The rest of the world may consider Bob Lind something of a legend. He's the man who wrote and sang the top five worldwide hit "Elusive Butterfly" in 1966, and subsequently became somewhat elusive himself as he veered from the music business into a writing career that found him penning novels, plays, screenplays and, strangely enough, articles for the tabloids.
But here in South Florida, we've considered Lind a homeboy ever since he relocated to our area more than 25 years ago. Despite the massive fame he gained for that successful single and other songs which were covered by such big name artists as Glen Campbell, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, The Four Tops, Johnny Mathis and nearly 200 others, Lind remains both humble and unassuming.
Lind also continues to create and perform. In October 2012, a remarkable 41 years after the release of his last studio album, he issued the aptly titled Finding You Again, winning some of the best reviews of his career. A year later, he was inducted in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame along with Judy Collins.
Flash forward to the present and a new work that's about to be unveiled arrived, a play called Lactose, which gets a reading at GableStage on July 28th. Given its curious title and Lind's gift for prose, we felt compelled to catch up.
New Times: So what is the play about?
Bob Lind: It's about sex and love and whether the two have anything whatsoever to do with each other. Mommies, don't bring the kiddies. There's plenty of "adult" language and "sexual situations." There. That's my politically correct caveat.
The conflict is between a libertine poet who seems to have no sexual ethics whatsoever and a woman who believes our erotic urges should lead us into a deep, loving bond with the one we're attracted to. It's about a poet who makes a superstar living on his book sales and tours. Other than the occasional Rod McKuen, Maya Angelou, or Charles Bukowski, we know that shit never happens to poets. A woman comes to do a documentary on him, a reporter known for asking hard, penetrating questions. Through the course of the play they're both forced to confront their most deeply held beliefs.
Is this your first theatrical work?
No. I had three plays produced at The Group Repertory Theatre in L.A. And my short play "A Good Night" was a finalist in the National 10-Minute Play Contest two years ago. My screenplay won the Florida Screenwriters Competition back in 1991. But this reading at the GableStage dwarfs all that.
How did GableStage get involved?
The simple short answer: I somehow managed to bamboozle one of the greatest artistic directors in the country, Joseph Adler, into thinking I've written something worthy of his venue. My girlfriend Jan and I see a lot of plays in the area. Ninety-nine percent of what we see is safe, sure-thing stuff. Everybody's scared to death. There's just no venue in South Florida that presents plays with the quality and fearlessness of the GableStage's productions. They don't pander. There are always deep, important ideas involved. But they're not afraid to make their audiences squirm a little. So when I finished Lactose and thought about where I'd like to see it presented, I figured I would start at the top. I sent it to the GableStage first, knowing that if Joe rejected it, it would be because the writing was weak, not out of fear. My respect for him went through the roof when he "got it."
Do you think your fans and followers will be surprised at the fact you've written a play and/or what the play is about?
I think most of my fans know I write not only songs, but prose and poetry as well. And since love, romance and man-woman passion is the subject of most of my songs, I don't think people will be too surprised that this play is similarly themed. But again, one can go into a play with a depth and thoughtfulness that would be boring or uncomfortable in a song.
What is your eventual goal for this play?
Naturally, I'd love to see it on it's feet, getting a real production there at the GableStage. But that's a lot to hope for. They almost never do brand-new, un-produced plays. So the next best thing is to see it find a good home at another theatre in the area where I could do the necessary sharpening and rewriting to make it the best it can be. Then, who knows?
What do you think it will be like hearing your words recited back to you?
Scary as hell. The thing about performing is that one can feel when he's losing the audience and apply hard-learned techniques to pull them back. But to sit there helpless and begin to realize I've written a weak scene with no way to fix it... Shit! Even with the great actors I know will be up there giving it their best, I'll be squirming.
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A reading of Lactose will take place on Monday, July 28 at Gablestage. Admission is free. Visit boblind.com or call 305-448-1119.
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