Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alone in my Room

For a collaborative art, with so much of the creative process taking place by committee, it never fails to amaze me how much of a show ends up created in the still of the night by yourself.

Opening on May 18th in the Rollins Theater at the Long Center for the Performing Arts will be FourSquare, by Manuel Zarate.

I will be you loser, Bill.

It's part of a FIVE. PLAY. CYCLE. Called the Love Sonatas. Which is really its own headache.

FourSquare is a challenging piece.
Bill is a challenging role.
Manuel's dialog is difficult to get a definitive hold on...


All of which means that I'm pacing the apartment at 2AM quietly yelling to the door and the collage picture frame:

"You want a divorce
Is that what
do you
divorce no no
what are you talking about divorce
you want a divorce
I don't"

New line reading after new line reading.... Drilling to memorize... Which I'm sure is a healthy thing to be chanting near my poor sleeping fiancee.

Unfortunately I'm also sure that that's not the exact line.

Oh it's close. It's VERY close. But it's not right and it's driving me mad. Which is karmic retribution.

When I first saw Jonathan West giving status updates on his line learning I thought it was odd. I may have even mentally uttered the word "quaint". And now I pay for my hubris with a brain that is older than any I have attempted to do a show with in the past, and an opening that refuses to move from it's moorings.

Awesome. And not panic inducing at all.

Smarter things when I get my brain back.

FourSquare-Postcard-Draft-2 Resize

Are any of you besides Mac Rogers involved in the Blueprint Project?
The Blueprint Project seems like exactly the perfect platform for the National Night of Theatre that we all really loved for those three weeks a year ago....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hamlet 2

h/t Playgoer

Rock Me Sexy Jesus

"It WAS stupid - but it was also theatre"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Listen Up

A Muxtape for your Friday

Indie Chick Lit : A Primer to Travis' Brain

Listen Globally,
Buy Locally.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All work and no play(s)...

---note to self---

I have perception/expectation integration issues.

I know right?

I expect that:

  1. If you say that your product/event of presentation is going to change my life, that it will. Or it won't be for lack of trying.
  2. If you are pimping someone else's product for #1, that #1 will hold true.
  3. If you tell me something is "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" or try to teach it in a course, #1 is in full effect.
  4. You will fail. That standard is impossible.

And I know it's impossible. I'm not sure how I grew up to be a good little Gen X'er thinking that everyone was telling the literal truth about such things. I have no idea how such a thing came into my head, but it's there.

It is a big problem for me in the arts because I am perpetually disappointed. I live in a world in which the curve doesn't go to %100. There is no such thing as %100 in live performance - there are friction losses in the creative pipes and there are heat losses in transmission, I mean it's simply not possible.

But the more important problem is that if I have been told that this thing is "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" then it's going to be work. Because everything else that has been deemed "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" is work. The transitive power of criticism. It becomes a bar to seeing things. Because if I'm tired I don't want to work at my entertainment.

But it's all an illusion. There is an upper limit see? No matter how important (or heavy or dense or other physics) a film is, or a book, or a play, it is bounded by the fact that it is a film is or a book or a play. It cannot be more than that.

I always get kind of surprised when something Important is Just a Movie. The precipitating event for this is my first time (and subsequent 8 times) viewing of Annie Hall. Which is on every list that can be listed. Including mysteries (why in the world would Alvy want to be with her?)

It was just a movie.

See? I got set up. Just like we have set up audiences for a century.

Used to be all entertainment was live.
Used to be that people would see things on the stage all the time and had a routine.
Used to be people chose what sort of live entertainment the were going to see, not whether it was going to be live or Memorex.

They um, they don't do that anymore.

People use words like quaint about the theatre. People who know what words like quaint mean. And they mean it. Even I am surprised sometimes when people say they go to theatre.

But too often we're selling theatre as though they have any idea what we're talking about. If someone is interested in a movie, they see a trailer (or vice versa) if they're curious about a book they read a page or two, or a chapter.

Going to the theatre is as binary as pregnancy. You is or you ain't.

And by and large we're pitching them concepts.
I am so guilty of this I'm already in line at the International Crimes Against Theatre Tribunal in the Hague.

[Generally] People who are not doing this aren't dropping $10-25 to have someone they [Generally] don't know, [Generally] with no reputation, in a [Generally] disreputable part of town play with some concept. They want to be entertained. For whatever value of "entertained" works for them.

So we need to be telling people why they will be entertained, not how brilliant we are to have come up with it. They don't want to have to work any more than my poor deluded brain does.

So let's not make them think that they will.


More trailers. I know it's more work, and work that is slightly to the left of our field, but it's necessary.
We need to have a sampler platter for our shows.
We need to be able to show people what it's like.

Make our theatres safe places for audiences again.

---End note to self---

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Omnibus Weekend Sinkhole

There is cyclical regret in the active membership of East Theatreblogostan that there is so much bitterness and whining, and so much sniping, and that Scott Walters persists in turning his computer on despite being old and not in New York.

Which, Scott aside, shows an awfully poor understanding of blogging, even after all this time.

Non and semi professional blogging (i.e. 99%) requires the author to overcome day to day inertia to write at all. Even the best of that class of bloggers need something to fire the engines. Which is why it seems like so much of the stream of posts have the volume turned up. If you're not fired up why would a group of people who are already working at least two jobs take the time to toss words into the void?

There is also a gate problem with blogging. Bloggers don't want to write newspaper articles, which have to have a low bar to entrance and spend a lot of time circling back to pick up stragglers, they want to write insider editorials with deep insight into their field.

This means (in the case of the theatre niche) that there is a lot of the first few pages of theatre blog hits concerned with what is wrong with theatre, a very valuable discussion that is unfortunately taking place in public as opposed to at the dinner table. A problem because Google doesn't differentiate between In-house fixing and busking for the outsiders. So this volume of "what's wrong?" means that all theatre bloggers are whiners who don't appreciate what they have and want the world to pay them to play in their sandboxes?


It should be so much more forceful. But the answer is simply: No.

I can't speak for other niches but the vanguard of theatre bloggers are ALL people who are doing the work. These are people who care deeply about their art and their community and want to be able to pursue their art under better circumstances and have more people take part. Isn't that exactly the group of folks you want up front?

Of course it is. But we need to stop assuming that if someone isn't with us they are against us, and that if they challenge us or our way of doing things that they are Unamurkin. They are writing from their frame of reference on their way to another frame of reference neither of which is likely yours. Like acting theory - take what works for you and leave the rest. The blogger's innate desire to snark a dissenter into submission really needs to be eliminated in niche discussions, and the expectation that everyone's blog will be fact checked or more professionally edited than your own is patently assinine.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Selfish? Maybe.

After a choppy first week of rehearsal for FourSquare I was left thinking: "Wow, I used to be good at this didn't I?"

Zip it.

The answer is of course "mostly".

But the thing is? I never simply come at a script. I haven't been charged with looking at one character and only that character, with no additional duties, in seven years.

Not only have I not improved as an actor in those years, aside from the natural improvement that I think comes with age, I have lost a lot of technique due to accumulated rust.

Will I improve? Sure. That guy is still in here somewhere. But there's an awful lot of character development time that's going to get lost to me figuring how to do this again.