Thursday, March 17, 2011

Live Bait: Eat Your Broccoli

This is a story that was meant to be told at the March edition of Live Bait. The theme was “Eat Your Broccoli”. This is the story of how I met Kevin Broccoli…and went to war against him!

I met Kevin back around 2006 when we were both in a production of The Boys Next Door. Immediately, I thought he hated me. I wasn’t sure why he did. Maybe I did something to him in a past life and he had the ability to remember recall this event. More realistically, he might have just been sizing me up. If this was in fact the case, I don’t think he was impressed. Frankly, if I were to go back to 2006 and size myself up, I’d probably go back to “Young Kevin” and agree with him.

Regardless of initial impressions of each other, real or perceived, we got along fine during the production. This was actually my first community theatre show, and Kevin was certainly part of the reason the experience was enjoyable. Once we had gotten to know each other a bit better, our senses of humor seemed to mesh pretty well.

Once the show wrapped up, I really only saw Kevin on occasion. I might run into him downtown in Providence on the street. I might see him when hanging out with other friends, as it turned out we had some friends in common. But mainly, I would see Kevin at auditions. Right after The Boys Next Door was done, we both ended up auditioning for Proof at the Barker Playhouse. It was a bit weird for me, because now here was a guy I just worked with, and now we were both going for the same role. And this wasn’t a show we could both be in. There was only one character we could both appropriately play. I ended up getting the part. Later on, we both auditioned for You Can’t Take It With You. Once again, it was at Barker. Once again, we were both up for the same part. Once again, I ended up getting it. I’m certainly not saying this to toot my own horn. It’s for chronological purposes, and it will supply some reflective material later on.

Flash ahead some years, and I am in my last year of earning my MFA at Rhode Island College. I performed my thesis project entitled Sex, Please, We’re Americans at Perishable Theatre. It’s coming to the summer of 2010, and I am getting my annual messages of Facebook saying “Please vote for me at this year’s Motif awards”. For those playing the home game, Motif magazine holds a theatre awards ceremony every year, usually at this place called The Hi Hat, where suspiciously hats are banned, and you, the readers, choose the winners. I go on the site to vote for people I want to support, and I am surprised to find that my thesis was nominated for “Best New Work”. Also nominated, “The Kevin Broccoli Monologues”. As many people are aware, Kevin writes monologues regularly and puts together shows. If you haven’t seen one, you should. Also, if you have a moment, ask yourself why.

I am working at RIC, and I run into a friend of mine, Jeff. I’m talking to Jeff, and I mention the Motif nomination. Now I’m the one that can prod people to vote for me. To this, Jeff says “Kevin Broccoli said he wants to destroy you at Motif.” I am certain this was the verb to be performed: destroy. Not beat. Not even overtake. Destroy. Jeff also mentions that Kevin claimed we had a “mutual disdain” for each other. This completely confused me. First if this was a mutual thing, wouldn’t I have been in on it? I feel like I’ve missed many opportunities to express disdain because I didn’t know I was supposed to. I was cheated out of hatred.

The day of Motif arrives. I’m there with my girlfriend Jamie. I see Kevin, I say hello. I’m playing it cool. But maybe to cool because I think he’s on to something, but if he is on to something then he is hiding it well because he too is playing it cool. Too cool, perhaps? By now, I have completely engrossed myself in the “why”. Why does Kevin not like me? What did I…what…now wait a minute. It’s Barker, isn’t it? It’s the two shows at Barker that I did instead of him. Kevin, a fantastic writer who is making his mark in Rhode Island Theatre, a man who is becoming recognized by newsletters and local magazines, a man completely in control of his destiny, is holding a grudge because of two community theatre shows. His success is not enough! He should have been Hal! He should have been Tony! He should have paid the $75 in dues! Not me! And now, Kevin is going to exact his revenge! He is going to destroy me and the work I did! To this I say, “I…think…not!” I will not be destroyed. I will be the destroyer. In fact, I will devour every fiber of this man’s being at the Motif awards! I will devour Kevin Broccoli! I will eat…my…Broccoli.

He won. Rightfully so.

Later that summer, we both were in a show together. And during that rehearsal process, I wanted nothing to do with him. I made efforts to at least be polite. I don’t think I was rude during the process. Just quiet. When we get to the run of the show, I have to say something. I ask him where this mutual disdain is coming from.

“That? That was a joke! I was saying that about everyone. Jeff is a moron.” I don’t know if he really called Jeff a moron. But I am. Jeff, you’re a moron. And I love you.

Jeff actually came to our show, to which I told him that he was mistaken. He knew. In fact he knew so well that he in fact played me for a fool. The whole time.

Since then, I would say Kevin and I have a mutual respect for each other. I would say that we get along pretty well, and our regular interactions at Live Bait are some of the best I’ve had with him. And I am certain that he doesn’t hate me. After all, I’ve gotten to perform his monologues.

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