Thursday, September 08, 2016

THIS IS PHI BULANI

Well, it being the 50th Anniversary year to the day that Star Trek aired; Sept 8th, 1966, has me reminiscing about the genesis of my own career as an actor, and performer.  I was still pretty young when Star Trek was first aired, and I actually probably first saw it only after it aired in syndication.  I loved that opening theme, with Shatner's voice over and the launch of the Enterprise towards me, matched with the swell of the Alexander Courage's composition, so unearthly, siren like calling and beckoning, and that beat behind... pure fantasy. Sometimes it was too much and I would leave the room scared and run back in with equal excitement.  Anyways, like the 66 Batman series, Star Trek was so much a part of my play impulse as a child, the action and excitement pulled me in, and I would replay the show in my room, or back yard, saying all the lines of dialogue I could remember.  Then came Kirk's stunts, his double Kick was a tough one and demanded a lot of practice, it started on the bed of course built in trampoline right there, eventually I worked my way up to a solid ground for take off and landing.
A few years back I had an interview for a bit of PR with an independent,  there's no active link so here's an excerpt relating to Star Trek many years after practicing those double kicks. 
In his own words: 
Q: So looking at your bio, you've done some interesting roles, what do you feel contributes to the kind of range and roles you've performed?
(pause)
A:  Hmmm, well, I feel I was very lucky to have started out with a comedy troupe.  It felt a little high wire at the time because it was like scripted improv in many ways, in fact we managed quite a following for ourselves based around the popular TV series and icons of Star Trek... and we called this monster A Celebration of Star Trek...  and we might have lacked a certain kind of legality while doing it (laughs) because we basically took the entire script, transcribing it  by watching the episode and then put it on stage, directed, with props, and performed it live... what was once presented on TV.
Q: When was this? 
A: Early 90's... ish... internet was just loading (laughs) 
Q: (I laugh) Wasn't there groups being shut down at the time?   
A: Well, yeah... that wasn't us.
Q: Was this your idea? 
A: Not getting shut down?  Sure.  (laughs)  Actually, this super creative guy; Michael McKinlay, who had already breathed life and spirit into the London Theatre scene with Soap on a Rope and a legit theatre called TheatreFaux as well, well he was also the brainchild behind this whole Star Trek shootin' match, he was always musing that we'd get shut down, 'cause as you just mentioned it had happened to a troupe in Toronto, and Trek was in the papers with the birth of Trekkies and Shatner's famous "get a life" quote, and those guys in Toronto weren't using actual Roddenberry stories or DC Fontana scripts!   They were pretty broad and playing with the whole thing a bit too much on the cheap side, we played it straight so the humour came out of a love, plus we were in London, and so maybe that helped us fly under the radar.
Q: You're pretty lit  up.
A: Yeah well, halcyon days! In those early days... man, some of the more eclectic and intimate venues we played included not only the local bars, but our first performance was the underground garage of the building TheatreFaux was renting on Richmond Street in London, next to Joe Kools, (I think Kools is still there in London)  I mean you know your passions are lit when you're using car headlights for stage lighting (laughs) we were cutting our teeth you know, as performers and actors, with 200 people lined up and then crammed into this garage!  Awww man it was wild, (laughs) We had this keyboard player doing the music live, and a guy, Marco Burak; I think it was, running through the crowd, with a model of the Enterprise on a bike helmut, while the theme played.  
Q: Sounds hilarious.
A: Aww man, I can still feel the rush... so in a short time we were invited to perform at the Second City space on their dark nights, and we continued to grow quite a following along the way, we ran for years, and our performances sold out every monday! So once a week we were like the Kings of the London Entertainment scene.   
Q: Who did you play.  
A: Well, some of my favourites were Kirk's double and Bones, we even moved on to TNG, and I got to play Data and Picard.  Our credits would read something like; PHI BULANI as Brent Spiner as Lt Data.
Q: Funny! Tell me about this next thing? 


So there it is the beginning of my self reflection about the impact of Star Trek on it's 50th Anniversary, and while it wasn't the first thing I ever performed, for me those were Halcyon days, and I owe them all to to this glorious phenomenon known as Star Trek. 




  





















#StarTrek50  #LiveLongAndProsper #ActorsLife #Batman66

https://twitter.com/mystaphi



Head shot Photo Credit: Denise Grant Photography

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tonight: 12 hrs from now 
8:30pm -9:30pm 
#TakeAction Light Candles Go Acoustic Sing & Remember Loved Ones 





David Wasse



Walter Bulani 


http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canada-set-to-go-dark-for-earth-hour-1.2301713


Earth Hour is the Best














Friday, March 27, 2015

THIS IS PHI BULANI

                                                     Celebrating World Theatre Day

"It's with a kind of sadness that I celebrate World Theatre Day, as we very recently lost a colleague and friend who for me embodied the vey best kind of thespian; warm hearted, with a passionate mind  and a lightness that was both fun and full of gravitas... on any note... maybe it was his wonderful baritone voice that denoted a poets understanding of whatever it was he was saying, rich and velvety, with Oak like strength... sounds like I'm describing an exquisite wine, or secret honeyed elixir of Kings, but man your ear would just drink it in... and it felt as though you were working with Richard Burton, and working with David Wasse was just like that, it was this exceptional experience that transported you and the audience at the same time.  I first met David when I was cutting my stage teeth in London Ontario... we met through a wonderful confluence of talent that seemed to have the stars align above us, in galaxies bold that would transport us well beyond our immediate frontiers in and into the future when we performed selected scripts from previously aired episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation, which for us became a huge cult hit in London Theatre Scene called A Celebration of Star Trek.  

In those days, I was so crazy serious about acting man, with my face covered in thick Metallic gold and silver make up... I would become DATA... well, one hot summer night the air con was down, and at the peak of the Space drama, Wasse' skin cap had come loose under the heat of the lights, the audience was howling so loudly at the contrast as he kept the operatic heights of the scene aloft... with all nuance of Patrick Stewart, and all the charm that was innately his, and the blocking was such that all I could do was observe his skull cap with the utmost of curiosity as it was springing up at the corners, with every dramatic syllable that issued forth under David's command, and so with every nerve going... the spirit gum would not keep those corners down under that heat, and we played that scene as written, intensely straight, and operatically high; there we were; me covered in thick metallic Data make up and David with this crazy skin cap adorned with minimal Picard hair, and   the audience was howling with laughter, howling so hard that we could hardly hear ourselves, and when we finished the scene and got into the wings, we were looking at each other, and David looks at me quizzically and a bit annoyed, and he says to me "what were you doing out there?  What on earth were they laughing at?  So I turned him around to the mirror, (still in character) and at the precise moment he belly laughed so hard that his cap actually sprang off his head, the spirit gum sticking to only his fore head... leaving the cap over his eyes... he says... "Oh you wonderful Ham, I know exactly what you were doing... you just took it all in didn't you, well done!" and then with a wonderfully deprecating sense of self he continued... and here I thought I was being brilliant"  Which of course he was being brilliant and that's why that scene was just killing it that night, well you can just imagine the fun he had with this little discovery for the rest of the show... especially when he later falls under the intoxicating spell of love with Doctor Beverly Crusher or so I think the story goes, as he was now in control of that skullcap! 

David Wasse calling me a wonderful ham is for me now a cherished moment, thanks to his generosity, and as I write this, it really does seem like yesterday that we were on that stage together.  He was a true gentleman, and special soul, and incredibly brave on stage and off, and I keenly feel the loss for his family especially having lost my Dad last year.  He and my Dad had a delightful conversation after a show one evening, and David relayed some of the conversation which I think steered towards the game Chess; so in my fantasy of heaven, he and my Dad are maybe playing some multi level game of Star Trek style Chess.  The loss of a parent is a sorrow, and one that seems both inescapable and inevitable, and yet unsustainable thanks to memory.  Godspeed David, and God bless his wife; Bronwyn, and their family.  

Engage!





Wednesday, December 03, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI


Dec 3rd.... Hard to believe today marks the 46th Anniversary of the NBC Special.   

"You lookin' for Trouble"


You came to the right place


Still as startlingly electric and fresh as it was in '68



.How many Uh huh huh's do you want... for Christmas?-
A Q&A with PHI BULANI

Q: What's your favourite Christmas song off the Special?
A: What are you kiddin' me?  Elvis only ever sang Blue Christmas on the Special... no wait a second, he launched into Santa Claus Is Back in Town before Blue Christmas.  
Q:  I know.  It was a trick question, 'cause I knew you wouldn't have just one favourite Christmas song by Elvis.  
A: Well, you're right I mean I don't have a favourite... I think he recorded well over an hour of incredibly spiritual, musically fun, and Festive Christmas music, as well as some of the Bluesiest vocals and rawest sounds he laid down on some of his first Christmas songs; like Santa Claus Is Back In Town and Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me...  man I can remember putting the infant baby Jesus out in the Creche of the Nativity scene that we'd put up on the Mantle in the Living room... and Santa Bring My Baby Back to me would be playing in the back ground! a -hahah and then it be followed by O' Little Town Of Bethlehem, I think it's the depth and breadth of his voice that for me exhalts the music of Christmas Season, and the more you know about Elvis, his generosity certainly shines through as well.  
Q: But getting back to '68
A: Yeah baby, well originally the Colonel wanted Elvis to come out and sing some Christmas Carols a la Bing Crosby Christmas Special, and we're fortunate that Elvis had Steve Binder in his corner otherwise we might never have seen Elvis at this magnitude... rockin' at the height of his magnetism, untouchable and intimately accessible all at the same time.  It's an incredible event and experience to this day.
Q: Favourite improv moment from the show.
A: Well, Legend has it that the large part of the sit down session was improvised and it was when Binder saw Elvis unwinding or rehearsing he knew and realized he needed to include it... but there's a Blooper Reel of out-takes from a commercial that was being set to air regarding the Singer Special, and the reel has Elvis being asked to sing Uh huh huh... I mean he delivers probably 10 -12 versions of "Uh huh huhs"  turning to the Camera each time.or; I'm All Shook Up", "uh huh huh"  as he's getting into the groove. Totally unscripted and Elvis enjoying himself in his work, y'know... as tedious and inorganic as something like that could be... so it's cool in that respect... and if you've ever worked in film or TV... it catches you on that level as well... it's called rare moments with the King or something like that.
Q: Oh I see-
A: Uh huh huh





Friday, June 27, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

www.outofthenorm.biz and www.phibulani.com A pre- fringe Q&A. Phi Bulani  Part 1

PREMIERE'S TONIGHT! 8:15PM
Tarragon Mainspace, Toronto ON


Q. What can you tell us about Elvis and Dick?



A. Well, you'll leave feeling good!  It's a fun musical phantasm of a script, with sexy performers, written and directed by Brian Kennington in the Elvis movie tradition, with some twists and turns that spin that formula on it's head a bit... Brian's has seen a kind of interdependency of time and connective tissues between Nixon and Elvis... and we get a sense of their humanity.

Q. Is this a two hander Phi?

A.A. No-oooho ho- o no, not in the least.  We have a cast of 7 including myself, with Kevin Jollimore playing Nixon, Kensington Market's frequenters will know Kevin from his Sin City Boy's band, and while we may have the lion share of the script... we have a great supporting cast of actors and musicians on stage with us  featuring Sarah McGowan as little Big Red, and Allison Edwards-Crewe (Hairspray) as the very sexy Kitten with a whip singing Don't Be Cruel.  Brendan Shoreman (The Dream) turning out some hilarious moments, as Ryan McKeen (Speare) Trevor Ketcheson round out the cast as two key members of the Memphis Mafia that were there the day Elvis and Nixon met.


Q. Is it recorded music?

A. Live band baby, right on stage with us the whole time, we have Roger McKeen, who plays a mix of rhythm and lead guitar, he's playing on a Martin and a Fender, (not at the same time) Edward Kennington playing beautifully on his Washburn Bass, and with Angelo Bernardo, on his Gibson semi-hollowbody and pedals playing Lead, and a very special guest on snare!  We're going for the sound of the time and we're rockin' the house baby! 

Q. Very cool, what the synopsis?  

A. Elvis and Dick is a musical comedy based on the famous meeting held between President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley, where the King aspired to become a Federal Drug Agent, features 15 hits of the King.
Click on link to find exact days and times as well as purchasing tickets ahead.  This is a limited engagement, and tickets are selling fast.






Saturday, May 31, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

Train I ri-IDE six-teen co-ho-ches lo-hong- 

"Elvis and Dick rehearsals; full steam ahead"
(Man that just gets funnier and funnier)


"And so does this script, every time I read it, I laugh at something new"
PHI BULANI

Ridin' the rails is a great way to travel baby!
             -Uh huh huh, ooh yeah-

Thursday, May 29, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

This just in from and www.outofthenorm.biz  www.phibulani.com EXCITING news a foot for Elvis fans, Fringe fans and Phi fans a like! hahah 

Check this poster out man!  


Now y'all notice when you attempt to download this free downloadable poster, suitable for autographs and framing, well, you'll also notice uhhh, that the name of this jpg is Elvis and Dick Fringe Poster, which is better than Elvis with Dick Fringe Poster!  At any rate, I love this poster man, and this production, is loaded with lots great Elvis type fun, with some real moments of 
" truthi---ness"  if I can borrow so boldly from Stephen Colbert. In fact...


"... and in fiction, I'm pretty sure Elvis Himselvis will be looking down and laughing his heart out! 


*

uh huh huh 




*Early PR Pics for Elvis and Dick, with Kevin Jollimore as Richard Nixon and Phi Bulani as Elvis
For show times, venue and other fun pics and facts, 
please go to:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

This just in from www.outofthenorm.biz and www.phibulani.com



Don't forget earth hour.


Check this out, love these guys for being the face of this kind of awareness.  We can all do our part; for as John Kennedy said; every man / woman can do something, and every man/ woman should"







"What will I be thinking about during earth hr?   Well hopefully I won't be thinking too too much, maybe... doing something warm and cozy like by candle light"
Phi Bulani



Thursday, March 27, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

This just in from www.outofthenorm.biz and www.phibulani.com

Enjoy World Theatre Day!  

"All the worlds a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players. 
They have their exits and their entrances, 
And one man in his time plays many parts...
As You Like It
William Shakespeare







Enjoy Theatre near you!




Sunday, March 09, 2014

THIS IS PHI BULANI

This just in from www.outofthenorm.biz and www.phibulani.com

The body building world lost a world class champion on March 8, 2014.  His name was Larry Scott,
Larry was the first ever Mr Olympia in 1965, and defended for a second year in a row in 1966, followed by the late Sergio "The Myth" Oliva.


He had developed his uncanny 20/21 inch biceps through disciplined training and attributed his peaking biceps to preacher curls, invented by Vince Gironda, tho' many think of the  Preacher Curl as the Scott curl, due to his association with that particular exercise.  




His over all symmetry is somewhat lost by todays standards.  He graced us with a few appearances in B movies of his time.  Sadly he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2010, he succumbed March 8th , 2014  at the age of 75.  He also survived two marriages!



Larry and his proud Momma. 







  1. http://awesome-body.info/larry-scott-arm-workout-intermediate/

Rest in Peace and Godspeed.