Sunday, October 07, 2018

A Curtain Falls...

Today is the 13th anniversary of my starting this blog. It is also the day I am announcing its discontinuation.

Other than a test blog I didn't hold on to, Always Off Book was my first foray into true social media activity. There was no Twitter, no Instagram. Podcasting was rare. Self-publishing was in it's infancy in the book world, as were e-readers. I had no personal website.

To reach out was, for most people on low budgets, was to blog.

I wanted to serve people from anywhere and everywhere that would find what I had to say useful. Blogging about acting was the most logical decision. Acting had changed my life. Acting could be magical. Theatre could heal, create bonds, lesson restraints. I wanted others to benefit from my experiences and opinions, my advice and observations regarding the stage, and live on and around same. I'd hoped that if some vocal, enthusiastic people could discover the power behind theatre, even in their local communities, I would be contributing more to them than any other aspect of my life would ever hope so to do.

Early on, as you can note, I would blog in detail about my process while in a show. How I built a character, how to make use of the set, and so on. I never claimed my way was the only way, but certainly hoped that by sharing the way I have done things for years I would encourage others to find more within themselves about what worked, and what did not work for them. I was excited about the potential for dialogue with others of like mind, at any stage in their acting careers. I looked forward to the kibitzing and idea sharing.

With rare exception, it never materialized.

My most read post, about stage kissing, was the singular time this blog approached what I had hoped would be an encouraging forum for those on similar acting journeys to my own. And that post was among my very first.

Thirteen years is a long time to go on after a brief peak of relevance. (Though that post is a Google front page result for phrases such as "first on stage kiss."

As time went on, I was in shows less often during the year, and hence, had, for a time fewer shows about which to offer thoughts. Meanwhile I was learning more about the craft, though realizing that nobody was reading my thoughts om a regular basis. (A former theatre friend of mine actually calling my posts "boring." We haven't talked since.) To that end, I experimented with sharing acting articles, proposing questions, writing opinion posts on theatre in general, hoping, again, not only to find self expression, but lead a discussion. This too, went nowhere, and reached very few people.

The last few years, I continued to post updates about the shows I was in. But gone were the in depth "sausage making" posts that I wrote about my various productions early on. My rehearsals and performances were still on occasion catalysts for some interesting observations and topics about the craft, but with nobody out there to share them with, or rather nobody out there interested enough to engage in even those posts, production journaling became broader, posts shorter, thoughts more concise. For at least the last five years or so, my posting on this blog was a labor of love and little else. Eventually, it was not even that; I know that posts every six months are not likely to mean much to anything other than the author.

I joined Twitter, Youtube, Instagram. Began writing my own novels, and publishing them, selling them myself. That hasn't been a rip roaring success just yet either, but between that and my other activities, a personal website became logical, and it is on that which I posted much of my non-theatre content.

Two separate blog presences, when neither has great traffic didn't make much sense, but so long as I was enjoying it, right?

I suppose in the last year, (this being only one of a handful of posts for 2018) I came to realize that posting my experiences here, even in a shorter, more accessible version, had become merely a source of some stress, and even a bit of guilt if I didn't get around to describing an second Saturday performance to a readership of zero. I thought I would perhaps continue until the 15th anniversary, and end on a more "round" number. Yet, that made little sense.

Having participated last week in am acting activity that I  never felt moved to record here at all, I knew the time had come to bring this experience to a close.

It's a bit difficult nonetheless. Though later years I was not as prolific in my writing about theatre as my first years had been, it's quit a thing to dedicate thirteen years to anything on the internet. The first play I find myself in without reporting back here as to how rehearsal or opening night went will no doubt be a mix of melancholy and strangeness.

The spirit of what I tried to do here for others, and ultimately for myself will live on, however.

There is no way I will never again write about things I experience in the theatre. But given the nature of my online presence now, such things will be folded into my regular online presence at

Further, though I may never inspire to the degree I had always hoped I would in the theatre world, my experiences, both those covered over the years on here, and subsequent newer ones will in the near future, inspire material in other media. It is too early for details, but consider that I am an indie-publisher as well as a former radio personality and draw your own conclusions.

Better yet, should you be reading this, and should you be some small chance be someone that checked back here regularly, please now see what i am up to, with theatre projects, and just about every other creative endeavor by visiting on a regular basis. Or follow me on Twitter @TyUnglebower. Even Instagram has reached a few more people than blogging, and you can find me there, also with the screen name TyUnglebower.

My life in theatre is not over. But this blog, as I said is. I can think of no better way to sign off Always Off Book for good to my loyal blog readers than to share a quotation I have often posted here before over the years, on World Theater Day. You'll find it below.

Thank you all, if there are any of you left. These remnants of this blog will be archived and/or deleted as required by my future projects.

sincerely, Ty Unglebower


"There is no one kind of theatre, and no one solution to all its problems. That platitude needs to be repeated. The theatre exists by compromise and feeds on contradiction. It exists to explain life and to deny it, to decorate it and to strip it bare. Man goes to the play to understand himself, God, or his neighbors, but he also goes to pass the time. He goes for uplift and amusement, a bit of fun and a moment of catharsis. The theatre is a weapon, a magic, a science; a sedative, an aphrodisiac, a communion service; a holiday and an assize, a dress rehearsal of the here and now and a dream in action. It taxes all senses, holds all worlds in one. It is the most conservative and the most ephemeral, the most opaque and the most transparent, the strongest and the weakest of arts. It is everything and nothing, all or none of these things. The theatre is what you make it..." --Richard Findlater

Exeunt Omnes...

Monday, April 02, 2018

In The Beginnings

As you can tell, loyal blog readers, there has not been much happening in my theatre life worth blogging about in 2018 thus far. Though i did participate in a 24-hour theatre fest back in February once again, I did so as a writer again.

I could have mentioned it here, I suppose, but I got to thinking that when a piece is brand new, and the name of the game is chaos for something like that, (and there was plenty of that believe me) it can be tricky to write an overview of the experience that people outside of the process can relate to.

I suppose I could have provide a sort of running commentary on the experience...almost in real time, that sort of thing. To be honest, that's an idea that didn't come to me until I sat down here to write this blog post. I may have to write myself a note of some kind to keep that in mind for next year if I do it again. It's more like a Twitter thing, but I can do it here as well.

Funny how an idea came about as a result of my explaining why I did not write anything.

On to more current, news however.

In the previous entry, (which was belated, as you can tell if you read it) I mentioned the staged reading of T'Was the Night Before Christmas. Coming up in May many of the same people will be involved in what we hope will be a regular event throughout the year. The group, (which we have since dubbed the Fireside Story Weavers) will be putting on narrated (by me) performance of different stories a few times a year, with the actors acting out the scenes being narrated, just like at Christmas.

Our next production is coming up in May. We'll be telling and performing short adaptations of several different creation stories from various cultures and religious schools. We're calling it, "In the Beginnings: Stories of Creation from Around the World."

We still need to cast this. In fact we are having an informal meeting this weekend at the Black Box Arts Center to recruit, audition, share information about what we expect this production to be. For example, we expect a week of rehearsals at most. Perfect for people who are interested in shows but have no time commitment, or no faith in their ability to memorize lines, as I will be reading them all next to a lovely fake fireplace, as I did at Christmas.

We have a Facebook page. If you are in the area, and think you might be interested, or just want to learn more, stop by and give us a like. We would certainly appreciate it!

More information on this brief adventure as time goes on.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

T'was Nine Nights After Christmas...

If you have followed this blog recently, you know I have left out a major update; how the one night reading performance of "T'was the Night Before Christmas" went. The truth is a lot of unpredictable things went on not after the show, and after Christmas itself, that updating on this blog got left quite far behind.

I will say, simply that the reading did go well. It was, in fact, a packed house. Most of them were children hoping to talk to our Santa Claus, who stayed afterward for pictures and such. Nonetheless, everyone present, parents as well as children seemed to enjoy our short presentation.

There is talk of presenting similar short readings, while acted out by others, for different stories throughout the year. I'd be in favor. I'd even like to be the sort of go-to narrator of such productions. Not for ego's sake, but I just feel like "that guy." The wing-back chair, the glass of wine the (fake) fireplace. The story telling aspect. Not all such possible reading would be as short as this one was, (ten minutes or so) but all of them would require minimal time investment from audience and cast/crew.

I'd never want to give up being in full shows. I sort of wish I were in one now, in fact, as a means to recover from some recent chaos I have been through at home. But being in real shows doesn't preclude the possibility of these little story tellings here and there. All of course would depend on the management of the Black Box Arts Center, but they have already expressed a similar hope for the future anyway.

Not every story is for every actor. But every actor, every theatre person in fact, a storyteller. Different jobs help with different aspects of the stories, but it is all pursuant to story. People in theatre only enhance their ability to tell the big stories by showing a willingness to tell the small, fast ones well.

Perhaps 2018 will allow for a possibility of more such stories between the bigger stuff. (Though all of us involved in this one would hope for just a tad more rehearsal time next go around.)

You'll know right after I know, loyal blog readers, if I'm involved in such a thing again.