From Wretch to Fringe: Templeton’s Wretch Like Me On Way to Edinburgh

For some, the 1970s were a hurly burly of hot tubs and hedonism. For playwright, performer and local journalist David Templeton, it was puppets and Christian Fundamentalism. He eventually outgrew both and shares the life lessons learned along the way with comedy and heart in his one-man show, “Wretch Like Me, or How I Was Saved from Being Saved.”
Templeton performs the show, one night only, this Monday evening at the Sonoma Community Center.

Monday’s performance is a fundraiser to mount a two-week run of the show at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe (colloquially known as the Fringe Fest), hosted annually in Scotland, to which Templeton and a skeleton crew have been invited to bring the production. He is also running a concurrent campaign on IndieGoGo to raise the $10,000 (at least!) necessary to make his Aug. 1 curtain call at the the Surgeon’s Hall at the Royal Academy of Surgeons Museum in Edinburgh.

Wretch Like Me

“With all the cutting I had to do with script, it’s appropriate to perform in a place that’s also seen its share of blood,” Templeton says drolly.

The lanky, bearded and bespectacled poly-hyphenate, who many will know from his theater reviews in the North Bay Bohemian, has performed the show more than 75 times throughout the Bay Area where it first hit the boards in 2009. He’s since honed it into a lean, mean theatrical machine, full of poignant laughs and life lessons that are relatable beyond the scope of the religious experience that inspired it.

“It’s about my childhood and teenage years, which were typical in that I had to have a lot of crap thrown at me before I figured out who I was and what I wanted to do,” says Templeton, who’s proven adept at finding the universal in personal experience in this and other works that draw inspiration from his autobiography. “It was unusual in that, in my case, it happened in the crazy running-away-to-the-circus vibe of Christian fundamentalism in the ’70s of Southern California.”

Templeton recounts how the “Jesus Movement” he joined evolved from a community born of the idealism of “surfing hippies,” and started moving toward the religious right, which was contrary to his own tolerant beliefs. Suddenly, the “Jesus Club,” which accepted nerdy guys (Templeton had a puppet ministry – enough said) became something he needed to escape.

“I had to have this ‘coming-of-age’ where I had to leave the only community I ever felt safe in. I no longer felt like I was a part of it,” recounts Templeton, who, a few decades hence, used the experience to craft “Wretch Like Me.” He succinctly sums the plot as, “Boy finds Jesus. Boy loses Jesus. Boy finds himself.”

Fringe Festival

From its inception, Templeton’s goal was to bring “Wretch” to the Fringe Fest, which is to theater professionals what the Sundance Film Festival was once to filmmakers – a place to launch one’s work onto the world’s stage.

“From the beginning, we announced that that was the goal,” says Templeton. “That’s where shows get found. Where they get a chance to tour, see London or New York, get publishing opportunities. All kinds of things happen there.”

To get there, however, Templeton needs to raise the funds. At present writing, he’s raised more than $2,000. With his crowd-funding deadline hovering at a minute before midnight on May 22, he has 35 days to go to raise the rest.

As explained on the production’s IndieGoGo page, “Team Wretch must raise a minimum of $10,000 dollars. That amount will fund the remaining rental, insurance and licensing fees, plus travel and lodging costs for a basic skeleton crew. Were the Team to raise $15,000, it would allow David to pay for advertising in the published Fringe program … and to bring his full crew to Edinburgh, all of which will help ‘Wretch’ have its best chance of success in Scotland.”

Until then, it’s all about Monday’s performance and the comedy and catharsis that Templeton ably brings to the stage.

“There’s always people in the audience that I realize have had the same experience, because they’re laughing in a very knowing way, or they’re sobbing in the moment I have to make the break and I think, ‘they’ve been through the same thing,’” says Templeton. “That happens at least once in nearly every show. I’m confessing a lot of stuff that most people would be embarrassed to confess but that allows people to reach out and bond with me a little bit, which makes what happens in the story all the more powerful.”

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David Templeton performs “Wretch Like Me” at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 21 at the Andrews Hall, Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit wretch-like-me.org.

Via SonomaNews

Tuvok Rocks: Star Trek Lands in Bay Area

Not a Trekkie, nor a Trekker be. This was advice someone once gave me at the outset of my love life. They needn’t have bothered. I was part of that cultural shift that occurred when Star Wars came along and absorbed the collective attention of an entire generation for anything with “star” in the title.
Besides, Star Trek with its humanist themes and nifty moralizing was distinctly grown-up fare and something I wouldn’t come to appreciate until I was older. Like wine and women.

At the time, my only familiarity with wine, women and Trek was in the form of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, jugs of Almaden wine at family dinner parties and the teenage girls who lived next door who were smitten with some alien life form called Shaun Cassidy.

Clearly, this was not an auspicious introduction, but I eventually figured it all out. Except the Shaun Cassidy part.

That said, Star Trek remained something of a cypher. But if you sit long enough in one place, the whole world will pass, including the Starship Enterprise.

Thus, it was inevitable that Star Trek would come to Sonoma. And when I looked for it, I realized it’s been here for years, in quiet ways.

Consider this: Five years ago, actor Chris Pine, who plays young, brash Capt. Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Trek film franchise, portrayed winemaker Bo Barrett, who, according to the locally produced film Bottle Shock, had a hand in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. Just as Vancouver doubles for any location in the States (and its moribund production biz), Sonoma doubled for Napa, Paris and elsewhere – meaning Capt. Kirk was here and I had a chat with him.

After some Internet sleuthing, I learned that our own legendary action-adventure scribe, Jack London, was depicted as a bellboy in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Apparently, Data the android time traveled to Gold Rush-era San Francisco, was mistaken for a Frenchman and helped encourage the young London to pursue his dreams of being a writer.

Following that narrative to its logical conclusion, you can draw a line from “Star Trek” to our Valley of the Moon, where London eventually set up shop. So thanks, Data! And sorry that later in the episode you were decapitated and your head was buried for 500 years. The sacrifices we make for literature, right?

Star Trek WineBut wait there’s more … Earlier this year, Sonoma’s own Viansa Winery released a series of limited edition Star Trek-themed wines that featured retro-styled labels by artist Juan Ortiz. Certain episodes are commemorated including, The Trouble with Tribbles, The City on the Edge of Forever and Mirror Mirror, which features a goateed alterna-Spock.

And last week, Star Trek reached out to me personally in my capacity as a columnist for the I-T. The Official Star Trek Convention was en route to the Bay Area with “headliners William Shatner and Jeri Ryan” in tow to “celebrate a weekend of everything ‘Trek.’” This is how I ended up chatting with Tim Russ, who portrayed everyone’s other favorite Vulcan, Lt. Commander Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. Russ seemed as mystified as me about the Trek experience.

“I was excited to have a full-time gig for possibly seven years. That’s what I was excited about,” Russ said about scoring the gig as the emotionally distant, full-blooded Vulcan. “Everything else was, you know, what came along with the package. It certainly was unusual. It was different. It was a big, fat plus-column of extras as a result of being on that show. The thing is, it’s still benefitting me in any number of ways.”

So, basically, when you’re in Trek, you’re in Trek all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day.

“I’ve been able to benefit from other acting roles, gigs that have come as a result of being on the show. I’ve been able to benefit in any number of ways in terms of still earning income, not just residuals but also from conventions that are still going on as we speak, every single year, for 17 years. It’s insane man, it’s insane! I still don’t understand it. I still don’t get it,” said Russ. “I can only talk about that show. How many times can I say the same thing?”

Dude, I ask myself that all the time, then the check comes and the whole “live long and prosper” notion becomes much more clear – clearer than an empty bottle of Almaden.

Via SonomaNews

It’s all NEW for Indie Filmmaker John Harden

NEW by John Harden

An Invitation to Invest in the Future of Film

Among my favorite filmmakers, homegrown or otherwise, is Sonoma County’s own John Harden whose masterful short films, La Vie d’un Chien (The Life of a Dog) and The Story of Sputnik, for my money, represent much of what’s great about the form.

Harden is now in preproduction for NEW, which follows an elderly couple who elected to be cryonically preserved at death only to be restored to life and youth in the distant future where futureshock and identity crises ensue. Harden is running a campaign on USA Projects to raise the $22,000 budget which has to be met by Wednesday, May 15, at 11:59pm. At present writing the projection has raised in pledges $12,200, with $10k to go. Naturally, as a longtime fan of Harden’s, I’ve contributed and I urge you to do as well by clicking here now.

After you’ve contributed to the next great John Harden film, dig this recent Q&A with him in which I lead with my my standard mid-period Woody Allen question… Continue reading “It’s all NEW for Indie Filmmaker John Harden”