Pieces Of Strange: From Stray Idea To An Actual Thing That Exists In The World In Four Months

Pieces of Strange posterAround the end of January, NYC playwright and all-around artistic bad-ass Mariah MacCarthy sent out a Facebook message soliciting proposals for The Brick Theater’s FUCKFEST–a theatre festival about sex and sexuality. My first thought was: THAT IS AWESOME AND I WANT TO BE A PART OF IT (I mean, the name alone). My second thought was: I can’t produce a show in NYC. Certainly not during a summer when I’m in rehearsals for Pinky Swear’s THE LAST BURLESQUE and programming the Capital Fringe Preview and Cabaret. There was a short period of sadness followed by a third thought: If only there were a way for me to create something where all the production would happen in DC, but could still premiere in conjunction with FUCKFEST.

That was how PIECES OF STRANGE started–a collection of recorded monologues of strange, sometimes erotic, sometimes sad, sometimes disturbing stories. Think Neil Gaiman by way of Clive Barker by way of me. Twenty minutes after having the idea, I had the first draft of the first piece–“My Sweet Ann,” which is about sexual self-discovery and embracing your kinks even when no one else will. Soon I had six more monologues, each viewing issues of sex and relationships through a decidedly spec fic lens.

The Brick accepted the proposal and soon after I recruited six good, game, giving actors in Melissa Hmelnicky (who doubled as co-producer), Jon Hudson Odom, Allyson Harkey, Alina Collins-Maldonado, Gwen Grastorf, and Natalie Cutcher. I also roped in Karen Lange and Natalie Piergari, who are helping compose an original song that will get added to the album at a later date.

By March I’d finished revising the monologues, by April we’d started recording, and by the end of May all seven recordings were finalized. A podcast mic with a pop filter, a laptop, and Garageband was the extent of our tech. There were a few production hiccups, including an entire evening of recording that was lost due to the settings on Garageband changing after a software update. But otherwise, the process was surprisingly simple. Idea to completion in four months.

And now it’s online! The album became available for pre-order on Bandcamp yesterday, and will go on sale for real on June 9. If you preorder now, you’ll get “My Sweet Ann” to download immediately and access to the full album when it drops. On June 9, Melissa and I will be at the Brick for a Preview Cabaret kicking off FUCKFEST. So if you’re in Brooklyn, come on over for a little tease from the shows in the festival.

This isn’t my first adventure in audio drama, and it’s not the most elaborate. The record for that is still held by WALKING THE CITY OF SILENCE AND STONE, which to date is 7 of 9 episodes in. But it’s the first that’s been totally DIY. And probably not the last.