for a future in which he was blind he never imagine a future without her mother who could
00:11:00time takes us down Curious pads often what we think of as our plans are only shapes in the dark I want to be an actor I want to fall in love and one of the darkest shakes a ball I want to be happy when I was 20 going on 21 I was afflicted by the mall all of the things that move in the dark all the things that appear to be close but we're out of breech I was an actor but I was inaccurate forsberg making $10 a week performing Oscar Wilde for convicts I was in love with bat but I existed in a time and a place where it was impossible to show her
00:11:41love unexpressed is a kind of death
00:11:45and my Pursuit of Happiness was the most elusive a ball I knew it was out there I saw it one night for my tiny window for my bed in The Hayloft in the form of a giant stag standing at the forest edge and a thunderstorm in a flash of lightning he was there so huge and beautiful
00:12:05and then you vanished Into the Night
00:12:08I was too young to understand the real Battlefield Forestburg offered it wasn't the struggle to create art that was never going to happen the schedule and pose by our boss Al maisel insured we would always be flying by the seat of our pants even if by sheer luck we did have a moment of truth emerging a play we were usually performing for audiences they couldn't see it like the Otisville prison that hated everything we did and would kill us if they weren't chained to their seats
00:12:38the real Battlefield any hardship resents is time the relentlessness of forsberg was a test could I carve out little pieces of the passing day for myself sidebar
00:12:53I've come to think that one of the fundamental ways we can Define the ages of man is by our ability to control our time
00:13:02children have no control that's why they're exhausting they always want to play now they always want another story now and then they fall asleep when we get to Disneyland you have to hold them in line so you can wake them up to see The Country Bears exhausting the elderly can be exhausting to that used to have control of time but they forgot where they put it it's only for that span of years in the middle we have a chance to call part of a day our own but we have to learn how to do it
00:13:33when I was in my 30s I directed one of Beth's Place in her hometown in Jackson Mississippi one evening after rehearsal I sat with some of the actors on the front porch of their home and watch Cars Go by one evening I was one of those people sitting and rocking I even wore a T-shirt and drink a beer to play the part
00:13:55it was wonderful the Furious rhythm of rehearsals and production meetings banished I did nothing but be part of the day turning into night the sunset the stars came out cars stopped at the stop sign and drove on we sat on the porch for hours and barely spoke a word in the silence I felt what it was like to be alive
00:14:21looking back I suspect what we were doing was becoming a master of our time
00:14:28and taking those hours for ourselves and not work we found unexpected happiness
00:14:34I suspect I could have done it at Forestburg I had weapons more powerful than a rocking chair at my disposal I had great literature beautiful surroundings and the girl I loved
00:14:48and yet I failed I was not clever enough to find the time for Joy the unrelenting awfulness of the schedule at forsberg ranus ragged to find the time and space to love require the skills of a Ninja Master and this was years before the word ninja ever been used in a sentence
00:15:09the true test of controlling time is always in a crisis when the world is on fire can you still dream of water
00:15:18Beth and I often relied on one tool to stop the clock for a few moments to breathe imagination imagination can be a great resource in controlling time after a moderately successful performance of Tom Jones I would lie for a few minutes with Beth on her single bunk bed and look into our possible future I take sweetie when we get back to Dallas maybe we can move in together Beth what answer will that would be nice sweetie
00:15:50sidebar there was a period of time on Beth and I called each other by the same nickname sweetie that lasted for several years we change nicknames in Los Angeles the new nickname we called each other was chilly as in the stew
00:16:07Frederick Bailey told me to party did it was confusing for two people to call each other by the same nickname just wasn't done so we augmented the nicknames to Big Chill and little chill that worked until the movie The Big Chill came out and then people would think that was talking about the movie when she was really talking about me so the nicknames changed again Beth went back to calling me sweetie and I called her chill
00:16:32and forsberg when we lay together for the few minutes we could be alone sometimes bad spoke of her fears of Never Getting cast as an actress again my imagination answered I said Beth none of that matters
00:16:49it doesn't know
00:16:52why not she asked
00:16:55because when we go back to Dallas Jim McClure and I are going to try to start our own theater like the Actors Theatre of Louisville will produce will direct will write our own place will be the bosses will cast you all the time
00:17:11Beth looked at me sadly and smiled and said
00:17:15if that doesn't work maybe we could just become Pirates sail up and down the Brazos River
00:17:21yeah we could do that too I said the only thing that matters is that we're together
00:17:28at that point a couple of thirteen-year-old apprentices came into the room and climbed into their bunks
00:17:34and then we could be alone I said
00:17:39Beth looked away and whispered in her version of Greta Garbo I've on to go away
00:17:47that summer Beth and I were on Dangerous Ground and we didn't know it we were old enough to fall in love but not old enough to know how to protect that love
00:17:58you cannot protect what you love unless you know how to control your time that's why it a certain age we celebrate anniversaries more than birthdays both involve a trip around the Sun one is a matter of luck the other is a product of determination
00:18:17we audition for A Midsummer Night's Dream I ended up getting a great part one of the best comedic Parts in Shakespeare bottom the Weaver
00:18:28Beth was overlooked again she got the almost non-existent role of a fairy she had one line and several moments where she chirped
00:18:38there was a profound hurt in bed size
00:18:42when you are a theater actor you love the written word when you're not cast your heartbroken
00:18:51love unexpressed is a kind of death
00:18:55one afternoon director Frederick Bailey took me out into the forest to work on Bottoms dream I was excited this is one of Shakespeare's most famous comedic monologues bottom a weaver by trade but in truth a delightful imbecile who fancies himself a great actor wakes up in the clearing of the forest in the previous scenes we see the bottom has been captured by the fairies and is put under a spell where he is transformed into part man part donkey and becomes the lover of Titania the queen of the fairies in the monologue bottom wakes up from his enchantment and tells the audience about his incredible dream we find his Recollections amusing because we know he wasn't dreaming
00:19:40but the speech takes a turn as he tells us his Fantastical tale bottom becomes more and more certain that what happened wasn't a dream the audience finds this realization even funnier not that he was once a jackass but that even this simple Soul can learn a profound lesson that life is more mysterious than anything we could imagine
00:20:04I knew from school that Shakespeare was a master mixing the melodramatic with the poetic but it wasn't until I worked on A Midsummer Night's Dream than I encountered one of Shakespeare's skills that we didn't cover in class Shakespeare never underestimated the cosmic quality of Comedy he seemed to Delight in introducing profound ideas through his simplest characters
00:20:28one afternoon I took a break from rehearsal to go into town with a friend of Tony's to pick up electrical supplies Bailey was going to take some time working with the fairies even though they didn't have many lines he wanted the fairies to have a presence on stage that could represent the magic of the world of night
00:20:47he was going to leave Beth and the others through fairy improvisation
00:20:52I came back an hour later with new light bulbs for some of the instruments Gene ran out to the truck to meet me Steven you need to see Tony he's with Beth sure Jean what's up you need to talk to Tony right I said I took the bulbs in to Tony he was in the lighting cage Steven you need to see Beth Wright Wright Jean said I should see what's up is she alright she she may have gone crazy
00:21:23I laughed yeah well you know that's always crazy that's why I love her so much no no you don't understand not good crazy something happened in rehearsal she's in bad shape she was talking about something eating or brain you need to see her we may need to get her to a doctor
00:21:45the blood drained from my head where is she Tony in bed some of the fairies are watching her thank you thank you Tony oh God I ran from the booth to Beth's room she was lying in her bunk several the apprentices were standing around her one held a wet cloth to her forehead thank you thank you guys slept let me talk to her the fairies left and I knelt beside pets Punk
00:22:11what happened baby
00:22:13Betts and feverish I tried to cool her forehead with the wet washcloth insects insects she whispered
00:22:22what insects
00:22:24insect from Mars are eating my brain make them stop please make them stop I will I will baby I said I held her tightly I'm here they won't hurt you anymore no I can still hear them they're biting me
00:22:41I'll make them go away I'll hold you until you're safe
00:22:46Beth broke down and began sobbing I was horrified I had no idea what happened or what to do all I could do was hold her tighter
00:22:54why why why am I here Beth cried
00:22:59so we can be together but we're not we're not I didn't come here so these insects could slip into my brain I don't want to be a fairy I want to make love to you don't you know that don't you know anything that's why I'm here
00:23:16I began crying as I help Beth I know I know I'm sorry I want you to but there's nowhere we can go there's nowhere we can be we could go to the woods will then the insects really would eat your brain I said that started laughing honey I wasn't joking about that bet seem to calm down and she explained Bailey made us do these improvs where we had to only talk in Fairy talk we tripped but I think I may have said something for real wrong things and the insects for Mars came down and crawled into my eye though it sounds crazy to believe me
00:23:57with all my heart that with all my heart
00:24:01you do yes
00:24:04best help me so hard I couldn't breathe for a second thank you thank you thank you for believing me I wipe the tears from your face with a washcloth
00:24:14whatever happened on that stage was a real bad I know that
00:24:20you feel better now Peppa Conaway
00:24:24Beth listen for something unheard and then whispered I think so
00:24:30I think they've gone for now
00:24:34Bailey came into the room
00:24:37his face was flushed with fear and embarrassment and yet he smiled warmly sorry to interrupt you guys Beth are you alright I think so I think they've gone away
00:24:51that's good I'm sorry if I did anything to hurt you I thought we would have some fun I guess we didn't Beth laughed I guess not
00:25:03Bailey said warmly we won't do that anymore thank you sit back and Bailey I'm sorry if I scared everyone don't worry about it Beth I don't know if it means anything but
00:25:20I thought you were brilliant you made the whole fairy world come to life I know this is a sort of thankless role and if it takes you to a bad place I understand if you want to leave the play I don't want to but I understand
00:25:35no no Bailey I'll be a fairy I'll be a fairy as long as they don't come back
00:25:43Bailey looked at me while I'll leave you two alone I'm sorry Steven
00:25:49it's okay Bailey I'm here now Bailey left the room
00:25:54I looked at bath and kissed her gently
00:25:58I'm here now
00:26:01best looked at me just promise you'll keep them away from me promise I look down a bath with fear in my heart
00:26:12I promise
00:26:29I must have done a pretty good job being sex for Mars seem to keep their distance from Beth
00:26:38we were rehearsing Midsummer in the afternoon some performing Tom Jones in the evening in between we had tongue and mashed potatoes for dinner they sell was right I could see some of the apprentices we're gaining weight one evening it was my turn to help our new cook Vinny with the dishes then he replaced the mysterious mr. Watson who banished one morning before Daybreak Tony had doubts about Benny but from my point of view Vinny picked up the slack admirably it look like breakfast lunch and dinner or in the hands of a seasoned professional
00:27:13Benny was a short nervous man with old school Navy tattoos on a scrawny forearms I put on my apron and gloves and was ready to scrub then he pointed out where the brushes and dish soap thanks for dinner Vinny yeah
00:27:30so why did you learn to cook in the Navy or where you always a cook who wants to know
00:27:36I took it the penny wasn't a people person either I said well it takes talent to cook but it seems like it takes a special town to know how to cook for a large group of people depends on what you cook you get a sheet then he held up a piece of paper here's my sheet tells you how many people you have to feed and what is considered a portion the portion Barry says to whom you cooking for are they workers that work all day are they soldiers are the guys like you the flood around wearing costumes
00:28:11well feels like we run around all day my friend you have no idea what running around all day is like until you on the ship in the middle of the ocean what seems like you couldn't run too far on a ship what do you mean then he asked well if you if you run too far you fall into the ocean I said no one falls in the ocean list the ship is on fire or something what I didn't mean sailors would literally run off the boat if it was it was sort of a joke then he walked toward me I don't get the joke explained it to me it was nothing Vinnie no no I like jokes I don't get this one how is it funny to fall into the ocean
00:28:52it's not
00:28:54falling into the ocean is not funny at all you're right you're right about that my comment was more about the size of the ship be my vision of a Navy ship is from the movies with which I'm sure is inaccurate but in my head a boat is very cramped with narrow passageway so it's not conducive to running
00:29:13and he stared at me I continued but but I'm sure you ran a lot boy weigh more than any of us to hear and you were soldiers protecting us must have been difficult you have no idea
00:29:26I know I know Benny that was danger everywhere I sailed across the Atlantic I pulled into a port in Hamburg Germany my first day on dry land in over a month and I was almost run over by a 1968 Mercedes Benz diesel
00:29:43OU you had time to see the make and model then he stared at me a no no that's good Vinny I mean it's good because if heaven forbid you were injured you would be able to fill out the insurance report you ever seen one he asked I know sir 1968 Mercedes Benz diesel is the finest automobile in the world
00:30:06well I guess it was nice to almost get hit by the best what it's just a coincidence lots of people are run over by cars but very few are lucky enough to be hit by a really good car
00:30:19then he stared at me do you know how much a 1968 Mercedes Benz diesel cost no sir I do not
00:30:32wow. That's a lot of money I said you bet your sweet ass it is then he walked over and looked at his list this is a menu for the rest of the week I have to go shopping tomorrow yes sir
00:30:46that night after the show me and Tony and Gina Beth met for a beer
00:30:51I'm telling you Tony he said he was almost hit by a 1968 Mercedes Benz diesel and he told me how much it cost $50,555 Tony said yes exactly Tony shook his head
00:31:09lunatic maybe he was a Section 8 I mean who in their right mind would work here
00:31:17we all stood silently drinking our beer
00:31:20it was the opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the first time it seemed like we were going to have a real audience seems like Shakespeare is still a draw before the show Vinny whipped up something special Salisbury steak with creamed onions I never had onions as a side dish so I thought I'd give him a try one of the ways imagination lets us control time is in finding unexpected celebration even if it's only onions
00:31:49I hung behind finishing my dinner the canteen empty. Is everyone went to get ready for the show I was eating a piece of white bread for dessert when they sell came running into the Hall did not poison the onions you hear me if anyone says that he did that could get the hat and coat get the hell off of the place they sell stormed out I stared at my plate with the remainder of a pile of creamed onions I ran into the kitchen there was a huge box of rat poison on the counter beside the pot of creamed onions I ran back into the theater that is when I heard the crying the chaos people were vomiting everywhere there was a line of people trying to get into the two bathrooms backstage some vomited in the potted plants in the lobby some just ran out into the woods Tony always the bearer of bad news ran past me on his way to help some of the Fallen he called out then he tried to kill everyone you poison the onions you eat in a
00:32:49yes I said Tony shook his head one of the apprentices is really sick she's vomiting blood I'll be back to help you try to throw up if you can get it out of your system I still felt fine but I took Tony's advice to heart I ran out to the field behind the theater and tried to throw up I couldn't I was hoping maybe I would Escape fortunately I didn't have the imagination to find a lot of celebration in the onions I left half of the serving on my plate
00:33:20the crowd of happy theatre-goers were lining up outside the barn for their dose of Shakespeare inside the barn 75% of the company we're dealing with their dose of rat poison
00:33:31more and more we're becoming violently ill may sell did the only thing he could do he called the company meeting everyone that could still walk came into the theater have a seat everyone have a seat I'll make this quick in that I hear several of you come down with the case of the pre-show jitters
00:33:51you might be feeling bad now but that will make this opening even more memorable remember it is said that mow yeah gave his greatest performance when he was near death I think the trouble tummies will diminish over the course of the evening but for your convenience we will place vomit buckets off stage right and left please use them as discreetly as possible let's have a great show I went backstage to get dressed Mesa open the house so far I was fine I put on my bottom pants and vest but when the stage manager called 10 minutes I was seized with cramps what will it wasn't cramps exactly was like some of that pushed the hot knife into my gut and twisted it
00:34:36I broke into a sweat ran into the bathroom backstage and hug the toilet I continue to hug until close to the start of the show
00:34:45every production at forsberg so far been marked with horror like the plagues of Egypt first we had the dance of the weed folk when the curtain didn't rise in Cox and box the actors did the entire performance squatting a duck walking around the stage then came the plague of Darkness both cocks and box in the American dream were performed in almost total Blackness We performed The Importance of Being Earnest for criminals and Tom Jones for an insane asylum but nothing compares to the opening of A Midsummer Night's Dream We performed one of the most delightful comedies ever written with a cast of kings and queens elves and fairies friends and lovers all vomiting throughout the entire five-act play
00:35:29most of the time the actors were able to get to the vomit buckets off stage then the play continued with the sounds of retching in the background sometimes the actors couldn't get off stage big hurry to get to the wings when they saw they couldn't make it they would simply turn up stage and vomit on the set I had to vomit in the middle of Bottom's dream that is a mom log so I was the only person on stage I left mid-sentence vomited and return to complete the speech and the audience at there no one left no one complained no one called the local hospital I can't imagine how they would describe the evening to their friends and neighbors did they think it was a modern take on the play did they think we were all dying did they not notice or where they used to actors vomiting through place at Forestburg if I were a betting man I'd have to go with the ladder
00:36:25none of the company was permanently injured one Apprentice was Sidelines for the night but she returned the following day then he vanished into the Wilds of Upstate New York never to be seen again
00:36:38I think the flaw in his plan of mass murder was that he underestimated the dosing needed to keep an actor off the stage
00:36:47we may have been a bunch of guys and girls flipping around in costumes but we were soldiers none-the-less soldiers of empathy who cherish the most terrifying Battle Cry of all is El maizal often said in the words of the immortal William Shakespeare The Show Must Go On
00:37:36our new cook was Kurt he was a pleasant young man who was a people person after a performance Kurt would turn on the radio in the canteen and cook up hamburgers we would sing to our favorite songs occasionally we would slow dance if we found a suitable partner
00:37:55Gene and Beth and I would listen to Tony tell the stories he was hilarious Ross with the lightest by playing his recorders with his nose we would relive the strange history of our cook and are narrow escape from Death now it last there was laughter in the halls of insanity
00:38:15for some reason the talk on the street was that A Midsummer Night's Dream was the show to see and I don't think it was the vomiting on opening night but it could have been another far more entertaining disaster the piece at the production
00:38:29dogs yes the Torah of Forestburg Now launch the plague of beasts there were two large dogs Weimaraners that must have dug a tunnel under the barn their first appearance came during one of the big romantic scenes in Midsummer the fairies Bewitched the for young lovers in the woods so that they will fall in love with the first person they see and of course it's always the wrong person they chase each other around the stage protesting their love falling out of love bauling love Anu and finally they pass out exhausted they lie on the stage of sleep is the fairies undo the spell
00:39:09while the actors pretended to sleep the two big dogs tuck their heads up at the back of the stage the audience started laughing the laughter seem to stir the dogs curiosity they wandered down to the Footlights along the way they pause to sniff the crotch is of the sleeping actors the audience love this they roared the dogs turned in wandered off state to Great Applause at the sound of cheering the actors woke up and the sink included I watched it all from the back of the house I went backstage for my next entrance is the lovers were exiting congratulating each other's on how well the scene went we got them tonight said her Mia and that my friends is how you play Shakespearean comedy said to me trees we had them in the palm of her hand said Lysander I said not really there were dogs on stage
00:40:05what said Helena to big dogs were sniffing your crotches the actors were unsure if I was joking I continue I mean the scene was good it was better than usual but the audience was laughing at the dogs
00:40:20in an instant the actors factored in the plagues of forsberg in knew I was telling the truth Shelly who had injured audience members from the sunshine Club pulling their pants down and she performed in Tom Jones now face the indignity being sniffed by 1 or honors once again she took may sell to task outside the theater
00:40:41what kind of theater is this I'm a serious actress I came here to give my heart and soul to this company to perform some of the great works of the world stage and you can keep wild dogs from sniffing my crotch on stage well this has never happened before I don't know where the dogs came from or how they got in but I will take measures believe me I will take measures maisel ask Tony to see where the dogs had breached the perimeter
00:41:09Tony couldn't find the tunnel he assumed they came in from the woods Doug under the foundation of the barn and walk through the dressing room and up the stairs at the back of the stage
00:41:20the dogs either had a regular schedule or a great sense of timing they came on stage the next night as well at exactly the same moment of the play the audience roared with laughter and applauded their exit this time I could see Shelly open and I to confirm her worst suspicions the next night maisel assured Shelly that there would be no problem with the dogs
00:41:44I stood at the back of the auditorium with my cell and watched and waited he whispered to me if those dogs come on stage again I got a little surprise for
00:41:56they sell reached into the pocket of the long brown Overcoat he was wearing and showed me a handful of Roxy it picked up by the creek
00:42:03the lovers did their scene they fell asleep the dogs made their entrance the audience lapped maisel ran down the aisle shouting dogs the audience held maisel chase the dogs across the stage throwing rocks the dogs escaped unharmed the laughter and Applause after maisel shoot the dogs off stage shook the building and it could have been the most successful theatrical moment of the summer
00:42:32after the chaos subsided the lovers awoken finish the scene Shelly took maisel outside so that was your solution to run across the stage and a big Overcoat throwing rocks I was teaching the dogs that the Haiti will be punished you look like a flasher said Shelly tomorrow the dogs will be too afraid to come on stage I promise you anyway the audience loved it just to let you know if this were an equity production I would report you to the union Shelly stormed off they sell still watching her go muttering Miss Priss
00:43:12the dogs did not learn their lesson and make cell running down the aisle in his Overcoat became a new part of the scene
00:43:20you would think that whatever gods of Retribution that were towing with the production of A Midsummer Night's Dream will be satisfied by the plague of dogs but no there was another surprise
00:43:33one evening after the play after a beer with Tony and Jeanne and goodnight kisses with Beth how you turn to The Hayloft and went to sleep
00:43:42I woke up on stage in the middle of the night standing in the blackness
00:43:48I was disoriented at first I had no idea where I was or how I got there
00:43:53when I came to my senses I walked out of the theater up the stairs to The Hayloft and crawl back into my bed
00:44:01I didn't tell anyone I assumed I Just Had A Midsummer Night's Dream
00:44:07until the next night I woke in the darkness standing in the middle of the stage in my pajamas
00:44:15now I was scared
00:44:17at breakfast I told Tony and Jeanne and Beth they looked at me hoping there was a punchline Beth looked at me with concerned did it happen at the same time each night she asked I'm not sure but it was late everyone was asleep I said
00:44:35that's something Tony said of course it's something said Gene no not that something another something Tony said what do you mean what's interested you were sleepwalking but to get to the stage you had to crawl out of your bed walk down a flight of stairs open the door to the theater walk the length of the auditorium and then climb up on stage and stand and you didn't wake up that whole time
00:45:07right that's what I had to do
00:45:10that's something said Tony
00:45:14have you ever walked in your sleep ask Jane when I was little I did the last time I ever did it I was living with Jim McClure in the dorm we were doing Royal hunt of the Sun and I put my blanket over my shoulders like a costume and tried to walk out of the room I couldn't turn the doorknob in my sleep Jim woke up and got me back into bed could be the stress Tony postulated
00:45:40the next night things escalated I woke up on stage in costume sort of I was wearing my bottom shirt and Boots my pants were my ankles apparently I could not belt them in my sleep
00:45:56what scared me the most was when I awoke I was in a pose I often assumed when I performed Bottom's dream I can only assume I was acting in my sleep
00:46:07I sat on the stage in the darkness how could I changed into my costume
00:46:14when I was sure I was awake I walk down the back stairs of the stage into the dressing room and they're on my chair in front of my place at the makeup mirror wear my pajamas
00:46:26I made my way to Beth's room and woke her up sweetie sweetie I'm scared I need your help Beth woke up what's wrong sweetie she said I began to cry and held tightly she held me and stroke my head there there she said what happened I was on stage again in my costume I think I may have been acting she whispered I don't know how to make it stop
00:46:56it may be the insects from Mars maybe they came back and there after you now that's it
00:47:06I have an idea set bad what
00:47:10we can pull them tomorrow night you sleep here with me if they try to take you I could shoot them away I held Beth and gratitude thank you thank you I'm so sorry I think I'm losing my mind I know I know
00:47:27I'll keep them away
00:47:30the next night I crawled into the tiny bit with Beth
00:47:34in the middle of the night I woke up again on stage in costume performing Bottom's dream
00:47:41this time I had an audience
00:47:45Beth she stood watching me from the side of the auditorium when I woke up she came on stage
00:47:52what happened I asked you sat up you said you missed your cue I held you down and said know you're dreaming and you said no no no not this time this time it's for real
00:48:03and then what did I do you push me away and you left the room you walk to the theater you went downstairs into the dressing room you put on your costume you tried to hang up your pajamas but you missed the hangers and they fell on the floor you walked up the back stairs to the stage and you began Bottom's dream I went out and watched you you stopped after a few lines and woke up
00:48:28oh God. God what's happening I don't know what to do
00:48:33at breakfast we related the events to Tony and Jeanne Tony raised his eyebrows
00:48:40it's like a compulsion Tony said yeah and I'm exhausted every time this happens I seem to be getting weaker and weaker I seem to be putting on more and more of my costume and getting through more of the monologue before I wake up it's the insects from Mars said that Jane said I hate to say this but maybe you need to see a doctor not that I think you're going crazy but maybe it's the exhaustion factor a doctor can give you something to help you sleep
00:49:11maybe I said if nothing else it could interrupt the cycle Jean said
00:49:18after breakfast I saw a maisel walking across the yard I missed your call I called yes he said I ran up to him
00:49:28something strange has been happening to me over the past few nights I don't know how to say this but I've been sleepwalking
00:49:40yes sir I leave my room I walk to the dressing room I put on my costume and I start to perform bottom stream I wake up on stage in the middle of the night it's scaring me to death. I can't seem to stop it it's getting worse maybe you know a doctor I could get something to help me sleep
00:49:59they sell stared at me his eyes filled with tears sit down
00:50:07we sat down on the grassy patch in front of his house they sell looked at me and gathered his words Steven you're not sleepwalking
00:50:17I'm not not really
00:50:20I don't know how to tell you this
00:50:23it's my brother
00:50:25your brother your brother who started this place who died I said
00:50:31yes the one who wrote the music for everything we do he's
00:50:37you still here
00:50:39what I asked he's buried under the stage it was his last wish over the years actors of told me they thought they saw someone standing on stage in the middle of the night and then vanish a few years ago another acted like you was up in the middle of the night performing on stage they never were able to put their costumes on that's new
00:51:03are you telling me I'm possessed no no he doesn't mean any harm just do the speech for him
00:51:12do the speech and maybe he'll go away
00:51:17I told Beth that we were haunted she absolutely believe me believe me sell this was The Wonder of that these kinds of explanations for the world did not give her pause in fact quite the opposite she found the explanation of the ghost of maysles Brothers still at work in the theater explain the entire host of plagues that the set up Productions the curtains not going up in Cox and box the lights going out the dogs appearing at the same time every night amid summer and her being attacked by being sex from Mars
00:51:48I think you should do what may sell says set Beth do the speech Yes even if you wake up to the whole monologue
00:51:59that night I woke up on stage again I compose myself and performed All About Him stream from start to finish I bowed and left the stage
00:52:10the sleepwalking stopped
00:52:13Beth went home after A Midsummer Night's Dream forsberg had at least created a deprivation that taught us we did not want to be apart anymore next year we moved in together
00:52:26I stayed and played Tom in The Glass Menagerie may sound gave me a raise $25 a week for the last two weeks of the season
00:52:35there were no real plates during this production but there was a moment of magic
00:52:41Tony and I snuck into the canteen after dark to liberate some beers after hours we heard a noise outside Tony escaped unseen with a six pack out the side door but I was stuck in the canteen in the dark I hid behind an old couch in case it was maisel it was not the new interloper was Debbie Janeiro one of our better actresses and singers she walked over to the baby grand piano and sat down and started to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in the Moonlight
00:53:15she played the song for no one but herself and the night
00:53:19I had experienced the artistic moment before my freshman year when I saw Tommy a ballet dancer who lived on our floor in the dorm when he took his first leap I had never seen anything so exciting I understood everything about art I would ever need to know art defines the moment of departure it enables us to momentarily leave the confines of our lives here on Earth and in an instant tell the story of what it meant to be here
00:53:51Debbie sitting alone at that piano lit only by a shaft of moonlight playing the Moonlight Sonata one of the greatest pieces ever composed was the first time I experienced an entire work of art in a perfect setting
00:54:06art like Reef must have a witness
00:54:11I never told Debbie I was hiding behind the couch while she played
00:54:15if she ever hears the story I hope it will service My Confession that she gave something pure and perfect to the world that will always live in my heart
00:54:27I know you been hurt
00:54:46but if you
00:54:59I came home from forestburgh the day school started Mom and Dad pick me up at the airport they drop me off at the drama building mom took my suitcase with my mountains of dirty clothes home to be washed and that is how Paul Friedman's Legacy the man from the ice cream store in Throop Pennsylvania ended up in my bedroom closet at home
00:55:25my mother found it wrapped in my sweater she put it in a pile of high school memorabilia and close the door if they're it stayed like a Sleeping Princess Anna fairytale for 37 years
00:55:42in retrospect it all makes perfect sense the whores of forsberg + The Impossible schedule plus living on beer and tongue for 3 months plus insects from Mars eating our brains plus me being possessed by the ghost about me sells brother completely distracted me
00:55:59in 2010 I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving my dad could still walk he had a custom of going to the SMU fitness center he would pedal on the X or bike and weigh himself many times to see if it was doing any good on this particular trip to SMU I felt the first pressure in my chest nothing painful just something odd and an odd place I decided in the shower I would have to go to my doctor when I got back to Los Angeles but I still had work to do in Dallas my main mission on this trip was to collect anything I wanted to keep I searched cabinets bookshelves even the garage for the precious
00:56:41and they're in my bedroom closet along with my Theater history notes was the large manila envelope Paul Freeman gave me decades ago as a legacy and it all came back to me Gemini stop to Throop Pennsylvania on the way to Forestburg we went to get butter pecan ice cream at mr. friedmann store he gave me this envelope with only one instruction open this when you run out of options
00:57:08I got the Los Angeles went to my doctor the news was not good I was scheduled for open heart surgery in 36 hours my surgeon was not a people person he said before the operation I should finish any unfinished business and I thought now is the time to open Paul Freeman's Legacy in fact this is probably why I kept forgetting about it all of these years so I could open it when I truly had run out of options I carefully unsealed mr. Friedman's gift
00:57:44inside it look like there was paper of some kind lots of paper I pulled it out and there were dozens of 50 year old articles from The New York Times on the future of nuclear energy
00:57:57I started to laugh I laughed so hard I cried they say tears are healthy the more I looked at each individual article of how in the future there will be nuclear power plants that will provide unlimited energy that we may even have nuclear powered cars and spaceships I thought of mr. Freeman spending hours to carefully clip and save these articles from the science time section for someone for me to guide them in the future
00:58:28it was both delusional and deer a description of life on Earth
00:58:34in my final hours before surgery I read through each article why I skim through them I took notes of what the future would look like
00:58:45the science times was wrong again the one element they missed was catastrophe
00:58:52the Chernobyl still Three Mile Island the fukushima's
00:58:56science is interested in defining the expected
00:59:01religion exists to get us through the unexpected
00:59:06I survived surgery but obviously I spend two days in the ICU one week in the cardia ward and then I was put back on the street as stipulated by my insurance policy
00:59:19I left the hospital stapled together and carefully drove me home my brother Paul flew out to watch over me through my first terrifying days without access to an oxygen tank
00:59:31I've been at home for a week when I got a phone call from Jim McClure Sister Jenny she said Steven Jim needs to talk to you I thought he had heard about my surgery wanted to wish me well
00:59:45no not at all
00:59:48Jenny continued Steven Jim is dying he may not make it through the day he has to see you he needs to talk to you
00:59:58all right Jenny all right Jenny gave me the address I grab the pillow for my chest and and I jumped in the car
01:00:07I didn't even know the gym was in Los Angeles I thought he was still in New York we arrived at an apartment complex somewhere on the west side of Los Angeles Jim was in a hospital bed in his living room he was in the final stages of hospice care Jenny and a nurse greeted me at the door Jenny explain the gym may not be able to remain conscious for very long she said he needed to see YouTube oh sure I said
01:00:37they left us alone I walked over to Jim's bad hey there Jim
01:00:43hey Ruby yeah Jenny called me I didn't know you were sick oh man oh man I'm worse than sick man I'm dying dying sucks
01:00:59look over on the bookcase is a play I wrote for you it's an adaptation of Uncle Vanya you see it
01:01:07I looked around and found a big manuscript is this at gym looked yeah I thought you'd be great in this part maybe Bailey could direct sure thank you and there's there's a good part in it for Grove we had a reading in New York went well I made some changes
01:01:27sounds good I said
01:01:30Andrew me
01:01:32yes something else
01:01:35Jim Poston try to get a breath
01:01:39I need to tell you I left you at Forest Park
01:01:44I never could tell you
01:01:47sure champ
01:01:49I didn't tell you the truth when we drove to New York
01:01:54I was in love
01:01:57you were yeah I kept calling her
01:02:02I remember you kept Vanishing yeah
01:02:05we were in a desperate situation she needed me I had to be with her I couldn't tell you I couldn't tell anyone
01:02:16you understand
01:02:18yes gym I do I knew you'd be all right even though that place was a dump I can't believe you stayed I had to
01:02:29Jim smiled and then you have dogs on stage left and licking your balls or something no not my boss Shelly's balls but yes there were dogs and ghosts I think so I can't figure that one out Jim started laughing God I could listen you tell those stories forever
01:02:49Forestburg was terrible you're right about that
01:02:53Jim Jim there's something I have to tell you I don't know if you remember Paul Friedman the ice cream store man in troop in Pennsylvania we visited granny and Esther and Ben oh yeah yeah and I peel the Apple yes and we went to the ice cream store for butter pecan but we have popsicles yes do you remember the envelope you gave me he said it was a legacy that he been saving up for me for years yeah yeah I forgot that I do too I opened it 3 weeks ago
01:03:31what was it
01:03:33articles from The New York Times on Nuckols
01:03:38what yeah about a hundred of them champ on the future of atomic energy that's what he would say yeah and I say
01:03:51Jim started laughing the hospice nurse stuck her head around the door to see what the commotion was about oh man oh man what yeah I said but it's perfect for the master peripheral knowledge Jim Laughed Until We Cried
01:04:12I know I know Jim but it was sweet that mr. Freeman saved it and gave it to me it's demented Remy you never knew the difference between kindness and insanity
01:04:23maybe not
01:04:25Jim was struck by a pain the nurse interdyn altered is drip I'm such a mess I'm sorry I don't even look human anymore will you look good to me Jim it's the prednisone makes you swell up my legs are three times their size yeah I had two friends with cancer the medicine does that but it's temporary temporary Jim the swelling goes away all you have to do is focus on getting through this week here's the deal I'll call Becky will organize for next week here in your room if you feel up for it yeah yeah sure you can listen you can make changes we just need to get through this week
01:05:12I'll get a copy to grow up he could stay with us when you start feeling stronger will get a space will rehearse but I'm not sure what shape I'll be in next week hey me neither I'm recovering too I just had heart surgery Jim was shot no way way we're a couple wrecks now Jimmy but we have a plan we have a play to work on we just have to get through these bad days
01:05:39Jim started to doze from the medication I got up and kissed him on the cheek I'll let you sleep now but I got the script I'll call you next week
01:05:51I'm sorry I left you roommate
01:05:54I was just in love
01:05:57I know you did a good thing
01:06:02Jim fell asleep
01:06:04he passed away two days later
01:06:07I read his plays it was vintage Jim funny wise and very true to check off
01:06:15I did see Jim one more time he came to me in the dream about a month later he look good like his old self he was full of good humor he asked me if I had any notes on the script we sat and talked about staging the play
01:06:32I was content the gym was knocked on but it joined the Legion of things that move in the dark
01:06:39Jim one said last words are important there's only room for the essential he was right I'm sorry I left you Rumi I was just in love
01:06:53this is a story for my beautiful friend Jim who always let the way

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Stephen Tobolowsky and David Chen, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.