And that’s how I met Andrea Alton; she played a loud, obnoxious patron in a modern art museum, and she had be giggling from the get go. Andrea kept working at EAT and elsewhere, and I loved seeing what she was going to do next. She invited me to the Fringe production of the play she wrote with Allen Warnock in the 2008 Fringe, and I got tickets right away. (NB: I call Allen Warnock my long-lost cousin because we HAVE to be related not too far back. There’s just not that many of us). So along with our friend Cheryl B., we went to the show, a two-hander, in which Andrea and Allen played all the parts, including the two eponymous best friends: poets and co-hosts of a public access cable show about poetry and crafts.
Cheryl had already booked both Allen and Andrea at her Poetry vs. Comedy series, and I quickly shanghaied them for my series, Drunken! Careening! Writers! After the Fringe, Andrea and Allen kept working on the show, which had a strong spine: what happens to friends who are artists when one of them suddenly becomes successful? Can their relationship survive the sudden difference in their stature?
They eventually took it to a commercial run in NYC in 2010, in between doing other gigs, which for Andrea included appearances at more EATfests in plays by Staci Swedeen (as a hippie dog trainer) Jon Spano (a very angry nurse/ betrayed wife) and Mark Finley (a neglected teenage heiress/serial killer). She played a groupie/stalker in the reading of Meryl Cohn’s “Insatiable Hunger,” this past May, cracking up the object of her affections, Lea DeLaria (and everyone else).
Andrea’s Molly became the go-to butch when you needed someone foulmouthed, funny, and totally fearless. Embraced by the butch community in particular (some of whom walk up to her and quote her poEMs), she did get some pushback from one queer artist, who thought it was inappropriate for Andrea to "appropriate" a butch persona. (When I heard about that, I thought: slippery slope…does that mean that gays shouldn’t play straight parts?)
And what exactly IS an artist supposed to do to get to work? If you're not a "type," if you're not the age/height/weight/style/color/haircut they're looking for, are you supposed to wait around for the rest of the world to catch up with you...or create your own scene and put yourself to work?
And the proof is in the pudding, or in the butches in this case, and the full houses and shrieks of laughter show me that a queer audience gets what Andrea’s doing with Molly, and because it is a beautiful characterization, well-crafted and truthful, they’ll shout along with Molly when she tells her F-Train Girl: “I WANNA STICK MY FACE IN YOUR VAGINA!”
Andrea had the idea that she could do a solo show with Molly, and she asked Mark Finley to direct, and he knows a good thing when he sees one, and said, OF COURSE. And, as always, Andrea worked her ass off: she presented a version of her long-form Molly show at One Woman Standing, as part of the New Works Series at EAT (a series she also curates). She applied to this year’s Fringe…and got in. And got a BIG theater to fill.
So she got to work again: raising money, surrounding herself with producing, creative and tech staff who bring their own talents to making Molly shine. Doing the publicity, making more appearances, and spreading the word among her growing community on her blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and the gay bars in Park Slope.
As soon as tickets went on sale, I got mine for Opening Night, and joined the large crowd for “The F*cking World According to Molly” at the Players Theater on MacDougal Street. She surfed the waves of laughter and will be even better when she gets off book (I kid!)
And she did go to the next level: the show is not an hour of standup, it’s a play, about a very specific woman, and how the hell she gets through life, and creates her art, and tries to get over/through/around a devastating loss to find the things that make her happy: ladies and chicken fingers (or nachos). And in the midst of this, she finds the time to tintervene when she sees injustice being done in the schoolyard where she works. That is, when she doesn’t call in sick or high.
There are 4 more performances of Andrea's show: Fri 19 @ 6 Sat 20 @ 9:15 Thu 25 @ 2 Sun 28 @ 4:15. You should go. Get tickets here.
I have been kicking around in New York City since the title of Orwell’s book. And I still look forward to the next show, the next interesting writer or actor or all-of-the-above (...except for clowns. Clowns make me nervous). And people sometimes ask me: how is it you’ve been able to hang in here so long, and not get bitter or mean or crazy? And I say: you haven’t seen me in the mornings. And also, I don’t put everything I say or think on the internet. However, AFTER my coffee and my editing skills, what gets me through the day (and night) is the considerable energy and talent of the people I call friends and colleagues. I feed off it, it inspires me, and makes me want to go home and create something.
So, as long as I have talented friends doing great new work, I’m good. Can’t wait to see what comes next. And play with the talent.
Like, tomorrow night (Aug. 18), I sure hope you’ll come see Drunken! Careening! Writers!, at KGB Bar, 85 E. 4th St, 7pm FREE, with J. Stephen Brantley, Kevin Holohan and Thaddeus Rutkowski.
I met J. Stephen at an EATfest…and then we went to Ireland and ate some oatmeal...but that’s a story for another night.