Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear Subscribers

Hi! After about eight years with Blogger, I've finally dragged myself, kicking and screaming, into the current decade and transferred this blog to WordPress. Nothing against Blogger; I just wanted to learn new things, and WordPress was one of them. I hope you'll continue to follow me at my new home at See you there!

--Christopher M. Walsh

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Off Book

Chicago theatre reviewer Katy Walsh of and Joshua Volkers were kind enough to have me on their podcast, Chicago Theatre Off Book, to talk about The City & The City. It was my second time on the show; they had me on in 2011 to talk about The Count of Monte Cristo. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Holy Crap! It's 2013 Already?

Okay seriously. I was not prepared for this. Only just now have I grasped the concept that we are in a completely new year, and the first month is already almost over. I need to get my head in the game.

Last year, and the year before, and perhaps the year before that, I made resolutions. I'm not doing that this year because when I looked up last year's to see how I did I was really pretty embarrassed. In my defense, last year's list of resolutions was ambitious and included things like learning how to play piano. Well, I am not a piano player yet, although I know a little more now than I did a year ago. Not much, though. Not enough to, say, score a musical, which is a thing I really wish I could do. But I can't. I think that in order to have that level of musical knowledge I should have started many, many years ago.

A lot of last year's resolutions were projects, most of which I did start, but failed to finish. I did write an original play and submit it to a company... but it was a 10-minute radio play, which doesn't really fit the criteria I had in mind when I made the resolution. Again, in my defense, I did not have as much time to write a new play as I thought I would. I had to write my adaptation of The City & The City, and I have no less than three other projects cooking right now, all adaptations. I have not given up my dream to write original stuff, but I've got to prioritize. And I've got to get way better at, you know, actually writing stuff. I spend way too much time sitting and staring at the blinking cursor on the screen, willing something new to come out of my brain through my fingertips and onto the keyboard. Often I'll spend half an hour doing nothing but rewriting the last sentence I'd managed to come up with from the day before.

My goals this year are even simpler: Write more, work more. That's it. To that end, I have some exciting projects already lined up for this year:

1) Next Saturday, February 9th, my adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo opens at Mob Hit Productions in Calgary, Alberta. It's my international debut!

2) My second adaptation, The City & The City, opens at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago on February 25th.

3) Later this spring I'll be acting in a film being shot in the Chicago area, titled Like Father Like Daughter.

4) This summer I'll be playing Porthos in The Three Musketeers, again at Lifeline Theatre, opening June 13th.

5) A Crew of Patches will continue bringing Shakespeare to area high school students through May of this year.

6) I have two more adaptations greenlit for future productions at Lifeline, and I hope to have a third one added to the mix before long.

That should keep me out of trouble at least until July. It's a pretty heavy workload for me, at least artistically. If only I could find a way to make money off of it. (That's the real challenge of the year: Making money. I did not do very well at it last year.)

A belated Happy New Year to all of you!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon... Because Why Not?

Dear Mr. Whedon,

I am an actor-- WAIT! DON'T STOP READING YET!!! Let me try this again.

There is a character in the Marvel universe named after me, and I think you should cast me to play him... me... him. Please let me explain.

Christopher M. Walsh first appears in Invincible Iron Man #8. He is a HAMMER agent, working for Norman Osborn. Agent Walsh is a minor character who has appeared in a handful of issues since then. I have fairly good reason to believe that this character is named after me.

Invincible Iron Man was written by Matt Fraction. "Matt Fraction" is the pen name of Matt Fritchman. Matt Fritchman lived about a block from my house when we were around eight years old. We were best friends for a few years, until his family moved out of town. During the time we knew each other, our lives were entirely consumed by Star Wars, Legos, GI Joe, and comic books. We even once attempted to write our own comic book. I lost interest, but it apparently stuck for Matt.

Matt and I lost touch and haven't spoken in almost 30 years, except for one brief exchange over MySpace in the mid-2000s, shortly after I figured out that the Matt whose books I'd been reading was the same as the Matt with whom I discovered my inner geek all those years ago.

So, I can't prove my hypothesis - at least, not without getting a hold of Mr. Fraction and asking him point blank, which just sounds awkward - but the circumstantial evidence is pretty convincing, don't you think?

I have no actual expectation that you are going to drop everything and write the next Avengers or SHIELD script with me in mind. That would be crazy talk. Frankly, I would be thrilled to learn that you even got a chance to read this letter. But on the off-chance that you do read it, and for some reason you find a place for that random character in one of your projects, I hope you'll remember this letter. I actually am an actor. I'm based in Chicago and most of my work is on stage. I'm a member of the artistic ensemble at Lifeline Theatre, where we adapt literary works for the stage. I'm currently writing an adaptation of China Miéville's The City & The City which opens in February 2013.

I'm also a huge fan of yours. Firefly is one of the greatest things since... well, since Matt and I made up our own Star Wars stories with our toys back in the early '80s. I can't wait to see what you do next.

Best Wishes,

Christopher M. Walsh
(the real one)

(See? We even kinda look alike! Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

That Time I Totally Met China Miéville

You guys!

I can't believe I haven't written about this earlier. I tweeted about it, or maybe I posted about it on Facebook. I can't remember. That's not the point. The point is, a few weeks ago I totally met China Miéville.

For those of you who haven't paid any attention to me for the last six months or so, I'm writing a play called The City & The City. We're just over a week into rehearsals, and start performances in the middle of February. The play is an adaptation of China Miéville's book of the same name. The story follows the tropes of a classic crime novel through a setting that is anything but ordinary. I'd explain more but even a description of the setting is kind of a spoiler. The first time I read the book, I made a series of assumptions about the setting based on the first couple of chapters. By the end of the book I was gobsmacked by just how wrong I was. At first I thought, Ah there is this interesting magical thing happening here. But it turns out it's much stranger than that.

Mr. Miéville himself was in town a few weeks ago and did a little reading/Q&A at Roosevelt University. An administrator there had gotten wind of our production and tipped us to the event. I and a handful of our crew and cast attended. For about the first half hour he read from a new story he was working on, then took questions from the audience for the rest of the hour. I would tell you what he said, but I haven't finished looking up all the ginormous words he used. One that stood out was "heuristic." I have only heard that word used in one other place: It's what the "H" stands for in HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have a vague understanding of the word, but I'm not going to embarrass myself by attempting to define it here. (I could look it up. I probably will at some point. But it's 12:30 in the morning and I'm tired.)

After the Q&A the audience politely held back while Mr. Miéville collected his notes before trying to wedge in some one-on-one time. That is, everybody held back but me. Seeing my chance, I ran forward and introduced myself. As soon as I got out the name "Lifeline Theatre," he grabbed my hand and said, "My collaborators!" He asked about how the show was going, which was only slightly awkward for me due to the fact that rehearsals hadn't actually started yet. But I told him we had a great cast in place, and I thought the script was in good shape for the start of rehearsals, and that we'd have a lot of revisions by the time we opened at the end of February.

The most exciting news? Schedules permitting, Mr. Miéville is coming to see the show. Or at least he's going to try to come. I don't want to make promises for him. But he seemed pretty excited about it. I can assure you he was not nearly as excited as me, though.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dream Role

This weekend we close The Woman In White at Lifeline Theatre, in which I had the great fortune to play Count Fosco. As anyone who has read the Wilkie Collins novel will tell you, Fosco is one of the great villains of Victorian literature. He is charming, charismatic, arrogant, and evil, and one of the best characters I've ever had the opportunity to play.

I first read the book about a year ago, when the company was seriously discussing producing an adaptation. We had recently had great success with an adaptation of another Collins book, The Moonstone, and we knew we wanted to explore that world some more. The Woman In White, as Collins' most famous book, was the obvious choice. About halfway through reading the book I knew I'd discovered a dream role.

The Woman In White is an epistolary novel, meaning it is written as a collection of letters and diary entries and other documents. The specific moment that sold me on the character of the Count comes near the midway point, at the end of a lengthy section of diary entries written by the book's heroine, Marian Halcombe, in which she describes her efforts to uncover the Count's duplicitous schemes. Her last entry reveals that she risked her life to spy on the Count and his accomplice, Sir Percival Glyde, and in doing so she managed to catch a fever and cannot leave her bed. While that is Marian's last entry, it is not the last entry in the diary. Count Fosco, after finding and reading the document, adds his own postscript, revealing his admiration for Marian, proudly admitting to all the sinister deeds of which she accuses him, and daring her to try and stop his grand scheme.

I put the book down after reading that part. I was in awe of the balls on this guy. I was about twenty or so years too young, but I didn't care. I needed that part, and I got it. And I cannot even begin to describe how much fun it has been. Everything about this production has been a joy. I will miss coming to the theater every day and spending time with this extraordinary cast. And of course I will miss my mouse co-stars Fanny and Hester, who stole the show every night.

I will be off-stage for a while. In fact, for the first time in a long while I am closing a show without knowing what my next acting gig will be. Frankly, I do not like the sensation. But I can console myself with the knowledge that in about a month my radio play Comparing Notes at the End of the World will be presented in WildClaw Theatre's annual Deathscribe competition, and rehearsals for The City & The City, my next adventure as a playwright, begin the day after that. In fact, I've got some work to do between now and then, so I'd best get to it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Check one more item off the bucket list: My ten-minute radio play Comparing Notes at the End of the World is a finalist for WildClaw Theatre's Deathscribe 2012 International Festival of Horror Radio Plays. This is the fifth year writers have competed for the coveted Bloody Axe award and I am thrilled to have the chance to throw my hat in the ring.

WildClaw's annual Deathscribe event has become a holiday tradition for Mandy and me. Aside from the Jeff Awards, I cannot think of another annual event at which you can find so much of Chicago's theatre community gathered in one place. The five finalists' plays are performed live with foley artists contributing sound effects. There is a live band, musical acts, a panel of celebrity judges, and a whole lot of alcohol. It has never failed to be a riotous good time.

This year's festival takes place on December 3rd at the Mayne Stage. I am all kinds of excited.