Interview with Linda Hartinian and Frier McCollister

Thanks to Frank Bertrand for contibuting this article to philipkdickfans.com.

Transcribed and edited by Frank C. Bertrand

Note: Linda Hartinian is the author of the the stage play Flow My Tears the Policeman Said based on the Philip K. Dick story. The play was first put on in New York by Mabou Mines in 1988. Linda was also a close friend of PKD. This interview was transcribed by Frank Bertrand from a 1999 radio interview with Linda and producer Frier McCollister.


[source: Cartoon Pleroma, KUCI, 88.9 FM, Irvine, California, May 3, 1999]

Robert Larson: Welcome to Cartoon Pleroma on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Irvine. This is Robert Larson on your Monday evening, May 3rd, 1999. What’ve we got lined up for you this evening? Well, I went and saw this play the other evening that just was really really wonderful. And this is playing at the historic Ivy Sub Station in Culver City. It’s called Flow My Tears The Policeman Said. And it’s adapted from a Philip K. Dick story. As we’ve discussed here in the past Philip K. Dick stories more often than not make you question nearly all assumptions about what is real. This stage version is definitely true to that form. So we’ve got lined up for you this evening the producer, Frier McCollister, and on the line from New York, Linda Hartinian, who adapted this story for the stage. We’ll have them up for you in just a moment. First I’d like to remind you that the opinions expressed on this program are not necessarily those of the KUCI staff or management, or the UC Board of Regents. So, Frier, do we have you hooked up?
Frier McCollister: Yes.
RL: Welcome to the show.
FM: Thank you Robert for having me.
RL: You’re quite welcome. And, Linda, we got you hooked up?
Linda Hartinian: Yes sir.
RL: Okay. Speak up just a tad.
LH: Okay, how’s this?
RL: Yeah, that’s better. And welcome to you.
LH: Thank you.
RL: And so, Frier you want to tell us a little bit about your background before we get into this?
FM: Well, sure I’m an independent theatrical producer and manager based in Los Angeles right now. I’ve been out here for four years and came out here from New York where I had the privilege of working with the Mabou Mines Theater Company, a very well established avant garde company, with which Linda has a long association. And her adaptation of the play that we are currently presenting was originally adapted and presented by Mabou Mines, first in Boston and then in New York. Linda can sort of give a little bit more background in terms of that production history. And I had the privilege of working with Mabou Mines as a company manager in the late 80s and worked very closely with Lee Breuer, who’s one of the founding members, both as a manager and as an assistant director. Came out here in 1994 and began following the work of a local theater company called the Evidence Room, which is the company that’s presenting Flow My Tears in Los Angeles right now. And I had of course seen Mabou Mines’ production of Flow My Tears in New York, in I believe it was 1988. I was very impressed with it and was very impressed from a producing point of view with the fact that it sold extremely well and was very popular and had great appeal among the fans of Philip K. Dick.
   Since arriving in Los Angeles and following the work of the Evidence Room and getting to know the artistic director Bart DeLorenzo, I had gotten wind that Bart was looking at Flow My Tears as a possibility to present in an upcoming season, and talked to him about it and encouraged him in the idea and expressed my desire to be involved with it. And this is the first production that I’ve worked with the Evidence Room as producer. I am hoping to continue that association. But that’s pretty much my background with the piece.
RL: Okay, and Linda you want to give us a little of your background?
LH: Well, I met Phil years ago when I was in my early twenties, before I went to work for Mabou Mines. And he was a wonderful person who meant an awful lot to me. So I was in my early twenties and I met Phil and we became friends. I became friends with him and his wife Tessa. And then I went to work in New York and I met Mabou Mines and I started working with them. I wanted to get them together and I wanted Phil to write a piece for Mabou Mines. And unfortunately he died before he could do it. So my idea was to make a kind of memorial to him by doing the piece anyway, and doing the best that I could in adapting it myself. And that’s what we did.
RL: Well, we’ll get into your relationship with Phil a little bit more in just a little bit. But first I want to talk about the play that’s currently running now. Frier that’s going to be going on until May 16th?
FM: That’s correct. Runs through Sunday, May 16th. We’re currently running Thursday through Sundays at eight o’clock and we’re selling quite well, so if the listeners are interested in coming they should make the reservations soon.
RL: Okay, and the phone number for that?
FM: Phone number for reservations is XXX-535-4996. Just tell us how many tickets you need and which day your interested in coming and we will return your call to confirm the reservations.
RL: Frier I want to ask you, was there something in particular about the story Flow My Tears that really spoke to you, that made you want to produce this piece?
FM: Well, there’s sort of a two-fold motive going on with me in that. And first of all is my interest, my very sincere interests in the writings of Philip K. Dick. I was familiar with him and his writing, actually prior to learning that Mabou Mines had a production of Flow My Tears . And then seeing their production and seeing how popular it was, again from a producing point of view, really intrigued me, frankly, of the commercial viability of doing his work. But first and foremost I find his writing particularly compelling and my interest honestly in his writing came less out of any orientation toward science fiction writing for the most part as in my happening to stumble on his personal story of the sort of religious visionary experiences that he had commencing in 1974. And the story of that episode and the influence that it subsequently had on his writing compelled me to begin reading him.
   So when I learned that Mabou Mines had a production of this piece I became particularly intrigued with it. And then in seeing how popular it was I became very interested in the idea of the possibility of remounting it and had actually discussed that, before actually coming out to Los Angeles, with Bill Raymond who is the director of the piece in New York. That never transpired in New York, obviously, and then by coincidence I happened to become acquainted with the Evidence Room and Bart had expressed interest. So, but you asked me specifically in terms of what it was about this piece. In general, again, it was informed by my interests in his writings as it was colored by my fascination with his personal story. And then…
RL: As Phil Dick in general…
FM: As we began preparing in the very initial stages of pre-production for this show I began doing a little bit more research on Flow My Tears specifically and how it fit into Philip K. Dick’s framework and sensibility of his own work subsequent to what has become known as the February 3rd ’74 episode. And in fact it turns out that the book figured quite significantly in how he sought to make sense of his experience essentially. And, yeah, I can go into that a little bit more. But honestly as I began to learn a little bit more about sort of the significance of the novel to him it became that much more compelling and interesting to me as we approached mounting the play.
RL: So there was this in general real fascination with all of his work, but Flow My Tears seemed to have a lot of things built into it that made it a very viable project for you.
FM: Well, again, there was a bi-fold sort of motivation. And again it was, for me, principally informed by my fascination with the work and my own specific interests in Philip K. Dick’s writing which really stems from his own personal experience, his series of visions that he experienced in 1974, which occurred actually one week following the publication of Flow My Tears in 1974. And Flow My Tears becomes sort of the initial text that begins the series of his later work that all has to do with basically the content of his visions and his efforts at making sense of them. And then, as I also indicated, from a producing point of view I was particularly interested in mounting this piece because it, number one, is the only authorized dramatic adaptation of a Philip K. Dick piece. It is also obvious, as I just indicated a very significant work in his oeuvre and beyond that, from a producing perspective, I felt that it was potentially a very popular piece. And in fact that’s proven to be the case.
RL: Linda, you wrote this adaptation of Flow My Tears several years ago and there’ve been several different productions of it in different cities over the years. How did you come to actually write the adaptation?
LH: Well, we just sat down and we started. What I tried to do, because I’m not really a writer, is I tried to just take Phil’s words right out of the book. And so by and large every single word that’s in the play is right out of the novel. Once in a while I had to cheat a little bit and I had to glue a couple of sentences together here or there, but basically it’s all Phil’s words. And then we just tried to find ways to make it dramatically viable on the stage. It was a hard thing to do but we decided that we wanted to bring a novel on to the stage, and that’s what we did.
RL: When I was watching it the dialogue just seemed, wow, that’s definitely Phil Dick dialogue. There wasn’t a lot of added sort of modification interpretation. And it worked quite well.
LH: No, absolutely not. We tried to stick to Phil’s words. He wrote beautiful dialogue. At first I thought there would be trouble because of that but as it turned out every time we would deviate from it I’d have to go back and pick up the book and find out what he said because he always said it better. He was really wonderful.
RL: I want to get into your relationship with Phil. You actually knew him quite well and I believe your description on first meeting him was that he was, all at the same time, vulnerable, ingenuous, and egotistical.
LH: Absolutely. I had some free time back in the early seventies one day and I went out to see an exhibition of a friend’s paintings that were being shown at a science fiction convention, which was something I would never do. I was never involved in science fiction and I’d never go to a place like that. But I just happened to be there. And I was walking down the hallway of this big hotel and this man sort of started to flirt with me, and started to try to talk to me. He said, you know I’m a famous writer. And I remember laughing, going well that’s nice. And he said, no, no, here come with me and I’ll show you my books. And he dragged me over to a table filled with books that he had written. Then he realized that his fiancé, Tessa, was there so he introduced us. And we just the three of us got along from that point on. We just became dear friends. And it was kind of an amazing moment for me. All of the time that we spent together, Phil and Tessa and I, all I can say is that he was like a father to me. And that he was like an artistic father to me and a real mentor. I really didn’t have a father that I could go to. And they provided a lot of support for me, that continues to this day, years and years later. Thirty years later I still think of what Phil would want me to do, or what Phil would think of something.
RL: And sometimes do you feel that you actually get a message just, I don’t know, we can call it synchronicity?
LH: Well, once, I mean after he first died I did have some dreams where Phil would come to me, during times when things were tough, and he would say things to me. I think it was Phil. And now that time has passed I think that Phil still watches over me some way, for every once in a while something great happens like this show that Frier put on in Los Angeles. I think that he’s out there for me and I think that he cares about me.
RL: Well, I know that he was just a very important person in your life and not just from reading his books because you did know him personally.
LH: No, I’d never read one of Phil’s books. And he was right, I didn’t know that he was a famous writer. He was just a person to me and in fact when I would go to visit them he would give me books of his to read. And then we would talk about them afterwards. Sometimes I didn’t understand them and I would have to go and talk to him. I was, I’m not an educated person, really, and he was always interested in what I was thinking or what I got out of the books or what I didn’t get out of the books. And he use to give them to me as gifts, and they were really wonderful gifts. Now that I’m older, I look back at the books and I read the books and it’s different for me. But I’ve sort of come a long way since those days with Phil. And it’s just, when you think about it, that’s the kind of a person that he was. What he was was an incredibly generous human being who could see an ordinary young person, who wasn’t special, who wasn’t interested in science fiction, and wasn’t a fan and be interested in her and be interested in what she had to say and what she thought and to give her advice and help. And I don’t think there are very many famous authors that are like that.
RL: He was a real regular guy in a certain way.
LH: Yes.
RL: And do you think it was possibly your either open-mindedness or curiosity that he really appreciated?
LH: Ah, I don’t think so. I think that he was that way with everyone. And I think that he was open and generous with every human being that he met, and in every situation that he met, and that some people were more able to follow his instructions. For instance, he told me – I was a grocery checker – and he told me to go to New York and that that would be a better thing for me to do, is to go to New York and get some experience. So I went to New York and I got some experience and I came back the next summer, and I came back with sort of my report, what I did over the summer. And I said, well, I went to New York, I joined an experimental theater company, I went on tour with them in Europe and I met Samuel Beckett. I remember his mouth dropping open, and he realized that I actually did what he told me to do. And I guess not everyone would do what he told them to do, but I did. And I guess hearing that people would do that. I think Paul Williams also got a lot of good advice from Phil. And he’s a wonderful person, too, Paul.
RL: Yeah, we had him on the show.
LH: But I guess he got different advice than I did because I think Phil told him to go up to Petaluma or something.
RL: How many people went on adventures based on Phil’s…
LH: What Phil would tell them to do. And then he would tell people to do things and they wouldn’t, or they were not able to accept this advice from this wonderful human being.
RL: You made a major life change just based on his suggestion, you had that much respect for him.
LH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I did. I had that much, but by that time I really did think of him as my father. And I had asked him if he would act as my father…
RL: Wow…
LH: So I just followed through with that and I just figured it was my father telling me to do that. I also brought him the man that I married, Bill Raymond, that Frier just mentioned, who directed the original work with Mabou Mines. I was married to somebody else. It was not a happy marriage and then I met Bill, and the first thing that I did was, when I was serious about Bill, was that I brought Phil out to my house. And I introduced him to Bill to see whether he thought that Bill would be an appropriate husband for me. Phil gave me his blessing, and told me, he said, Bill he’s the nicest man in the whole world. You’ll never find anyone nicer or better than he is. He’s the one that you should marry. And so I did and we’ve been happy ever since. So everything I ever did that Phil told me to do was a good idea.
RL: Wow, so almost like a spiritual advisor, you might…
LH: Absolutely.
RL: So, Frier, let’s get back into a little bit talking about the play currently going on now. Were there any special challenges in making this happen the way you wanted it to?
FM: Well, certainly. It’s a very large cast, first of all. We have, if I counted them all up, about eleven, twelve actors. The set design for this production, which was conceived by Jason Adams, who I must say has done a superb job, is very complex and involves a mechanized turntable, among other things, as well as video design, which incorporated a large sort of improvised screen, by Adam Soch. So as these elements began piling on, it quickly became apparent that this was the most technically complexed production that the Evidence Room had ever attempted. And inevitably when you take on a project of this size the rehearsal process becomes increasingly challenging as you approach opening night. It was certainly the case with this show. Technical rehearsals for this show were exhausting for everybody and entirely nerve wracking for me. They did not go particularly smoothly and we weren’t frankly sure whether we were going to get through the entire show cleanly on opening night. Thank god that everything in fact went fine and everything has been going quite well since then. But it’s a large technically complex production and that presented probably the biggest challenge for us.
RL: I’ve found nothing to complain about. I love the video bits, the music at the beginning is just really nice, sets a good tone. The acting, all the performances I found just great. It was really a joy. I was on kind of a high for a couple of days after seeing it.
FM: Well, that’s good to hear. And you remind me to credit our sound designer, John Zalewski, who did quite a number of sound cues as well of all varieties. And he’s done an excellent job. He designed the sound for the Evidence Room’s previous production, One Flea Spare, that just won a L.A. Weekly theater award actually for his sound design for that, and has done an excellent job for us with this show as well, as well as our lighting designer, Rand Ryan, who is also dealing with a variety of challenges in terms of creating isolated stage space with lights alone pretty much. So all of these guys worked very hard, as well, and I also have to credit Ann Closs-Farly, who is our costume designer, who I must say on a budget of about five dollars managed to come up with just an excellent excellent work for all of the characters.
RL: Yeah, definitely. It’s just about time for our musical break. So we’re going to get to that and I’d like to remind you all that we’re speaking this evening with Frier McCollister and Linda Hartinian. Frier is the producer of the currently running play Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said and Linda is the person who adapted this for the stage. And we’ll be getting back into more discussion of this with them after our musical break. This is Robert Larson. You’re listening to Cartoon Pleroma on KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine.

[music break]

Robert Larson: Okay, well, welcome back. We were talking about just all the challenges involved there with putting this together, and how it came off pretty nicely. And I also wanted to ask, Frier, did any of the actors, or other people involved, have a special draw or intense passion for Dick’s work, or did any of them after being involved in this play become interested in Phil’s ideas?
FM: Well, honestly I think all of them have become increasingly fascinated with him and his work in working on this play. And for the most part I think I probably had sort of the most comprehensive familiarity with his writing. Bart DeLorenzo, the director, who’s done also a wonderful job with this, perhaps a bit more so too, but had, I think, had read a couple other of his novels. Again, typically, those actors who were familiar with the work were familiar largely through the film adaptations of Blade Runner and Total Recall. And that was probably the extent of their familiarity with Dick and his writing by and large. But, again, in doing the play everyone, most of the actors did in preparing for this show, did read the novel. And that I think has sparked some very real interest in his writing in most of them.
RL: Have any weird synchronicities occurred in connection with the play?
FM: Oh, ya know, that’s hard to say. It seems like weird synchronicities happen all the time when you sit down and think about it. But directly related to the play, it’s a little hard to say, nothing that stands out, although it is interesting when you and I were speaking the other day and talking about the various other adaptations that are going on, or that have occurred, and there really haven’t been all that many thus far, although there seems to be gathering momentum and interest in screen, specifically screen adaptations of Dick’s work. You had discussed, or we were talking about, the adaptation, the operatic adaptation of VALIS. And I noticed on the Web today actually that Tod Machover, who adapted VALIS into an opera form, an operatic form, just premiered his latest opera at the Houston Grand Opera today, I believe, or it was reviewed today on Fresh Air, NPR Radio. And in the review they did make mention of VALIS in the piece on Fresh Air, if anyone is interested in checking that out they can access it by the Web I’m sure. That’s not a piece that I have a lot of familiarity with. Linda may know a little bit more about it than I do, I’m not sure.
RL: Do you Linda?
LH: Yeah, I do. I worked on that piece with Tod for a short while, and so did Bill work on it. But I had so many artistic differences that I had to leave.
RL: Oh, that’s too bad.
LH: Yeah, it was too bad. But Tod was very firm about the way he wanted things and I was very firm about the way I wanted things. And the biggest problem between us was about the word “God”. And Tod was very adamant that he didn’t want to discuss God, or have the word God in the libretto…
RL: That’s strange…
LH: And I was very firm that it had to be mentioned at least once. So that’s what caused us to split over it. But I know that people liked the music very much and I didn’t see it. It was done in Paris and I think it was done several other places too, but I never saw it. But I know he did remove God and he wasn’t interested in that aspect of it.
RL: Sort of theophobia there?
LH: Well, actually, I asked him that during our working, and we had another partner, Catherine Ikam, who was the person who actually, to be honest, was the one who thought up the project. And she’s a French woman, a very well respected video artist who was fascinated with Phil’s work. She was the one who hired Tod and, ya know, Tod sort of took it over from all three of us and went on with it in his own way. And she was interested in that aspect of it. I mean she wasn’t a closed off person when it came to religious concepts. But I just couldn’t, I was unable to conceive of VALIS without the word God.
RL: It’s a little difficult for me too. God is sort of a major component of a lot of Phil’s stories…
LH: Right…
RL: Or at least a few.
LH: And also Tod continually, I mean I don’t know what he came around to after I left, but we put in weeks and weeks, separated by a few months, and then some more weeks of constant every day ten hour sessions. So it wasn’t just a few lose conversations. But he said that he thought that the book was about Phil’s personality breaking up and that it was about Phil’s being a psychotic. And since he didn’t know Phil, and I did, I just had to say I didn’t think that Phil was a psychotic, not as I’d known psychotics. And I have known psychotics.
RL: Does that really bother you when people put that label on him?
LH: It absolutely infuriates me to have to listen to that, because I know it’s not true. And Phil was not always an easy person, but then who is an easy person? I think that you could certainly say he was neurotic sometimes, or compulsive sometimes, but he was never crazy. He was just interesting, just a person who had a very wide, wide mind, a very large way of thinking. And that’s certainly not what a psychotic is. I know, because I’ve studied them, and I’ve seen them in action every day on the street here in New York City. So I, I just, I don’t know why Tod felt that way, but that he came from a different background than I did. And also I think because he didn’t know him. So he’d read this book and he made this decision and he was very much, at least at that time, an atheist. I said I’m not asking you to believe in God, I’m asking you to understand that the word God appears about twelve million times in his book. And that I don’t think it’s ethical to do this.
RL: Well, I think there are many people out there that have this sort of fear of religion, but I think what is so, one of the things that’s so wonderful about Phil’s work is that it’s about religion, but it’s presenting this whole different take…
LH: Exactly…
RL: On religion, and it’s just like, it needs to be about religion. Here’s a different view of religion, this is much more expansive…
LH: It’s a discussion of religion. It’s not a religion. I mean even if you just look at that one book, it’s about a lot of religions all at once. But you can’t, you can’t just be, well, Tod was also very upset because Bob Dylan had done his born again Christian album and he felt betrayed. And so its music and in a funny way, Tod, it’s none of your business. If you don’t like the music, okay, but you can’t get hysterical because someone said the word God. I mean they’re not trying to hurt you or to upset you on purpose. But you can see that it just cranks me up all over again…
RL: Well…
LH: I know you can’t put everything, you can’t take everything that Phil put in a book, because he put so much. There’s never been anyone, I think, who wrote about so many things at once. It’s so hard to sort it out when you try to do an adaptation. If you look at things like Blade Runner, or you look at something like Total Recall, you can take just the tinniest fragment of one of his works and that’s enough for a major motion picture.
RL: Oh, yeah…
LH: So you can’t put everything in. But I thought with VALIS that that was important. And also because we had so many conversations about so many aspects of so many religions that I felt that it was a disservice to the person, to my friend, to not say. I had it down, I had the libretto down to one mention of God. I don’t even remember the line that said the word God. And when he just sat around and looked around and he put the pencil through that and said I think we have to remove this, we have to cut this line, I said I think you have to cut me…
RL: You’ve gone too far…
LH: I have to leave the room and I have to leave this piece.
RL: Yeah, it’s a, I mean, I think many of us have…
LH: Like a knee-jerk reaction…
RL: Well, I think we have a righteous, maybe, aversion to organized religion, zealotry, religious zealotry…
LH: Right…
RL: But at the same time you don’t have to go to the other extreme and say that we are going to exorcise this from reality…
LH: Yeah, the very word, it reminds me of that, the work that Lenny Bruce did about that other word, the N word. And you can’t just disappear an idea by removing the word…
FM: Uh huh…
LH: It’s just not possible.
RL: Go ahead Frier.
FM: This raises, I’m curious to I guess point out, to ask Linda, and point out the fact that there is in your adaptation of Flow My Tears appended at the end of the piece what is known as the Tagore Letter
LH: Right…
FM: Which, I must admit, we had have excised from our production, which was something that I frankly protested, but was overruled on. It is not something that appears in the text of the novel, but does in fact address Dick’s preoccupations with his religious and mystic concerns specifically. Linda can give a far better background to it than I can. But it came up again and it was a similar type of argument that occurred within the company about how to deal with this particular piece of material. And again it involved people’s relative discomfort with dealing with religious issues and the concept of God. And not being able to really reconcile this idea that Philip K. Dick was, may well have been functioning as something of a religious mystic, first and foremost, particularly in his later writings.
   But it does, this whole discussion, definitely brings up for me one of the struggles that occurred with us in pre-production in terms of how to present this particular adaptation of this piece. And the fact that in the public forums, entertainment, like movies and theater, where you’re presenting something to a public audience essentially, the people become very skittish over things that are potentially controversial. I also think that there is a certain innate bias within academic intellectual circles against bringing in these types of ideas. And it’s something that we dealt with. But Linda could explain I think a little bit better than I can what the Tagore Letter was and why she included it in her adaptation.
RL: Yeah, what is that, Linda?
LH: Well, just before Phil died, a few days before he died, he sent out a letter to a short list of friends, and it’s commonly referred to as the Tagore Letter. And everyone got the same letter. So he sent me a cover letter asking me how I was and the rest of it, and then sent this letter that he said he was sending around to everyone who was important to him, and important in general. And I felt that because this was a memorial to him, and because I was writing it for him, and because I was grieving for him, and because the novel as I see it is about grief and about dealing with grief, that that was my way of grieving. We had a lot of difficulty and discussion with it also. And I think that when people saw our version of the play, that they understood the letter and that they thought it was beautiful. In sort of a strange Philip K. Dick event, there would be this person, sitting in this little chair. When we first did it, I read the letter to me first and then I read the letter in general. And it’s edited somewhat. And he asks me about my son. In the first version that we did my son was still small and he sat on my lap. And I read the letter out loud to him, this letter from Phil, asking about him. And I had told him about Phil and he knew about Phil, but he had never met him. Then I went on to read this special letter, this mystical letter, this last letter that he wrote, this last public statement that he made. And I think people enjoyed it, and they understood it, either from the standpoint of artistic revelation, or the people who came in who were involved in philosophy. Or people who were very literate, from the professors of English who commented that it was so wonderful the way that you did this, and that you included this. So it wasn’t just the religious nuts that could understand it, but people who were…
RL: Maybe struggling with what is reality…
LH: Or people who knew a lot about philosophy, who knew what he was talking about.
RL: Yeah, the whole…
LH: Yeah, the whole thing. It was a very complex letter. And it covered a lot of ground. It once again said God a couple of times. It wasn’t about being a born again Christian or anything like that. It was so much more complex than that, that they could understand it. But when you dramatize something and you put it out into the world, what I have here in this little booklet is an artifact. And there’s a great many things that we did that another company either wouldn’t understand how to do, or wouldn’t have the people who knew how to do it, or who wanted to do it, or time has past, the generation, 1988 is different from 1999, so these things don’t resonate the same way. There’s a lot of reasons why you wouldn’t want to put it, and most of the people who do it can’t manage the letter…
RL: Yeah…
LH: They just can’t do it, because it’s not just the God stuff, it’s the how do you tag on this letter. It’s like out of nowhere…
FM: Right…
LH: It’s like the way that the play is it’s got five endings.
RL: And isn’t there a weird thing too of, when Phil wrote this book, he wrote it in, what year was it?
LH: I don’t remember what year, what year…
FM: He wrote the book in 70, it was published in 74…
RL: Okay, but it was about, the story takes place in what was then the future…
LH: Right…
RL: Which was, what was the date, it was the 80s?…
FM: 88…
LH: 88…
RL: Which is now, for us, the past. And so, actually, that’s kind of like a Phil Dick story. You’re trying to write, adapt a futuristic story that’s about a future that is now actually the past. It seemed to me that with a weird sort of mish mash of styles, clothing and otherwise, in the play that I just saw, Frier, I was wondering was that a thing that you were striving for?
LH: Yeah, I can’t wait to find out how you handled that. It was hard enough back in 88…
RL: Is that a thing you were striving for, like okay, we want it to look kind of like the future, but kind of like the past?
FM: Well, yeah. I mean in a way I guess I’ve been calling it sort of a retro-futurism. To some degree, I think, I guess it’s probably depicted most clearly in this production in the costumes that Ann Closs-Farly came up with. It’s sort of a depiction of a what someone in the ’70s may have projected to be 1988, essentially. And I think she’s done a really really interesting job, specifically in the costumes, and how she managed to do that. That’s, again, probably the most obvious thing, although there are elements in the scenic design and some of the props we use, as well, that are sort of similarly conceived, in this sort of retro-futuristic style. But in point of fact, the play and the reality of the play is an alternate reality essentially…
RL: Right, I mean it comes off as, to me, confusing and well, it should be. That is how Phil Dick stories are. Do you agree with that?
FM: Oh yeah, definitely…
LH: Absolutely…
FM: And I mean I think we do a pretty good job of keeping the audience guessing through most of the evening. Thankfully, most everybody stays with us, although there are a few who walk out of the theater deeply disturbed. But everybody for the most part seems to have a pretty good time with it.
RL: Yeah, there are times when you’re kind of scratching your head, well, what exactly happened. That’s it, that’s the vision, I think, of what we get from Phil, is that we just go through life so often with all these assumptions and never like stop, or maybe are forced to, go wait a minute, things are not exactly as I thought they were…
FM: Well, exactly. And I must say that having to present a novel like this, within a dramatic format, within a span of roughly two hours, is a supreme challenge at best. And I think Linda’s done a brilliant job in adapting the novel. As she has indicated, Philip K. Dick did have an extraordinarily broad mind, and the concepts that he juggles in any one novel are pretty extraordinary, and to be able to attempt to boil down the essence of some of these ideas within the span of specific dramatic scenes, is really difficult. And I think Linda has done an amazing job with the adaptation. I can only hope that we come close to doing it justice in our production. But there is an awful lot to digest…
LH: There’s an awful lot. And I’m so grateful that people want to try to do it. I think it’s so wonderful that people would do that. And the thing that I didn’t mention that I don’t think Frier mentioned it either is that Phil gave me years ago he gave me a manuscript. I have the manuscript of Flow My Tears
FM: Is that right?
LH: And he gave it to me as one of those gifts, when he wanted to give me a present and he didn’t have anything, so he just handed me these typewritten pages. And so years later when I was looking for what to adapt, that’s what made us choose that book, was because he gave it to me as a gift. He said I don’t have anything to give you, I want to give you a present, so, oh I have this, I’ll give you this. And then also because it does deal with grief and love. When we got all the paperbacks, and we were reading the paperbacks, then for some reason I was reading the typewritten pages. And I found that the work that he gave me included about ten, I can’t remember the exact amount, about ten or twelve pages that were cut from the book as it was published. And those extra pages, in the Ruth Rae scene, it’s just long ten pages on different kinds of love, and all the different kinds of love that humans are capable of. I guess that his publishers didn’t think that that was, that that should be in the finished book. That it was too long and it was too strange to be in there. One of the…
RL: Linda, we’re just about out of time, if you could wrap it up real quick…
LH: And he said that one of the ways that the kinds of love is about is loving an author. And he says, I think that’s the coolest thing that could happen to the author of a book. To live on after his death in the book and somewhere, say, somewhere be loved by someone who read the book. Of course it would have to be a very super far out book, I don’t mean just any book. Counter-Clock World was not that kind of book. And that’s from one of these lost pages, and that’s what I think of when I think of Phil, that he’s living again. Every time we do this he lives again, some place, in some little town or some big town, like LA.
RL: That’s a nice thought to kind of wrap this up. Ah, Frier, real quick, could you give out the information on how people can go see the play.
FM: Absolutely, to reserve tickets to see Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said at the Ivy Sub Station in Culver City, please call XXX-535-4996, XXX-535-4996, and we will be running through May 16th only, so please call now.
RL: That’s at the historic Ivy Sub Station?
FM: In Culver City, exactly, 9070 Venice Boulevard.
RL: Frier McCollister, thanks a lot for being with us this evening.
FM: Thank you so much. I wish we had an another hour.
RL: I do too. And Linda Hartinian, thank you.
LH: Oh, absolutely, thank you so much.
RL: Okay, no problem. We’ll be talking to you again some time, okay?
LH: Okay.
RL: Alright, that just about wraps up Cartoon Pleroma. This is Robert Larson. You’re listening to KUCI, 88.9 FM in Irvine. Don’t forget to catch me next week. I’m going to have Philip Farber, he is a master occultist. This is serious stuff, but funny stuff at the same time, so you’ll want to be tuning in for that.

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