Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, May 22, 2001


Mark Pinkosh and Godfrey
Hamilton make a return visit
to Hawaii before taking their
new drama on the road in Europe

By John Berger

After four years in Los Angeles and roles in four films, Mark Pinkosh describes himself as "the king of the cutting room floor."

After being left on the cutting room floor one too many times, Mark Pinkosh returns to the stage.

"I had a great four-month contract to be in 'The Man on the Moon' with Jim Carrey -- four months on the set every day with Danny DeVito and Courtney Love, and it was just an amazing group of people -- but when you see the movie, there's just a three-second shot of me standing in a crowd, and that's it. So I made my $20,000 and got to collect unemployment afterward, but I wasn't IN the movie."

The same thing happened when Pinkosh was cast in "The Mod Squad" and two other films.

"Four movies, and in not one of them do I get a credit, although I do get checks," he said.

For this he left the Hawaii theater scene?

Pinkosh is currently taking a break from Hollywood and getting back into theater. He and playwright Godfrey Hamilton are back in Hawaii this week for the American premiere of "Don't Forget Me." The show opens at Mark's Garage tomorrow and plays through Sunday. Pinkosh and Hamilton then head off for a European tour that includes summer dates in Italy and an extensive tour of England and Scotland that will continue into the fall.

Pinkosh was responsible for much of Honolulu's sharpest theater when his Starving Artists Theatre Company (SATCo) was based here. Hamilton contributed several original works to the repertoire before he and Pinkosh moved to Los Angeles. "Don't Forget Me" was written by Hamilton as a commissioned piece for Paisley Arts of Scotland and was inspired by what he and Pinkosh have observed of the underground status of gay men in the film industry.

"Godfrey always tends to write about the place we're in, and there's been a lot of interest in his writing because of all the awards he's won in Europe, but (Hollywood doesn't) know what to do with it. They get scared because there's gay content in it, but they want it because they know it's good and it's winning awards.

"Hollywood just pretends it (homosexuality) doesn't exist, which is so ironic because the thing we've noticed over and over again is that the vast majority of the casting directors, the producers and the agents we've met are all gay, and none of them want anything to do with gay work.

"We staged 'Road Movie' in Los Angeles for about two months, and everybody who was anybody in the business sent 'their people' to see it. A friend of ours is a pretty big mucky-muck at HBO and told us everybody loved it but they didn't know what to do with it. There's no precedent on what you do with our work because everything has been so homogenized. So, out of all this, Godfrey and I started formulating a show about what we were experiencing."

"Don't Forget Me" is about the experiences of two men in Hollywood. One is a successful and cynical insider who knows how things work. The other is a young idealist fresh off the bus who's convinced he can break into the movie business, become a star, make great, meaningful films -- and also be openly gay. Hamilton uses a third character, a B-movie actress from the late '40s, to provide another perspective on the unending struggle between idealism and pragmatism.

"It says a lot about image and idea and perspective, but it's mostly about the compromising of ideals. That's the thing everybody can relate to, whether it's in the theater or motion picture industry or at the law firm or the school where you're teaching at," Pinkosh says of the play's broader relevance.

"Everybody has certain compromising of their own ideals that they end up making when they're with other people who have different perspectives."

He adds that one reason "Don't Forget Me" did well in the United Kingdom last year was because the situations and issues transcend specific issues of race, religion, ethnic identity or sexual orientation.

"Our stage work is pretty well regarded, particularly in Europe, and known for always addressing a gay perspective, but people can relate to it on so many levels. How far do you compromise your beliefs? That's an issue whether you're from Pakistan or black or a businessman -- gay or straight."

Many people still don't get it. A film with a predominately African-American cast is a "black movie." Any book by an Asian American is seen as ethnic literature.

"We pitch our shows all over the country, and we actually will have these allegedly liberal, well-grounded arts organizations say, 'Oh, we did our gay piece last season.' OK, so did you do your white Jewish writer piece last season as well? Because chances are you did -- several times!

"'Road Movie' is published through HarperCollins, and we've gone into bookstores and looked for it under 'Hamilton' with the plays, and it's not there, and then we go into Gay History or Gay Studies or Special Interest, and there it is! I think people are far more intelligent than that, but it becomes chicken-and-egg after a while. Did the marketing people create the problem by marketing it this way, or were people always this way and that's why they market it this way?"

Whatever the answer to that conundrum may be, Pinkosh says it's great be performing again in Honolulu and then be able to take a show on the road.

"It's what we really like to do. I miss having that set audience we were so fond of in Honolulu for nine years. It's nice to see the same people over and over, and it's nice to bring work to the same group, but it's a whole different ballgame playing different cities, different towns and seeing how different parts of the world respond to the same piece. That's fun (too). It's feast or famine for us.

"We're either living out of a suitcase complaining that we want to go home, or we're sitting around the garden going, 'I wish we had some work,' but we've been pretty blessed."

On Stage

What: "Don't Forget Me"
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Mark's Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.
Tickets: $18 general; $15 for students and seniors; $20 at the door
Information: 528-0506

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