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THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #2 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #2

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We’re back with THE WHO & THE WHAT’s Bernard White (“Afzal Jatt”) in his second posting for The Artist’s Journey. Over the run of the production, we’ll be sharing journal entries we’ve asked him to keep about his experiences while performing in this world-premiere play!

For tickets and information about THE WHO & THE WHAT, click here.

By Bernard White

2 – notes from out of time in the who & the what

thursday february 6, 2014 9:43

in the am.

february has slipped in through some crack in the window.

2014 arrived quiet, in the shadows, shy, humble, drawing absolutely no attention to her self.

welcome both.


I’ve been living out of time.



















(Josh, Kimberly, Kendra, Dana and Ayad, notes in the sun) 


the bed is half made.  I’m listening to Mehdi Hassan’s “Gulshan Gulshan Sholaa e Gul Kii. . .,” computer on a pillow on my lap in our spacious studio apartment at Villa La Jolla.

compelled to write, to see the words appear on this magical screen.  to continue this blog requested by Becky and Grace at the playhouse.

the question for me was whether to have it be something separate from my own  “notes from out of time.”

the answer (like most answers);  yes and no.

thus the title “notes from out of time in the who & the what.” I have begun.

so having begun, I begin;

my first few hours of quiet, it seems, since we arrived on January…?  when did we arrive?

we arrived on sunday january 12.  darn close to a month ago.

it feels as if it’s been a couple hours.

and here we are, on our third day of long tech hours.  1 to 11.  each day.

we have teched the whole show.  today at 1:00 we run tops and bottoms (of scenes) and then we begin running the show, I guess, and begin this miraculous process of combining our work with the all the sounds and lights and blah and the blah and the who and the what that is the world of theater making.

the who?  God.

the what?  God.

“there is no God but God”.

we move forward only by Grace.  Insha’Allah.  B’Ezrat Hashem.

thank you.  thank you.  thank you.


I am at the stage of the play where it all seems so fake.  my accent seems fake.  my clothes.

I feel like I’m talking too loud in too big a room.

the 10 feet between our magic blue playing area and the first row of seats feels like the grand canyon.

not the grand canyon;  it feels like the great wall of china.

not the great wall of china;  it feels like night fog in the middle of Lake Baikal in Siberia.

feels like the stage is an island.  a still boat.  a one way dark glassed interrogation room.

we are completely exposed.  we know we are being watched under scrutiny of our crimes.

but we have no idea who’s behind the glass.

no idea who else is sharing the lake with us

there are, however, these beautiful stars above (thanks to Jaymi and Jack).

I want the room to be smaller.  I want the whole room to be lit.

for some strange reason, I don’t want to feel like I’m doing a play.

been doing this theater thing now for 36 years (40 if I count my middle school walk on as a cop in the halloween play, “Alright, nobody’s going anywhere until you answer a few questions.”  I had a funny accent in that one, too).

I still don’t understand its mystery.

I still feel the tension between thinking I’m pretending and knowing that I’m easily, by no choice of my own, right smack in the middle of reality.

in the middle of Lake Baikal.  at night.  in the fog.

here I am, Lord.


I haven’t been having days off.  each monday, called back to LA to audition.  this past week, we (Jackie and I) have made the drive twice, together and I made it alone a 3rd time.

wonderful opportunities.  the Wachowski Siblings Netflix series.  a CBS pilot, championed by the late great James Gandolfini.

I just have great difficulty multi tasking.  splitting my focus.

this is the sole reason I envy Daniel Day Lewis’s career.

with the rehearsal of the play, the run, the repetition, I have a shot of getting it close to right.

stop.  what I have a shot at is being present today.  enough.


I am blessed beyond belief to be with my wife Jackie down here in wintry La Jolla.








(Comet and Jackie)

our dear friend, Comet came to visit for the weekend.

love is everything.  period.


Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death has done a number on so many of us. 

I, casually, met him several times.  not counting his movies, I spent, I’d say, maybe 7 hours in his presence.

so I was around for 7 precious hours of his precious life.

a half hour out in front of the public theatre.

3 hours one night at Cafe Un Deux Trois in midtown manhattan.

3 hours at the Knickerbocker near NYU.

various, after theater, before theater gatherings in NY.

he seemed to be always around.

he was one of the few “I knew” I’d be working with.  it was inevitable.  I was looking forward to that.

I am deeply sad at his death.

I recognized him.

I will consciously remember him in my work  here in La Jolla.

he remains a vital source of inspiration.

rest in peace.  God bless those close to him.


it is now 10:42.  the bed is still half made.  (it takes some time googling “most voluminous lakes in Siberia”)


I continue.

so grateful for my life.   my privileged life.

filled with such grace and love.

so honored to speak Ayad’s words, to help bring the healing force of Afzal Jatt to life.








(Dana, Ayad and Kimberly)

Kimberly is as good a director as I have ever worked with.  she’s the real deal.  the complete package.  so rare.

may the work and play cross that 10 foot abyss and find its way off our heavenly blue island.

with grateful love,


A veteran actor, Bernard White has performed extensively on stage, film and TV. La Jolla Playhouse: Dogeaters and The Seven. Off-Broadway: Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center); Landscape of the Body (Signature); Sakharam Binder (Play Company); The Death of Garcia Lorca (Public). Regional: Troilus and Cressida and Henry V (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Art (East/West Players); Wings of Desire (American Repertory/Toneelgroep Amsterdam); Blithe Spirit and Lucy and the Conquest (Williamstown).  Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Vino Veritas, Miss India America, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Quarantine, The World Unseen, American Dreamz, Land of Plenty, Raising Helen, The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, Scorpion King, Pay It Forward and City of Angels. Selected TV: Silicon Valley, Grey’s Anatomy, Touch, Castle, The Good Wife and NCIS, among others.