Monday, October 29, 2007

1001 Reasons to See 1001

Okay, I am not really going to type 1001 reasons to go see Jason Grote's 1001 from Page 73 Productions. That would hurt my fingers. So I will give you a top five list:

5. Costumes, costumes, costumes. How did they know how much I want to be a harem girl and like daydreaming about how I would dress if I were one? Lush, gorgeous and neato-snazzy threads on all the pretty actors.

4. The script is even better than the five page exercise Jason wrote in the Mac Wellman workshop I took with him where he adapted a Circuit City flyer to the stage. And that exercise had big screen TV's screaming obscenities at one another, so you can see how tough that is to beat! Seriously, I loved the way the script evolved in completely unexpected directions and opened effortlessly into deeper and deeper storylines-- there is something so natural and organic about it. It will stay with you a long time. You can't figure it all out sitting there, you have to work some of it out in your head on the walk home- and that is a marvelous achievement.

3. The floaty blue parachute.

2. The perception shift that happens about halfway through when you think you finally know what the hell is going on. Then all the other little perception shifts when you decide you were right, you weren't right, right again, well, maybe it's more like this and then 'ah ha!, I get it!' That's good writing.

1. Decapitations, amputations, royal proclamations, incestuous relations, nuclear annililations, geni-in-lamp infestations, sultanic sexual satiations, Jorge Luis Borges dissertations, the plight of Arab nations, and Jewish-Palestinian reconciliations generate elations, intellectual masturbations, and audience excitations!

So go see it. You can get ticket info here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What you missed at the New York Theater Review fundraiser!

Caught the New York Theater Review Fundraiser last night, held at P.S.122. It was spectacular fun.

The New York Theater Review is published by one-time orange County journalist Brook Stowe. They have published buddy playwrights Gus Schulenburg and Adam Szymkowicz work and luminaries like Sheila Callaghan, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Anne Washburn, et al. I recommend the publication highly. I actually have several copies because I bought two and then keep winning copies in raffles everytime I go to a NYTR event. Last night was no exception. I have a new copy autographed by Adam Szymkowicz, Brook Stowe, and Anne Washburn that I have promised to Eric Eberwein as a belated birthday gift.

The fundraiser was jam-packed with exciting entertainment. My favorites included the astonishingly gifted and exciting soundscape artist Reggie Watts. He is going to be doing a performance at this year's Under the Radar festival at The Public this winter called Disinformation and I am so there. I could listen to him for hours. He does a sort of free-flow storytelling, beat-boxing, fluid sound motion improvizations using electronic looping technologies and microphones. I hate performance art and this had me spellbound.

Also loved the performance by The Rising Fallen, a group of "punk-tinged neo-post-indie-sludge-sladge musical" genius-people. This is a theater troupe that pretends to be an astonishingly weird band and delivers monologues and kicking bizarre music as part of a faux concert. Reminded me heavily of the confounding Skinny Puppy concert a friend dragged me too circa 1990 in Austin, only funnier and less obviously manufactured. They had the brilliant idea to purposefully burn multiple slices of toast in a toaster propped up center stage to create a low-rent smoke machine. That is an idea that stays with you. Especially when, as Brook commented to me at the end of the evening, the entire audience is sure to go home smelling strongly of burnt toast. I am still not sure I have gotten the smell out of my jacket. And I like that.

There were also six short plays commissioned on the idea "what was Suzan-Lori Parks doing and thinking on days 0 and days 366 of the 365 Days/365 Plays project?" These were adorable and presented by exciting up and coming theater troops: Direct Arts, Blue Box Productions, The New York Neo-Futurists, Flux Theatre, The Shalimar, and Hoi Polloi. All or most of the companies are producing some of the 365 Days/365 Plays Project productions and were excited to do their own original take-offs. Most successful for me included Flux's awesome three-part God trinity (Cotton Wright, Tiffany Clementi, and Marnie Schulenburg) in The Alpha and the Suzan. They sang all their lines in knock-out three-part harmony (music by Isaiah Tannenbaum, I believe, and lyrics August Schulenburg). Lovely voices and pretty choreography from director Heidi Handlesman. Hoi Polloi's The Sound of Whales - A Songed Response to Suzan-Lori Parks" by Alec Duffy was also hysterically funny. They get the award for best costume design as well for their wacky rain/beach attire. And The New York Neo-Futurists really blew me away with Some Days, Days in May, Are Slightly Better Than Others (Day 182.5). This play was a delightful crazy safari ride of going-nowhere dialogue and stultifying stage stunts that somehow left me desperate for more. It was written by Rob Neill and featured Eevin Hartsough who played Shirl in my 2003(?) production of Cockfighters at Oberon Theater Ensemble. it was cool getting to catch up with her after the show.

Also, I accosted blogger Matt Freeman in the lobby and forced him and Adam Szymkowicz to pal around with me. Matt had the bad taste to be wearing the same plaid shirt as another fundraiser attendee and was mortified (fashion plate that he is) to be thought of as unoriginal. But he was gracious about it, explaining that it was really his girlfriend's fault for her uninspired shopping. I probably shouldn't talk smack about him since I told him my real age (ancient) and he is the sort to use ammunition like that, but he makes such a convenient target. ;-)

Planning to go see Jason Grote's 1001, Kristen Palmer's Departures, drag my unwilling ass to yet another cousin's goddamned wedding, and see Oberon Theater Ensemble's reading of my friend, LA-playwright Stephanie Walker's play in the next few weeks.

Also have exciting news about ways that people on both the East and West Coast can see a trilogy of full length plays by Johnna Adams in the near future. More info when I have been released from certain vows of silence.

Iphigenia 2.0 and Guitar Master Les Paul

Quick notes on my two most interesting outings in the city last week. I took in Charles Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 at the Signature Theatre Friday before last and I saw 92-year old jazz guitarist Les Paul's ongoing Monday night show at the Iridium last Monday.


Iphigenia 2.0 rocked my whole world. I was feeling pretty provincial and sad being the only person I know who did not like The Misanthrope at NYTW (bleeeeechhh! yeeeeek!). In fact, there was a little elderly woman at The Misanthrope who got up from her seat in the middle of a middle row in the theater and walked out huffily in the middle of the show-- and that woman has been my secret hero for the last few weeks. My role model and the person whose balls I most covet. I was so miserable. And I wondered if I had just spent too long in Orange County sucking at the SCR playwriting development breast and having my appreciation for avant-garde NY downtown theater eroded.

Then, Charles Mee made me feel good about myself again! He took the Iphigenia story (one of my favorite Greek tragedy sagas since I did a high school monologue from Agamemnon long ago) and tranformed it into a hugely relevant contemporary political drama/farce in which a president (a lot like Bush) is ordered by his troops and general to sacrifice his daughter (a lot like the blond Bush twin) to prove that he is willing himself to endure the sacrifice he is asking of his nation. His wife, Clytemnestra (nothing like Laura Bush-- way cooler as played by the astounding and gorgeously vicious Kate Mulgrew who I love almost as much as the woman who walked out at NYTW!) protests and vows vengeance. The produciton was lavish, full of music and dance, timely and timeless at the same time, spectacularly choreographed and brilliantly acted. I wish I had gone earlier in the run so that I could see it several times.

The text of the play is posted online by Charles Mee here. Agamemnon's opening monologue is worth a few reads, even if you don't have time/inclination to read the rest of the play. I subscribed to the rest of the Charles Mee series at the Signature and will be seeing his next play, Queens Boulevard in November.


My friend Jordan, who is a travel writer for the AAA website, came into town last weekend and got us free press tickets to 92-year-old jazz guitar great Les Paul's ongoing show at the Iridium last Monday night (that is Les' pciture above, taken by Jordan). Normally it is a $45 ticket and a $15 drink/food minimum. We only had to pay for food. Here is the Iridium's calendar in case you want to go check it out.

I am the least musical person on the planet and I loved every second of this concert. Jordan had to explain to me several times who Les Paul is-- in case you don't know, he is the inventor of the electric guitar (although, I think the Leo Fender estate disputes that? One of my Fullerton buds should know). He also colloborated with just about everyone in the music business in the 40s and 50s.

The format of the show mimics an old-style musical variety show. Les has arthritis in his left hand, but still manages to pick out a fair riff with just two fingers. But he can't play all night, so he brings lots of guests on stage to come up and play with him. There was a great tap dancer, even better harmonica guy, some guitarists, and Richie Sambora (from Bon Jovi) who was just in the audience (he showed up shirtless underneath a black suit jacket, so one supposes he had some expectation of getting up and playing a song or two, despite some rather hammish demurring when he was first called on stage).

Les told great stories about Bing Crosby inviting him to record with him 'just after the war' and was really sharp. Made a lot of witty jokes that I liked. Every time a new musician joined him on stage he would put the fellow through a mild hazing period before letting him play: To the harmonica playing guy: "How are the subways treating you?" Apparently it is a deathly insult between muscians to be considered a subway performer. To the guitar player who arranged a microphone in front of his acoustic guitar "Oh, that's clever. That's a clever idea. That's why I invented the electric guitar, actually." To his attractive female bass player "You make me feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole."

Highly recommend this show. He is going strong for 92, but who knows how much longer Mondays will be this cool at the Iridium? He signs autographs afterward and chats briefly with the audience. Go to the 10pm show because he plays longer than at the 8pm. It would be a great gift outing for a beloved music buff, too.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Join me tonight at the NYTR fundraiser!

I am going to head over to this fundraiser after work. It is going to be so, super fun. Why don't you meet me there?

From Brook Stowe:

Performance Space 122
Upstairs Stage (the larger one, not the one around the corner)
150 First Ave. at 9th St.
$25 door/$20 advance.

Advance sales are available thru the Fractured Atlas donation link on the NYTR home page -- Just print out whatever Fractured Atlas sends you as a donation acknowledgment and you're in. The donation process will also put you on a list we'll have if you donate up to about noon tomorrow, Monday. But our crack admissions crew will be accepting anything from Fractured Atlas that has your name, our name and $20 (or more) on it.

This is without question the most reasonably-priced fundraiser probably recent NYC memory if not EVER.

Look at what the admission price will get you:

Performances by:
Banana, Bag & Bodice's musical alter-egos, The Rising Fallen
The Amazing one-man musical-comedy performance unit that is Reggie Watts
Singer-songwriter Beth Collins

And that's just part of the entertainment. There will also be 6 brand spankin' new Tiny Plays created especially for the event by downtown theater groups:
Direct Arts
Bluebox Productions
The New York Neo-Futurists
Flux Theatre
The Shalimar
Hoi Polloi

AND more auction and raffle items than I can list here and expect you to keep reading, but suffice to say there is some really good stuff going on the block, including a deluxe ticket package of Fall theater events from the likes of:
Classic Stage
The Flea
The NY Neo-Futurists
Performance Space 122
The Public
2nd Stage

PLUS appearances by playwrights Adam Szymkowicz, Anne Washburn, Tommy Smith & Alec Duffy and Seattle's own Marya Sea Kaminski .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Haircut Photos

Hair today, gone tomorrow. Got a haircut in my Aunt Bonnie's salon in Maine on Saturday. That is not Aunt Bonnie doing the cut, but her friend Marie from Florida. Aunt Bonnie insisted Marie was the better stylist and made her do it. Apparently Marie cuts her granddaughters' hair and was considered to be the 'hipper' stylist as far as Aunt Bonnie was concerned. Marie has 8 great-grandchildren, btw. I find that very impressive. I thought she did a great job. I love the new 'do. I feel much lighter. And short hair is just as easy as everyone has always said it is.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Save the Environment One Blog at a Time

Modern Fabulosity informs me that today all bloggers are supposed to devote a post to saving the environment.

I will perform my civic responsibility by directing you to a post on making recycled paper at home that I found on a stranger's blog:

May actually try this. It looks like fun.

Spent the weekend in Maine, visiting my aunt Bonnie. A friend of hers visiting from Florida gave me a haircut. I will post before and after pictures in the next couple of days. It is the first time I have had short hair since grade school. I like it. Also will post notes on some theater outings. Got my very first invitation to see a show free and write about it on my blog. That is cool. I feel very official now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Catch Up Blog Post on What I am Doing Lately

I have seen quite a few shows/readings lately and a movie. Thought I would try to do a brief paragraph on a variety of topics and call it a blog post.

Saw New York Theatre Workshop's production of The Misanthrope on Friday. Hated it. They called me yesterday trying to sell me a subscription based on "we are so glad you came to see The Misanthrope, and did you know that Mikhail Baryshnikov is starring in our next production of Samuel Beckett short plays, some of which have no dialogue?" I told the customer service rep that if I ever re-write Dante's Inferno, watching Mikhail Baryshnikov mime Beckett and sitting through The Misanthrope again will be two of the lower levels in my own personal hell. Okay, I didn't really. I thought of that line after I already hung up with the poor telemarketer. I just told him the Naomi Wallace play they have planned for later this season sounds good and to call me back when that is playing. I am a weenie and only clever on my blog. Not in person.

Playwright Chris Saunders and I went to the MCC reception for the new playwrights they are inducting into their development program on Sunday. Adam Szmykowicz, Ashlin Halfnight, Anton Dudley, Dan LeFranc, and Kathryn Walat are the inductees. They made them wear strange robes, stand inside a pentagram, and summon demons during the induction ceremony. Okay, not really. But, I'm going to do that when I start a playwriting development program. We watched ten minute plays and excerpts from their work and then there was free booze. Chris and I both realy liked Adam's play Snow and I adored the Anton Dudley ten minute play about the two Scottish boys. The actors were phenoms. Chris and I talked to Mark Schultz at the reception and I am planning on going to the next MCC playlab event, which will be a reading of Mark's new play.

****POSSIBLE SPOILERS****Saw the new Jose Rivera-penned movie Trade last night at the Angelika Film Center. This is a play about a young Mexican man who is trying to free his 13-year-old sister from a sex slave ring in a cross-country chase. I thought it was great-- but with a few minor quibbles. Mostly, the slave ring was being run by a bunch of idiots! I am just a sales manager with no personal experience in the global sex slavery trade-- but I walked out of that film convinced that I could run a better sex slave ring in my spare time than these bozos. For instance, I would know better than to ask the enforced sex slaves to give me their passports IN PUBLIC, IN THE AIRPORT. Where you might arouse suspicions. That can wait until we get them back to the evil lair, or at least into the car! And if I find that I need to give one of my underaged sex slaves a good beating-- I would know not to do this AT A PUBLIC REST STOP STANDING IN FRONT OF A LARGE CLIFF! No, no, no all of the Johnna Adams' Sex Slave Production Company slave beatings will happen in the goddamned van or somewhere else where we are not at risk of losing a high-quality sex slave to suicide and where we don't have to chase her to administer the beating. Incomprehensible to me that people could run a business this way. I think you were supposed to come out of the film with your heart breaking for the poor sexually abused children, but I have a highly developed sense of frustration with corporate inefficiencies that I had a hard time setting aside. Performances are really good. And when I wasn't frowning and wishing I could do some consulting work on improving enterprise risk performance for the slavers' ring, I found the story very engaging.

Working on some play pages to take to the Flux Sunday writers meeting that starts up again on Sunday.