Sunday, March 18, 2018

Boy in the Window, Staged Reading

 On 3/18/18, I participated in a staged reading of a fragment of a musical called "Boy in the Window." The venue was The Point, 940 Garrison, The Bronx.  The playwright is Mike Jones.  The director was Tym Byerz.  I played "Catherine," a really annoying kvetch, transplanted from the Midwest and participating in a free therapy group in San Francisco. Though it was called a staged reading, we were off book, except for a the lead rappers in The Fugue.

This musical is still being written.  We did 3 scenes from it, one of which was a rap fugue.  A more complete version is expected to be performed in October.

This musical explores the personal development of a young, gay, African American man named, Andre, through various experiences.

Link to video

If anyone wants to contribute to the completion of this musical, they should go to the gofundme link below:

Below are copies of the program for the show.  I hope to put up some cast photos soon.

This role called for me to be knitting on stage -- so I made this.  It started out as a ūüėłcap, but the script called for a long thing, so I just kept knitting, without a pattern, and ended up with a very long hat.

This is a cast photo that was taken after the show.  Unfortunately, one of the cast members had already left when this was taken.


10/14/18  I went to see the second Boy in the Window Workshop at The Point.  I wasn't in it this time, because they were only doing the later scenes.  

This is developing into a unique and intriguing play.  There are a number of nice songs. The main character is a young black man finding himself -- but the play is also about the incredible diversity of our society.  The characters are each a fascinating study into a type.


1/13/19  An announcement was made of the next show

Sunday, March 11, 2018

About my fascination with Villain Roles

I want to talk about my fascination with playing villain characters.  

It started with watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a child.  That movie came on once a year in the spring.  We had to watch for it in the TV programming section of the newspaper.  I felt that it was important to watch it every year. Why?  I don’t know, but it seemed to be.

Later, when I was in college, I went to visit one of my friends who was a student at Berkeley.  It was in the spring and we happened to arrive when they were showing “The Wizard of Oz” on TV.  I was impressed, when we went into the lounge in her dorm, that all the other students there knew all the songs to the show.  That’s when I realized — though I should perhaps have realized sooner — that I wasn’t the only one watching that show repeatedly.  It’s funny how one never thinks of some things.  Like, if it’s being shown every year, then other people must also be watching it.  Why didn’t I think of that?  I don’t know.  I didn’t.

The two most memorable roles in that movie were Dorothy and the Wicked Witch.  I later learned that Judy Garland, who played Dorothy died fairly young of addiction, while Margaret Hamilton lived to her 80’s, was well adjusted and generally well liked by those who knew her.  She once worked as a kindergarten teacher.  She often spoke later about how she was concerned that the wicked witch role was too scary for small children.

I concluded that perhaps, if one put one’s badness into a role, one could take one’s goodness home; while if one put one’s goodness into a role, one might take one’s badness home.

But I remained fascinated with those sci-fi/fantasy/horror villain roles, just for themselves.  I was fascinated with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars, Barnabas and Angelique Collins in Dark Shadows, Frank Langella’s Dracula,  I want to play those types of roles.

Perhaps I'm fascinated with those roles because in real life I'm a very repressed, goody two shoes, timid, rigidly moral person.

I remember when I was an exchange student in France, I met with a French man who had known my father as a young person -- √Čtienne Bauer. The Bauer and Barschall families were friends because my grandfather, who was a German soldier, helped √Čtienne Bauer's father -- who was a French soldier -- during WWI.  I don't remember the details.  I think Bauer may have been a prisoner of war and my grandfather may have saved him or something? Not sure.

In any case, the Bauer's were eternally grateful.  √Čtienne was a fairly prominent member of the French government when I met him. What was his position? I don't remember. Perhaps I never asked.  But he took time out to meet with me.

He was suffering from MS at the time.  He had a lot of trouble walking and was later in a wheelchair.  Even in advanced MS he managed to paint.  I'm not sure if he may even have used his mouth to paint? Or maybe he could still move one hand enough? In any case, I still have one of his paintings that he gave me.  I asked to pay for it.  That was dumb.  I don't think I paid what it was really worth.  I should have just taken it.

But I remember him saying of my father "Ton p√®re est tr√®s timide, et donc tr√®s intimidant."  Literally "Your father is very shy and therefore very intimidating," though it sounds more similar if you say as they do in French "Your father is very timid and therefore very intimidating."

That really struck me.  I was horribly afraid of my father -- as were his graduate students.  It had never occurred to me that that was because he was shy or timid.

My father was scary and my family -- my ex and my kids -- complained that I was scary, too.  I guess I took after him -- though someone once told me that moms are supposed to be scary.

In any case, I thought, with acting, I could possibly be paid to be scary, rather than being berated for it.

This weekend  I acted a short movie where I played a wicked witch.  Here’s a photo of my make-up. (As usual, click on the photo to enlarge)

It's too bad you didn't get a chance to see the artist putting this stuff on me. It was really interesting -- though of course I didn't see it. She glued wrinkles around my eyes and dried it with a fan (which turned out to be really useful when we were doing a fire later) She spattered stuff all over my face. She used an air brush. It was really elaborate.  She also gave me some special goop to remove the glued on stuff around my eyes.  

Given that the whole scene was shot lit by firelight outdoors in a cave at night, I'm not sure whether you'll really be able to see the makeup, but they thought you could.

I was wearing. in this order: fur lined tights, a cotton slip, a long underwear top, a half-zip polartek sweater, a wool dress, a polartek vest, a microfiber hoodie, a wool jumper -- and then my acetate lined wool cape inside out -- for the winter night shoot. I learned that the cape is warmer inside out. They had a scarf on my head for the shoot, so you wouldn't see my hair. I had boots and ski socks, The inside of my boots got completely soaked from snow going over the top. If I had realized that we would be hiking through snow, I would have worn higher boots with tighter tops. Fortunately, we had a fire, so I didn't get frost bite.

I've been trying to develop some reel examples of me as a villain, particularly for the sci-fi/fantasy/horror type villain. My fantasy is to be a lead villain in a Marvel Comics Movie.  I was very encourged to see that they used a middle aged actress for the chief villain in "Thor Rognarok," -- tho she still had to be stick thin and wearing a tight body suit.

Here's audio of me doing Vincent Price's rap from Michael Jackson's thriller:

Thriller rap

When I participated in the National Monologue Slam in Edison, NJ, I did "Thriller,"   They told me they were going to give me video of that, but so far they haven't.  That seems to be a recurrent problem.  I have bene promised video in other situations and not gotten it.

Here was my first attempt at a villain monologue: when I was in Wynn Handman's studio

Robert Davidson

I hope to get a link to the video for the thing we shot last night eventually, but the directors told me that they were going to shoot part of it in Alaska this summer, so I can't hold my breath

Also I booked a horror role in another movie, but the director is taking a while to getting around to filming it.

I wrote a "Villain Song."  Here's my blog about it

Villain Song release blog

And, when I participated in X-factor in 2012 in Providence, RI, and got past 2 rounds, which meant I was in the top few hundred of the 7,000 people who showed up -- the song I sang was Mordred's Lullaby, by Heather Dale -- another villain song.

Addendum: practicing scowling for villain music video (instagram post)

Please note that there are 4 photos here to be scrolled through

A post shared by Anne Barschall (@barschall) on


Here's my "Creeping Hour" podcast with NPR.  I'm in episode 3, playing the evil Dr. Chanticleer

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Stop terror and public shootings by limiting press attention

Here's NPR with a mental health based approach to preventing shooting incidents

A lot of people are advocating a gun based approach, either, on the one hand, more gun control, or, on the other hand, arming more people to defend themselves.

Here's an article about an actual school shooter

If you read this, you will note that this guy's stated motivation was to be famous. This supports my view that it is sensationalized press coverage that is encouraging copycats. If the press were required to limit reporting of these incidents to simple facts: location, number killed and injured, whether the suspect is at large, in custody, or dead, whether the incident is ongoing, and streets or areas closed -- no photos, no interviews -- then the incidents would stop.

Terror thrives on press attention. Without that attention, terrorism fades into the background noise. Numbers killed in these incidents are dwarfed by other possibly preventable incidents like: opioid overdoses, auto accidents; more common one-on-one shootings (including suicides), and medical mistakes.

45, in one of his many fake news claims, insisted that terrorist acts were under-reported, when in fact quite the opposite is true.  They're over-reported -- made into high drama content to attract advertisers. 

Thinking that we're somehow going to find all the whacko teen boys and prevent them from getting guns seems unrealistic to me.  What seems realistic is to stop filling their media screens with the temptation to get famous by doing a public shooting.