Bob Paisley may be a little tired. He’s had a lot on his plate lately.
But then he always does.
Paisley, co-founder of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, spent most of August in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe performing a one-man play called “Bill Clinton Hercules.” Directed by his old pal Guy Masterson, whom local theatergoers have seen performing as part of the annual British Invasion, and written by Rachel Mariner, the show seemed to attract positive attention.
Mariner, an American lawyer living in England, was part of Clinton’s defense team during the Paula Jones scandal.
The play, which Paisley said was continually rewritten during the run of 25 performances at Edinburgh, is a sort of fictional TED talk with Clinton expounding on politics, poetry and the future.
“First of all, I guess they do things a little differently over there,” Paisley said. “The space was booked at the Fringe in Edinburgh before we even had a script. Guy said, ‘Don’t worry, we do it all the time.’ It was a challenge for me, and I felt we had an important show and an important topic. … We got some great notices. I got a five-star review and a couple of four-stars.”
Paisley said that as the play was reshaped it got better. He said any success could be credited to Masterson, Mariner and himself working as a team.
“So we have a writer with a real knowledge of the topic and the subject, and we have a director who is really knowledgeable about that particular genre,” he said. “And my job was to look pretty and walk and talk — and maybe bring some authentic Southern sensibilities. So the three of us bringing our particular talents to it is what made it a success.”
Paisley said the plan is to keep working on the play, which he hopes to perform for Kansas City audiences at some point.
Since 2011 Paisley has produced the so-called British Invasion each December under his Central Standard Theatre banner, inviting British and Australian solo performances and small-cast shows to perform at the MET. This year he’s changing the name by dropping “British” and simply calling it The Invasion. The name change allows him to bring artists from anywhere.
He’s also moving it from December to October, sandwiching it between the first and second MET shows of the season.
He has lined up one Brit for the event: Nuala McKeever of Belfast, Northern Ireland. McKeever is a comedian and newspaper columnist who’ll be performing “In the Window,” a piece about a woman who decides that a bottle of rose wine and a bowl of pills might be a good way to check out — until she’s interrupted by various people, including an intruder and a cop.
Also performing will be Canadian actor John Jay in “Hamlet (the Notes),” written and directed by Dan Jemmett, who was born in London but is based in Paris. The show is a follow-up to Jemmett’s earlier piece, “Macbeth (the Notes),” in which a director, alone on stage, critiques his actors following a performance.
Paisley said he also plans to bring in a play from Los Angeles called “Years to the Day,” about two men who have known each other for decades and have casually reconnected via social media. Then they decide to meet for coffee, and the conversation takes a surprising turn.
Paisley hasn’t nailed down the precise dates, but he expects performances to begin Oct. 9-10. The Invasion would run a week.