Bedroom Theater (2)

By: Gabriel Chad Boyer
July 9, 2012

We first heard about Gabe Boyer in 2001, when the then-24-year-old gave a series of lectures — at Boston’s Berwick Research Institute performance lab — on romantic love, utopian thought, and causal reasoning, punctuated by his Wurlitzer noodling. In 2002, Boyer founded Bedroom Theater, a weekly happening in his apartment’s bedroom; in 2003, he took his show on a bedroom-to-bedroom tour across America. This series recounts what happened.

A Lone Apple Falls Silently

It was a large expanse sparsely peopled with expectant faces, but I was immediately drawn to the piano. Then Jason pulled out some of the books he’d published over the last year or so and plopped them down on the table beside me. Jason Fulford is the founder of J&L Books, a photographer and graphic designer who uses the money he makes from his work to fund his experimental publishing house. He is good-natured, quiet, and in general has something of the southern gentleman about him. So. What do you think, he said. I mean, and he made a gesture to indicate that he was referring to this night and how we should go about doing it, and I nodded in pretend contemplation.

Wouldn’t mind playing this piano over here, I said. We could do that before we got started. But I wasn’t quite ready yet. Instead Jason introduced me to Max, who had just popped in to say a few words about the state of the publishing industry below 14th Street, an amused spectator from the hidden spoken word circuit down in the east village while his hands nervously fiddled with his shirt. I was then drawn away from this curiosity by Scott H., who had moved to New York close to a year earlier and taken his taste with him. I slapped him on the arm and asked how he was doing.

Fine, he said, glanced away, then glanced back. Fine. Can’t go into details. It’s too complicated. He became animated. You wouldn’t have any idea how to sell Italian beer to women? Looking back, I can’t help feeling that he was already confident of the correct answer, but was making a small effort all the same before adjusting his spectacles.

Kat and Josh were walking towards us. She in those perpetual heels, and him already chuckling when they joined us in conversation to reprimand me for not calling them earlier. They were very gentle about it. You still haven’t read it, Kat said, baring her canines.

I smiled back. Excuse me, I said.

Jill and I played together for two song-lengths worth of improvised music, she on her Juno and me on the aforementioned piano, but throughout the first and then the second Jill’s playing grew fainter, until at some point she stopped playing altogether. Just, she said in a barely audible whisper. I looked up from my musical rendition of regret.

We got through four acts of Josh Glenn’s A Scanner Darkly script that night. [Note that Josh Glenn, HILOBROW’s editor and the author of an unauthorized and now lost stage adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, is not the same Josh who appears elsewhere in this narrative.] Scott had reverted back to his sandbox days in his excitement, and Jason was skilled both as Stoner Charlie and Hard-Assed Hank. Afterward, we loitered in the living room, handing out records and books to the enthusiastic few while the rest slipped out inconspicuously. A blonde gave me her phone number with a determination. Who’s up for drinks, Scott announced. I told him he could catch a ride with us.

Jill and Scott had no faith in my sense of direction. Stop this car this instant, Scott said, then rolled down the window. Excuse me. Miss in the funny hat. Could you please help us out with a directional issue, he shouted across the street at a woman doing her best to keep her eyes on the ground. Then he gave up and concentrated. I wonder what that fellow from Us Magazine thought of Bedroom Theater. I can see him now. At one of those awful luncheons. Giving his report, he said and chuckled. As we climbed from the car, I handed Scott The Clue of the Seven Madonnas, written for Bedroom Theater by his old pal Chris Fujiwara.

The bar was a smooth and oblong establishment, like being in a cross between Battlestar Galactica and Tron. I instantly disliked it. Then we were greeted by a confused outpouring of emotion from the corner booth. An arm angled towards the ceiling and several grinning heads.

We scooched in and Scott gently placed the script on the table and began to read while Jill and myself got into a discussion concerning the phenomenon of waking with change stuck to your person, talking about being covered in change, and paying for our gasoline by flicking quarters from our sweaty shoulders and thighs. I turned to make some comment to Josh just as he captured the two of us with his camera-phone. Kat was talking to Max about microbiology.

There’s so many different things happening at this table. Right now, Josh said, pointing down with both hands to emphasize. Scott glanced up from the script. I’m willing to bet ‘a lone apple falls silently’ has never been written as a stage direction before, he said before returning to the business of reading. And now Jill and I were very seriously considering starting something called Mobile Therapy, the psychological practice we were going to run from out the back of the van, taking you where you want to go while simultaneously helping to make you who you want to be. But I needed a cigarette.

Scott and I slipped out to the patio around back, where he went into a tirade concerning Edgar Wallace and the films made from Edgar Wallace novels in Germany in the thirties and then took off his glasses for a moment, rubbing them free of steam with his tie. (They had constructed what amounted to an artificial rain forest back here.) Scott pointed at me with his glasses still in hand. I would like to write a play. He put a finger to his lips in contemplation. It will be in the style of Eugene O’Neil. But. About the production of crystal meth. I nodded. Tales from Crystal River? No. Crystal Junction. No. Crystal River Junction. Yes. He laughed and pointed at me again. Yes. Yes. That’s the name. Jill poked me from behind. It was time to go.