Eight Tales of Pedro is a show I had to give myself permission to write. When introduced to the folk tales of Pedro Urdamales and Juan Bobo, I fell in love and wanted to adapt them for the stage. Over the years, as I’ve looked into my own heritage - with a grandfather from Mexico and another from Honduras - and I’ve sought to find a connection. I knew that I wanted to tell these stories but I couldn’t say why. Not to anyone else, and certainly not to myself.
I was raised in the Southern California suburbs. I never learned Spanish. I have trouble rolling my Rs. People hear “Garcia” and expect something of me that I don't live up to.
MARK-EUGENE GARCIA--No introduction needed. Read on for Mark's thoughts on mangerie!
Why did you take up performing?
"Performing started with music and music started with HER: My elementary school crush was the first chair flute player and I learned how to play flute well enough to be second chair so I could sit next to her. Years later, she would quit band and I would quit girls. But music would lead me to musical theatre and theatre in general."
Who is your character? How are you like this character?
"In THE UNDERPANTS GODOT, I play Mark Ransom, who plays Vladimir in 'Waiting for Godot'. It’s complicated ...but it’s not. My character and I are alike in that:
We’re both actors named Mark.
We both have a lot of a lot of respect for theatre.
We both fight to elevate the visibility of queer characters.
We both agreed to do shows in our underwear.
And we both have a pretty wicked sense of humor.
How do you differ?
"We’re different in that Mark (him) [is] a lot smarter than Mark (me). I realized that when I first read the script. Preparing for the role, I had to read up on Beckett, re-read some theatre history, revisit some Shakespeare, as well as research some Queer Cinema of the 80s and 90s. He also didn’t like 'Batman Begins' and I did. That’s important."
It happened at a dinner that I had been looking forward to. It was a cold February evening and I was glad to be out of the house. I’d been unemployed for a few weeks, had no real employment bites, hadn’t really told any friends about it, and was having some cabin fever.
It was Feb 2016. I had been at Marbles for over a year and was beginning to consider it a career. It was a bit of a betrayal when they decided to close their NY stores leaving me and my staff without work. I was angry. I was upset.
I decided since I didn’t have anything nice to say I wasn’t going to say anything. So I didn’t. I didn’t really tell friends. I didn’t tell family. I avoided social media. Winter was at its worst and darkest and so was I.
I felt my face flush. Sweat beaded on my forehead and began to slide down my nose. I was burning up inside. My shirt was sticking to me.
“Are you okay? You are really sweating” My friend said.
“It’s warm in here.” I lied.
It was dripping down my back. I could feel dampness behind my knees in my jeans.
A while back, I had these rivers of sweat and sudden waves of heat situation on stage. I attributed it to severe stage fright. I stopped performing and decided that it was just not meant to be. I went from doing a lot of stagework, to one show a year, to none. I told myself I would focus on writing.
“Are you sure?” Rodrigo asked, seeing that it wasn’t stopping.
“I am going to step outside.” I said.
I stood in the icy wind without a jacket, unable to cool off. When it got to the point that it would only be more awkward for me to be standing outside than to be inside sweating, I went back in.
Only to have it start again. Worse, this time.
"Five strangers who meet at the airport, but on standby, for what is to them unknown reasons, at least for all but one. They become a bit perturbed, not knowing how they got there, let alone why they are there. Wouldn't you?
We know, or at least we can feel it at times, the connection we have with other people. You may chalk it up to coincidence, happenstance, fate. If it keeps staring you in the face, you begin thinking more about it. Attempting to resolve that gut feeling of why.
Then, when you find the focus is really on you, not them, your first reaction is denial. When you figure it all out, you become at ease, perhaps understanding, willing to accept. However, only two can leave the airport, so says Peter. All those on Standby, need to decide which two get to leave. The other's fate lies with Peter.
Believe it or not (and you will know why I say this after you see this musical), this musical is enjoyable. The characters pull at your heart. The expose themselves, and bring out many feelings of life from within us. So bring your tissues . . ." Weslie Bushby
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I have a request. It’s completely free.
On Friday night, Rod and I decided to go out for a drink and got into that typical couple’s argument about where to go. I wanted to go to a gay bar. Rod didn’t want to go somewhere loud. I said, “I just want to go somewhere where we can be gay.”
It was a casual comment. It was about comfort. It was about being in a place where I could hold my partner’s hand or give him a kiss and be completely comfortable. It was never about safety. Or danger. It was because I wanted to be room full of people like me who were happy to be people like me.
After June 12th a lot of people don’t get to make that casual choice anymore. In plain view, I cried on the subway reading the news and thinking of all of those people.
Some say it’s about faith. Some say it’s about guns. And personally, I think those two subjects intertwine too much. But it really comes down to one thing.
It’s about HATE. Someone HATES some one so much that they feel that have the right to END THEM by any means necessary. And they have EASY access to the tools to do that. All of that is so terrible. So wrong. So sad.
I’m not interested in debates. I’m not interested in de-friending or being de-friended. I’m not interested in being political, religious…anything. I’m only interested in the opposite of hate. Let’s do the opposite of hate.
So for me, today, please fill my facebook page with hugs. Post a picture of yourself hugging someone. Tweet me hugs. Instagram me hugs. Hug your mother, your father, your loved one, your cat, your neighbor. Hug a stranger. Everyone and anyone. Just hug. And love. Please.
As a kid, I had never heard my father being supportive of the gay lifestyle. To be absolutely fair, I had never heard him be unsupportive. But because of the nonexistence of subject in our lives, I didn’t know how he was going to react to the news I had finally decided to give.
It was three days before Christmas, and I was nineteen years old, the day I sat at the edge of my father’s bed and, without looking at him, told him I was gay. It took everything I had to say those words. Everything I knew at that moment was up in the air.
Since I was a little kid we were a self proclaimed “team,” just me and him. We would sit on Sundays and listen to music and he would ask me how it made me feel. We would watch movies and talk about them afterward, dissecting story and character. He would read every word from every draft of every story I wrote. He would see every show I was performing in, multiple times. Support, amazing support, is what my Dad had always been. I wasn’t at risk of just losing a father by this news, I was at risk of losing my best friend.
It is to be considered, when cutting or placing a gem, the unique qualities of the gem itself. How shall it be cut so that it will reflect in the light? What shape will bring out the most sparkle? What will make this stone stand out among the rest? How shall it truly shine? Such are the questions that I imagine goes into the creation of a piece of art.
I remember when I was a kid; I went on a road trip with you from Miami to Iowa. Before leaving I was playing by a large window, and you were talking to me.
“Once I looked outside the window and saw a waterspout.” You said.
“What’s a waterspout, Grandpa?” I said.
“A waterspout is a like a tornado at sea.”
“What happens if a tornado hits something?” I asked.
“It rips it apart.”
“Then what happens if a waterspout hit something?”
“Markie, think about what you are asking.”
For GoNaked Magazine
By Mark-Eugene Garcia
The sun is beating down on my back. The sweat is seeping down my forehead. The salty breeze is blowing against my butt. There is a soft sound of the surf slamming the sand. My pen is in my hand. I am naked, laying alone on a nude beach at 11 AM on a Tuesday and life is perfect.
Looking back, it wasn’t a matter of if I would get naked, but when. I was 22 when my best friend dared me to go to the nude beach with him. It was a passing dare, but I wouldn’t let it go. I brought it up every chance I got. Nude beach. Nude Beach! NUDE BEACH!
This is how we found ourselves calling in sick to work, driving for an hour, searching out the rumored beach, paying for parking, and hiking down the park to nakedness. Yes, there were some fears and questions.
or Insight for Playwrights Magazine
by Sally Deering. Copyright 2013. Used by permission.
Name: Mark-Eugene Garcia
Place of Residence: New York City
Selected Titles: (Musicals) STANDBY; THE HOLY COWS OF CREDENCE SOUTH DAKOTA; FACING EAST: A NEW MUSICAL; and THE JOURNEY. (Plays) (UN)MISSED CONNECTIONS; INSCRIPTIONS; WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR; and THE KEYS
Mark-Eugene Garcia discovered his passion for writing musicals post high school, after penning several angst-ridden poems about unrequited love. Looking at them one day, once he got over the unrequited love and with a clear head, Garcia found that his poems formed an arc.
“I spent the better part of the next few years writing dialogue and lyrics to connect the pieces,” Garcia says. “I had no guidance and it was very rough. The project wouldn’t (and still won’t) ever see the light of day, but it got me started. When I later discovered the Academy of New Musical Theatre, I sent in some of that work. They must have found potential in the jumble because they brought me on. Suddenly, at 22, I found myself learning how structure, prosody and dialogue worked, while working toward my first production: a mini-musical based on the story of the Prodigal Son.”
My New Years Resolution this year-and every year-is to make this years success bigger than the last one. Every year, I've been able to do it. Last year I was a bit worried because 2012 was particularly good to me- (un)missed connections was in Planet Connections, Standby was in the Fringe Fest, I was in a Jenny Craig commercial, I acted in Duncan Pflaster's Taint of Equality and Rachel Foote Baccus's Strange and Separate People...I was on a high...How to beat that? ... I must say, though..2013 has been the year of moving forward.
People ask..."when do you sleep?" The answer is "I sleep normally. I just don't play. Or waste time. " I can't. THAT is settling. I can't do that. Not when I've tasted what it's like to have a non-stop barrage of dreams coming true. Years ago, before I moved to NYC, I dreamed of words like "Fringe Festival, NYMF Festival, playwright, lyricist..." and suddenly...its all happening.
I write every day. I have to. My mind works that way...I have so many stories and I have to write them down or I get antsy...I sing every day too (even if its alone in my living room or shower.) I plot. I plan. I rehearse...I can't imagine a life without these things.
I believe in storytelling. Sometimes when I listen to people tell me a story about an event in their life, I fade away. Because I'm restructuring their story in my head...Is that weird?
Maybe I've been lucky then that I've been able to tell my stories. Whether on the stage myself, or behind the scenes- behind my laptop, I've been able to tell my stories all over the country.
To me, creating is the thing that makes me truly happy. It's always been that way. Recently, aside from working out, I have been spending a lot of time going over some old creations of mine. You see, I found my the video camera my Dad gave me for Christmas in 1996!
I'll be honest, since I was 16 years old -and had my license and an eagerness for growing up- I was expecting what all of my other 16 year old friends were getting...a car. So it was a bit out of left field to unwrap a present and see something that I hadn't even thought of asking for. But my Dad, who is one of my closest confidants as well as my father, obviously knew me better than I knew myself. That camera was at my side for years. I filmed EVERYTHING. My best friends, Graham and Amanda, as well as my brothers Kenny and Greg were constantly filming skits, and parody movies, and scenes and stories...we were constantly creating.
You know, 14 -17 is when some kids get into trouble. I know I had my fair share (I'll be honest, the majority of it had to do with girls - one in particular) But-aside from one particularly bad alcohol experiment- I pretty much managed to steer clear of the bad parties, the questionable behavior, drugs, and overall teenage shenanigans that others got into-at least for a while. Perhaps its because I had two hands and one eye in a camera, and a mind on other things. Who had time for that when there were movies to be made?
A deep question to think about...and it was running through my head during INSANITY'S PURE CARDIO...in the end I couldn't catch my breath for two reasons...one for the physical ass whipping I was getting from a DVD and two because changing the world is not an easy thing to do....but here goes.
If I could change one thing about the world...I would give everyone the natural ability to ask themselves "How will this action, or words, be received by others?"
We don't think enough of other people. In our aggressive climbs to the top, in our ultrafast walk or drives to work, in our cars, behind our iphones, between our headsets, behind our email addresses and text numbers, and facebook names...We say, and do, and look and purposely disconnect and disconnect and disconnect...
"How was that shoulder check received by the person I just ran into?"
"How was that cut in line received?"
"How was the lane blocking, that newspaper stealing, that tip shorting, that dog kicking, that kid scolding, that mouthing off, that face slapping, that racial profiling, that gay rights stealing, that sexism based hiring, that snide comment, that back stabbing, that envy, that cheating, that crowd pushing, that web bullying..."
The list goes on...but if those people had just a little bit more human compassion, a little more empathy...well...the world might be a little bit better of a place.
And now I can breathe again.
About eight to nine years ago, I was at the finish line when my mom ran the LA Marathon. She was breathing heavy, stumbling, but incredibly triumphant. As I had barely begun my weight loss journey, the idea that my mother, or anyone, running 26.2 miles was incredibly impressive. As I pulled my mom into a hug to congratulate her, she spoke aloud.
"I will never do that again!"
Which makes it safe for her somewhat overweight son to say "Aw...I totally would have done one with you."
She leaned back and said "Really?"
I nodded. It was safe.
So when she reconfirmed with me online later, I agreed, again not taking it seriously...but when she sent me an email confirming my registration in the San Diego Marathon I though...Oh shit...I gotta run!
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
That's a serious question I am asking myself all of the time. - "Do I REALLY want to do this?"
These past few years, between work (weight loss) School (BA in theatre) Shows (about 11 this year) and all the many many things I do with my life...its hard to find time for things...and if I DO find the time. Last semester I worked full time, took 16 units of classes, and did a LOT of theatre...and I have to say.. I wanted to do ALL of those things. I will say it was my most productive year. I was in a commerical about weight loss. I was in the NY DAILY NEWS for it too. I filmed my first independent movie, and my first big web series, originated my first stage role, did a damn musical again. EACH of my writing projects got some kind of production this year...I am DOING what I want to do.
That is FUN for me.
Yes I absolutely love to go out and party. I love to meet for drinks at bars, see movies, hang out, go on vacation...but those little breaks are not want I want to DO. They are just things to do.
People sometimes ask...how do you pass the time? But...who has time to pass? With all that I want to do with my life, I don't really have time to "chill." That's just not me. When I leave work, or school, I am usually heading directly into some theatrical adventure or other something to push me forward...and if its not something that is going to challenge or change me...I probably won't do it. I just don't have time.
I'm not the time who can just sleep all day. I am not the type who can party every night. I am not the type who can just...hang out....
I have life ADD. I can't focus on one thing...
Call me driven. Call me cold. But don't call me a time waster.
(steps off soap box)
I feel bad because I haven't blogged enough...honestly I haven't had a lot of time..but I will make up for it because this blog is something I really DO want to do. Fitness wise, mental health wise, life wise...
As for fitness..so day one of INSANITY was yesterday...and man...my ass is kicked. My entire body hurts. But its worth it..abs will be worth it. Being the best I can be is worth it..
so until tomorrow.
Question number two on my questions to open my eyes.
I actually set down to write this blog earlier and couldn't quite find the words today. It was out during my jog that I found the words.
To me, that question is a no brainer. Up until I thought about it, I thought it was a no brainer to everyone. How could anyone even compare the two? But then I thought about how many people there are out there who never even though about trying.
How may people have written stories or poems and thought "well that was fun, but i'm not really a writer" and put it away. Or the weekend football players who never ever considered trying out for fear of not making the cut. Or the community theatre actor who says, "I like acting" but never considered going big time because they might fall on their faces. Some people are happy to settle. Some people are just born that way. Some people want to never see their limitations that way they can continue believing that they don't have any.
There is a fantastic series of questions called 50 questions that will free your mind. Google it. Read it. Answer it.
It's about balance. health, and mostly...revelation. Because what is a bikini but a reveal? So in the midst of my crazy working out, I am going to also take a look at what makes me tick. Perhaps 50 days from now, when I've gotten a chance to get to know myself through these questions I'll also be able to reveal a bikini ready body.
That's a still shot from the web series "Pioneer One" where I played a Astro-Biologist named Richard C. Hadfield. I used to play a lot of sidekicks and scientists. It's kinda my thing. Anyway, judging from the pic here....if I had to guess my age...I'd say, about 34-35.
Now I'll do some analyzing here. Those crows feet are killing me! As well as my forehead...botox time! Yeah right! Once, at a photo shoot, I did have a make up artist once tell me that. "That's nothing a little botox wont cure" I'd love to say I am totally against the stuff...but my first response was "Do you have any in that magic bag of yours?"
I have an obsession with running out of time. Or looking that way.
It's one of the reasons I try to pack so much into my days. Exercise, Acting, Writing, Working, Practicing, Blogging, Running....there is so much to do. There are many things I want to do with my life. It's impossible to be everywhere. I know this.
The pressure's on if I already am looking mid 30s, because there are so many things I want to have done by then. I wanted to have finished School. I wanted to be a published playwright. I wanted to have kids. I wanted to get married. I wanted to have written a book. I wanted to have given a truly noteworthy performance. (with actual noteworthy notes) I wanted to have abs. I wanted to ride a Llama. I wanted to eat star fruit. I wanted to go to Europe. I wanted to learn my family tree. I wanted to learn to dance and sing. I wanted to run another marathon.I wanted to learn to let go. I wanted to...
My God, there are so many things I wanted to do by mid thirties. I'm so far behind.
So that's what I would be thinking if i didn't know my age. Looking at myself and knowing that I look older than I am (which stings a little) reminds me that I do still have time to hit some of those goals. So that's what these questions are for....
Gives me something to think about as I go exercise. I mean...just because my face looks mid thirties doesn't mean my torso has to.
See you tomorrow.
Watching Standby, on opening night, I spent much of my time watching the audience. I noticed an older gentleman sitting a few rows away who had started to cry as one of the characters (Jonathan- played by Matt Shingledecker) began to speak about his P.T.S.D. Others in the audience were crying too, but his tears were different and they continued to grow. A few moments later, as the story and songs progressed; his wife put her arm around him and held him as he shook. It was the most tender of moments- her knowing face as she saw him cry, her arm stretching around him, and him pushing against her for support.
Later when Jonathan’s girlfriend (Cynthia- played by Jenna Leigh Green) reached out to support him, I turned and, again, watched that couple. They were still in that embrace- smiling through tears, holding each other…supporting...mirroring the action on stage. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
Standby has always been a ball of emotion for me, a bleeding heart. I cry every night and I’m not afraid to admit it... But it’s not about sadness, or even happiness. It is about reaching. It’s about feeling a connecting. It’s about feeling. It’s about feeling alive.
At the opening night party, that gentleman found me. He introduced himself. With teary eyes that never wavered from mine, and he told me his story.
“I was a Marine. Those stories. I have those. I still have the nightmares…” He shook my hand and didn’t let go for few moments. “Those actors did so well. You did so well. Thank you.”
We stayed there for a moment as I thanked him. I pulled him from his handshake and into a hug.
There is no higher praise than that. Reaching someone. Connecting.
After he walked away, I stood there for a moment. I had to take in that experience. I still am, to some extent.
Just thinking of him, I am humbled, honored, excited, and touched and above all… I feel.
I feel alive.
Written by Byrne Harrison for Stagebuzz. Answers by Mark and Carolyn
How did you first get involved in theatre?
Carolyn: Royal Crane and I began our career as stand-up comedians performing in the LA area. On a challenge and the promise of an all you can eat buffet, we began writing a play for three friends who had found it difficult to find parts that fit their unique personalities and extra-large bodies. Night Nurses was a critical success and quickly launched our writing career but ruined the three aforementioned friendships. Writers see things differently. Often mistaken as husband and wife, which creeps us out, we continue to work to write for all mediums but fewer larges. Holy Cows is our second collaboration.
Who are your biggest influences?
Mark: When it comes to musical theatre, Ahrens and Flaherty will always be my biggest influences. When I was in high school I happened to see the pre Broadway cast of Ragtime and a regional production of Once on this Island back to back. I was immediately drawn to the storytelling through music in each show. Up until then I felt musicals were just about doing a scene, singing a song about it, then doing another scene. In those two stories so much time and emotion was wrapped into each song. I was addicted When I realized that the same people wrote these two shows, I instantly went and found their other material. I’ve been hooked ever since. That’s about when I started writing plays and poetry, which led me into musical theatre.
It all began with my reading a playbill ad looking for a book writer/lyricist…a gathering of my work and submitting. Then…
My names is Amy Baer and I am working with Keith Robinson on the musical 'Standby'. We received your application a few weeks ago for a book writing position via Playbill, and we enjoyed reading your work. Thank you for submitting your materials.
If you are still available and interested in the collaboration, would you be available for a brief phone call or Skype over the weekend or next week? We would love to tell you a bit more about our musical, as well as hear more about your work as well.”
…And with that begins one of the wildest rides I have ever been part of.
Boom- a phone meeting where we discussed my work and their vision, an assignment to read their script and come up with some ideas. Then boom, a meeting was scheduled at Starbucks in Union Square.
I sat down with the script and their cd. Their script, written with book writer/lyricist Alfred Solis, was so full of heart and love. It was such a wonderful story, and a unique premise that I was immediately drawn to it. After one week of listening to their music and reading their script, working on the audition assignment they have given me, I did something I try to never do with a job…
…I fell in love with it.
I loved the characters. I loved the idea. I loved the project. And I wanted it.
That one guy from ENCORE! on ABC. NYC based Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.