Letter from America No. V
Photography: Georgia Oetker
A STORY OF FRED –
A GRAND MOVER
The reason I christened this log ‘Lizard Man’ is because that is what the CMC lads called Fred.
I remember one day Fred came up to me. He had what I assumed was a beautiful broach in the shape of a lizard on his t-shirt. I went to touch it – and it moved. It was real. Fred is one of the most extraordinary physical actors I have ever seen in my life. I will never forget his Celia in the proposal scenes from ‘As You Like It’. Truly breathtaking. He so skillfully toyed with the hairline fracture that exists between comedy and tragedy. He ALWAYS had the audience eating out of his hand.
When we did our debrief Fred got up and gave a speech to all the young lads in the room. I will never forget it as long as I live. It was magnificently Shakespearean. It could have been sheared from the Folio pages of Henry V. He went through a long list of men who he had served alongside in the original ‘Crips’. He spoke of their real names and their gang names and the sad fate that was to be bestowed on each. He was saying – every bit as passionately as the best Linda Lohmans I’ve ever been privileged to see – to the men in front of him that while they could ‘Attention Must Be Paid’. You could taste the passion as much as the pride and care. It stung.
When Fred finished – and it must have gone on for a good four minutes – there was silence and then rapturous applause. I told Fred that if he were to do that speech as an audition for ANY Shakespearean Festival – and there are many, many more in the US than there are in the UK – that I defied them NOT to hire him.
Truly extraordinary was our Lizard Man … IS our Fred.
Dear Bruce Wall,
I hope my letter finds you doing well and keeping up the good work. It is truly a blessing to come across your path in this lifetime. I wish I could express in words the high that you and the cast left upon me. Bruce, I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I will keep up my work through a lot of readings using the proper pronunciation.
To tell you the truth, Bruce, I don’t know what to do now that this play and you guys are gone. Still I will remain strong and pray that we can come back together soon because I so enjoyed seeing the expressions on the audience’s face. They let me know that our job had been well done.
Thank you, Bruce, for giving me hope. I really smile when I think about my future now because I can see something more positive than just being part of my old street gang in Los Angeles. I can’t find ways to stop thanking you for helping me be something other than the Iceman from Rollin 60 Crip Gang. I feel now that I have a chance to live my life in a real way in a real world. Thank you again, Bruce, for just being you.
Before I end, please tell Lucinda, Cornelius and Georgia that I send my love and respect.