At 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, Christopher Murphy will conduct a book reading at Moodswing Cafe. Murphy will recite passages from "A Sea of White Impatiens," a "fictional family memoir" released by his Schleppie Publishing (www.schleppiepublishing.com). The book was written by Loren McLeod.
So why doesn't this Mr. McLeod read from his own damn book, you ask? The answer: McLeod is Murphy, and Murphy McLeod. The writer published the volume under a pseudonym, for fear that his siblings would kill him -- yes, that's Murphy's choice of words -- were they to read the familial anecdotes he has shared with the world under the thin guise of fiction.
In "Impatiens," narrator Christian Gallagher takes a tone of affectionate bitchiness as he recounts tales of his two upstanding parents and eight eccentric brothers and sisters. His 237-page tribute has the well-to-do Gallaghers dissing deceased relatives, embarking on careers in pornography, committing grand theft and rigging the outcomes of retirement-home table-bowling tournaments, among other lovingly detailed misadventures.
In other words, it's not the sort of family album to which one wishes to attach his real name before public dissemination. Murphy's parents have passed away, which he says at least removes the threat of retribution via withheld inheritance. It's the sibs' reaction he wishes to avoid. (He had no qualms, though, about seeking press coverage, reasoning that Orlando newspapers don't reach his brothers and sisters in New Jersey. He'd better hope that none of them has Internet access, either.)
Like Christian Gallagher, Murphy grew up in New York State. A Central Florida resident since 1990, he spent nine years in the comedy troupe No Laughing Matter before the demands of "real jobs" broke up the act. (Murphy's is in the marketing department at Universal Studios Florida, where he recently celebrated his 12th anniversary.) He chose Moodswing as the site of his first book reading in part because it reminded him of the Daily Grind, a downtown venue No Laughing Matter used to play before the location was sacrificed to the building of "that useless downtown trolley."
While both "Impatiens" and an earlier Murphy work, "Saving Aurora," are available for purchase on www.amazon.com, the author is currently seeking a reprinting deal with a major publisher. At the same time, he's collaborating with film director John Daschbach (whose short film, "Blind Side," Murphy helped fund) on a screenplay for a feature version of the Gallaghers' story. Murphy's perfect-world scenario includes roles for Annette Bening and Christina Ricci, the latter of whom earns his heartiest acclamation:
"She's got some B-A-L-L-S, doesn't she?"
Sure does. And I hear her family's good and proud, too.
Out on the streets
University of Central Florida graduate Ashley Vaughan is co-producing a documentary about homosexual teens who have been kicked out of their homes after revealing their orientation to their parents. Orlando is one of the cities that Vaughan and her partner, director Fran Giblin, are considering as subject sites. To help raise interest in the project -- and perhaps remind local lawmakers what it really looks like when gays receive "special treatment" -- you can attend a Saturday, July 20, fund-raiser at Slingapour's. A $12 suggested donation buys light food, drinks and other amenities while contributing to the production of a 10-minute promo trailer Vaughan and Giblin can shop to the industry.
Meanwhile, filmmakers Julian Kheel and Brett Halsey -- who visited the recent Florida Film Festival with their short, "Exceed" -- are circulating a treatment for a feature-length comedy they hope to shoot here next autumn. The treatment is a promising blueprint for a spoof of small-town TV news, and Kheel and Halsey are soliciting the aid of some well-connected types they met during the festival, including a couple of folks Halsey describes as "wacky lawyers." You can never have too many of them on your side.
Brother, where you bound
With iMPACTE! Productions closing its East Orlando theater after this Saturday's final performance of Everything Must Go, questions remain as to where playwright/ founder Tod Kimbro will next lead his merry band. When I interviewed him about the theater's grand opening in September 2000, I asked what he would do should the undertaking not survive its initial, two-year lease (which it has not).
"We'd probably just end up doing what we do at someone else's space," he said.
In recent months, Temenos Ensemble Theater has come forward with just such an offer. But no performance dates have yet been reserved there for iMPACTE!, and much of Kimbro's core group has for the moment dispersed to work on other projects. Kimbro is said to be concentrating on reviving his 2000 musical, "Loud," including finishing a long-promised soundtrack CD.
While iMPACTE!'s lease is up, Mad Cow Theatre is looking forward to another two confirmed seasons in the Rogers Building, where their efforts will include a mammoth "Greek Project" modeled on their Chekhov initiative of a few years ago. An exhaustive, yearlong study of the cultural supremacy of ancient Greece will culminate in a public performance in fall 2003. I doubt the Cows will adopt my suggestion for an ideal promotional campaign -- steep father-and-son discounts -- which has made even the sickest souls in local theater shrink back, aghast.
Finally, the SoulFire Traveling Medicine Show has set Aug. 30 as the opening date for its SoulFire Theatre and Dinner Experience. Audiences will break bread with fictitious revelers played by such local luminaries as Jay T. Becker, Leneil Bottoms, Christine Robison and Heather Leonardi. Reportedly, these starving artists started their new jobs with an enthusiastic cry of, "We get to eat?" Quoth SoulFire co-founder Rus Blackwell: "Yeah, every night until you're sick."