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Interview with Tom Fitzpatrick

I spoke with Tom Fitzpatrick after one of his performances as Willie  in the Mabou Mines production of Beckett’s Happy Days at P.S. 122.

MR. MUFSON: How would you describe your professional relationship with Reza? Did he bounce ideas off of you and other company members much?

MR. FITZ: I was just talking about this the other day. Somebody, they had went to Columbia to like talk about Reza and I was introduced to the young people as one of Reza’s collaborators and I had to correct them on that. Reza would, you know, be furious if anybody was called a collaborator. “He’s one of my actors, he’s not a collaborator.” You know. So it was like that.

Did he bounce ideas off me? It was like really… I knew him for like ten years and when I met him, it was like 1985 and he was about twenty-two and he was just a kid. And he sort of like did me the honor of telling me at one time, “You are my muse.” He had nobody else; I was his muse [inaudible][010]. And so one day he was looking at my hands and he said, “Oh. I’m going to make a vampire play for you. You have the hands of Ola.” He was really into like… We were both very fond of old movies and all of the mystique old films, and he loved [inaudible][014] and stuff like that. So I think from that he –

MR. MUFSON: Made Rusty.

MR. FITZ: — went ahead and made Rusty, yeah. So that was my vampire film. What we all discovered, or what I discovered and then I noticed that the other kids were copying me was, if you wanted to get more stage time with Reza, you had to like really think of things that would interest him like dances that he would like or movies that he would like or bits of speeches that he would like or songs that he would like.

MR. MUFSON: So how would you present those?

MR. FITZ: When he would have rehearsal at the big rehearsal hall, he would usually… In the later shows, after anything after Minamata, which had a lot of dancing, you would always have dance rehearsal first. And he’d be at his little table over there, you know, the director’s place, sifting through his notes and writing things down and talking to designers and stuff like that and we [inaudible][028] would be out there sweating through the dance routines and stuff like that and he’d be like always watching everything. It was like in one eye. One eye was on the papers and one eye is out here. He was like extremely… He had quite wide field of vision when he was in the rehearsal hall. And so he’d be watching that and doing stuff. And there’d be rehearsal breaks and he could be doing fifteen other things. But if you did something interesting, he would spot it from across the room. He would look at you and say, “Oh. What are you doing?” So, discovering this interesting trait of his, I started to like… I would like put in –

mufson: Rehearsal-rehearsal?

fitzpatrick: I would… Rehearsal-rehearsals. I would be like singing a song or the part of it that I thought would be cool for a [inaudible][036]. You know, the stuff that I thought would fit into the picture of what I was getting that would be going on. I mean I started out with…especially with…to some extent, Father, which is on the streets of the village and rehearsing on the street and up in this fucking meat locker and on the roof of a building. So it’s kind of hard like to get into his purview there. But still one could do it. I can’t remember exactly what I did in it, but when we did…particularly when we did Hip-Hop, then we were in like a really small rehearsal hall and it was very pressurized because he didn’t really have much of a script, and doing the dances. So I would always try to like think of interesting things to…just like, you know, poses, anything. And at about that time also, he was looking for… I was always looking for stuff to like feed his head. And I was kind of getting into old time radio at that time, so… There were these wonderful people called The Bickersons.

mufson: Right.

fitzpatrick: Remember them? Frances Langford and Don Ameche? And he was looking for like a scene of a couple fighting or to be inspired, so I got some tapes of The Bickersons and laid them on him. And he took a fifteen-minute Bickerson scene, I think pretty much verbatim, and stuck it into the show. So that sort of stuff. It was always like you would try to find things that would feed his head you know. Like drag him off to movies that had people in it that you knew he would like or that you related to that you always kind of wanted to imitate on stage. Like a character that I play in Hip-Hop Waltz was… I mean I decided she was going to look like Marlena Dietrich and Greta Garbo no matter what you know. So that was just what I did. I’m rambling. I’m trying to think. But that was it mainly. You would just try… You would either… You’d come up to him and say, “Reza, have you ever seen this? Have you ever heard that?” You know. “You want to see this movie?” Or, like I said, you would do things around the edges and if it was interesting, it would turn up in the show. And then pretty soon, everybody was doing that. Like there’s a dance that Julia does in Hip-Hop Waltz.

mufson: The one where she’s…

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Smacking herself on the head. Which was something that she… She was doing exactly what I was doing. She was over in the corner doing that one day. I said, “Look at her. She’s gonna get that thing in the show.” And she did. And he loved it. It was fabulous. And that was something that a friend of hers did. A friend of hers named Funda. Funda. Funda does this dance [inaudible] [065] she would tell Reza. I don’t think Funda did this thing with the… I mean that was Julia’s inspiration. Or maybe Reza’s. It was like a… I was like a, you know, Middle Eastern dance. But I think Julia put this in. So that would be what would happen. You would put something in and Reza would take it and be inspired by it. And then to make it even more far out, he would bend it a little bit. So that was kind of how it went I guess. I mean sometimes he would… Toward the end, he…he had me write a speech or something like that. The speech that I do as the travel agent in Hip-Hop, somebody else had written. Which I think it was a collage of stuff and they had written it. And I found it unplayable, so I said, “Can I rewrite this?” So I rewrote it for myself and I put all this stuff in about [inaudible][074] and stuff like that. He loved that.

mufson: Where did that come from?

fitzpatrick: It’s the truth. Poor Virginia Rappe that was…that died at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco in 1922. I saw photographs of her, she was… You know, some movie magazine of the era decided that she was the best dressed girl in the movies in 1918. So I stuck that in. And you know, all that sort of stuff. So I pretty much rewrote that speech to my specifications. And a couple of other little things. I think I remember rewriting the thing where…some of the stuff where Alan was like burning my shoulder with a cigarette. I think I remember that. And know I wrote…

mufson: Now… But would he… Would he take what you did and… Did you really rewrite the whole thing or did you –

fitzpatrick: Yes. [inaudible][085]

mufson: — have that Fatty Arbuckle thing and then… Because that still pretty much keeps with the same… I guess… I haven’t actually gone to the boroughs. I’ve got a novel that supposedly was a big influence with this or whatever. But like the style of having these threads of [inaudible][088] that kind of go –

fitzpatrick: Non sequiturs?

mufson: — that kind of go…

fitzpatrick: Yeah.

mufson: Well, there’s non sequiturs, but they sort of…they follow other things that were… They actually do follow, but from things that weren’t directly before it is what I…sort of [inaudible][090]. Which I’m right or wrong about. Actually…

fitzpatrick: Have you got a copy of it?

mufson: You know what? I have it.

fitzpatrick: [inaudible][089] looking for the perfect travel package. I think that’s mine. This is part of a script that we got [inaudible][089]. …And that was Laurel Meadd. “Coke, right?” “Coke, dear. Right?” I think then I went off on this. Or so they say. Yeah. I know. “Things get better with Coke, dear. Right?” Yeah. Then I put in Fatty Arbuckle because of his…he’s accused of fucking [inaudible][097] a Coke bottle. And this is all me. Virginia “Boom-Boom” Rappe. I just made up the “Boom-Boom.” Best dressed girl in the movies. 1918. This is them. This is Laurel with whoever she was riding with.

mufson: That’s who?

fitzpatrick: Laurel Meadd wrote some of this. She was a wonderful friend of Reza’s and a nice writer. She’s a very good writer in her own right. I can give you her number of you want.

mufson: Yeah. That would be great.

fitzpatrick: [inaudible][104] That’ll be a dime. That’s my line. [inaudible][105] That’s mine. One quarter or one-tenth of a dollar. That’s me. Now fork it over. That’s me. You, front row. That’s me. All this. Yeah, that’s all me. [inaudible][112] Why [inaudible][114] are down is me. [inaudible][115] I think I should [inaudible][116] was in there.

mufson: [inaudible][117]

fitzpatrick: Yeah, that was a [inaudible][116]. That’s me maybe. That’s me. Me. Me, me, me. Me. Me. This is all me. That’s cool. Katherine Hepburn. “Suddenly Last Summer.”

mufson: That’s you too?

fitzpatrick: Yeah. That’s all me. Part of me. Oh, yeah. This is [inaudible][120]. I couldn’t remember this ever. “The No Kissing Madam” That’s me. “No kissing, sir.” That’s me. [inaudible][122] That’s them. [inaudible][122] I think. No. No. They wrote that line. That’s right.

mufson: Twenty minutes of silence followed from Fatty’s bedroom? Written by [inaudible][121]

fitzpatrick: Yeah. So this is a nice little [inaudible][117] we work.

mufson: Mix?

fitzpatrick: Yeah. You know, Laurel and whoever she was writing with inspired by what I have been turning in. Stuck this in. [inaudible][118]

mufson: Did Laurel work on the later stuff as well?

fitzpatrick: She may have. You ought to ask her about that.

mufson: Where is she? Is she in New York or in LA?

fitzpatrick: She’s out in LA. So, yeah, she would be able to tell you more. She was kind of like a drama [inaudible][124] at the LATC. And just a really good person [inaudible][125].

mufson: I haven’t even seen her name I don’t think.

fitzpatrick: No? She’s very…much more modest than the rest of us. She’s very sweet. That’s them. That’s Reza [inaudible][126]. “[inaudible][128] them jewels with you.” I think that was… Reza, naturally. Yeah. “Smile I’d say. That’s quite a cucumber you got there kid.” Well, that still leaves… This is me. This is me. And that’s all me. And that’s me. That’s me.

mufson: [inaudible][133]

fitzpatrick: No, that’s me. This is them. If you kind of make it in the –

mufson: If you make a [inaudible][136], that’s them?

fitzpatrick: Yeah. “For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” I think that might be… I don’t know if that’s them or me. This is me. “Why don’t you shitcan the jungle atmosphere, honey, I can’t hear myself think.” That’s mine. That’s mine. “Take a break [inaudible][136]. Mine. “Time to go, Sport.” That’s me. That’s me imitating Diane White. “Time to go, Sport.” “Will you write?” “Don’t worry, I will never be far from a telephone.” [inaudible][127] That’s Reza. That’s [inaudible][138]. That’s Reza. “Just remember. We’re making a movie here and you’re the star.” That’s them. This is, I think, a [inaudible][140] from some write…somebody’s book. [inaudible][140]

mufson: Yeah. Diane, said she thought that was from [inaudible][141] I think.

fitzpatrick: It might be. So that’s how it all went. I mean that’s like a little… That’s an extreme microplasma of how we worked, you know? And I [inaudible][142]

mufson: So the [inaudible][143] in this case, it sounds like it was very collaborative. At least in terms of the writing.

fitzpatrick: Well, in certain cases. That speech, it could be more or less depending on… At first I had a really solid vision of what he wanted you know. I mean [inaudible][147]

mufson: [inaudible][148]

fitzpatrick: A true visionary. I mean… Did you hear the talk about how this came from like one line that he heard in a dream?

mufson: Oh, the [inaudible][148]

fitzpatrick: Which is probably true. That and the fact that they needed a low budget show with only five actors. That’s all they could afford.

mufson: Right. That was a low budget for the [inaudible][151].

fitzpatrick: The [inaudible][151] expensive. Yeah. That was the most expensive thing.

mufson: Video [inaudible][153]

fitzpatrick: Two dancers, three actors in the video. I bet you dollars to donuts that Adam did it for free just for the fun of working with Reza. He did most of the stuff very cheaply, you know? Thousand bucks, two thousand bucks. [inaudible][163] expensive I guess. And I think for LATC it was that they had such a wonderful setup there. I mean there was a full [inaudible][170] shop with, you know, fifty guys on salary at any given time. So, you know… The money was going to get spent on salaries anyway, they might as well be doing something.

mufson: Right.

fitzpatrick: But, you know, actors’ salaries and then royalties and stuff like that would [inaudible][174].

mufson: So how did you… I mean… How did you approach…

fitzpatrick: How would you talk to Reza about doing stuff?

mufson: No, but how did you decide how you were going to interpret the text, say the text, whatever? I mean because it’s not… That’s mostly training as an actor actually. Because you’re Equity, right?

fitzpatrick: I’m Equity. Yeah. I’ve been acting for like… I’ve been acting really, I mean, since 1960.

mufson: Were you Equity as long as you worked at the [inaudible][178]?

fitzpatrick: Oh, yeah. I was Equity.

mufson: Did your work on waiver or did you just…

fitzpatrick: [inaudible][179] first doing the…the early shows in Hollywood, we didn’t even bother getting a waiver, you know? It was just like such small potatoes. Thirty people would come of a night to see the shows. We worked in like little tiny spaces that weren’t even registered Equity label and we… The first time that we started, when Equity got in the picture, was when we did the first show at LATC, which was [inaudible][190]

mufson: [inaudible][190]

fitzpatrick: Yeah. And we all got [inaudible][190]. But, you know, my training has been… You know, I went to Ithaca College. Which is a nice upstate New York theater school. I went [inaudible][191]. And classes around New York. And just, you know, did repertory and stuff like that.

mufson: So did you have a more traditional…

fitzpatrick: I have a lot of traditional training.

mufson: Traditional training. I noticed Julia also [inaudible][194]

fitzpatrick: Julia [inaudible][194]. So, you know, that was kind of the way the cast would be made when it was a big cast show. I mean… No disrespect to the kids that were not, most of them were young people, were not so well trained. But it was like, you know, there’d be like so many solid actors who could like carry the stuff. And then there’d be… I used to call him “Cannon Father.” [inaudible][199] And they would the ones who would get the shit beat out of them. Poor babies. You know, I’m upside down, and have to run and then fall down. And, you know. And of course he always –

mufson: [inaudible][201] You were hanging upside down with a drawer.

fitzpatrick: I know. Yeah. Well, I did that whole [inaudible][201] last night, you know. He can work me too. But he was very sweet and he was kind. He would always like try to be [inaudible][202]. He’d would always say, “We’ve got a lot of [inaudible][203] in this show. You do what you want to do. Do the lines you can do and the other ones don’t worry about. Only you I’m telling this to, but you’re a [inaudible][203]” So that would be like… He’d be very sweet. And then I would so appreciate that he was being merciful to me and I would try to learn all the fucking dances. Like in TIGHT, RIGHT, WHITE, there’s only one that I just…was beyond my limited capability. But everything else I pretty much did. I’m not really a very good dancer at all, but I try to fake it.

But that was it. I mean, like you know, the idea was to have like actors with training, you know. I have like, you know, classical abilities. And Julia does too. You know, like really solid actors. And then less solid people around, they call it a ballet. And I guess perhaps I was kind of like a transmitter of the style that he had developed. The first show I did with him was a wonderful thing called [inaudible][205] plays. Which we did pretty naturalistically acting wise, the way it sounded. I mean it was very…sort of stylized and very spare. Like amazingly spare. …We did [inaudible][211]. Very spare. Very simple and naturalistic, but stylized. You know, so I’m pretty smart. I kind of like watched what he liked and like how the pictures looked and, you know, kind of how it sounded and how it worked. And we did his first grand show which was A Medea, a requiem from [inaudible][212] in this basketball court, this huge mother fuckin’ basketball court. With a lot of movement and dancing and very long. And I mean you had to be big to fill that. …A Medea in this basketball court.

mufson: That changed the acting style.

fitzpatrick: That changed the acting style. I knew that we had to be big and it was Medea. It was Greek for god’s sake. And that was the first time, it was only our second show, but it was the first time that he ever wrote a speech especially for me, which I was so honored by. And he claimed that it was…he had heard his father say this to his mother and it was this [inaudible][219]. There was this poor gal, one of them… There were seven Medeas in this thing. Seven Medeas. One of the Medeas was in this found object, cage, that he had found there. I think it might’ve been some kind… I don’t know where he found this fuckin’ cage, but she was being wheeled around in this cage and I was playing the Creon character. And mostly I was in a wheelchair. He adored wheelchairs. But then I would come up from my wheelchair kind of like a snake and I just… I don’t know. How did I think of this? I guess I…he transmitted it to me or I read his mind. I mean like, you know, I would come up like a snake and then I would seem like explode and grab this cage and do this [inaudible][228] rather while I’m shaking the cage. And I knew that it had to be understandable and audible to people who were sitting like fifty, sixty feet away. So I knew it had to be like big and articulated well and some air between the words so they could get the words. So I did that. And I don’t think he ever told us, but if he…you know… There were other, you know, sort of accomplished actors in that cast too. I mean maybe not as old as me, but you know, trained actors. So I think we just… You know, like when a company is like working together, or maybe you don’t know, but it would be kind of like pick up, there becomes a shared energy field type of thing. Happily from, you know, Reza. And so pretty soon other people, when they [inaudible][244], they’re getting like big too you know. And I don’t think I ever remember him actually directing anybody that. But, you know, it was like very grand. The thing was, to fill the space. It was a Greek tragedy. So then we did [inaudible][246].

mufson: But that exaggerated style stayed on really for every piece after that.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. He would like modify it, depending on the size of the venue. He never told you different. And I think he probably… When we did…

mufson: So you didn’t do… There weren’t particularly acting exercises or…

fitzpatrick: No.

mufson: It wasn’t the focus as to how to get to that…

fitzpatrick: Get to that level?

mufson: …style of turnout and –

fitzpatrick: No. Un-huh.

mufson: …pitch of voice and –

fitzpatrick: No. Not that I recall. We just… [inaudible][254].

mufson: Then you guys all sort of ended up on the similar levels –

fitzpatrick: Well…

mufson: — without articulating that.

fitzpatrick: I’m sure it came from Reza and I’m sure, like I said, there’s a shared energy field and maybe [inaudible][256] had a lot to do with it. Like I was like the example because I was with him since…you know. But –

mufson: You were really…

fitzpatrick: Not at the beginning, but I was early in you know. And I was like the survivor.

mufson: Ended up staying on the [inaudible][265].

fitzpatrick: Yeah. And so I would imagine… And they probably [inaudible][265] to the fact that [inaudible][265] keep me around that style, maybe that, you know, would be something to like imitate I think. I’m guessing. But I don’t believe ever gave anybody any directions. It was –

mufson: And so when you’re doing it, you’re just thinking…bigger?

fitzpatrick: Well, yeah.

mufson: What exactly are you doing [inaudible][268]?

fitzpatrick: It was like real –

mufson: Because it’s not… To me it’s more than big because I’ve seen people do exaggerated… [inaudible][270]

fitzpatrick: Yeah, [inaudible][272] be real. I think maybe… I mean, you know. How do I articulate this? I think that Reza consciously or unconsciously, when he started to have… After having made a few mistakes in terms of personnel, when he started to have like, you know, real control and people like coming to him wanting to work with him so he had a choice of actors, I think he started consciously or unconsciously probably to select a certain type of personality. I mean ideally they had to be a good mover and they had to have had training. They had to be extremely docile. Docile. And then I… I mean docile. Peaceful people. You know? But it helped if you had like…if he could sense that you had like a real core of fucked-up-edness I think. Do you know? Like emotional torment. I think he probably like that you know. And I was in the —

mufson: Although… Frankly, talking to you… I mean… And I noticed this when you spoke at the memorial service, you are absolutely nothing…

fitzpatrick: Like the people I played.

mufson: Yes. And there’s no… To me there’s no real…

fitzpatrick: No.

mufson: Most everything you play in Reza’s pieces, except maybe Moisha Pipik’s mom…

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Right.

mufson: …have this kind of real edge of…

fitzpatrick: Well he liked that. I mean he wanted, you know… I think he discovered that I could that right from the beginning you know. That kind of…you know, issues with his father I guess.

mufson: Right.

fitzpatrick: His father must’ve been a piece of work. You know, like really a strong, mythologically [phonetic] strong man I guess. And apparently given to great power, at least in part, by a lot of anger. And like strong, strong emotions. The love he had for the mother was apparently, you know, amazingly strong too. And then just like…mythic in these proportions. And he either asked me to fulfill that and drawing from something in myself, maybe I was able to do that or he sensed that I had it there anyway and he made things to fit that. I don’t know. I [inaudible][304] a lot, Dan. I mean I’m not all that sweet and peaceful. You know. [inaudible][305] You know. But [inaudible][307] there’s crazy enough of a mother fucker in there someplace. And Reza, I think, picked up on that.

mufson: I said to Brenden, I think I said that few actors are called even once in their career to jerk-off while looking at Polaroids, and after I saw this, I…

fitzpatrick: Did I do that?

mufson: With a cameras? It looked like you were sort of doing it when you [inaudible][311].

fitzpatrick: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

mufson: [inaudible][312]

fitzpatrick: You saw that? You could see? Oh, you can see me.

mufson: Yeah.

fitzpatrick: Oh, you’re the only one that knows. Thank you. I kiss your feet, man. Nobody ever gets that.

mufson: [inaudible][317] thought of Blind Owl. Yeah, I know. I saw that, yeah.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Blind Owl was so funny.

mufson: How many people do that twice in their career?

fitzpatrick: Twice in their lives.

mufson: I know. What is it about Tom Fitzpatrick?

fitzpatrick: Isn’t that [inaudible][324] scene in the world? Don’t you love that? I wish that picture would get released. I think it’s really, really good. Especially now that I have a frame of reference, having seen a couple of Iranian films. I used to kind of think… “Kind of weird, this movie,” I used to think is. Almost too weird to go. But it’s really… It’s a Persian point of view, man. They really do not see the world like we do. It’s beautiful. I just love it. [inaudible][326] much more Russian actually. Reza would always say, “You know, we’re not Semitic people. Persians are not Semites. They’re not Semitic. They’re closer to the Russians. We’re Indo-European. We’re closer to Russians.” And I guess they actually are geographically close Russia.

mufson: Uh-huh. Yeah. [inaudible][332]

fitzpatrick: Have you seen A Taste of Cherry?

mufson: Yes, I did.

fitzpatrick: Don’t you think that that speech that the old man has when he’s trying to talk the other guy out of committing suicide —

mufson: Uh-huh.

fitzpatrick: — is the best Chekhov acting lesson you ever say in your life? Fuck I think that’s so beautiful.

mufson: Also, I thought of Blind Owl with that, the way it ends. Because then you also in Blind Owl have that kind of…you know, look at the film process —

fitzpatrick: Look at the film being made. Yeah.

mufson: — [inaudible][339] in the middle of Blind Owl. It sort of comes out of nowhere.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Reza was a genius. God I wish he’d lived. [inaudible][342]

mufson: I really would’ve wished…

fitzpatrick: God, he could’ve just revolutionized the theater. Instead, we’ll all farting around, doing the same old shit.

mufson: Let’s look at the travel package speech. I mean how did you…

fitzpatrick: Well, I knew that, from what had gone before, the pitch of the show, you couldn’t let it down. You certainly couldn’t be intimate. I knew that we were mic’d [phonetic]. I knew the voice had to cut through a lot of music, you know, loud music and sound. I mean I remember that it was like “[inaudible][346]” you know, all this sort of stuff and Reza…and he said, “You’re going to fly open the door here and then you are going to scream.”

mufson: Scream. Right.

fitzpatrick: Which is a recorded scream. So right away, you get an idea of the pitch you have to… And it’s Hell. I’m the travel agent for Hell.

mufson: So… But why is Travel Agent to Hell getting…

fitzpatrick: Get so big?

mufson: Getting so preoccupied with Boom-Boom Rappe and Fatty Arbuckle?

fitzpatrick: Why not? Well, that was for Fatty’s health. And I got it off the Coke. I just reassociated the “Things go better with Coke, dear. Right?” And then… I don’t know why they wrote “Things go better with Coke, dear.” That was in the script I got. And so I just thought, “Why not stick in Fatty Arbuckle” because I’m a silent movie fan and of [inaudible][365], so I thought I’d toss that in. And it seemed to fit and he liked it. He laughed.

mufson: And do you consciously… Because I another thing that I see through a lot of the work is that there’s…it has a very weird way of being serious and funny at the same time.

fitzpatrick: Yeah.

mufson: Like the actors are investing everything they’re doing with a lot of seriousness, and yet it’s…there’s an absurdity that’s [inaudible][372] quality to it.

fitzpatrick: It’s so over the top that it’s absurd. Yeah.

mufson: Is that something that you consciously… Were you conscious of that as you were doing it?

fitzpatrick: You didn’t mind it if they laughed. You kind of would hope sometimes that they would laugh to take the [inaudible][375]. Otherwise, it would’ve been kind of like grand opera where you know you’re not supposed to laugh. You know what I mean? Then if they don’t laugh… I mean at least if they laugh, they’re with you. I mean when people laugh, they’re like…generally if they’re not laughing at you, they’re laughing with you. Which means that they’re sort of like…they know where you are. I mean lots of times things that are just so ridiculously tragic, there’s nothing to do but laugh you know.

mufson: Were you…

fitzpatrick: And the reason that people sleep through opera is because they can’t laugh. It’s like you’ve got to take it seriously. And, you know, I think the whole thing with… I think that Reza’s theater was all like a wake-up cry because you have to be loud. People are just…they’re so bombarded and benumbed by the amount of [inaudible][386] that’s rammed into them everyday, you have to get in their fucking face and scream to make any sense. I mean to make an impression on people. [inaudible][391] You go see a big [inaudible][392]. You know, [inaudible][393] bores the shit of you, doesn’t it?

mufson: Yeah.

fitzpatrick: So it’s boring. So you have to like wake the fuckers up, man. That’s what he was basically doing I think.

mufson: Now even Diane at certain points when I think…in the show… Sometimes I mix up Bogeyman and Law because they’re a little… Where Julia shows her genitals and says, “Feast your eyes on my ovaries” or something like that.

fitzpatrick: Oh, that’s [inaudible][401] supposed to be.

mufson: And I know that Diane was sort of like “[inaudible][402],” you know, “Is that really necessary?” To what extent were… And a lot of people have written…tend to focus more on the shock elements of the performances and such. I’m wondering to what extent the cast perceived what they were doing as shocking or really…or more as humorous or just cleaver or… I mean what…

fitzpatrick: I loved it. I mean with the little bit of shocking stuff that I participated in, I was so proud and happy to be naked on stage for forty-five minutes in front of, you know, six hundred Persians. I loved that. You know? And I was so proud, I was like fifty-one and I looked pretty good and I thought, “Boy, I bet every guy and gal in this audience wished they had the guts to do this.” You know. It’s like the last barrier, the fear of being naked in public, you know, and all that. And I just thought it was…it was wonderfully liberating. So that was the most shocking thing that I ever… Well, I don’t know if –

mufson: But then you… So it wasn’t really even shocking for you. Right?

fitzpatrick: [inaudible][412]

mufson: There’s nothing that you saw in these shows that maybe…

fitzpatrick: No.

mufson: That ruffled your feathers.

fitzpatrick: No. Shocking. I’d rather be shocked than bored you know. Any day of the week and twice on Friday, you know. And if it was shocking, great. Wake the fuck up you know. And I… I knew… You know… I don’t know when… Well, I do know when. Like when I was…had my first audition with Reza I think, probably just sitting there… You know, I went in and I read this speech sitting on his bed in his little bungalow court apartment in Hollywood. And we finished and sort of like sat there in silence for…it seemed like an eternity. And he said, “Well, I don’t know. You want to do it?” And I said, “Yeah. I guess so.” And I think I knew right then this guy is like really special, you know. I would’ve followed him anywhere probably. And I… I was… [inaudible][424] And I was like convinced from that moment that he was like an artist, you know. That he had impeccable taste. And he was much more brilliant and intelligent than I could ever hope to be. And I just trusted him. I knew that what I was doing was like art. People might’ve hated it and all that jazz, but it was bloody well art. And so in the name of art, nothing is shocking. I wasn’t… I would’ve done anything for Reza that I could’ve done you know.

mufson: Going back to the style for a second. Were there any precedents that you modeled your performance on? Like was there… Did you… What you ended up doing in Medea, and following that, had you done that earlier in stuff that you had worked on that wasn’t an [inaudible][439] piece, or was that something…

fitzpatrick: I don’t think I ever got to such…you know, sort of like filled with parona [phonetic], so full of every before, ever you know. The energy that I used to expend during some of those things, you could comfortably probably play King Lear on you know. I mean we’d get like this…just like ball of energy that you had to have to get through the show.

mufson: If you were training actors, to try to take on that style, what would you say now? Would you just try to show it and then see if they could follow it or…

fitzpatrick: I guess. I wouldn’t know who how to tell them, but I know that. I mean, you know, if I were… Reza’s favorite actor I think got to be Tom Pearl who’s this like an amazing talent.

mufson: He’s the guy who played [inaudible][451].

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Yeah. Because Tom, first of all, is like really in his body. He’s just like immensely agile. So Reza adored that. And he’s got very fine training and a really good technique. And he’s got like real charisma. You cannot look at somebody else when Tom was on the stage. [inaudible][455] you know. He’s like really got that. And he’s got a big ball of fucked-up-edness inside to work from to power that. So I guess if I were like, you know… If Reza were still alive and there was a Reza Abdoh acting school, it would be a lot of physical work. They would have to like, you know, dance like crazy and tai chi like crazy and yoga like crazy and all disciplines of dance, definitely. And they would need to be… It would be great if they could sing well. Tommy sang well too. Most of the kids sing very well. You know, it would be great if they were like really good trained singers. And it would be great if they had like really good speech training, really you know. And dialect training so you could like characterize. And then you have to have like… You have to like see all…as many of the great performances as you could. Which is how I used to feed my head. Most of the great performances are in movies unfortunately. Because most of the actors of that caliber died, you know, twenty years ago. But I would do that. If I could look at great old actors that we could still see films of who had been stage actors you know.

mufson: Like whom?

fitzpatrick: Walter Catlett.

mufson: Uh-huh.

fitzpatrick: You know who I’m talking about. Fuck. Mary Boland. Walter Brennan. Ed Begley. Do you remember Ed Begley, Sr.?

mufson: No.

fitzpatrick: Big old guy. You know, one of them big old southern guys. He plays the opening boss in Sweet Bird of Youth that has, I think, Paul Newman castrated or whatever. He’s a big old southern guy you know. Just basically look for old wonderful actors who had had the stage training who were still like still broad as a barn even with a movie camera at them. And W.C. Fields. I mean Chaplin. Keaton just for like…just for like, you know, the incredible economy and precision, you know, of everything and the stillness that it came out of. But I don’t know how you would… My power came out of rapacious hunger to be center-stage too. Actually. Do you know? I mean I have been waiting around quite a number of years to connect up with somebody that recognized me for the actor that I am. And so I was very hungry. And that made it easy for me to like access the other things. I had really good Stanislavski training. Good old fashioned Stanislavski training in the 70’s actually. There were a couple of teachers in Boston that stuck with me very well. So I would always actually break down my roles even as a… You know, what’s going on? What am I trying to do to the other people? What is my objective? What’s my action? You know, [inaudible][500] What’s my relation? What relation with these people? You know, all of that. The reality of the thing. And then you would just… You would do it like you were doing realism and then you would just pump it up. You would make the need for urgent, whatever. You’d make… You know, you’d make…you can make it life and death, you can…

mufson: It doesn’t seem to me like Stanislavski is like…without any [inaudible][509] like say doing The Bickersons style I believe.

fitzpatrick: Sure. Yeah. I mean to get…

mufson: And then that is essentially the same character that you had, you know, while you’re doing the speechless section at the beginning of Hip-Hop and…

fitzpatrick: Yeah. She had many…many [inaudible][513]. The beginning scene is kind of like, you know, [inaudible][516] to Chaplin and Keaton. I mean I was doing like —

mufson: So you thought of that character more as Dora Lee as Uralicity.

fitzpatrick: No. Actually I thought of her as Uralicity. I hated to have her called Dora Lee. I don’t know why I called her Dora Lee. Reza would always call her Dora Lee and it would always shake me out. I mean there were sections of her like Dora Lee and there were sections of her Uralicity. But she was always Uralicity to me. I can remember the first part is like…is my [inaudible][528] to Chaplin [inaudible][528] my very best to be just as graceful and kind of economical as I could and I was [inaudible][527] like a silent movie, you know, all that stuff. Stolen from all those great old guys. You see them shaving people in the old movies. And then The Bickersons was like Frances Langford but like pumped up you know. Pumped up and compressed. And it had to go fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. The thing where I’m lying there, you know, with the captain. It’s a duplicate scene that Tommy has [inaudible][533].

mufson: Right. From Nine to Five.

fitzpatrick: From Nine to Five. So I sort of like… But never saw Nine to Five, but I can imagine what Dolly Parton was probably like in that scene or what any woman is like who’s playing a [inaudible][540] secretary. It’s all the same, you know. So I just…I was using that sort of stuff. But I was… You know, to get this old guy off my back. To keep my job but not have to fuck him you know. I mean I was playing realistic stuff. Then the thing when he’s like torturing me you know. And that was like… I don’t know, that was like every…that was like every corny heroin in every movie ever. Especially not a very good actress who’s like a corny heroin. You know, [inaudible][551]. “How can you do that to me,” you know. “…fuckin’ hands off me,” you know. I mean we all do that. So it was like that. And then… What else happened in that? There’s a scene when [inaudible][555]. Alan has a big long speech. It’s a beautiful [inaudible][557]. Acting up a storm.

mufson: Right.

fitzpatrick: And I’m just… I crawl on naked and I’m… What am I saying? “Tonight’s my night for a miracle.” And “I’m just coming to meet my stud puppy.” That’s my line by the way. “Just coming to meet my stud puppy.” You say “Tonight’s my night for a miracle.” Sometimes you’ll say something else. “Just coming to meet my stud puppy.” [inaudible][559] But, you know, then I knew I wasn’t on mic and Alan was up front on mic so I was god damned if I was going to be ignored, so I put a lot of body in addition to that. And the writing person, then Brian, was like a friend of mine. Sort of a, you know, I mean giggle buddies. And I said —

mufson: You were what?

fitzpatrick: Giggle buddies.

mufson: Oh, giggle buddies.

fitzpatrick: Giggle buddies. And so like when I knew I was going to be like naked, I said, you know, you have to like me really well because I don’t [inaudible][564] anything from the top, you know. From the side like the ballet dancers. So he did that for me. So I looked like a million dollars. Pink on one side, blue on the other. I mean [inaudible][567] all these beautiful muscles you know. [inaudible][568] from the top. But I knew I looked good, so…and I didn’t have a microphone, so I was just going to…just carry on physically, imaging, so that was just… Tom trying to attract attention, I admit it. And then the thing at the end, the wonderful thing with Julia, you know, the [inaudible][576].

mufson: [inaudible][576]

fitzpatrick: Yeah. So that was kind of like… I thought, well the feeling of this must be like simple like…you know, kind of like a children’s story or something like that or bad actors doing a play. You know. So that’s where that kind of style [inaudible][579]. And we just… You know, by that time we’d all worked together enough that we all just like communicated I think. You know, without [inaudible][581].

mufson: Okay, wasn’t that… That was Julia’s second [inaudible][582].

fitzpatrick: Yeah. But she’s fast. Boy, she picks up right away. She’s a good actress. It was interesting that…that the most argument and…arguments that he had were from Alan. Alan and Reza were fighting a lot during that show. [inaudible][586] just came out brilliant. He’s a wonderful actor. And he’s very [inaudible][588] trained. And a very grand actor. And it was… You’d have to talk to him about this, but I got the sense that it was offending practically everything, every value that he had.

mufson: Uh-huh. Although he liked Reza’s work a lot.

fitzpatrick: Oh, he loved… He was, you know, Reza’s biggest fan. And I would imagine sort of the person that, quote-unquote, “discovered Reza” really. The way I heard it was that Alan wandered into a performance of King Lear and said, “What the heck is this? This is brilliant.” And the rest is history. And I believe that Alan put Reza together with the woman who was like his first [inaudible][600]. A wonderful gal named Martha [inaudible][601]. Made that possible. And got him into LATC. So Alan was his biggest…staunchest supporter. But as an actor, it was funny how they fought. And then, of course, he was fucking brilliant. But they fought a lot. They argued about everything. And that was the first time they worked together. And it seemed that stuff was shocking him. You know. And it shocked us of course. So it was interesting… It was like with two cats, Alan and Reza over in the corner arguing and fighting and me and Julia over on the other side trying to think of interesting things to do to [inaudible][610]. And then there were the amazing [inaudible][608] dancers who were, you know, just brilliant.

mufson: Is Alan’s speech… Did he… Was that basically Reza and the other [inaudible][613]?

fitzpatrick: I believe so. Laurel, yeah. I don’t know how much Laurel had a hand in writing [inaudible][616].

mufson: I love that speech.

fitzpatrick: I think it’s a lot of [inaudible][617], I’m not sure. [inaudible][618] Reza. I’m not sure. We’d have to check. Somebody would know.

mufson: You were talking about movement before and I’m wondering what you can tell me about how his work with Ken [inaudible][619] had worked. Because Ken wrote…choreographed a lot?

fitzpatrick: Oh, yeah. Ken choreographed all of Bogeyman, and most of Father, and…Quotations. You’d have to talk to Ken about it. Ken’s here in town actually.

mufson: Is he?

fitzpatrick: Yes. You need to talk to him. But my impression was that… My impression was that he would just tell… I wonder if he would… Sometimes I think he would… I think he would give Ken the music and say, “I want a dance to this.” Sometimes he’d say, “I want a dance here.” I think… I think that was it, I think he would always give Ken the music and want a dance to it. It seemed like whatever Ken did, he loved. You know, I mean he loved… Ken’s stuff is really good. Because Ken’s stuff is like real tweaked. It’s very…you know. It’s very strange and wonderful and spooky and odd. So it really pleased Reza’s esthetic sense to no end. I can’t imagine… It would be interesting to talk to Ken because I’m not sure how they chose the different kinds of dances. I mean there’s a…the brilliant clog dance that the naked boys do in the…

mufson: In the Bogeyman.

fitzpatrick: Bogeyman. I think, you’d have to check it with Ken, but I think maybe Ken said something like “You want a clog dance? I know how to make a clog dance.” And he showed it to Reza and then, you know, they rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. And then Reza said something that…like “Now I want them to do it with no clothes on.” I think that was it. I suspect, I’m not sure. But just talk to him about that.

mufson: How… Did you… It sounds like you pinpoint the major shifts in the work with…in Reza’s work, to Medea. And I’m wondering…

fitzpatrick: Yeah. Well see, I don’t what the Lear was like because I didn’t see it.

mufson: Right. What did… Did you… Did the… Obviously the HIV diagnosis had a huge personal impact or whatever.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. It did have a big impact on his work. Sure. Because like, you know… God bless him, he was like sitting on top of the world. He… However old he was, twenty-four, twenty-five, whatever, he was a young guy. And he had gotten this… I suspect that, you know, Minamata was probably his first rush with all of the resources of a large theater, a large scale theater, and you know, it was probably like Orson Welles said about getting to do Citizen Kane

[Start Tape 1, Side B]

fitzpatrick: You know, it was probably like Orson Welles said, you know, [inaudible][000] to make movies is like having the largest train set in the world to play with. I’m sure that Reza felt exactly that same way about having LATC’s resources you know. And he was learning on his feet I know. Reza was really good at learning on his feet. It would only take him like a couple of times around to see what you were supposed to tell lighting guys and what a lighting guy could do, and what you’re supposed to tell scenic designers and what a scenic designer could do, and how you worked with those people and how you… And I think in that sense, he’d probably be furious at me if he were alive for saying it, but I think the Minamata was really a learning experience for him. But one from which he emerged very [inaudible][005]. It was a wonderful, wonderful show. And if not well received, it sure the hell put him on the map. It’s shock value was enormous. And I think he was just like elated beyond belief. It was a triumph. I mean twenty-five years old and [inaudible][007] do any show he wanted at LATC and all other venues would open up. I mean it was like really, really, really… He even had it made. And then that summer after we closed, I remember he went and got his HIV test and it came back [inaudible][012].

mufson: Oh, it was after.

fitzpatrick: It was after that. Yeah. I still remember it. He was very upset the day he found out. And we went to his friend Dokey’s flower shop. She had like a garden in the back and we all like did yoga together. You know, he was just like getting over it then. He was very tweaked by it. And the first thing he did was like to, you know, clean up his dietary act and then his health act completely. And to seek out good natural practitioners. It was, you know, it was Reza against the virus. So he became microbiotic and extremely…was an extremely good practitioner of yoga and sought out all of the eastern healers that worked for him, you know. And got shots and massages and lots of [inaudible][020]. It was all… It was just like very intense, his quest for self-preservation. And the… Let me think now. We did that. Did we wait a whole year? I guess we waited… Yeah, I think then that winter we were going to maybe do a production of Othello in New York at the Kitchen if you can believe that. Boy, what a tragedy that didn’t happen. I was to play Iago. I learned half of it. And Forrest Whitaker which told me, was the one that wanted to play Othello, and they were trying to pull it together and I think the Kitchen pulled out. So that was…that was a disappointment. But that would’ve happened that winter. But then… I think… Yeah. But then he got the gig for On-Guard Arts and it was kind of business as usual, but this would’ve been his first New York thing, so that kept him very busy. He wasn’t feeling sick yet I don’t think, you know, so he was just still on top of the world and taking very good care and I don’t think the reality of his diagnosis had hit him. And so we did Father, then I think he started not to feel well. He moved to the beach because I used to let him come out to my little one room dump on the beach after he got diagnosed and just hang out there and breath the sea air. And he thought that was good for him. So then after we came back from Father (I think it was), he moved to the beach. And I think he was starting to get the first thingy to not feeling well. Then it seemed like, you know, the…say like…I guess just personal anger fed into the plays that he was making and they got probably more strident and louder and more…more urgent you know. I thought that… I thought that Hip-Hop was maybe like…in a way, kind of recognition of how beautiful physical love is. And maybe almost like a farewell to it or a cry of pain that it should all of the sudden become this thing that you could do and die from you know. It was a lot of that sort of stuff fed in there. Just that. But you know… And of course it was a slap in the face to all of the blue noses and right wing assholes who just left on the immediacy of the AIDS epidemic to suddenly try to make everybody moral about fucking for Christ sake, you know. And then we did Bogeyman, which is an even louder cry of pain I think. It’s like really angry. And if possible, I think Law of Remains is even angrier. I mean, you know, I think it was fueled by anger and the urgency to say something. And then I remember when we did…we were rehearsing Quotations. We all came in and we were all going to do the same old…you know, the big old…big style; very fast, very loud, and he said very early on one day at rehearsal, “No. This isn’t going to be like that. I think I’m over that. This is going to be one of the quiet ones.” You know. And very sweet. And so it was, it was a lot quieter. I think it was some rackety moment and it was much more elegiac [phonetic] and then he…you know, and then he was getting sicker and sicker and sicker, poor boy. It was…you know… That was where he…actually where his health broke. We were really in rehearsals. We… You know, he had never really… Everything was there, but it was all like an [inaudible][058]. He was very proud of the fact that he had no [inaudible][059] on and it was like “They say I have something in my lungs, but I don’t have any on my body. [inaudible][062] have one on my dick.” He was like… But we were just like rehearsing and “Brenden’s got the rehearsal tapes for that.” And he was just full of energy and strength. And then about two weeks… I think we had four or four and a half weeks. He came to rehearsal for a couple of days, he was like incoherent. He would like lapse into incoherence. And that was really scary because we thought “Oh, god, it’s gotten to his fucking brain.” But it was like pneumonia; he hadn’t realized that he had pneumonia. And he was like really knocked up by that. I think it was about a week that he was out. And every day we would get in and rehearse to exactly the same point we had been before; we would do the show. We didn’t have much dialogue then if any. It was all like…just like movement and, you know, fake lines, but we’d do it. And meanwhile, he was like fighting for his life and then he kind of tottered back in and he’d lost a lot of weight and it was like his health was like really broken then. And he never really got better after that. It was a constant, you know, fight of trying to just hang on as you’re skidding down the cliff I would think. So that certainly is reflected in that show.

mufson: Getting back to the… So…

fitzpatrick: Have I given you anything worthwhile?

mufson: I think so.

fitzpatrick: Okay. I’m famous for my incoherence.

mufson: I’ll send you the dissertation. You can check how many times I footnote our interview.

fitzpatrick: Okay.

mufson: So as far as integrating the people who weren’t trained or the people who weren’t [inaudible][078] company members, what was…what was that like? Because my impression was that… Oh, that’s…something…question I was thinking of asking you while you were talking. You talked about Reza liking actors who have this kind of core of…

fitzpatrick: Fucked-up-edness.

mufson: …fucked-up-edness. Yes. I don’t know how you spell that. …

fitzpatrick: I mean maybe all actors have that, but I thought that…

mufson: But I think you’re right, you see it a little bit more.

fitzpatrick: There was a particular…

mufson: But that’s one of the things that kind of surprises me, that generally actors who are that whacked out aren’t particularly reliable.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. How about that.

mufson: But it seems like that is an odd thing about that, you have these actors who have that kind of extremity or compassion or whatever in them, but they apparently also have the discipline to be a part of what must have been a very rigorous rehearsal process.

fitzpatrick: That’s why…

mufson: Rather unusual…

fitzpatrick: That’s why Reza loved us. And when he found somebody who was like that, he would keep them around.

mufson: So he just had a very good instinct about who would —

fitzpatrick: Yeah, a good instinct. And it was like being in a centrifuge, you know. Being in a Reza show, you either went into the center and kind of bonded with Reza or you got tossed out and five months later, you’re still saying, “What the fuck was that?” You know, it happens. You know, with the new people coming in, you were going to ask about that. Generally they were good movers or particularly interesting people that he saw someplace. But movement was pretty much, I would say —

mufson: Where did he find these people?

fitzpatrick: Some of the kids in… A lot of the kids in Bogeyman were from a place that was in LA at that time called [inaudible][096]. And you meet them sometimes at parties or stuff like that or through people or people would say, “You know, I know somebody who’d be a wonderful actor for you.” And he’d say, “Send them over, I talk to them.”

mufson: You, it was a straightforward audition.

fitzpatrick: Yeah. To [inaudible][098] audition. He’d never audition anybody after that. I think he may have auditioned people for… I heard he auditioned people…some guys for Father. But then I think it’d be like, you know, just pickup sort of like. You know, people that would somehow come to him through recommendations and they would just sign on and they would sit there in the first… Well, they wouldn’t sit there, they would start moving first thing and doing the dancing and doing the staging and he would… Then he would direct. Then he would tell. You know, “You come in, you do this. You do this. You do this.” As he would do us, but he would direct them on particulars of it, you know, and see how much they picked up, and if they had that wonderful knack of bringing in their own stuff, which he liked. And people would just… People would remove themselves from the process. You’d have attrition. They would attrish [sic: he’s trying to make a verb form of ‘attrition’] themselves, you know. Some [inaudible][105] rehearsals would be there and they wouldn’t be there.

mufson: Right. Although from some of the beginning stuff, so of the actors got [inaudible][108] and they moved to LA from [inaudible][109].

fitzpatrick: Yeah. That was —

mufson: [inaudible][109] weren’t so happy about.

fitzpatrick: That was a sad moment. Yeah. And I think that was the one thing that Reza probably felt badly about. He wasn’t as tough then as he got to be in getting his own way about things. My experience with Reza was always that he was very loyal. He loved me and I loved him. He was extremely loyal to me. And he was extremely loyal to anybody that he loved. And anybody that, you know, served him well. And I think he wanted very much to be loyal to some of the people from the early company. You know, not all. Then not all the people were like serious actors. But, you know, with the early people, they’re [inaudible][119] you know. “When I get to LATC, you know, you’re all going to be in the show.” I mean I heard that [inaudible][121]. I mean one worked as hard to make it happen as could be, but I sort of would’ve understood if it couldn’t happen. You know what I mean? I mean I’ve been around long enough, I sure hoped it would happen but I would’ve… It would’ve been cool and I think I… I don’t know, but in conjecture, I think I would’ve been okay if I hadn’t gotten into Minamata, which was kind of like a big move up. But the hardest thing was the fact that Meg, who was like a great personal friend of Reza’s, got caught in the wheels of progress and didn’t wind up in the show. I mean she had produced… I guess she’d produced his early shows like the [inaudible][127] and stuff like that. And she was [inaudible][128]. And she in Barnyard, and she was in Medea, and she was in Peepshow, and she was in the Vampire show. She was his leading lady. She was like, you know, the woman for him that Julia took over for it would seem. And she was a…she is a wonderful, wonderful actress. And they loved each other. She always was… He was always say to me…or sometimes he would say, “I’m going to have a baby by Meg. I’m going to make a baby with Meg.” And he loved this woman. And through whatever problems there were with casting, I suspect probably it was either like, you know, when they got down there and they ran a parade of people in front of him, you know, either from women that interested him more, at least teasingly. Or perhaps pressure that’s brought to bear on him to use somebody that the producers wanted him to use, and so Meg didn’t get used. And it appeared that… And he didn’t have the strength to just haul off and be honest with her, he kept her like…kind of like swinging in the wind for about two weeks, telling her that there was an Equity problem but it was going to be solved. And yes they had started rehearsals but she was still going to be in the show. It was pretty cruel actually. And she was [inaudible][139] hurt. She would not [inaudible][140]. And I know that he hated that, you know, and felt guilty about it. I mean I assume [inaudible][140]. And then they made up and he used her in Father Was a Peculiar Man. But it never went past that. She may have got angry at him again because when we came to New York to start the workshop [inaudible][143] somewhat became Bogeyman, he did not call her up and ask her. As I said to her, “He didn’t call anybody up and ask.” You know, you just kind of like hear about it and you come in you know. And she heard about it and chose to be angry that he hadn’t called her, and didn’t come in. And so they…[inaudible][146], they were still estranged. But she says she’s made peace with his ghost and I hope so because he loved her.

mufson: Was there ever much discussion about remount any of the [inaudible][147] stuff that he’d done?

fitzpatrick: Oh, no. We could never do any of it. Never. Because he… You know, whenever you did [inaudible][150], he… Whenever you would do one of the shows, if he missed one performance it was an amazement. He was at every fucking performance. It used to be in the early shows he’d come backstage and change things while the performance was going on. You know. Equity stopped him from doing that. He would even… He’d come backstage and say, “Now when you go out there, and you used to do that thing, don’t do this. You’re going to do this and you’re going…” I’d say, “Did you tell him?” “Yeah, yeah. He knows.” And then you’d go out there and the person would look at you, you know. He was appalling; he was such a brat. But he never missed a performance. And when he would remount the shows, it would be like doing the thing all over again, only better. Because he would get a chance to make it improved.

mufson: Have you seen any of the… Have you worked… Have you tried to get into, or see any of the [inaudible][160] stuff or the people who…some of the other people who’ve…

fitzpatrick: I saw the thing that Anita was doing just the other weekend. Which [inaudible][161]. I thought it looked really good and I didn’t see, looked pretty good, interesting anyway, was Junior Black’s Office. The thing done in the windows downtown, the installation of windows.

mufson: [inaudible][162]

fitzpatrick: I know. That looked pretty good, the tape. I saw that the other day. But I haven’t seen any other [inaudible][163] stuff. You know, I wish them well. I just sort of like fear that it would be loving disciples just kind of imitating the externals with none of… I have no idea what Reza’s mind was like. He was brilliant. I have an idea how he thought, and so I wouldn’t presume to try to like, you know, exhume whatever the…of the externals I remember and make a show out of them, sort of like in the style of… You know. I mean not to knock it, I just… You know, it’s just what I saw of Anita’s show and Julia’s show. I saw a lot of set pieces from the Reza work and I thought that was kind of a bad sign. Although Reza was not above using set pieces from previous shows again. But you know what I mean? It’s different. And so…

mufson: But you have no real interest in…

fitzpatrick: No.

mufson: …trying to become a part of that?

fitzpatrick: No. No, no, no. You know, Reza just came to me out of the blue. It was like a stroke of luck. Maybe it was the only luck I’m ever going to have, but it was ten great years, you know. I’m still a brilliant actor. If anybody has any brains, they will use me again. But I have to sort of like audition directors now too. I don’t want to just work for any idiot you know. It has to be like either a fabulous part or I know that I can do it myself and direct a group if I sense the director’s not so hot. Or else it’s got to be like a director that I can like respect, you know. So…just hanging in there and waiting to see what happens. You know I’d really just like to work in film actually. I always wanted to be in film. This was like a ten year detour. I’m having no success at all, in answer to your own formed question. The person that…for my money is the most interesting… Peter Jacobs is a good writer and he made a nice show. It was not too pyrotechnic, but it’s nice writing. Ken is very good. Ken makes wonderful shows. Of all of the kids, I’d probably work for Ken. He’s got a… He’s probably like maybe five or ten years older than some of the other kids are and so he has a very strong, formed personality of his own. He makes wonderful work, actually. He’s cool.

mufson: What… You mentioned briefly the… Well when we were talking about…when you were talking about the effect of the HIV diagnosis on the work, talked about how that fed into Hip-Hop a little bit. And one of the things that strikes me on…particularly with Hip-Hop, but also with…actually with a lot of the work is this kind of deep ambivalence about sex. In these years, I think a lot of HIV positive artists were making what they were calling “sex positive” works, right? That they thought in…particularly in light of the plague, but it was important to still be…to put…to not stigmatize eroticism. And I think in a lot of the work, there’s a rejection of a stigmatization of eroticism of this work, but at the same time, there is a sort of…

fitzpatrick: Kind of pristine. Kind of removed?

mufson: Well there’s a…

fitzpatrick: Anti-eroticism?

mufson: Well, I mean like Alan’s character, right, is…wants to repress…

fitzpatrick: Sex. Yeah.

mufson: …sex. But at the same… For other people. But for himself, he’s…be gluten, right?

fitzpatrick: An old horn dog. Yeah.

mufson: Yeah.

fitzpatrick: And my character in Bogeyman.

mufson: In Bogeyman. Exactly. That’s right.

fitzpatrick: You know, he’s… But of course he was molesting the children in that.

mufson: Exactly. Yeah. So at the same time, there is also a… …The question was ambivalence about…

fitzpatrick: Sex.

mufson: …sex. Yeah. These gluten figures who…

fitzpatrick: These gluten figures who want everything.

mufson: Whose excess is clear. Excessive desire seems to be condemned.

fitzpatrick: Yeah.

mufson: Yeah?

fitzpatrick: What’s your question?

mufson: The question was, did that at any point… Was his work, at any point, viewed by some people… Because there were other HIV positive people working in the cast, right? So was that, at any point, viewed as negativity that should not be being set forth?

fitzpatrick: Not among the people that I knew in the cast. They wholeheartedly favored the work. You know, but… [inaudible][230] Chrissy, who died. And…

mufson: Well Brenden…

fitzpatrick: Brenden of course. And maybe some of the kids in Law of Remains. I wouldn’t know any of them that well. But no.

mufson: What was the… Were the European audiences markedly different from the American? What was it like?

fitzpatrick: Well the wonderful thing was that… It was so beautiful because Reza was lionized in Europe. I mean they just thought he was fabulous. We would go to towns and there would be…you know, those wonderful kiosks they have over there and they’d be…[inaudible][234] to it, “Reza Abbdohh!” That [inaudible][234], you know, all over town. [inaudible][236], which used to piss us off to no end. But [inaudible][235], “He is the star. You have to realize he is the star.” [inaudible][235] No, it was wonderful that he got his just attention over there. I mean all I know is like the reviews that were translated to me because I had no other languages. But I mean especially the French. They just… They just got him so much. And they just appreciated him so much. They just thought he was wonderful. The German people just seemed to think he was wonderful. As far as I know, he never got bad reviews. He was just like… It was like the second coming of Christ. It was fabulous.

mufson: But for you as a…did you notice any differences in terms of the performance audience chemistry?

fitzpatrick: Well because…

mufson: [inaudible][246] walk-out?

fitzpatrick: Oh, nobody ever walked out in Europe. And maybe because English was their second language and they had to listen harder. They were probably more attentive, more respectful… And I think that, you know, that was the wonderful thing about Reza’s shows, they were so visceral. They were really like spoken operas in a way, you know. I’m sure that people who don’t have English could appreciate them the way we appreciate, you know, the operas in Italian or French or German that we don’t really understand. But the music speaks to us. I think that was their amazing thing —

mufson: Was the technical support better on some of the European shows? Because I know that some of the critics here say, for example The Law of Remains, they had a real problems understanding it just because of voices got distorted.

fitzpatrick: Bad sound?

mufson: Yeah. And definitely when I look at the video of the performance that was done here, and probably because the mic was on the video camera itself, the sound is distorted; it’s very hard to understand. But I saw a Dutch television recording of the show and I had no problem understanding anything. So then I was wondering whether the…had better technical support [inaudible][259].

fitzpatrick: Probably better [inaudible][260] I would image. I mean, you know, they Law of Remains by the seat of their pants in that…that retched hotel, you know. And I don’t think they had a lot of money and they probably didn’t have good sound equipment. And they probably didn’t have good lighting equipment. And god knows what the wiring was like. And, it was like a big echoing room, wasn’t it, too? Echo. Echo. Echo. Echo. So probably that was…may have caused it. And probably the things that you see from Dutch television.

mufson: You weren’t in Law were you?

fitzpatrick: No.

mufson: Did you see it?

fitzpatrick: Yes. I actually toured…in a teeny-weeny little part that is stuck around the edges. I think I had like two little things. And I played the queen in the white wig and the red dress at the end in the heaven scene. Mouthing to…to… Who did that? Ralfy. Rafael… Rafael’s tape. Because Rafael had green card trouble and he couldn’t go out of town. Rafael was the dude who did the wonderful thing with the razor blade [inaudible][271]. That was definitely Rafael’s bit, I didn’t think I could’ve made that fly. But I just did the queen at the end and a couple of other things around the edge. So I saw it. I thought it was horrifyingly good. I thought it was just like… The kids were possessed by Satan. It was just really spooky. I didn’t like to be around it, it was very [inaudible][278].

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