Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Crud - Explained
My actors and I were once booked to perform at a Catholic Family Camp somewhere in the U.S.
It was one of the spookiest places I've ever been to. The lack of maintenance was appalling - everything was leaking, badly in need of paint, dreary, run down - truly a Catholic Ghetto in the worst sense of the word. The crew and counselors take vows of celibacy - lay camp counselors taking a vow of celibacy. Doesn't that sound like fun? Kind of like being castrated in order to work at McDonald's.
"We're not a cult," one of the staff told me when we got there. "Every one in town thinks we're a cult, but we're not a cult!"
Before we performed, I was forced to sign a "rider" to our Theater of the Word contract that gave this camp the right to tape our performance and do with it what they wished - including broadcast it or put it on the internet - with no compensation or royalty to be paid to me. This was presented to me backstage right as I was about to walk on by the woman in charge, who carried a walkie-talkie and communicated with the higher-ups in mysterious tones as she followed people around the camp.
They had big names booked to speak at this event - and lots of people in attendance. But the facilities were worse than a meth lab Motel Six; clearly nothing had been done to keep this place up for twenty years or more.
And pictures of their foundress were all over the place - a woman with a bouffant hairdo, enshrined in every hallway. More pictures of her than of the Blessed Mother.
Now, say what you will - something is amiss there.
And its symptom is Crud.
In the murder mystery dinner theater business, I have known more than one owner of a mystery company who was a convicted felon.
And some of my employees have been a bit troubled. One guy, I later learned after I fired him, was telling every one of the actresses in my company that he was sleeping with all of the other actresses in my company. He even got one of the actresses to lend him $300 and when he didn't pay her back, he told her it was my fault because I wasn't paying him.
Another actor, I later learned (again after firing him) would travel with marijuana in his socks if we flew him out of town. He lived in a house that was filthy, and had a sham-ex-wife; which is to say, it was a divorce of convenience, so that the State of Missouri would pay the child support payments he welched out on - even though his wife and kids were still living with him - and even though he was working for money under the table and dodging warrants - it's just that the State didn't know that.
Another actor would vanish for three days at a time. He would insist upon getting paid in cash, and then we wouldn't be able to get ahold of him for 72 hours or so. When we would, we would wake him up - even if we called at 3:00 in the afternoon. He once traveled in a car with another actor on a 3-hour one-way ride and wouldn't stop talking the whole way, driving his partner crazy. "I shouldn't be alive," he once told me. "I used to have a drug problem. Once, while high, I somehow fell off a roof. I shouldn't be alive. But I've kicked the habit now," he said with pride. After he told me this, I paid him in cash and he disappeared for three days.
In each of these cases, something is amiss.
When Fr. Wehmeyer parked a camper on the parish lot and the maintenance man saw little boys going in and out of that trailer with Father at various times, something was also amiss.
You can usually smell it. It's the aroma of Crud.
And sometimes really bad art goes along with a disjointed brain. I won't go into detail here, but I recently watched one of the most horrid things I've ever seen, which was trumpeted as "Catholic theater". It made me want to become an atheist again.
It was as bad as the Catholic camp was in disrepair. It was as poorly conceived and executed as some scum bag stealing money from actresses and blaming his boss for it. It was as troubled as a camper on the parish parking lot. It wasn't just bad, it was sinfully bad. I mean that literally.
And, as one of my friends pointed out to me, the producer behind this fiasco has publicly made a very bizarre and patently false claim amounting to a kind of fraud. The producer has made a "claim to fame" that's rather nuts, and that could easily be falsified - though apparently no one has bothered to do so yet.
But it fits. It makes sense.
Because these things go together. They are symptoms.
When there's smoke, there's fire, and when there's crud there's more where that came from.