"Scott Wichmann is a force of nature."
-Daniel Neman, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Saturday, December 17, 2011
THE ROAD AHEAD.
I'm currently writing this blog entry from my Mom's house in Leland, NC. It strikes me as I write this that it has been over two years since my last blog entry, written just before my entrance into the United States Navy.
It would be a tremendous understatement for me to say that my life has 'changed a bit' since that last entry. This past year in particular has been filled with more plot twists than a Russian novel. Some of these changes have been difficult, but they revealed to me that a.) I am never alone b.) I deserve to be happy and c.) I am stronger & more resilient than I could have ever realized. Rather than 'making me who I am today', I see now that the difficult changes in my life served only to reveal to me who I always have been all along. I can say without a hint of bravado that I like who I am; I love being this guy; I love what I am capable of, I love what I have to give, and I am extremely excited by all of the possibilities within me.
I will simply say that right now I am the happiest that I have ever been in my entire life. I am blessed with the best family and friends a fellow could ask for, and I have found myself showered with the love and support of the most amazing, beautiful, and dynamic young woman I have ever known.
For me, the holiday season has always beem a time for reflection and reassessment, and even more so this year. The year 2011 provided me with many opportunities, accolades and deeply rewarding relationships, both personal and professional. I have been the recipient of more love and support than I could ever ask for. As I step into 2012, I will be embarking on a new course in my life, one filled with many challenges-- all of which I am ready to meet head-on.
The chief challenge ahead of me comes in early January 2012, when I will be mobilizing for my first Navy Individual Augmentee Deployment to Afghanistan.
Now, many of my friends who know I'm in the Navy seem very surprised when they hear that I'll be headed to Afghanistan. They almost always ask: "Will you be on a ship?"
The simple answer is 'No.'
Individual Augmentee, or 'IA' as it is more commonly known, is a specialized mission wherein a Navy Sailor fills an operational support billet commonly associated with another branch of service. IA Billets can be anything from Detainee Operations to Customs enforcement to Defense Reutilization. This type of Deployment can be very stressful, although deeply rewarding, and the function IAs serve to the overall effort overseas is a highly valuable one.
The challenges of an IA deployment are unique: First, rather than deploying overseas as part of a larger Unit, Navy IAs usually deploy overseas alone. On the personal level, there isn't the same communal sense that comes with a large Unit mobilization; I won't be part of a a huge mass troop movement; I won't be able to look over and see twenty-five sailors sharing the same exact experience, at least not during the pre-mobilization phase. While I have gotten top-notch support from my NOSC (Naval Operational Support Center), a lot of my pre-mobilization preparation has been completed as 'The Lone Sailor.' This has been at times frustrating, exhausting, and isolating, since very few of my friends are going through the same challenges, changes, and emotions.
A second challenge IAs face: The exhaustive pre-Mobilization process. For Navy IAs, this includes countless medical/dental screenings, a lenghty pre-Deployment checklist of financial, legal & familial 'to-do' items, and completion of about 42 comprehensive online courses covering everything from 'IED Countermeasures' to 'first aid' to the 'Dari Afghan language.' Also factored into this are the personal logistical challenges: In the months leading up to deployment, I have found myself having to move everything I own, secure my pets and property, establish a will and specific powers of attorney & inform my family where they can find support services and deployment information, all while trying to stay physically fit, and find the time to simply breathe.
It has been a rather stressful time for me lately, and I wish I could give full attention to each and every one of my dear friends who have expressed support and encouragement to me over the last few weeks and months. I have been essentially 'Homeless' for the last few weeks, and I have found myself expending quite a bit of mental and emotional energy obsessing over lists of things to be completed. I had a Navy Shipmate in my Unit tell me that the Pre-Deployment phase is the most stressful time; That once all of the 'i's are dotted and 't's crossed, and the Deployment is underway, I will feel more like I'm 'in a groove' and less like I'm trying to herd a bunch of cats.
Another thing people ask me is if I'm scared to go overseas; They ask if I have any misgivings about heading to Afghanistan, where things are most definitely not tranquil and calm; I can say, without equivocation, that I am 100% convinced that the task I am performing is essential, vital and necessary to protect the lives of my brothers and sisters in arms, and I will do the very best job I am capable of performing while thus engaged. I know that I will be working with some of the finest and most qualified professionals the military has to offer; Furthermore, this is essentially what I joined the Navy to do-- Namely, play my part in my country's effort overseas. Call it hokey, call it Jingoistic, call it whatever you'd like, but I have ALWAYS felt deep down that I owe my nation a very real debt of gratitude for all it has blessed me with, and the very least I can do is lend a hand to ensure the safety of my fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines... And I mean to do it right away.
As excited and proud as I am to head overseas, I am looking past the Deployment, however, and once I return from it, I will be headed out west to start a new life in Los Angeles, California. I feel like it is time to make a brand new start and challenge myself to learn new things; To grow creatively by trying my hand at improv, sketch comedy, writing, and many new activities. I am moving not only to cultivate new career opportunities, but to cultivate a beautiful relationship with someone very special. Her name is Elizabeth. She is the center of my world.
When happiness and love work their way into your life, you must follow where they lead you. I could shout to the heavens that I am absolutely filled to the brim with love for this woman. I have already resolved to cherish each and every moment, hour, day and year of laughter and joy that comes with sharing myself with her.
I have found in my experience that there are no hard, concrete promises given in this life, and that it takes tireless work, attention, communication, understanding, compassion, love and caring in order for good things to grow into great things. I am committed to giving Elizabeth all that I am; To give her all of my love, support and encouragement; To be there for her, to care for her and to root for her at each and every turn; And, as I go forward, I will strive to continue to become the best 'me' I can possibly be.
Thank you again to everyone who has offered support and encouragement to me for all these years. I have the strength and confidence to face the future and the challenges of the road ahead because of the belief entrusted to me by my family and friends.
Thanks again, and may the road rise to meet you...
I have always considered myself very lucky to have been born and raised in the United States of America. I have been thinking a lot lately about the things I take for granted. For instance, I have never, ever gone hungry. I have always had a roof over my head, and growing up, I had access to a top-flight education.
I can say and write what I feel inside without fear of reprisals. I can worship in my own way. I am protected by the rule of law and under the provisions set forth in the United States Constitution. I can cast a ballot for the leadership I believe in. I can follow my career path and make myself into what I have always wanted to be-- an Actor, a Writer, a Director; I fashion myself into what I wish to be: Someone who tells stories for a living, giving people the opportunity to escape, reflect, and see themselves from a different perspective. I can own my own property, and no one can take it away from me.
Most importantly, I am free to be myself.
My shelves are full of books. My refrigerator is stocked with food. My mind and soul are comforted by the knowledge that I have a strong, diverse network of close friends and an incredibly large, wonderfully supportive family. I am part of a wonderful community.
I am the luckiest man I know.
I have always felt that I owe something to this country for the blessings it has bestowed on me. Now I am going to attempt to repay that debt in a very small way. That is why on September 1st, 2009, I will travel to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, to begin training to become a Sailor in The United States Navy Reserve.
I wanted to join the Navy when I was in College, but didn't. After my junior year, I was ready to go. A friend of mine talked to me about the importance of "finishing what you start", and so I finished college and immediately started working in the entertainment business. Somewhere along the line, the Navy got lost in the vast network of roads not taken. Now, some fourteen years later, I am giving myself the opportunity to finally do it, forging a new path in service to my friends, family and community.
I have already told several people about this decision, and--while the news has usually been met with stunned disbelief--the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
When do you leave and how long will you be gone?
I leave September 1st for eight weeks of recruit training in Great Lakes Illinois. After that, I will spend eight More weeks at Class 'A' Technical School in Meridian, Mississippi. I will learn what I need to know to become a Logistics Specialist in the US Navy. My primary duties will involve supply movements. My Rating (Job Title) will be StoreKeeper, or 'SK.'
What is your commitment? For how long?
My commitment is for Eight years-- Six active in the Reserve, drilling one weekend a month and two weeks per year, then two years on 'Individual Ready reserve' status, or 'Standby' mode, whereupon I may be called to serve at any time.
Will you be deployed overseas? For how long?
The short answer is, yes, at some point, although I'm not sure. I am actually thinking of volunteering to go IA, which stands for 'Individual Augmentee', where Navy Personnel fill needs of various branches, regardless of Rating. One may find oneself driving trucks or filling in as undesignated manpower for the Army, Air Force, or Marines.
What does this mean for your Acting career?
We shall see. The drilling schedule is printed a year in advance, and if Local Theatres are willing to work with me and give me an understudy, things should run very smoothly. If anything, my participation in Navy Operations and the need for an understudy may be a way to 'Create Jobs' in the Theatre!! In the meantime, I am thinking very hard about creating my own material-- autobiographical stuff-- which I can do anytime, anywhere, 'a la Slash Coleman.'
You have your college degree-- why didn't you go in as an Officer?
It isn't that simple, actually. While I do have a 4-year degree, it isn't a very competitive degree for OCS (Officer candidate school) selection... especially not in the Reserves. There are no 'Theatre Officers.' However, I am thinking long-term, and the surest way to attempt to become a Navy Public Affairs Officer is to first be able to present a solid Navy record. In other words, can leadership look at me and say "This guy went in enlisted at thirty-five; he has a college degree and look at his performance record, etc." Am I reliable? Responsible? Do I have leadership qualities? Is my OCS package competitive? Basically, I want to do the best job possible in my current rating. Then worry about what comes next.
Did your participation in SEAL Team drive you to enlist?
I'd be lying if I said no. Through SEAL Team, I have been fortunate to meet some of the best, brightest, most inspiring folks around. People like John McGuire and his brother, Rusty, both of whom have served their country with distinction. Several others in SEAL Team have served, or serve currently, including several young men-- Like the 18-Year Old 'Human Dynamo' Hardy Reichel-- who ae on their way to places like West Point and beyond. Being around that kind of dedication day in & day out definitely rubs off on you. And while SEAL Team has provided me with inspiration, it is also preparing me both physically and mentally to meet the challenges of recruit training. When i told John McGuire that I leave for RTC in September, he smiled and said "Oh, man, you're gonna CRUSH it." I am seriously going to run those 18-year old kids into the ground.
What else inspired you to enlist?
My family. because I love them very much. I'm doing this for my Mother & Father, Bebop & Nanny, Jimmy & Judy, Charles & Margaret, Jan & Stu, Uncle Michael, Uncle Larry, all of my Cousins and their children and the vast network of family members on both sides. Hell, I'm even doing it for my biological father, Ralph Jackson, because, although he may not realize it, I love him, too. I'm also doing this for my Grandparents, to honor the sacrifices they made, and for my cousin Shaun, who floors me each day with his amazing strength and courage.
The Navy's Core values are HONOR, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT. I seek to uphold and embody those values from this day forward, each and every day of my life, secure in the knowledge that I am not alone and never will be.
In closing, this will be a new adventure, one that I am looking forward to with great anticipation. I hope to do well, and represent my community favorably at recruit training command and beyond. I have roughly six months to prepare for boot camp, and I am currently part of the US Navy DEP (Delayed Entry Program) I'll post a little more about my experiences as a 'Depper' and the preparation process as I get closer to my step-off date. Thanks for reading this blog, and for all of the ways in which each and every one of you has inspired me to do my best. I'm looking forward to being a part of the World's Finest Navy!!
Here is a short Navy Tribute Video, which shows the proud tradition of the Greatest team on the Planet. Enjoy it, and thanks again.
2008 was a fantastic year for me, filled with new friendships, new challenges and goals, and magical experiences. 2008 paved the way for a fast and furious 2009. I am looking forward to radically expanding my horizons in the coming year-- by doing some things I have always wanted to do-- and crossing some things off of my own private 'bucket list.'
Here are twenty truly memorable things that I had the pleasure to experience this year:
20.) 'THIS WONDERFUL LIFE': Performing this show for folks is a spiritual experience. It is a conversation with the audience, a dialogue, and a celebration of one of the most beloved movies of all time. Every day I hear some positive word of encouragement from someone who shared in the joy of this heartwarming holiday story. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be given this opportunity. Everything that I am-- as an actor and a human being-- is summoned each night and poured into this amazing narrative. I'd also like to say that being given the enormous responsibility of bringing Jimmy Stewart's 'George Bailey' back to life is one that I wholeheartedly embrace. More than just a beloved actor, Mr. Stewart is an icon and an American Hero, and letting him speak through me each night is quite a humbling thing. Thanks to all the crew and creative staff of Barksdale Theatre for helping to make this such a special event. THIS WONDERFUL LIFE runs through January 11th. Please don't miss it. For ticket information, go HERE.
19.) MANNY: I bid farewell to one of my favorite Red Sox players this year... Manny Ramirez. The Sox brass saw fit to unload him and his zany, unpredictable ways, shipping him to the Dodgers in a three-team trade which netted them Jason Bay and a bucket of batting practice balls. Manny was a lovable knucklehead in left field, a guy who played the outfield like a pudgy, uncoordinated little leauger-- but who hit the ball a country mile and had a tireless (pregame) work ethic. I will always remember Manny warming up while listening to his ipod; or stepping into the batter's box carrying water bottles in his back pockets; or disappearing into the left-field wall scoreboard to make a cell phone call between innings; Or flipping his helmet off theatrically as he rounded third, revealing that gnarled mane of dreadlocks. My last fond memory of Manny is his spectacular home-run robbing catch in left field at Camden Yards and subsequent high-five of a Sox fan-- before doubling off the runner at first base. Highlight-reel stuff. Farewell, Manny, and thanks for 2004, 2007 and all of the great memories. See you in pinstripes... Just kidding... Here is his acceptance speech in 2004 after being named World Series MVP, complete with the phrase "You make your own destination..." (He means to say 'Destiny', but hey, it works...)
18.) MY FIRST MARATHON: On March 16th, 2008 I completed my first full Marathon, The Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach-- running 26.2 Miles in 4 Hours, 20 Minutes and 42 Seconds. I trained long and hard, fought through a psoas muscle strain in early January, and learned that I could indeed tackle that grueling distance. My immediate goal in the aftermath of the race was to begin to shave off some serious time in an effort to get close to the Boston Marathon Qualifying time of 3 Hours, 15 Minutes. I would have some serious work to do, but luckily, I found a springboard to a higher level of training later on in the year...
17.) 'INTERSECTIONS': The opportunity opened up for me to work with talented film-maker Lucas Krost a few weeks back, and I jumped at the opportunity. The short film was the brainchild of Pulitzer-prize nominated author and playwright Clay McLeod Chapman and featured Beau Marie as a coked-out rover whose life intersects with a serial killer, played by yours truly. The five-minute short film looks absolutely phenomenal, and it won rave reviews from viewers in the YouTube Sundance 'Project Direct' Film Festival. I look forward to working with Lucas, Beau, Clay and the gang at the Branching Films again. Great guys, true professionals. Special props go out actress Heather Bailey, who endured hours of laying on the wet, cold ground in a wedding dress during a torrential rainstorm at 3am in December. That young lady has heart!! Here is the entire 5-minute film:
16.)THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Love them or hate them, you have to admire their tenacity and teamwork. After narrowly missing the opportunity to close out the 2007 season at 19-0 in Superbowl XLII in February (Causing a month-long spiral of depression for me) the Pats opened their 2008 Campaign by promptly losing All-World QB Tom Brady to a season-ending knee injury. They soon lost All-Pro Safety Rodney Harrison, Veteran Linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Defensive End Adalius Tomas, to name just a few. Many pundits proclaimed the season a lost cause. Boy, were they WRONG. Led by Matt Cassel, a doe-eyed career 'clipboard holder' who hadn't started a game at QB since High School, the Pats found their mojo again, and as of this writing, they stand on the precipice of an 11-5 season and a possible division crown. A few things have to happen for the Pats to make the playoffs, but no matter what, this season has been a testament to the vision and coaching ability of Bill Belichick. The Pats just plow forward, relentlessly, week after week. Every man does his job in concert with the man next to him. The team is more important than any individual. Success depends on everyone doing their part to the absolute best of his ability. Sounds like a pretty cool philosophy. Hm...Where did Coach 'Hoodie' learn all that stuff?? Easy. His Father, Steve Belichick, was the head coach at the US Naval Academy. 'Nuff said.
15.) THE SCOOTER: I get around town by dropping exactly $1.39 cents into my gas tank. Rain or shine, my little Blue Roughhouse 50cc Scooter gets me there. This little guy is so much fun to ride-- Chelsea & Matt at Scoot Richmond helped me make an informed choice that really helped ease the pain at the pump during an insane summer when gas was upwards of four bucks. I'm looking forward to the summer and a possible upgrade to a 110cc bike, but for now, my little blue 'Scooty' is the way to go. Best purchase I ever made!!
14.) MOM'S BIRTHDAY SURPRISE: On October 24th, I drove down to my Mom's house in Wilmington, NC and surprised my Mom at 2am on her birthday. She totally freaked out and we had the best weekend ever. My Aunt Sandy was there, and the three of us had a great weekend tooling around downtown Wilmington and soaking up the sun. I can still see the two sisters strolling along the beach in their bare feet under a sky you'd have to see to believe. One of my favorite memories ever. Mom said it was the best Birthday she's ever had. That makes me happy.
13.) THE BPFL GOES PRIME-TIME: Our quaint little weekly touch-football club got some major pub this year as STYLE WEEKLY Correspondent Mary Burress came out and did an inside-the-huddle feature on the Byrd Park Football league. This is perhaps one of the best-attended seasons we have had lately, and new faces like 'Rookie-of-the-year' Candidate Elliot Lau have made the league fun, competitive and challenging. You can read The STYLE Feature HERE.
12.) 'THE AIR WE SHARE'& 'THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF': Writing a script for Theatre IV is a challenging experience, and it presents numerous opportunities for creative expression. I was fortunate to be given two opportunities this yer to write scripts that toured to Virginia Schools. THE AIR WE SHARE was produced in conjunction with GRTC & I was featured in it as Donald Driver, the goofy-as-all-heck father whose resistance to conservation practices provides many hilarious moments. Then, in late September I watched gleefully as Director Robyn Arthur brought my script for 'THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF' to vibrant life before my very eyes. The show features great music by Julie Fulcher and a lot of laughs. Both shows featured enormously talented casts, and I am proud of the work they all did. I look forward to the next opportunity to write for Theatre IV!!
11.) FACEBOOK: I joined at the vehement insistence of my friend Mary Page, and I cannot imagine my life without it. I have been re-connected to so many important people from my past, it is unbelievable. I have found folks from elementary school, middle school & college. What a great way to see what your friends are up to-- and incredibly addictive, to boot. I was barely able to tear myself away from it to write this blog post...
10.) WALK-ON WEEK: Mark Persinger and I threw out the idea of doing a one-hour 'Walk-on-Week' Sports Talk radio hour for charity on WRNL Sports Radio 910. The proceeds went to support juvenile diabetes research. We had a great time shooting the breeze on the air about everything from Brett Favre to the Red Sox. A month later, we found ourselves hosting a four-hour drive-time show as pinch hitters for regular drive-time host Wes McElroy. I even got to interview Olympic Tennis phenom James Blake!! We had several amazing calls from family members and friends alike, as well as supportive text messages and e-mails. Thanks to everyone who voted for us, or called in! The wave of support was phenomenal. With a little luck, the 'Bleacher Creature' show will be back in 2009. I'm confident that one of these days, we'll have our own show!!!
9.)THE RED SOX COME BACK: Down 7-0 in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, the Sox did what all Boston teams do so well-- they came roaring back from the dead. As JD Drew singled over the head of right fielder Gabe Gross to drive in Kevin Youkilis with the winning run, I was jumping up and down in my living room after midnight, still wearing the BoSox jacket I had on after walking in the door an hour earlier, fresh from an exhausting performance of RICHARD III. They may not have gone to the World Series this year, but just like the Pats, this Red Sox team had heart, guts, and grit-- and I would put them up there with my favorite all-time Boston teams, like the 1987 Celtics, who didn't win it all, but fought through injuries and showed just what they were made of. God, I love sports...
8.) THE CAST & CREW OF 'GUYS AND DOLLS': What a special group of people, and what a fun summer. Every now and then, you get a cast that just 'clicks' all the way through the lineup. That's what we had with 'GUYS AND DOLLS.' We had a few folks in from NYC (Jimmy Glidden, Rita Markova, Rachel Abrams, Chris Stewart) one from LA (Jody Ashworth) and lots of locals and a few newcomers-- and we did everything together. Softball, Karaoke, late-night dinners, Jazz clubs, you name it, we were there. Every now and then, you get a cast that feels like one big happy family. This was it for me, and they gave me the best summer I've had since I was seventeen years old. I wish them all well, wherever they are-- every brilliant, talented generous soul that graced that stage...
7.) MY FIRST COMIC BOOK: On the heels of THE AIR WE SHARE, GRTC gave me the opportunity to pen my first comic book, based on the TEAM RIDEFINDERS characters, which GRTC introduced to get kids thinking about conservation. I wrote the comic, and 'OddGodd Press' artist (and Velocity Comics owner) Pat Godfrey did the amazing artwork. TEAM RIDEFINDERS:CLEAN AIR HEROES was quite a collaboration, and if our schedules work out, Pat and I will be collaborating again soon!!
6.) THE BEASTIE BOYS SHOW: Stunning show, amazing energy, great cause. The B-Boys stunned the crowd as part of their 'GET OUT THE VOTE' tour, and they rocked the house. Adam Horovitz (King Adrock) Left a ticket for me at will call, and I still have it. Here is the opening of the show, with a kick-ass scratch routine by Mix-Master Mike, and a blistering rendition of 'Sure Shot':
5.) THE CELTICS WIN BANNER #17!!!: What can I say that hasn't already been said? To see my beloved Celtics jump from worst-to-first in one year was a stunning turn of events. The 24-point comeback in game four of the NBA Finals paved the way for a 39-point beatdown of the Lakers in Game Six to clinch the banner that we had been waiting 22 years for. Thanks to the tenacious, infectious energy of Kevin Garnett, the Celtics became more than just 'Relevant' again-- they showed the league that a commitment to defense is where championship teams are born. They show no sign of taking their foot off the gas, either. As of this writing, they sit at 27-4, and are primed to defend their championship with pride and passion. As a diehard Celtics fan, what more could I ask for??
4.) THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND MY COUSIN SHAUN: The events of the 2008 election are well-documented. The historic election of Senator Barack Obama is significant on many levels for The United States. Agree with his politics or not, there is a very intelligent, passionate man standing in the on-deck circle, ready to take the ultimate Leadership position as President, and he will need the help of every American to guide us through the treacherous waters of two wars, an economic crisis, environmental challenges, the terrorist threat, and many other obstacles. That part you know.
But, what you may NOT know is that my cousin Shaun graduated at the top of his class at the US Secret Service Academy in July of this past year. Shaun is a former Air Force EOD instructor, and just about the most committed and hard working young man you are likely to meet anywhere. He has our President's back. He is there at the shoulder of the Commander-in-Chief, and he is ready to do his part to ensure the safety and security of President Obama and his family. I could not be more proud of my cousin-- he has inspired me to think long and hard about the true meaning of service and sacrifice. Shaun is an American hero, whether he knows it or not, and I hope he knows just how proud we all are of him. We love him very, very much.
3.) RICHARD III: Every now and then a role comes along that you feel you just HAVE to play. RICHARD III was that role for me. Inspired by the amazing vision of Director James Ricks, and featuring a top-flight cast, RICHARD III was a journey inside the mind of a mad tyrant, and it gave me a chance to flex my muscles and really get down and dirty. I loved every second of it and I hope to get the chance to do it again someday. I know I will. Thanks again to Henley Street Theatre and every single one of my cast mates. It was an experience I'll never forget.
2.) THE RICHMOND MARATHON: I ran my second Marathon on November 15th, and I blew my own expectations away. Back in March of 2008, I ran my first Marathon in 4 Hours, 20 Minutes and 42 Seconds. This time around, however, I ran the same distance in 3 Hours, 20 Minutes and 44, meaning I cut almost ONE HOUR off of my Marathon time. Unbelievable stuff. I had one of the best days of my life, and I sprinted the last 100 yards across the finish line to a raucous ovation from the thousands of people lining the streets. It was an absolute 'Goosebump' Moment, and I got within 5 Minutes of the Qualifying time for Boston. Running Richmond was an expression of love for this city-- I am absolutely in love with Richmond, and I thank her for adopting me. Thanks to this Marathon, I have renewed confidence, and I hope to make my next Marathon even better. This year I hope to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC (In tribute to my Grandfather and My Uncle Mike, both Marines), and the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton Pa (As a gift to my Dad, who worked at Steamtown).
People ask me "How in the heck did you cut ONE HOUR off your Marathon time??" The answer?? I ran faster. But seriously, that question bring us to the number one thing that happened to me this year...
1.) SEAL TEAM PHYSICAL TRAINING: I wish I would have found this group five or ten years ago. I look forward to each workout with child-like anticipation. The instructors are incredible, the membership wide, diverse, supportive and caring, and the founder and CEO, former Navy SEAL John McGuire, is a hero to me and a dear, dear friend.
If you've been looking for a way to get back in shape, look no further. SEAL Team PT is the best fitness option you will ever find. STPT Helped me cut an hour off of my Marathon time, and it can help you reach whatever fitness goals you want to achieve. Come to a 'bring-a-friend day,' ask me when the next one is, and I'll hook you up. for more info, go their website, which is located HERE.
SEAL Team PT has helped me in countless ways. I'm more confident, stronger, faster, and have more endurance than I did was I was eighteen. I'm in the best shape of my life, and I'm facing 2009 with head up, eyes forward, showing confidence and optimism.
...2008 Taught me that, as Kevin Garnett said, "Anything is Possible!!" It also taught me about the transformative power of friendship, and the importance of teamwork and setting goals. I had a blast in 2008, and I look forward to living 2009 to the fullest. I hope to squeeze every moment out of this life with joy and gratitude.
Thank you for reading my blog, for being my friend, for supporting me. I sincerely feel like the 'Richest man in town.'
In 2006, I worked on Israel Horovitz's new play The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath at Gloucester Stage Company in Gloucester, Mass. I had the good fortune to work under Mr. Horovitz's direction, and during my five weeks in Gloucester, I was able to get to know him and his wonderful family. When I came back to Richmond after the run of 'Bonnard', I plunged right into rehearsals for the one-man show I AM MY OWN WIFE at Firehouse. As I made my way out the door to go to the theatre for the opening night of 'WIFE' at FTP, I checked the mail. In the mailbox was a package from Israel, containing the DVD recording of 'Bonnard.' As I opened the DVD case, I noticed there was something written on the DVD in black magic marker. "What is this??" I thought. As I looked closer, I saw that it was a signature-- the word ADROCK emblazoned like a graffiti tag across the DVD itself.
I just about fell over.
See, ADROCK is the rap name of Mr. Horovitz's son, Adam, one of the three members of perhaps my favorite musical group ever-- THE BEASTIE BOYS.
I can tell you exactly where I was when each major Beastie Boys album came out. When License to Ill came out in 1986, I was thirteen years old living temporarily in Factoryville PA, playing hoops in my dad's gravel driveway. When 1989's Paul's Boutique Debuted, I was a moody sophomore trying to get acclimated to my new surroundings at Pittsfield High School in MA. By the time Check Your Head hit in the spring of 1992, I was a hyperkinetic Freshman at Wagner College on Staten Island. 1994's Ill Communication provided party music for many a beer-soaked collegiate throwdown during the summer before my senior year. Soon followed the punk-themed EP Aglio E Olio and the retro-themed archive Some Old Bullshit, both of which came out as I was navigating the ins and outs of living in NYC. Four years later, Hello Nasty was the soundtrack to my inaugural summer at The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama in Manteo, North Carolina, where I met many lifelong friends. By 2004's To The Five Boroughs, I was firmly entrenched in the Richmond Theatre Scene, and last summer I enthusiastically cranked The Mix-Up on my way out to Hanover Tavern to perform The Odd Couple Nightly.
I have always admired the members of the group-- Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, and Mike Diamond-- because of their refusal to sit still; Their tireless creativity, humor and energy pops in every beat and goofy lyric, and their ever-evolving musical range --combined with their strong social conscience --has inspired me to no end. They are genuinely nice fellas who care deeply about the world in which we live. I like that. It resonates with me. A lot.
I have always loved the Beasties, from their :44-second cameo in KRUSH GROOVE to the day I opened that DVD from Israel and left a twenty-minute rambling, Incoherent 'Thank You' on his phone. Growing up, folks would ask me "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and I'd say "Easy-- The fourth Beastie Boy!!"
And yet, through all those years of rocking out to their fresh beats and funky grooves-- I was never fortunate enough to see them in concert. Not once.
Until last night.
The Beasties played headliner to a fantastic show at The Richmond Coliseum as part of their six-date Rock The Vote concert tour through all the Major swing states. Also on the bill were Nora Jones, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow and hip-hop artist SantoGold. (She was fresh!!)
The tickets were left by Adam Horovitz at the behest of Father Israel, and all I can say to both men is THANK YOU. In fact, this is the e-mail I received earlier in the day before the show:
"so..you can get your tickets and passes and stuff around 6-7:00... go to the "will call" box office at the front of the building... you'll be on the Beastie Boys guests list. see you tonight... adam"
I, Scott Wichmann, geeky fanboy from western Massachusetts, actually found myself on the freaking Beastie Boys' Guest list last night... which totally spun my head around Linda-Blair style. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever Imagine that his hip-hop highness The 'King Adrock' would be leaving me tickets to a B-Boy show. Holy Cow. I had the time of my life last night. And while I was there, I hooked up with local singer/actor Alia Bisharat (and her brother, Jake) and Actor/Writer/Fimmaker/Spoken-Word Poet Jude Fageas, the three of whom were there taking in the concert-- and we just had the best time.
The fellas really, really know how to put on a great show, and they were having just as much fun (If not more) than we were. I was totally going insane, rapping along with every lyric and sample. I was virtually oblivious to everything else. As a matter of fact, this fairly attractive blonde woman standing next to Alia said of me "Hey, Wasn't he in SCAPINO at Barksdale??""Hey!! Weren't you in SCAPINO at Barksdale?? was that you?? You were great!!" And I barely took my eyes of the stage, mumbling something like "Uh...Uh Huh...Thankssss...." before jumping back into the lyrics of 'Sure Shot.' It was a really, really great evening.
I didn't get to meet the B-Boys last night-- they were probably really tired after the great show they gave us-- but I have no doubt I'll get the chance someday. What I'd really love to do is play pick-up basketball with them someday. Can we make that happen?? Anyone?? Israel??? Adam?? You game??
Anyway, Thanks again, B-Boys, for a great performance. It was a dream come true.
Here's a similar sample of how the show started last night, with a kick-ass Mix-Master Mike Solo Scratch routine. This video is from Glasgow in 1999, but it is fresh as HAIL:
I leave you with a really fun and easy to remember mantra from a Beastie Boys tune. May it inspire you to have a fun and prosperous day:
Dip Dip Dive, So-Socialize Open up your ears and clean out your Eyes, If you learn to love you're in for a surprise, It could be nice to be alive!!!
RICHARD III is open, and we have been getting a great deal of publicity lately. The reviews have been very positive, and the houses are starting to really pick up. We received a standing ovation on Saturday night, a raucous round of applause for a fantastic ensemble of actors who are doing terrific work night in and night out. We run until October 18th, and the houses are filling up!! Don't miss your chance to be a part of this amazing production.
I was recently featured in an interview on WTVR-6's Virginia This Morning with hosts Julie Bragg and fellow Bay-Stater, Red Sox Fan and SEAL Team alum, Greg McQuade.
(quick side-note: Greg won an Emmy for a piece on SEAL Team CEO and Founder John McGuire's battle back from paralysis.)
Greg and Julie were very gracious to afford me the opportunity to speak about this once-in-a-lifetime role. It is a nice, informative interview. Check it out:
For a quick rundown of the 'ink' we've been getting, look no further than this blog post-- your one-stop shop for all the RIII news that's fit to print.
If you're unfamiliar with what we're doing out at Henley Street Theatre, I urge you to check out these links to three separate feature stories on the concept of our production of RICHARD III. Here are links to some interesting and informative reads from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Style Weekly and Richmond.com. You can also read a great feature on Director James Ricks and myself in Richmond Marquee-- you can do yourself a favor and subscribe to this great Theatre Resource by going here!! (I love you, Lisa!!)
I also wrote a short piece for URGE Magazine on the process of creating my version of Richard Gloucester. You can peruse that here.
As for the reviews, we've gotten two very positive ones from the RTD's Susan Haubentstock and Style's Dave Timberline. A third review, from Richmond.com's Joan Tupponce, was heard on NPR last tuesday; I'm working on finding either a link or a transcript --or both.
More information can also be found at the Henley street Theatre website. You'll find Ticket prices, showtimes, show photos and much more info regarding Henley Street's 2008-2009 season.
Meantime, we hope you'll join us for the remaining performances of RICHARD III. You'll be glad you did.
Thanks for reading!! I hope to see you on Henley Street!!
I have to tell you about my friend James. He is perhaps the hardest-working, motivated and knowledgeable person I have ever had the pleasure to work with. And I am very proud to call him my dear friend.
A few years back, when we were doing the run of SCAPINO!, James pitched the idea of directing a multimedia production of RICHARD III, and asked if I would be up for it. I jumped at the possibility, and hoped that one day it would become a reality.
James then wrote up a proposal, solicited my input, and shopped it to Theatres all over town --and beyond. He literally burned down the phone lines to producers and Artistic Directors daily, traveling back to Richmond from DC on his lone day off per week to hold meetings, craft budgets, and plan strategies for making this thing happen. He slept on countless couches, endured bleary-eyed late-night jaunts back & forth, lost sleep, called or texted me in the middle of the night with an amazing new takes on scenes, or TV Spots, or monologue choices; He e-mailed dozens of script edits and probably drank 100 gallons of Starbucks coffee. Everytime I would see him, he would be wrinkled, unshaven, slightly crazed, but always possessed of an easy smile and the same incredible sense of fun and possibility.
Through tenacity, perseverance, timing, and luck, he finally found the right theatre (Henley Street) found a video producer (G2 Productions) and assembled a first-rate cast of some of Richmond's finest acting talent. Next thing I knew, we were shooting the multimedia spots that James came up with. less than three weeks later, we were in rehearsal. As I write this, we open in just under three hours.
I am amazed, and know not what to say.
James Ricks is the backbone of this enterprise; He is the beating heart at the center of this project, the 'Straw-that-stirs-the-drink' as it were, and the guy who keeps us honest onstage. His self-motivation and determination stun me, and his love for Shakespeare and good storytelling are infectious. We have all been given the gift of James' time, talent, humor, and brilliance.
One thing about James that strikes me is his immense heart. This fellow has a personal humility and a warm friendliness that puts all of us at ease. He also inspires us to do our best, motivates us to take risks an make bold choices. I have no doubt that James is going places, as both an actor (a brilliant, first-rate one, at that) and as a director. I could totally see James as the AD of his own theatre someday. The community that lands him in that position will be a very lucky one.
So tonight, all of our efforts go towards making James' vision of RICHARD III a reality. I am so thrilled and blessed to have found such a true, dear friend in Mr. Ricks. I can only hope it is the latest in many future collaborations with him.
Thanks, James, and enjoy your drunken stupor tonight, my brother-- You've earned it.
And, Go Canucks!!...That is, until my Bruins beat their asses red.
When I was kid, I used to watch The SuperFriends on television. religiously. I never missed an episode. I wanted to be a part of the team back when I was eight years old sitting in front of the TV in feeted pajamas and eating way-too-sugary cereal. Little did I know then, the SuperFriends actually exist in real life, and now I'm one of them.
Welcome to SEAL Team Physical Training.
Oh, man. I'm feeling really good lately. Really Good. I'm in the best shape of my life. I have been doing the regular SEAL Team workouts just about every day since June, and it has made a huge difference in my energy level and outlook on, well, everything. I've also noticed that in just under four months, I have gotten stronger and faster. I can't wait to see what the next four months will bring.
On August 23rd, I ran the Patrick Henry Half-Marathon in 1:31:11. I felt like I was flying throughout the race, and I got progressively stronger as the miles went by. It also helped that the temperature was in the low 70s with a light breeze. I was initially shooting for 1:37 as a goal time, figuring that 1:45 would be an approximate finish time for me.
Little did I know that the SEAL Team training-- where we basically run one type of race or another every single day-- prepared my body and mind to almost go on 'auto-pilot.' Ninety-one minutes and eleven seconds later, I had blown my own expectations out of the water. If I can do that once, maybe I can do it several times!! As Instructor Maguire says "It's amazing what the body can do when it wants to."
I want it to want to run the Boston Marathon. And a 50-miler. And a 100-miler. And the 3,750 Mile Great Wall of China?? Who knows??
Oh, and The best thing about race day?? No push ups!!... By the way, I was EXTREMELY motivated that day; It was almost otherworldly. Supernatural. I don't know...
The SEAL Team workouts have been fantastic, and getting to know the folks at SEAL Team has been an absolute joy. My 'extended family' just got bigger by about 300 People. A few of them are loyal theatre-goers, and others, such as STPT Founder and CEO John Maguire and his Wife, Tracey (as well as their five beautiful children) have become new Richmond Theatre fans after seeing GUYS & DOLLS-- TWICE!!
The door swings the other way, too!! I've gotten some Richmond Theatre folks eagerly involved in SEAL Team-- GUYS & DOLLS 'Havana Siren' Mary Page Nance and her father, Charles, recently graduated from SEAL Team class 249--HOOYA!!
A brief word about Mary Page-- of who I am very proud: I talked at length to several people in our cast about enrolling in an STPT 'Basic Fitness Class,' and while many hemmed and hawed, MP dove right in with enthusiasm and fearlessness. Next thing I knew, she was the 'President' of her class of 20 or so people. She had to go back to school at the end of August, (She studies modern dance at SUNY Purchase) but the people at SEAL Team still ask about her. She made one heck of an impression in a really short span of time!
And now, thanks to Mary Page's endorsement, the tide is turning... Last week, Dancers Elliot Lau and Kat Legault from G&D came to a 'Bring a Friend' day (As they say at STPT: "Bring a friend Thursday, lose a friend Friday")and, as I understand, both are enrolling in the new class which starts on October 6th.
I've also gotten in-demand actor Landon Nagel out to a workout-- and I've talked to to others, such as my 'little sister,' Audra Honaker, and fellow RICHARD III cast-mates Frank Creasy, Stephen Ryan and Ken Moretti about coming out to get dirty with us.
I hope they will, because honestly-- SEAL Team is the best gift I have ever given myself. On my first BAFD workout, I did 37 sit-ups in two minutes. In just under four months, that number has risen to 107-- and climbing. We recently had a member celebrate his 76th birthday by doing 76 push ups and running through a giant banner that read 'HAPPY 76th BIRTHDAY, STUKEY!!' What a gratifying and joyful moment, shared by almost 200 wet and dirty people at Dogwood Dell at 6:45 am. It is moments like that which motivate me to do the best I can...I want to be in as good-- if not better-- shape when I'm 76 years old!! I look forward to the challenge of making every workout better than the last each day, and taking those fitness gains with me out into the world of road racing. I hope to get close to 3:30 in the Richmond Marathon on November 15th, and keep shaving seconds off to get that Boston Qualifying time of 3:15 in view...
As far as rehearsal goes, RICHARD III is shaping up to be something really special and unique. James Ricks' ambitious and innovative staging and encyclopedic knowledge of Shakespearean verse-- along with his insane sense of humor-- make it a joy to come to work every day. The cast is also filled with talented, brilliant actors who are also great people. Melissa Johnson-Price is someone whose work I have admired from the audience on many occasions, and working opposite her is a real pleasure... She brings every moment to vibrant, active life, and in her hands, Queen Elizabeth is no pushover. Adam Mincks' 'Buckingham' has just the right amount of slippery ambition, and Margaret Joyner, Jeanie Rule and Rebecca Muhleman are fantastic as Queen Margaret, The Duchess of York, and Lady Anne, respectively. We also have a top-notch Stage Management and tech staff, and as we approach tech week, the challenge of integrating the multimedia component will be one we all look forward to. We open in one week; I can hardly believe it is coming up so fast. I'm going to enjoy and savor every moment of this opportunity...
Other than SEAL Team and RIII, I've basically been watching Episodes of Doctor Who on YouTube (The best show on television), tinkering with my two fantasy football teams, riding my Scooter everywhere, playing BPFL Football on Sundays, and keeping a way-too-close eye on the Sox and Pats... Man, this is the life!!
While I have a little bit of down-time now--the exact opposite of the harried, intense schedule I had in March and April-- My work schedule is falling nicely into place for the next few months... I expect to be VERY busy, very soon. I will open THIS WONDERFUL LIFE at Barksdale on November 28th, then direct I HAVE A DREAM for Theatre IV in January, before starting rehearsals for Bo Wilson's new musical MONA'S ARRANGEMENTS later that month. I will also be directing THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SIMPLE MACHINES for Theatre IV in March, and there is a good chance I'll be at the helm for TAKE ME OUT at Richmond Triangle Players in May-- that is a story I am very eager to tell!!
I also want to take a second just to pass along a few links-- First, I have been listening quite religiously-- to Dave Mangano's Richmond-based Scootercast Podcast. Dave is an avid 'Scooterist' and Vespa owner, who travels quite a bit, and his podcasts are informative, unique and fun. He has a really pleasant voice and on-air demeanor, and he is very interested in 'Scooter-People' throughout the community and the larger world beyond the '804.' You owe it to yourself to give him a listen!! Just click on this link!!
And I would be terribly remiss if I neglected to mention the Henley Street Theatre Website, which features tons of information and links to press stories about our upcoming production of RICHARD III. I wrote a feature for URGE Magazine about RIII, and that link-- as well as showtimes and ticket prices--are available by going here. Special Thanks to Jessica Fulbright and Jacquie O'Connor for their tireless work getting the show some serious publicity. FYI, I will be on WTVR Channel 6 next Thursday, September 25th at 9am to talk about RIII. I hope you'll tune in.
That's about it for the updates-- Everyone have a great week!!
Scott Wichmann is a skinny, gap-toothed, yet Don Knotts-ishly endearing native of Pittsfield, Massachussetts, and a 1995 graduate of Wagner College (Staten Island, NY). He is a working-class actor, singer, comedian, and writer who fires off letters to the editor of his local newspaper & to his congressional representatives like some disgruntled sixty-five year old man. Scott plays Softball in the summer, touch football in the fall and winter, and his Sony Playstation all year-round. He is obsessed with the Red Sox, Star Wars, and Kroger brand 'Shells n' Cheddar.' Scott drives a sweet scooter around town and
works out with his fellow SEAL Team Physical Training Teammates. He hopes to one day run the Boston Marathon.