Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Asking for Trouble 2012: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on VHS

There are many, many reasons to love Youngblood’s ASKING FOR TROUBLE, which opens tonight at EST at 7pm, but for me it comes down to the actors.

Man, these actors.

I’ve been working with three big talents – Merissa Czyz, Bob Jaffe, and Jay Patterson – and you should definitely come see them rock out my show, “Flannel and Lace,” as part of Series A tonight at 7pm, Thursday at 8:30pm and Saturday at 3pm. Stick around tonight for Series B at 8:30pm. In fact, see it all. It’s gonna be great.

But I’m posting on Youngblog for the second time in almost as many days (sorry) to comment on the role one of those actors has played in my development as an artist and human and why this has made my first A4T experience extra special.

My childhood was defined by VHS. I was part of the first wave of kids to have easy access to cheap on-demand video entertainment. It arrived in the form of boxy tapes you could rewind and rewatch to your heart’s content. And when I was a kid there was no VHS I watched more than the 1990 action blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I crushed that cassette.

Fast-forward to the A4T pick party a few weeks ago. I sat down after drawing the names of my actors and immediately began the necessary Google stalk. The instant I saw Jay Patterson's headshot I knew who he was, even before IMDB confirmed it.

Jay starred in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

He played Charles Pennington, the father of a troubled teenager who flees home to join archvillain Shredder’s dreaded ninja street gang, the Foot Clan. 

I have watched this man act more times than I'd care to admit. I have forced my brother to play him in backyard remakes of the movie while I played Shredder. To Jay this may have been just another gig. To us, this was the art that mattered, the art that taught us how to tell stories.

So I wrote a short where Jay plays an eight-year-old boy, Bob plays his older brother, and Merissa plays their mother. The three of them tell a story. For all the years my brother and I spent playing Jay, now Jay is playing us. 

And he is a fantastic actor – funny and scary and heartbreaking – as are Bob and Merissa. I could not be happier to be working with them and director Matt Dickson. If our play were a VHS, I’d order a pizza with anchovies and watch that sucker on repeat. Come out to EST this week and see for yourself.