Mad River Union
BLUE LAKE – Jeff DeMark will perform his one-man show, Writing My Way Out of Adolescence, for the 89th time on Father’s Day, June 17 at 2 p.m.in the Pierson Big Tent as part of the Mad River Festival in Blue Lake.
It may be the last time, but I don’t know.
You can never tell with DeMark who most recently did some improv at The Jambalaya, urging his audience to “show me the hate.”
“F**k you, Jeff DeMark,” the obviously prepared shills responded on cue.
DeMark has performed “Writing My Way” all over the country, from Arcata to San Francisco, back to his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, and in coffee shops and bars from New York to Madison.
“Racine means root,” he said, and the show goes back to his roots as a young man in the Midwest.
His roots and his father are really the stars of the show, so it’s appropriate that he is performing it on Father’s Day.
“The show has gone through a lot of changes over the years with many different edits, additions, and subtractions,” he said. “I didn’t realize that the underlying theme was about my dad and reconciliation and gratitude until I finished writing it.”
DeMark’s life has changed since the first performance in 1993 at the third Mad River Festival.
“When I first wrote it, my father was alive and I wasn’t a father. Now my father is dead and my son is 19 years old. The culmination of the show was when I was 19,” he said.
And the show has changed since that first performance.
“It changes. It evolves. It’s elastic,” DeMark said. “Someone told me ‘once I finish a script I never change it.’ I can’t imagine that. I feel like I keep stitching in other people’s lives. I feel like its a tapestry (of characters) – not just me.”
The show was made into a film when it played at Humboldt Light Opera’s The Space in January 2017. Matt St. Charles filmed it and the final product (now available on DVD) has animation and historic images cut in. A showing at the Minor Theatre had a profound effect on some viewers.
“Two days later a man told me that he had gone to the showing as an obligation to his girlfriend, but that it had been all he’d talked about for the last two days. He’d had serious problems with his father and the show had brought it to the surface where he could deal with it,” DeMark explained.
Encounters like that reinforce the power of the show for DeMark. “I’m not doing it as nostalgia,” he said. “It’s got juice.”
DeMark doesn’t perform this show often anymore. He’ll bring it out as a benefit for a good cause.
“Richard’s Goat needed money to put in their movie screen,” he said. “I told Merrick I’ll do my show and get a thousand dollars. And I did.”
Now when he attends a movie there, he knows that “one third of the screen is mine.”
So don’t miss an opportunity to see an old favorite on Father’s Day. If you haven’t seen it before, now’s your chance. Maybe your last chance.
Tickets are $10 seniors/students and $12 general admission. Buy tickets online at dellarte.com or by phone (707) 668-5663 or at the Dell’Arte box office. Reservations are a good idea.