Shhhh… speakeasy and I’ll tell you a secret

speakeasy

In the mood to time travel? I know a place, hidden away in a basement near China Town, where it’s always 1923. The stories are hot and the gin won’t make you go blind. But you have to know the password to go there.

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The Speakeasy is an immersive play where you can wander different environments (a saloon, a casino, a cabaret and three secret places) to watch several interweaving stories taking place amongst the staff of a 1920’s speakeasy. Pick a story and follow the characters from room to room, or stay in one environment and see all the characters wander through.

singer

I chose to mix it up, following a character for a while then exploring another room to pick up threads of different stories. I began with a mother and father hunting for the girl their son had loved; he had been killed during the Great War. Then I followed a man with a gambling problem into the casino and tried my own luck at craps. Turns out I’m pretty good. When a loud, obviously intoxicated woman dressed in  flapper attire yelled at the gambling man for abandoning his children, I followed her out the door and into the cabaret. Finding a seat near the stage, I watched the performances. They reminded me of something I’d seen in a 1930’s movie, complete with live music and dancers in red sequins tap dancing.

The-Speakeasy.-Freddie-Larson-as-Vinnie-3.-Photo-by-Peter-Liu

A big man who was obviously the boss and dressed like a wealthy gangster asked me if I was having a good time. Deciding to follow him for a bit, I listened in on a “private” conversation about “supplies.” I ended my evening back in the cabaret where I watched a love story unfold between one of the Speakeasy’s guards and a dancer. I can’t tell you the ending of the show, but lets just say it was surprising yet appropriate for Prohibition.

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I have a passion for the 1920’s and 30’s. The Speakeasy surpassed my expectations with the costuming, acting, decorations, and stories. I really felt that I was in a different time surrounded by real people, not actors. Even if you’re not a Deco/Flapper/Gatsby fan, you need to experience this theatrical event; there’s nothing like it.

little girl in bar

 

However, there are rules you need to follow if you decide to go. Wear appropriate clothing. You don’t have to go in costume, but you do need to dress up as if you’re going to a fancy cocktail party. No technology! They didn’t have cell phones in 1923. And be quiet, or if you must speak, speak softly. There’s a reason it’s called a speakeasy.

Click the link to buy your ticket and learn the secret password. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

(images from The Speakeasy)

 

 

To my first love, Richard Hatch

RICHARD HATCH

Richard Hatch died yesterday of pancreatic cancer. He was 71. Reading the news, I felt as if I’d lost my first, dearest love. In a way I had. I have loved Richard Hatch since I first saw him on Battlestar Galactica when I was 11 years old in 1978. From the moment I saw his smile and those hazel-green eyes I was madly in love, and I stayed in love for the rest of my life. I’m not sure why, but there was something about his voice and those cheekbones that made my heart beat wilder than anyone else on the planet, even Johnny Depp.

While other girls decorated their lockers in Middle School with pictures of Scott Baio and Leif Garrison, I plastered mine with a collage of Richard Hatch. Richard in his Battlestar costume. Richard playing the guitar. Richard looking serious with his dark hair in a center part. Richard in a scene from The Streets of San Francisco. I collected everything I could find about him and kept all the clippings in a secret scrap book. My infatuation didn’t end; even after I graduated high school and went to college, I worshipped Richard Hatch. When I was 20, a jealous boyfriend found my scrap book and burned it. That relationship died, but my love for Richard remained steadfast.

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One day when I was living in San Francisco in 1991, I saw an add for an acting workshop taught by non-other than Richard Hatch. I stole the flyer and called the number to sign up, spending the last of my grocery money that month to be in the same room with my first true love. Then I spent the next two weeks trying to decide what to wear.

At last the day came. Wearing a green sweater, a jean mini-skirt, black tights and my Doc Martin boots, I entered the room and instantly hated my outfit. There he was, Richard Hatch. He wore faded blue jeans and a light blue, button-down shirt with the cuffs rolled up, revealing his beautiful forearms. Oh god, don’t stare at his forearms! He smiled and nodded as I walked in and I quietly found a seat on one of the folding chairs at the front of the room. Why am I the first person in the room? Thankfully more people entered, but I wished I’d actually said something rather than just staring at my feet.

richard

There were about 20 students and the class began with a short introduction. Richard explained the class was about finding your own, inner strength and talent to make you a better actor. We all introduced ourselves and when it was my turn I thankfully remembered my own name and said I was studying drama at San Francisco State. After introductions we formed a circle for warm ups and spontaneity exercises. There were more getting-to-know-you exercises, including one that required us to say the first thing that came to mind about the person directly across from us.

Paralyzed, I mumbled responses, growing more frightened as time went by. I can’t move in front of Richard Hatch!  I might faint in front of Richard Hatch! Does he know? Does he understand how badly I want to have his children? Oh my god I want to touch him! No, don’t touch him! That would be creepy. Don’t be creepy. Don’t look at him. Oh no, he wants me to look at him. He’s asking me a question. 

richard-and-cat

“Sorry?” I asked.

“This seems like a challenging exercise for you, Terena.”

Oh my god he said my name! Richard Hatch knows my name! “I’m just a little nervous.”

“It’s okay. Everyone feels nervous sometimes. So this is what I want you to do.” He moved into the center of the circle and gestured for me to join him. Slowly I moved and stood beside him. Putting his hands on my shoulders, he said “Close your eyes.”

Richard Hatch is touching me! I closed my eyes and he gently spun me three times. Then he let go and said, “Put out your arm and point. Keep your eyes closed.”I did what he said. I would have jumped out the window if he said to. After a moment he said, “Now, spin once on your own, stop, open your eyes and say the first thing that comes to mind about the person you’re pointing at. Don’t second guess yourself, just do it.”

Taking a deep breath, I spun around and then opened my eyes. I was pointing directly at him. Dropping my arm, I just stared at him in horror. A few people laughed and one person said, “Come on. You can do it.”

Richard smiled kindly. “What do you want to say?”

“I’ve been in love with you since I was eleven years old!” I said loudly.

There was a pause, then the entire room cheered.

Richard blushed and grinned. “Now that took guts,” he said. We both laughed and he gestured that I should rejoin the circle. The ice had broken. Finally relaxed, I enjoyed the rest of the class and learned quite a lot about improvisation and trusting my acting instincts.

However, after class I gave him one of the awful, passionate poems I wrote in high school about him. I wish I hadn’t. He probably thought I was the weirdest stalker he’d ever met. Oh well, at least he knew my name.

Goodbye Richard. You will always have my heart.

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