‘Wretch’ returns: One More Time

WLM TESTER JPEGI recently spoke with director/actor David Yen, at the first cast read-through of my new play ‘Drumming With Anubis,’ running (in its world premiere) June 7-30 at Santa Rosa’s Left Edge Theatre. David was the original director of ‘Wretch Like Me,’ in its very first version. Under David’s direction, the show saw it’s own original premier in July of 2009, at the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa, and then a few additional runs at 6th Street Playhouse, 162 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, and a number of small one-off’s here and there. Eventually, after moving on to write a spate of other plays, I returned to ‘Wretch,’ completely rewriting it, taking was was a long-ish two-act extravaganza (original run time was 2-1/2 hours including intermission) and transforming it into a tight, fast-moving 75 minute one act performed without intermission. Sheri Lee Miller was the director of that version, which went on to tour the North Bay, have a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 2014, and then another run at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2015.

And that was that.

Time to move on to other projects, other plays.

I’ve since written another one-man show ‘Polar Bears,’ a novella about the author of ‘Frankenstein’ (“Mary Shelley’s Body”), a stage adaptation of that novella, and a supernatural comedy (the aforementioned ‘Drumming with Anubis), which, since it is being directed by David, brings me more-or-less full circle.

At the read-through, I mentioned to David that ‘Wretch’ is about to have its 10th anniversary, a fact that slightly blew him away (“How can it be ten years?”), and would have had the same affect on me were it not for the fact that I’ve been spending the last couple of months memorizing ‘Wretch Like Me’ (the one act version) all over again, in preparation for a one-night-only 10th anniversary performance on June 20, three days past the show’s official birthday. It’ll take place at the Glaser Center (another full circle), where it all began a decade ago.

There is a possibility of a few small Bay Area performances here-and-there around the same time. And then, unless something incredibly surprising occurs (an offer of a run in San Francisco or Berkeley?), it’s likely that I will be saying goodbye to this show as a performer. I love the idea of ‘Wretch’ being published in script form, returning as a play other actors can tackle, and I’ve never given up on my dream of adapting it into a full book. But as I re-acquire the text in my brain again (no, it’s not easy to do just because I wrote it, because memorization is aways just memorization), fully aware and appreciative of all that this story (and the journey of bringing it to the world) has meant to me, I can feel in my heart that it is (almost) time to step away and leave it to others to perform in the future.

But not until I’ve told it one last time.

I hope you will help spread the word. If you’ve never had the chance to see me perform this, here it is. If you’ve seen and an enjoyed it and wished you could share it with others. Please spread the word.

To all of those who’ve helped bring this project to life over the years in all of its various forms (David Yen, Sheri Lee Miller, Dan Zastrow, Julia Lander, Robin DeLucca, Susan Panttaja, Allo Gilinsky, etc.) thanks eternally.

I’ll keep posting as the next several weeks progress.

I hope many of you find your way to Left Edge Theater to see ‘Drumming With Anubis,’ and then make a date to catch the (probably) final performance of ‘Wretch Like Me’ at the Glaser Center on July 20.

And yes, I will be singing ‘Amazing Grace’ backwards.

One more time.




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