Monday, September 7, 2015



By Chuck Graham,

Chuck Yates is Truman Capote in "Tru."
I always remember Truman Capote as the flamingly outrageous, perennial TV guest you watched in the 1960s because he was liable to say most anything – the more shocking the better.

Parents hated him, which was always a good thing.
But that's not the Capote personality we get to see in “Tru” at Invisible Theatre, where visiting guest artist Chuck Yates creates an off-camera Capote desperately alone in his sumptuous apartment at Manhattan's UN Plaza overlooking the East River.

Truman unplugged, you might say.
Directed by Yates' good friend Larry Raben, the actor in this one-man show creates a mincing Capote on the edge of losing it.

Facing the collapse of his career, he refuses to face anything. Always changing his focus, nervously looking some place else for help, he's desperate to get a laugh, grab for a straight line he can turn into a cutting remark, anything to prove he isn't afraid.
Historically, “Tru” begins on the evening of Dec. 23, 1975. It had been 10 years since Capote had that breakout hit with his book of journalism, “In Cold Blood” and 17 years since the charming “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” People were beginning to talk.

Would he ever write anything else worth reading? Would he ever write anything else at all?
Capote's answer, which he has been writing in secret, would be a tell-all book on all of his famous friends and cocktail acquaintances. Everything would be revealed. He would call it “Answered Prayers.”

To prime the pump, Capote had given Esquire magazine a portion of the book, which Esquire published had a few months earlier in 1975. But instead of praise, the pages created an instant storm of incensed protest from the betrayed celebrities.
Capote thought the excerpt would help revive his career. It shocked him to watch how “Answered Prayers” became the last nail in his own coffin.
It is this back story that gives depth to Yates performance. The nuances of his body language, the way his high-pitched, reedy voice kept running off to hide in a corner of his nervous laughter.

“I've been to seven parties in two days,” Capote announced early on, proudly proving his appetite for night life. Occasionally he would lift a bulky cassette recorder to his face, saving a thought, a phrase.

Capote could run through lists of notable friendships long as any lineage in the Old Testament. From New England's Kennedy family to Sharon Tate and the Manson family, Capote was connected.

“I like to talk to myself about myself,” he says in Act Two, ruminating about his life over those two days in two acts, December 23 and Christmas Eve.

For most of the play, this tortured and self-made personality is talking to the ceiling, stretching out on the couch, pacing back and forth, staring out his penthouse windows overlooking the swirling city below, where some of those same disgusted people are sitting around in well-appointed rooms muttering bitter words about Capote.

Yates takes us on this convincing journey of attempted escape, twisting and turning, darting about and giggling some more, with a talent so effortless “Tru” starts feeling like a documentary of Capote's demise.

The script written by Jay Presson Allen is taken, we are told, “from the words and works of Truman Capote.” It is Yates who adds the voice and the soul.

“Tru” continues through Sept. 13 with performances at 7:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. matinees Sunday (Sept. 6),  Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13), at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
Tickets are $30, with discounts available. For details, information and online purchase, visit, or call 520-882-9721.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Invisible Theatre's 'Tru'

September 03, 2015 10:45 am  •  

Truman Capote was brilliant. Funny. Acerbic. Mean spirited. Completely self-destructive.
And Chuck Yates brings the late author of “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to chilling life in Invisible Theatre’s production of the Jay Presson Allen play “Tru,” which opened Wednesday.
Yates is recreating the role he first played for the Palm Springs, Calif. theater he co-founded, Coyote StageWorks. He shimmied into the skin of the man who was short, chubby, an alcoholic and, at the time the play is set, Christmas, 1975, abandoned by most of his high-brow friends thanks to a tell-all chapter of his unpublished book “Answered Prayers” published in Esquire magazine.
Yates has incorporated Capote’s fluttery hands, eccentric mannerisms, and given us a reasonable facsimile of that distinctive, high-pitched voice. It’s not hard to believe we are watching the real Capote as he paces back and forth in his highrise apartment in Manhattan’s United Nations Plaza (Susan Claassen and James Blair were masters in transforming the small IT stage into the apartment).
The play is pulled from his writings and interviews, and as the insults, one-liners, and musings about his life spill out, the tragedy of Truman Capote is revealed.
And that is this: the man had little insight — he is totally confused as to why his longtime society friends abandoned him after the Esquire article came out. After all, he changed names, although the characters were thinly disguised. And he is a writer — what did they think he would do with the stories they told him? Stories about murder, infidelity, and generally abominable behavior that only the very rich seem to get away with.
We can take two things from this play — he really had no clue why people were treating him the way they were, or he is so ashamed of his behavior that he can’t admit to himself what a huge betrayal of trust telling those stories was.
And that’s perhaps the biggest fault of “Tru” — we don’t really get to know the man beyond the soundbites and witticisms. We aren’t sure way he sabataged himself with his betrayals. We ache for him for lacking the insight to look at himself with the depth and clarity that he looked at his characters in books such as “In Cold Blood.”
Still, Yates gives such a nuanced performance that you think you kinda know who Capote was. It’s only when one leaves the theater that you realize nothing new about the man is revealed. That falls on the playwright’s shoulders.
And, frankly, Capote is a train wreck as he drinks, tries to reach out to friends who abandoned him, insults others, and is drowning in some serious self pity. It’s hard not to watch that. Or to watch Yates.
To see article - click here
TRU is open now until September 13th. Purchase your tickets today by going to our website or call our Box Office at 882-9721 - ask about the benefits of becoming a Season Ticket Holder at IT!