Monday, December 29, 2008

Value of Theater

The true value of theater is in that it makes you feel alive. There are tangental benefits, aims, etc. But, theater must magnify the sensation of living.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Who's Crying Now?

This weekend was the closing of WNEP's Christmas Dada Show. Everybody donned the white face one last time before the holiday season (pun sorta intended). I wasn't formally a part of this gig. I was always balancing precariously on the fringes of the event. I attended the swing dada rehearsals, but not in an official capacity. Some of the swing dadas didn't even know my name until we got to tech week and Don turned to me in front of them and asked for comment. I didn't have to carry the same weight I did for the previous show (by design I think... Don appointed Paul to assistant director duties this time). For Don it worked out because he got to pull another compatriot officially into the fold (Paul as born for this sort of performance). For Paul it worked cause he got to both perform as well as get some experience guiding certain scenes. For me it worked because I knew that when I showed, Don would welcome my notes knowing I had enough appreciation and respect to know when to share and to whom.

I got to do this without the burden of actually assuming any responsibility. My connection to the piece as well as to the company was unspoken but still understood by most. I got to wander in and out at will like Uncle Ben in Death of a Salesman. In the end, I think I became the gang's most ardent fan. I was not directly responsible for any of the brilliance on stage, but I did get an occasion once or twice to dither my butterfly wing into Don's ear and see a tornado on stage a day or two later.

In the end, I was welcomed by all to be a part of it... or at the very least feel a part of it. I am saddened by the closing of the show. I found my ocular organs leaking just a little bit near the end. I was left wanting more (any good show should leave you feeling that way.)

When will the next incarnation of WNEP dada appear? Who will be in it and who won't? None of us really know the answers to these questions.

What we have now is uncertainty
accompanied by appreciation
accompanied by nostalgia
accompanied by exhaustion
accompanied by the occasionally hunger pang strong enough to sense but not yet strong enough to get up off the couch and get into the kitchen
accompanied by a sense of fellowship to those who
stood next to us,
cringed with us,
smiled with us,
waited in anticipation for the audience's reaction with us...

Dada is what ever Dada needs to be, but those of us who become dadaists for brief periods still are permitted our humanity beneath the face paint. It is a paradox to infuriate perfectionists and dictatorialists, but despite its contradition... it exists.

I am so very proud of all the dadas this holiday season. I learned so much from watching you all and getting to share with you. More than I can type out right now.

Being there with you made me feel more alive than most any other time as of late. I yearn for that and I thank you for that. Thank you for making me feel alive.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Humanity - Literacy?

Is there any other specie capable of literacy? Would it be true or false to suggest that one of the keys tenets to humanity is literacy?

I don't know, but I've been juggling this around in the old noodle.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stuff to see and do this week!

Wildclaw's Dreams in the Witch House ... Just fun stuff! Slow start, but lots of fun Grand Guinol

Also, closing weekend for the Dada Show... This is the one to see folks trust me. I took a bunch of my co-workers, and they loved it.

And, buy some music from David Lykins. I got to listen to his CD Blurry White Guy and there are some track I really love. You might recognize the artist as Manny Angelo in the Meatlocker concept art I've been posting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

David Lykins as Manny Angelo

We've had three photoshoots thus far for the MEATLOCKER graphic novel. That will be it for the remainder of the calendar year. We've gotten a lot of great shots, and now the next step is for me to see what we have thus far in comparison to the storyboards.

I've scanned in original storyboards into the computer. Then I create a word document with the storyboard and prospective photos I think could be used for each frame of the graphic novel. Once that is done, I'll begin the process of actually photoshopping the images and creating each page, taking note of any pick up shots I may need to finish the story.

Originally we were doing longer sessions up to five hours. But, I got to tell you that started to really wear everybody out. I think no more than 3 hours now.

I plan to pepper this site with concept art from the Graphic Novel, but I'm going to wait to start posting the actual story until the whole graphic novel is complete and available at or comparable self publishing site.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The Mammals are holding general auditions for multiple projects during our 2009 season. We are looking for bold, energetic performers who are excited at the idea of creating new pieces to be premiered in 2009.

Where: 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave

( Ravenswood and Irving Park - East Side of the Metra Tracks) Suite 405
When: Sunday January 11th 12pm-5pm

To schedule a time call the Mammals at 866-593-4614 or email us at

What you'll need to bring -

2 Prepared Contrasting Monologues,
Original Created Piece

Regarding your original created piece. The Mammals are excited about working with passionate individuals who consider themselves creative artists. We want to see what you like to create. This can be anything from a monologue you have written to design portfolio/ puppetry/ mask/ sculpture/ music /dance/ movement. We only ask that it be something you have worked on before arriving at the rehearsal. Feel free to share with us pieces you've created at improvisational workshops previously, but we prefer you not attempt to improvise an entirely new piece in front us.

Our 2009 season

Devils Don't Forget - April 2009
The Second Play in Bob Fisher's Noir Triptych

What would you do if you finally were able to forget all the sins of your past, but someone or something you can't quite identify is chasing you down trying to force you to remember? Devils Dont Forget takes all the genre elements of Noir and melds them with Lovecraftian villainy. Previously performed under the title "Save Me From Myself", the Chicago Reader said this play was "like Dario Argento putting flowers on the grave of Raymond Chandler."

Seven Snakes Workshop - Spring/Summer 2009

Described as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets Romeo and Juliet, a story about a mysterious masked bandit who stumbles through a post apocalyptic desert into a abandoned veterans' hospital where the forsaken patients are certain he is their mortal enemy. The only remaining caretaker for the octogenarian military men is a girl raised at the hospital by her recently deceased mother, the last registered nurse assigned to this facility. The young girl must protect the mysterious masked man from the veterans' wrath, and in doing so falls in love. However, the old veterans aren't wholly wrong about the intent of this young enigmatic male. This workshop will be a collaborative approach to staging this Science Fiction Narrative over a number of weeks culminating in a private performance for friends and fellow artists.

The Meatlocker - Fall/Winter 2009

The Third Play in the Noir Triptych, this is the tale of a boxer haunted by demons from his past warning that if he goes down for the full ten count, even if it's a dive, he wont ever get back up. Every time the boxer steps on the mat, he is fighting for his life. The real trouble occurs when the boxer meets a bookie who wont take no for an answer to fix a fight. This story will be told by the Mammals in both graphic novel form as well as a stage production.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Does Chicago Blow?

Re: Artists and Critics and Proximity

In the comments over at Don's digs, Alison Croggon suggests that there is better way to do things. I respond with some ribald doubt, but maybe she is right? (despite the ribald doubt, I do respect her blog.)

She speaks to the descriptions that many of us c-town bloggers have written about. So, is Chicago somehow more hierarchical than other theatre towns? Is there really something to this regionalist perspective that has been suggested now by critics in two different theatre towns across the globe? Or is this in the end...much ado about nothing? Will there always be a tenuous relationship between artist and critic?

Or if things really are so much better between the artist and critic in other towns, can someone from there share reasons why? Rather than merely dismissals of the Second City?

Critics and Artists of Chicago... I think we are both being sullied here. Am I wrong?

Mac Wellman's Original Mister Bugg,
"What is appropriate for the stage versus the page?"

I’ve been revisiting some of my old favorites. There was a time when I thought Mac Wellman could do no wrong. I dog eared and dirtied up the pages of my copy of Bad Infinity back in the mid nineties. And, even though I haven’t taken the leap to by the Cellophane collection, I have been pouring over the library’s copy of it.

It is fun to read some of these plays which I saw in production back when I was a NYC, Girl Gone and Fnu Lnu particularly.

One of the shorter pieces, Mister Original Bugg, has been cooking in my brain since I read it. The premise is a short play about the action of naming things. We see a series of introductions, wildly named people file past are view. The piece concludes with a meditation on how naming actually affects perception and reality.

This is a Drama about the power of words rather than the appeal of action. On the page it is, I feel, delightful and maybe even a little sublime. But what happens if it is no longer on the page but now on the stage. At the time of publication, the play had not yet been produced (I think that has changed). There is nothing inherently Aristotelian in the play. That classic paradigm of course could be pushed upon the piece, but whatever narrative arises from the construction is something other than Scribe’s ‘well made’ play.

I’d love to see a production of this play. Who knows maybe even direct a production of it. The piece reminds me that the mere joy of vocabulary can, in the proper dosage, be reason enough unto itself to fiddle in front of those willing.

Anyone else read Mister Original Bugg? Or can you speak about similar such reading/viewing experiences?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is leaving at intermission really the problem?

Just how does this interaction between critics and artists work?

Don brought up the whole Westin thing, which in itself is pretty much easy to assess. However, some of the comments from individuals who identify themselves as critics had me pondering. None of critics were defending Ms. Westin's actions, but there still seemed to be a theme that the tonal or maybe even the act of calling her out had ramifications within the community. Perceived slights were suggested... even the suggestion that Chicagoans specifically were incapable of anything other than unchecked undeserved hostility when interacting with a less that adoring reverant press.

Whenever an artistic community has a misfortunate event where journalistic ethics are suddenly suspect, a hodgepodge of thoughts and preconceptions are thrust to the forefront of our constantly accumulating cultural conversation. How this conversation unfolds in the public arena has changed permanently due to the blogosphere.

Rather than remain focused on justifications, rebuttals, rebukes, and partial apologies, I’d like to turn the situation into an opportunity to question how the relationship between critic and artist is changing in the realm of theater criticism.

Before the blogosphere, print appeared to be authoritative and therefore was. Whether that authority was earned or not, who else were you going to turn to? Those voices who were in print were not merely part of the public record, they were the public record. The only opinions available for mass consumption /distribution were those of print periodicals. To say they were the standard upon which theater criticism was measured would suggest that there were other mass avenues for criticism. Aside from Word of Mouth, there were not.

In this sort of environment, the cause and effect of a good review and a well attended show seemed apparent. This led to a political/civil mode of ethics that some feel should still be the paradigm to emulate. Theater artists concerned with their reception rarely if ever rebutted critical negatives publicly, but touted even the smallest critical praise for obvious marketing reasons. The need to fill seats proved an unnecessary justification for this behavior. Critics had to (and still must for major publications) maintain an appearance of objectivity, fairness, and contextuality. That was how they were able to maintain reputation regardless of anyone else’s individual judgments of their perceptions. In the event that a critic’s words were challenged either with civility of not, those challenges were rarely visible for public scrutiny. Even the affluence of information we now have (searching archives of previous reviews by critic) was harder to come by just a few short years ago. Whether or not there is a perceptible bias or condition to a reviewer’s critical approach, is now retrievable by anyone online, with minimal effort.
Try doing that 5 years ago. It could have been done, but you would have had to be at the physical library and you’d have surrendered an entire afternoon if not more.

After living in a world with digital critical content, the cache of the newspaper print is not as apparent as it once was. It is in constant daily comparison for public consumption, and the question is… aside from there being more opinion available in a difference format of exchange, what has changed and does that affect how press and artist should behave?

In the beginning of digital theatrical coverage, it was still a frontier for only a very few. The papers merely replicated online what they had in the printed pages. The only other voices were those who dared to do something that few did, learn code, actually purchase a domain name, oh and find the time and discipline to write.

This is not the case anymore. Blog templates, RSS feeds… Are the words of other, newer, different individuals in the community suddenly seeming to challenge the perceived weigh or reception of the words by folks that once were not only in print, but due to media landscape one of a half dozen folks who got to weigh in at all?

I want to know peoples' thoughts on this, but lets keep it civil.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Theater Artistic Navel Gazing

Writing about my "first" Sam Shepard experience, got me thinking about a time when everything was fresher for me. Now I'm looking back at where I have been. Maybe to get some ideas about where to go.

There was a time when I thought anything was possible. I was in my mid twenties. I had been planning on moving to Chicago, but was instead heading for New York. My collegiate career was coming to a close. All I had to do was finish that last damn foreign language requirement I had been continuously putting off. This was the summer of 1997. To my own judgement, I had about the best pre-graduate experience anyone could have. I had taken my own sweet time getting to State University since I had immense freedom of expression as well as paid work in theatre at my home town. Finally after 4 years of being a big fish, someone had the good sense to finally kick me out of the local comfort zone and get my ass to state school. Being a few years older than all the other kids didn't hurt when it came to being focused on what I wanted and how to get it. And in a sort of Joseph Campbell like way, there always appeared to be knowledge people along the path who were able to guide or assist me.

We had mainstage shows that the school produced that had to be attended for grades, but we had also a thriving student run season in our small annex space that was most weekends filled to capacity. The productions were diverse. Many were flawed. All of them were free. The community's enthusiasm for work, all kinds of work was intense.

I want to get back to that place where I believe that anything is possible, where every night there was a belief that tonight I am going to either see or do something on stage I've never seen before, where people were more interested in intriguing whoever was in the house rather than counting the number of seats filled.

I want to live in a city with
more risk takers,
more variety,
less big houses,
more storefronts
more basement production
more guerrilla tactics
more dissent
less money
more sweat
more mind blowing
less broadway mentality

I don't want to point fingers at artists who aren't doing what I like. I want to find a network of like minded individuals who can point me instead to those whose work makes something reverberate in me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

David Lykins as Manny Angelo

This weekend we, the Mammals, start shooting for the graphic novel, The Meatlocker. I am pretty excited about finally getting this project off its feet. I am still tinkering with the look of the book, but I am gravitating to the look above. The novel will be black and white. I would like to make the image look a little more as if the image was from a film still. But, I am very satisfied with the intensity of the look.

Yesterday, I met with Sarah Elizabeth who is our costume designer for the Graphic Novel as well as the stage production next fall. Having her on board has been such a positive thing. She has a great eye, and wonderful positive energy. She is also coming up with make-up ideas. Two of our characters are very grotesque, at least that is what we are going for. So, this weekend we will see how much of that will be madeup before the photoshoots and how much I'll need to paint onto the images we shoot.

I've been sort of assistant directing WNEP's Dada show, uncredited, and that has been a blast. But, I am so ready for a new Mammal project. Here's to Sunday. Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kicking a Dead Horse

Do you remember your first Sam Shepard experience? Does it have a place in your heart similar to other moments like your first beer or your first time driving across state border lines? I know a whole lot of cynics out there who are desperate to convince others that they have outgrown Sam Shepard, people who are afraid that they can't be taken seriously unless they find him jejune or incapable of rising out of the mire adolescent muscular stereotype. For them Sam Shepard is less of a playwright and more likely a posture, less iconoclast and more iconography like the Marlboro Man - undeniable American, masculine, bad for your internal organs. I am not one of those people. I still love Sam Shepard. I can admit that he is well from another time, but the man still casts a huge shadow, so huge that it still provides relevant shade even from way back (wink) in the previous century.

If theatre truly is a boys club, then every wunderkind who pens something profane is held up in comparison to Sam.

I remember my first Sam Shepard play. It was a production of True West done in a black box space at the Brevard Community College. The resident director at the Cocoa Beach Community Theatre named Seaside Community Theatre wanted to do this play which his board would not back. It was too dark for them. So, he produced it himself at the local community college. That production... who knows if the production would hold up in my now jaded eyes... the performance I believe would, those guys Michael Thompson and Terry Girard were excellent at playing the brothers... but the director rewrote the last page of the script to make the piece more charged, more noir... and well thinking back on that I begin to question the memories I have of his other decisions.

I am sure that there are folks out there who have read or seen Kicking a Dead Horse, and their response was a sort of 'meh' a shoulder shrug. I can see all those well read shoulders rising and falling in slow motion silhouette. I can almost see with certainty the eyes rolling in the heads of a thousand graduate level theatre students.

Why is it that I feel I have to write this big damn long justification for enjoying a playwright like Sam Shepard. Come on... to hell with it! I'm a fan. Sue me or not. I don't care... or at the very least I shouldn't care and so... (dismissive hand gesture).

But, damn it ... this piece is I think a damn good one act play. Simple, spartan almost, and fucking honest. There is only one moment that scares me (if I were to direct it) as possibly too romantic... but the rest of it is for me spot on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trying to answer Dan with no hope of anyone reading this thanks to Thanksgiving

Dan asks

So what is Storefront Theatre? What are its essential qualities? What -if anything - makes it more than just "commercial theatre on a budget" or "regional theatre on a budget"?

The specificity of this question could sum up if not the entirety of chicago based theatrospherism, at the very least 2 out 3 posts we pick away at our keyboards.
I would not deem to know the answer to this question, but in the hopes of continuing the conversation I offer some potential hypotheticals...

Storefront Theatre is a theatre that has always attempt to exist despite or in direct contradiction to the effect of the market. Even the small little operations that make big bucks for one or two shows a year, still are constantly putting out productions that are either economic risks or appear to be so. The reason behind the risk could be anything from the profane to something marketed as 'cutting edge' (a euphemism that has lose its teeth long long ago).
It is possible that once storefront theatre no longer trucks the majority of its wares in the realm of that which is risky due to effects of the market... that at this point it becomes something else... something that eventually will become either commercial or regional or eventually dissipate.

Although equity companies often concede to slum it up in storefronts or warehouses, I think that storefront theatre has a huge traditional of being non-equity or sweat equity. Equity companies eventually want to be in equity houses. Companies that are non-equity love the idea of more numerous and comfortable seating, but for the most part have not as much use for seating over 50 unless a rave review makes its way into the big papers.

But even as I write this down, I am doubtful that many will agree with this assessment of what storefront theatre is. Something that maybe more folks could agree with? storefront theater that happens in a storefront as opposed to a traditional proscenium space. A storefront often has little lobby or sometimes none. A storefront often has folding chairs instead of comforting fabric seats. A storefront might give its audience some sort of thrill at achieving cultural cache, but rarely a class based societal cache that translated to season tickets at the Step or the Goodman. Storefront has no monopoly on quality, but from objective panoramic view surrenders none to other types of theatre either.

Storefront theatre often requires sacrifice on behalf of all involved. The actors and crew who give up time with their families for little of no money... The audience who give up the comfort/convenience of going somewhere where the parking is hard and maybe the seats are hard and maybe the theatre has no heat or no a/c or maybe the bus runs there only until 9ish meaning that anyone who sees a 2 act there has to walk a mile to get to a busstop and wait 30 minutes for a nite owl route.

Why does the artists and audience commit to this? Because they think that they are in for a possible experience that they either can not get or get with less frequency from other media and other non-storefront performance.

Tonight, I think that is what makes storefront theatre different from commercial or regional theatre.

If storefront theatre is a destination for the artist/audience rather than a stop on the way to commercial/regional theatre then...

The storefront is a temporary site/haven/space where a performance occurs that the economic market deems too risky to happen anywhere else.



So I have been taking a little break from the Clay Continent Graphic Novel
Project. Here's why (one of the reasons why). After closing the show in
April, we took a number of photos for publicity sake, but none of these
were shot with the intent of using the images specifically for a graphic
novelization. At first, I was invigorated at the challenge of having
roughly 300 photos of the actors in make-up and using that as elements of
composition for the comic. But, that notion has over the past 6 months
sort of cooled for me.

During this same period of time, I have been working hard on storyboards for the MEATLOCKER graphic novel (which we start shooting in December). Getting to conceptualize how I want the images to layout has been a real jolt to my system when it comes to how to tell a specific story in multiple mediums in tandem. Having spent alot of time figuring how to tell the story on the page in script form, was
significantly different from the journey I am still in the midst of when
it comes to figuring out how to tell the story in image form on the page.
So while I have been wrestling with that, it has been increasingly
difficult to bring myself to a pile of promotional photos and try yet once
again to figure out a new way to lay out the images of Jekyll, Hyde, and
Utterson while keeping everything fresh for me and the audience. Let's be
real here, I want you all to like it, but in the is sort of for
me...I don't mind sharing it. In fact sharing it is one of the primary
ways in which I interface with the world.

So how to move forward? Well, I think I am going to take a break from
forcing the Clay Continent narrative onto the images and instead sort of
go back to working the images into poster form and see how that feeds my
imagination. After some time with that, I'll storyboard Clay Continent and
then I am going to get the actors together again and actually shoot them
for the purposes of the graphic novelization.

I am very excited to finally be shooting for the MEATLOCKER graphic novel.
When I got back from my trip to Seattle, wanted to make sure that I would
be able to hit the ground running after the Thanksgiving holiday. And, I
think that the Mammals are going to be able to do that. Photoshoots in
December with more in January... Auditions in January for a whole host of
new projects in 2009. I feel like I am almost about to recover the
artistic ground I lost when I retreated from the Chicago Theatre Scene in

Among the projects that I will be involved in (or hope to be involved) are

THE MEATLOCKER - Graphic Novelization and Stage Production TBA Fall/Winter 2009

SEVEN SNAKES - A workshop production of a new play based upon my 2005 NaNoWriMo writings

DREAM JOURNAL OF DR JEKYLL - Unable to shelve my obsession with the Jekyll and Hyde story, the Mammals are fashioning a new piece around the conceitthat a "collector" has purchased from a corrupt cop a journal found at the site of Jekyll's supposed murder

DEVILS DON'T FORGET - The second play in my Noir Triptych (THE MEATLOCKER and BREED WITH ME are the accompanying pieces of the Triptych)

HOPPER PROJECT - WNEP will hopefully soon make some sort of announcement when this performance will happen. (Prediction BTW- It will be one of the best things ever)

RAW - more WNEP Write Club Goodness.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2009 excerpt

I thought that last month was going to be my last month. You follow? My last month on earth that is, or at the least above the dirt.

You are not supposed to start off a story by saying anything too confusing, but what else can I do. My life is pretty confusing lately, and it requires a painful amount of pre-planning to get the words out in a way that wont turn off an egg head or a worm riddled brain. I don't know who I am actually putting all of this down onto paper for anyway. But, I think the only way I am going to be able to get it all out, is if I write it the same way I would speak it, and just trust that you'll stay tuned, stay in the moment, or let go and accept the confusion the chaos in the manner I had to. In the manner, that I am still forced to ingest the minutes, the moments, the events that make up my life.

Last month I woke up next to a prostitute. This was not an entirely unique way of starting my day. I often greeted the dawn in the company of a prostitute, a woman who lease for a short period of time parts of her anatomy for temporary occupancy. But this makes one question just when is a woman a prostitute, is she always a pro? Or is she only one during the agreed upon length of the lease? Is she a pro when she is in the company of one with whom she has not reached a lease agreement? Even if said person is occupying a part of the woman say as a guest? Mostly, my mornings were not the result of a business transaction so much as a social transaction. Am I still a John if rather than an agreed upon amount of money, I instead often goods and services. Instead I offer favors. Instead a garner introductions. I act as a sort of matchmaker between various folks who are in desperate need? I know this makes me sound like a pimp. But pimps are better fed than me. I know quite a few pimps. They usually have more style, less worry, and cleaner teeth than me.

So back to the woman I woke up next to and why that morning was different than all the others before and since. You see when I wake up, the woman usually wakes up too. But not this time. This time she didn't wake up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

You might be thinking...

Well I already have been fighting the good fight...

Perhaps, but how do you mentor those who want to do more?

Can We...?

Can we make ourselves more available? To whom?

To schools
To civic efforts in our communities
To our fellow artists
To those who crave some sense of mentoring
To each other as sounding boards and shoulders of support

To children who need guidance
To an older generation that we cant afford to let future past by


So, Now What?

I am filled to the brim with hope.

Now what can we do as individuals and as artists to make the most of this opportunity?

How do we in small ways and in big ways enable the better angels of our collective nature?

And just as importantly, In what ways do we guard against base nature that still smothers beneath the ash of an inglorious past?

Ideas, posts, comments, links, suggestions?

Monday, November 03, 2008

FavoriteMan but NotSoFavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek with even some commentary

One of My Heroes!

I just read Edward Rothstein's 'Appraisal' of Studs Terkel, and was sort of left wondering if it had not rather been penned by Bill Kristol. There is especially considering the timing of the article, a barely veiled indictment of Terkel's political stance.

"The difficulty is for readers who presume they are being presented history without perspective, just a series of oral histories."

I find the above quote to be the quintessence of Rothstein's failed effort at the gently damning of Terkel's body of work. Something that I find questionable taste-wise just days after his passing. He takes umbrage with the comparison of Terkel to Sandburg or Whitman.

"Part of Mr. Terkel’s wide appeal was that he seemed to be a scrappy liberal in his choice of causes and concerns, but look more closely and it becomes less clear where his liberalism slips into radicalism. Though Mr. Terkel was not a theorist, nearly every one of the positions approvingly intimated by him seem to fit models shaped by Marxist theory; he even wore something red every day to affirm his attachment to the working class.

Mr. Terkel also provided a blurb for the memoirs of William Ayers, the Weatherman bomber whose connection with Barack Obama has been a point of controversy. “A deeply moving elegy to all those young dreamers who tried to live decently in an indecent world,” Mr. Terkel wrote. “Ayers provides a tribute to those better angels of ourselves.”

Mr. Terkel presented himself as an avuncular angel with close contact with the salt of the earth, a populist with a humane vision of the world. There are times such gifts are evident, but there are also times when such dreamers should make us wary."

Thumbs down to Rothstein. Not so much for having and sharing his opinion, but for doing so in such a tasteless way at a completely inappropriate time.

Mr. Rothstein... Bad Form! You have not, nor could not contribute half as much value wise to the character of American letters regardless of your political affiliation.


John Casey

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Art Question with a Political Slant

Regarding the Republican/McCain Ground game and it relation/resentment of the Democratic/Obama Ground game...

Are there parallels to the relation between Theater as a popular art form and other artistic mediums?

Are there lessons that artistic directors and theatre advocates can learn from the resentful McCain approach versus the Positive Unifying Obama approach?

Or is this too simplfied a metaphor to surrender valuable ground?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Can Not Vote For Any Republican this time (maybe never again).

I have been hesitating to get too into it online, and penning up all that has probably made this post look more like a rant than anything else, but when trying to figure out why I was so moved by Obama's 30 minute presentation...I realized it was due to the deep seated dismay and depression that has quite literally possessed so many of us since W and the Republicans not only stole a election, but also stole the character and collective spirit I was led to believe embodied that which was freedom, liberty, and the best of all that is American. Obama is (in a way that any Clinton could not due to that little blue dress BS) representing fundamental change in how a leader of the Free World acts. And it leaves W and the recently refabricated McWain in W's image so totally lacking in the poise and expressiveness necessary much less the morale, stamina, and dignity.

The past eight years have been something like a possession. I am an American and to a certain degree I am as we all are, even if dissenting, inexorable bound to our elected leaders.

It started off with an ex-president's son, coddled during the Vietnam war in a way that only the blueblood can provide, a C grade student, cocaine user, and perpetual bumbler being able to two step into the nomination of the Republican party using dirty Rovian Tactics while relying upon a disheartened population still stuck trying to figure out the definition of 'is'. He then takes, or better yet usurps the presidency from the will of the majority of the populace (thanks to a ridiculous paradigm called the electoral college, chads, and Daddy's Judicial appointments).

Then after W is in office the list of problems grows and grows.

Ignoring his own intelligence debriefing warnings about imminent attacks.
Lying to the American Populace about WMDs.
Torture and the defense of torture at Abu Grahib and on "American Soil" at Guantanamo
Rummy's total botching of the first act of the War on Terror
Letting Osama Bin Laden get out of Tora Bora
Pardoning AT&T for invading the privacy of American Citizens and our soldiers.
No Bid contracts for Halliburton
The elimination of our economic surplus

on and on and on...

And how is John McCain and Sarah Palin supposed to correct the ship that Bush and every Republican who assisted his administration blew so dangerously off course?

No. No to McCain. Hell No, to Sarah Palin.

The perhaps irreparable damage between and the Republican party is that McCain, probably the only Republican I could have voted into office is or was John 2000. But, that moderate has turned into everything I am in opposition to.

A coward who has at times hid behind his own wife's defamatory stumps... A hypocrite who whines about Barack breaking a promise to accept Federal Funding when McCain broke his promise to run a clean campaign... A bottomfeeder who used not only the same tactics, but the same team who used lies and robo calls to eliminate him from nomination in 2000... And, the final straw would be the total mindlessness of picked Sarah Palin, the Abigail Williams (remember your Arthur Miller?) of Red State Occult-Terrorism-Socialism-Mongering.

Where they find fear they fan it, where they find intelligence they abhor and insult it. Till today, I say Tom Delay (are you kidding me) as one of the few remaining republicans who will go on air and say Barack=Evil...McCain=Good.

If McCain was the man I thought he was, he would have left the party of Torture and become an independent.

Anyway enough rant...I wont pretend that I am anything other than 'in the tank' so heads up any Nobama or pro McCain rebuttals from trollers who somehow googled and got here wont make it into my comments on this post. But, if you feel as I do... I don't mind you choosing to share that. Tomorrow back to Art.

Inspired by Fellow Theatrospherians - I Do My Best to Skin Brendan Kiley Alive!!!

Lately, I have been feeling my theatrospherian passion reawakening, by some of the stuff I have been reading lately. I got back to Travis' blog recently, and was very taken by his point by point digestion of an article by Brendan Kiley in the Seattle Stranger. Oh BTW, did you guys see how many comments this article got? It shadows even Donny Boy's abilities at Provocation.

I actually enjoyed reading some of this stuff (how did that happen?) So, I decided that I would follow suit, but rather than clean and cook the entire beast... I am just going to eat around the parts that initially draw me in and make me feel compelled to respond.

1. Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already. The greatest playwright in history has become your enabler and your crutch, the man you call when you're timid and out of ideas. It's time for a five-year moratorium—no more high schoolers pecking at Romeo and Juliet, no more NEA funding for Shakespeare in the heartland, and no more fringe companies trying to ennoble themselves with Hamlet. (Or with anything. Fringe theater shouldn't be in the game of ennobling, it should be in the game of debasement.) Stretch yourself. Live a little. Find new, good, weird plays nobody has heard of. Teach your audiences to want surprises, not pacifiers.

I have heard this one before. I have even spoken this one before. So I, like Travis, am sympathetic, but!!! I think that there is a more vital (or maybe merely inflammatory?) way to analyze and attack our psychological dependence upon Shakespeare.

One of the pros to doing Shakespeare that many folks tout is that there are no royalties to worry about. To which I say in a somewhat huffy voice - Fine! However, I'd like to point out that there are also no intellectual property rights to worry about either. So, I would like to see alot less sanctimony regarding the bard's work and hell even his words.

I would like to see productions were Hamlet in mid soliloquy says something totally unheard of before.

I would like to see a production of Macbeth where Lady Macbeth is the actual heroine.

I want to see people bastardize and recombine and roll around and rape and pillage the First Folio with the same gusto and self indulgence an unchecked mashup mixer applies to fellow artists who are still living and breathing.

I want to see vicious over the top rewrites.

I want to see more Luchadore when witnessing Shakespeare (hint... ever see Mexican Wrestling Macbeth?)

The problem with all this Shakespeare is not that he is overdone. I think it is how he is overdone. Give me more crazy over the top Auteurist, Avantist, S/M, post apocalyptic, metal punk, surgical theatre, grand guinol... Or even wholly new genres when tickling at the bard's flavor saver.

If you must take the Bard, then do something completely different than anything you have heard or seen before. The problem isn't Shakespeare, it is the puritanical museum like reverence, the sort of standing in line at the bank approach to his work. Sometimes doing, reading, or having anything to do with Shakespeare feels like (gulp) going to Church. There I said it! I strive to be a good person, hell I even think of myself as a Christian most days, but man-o-man I hate going to Church. Shakespeare has sort of become our 700 club, our Joel Osteen, or even our Benny Hann.

If the work of the bard is damn good then I have to believe that there is something still in there for the disenters, the misfits, the freaks of nature, the snake handlers, the thumb mashers.

Dissent! Dissent! Dissent! Wring out the dissent! Wipe it on a banner with the blood and sweat. Cut out the words that distance you from giving a damn. Then embrace or deconstruct the archetypes that swim in the common mind soup we all bring when confronting the ideas and actions in the bard's work.

Insist on cutting (alot of it). Insist on paraphasing. All these directors who insist they have to have certain freedoms from the totalitarian ambitions of living playwrights (OK hyperbole...but)... divorce your notions of reverence to the Bard's work. Hint, here is the supposed greatest writer in the English langauge and you can do whatever you want to his words!!!! So, do it already!

If a Rose by any other name is still a rose, then we should be much much freer and wilder and hell even destructive in how we approach Bill's stuff. He has got moxie. He can take it.

So, don't just use Bill because he is free from fees. Use Bill because he is one of the few playwrights everyone is usually familiar with that enables freedom of approach to the expression.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tony got me thinking and now look at all this typographical vomit

Tony asks some questions about criteria when it comes to the work one produces for the stage. He also asks how your reading list has changed from college...

What am I on the hunt for...?

In the majority, the past decade has been one of self production for me. Leaving a small city in Northern Florida for NYC in the late 90s, I pretty much realized that I was probably going to have to be a playwright if I was going to have even a small shot of contentment within the medium I had chosen. Most of the heroes, I had acquired a a Florida College were already well produced in NYC.

Some of the heroes from my college reading list?

Mac Wellman
Maria Irene Fornes
Richard Foreman
Robert Wilson
Sam Shepard
Erik Ehn
Susan Lori Parks
Stephen Sondheim

These were often folks who were mostly living breathing and a few of them sometimes even approachable in NYC in the late 90s. They weren't the only vital playwrights, but they were the ones I had read, and the ones I would have probably been heavily producing were I to have remained a Floridian.

Others on that College reading list would include

Sam Beckett, August Strindberg, FT Marinetti along with various Italian Futurists, Bertolt Brecht, the majority of Absurdism, Len Jenkins, Karen Finley, Ellen Blumenthal's book on Julie Taymor (which I mediated on), anything to do with the Bread and Puppet Theatre, any writing about Wooster Group or Mabou Mines, any old 70's issues of TDR (Richard Schenchner period...I think it was...I'll have to look it up later or count on a reader to correct the record), Ibsen (but I was only into a few like Brand, Peer Gynt, and Master Builder).

Typical sorts of stuff you come into at college. New York changed alot of that, but probably in a way that doesn't translate to a college student about to graduate today. This was back when your Grandmother definitely didn't know what the internet was. This was back in the day when independent record stores and used books stores actually had real cache. There were film noirs and classic horror and anime that most the time you actually had to pick up and go to NYC if you wanted to peruse a shelf of that stuff. It was a different time. Nowadays the stuff I had to cross the continent to experience is mostly a few key strokes away. In a relative sense... mind blogging.

But back to what my current reading list is... actually very very few playwrights on the list. If I'm going to read nowadays if is usually not a play... rather it is a novel or non fiction or a graphic novel...but plays I have read lately (the past 2 or 3 years) that I would like to see produced and in a parallel universe maybe even direct?

I love Nilo Cruz. I am intrigued and challenged by Jose Rivera. 3 years ago I would have loved to do a Sarah Kane play (now the thrill is gone). I still love and would never past up the opportunity to work on many (not all but many) of Maria Irene Fornes' plays...she is so known yet so often unproduced (apologies to Sean Graney who did what I hear was an excellent Mud before I got back into Chicago from ATL). I love Adam Rapp (I've been told to frequently this is because I am a white male to which I can only shrug my shoulders).

The stuff I want to see more of though is the unpublished or at the very least self-published stuff. Individuals struggling to bring their own voices to life is the thing that I think is exciting. Smaller scripts that allow shorter rehearsal periods and shorter runs. I want to see people take risks as writers, intelligent calculated risks. I want to see people take literature classic literature even classic poetry and infuse it with action. I want people to tell stories about folks who are in danger, who have something precious at stake that relates to life changing events in the protagonists' existence. I want shorter runs done for less money by true enthusiasts who understand that a strong artistic economic model is worthy, but is not the sole ambition of expression and therefore not the lynch pin to performative demise. Extremes of a Grecian/Roman proportion

I want to see someone adapt Chester Himes on stage. I want to see Harry Crews adapted for the stage. I want cleverly constructed puppets and dark themes. I want to see the struggle between good and evil (even as the notions are challenged and pulled apart via the narrative) done in mythic or hell even psuedo mythic pomp. I want to see Jekyll turn into Hyde right before me. I want villians that make me sincerely hiss and bark uncontrollably. I want children to hold their breath.

that was fun.
Maybe I should do something about it...all these things I want.


Jason Hackenwerth

Echos of H.P Lovecraft, Clown Curriculum , and Louise Bourgeois

Monday, October 27, 2008


Easy Street

My Favorite Record Store/Cafe. If you are ever in Seattle (West Seattle) go and have breakfast here.

I ordered the Easy Rider Sandwich!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pointless Post

I love coffee. I really do. Even though I think it might, in this global market, be about as demonized a commodity as petrol. I don't know if I could, especially on cold winter day go without coffee. This recognition of how important coffee truly is to my existence has become prominent in my mind due to the fact that Chicago has certainly seen its last day approaching 70 degrees probably till April 2009.

Cold weather requires coffee. Strong coffee and even sometimes classic country music as well. The smell of Gold Coast Blend filling the apartment while Johnny Cash sings Ring of Fire, is one of the few things that can get me out from under the covers.

What are your favorite coffee blends and country songs? Weigh in ya SOBs. Take a break from the cam-pain. Tell me yer caffeinated poison?

Friday, October 24, 2008


via burningfencepost

I tried to find some text, but all I could find was the cover. Awesome though.

So, on a different note... I am a Chicagoan once again. It feels good. And this month of November might just be the month where I am making more art than just "talking" about making more art. Sweeeeeet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Tomorrow back to Chicago. Seattle is wonderful, but I am homesick. Home sweet home! I got a bunch of CD's to listen to on the plane.

Lesson learned - Be wary of taking vacation after taking a work trip. You're exhausted. You can still enjoy, but you are still tired tired tired.

Lesson learned - Sometimes it is good just to relax in another place. You dont have to go crazy and do everything a tourist does. You can just eat and read and shop and that's it.

West Seattle is so beautiful. Alki Beach...beautiful. I want to come back for a weekend next summer and see a game at Safeco.

If you want to totally unwind, nothing big city then do Astoria, Oregon. Beautiful place, sleepy foggy beautiful town on the water.

I don't know what to think of Portland.

Lesson learned - I am a Chicagoan. I love to visit other places, but I am a Chicagoan.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Still On The Road

I am not my job. OK
But then I am not my vacation either.

San Francisco had its moments. I must try again, without work always waiting in the wings.

Portland was weird again. Powells was fun, still one of my favorite places on earth.

Astoria was warm and fuzzy. I could definitely see myself blowing off some steam there again.

But, Astoria was where the road finally caught up with me. I decided to head straight for Seattle. Enjoy the city for a few and get back home.

Tomorrow, the Space Needle and Science Fiction Museum and Pike Place Market
Monday, Underground Tour and Safeco Tour

Tuesday...travelling back to Chicago to sleep in my own bed and hopefully finally knock this headcold ear thing... yes it is still hanging on...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Fellow Prisoners - John McCain is a...

Sept 25th, one of my fellow bloggers Issac posted the following title - John McCain, Grandstanding Coward. Malachy Walsh, got on a few of us for using the word Coward when referring to a candidate who spent 5 years in a POW camp. But, today the McCain camp and John McCain did the most cowardly thing a veteran possibly could do. He hid behind his wife. By letting his wife speak the brunt of his camp's criticism regarding votes for funding the war, John McCain hid behind the slim frame of his spouse. How does Barack Obama or Joe Biden respond to Cindy McCain without seeming to talk in a lowly derogatory fashion about a candidate's wife. Cindy McCain is off limits. Neither Democrat can directly address such a rebuke on a national or state. This wasn't something she said during an interview. It was on the stump with her husband only 5 feet away. The real high blood pressure moment here is that McCain himself has voted down funding for troops. Did Cindy McCain get a shock through her system then? Did Johnny have to sleep on the couch for endangering his own son? Ridiculous.

I can not help but feel vindicated in my original appraisal of this republican candidate's character. No matter what he was in 2000, not matter how much he bled in, October 9th... John McCain became a COWARD.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Clay Continent Panels

Please go check em out!!!

Tuesday, I'll be blogging some about the process thus far... The Pros and Cons I've been encountering during the process of making the Clay Continent Graphic Novel thus far... as well as strategies/thoughts about making a single story in multi medium narratives in tandem and distributing them.


Elizabeth McGrath

San Francisco, Seattle, Portland

During the last 2 weeks of October I'll be on the west coast. Any suggestions about where to go what to see?

Monday, September 29, 2008


Much of Paul Auster's work contains metafiction. As his novels collect upon library shelves, it seems that this prevalence of metafiction has become what many critics have locked unto as a negative. So much so that one must almost consider the negative mention of Auster's meta tendencies a critic cliche. Whereas one might point to mountain of critic discontent as verification that Auster has run dry as a valuable contributor to the American Literary Experience, I think it is more endemic of a failing upon the nature of current literary criticism in the main being too quick to roll its eyes at a literary device rather than the story being told through the device. There is much more ink to be split attempting to devalue potential literary heroes than not. And, to dismiss Man In The Dark as merely a recapitulation of Auster's lifelong obsession with meta devises is to my mind an unfair appraisal of a rather good book.

Man in the Dark is a meditation on how the results of the 2000 presidential election and Sept 11th attacks have impacted the imagination and psyche of Americans. In it we have an insomnia stricken writer who fights off dark memories from his past by composing a dystopian science fiction story in which he is a seemingly omnipotent presence responsible for having manifested a second American Civil War in a parallel universe by merely thinking the war into being. If one sets aside the mobieus strip of reasoning that is Auster's framing premise (stop asking which came first the chicken or the egg) and focus on the story he is actually telling there is an actual compelling yarn for the first 140 pages followed by what could be called a fictive contextual postscript concluding the book while illuminating its reason.

Does the American Intellectual feel a certain culpability to the death toll and chaos that has plagued the 21st century? Have we acquiesced? Are we sitting on a fence? What happens to one when they hurl themselves into the fray? Can your average American Intellectual even bring himself to some kind of action, if that action is violent? Is it absurb to believe that any one man could dream up such devastation and that the eliminating of that one man would/might change the world? These are some if the questions Man In The Dark's metafictive narrative poses.

I enjoyed this book very much, but then again I am a Auster fan, and have been seen reading his New York Trilogy years back.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain draws a line in the sand

In a statement made earlier today McCain makes it very clear, "Until certain per-conditions have been established, I will not meet with leaders of hostile nations like Iran or the David Letterman show."

Friday, September 26, 2008

3 variations upon theme of a politican's character

A single act of courage in one's youth does not counterbalance any deception or duplicity discovered in old age.

When I place such an individual's character upon a scale, the accumulate weight of corruption committed in one's seniority sinks steeply so much so that the interia of the drop rockets any previous sacrifice outside the boundary of relevance.

The bravery of a young man does not pardon the selfish ambition of the senior citizen bordering upon confederacy of criminality.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Fellow American Artists

After careful consideration, I have decided to suspend my blog until we are past this economic crisis which threatens to handicap our nations' ability to express itself intelligently, coherently, and in a manner which permits us as artists to maintain the status quo with other of our fellow Americans.

I call upon Don Hall, Scott Walters, Issac Butler and any other blogger that I have ever expressed opposition to their viewpoint to join me in this absolutely pointless gesture.

For once lets set aside our differences, reach across the aisle and come together in this time of mutual need.

And, even though I will have posts and comments going up in the upcoming days and weeks, let me be perfectly clear. These posts are not blogging. They are at most blogging about not blogging.

I am aware that my critics will attempt to paint a picture of this response as reckless and opportunistic. But in this sort of 9-11 economic/blogospheric scenario partisan blogging is only going to serve as part of the problem. It is not the sort of thing that a self styled Maverick blogger like myself can engage in any longer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Random Thoughts

Today I see pictures from Galveston TX while I hear government appointees still vying for unregulated bailout.

It is frightening how close the Apocalypse could be in this country. We could in a matter of months have no infrastructure what so ever turning the federal government into something more of an abstraction rather than an actual governing body.

Question, how would any of this be playing out in a non-election year? The situation is serious, but why so serious these past 2 weeks?

On the floor of Wall Street trade, is there an actual straw that falls and break the back of the economy like the proverbial camel?

I started reading more than just headlines today about the crisis, and it seems that beneath it all there is so much more than merely unchecked greed. Underneath all of it, I fear there is the demon of war, a vicious force that seems in check by the veil of civilization, but can't the veil of civilization be torn asunder in a world of unchecked fear and aggression?

It seems that there are policies based upon cultural mouths actually suggesting that it is fault of minorities and banks that lend to minorities...

Who knows of new tools that we will need to survive... is our civilization potentially at risk here?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plays I'd Like To See - Four Years From Now the Series

The Future of Terrorism Detection is Now!

From Boing Boing

The technology know as MALINTENT is not just for airports. MALINTENT technology has many applications in the private sector as well.

The most recent and irony MALINTENT installation was at the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library. It is essential that people feel safe when they are attempting to obtain information from our government.

P.S. dear reader - I know this is a little crazy, but I am just trying to figure out some sci-fi stuff and I'm using the blog to think outloud. Forgive or Indulge which every you are so inclined.

Play's I'd Like to See - Four Years From Now Series

Madame President Palin has suggested that the dramatic increase in tent cities over the past 3 years has less to do with the economy and more to do with folks re-embracing this country's park districts.

Recent controvesy occured when the Governor Shwartzeneggar had police officers in riot gear escort people out of Yosemite National Park.
"Ve Cant Toorn Aour National Paarks into Hoovavilles".

The Governor had been reluctant in previous weeks to take any such action, but Homeland Security surveilence had picked up what was referred to as "significant chatter" from cell phones and high power wifi connections from within the park.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Have You Ever Tricked Someone Into Viewing Your Art?

For example - Got some one to play a friendly hand of poker, only to realize that you have illustrated the face side of every card in the deck?

Suggested that someone come over for a beer, but then made them listen to a song you just wrote?

Been invited to a rolling skating rink only to realize it is a poetry recital on wheels?!!

Thought you were watching something lurid and dirty to suddenly final out your perceptions about something other than sexually gratification were being challenged?

Bit into a baked good only to find some sort of haiku inside?

Rather than Christmas Cards, send someone a red/white/and green colored manifesto?

offered burlesque titillation, but did a switcheroo and started talking about a woman's right to choose?

Have any of us ever done anything so consistently creative in how we drew an audience in? Total hucksterism?

Friday, September 19, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008! No? Really...Think about it...

So, this is where I attempt to talk anyone listening into doing the NaNoWriMo with me. For those of you who don't know what it is goto This will be my third year in NaNoWriMo. In my first year, I succeeded in passing the 50000 word goal. I created a novel entitled Seven Snakes (which is in some serious need for a rewrite/edit). In year two, I got about half through a second Novel entitled Puppets, Peyote and Porn. I intend to revisit and reattempt to complete this novel. basically I had gotten to a place where I just couldn't figure out where the characters were going to end up and so starting putting them in terribly offensive lurid situations until I got distracted by other literary pursuits. Some of the problems I couldn't write around last time have sort of been solved in my head. It is just the joint distraction of CLAY CONTINENT online as well as storyboarding MEATLOCKER that has kept me from getting back to this terribly offensive story I've been trying to tell about 2 brothers, One a puppeteer, the other a pornographer... and the disgusting ways in which they are forced to collaborate.

So, this year I'm trying to figure out what to write. I have been flirting with the idea of a story about a Cuba.

Why do I love NaNoWriMo? Well, I found it in a time in my life when I really needed something like it to help me make it through the day. It was one of the few things that really kept me going while I was stuck in Georgia dreaming of Chicago. That period was a very dark dark time for me. My employer at the time was constantly requesting that its employees hold off on cashing checks, there was a total breakdown in moral and trust at that office. It seemed like every week someone either threatened to quit or just walked away. Bonuses that had been discussed never arrived, and I was consumed with the notion that I was isolated from everyone and everything that meant something to me. Travel was a big part of that job, and I never knew if the company card was going to be declined while I was on the road (which despite the boss's assurance happened twice during my employment there.) The stress and depression hit my body like a mack truck, I felt crippled with pain and anxiety. I wore braces on both knees and ankles in order to help me walk and my back was in so much pain, I visiting a chiropractor 3 times a week and icing my back daily and in my sleep. I had made the decision to leave Atlanta and return to Chicago, but I still had two weeks till I was going to give my notice, and with the financial difficulties the company was having being obviously shrugged onto the employees, it was essential to my escape back to Chicago plan, that I get paid till the end of the month.

I needed something desperately to take my mind off the anxiety, too help me get through each long painfully and fearful day that month of November before I made a desperate run back north in December. Enter NaNoWriMo. I had been trying desperately to start writing again, anything. I had been able to finish a play that was over 2 years in partial drafts (The Meatlocker), but was unable to figure out what or how to begin another project. I bought a book with a silly sounding title "No Plot, No Problem" and was inspired by both the liberty in approach that the book put forth, the way in which it spoke to motivation and deadline, and I also enjoyed the idea of this wide network, this community of people all over the country, indeed all over the globe sitting down at their computers and notepads for the month of November, all trying to do this desperate, wonderful thing...writing a novel.

So, anyone out there who feels the clamp of writer's block seize upon them, or just can;t find the discipline or focus to write that story, that they know they have hibernating inside them, I strongly suggest you read "No Plot, No Problem", and I invite you to consider doing the NaNoWriMo this year. It was a major turning point in my creative life, and I am so excited to start it up again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OK This is my very first NotFavoriteThingsThisWeek

I came across this blog, maybe some of you know it?

Man this is a depressing site! And it is so through!

From the site-

The Chronicle of Artistic Failure in America is, as the title suggests, a look at how art is failing in this country—told from a number of different vantage points and examining various aspects of the phenomenon.

Ehhgad! And, I thought theatrospherians could be morose! Knowledge is power, so in that regard I suppose I can't knock it, but wowser?!

Plays I'd Like See


US National Guard Units have been deployed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan State where a disenfranchised populace has advocated Succession from the Union. Their rationale for this is that the government has already refused to recognize their legitimacy as Americans due to denying them a right to vote in both the previous 2008 election as well as potentially in 2012 due to their foreclosures. After the economic collapse of 2009, foreclosure in the state of Michigan was at an all time high of 19%. One in Five homes were foreclosed and even though a number of Michiganders were still in residence at these properties, Republican advocates challenged their right to vote in certain districts claiming that they were legally non-residents in those districts.

Reportly the UPPM (Upper Peninsula Michigan Militia) and US National Guard Forces are at a statemate. Neither party will disarm. Nor has either party made any significant offensive stance. The Governor of Michigan made it clear in a statement - "If I or any other government representatives order military action against fellow Americans over the issue at hand, then everybody loses. What should have been sorted out as electoral discrepancy turns into civil war. I will not order or communicate an order to troops to engage in any explicit offensive act. However, I will also not tolerate any sort of armed aggression towards our troops either. make no mistake, even though I will not fire the first shot... I will not tolerate aggression towards our soldiers. They have standing orders to defend themselves if the UPMM takes any sort of aggressive action." The UPMM has made similar statement. The problem of course is with so many heavily armed parties in such close proximity and emotions running so high, how long can a cease fire be sustained?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plays I'd Like To See

A continuing performance series entitled FOUR YEARS FROM NOW. The premise is a series of shorts and one acts dramatizing forecasts based upon projections of possible outcomes of current social/political/civic action/events/discourse.

Example -

From their ocean based studio fleet, recently constituted GNN aka Google News Network conducts an interview with the former press secretary of Madame President Palin about chronic flooding in the regions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana since the Gulf of Mexico has had to sustain 2 to 3 hurricanes annually that reach category 3. Among the items discussed, President Palin's joint border patrol/interstate irrigation projects. Structures that act both as a system of perimeter to keep out newly converted Mexican Muslim Extremists while also acting as a system of levees for this recently too often submerged region.

Anyone else have an interesting synopsis for a short play/one act for such a series?(satirical, serious, hyperbolic, realistic)?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is there a lacking commitment to the theatrosphere?

There has been a sharp decline in the amount of theatre talk lately. This is something I perceive to be all over the blogs I frequent. There are some well viewed blogs that I tend to visit highly infrequently (why bother naming them since it will at best produce a pissing war)... But, I'm not so concerned with the places I don't go. I am concerned with the sites I know and habituate as a reader/commenter on a daily/weekly basis.

This week there has been some grumbling from Scott Walters about the tone and content as of late. I agree that there is something missing lately, I'm not sure I agree at all with his manner in which to address it. Whether you call it vitriol, invective, or passion... the tone got to a place where people took it personal... and I don't know what to do other than to throw my hands up.

We all have agendas here. These agendas are multifaceted and leveled. Sometimes our various pet causes and issues run parallel and sometimes they don't. But each and every one us while we are committed to our ideas must also realize that some days, when it comes to the things that we decided to take on, we have to carry our own water. Well can passionately cry out or shout out for someone to speak to us on that which we care about, but we must also be wary of biting at those with whom we wish to commune.

I have been scolded in the past often for my 'glass is half empty' take on the assumptions/perceptions/ and to my mind misuses of the word community. But, if the theatrosphere is to become and remain a community, we have to find ways to challenge and cajole each other that show some sort of appreciation for that end. If the tone of our debates, etc reaches a pitch where it seems like we are rather exiling certain folks from the community of the theatrosphere because of a distaste or impatience with their approach or their path... well then what to we get? A bunch of angry individuals instead of a system of support or community.

I am not saying we must play nice. Hell, anyone who looks through my talks with Don Hall or Scott Walters will know, I aint interested in tea time talk. But, at the same time, let us encourage more than we scold. Let us not lose our sense of humor, and let us aim more often toward fraternity rather than condemnation.

We must always strive to be supportive as often as possible. And where we disagree we have a duty to expound on it, without attempting to digitally exorcise that which we find distasteful at the expense of our community.

The direction of inquiry this week I fear leads to a place where people share less, skulk and bray self admiration at the expense of others more, and we all lose.

Perhaps a page has turned in the system of blogs I think of as our theatrosphere. I hope not. It was a source of great joy, provocation, and community for me.

Hey, you know, if I'm using that ....gulp word... something must be changing.

lets make a push to talk to each other more often. Let us share more!!! Share more people!!!

Ask for more if you want more!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Whatever?!!!! WHATEVER?!!!

It is not essential that we find vitriol every day or even once a week (although I am not opposed to vitriol).

It is not imperative that we weight in on ever item brought up by every article writer pining for some provocation (although I am not against provocation)

If we can not share our struggle with each other, can we then at the very least find more effective and more fulfilling ways to share our joy?

What is so troubling to me is the vast silences where once there was a cacophony of noise related to the thing I love.

You don't have to write me a monologue every night about the shows you are working on, or the progress you are making in your writing or projects...

But, I would love the equivalent of a postcard, more often.

So, I will echo Scott Walters at the very least in this... As of late, I have wanted more (yes even from myself). There has been a sharp drop in both content online about our various projects, hopes, and dreams as of late... as well as seeming less engagement with each other.

No condemnation from the devilvet....more of a plea... give me more... especially from the folks I haven't heard from lately.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Some images at the link below are awesome but NSFW

Monday, September 01, 2008

Art, Travel, Isolation, Randomness

Do you ever get that feeling that life is passing by too quickly? I have been mired in it lately. Sort of temporarily stuck, sort of knee deep in the mud of investment towards something happening in the tomorrow-morrow land. You know that this statis is a price you said you would pay, but that doesn't mean you aren't punching various body parts against the wall in boredom while you wait to get there.

I have an incredible Fall season ahead of me. This could be one of the best autumns of my life. But, laying down the foundations for it is tough (or perhaps seeming tougher than usual).

I have to hold off from getting back to rehearsal/workshop so that I have the cash to both partake of my massive roadtrip in October and after that head into my photoshoots for The Meatlocker Graphic Novel. Both are going to be excellent pursuits, but both have built into them a certain amount of isolation...and I wonder if it this isolation that makes me feel sometimes life is passing me by. The isolation of a road trip is almost a religious sort of experience for me. Being able to drive through the Redwood Forest in a convertible alone is going to be worth the pricetag of this trip. Having 7 days to cruise 700 miles of California, Oregon, and Washington Coastline is going to be wonderful. Then capping the whole thing off with 3 days in Seattle...again...I am a lucky lucky guy!

But, you are your own company on a trip like this. And that is a good thing. I've been trying to figure out how to elucidate the benefit of that sort of isolation, but I am sidetracked into the to the random thoughts that escape into this keyboard right now. Don suggested that I get some audiobooks for the trip. But, I got to tell you that is cheating. I will have a couple mixtape/CDs filled with some Neko Case, Handsome Family, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, PJ Harvey, and hmmm perhaps Beethoven. My life doesn't need an audiobook so much as a soundtrack. The music focuses the event of big drive and also endows the minor moments with in, the dozen or so tiny drives. I have done this trip before 3 years ago just before I fled Chicago for Atlanta.

People all around me are living, sweating, forging ahead, getting married, getting divorced, having babies...Me, I write, I dream, and I try not to blow all my cash on eating out. I care about and talk to my family often, but they are a thousand miles away. I have a huge amount of affection for most the people I work with at my day job, but once I get on the bus for my apartment they are gone, gone living their lives..engagements, home owner ship, shopping for college with their kids. Why is it that I sometimes feel like my life is somehow less? Somehow less valid, less "real"?

Being back in Chicago, which should seem like a given now (in December I'll have been back for 2 years)...anyway being back is a wonderful thing, but I can't escape the feeling that I'm not yet doing enough, not yet taking full advantage out of every day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Theatre versus Comic Books!!!

Most of my readers know that I have been working on a joint graphic novel/stage play entitled the MEATLOCKER. It is part of my attempt to approach the narrative from multiple ways in order to magnify the live and exposure of the stories I want to tell. I have also been working on a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) graphic novel version of my play CLAY CONTINENT.

But, back to MEATLOCKER.

Telling a story in two different mediums makes me wrestle daily with the differences and how to navigate these forms. The issue is a single story told twice in tandem in different of those mediums being significantly more temporal than the other. Having to make decisions is alot harder for me when the result is more permanently framed on a page than when solely performance/production.

Theatrical expression is, as many folks love to point out, temporal. I have been working in that temporal medium as long as I can remember. However, now I am entering into a new (to me)form of expression of sequential art, and it is messing with my head.

When any creative decision happens in the theatre, it is in my experience always in process. Even after the show opens creative things happening on stage are in process. Emphasis and shape of action, pause, angle are pliant. If one allows for tweeks to the sound or lighting levels then even how the action is framed becomes mutable.

Sequential Art is not quite so. Now that I conceiving of locking the telling of the tale into a frame on a page, I am hesitate to make judgement on each image. It is enabling yes, but with that comes this unshakable anxiety. Is this image, the right image to convey the story, image, the tone.

Specifically, I am torn over how I am going to make the Meatlocker Comic Book look.

Perhaps this doubt I feel echoes the same sorts of doubts I must have had when I became directing for the stage. Hard for me to be certain, I was the quintessence of arrogance way back when.

MEATLOCKER is a noir for stage. When I think of all the classic noirs from Maltese Falcon to Touch of Evil one thing remains constant, the lack of color. How or if color is going to work in this graphic novel is something that still evades me.

The first thing that complicates my notions of whether to go B&W is the
fact that ultimately we're going to be putting this up on stage in front of an audience that will be seeing it in color, muted maybe...but in color. Perhaps Stage techs know of a way to trick the human eye to perceive significantly less color, but the production stills I've seen of this sort of thing dont read to me as black and white.

Do I want a hardboiled graphic novel awash with color? If the book were going to stand on its own would this even be a question? Would I go ahead and just make it black and white? I don't know.

Maybe folks would even say, the color spoils the illusion and homage to noir?

As I type this I'm also reminded of Coffin Joe's THIS NIGHT I'LL POSSESS YOUR SOUL. A Brazilian horror filmmaker, whose first big film was B&W except for the scenes taking place in Hell which were full color (it was his way of using color artistically oh and he couldn't afford to do the whole film in color)too...wink). Perhaps that is a way to go about it, a predominantly B&W book, with moments of color...Red blood, Blue Skin on Meat? Miller did this in Sin City of course.

And then their is the question of Miller. Of course his work is an undeniable influence upon me, but I am constantly wanting this book to be akin to the things I love about Sin City, without being too similar to that series as well.

I've storyboarded approximately half of the script now, and the question that keeps hammering into my skull is... does this look too much like Miller's Sin City or is that composition too much like Sandman...

Ultimately I'll just have to let go and do it, but It has been an interesting step in my process... the doubt that arises from a form of expression that has more permanence than performance, and the concern of emulating one's heroes to too great a degree.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From Comments at Parabasis re:copyright

So, I've been knee deep in internet rumblings this past week, which is actually wonderfully engaging even though I'm sure consensus is impossible...anyway I worked hard on this response to Issac and I "sampled" my own work and put it here...enjoy (or not)


Capitalization emphasis mine (since I can’t get Isaac’s comments to let me italize)

"This protection is subject to an important limitation. The mere fact that a work is copyrighted does not mean that every element of the work may be protected. ORIGINALITY remains the sine qua non of copyright; accordingly, copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are original to the author. Patterson & Joyce 800-802; Ginsburg, Creation and Commercial Value: Copyright Protection of Works of Information, 90 Colum.L.Rev. 1865, 1868, and n. 12 (1990) (hereinafter Ginsburg). Thus, if the compilation author clothes facts with an original collocation of words, he or she may be able to claim a copyright in this written expression. Others may copy the underlying facts from the publication, but not the precise words used to present them. In Harper & Row, for example, we explained that President Ford could not prevent others from copying bare historical facts from his autobiography, see 471 U.S., at 556-557, 105 S.Ct., at 2228-2229, but that he could prevent others from copying his "subjective descriptions and portraits of public figures." Id., at 563, 105 S.Ct., at 2232. Where the compilation author adds no written expression but rather lets the facts speak for themselves, the expressive element is more elusive. The only conceivable expression is the manner in which the compiler has selected and arranged the facts. Thus, if the selection and arrangement are original, these elements of the work are eligible for copyright protection. See Patry, Copyright in Compilations of Facts (or Why the "White Pages" Are Not Copyrightable), 12 Com. & Law 37, 64 (Dec. 1990) (hereinafter Patry). No matter how original the format, however, the facts themselves do not become original through association. See Patterson & Joyce 776."

2 notes
a) I included the text about Carter because I thought contextually it was essential
b) The finding regarding a phone book lacking originality and therefore not being protected by copyright… is not immediately relatable to a undoubtedly copyrighted recording or literature of the 20th/21st century that’s authors or immediate family are still alive.

Perhaps certain forms of sampling fall under the heading of “original arrangement”?

So what justifies an original arrangement? Do we have a ruling on that? See cause I could argue that if an audio sample is a recognizable replication of copyrighted material then it is arguably NOT original and therefore potential copyright infringement.

So, if some wants to argue that a certain length of time (as in sample) or a certain amount of linear replicated verbiage (as in literature) has to be exceeded or the use is fair use…I can get that (but can we agree as to the duration of sample).

Elsewhere…(cue batman music but only if it has finally entered the public domain)

After careful reading I must concede that the Supreme Court did say “The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but ‘[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.’ To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”

(ideas and information as separated from the work itself can be a sticking point…but please indulge me and proceed on…)

But the court also states that whereas it is not the primary objective, it still is a recognized immediate objective.


"The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an `author's' creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good."

Perhaps we are both right? (that's no fun)

or is the court saying that by immediately securing the fair return of an author the ultimate achievement is in the best interests of the public good?

or is the court saying that theft is acceptable if one can argue that the theft enriches the public good? i.e. Theft of private property via eminent domain is acceptable if it ultimately leads to a public good?

“But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity”…Question by which incentive? See, I interpret the incentive to be the “immediate effect” it refers to in the previous sentence. Perhaps someone else refutes that?

I believe that by denying one individual the legal opportunity to replicate the original work of another copyrighted author you are stimulating the would be replicator to create something wholly different wholly original. It is by insuring the rights of one author that you simulate the would be sampler to create something original rather than replicated.


To merely the cite...

“The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but ‘[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.’ To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”

...without a fuller reading of the Court's findings as justification for sampling copyrighted materials as in an instance like the Grey Album seems specious.

Or perhaps I could call it “selective sampling” of the court’s ruling into an original finding?

It has been stated, somewhere perhaps Lethem, that Collage has been the predominant form of creative expression for this century and arguably the previous century.

I’ll grant that point. But perhaps it is via a combination of the information availability and copyright law that that period is coming to a close, or if not a close at the very least to a higher stage of accountability. Historical precedent does not always justify immediate behavior (for an example civil rights)

If there truly are no new ldeas left to discover, those who consider themselves creative have to incorporate diligence into their craft to sincerely attempt to express a pre-existing idea in a new way …or… respect the wishes of the copyright protected author until the original expression passes into public domain …or…accept the risk and revel in infringement before the deserved financial repercussions manifest civically.