Monday, September 17, 2018

"My Life in the Theatre de la Huchette" by Tosh Berman (Paris)

Not too many people know this, but besides being a publisher (TamTam Books) and writer ("Sparks-Tastic, "The Plum in Mr. Blum's Pudding," and the upcoming memoir "Tosh"), I'm also a movie actor.  I did a cameo in Anna Biller's "Viva," in which I had a line, or to be more exact just one word "precious," and the role of 'Boy' in Andy Warhol's "Tarzan and Jane Regained Sort Of..."   Also, I had starring roles in various films by Relah Eckstein.   Now, due to financial issues, I have decided to become an actor for the stage, and not just any stage, but The Théâtre de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter in Paris. 

The theater is located at 23 rue de la Huchette, and since 1957 they have been presenting a double-bill of "The Lesson" and "The Bad Soprano" by Eugène Ionesco.   The playwright has the knack to convey the absurdity of life in such a manner that articulates my view of the world.  Therefore I went to the Huchette theater and told them I'm willing to work for nothing if they give me a role in the production.  They asked if I can speak French, and I said "NO."  I told them it would be faithful to the playwright's concern if I were an actor that couldn't express myself in another language.  But the rub is that Ionesco such an exact type of writer, that language, of course, is essential. But the fact that I couldn't deliver his lines in such a manner means that the director has to up his game by presenting me in such a production.  Every night I have to learn m lines in French and to remind you, dear readers, it's two plays I'm doing every night.   I do all my lines in French of course, but it has a California accent attached to it, that caused my director to winch whenever he hears me recite the lines. 

It's interesting to note that Ionesco is Romanian, and French is his second language, which is the language he wrote his plays in.  So in that sense, I feel we have something in common. I told that to the director, and he agreed that I was on to something.  "The Bald Soprano" in my mind is about language and communication.  Therefore since Ionesco wrote it in a second language, and I don't speak proper French makes this production the essential version of the play. 

I often have dreams where I'm either in a public space or at a party with friends, and I'm naked.   Everyone else is dressed, but for some reason, I either lost my clothes or forgot to put them on before leaving home.  The thing is no one says anything about my nakedness. Acting in these two one-act plays, I have that feeling, but I'm awake and aware of what is in front of me.   Which are embarrassment and shame.   My role model for acting is Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films directed by Blake Edwards.   If I speak fast enough with a strong fake French accent, I may get away with the performance.  Hopefully, the audience, and especially the theater critics will see it as an absurd performance in a highly ridiculous pair of plays. 

Tonight is opening night, and as I walk from the 3rd arrondissement to the 5th I try not to think of the pain in my stomach, but also I realize that I forgot my lines.  My immediate reaction is to run away from the theater.  Still, as a professional, and as a representation of an American, with the 'go-for-it-spirit' I enter the backstage of the theater to face my fate. 

- Tosh Berman, Paris, September 17, 2018

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