Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Much Ado about?

Click through. It's nicer bigger

Austin Shakespeare Festival

THAT is magic.

That is a crowd of people sitting in a park waiting to hear some Shakespeare. 400-450 I reckon, though that is a gross estimate.

They chose to be in the park.


  1. Shakespeare.
  2. Park
  3. Price (Free)
  4. Weather (Very nice)
  5. Show Selection (Comedy)

Its own little world.
You can't even take this show inside and sell it the same way.

It also has a really likeable and charismatic Artistic Director who gave the curtain speech pitch for cash on Sunday (closing night).

I hate the pitch for cash. The pitch for cash is the same to me as any other pan handling, it feels icky.

But Ann Ciccollela made a very warm and self-deprecating go of it. She included the total cost of the show, what they needed to make per show, and highlighted the fact that they paid every actor. (though not of course how MUCH they paid each actor) They then sent the cast around the grounds with a bucket during intermission. (It's very different having Benedick ask for a donation than a crotchety ol' usher).

I can't say how much they gathered. But I can tell you that their approach changed how I personally felt about them asking and collecting.

There was no ick at all.

[The show was good, it's still just Much Ado - B and B were great, I disagreed with their Dogberry choice, but it was functional. A "B" mostly because I'm tired of the show. The production was quite good]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Recording History

As I may have mentioned, I am currently playing Bill in FourSquare, part of Manuel Zarate's Love Sonatas (good seats still available!).

Bill is (as only a performer playing him or his Mom would say) socially stunted. He is also a touch narcissistic and other-blind. He may or may not also narrate his life to Woody Allen.

His performer is nervous about having these damn lines in his head.

His performer may nor may not wander (via that time honored verb - pace) outside the rehearsal space in not-the-best-neighborhood muttering lines to himself.

His performer may or may not be kinda scruffy looking at this point.

Last night?

Last night we had a pick-up rehearsal after most of a week off to refresh these lines o' ours. I arrived early (as is my wont) and may or may not have returned to the alleged pacing and muttering.

And the daytime inhabitants of our rehearsal space called the cops on me.

F'reals tho.

And Mr. Officer showed up to question my presence (after I had spoken to a member of the staff who had warned me very gently that they were on their way) and I had provided my government issued ID, I started giggling a bit, both due to nervousness and as I explained to Mr. Officer:

I had the cops called on me essentially for being my character in public.

I of course handed him a postcard for the show and invited him down.

I am left with one question:
Hey Austin PD? Do I really only rate one officer?

Hit me Baby

Matt and Isaac take up arms in the review/critique slog that jumped off of Don Hall lobbing rocks.

Let's not be surprised that I fall slightly toward the Isaac side of things. I am an actor/producer primarily. I am not (most times) the generative artist, so I have less skin in the game than Matt does.

If you are a friend on the inside of the game I will most likely greet you with a "what didn't work?" after a show. I know what didn't work for me, I want to know what a semi-interested third party has to say about it. I want to be better than I am right now. I can't do that without more eyes, and different experiences.
(This in no way a promise to TAKE your notes...)

If you are a friend from outside the game I won't ask what didn't work, but I'm pumping you for different information. What only reads to those in the know? What was too subtle a treatment for a non-theatre human to get behind?

I am in a great position for that because the folks at my day job (engineers) support my night walking so ardently.

After they all attended Cambiare Productions' last show it was the topic of discussion at work for a week. Transformations was a design driven mosaic of dance, movement, video and monologues based on Anne Sexton's poetry. Or as my boss put it: feminist hippie crap.

And they didn't all love it. But they were talking about it. They were able to access it, and we were able to have a discussion about what read to them. So going forward I know better what works for people who aren't me.

Which is I guess where I diverge from Matt's opinion. The process is personal, the product is public. The process is me, the product is a third thing: Ours. They were part of it.

The woman who gasped "Oh" at Sunday's performance of FourSquare (tickets on sale Now!) when Amelia dropped the first reveal is forever part of THAT show. And that has nothing to do with my creation.

But I'm not the writer... Mr. Zarate may (and probably does) feel differently.

Let me say this though. Anyone who tries to weasel their way out of being an asshole by claiming that blogging a review is different than Isherwood or Robert Faires publishing on paper is a weasely asshole. Own your words. Don't let a medium change your idea of what you're doing. Paper is not the deciding factor in your culpability.

I will never publish something here that I wouldn't tell you to your face. And if you are reading this and you take issue with something I'm saying? I have made myself available to you by the means of your choosing including phone. Use them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Simple Truth

Speaking as a long time asshole?

Acknowledging that you are an asshole in no way mitigates the fact that you are, in truth, an asshole.

Speaking as a long time human:

Never assume anyone else's experience.


It's not "just the internet".

You're not "just kidding"

You're not "Keepin' It Real(TM)"

It's not your job to "Toughen Them Up"

They do not need to learn it sometime.


That's all just bully speak and rationalization.


There's a way to be a person about a thing. Do it.

Civility isn't about the PCing of America. It's not about being a candy-ass, it's about remembering before you let your bile escape that the person on the other end of the send button is a person. Nothing more.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This week the watchword on the wire is process, how do you blog it, should you blog it, and can there be pictures of it when you blog it.

First, the idea that this is a discussion is a little baffling. Perhaps because I don't buy into the rehearsal as sacred space argument.

SAFE sure, but not sacred.

I also fail to understand why commonsense is immediately discounted in the discussion.


Of course there are intense rehearsals or moments in rehearsals that you don't want to be adding anything to the actors' plate during. If you're not smart enough to know when those things are happening you're not mature enough to be having this discussion.

Of course you need to be up front with your cast that you're going to be shooting rehearsals and posting them.

Of course you're going to be sensitive to days when they don't feel together enough for it.

The person shooting should be native to the rehearsal process.

But the one key to the whole thing for me is show them what's in it for them.

  1. Show them what you've posted in the past.
  2. Prove that you have no interest in embarrassing them.
    (see #1)
  3. Show them that you've tagged the photos with their name and it helps searches return high quality images of them working when a future employer googles them after auditions.
  4. Make the photos available to them afterwards for their own sites. (This is also true of your more standard press photos)

We live in a visual society. In this medium words without pictures are ignored.


Of course having pointed all of this out to them you need to follow through. My pictures aren't all tagged and SEO'd. In my defense I didn't promise THEM that (yet) I only promised me. And I assume that I'll get to it right after the wedding in the pending dry spell.