Sunday, February 08, 2009

You’re a Maggot.

So I have this cute tongue-in-cheek post all ready to go about how I sat 8th row center for Legally Blonde and had a really good time, and the Don Hall has to go out and enjoy Xanadu.

I can’t compete with that… so you get a city redevelopment post.

Let that be a lesson to you (somehow).

Every moderately sized city has it’s ebbs and flows. Immigrants come and go, college students come and go, money comes and goes. Hell entire INDUSTRIES come and go. Working classes find the step up the ladder they need to move into Bigger and Better. Eventually we end up with Bad Neighborhoods.

Cities DESPISE bad neighborhoods except for the concentration of Bad it gives the police force (theoretically reducing some costs).

Cities (by which I mean the government) want those areas “cleaned up” (by which THEY mean richer and whiter), and they will throw good money after bad to do it.

But the answer every time is artists. The creative class. They share an income bracket with the poor and working class, love a good dive bar (more or less) and [generalization] are self-starters who are Doing Something. They move into an area and MAKE it cool. They create the entertainment and art that Cool Seekers (um) seek. They create a critical mass of people who WANT to be in a place, and then retail and commercial developers follow along with a refreshing of the residential. Artists are the carrions crawlers of urban redevelopment.

Now I get the arguments against gentrification. I do. I lived in San Francisco when SoMa got overrun by hipster loftdwellers, and I’m in Austin right now where property values are evicting folks east of 35. But these areas were/are going to be redeveloped regardless of my liberal hand-wringing, so bear with me.

Why shouldn’t cities use their normal ecosystem proactively?

Why shouldn’t they create tax incentives for artists to live in depressed or recovering areas of their cities? Follow that with tax incentives to developers to allocate a percentage of their projects to municipal arts uses for free/low cost gallery/theatre/performance space? Or tax incentive to commercial developers to allocate free /low cost (utility included) co-work space for city arts groups?

For the city the increased tax base will more than cover the tax incentives, and for artists, lower rent, improved resources, and increased presentation venues will allow MORE time for creation, and better exposure to the community at large.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cult Classic not Best Seller

So for those of you who missed an interoffice memo, Cambiare Productions next show will be Orestes. Date and venue vexingly TBA.

Normally it would be Euripides Orestes, but I can tell you pretty convincingly that it will NOT be Euripides Orestes by the time we’re done with it (and that I will consistently be able to SPELL Euripides by the time we open – bless you spell check).

We’ve been saying clever things for some time in story meetings, things like “Fuck Euripides”, and “Euripides Sucks!”. We’re all smart folks promise.

The thing is? Eurpidies write great words. He did. That’s why we want to use them in the first place. Story. Characters. It’s all there except…

Well. They hadn’t gotten around to finishing creating our art form yet, and hadn’t really decided to have any action ON stage. Full credit to them, I mean we weren’t that far removed from the whole thing being a concert for the human voice anyway, so they were innovating a whole lot more than I ever will. But I want my theatre to be more active. I’m not dead yet ergo my theatre shouldn’t be either.

Which works for us.

This is our second adventure in Greek Mashup-land having thrown four texts in a blender to create a very well received Elektra hybrid two years ago. That was of course before there really was an “us”. Will and I were working on our second show together, and it was mostly Will driving creation with the cast (including me as the not-normally-in-this-show Agamemnon) helping fit the pieces together, and nailing the dance that was added.


But here two years and two and half shows later  we know a little bit about what we want and how we work together, and most importantly? What our specific weaknesses as producers and storytellers are.

So we’re taking Euripides apart. Character by character. Scene by scene. Motif by motif. We will rebuild it in such a way that Orestes participates in his own story, and is not simply a commentator on the actions around him. There will be very real consequences for the humans in this moments, and in our one true betrayal of Euripides… Apollo  isn’t going to save them from themselves.

These characters will own their strengths and weaknesses in all their mythic size. No matter the eventual style of the narrative.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And then?

As most of you have no idea, I am an assistant to engineers to pay the rent. Prior to that I was a docketing clerk and baby paralegal for some lawyers.

I’ve spent the majority of my last 8 years surrounded by branded professionals. Their certifying bodies all require that they perform some sort of professional development each year to maintain fluency in modern techniques, methodologies, and developments.

So how about us?

What passes for professional development in the theatre world?

Finally reading Mamet’s True and False after a decade and slapping together a snarky blog post?

Viewing productions?

Reading George Hunka?

Do you try to maintain any sort of ongoing development process? Or set play reading goals goals for yourself annually? Do I get an hour of Modern Play Reading credit for reading Adam Szymkowicz's(excellent) Food for Fish? Classics credit for tearing apart Euripides for my upcoming Orestes project?

I honestly don’t know.
I know many actor continue to take classes and workshops yearly. Do directors? Playwrights? Do you go grab Tisch’s curriculum and grab a few ideas to plaster over holes in you own book larnin’?