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Lingua Franca selected for BFI London Film Festival

The Isabel Sandoval film Lingua Franca (starring me, well… me in a cameo) is a contender for the Best Film Award in this years Official Competition at the London festival. Writer, director, actor Isabel Sandoval is the first transgender director to compete in Official Competition.

Official Competition titles will screen nightly across the Festival in the two premier screens of the Vue Leicester Square, with a red carpet-style reception for the attending filmmakers each evening. The Festival invites audiences to share responses to films seen in Competition throughout the Festival at #MyLFFAward. 

BFI says: “A beautifully performed character study and an incisive critique on race and immigration in modern America, writer/director Isabel Sandoval (who also takes on the role of Olivia) has crafted a deeply moving work of great intimacy and insight. “

Read the entire article»

Posted in News


Lingua Franca to premiere at Venice Film Festival

Isabel Sandoval’s film Lingua Franca, about a transgender woman under threat of deportation, is one of 11 films (out of 900 submitted) selected for this year’s Venice Film Festival. I play Chad in this film. I’m a little bit excited about this, here’s the article in Variety.

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Dean on Radio Free Brooklyn

Killy Dwyer invited me onto her awesome radio show Mock-U-Mental (okay, maybe I prompted the invite). I got to share the two hours with the funny and talented T-Spoon, aka Katie Haller. We told stories, we sang songs, I ran out early to catch my train. Honestly, it’s everything you want in a radio show. Here’s a link to give it a listen:

https://cms.megaphone.fm/channel/RADIO7710278286?selected=RADIO5423216773

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Dean on WAMC’s The Roundtable

https://www.wamc.org/post/inaugural-phoenicia-fringe-festival-begins-july-5

I’m on talking Voice of Authority and what possessed me to take a show to EdFringe, along with Michael Koegel of the Phoenicia Playhouse and Doug Motel from the show Mind Salad.…

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Ballerinas, tigers, and trouble

As I rewrite Voice of Authority for its Edinburgh run, I’ve had to cut some of my favorite Zachary stories so I’m sharing them here. Zachary was my mentor, a Balanchine dancer, and the choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. He’s also a character in my show.

For the past several months of working on my video series Big Trouble, I’ve learned that a lot of my friends have never been in trouble. They’re either too good, or too good at getting away with it.

I am not one of those people. Neither was Zachary

But there are different ways of getting into big trouble. Sometimes it happens for all the wrong reasons, like my $19 million lawsuit with the US government. I quit everything I cared about to make money instead, and I learned how fast that money can go away.

Sometimes you get into big trouble for all the right reasons. Pick any number of martyrs from history who stood up for what they believed in.

And sometimes, you get in trouble for both. This story is one of those times.

The Army is trouble from the day Zachary arrives. Or maybe Zachary, a 20-year-old ballet dancer who never stopped smiling, was the trouble. He’d just been drafted the same week that Agnes de Mille cast him in Oklahoma!, which kills me. Original cast for one of the most successful musicals in Broadway history and suddenly your drafted? Although as Zachary would point out, he didn’t know it would be a success at the time.

“I only ever wanted to be a dancer and that’s all I ever was,” he’d say to me. Often. He felt the need to drive that home because I can be very slow to process imparted wisdom.

When Zachary gets to basic training in 1943, he discovers quickly that smiling is frowned upon, a lesson he learns through peeling potatoes and cleaning toilets with a toothbrush. He also learns that doing your barre work every morning doesn’t go over so well.

“You have to do it or you lose the muscle,” he’d say. “They’d all be screaming, ‘What the hell is this sissy doing?’”

For his first six months Zachary has no friends. Then he meets his people, starts performing in shows, and all that focus on his barre work, on always being a dancer, pays off. He gets transferred to Special Services and Major Melvyn Douglas’ troop in Calcutta, India.

If you’re not familiar with Oscar-winning actor Melvyn Douglas, neither was I when Zachary said his name. He starred opposite Garbo in Ninotchka, a film I’ve never seen but I’m still impressed.

Zachary, now a sergeant, continues to do his barre work every morning, at the white picket fence outside the compound where he lives.

“One day I’m doing my barre and a servant hands me a note. It says, ‘I see you are a trained ballet dancer. So am I. Please meet me for tea.’”

That’s how he meets Kira, a former star with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which was the Who’s Who of the dance world in the 1930s. If you were a big deal, you danced or choreographed there. Kira’s husband Boris had also danced with the company, although in Calcutta he was better known as a tiger hunter and the founder of the 300 Club, the first integrated club in India. It was based on London’s famed 400 Club, although more exclusive. 

By 100 people.

Kira is living dance history and still in her mid-30s. She and Zachary pick up a cabaret slot at the 300 Club, and she starts teaching him classic steps from the Ballet Russe.

Now maybe you’re asking yourself, where’s the trouble? It looked like it was going to happen in basic, but this sounds great.

The trouble happens in Kashmir, but if I’d started there, you’d be lacking context now.

It’s at this point that Kira goes to Kashmir for monsoon season – “As all the best people do,” Zachary says – and tells him he has to see it so he should get a weekend pass.

“I arrive and Boris isn’t there,” Zachary says. “I wasn’t expecting that. Then Kira goes and gets us a job dancing cabaret at one of the fanciest hotels.”

That got so complicated so quickly. On the one hand, this is a dream come true. On the other, this is your worst nightmare.

Let’s say you’re a single, 22-year-old from a poor family in Philadelphia and you’ve only ever wanted to be a dancer. Suddenly, you find yourself with the opportunity to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world, working at a luxury hotel, and learning ballet from someone who danced with the world’s greatest company.

Are you true to yourself as an artist? You’ve only ever wanted to be a dancer. Or are you true to yourself as a soldier?

What would you do?

And just to make this easier for you, a strikingly beautiful ballerina is inviting you into her bed while she’s away from her husband. Remember, you’re a 22-year-old boy.

“I go AWOL. Big time AWOL. Four months,” says Zachary.

Damn, Zach!

It’s a scenario that fills me with envy and dread all at once, the fear of getting into trouble going head on with the fear of missing out.

I hate to admit it, but I’d hightail it back to Calcutta and miss out on the one thing I cared about, although probably not until after I’d slept with the married woman. And I’m mad at myself for that choice right now, even though I never actually made it.

But Zachary?

“Kira had worked with all of the greats in Paris, but she wasn’t just teaching me the great Russian ballets,” he tells me. “She’d been studying Indian dance so I was learning that too,” Zachary says. “Every so often I’d see someone I knew and they’d say, ‘Shouldn’t you be in Calcutta with Major Douglas?’ I’d say something like, oh I have dysentery, I couldn’t possibly go back.”

He defies the Army and he’s true to himself, and what he learns influences his life as a dancer in New York and as the choreographer of the Met. But it shapes his life in India first.

“We stayed on a houseboat called the Star, and every morning the servants would wake us with fruit and hot coffee and sprinkle lotus petals over our heads,” he continues.

That’s something that only happens in movies.

When he gets back to Calcutta, Boris points a tiger rifle at his chest and says, “I never want to see you again.”

Also, something that only happens in movies.

And Major Douglas says, “Not a word, Private Solov. You’re losing all of your stripes.”

Again, feels like a movie, but it’s Melvyn Douglas this time so that makes sense.

You know that feeling when you just want to get out of town? For Zachary it happens just when he’s got back into town. So he says to Douglas, “I want to see China, I want to see Burma. I’m putting together a touring show!”

“Good riddance,” says Douglas.

Zachary’s tour does fifty shows in fifty nights for soldiers who are away from home, living in a tropical jungle with bugs, and storms, and bombs dropping out of the sky. And now, they don’t mind so much that he does his barre work in the morning. They’re grateful to have the chance to relax, maybe even to laugh instead of fear for their lives. This is what Zachary can do for people and will continue to do for people for the rest of his life.

And everything he’s learned, from Kira, from Special Services, from touring, all of that serves as part of his foundation when he choreographs for the Met, then his own company, then the companies in Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, San Francisco, and a list that goes on.

When Zachary returns to Calcutta from his tour, Major Douglas says, “Great job, Zach,” and gives him his stripes back. That is the right kind of trouble. But he doesn’t see Boris or Kira in India again, and that’s the kind of trouble that breaks your heart.

Dean Temple’s comedy solo show Voice of Authority, a true story
 about getting sued by the US Dept of Justice for $19 million and saved
 by his mentor Zachary Solov, will be at the Phoenicia Playhouse Jul 5, 59E59 Theaters in NYC Jul 17–21, and at theSpace@ Surgeon’s Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Aug 2–24. Follow him on Twitter
@deantemple, Instagram @thatdeantemple, and follow the show on facebook.com/deantemplevoa

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Big Trouble Ep. 8: Mary Goggin deals dope on the corner

In this episode, Mary can compete with me when it come to getting in big trouble. Her story is about heroin dealing at age 13. All I did that year was set a toilet on fire. I’ll tell that story another time. Mary Goggin is a New York based actor born to Irish Emigrants and raised in the Bronx. Her solo show Runaway Princess, a hopeful tale of heroin, hooking and happiness, is currently touring the fringe circuit. marygoggin.com…

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Airing Zachary out on the first day of spring

“Hellooooooo!“ Zachary says before he’s even opened his door. You know how your dog greets you when you come home, tail wagging so hard it looks about to break off? Zachary greets you with just as much verve, but more Ethel Merman than Labrador.

And today, he’s even dressed to go, so I don’t have my typical 45 minute wait while he gets ready. It’s the first real day of spring and he wants out of his dark little cave of an apartment.

His 81-year-old legs have trapped him inside during the cold weather. Zachary needs to be around people and inspiring things he can absorb and talk about. He needs connection, and he finds that everywhere he goes, sometimes to my great embarrassment.

But I also like that feeling of connection, I just often don’t know how to open myself up to it. So I put up with embarrassing moments to live vicariously through Zach.

Outside we blink in the sunlight like the other million vitamin D deficient New Yorkers emerging from hibernation. I have at least two winter layers I need to shed before bikini season. No I don’t own a bikini, and I probably won’t shed the layers either.

“Let’s take the M2 bus up Madison,” Zachary says.

I’ve spent most of my life in New York in a monogamous relationship with the subway. I don’t do buses. They stop every other block. You feel like you’re getting nowhere. But the bus is right outside his 58th Street building and the subway is three blocks away.

I think the exercise would do him good. Zach’s a retired dancer, used to have calves like oak trees, all this gnarled muscle. These days they look like twigs, and how do you get that muscle back if you’re not going to walk?

We get on the bus at 58th and as Zach pays his fare he asks the driver, “Does this bus stop at 103rd?”

“101st,” the driver answers.

I want to be grumpy about losing the bus-subway battle, but right away I notice how nice it is. There’s daylight on the bus, almost feels airy. Might have to have an affair with the bus.

We’ve only gone 10 blocks when Zachary shouts up to the driver, “Can you stop at 103rd Street?”

“This bus stops at 101st.” Not even a smile from the guy.

Zachary starts to sing. I’d say the bus is 70 percent full, and 50 percent can hear him, and I’m looking around to see who’s amused and who’s annoyed.

Then this older woman with white hair and soft, smiling eyes leans in, “My husband used to sing that song to me. He loved going to the Loews movie palace on 175th St.”

“That song was a big hit with the German and Jewish vaudeville crowd in the 1930s,” Zachary says. We reach 90th St.

“Can you stop at 103rd?” Zachary shouts up to the driver, and you can see the driver shift his focus forward.

“Come on, driver, stop at 103rd,” someone else shouts, but the driver is having none of this.

The older woman stands and puts her hand on Zachary’s shoulder, “I wish you all the best, even though I haven’t figured out who you are.”

I don’t tell her Zachary used to dance for Balanchine, that he used to be the choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera House, that in the 1930s he was a childhood radio star on the Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour. I don’t say anything, I just watch and wonder how he does it.

When we reach 100th St., Zachary asks one last time, “Do you stop at 103rd?”

This time the driver turns around and stares. “This bus doesn’t stop there.”

We get out at 101st and walk the rest of the way to the Museum of the City of New York. We’re going to see the Automat exhibit, Horn and Hardart, the restaurant that used to sponsor the radio show Zachary did.

You know that feeling when you step off the street and into a museum? All the chaos and the noise disappears and everything is quieter and cooler. The exhibit is right on the first floor and you can see people moving through it. They’re silent, isolated even though there’s a crowd, each one trying to take it all in without disturbing anyone else. One step in Zachary plants his feet, takes a deep breath and belts out a song:

Less work for mother
And she’ll understand
Less work for mother
Just lend her a hand
She’s your greatest treasure
Just make her life a pleasure
Less work for mother dear

“I used to sing that on the radio!” he declares, standing a bit taller, planting his foot.

And now everyone in the exhibit is looking at me like I can’t control my toddler. They don’t understand, no one can stop Zachary from doing stuff like this.

Besides, for him, Horn and Hardart was all about making a racket. One of his acts was tap dancing. On the radio. In roller skates. Here’s a recoding to prove it:

Courtesy the Zachary Solov Foundation

As you can hear, it’s just as bad an idea as it sounded when you read it. Complain about the internet all you want, but this was what they had for entertainment in the 1930s.

And slowly, every person in that exhibit, except for one, lone, cranky woman off in a corner, has formed a circle around Zachary. One of them is even crying because she hasn’t heard that song since she was a little girl. And now Zachary has an audience. They want to know all about the Automat first hand.

They called the Automat because you got your food through an Art Deco, coin-operated wall, glass panels with little knobs you turn to open.

“After the radio show, they’d give you a stack of nickels and you could go get whatever you wanted,” Zachary says as they slowly walk through. “You’d walk right up, put your nickel in, and get your pumpkin pie. That’s helluva treat for a kid.”

But those 81-year-old legs start to fail him and he shoos people away, which never happens. Zachary loves his audiences, needs that connection that comes from telling his story.

Age wins this time so we sit on a bench until he feels better. He’s just not ready to go home yet. Not to the dark. Not to being alone.

“We should go to that famous coffee shop,” he says.

I can’t think of a famous coffee shop on the Upper East Side, but I’m excited at the idea of discovering some old New York treasure I’ve never known about. “What coffee shop?” I ask.

“You know,” he says. “The one with the donuts.”

Dunkin?

“Yeah, that’s the one.”…

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Big Trouble Ep. 7: Clare Solly thinks they’re coming to get her

In this episode of Big Trouble, Clare Solly thinks her height makes her impervious to weed only to take a trip down paranoia lane. Clare is a confessed seltzer addict and is a California writer/actress/singer living in NYC, has a couple of Off-Broadway credits and is the author of the novel The Time Turner. She is also now the Apprentice Director of The Bechdel Group (thebechdelgroup.com). Her website actinglikeclare.wixsite.com.…

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Big Trouble ep. 6: Simon Rogers knocks a guy out cold on the subway

In this episode of Big Trouble, Simon knocks a guy out cold on the subway for getting in his face, and you don’t get in a face this pretty without consequences. Simon Rogers is an actor, model, and founder/owner of three NY-based talent agencies, now living and working in LA.

Manspread photo credit: Paul Graham Raven

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Were you born with it?

“SAFE. SOFT. (147/365)” by Tim Pierce is licensed under CC by 2.0

I’m six years old, first grade, PE. We’re trying softball for the first time and I want to swing that bat so badly I can barely stand it. I’m obsessed, like some mouth-breathing drunk across the room who can’t stop staring. But I’ve never swung a bat, and even at six, I don’t want to look like I don’t know how, so I quietly blend into the background. I don’t even try.

Why would admitting you don’t know how to do something feel like failure? To a six year old? It’s not like you’re born knowing how to swing a bat.

This is something I end up doing, over and over, for most of my life. I don’t want to admit I don’t know how to do something because I can’t stand the thought of making myself that vulnerable. And for most of my life I let that get in the way of doing some of the things I want to do most.

Maybe it’s the family of artists who raised you to believe that you’re either born with it or you’re not – although they’re talking about talent. And they never do clue you in as to whether you were, in fact, born with it.

Maybe it’s the hyper-competitive schools where admitting you don’t know how to do something is a ticket to eye rolls and ostracization.

“You don’t know how to do that? What are you, a baby?” You might as well be the kid who wet yourself in home room.

Or, maybe it’s your first work environment where if you don’t know how to do something some other intern gunning for a salary is willing to lie and say they do.

“Me? I know how to do everything. I was born that way.”

I was not born that way, but I’m only just willing to admit that now. And this is between us, so keep it to yourself.

Although, lately I’ve had to admit not knowing how to do things because I need help from my friends who do. And I’m sure you’re thinking, if you can’t be vulnerable with your friends, who can you be?

No one. I can be vulnerable with no one. Unless I’m on stage, and that’s an entirely different thing, and the subject of this story [LINK].

So what’s bringing on this sudden and masochistic thirst for knowledge?

Getting your first show ready for Edinburgh Fringe has that effect. You encounter a litany of things you don’t know how to do, at least if you’re me. You’re on very real deadlines to produce very good work or you have the potential to fail in a very big way. It’s unsettling in a way that encourages you to try new things.

Like real world vulnerability.

So you don’t ask yourself, how could I have reached middle age and not know how to do these things? You already know the answer to that question.

But just as an example, when I’m 20 years old, I’m in a play in New York City. I’ve made my way in with the cool crowd, which is both awesome and high maintenance. You know them: the hot theater girl with legs from floor to ceiling, the super-talented, triple-threat guy, the cool, British, my-dad-is-a-West-End-producer guy.

Then there’s the other crowd, who is really just one person: the enthusiastic, wants-to-learn-everything-about-theater geeky guy.

Geeky guy says, “I can’t wait to graduate and go to a really good acting school.”

Triple-threat guy and hot theater girl whisper in unison  –  and out of earshot of geeky guy  –  ”Ugh, acting school. You’re either born with it or you’re not.”

Twenty-year-old Dean quietly makes note to self: “Acting school = not born with it.”

And 23-year-old Dean gives up on acting because he has no idea how to make something like that work in the real world, but he isn’t going to admit that out loud. So he doesn’t go to class and he doesn’t learn those things that would probably be extremely valuable when getting a show ready for Edinburgh.

That much-younger Dean has a luxury that I do not. Time. So I get over myself and ask my friends for help. Help with writing. Help with acting. Help with promotion. Help with all of it because I basically know nothing.

This week I ask a friend to help me understand why I’m doing this. Why this show? Why now? Why Edinburgh?

I aim high because I think that will push me that much harder. This friend is a reporter who has interviewed some of the most prominent artists of the past 100 years. Household names, assuming yours is a house with an interest in art. She’s reluctant because she knows what this means, how hard she’ll have to be on me. She’s one of the toughest people I know, so I won’t get away with any bullshit.

As someone who never wanted to admit not knowing how to do something, bullshit became my greatest skill. And I am very good at it. As someone who reads my work, you might already know this about me.

But no one is good enough to bullshit an old school, tough-as-balls reporter with no patience for it like my friend. That’s apparent from the moment we sit down.

“That’s bullshit,” is the very first thing she says. “You’re telling me the same tired thing that everyone says. I hear that and I’m moving on to the next person because there’s nothing to see here. What makes you worth my time?”

Up to this point of my life, I haven’t been able or willing to answer tough questions about who I am or what I want. It’s too vulnerable, and I’ve been too afraid to discover once and for all whether I was born with it.

Going there hurts, but I’m realizing that hurt is a growing pain. And while I didn’t expect growing pains in middle age, the urgency of time passing me by makes them a lot more tolerable.

I’m also realizing that when you admit you don’t know something, people who do become surprisingly generous with their knowledge. To think of all the things I could have learned in all those years. But this piece isn’t about regrets. It’s about avoiding them.

Why this show? Why now? Why Edinburgh?

Because if I don’t do this now, then I never will. Because I created this show to take to Edinburgh. Because, this show isn’t an end, it’s the start of what I wanted but gave up at 23. Because Edinburgh is the greatest performing arts festival in the world and I need to prove myself there.

And because I couldn’t tell this story when it happened. I would have been humiliated and ostracized. But telling it now isn’t embarrassing for me. I’m over it. Although it might just be embarrassing for the US Department of Justice.

So I’m coming out of the closet as someone who doesn’t know how to do this. And I’m learning that’s how you get it done.

Dean Temple’s comedy solo show Voice of Authority, a true story
 about getting sued by the US Dept of Justice for $19 million and saved
 by the choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera, will be at 59E59 Theaters in NYC Jul 17–21, and at Surgeon’s Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Aug 2–24. Follow him on Twitter
@deantemple, Instagram @thatdeantemple, and follow the show on facebook.com/deantemplevoa

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The Muff, a Moth parody on April 11 at the Red Room

It’s time to parody The Moth with The Muff!

The Muff satirizes all the elements you see at a typical Moth show. You’ll see the storytelling types: The Crier, The Rambler, The First-Timer, The Stand-up Comedian, The Fake Newbie, The Survivor….

Or course everyone’s name will be picked from a bucket as

Come see the fake drama! The scoring! The drunken judges! The celebrity name-dropping host! 2 Theremins signaling to wrap up stories

And of course, the bucket – where all names will be picked.

Featuring: Michele Carlo, Jamie Brickhouse, Susan Kent, Jake Hart, Glen Heroy, Robin Gelfenbien, Harmon Leon, Richard Templeton, Adam Selbst, Sean O’Brien, Colleen Hindsley, Sarah Chandler, Dean Temple

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Voice of Authority books week-long run at 59E59 Theaters

As part of the East to Edinburgh Festival at 59E59, Voice of Authority will do a preview run of the EdFringe version of the show, July 17-21, 2019.

Currently working on a rewrite of the show with editing/writing direction from NYC comedy veteran Veronica Mosey, which is very exciting and also fun. And Carol Lee Sirugo will be stepping up from creative consultant to the role of director for this EdFringe run.…

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Big Trouble ep. 5: Octavia Chavez-Richmond gets the boot

In this episode of Big Trouble, actor/playwright/storyteller Octavia Chavez-Richmond gets kicked out of a theater company for letting out her frustrations, and she learns a thing about empathy and always trying your best in the process.

Brought to you by Voice of Authority, my comedy solo show about having the US govt come after you for $19 million you don’t have, at 59E59 Theaters, NYC, July 17-21 and Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh Fringe, Aug 2-24.

Octavia’s work has been featured at international film festivals and regional theaters. She holds an MFA in acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory where she received the David Wickham Playwriting Award. Trinity Repertory awarded Octavia with the Margo Skinner Memorial Fellowship for 2018.

Still images credits in order shown: Chalef Photography, Dean Temple, Mark Turek

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Lingua Franca receives Tribeca Film Institute Grant

Tribeca Film Institute has selected 14 scripted and documentary projects for the 16th annual Tribeca All Access program which amplifies stories from historically underrepresented voices.

I play the role of Chad in this film directed by Isabel Sandoval, which is now a recipient of this prestigious grant. The full list of films can be seen here»

Lingua Franca is about a Filipina immigrant in Brighton Beach scrambling to avoid deportation becomes involved with a Russian slaughterhouse worker who is unaware that she’s transgender.


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And remember to have fun

Some days you have no damn luck.

My show, Voice of Authority, is about a string of those days when the US Department of Justice comes after me for $19 million. True story. And the song that serves as the core theme of the show is: No damn luck today.

On opening night at the FRIGID New York Festival, the plan is to interrupt that song at the top of the show with a ringing telephone, because there is always someone in the audience who doesn’t turn off their phone despite the announcement, right?

In an ideal world, I’m interrupted during the first verse. I stop, accuse the audience of making things very awkward, and then realize the ringing phone is mine.

Oh! That’s my lawyer, I have to take this. Sorry.

In the real world of opening night, however, the sound cue never comes and I get to the end of the song, which is a surprise I didn’t see coming. I find myself thinking, “I’m gonna have to improv my way around this plot point.”

Which is what I start to do. I’m almost there and boom, there’s my sound cue – classic iPhone ringtone. And it’s loud enough to drown out a jet.

WHOSE PHONE IS THAT?!!

So what do I do now? That is literally what I’m thinking as it happens.

It also happens to be what I’m thinking when I get hit with the $19 million lawsuit. So in a way, I guess theater is a lot like real life. Something goes very wrong, what were your priorities suddenly seem a lot less pressing, and this newfound crisis owns all of your focus.

Sounds awful, right? Except for one thing: You are now 100 percent present.

Some people pay their gurus a lot of money to get that way, and some people pay their lawyers.

When you get it into your head to do something like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Fringe staff is pretty good about getting you to ask yourself, why are you doing this? If you can’t answer the question, you’re not ready.

Aside from the various ways I want to advance my career and my work, my reason for doing this is to become a better artist. A better actor. A better performer. A better writer. Doing a show for 22 days (with only one day off) in front of people who don’t know you will do that and more.

My five shows at FRIGID are just the beginning of that road, and it’s one that has started off bumpy. But we live for moments like this whether we like it or not, because now we have to make a choice, and if we can find the courage to make a bold one, it might take us somewhere we’ve never been before.

I’m in the FRIGID audience at the Kraine Theater watching David Carl and Katie Hartman in their hysterically funny David and Katie Get Remarried. Katie — whose character is needy, narcissist, and biting — is singing a song she wrote about David after a breakup so she can forget him forever. She’s at the emotional peak, about to break free, and David’s keyboard stand collapses, crashing to the floor. Katie stops dead, robbed of her climax, and stares at the audience. David looks her direction with what I read as genuine fear.

Katie Hartman and David Carl in David and Katie Get Re-Married, image by Jeanette Sears

In the seats we hold our breath and the tension is excruciating. We’re mostly certain this is a real problem and not a staged one, and now we can’t look away. What are they going to do?

What they do is never leave character. They grab this moment and milk it for all it’s worth. David is on the floor with his keyboard looking like a naughty five year old caught with a broken heirloom. Katie is forcing a smile that burns like the fires of hell.

And we’re still holding our breath.

Until she slowly turns her head his way. We see the fear on his face grow and we’re witnessing theatrical perfection. This stage relationship has become so real and we are all invested in it. All Katie has to do now is throw away line about ruining the climax of the song and the audience comes to pieces.

People on the street could probably hear the laughter outside the building.

So what did I do when my sound cue went wrong? Did I get through it? Absolutely. Did I stay in character? Mostly, but I’ll admit to letting my frustration with tech throw me off my game. Did I handle it as well as Katie and David? Absolutely not. But that’s what I’m working toward, and it’s why I’m taking this show to Edinburgh.

To learn. From what others do. From what I do. To embrace the unknown. To remember to have fun. To go somewhere I’ve never been.

Dean Temple’s comedy solo show Voice of Authority, a true story
 about getting sued by the US Dept of Justice for $19 million and saved
by the choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera, will be at 59E59 Theaters in NYC Jul 17–21, and at Surgeon’s Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Aug 2–24. Follow him on Twitter
@deantemple, Instagram @thatdeantemple, and follow the show on facebook.com/deantemplevoa

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Big Trouble ep 4: Erika Conway tells a border guard what he can do with her bag

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Theatre is Easy calls Voice of Authority witty, charming, perfect

Quoted from review by Shoshana Roberts.

BOTTOM LINE: The witty and charming Dean Temple uses stand-up, singing, and other ways of storytelling to delve into his existential crisis of wanting to be a performer versus having a more conventional job.

Voice of Authority, written and performed by Dean Temple, is a perfect example of enjoying the journey. Not everything in life is about the end result, but it’s about the paths you explore on the way there. Dean Temple weaves this tale with myriad mediums to share his strange, yet true, story about being sued for $19 million dollars by the US Department of Justice, with some great quips sprinkled throughout….

Voice of Authority teeters on the edge of a more amateur open-mic-night feel, but the witty, charming, and handsome Dean Temple is talented enough to tie it all together in a nice package.

Read full review»

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Not all vulnerability is the same

Your Edinburgh Fringe show opens an NYC run later this week, but it’s morning, the windows are still dark, your bed is warm and you have no intention of getting out of it. Putting your feet on the floor will put you back in touch with the stress of the show, and you have so few moments where you can feel relaxed, where you don’t feel quite so vulnerable.

And you can’t stand feeling vulnerable. That’s what your show is about.

But you don’t feel vulnerable now, in these last moments of the early morning before the light comes up, and your stress creeps out of the shadows. What you do feel is the rice and beans you had for dinner. They are ready to re-enter the world any second and you have to determine whether they’re going to do that like a loving whisper or an angry tuba.

Because, even though you just celebrated your nineteenth wedding anniversary, you’re still not comfortable with the idea of farting in bed with your wife there. Like I said, you can’t stand feeling vulnerable. At least not in the real world.

Which gets you thinking about your acting coach. She’s constantly pushing you to reach greater levels of vulnerability on stage. Weird thing is, you don’t have a problem with it there. It’s still scary, but more like roller coaster scary. You look out into all that open space, and your stomach drops just as you start to fall. In a theater, when you let yourself go like that, the audience catches you and that connection is thrilling.

And when you fake that vulnerability, you don’t get that. What you get is a ding from your acting coach’s triangle and her saying, “I’m not believing you.”

When you hear that ding this time, your eyes open and it’s light out. You notice two things. You no longer feel the need to fart. And your wife is no longer in bed with you. Did the need just pass? Did something horrible happen in your sleep and now she’s out on the couch? Something like that happened the other day while you were visiting your parents in Florida. You farted so loudly in your sleep it woke both of you up and your wife lustily proclaimed, “Whoa!”

It was a vulnerable moment and you’re still feeling that vulnerability weeks later.

Not that she cares. She comes from a family of world-class crack flappers. It’s an art form in her family. They practically use spotlights for that stuff.

Like that time in Idaho at the Pioneer, waiting two hours for a table. Her brother has been sick out the backside for several days, with devastating effect on your condo. In an attempt to get a table faster by clearing out the restaurant, he does a long controlled crop dusting of the entire bar area. You watch the heads turn as he walks past and one kid whose face is ass-height starts crying, “Mommy it stinks in here.”

You appreciate the art, admire the execution, respect the mastery, but it will never be your medium. You realize you’re the kind of person who’d rather be naked on stage than fart in bed.

You look at the time. It’s 10am. Your wife has been up for hours now, and you just lost the four you were going to use to push ticket sales and organize the rack cards, programs, and posters you need for your opening. You just slept your way into greater vulnerability. Your day just got more stressful.

“Ding,” goes the triangle. “Too much drama. I’m not believing you,” says your acting coach.…

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Big Trouble ep 3: My mom gets my dad arrested for kidnapping

Yes, she really did that. Yes, it was exciting growing up in my house. …

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90 miles from stardom

(Pictured, left to right, my grandfather, Baba, great grandfather, and great aunt, and me, center, the disappointing, lazy three year old who has yet to compose his first opera)

It’s a two-hour long train ride into the city to perform for five minutes, and after you’ve finished your dinner – a much-too-salty bag of cashews from the Rite Aid because it’s the only place open at Grand Central at midnight – you hop the train home and become the guy sleeping across three seats of some stranger’s Instagram, generating outrage from a couple hundred of their followers over all that privilege you have.

It’s probably not the right time to ask them to buy tickets to your show, although at the moment I’ll try anything because I have hundreds of seats to fill, and nobody else knows who I am.

If you know me, I’ve already let you know how each one of those seats is generating another layer of panic, and that’s why a friend texts me: “It’s hard to be a star.”

It just so happens to be my birthday when she does, and the magic of Facebook’s database has me on one of those social-media-induced narcissist spin cycles.

So many people remembering my birthday? I am a star!

That lasts a blissful 15, maybe 20 seconds. Then I start to come down and the voice in my head kicks in, the one I named my show after, the voice of authority: you are in no way a star.

That’s why you’re on the train at 2am, you schmuck.

No social-media ego fix can change that reality. And my friend’s text takes on another layer. It’s hard to be a star. I feel that acutely in this moment. Maybe you know that feeling of being confounded by finding, and keeping, an audience. It’s hardly exclusive to acting, every business has to do the same thing, and it’s fundamental to success. There is no stardom without an audience. And no cash flow either.

Maybe that’s obvious, maybe I’m just thick, but at no point in my life as a developing artist has anyone ever explained this to me. Not in the arts in high school. Not at Columbia. Not in any of the study I’ve done since I graduated.

But my friend, she just got her MFA from Brown. Maybe they taught her something no one taught me. Not even my family. I grew up in a family of artists. No one mentioned this. The only thing they ever talked about was that I should do something else because I didn’t have the work ethic to make it in this business.

I work 14-hour days. Often. Often four of them are on the train.

To my family the development of craft is everything. My Ukrainian grandmother, Baba, for instance, was a concert pianist who studied at the Vienna Conservatory. In my childhood she’s at the piano from the time I wake in the morning until the end of the day. And what she sees in me she calls лінивий, the Ukie word for lazy. Give me a break, Baba, I’m six years old and it’s summer vacation.

Baba may have been intense, but I miss her every day.

She comes to see me in a play in NYC when I’m 20. Afterwards she takes me aside and says: “Everything else that you’re doing is the wrong thing. This is what you’re meant to do.”

As an influential member of the Ukrainian diaspora, Baba had a ready-made audience. If she did something, the Ukrainian community showed up. In droves.

I never really thought about it, but I suppose Baba built that audience. She contributed to that community enormously. She taught lessons, organized a festival that just passed its 50th year, fought to preserve the Ukrainian culture and language, and helped create an 11-volume encyclopedia on Ukrainian music defined by region. She gave, and they gave back.

I’ve never found a community like that for myself. Maybe my grandmother is right, maybe I don’t work hard enough. Or rather, I haven’t worked hard enough at some things because I’ve never understood until now how important they are.

When you look at people who succeed today, who build these massive social media followings, it’s easy to dismiss what they do. You can call it dumb, or shallow, or pandering to the masses, but then you’re selling them short for how hard it is to be star. Each one of those people has found and kept an audience. They’ve learned how to communicate in a way that makes people feel like they are a part of something, like my grandmother’s Ukrainian community. And they do the work required to sustain that on a daily basis.

That’s really hard. Now that I’m struggling to learn that myself, I’m awed by how hard it is. But I can find solace in my friend’s text, because I can hear in it how much she believes in me. And I can hear my grandmother’s voice through her, pushing me to work harder because this is what I was meant to do.

Dean Temple’s comedy solo show Voice of Authority, a true story about getting sued by the US Dept of Justice for $19 million and saved by the choreographer of the Metropolitan Opera, will be at the Kraine Theater in NYC Feb 21-Mar 9 (Tickets»), at 59E59 Theaters in NYC Jul 17-21, and at Surgeon’s Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Aug 2-24. Follow him on Twitter @deantemple and follow the show on facebook.com/deantemplevoa

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Reviews

Voice of Authority delivers a good helping of comedy and masterful solo performance. An entertaining and thought-provoking show. – Fringe Review UK

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About Dean

Dean is an actor, writer, and creative director based in NYC and the Hudson Valley. His solo show, Voice of Authority, will be at the Phoenicia Playhouse, July 5, at 59E59 Theaters, July 17-21, and at Edinburgh Fringe, Aug 2-24, in 2019.

He has appeared on the stage at Carnegie Hall (Mr. Richard in Fannie Lou the Musical), as well as designed installations there for VDAY through his company, Drake Creative Collaborative.

He also serves as board president for The Art Effect, a nonprofit where youth learn to explore, experience, and excel in the arts and arts-related fields.