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?