'Midsummer' festivities

SCENE & HEARD

Scene&heard

July 16, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Midsummer got off to a good start for the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and we're not just talking about its summer production, A Midsummer Night's Dream. After the play at the festival's outdoor stage at The Meadow at the Evergreen House, the theater company threw its first-ever opening night gala. The location? The company's home at St. Mary's Outreach Center in Hampden.

As cast, crew and guests entered the former Episcopal church, the lights dimmed and the Swingin' Swamis started rocking from the stage, set up where the altar used to be. If they weren't swaying in the pews, folks were -- literally -- dancing in the aisles.

"We took some risks with tonight's show, and we kind of feel like we did the same with this party," explained Dream director Laura Hackman.

"It's nice to have our rehearsal space used for something fun like this," added actress Gia Mora, as she watched festival artistic director James Kinstle trip the light fantastic under a twirling disco ball.

"It's awesome. I am all about a party," said Deb Mathews, whose husband Paul composed the music used in the play.

Actress Jen Plants, who plays Puck in the show, had something extra to celebrate that night.

"This is my fourth show with BSF, but this time I get to live. Usually, you see my 'corpse' on stage at the end of the show."

A DRINK WITH CHIP SILVERMAN

A 'Diner Guy' writes, reads as an escape

Chip Silverman has spent more than 35 years as a professional addictions counselor. He has also written seven books, including Ten Bears, about his experience in the 1970s as coach of the Morgan State University lacrosse team, the only black lacrosse team to compete in the NCAA. Warner Brothers has optioned the book, and Silverman, 64, says he hopes filming will begin within a year. But Silverman is best known as a "Diner Guy," one of the group of friends whom film director Barry Levinson immortalized in the 1982 movie, Diner.

How many Diner Guys are there?

You mean left? We've lost a lot of them. One of the guys left is Bill McAuliffe, a professor at Harvard Medical School. I asked him one time, did he find it strange that so many Diner Guys have died. He said, no, you have to recognize that most of them were hard livers. Anyway you want to think "hard living." The basic Diner Guys were kids who came from the lower class, grew up on playgrounds, street corners and poolrooms. A lot of the guys, their fathers died early. We were basically out of control. Why else would we be hanging out at that diner 'til 6 in the morning?

With everything else you've done, do you get tired of being labeled that way?

No. I wear it as a badge of honor. It's interesting. Diner, the movie, has such a cult following and it's so engraved in the culture of this country. I love the references to it. They still happen. There was one recently on [the WB TV show] The Gilmore Girls. And I don't even know what that is. The guy who created [the HBO series] Entourage said in USA Today that he patterned his show after watching Diner 400 times.

Does it come up at work when you're counseling patients?

Quite a lot. And it's always good to talk about what it was like growing up. We were degenerates. It's a frame of reference. I survived my adolescence. Actually, I'm still surviving my adolescence. ... God knows what would've happened to me if I hadn't gotten into this field. I actually got into writing as an escape from the lack of success with patients in drug treatment. The despair. There's a less than 30 percent recovery rate.

Yet you continue to work in that field. Don't you get frustrated?

Yes. One: the stigma that's still associated with it. Two: it's sorely under-funded, particularly in the public sector. Three: we now know that 90 percent of our addicted population have mental health problems. And yet we can't get the two groups -- mental health folks and addiction folks -- together.

What's your escape these days?

I write more than I ever did. ... I work out all the time. I'm a fanatic about it. More jogging than anything; I've been doing that for 40 years. ... I love to read thrillers. Especially this author, Lee Childs, who's written this series featuring Jack Reacher. I love his stuff. ... I like to read three to four books at a time, because I'm still probably ADD. That's why I do all this stuff. I need to do something different all the time. I get bored easily.

Is that a Diner Guy trait?

Probably. They called us misbehaved in those days. But, we were probably all ADD, ADHD.

What do you do when you chill?

I still do three to four things at once. So, I could be reading a book, watching TV, writing and eating something decadent that [my cardiologist] Jeffrey Quartner says I shouldn't do.

What's decadent for you these days?

It could be an expensive bourbon, a Cuban cigar and carbs. Here's the ultimate: the White House sub shop in Atlantic City, on the corner of Arctic and Mississippi. It has an Italian cold-cut sub called the White House Special. If I was on death row, that would be my last meal. Even if it was five days old. Whenever the Diner Guys go to Atlantic City, one guy has to do a sub run for the rest of us.

What are your words to live by?

Never look back. I tell my patients to do that. And I always follow that advice.

SOCIAL EVENTS

SATURDAY

Bra Ball

Benefits the American Visionary Art Museum

Specialty drinks, beer, finger food, live music, DJ, dancing, costume parade

AVAM

800 Key Highway

8 p.m.

Tickets $58-$98

Call 410-244-1900

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