Essays in Idleness


by Larry Stark


The THEATER MIRROR lives again!

My undying thanks to Mike Hoban, who is doing all the uploading/designing work I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with — as well as to Lee Vander Laan, whose continued generosity let me start The Mirror, and who, throughout its life, held my hand and fixed all my glitches making it real. They represent The Mirror’s past, and its future.

This column’s title comes from a book written by someone named Kenko in Japan in 1332. He was a Buddhist monk living in Kyoto and writing some 600 years before that of my own birth (If I live till then, on 4 August next year I will be 85). Apparently, he was a minor poet and much less religious than interested in the world around him. In that, I hope to emulate him.


But first:




Frankly, I ran out of steam.

Consider: back in 2011, I saw 242 plays, and tried to write reviews of most of them. In 2012 I saw 201, only 154 in 2013, and 138 the next.

But in 2016 I’ve only been to 56 plays and written nothing about them.




First of all, it seemed to take more and more time to maintain The Mirror. I tried for a while to list every play you could see all across the state of Massachusetts — but that was at least three days of research and typing every update. And then, I tried to list the URLs of every review I could find on the Internet — and all that used up time. And, more and more, that was time I had reason to want for — other things…..


Like What? Well, like comic-books.


When I started high school (1946) I felt I had outgrown comics but, the summer I graduated, a new company called ENTERTAINING COMICS (“E.C.”) plugged me back in, and for the next six years I wrote comment-letters on nearly everything they published, I two or three times visited their New York City offices and talked with the creative people, and (maybe more importantly) had essays published about them in little mimeographed magazines; in a sense, I was, with a few others, creating “comics fandom”. Constantly reprinted, those E.C. comics  — which only lasted six short years — have never been out of print (Their stories were the source for the t-v show TALES FROM THE CRYPT), and younger and younger people have been discovering them just as I did so long ago.


Some of those new readers not long ago began sharing comments and revived “THE E.C. FAN-ADDICTS CLUB” that back in my youth was an audience-building gimmick. And one of these eager new fans who knew I was, back then, proclaimed “E.C.’s Number One Fan,” found me, asked me to “review” some stories, and — well, last July I was flown to this year’s SAN DIEGO COMICON to appear on a panel of younger fans; from 22 to 24 July, I was hip-deep in comics and reliving youth.


At roughly the same time FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS began yet another reprint project — this time collecting the black-and-white originals by all those artists who drew for E.C. — and the man who was to write an introduction to one of those books had a heart attack. I was asked to write one for the work of Johnny Craig (“VOODOO VENGEANCE And Other Stories”; available for purchase at any local comics-shop), then another of the work of Will Elder (“THE MILLION YEAR PICNIC And Other Stories” due in stores in December).

Not only that, but Thommy Burns, my re-discoverer shall we say, wrote a history of “The origins of E.C. fandom” which I’m told FANTAGRAPCS is in the process of publishing as we speak. He said he’d put a copy in the mail to me yesterday, and I can’t wait to read it!


And then there’s my t-v career.


Actually, what do you call a TV series you can only see on the Internet?

PARACELSUS FILMS last year did a nine-episode series called STAYING IN BOSTON It’s about CC, a nearing-30 woman trying to decide whether to take a promotion at work that means re-locating, or to look for a smaller job in order to stay here and try to be an actress. The Paracelsus producer/director/editor Vincent Morreale said that in Episode 9 of This Year’s series, he wanted CC to meet a Boston theatre critic played by — me!


“If John Houseman could do it, why can’t I?”


Vin and I had dinner, and he wrote a script for Episode 9 that’s a two-hander for me and Drew Linnehan Jacobs (“CC”) — three short, simple scenes that took me three days to shoot. I discovered I am NOT an actor, that I can’t memorize lines, and that actors here in Boston are the most generous people on the planet. Year two has been shot and is being edited; a first draft of the first episode should be finished soon. Vin is such a good director/editor I expect he can even make Me look good!


Well that’s pretty much all that happened thi past year, and aside from all that, “Essays in IDLENESS” pretty much defines what’s Still happening to Larry Stark.





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