Friday, August 31, 2007

Plays I'd Like to See

God Bless the Quick Fix -

A play about a young corporate executive at a corporate coffee company who has to find ways to convince the local coffee growers not to burn the fields now that corporate interests own the fields and they see next to nothing of the profit in their own region. The local militia is brought in and while they are good at forcing the local populace to harvest, they can not stop the fires that keep popping up late at night. His answer, he hires a Woody Guthrie like musician to compose odes about the local mythology and land then hires locals to pretend that they are locally composed songs. He then uses the same musician's lyrics to market coffee from the region. Once the Guthrie musician understands what has happened, he wants a cut of the action. Many people die!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dada Rehearsal

Some of my favorite folks right now!!!!

What's Up

It has been a slow week post wise here at the old blog. It will probably be pretty slow next week as well. I've been helping out WNEP with the Dada show opening next week. Although I don't have to do too much heavy lifting physically or mentally compared to others in the cast and crew, I do have to be there and watch the work and comment somewhat intelligently which means I'm thinking more about that right now than Seven Snakes or other stuff or what not.

I will be meeting this weekend with the venue where we are considering doing Clay Continent and attempt instead to secure dates in April.

I also might get another installment of Seven Snakes up on the site, but I'll be taking easy until after Soiree Dada opens.

Monday, August 27, 2007

More More Sandwich Man Thoughts

So last night, I thought to myself about where to take this Sandwich Man thing. Since I'm going to postpone Clay Continent until the month of April, I'm going to have alot more time to write. I probably will also use the Sandwich Man as the launching point for my NaNoWriMo.

Music has a history of musicians making deals with the Devil. Could that be useful in this story?

But rather than proficiency with an instrument, what if our musician (lets call him Axe Man) What if Axe-Man unwittingly makes a mephistolean bargain so that people can hear his proficiency? Axe Man makes a deal with the Devil to get rid of the Sandwich Man so that people can hear him play his music. People start convening at the lip of the bridge to listen to this music. That is why the Man in Suit is so interested in Axe-Man. Because now that people can hear him they are listening, they are stopping in their tracks and listening

What does the music do to them? Do I have to answer that? Is there a connection between

The Devil - The Man in Suit
The Devil - Sandwich Man
Sandwich Man - Axe Man

I don't know

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sandwich Man Notes

Man in Suit - I want you to imagine the worse possible thing I could to you. To your body or your soul. To harm you, not just in a single moment, but in perpetuity. Now imagine me taking it one step beyond that worse possible thing. Now imagine me committing that act upon your spouse or your child?

Axe Man - What do want from me

Man in Suit - (shrugs) I just want to know...

That's the question? What does the Man in the Suit want? We all have that archetypal Man in Suit. Why does the Man in Suit need to put us in fear? Why would the Man in Suit seemingly pick an arbitrary musician to demonstrate intimidation? submission?

I want to write this Sandwich Man play but is there somewhere I can take the narrative or the premise of the archetypal Man in Suit that say Kafka or Pinter didn't already investigate?

What could our race achieve if the Men in Suits had no power? What would do with such freedom?

Sandwich Man

Man in Suit with Sunglasses looks right at you and asks

"What are you doing?"

The Man in Suit sees a second of hesitation. He knows you got it. He knows you're a little kid on the inside. He knows you think he is your dad. Just for a second then you come back down or climb back up. Despite the suit, the tone,You realize he is not your father. But he can use that split second, the rememberence of it. He can stretch it like a rubber band

"What do you think you are doing??"

Almost...almost an exclamation point

Friday, August 24, 2007

Seven Snakes Chapter Five

Chapter Five – The TV

The sound of TV static woke me. I reached for the knob and turned it off. The Man wasn’t there. I called out for him, even though I didn’t know his name.

Daughter – Man? Man?!!

Before when I made him my promise and closed my eyes, my old odd ghost mother had been sticking me with her needles, whispering, warning me off of the man. Now that my eyes were open again, I felt alone. I was so hollow, so mad. I screamed out and started throwing things. I was still calling out for the Man when the TV turned itself on. The white noise was drowning out the sound of my tears, so I hit the knob again to kill the static. A couple of seconds pass and the damn thing turns back on again teasing me like a little kid. Enough is enough so I unplug the TV from the generator socket. The static screen blinks off, but the TV’s innards would not shut up, as if the circuits and tubes were chanting with a deep choppy sore throat. Had the TV turned into a bomb? Was it going to explode?

Still unplugged, the TV turned itself on one more time. Instead of static though, it was like vapor rising from beneath a black eye patch. Vapors and no sound. Through the vapor, a pair eyes appeared on the screen. Those eyes were locked right on me, I moved away slowly and they followed me around the room. Then, a mouth appeared. It’s lips were moving but I heard no sound.

I cautiously approached the volume knob and turned it up but with no effect. Now a hand and an ear appeared on the screen. The hand pointed a finger at the ear. The finger slowly spun round and round the curve of the ear, then the hand pointed to my ear as if it wanted me to mimic the gesture. I was unsure and scared as hell but I did what the TV asked me to. I slowly spun my finger around my ear, and the volume of the TV mouth got louder spin by spin, as if I were turning up the volume inside my own head. The TV mouth now had a voice. I heard it distinctly speak.

TV Mouth- **Young woman** young woman**I am trying to talk to you**This message is specifically for you**Upon receiving this telepathic transmission you are know legally responsible for comprehension of it content**Any attempt to disrupt, disconnect, monitor, or intercept federal psychic dial up is punishable up to 5 years in a military or non-nationalized prison facility**You**Young woman**I am trying to talk to you**Young female in the tan medical scrubs**

We are all used to the TV talking at you, but when a unplugged TV starts talking TO you especially after having given up your virginity to a masked man who wont let you open your eyes, I’m confident that could mess anybody up.

I stopped spinning my finger, and the voice dropped out of my head. Then the TV got real mad. I turned the screen toward the wall so I couldn’t see it. Then the TV got real mad, humming and vibrating and pounding the floor. So I fled the hut. I ran outside.

What really on your mind?

Alright! What is really on my mind? I have been asking myself if I should continue with the dates I've set for Clay Continent. I am certain that I want to do theatre. That storytelling is why I returned to this town from my short one year stint in Atlanta. But, is November too soon? I've got 2 great guys who have committed to the project, but I still need more folks in order for us to make this thing work. And there are the production elements all of which I'm sure will come together, but I'm asking that enough? Do I just want these items to merely come together or do I want to elevate my game? There is the issue of money. Sure one of the reason i picked this show aside from loving it, is that it can be done on the cheap, but don't I still have other obligations financially that need to address before I put a show up? Like ummmm furniture and getting my stuff out of storage in Atlanta up here to c-town?

But then I have this voice, this demon that is telling me that backing down from those dates even though I don't have a contract of what have you is some sort of loss, some sort of failure. Why can't I simply say to myself no...I'm going to wait until a time when I can do this the right way rather than risk doing it in a half ass way...I got to do this right way...

I don't know, any comments or thoughts from folks who know me or know of others in similar points in their life would be greatly appreciated.

Hard? Easy? Why? Your own TV Channel on the internet?

So, now that everybody has tv cameras and downloads their most intimate or most pointless thoughts onto the internet in video format...has any of my fellow Chicago theatre bloggers thought about their own Internet Video Show? How would you want to do it? What would be the content? How "professional" would you want it to look? Slick or Immediate? Literary or visual?

Would you want to find a way to bring your stories online? How different would it be than say theatre that you produce? Would it accompany your theatrical exercise or supplant it?

Is there any difference between a virtual theater production and TV? If Chicagoans knew that you were going to post video of a production online would they bother to show up to the live event? Would the black box spaces across out town instead turn into internet video studios?

And since so many of us aren't making a living doing the theatre thing, is there a difference between youtube and theatre aside from the obvious immediacy of the actor?

I am wondering, if more people will see it, if you communicate to more individuals online than in the theatrical space? Who outthere thinks that is enough impetus to turn a large bedroom in there home into a studio and just broadcast their plays online?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Seven Snakes

I have put a list of links over on the right side column that puts the Seven Snakes text in order from beginning to end, in case anyone would like to be able to read in sequence without parsing through the entire blog or tag list.

He made me promise. I did so, and then I closed my eyes. He moved in an inch at a time, close and then closer. I felt fabric collect by my toes. We fell unto the couch. Raw callused palms cupped my breasts. Something warm thin and slick like a wet leather braid slid across my chest. I shivered. He sensed my temptation to surrender, to break my promise, to open my eyes and witness this strange sinous movement. His right hand sprung from my left breast to cover my eyes. He used his elbow to press upon where his thick rough fingers once were. I found myself begging, pleading, and enjoying the begging. I wanted to see his face and to kiss his mouth like in the movies. But I never opened my eyes, even when I felt that cold smooth motion sucking up my body like a silken stocking.

Mother – I don’t know how it happens. Maybe it’s just proximity. You might even hate the man, really loath him. But then he gets in, gets in close. You can feel those muscles and bones. He breathes on you. You go soft and climb on top of him like a motorcycle. He gets that dick in…and shhhhhit… Still be careful girlie. Maybe he gets in too deep like a parasite. A walking talking infection that just wants you to cook and clean. What if you can’t hurt him back? What if you can’t push him away? Afraid life would be worse without his occasional affection? This shit can be sweet, but girlie it can be a curse too.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I just saw the reverend billy on C span. Fantastic.



Gimme Gimme Gimme Hope!

I want theatre where I could see this vehicle speed by! Take to other planes other worlds!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Americana Project

Met with Joe Janes yesterday. We talked about various possibilities regarding this project. What sort of form should it take? Many short sketch pieces or perhaps a small number of longer pieces? Would the Mammals produce it? What that would mean? In the end, we both agreed that we needed more focus about the content. We are going to do more research, more reading, more hunting and searching and from that generate lists of what kind of stories we want. Then sort of compare our lists, and from there figure out more specific affinities in taste within the realm of American Mythology and Tall Tales.

Any suggestions out there? Favorite tall tales, ballads, myths, short stories that incorporate both America and Fantastical?

Monday, August 13, 2007


Banana Bag and Bodice

Americana Project with the requisite amounts of sci fi, horror, and phantasmagoria

Since returning to Chicago in December, I have been attending Jen Ellison's Write CLub meetings. They are generally on the first Monday of each month. Jen gives out assignments, but you can also present any sort of material that your heart desires which is great.

At the last meeting, Joe Janes brought in a sketch he had about Pecos Bill. It was short, fun, intelligent, playful...and it got me thinking. I love tall tales. I love the mythologies of America...from the tall tale to the ballads of Americana. Joe and I emailed briefly about this, and about maybe using this sketch as a launching point for a possible future Mammals production. We get together tomorrow for some coffee and some talk.

I am open to many possible directions, but I do have an idea or two already. I am envisioning a performance with approximately 10 pieces that emphasize american folk, tall tale, gothic, etc. 10 sketches written by mutliple writers and then directed by mulitple directors. Say approximately 10 writers 5 directors.

Everything from Pecos Bill to the Tell Tale Heart, Jackalopes to the ghosts of Bierce. For me, the only requisite is that it have some connection to the fantastical and that it be undeniably American.

I look forward to brainstorming with Joe about this potential project.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Clay Continent Production History and Production Projections for 2008 and beyond

CLAY CONTINENT was first presented as a work in progress on September 20, 1998 in Big Art in Small Places ‘98 at Charas/El Bohio Cultural & Community Center with the following cast:

Utterson: David Gilsheridan
Jekyll: Brian Reilly
Hyde: Michael Martin

Peculiar Works Project in association with the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab produced the first three scenes in a site based performance executed in the basement of a once abandoned school house.

CLAY CONTINENT received its second presentation as a workshopped performance on August 3, 2000 at the Space, Chicago with the following cast:

Utterson: Derek Smart
Jekyll: Ron Kroll
Hyde: Frank Platis

CLAY CONTINENT received its full production premiere on February 2, 2001 at the Space, Chicago with the following cast

Utterson : Alex Honzen
Jekyll: Derek Smart
Hyde: Ron Kroll

The premiere production received a wealth of critical acclaim



Recommended…before it’s over they’ll leave nothing to the imagination.

-Web Behrans, New City

Often Ingenious…the Mammals do a close to flawless job handling difficult but thrilling material.

-Brian Nemtusak, The Reader

CLAY CONTINENT was revived on January 11, 2002 at the Space, Chicago with the following cast and crew

Utterson : Alex Honzen
Jekyll: Derek Smart
Hyde: Ron Kroll

Scenic Design: Patrick McCarthy of the Rubber Monkey Puppet Company

Inspired by the grotesque portraiture of Francis Bacon and the novel 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde', CLAY CONTINENT is an aural pageant of diabolical villainy constructed with excerpts of text from the stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, Fydor Dostoyevsky, and Edgar Allen Poe. Recounting the story of one doctor’s desperate attempt to overcome evil through the use of science as he attempts to conceal the resulting tragedy of cascading death in horrific proportion, CLAY CONTINENT creates a compelling soundscape in which the multiple personalities inhabiting the doctor’s body vie for dominance over their collective flesh.

Throughout the performance, the actors representing Jekyll and Hyde often speak their lines simultaneously. In performance, simultaneity can capture the essence of chaos and, when employed artfully, embody the tension of sensory overload/schizophrenia. By utilizing wireless microphones and mixing boards combined with vocal technique, the actors create a series of polyphonic confrontations similar to orchestrated musical composition. The result is a compelling collage of sound unfolding along with the narrative in which the audience may choose to focus their precise attention on a particular voice or to negotiate comprehension of the total soundscape within a more chaotic forward progression balanced carefully on the midst of ambient chaos. The challenge each new ensemble faces is to discover a process of achieving that careful balance which will aid rather than hinder the audience’s appreciation of the story.

The environmental setting of the original workshop production influenced the development of the piece. Despite lacking the means to simulate the experience of descending into the bowels of an abandon schoolhouse, an additional goal of the second workshop/production was discovering ways of pushing the limits of environmental theater within the confines of the Space Theatre, an extremely small intimate performance space that seated approximately 20 people. The next incarnation will be a more traditional proscenium oriented black box space. How to bring that same sense of immersion to the production is another key challenge the Mammals with have to meet with this latest remount in November 2007.

Another evolution of the project during this incarnation and with subsequent versions to be performed in 2008 and beyond, will be the incorporation of multiple casts drawing from multiple texts, and the recombination of the those casts. There will be a number of key scenes which will provide the foundation of the narrative, but within that foundation different actors will be provided the opportunity to use different source material relating to the overall theme. The desired result will be a multitide of possible performances all of which genuinely will be properly referred to as CLAY CONTINENT. In other words, different variations of the text and performance will occur dependent upon which of the many possible performers will be selected for each individual performance. A wide variety of potential ensembles will make for wide variety of text and interpretation.

More Seven Snakes Prose

Chapter Five – Dreams of Mothers

It was a couple of miles between the VA and the hut. He was unconscious again, but breathing. He had a small opening cut in the red cloth. Small loose threads along the cut’s edge would rise and fall with each minute moan he made. I was still supporting him weight and air would funnel from the cut onto my neck. My blood knocked hard against my sternum.

Finally we arrived. I had to drop him on the couch. I was lucky to even be able to get him back to the hut. I headed for some water in our kitchen and collapsed after a few steps. He had been so heavy so solid. He was solid in a way I had never known. Those octogenarians were about as solid as a sack of dirty laundry. Not one of them could weighed more than a buck.

I got back to my feet and gathered water and what not to dress his wounds. I turned him over on the couch so he was face up, and he began to come around again. He opened his eyes, but still he would not look at me. He just lay there though letting me attend to him. His eyes now were looking vacant at ceiling. Those eyes had that quality of a well gone dry.

As I unbuttoned his shirt and cleaned the sweat and blood off his bruised ribs, I couldn’t get a thought out of my head, the memory of Mother chasing me around the hut so that I won’t be eyein’ her man. Something was spinning in me between the ears and in the stomach. Anxiety? I was have to hold back to not giggle not twitter.

Mother – Careful Girlie. Remember that Donkeyface once were young too.

Man – I’m lost

Daughter – I know

Man – You look lost too

Daughter – I was just…daydreaming

Man – What did you dream?

Daughter – I dream often of my mother

Man – I dream of a mother, my mother? Yes

Daughter – Where is she?

Man – I don’t know. I think my mother is nowhere

Daughter – Nowhere?

Man – Maybe she is in heaven

Daughter – With my mother

Man – You lost your mother too?

Daughter – Yes

Man – How was she killed?

Daughter – She wasn’t killed. She just died.

Man – She is dead, but she was not killed

Daughter – Yeah. She died of natural causes

Man – I don’t understand

Daughter – She just ran out of time. Like the glass runs out of sand

Man – I didn’t know people could do that

Daughter – What?

Man – That people could just die without being

He motioned to his guns still holstered to his waist

Daughter – You’ve never had someone just die on you?

Man – I’ve seen death by bullet, by knife, by explosives, by dozens of means. But dying without being killed? Just suddenly stopping…I don’t recall having ever seen or heard of that.

I thought I saw another injury just beneath his long red bandana. I tried to tend to it, but he wouldn’t allow me.

Man – No

Daughter – You’re hurt

Man – No, no not that

He got up suddenly stronger then he had originally appeared and moved toward the door.

Daughter – Wait

He stopped.

Daughter – What’s wrong

Man – Leave it be.

Daughter – I don’t want you to go

I moved toward him. He seemed a bit dizzy, getting to his feet so quickly had caught up with him.

Daughter – I want to help

Man – Alright

I went to help him back to the couch. I put my arm around him. Then, his arm was on my waist, and a finger fell onto a half inch of skin along my spine just above my beltline. The small of my back turned to quicksand and wanted all of hand to slide on in. I got scared, but I didn’t pull away. Now my hand was on his chest. I looked into his eyes, they still were homeless eyes lost. But, his breath gave him away.

Man – Yes

Daughter – I want you to kiss me

Man – No, not yet

Daughter – Please

Man – Shhhhh…not yet, not yet

Daughter – Why

Man – I’m scared

Daughter – Me too, I know

Man – I’m so afraid

Daughter – Why?

Man – I don’t…I’m afraid I’ll hurt you

Daughter – No

Man – I don’t want to devour you

Daughter – (small laughter) I want you. It’s ok. I want you to use your mouth

Man – I’ll try. Close your eyes

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Seven Snakes Prose Part 5

After mother’s death, I wasn’t certain how I would hold up against all the Judge’s absurdities, but as the weeks went by both he and I realized despite it all, those old men really did need me to keep the VA from completely falling apart. That only was what helped he and I maintain a truce. That was until the man appeared.

Chapter Four – The Man

As dusk approached, so too did the Man. His features were concealed. Below his sharp angled blue eyes was a long deep red cloth wrapped secure veiling his face like a bandana would. He wore steel toed boots and a long duster unbuttoned. You could see his was armed. I don’t know much about guns, but he wore at least two of them and a belt full of bullets.

I was just inside the VA’s entrance when I saw him standing in the stone garden in front of the building. He was staring straight and vacant toward the building. I stepped outside. As I walked toward him, he did not turn to look at me. This was a surprise to me. Being a seventeen year old and the only female in a world of dying old men, I’m used to everyone turning to look at me. I don’t say that to brag. It just is. So when the first truly tall young man, the first man who might seem like he could actually do something with a woman, when you don’t capture his attention it skewers your reason. Reality does a cartwheel. It confused me. I wasn’t sure how to feel. I slowed down, and gave him every opportunity to snap to it, to a steal a gaze, but nothing doing. He stared straight and vacant toward the building. I know it’s silly, but I even turned around and walked a full circle around the man

Mother – Trying to bait him to take a stab at that ass with his eyes

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I needed something from this man. I did. I needed his…attention. I needed it to confirm something. I don’t know…In order to feel that everything was as it should be.

Mother – They are worser things girlie

Suddenly he slumped. Instinct made me leap towards him. He was cold and hard to get a hold off. I dropped my shoulder into the crevasse of his armpit to stable him. That was when I found his wound. Those ribs were a mess, not so much blood, but you could tell he flinched so at contact. I slowly attempted to spin us, and the wind caught his duster and it flew up into our faces. I could see nothing, but had us facing the entrance of the VA. Then the breeze fell and the jacket’s length dropped away from our faces. I saw a dozen of them octogenarians blockading the entrance. They were welding an assortment of blunt objects, walking canes, broken table legs, a pool cue. I jerked my head to one side, gesturing for them to get out of my way, but they held ground.

“I have an injured man here.”

They shook their heads in unison and a finger pointed up towards a fifth floor window. There perched the Judge. He was as worked up as I had seen him.

Mother – Till that point.

Judge – My dear!!!

His bellow was as thunderous and it was condescending. He was using the rec room karaoke machine to project his voice.

Judge – We will have no desert Bedouins within these walls!

Daughter – But he is injured

Judge – These veterans didn’t survive the desert wars so that we would suffer Bedouins!

Daughter - I have an obligation to care for anyone in need

Judge – Then do so. Anywhere but within these walls!

Daughter – Judge! Be reasonable!

He then took his nerve mallet and smashed it against an empty bed pan in gavel fashion. The karaoke machine’s disco echo effect sustained the sound for minutes, during which a number of the Judge’s most ardent howled like coyotes.

The man was coming back to consciousness, now his fingers slid to my elbow and softly squeezed so as to brace himself. He leaned onto me, and with me as his crutch, we staggered back toward Mother’s hut.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I didn't want to say it...but I'm going to say it

There have been a lot of individuals flipping birds at each other over the Internet and let me say I will not put such comments up (if I even get them, my readership is probably significantly less than most I do love those of you who read even if you don't agree).

I will put up comments that further the discussion.

I have been trying my best not to blog about all the stuff that has been brought up by Scott Walter's blog as of late.

I respect Scott as a fellow blogger, had some email correspondence with him on some of issues he has been attempting to address as of late.

And now that there is a lot less invective going back and forth, i find the notions being discussed over on Don's blog in response to Scott even more disturbing to me than a couple of grown men slinging rocks at each other via the internet

I hear people talking about what Theatre should do, what Theatre should be...Umbrella like statements about hope, intent, and community. I hear fears about the death of theatre (God it seems I've been hearing about the death of theatre since I first got the bug back in 1988).

I for one don't believe for a second that theatre is dying or in need of a major overhaul as some have suggested. My experience is that theatre, live performance is still as viable as it was when I first got wind of this thing called theatre back in the day.

How we distribute theatre that might need an reexamination, but when we start examining our content so that we are making shows which are more hopeful, or community building (i.e. sell more tickets because they make us feel hopeful)...despite our best intentions we have become cultural police officers.

Should theatre entertain and enlighten? Should theatre merely entertain? What are the responsibilities individual artists have to their communities? Should we consider activism towards those who do a certain kind of theatre that isn't to our taste? Or that uses stereotypes? Or that makes me fear for the future?

I put it to all of you that your first and foremost responsibility as an artist is to be truthful to your own intent whether that intent is purely narcissistic or wondrously philanthropic. I suggest that all this keening over the state of theatre has less to do with whether or not we are relevant or more to do with whether of not we are financially solvent. I say if you don't like the kind of theatre your community has, well then make the sort of shows you want to see. Don't tell me what to make. I'll make what I want to make thank you very much. I'll address the issues that are important to me. I'll use any means I deem fit (God bless the constitution) regardless of whether or not they hurt someone else's feelings.

You as the storyteller be true to yourself
You as the producer be true to your market
You as the director be honest with the playwright and the audience

Truth is what we should be aiming for...then let the audience decide if it is helpful, harmful, hopeful, healthy, strengthening, etc.

Stop apologizing for small houses and stop looking at your content as the reason. People are playing video games, watching dvds, raising kids, playing horseshoes, betting on ball games.

Truth above all else, yes even hope! And once you've spoken truth see who is listening. That is your audience. Embrace them, they are your community. Do not sacrifice your voice, your truth, your individuality so that you can build hope in a community that might not even be your own. Communities should built on truth, yes even before hope.

Consider the possibility that it isn't theatre that is dying, it is your community your country, your american dream....and that giving voice to dissent is as equally important than hope.

Aside from impinging upon another individual's civil rights...I say take your political correctness and heal thyself. Until someone can show me that southern white males are suffering lose of civil liberty due to "You might be a redneck jokes"
I say it is free country and let em write and say and perform what they want.

I want a theatre of ideas,dialogue,debate, and dissent rather than a theatre of hopeful intentions.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Environments Used in Clay Continent (Part3)

Hyde - I am a sick man...

Utterson - Did you ever remark that door?

"I am a sick man" - Notes from underground.
I see such a direct correlation to the protagonist of Notes from Underground and this triptych. With these paintings we get to act as voyeur to man in the midst of what appears to be both a biological as well as spiritual crisis (the second painting and its sprawling shadow hammers this home for me).

Utterson starts the show by asking the audience if they have ever "remarked that door?" He is referring to the door which is Hyde's means of exiting and entering Jekyll's domain. A crooked and stained orifice that is accessible only by the rat infested back alleys. But that image of a door that mustn't be opened, like a Pandora's box mustn't be opened. Here we have a diseased and reprehensible figure separated from us the spectator by the open door. We might be voyeurs, we might have a more intimate relationship with the figure of the sick man.

These images also served as a launching point for a dream/nightmare sequence in Clay Continent where all of Utterson's most desperate scatological fears/obsessions and/or fantasies about the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde become visualized. The light would rise and fall slowly each time revealing a different image like a progression through the above triptych. The scene presented at the full production was composed of more images than these, but these were the original inspiration and the differences were variations upon these visual themes.

The sharp split in space and how that split is violated in one of the images, has struck me as of late. I have been thinking about this Jekyll and Hyde paradigm and asking myself how to relate it to the story of Oedipus. Jekyll was looking for a man who was himself, just as Oedipus condemns and investigates a murder and sexual travesty that he unknowingly committed. I think about the Sphinx in the Oedipus tale, what the Sphinx means in Mythology. Who casts that shadow, or perhaps what part or element of the figure is cast/caught in that shadow? Or is it instead a different figure, a demon, a persecutor, could it be the Sphinx?

These images also remind me of the gonzo aesthetic of Hunter S Thompson and Ralph Steadman's work. A visceral dangerous self destructive sort of freedom. I recall the scenes in the book Fear and Loathing of The Doctor of Journalism and his attorney just one toke away from mutually assured destruction. This idea of Gonzo could also be applied to the suggestion RLewis made to the last Clay Continent environmental post about wanting as the spectator to be able to pull back the curtain rather than having one of the figures onstage do that.

So potential layers of Gonzoism...? Jekyll's experiments have definitely gone Gonzo. He is experimenting upon his own flesh and blood. Utterson the lawyer is going the Gonzo route by getting personally involved with his client and with he whom he believes to be his client's nemesis. And then another even more interesting yet improbable possibility which is finding ways to involve the audience so that they get a sense of that gonzoism as well. How to use the environments to elucidate and enable the Gonzoism...?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Seven Snakes Prose Part 4

Not all of them were perverts, but that didn't mean they were any less hard to handle, especially the one they called The Judge. They called him that because he would sit in self appointed judgement over all matters regarding the other veterans and the VA building itself. How he got those other old men to put up with his edicts and orders I'll never know, but the octogenarians willfully submitted themselves to his authority, even regarding their medications. Now, I railed and roared and threw a few punches at the wall once I saw some of the patients taking turns for the worse.

Mother - Nothing can be done to help some old dummies begging to dead

It didn't matter to those old fools that the Judge were just another half crazed octogenarian like the rest of them. They still pledged themselves to whatever he decreed, whatever he prescribed. I guess after all that time in the service they yearned for some sort of leader, some sort of chain of command. And the Judge was just too happy to oblige.

His most recent project was having the men convert the fifth floor recreation room into his judicial chambers. They all went along like dominoes.

Mother - I didn't give two turds for that. Far as I was concerned, they want to sit around wearing funny hats, planning for the Apocalypse, why should I bother. Some things just aint worth the spike in yer blood pressure. As I get older I choose my battles.

The Judge would preside on a make shift throne the men had fashioned for him. He wore this long dark terrycloth bathroom robe as his chamber clothes. The robe billowed on his tiny frame making him seem even smaller and more emaciated than he was. The most extravagant feature of his face were those eyebrows, inches of length to them. When he got all high and mighty indignant those brows would flap around like a couple of moths hot glued to his forehead.

Mother- The only conceivable excuse for growing them out that damn long might be to to draw attention away from that big old potato of a nose.

Let's not talk about his nose mother.

Mother - Hah! Sure girl! Anything you say!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Environments Used in CLAY CONTINENT (Part 2)

Lets talk about these two paintings. In both of them we see very similar environments with very intriguing variations. I'll start with the vertical stripes, in the first painting, they appear to be between the spectator and the figure almost like the bars of a cage, but where do they start, where do they end? One could posit that the vertical shapes are the result of light passing through a filter or gobo, but the white paint has to my eye more weight to it than that. This is another example of liminal space or ambiguity, irrefutable yet undefined, that Bacon uses as environment, and that adds to the sense of the piece (for me the sense of mystery mixed with dread). I am hoping that CLAY CONTINENT can effectively create these types of environments and that they serve intriguing spectacle during the performance.

In the second painting we have the same vertical stripes but this time more grounded, more defined. One can see that they are the result of light hitting a curtain. You can see the hooks, the rings, the rod. Can we combine the motif from both paintings so that we get something solid like in the second painting but also lifted into the foreground like in the first? Perhaps a clear plastic curtain as well as side?

Another shared motif is the downward curving arch in the lower third of both paintings. The grounded image versus the liminal image is reversed though. It is the second painting that has more ambiguity this time. The curvature could be a barrier separating the spectator from the figure. It could be a line of caulk scratched onto the ground, but even the ground itself is hard to define in the painting. Bacon's technique appears to make the surface here translucent again as if looking through a plastic sheet of film. There is a shorter second arc as well above the first that floats ill defined on the stage left side of the canvas. Then in the first painting we see similar shape but more defined. Again it appears to be a curtain and rod sort of construction but here we have individual strips of fabric connected in single rings spread out in multiple directions. But then in front of that specific grounded element are angular white lines perhaps an another barrier or they connected to the lines either behind or beneath the figure.

The Environments Used in CLAY CONTINENT

Over the next few months, I will be using my blog as a place to work out ideas, preconception, dramaturgy, etc. for the Mammals upon coming revival of CLAY CONTINENT. Your comment, encouragement, and questions about the play, the process, etc. are most welcome.

One of the major influences upon the look, feel, and character of previous versions of CLAY CONTINENT were the paintings of Francis Bacon.

Previously when analysing these portraits, I was primarily conscious of the foreground. The faces the figures in Bacon's canvas were what held my fascination. The drama, the intensity, the emotion, and the conflict are inexplicably vicious. Using these pictures when talking to cast and crew about the characters was always exciting and communicated directly and visually about the direction of the piece in a way that my vocabulary could not.

But, I revisited these paintings I found I was now becoming equally enthralled with the backgrounds of many of them. The environments that Bacon puts his figures into are equally as potent as the twisted features of his faces. One of the goals for the Mammals' latest incarnation of CLAY CONTINENT will be to utilize and replicate the environments in Bacon's work to create minimal/precisionist(wink to that word) set pieces that aid in the spectators' immersion into of pageant of villainy.

The Popes painted by Velazquez were an undeniable influence in Bacon's painting. Looking at the image the eye in drawn into the face, the expression, the intention of the clergy represented here. But what about what is going on behind the pope? We often miss that part of the painting altogether, and who could blame us. that haunting visage of God's emissary on earth is ripe with commentary and just too dramatic not to aim your eyeballs upon.
But that expanse of dark behind him, with the outline of a hall or a tunnel that perhaps ends, perhaps does not. Also the slightest twist to the perspective both frames the head and places the entire figure in a liminal space that is just as integral to the sense of the painting, regardless of what sense it eventually instills in you. The horizontal black line that bisects the pope's jaw could simply be a representation of a the bottom of a wall behind him extended to the edges of the painting's frame. That line could also be the actually horizon of this space far far behind the figure of the pope. The environment is ambiguous, expansive, and confining simultaneously.