“No Exit” Outtakes Posted for PEL Members

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The Skype call, Wes's eye view
A few comments about our recent No Exit performance, in numbered list form, because I like numbered lists:

1. Thank you thank you thank you to Jaime Murray and Lucy Lawless, who were a lot of fun and made this easy. You can hear this on the 18-min outtakes reel I’ve now posted on the Free Stuff page of our Citizen site. If you’re not a Citizen, just put $5 in the hat, and you can go get it along with lots of other good stuff.

2. What you get on that is: First, a couple of minutes of us chatting as we share our preconceptions about the play and give excuses for being unprepared; next, about 5 minutes of blooper-type material, as we make jokes that interrupt the performance and have a few car crashes trying to determine the best way to deliver some of this very strange material; then the rest of the file is our talking afterward about some of our choices in silly voices, what we think Sartre was talking about, what we were all up to in our lives that week, etc. So if you’re fans of our guests, that part is sort of like a (very) mini-episode, except more freewheeling.

3. Yes, I have always been a wanna-be actor, in that I was a big ham in every grade school play, but then did orchestra in high school and so couldn’t actually take drama, which means that though I was in some plays there (I even got to direct one senior year), I was never in drama club (or in the school musicals, for that matter, as orchestra precluded choir, besides which there’s a line of hokiness I’m loathe to cross), and then by college my band always took precedence, so apart from a dismal audition for “Rent” some time in the ’90s, I’ve not acted at all. So this was a great way to do it, more or less in my comfort zone, with the excuse (Sartre would accuse me of bad faith, I think) that it was OK if I was terrible, because it was casual and unrehearsed. Despite Wes’s warning before we started (he’s actually taken a recent acting class), I know I made the rookie mistake of reading things too fast, and it kind of makes me wince to listen to myself, but I’m grateful to have not been savaged by you, the Internet.

4. This is actually the first time we used video during one of our full-podcast recordings (we use it on Not School a lot), and we did it only because we hadn’t expressed to Jaime beforehand that we weren’t, and she suggested it. Typically, we avoid video in the hope of lessening bandwidth problems, and besides which, if you, the end user can’t see us, why add that layer of communication on our end? It ended up making it much more fun for me, though a bit nerve-wracking in that I had not prepped to be seen. I did feel like some of my dramatic pauses would have made more sense if you could see the gestures I was making at my fellow-players, but oh, well.

5. The reason I got Wes involved in this one and not Seth and Dylan was merely because Wes was missing from the last one (our performance of the Gorgias, part 2 of which is also available if you have a Citizen account). Maybe next time we’ll do a larger-cast production and get everyone on board.

6. After recording this, I went on vacation to my father’s house, and ended up writing the country song that comes at the end of the episode (you can download a high-bitrate mp3 here). Though the tune got stuck quickly in my head and the guitar subtleties that keep the chord progression from being (I hope) overly simple/cliche worked themselves out over a few sit-downs, the lyrics took more time, and it wasn’t until I returned and basically sat down to record it on New Year’s Day that I got the whole thing down. Other than its sort of snarky tone, every line in it is very literally about or even out of the dialogue from the play, so I feel all proud of myself for writing what may be my first bit of musical theater. Hear that, Disney? Maybe I can write some songs for one of your creations and have you reject them as happened to one of my rock idols Andy Partridge (he wrote a couple for James & the Giant Peach before they went with the ubiquitous Randy Newman).

7. I started the song with having Lucy sing it in mind; I feel like I owe her a new composition to sing after I ended up grabbing back my own lead vocal and relegating her to a harmony part in a song we worked on last June, but the song took me long enough to finish and was done as an afterthought to the recording, so I went ahead and sang it myself to be able to just get the recording up to you folks more quickly. So I wrote it rather higher than is optimal for me to sing, and was recovering by then from the inevitable vacation/holiday-related cold/whatever, such that as I continued to sing this, my voice was cracking all over the place. That said, I like the recording: this is the first that I played a long-form part on the cello, and likewise on my chromatic harmonica, which just happened to be in a key that made it easy to play on this song. (My new-as-of-this-summer mandolin will have to wait for its debut.)

Thanks as always to all of you for your continued support and encouragement.

-Mark Linsenmayer

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