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10.28.2011 | | Posted at 03:57 PM

A Look At the Documentary screening this weekend with Theatre Gigante

By Russ Bickerstaff
Strange Connections (Biography) (Spalding Gray has a strange way of connecting up with things . . . just on the outside of popular entertainment, the guy tends to have strange, little connections with a lot of people. I was first introduced to the name by my father, who told me about working onstage with  him as an intern in the Goodman Theatre . . . and in doing some research for this week, I watched a bit of Gray'€™s Anatomy--€”the Steven Soderbergh-produced film adaptation of his monologue of the same name. And I'm watching this thing and just as I recall from having seen it years ago, it's about a retinal issue that he’d run into . . . a problem with his retina. Interesting thing about seeing that now is that . . . it's years later and I have also had retinal problems—mine due to an attack on me a little over a year ago by a man with no pigment in his right eye . . . long story . . . anyway: I'm watching Gray'€™s Anatomy and Spalding Gray gets to talking about the first retinal specialist he'€™d been to see when he'd found out that there was a problem with his eye--a retinal specialist named Dr. Mandel. Weird. The first specialist I saw about my retinal issue was a guy named Dr. Mandel--€”only this wasn't in Manhattan, it was in Milwaukee. So my father was onstage with Spalding Gray, is it possible that I was also diagnosed by the same retinal specialist? A quick search on the internet turns up . .Dr. Mandel in Milwaukee . . . could it be? He'd gotten his residency in Wisconsin, but that was back in the '€˜80'€™s. . . A bit further down the list on the search engine and it would appear as the ocular field is awash in Dr. Mandels. There's also one in Virginia, one in California and one in New York . . .  they're not all retinal specialists, but the name seems staggeringly common. So maybe it'€™s not the same guy (probably not) . . . still . . . kind of a weird connection.) And Everything Is Going Fine In addition to Gray’s Anatomy, after Gray'€™s passing, Soderbergh also directed And Everything Is Going Fine retrospective on the life of Spalding Gray that will be screened this weekend as a part of Theatre Gigante's Shades of Gray festival. I’d loved Soderbergh’s work for a long time . . . it occurs to me that I'€™d probably seen Sex, Lies and Video Tape a long time ago, but I guess that for me the first time I ever really acknowledged him as an artist was when a friend of mine introduced my to Schizopolis. That was a film that had developed a kind of genius through sheer irrationality. At their best, Soderbergh'€™s films strike a kind of genius

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