Guest Blogger: Ian McDonald and The 39 Steps

148349_10151198313746567_1557097707_nI am really thrilled to introduce this week, my guest blogger, Ian McDonald. Besides being my better half, he is also a very talented actor. Ian is currently in rehearsals for The 39 Steps which opens on Saturday, February 16th.  This week he shares his experience:

“I always wanted to be an explorer, but – it seemed I was doomed to be nothing more than a very silly person”  – Michael Palin

When I heard that The 39 Steps was being produced by The Parkside Players, I was pretty sure I’d be auditioning for it.  I only say pretty sure because I was fooling myself into thinking I wouldn’t audition for it.  And when I did decide to audition for it, I was still fooling myself into auditioning for the role of the single character Hannay, as deep down I knew I should be auditioning for the role of one of the clowns.

I was built for the role of the clown.  From the late night viewings of Monty Python’s Flying Circus on public television back in the late 70’s, to the memorization of, and subsequent repetition of, just about every piece Python and Kids In The Hall I could get my college-aged hands on in the mid 90’s, it was obvious I was infected with the disease known as “sketch comedy.”  Late one night in 1995, the disease took full root and over caesar salads and carafes of orange juice at Denny’s Joe Koyon, Michael McVeigh, Chris Gladis, and I went all out and invented our own Sketch Comedy troupe.  We were called “It’s Just A Phase” and were on the razor edge of comedic genius – we were edgy, sometimes offensive, often introspective, and always hysterical – at least to each other.  You see this was long before the age of YouTube, portable digital video cameras, and your new fangled interwebs.  We ate and laughed and wrote and laughed and ultimately never shot a single frame of the comic gold we had been mining.  And we really didn’t mind. We were making each other laugh and that was what was really important at the time.  Eventually, we all went our separate ways – staying connected over the years in varying degrees through social media and sometimes visits to the far-away lands to which we had all spread out, and somewhere – possibly in McVeigh’s footlocker, is a black and white marble composition book filled with what the outside observer would no doubt think were the ravings of a madman.  So there it ends – the illustrious and meteoric rise and fall of my multiple character comedic disorder – or so I thought until I was offered the role of the clown.

Malini has often commented in the past on my seemingly schizophrenic ability to be jump from self to character in a matter of seconds when we’ve done shows together.  These days, Malini never knows who is walking in the door after a rehearsal. Could it be the ebullient supershowman Compere?  Is a cockney thug ala Jason Statham’s Turkish sitting in the living room playing on the Playstation? Did Ian just walk through the room in a kilt whistling Scotland the Brave?  And did he just call Malini “Meine schatze” in a German accent? The answer these days is yes to all of the above.  This masterpiece of Hitchcockian comedy has finally allowed me to “get my sketch on,” as it were, playing fifteen different characters with some of them actually having conversations with themselves.  It’s wonderfully frenetic, incredibly freeing, and hysterically funny – at least to me.  And while I always hope others can enjoy my comedy I’ve come to realize that there’s nothing wrong with making yourself laugh.

“He who laughs most, learns best.” – John Cleese


The 39 Steps

A Comedy
by Patrick Barlow
adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock

Directed by
Susan Young

The 39 Steps is a raucous comedy based on the Hitchcock movie, a man with a boring life and no passion meets a mysterious woman who claims to be a spy. When she is murdered in his apartment, he finds himself running across Britain from the police and an organization of enemy spies, all the while searching for an answer to a question of national importance: What are “The 39 Steps”? A cast of 4 recreate the film playing over 150 characters in a fast-paced whodunit certain to keep you guessing….what madcap stunt the cast will pull next!

Fridays, February 22 & March 1 at 8:00 pm;
Saturdays, February 16, 23 & march 2 at 8:00 p.m.;
Sundays, February 17 & 24 at 2:00 pm.

Feb 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, March 1 and 2, 2013

Admission: $14 / $12 for Seniors

RICHARD HANNAY.........................................KC Scwabb
ANNABELLA SCHMIDT/PAMELA/MARGARET.................Monica Barczak
CLOWN 1.............................................Johnny Young
CLOWN 2.............................................Ian McDonald


Queen of Denial

The Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah has been on Dszpics1my mind since I watched it in its entirety on Friday night. A great character study for an actor. Armstrong’s mannerisms and physicalities said more than the stuttered and staggered words that fell from his lips. The one word that kept replaying in my mind is denial.

Denial is tough place to live. One lives in a constant lie and the manufacturing of those “truths” becomes difficult and exhausting to maintain.  You become defensive, sensitive to criticism,  secretive. You change your habits and routines. You become cranky, irritable, agitated. The psychological manifests to the physical.  You are in the funnel.  You can’t escape the tornado.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis six years ago, I was in complete denial. I refused to accept my diagnosis and chose unhealthy avenues to deal with it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t talk about it. It was as if it wasn’t happening to me at all. As a result of my choice to neglect my condition, I started to feel emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. My body felt like it was falling apart. I was in complete despair. Watching Lance’s depositions where he was lying triggered some of the same feelings I went through at that time. Granted I was not in the Tour de France but I was on my own personal journey. Once I conceded to the truth and finally let go, I  clearly addressed and accepted my condition.

Acceptance means a few things to me: to stop fighting the truth; to not get in my way to manipulate; and to really just let it be.

I hope that Lance can find that acceptance and not let his ego get the best of him. He helped many cancer survivors and is a role model. It’s sad that his whole career is tarnished due to an act in which he denied. But who am I to judge. I proudly donned my crown as queen of Denial.

Fly Your Flag! Walk the Walk! Talk the Talk!

My sister-in-law, Dawn Slegona McDonald,  is marching on Monday- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Her cause:  Gun Control.  Her rally: One Million Moms for Gun Control. Why: Sandy Hook.555345_10151435090628973_979241019_n

On August 28, 1963, Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered a 17 minute speech called “I Have a Dream“. His cause: End Racism. His rally:  March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Why: Civil Rights for all.

I, too, have a cause. I strongly believe in the rights and equality of women.  My rally is bringing the message of empowerment through theater. I love theater and for me, it’s the right medium to carry the message. Hence my production of Mum’s (not) the Word in 2010, my work with the EstroGenius Festival and in next month’s  V-Day Hell’s Kitchen “The Vagina Monologues” 2013.

You also have a cause. What burns your *ss? What makes you say, “No More”. What are you going to do?

Fly your flag!

Anticlimactic :(



jpgHave you ever had one single thought, moment, incident from the distant past, that you completely forgot about, then it pops into your head and then it suddenly and completely consumes you? It becomes an obsession. Then when you walk away from it and revisit, you realize that it occupied way to much space in your head?


Oh good because that’s what happened to me. For the last month, I allowed a moment that occurred years ago consume me. The consumption led to an analysis of myself; mentally draining those close to me (I finally was told to stop because they wouldn’t listen anymore); and research on the concepts of reason, excuse and rationalization.


As much as that caused some crazy, I actually found out a lot about myself and the above-mentioned ideas.  I wanted to know the if there were differences  between the three.  Reason is a statement offered in explanation or justification or a rational ground or motive. Whereas an excuse is to cause something to seem reasonable and rationalization is an excuse or an attractive explanation. After some pondering, I thought it best to face the truth and finally bring all of this craziness to a close. Why even try to find an explanation, justify it and make it pretty. I decided to take the last step to honesty in hopes of finding my Holy Grail. And…the answer led to this overwhelming feeling of…nothing.


Let’s recap:


  1. Old memory presents itself.
  2. I try to figure out what to do with it.
  3. It leads to 5 weeks of mental, spiritual and emotional consumption which includes discussion, writing and researching.
  4. I take the final steps toward a definitive answer.
  5. There isn’t one.


As I sat on my bed, I said to the cat, “Wow, that was totally anticlimactic. Now what?”


The “now what” is the acceptance.  I learned that what I thought was so significant was really trivial. It didn’t negatively impact my life.  As a matter of fact, I think it made me stronger.  It also made me realize that I don’t need to let it rent space in my head.

I also learned that sometimes I like to manufacture personal drama because I kind of like it. And what does that lead to? Sometimes nothing or nothing good.

Malini’s Thought of the Week: Sometimes when you are stuck on something you have to leave it alone and revisit later. Later can be anywhere from 5 minutes to a few years.




I Resolve to Be the Best Me!

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things. – John Burroughs

It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future, and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago. – Jim Bishop

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou