Monday, November 5, 2012

Stan & Ray's "Almost Lost" Interview for To Love Somebody: The Play

Stan (far left )and I (far right) with the amazing cast of To Love Somebody

Stan Matasavage and myself (Ray Ramos) were asked a few questions, to accompany a review for the play that I wrote and that we both co-produced & co-directed, called: To Love Somebody (now at The Raven Playhouse in North Hollywood for two more weekends, until, November 18th, 2012.) Our interview was cut sadly due to lack of word space... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What are you gonna do? So why let a perfectly good interview go to waste... I ask you? So I'm posting it here for you @ That Man Ray... I'm sure he (Ray) won't mind?

The questions have the asterisks * before them.

*Ray- I notice a fondness for and one could even say that there is a bit of homage at times to Classic Hollywood and the iconic personalities of yesteryear in your writing. Orson Welles, Liz Taylor, Hemingway even Anne Frank just to name a few. “The Big Woogie,” your first effort claims the dark shadowy back streets of film noir as its overcoat. It is obvious you are influenced by the nostalgia of old Hollywood and it‘s key players and iconic locations (Ambassador Hotel). What gives?

Ray: People always tell me that “I was born in the wrong era… maybe? Truth be told, I’m a L.A. native and the old Hollywood thing has always been around me. I can relate to the old stars more than the stars of today. They were more interesting people… they were original for their time. Or maybe, it’s the beauty of their now myth? As a writer, with imagination, I have the power to bring them back. I can have Louise Brooks trying to figure out what to do with a dead body after a night of debauchery at the Ambassador Hotel. It was more fun to have her back in the shadowy world of noir, although presented in slapstick comic fashion. That hotel (The Ambassador) was a place that I knew very well too… and when the sun went down, it was truly “noir-ish.” I worked there for the last seven years when it was the most popular filming location in L.A. before it was demolished by L.A.U.S.D. So its aura was pretty much soaked up in me. I was able to give a heartfelt tribute them both in my one act, “Room 509.” And that gave me great satisfaction. People don’t know about the iconic people the way they used too. I think it’s rather important… at least for my creative purposes… I went down to Cuba a couple years back to seek out Ernest Hemingway… or at least feel his aura. The day I went to his estate, now a museum, I was reminded that it was the 49th anniversary that he’d killed himself! Of all the days… that just blew me away.  With these now mythical figures of the past, as a writer it gives you a large canvas to paint with. Look what Woody Allen did brilliantly with Midnight in Paris. These people as still damn interesting… if you do your homework, you have the character all ready to go… you can just drop them into entertaining or interesting situations and see what they do?

A little imagination & hard work
*Ray-It’s kind of a stupid question but why “love”? But maybe you have a smarter answer….so do tell.

Ray: Love’s the one thing that we all seek. The eternal quest. I went with a theme with our last show. When I wrote the first two acts, “The Pleasure of Purr Company & The Girl in the Attic,” the only thread they had was love or a longing for it. I just decided to round it off with two more love stories. Although I might add, they are all so totally different… from the comedic to the tragic.

*Ray-How did the casting process go down for “To Love Somebody?” I notice that a few of the same players have returned from “The Big Woogie.”

Ray: My original idea was to bring back as many of the actors from my last show “The Big Woogie,” as I could; but that didn’t work out quite like I planned. Peter McGlynn and Carolyn Blais are two actors from my last show, who are in the act, “The Girl in the Attic.” Carolyn was an understudy in my last show. She went on four times during the run and she was fantastic. She actually was such a positive source of light in that productions… with her “can do” attitude… think “Tinkerbelle.”  When I got a call from an actress (lead role) two hours before curtain, telling me she couldn’t go on that night; Carolyn learned her part in two hours and saved the day. Now that’s a damn actress. So at the end of our run, I told her that I owed her, and I was going to write a piece just for her. She had mentioned in conversation that she had, once lost out playing the role of Anne Frank… a role that she had longed to do. So I wrote, “The Girl in the Attic” for her… She’s Anne Frank in a totally original piece. Which I would think is more exciting for an actress? She gets to take Anne someplace, that no other actress has been before and make it her own, and she’s amazing in the role. She can make you laugh and she can make you cry. She’s this magic cross between, Audrey Hepburn and Carol Burnett. Its joy to watch her and Peter on stage together. One more thing; after all the trials we had this time out with casting...  I think that we got the actors that we were meant to have... once that happens, and you trust them... most of your work is done; all the rest is cake & ice cream.

Peter McGlynn & Carolyn Blais in The Girl in the Attic
*Ray/Stan- Did you do the whole film/theater school thing or are you coming from a DYI, self taught background or something in-between.

Ray: I’m a barnstormer. I’m mostly self-taught… I work from instant. I’m only good if I’m being a daredevil, just go do it; take the hits and learn from my mistakes. But I came to the theatre from mostly as a test… to see if I could do it? I’ve been writing screenplays for many years, but I don’t have the millions to produce them… as a playwright, I found a doable venue for my characters to come alive.

Stan here:  I went to USC and studied both English and Cinema but always knew that I would take the film route.  It was what I was interested in since I was about 10 years old, movies and the entertainment world. But along the way the idea of doing stuff for the stage was always on my list.

Stan Matasavage directs the action in Jake & Clara; which has three stories with in a story.
*Ray-You portray Richard Burton in the fourth act Dickabeth. What role do you prefer actor or director. Which to you feel most enjoy, honestly?

Ray: I’ve performed in my productions because mostly out of default… or at least that’s what I tell myself? Playing someone like Richard Burton or Orson Welles, which I did last year (in “The Big Woogie”) is a tall order, but it’s also been great fun. But you got remember all those darn lines…. and because I can’t be entertained by my actors, if I’m on acting stage with them. So I think that being the director (after being the playwright) is more enjoyable to me.

*Ray/Stan- How do you compare the overall experience of putting together a second production to your first?

Ray: This show in many ways was a lot harder to do. We had two less producers to carry the load. And we had less rehearsal time… not to mention unfortunately; I had more than my share of flaky actors to deal with this time out (who ended up dropping out in the last minute with no warning.) that set us back. But we were still able to bring the ship in the harbor on opening night… the plan always comes together at the zero hour… just gotta have faith.

Stan here:  For me putting this second show together was more stressful.  The first time around I had a better schedule in terms of the films I was working on at the time and I could get away from work more easily. Time to deal with things during the day is a real luxury.

We're kinda like the Wachowski siblings; Stan makes some suggestions to the cast of my one act.
*Ray/Stan-Any thoughts on a third Ray/Stan production. If so do you think you will follow a similar formula or do you have something different in mind? Or are we jumping the gun altogether here?

Ray: I think Stan would like to try something totally different… me, I’m a writer. I enjoy what we’ve been doing… the four acts have been a great format for me to create… the written word for me; that’s the art. But I have thought about doing something like, The Petrified Forrest, were the entire action takes place on one main set.

Stan here:  I am always thinking of the next project I plan on taking on.  Ray and I are always kicking around ideas of what to do next.  Ray tends to be a more straight forward theatre guy. I on the other hand  I like to go in the weird Avant Garde direction.  Ray and I will duke it out and see who wins. But a third show is on the way.

Ray Ramos as Richard Burton in Dickabeth
*Stan-How does your background as a digital video editor translate to directing live theater, live players. Or is it apples and oranges?

Stan here:  I’ve directed short films and music videos in the past, and actors are always actors.  One of the differences between film and the stage for me is that the stage is always a wide shot.  You have to try to isolate the audiences attention with staging/blocking and lighting but you are never really sure that is where their focus is. With film you shoot a close up and cut to it. Also that "one take live theatre" aspect of it all can grey your hair.
*Ray/Stan-So I read on the plays website that you know one another from “your stand up comedy days” what’s the story there? Did you both do stand up?

Ray: We met years ago at open mike night when they had a Comedy Store on Westwood Blvd. We just hit it off? Over the years we’ve lost complete touch with each… and then amazingly we would find each other again… like some corny romance novel. And here we are after all these years making theatre… I wouldn't have imagined. I couldn’t have done these shows without Stan. He’s a great guy.

Stan here:  I came to LA in 1978 and met Ray either that summer or in the summer of 1979 when we both showed up to the Comedy Store in Westwood (that one is long gone) for amateur night.  We hit it off as friends and would run into each other at all the amateur night comedy clubs.  Over the years, 33yrs now, we would constantly lose contact with each other but would always seems to meet at some screening or concert and then just pick up where we left off.  We have a lot in common when it comes to the arts and film, that is why the universe conspires to always make sure we don’t lose track of each other.  (Ray took stand up more seriously then I did by the way, I was more interested in getting in the clubs for free on the non amateur nights.)

*Ray/Stan-Now that you are an ingredient in the NoHo local theater scene, do you ever attend local theater in NoHo or elsewhere. Or are you strictly on the production/performer side when it comes to that sort of thing?

Ray: I became acquainted with the NoHo theatre scene, because I had a girlfriend who did a couple at the Raven Playhouse. And I ended up being the house managed for her. So when it came to finding a place to put up my first show, it was my choice venue, even though I live in Venice.

Stan here:  I have been going to theatre ever since I came to LA.  Plenty of black boxes and the major stages for me.  I’ll go to the theatre whenever the time or the invite rolls along.  In fact recently Ray and I both went to a show that a “Big Woogie” cast member was in and also a show directed by a “Big Woogie” cast member.  The BW experience was so great that it inspired one of our actors to put up his own show (Disasteriod: The Musical) It turned out really great.

Director Ray Ramos with the talented cast of The Pleasure of Purr Company: Alara Ceri, CJ Brady & Kristel Kovner

*Ray/Stan-How you feeling about the plays run thus far?

Ray: I couldn’t be happier. The audiences love the show! I have a group of really fantastic actors… to many to mention all by name. But if you come to the play, you’ll want to know their names after the show’s over. And they’re playing all these wonderful characters ranging from: a rascally cowboy named “Jake Redskon” to “Liz Taylor” to “Pinky” the black dancing cat, to dear, “Anne Frank.” You get all that in one show! Like any producer, I would just like to get as many folks in to see TLS as possible during our run. To discover the new talent we have in our show. I guarantee in, “To Love Somebody” we’ve got something for everyone!

Stan here:  The show is going great and running really smooth. My hope is that as many people as possible see it.  The actors are really talented  and deserve to be seen and cast in other plays, commercials, TV shows and films because of this.

Some of the fantastic cast (Melanie Cruz, RR, Anthony Allen, Vinnie van Hinte,Carolyn Blais, Linda Slade) & friends.
The play runs two more weekends until Nov.18th, 2012
More info on the play @