Friday, December 28, 2007

The obligatory end of the year post

Following my good friend Don Hall's example, I think now is the time to start reflecting on the year that was and the year to come.

1) The "Walkabout" that ended.

It was approximately 2 and half years ago that I decided that I needed a change of scenery. My decision was to leave Chicago, travel as much as possible, and try a new city. I had decided on Atlanta. There was an art scene there. I had many friends who had settled down there. And the area, especially suburbs north of the city were lush beautiful country. Next to Chicago, Atlanta seemed to make the most sense as a base of operations. But before nesting in the ATL, I wanted to stretch my wings and see parts of the country, I never had before.

I quit my job at the AMA (A job I had held for 6 years), and I had movers put my stuff into storage. I then cashed out my 401k and flew to Seattle to start a 3 week trip down the length of the West Coast (Seattle to LA). That was a truly remarkable trip, and I can't wait to do it again (except next time I'll start in LA and head up to Seattle).

After a week in LA, I flew to Atlanta bought a car and started my job search. I got a software training position, which required 50% travel so I would get to see even more of the country. However, this position also made it difficult to start putting down any roots in Atlanta's art scene.

Six months into my stay in Atlanta, I started to realize that I was missing Chicago. Like a line from Nelson Algren, Chicago was a part of me for better or for worse. It was time to return. And so return I did, approximately one year ago. It was hard to do, fearful financially, but that too shall pass.

Since coming back in Dec of 2006, I owe so much to my friends. Ron Kroll and Lisa Ruhland were good enough to tolerate me sleeping in the basement at Lisa's home in Berwyn until I got a deposit together for my apartment in Ravenswood. Don Hall and the folks at WNEP welcomed me into the Armageddon Radio Hour. Between that and Jen Ellison's Write Club, the network of already established friends in the windy city grew and grew almost effortlessly. It didn't take long before I was assistant directing WNEP Dada, and even contemplating a possible joining of their company. I was seriously indebted to those folks and that organization for helping me to get my feet wet again, to start flexing those artistic muscles I had let atrophy since the last Mammals production in 2005. So when I was asked if I would be interested in joining (more like asked if I would like to be asked) I felt incredibly torn. I enjoy collaborating with these people. I have so much affection and respect for them. They are my kind of people, but the visions of the type of theater I was meant to make, visions that abandoned me back in 2005, those visions were returning. My dreams and ambitions were coming back. And newer ambitions were accompanying them. I remembered that the reason I returned to Chicago was not only to work with wonderful people like the folks at WNEP, but to start up again The Mammals Theatre Company.

2) Getting back to the Mammals

After deciding that the Mammals Theater Company was where I had to put the bulk of my energy, I got the company back online albeit with a different website (www.chicagomammals.com). I also set about to get a production scheduled. The decision was to do Clay Continent in April 2008. Clay Continent seemed a natural choice since it is the classic sort of Mammals production. It incorporated a creepy horror based narrative. It was emmersive, it used performance art strategies but still was a traditional straight play. And last but not least, I thought it would be fun. It is a signature production of the company first fully realized during the Mammals first year of production in Chicago. The piece is challenging but still accessible, and it was both a crowd pleaser and a critical success.

There will also be a fall show TBA for the Mammals. I am not sure if it will be a remount of a previous production (Mexican Wrestling Macbeth comes to mind), or if it will be a new production or one of the three full length projects I have (The Meatlocker, Animal Control, or Seven Snakes). I think it would be best to wait until Clay Continent opens before settling on the fall project. One thing going forward that I am not doing is announcing seasons. For a small group like the Mammals I don't see the point. People who want to see our work already come to the shows. Selling a season takes work and too much time and locks a small company into a situation that to be blunt it might not be interested in pursuing 6 to 9 months later due to more exciting material appearing in the interim.

Back in the day, The Mammals had their own rehearsal space which was a real boon when it came to putting together our own productions and workshops. It was however, an albatross around our collective necks at all other times. The overhead and upkeep during 3 to 6 month stretches where we weren't in production was too much ultimately. If a company can be in rehearsals and in production 9 months out of the year, then I think having your own space is worth the financial and otherwise commitment. However, even without the space, the Mammals are going to have to do workshops of new pieces and new projects. Among them this year, the Mammals will be having workshops on the presentation of speculative fiction (aka science fiction) with particular emphasis on dystopia in the theater.

The biggest administrative project that needs to be addressed in the new year for the mammals will be re-establishing our 501c3. I have heard that this is not too hard. I shall soon see.

Aside from that, I think the biggest challenge will be not get re-addicted to coffee. That and keeping myself in some sort of shape.

3) Shape up jerk!

I started working out 3 months ago. I got to keep it up. I haven't worked out the past 2 weeks, sort of taking a workout vacation during the holidays and I can feel it. I do feel alot better when I workout. I have an exercise bike now at the house (got it out of storage in Atlanta) so I want to start working out even just a little bit in the morning before I head out to work. Even just 15 or 20 minutes. Get the blood pumping though the veins before the day starts.

And, I know it is a ridiculous cliche, but I got to eat better. I'd be seeing more results with the working out if I wasn't still eating for two.

4) Want to do my show?

After having completed my first full length play, I realized that my ambitions as a playwright needed to be re-examined. There was a time when I was content to direct all my own scripts. More than content, I wanted to be the only one to direct the work. I was obsessed with control over all aspects of the piece. But, even if you can control the production, all the minutia of a live event (forget it man), I am of the mind that I want rather to be obsessive about communicating with as many people as possible. In order to do that I need to get other people interested in directing my scripts. To that end, I joined the Chicago Dramatists. I need an avenue in which to network as a playwright and Chicago Dramatists is the best possible venue for that. The Mammals gives me and opportunity to explore my vision as a director, producer, a dramatist over all. Much of the work I do with the Mammals requires the sort of gestalt approach to creation, works of theater that ride the fence between straight plays and performance art. Chicago Dramatists will give me place where my main focus, all the effort will be towards marketing my work and thinking of myself as a playwright first and foremost ahead of any other role that one performs in the theater world.

5) Is there anything else to live than theater?

I always spend time wondering what sort of things I can do to be a better person, to improve my mind, my soul, in short... me. I plan on learning new languages, pursuing new artistic mediums, paintings I want to brush, people I want to meet, etc, etc. This year I started editing my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. I didn't finish, but did get half way through a 2007 NaNoWriMo novel. Perhaps, I could think more about committing some time to writing first draft prose in a month other than November. I'm also interested in reading all the science fiction that I haven't picked up since childhood. This is the year I want to finally get a passport and see somewhere outside the US. I want to get to more baseball this year than I did last year, both Major and Minor league. I want to start following Japanese Baseball. This year I could try to get published or to at the very least self publish. I could do that one man sock puppet remembrance of Charles Bukowski. Ingest more science news. Start playing a musical instrument. Get an i-phone, or maybe get those hair plugs I've been dreaming about. Will I do any of these things? Maybe, No the worse for listing these possible resolutions.

Back to theater this year

Clay Continent
WNEP's Hopper Project
Fall Production with the Mammals.
Dystopian Workshops
Continue with WNEP Write Club
Chicago Dramatists

Alright...happy new year to all!!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Play I'd like to see

Without Death, The Lord is Denied his Harvest

Set 75 years in the future, science has found a way to extend the human lifespan. The years of healthy life one can expect to live increases each year with newer healthcare technology to the point where in the former United States there has not had a registered death by natural cause in 25 years. Lifespan is like computer memory, it seems each new year brings out an upgrade.

A small cult has formed that believes it must kill as many people as it can who are in their twilight years, there borrowed years so to speak. And there is a wave of homicides of healthy centigenarians.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Completely done with ATL this time next week

Dude, I am tired. I am one spent SOB. I am going straight home today after work. I should workout, but I'm crashing.

On the non-art front, next week I am getting all my stuff from storage in Atlanta and bringing it all back to Chicago. Done with Atlanta. That will be such a relieve. The storage has been costing me 100 a month. It will be nice to have that expense gone. It will be nice to have all my books again. I have missed them. i like to be in a house or an apartment with lots and lots of books. I always have. I'll get my DVDs back. This will also be seriously cool. And my CDs. My leather armchair. Ohhh man, I cant wait. My exercise bike. I usually exercise about 2 hours more per week if I have that bike. Microwave, Ice Tea maker. White Sox Coffee Mug. My desk top with all my old files.

Ohhhh man I cant wait. I have to clean up the apartment this weekend. It is amazing how much of a disaster zone it is.

Small...Maybe...But with "qualifiers"

There is still a place in this world for ambition. When is "small" good and when is it bad?

Every time I have something I want to say I predict one of two responses.

"Amen, brother" or "Don't preach to me"

Don has had some rumination about Scott Walter's comment. So have I. However, this morning I think I'd rather issue a challenge. Before anyone tells me what they intended in their post, let me say that this is not a rebuttal to Don's post or Scott's comment.

I have often said after reading my Zen that there is a virtue in smallness. However, I do believe that in the end smallness is a part of the journey. Smallness should not be the destination.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to change the world. And if you want to change the world, the best place to start is your own neighborhood. But it is not enough to stop at the city limits.

We all want contentment. But if we decide that the path to contentment is to want less, do less, see and hear and attempt less, down that road lies perdition. Nobody wants to be Don Quixote Nobody wants to be Cassandra. But, in every realm of human experience it is those that attempted the exceptional that transformed the world we live in. You don't have to attempt world wide distribution of your creative expression. But you should conceive of distributing it to as many people as possible. You should write about BIG things. You plays should be about BIG things. And realize that it is Never Enough. Why? Because tomorrow's needs present themselves regardless of my contentment with today's meal.

When I consume art, I can conceive of being content. When I create art, contentment is a mirage. The piece is never finished. There is always someone out there who hasn't see my creative expression that might derive some kind of value from it.

If live puts us in a position where we have only so much resource to dedicate to our creative expressions, well that is reality. But, I always want to be reaching for something that is just outside my grasp. I always want to be able to life 5 pounds more this week than I did last week. I want lofty goals. I want...I want...I want...

Wow, Bob that's sort of selfish isn't it? That is what I think of as being alive. That is the first thing the actor is taught to figure out. I get out of bed in the morning because of WANT.

Living and creating within your means seems like a good thing. But never stop trying to improve your means. Never stop trying to conceive of your words, your images, your expression in new ways that add value to them to more people.

The solution not be to find contentment with a smaller circle. It is not enough to merely be heard. You must find something to say that matters. And if what you say matters then get that in front of as large an audience as you can.


Bob Fisher
chicagomammals.com
devilvet.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Animal Control Reading

Of course, I love anyone's comments/response to this, but those of you who were at the reading...Don, Goss, Jen, Karyn, Merrie, Stinton, Dan, Nick, Nathan...I would love any feedback you have

I've been contemplating what if anything to write about the reading of Animal Control. I have this itch. Was is that itch? A tickle in my throat, a solitary pop rock in my ear. Fear probably. I watched a bit of Peter Brook on DVD and he talked about fear. He talked about those who have no fear of the water are the very best swimmers. So, back to the reading...I think I should jump in and disregard the itch.

I had a great gang of folks there reading the material.

One thing I think that bothered some of the jury was that the tonal quality of the Scenes with the protagonist and his wife were different from the other scenes in the piece. I was told that the scenes with the wife were very 'realistic' very 'kitchen sink'...many of them did by the way take place in the kitchen around a meal. But the other scenes were viewed less 'realistic'. Words like symbolism, Shepard-like, Parable, dreamy, imagined...these were the terms most of the commentors gave. Did I expect that sort of feedback? I knew there was a tonal quality that was different, but I never thought of the non-Lily scenes as dreamy...even with the iconic images and experiments with language, to my mind they were as real as the literal kitchen scenes, the only difference was the way characters used language. Any reason for that was character i.e. poets, musicians, artists, freaks using more ornate speech than say the blue collar folks in the play who were with no artistic aspirations.

How much of this is due to 'problems' with the script? I dont know. I did get the sense from most people in the room that there was alot they liked about the script, the characters, the language...So maybe it is that the shift in language between Lily and the other scenes would feel less jarring if Lily's speech were a little more poetic. If we got to see that she is with this husband for a reason, that even though she doesn't play and instrument she is still of right brain thinker, still capable of matching the fluidity of speech that all the musicians around her use. As it is right now, I think she rarely uses a simile or a metaphor, except for one line of sexual innuendo (that got a sound, smile, response from everybody at the reading).

Another thing about Lily and Axe, people wanted to get a sense of what had changed since the storm for them. Lily seems so in opposition to the wants and desires of Axe, for some of the readers it seemed like why would they have stayed together. What do they give each other. He doesn't want to lose her in the end of the play, but what is he losing other than a voice of complaint about his true desire which is the art? This issue, I do want to address in a future draft. I think that she loves him because of his music. She is transformed by his sound. The romantic musician adoration thing. He is in love with her because she got him off the junk which enabled him to be a better musician. She freed him of that burden and as a result he came in to greater proximity of his true voice. In his mind, she is tied to notion of clean living, staying out of real trouble. Combine that with the adoration she gives him, and that should be enough for any man. These elements need to be brought into the future draft.

I have thought about making Lily since the storm having bad dreams. Dreams about losing Axe or about bad things happening to him. And it is these dreams that drive her to plead with him to not go to the bridge. As opposed to just jealousy, which is what it reads as right now.

Another thing that bother them was that they couldn't conceive of why the Man In Suit would pursue Axe, the protagonist with such vigor. The connection, the intention of Man In Suit's prosecution wasn't clear. The relationship was captivating but not explicable? I need to draw stronger parallels between the Animal Control and the Man In Suit. The hunter and his prey. Man In Suit whistling at the men the way one whistlers at dogs. Lost dogs - Missing Person...does this have to be more evident in the script?

The parallels between Sandwich Man's poem and Axe's Voice/Song...I thing those are pretty clear. If anyone who has read it feels differently, please let me know.

Also, the Photographer. I think we can make her more of a beacon to the dark side. She should be offering more of a forbidden fruit. Not her sex, but everything seamy about nightlife. She should be a voice of temptation so that the deal with the devil and it's relation to her are a little more evident.

How does race play into this piece? There was a time were I was contemplating that Axe was black, but why didn't it follow through with that. Fear, lots of fear. Fear of making a fool of myself writing this character. Fear that even if I knew him, I couldn't know his blackness. Fear that if the play had a black protagonist but wasn't a "black" play there would be no market for it. If Axe is black, then is Lily black...And in the end this wasn't suppose to be a play about Axe's blackness or non blackness. This was supposed to be a play about Government Authority, about the government's relationship to the people after a catastrophe like this. If I introduce a racial element does that complicate my intent or even subvert it?

So, I'm not adding a note about race to the final script. These characters can be any ethnicity the reader envisions. That's my word on that.

Anyway, these are my thoughts thus far about the reading of Animal Control.

Thanks for reading and for any comments.

Monday, December 10, 2007

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Mike Mitchell



I love this guy maybe as much as Mike Mignola

Hopper Piece




(She is seated on the bed, looking out the window. He is in an armchair looking at her.)

H-Wake up

S-I am up

H-Then get dressed

(She doesn’t move.)

H-I said get dressed

S-I am wearing something

H-Something decent

S-I like what I’m wearing. It’s comfortable

H-You can’t go out like that

H- I said, you can’t go out in that. It’s too cold.

S-I’m not going out.

H-You said we’d go out.

S-I can’t

H-Why not?

S-I don’t want to

H-Look at me… Look at me.

(She looks at him.)

S-I’m not going out.

H-It’s no good just sitting up here.

(She looks back out the window)

H-What are looking at?

S-The water

H-You can’t see the water from here.

S-Just a bit.

(He goes to the window)

H-I don’t see anything.

S-Mermaids. I see mermaids.

H-I thought you promised me we were going to out? Aren’t you bored up here?

S-You go

H-I’m not leaving you alone.

S-I’ll be fine

H-Like last time.

S-Will you draw your mermaid a bath?

H-You already had your bath

H-I think we need a radio.

S-No. I like it quiet. Or I can’t hear the waves

H-You can’t hear the waves. Nobody can hear any waves from here?

S-Yes

H-It is too far away. Too high up.

S-Come here

H-You promised we’d go out today.

S-Look there. The sun.

H-I can’t

S-Why not

H-It’s blinding

H-If we’re not going anywhere. Will you dance for me?

(She laughes)

S-In a minute

H-Like you did on the boardwalk. Before it went to pot.

(He goes to the closet and pulls out a box. It is full of photos.)

H-Remember this?

S-Show me?

(He brings it over and holds it up for her to see.)

S-I used to have hips

H-You still got hips

S-No no no. You’re sweet. Those aren’t hips. Old mermaids don’t keep there hips.

(She touches her legs.)

H-You still got hips, honey. You love this hips

(She points to the photo)

S-You don’t miss those hips?

H-Those hips are these hips.

S-You’re breathing heavy, Stan

H-If were not going out. Then lets stay in. Lets really stand in baby.

S-You like my dancing?

H-I love it. I want you move.

S-But then I can’t see it.

(She points to the window)

H-But if you don’t move, why are we here?

S-Maybe tonight

H-No, dance for me now. I can’t stand it in here.

S-Ok…ok…I’ll dance. We don’t have any music.

H-I’ll be your music.

(He starts humming. She is staring out the window. Always out the window. She starts to move her shoulders a little.)

S-Not so loud. I want to hear the waves

H-There’s no waves

S-You’re just look looking right.

H-Show me the waves

(She points to the arm chair.)

S-Sit.

H-Come on

(He is smelling her hair.)

S-Over there. I’m going to dance for you. I’m going to show you waves

(He sits down. She stands up. He starts humming again. She hunts around for a shoe under the bed and throws it at him softly.)

H-What?

S-I told you to be quiet. Listen.

(She dances while looking at the window. It is slow shoulders and hips.)

H-Back at the boardwalk.

(Her garment slips off. She is dancing naked.)

S-I’m treading water. I’m treading water for you baby.

H-I’m back at the boardwalk. Tell me I’m your boy.

S-You’re my boy. Come to me.

(They dance. He is his bathrobe. She is naked. We can hear the ocean.)

S-Put me on the bed.

(He does. She rolls over. He touches her. The phone rings.)

S-You don’t have to get it

H-They wont stop till I get it

(He gets off the bed. Goes to answer the phone. She looks through the photos in the box. We can’t hear the ocean anymore. He comes back and sits on the edge of the bed.)

S-It was the kids?

H-They’ll be here tomorrow

S-You know they have an agenda

H-Yeah.

S-I don’t want go with them. Were not going.

(He cries a little.)

S-Come to me. You’re my boy.

(She gestures. She invites him. He leans in. Blackout.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Meet the Sandwich Man

SANDWICH MAN

I wrote me a poem. This was back during the depression, but I wrote me a poem that was so powerful, so incredible, that it had the ability to change the perception of anyone who experienced it.

I used to recite this poem everywhere I’d go. People would just open up like dandelions and they’d take the poem where ever they’d go. And, there weren’t no more struggling, weren’t no more strife. People made sure each other was fed and clothed, and they didn’t need no police, no church and no trials cause they weren’t no crime. That poem made every place to which it was spoken into an Eden. I were Eden even in the midst of Depression. Eden.

Then a man in a suit asked me if I would speak my poem for the government. He said the government were going to give me my very own radio station and fill in all the cavities in my teeth.

The only condition were I weren’t to tell my poem to no one in person. No face to face. If I were to get my very own radio station, I were to only say the poem into the microphone what was at the station. And, I had no problem with that. Seemed like trading in a slingshot for a howitzer.

I thought I’d now be spreading the word. I thought I had the catbird seat. So, I make my mark on the paper, and first thing first, they fill in the holes on all my teeth. I were weak for sweets, so I had cavities in every tooth but this one. Government fillings made my mouth warm, but it weren’t till later I found out why.

So the station they give me is out to the middle of the desert, not even barely dirt roads. They say since that there were a war on, this was all they could do for, and not to worry. Once the war was won, we’d upgrade the station. So, I lived there at the station, and once a week I’d see the man in the suit come by with groceries and what not ask me how I’d been.

During those years, aside from him there were no one I saw face to face. It were lonesome, but I stuck with it cause I thought I was coast to coast on the air spreading the word. It weren’t until some native American happened by with one of those battery powered radios that I found out I weren’t broadcasting no where. They put me in the station and gave me the microphone, but they weren’t no signal. The antenna on the roof were bunk.

Once, I figured it out, I fled. And once Idid they were after me. Then every time I’d land in a place where I could settle for a bit, I’d think to tell my poem to somebody again. Tell em to their face and spread the word. But before I could speak the poem my mouth would start to burn. Those government fillings would sizzle red hot. It got so if I even just though of the poem my teeth would burn and turn my spit to steam. I couldn’t eat. I could barely drink. I got so I was fearing the worst.

I knew they was looking for me. So, finally I let the man in the suit catch up. I remember it were a full moon and the van pulled up next to me. They put me in the van, and they give me a shot of something. When I woke up they had taken all my teeth. They left me with just the one right here. The tooth with no filling.

Now before they let me go though, they made me put my mark on some paper meaning that I wasn;t going to say me poem, my special poem to no one no more.

Maybe you want to hear it? Maybe you want it to open you up? To hell with the FBI. I’d tell you if you asked except it’s been so long.

(Touched his mouth)

I can’t…I can’t remember it all. It aint nothing without I say the whole thing through. And it’s been so long I can’t remember it all.

They still tail me in case it comes back I guess. They want to make sure I wont speak it. I can’t. I can’t. But they don’t stop hounding me. They got a man in suit and they got a man what is a wolf man follow me all the time day or night. I can’t tell you that poem. But, I got some new poems though. I got some new ones I want to share with ya.

The CIA can scan you via satellite

Awesome scam!!!


The couple that preyed together won't stay together. They are going to separate federal prisons.
Brent Eric Finley -- who along with his wife scammed family, friends and neighbors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with a far-fetched scheme of using the CIA and some of its technology to head off serious medical problems -- has been sentenced in federal court to four years and three months in prison. Finley, 38, of Rayville must report to prison by Feb. 4.
His wife, Stacey, who prosecutors believe was the dominant personality in the massive fraud, was sentenced earlier this year to five years and three months in prison.
Over a period of six years, the Finleys persuaded 22 people to pay them a total of $989,898, prosecutors said. Many of the victims, who ranged in age from young adults to the elderly, depleted savings, insurance policies, and pension funds.
Stacey Finley, 34, persuaded her targets -- described by federal prosecutors as "solid, middle-class, educated citizens" -- that she was a CIA agent and could use her agency contacts to have medical scans conducted by satellite. Finley said the scans would reveal hidden medical problems, prosecutors said, and that CIA agents would then enter their homes and administer secret medications while they slept. Those treatments would supposedly prevent serious health problems and hereditary diseases.
The FBI began investigating after one of the victims became suspicious and told a local law enforcement officer.
Stacey Finley is not associated with the spy agency, prosecutors said
The Finleys were ordered to make restitution in the amount of $873,786.94. Prosecutors said that money won't come from what was stolen because the victims' money was spent. They said the Finleys owned a home and five vehicles, but their house was mortgaged and the vehicles financed and there were few other assets.
Asked how so many people could be conned by such far-fetched claims, U.S. Attorney Donald Washington described Finley as "a cult-like, charismatic personality."


Now, that's a story!!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Writing so far?

So, anyone who cares might ask where are those Dystopian fictional news articles? Well, I've had to put that one on the back burner for a few more days. Last month was the NaNoWriMo, and between that and trying to get my latest project ready to be ready on Sunday...I've had other fish to fry. And last month strangely seemed like I had writer's block (although anyone who writes over 25,000 words roughly 50 pages of single spaced text and thinks they had writer's block ought to check themselves into the mental ward).

Animal Control is coming together. Some times I get real doubtful. Other times, I get real excited. I feel the push, the pressure and the deadline looming. I found it so hard to type out and work on last month, because anytime I sat down at the computer I felt bad if I wasn;t doing the NaNoWriMo. Ultimately, I didn;t get either project done last month. Don't point your finger and gloat though. I did get a heck of alot of stuff done. I will call NaNoWriMo this year a failure but a fabulous failure, and from the ashes of those 50 pages will come some awesome material.

Right now, I'm getting every thing in my spiral bounds into the computer and that can be frustrating. Things that seemed full fleshed out in pencil can seem thin and wispy when you start typing them our. Alot of charm falls by the way side once the genius is no longer doodled and instead is set in type. No longer a amateur delve into outsider art, now it is just words on paper. You spend so much time trying to flesh out one character that you sudden worry if you have the time and energy to flesh out the other character. Are your female characters real? Interesting? Or are all the women at the reading condescending to you, like your a big baby and reading his drivel female characters is easier than worrying about his suicide attempts if no one will read the work out loud at all...(OK enough melodramatics)

So, where once there was confidence. Now there is doubt. It can be a good thing. Remember it doesn't have to perfect. That's why we are reading it. If it were perfect we wouldn;t need it to be read like this. Deep breaths and keep working.

Not all more postwise until the reading happens. If anyone is interested in coming, it will be Sunday December 9th at 7:00pm at the Uptown Writer's Space on Lawrence and Broadway

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dystopia 3 - The first challenge


So, the first challenge I am going to set for myself is attempting on a daily or near daily basis to write a fictional newspaper article for an imaginary dystopian world. I think this might be a worthy technique for generating material aiding any sort of eventual world building. Also, I believe this will be a great exercise for creative writing in a general sense. Most newspaper articles are 3 to 5 paragraphs long. I found a simple paradigm online for the creation of newspaper articles. It this works, after a couple of months I will have a wonder pantheon of articles/ideas to use as leaping off points when the workshops begin in April 2008.


If any body wants to join in on this writing exercise, please let me know. It could be something fun for a bunch of us to attempt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dystopia 2


Alright, i think we've got a handful of people interested in the dystopia project (we'll come up with a better project title later. First thing I think we need to do is generate a notion of what dystopia is, where the genre has been. In order to do this, I will begin linking to source material on the web and putting a quick short list for reference in the right hand margin. If those of you out there have ideas or suggestions of what to include in this dystopian reference guide, please let me know. Also, I am interested to know what sort of topics or narratives interest you as possible targets for our dystopian vision.


Wikipedia's list of dystopian literature.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Dystopia

Dystopia

I have been tossing around the idea of starting a bi-weekly workshop in the new year. The focus of this workshop will be to find interesting, provocative, captivating ways to stage dystopia in front of a live audience.

Not only we will look at ways to stage preexisting dystopian visions, we will attempt to define and create a novel dystopian narrative. We will look at the science fiction dystopian genre and attempt to find new ways to approach it, new angles, new elements.

Rather than merely repeat the excellent paradigms already saturating modern thought, we might strive to see what sort of potential for evolution that medium/genre has.

Another question I am interested in is how those of us can transcend the "Cassandra complex" and hopefully suggest or inspire further conversation that goes beyond a mere performance. I am interested in working with people who want to use the stage use live theater but are excited at the notion of using kindred mediums to expand upon the participants avenues as storytellers and as potential activists.

So, I want to know if this sort of project appeals to anyone else out there. I want to know what sort of dystopian narratives in any sort of medium appeal to those of you who read this blog. And I want to know what are the elements of dystopian narrative that seem to have endless appeal to you and/or the elements, ideas, etc in these types of stories that you feel are too repetitive/played out.

The goal will be start meeting in April of 2008 and use the remainder of the year building a production of Spring 2009.

Who likes this idea? Who is in?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Potential Set Design 2



Both productions of the original Clay Continent were performed in a small (very small) storefront space. The space sat only 20 people and we sat them at a diagonal so that we could have sight lines that enabled us to use the back room at the space in a interesting voyeuristic sort of way. There was a huge piece of plastic drop that was stretched at a diagonal as well but it ran parallel to the front row of seats. The remount in April will be in a more traditional space and I'm not so sure that we have non traditional non proscenium options when it comes to the audience's relation to the action and the spectacle. Still I wanted to attempt this scenic design model to see if it inspires new thought as it reminds us (the Mammals) of what was achieved in the past.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do you believe in NaNoWriMo?

So, I was hanging out with a fellow writer the other night (you know who you are!) and I was telling her about NaNoWriMo and the whole sort of philosophy behind it. The philosophy that if you just keep putting words on the page until you have 50,000 words you'll have sometime of value (at the very least personal value). She smiled a wry smile (I thought it was wry) and asked me if I really believed that.

And, I do. Now, I am not saying that you will have a publishable manuscript at the end of 30 days. In fact, the idea that you could just sit write for thirty days and hand it to a publisher or anyone else to read seems foolhardy Mr. Kerouac.

But, if you have a story in your mind or at the very least a character in your head that you want to know better...sitting down with a goal and deadline of course will have advantages. If you have any sort of savvy as a storyteller then you have an even greater advantage. I challenge those of you who read this blog, who fancy yourselves storytellers to write down 50,000 words. Not every word is going to be gold, but there is going to gold somewhere in those 50,000 words. There will be diamonds in the rough. You will feel a story or a shape or a character solidify.

Alot of people like to shit talk Thomas A Edison as a theft or what not. I haven't read the history so I don't know for sure. But the myth, the tale of Edison and the lightblub, that stick-to-it-tiveness does reap rewards even if they are merely personal gains.

I have asked a number of my friends to attempt this with me. I just like sharing things, especially things that I feel can be transformational like the sense I got after finishing the first draft of Seven Snakes in novel form. But people don't 'buy' it. They can not conceive of creating a prose piece of novel or novella length and it being any good. They don't believe that turning off the internal editor and letting words pour onto the keyboard irregardless or hap-hazardly or with extreme quantity will lead to worthwhile text. Or they just don't want or can't conceive of setting aside the mythos they bought into about how one writes a novel, of how one sweats over it, frets over, punches their solarplexus in self loathing over the process.

Not everybody is born to write or to tell stories. I understand that, but those of you who are and have never written a novel or anything longer than a short story...I say to you ext year...try it! You will learn things about yourself, about how you want to tell a story about the tactics you depend on, about tactics you might never had considered except that you have to get that word count up and fast.

Some people think that NaNoWriMo will take something they love and make it in a chore like cutting the grass. For me nothing could be further from the truth, and even though I have doubts about whether or not the gentlemen in my half finished novel are worthy of being in a story, I have written some turns of phrase and scenarios, and sequences I am damn proud of thus far that will make it into the final product of something I write and share with others.

So, yes I believe in NaNoWriMo. I am a true believer who will one day soon within the next 12 months have a fully edited Novel (From my first year, this year is my second) and a scripted version of the same story for the stage.

Writer's block? Try the following prescription...

On sheet of paper write down 3 lists of words side by side. Make each list of words at least 8 words long. Write down words that you like. Just words but words that you enjoy. Now take these list of words, take a word form any list and then another from any other list and compound them. Also take 3 to 5 words that you like from any of the lists and write a sentence using those words. Keep doing this until the writer's block goes away.

The visual artist has a sketchbook and they keep sketching until the image that want to focus on appears in the charcoal infront of them. Why not writers?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek


Tin Can Forest, this stuff really moves me.

Clay Continent aka

Mosquito Ouroboros
Shadow Puppet Projections during Clay Continent
Late last night couldn't sleep too many images and ideas in my head regarding Clay Continent.

i must try to get them onto paper tonight. Make something concrete. Just do it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Items

No Country for Old Men was excellent. Saw it on Friday.



My NaNoWriMo novel this year is frustrating me. I am having fun with it, and I believe I have to get to 50,000 words. But at the same time, I don't know where it is going. I know where the narrative is going, I just don't know where the point of it all is. I have an outline. I have various side plots and a main arch main Aristotelian curve to cling to



There is the potential for it to say something about the path of an artist in relation to the hero's journey.

There is the potential for commentary on eroticism in art and its purpose, side effects, etc.

There is a possibility of commenting on the nature of how we perceive art/sleaze etc.



But none of it seems to be rising to the top for me. I am creating these characters and throwing them into various situations like I used to throw action figures in an ant hill. I am playing with language and imagery and discovering, at the same time. I am the same time I still have not typed out my first draft of Animal Control, I still haven't finishing preparations for Clay Continent, nor have I finished editing The Meatlocker's second draft or finished editing the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, Seven Snakes.



So, do I keep plugging away waiting for social or political or philosophical relevance to take shape in the piece, do I just revel in the fun taboo depravity of the characters and the world, do I get busy finishing other projects?



I haven't abandoned the possibility of the Puppets, Peyote and Wink having relevance aside from being just titillating.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

14308 so far!

little bit of the juice..

Icelandic Astronaut - A puppet show

The Icelandic astronaut has climbed a glacial stairwell to where there is not air anymore so high. He was sent up to do his time on the tip of the world it took weeks months even more to climb all the way up there. Planes could not reach the heights to which the Icelandic astronaut was trying to travel so his government had to be very careful about using cannons to shoot much needed supplies all the way to the Ice Naut.

The plan was he would get to the top and assess the military scientific and philosophical value that the highest glacial peak would afford his Icelandic govt. He was supplied a bungee cord so that he could repel from the top when his term of service was over. He drove his spike deep into the mass of the cliff so it would hold when all that momentum jerked it hard. When the spike was immobilized our ice naut made a quick prayer and jumped off the cliff getting ready bear himself against the first 10g bounce of bungee. But he was so high up he floated straight up off the ice cliff. He had to sip beer through a straw cause of the near zero gravity that high up. All of the ice naut's sustenance had to be provided in govt issued bladders.

From this height individuals are too small to see but when two or more come in proximity of each other then they manifest on the ice naut’s retina like morning dew. All kinds of people coming together in all kinds of ways

High fives, Eskimo kissing, leapfrog, sumo wrestling, double dutch, frenching, zygote conception, birth from water breaking till the cord gets cut

These sort of couplings capture his attention ripples in a body of water, but once the couple separates the ripple rewind back to the smooth lonely surface like thin gray lips thin and breaking on a seashore.

He dreams that the Icelandic population all gather beneath him to compose a love letter.

The people he has watched over the couples he has blanketed with true tears and blown kisses and well wishes. They spell out words for him like a marching band, the nocturnal procession spells out the words ‘come home, we miss you’.

In dreams he prays. He selects five stars at perpendicular right angles and prays to his own invented constellation in the shape of a cross in the dream his prayer is answered suddenly he is caught up in a wave or a bubble or a ripple and gravity brings him down down down. He is coming home hard and fast, a comet at suicidal speed.

All the grandfathers of the world simultaneously take off their toupees and hurl them into a pile hoping that that much fur and netting and sweat and glue will break the ice naut’s fall.

The fall does not kill him but breaks a bunch of his nervous cells in the spinal cord. He is paralyzed. He can not move anything not a piece of his body at all. He can not even blink. His meal time sustenance bladder all punctured in the fall and he covered in red meaty protein paste that the people of Iceland mistake for his gore.

They hold a funeral and put him in a casket. Each person has a turn at he microphone during the pre burial wake and after telling stories of how they love him, dreamed with him, through him touched the heavens, old school days, prom night, how they lost their virginity under his watchful eyes while he gazed at the back seat of their oldsmobiles.

Though still paralyzed he is so moved by the stories he involuntarily weeps. But what is this, in the weeping perhaps there might be a glimmer a tiny bit of hope. If someone can see the stream of tears running down his inaminate face they will know his is still alive. They will know not to close the lid of the casket. They will know he is still there with them. But fate plays a trick and the clouds gather above quickly and start to rain. No one wants to let the torrent pour on the honorable remains of their beloved ice naut, their fallen friend father uncle and a multitude of umbrella pop open like champagne corks over the open casket. Through the tears in his eyes and the few drops of precipitation there is nothing to be seen but dozens strike that thousands of umbrella standing sentinel watch. Like bats stretching their wings. The tears that can be seen are mistaken for rain drops that snuck through the fabric.

And over the thunder and the lightning and the flapping of umbrellas and the creaking hinges of the slowly closing casket lid the Icelandic astronaut can hear the barking of his very best friend of all the running and barking of the dog running down the glacial stairs howling at the top of its canine lungs a discernible sort of doggie shout out almost human almost forming the words do not do it! He is not dead? The ice naut is alive!

The dog a st Bernard who ran supplies up and down the ice cliffs when cloud cover made cannon and chute delivery to dangerous, the dog tears through the breaking the bat spines and leaving dead crippled umbrellas in his wake and just as the tiny last beam of light is about to disappear, the dog uses its snout as a pick axe and shovels its nose and jaws into the closing maw of the premature casket.

This when the Icelandic astronaut wakes up, afraid to more his fingers his toes.

The dog Is a big dog trained to climb the ice shaved stairwell and deliver bladders of red beefy protein paste in govt issue bladders and gray pillowy bladders of stout Icelandic beer.

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek


His name is dan james. I dig your stuff man!

http://www.ghostshrimp.net/

11004 so far.

Last night I broke through 11000 words. 11004 to be exact. Already I'm surprised by alot of events and characters that suddenly appear when I am forced to just sit down and write. I think that I have to find a way to take the drive, the engine that works for me during the NaNoWriMo and apply it to other projects throughout the year.

Last year, I would say that at least half of the writing I did was between 9 to 5. This did not bother so much since I was going to be leaving that office in a matter of weeks, had already given my notice, and was without any projects to take up my time. I feel slightly different this year. I like this new job and my work environment and so feel a little more guilt. So, I've done the writing this year mostly at home. If I am sitting at the desk and get hit with a great idea or turn of phrase, I will email it to myself and work on it later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Beer and TV makes DV something something...

In preparation for NaNoWriMo and also as a measure to help me save money, I finally turned off my digital cable today. I still have the internet and the basic cable service which is local channels and tbs. I was going to get he whole TV turned off, but since the price difference was 10 dollars, I am going to still have to demonstrate some self control and turn the TV off from occasion to occasion. Still, I'm hoping the savings (about 80 bucks a month) plus few shiny happy shows to distract me will help me get another first draft novel finished this month.

I was going to use the Animal Control narrative as the NaNoWriMo project, but since I've got a draft of that already done, I need a different story to flesh out. I think it will end up being one of 2 options.

The first idea(which I am leaning towards) , I have had these 2 characters in my head for a couple of years now. The first is a puppeteer in the fifties who is absolutely brilliant, but painfully socially inept. He would rather just sit in his studio apartment doing peyote dreaming up weird puppet shows. The fear of performance keeps him from doing the shows for more than just a few people at a time. Finally his peyote connection threatens to cut him off if he doesn;t start filming his shows so that somebody somewhere can see his art. The second character is an over the hill adult sex star dude with major skeltons in the closet who meets the puppeteer and envisions using the puppeteer's talents to corner the Hollywood special effects market. The puppeteer agrees to work with the aging porn king, but only if the porn king can get him a girl. What happens next? The porn king convinces a pretty young thing that the Puppeteer is the next best thing. The puppeteer, at the urging of the porn king starts making strange stop motion shorts in a very hans bellmer sort of mileau. Hearts get broken. Dreams get dashed. Maybe a little blood gets split, I'm not sure how it ends.

The other idea is to take a bunch of short character and scenario sketches I've had for a private detective character and turn it into a series of adventures about him. This would be fun, but It would be vinnettes rather than something like a novel, which is ok according to the NaNoWriMo so long as you get 50,000 words...but I don't know... I like the idea of taking November to workout the if and or buts on something bigger.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Animal Control by Bob Fisher

This weekend I finished the first draft of the play I've been working on lately referred to as the Axe-Man and before that called The Sandwich Man. It's got a better title inspired by my recent week in New Orleans. It is now called Animal Control. I still have to get it typed into the computer. It is all hand written in my notebooks thus far. The first draft came incredibly quickly for me this time around. I started by trying to write every scene with the fewest lines possible, not to get wrapped up in an attempt to be poetic, poignant, artistic, etc. Just figure out what happens in the scene and write that down on one page or less. But doing this in a day or two I had the complete outline on paper, well a little more than the outline, I had about 25 pages of a script. Then I started fleshing the play out. I'm happy with the first draft and hoping to organize a reading in December to hear it out loud.

We follow a street musician called Axe as he attempts to play his sax and get along in a city recently hit by natural disaster. Now that people are starting to return to the street, there are small scale turf skirmishes between street musicians as to whose stoop is whose. Axe who blows evenings on a bridge connecting downtown to the rest of the city, has to deal with with The Sandwich Man, a scuffed up seemingly homeless man who believes he is being terrorized by the FBI. The various street musicians and lowlifes start mysterious disappearing and no one can tell if it is the authorities taking them out, people just moving on to greener pastures, or if the recent plague of feral stray dogs roaming the streets is attacking/eating anything or anyone they come into contact with.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek



Katy Horan

Nothing to do with a R ...

...T

unless I'm a work of art that is...

worked out today and got on the scale. Since starting in August, I've lost 8 pounds. I am pretty damn pleased with that!

Art again

Despite my frustration on the topic, I do want to thank everybody even the folks I passionately disagree with about commenting on the WTF is art post a couple days ago. Also I want to apologize for taking things a little personally.

I asked folks to response honestly to questions I had, and in the majority I think they did. But just as the folks on the other side of the conversation have failed to be moved from their position, I too have been failed to be moved from mine.

My position is that invalidation of what an individual creates and deems art, is tied directly to our society's ability to express ourselves free from political restraint. I believe that criticism is essential to the value of art, but when something goes from being "bad" to being "invalidated" as artistic expression we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

My position is that to say that something is not art and there by narrowing the definition of what art can be, and then assert that your position doesn't enable groups to limit what Americans can hear, see, say, and do in their own homes within their own communities is misguided.

My position is that in a world increasing dependent and submerged in information, a world were most of what is "made" is never actually seen by the majority of its audience. Only what is "made" exists as art?

I think one could use such reasoning to suggest that only the remnants of a production could qualify as art meaning that the playwright has potential as an artist, but not the actors unless their performance was recorded in some way.

I believe that no one just sees Picasso's Guernica anymore, and to hold it up as an example of art that does not require contextuality, is a false statement.

I also wonder if the need to be critical is so essential to what gets defined as art, why doesn't the artist his/herself have the right to enter that discussion or even attempt to guide it?

I do believe that all it takes is one work of art to make one an artist, the weight of your work upon an canon might not have the same heft as more prolific artists, but just as a ball player who only gets one at bat in the majors in their career deserves to be listed as a major league ball player even if they don't get into Cooperstown.

Anyway, I'll stop there for today. Thanks again everybody for your indulgence.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Question

If someone were to draw up a History of Artist Oppression (I'm sure to some of you this is a potentially ridiculous project) what would be some of the key bullet points in the history's timeline

for example

Degenerate Art Exhibits in Germany
Hollywood Blacklist
NEA Four
Pre-Glasnost Russia
John Lennon and the Beatles talk about Jesus
Vonnegut and potential banning of Slaughterhouse-Five
Bert Williams having to perform in blackface

Times where the artist had to deal with a relevant, concentrated effort by an entity, fraternal or political or any individual with enough clout to be heard...where the artist's work was attacked or deemed unsuitable or unworthy or obscene. Where someone or something attempted to silence the artist. Or subvert or control the artist.

I'll admit that all this talk about Stelarc has spurned on this thought, but I'm going in a more personal direction with my energy on this. I just want to find way to investigate and document what I perceive to be historic precedence about how "artists" are commissioned attacked approached, and or used. Please give me a list...please please...

Play's I'd Like to See

A one act musical about a dogcatcher who loves his job. Let's call it...

You can Only Catch Rabies Once in the Same Week.

WTF is Art? Oh No!!!Oh Dear god no!!!!!!!!!.....

I am having a hard time trying to decide how much energy I am willing to give to the recent Chicago blog attack labelled as an attempt to clarify what is art?

I waited till late in the game to bother weighing in on the whole smackdown months back about how elitist and insulting to middle rural based Americans most Metropolis-centric arts are.

Whereas I believe the sincerity of some of the posts and opinions, I'm not sure it is a conversation I can have with certain people. In a metaphorical way, it is like suddenly realizing a close friend is vehemently in opposition to your position on pro-life vs pro-choice. From an intellectual place you can distance the relationship, but from a personal and emotional place, you begin to have doubts about anothers' core beliefs and whether of not you actually know the person that you thought you knew.

In some instances I actually hope that even if I can't discern it, that there is a place were sincerity ends and provocation begins.

Also, I have to remember the shaky position that a blog post currently has in the spectrum that is our culture. Sometimes a blog post isn't a platform for advocacy (or anti-advocacy which is personally were I believe all these arguments actually lead). Sometimes, one individual wants to share a deeply felt thing with others. Sometimes communicating a personal preference is just that and not necessary a manifesto or a call to arms, etc.

So given all that I'm still trying to figure out how to respond to Don and Tony's recent post. Or if I even should...

I've debating the possibility of bypassing Stelarc as a whole and instead throwing all my rhetoric towards defending Don's Cans of Crap as art...in order to solidify my point. I have thought about expounding about how the eventual endgame in these sorts of arguments are cultural movements that stifle expression. It is relevant and important to ask oneself "if my opposition in the debate were to not only concede my point, but also act and or legislate on said point...what is the end result?"

But instead I'll start by asking a question. When we write these diatribes about WTF is art, are we speaking as audience members or a fellow artists? I think that is a very important distinction.

That's all for now. But Don, Tony, please answer my question and anyone else out there?

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little more

Writing Again

I had a wonderful experience this weekend. I sat down and wrote the first nine scenes of a play.

I used to do this with greater frequency. Brevity to the scenes was always the key. I knew what each scene was about, but I purposefully put down as little information as possible as few words as possible while still giving the piece a sense of forward motion.

I remembered Maria Irene Fornes' script Mud, A script that I love by the way, and how spare the actually text is. The story unfolds in perhaps an hour or less but i think it is like only 20 pages long.

I also hear a quote from Orson Welles about making the audience use it's imagination.

So, what about it? Does anyone else out there ever just try a bare bones approach. Forget being fancy and just tell the forward progrgession of the story as simply and as quickly as possible?

I do remember this coming up at NTFD.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

possible promotional materials





Any thought folks? Good, Bad? I was going to add a chimp. I still might.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just for fun



I bought one of those computer tablets and did a little drawing. What do ya think?

Why

If risk is ultimately unavoidable, if risk is inevitable then...

For what is the risk worthwhile?

Why do you put yourself at risk for art?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And a Duck goes quack! Now what?

We must be careful when it comes to mutual commiserating. Be wary that we don't slip into mutual admiration at our own best intentions.

I mean ask yourself the question who out there wants to bore people in the theatre.

Well meant manifestos followed by online high fives give catharsis. Now we (myself included) have to focus on what we do, what we will change in specific terms.

Use simple sentences.
Direct.
Focused.
Simply.

Know that it is ok to take paragraphs to figure it out, to word it out...but

What do you want in a sentence!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Images from New Orleans

I took about 150 pictures while in NO. I'll be posting some of my favorites through the next week or 2, sort of my method for savoring the aftertaste of my trip. I truly now know what it means to miss...well you know the cliche.



The Indian Killer before twilight



Love among the ruins



So much white powder at the Cafe Du Monde, I felt like Al Pacino.



Anne Rice's kind of town



Did you remark that door?

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek




I don't go for adorable that often, but this is an exception.

Dioramas of Laura Plansker

Friday, October 12, 2007

NOLA and Pimms


Sometimes I come across a beverage and it forever signifies a time or place. For me the Pimm's Cup is New Orleans.

Fill a tall 12 oz. glass with ice and add

* 1 1/4 oz Pimm's No. 1
* 3 oz Lemonade
* Top off with lemon-lime soda (e.g., 7 Up).
* Garnish with a Cucumber wedge, Mint leaves, and an orange slice

If there is anyone in Chicago that knows a bar where they serve Pimms or a store where they have it please let know.

I have a ton of pictures from my trip. Coming soon!

Identity

I haven't read a blog post in a week, and it is incredible to ingest a week's worth of posts as whole rather than day to day. I've read about boredom, about risk, about why...

I am struck at how much we are struggling to identify purpose, we being the theater community.

We are hunters, all of us, hunting for a purpose and hoping to find an audience. We seek. And while we seek, we are transformed...

What transforms us?
The empty house
The sound of another speaking words we wrote on a page so long ago
The emotion of another
The doubt as to whether we are responsible for our own successes
The compulsion
The addiction
The desire to nourish ourselves and others
The full house on closing night
The sound of loved ones' applause

And how do these things transform us?
For me they either add or take away from my storage of hope

Hope that I can effect change
That my voice will be heard
Regardless of whether the words are full of risk
or if the story I tell is of interest to only a select few

What do you want?

Audience
Relevance
Accolades
Freedom from financial burden so as to pursue your dream
Hear your words aloud
Applause
Love

pick one...

but why only one?

As a actor a director a storyteller should tell you

Even if what we want is better defined as multifarious, it is simpler and therefore achievable to pursue a single want on stage

That truism is more enabling than the definition of risk or boredom or any other "key" is the scene, the audience, etc.

Your point of origin, your path to success should start with what do you want...do it in a sentence break it down.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Click here for the pop surrealist motherload...maybe nsfw? Surrealist blood and boobs everywhere

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Orleans and other stuff

Trip soon

Going to New Orleans for a week for work stuff. However after 5pm I got the french quarter and my stipend all to myself. Looking for to it. I've never been to New Orleans before. I just want to get some good red beans and rice maybe with a little sausage in it, maybe hear some good jazz, a get a little shwag. I'm easy to please with these trips.

Coffee cup - check
T-Shirt with Louis Armstrong or a shrunken head on it - check
Sweet Tea - check

We are staying at a really nice hotel. The only problem with that is that the really nice hotels usually charge for internet access in 24 hour chunks. I think I might even leave the computer at home for this trip. Last business trip, I took it and had to face the same thing. But this is also going to be in the heart of downtown N.O. as opposed to the last one which was north of phoneix in BFE with out anything around for miles. I could conceivable walk somewhere with a connection like a panera bread or what not. I'll have to look up and see iff there is any free wifi around there.

Other stuff

I'm currently trying to come up with a list of items Ithink would help small theater in Chicago, sort of my 2 cents on the post put up by Don today. I'll have a more comprehesive post about it in the next coming weeks. Whereas Chris Piat and Kris Vire deserve recognition for a great article, it at the same time almost depresses me that there is such a draught of this sort of journalism outthere that we have to vocalize our gratitude for the article in the first place. But the term "Chicago Theater for Chicagoans" really hit me hard as well as the notion that the city and its most prominant "advocates" aren't doing enough. I think it is an apt concern.

When I get back from N.O. it will be closing week for the Dada show. It is so strange that it is literally almost over. I've given it so much of my head space and now "bamf!" it has teleported into the ether. There are other projects to be sure, but this is the first one that I've been involved with from conception to closing since being back to c-town. It is making me relfective. Ah well.

I'm working slowly but surely on getting the Chicago Mammals website up to snuff. It is nice to have a site back up even if there is literally no real content as of yet. some Ideas I have for it are going to be comic strips related to the shows we are doing or working on. Video content, etc. I'm trying to think of the Mammals more as an entity of artistic expression and less as just a theater company. I may attempt once again to put serial episodes of work up...either text, audio, or video...Just have to wait and see how it develops. The site is there but it wont be officially up until December. Officially that is. If you go to the site you'll see our mascot, the upside down cow. You might notice it is just a skeleton right now, I've got to put meat on those bones. I need a name for the mascot as well...So those of you haven't clicked away as of yet...name our mascot....come on put it in the comments section...
do it do it do it!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek





Erik Sanko
makes awesome puppets

axe-man thoughts

So a voice comes to the Axe-Man maybe
A voice that tells him
he is his own best illusion
A voice not of pain
Not the voice of the sandwich man
.. For his voice is a damaged one a troubled one even through his honesty there is suffering that seems like the suffering one can not grow accustom to

A voice of a "helper" for lack of a better term
Virgil to Dante?
Obi Wan to Luke?
I dont know
Just thinking out loud

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chicago Mammals

I got the site. Now I just got to get some content.

Someone else bought the old domain so here is the new one.

chicagomammals.com

Saturday, September 29, 2007

vicious
true
manipulation
magician
protector of truth and justice with a wink to the security camera
how many eyelids can this one man have?
this demon that asked me to make a deal
no...no I didnt know he was the devil when I took his advice and punched that homeless man in mouth and told him I was a cop and that
he could stand on my corner anymore. Not on my corner. Not anymore on my corner.
Who says its your corner? the devil winks with one eyelid and with another eyelid his lashes jut out like a lip in judgement.
So many eyelids
So many eyes
So much surveilance
To see the thing doesnt make it real
He's right
I have to feel it
I have to be made to feel it. The hand isnt real till i feel something within my grasp until that grabbing that touching that moment...the hand is only an idea only a phantom

but when you close your eyes and hide your fingertips and palms of your hands
when your tongue tastes nothing and your toes get forgetful (ahhh forget...again forget) the world doesnt go away

When i forget the world, it doesn't go away

Yes it does.

More Dream Axe-Man-ish

If you feel it, then it is real.

I remember I had a dream where my father cut across my face with a blade. I can remember the feeling of being cut, the sensation of the sharp blade coming across the cheek towards the nose. I remember the way it felt when the skin on either side of the incision let go of the other side and the oxygen blew across the same path as the blade. I felt the sensation of air touching flesh that had never breathed that way before. And the intense fury my father aimed towards me in the dream.

I felt that. It was real. Even if it was only real around here (spins fingers around the head) it is real enough. Real.

-A Dream can be real

I can't share it or verify it, but real.

And something that happened and I can forget it, forget how it felt. Then it isn't real. Then it never happened.

This is the way it is.
Something felt and remembered is real
Something forgotten never felt or even doubted then is not real

So If I can make you feel the dream, it is more real than the waking thing

-The waking thing? You mean reality?
-Fuck you. Are trying to be cute with me...

A Dream in world of the Axe-Man

I love being asleep. That is a great damn time most the time. I get to eat as much as I want and no body looks sideways at me. I can have as much coffee as I want as much sugar and half and half. Fuck half and half I can have the whole fucking cow in coffee when I'm dreaming.

I don't get the kickback in throat no matter. I can have coffee and beer and shot and can of gasoline on top of that.

Ohhhh I can taste those cigarettes in dreams

-Do you smoke?

Not so much. I had to learn for a part in a play I did back in good old days. The good old affordable days when I could be sure I'd sleep in bed. I dream of beds now. Ha!

Nah, the cigarettes right? Yeah, I was playing a part in a play I auditioned to impress this girl and some how I got invited back. They wanted me to play a professional wrestler, you got imagine you know back then I was broader in the shoulders I was a regular all star but this girl she liked poets, she like words and dancing and poets and paint on canvas. I owe all the bad things since then to being in love with a girl who loved poets. Her cunt was carrot she dangled in front of me and let me just get my bottom lip up against for a few stanzas. I got real good at spinning a line you know each metaphor for the way her shape looked under stagelights , a bra buckle that only the right brain could figure.

Damn I keep meaning to talk about how I learned to smoke. So they want me to play this professional wrestler who was an incarnation of the devil. Ha. And I guess I looked more like a devil smoking a cigar. So I had to learn how to smoke cigars. They just put one in my hand during the rehearsals and after weeks of it, I got to really enjoy it. And after rehearsal at the bar, I'd ask folks for a cigarette and smoke it with my drink, but after 3 or 4 nights of that the other actors told me that if I was a smoker it was time for me to buy a pack. I had to choose between beer and smoking. I choose beer.

Sometimes in dreams I can remember the taste of those cigars, and in the dream I crave it. I really crave it hard when I sleep.

So anyways that is why I love sleeping.

-That's not real

Stop. Alright. I felt it. That is just as good. If you feel it and you remember than it is real man.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sandwich Man is now the Axe Man




That is the name of the play/prose/story/showing I'm going to be putting all of my creative chaotic juice on top of during the NaNoWrimo.

It started with the idea called the Sandwich Man a tale about a street musician who lies about being a FBI agent to a hobo sandwich man protester to get him to leave the musician and his listeners alone. The hobo disappears, but is suddenly replaced by Men in Suits with dark glasses, ear pieces, who constantly talk into their cuff links. The Men in Suits then systematically put the musician through an kafka-like nightmare of seemingly unwarranted trial and persecution.



The major image was this old hobo I called the Sandwich Man. I could see him with this incredibly ornate sandwich board that doubled as outsider art/puppet and object stage. I saw him tell passers by stories warnings morality tales about people who get lost or taken. I overheard this old man certain that the FBI was going to stop him from telling his tales. They were listening and they didn't like what he had to say.



As more time pasted, I thought to myself well that is an interesting image but is it a story to be told? I thought about the man whose story this would actually be, the young musician, the horn player, and he became or is becoming the Axe-Man.

No matter how intriguing or phantasmagorical I find the possibilities of the Sandwich Man, It is the Axe-Man's story...that I have to remember.

Both of these men have chosen or been brought to a position in life where they have to use the open air as their forum of communication.

Things to think about connections maybe

homeless, what if all the homeless suddenly disappeared?
same as the street musicians? What if no one was occupying the streets, only using them to move from one point to another?

What sort of political threat is one man with a sandwich board? Why bother with him? Some might argue that they never really are bothered with. But, what if...what would a sandwich man have to do or say or preach so that he would be dangerous enough or perceived as dangerous enough that he would be stopped. Thing about this girl who went to the airport with a circuit board taped to here chest. I am not convinced that wasn't a performance, regardless of the reporting we are getting.

FTTW

DIY Trunk Show here
Saturday November 17th
Pulaski Park Auditorium
1419 W. Blackhawk
Chicago IL 60622

I'm all over this. Anybody else want to go?

Storytelling Question

It's called Storytelling
not
Storyshowing

i.e.
Is there a time onstage in front of an audience when it is actually better and maybe even a little more interesting to tell the story rather than show it?

(RLewis, you got me thinking on this.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jack Kerouac

I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. Anyway it is the fiftieth anniversary.

My dad

So, I got a call yesterday from my folks. It appears that my dad is going to go in for a heart cathaterization today. He's had some chest pain for the past few days. He thought he had pulled a muscle in his chest. Mom talked him into going to the doctor. EKG Stress test later...and they think they may have to put a stent in one of his arteries. I'll know tonight how the whole thing went.

For me it seemed to come right out of nowhere. I've been using my health insurance lately to go and get checked up by the sawbones. It appears that my blood pressure is pretty high. Not unusual for me I think. I tend to be pretty stressed out, overweight, etc. But the doctor was really concerned and thinks I'm a candidate for medication.

Huh? He wants to make sure I don't have a history of heart conditions. I don't think so. Nobody in the family mentioned anything. But just to sure lets ask the folks one more time.

"No, bob. No history of diabetes. Well expect for your great grand father and my aunt. And no history of Cardiac trouble expect for your grandmother dying of congestive heart failure."

"So, mom, what your saying is that we have diabetes in the family."

"Well, yes and no. When your great grand father and great aunt got it, it wasn;t childhood diabetes. It was adult diabetes."

"Well, I'm an adult"

"Yeah, I guess you are"

"And what about this congestive heart failure"

"Well that isn't really a heart condition (by the way not true). It is more like fluid built up around the heart."

All this and now my dad is in the hospital. So who knows maybe my rigorous questioning made him second guess that twinge he was feeling and went to get it checked out.

I have to admit, the whole thing is upsetting. Not only that my dad is in the hospital right now for an overnight procedure due to heart issues, but that my folks seem to make so little of it, and that getting the information from them was like pulling teeth. Was it because they don't want to acknowledge that maybe we do have some hereditary health issues in the family? Is it because they know I have a natural streak of hypochondria in me? Of course, they weren't purposely trying to hide anything from me, but why is it that I had to hear about this only after my doctor suggests BP medication?

Family (points to head and makes crazy sign)