My life has always been a widely swinging pendulum on a majestic oak grandfather clock. I have hung on to the invisible pendulum swinging and taking me from one direction to another. Even though the pendulum never stops, I have learned much later in life how to breathe and center myself, so I can enjoy myself amidst the sometimes crazy and insane paths my soul decides to go down.
With that chestnut in mind, literally, summer 1990, after I graduated from the University of Rhode Island, my dad and I were back to arguing again. We yelled and screamed, the walls always shook. It got so bad that within 3 months of being home, he kicked me out. If I was smart, I would have packed my bags for NYC and auditioned for everything, like I was taught from the Cultural Arts High School on Long Island, that I also attended with my regular High School for my senior year. But Manhattan was always a scary place for this Long Island boy. So, I did what was in my mind logical at the time. I made some phone calls and packed my bags and moved back to Rhode Island.
During those two years, I worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher at night and taught theatre in a high school by day. I was trying to figure my life out and enjoy myself at the same time. The pendulum then takes another wild swing. A detective decided that I was the crime and drug overlord at a mere 23 years of age. He investigated me, bugged my phone for a month, found nothing. So to save his failed investigation, he created charges that threw me in jail. If not for Johnny Cicilline, I would be in prison today. After this debacle got sorted out, my parents decided I should come home.
Rogue's Island is based on this time in my life.
My dad pushed me to find work. I ended up getting hired at a restaurant. A former summer theatre comrade talked me to coming down to the Swann Theatre at Plainedge Playhouse to read for a part that someone called in sick that evening. What Scott (who was to become the closest thing I had to a brother) failed to mention was that the performer playing Felix dropped out, and he was bumped up to Felix's part, and they needed a Roy.
Even though this was a community theatre, it was something my soul knew I needed at the time. I was there for about 5 years. I Functioned as the all-around utility person for this theatre. I organized and maintained the storage of all props, costumes, set pieces,
and scenery. During this time, I built and painted sets for all the productions. I also stage managed some of the main stage and children's theatre productions. Almost all of the children's theatre productions, Scott directed and had me choreograph. I found myself performing in both the main stage and children’s theatre productions.
The 1980s was the beginning of big corporate takeovers. Community theatre wasn't any different. The Swann Theatre at Plainedge was doing very well, artistically, financially, etc. It did rent its space in a closed elementary school. A community theatre group that owned 3 theatres on Long Island was looking around for a new home base. They ended up schmoozing the school and town boards and then made their power play. After a decade of being in existence, the Swann was no more.
I drifted over to Arena Players and stage-managed their dinner theatre for a year. I found Fred DeFeis (the owner/director) fascinating because he spoke with a British dialect I did not recognize. Joanne, Arena Players General Manager, told me he was from Brooklyn, and the dialect was all an act.
Now my pendulum was swinging like a twister banging it against the walls of the clock. At 28, my dad had enough of me once again—the result of our never-ending pattern of arguing.
This time I packed my bags for Queens. I rediscovered a philosophy Judith Swift imparted to me during my freshman year when she directed me in The Rimers of Eldritch. She saw how paralyzed with fear I would sometimes get, and told me, "just do it!"—such a profoundly simple but productive philosophy. So I found a job and a place to live and was auditioning.
During 1999 and through 2004, I decided I wanted to direct and produce theatre. I created a musical, "Swing Fever", a swing farce musical set in 1947. A revue called "Who in the World is Roger Edens part 1 &2", dedicated to one of the most brilliant and influential accompanist/arranger/vocal coaches of the 20th century, and a revue in a concert format called "Tonight's the Night". Finally, I saw a project years earlier as a board member of Purple Cow Playhouse called "Straight to the Ace". All of these projects, I produced and directed many showcases to develop them. I also had some backers auditions that pretty much went nowhere.
After a year of soul searching, in 2006, I decided to go in another direction. I love to tell stories and wanted to try my hand at screenwriting. I began with Druid's Dream, a site from my days just after college in Rhode Island. My friends took me to scare the dickens out of me. That site, along with the historical information from the public library, provided me with much material. I spent 3 years on and off writing this gothic horror thriller. In 2009, I decided to put down all my thought about my traumatic experience in Rhode Island. I realized there was simply too much for one film, but two parts were required, and they are both very different. Rogue's Island, The Fall is a police legal corruption drama, and part 2 Moving On deals with me literally trying to move on, all the while discovering I am gay, and try to cope with everything.
I worked on Rogue's Island both parts for a few years, and from time to time, pick up Druid's Dream, and do more rewrites.
In 2012, I wanted to take my stage musical Swing Fever and adapt it for the screen. While writing the screen version, I found myself further writing more details into the stage show. At some point, I choose to create some very distinct differences between the two, so if a person read them side by side, they are similar, both still had their own individually written identities.
An idea sprung up and out of my subconscious during 2015. It dealt with a broken performer needing and figuring out how to live and love again in NYC during the 1980s. I decided to name it after a song called Just a Memory.
In 2017 I began working with Script Doctor Joey on both Druid's Dream and Rogue's Island. To get a different perspective and get everything into the best tip-top shape possible.
When I read five different books on screenwriting, I discovered that after 1990 everyone and their grandmother wants to write to sell a screenplay. Why the year 1990, nobody really knows. Before 1990, a studio would pay good money to buy a logline, a synopsis, or a screenplay. Now all they want
is a fully completed screenplay. I don't believe you only get one shot to sell a product. Genre trends go in cycles, and people move into new positions/directions or leave film companies A script reader may be willing to reread a project to see how much further it has been developed. Now that is not to say a person does not want to put their best foot forward. There are times with a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work, a studio will purchase a screenplay from a writer. This particular writer certainly believes so. Thank you for reading about my journey to becoming a writer of screenplays.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my projects enough to request to read any of them.