Friday, March 28, 2008

Me...Today


Just a little bit of living

Are you as tired as I am? Whooooa Doggy...

Between work, lingering cough, rehearsal, and all the rest...I could use some sleep.

Got 9 hours last night (finally)...On the health front, I just started taking the diabetes medicine prescribed for me. I wanted to wait until I felt safely on the tail end of the flu...usually pills comes with side effects for me...and this time was no exception. Hopefully they subside. I also got my blood monitor and today will probably be my first time self testing...(Hurray?)

The thing that is keeping a smile on my face is how fortunate I am to have great friends in my life. I get to hang out with some of them tonight at WNEP's bowling fundraiser. One thing I admire about Don Hall is his ability to raise money. There should be a ton of friends there, when they aren't outside smoking.

This weekend is going to be all about getting my sound cues in order for the Mammals' Clay Continent. I am debating the delivery system for the sound though. Dragging a computer back and forth to the performance space just seems like self torture to me...and I am not leaving my laptop anywhere around that space. I could go my usual CD route but dude that actually takes up a ton of space. My solution may be 2 mp3 players...small convenient...and then I'll have an mp3 player for myself after the show. The soundscape can get pretty involved and I like to mix live from one loop to the other so that the actors don't have to worry about timing certain things...rather they can just do what they do on stage and I adapt the mix every night to them. I will probably use my own sound board and risk leaving it someplace hidden at the venue...I like my board...I know my board.

I am so glad I am taking next week off the day job. I am fortunate to have a job with 3 week vacation. so taking 1 week during tech isnt so much. I can start to feel the anxiety though...the tech week anxieties. It has something to do with the knowledge that all the preparation and diligence is essential, but this time next week...it is no longer up to me...i just play with the sound cues and smile and kiss babies on the way out. Fortunately, I have some fo the best most dedicated folks on the boards.

Usually this is the time I would really go nuts and splurg on high fat meals. Not so smart since the diagonsis. However, perhaps since there are no carbs to turn into sugar...I ought to eat lots of red meat this upcoming week. Steak steak steak...maybe?

One thing, once next week resolves, I wont be living in the rehearsal room as much, but I can watch baseball and start reading books again (when I am directing...I find it impossible to read anything longer than a poem or an article).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What is this Clay Continent Thing you speak of?

Next week, the Mammals Theatre Company return after a 3 year production hiatus. We are remounting one of my favorites, CLAY CONTINENT...Here is what the Reader had to say about CLAY CONTINENT during our previous production.

Critic's Choice - Highly Recommended
Chicago Reader

CLAY CONTINENT, The Mammals Theatre Company, at The Space. The Mammals have been plying their extravagantly minimal trade for three years now, interpreting the classics in gory, surreal productions that range from smart straight-ahead camp to baffling high-art abstraction. Decidedly the latter (but terrific) was last year's Clay Continent, adapter-director Bob Fisher's delirious collaged-text take on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This remount is polished and perfected, still challenging but more accessible. Though they've sacrificed some of the original's chaotic edge, the Mammals have thus achieved a cool intelligibility crucial to such language-intensive work: the blocking has been streamlined, and the sound design--previously a sometimes overwhelming echolalic tornado--has been cleaned up yet retains its throbbing menace. Actors Alex Honzen, Derek Smart, and Ron Kroll were excellent the first time around but bring more authority and focus here to the collective description of schizophrenia. And though the script's twists were unusually well fitted to the difficult, dungeonlike Space, they now seem inextricable from its tortuous, claustrophobic architecture (with credit due especially to Patrick McCarthy's evocative backdrop of scrawled diagrams and formulas). This Clay Continent may lack the raw fury of last year's edition, but its elegant, poetic dread is still more impressive--a chilling whisper to that production's scream.

- Brian Nemtusak

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Audio Slideshow from Nytimes about Kesey's Mexico





Did you love Kesey as much as me when you were in high school/college?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trying not to take myself too seriously

Garfield without Garfield versus The Value of Theater

How the devilvet sees himself when he talks about 'value of theater'






How the rest of the blogosphere sees him


(insert inappropriate emoticon)

Play's I'd like to see

Quote from aintitcool.com, an almost daily stop for me...

"After all… we’re in the 21st Century and we’re not quite at the kill other motorists for the gas in their car’s gas tank stage just yet, but dammit…"

That could be an interesting 10 minute short.

Also, I have been the back reaches of my mind, planning a companion piece to Clay Continent (opening April 4th BTW). The working title is "The Dream Journal of Dr. Henry Jekyll" and it should be a weird-fest at the very least. It will be comprised of short scenes enacted from a journal found by the investigating police officers dispatched to examine Dr. Henry Jekyll's apparent suicide.

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek





Garfield Minus Garfield (thanks boingboing)

Photo of Dada

http://biteandsmile.blogspot.com/2008/03/corporate-lacky.html

Those banners are in pretty high traffic areas here in C-town. I was there when we shot the photos (I was the only one not in white face besides the photographer). Also, I AD'd the show. I feel like I have touched greatness.

All kidding aside, I am very excited for my WNEP dada turd beetles.

Signed

Dada EffYouSeeKeyZee

250 words 500 words...and the cookbook for a better theatrical landscape

So, I was surprised and elated at how many people were supportive of the 250 or less word essay regarding change/betterment of our lot as artists, performance companies.

I also suggested that we begin a cookbook for success, filled with concise recipes for how to make a better landscape for American Theatre. This also seemed to get a thumbs up, but at the same not as much follow through. I am definitely paraphrasing and interpreting, but to me it seemed everybody wanted one, but didn't know exactly where to start when it came to formulating one.

So, for those of you who think it is worth attempting, why not refocus a bit. We can embrace the virtue of smallness. How about more specific recipes...like

1) Recipe for getting the best lighting designer in non-equity theatre
2) Recipe for exciting local media to cover your show
3) Recipe for refining mission statements and value statements
4) Recipe for making your company 501c3
5) Recipe for two or more theatre's to co-produce an evening or run of theatre

So, would someone please send me a recipe. First the ingredients and second the process for preparation.

Or, send me specific recipes you wish would be in the cookbook. Think specific, less like 'how to run a successful audition', and more like 'how to actively sincerely encourage certain folks, genders, minorities to audition'...

Less like 'How do I get money to run my theater' and more like 'recipes for successful and unusual fundraising events'

I'd love a 500 word recipe from Nick about how to get the best lighting designer when money is too tight, what to look for

I'd love a 500 word recipe from Don about how to put together and promote a bowl-o-than fundraiser

or 500 word recipe from Ian or others about how identify what makes your company unique among the array of performance groups in your town

500 recipe from Scott about how to identify another artist prepared for tribal organization

500 word recipe from Nick at RatSass about how to be Johnny Rotten without burning the whole house down

500 word recipe from Tony about how a married couple can afford to produce theatre while raising a toddler

500 word recipes from other folks Slay, Mike Daisey, Clyde Fitch, Slowlearner, anybody...Anybody (echo echo echo)

A single recipe cant change our landscape, but dozen or hundreds of well written succinct recipes might

Hell, I'll even take tongue in cheek recipes if that gets it started

500 words about how to produce theatre that makes people vote (wink to Ian)
500 words about how to confront a critic without burning the bridge

I have created a blog http://theatercookbook.blogspot.com/ where I hope to compile recipes.

Anyway, that is my special wish for today

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

3 things

Three things I learned the hard way? a meme from Scott Walters

1) At all costs, protect your back. Thinking I could lift that TV into the car without a second hand and other similar such lifting led to 2 years of back pain I would really rather have skipped. Even now, I'm doing very good, but I see a chiropractor weekly.


2) Even with a contract, 75% of theatre spaces and their admins are 75% of the time real pain in the ass that 75% of the time disappoint. There is of course a sliding scale of disappointment, but even when money is plentiful, it always seems that someone got in the space and props are now missing, or the venue has double booked performances during 3 of the 5 days of your tech week in the same space (this has actually happened) or the artistic director of the venue telling the producing managing that it is too bad they have a contact with you, the show and set in the space you have already paid for will remain for another 3 weeks...this is the sort of struggle that is part of the job, so it is best to assume everything will take twice as long or cost twice as much. Either someone just lies to your face half the time, or they actually start believing their own inaccuracies, or due to their own budget problems got their internet shut off and haven't received the emails you sent. However, even if they haven't fixed the light board like they said, or cleaned out the dressing rooms, or struck their materials, they are always there with a hand out wanting the check. There are some real diamonds in the rough out there, (you know who you are hopefully) so when you find them cherish them and establish long lasting relations.

3) The grass is always greener. It doesn't matter where I have lived All over Florida, Atlanta, New York City, Chicago...after a certain amount of time pasts I get nostalgic for the better parts of the places I've departed. When in Florida, I wanted museums, the kind of culture I could only find in Northern cities. After I graduated from FSU, I couldn't get to NYC fast enough. But after living with the rat race for a year in NYC I would catch myself yearning for the ease of life I have in Florida. Chicago seemed like the perfect compromise, and it was until after 7 years I was burnt out and so fled to Atlanta where I loved the hills, the trees, the chlorophyll but had serious trouble with the politics and the rebel flags, after 4 months in Atlanta I seriously missed Chicago. Now I'm back, and things are good, but damned if i don't think of the ease of going to Turner Field, my own parking space, and the trees. I miss the hustle and bustle below 14th street, and sometimes I just miss the idea of sitting at the Starbucks on the beach where my folks live...Make the most of where you are, and if you are convinced it is no good, just take a 2 month leave of absence if you can before you invest in relocating your whole life again and again and again. Ultimately, even though I dream of Puget sound now...the people in my life win out...and I am blessed by my fellow Chicagoan Artists/Friends too numerous to name.

I'll tag Travis, RZ, and Nick Keenan

Monday, March 24, 2008

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Thanks to Slay for sending more readers my way. Theatre Value talk is just a few posts down. But, feel free to window shop anywhere you like. They are tagged as 'value of theater' if that helps. love you alls thoughts.

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek





I particularly like the cows basking in the rays of sunlight emitting between the cracks in the yeti's ass.


I'll get back to deeper theatrical thoughts in a few...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What's the second draft?

Part III of the post http://devilvet.blogspot.com/2008/03/critical-look-at-how-we-need-to-go-step.html

Slay asked me question - "if the word "community" is the first draft, what's the second?"

He wanted me to amplify my response in comments section where I said "I think we have a lot to gain if we think of "community" as the first draft, and move upto a second draft. I think the words are the part of problem." in response to Travis...

Hmmm, the second draft...well I have no doubt (or at least I would hope) that each theatre company and/or theatre artist would have a different second draft, different from each other. I'm not sure if this answer is going to satisfy others out there, but I have to crawl before I sprint here. Deep breathe.

Don suggested to me that "No one changes the world by putting on a play. Those who see the play and are moved by it, affected by it - they go out and change the world."

So, I think the second draft, the amplification of the first draft which is a generalized statement about your work benefiting the community, the second draft could be something about how you want those who see your play, to go out and change the world after the curtain falls. Idealized? Yes.

Examples -

Revalue Theatreworks (RTW) is planning a production of "Bent" or "Laramie Project" to address an increase in local hate crimes in our community

RTW is producing "As Is" or "Normal Heart" and using the proceeds to help AIDS awareness in the lower income urban areas of our city.

RTW is producing an adaptation of 1984 in the hopes of continuing a dialogue regarding telecommunication pardoning of privacy violations.

RTW is producing a season of local female playwrights highlighting issues that single mothers in our city have to face.


If "community" is your angle, if "community" is your first draft, then how about these sort of examples as a second draft. Maybe it doesn't work? If so, please enlighten me. Tell me why.

I admit these may be imperfect, but they amplify "community benefit" they are my attempt at the second draft.

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek



Found on boingboing, but the original link is http://www.flickr.com/groups/netsuke/pool/

Amazing imagery

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Critical look at how we need to go a step further

I hope the following doesnt bore or upset anyone. I am attempting a balanced introduction to a point of contention between myself and one of my respected colleagues. If that isn't enough qualification before I attempt to start the debate, well then...too bad.

Part One -

One the threads of conversation that came out of our 'value talk' had to do with describing the value of theater to those not "in the know". This was a question in the comments of Don's value talk.

Ian from Praxis responded with this "Theatre creates and strengthens communities. Stronger communities are better to live in. For everyone. Theatre is civic engagement."

Don, I believe rightly so, pushed for more, "Does that description work? I mean, does it get the sports fan out of the stadium and into the theater once in a while?

Ian - "I'm not sure if it works. What it does have going for it is that a) it's the truth b) it clearly expresses the benefit. We can create the most compelling statements in the world about theatre, but if the work itself doesn't reflect the communities it's trying to attract, then we're going to be no further ahead..."

That is when I came in. Whereas I respect what I believe Ian is attempting to accomplish, I disagree with what Ian says his value statement has "going for it."

Devilvet - "what would one say to the notion that "civil engagement" and 'strong community' have merely become buzz words once used by a previous arts admin generation that hoped to convene to rich patrons that they could feel goos about seeing theatre? And that possibly these buzz words mean significantly less and less with each succesive use? Especially when it comes to getting the sports fan into the theatre?"

Don agreed. Ian was in his own words disheartened that I suggested his thoughts were merely buzzwords - "Do you really have such a low opinion of the concepts of community and civic engagement? Should we invent new words simply because we don't like what the previous generation did with them? Or should we work to make them our own?"

Devilvet - "I do not have a low opinion of the concept of community and civic engagement. I do have a low opinion of them as effective marketing methodology. I think we should not waste our time attempting to resignify what a previous generation has already wrung out to dry, the notion that involvement in this or that theatre makes for a better community...old hat...yes and duck goes quack..."

Perhaps "yes and duck goes quack" is too terse or dismissive...but what can I say? It is what I honestly felt.

"... Ian, what you are aiming at is good, but I feel you must sharpen the point of your arrows past "civic" and "community" two words that have already done whatever they were going to do to put butts in seats"

Part Two

So, in the interest of communication and hopefully an evolution of the ideas (rather than addressing whether or not I'm a jerk) I want to amplify my response.

First, Ian (this is not meant to be derogatory) You may go to mat for these ideas "civic engagement" and "Community" but rather than phrasing them as your ideas, I think it is more accurate to say that they are ideas that we all have inherited. Now, I'm not fully versed on how funding and organization is up in Canada, but I feel that in the US we artists and arts admin folks have inherited this notion, this language of social, civic intent when speaking about art. In my opinion, I think it is a extension of our non-profit corporate tax model. In some fashion, we have to convince ourselves and potential donors that our creative acts are actually acts of philanthropy. That is why we deserve tax free status, that is how we justify asking for financial assistance.

Now, I have heard alot of theater folk, and I mean alot of them, use the word "civic engagement", "community", etc.etc.etc. to the point where they don't mean much anymore. Some people mean it, some don't. But regardless of the sincerity those words have lost some of their power to inspire becuase if the company that is producing work in TX about immigration and border partol, and the theatre company in the next town over that is doing a musical, a comedy, and a Christmas Carol...if both of these theatres wear the words "community" then the word becomes less, the word becomes the worse sort of marketing. And, i can tell you...everybody who wanted funding starts out using that damn word "community"

Ian, as I reread what we wrote to each other, you did say something I like. Something I agree with...We can create the most compelling statements in the world about theatre, but if the work itself doesn't reflect the communities it's trying to attract, then we're going to be no further ahead...

This notion is I think similar to the notion I was attempting to amplify. Maybe where we differ is that i think that some, many theater companies pay lip service to "civic...community", use that sort of terminology in missions statements, value statements, grant applications, etc. and then they turn around and produce work that doesn't accomplish what they say.

Not everyone has to try to be a hero through their art, not everybody has to feed the poor, or speak for disenfranchised, or investigate local situations with sincerity, etc...but to those companies that honestly wish to, not in search of funding or applause, a further step, a step that should be achievable is required. If we want to merely entertain, or do that play that we've been dying to do since we were in school, fine. But those who want to do more should specify that with more depth than the word "community"

I would if I could take away the words "civic" and "community" not because as a generalized concept there is anything wrong with them, but rather because contentment with those words becomes a speed bump to actual goal of making the community benefit or profit. Get those words out of our vocabulary so that we can instead choose more specific words and more specific goals.

That is most likely the sort of intent that folks like Ian and others who truly do want the community to benefit...that is probably a worthy thing in their eyes. So, I wish they would grasp the opportunity to use the gift of specificity to ample the argument for "civic engagement" and "community benefit".

For instance, again from Don's blog...


"Ian,

potential, imperfect examples of what I'm talking about with a hypothetical theater company called

"Revalue Theatreworks" or RTW

Revalue Theatreworks produces plays that teach their audience how better to stand up to political oppression.

RTW produces plays that encourage a level of bilingual discourse among local residents and recently localed immigrants

RTW produces plays that encourage children to write, paint, and sing

RTW produces plays that show us why it is so important to cure economic poverty within our lifetimes

RTW produces work that comments on local eminent domain legislative changes in our town

.......

I think this is the sort of thing you are talking about...this is where the discourse has to evolve to, past 'civil engagement' past 'community based' and into something more like this!

Put your heart there! (virtual high five)"

I had hoped this would be encouraging. I had hoped folks might think me more than contrary jerk. Maybe???

Ian, I think we agree about the sort of foundation that has been laid, but are we on the same page about how to build the house on the foundation? You said...

a) it's the truth b) it clearly expresses the benefit.


If a) is the case...then I argue that b) is not...that we as a group have not clearly expressed the benefit, and that until we do...unfortunately we are just using "buzz words". We need to take the next step, amplify, evolve the language. Then our value becomes more evident than it currently is. Let us not resignify the language of the past, lets us instead amplify, evolve, and create a newer more specific language of value.

Perhaps I've made this too personal a post, perhaps it should have instead been a private email to Ian (whom I did ask via email for his blessing to amplify). It is evident from visiting his and so many other blogs that we all have a passion and a desire and drive. His interviews are testament enough that he has something great to share.

Great! Now lets challenge each other to evolve! That challenge is what I (sometimes in too abrupt a fashion) ...that is what I am trying to share.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Offending the Audience

It seems that some have decided it is better to take offense to my post earlier today, than to use it a catalyst. Have they chosen to hear only 'talk is just talk'? Do they categorize my statements as merely an attempt to brush off their efforts? Are they disingenuously telling me that I don't walk my own talk, so what I have to say must have no value, and I have no right to say it? When I asked how can we stay active how can we evolve, are they suggesting it rude of me or unproductive to ask for the next step? And since I will not congratulate us all for having done half the job, are they in essence telling me to go fuck off?

Maybe, they take what I have to say as a rebuke of their efforts, maybe they just don't like being questioned unless the answer to the question is comfortable.

But, I do feel like I am being told by some, "stop talking about it". Or, "if you keep telling me things I don't want to hear, I wont listen to you."

Welllll, I guess I should have predicted that would be the response of some. A few of you have offered some support. Thanks. But, I still believe that there is a purpose to this provocation. I still believe that. I still value you all and the blogosphere we have created. But, like a close friend...I have to say sometimes..."look you have something in your teeth" rather than "my! what nice teeth you have"

I am discontent, but I am also one of you. I speak with sincerity, with frustration, but also with respect, and even with hope (though some would paint me as a total cynic).

I risk offending you, in the hopes that you will step up and show me something novel, or that you will push me back hard enough, that maybe I'll find something novel in myself. So, Scott, Ian, Don...all the rest...please don't ostracize me. Please listen and ask not "Who the Hell does he think he is?" rather ask "Why did he phrase it that way?"

We are all running out of time, there is only so much sand in the glass. It is in that spirit I push the way I push. Keep cheering if that is what you want, but don't tell me to stop grumbling.

Enough heartfelt drivel. Next post...back to cracking my knuckles and furrowing my brow!!!

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Three cheers for the Cuban Truckonauts!!!




The "Non Theater Goer" My A@@

I have heard of this thing called the "Non Theater Goer". I used to believe in this creature. But, like Ptolemy's vision of the universe, i think we are witnessing an event but not in its entirety.

I would like to propose the idea that there is no such thing as the "Non Theater Goer". Even self designated "Non Theater Goers" are mistaken about their own self diagnosis.

There are always certain types of people that don't go to your theater or to my theater...but does that mean that they don't like theater itself, or perhaps they don't like your theater or my theater...

What kind of theater do they like? Why do they like it?

I challenge you, especially if you think of these types as the lowest common denominators, to find the beauty, the redemption in the sorts of performative events that they do enjoy...the Gun Show, The Lingerie Show, The Wrestling Match, the Rodeo, the Advent play, the Shopping Mall, the children's show, the dirty puppet show, etc.etc.etc.

When we call them the "Non theater Goer", we are not only labelling them. we are labelling ourselves...we are limiting ourselves.

Talking is only half the battle...

Yesterday there was a nice little thing going on about theater and value and what not. Will the energy of yesterday turn into anything other than self satisfied meowing when we occasionally go to look back at our own archives?

Something that came up more than once yesterday, and I found on two different blogs today...This notion that it isn't nice or constructive even to frame negative comments about things you read on the blogs, to call BS when you smell BS...

And to this I call...wait for it...BS. Not a very popular position to take I guess.

Where as I agree that talking things out is important, It is equally important that we have the courage to direct and honest with each other as well. Pleasantries in the face of ideas that we feel strongly don't work, that too does not further the equation.

We here in the theatrical blogsphere need tougher skins. Especially if we are going to forward the conversation. Where the fuck is our sense of humor especially about ourselves.

Yesterday, I heard a few interesting things. I also heard an echo and echo and echo of tired things I've heard before. When I call bullshit, it isn;t for the vicious thrill of shooting someone down...it is because if the goal is better future for theater...holding our pinkies out politely ain't adding anything to end result either.

Why is it every time someone attempts to debate an idea, someone posts something about their feelings getting hurt.

Toughen up Nancy. Have the courage to not only speak digitally but to listen, and when someone says something like "That has been tried"... either ask for more detail, figure out a new angle, defend your thought vigorously...anything other than the equivalent of "yeah, but not by me..." or "Don't be mean" or "Don't call BS"

Debate your thought. Shake it up. Fucking Act. Action!!!!Action!!!More Verbs please!

Let's assume we are all friends here and that none of us are going to hook a book deal from the conversation, and get down to business of debating rather than reciting. Anything less is a waste of our strength.

Sometimes voices are raised in anger. Sometimes polite discourse leads to nothing except more tea please. I'm not advocating insulting each other... if you don't get that then your skin is too thin.

Please someone give me an amen?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More on the Value of theater

Also read http://devilvet.blogspot.com/2008/03/value-of-theater.html

Re: Content and Media

Please consider the difference between...

1) Thumbing Maxim magazine or going to an evening of classy burlesque

2) Reading Guns and Ammo magazine or attending an actual gun show

3) Seeing Big Bird on PBS or going to Sesame Street on Ice

4) Watching Hannah Montana on TV or seeing her at the Allstate Arena

5) Watching Rachel Ray's Tasty Trips or actually going somewhere for a 3 day weekend

The Value of Theater

All see http://devilvet.blogspot.com/2008/03/more-on-value-of-theater.html

Apparently there is some sort of value of theater party going on today...don;t know if I'm invited but I will chime in anyway.

Value of Theater

1. Theater is valuable in that it is real. It is alive in front of you. Every child knows the difference between watching Big Bird on TV and going to see Big Bird on stage. Anyone who says it it's liveness doesn't count as value needs to take their cynicism and disappear. If you are doing something in theater that can be done just as well on TV, you are wasting your time on stage.

2. Theater has the ability to change. TV, film, does not. When it is in the can it is in the can. This ability to change contributes to theater's ephemeral nature, but it also enables its immediate momentary relevance. A relevant moment between a live audience and the actors is more relevant that any moment on TV or film.

3. Theatre forces the imagination to switch on more so TV. Even a big budget production makes more out of brainwaves than a CGI'd screen dream.

4. Theatre is sexier. Watching live bodies and live mouths, live lips moving on stage is sexier. A woman standing in front of you fully clothed is better than an bikini clad tv phantom.

5. Theatre is dangerous. There are no censors beeping out certain thoughts or words.

Theatre is freedom. Theatre is freedom. Theatre is liberty. There is nothing wrong with theatre.

The problem is a diminishing soul attempting to distract itself from its own dwindling ambition. TV is a distraction. Theatre is the thing itself more so than anything else.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

Signs, Omens, and Portents in Nebraska Folklore



I love the list of weather portents that starts on pg 11 of the book (or pg 9 of 48 in the pdf document pagination)

#23. When a snake is killed and hung up, it will rain. the higher the snake is hung, the harder it will rain.

Portent's of love

#14. If your shoe string comes untied, your sweetheart is thinking of you.
#20. If a girl takes the last piece of bread or cake from the plate, her marriage will be postponed seven years.

How best to use one's strength?

Struggling with my health the past few weeks has got me thinking. In many small ways, I have been constantly reminded of my own mortality. Laid up in bed with the worst flu I can think of, knowing that I most likely wont die of this flu, but that many will, has me asking myself how best to use my good health when I have it. Being told I have Type 2 diabetes also has me mightily aware that my hands, my feet, my eyes...these are temporary objects. Even though I can not know how long my limbs and my sensibilities will remain in my control, My strength, my will, my existence is finite. I could turn my thoughts to what comes afterward, but instead I find myself asking what am I doing with my strength?

My strength, what will I choose to do with it? Perhaps, I don't need to reflect morbidly on the fears of the unknown. Rather, what to do with my strength while it is here, while I have it.

Will I regret not having watched Family Guy and the episode of the Simpsons I have seen twice already? Perhaps not. However, I may regret not having finished certain books or having not completed certain tasks.

How much of my life is spent spectating, not the truly wondrous things or the world, but rather fiddling away on corporate sponsored diversions?

Watching Seinfeld reruns is not a task, accomplishment, or even a ambivalent use of my time. Turning my brain off so often, so frequently is a crime. A crime against myself.

Now this isn't a diatribe against "downtime". Rest and recuperation are essential to the overall maintenance of one's strength. But, in all honesty, how many of us indulge in this downtime to too far a regular frequency? How many of us are caught between discouragement, apathy, and cynicism...and like a soma, use the TV as an escape not from pain, but from our own ambitions?

my health and my strength will return. This is I know. And, I must use them to amplify my ambitions, my goals. If I am to measure up to the man I want to be, the writer, the artist, the individual...I must never squander my strength on the distractions others might have set along the curbside of my journey

Monday, March 17, 2008

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek










New Audio Slide Show at Nytimes for Richard Nelson's “Conversations in Tusculum”

5 rehearsals left till tech

Yesterday was the first rehearsal off book. There were a lot of positives. Some incredibly compelling moments are happening already. The first 2 thirds of the play might even be ready for an audience. However, yesterday also showed us that we have not spent nearly as much time working the last 4 scenes of the show, which we did strenuously last night. A very useful time I think for all. It is so frustrating sometimes though when something isn't clicking, especially when the actors have moments where they literally had me on the edge of my seat.

Yesterday showed me two things. One, we are going to have an excellent show. It is going to be intense, funny, bloody, wonderful. Two, we have to make the most use of the 5 rehearsals/15 hours we have left before tech. Everybody did amazing stuff last night that made me so incredibly proud of them...And, it made me want to push them even more, push them even further.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rehearsal notes and other stuff

Great work this week for the show. Tough week on me though. Tough past couple weeks.

Couple of weeks ago, I went to the emergency room with chest pains. The doctors told me it was nothing, but it sure scared me when it happened. High Blood pressure and heart stuff runs in the family. Grandmother died of congestive heart failure (She was in her late seventies). 3 relatives in the past six months with heart related issues (Stroke, heart stent to prevent heart attack, and heart attack...again all these folks in there late fifties or sixties)...well with that history, I tend to get a bit of anxiety even when I feel the least bit of chest pain.

I was sitting down watching TV when a huge sharp pain hit me square in the chest. I tried to stretch it out but after ten minutes it was still there. I called 911. Went to the hospital. I go tested and they told me there was nothing to indicate heart trouble. Relief, even though I had been lying on a hospital bed in a hall way for the better part of 3 hours till I got a room where it took another 4 hours.

Stress? Maybe. Out of shape? Definitely! Then this past weekend I got hit with the flu. And this wasn't one of those polite miss a day a work and just muscle through it sorts. I have been almost completely laid out for five days. This is my first day back at the office since last Friday. They said they weren't sure how it would work out pay wise because it was too soon in the year to have accumulated 4 sick days. I really don't care. If they told me they would have to dock my pay, I don;t care. It was just that bad. I don't remember ever getting this sick for this long.

I went to see the doctor about the flu, and he really wanted to talk about was that my blood sugar levels over the past six months tell him without a shadow of a doubt, I have type 2 diabetes.

COME ON!!!!! Anyway, they are going to appoint me a nurse/dietitian. I'm going to have to start monitoring my blood sugar levels daily...the whole nine yards. I suppose I should be glad they caught it now. Most folks go years and years without getting diagnosed properly. so maybe I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm 35. If I hadn't found out about this until average screening age of 45, I would have gone 10 years letting it slowly damage my body. However, I have decided not to start treating it until after this flu is gone. I can wait another week I think.

So, in a sudafed induced haze I tried my best to lead rehearsal this week. I think the actors are making some incredible discoveries. Sometimes one of them will forget they are wearing a mic and so project into the mic...but that is just a matter of habit. They are all really learning how to use the mics to expand the palette of expression available to them and that is an exciting process to watch.

We have 18 hours left of rehearsal time before we get into tech week, and they are off book this weekend so I think we'll be fine. There is a saying about how long it takes to learn your lines? if you have 2 days, then it takes 2 days. If you have 2 hours, then you do it in two hours...

However, once those books are put down, I expect a whole new level of physicality to emerge, and it is going to be awesome.

I got our flyers in and they are going to be great. If you want one, just email me at devilvet at gmail com with your address and I'll mail you one!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Flu post

So is this rock bottom? Life has pushed me into a trainspotting/fear and loathing physical condition. I got the flu. And, I got to tell you, I don't think I've ever had it as bad as this. It hit me Sunday, and I didn't even try to get out of bed until Tuesday. I am still a mess. I have missed almost a week of work, and I think I'll do just about anything to never feel this again. Even if it means spraying my hands in antibacterial ointment every five minutes and getting a b12 shot every morning.

I've had to take a day off in the past because I was a little congested, but man...the hardest thing about this bug is that I'll be sitting at house nursing myself, feel a little better go to the corner store to get some nyqil or to the perfect cup for a hot tea and I feel drained, I feel like Superman next to the kryptonite.

Ughhh.

Anyway, I wont go into any more detail. On a better note, I saw Faster at the Side Project, and I think it was worth your time especially if you are in the mood for something dark and edgy. I also saw Wildclaw's Great God Pan which was does an excellent job emulating the Hammer horror films. Even though I think the story could have been told a bit more succinctly, the production quality and the blood and gore was spot on and anyone who loves the Grand Guinol should definitely try to see it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

NYLACHI - Why?

Question: Devilvet, why did you move to NYLACHI not once but twice? The first time out of college, the second time after trying out the Atlanta area for a little over a year...

Answer: Well, you've heard the parable about the frog jumping into boiling water.

It is said that the frog who jumps into boiling water will then sense the heat and jump back out.

And, if the frog jumps into cool or tepid water and the temperature is slowly risen to boiling, the frog will stay in the water and die.

But, what about the frog who is sooo hot than when he jumps into the water, even when it is boiling, the water evaporates. The fluid will not let the frog reside within it?

When then that frog has to move to NYLACHI.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek



Alex Kuno

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek



Guy Maddin is my favorite film maker. I have much love for many different directors of film, but if I had only one chance to collaborate with a film maker, one shot and that was it, I think I would want to work with Maddin.

There is no one else doing what he does as well as he can. Every film of his is a major treat for me. I adore his work. And I can't wait to see his latest, My Winnipeg.



This is a picture of Maddin's recreation of a tale where the horses tried to cross the river but it frozen too quickly.

Art is not a job, but lord it sure is work...

So, I am sure that most of the people who read me are also reading Don.

He does a fairly good summation I think about my thoughts regarding compensation for theater.

There is always a feeling of dread within me when we start talking about making money and the work we do.

When one says 'work' if has alot of different connotations among all of us in this conversation. When I say work, I mean...

1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.

or

20. to attain a specified condition, as by repeated movement: The nails worked loose

but, i think when Scott and others say it, they are envisioning something closer to...

4. employment, as in some form of industry, esp. as a means of earning one's livelihood: to look for work.

When I am writing or directing or engaging in theater, I think that I am doing number 20. I am working lose the nails on a metaphorical wooden box. Inside the box contains

The perfected form of something I want to express.

The hope is that I can open a fair amount of these boxes while I am still drawing breath on this earth.

Getting paid to work the nails on the box would be wonderful. But, I find it hard to demand that I get paid for it. Why? Because who do I demand it of? The only entity that I can truly insist compensate me financially for my efforts is the audience of my efforts. And at the same time, I want the audience so badly that I'll gladly let them see inside the box for free.

For most of us this Art thing is an addiction and a hobby. If that is going to change then we have to start thinking about product, product, product.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek



I just love this picture. I want to see this in a Julie Taymor production sometime

Impeach Bush

Either that or perhaps a public demonstration of how waterboarding works on our esteemed idjit.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cookbook For a Better Theatrical Landscape - Recipes for Success

Don and I got to talking last night after rehearsal. Theater Blog stuff. And we need to get started on the active part, the evolution part of this hoped for moment toward change in the ways theater fits in with the American landscape. I suggested a cookbook model full of recipes for creating the kinds of changes in the theater making model that people are talking about.

A recipe is a consise description of ingredients and action. A recipe also address very specific issues rather than wide ranging rhetorical concerns. A recipe has a specific goal. Even if the recipe's outcome can be added to the buffet of various dishes, each one is individual and incremental.

So, while Don works on his Freedom Charter...I want to compile recipes.

What sort of recipes do you want to see? If you could get a one page print out of how to solve a problem regarding theatre in the American Landscape? What would it be?

Come on people! Tell me!

Plays I'd Like to See

Phillip Marlowe meets José Arcadio Buendía.

Place: Cuba
Time: 1959

A romantic self styles private detective hunts the trail of a young cuban girl who has been lost in the seedy underground of cuban sex trade. Her family desperately wants to find her before they attempt to flee the communist regime.

The private detective who has spent th bulk of his career chasing photos of mistresses and cuckholds, finds himself out of his element facing potential paranormal forces.

He thinks he's trying to track down a girl and her pimp, but the ultimate antagonist of this tale might be something much more sinister.

This is an idea...just a leaping point for a story I am trying to formulate. I have always had a fascination with American Noir and Latino Magic Realism. I would love if the Mammals couold bring these two genres together in a meaningful way.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Been Photoshopping

If you read this blog, you know I don't keep it secret I'm working on show called Clay Continent with my theatre company the Mammals

Well, I am attempting to keep a visual record of the rehearsals as well as produce visuals to accompany the show that capture its spirit. So I took this picture of Don Hall



and turned him into the character of Mr. Utterson



For more like this visit themammals.blogspot.com