Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bianca Bagatourian's Beautiful REMNANTS OF A LIQUID WORLD

Caught Bianca Bagatourian's wonderful play REMNANTS OF A LIQUID WORLD at the SOHO think tank's 6th Floor Series last night. Bianca is a recent graduate of the Mac Wellman-led MFA program at Brooklyn College and has create lustrous and deeply personal play.

REMNANTS OF A LIQUID WORLD explores the repercussions of the 1979 Iranian revolution in personal terms. The main character, SHE, was evacuated from Iran on the eve of the Shah's overthrow as a young child and relocated to the United States. As the character eloquently says in the first few moments of the play, "childhood is the end of feeling," for her and the 800,000 or so other children whose culture was destroyed as a result of the Iranian diaspora. I loved the monologues in the play. There was an especially haunting passage about the poor during the lead up to the revolution digging bloody sheep fat from the gutters outside the slaughterhouse to survive-- gorgeously poetic and horrific at the same time. Bianca also has some very effective memory scenes showing a young child and her mother in pre-revolutionary Iran. The child is always bitterly complaining that the mother is drawing her away from something pleasurable (ice cream, swimming, comic books, etc.) because they are late or out of time. I got chills when I realized that was a set up for the heart-rending scene between the mother and child when she is told she must leave the country or die. Very effective.

I thought that Daoud Heidami (FRIEND) and Danelle Eliav (HOMA) were especially good in an outstanding cast. Dyana Kimball's direction was also powerful. I hope to go see more SOHO Think Tank stuff.

Going to see Richard Martin Hirsch's play tonight:

A workshop production of the winner of
Reverie's 2008 Next Generation Playwriting Contest

by Richard Martin Hirsch
directed by Tania Inessa Kirkman
Sun Nov 16 @ 3pm
Tues Nov 18@ 8pm
Wed Nov 19 @ 8pm

@ The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th St (btw 2nd & 3rd Ave)
admission Pay What You Can!
RSVP: reserve@reverieproductions.org

Then tomorrow I will catch my own show, Rattlers, at Wings Theatre. Shaping up to be a good week at the theater.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rattlers NY Production Team Photo

Autumn Horne (Rattlers, stage manager), Asa Wember (Sound Design), Jerry Ruiz (Rattlers, director), Me and Jen Rathbone (lighting designer).

Everybody looks grim in this, huh? Imagine the worst tech week you have ever had and multiple it by THREE! That was our little world.

The Angel Eaters Trilogy is www.nytheatre.com's pick of the week!

http://www.nytheatre.com/ has selected the Angel Eaters Trilogy as pick of the week:

"THE ANGEL EATERS TRILOGY: Flux Ensemble Theatre and Johnna Adams deserve major kudos for the most ambitious work of the indie theatre season--a trilogy of plays tracing the supernatural saga of a family over a hundred years. PICK OF THE WEEK!"

Another Lovely Blog Review of Angel Eaters

Thanks so much, Zack! I love Sarah Kane. Being mentioned in the same breath is head swelling.
Bloggers are nice.
I need to go see BLASTED at SoHo Rep. I saw the LA premiere that Rude Guerilla Theatre Company did in Burbank a few years ago and can't really imagine anybody surpassing director Dave Barton at Sarah Kane. The production of CLEANSED he directed in the middle of Republican-as-hell Orange County, CA, could not be improved on-- it was just awe-inspiring. It is all well and good to do in-your-face theater in SoHo, but in-your-face theater in Orange County? We should just all send Rude Guerilla money right now for the hell of it.
But, I'll go see it at SoHo, I am sure it is brilliant. If they would like to continue copying Rude Guerilla's programming, my play THE SACRED GEOMETRY OF S&M PORN is available.

Rattlers OC is a Backstage West Critics' Pick!

Rattlers at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, CA, got a great review from Eric Marchese at Backstage West and is a critcs' pick! Congrats!!!!!!

Flux is doing an amazing job of collecting the Angel Eater Trilogy reviews on their blog and presenting them attractively with show pictures here. And by "Flux" I really mean "August Schulenburg" who is the main blogmeister.

I keep meaning to post snippets of the reviews (artfully presented with ellipses in place of any negative comments), but haven't yet. We got very lovely and wonderful blogger reviews from James Comtois on ANGEL EATERS and Toby Ring Thelin on the whole tril.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Angel Eaters Photos

From my crappy little camera.


Had to attend a three day meeting for work. Got some nice doodles out of it.

Justin Hoch's Angel Eaters and Rattlers Photos

Check out the Flux Theatre Ensemble collection on photographer Justin Hoch's Flickr account for some cool show photos. I like this one of me and Angel Eaters director Jessi D. Hill at the Angel Eaters dress rehearsal. We look very intent on something. I also sort of look like I have heartburn-- but I think that was powerful emotions. Or maybe we said the pledge of allegiance that night. Anyway, all the photos are cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rattlers photos from STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, CA

Photos from the Rattlers production that opened in California a few hours after the play premiered in NY.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meme'd By Freeman

Public menace and funny playwright Matt Freeman insists I blog about "seven strange things" about myself. Gosh, where do I start?? Only seven . . . .

1. This is sort of strange, but not especially. More like "mildly amusing lame thing" about yourself. I took a writing class with awesome pulp science fiction and fantasy writer Gene Wolfe in 1997 in Chicago. In one of the stories I wrote and Gene marked up, I wrote: "She took it in her hands and slid it under a glass." (Brilliant, huh?)-- Gene circled the words "in her hands" and wrote in the margin of the story "if she takes it in her mouth, tell me." It took me eleven years to realize that was a dirty joke. At the time, I thought he was just making a point about overwriting. I remember my earnest little 20-something self pouring over his advice and thinking that he meant I should only specifiy how a character handles an object if he or she is behaving unusually. I made notes to that effect in my journal. Earnest little notes. I pulled out the story and looked over it during my last round of 8 Little Antichrists rewrites a couple weeks ago (it is the first attempt I made to write the Claudia / breeder vat warehouse storyline) and laughed my head off. Hell is being stranded on a deserted island with yourself in your 20s.

Okay, the rest are shorter.

2. My cat's full name is Andrej Wajda Zbigniew Adams. Vets love me.

3. My favorite chef in California works in Little Saigon at a small storefront Vietnemese vegetarian restaurant. He has taken a vow of silence. I once got seriously insulted when I was leaving the restaurant because he frantically signalled that he wanted to 'talk' to me and then made a bunch of hand gestures I thought were telling me I looked taller and fatter. Turns out, he was just asking why my friend who'd been going there with me (and is taller and fatter) was not with me. But things were really tense for a moment. Silent, but TENSE.

4. I did a nude talkback for a one act of mine at a naturist resort. I was nude and the 60 people watching were nude. The first comment we got was that the way the actors had groomed their pubic hair did not represent their characters well. Luckily, I have plenty of experience being naked and feeling completely awkward-- that came in handy.

5. I like to cut lemons in half, sprinkle salt on them and eat them.

6. I brought fresh durian to work once in California and the facilities manager came into my cube thinking there was a gas leak in the building. My coworkers lit matches outside my cube and glared at me all day. We had layoffs that day, too, and that made them all even madder.

7. I have a large, paint-by-numbers portrait of Jesus kneeling in the garden of Gethsemene on black velvet in my living room. My mother painted it when I was five. After she died it ended up in an aunt's garage for while. She gave it to me after I graduated college because I was old enough to "take care of it." Unfortunately, she didn't mean old enough to take Jesus out behind the garage and shoot him in the head kind of take care of it. She meant frame it and display it properly. And I can't bring myself to get rid of it.

My strange things are concentrated around sex jokes, nudity, fruit, my cat, and Jesus resentment. Hmmm. That is probably a strange thing in and of itself.

I am not meme'ing anyone else. I am breaking the chain. I think you are all weird enough as it is.


Gus Schulenburg, Marnie Schulenburg and I recently appeared on http://www.nytheatre.com Indy Theater Now podcast #254, promoting Flux Theatre Ensemble's production of THE ANGEL EATERS TRILOGY. Download the podcast at: http://www.nytheatrecast.com/wordpress/archives/171

I got to hang out at Martin Denton's place and meet the moderator, Trav S. D. and the sound designer Rochelle. That was cool. I am a subscriber to the podcast (you can do that on itunes) and it is like I suddenly jumped into my own ipod.

Gus sounds good. My laugh sounds really annoying. Ugh. I am not going to laugh anymore.

Cool Angel Eaters and 8 Little Antichrists Photos from my Crappy Little Camera

Catherine Michele Porter, Isaiah Tanenbaum and Tiffany Clementi in Angel Eaters.

Satanachia the antichrist (puppet) and Gus Schulenburg (non-puppet) in 8 Little Antichrists.

Felicia Hudson, Zack Robidas and Elise Link in 8 Little Antichrists.

Candice Holdorf, Gus Schulenburg, Zack Robidas and Becca McHugh in 8 Little Antichrists.

Cotton Wright and Marnie Schulenburg in Angel Eaters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Great Sans Merci Review for BPP

Got a great review from the Bloomington Herald on my play Sans Merci, produced by the Bloomington Playwrights Project as this year's Reva Shiner winner. I spent the weekend in Bloomington, getting to meet Reva Shiner and hang some with my amazing cast and uber-cool artistic director Rich Perez.

Here's the review. I totally agree that the acting and directing on this show was amazing! As were technical elements. Feeling very blessed.

‘Sans Merci’ both brutal and tender
By Glenn Kaufmann H-T Reviewer
October 27, 2008

This past week, Bloomington Playwrights Project unleashed this year’s winner of the
Reva Shiner Full Length Play Contest on the world.

A take-no-prisoners, highly charged emotional drama, “Sans Merci” is by turns brutally
honest and achingly tender and gentle.

Set in both San Francisco and Colombia, “Sans Merci” draws its name from the John Keats poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” which tells the tale of a knight who is bewitched by a woman who steals his heart and then leaves him stranded and alone, but forever thinking fondly of her. This theme of a woman who has stolen your heart and left you stranded is key to “Sans Merci,” the play, and writer Johnna Adams deftly mirrors and reflects it in every second of the drama on stage.

Elizabeth has come to visit the home of her deceased daughter’s best friend to collect any and all tokens of her daughter’s life that may be left behind. Though they’ve never met, it’s clear from the very beginning that there is a tension between Elizabeth and Kelly (the friend). When it’s revealed that one of the possessions left behind was Tracy’s Gay Pride flag, the pieces drop into place.

The scene shifts to the day that Kelly and Tracy met and first fell in love. On that day, Tracy presented an oral critique of “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” to her sophomore literature class. Nervous, she falls into a panic attack and is “saved” by Kelly. The two develop a bond of friendship that quickly grows into a love affair.

As “Sans Merci” shifts back and forth between the combative conflict a grieving mother has with her daughter’s lover and the growing passion of two young lovers, headstrong, blissfully unaware of their own, and filled with the urge to make things “right” in the world, we are granted glimpses of both beginning and end. But Sans Merci never betrays itself. Nothing is ever spoiled. No piece of information is meted out too soon. We are given just enough to push the story forward. Though in the end we know too much. The truth of how and why Tracy died is so painful and the delivery so moving that it challenges our notions of love, and what it means to carry a person with us forever.

All three women in this show are outstanding. Francesca Sobrer is deeply moving as Elizabeth, a loving parent who wrestles with not only her daughter’s death, but her daughter’s sexual orientation, and finally the knowledge that she was loved more deeply than she ever imagined. Margot Morgan is a wonder as Kelly, the lover left alive but mortally wounded and forever recalling the woman who stole her heart. Molly Kruse, a newcomer to the BPP stage, is spot on as the beautiful, brilliant, yet painfully shy college student, who learns to embrace love and life, and sadly pays the ultimate price. There is a very rare chemistry between these women and it fills the stage with a palpable energy.

Director Bruce Burgun molds this energy exquisitely, creating moments of utter clarity onstage. While Lee Burkes’ set design deftly keeps Elizabeth and Kelly apart for much of the play, mirroring the emotional distance they feel toward one another, his set gives Burgun the freedom and flexibility to bring the women together from across the room in the play’s most powerful scene, as they divide the artifacts of Kelly’s life between them.

Despite the fact that this play does contain nudity and graphic content, I highly recommend it for all but the youngest or most impressionable audience members. For sheer theatrical skill and raw emotional power, this show is a rare gift to the artistic life of any community, and we are blessed to have it in Bloomington for even a short time. You must go see this show.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photos of some doodles from my writing notebook

Notice I misspelled antichrists in the middle doodle and had to squeeze in an 'H'. All my doodles right now are screaming women. I wonder what that means. Nothing good.

Angel Eaters Postcard

Get your three show pass here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rattlers Postcard from Orange County, CA

Here is the postcard for my STAGEStheatre production in Fullerton, CA. I am so bummed that I am not going to make it to the show. The cast is fantastic, the director (David Campos) is amazing-- and my thoughts are with them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tickets on Sale for my Angel Eater Trilogy!

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum. Pictured: Rebecca McHugh as Melanie, Zack Robidas as Jeremy from 8 LITTLE ANTICHRISTS


Tickets are now on sale for the Trilogy, you can buy tickets on the Flux Theatre website, http://www.fluxtheatre.org/, now.

Special Discounts Offers!
Flux is offering $11 tickets for the first week only (Nov. 3-9) for a limited time. Use code "AEWEEK1" to take advantage of this deal. Offer ends October 17th, so buy early. Here's the link:


SHOW PACKAGE for only $40!
We are offering a special mini-subscription package for audience members who are interested in seeing all three plays in the trilogy. This offer is valid for pre-sales only. Here's the link: http://www.ovationtix.com/trs/store/3012/pk/19462

TRILOGY BENEFIT and opportunity to buy flexible tickets
On Sunday, October 19th in the evening, Flux will be holding a benefit party to support The Angel Eaters trilogy. Venue details are being finalized. Flux will be offering the best deals on tickets at the benefit party.

FLEX TICKETS at the benefit
Only at the Trilogy benefit party will people be able to purchase (cash only) flex tickets. This means, they can buy their ticket but don't have to lock down a date right away. This is a great option if you definitely want to come but don't know your schedule yet.

Prices will be as follow:
One play: $15
Two plays: $24
All Three plays: $30 (there will never be a discount lower than this one!)

Sans Merci at the Bloomington Playwrights Project

Artwork for the Bloomington, IN, production of Sans Merci.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Monologue from New Verse Play


It is a light, frothy silliness that desperately wants to be a Moliere play. But he is dead, so it is stuck with me. It is supposed to be written in iambic hexameter with rhyming couplets-- but I suck at iamb's and hexameter, so I am mainly just going for the rhyming couplet part right now.

STUB is the worst buttonholer in the Danish court (circa 1807). He has buttonholed a young maid (SESTINE) in a chapel.

Oh, I say, I say, dear girl, do you have the time?

(SESTINE shakes her head no.)

Of all things on this planet, aren’t churches sublime?
This nice spot, how the light from the stained glass ripples!
But the reverend here, dear, well, you know he tipples.
Churches are like that. Gorgeous, breath-taking exteriors,
But inside, clergy and parishioners, oh, simply inferiors.
No, it never fails. Yes, it’s just the way of the world
Ever since God, glorious majesty, his creation unfurled.
Not a simple apple can be found, without a worm at its heart,
Nothing man builds with his hands will not fall apart.
Oh, it distresses me greatly, every night I weep and moan,
But pray as we might, God’s left this poor world on its own.
We must learn to care for our brethren, our fellow man,
On that topic, I’d like to give you some advice if I can.
Do you mind? Would it bother you? Tell me if you’re peeved.
I won’t say it if you think my intentions ill-conceived!
Oh, you sheltered darling! Poor God-fearing Lutheran child,
In this apostolicity is one who would see you defiled!
Apostolicity. Greek derivation. Of or pertaining to
Apostles. Etymology? Are word origins of interest to you?
Well, not important. Off the subject. I digress,
I’m here to save you, Sestine, in your time of distress!
No, don’t look ‘round you, as if you fear I am mad,
If you value your virtue, of my counsels be glad.
A dark skulking despoiler mars the chapel’s serenity,
Determined enemy of your precious virginity!
He hides at the church door, plotting the longer you stay,
To grab you and hold you and have his fiendish way!
I see you grow pale and then bright red at the image.
He’s eager for his sport. He’s at the line of scrimmage.
There’s not a moment to lose in evading his plan.
Poor dear, flee the church, or know too much of man!
I see you hesitate. I see you uncertain. You waver.
Sestine, honest maid, I can’t believe this behavior.
I’ve said it before, child, let me say it again,
A darkness hides in the most light-hearted of men.
Do you doubt me? Is it possible? How unkind and thorny.
Sestine! You know nothing of men when they’re horny!
Get out now. While you can. You’re young and strong,
Don’t let him degrade you and then string you along.

(SESTINE picks up her bible and exits into a side chapel.)

Where are you going? That’s not the exit I see.
Now, now, my dear Sestine, flee the pervert-- not me!

Angel Eaters Teaser Photo

Marnie Schulenburg as JOANN and Cotton Wright as AZAZYEL

Facebook Distracts Big-Name Playwrights from Writing

UPDATE 2: Also managed to spell Jeffrey Sweet's name wrong (Jeffrey not Jeffery). I do nothing but spell names wrong on this blog, it is official.
UPDATE: Oops, that should be Mike Daisey -- not Daisy. Sorry. I do nothing but misspell people's names on this blog. Sorry, Mike! Thanks for letting me know. :-/

I spent a good portion of yesterday messing around on facebook and decided to invite every playwright I could find to be my friend. Within 24 hours I got an accept friendship notice from every playwright listed below (loosely in order of response time).

James Comtois
Matt Freeman
Gary Winter
Qui Nguyen
Kate Ryan
Jeffrey Sweet
Colin Young
Carlyle Brown
Aaron Zook
Barry Rowell
Stephen Adly Guirgis
Kristen Greenidge
Madeleine George
Annie Baker
Carlos Murillo
Kara Lee Corthron
Young Jean Lee
Crystal Skillman
Prince Gomolivilas
Nicky Silver
Dale Andersen
Mike Daisey
Patrick Gabridge
Lucy Thurber
Erik Ehn
Susan Bernfield
Luis Alfaro
Kathleen Warnock
Carolyn Hoederman
Rafael F.J. Alvarado (poet)
Hilly Hicks
Jeff Jones
Andrea Ciannavei
Tim Fannon
Liz Duffy Adams
Jonathan Marc Sherman
Julia Jordan
Tom Jacobson
Gina Gionfriddo
Israel Horowitz
Adam Rapp
Randy Baker

I wonder who many plays are not being written because we are all messing around on facebook?

1928 Lecture on Playwriting from "Leading Woman Playwright in America"

Was wandering through the mid-town branch library pulling books on writing verse for the next play I am writing, when I came across a slim volume of playwriting lectures from 1928. The University of Pennsylvania English department arranged for five speakers to come lecture playwriting students ("thirty-three seniors and juniors who had shown evidence of special ability and serious interest") in the spring of 1928 and created a publication based on the lectures due to popular demand.

The last lecturer in the series was (to quote the introduction by Arthur Hobson Quinn, the Chairman of the English Department):

". . . Miss Rachel Crothers, generally recognized as the leading woman playwright in America. . . . "
Sadly, I had never heard of Rachel Crothers. Her wikipedia entry says that in 1937 she wrote her most famous play SUSAN AND GOD, which was turned into a 1940 movie with Joan Crawford. And amazon is actively selling several of her plays, so she is hardly forgotten today, just fairly obscure.

I have pulled out a few of the more interesting bits from her lecture for your delectation and delight.

"The theatre, of course, is the quickest escape from ourselves into the world of imagination and apparently that escape is more and more imperative as civilization makes life more hideous for us. A long time ago, when we were all more or less disdainful of the movies, Jennie-- who spent her life rubbing fat off ladies of leisure to keep them beautiful, and whose husband apparently had no name and certainly no job, and was always referred to by Jennie as 'him' --- Jennie said to me, "When I go home at night I'm too tired for anything. I can't sleep-- I can't read-- I can't speak and I don't want nobody to speak to me-- but for five cents I can go to the movies and set [sic] and rest and see things I never could see in any other way-- grand people-- wild animals-- foreign cities-- wonderful houses and strange and beautiful things-- and I forget about myself and go home all made over-- and the things I have to stand from him don't seem half so hard."
I thought this was an interesting little tidbit. A woman whose job centers around other women's bad body images, turning to movies for an escape from an (apparently) abusive spouse. And basically Crothers goes on to say, isn't this great? Look how powerful theater is? She is subtly indicting the women of lesiure who are obsessed with their looks and the abusive husband, but only as an aside while making her point about the theraputic efficacy of movies (which she interestingly does not really consider a separate art form from theater).

She also has some very nicely put language on the musicality and artistry of playwriting structure:

" . . . . in these acts and scenes and speeches and lines is rhythm. Each can only carry so much-- its own beat. A little too long and the effect of the whole is hurt. Music-- harmony. And in it all and through it all well-balanced movement-- groups of characters flowing together and dissolving into smaller groups with variety and grace. . . . Grace and variety of movement are as necessary to playwriting as color is to painting."
Also, I collect metaphors about playwriting (i.e., "playwriting is like architecture because . . .", "playwriting it like choreography because . . . .", "playwriting is like archeology because. . . ") and Crothers presents an interesting one I hadn't considered before:

"It is also a science-- chemistry. Imagine a glass of clear water into which two chemicals are dropped-- two different colors. We watch them come together and change color-- moving, twisting, growing, evolving, gradually becoming one new color because of their own natures and their effect upon each other-- until a new shape and composition-- a result, is formed. That's playwriting."
I like this because it describes conflict in a very organic sense. Characters come into conflict, not because they are seeking it, but because there is a chemical reaction that forces them inevitably into the conflict. Perhaps against their will. That seems to me a very feminine way of expressing it. I have often heard professors or playwriting lecturers liken theatrical conflict to things like boxing matches or other sporting events where people are directly pursing conflict. And that runs a bit counter to my personal understanding of conflict (perhaps a more feminine idea?) that it is something you avoid desperately, but seems to seek you out anyway-- because you fell into the wrong petrie dish with the wrong other chemical compound. I don't have much interest or affinity with characters who enter knowingly into boxing matches I suppose. Much more interested in characters who find themselves in boxing rings because of unavoidable circumstance.

Anyway, the lectures are collected under the title THE ART OF PLAYWRITING, and feature additional lectures from Jesse Lynch Williams (winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for playwriting), and Langdon Mitchell, Lord Dunsany and GIlbert Emery (whoever they were). It is an entertaining read. They were concerned with the exact same issues modern playwrights are concerned about. I will try to hit some of the highlights before I have to return the book to the library.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Angel Eaters Production Calendar

Helpful graphic to aid you in figuring at when you are going to see each of the plays in my trilogy. Created by Isaiah Tannenbaum, cast as Enoch in ANGEL EATERS (little red angel icon on the calendar).

Chance to see the Adam Kraar play I liked

Are you gnashing your teeth because you didn't get to see that Adam Kraar reading I blogged about attending a couple of months ago? Well, now is your chance. Adam has scored a Lisa Peterson-directed reading at LaMama.

I don't think my rehearsal schedule is going to permit me to attend, but everyone else on the planet should go.

by Adam Kraar
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Monday, October 13th, at 7:30 pm
74A East 4th St

EMPIRE OF THE TREES is set in India in 1963. When Deborah, a young American woman living in New Delhi, strikes up a literary and romantic bond with a traveling Indian bookseller, she discovers she has a mysterious connection to ancient Indian myth. She tries to share her new awareness with her husband, an ambitious journalist, but clashes with his inter-cultural suspicions, and cruel facts of class and history. She seeks spiritual solace with the bookseller, and from the wise old Banyan tree in her yard - which causes her household to explode, and myth to spill into reality.

I Can't Go, But I Wish I Could, to Chad's Reading

I have a rehearsal, so I can't make this. But , you can go without me!! I am sure it will be fantastic.

Partial Comfort Productions presents The 2008 Welcome Mat Reading Series...
"That Men Do"by Chad Beckim
Directed by Heath Cullens
Featuring: Andrew Garman
Sarah Nina Hayon
Mark Rosenthal
Paris Yates
Tuesday, October 7th @ 7:00 pm
(Doors open at 6:45 pm; First come, first serve)
Teatro Circulo
64 East 4th Street (between Bowery & 2nd Avenue)
All readings are FREE and open to the public. No RSVP necessary.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Door-to-Door Prince!? Seagull and Beast

Why am I just now learning that Prince goes door-to-door to proselytize as a Jehovah's Witness in Minneapolis??? I am getting that Jerome Fellowship application in this year, then! My life could end after 25 minutes of Prince explaining the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses to me. I really don't have any desires in life beyond that.

On a related note, I saw Kristen Scott Thomas in THE SEAGULL at the Walter Kerr Theatre last Friday. (Why is that a related note, you ask? Shame on you! Didn't we all see this the day it was released in theaters--first showing of the day!--, wear out a VHS tape of the movie, and perform a scene from it for a high school drama camp mimicking KST as exactly as we could- to our everlasting shame?).

KST was absolutely magnifcent in the role of Arkadina. Her scene with Trigorin (an understated and deeply resonant Peter Sarsgaard) in the third (?) act was the highlight of the performance. Zoe Kazan was brilliant as Masha- giving the role a sense of humor and intelligence that it rarely possesses. I wish the production had been a little braver and less traditional and tried her in the role of Nina, actually. Or saved Lisa Joyce from her current blind hooker/battered woman job at NYTW's production of Michael Weller's BEAST and tried her as Nina. The design work on this production is worth the price of admission all on its own. Christopher Hampton's adaptation seemed to abstract and distance me from the play in a way that was not wholly satisfying-- but that may have been because I had a nosebleed seat and felt physically distanced from the action. All in all, it is a lovely to look at and intriguing production. I wished fervently that Arkadina had more stage time, but was very glad to have attended.

Also caught Michael Weller's BEAST at New York Theater Workshop. I really admired the heart of this play and the boldness of it's premise (American soldier comes back from the dead as a disfigured zombie after being killed in Iraq and seeks revenge). And the gorgeousness of the talking Mount Rushmore set in the second act (way to go Blue Demon set designer Eugene Lee!) is not to be missed! That is probably the best set I have ever seen in a theater that size.

I felt the script had a diluted focus at times that detracted a bit. The zombie character, Voychevsky (a fantastic gravelly-voiced Corey Stoll) and his soldier buddy Cato (the affable and extremely engaging Logan Marshall-Green) take a long time to figure out what their aim in life (and after-life) is as they torment arms dealers, engage blind hookers, visit Voychevsky's wife and her new abusive boyfriend, and hitchhike. Most of the play the two men seem to be wandering with little purpose and that works against the tightly constructed and urgent thematic drive of the play. Mid-second act, they decide their goal is to exact revenge for their disfigurements and death, and if Voychevsky had crawled out of his flag-draped coffin at the start of the play with this purpose, I think this would have been a play for the ages.

Weller portrays his female characters, distractingly as victims. Lisa Joyce pulls off an amazingly charming blind southern hooker, and fights admirably to work out a muddily motivated Bonnie Ann (Voychevsky's wife) but, ultimately the male / female dynamic in the play remains strongly unbalanced for no obvious plot or thematic purpose.

I skimmed a couple other reviews and saw that critics are having a strong tendency to relate the play to other works. One critic tries to align the story to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I, for some reason-- I guess triggered by the title-- kept waiting for the story to resemble the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. I think it is admirable that Weller did not make the play a direct adaptation, but nevertheless, the urge is there in the audience to try to make sense of things by relating the story to some archetype- and this functions as another distracting itch to the brain as you are watching.

All in all, despite the things that bothered me, I found this play extremely intriguing, bold, original, and challenging. Not sure that it is in the right theater. The NYTW subscribers seemed a bit perplexed. But it is definitely worth going, experiencing, and discussing extensively.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Play Sans Merci Won the 2008-2009 Reva Shiner Award!!

I just got off the phone with Richard Perez, Artistic Director of the Bloomington Playwrights Project. My play SANS MERCI has won the 2008-2009 Reva Shiner Award.

I am ecstatic. I will get to go to Bloomington in October for the production. Jason Grote and Adam Kraar (whose reading I went to last week and recently met) are past winners.

I can't wait to see the production.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Herb Gardner on Playwriting

I absolutely love the following excerpt from the introduction to Herb Gardner's THE COLLECTED PLAYS. It is written by Herb and was read out loud to my acting class a few weeks ago by a substitute instructor (John Korkes). John knew Herb fairly well and was in the Broadway production of CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FATHER. I have to retype all of this to get it online, but it is worth it:

"The editor of this volume, a hopeful and kindly fellow, has been waiting for this introduction for two months. I have offered him a series of deadlines, lies, promises and apologies which we have both decided to believe. How do I explain that I write plays, that I speak in the voices of other people because I don't know my own; that I write in the second person because I don't know the first; that I have been writing plays most of my adult life waiting to become both an adult and a playwright, and that it takes me so many years to write anything that I am forced to refer to myself during these periods as a playwrote? I have tried to write this introduction at desks, in taxis, on long plane rides; I have worked on it at thirty-thousand feet and in bathtubs; I have spoken it into tape-recorders and the ears of friends and loved ones. There are several problems: I can't seem to invent the character who says the lines; I am writing words that won't be spoken aloud and in a strange language, English-- my first, last, and only language; and, most importantly, I cannot offer an explanation for why I wrote these plays because there is none. Playwriting is an irrational act. It is the Las Vegas of art forms, and the odds are terrible. A curious trade in which optimism, like any three-year-old's, is based on a lack of information, and integrity is based on the fact that by the time you decide to sell your soul no devil is interested. Your days are spent making up things that no one ever said to be spoken by people who do not exist for an audience that may not come. The most personal thoughts, arrived at in terrible privacy, are interpreted by strangers for a group of other strangers. The fear that no one will put your plays on is quickly replaced by the fear that someone will. It's hard to live with yourself and even harder for people to live with you: how do you ask a Kamikaze Pilot if his work is going well? The word "Playwright" looks terrible on passports, leases, and credit applications; and even worse in newspaper articles alternately titled "Where Did These Playwrights Go?" and "Why Don't These Playwrights Go Away?," usually appearing in what the New York Times whimsically refers to as The Leisure Section. The most difficult problem, of course, is that I love it.

God help me, I love it. Because it's alive. And because the theatre is alive, exactly what is terrible is wonderful, the gamble, the odds. There is no ceiling on the night and no floor either; there is a chance each time the curtain goes up of glory and disaster, the actors and the audience will take each other somewhere, neither knows where for sure. Alive, one time only, that night. It's alive, has been alive for a few thousand years, and is alive tonight, this afternoon. An audience knows it's the last place they can still be heard, they know the actors can hear them, they make a difference; it's not a movie projector and they are not at home with talking furniture, it's custom work. Why do playwrights, why do we outsiders and oddballs who so fear misunderstanding use a medium where we are most likely to be misunderstood ? Because when this most private of enterprises goes public, and is responded to, we are not alone. Home is where you can tell your secrets. In a theatre, the ones in the dark and the ones under the lights need each other. For a few hours all of us, the audience, the actors, the writer, we are all a little more real together than we ever were apart. That's the ticket; and that's what the ticket's for."

Herb Gardner, NYC, January 2000

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Check out David Ian Lee's SLEEPER this weekend!

David Ian Lee's play SLEEPER (along with Flux's recent production of Midsummer Night's Dream) has made the short list of plays that I am enthusiastically going to see TWICE!

I went on opening night, and it is one of the most intelligent and beautifully performed original plays I have seen in ages. The run is very short, so book tickets now! I am going back with friends to see the play on the 5th.

The play is an impossibly complex study of an Afgan hostage situation, the events leading to the abduction and the emotional aftermath. The play never condescends to the audience and presents mesmerizingly intelligent characters grappling with extreme and unresolvable dilemmas. There is a sequence in the second act-- presented as a taping of a right-wing TV talk show in counterpoint to the downward spiralling emotional journey of the man taken captive by terrorists, that is some of the finest and most haunting writing I have ever seen on stage. Bravo.

So, what are you waiting for? Go buy a ticket for the 5th and find me after the show to discuss.

A new play by David Ian Lee
Directed by Nat Cassidy
July 20-22 & August 3-5
Manhattan Theatre SourcePurchase tickets now by visiting: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/60282

For reservations call 212-501-4751

Handcart Ensemble's Reading of Adam Kraar's EMPIRE OF THE TREES

UPDATE: Adam emailed me to let me know that the play is set in New Delhi, not New Calcutta. Oops. New Calcutta apparently only exists in my imagination, alas.

Caught the Handcart Ensemble reading of Adam Krarr's EMPIRE OF THE TREES yesterday. This play placed second in their playwriting contest. Mary Fengar Gail, who is friends with Adam, invited me and met me there.

This was a very evocative and rich script set in the early 196os in Calcutta. An American journalist (Carl) and his wife (Deborah) are living an isolated life abroad. Deborah is trying to recover from a miscarriage and becomes increasingly withdrawn and disappointed with the men in her life, finding refuge and romance with an untouchable book peddlar/beggar who comes to the house selling possibly stolen books. Adam developed the play at the William Inge Theatre Festival in Kansas earlier this year.

The lead actress, Catherine Eaton, did a suberb job with the play, I thought. She was playing a very meek and overly-polite southern woman of the sixties, but the actress' naturally forceful personality and passion spilled out of the character at unexpected moments-- created a compelling portrait of frustrated desire and longing for adventure. Also Ben Masur, who played her husband, lifted his character from what might have been a moustache-twirling melodrama villian into a fully human and almost sympathetic figure. Also Ed Hajj, who played roles as various as JFK, Indian servants, animate trees, and an oustanding Robert-Duval-from-Tender-Mercies southern patriarch, really stole the reading.

Went to the Zipper room afterward with Mary Fengar Gail, Adam, Ben, and Lorca Peress-- the artistic director of MultiStages, who produced a stunning and gorgeously realized version of Mary's play THE JUDAS TREE a few months ago. It is wonderful to go out with theater people and have long, wide-ranging discussions about the state of theater and trends in playwriting. Quite an enjoyable evening.

Back to Blog

I am a roach amongst blogsters, I know. Was my last blog entry really in April? Ouch. Many thousands of apologies. I will do my best to be better.

During my blog absence I have been rewriting plays like crazy getting ready for this Fall's production of the Angel Eater trilogy by Flux Theatre Ensemble. We will be at Wings, a little proscenium stage on Christopher Street in the West Village for the production. I hope to see you all there. I will post a lot of promotional material, and probably hit most of you with an email when we get closer to the show.

My production of San Merci was canceled by Maieutics due to lack of funds. That was a bummer. I have the script out a few places, so maybe it will pick up a production for next year.

My play RATTLERS will be produced at STAGEStheatre in Fullerton, CA, in November. It will open there on November 8th, about a week after it opens in New York, and run for 8 performances in rep with and on the set of THE DINNER PARTY. I am hoping to some see it-- RATTLERS on the set of THE DINNER PARTY is not to be missed in my opinion. Plus, the STAGEStheatre people are my favorite people on the planet and that is worth a plane ticket to LA. It is being directed by David Campos, who hid in a baby's basinet and made lizard/alien noises back in 1998(?) when STAGEStheatre produced the 15-minute one act version of my play THE MIRACLE OF MARY MACK'S BABY, starring myself and the wonderous Patti Cumby. Ah, good memories. Good times.

RATTLERS will also be party of Gallimaufry Performing Arts' first annual New Works Festival and receive a staged reading in the Pageant of the Masters Complex in Laguna Beach in the first or second weekend of November. Hoping to catch it and the STAGEStheatre show on the same weekend if I can. While not missing the trilogy's opening weekend in New York, of course.

Started an acting class with Austin Pendleton, who is wonderful and amazing. That is on Saturday mornings at HB Studios in the West Village. Loving that.

Will post something on what I am seeing later. Glad to be back!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Babylon Babylon, Room for Cream, crooked, Top Girls - Theaterorama

Had a big theater-going week. I caught the opening night of Babylon Babylon at the Brick last Friday. Then on Saturday I caught a double feature, hitting the Theatre of Two-Headed Calf's Dyke Division serial Room for Cream at LaMama Etc. in the afternoon and The Women's Project's crooked by Catherine Trieschmann that night. Then last night, I caught a preview of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls at MTC's Biltmore Theater.

Babylon Babylon. This is perhaps the best concept for a theater piece I have seen since attending a storefront production of Mary Zimmerman's Arabian Nights 13 years ago in Chicago. Author/director/performer Jeff Lewonczyk gets high points for scope of vision and audacity with this. The action follows a group of townswomen in Babylon who prostitute themselves at the temple of Ishtar on the eve of Babylon's fall to the Persian army. The tone is largely comic, although some serious and mythic notes creep into the script. The costumes and set have a delightful thrift-store pagentry to them and the 30+ member cast is gorgeously committed and adorably enthusiastic about their roles. It runs a bit long (2 hours 15 minutes with no intermission on the night I went), and there is some uneveness in the script-- but there is a lot to enjoy about this quirky and unlikely assemblage. I loved Hope Cartelli as the priestess to Ishtar, Mike Criscuolo as a hapless prince of Babylon, Iracel Rivero as a simple country girl, Robin Reed's rich snotty lady, Melina Gac-Artigas as a serene and reluctant virgin and Kamran Khan as both a beggar and a rich slaver. Amantha May's choreography was also stand-out and bewitching (I went to college with her, many, many years ago).

Room for Cream. RfC is an on-going lesbian supernatural soap opera that plays to sell-out crowds at LaMama each week. Each Saturday brings a new script, fully produced and memorized by an eclectic cast and weekly guest star. I caught episode #8, Chaotica by Laura Stinger. This was all the campy, sexy, silly fun you could expect. Becca Blackwell as Dire Owens was wonderfully authentic and comic and script was imaginative and outrageous. At only 8 bucks is it a theatrical bargain-shopper's paradise, too. I hear that tickets tend to sellout as soon as they go on sale on Sundays, though.

crooked. I thought this Catherine Trieschmann script at the Women's Project was truly outstanding. Definitely a not-to-miss experience for playwrights. The begining is a little soft and some staging issues interfere with what should have been a powerhouse ending-- but the dramatic engine and the complex, layered meat of this script is enthralling. I was thinking about this one for days after I saw it. The relationships are intricate and involving in a messy, organic way that is very hard to capture on stage. The cast (Betsy Aidern, Carmen M. Herlihy, and especially Cristin Milioti) was absolutely perfect. Direction (Liz Diamond) was wonderful throughout, until we hit the ending, which lost a lot of its impact because focus was drawn away from the strongest visual moment and boldest choice in the script. But, I walked out deeply satisfied. Two of the playwrights I play wisth every week at Flux Theater Ensemble's weekly Flux Sunday development workshop, Katie Marks (who has the misfortune of seeing me bumble my way as an actor through her delightful comedy Birdhouse at Flux) and Erin Taylor (whose excellent play Narrator One is getting a reading at Flux soon!). That was cool, to see some of my favorite women playwrights out supporting a woman playwright.

Top Girls. What an amazing experience to sit in the audience at MTC's previews, a couple rows away from Caryl Churchill, watching the Broadway debut of her classic and moving play Top Girls. I saw Chris Shinn there and he said outside the theater after the show, "they just don't make them like that anymore." This script shows up the banal, slick, and superficial gloss that modern playwrights feel compelled to cover their scripts with. There is a rough, organic, and beautifully unfinished poetry to this play that really sings forth in this production. The acting is already wonderful and seems to poised to grow as the play opens next week. It's true that some of the dialects are uneven-- but that is my only minor acting quibble. The delightful surprise of Martha Plimpton as 15-year-old Angie, Marisa Tomei's chameleon-like transformation into her mother Joyce, Elizabeth Marvel's tour de force Marlene, and Mary Catherine Garrison's astonishing turns as Kit and Shona are stand-outs in a tremendous ensemble show. The design is compellingly abstract, the costumes are a joy, and this is a production that grows on you as the night progresses. Highly recommended-- get tickets now.

Am off tomorrow night to see Mary Fengar Gail's The Judas Tree. Might sneak in a show tonight, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Untitled Mars and The NYTR Book Launch

Caught Untitled Mars by Jay Scheib at PS 122 last week. It is a sci/fi tech romp based heavily on Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip. In fact, it is pretty much a straight adaptation of Martian Time-Slip, with a few interviews with current Martian colony experts on the science of Mars colonization inserted and some intriguing staging.

I thought the cast was top-notch. Tanya Sevaratnam (Jackie) really pulled me in and made me feel like I was watching a real person. The staging is very reminiscent of Ivo van Hove's Misanthrope at NYTW last year-- with cameras and big screens and backstage moments. Not a device that does a whole lot for me, but people who dug Misanthrope should also like this. I liked the real science tidbits the best. I was happiest in the moments where I felt like I had accidentally intruded on an MIT lecture on the probability of Martian colonization. That was all fascinating. It is a good show for a techno-geek or Philip K.-fanatic.

On Friday, I caught the New York Theatre Review book launch at the Drama Bookstore. They presented an excerpt from Tommy Smith's play White Hot that was one of the funniest and most engaging scenes I have seen in a long time. I was really bummed to have missed the production last year! Maybe it'll come back with the Fringe Fest or something. Also a fascinating essay from Victoria Linchong about the early history of and demise of the Cafe Cino in Greenwich in the 1960s. I finished reading that essay on the subway ride home from the launch and loved it. Lots of strong stuff this year!

In other news, the Maieutics Theatre Works' production of Sans Merci is cast and rehearsals should begin in a few weeks. I am not sure if actresses have been notified/accepted yet-- so no hints. Except the cast rocks and I expect miracles. I am frantically rewriting Godsbreath and 8 Little Antichrists simultaneously. Which will undoubtedly lead to my antichrist puppets raising game cocks and a procreationist multi-birth breeder vats with uterine simulant technology appearing in the Godsbreath cemetery. Which, hmmmm, might not be such a bad thing.

Planning to check out Babylon Babylon at the Brick on Friday. Am very excited about a play about temple slaves. How did they know about me and temple slaves?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flux Theatre Ensemble's Spring Benefit on Monday April 14th

I will be at Flux's benefit on Monday April 14th for their spring production of Midsummer. And my lovely publisher, Mr. Jason Aaron Goldberg of Original Works Publishing, has graciously donated copies of my plays COCKFIGHTERS and THE SACRED GEOMETRY OF S&M PORN for the silent auction part of the benefit-- along with a selection of other great titles from OWP (he didn't tell me what other scripts he gave Flux, so you will have to come see).


”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Benefit Party
April 14th, 2008

6:30pm to 10:30pm (arrive anytime)
The White Rabbit
145 E Houston St., NY, NY 10002 US
Door Price: $15
We are delighted to invite you to our Benefit Party for our production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” held at the White Rabbit. There will be drink specials, light hors d’oeuvres and a Raffle at the end of the night with excellent prizes. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to participate in our raffle, please go to our blog where you can view the prizes and buy your raffle tickets. More information can be found HERE.
All of the money raised will go directly to supporting our production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. We hope to see you there!

And check out the great raffle prixes up for grabs HERE.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Artwork for Maieutic Theatre Works Production of Sans Merci

Coming to the Roy Arias studios on 43rd and 8th in June.
Cool, huh? I can't wait to get postcards to push on people.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Congrats Christopher Shinn!

Shout out and congrats to playwright (and teacher of the EST summer conservatory workshop I did last summer) Christopher Shinn, who was a announced today as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize with his play Dying City. Way to go Chris!
I also recently solved the mystery as to why the Union Square Barnes & Noble features Chris' play book prominently on a table in the drama section all year round and not just when he has plays running. Connor Ratliff, the B&N staffer who mans that part of the fiction section on weekend mornings, premiered the role of June in the Royal Court (London) production of Chris' play Four in 1998. And they are buds. How is that for theater-based, Nancy Drew-style investigative journalism? Connor is also a playwright and has a reading coming up this summer at Theater for a New City.
Congrats also to Tracy Letts, winner of the Pulitzer for August: Osage County, and David Henry Hwang, finalist for Yellow Face. I don't know them, though.

Feed the Rude Guerilla

Just went to paypal and donated to help my friends at the spectacular Rude Guerilla Theatre Company. Hereby challenging anyone else interested in supporting exciting new work for the theatre to do the same.

Dear Friend of the Rude Guerrilla Theater Company,

We appreciate your support over the past 11 years of our existence. However, ticket sales alone make up only a portion of Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company’s operating budget. In order to grow and to be able to continue providing socially-conscious, provocative theatre that matters, we need your help.

This year, we are establishing The Guerrilla Guild – an annual giving program that will provide you an opportunity to be an active partof what the Los Angeles Times calls “…Orange County’s most daring ensemble”. By being part of the Guerrilla Guild each year, you will:

• Help us bring new and exciting theatre experiences to Orange County. We offer varied and innovative, thoughtprovoking
material, presented in new and daring stagings.
• Participate in promoting local artistic activities. We are gaining a solid reputation for providing cost-conscious access to the arts, and bringing theatre to those who may never have experienced it.
• Improve and expand our facilities and production capabilities, in order to provide even more exciting theatrical experiences. See the Wish List on our website for ways your contributions may be used.

As a Guerrilla Guild member:
• Your donations are tax-deductible. At the end of the year, you will receive a receipt for your total contributions to Rude Guerrilla, a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation.
• You will receive complimentary tickets and other benefits (see our website).
• You will receive recognition in our program and on Rude Guerrilla’s website.
Guerrilla Guild members may donate funds from $100 up, but all contributions are truly appreciated. To join the Guild, go to our website (www.rudeguerrilla.org) and click on the Donation Page link and you may contribute via Paypal. We also accept donations via regular mail, by check or credit card (Visa/MC/Amex). All donors are free to change the level of their contribution, or to opt out altogether, as circumstances require.

Or click on the link below and make a donation today!


We thank you for your support in the past and look forward to your continued generosity in the future.

Jay Fraley and Dave Barton
Artistic Directors
Rude Guerrilla Theater Company

Rude Guerrilla Theater Company is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
Federal Tax ID # 33-0859205. California Organization # 2121428
Rude Guerrilla Theater Company
202 North Broadway, Santa Ana, California 92701 714-547-4688

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Headshots

Got new headshots this weekend with Jason Berger. He is the older brother of my Deloitte coworker Debra, so it was nice to get to meet him and shoot with him.
Wish we could have done more outdoor shots-- but it was too cold and windy. I like the graffiti shot, though. That will be my new business card. I have already ordered them from vistaprint.com.
We took about 760 photos in two hours. I have decided that surely there is a level of hell devoted to looking at over 700 photos of yourself at one time. Yuck! If I am ever feeling conceited and superior, I will just pull out that CD and make myself look at all of them again. But, I did like a handful, so it is worth it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

New $200K Playwriting Award

From Philanthropy News Digest (pointed out to me by my friend Charlyn):

Steinberg Charitable Trust Establishes Awards for U.S. Playwrights

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust in New York City has announced the creation of two awards for American playwrights in different stages of their careers.

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award will honor a mid-career playwright whose body of work has already been recognized. With a cash prize of $200,000, it is believed be the largest award to honor American playwriting. The first award recipient will be announced this fall, and the prize will be awarded on a biennial basis thereafter. Beginning in 2009, the Steinberg Emerging Playwrights Award, also to be awarded biennially, will honor two early career playwrights whose professional work shows great promise; each recipient will receive a cash prize of $50,000.

The trust has established an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to determine the criteria for the awards, nominate playwrights, and select the recipients. The members of the committee are André Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater; David Emmes, producing artistic director of South Coast Repertory; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater; Polly K. Carl, producing artistic director of Playwrights Center; Martha Lavey, artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Eduardo Machado, playwright and artistic director of INTAR Theatre; and Marc Masterson, artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

"These awards have been years in the making," said the trust's board in a press release. "It is our desire to honor both the achievement and potential of these playwrights and provide them with the financial freedom to devote their best efforts to writing for the theater. We are thrilled to celebrate them, while hoping at the same time to strengthen the vitality and appeal of the theater in our society."

“The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Announces Creation of Major Playwriting Awards.” Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust 3/27/08.

Link to article here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Poor Itch and The Four of Us

I saw three shows in two days this weekend! Aren't I just a little fireball of theatrical energy?

Friday was American Globe Theatre's The Winter's Tale, Saturday matinee was Itamar Moses' The Four of Us at MTC, and Saturday night was the unfinished The Poor Itch by the late John Belluso. Winter's Tale was nice, my friend Christina Shipp was a fantastic Perdita, but I don't see enough Shakespeare to blog well about it, so I will skip to the other two show:

The Poor Itch by John Belluso is a fascinating production of an unfinished play. This is the play that John was writing when he died unexpectedly of heart failure in 2006. The director, Lisa Peterson, and the cast pulled together drafts and John's notes to fully stage the final draft he was working on at the time of his death. Knowing that gave an already powerful narrative an almost overwhelmly melancholy weight. Increasingly in the second act, the actors would step forward and read a synopsis of a scene John had sketched out in prose and end the description by saying "scene unwritten." That was one of the most painful conventions I have ever experienced in the theater. The story centers around an American soldier (Ian, played by a wonderfully conflcited and complicated Christopher Thornton) who was shot in the spine while fighting in Iraq and is now adjusting to life in a wheelchair in his blue-collar hometown. Deirdre O'Connell did a lovely job as his mother Coral, and Michael Chernus was outstanding as his loser friend Curt. All around, the casting for this was exceptionally good. It was a very gripping story and I hope the play goes on to more productions (like, at the Taper, maybe??). Big kudos to the director and cast. It must have been a very challenging project, and they pulled it off very beautifully.

Play two was Itamar Moses' The Four of Us at MTC. I am HUGE Bach at Leipzig fan, but this one was didn't hit the same level for me. The story is a two-person play about a playwright who has a good friend who is a novelist. The novelist sells his first novel for a $2 million royalty advance / film rights package and the resulting stress on their friendship propels the action of the play forward. About a third of the play takes place in flashbacks. I really, really wanted to like this and was prepared to worship Itamar Moses as a god-- but there were not any pretty Bach-era costumes, so the post of god is still open. (NOTE: I had a little more posted about this earlier, but decided to take down some of it. It was just more snarky than I intended-- really there are good points to the play and I don't really want to discourage people from attending or spoil ploy elements).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ran into Jerry Patch in the Lobby of The Public Theatre on Saturday

Nice to see friendly faces from my Orange County days. Well, he didn't recognize or remember me, even after I re-introduced myself, but still it was nice. I guess. He talked to us for a few minutes-- probably because I was with Toby Thelin, who works at his new theater, the Manhattan Theatre Club. Still. He talked to us. He said that Mary Fengar Gail is also moving to NY, so I am glad to get to see her soon.

He opined that Sarah Ruhl, Itamar Moses, and Noah Haidle are the only significant playwrights under 35 in the nation (good thing for him I just turned 35 in November, huh? Otherwise them would have been fighting words!). Ahem. And seemed to be really excited about getting to work at MTC.

I was there seeing John Belluso's THE POOR ITCH (which I will blog about later) and I think Jerry was just hanging around to meet up with somebody important. Not sure. He didn't say.

There is an article in the LA Times about how Jerry is transitioning from the Old Globe Theatre to the Manhattan Theatre Club. Your loss west coast, our gain.


Friday, March 7, 2008

2008 New York Theater Review is out APRIL 1!

Looking forward (now that I am debt-free) to buying several copies of this year's New York Theatre Review! It hits the shelves April 1st. The launch party will be April 11th at the Drama Bookstore.

I contributed this year, with rambling comments about moving from LA and launching a Big Apple blog in the bloggers article. That makes me almost spectacularly famous in addition to being debt-free.
Here is there promo stuff:
The third edition of the New York Theater Review, the
annual anthology chronicling the then, the now and that which may some day be in New York City alt-theater and performance, will be available worldwide on April 1.

With a cross-section of the best and the brightest in contemporary NYC alt-theater over the past year, our latest edition offers a combination of new plays from Ping Chong & Sara Michelle Zatz, Taylor Mac and Tommy Smith (see left), essays from Marya Sea Kaminski, Victoria Linchong and Zachary R. Mannheimer (see below), plus all kinds of extra goodies, such as a group mixer with NYC bloggers blindsquirrel (aka Johnna Adams), Obscene Jester (aka T. Nikki Cesare & Steve Luber), Playgoer (aka Garrett Eisler), Rat Sass (aka Nick Fracaro) and the Blog of Many Names that Change Quite Often (aka Jason Grote's).

Spending Some of that Work Bonus on Theaters

Now that I am debt-free (you are going to get really sick of hearing that phrase leave my mouth!), I am giving to some worthy theaters and thought I'd pressure encourage you to donate, too!

First off
Adam Szymkowicz shared an email on his blog that talks about how Culture Project had a pipe burst at their offices last month and lost over $100K in computers, supplies, flooring, lighting, phones, sound equipment, projection equipment, and production equipment. Yikes! Here is how they say you can help:
Please go to www.cultureproject.org or call 212-925-1806 to make a special credit card gift to Culture Project to help mitigate the effects of the flood. You can also mail a check to: Culture Project55 Mercer StreetNew York, NY 10013 Attention: Development
Also, I have sent in a donation to my buddies at Reverie Productions. Despite selling over 80% to their extremely well-reviewed and awesome production of Ariel Dorfman's WIDOWS, they are facing a production freeze next year to pay off the debt from the show. That would be a real shame. There is a donation button their website: http://www.reverieproductions.org/

March 7th is Johnna Emancipation Day!!

Hereforward we celebrate March 7th as Johnna Emancipation Day.

The work bonus hit my checking account at 9AM this morning. By 9:15AM, I had paid off my last credit card balance. I am, for the first time in my adult life, DEBT FREE.
What strange new world is this? Why, that heavy weight is lifting from my shoulders and I think I feel wings sprouting in its place.
Happy Johnna Emancipation Day.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Newsweek Reporter Writes Opinion Piece on Being Named Johnna

A coworker interoffice mailed me a Newsweek article by a Johnna Kaplan. It is a 500 or so word rant about the trials and tribulations of being named Johnna. I am disappointed that it never occured to me to try to turn the experience of being named Johnna into an article for Newsweek. Other Johnnas are evidently cleverer than me. That is disappointing.

Erik Patterson has a new blog

Primo, neato, Los Angeles dog-ear playwright Erik Patterson has launched a new blog.

You should definitely go read. He posted cool pictures of things to do lists he makes in a journal. I want to steal that idea (both the idea of keeping a journal just for to do lists, and the idea of taking photos of your journal to put online).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

GUESS THIS! Meme'd with a Movie Thingie by Adam

Adam is making me do this. It is a guessing game. Here are the rules:

Look up 15 of your favorite films on IMDb and take a
quote from each. List them below. When someone guesses the quote correctly,
cross it off the list

So post your guesses in the comments.

1. "I want a girl who's smart, a girl who can teach me things. I hate stupid women. You know why? You marry a stupid girl, you have stupid kids. You don't believe me? Follow a stupid kid home and see if somebody stupid don't answer the door." HINT: Oscar winning screenwriter

2. "I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom. "

3. "I hear a throat begging to be cut!"
"Are you so eager to see blood flow?"
"As eager as you are to drink it!"

4. "If I'd known we were gonna cast our feelings into words, I'd've memorized the Song of Solomon. "

5. 'I wonder by my troth, what thou and I Did, till we loved? were we not wean'd till then? But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den? 'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ; If ever any beauty I did see, Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee. And now good-morrow to our waking souls, Which watch not one another out of fear ; For love all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room an everywhere. Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ; Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ; Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one. My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; Where can we find two better hemispheres Without sharp north, without declining west? Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally; If our two loves be one, or thou and I Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die. "

6. "This is an oubliette, labyrinth's full of 'em."
"Really. How do you know that?"

"Oh don't act so smart. You don't even know what an oubliette is." /s>
"Do you?"

" Yes. It's a place you put people... to forget about 'em!"

7. "There's a family with kids. Do the kids and make the mother watch. Tell her you'll stop if she can hold back her tears. I *owe* her that."

8. "Once I stole a pair of red underwear from the department store. My mom wouldn't buy them for me - she said they were Satan's panties!
9. "That's OK. I never did have much luck with sex anyway. "

"Your luck's about to change, cher."

10. "I saw a young officer on deck the other day, and he looked DAMN familiar... even with his clothes on. "
"So... he recognized ya, so?"
"So doesn't that bother you?"
"If it bothered me, I wouldn'ta married ya."
"Well first you arrested me six times."
"Well I had to figure out some way to keep you off the streets... until you'd marry me."

11. "In my mind's eye, I see, three circles joined in priceless, graceful harmony. Two full as the moon, one hollow as a crown. Two from the sea, five fathoms down. One from the earth, deep under the ground. The whole, a mark of high renown. Tell me, what can it be?"

12. "Now look, I once stood exposed to the Dragon's Breath so that a man could lie one night with a woman. It took me nine moons to recover. And all for this lunacy called, "love, " this mad distemper that strikes down both beggar and king. Never again. Never. "

13. "Lastday, Capricorn 29's. Year of the City: 2274. Carousel begins."
"No! Don't! Don't go! Listen to him! He's telling the truth! We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it! "
"Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! THERE IS NO RENEWAL! "

14. "I'm Prince Precious, rightful heir to the throne of Porno. Years ago, this planet was a veritable paradise. But Wang, a maniacal botanist whose organ was devoured by a crazed Penis Flytrap, could not tolerate the existence of so much pleasure, and so, banding together an army of the impotent and frustrated, and armed with a small but effective sex ray, plunged my palace into carnal chaos, and took it over. "

15. "De-crucify the angel!"
"What? "
"De-crucify him or I'll melt your face!"

I tag Barton, Modern Fabulosity, Robert T, and Eric Eberwein.

A Midsummer Night's Doodle

Rainbow over Lady Liberty

Visited the Statue of Liberty with my friend Lesley this weekend and snapped these photos of a rainbow streaming from the torch. Cool.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Romance at Grand Central Station

Late posting this, but I took this photo of the florist shop at Grand Central Terminal on Valentine's Day, when the poor florists were besieged by desperate, lovelorn procrastinators. It was quite a madhouse.

Ride the Train in the Snow with Me

Shot two 30 second clips from an N train window last week when the heavy snow was on the ground. I find watching the clips really peaceful.