Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Craig Dudley: DIVERSIONS AND DELIGHTS

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Steve Jobs

In anticipation of the The Ensemble Theatre Company of New York's upcoming production of DIVERSIONS AND DELIGHTS by John Gay starring Craig Dudley, today I devote my blog to Craig and the path that has brought him to this point. Today I celebrate Craig Dudley and his body of "worth".

Who is Craig Dudley? How do you describe any individual being whoever they are? If Craig were to sense his entire life, it is difficult to sum up what he thinks about himself without trying to be SELF centered. He has always been of the creative mode. He grew up in a world that influenced him a great deal. In particular, the background of his family, going back to his great grandfather who was a soldier of fortune and the father of the amusement park in the world, Captain Paul Boyton, a brilliant man from Dublin. There were also circus people in Craig's family. His grandfather worked for Ringling Brothers. His grandmother was a high-wire girl. A lot of that influenced Craig and his life as he pushed along.
Paul Boyton
He became part and parcel of the more creative aspect of the theatre. He became extremely attracted to it. It began when he was seven or eight years old and he saw the Olivier Hamlet. That changed a great deal of Craig's life.
It led to a life of creativity. He is a perfectionist in his way. He truly believes in the CRAFT. He admits that after many years, that aspect of it all can erode.Some actors tend to become more relaxed in it. They end up doing it by rote. Craig doesn't really think that is him. He is NOT THAT person.He likes challenges to tackle and try new things. He likes to get down into the nitty gritty of it. He is never disappointed by that because it brings out the passion of what he initially desired in his life. It still continues and Craig still thinks, pretty much, that this all describes who he is. He is an avid reader. He goes to the theatre a lot. He absorbs a great deal and in some ways he thinks he is extremely opinionated to a degree. He thinks, however, that without that, what would be if we weren't? He thinks that everybody in the world, to one degree or another, is opinionated. He does think that he likes to be dominant about it.
He does not desire to take it to a degree where is over powering someone else's opinions. He may not agree with them completely. Sometimes, he does get at odds with this. He always dislikes that in the end when it happens. Again, all of this sums up Craig Dudley. He is, once again, part and parcel of what and who he is based on his background, his influences growing up, and he is a continuation of all of that today. 
I recently interviewed Cooper Lawrence (my next blog feature). She gave me a great question to ask my next interview. As it turns out, it is Craig!
What one trait would completely turn him off if he was on a date with someone? Obnoxiousness!
If it is a total stranger or a blind date, he would like to discover the individual. As much as he hopes they will discover him. If they give away so much of themselves, and not give him the opportunity to explore his reasons for liking this person or to like this person, Craig feels that would also turn him off. If they brought Craig to the "finish
line" and give him new reason to discover them and give him to want more from you, that's a great deal of a turn off for Craig.
I asked Craig what he does when he desires a little "nonsense" in his life. He says he has a feeling that a lot of what he does in life is "nonsense". He thinks the world around us is so full of "nonsense". In fact, he thinks the world is way ahead of himself. He also believes they are very brutal and horrible about it. He does like to joke and kid around. Right now, he is on the verge of doing Diversions and Delights by John Gay. He relates to that. He likes that kind of jokery. He had it once with a friend of his when he was growing up. They used to have this kind of repartee that lent its way to creating "nonsense". It was almost as if they were in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. There was lots of "stupidity" and trying to make sense of it all. Whenever he can, he likes to make jokery of specific things. He also likes creating parodies on things. He believes all of this is just something that happens to you.
Someone may just say something and all of a sudden, it will segue way into something ridiculous. He feels that it is not important to take it to some sort of dramatic or tragic level.
What does Craig desire more than anything? The continuation of what he is doing. He hopes to increase it, to find new and exciting things out of what he has been doing. To keep discovering more things rather than being too relaxed at anything. THAT, he would really like in assessing his career in what he truly desires and how he sees things. He does see things sometimes a little different. He likes that aspect. He thinks, also, that he would like another fling at a relationship. As crazy as that may sound, he would like to go for that. As the numbers in his life have increased, he is surprised to see that he still gets offers! He admits that they are not as
many as he used to, but there is someone in the wings right now that is a very strong contender.
I asked Craig about his subtext when he is working. He believes the basis of all great acting and art is in the subtext. It is something that he thinks Harold Pinter does extremely well. There is a "subtext of life" beneath the banality of what he is saying on the surface. Craig explores words and that is his forte as opposed to taking the words at face value. He likes going beneath the words. He likes finding out different meanings to what is being said on the surface. That is what makes it very interesting. That is what makes acting great and much more
interesting than just a rote of things going back and forth or just painting a picture and having twenty five or thirty people saying different things about it. If you can only say one thing about it, you've failed. This is where the problem is in art and people who pretend to be artists. It is easy to throw a bucket of paint on a canvas and say that it is a sunburst. Twenty five to fifty people MAY see it as a sunburst...or they may not! If people see it as no more than a bucket of paint thrown on a canvas, the "artist" is in trouble.
Craig thinks that it is important for any artist to look beneath the surface of things and in many cases we do that in life, don't we? We do that with friends and other people.
There are many subterfuges. We say things that we don't necessarily mean in a way. We cover up. We coat it because TRUTH is a very very difficult thing in life. As far as the art, music, and the theatre is concerned, TRUTH will ALWAYS surface. The only people in the world who don't lie are artists. They can't. It is the ONLY truth in the world. It is feared by too many people. It is THEIR truth. You can accept it or not, but it is what they are expounding on and they do go beneath the surface.
If they don't go beneath the surface and bring something profound and prolific, then, they have failed and it doesn't work. You can watch these comedies on television in which they don't say much except that, "we want you to laugh every ten seconds."
If you want to say something really important, then you must hit the subtext.
What is next for Craig? He is fighting for a rich rewarding life to continue on. At the moment now, he is looking forward to doing the Oscar Wilde play. The hope is that it will be picked up and moved off-Broadway, perhaps the Signature Theatre where Craig has worked.
He thinks it is very relevant to what is happening in today's times. This play was written thirty four years ago for Vincent Price. It is more prevalent today then it was even then. Craig feels that it really should be out there. That is the immediate thing at the moment.
Craig thinks that to say what is "next" for him ruins the surprise of life.
He doesn't want to have to ASSUME that these things are going to happen or write down ten things that he wants in the future or in the next four or five years. He thinks, for him, it becomes STALE and ridiculous and "aiming for things in the dark." It's better to discover these things slowly, but to let them HAPPEN to you. So he doesn't really think that "next" is necessarily what he wants apart from what is going to happen. Beyond that, he likes it to happen. He wants to be surprised. He hopes it is something great and wonderful, that's all.
Craig is absolutely sure that he is doing EXACTLY what he should be doing.
This may be a fault in youth today. It may be a fault in a lot of people today. After twenty-five or thirty years or fifty years, or whatever, who look back on their lives with regret. "Why didn't I do this?" or "Why did I let that pass me by?" Craig had his awakening at seven or eight, as mentioned earlier, when he was influenced by Hamlet. It was there to be discovered. Craig was destined to be what he is. There is no doubt about it.
He is definitely where he is supposed to be. He supposes that if he had not been in the right place at the right time, something else might have happened. If you move any object in the world, it changes the whole format of the world. Whatever any of us do in the world will change something. We have to have IT already. The knowledge and the passion for anything has to be there years before. You can develop it and sculpt it and make it better. What you are doing now is creating more to it or bringing more to it or adding more to it. There are many out there who are in depressions. They can have that even with all the success in the world. There are other people who are "self depressed".
They are miserable; their lives are miserable. They are doing a nine to five job, something Craig admits he never could have done in his life. He had many conversations with John Gielgud.Once they were in a restaurant and Gielgud said the same thing to Craig. He said it would have been impossible for him to do a nine to five job. For both Craig and Gielgud, they would have been complete flops.
As Craig looks back on his life now, what nine to five job would he have done? The only thing that he can imagine is a teacher. That would have come later. It is not something that would have come early on. He always desired to be an actor. He always wanted to be in his profession. He has revered it. He has understood it. Again, it is part and parcel of who he is. Here he is AND he is still doing it!
If Craig could change one thing about the profession, he would try to bring new education to young people today in the arts. They all want it very quickly. It is all "fast food". They now go to drama school to do movies. They don't go to drama school to act. It is all a front. We are losing this in the theatre. We are no longer creating great actors. Where are the James Masons, the Sir John Gielguds, the Sir Laurence Oliviers, the Louis Calherns, the Bette Davis'? Where are they? All of these wonderful names. What about literature? Where are the Nathaniel Hawthornes or the Edgar Allan Poes? We stopped getting great writers twenty five and thirty years ago. Anyone can write now. It doesn't really matter what they are putting out there. Most likely, it is trash. Education needs to come back to areas in which people need to excel in and not take for granted that this is a stepping stone for only making money, which is a good thing, but at the same time, they should understand the "creative" of what they are doing and the importance of it. This is the thing that sustains people. This is what keeps us going. Once that goes, it becomes vacuous and one dimensional.
He would love to see a better way of approaching the arts to youth today so that we can have those same people again that we once had. That is becoming more and more difficult because our times have changed. We are in a remote control, pinball, iPod world.That is the whole center for some. That needs to go. Craig wishes that it would exhaust itself. He hopes that people will become more conscientious of better things. Things that can REALLY stimulate them within themselves and bring something to the table. He would also love to see more repertory theatre come back. This is diminishing. Broadway is a launching pad for the "vacuous demented minds of the Midwest" who come in and stay four or five days at The Hilton Hotel and don't know what the hell they are seeing. It's all about taking a trip to New York and saying they saw "Phantom of the Opera." It is not the same as those people who went to the theatre in the past. We need more companies like The Signature Theatre.
What stands out for Craig is what he is doing at the moment. That carries over from other things.
He looks back on the classic works that he has done. Certain productions were extraordinary and overwhelming and certain roles have been absolutely incredible. For him, he cannot say that one role was greater than another. Playing Hamlet has stood out. He has done five major productions. Playing Hamlet for two of those productions was an enormous challenge.He is grateful that he has been able to play this role that most actors desire to play. He has also played Claudius and Laertes at earlier times. Olivier said his favorite role was the leading character of that "Scottish play", but that if he could come back and do one more play of his younger days, it would be Hamlet. Craig can understand that above and over everything else. He thinks also in terms of great directors he has worked with.  Adrian Noble from the Royal Shakespeare Company, who directed Craig in The Madness of George III at The Old Globe. It was really monumental and extraordinary extravaganza. It was wonderful trying to be enormously creative in a spectacle. Sometimes, you can get lost in that, especially when you are playing George III.
Craig Dudley as Oscar Wilde
One show that Craig can put his finger on that stands head and shoulders above the rest was the American premiere of The French Lieutenant's Woman at the Fulton Opera House which Craig did a few years ago from John Fowles' incredible brilliant novel of the same name. It was adapted to the stage with a British and American collaboration and being in that was so absolutely extraordinary for Craig because it taught him a great deal about less dialogue, being on stage for about ninety percent of the time and making it work. That was an enormous challenge for Craig. Kudos to Craig! There have been others who have played the Majors. However, HE is the one who got the reviews. To Craig, something must have been right in all of that. Another highlight is The Stratford Shakespeare Festival Of Canada in which Craig was asked to play two major roles; RICHARD II directed by Zoe Caldwell and The North American premiere of Edward Bond's from the National Theatre, THE WOMAN...He is one of only a few Americans asked to play Stratford...He is not saying one is greater than the other because each one has been extraordinary and overwhelming in its own right. The bulk of Craig's work and what he is doing now is just a carry over from all that has proceeded this moment. Here's to the next chapter!
DIVERSIONS AND DELIGHTS by John Gay
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Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,



 
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Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
            
Oscar Wilde
Vincent Price in Diversions and Delights
MARCH 5,6,7, and 8th , 2015
STAGE LEFT STUDIO
214 West 30th Street
New York , New York
10001
www.STAGELEFTSTUDIO.net

Craig Dudley
as
Oscar Wilde
In    
Diversions and Delights
by
John Gay

Diversions & Delights is a one man play written by John Gay in which Oscar Wilde is presenting a lecture to a French audience in November, 1899.

For many years the show played to sell out houses throughout the world, starring Vincent Price in a tour deforce performance.  Ironically the only city where if failed to find its proper audience was New York, where it played at the Eugene ONeill Theatre in April 1978.  It was thought that it was too large a space for such an intimate show.

Since Prices great success, the play has rarely been performed and has not been seen in New York since 1978.  
THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY OF NEW YORK is proud to bring this fine play to audiences as our inaugural production. Mark Your calendar -March 5 , 6 ,7, and 8th , 2015 .



Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!




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