The Good Boy is a project I have been writing and developing for several years. It began as a series of journal entries which then grew and were developed into a series of short stories about my childhood, about growing up in a large family headed by my loving and complicated deaf parents. I am thrilled to be able to say that series of scribbles, scratches and thoughts turned into the solo play The Good Boy that begins performances at LATC this coming weekend.
Back when I started, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with these meanderings. Then I saw a powerful stage piece, Squeeze Box, by the remarkable solo artist Ann Randolph. I was so inspired by Ann’s work, I started to take her writing classes and workshops. With her keen eye, help and guidance, I developed my early stories and wrote others. Encouraged by the talent I saw in her and in her gifted students, I wrote more and more until these very same journal entries and stories morphed into mini-performance pieces.
What I saw was a developing storyline that became more about finding my own place in the world than about the unusual circumstances of being raised in a home that perhaps others found different. I felt different, not so much because of the handicap that enveloped our home but by the fact that I couldn’t seem to accept the challenges and grow beyond them. Truly it was about finding my own voice both literally and figuratively.
One day, saying I was ready to share these stories with others, Ann told me she was going to be workshopping a few minutes of a new show she was developing (which eventually turned into the award-winning and brilliant Loveland) and just flat out said I was going to be appearing with her at the Zephyr Theatre. She was going to set it up and I was going to have to do it. Terrified and almost angry at being forced to face my fear of failure, I did it. The response was better than I could have ever imagined. Then, with the help of Mark Neely, a writer friend and the person who eventually directed the early incarnations of the show, I wrote a full-length workshop piece that at first was called Signature, and then eventually became The Good Boy.
After the first full-length reading at the Zephyr, the piece seemed to find its footing. With the encouragement and success of that first reading and after some good word-of-mouth had spread, we were lucky enough to garner the interest of the highly regarded Bootleg Theater, which mounted the first full-scale production of The Good Boy in the late summer of 2010.
Folks from the Latino Theater Company and LATC came to see that first production at the Bootleg and offered me this great and exciting opportunity to stage our play again. With a new director, Darin Anthony, producer and creative team in place, I am now seeing The Good Boy take another step forward. I hope whoever reads this will take a leap of faith with me and follow the continuing journey of The Good Boy.
**All Production Photography by Michael Lamont
The Good Boy, presented by Latino Theater Company, opens April 30; plays Thur.-Sat., 8 pm; Sun., 2 pm; through May 22. Tickets: $20-$30. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles; 213-489-0994 or http://thelatc.org.
Michael Bonnabel is a Los Angeles-based performance artist with a wide range of theater, film and television credits including award-winning performances in Philip Littell’sÂ No Miracle: A Consolation at Playwrights’ Arena and the ADA Best Revival signed and spoken production of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story at the Actors Workout Studio. He has appeared inÂ Ken Roht’s 99Â¢ Only Calendar Girl Competition, Route 99: Orange Star Dinner Show, Peace Squad Goes 99, and in Robert Prior’s colorful adaptation ofÂ Alice in Wonderland, Project: Wonderland at the Bootleg Theater. Other local stage works include productions with Long Beach Opera, West Coast Ensemble, Tiffany Theaters, Highways, the Odyssey Theatre, the Colony Theatre and the Meta Theatre.