Meet The Cast: Irwin Moskowitz

 

introducing.peddlerA character often omitted from LeFanu’s story is the peddler, the first to suspect there’s perhaps something odd about Laura’s visitor.

So tell me about yourself. Who is Irwin Moskowitz?

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I spent many Saturday afternoons at the movies.  And I watched every movie I could back in the day when there were only three channels.  Among the many films I watched were the early talkies including Dracula and Frankenstein.  I like to point out that the budget on the original Dracula was so small, it did not include music/soundtrack.  See it today and there’s no music, like Hitchcock’s The Birds.  But I digress.   A movie lover from the get-go, guilty as charged.

At the U. of Pittsburgh,  I majored in Psychology and Theater, getting great “college” theatrical acting experience including playing assorted characters in Spoon River Anthology and other roles both on the main stage at the Stephen Foster Memorial and the black box of its time, the Studio Theater.
I moved to Los Angeles as soon as I graduated from Pitt and hoped to land a big show business gig.  Still waiting for that to happen, I decided to be “practical” and got an MBA from UCLA.  My class had quite a few “artistic” students in the Business School, and we put on a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  I got to play Charlie Brown.  Sweet.  I put aside my acting career and worked in Marketing, Brand Identity, Real Estate and Banking.  I sat in the audience for years thinking what I shoulda, coulda and woulda but dinta.
Flash forward to four years ago when I became ill, so I became an extra.   Mostly awful work, to be sure.   I said we were potted plants the production was required to feed.  Real potted plants, unfortunately, got more respect than the extras.  But, I got to work on sets and see how tv shows/movies are made.  Very, very slowly.  Feeling better and with all my extra work (ha!) under my belt, I auditioned for theater productions in LA and got cast.  I had a leading role in A Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding which ran for six months.  Most recently, I played President Harry Truman in Presidential Suite in NOHO.  I love theater work.  It’s tough, yet wonderfully rewarding.   I liken the thrill of going onstage to what a skier must sense when he takes off down the mountain, only more dangerous.
Next up, Carmilla!

I already know the answer, but how did you come to be involved in Carmilla?

Answering an Actor’s Access call for Carmilla, I auditioned for the role of Laura’s father and other characters, including The Peddler.  Carmilla’s story has moved to 1938 Austria prior to the onset of WWII.   To me, The Peddler (“Carlsberg”), represents a minority figure unlikely to survive the war.   He must do what he can to survive in a hostile, cruel environment, yet provides some humor in the melodrama.  I like to paraphrase Stanislavsky…There are no small parts, only small paychecks.

Were you at all familiar with the story before this?

I was not at all familiar with Carmilla or its story line prior to my audition.  I’d seen countless productions of all types involving vampires, but this is my first time actually working in one.

Are you a particular fan of gothic or vampire fiction?

Who doesn’t love vampire and gothic horror stories/films?  I’d seen the early B&W films on the Late Late Show, called Academy Theater in Pittsburgh, during the dark ages.  Also saw the Hammer films of the sixties, with Christoper Lee, for one, in living color.   The vampire renaissance likely started in the Seventies with Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, but the number of films, et. al., about vampires since then are countless.  And now they’re on TV/cable and popular.  If anything can distract most people from their daily lives/grinds, it’s vampires.  What if?  If Only?  Wouldn’t that be_________________________?  Fill in the blank.  Plus, vampires are sexier than most antagonists so they’ve got that going for them, in addition to living forever.  You call that living?  No days, only nights.   Can’t imagine they make a Serta PerfectSleeper to fit a coffin.  You have to imagine your hair looks ok because you can’t see your reflection in a mirror.  And, although most everyone likes garlic, let’s be reasonable.   And who delivers blood when you’re hungry/thirsty?  You have to get your own!  Or have “people” get it for you.  Like assistants.   It’s gotta be a tough life, or whatever.

You’ve made an interesting contribution to the script itself since being cast. Care to tell that story?

Getting cast as The Peddler, I suggested that he have a name.  To my great delight, David Blue chose “Carlsberg” as his character’s name.  Not only does a name enable an actor to create a backstory, this character represents a vast number of individuals preyed upon, tortured and destroyed by people and situations worse than vampires.  Austria in 1938 was unlikely a center of fine art, culture and waltzes, certainly not to people like Carlsberg.
Describe your reactions so far to this production.
It’s exciting to be part of a world premiere production of an original play based upon literature more than a century old.  I’d heard of LaFanu and there have been films/plays based upon his work.  That’s a trip.  So looking forward to it!
Finally, is there any question you wished I’d asked? If so, what is it? And what is your answer?

No.

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Cast of the Reading!

295336_10151267312624506_13668514_nBack in July 2013 we had a reading of my play Carmilla. It proved a thrilling experience, which led in turn to a lot of improvements in the text. Now, I’d like to introduce you to some (albeit not quite all) of the wonderful folks who took part!

Amelia Gotham read both Laura and Carmilla at different times. I first saw her in The Turn of the Screw at the Visceral, a part for which she won an award. She has since won another for her role in Sherlock Through the Looking Glass. She wowed me at the time and wowed me again from the first word she uttered. Honestly she leaves me in a bit of awe.

Copy of 47350_1583450588655_5450894_nVanessa Cate read Carmilla and the Countess. She’s been in many shows, the first I saw being Hamlet. But since then she’s also starred in, directed and written numerous plays including Urban Death and Fragments of Oscar Wilde as well as A Down & Dirty Christmas Cabaret and the upcoming Kamikaze (a one woman show). She’s got an amazing stage presence as well as an unusual gravitas for someone her age. Plus a wicked sense of humor that radiates from her like heat!

amirAmir Khalighi read the part of Captain Martin (and if you don’t recognize the name from the novel–well, I’ll explain later). He’s a wonderful actor I’ve seen in such plays as Much Ado About Nothing and Whore’s Bath. Now he’s directing a show coming up about the poet Rumi, titled Rumination. He played a crucial role in organizing the Reading, even offering up his home as possible location. We didn’t have to go that far, but the offer meant a great deal.

mark.hein002Mark Hein , who read the part of Fontaine (Laura’s father) has become a good friend. He’s been a teacher at Pierce College, a performer in dozens of plays, most recently in To Kill a Mockingbird and before that in Urban Death. He’s also directed lots of plays and will now be directing another!  He has a quiet power on stage, and it doesn’t hurt that he understood in his bones pretty much precisely what I trying to do with the script!

douglas.eamesDouglas Eames came recommended by a film director friend, and I was very much impressed. He portrayed Colonel Spielsdorf, the “vampire hunter” of the story and in many ways the spiritual ancestor of Van Helsing (Dracula was published a full quarter century after LeFanu’s work). He captured the rather tricky ‘air’ and manner of how I re-imagined Spielsdorf (as an SS Officer in 1938) extremely well.

lili.bordanLili Bordan played Laura at one point and the rest of the time she played Madame Perradon (for which she is actually far too young and glamorous). Had the enormous good fortune to see her in The Shawl by David Mamet and we had a lovely conversation about theater and acting afterwards.  Having expressed interest in my play, she ended up invited to the reading where she did a splendid job! Really. I was very impressed (but then, having seen her work, I was not surprised).

sebastian.munozSebastian Munoz is an actor and director I’ve seen before, mostly as a director for shows like Attack of the Rotting Corpses as well as Captain Dan Dixon vs. The Moth Sluts from the 5th Dimension (which was really too much fun!). His most recent performance that I’ve seen was one of an ensemble in a Poe-laden work in North Hollywood simply dubbed The Raven. Honestly I was thrilled to see it! And it hasn’t surprised me how many of his shows have ended up extended! He did a very fine job in the important role of The Peddler.

To be fair, several others helped out as well, some of them doubling for various roles. But these folks played the major roles. Others who helped out included Tyler McAuliffe, Redetha Deason and Stephanie Bergman Kalighi (the latter two beautiful women Amir and Sebastian have the incredible good luck to love and be loved in return). Tyler read Mr. Fontaine, Redetha the Countess, and Stephanie also read the Countess. Everyone did a fine job with reading, but more importantly they gave invaluable feedback. Revisions that followed–which made the play better in quite tangible ways–arose from their shared perceptions and thoughts.

Cannot thank any of them enough!

Put Carmilla On Stage!

template2thumbPut Carmilla On Stage!

In 1872, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu published an important piece of gothic literature, the novella Carmilla. Not only did it influence many works that came after it from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw to Jon Alvide Linqvist’s Let the Right One In, but it created a new subgenre.

The Lesbian Vampire Story.

Now an adaptation of this seminal (or should that be “ovarian”?) work is on its way to the Los Angeles theatre scene. One that adds to this atmospheric, erotic nightmare the one thing it was lacking.

Nazis.