Thursday, May 31, 2007

Live Theater Blogging and BBQ this weekend

Two events I hope to take in this weekend (unless attacked and defeated by my own laziness):

The Impending Theatrical Blogging Event
Curated by Michael Gardner
The New York community of theater bloggers blog about themselves as a theatrical event, live, at the theater, while blogging on their laptops. All blogs are projected onto a large blog screen. Audience bloggers are encouraged to comment on the commentators' commentary and blog about it afterwards. (60 min) FREE
Part of the pretentious festival
Sun 6/3 @ 9pm
At The Brick Theater at: 575 Metropolitan Avenue, btw Union Ave. and Lorimer.

Bloggers who will be there typing live, on laptops, include:

I was alerted to this not-to-be-missed piece of excitement by The Playgoer . I read several of these bloggers semi-regularly, so I thought it would be fun. I may bring my laptop and blog also (crash the party! hey, I'm a blogger, too, guys!). Because I was going to go somewhere Sunday and write anyway. If I go into Brooklyn I can camp out somewhere near the Park Slope Coop and do some writing--then head over to Williamsburg by 9pm. We will see if I am motivated enough. Need to remember to take a camera so I can post a picture on my blog. Because that would be utterly pretentious, right?

JOYCE CHO and MACHIQQ present: The CHO-CHIQQ BBQ Theater Festival
Scott ADKINS Erin COURTNEY Karinne KEITHLEY Sibyl KEMPSON Amber REED Kate RYAN Heidi SCHRECK and special guests

1pm – 5pm
369 1st Street, Garden Apartment - Park Slope
$5 (includes beer and hot dogs)

I doubt the hotdogs are vegan-- but I can stop by the Coop on my way there. This is a festival done by Brooklyn College MFA students. Should be fun. Adam Szymkowicz said he might go, too. Am also expecting to see Valerie Work and Annie Baker-- two friends from the workshop I did at the Flea last year with Mac Wellman.

Reverie Writers, Play Progress and Other Notes

Went to the Reverie Writers' lab last night. Held at their offices on the NY Arts Floor at 520 W. 8th. There were only two other playwrights (Bill and Colleen) and the facilitator, Colin. It was fun and I am looking forward to when Kim (lit mgr) and other of the writers are able to attend. The summer is apparently a very dead time for the writers' group-- but we will persevere.

Read the first 13 or so pages of Angel Eaters. I thought it went pretty well, although I may need to re-focus the second scene quite a bit-- it went off on some tangeants. The first scene will be okay with tweaking. Due to the small number of people I had to read two roles myself-- which is icky. I can't get over how badly I read my own plays. I love getting cast in other people's scenes and swell with absurd pride if given large roles and especially if I get to play villians. But given my own play, I stumble about stupidly, screw up southern dialects that I grew up listening to, and manage to sound totally unconvincing, especially with the more precious dialogue. Oh, well.

When I got home (and some during the writers' meeting) I had a lovely time daydreaming my way through the rest of the play. I got several good images and ideas about where I am going and things that are going to happen. So, things are cooking I hope to spend at least one day this weekend writing and maybe get through the first act.

Colin mentioned that he and Kim decided on the winners of the Reverie Production play contest last night. But he (quite sensibly) didn't tell me who won. I have two friends in the running for the award (Peter and Louise) and would have been hard pressed not to blab. So I am glad for his discretion. He did say that there is one full length winner and two runners-up and one one-act winner. They should send out a press release in a week or so. They are also considering a great New York premiere for next year (due to budgetary constraints they will likely only do one production next year for their tenth anniversary season). I could tell you what it is-- but that would be evil. They are still in negotiation. However, it sounded like a cool, big-deal, neato production. So stay tuned to their website.

Reading a biography of Jane Austen called Jane Austen the Woman by George Holbert Tucker right now. Also started Wilkie Collins Armadale on the train this morning. Discovered that if I walk to the Astoria stop (one stop further from Manhattan on the W/N line) I can be assured of getting a seat instead of standing on train. So, I have been doing that the last couple of days so that I can read novels instead of magazines.

Will probably post details on my novel writing challenge tomorrow. Kay is coming over tonight and we are going to finalize the details and draw writing prompts. My friend Lesley may also write with us. She is mulling it over. She is writing a real novel right now though, and I hate to distract her with games-- but it should be fun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Angel Eaters for New Writing Group

Started a new play and got about 13 pages in today. It is called Angel Eaters and is thematically quite similar to Godsbreath-- although it is not so comic. Takes place in the 30s, dustbowl Oklahoma and involves another resurrection boy. Trying to write the play that I thought I might write after I wrote the first 15 pages of Godsbreath before I went in the other direction. ;-)

Am going to take the first few pages with me to my new writers' lab at Reverie Productions tonight. That is being faciliated by Colin D. Young. Always exciting to be starting a new writers' group. Will report back later.

Was disappointed that Coram Boy cancelled the rest of its Broadway run on the 27th. I was hibernating over Memorial Day weekend and didn't hear about the shutdown-- so I missed the opportunity to use the free tickets I bought at Peculiar Works' fundraiser! That will teach me to sit on free theater tickets. I was looking forward to it, too. Double rats.

Spent most of this weekend reading (two of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries and The Tower of the King's Daughter by Chaz Brenchley-- A++ to both writers and both series). And working on a duvet cover. I bought two queen-sized Ralph Lauren sheets in this really girlly yellow floral print and am sewing them together to make a duvet cover. Some perverseness of spirit made me choose to hand-sew rather than drag out my sewing machine-- but it is going faster than expected even still. I just need to put in the zipper. I have bought fabric to make a quilt for my cousin's wedding (not the wedding I griped about in a previous post-- different cousin). And I hope to start that soon.

Friends K and C have agreed to join me in a novel-writing challenge. More on that as it develops.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Reverie, Peculiar Works, Flux Last Week

Got a wretched cold last week. I should have expected it, since flying to Atlanta and Kansas City exhausted me so completely. I am rarely sick, so it took me by complete surprise. I remember that the first year I moved to Orange County I was sick several times that first year. It may be just exposure to new New York germs. Am left with a lingering cough. Yeech.

Well, in addition to spending four days in bed and not leaving my apartment last week I managed to take in the Reverie Productions' reading of Peter Snoad's The Boiling House, Peculiar Works Fundrasier for their summer walking tour of the East Village, and Flux Theatre's reading of Octavio Solis' Dreamlandia (which I coughed miserably throughout, but refused to miss).

Reverie's reading of Peter's The Boiling House was fascinating. It was prefaced with a curtain-raiser one-act called The Raft by Jean Butterfield. The Raft is a modern meditation on Gericault's The Raft of Medusa. A young couple faces a relationship crisis whil examining a modern art installation called "The Wall of Toast" that purports to be a modern response to Gericault's The Raft of Medusa. I loved the use of the art imagery and the well-expressed debate on modern and classical art inthe piece. It was about a 40 minute play, that I think might have been better told in 20-30 minutes-- but I don't have any real other complaints. I was so intrigued by the exploration of The Raft of Medusa, that I feel like writing my own artistic, playwriterly response to the art work-- the themes are so amazingly rich. Then, The Boiling House, had a very successful reading. The Boiling House concerns a haunted boiling house in the ruins of a West Indies sugar plantation. A collection of broken tourists at a bed and breakfast face a hurricane that may in fact be the conentrated anger from the lingering memories of tortured slave rebels. Gorgeously imagined scenario. With some magical and delightful writing. I need to write Peter an email with my feedback-- I think this play is one draft away from being magnificent.

Peculiar Works' BANG for your Buck fundraiser to raise funds for their East Village Fragments tour was Tuesday. This is the night that I started to get a tickle in the back of my throat and was sort of sickly. It was an interesting evening that I have not had enough theater education to fully appreciate. The night was filled with luminaries of the early 60s and 50s Village theater scene. Judith Malina participated in one of the readings and that was wonderful to see. I did know enough of her history to fully appreciate what I was watching for that three minutes of the presentation. There was also a tribute to Robert Dahdah-- but I didn't know enough about him to fully appreciate it. He ran Cafe Chino for a number of decades and gave a lot of actors and writers their start-- that is all I know. I cleaned up at their silent auction and raffle. Curiously, Kay went with me, and although neither of us are at all big spenders we took home two of the three silent auction prizes- out of more than 100 attendees. I got tickets to Coram Boy, the Second Stage Uptown Series (2 plays), tickets to 10 Million Miles, a copy of the new translation of Don Quixote (which I have never read), a haircut at Soon Salon, and a little thing of milk choclate candy that I can't eat being vegan.

Flux Theatre's reading of Octavio Solis' Dreamlandia was held in the downstairs theater at the Drama Book Store. I was at the other end of my dread sickness for this reading and coughing uncontrollably throughout. Oops. Sorry, Fluxers. Dreamlandia is an adaptation of Life is a Dream that reimagines the story at the Texas/Mexico border. I thought the language was unbelievably gorgeous and the concept was inspired. But the adaptation fell down for me where every adaptation and the original always fall down for me-- I find the central character Segismudo-- so completely unlikeable I just can't care about the story. I am not sure whether Octavio or a slightly over-the-top actor are to blame for that. His central character was almost more likeable than previous versions I have read. But, I still can't love it.

Am going to some Audubon events this week. Nothing like a brisk walk through Central Park listening to bird song when you are just recovering from being ill. Hopefully it won't trigger a relapse. I am going to a class called "Distinguishing Birds By Their Song" -- I think I may be able to turn the class into a play. Something about learning the language of birdsong and how that is like learning the emotional language of grief-- still working it out in my head. And also going to a "welcome to the Audubon society" bird watching walk. Unless, I make myself sick again.

Planning on going out to see Jenny Schwartz' God's Ear this weekend if I can. Might also try to write a bit.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Going to See Reverie and Flux Readings

Going back to see another Reverie Production's reading tonight. Peter Snoad's The Boiling House. Find more info here. Can't wait. Really liked the staff at Reverie when I went to Louise's reading and I like their taste in contest finalists quite a bit. So I am sure it is going to be fun. Also looking forward to getting to chat with Peter.

Also planning on going to the Flux Theatre reading of Octavio Solis' Dreamlandia. That's on Sunday at 6pm. Info here. I love that title and am utterly depressed that I have not written a play called Dreamlandia. It is very dull and stupid of me to have not thought to write a play by that title-- because it is the coolest title ever. Have traded a couple of emails with Gus, the AD there. Giving him wounded puppy eyes via email asking him to read some plays. He seems nice.

Got back around 6:30 last night from my Cousin Stephanie's wedding in Kansas City. Was supposed to get back around 4-- but Midwest Airlines seems to have a policy about delaying every flight by two hours. There was a two hour delay when I flew out there, too. Made me late for the rehearsal dinner. But, there was nothing for me to eat anyway. My relatives have trouble with the concept of "vegan." They know it means something utterly incomprehensively difficult to do with eating and several of them understand that has something to do with eating no meat. But the details defeat them-- they are constantly offering me salads covered in cheese and saying, "Why don't I fix you some eggs, then?" And adding the "Raw" complication sends them into utter, spiralling confusion. So, I just think of family visits as "fasting time." Since I am regarded in my family as one of the family members that "needs lots of attention," the complication of eating only raw vegan food does not surprise them much. One Aunt did sit with me at the wedding and talk a while about it ("With your diet, shouldn't you be a lot thinner?" she says with a frown.) I explained the existence of raw ice cream to her and gave her a general understanding of the fat content in nuts and oils. She still looked doubtful and couldn't quite grasp the concept of a 'diet' that did not live one 'thin' or move one noticeably in that direction. Couldn't understand how wedding cake did not meet the criteria for "raw vegan" since it didn't have meat. Sigh.

Anyway, the wedding was nice. Okay, I'm lying. I hated it. I was forced to serve as the "coordinator" (i.e., print out the programs all day, cue all the wedding party to walk down the aisle, and direct late-comers to a side aisle) despite the fact that I sent the bride an email before the wedding telling her I did not want to do this. I am the closest female cousin in age to the bride, and our mother's were closest in age (and best friends growing up). And yet I was the only female cousin attending who had not been asked to be a bridesmaid. Who wants to be a bridesmaid anyway, you ask? I DO, DAMNIT!!!!!!!!! I refer you back to the "likes attention" comment in the previous paragraph. And to add insult to injury, the wedding was held in a lovely downtown Kansas City theater, and the bridesmaid dresses were dark red (which looks exceedly good on me) and cute. And, the youngest female cousin announced her own engagement and wedding in October--so I am the only unattached female cousin left in the family. I am about to proclaim myself family-less, go live in a cave somewhere, and throw rocks at anyone who tries to visit. You see if I don't.

Got a lot of nice old family photographs while I was visiting. Will try to scan some and post interesting ones on the blog. I got a nice one of my great-grandmother Myrtle, who intigues me enough for me to plan a play around her life. And fun photos of my mother-- who died when I was 8. I love old family photos. And Aunt Nancy gave me some dresses from the seventies that I like. I can only fit into one, though. I also may go and do some quilting with my Aunt Joann later this year in St. Louis. I let my Aunt Bonnie cut my hair while I was there (she owns a beauty parlor in Maine), which I haven't done since I was eight. I hated the bowl cut she gave me then and stormed off slamming doors behind me in a sulk when she was done. But I like this cut. It is about shoulder length now. She said if I go up to Maine to visit she will give me a beehive like she and her sisters all wore in the 60s. Sweet. Also went to my Aunt Nancy's church to hear her and Aunt Bonnie and Cousin Lonna sing "In the Garden" on mother's day which was apparently Grandma Ruby's favorite song. Grandma Ruby died in 1988 and was buried on my sixteenth birthday. The family re-purposed a cake someone had brought over as a funeral offering as a brithday cake. And they wonder why I don't eat cake now.

Anyway, enough ramblings. More later.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Buss on SCR's Pacific Playwright's Fest

I didn't get to see this year's Pacific Playwright's Fest at South Coast Repertory, but I don't feel like I missed a thing, thanks to playwriting buddy Michael Buss' outstanding blog (with help from David Rusiecki). Michael saw everything and shares his honest assessments. Great read.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Louise's BREAK at Reverie

I went last night to see Louise Rozett's reading of her play Break as part of the finals for the Reverie Productions Next Generation Playwriting Contest last night.

I am an interested bystander watching this contest because I have met two of the winning playwrights over the last few years (Carlos Lacamara and Michael Vukadinovich) and seen their winning plays (Havana Bourgeois and Billboard respectively). Carlos and Michael live in LA (Carlos at least still does, not sure about Michael who I only met once at his ALAP New Works reading). And, my friend Peter Snoad's play is up for consideration alongside Louise's. So, it is interesting to watch from my armchair. I wish they could do both Louise's and Peter's plays because you would be hard-pressed to find two worthier playwrights.

I really enjoyed Break and thought the director, Tania Inessa Kirkman, did an especially good job with the casting. The play deals with a NYPD officer and an FDNY captain who are working overtime to shift through the remains at the world trade center site three months after the 9/11 attacks looking for bodies. The play shifts between a conversation they are having in the lunch tent with a volunteer and scenes from their home lives-- which in some ways are spiralling into chaos. It was a very subtle and at time humorous play, which undercuts the horror of the subject matter nicely. The firefighter's home scenes in particular are rich and resonant and searingly effective.

After the reading there were only a few people who were sticking around for the post-show discussion, so we took it to a restaurant (Zuni's). There I got to meet Colin D. Young, Reverie Production's Artistic Director and Kimberly Wadsworth, their Literary Manager. They seem like an extremely nice group and Colin promised to send me information about their in-house writer's group which meets on Wednesday nights. That sounds perfect. Looking forward to seeing Peter's reading on the 14th now.

Got to see playwright Pamela Turner for a couple of hours on Friday. We talked so much and so fast we had both nearly lost our voices by the time she went off to see the second play in the Coast of Utopia series.

Going to Atlanta tonight for work. I should be back on Wednesday night. Then am going to my cousin's wedding on Friday (Kansas City) and returning Sunday. So, I probably won't get to blog much this week.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Raised in Cyburbia

Enjoyed this article in the comments section of the Financial Times today by James Harkin. (You have to be subscriber to see the whole thing, but you can sign up for their trial sub if you want to read the whole article).

Before you clutch your heart and pull your hair out in astonishment at the thought of little moi reading the Financial Times on a regular basis-- this was pointed out to me by co-worker Anna, who does faithfully read FT and is has good taste in these matters.

I love the term he coins for the cyber- world (Cyburbia) and especially liked the following quote. He is talking about how the current webscape compares to Marshall McLuhan's prediction that the web should evolve into a "global village" where we all learn how to conduct ourselves as responsible citizens.

" . . . when we stare out of the window on to the web, what we see instead is a sordid cauldron of voyeurism and exhibitionism - instead of web 2.0, we might as easily call it Cyburbia. Our deference to the user-generated architecture of the place has made it into a headless monster, prone to ill-considered flurries of enthusiasm and dangerous stampedes. Its rumour mill can deflate reputations without reason, bully journalists and politicians and poisoning the terms of public debate."

Recent Theatrical Outings

Quick note my recent theater outings.

I caught Adam Szymkowicz's reading for Incendiary at Ars Nova on Monday. Had already seen and enjoyed this play at SCR's newSCRipts a months or so ago. This new reading featured an even better cast in an intimate venue. It was fascinating to see the script go from a 300+ seating venue (SCR's Argyros stage) to the little, gem-like matchbox that is Ars Nova. The SCR actors can not be in the slightest blamed for pushing a little in their reading, but it was excellent to get see the show without the actors feeling any pressure to reach the seats in the back. Adam had tweaked the script a little and it is in fine, tight fighting form. Looking forward to seeing it again in production sometime soon. Although first, Adam has a play in the New York Fringe Fest (check out his blog, in my bloggings link) that sounds like fun.

Also saw the production of Romeo & Juliet that my friend Stephen Davis directed at NYU's Stella Adler studio for third year acting BFA candidates. It was great! Stephen did a lovely job with that problematic last scene-- having the lines done by masked actors and keeping the focus on a beautiful, acrobat resurrection sequence for Romeo and Juliet. Just a searingly lovely final image-- not easy with newbie actors and a budget of around $0. Kudos all around.

And I got a comic book and play signed by playwright and comic book author Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa yesterday. As part of the Spiderman movie launch, Marvel comics is sending some of their writers and artists to comic book stores to sign Spiderman stuff. Roberto writes the Sensational Spider-Man title. I know him from a workshop he led at the Kennedy Center Summer Intensive last year. I only got to chat with him a few minutes, but he talked about his recent newSCRipts reading at SCR (they are reading everyone I know except me, apparently) of a new play of his. And the play of his I saw a reading of at the Kennedy Center is now being produced at Steppenwolf. Fun times. When things settle down for him I am trying to talk to him into going for coffee.

On the horizon: Friend and fellow playwright Peter Snoad will be in town for his reading May 14th conducted by
Reverie Productions. The play is The Boiling House and it is a finalist for the Reverie Productions new work series. Peter and I were both finalists in the Hinton Battle Theater Lab's contest last year and met at the premiere of Idlewild, where the company announced the contest winner. Louise Rozett is also a finalist with her play Brake. I am intending on taking in her reading this Sunday, May 6th. Louise is a fellow DePaul alum-- she was getting her MFA in Acting while I was there getting my BFA in Acting. We overlapped by a year or so. I think the first time I met her we had both volunteered over Christmas break to help an MFA Directing student (name lost over the years) by acting in his adaptation of Herman Melville's Bartelby the Scrivner. So, I remember Louise as an earnest, pony-tailed young actress good-heartedly essaying Melville's text in this rather ill-advised adaptation. Can't remember who Louise played. I think I played Bartleby-- although that may just be vainglorious posturing on my part-- I don't really remember much about the whole project. A mercifully hazy veil has been drawn across the whole project in my mind.

Also planning on taking in Kristen Palmer's reading for her play The Melting Point on Sunday May 13th as part of the
Soho Writer/Director Lab. Crushed that I missed Annie Baker's reading on the 23rd. I took a Mac Wellman workshop with her last year and LOVED her in-class work in that workshop. I still occasionally find myself wandering around singing "Asperger's/Autism, Asperger's/Autism" in an annoying manner to a tune Annie made up for an exercise she wrote based on The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jose Luis Borges. I guess you sort of had to be there for that to make any sense. But she's great.

Also going to the
Peculiar Works fundraiser on May 15th. They are raising money for an historical theater-based walking tour of the East Village in June. Judith Malina will be performing at the benefit. Cool, huh? And there is a silent auction. Woo hoo!

Tonight I am going to meet Atlanta playwright and friend Pamela Turner. She is in town and seeing Coast of Utopia tonight. And then, oddly, work is sending me to Atlanta Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and I will get to have dinner with Pamela! We hung out together at the Kennedy Center Summer Intensive and I can't wait to catch up with her.