Archive for category Personal

Shake it, shake it, in local celebrity lip sync contest

I’m a writer, not a performer. The last time I was on stage, it was in the church Easter pageant. But recently I was invited to perform in a lip sync contest of local celebrities in Roanoke as a fund-raiser for Happy Healthy Cooks, a non-profit that teaches kids about cooking and nutrition. How could I say no? Well, probably rather easily, but I didn’t, as you can see . . .

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Playwright and . . . naturalist?

The first eastern snapping turtle recorded in Botetourt County, Virginia. Who knew?

The first eastern snapping turtle recorded in Botetourt County, Virginia. Who knew?

Almost every morning, I take a walk. To breath in the fresh country air. To exercise body as well and mind. This morning, as I was hoofing it back home, I looked up and . . . “holy crap!” (Actually, I said something a little more colorful). There was a giant turtle crossing the road. And doing so at a pretty good clip for a turtle.

Naturally, I did what anybody else nowadays. I took a picture with my photo, and posted it to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, where a small fight soon broke out among some of my Facebook friends over just what species it was. Eventually, they all agreed, but that’s getting ahead of the story. Fellow Botetourt County filmmaker (and Girl Scout leader) Jane Garnett identified it as an eastern snapping turtle, and provided a link to the Virginia Herpetological Society’s turtle page as proof. There, I discovered an email address called “animal identification,” so I clicked it and sent ’em my pix of the turtle in question.

Lo! Before long, I received an email back verifying this was an eastern snapping turtle. Even better, I was told this was the first time an eastern snapping turtle had been documented in Botetourt County. Obviously the critters have been around a long time — it’s well within their range — and surely others have seen ’em. But no one had documented this with the society until now! I was promptly invited to file a scientific field note — instructions were provided! — and I was told:

“Once your field note is published in Catesbeiana, we will update our website/databases and you’ll be recorded in Virginia history as the first person to document an eastern snapping turtle in Botetourt Co.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the society president himself soon emailed me to chime in:

“This is a great opportunity to get recognition for your observation! But if you are not interested or unable to create the field note, let us know and one of us will help you as a co-author.”

Recognition? Who knew! So now can I add “naturalist” to my name?

For the record, and by golly, this is all for the record, here’s the field note I submitted: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Last Supper

I don’t claim to be an actor, but that didn’t stop me from getting “volunteered” for a role in the Fincastle United Methodist Church’s presentation of “The Last Supper,” a piece by Ernest K. Emurian that brings to life the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Written in the 1950s, the piece calls for the actors to assume the pose in the painting — for quite a long time actually! Then, over the course the evening, each one delivers a monologue about their thoughts on that fateful night.

Here I am in 2010, when I portrayed Peter (that’s me on the left, in the back, in the tan robe, leaning over to talk to “John” in blue):

"The Last Supper" at Fincastle United Methodist Church in 2010.

“The Last Supper” at Fincastle United Methodist Church, Fincastle, Virginia, in 2010.

And here I am in 2014, when I portrayed Simon the Zealot, on the far right:

"The Last Supper" at Fincastle United Methodist Church, 2014.

“The Last Supper” at Fincastle United Methodist Church, 2014.

Thanks to Marsha Campbell and Cathy Benson for the photos.

If you’re curious, I’ve written a few religious-themed plays. “Jose and Maria: An Old Story for New Times” is a full-length Christmas play, that adapts the Christmas story to modern times. It’s been produced. I also have several five-minute pieces suitable for churches (and which have been produced in churches.) Most of those deal with either Christmas or Easter.

Another photo below: Read the rest of this entry »

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Meet the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz

Playwright Dwayne Yancey with The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.

Playwright Dwayne Yancey with The Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.

Over the weekend, I caught up with an old college buddy of mine — the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.

The title is real, if you believe in mail-order preacherhoods. “Reverend Billy,” as he’s been called since his college days at James Madison University, is a musician. Specifically, a master of boogie-woogie piano, with a touch of comedy on the side. He’s been called the ” Bertolt Brecht of the Bible Belt.”  His 1990 album  “Backslider’s Tractor Pull” won an award for Comedy Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors.
Now based in Florida, Reverend Billy has been off the road for a few years but is back out at it again. On January 31, he opened his new tour at Roanoke College. I caught up with him the next day for lunch (well, lunch for me, breakfast for him) at Bobbi Joe’s in Salem, where a friendly waitress took this photo.

Not familiar with The Reverend? Here’s his signature tune, “Mennonite Surf Party.” Enjoy.

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Guest responder at Hollins Playwrights Festival

The poster.

The poster.

I was a guest responder this year for the annual Playwrights Festival that’s part of the Hollins University MFA playwriting program.

Ten new plays had staged readings over three days and nights; I was able to make four of them and, I hope, offered some constructive feedback. Each one I saw was wonderful in its own way and I hope to see each one produced someday.

* “Independence Day at Happy Meadows,” by Laura King, was a hilarious farce about four women breaking out of a nursing home.
* “Swelter,” by Chad Runyon, was a dark, thought-provoking play about a mother whose 3-year-old son was left in a car on a hot day and died.
* “Decision Height,” by Meredith Dayna Levy, was a wonderful historical play about female pilots during World War II.
* “The Brooklyn Bridge,” by Will Coleman, was a very touching — and contemporary — romantic comedy.

Chad took this very nice picture of me: Read the rest of this entry »

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The playwright and his prize

The playwright and his prize.

The playwright and his prize.

My one-act “Follow the Money” took first place (in an audience vote) in the New Voice Play Festival at the Old Opera House Theatre in Charles Town, W.Va. in June.

Here’s the certificate to prove it.

MORE ON “FOLLOW THE MONEY”:
* Photos from the show
* Newspaper coverage of the festival

Here’s a close-up of the certificate:
Read the rest of this entry »

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More photos from my staged reading in New York

My daughter, Rain, took this panorama shot of me outside the Cherry Lane Theatre. That's Keith and Trina at right.

My daughter, Rain, took this panorama shot of me outside the Cherry Lane Theatre. That’s Keith and Trina at right.

Here are some more photos related to my recent staged reading that the Barefoot Theatre Company in New York did of my full-length script “The Ballad of Alejandro Lopez.”

First, some other links if you want to catch up:
* Photos from rehearsal, production and the after-party
* Photos of the cast and show poster
* The original announcement about Barefoot doing a staged reading of my script

And now, more photos, mostly taken by me: Read the rest of this entry »

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