Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Reads of 2009

1) The Hawk is Dying by Harry Crews

Reading the right novel at the right time in one's life is the sort of thing that happens rarely in a lifetime. This story is about a man's commitment to complete something exceptional regardless of the fears and expectations of those around him. I don't know if I can name a narrative that has touched me more. I strongly suggest this book to anyone who has artistic inclinations and has felt been made to feel out of place because of them.

2) Drop Edge of Yonder by Rudolph Wurlitzer

The book opens up with someone drowning as a frozen lake surface breaks beneath the character's feet. The book offers that sort of sublime immersion. This adventure of a novel settles into some sort of unmovable crevasses of man's self-destructive dance with one's own impulse towards violence, liberty, and masculinity. A ridiculous story, like Sam Peckinpah and Salvador Dali...no wait more like Yves Tanguy. Actually it is just like Jaramusch's Dead-Man movie. In fact, I read somewhere that Jaramusch stole the idea for Dead Man from Wurlitzer. This book is fascinating and dare I say fun.

3) The Centaur in the Garden by Moacyr Scliar

Not since reading Italo Calvino have I been so charmed by the fantasical. This book is a joy to read. It is about a Centaur who becomes a man, and everything he loses along the way. Exceptional...fans of Calvino and Keret Erget should pick this up immediately.

4) The Living and the Dead by Jason

Jason is simply a master of graphic novella form. His work is best when there are few if any words. This story is simply told but makes such a deep comment about our need to be loved and it can drive us towards. Remarkable. And dont let the doggies and birdies turn you off from it.

5) Dogs and Water by Anders Nilsen

Stark. Powerful. I'd like to see more theatre as direct, immediate, and challenging as this book. Visually compelling without anything ornate. People ask me, what is the difference between comic books and graphic novels... well this is a great example of what a graphic novel is.

Honorable Mentions

Chance in Hell by Gilbert Hernandez

I like both the Hernandez Brothers, but I love Gilbert just a little more. It was a toss up between this and Sloth.

Travel
by Yuichi Yokoyama

Pretty amazing. Barely narrative, but still filled with a tension bordering even on menace. Every page is a challenge well worth your time. Never have I seen such immersive world building in a graphic novel.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Criticism

Rather than offering the "final word" on an art object or performance, the very best sort of criticism seeks to begin discussion.

For example, if the critic finds the attitudes and actions of the characters onstage to be villainous, misogynistic, noble, endearing, etc... It is much more exciting when there shared reflections on the work become part of a conversation about "why" this piece rather than "what is" this piece.

A mere prediction about the value of consuming a work of art isn't ask exciting or engaging as the sort of criticism that becomes the first volley are interpretation, exchange of ideas not only about the piece of art, but ourselves and its affect on that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Non Traditional Spaces and Approaches - Part One

In preparation for the upcoming forum on Non-Traditional Spaces and Approaches, I'll be sketching out posts over the next few weeks regarding various artists and ideas in the hopes of sparking the conversation. More info on the forum and the summit are available by clicking here and here.

I've never been truly engaged by the Puppet Bike. That is not a artistic dig, I just have never seen a live performance that wasn't 2 stuffed animals wagging themselves at each other. Whereas the content doesn't resonate with me, the spirit of the endeavor does. Here is an artist that is truly free from so many of the constraints and obstacles that hinder and concern an entire section of the storefront theatre makers.

Now one might say, well that is all well and good for a man who makes simple children's puppet shows... but how am I supposed to realize my artistic vision from the back of a 3 wheel bicycle? Well why not? Use the empty space in the back of the bike or the front of the bike or in a trailer behind the bike to express your narrative. If the design of your narrative is longer than you envision a crowd being able to gather and focus in a public space, then focus on the premise of your story and create a condensed version.

The performance can go anywhere the bike can. That enables an amazing self-reliance.

Mobility, modularity, inventiveness, distillation... these are lessons that any artist could learn from Puppet Bike. If you are committed or merely interested in Non-traditional spaces and approaches, you should ask yourself how such an approach to art and real estate could enable you as a storyteller.

p.s.

You can also take the idea of a mobile stage and expand it the way INCOGNITO, INC did (h/t to Ben Thiem for helping me remember the company's name)

http://www.performink.com/Archives/reviewroundup/2003/11-21ReviewRoundup.html

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FavoriteThingsThisWeek

As the Mammals Theatre company continue to present our new show BREED WITH ME, I am going to focus my FavoriteThings on some of my favorite genre websites, artists, etc... things that inspire me and inspire my art, art like BREED WITH ME







Seeing a Richard Foreman show was tranformative for me. I had never seen anything like it. His style, his aesethic is singular and has inspired me for most of my artistic life. Whenever I am feeling less than brave about putting up a moment in a show like BREED WITH ME, I remember this man's art and his biography, and I am reinforced. He says this is his last show (IDIOT SAVANT) or at the least his last piece of theatre. I hope not.


Other Related FavoriteThingsThisWeek posts...

Monstermoviemusic.blogspot.com
Aly Fell

Monday, December 14, 2009

Putting out the casting call!


The Mammals are getting ready to cast their spring show, THE MEATLOCKER. It is a period boxing noir/science fiction/horror story set in the 50s. We need tough guys who are easy going and excellent actors. Sound like you? Interested in being a part of it? Email us at themammals@gmail.com for more information!

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

As the Mammals Theatre company continue to present our new show BREED WITH ME, I am going to focus my FavoriteThings on some of my favorite genre websites, artists, etc ... things that inspire me and inspire my art, art like BREED WITH ME






Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith has created some of the most immediate, simple, powerful imagery about women I have ever seen. I am always compelled and influenced by her work, especially when thinking about characters like the femme fatale in the Mammals' BREED WITH ME.

When I look at these sculptures, I've always wanted to see them come to life, to watch/witness stories starring them as the protagonists.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Non-Traditional Spaces and Approaches Forum

Where: Zoo Studios 4001 N Ravenswood Ave Ste B-1
When: Sunday January 17th at 7:00pm

RSVP by sending an email to devilvet@gmail.com with your name and what questions/goals/etc you have and/or want to get out of this forum.

If you just want to meet, to ask questions, or think you have something valuable to add to the conversation... let me know.

Currently, I'm working on discussion points, etc for the evening. Now is a great time to tell me what you want out of such a forum.

If you want to know where I get off thinking I can head up one of these things, well then you ought to come see my latest endeavor also at Zoo Studio as well as introduce yourself to me!

I promise to start posting about other things soon but...


We (the Mammals) have been working hard on our newest show BREED WITH ME. And the reviews are in. I hope you'll consider coming to see our show. Below, we've listed some links to folks who have seen it and had some very positive things to say.

Don Hall's review for AWG
Zac Thompson's review for the Chicago Reader
Lisa Buscani's review for NewCity
Caitlin Montanye Parrish's review for Timeout
Jack Helbig's Chicago Reader review from 2003

You can imagine getting this show up has taken the better part of my time for the past 6 weeks. It has been a labor or love. However, I may now be able to start writing about some other arts/theatre relating things!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pulp Art Cover!



I'm getting ready to make my first Lulu publication and I'm working on the cover art. I'll be putting a number of these up during the next few weeks. Let me know which ones are your favorites!

And go check out the show too!

Friday, December 04, 2009

BTW - My show BREED WITH ME opens tonight!



Here's all the info...

BREED WITH ME

written and directed by Bob Fisher

"I was alternately fascinated and terrified by the wonderfully perverse story" - Jack Helbig w/the Reader

Aliens, Ghosts, Noir... BREED WITH ME (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, Chicago Reader) is the Mammals' Hardboiled story of a man whose sexual appetites have forced him to run away from his past into the American desert where he falls into the clutches of the ultimate femme fatale.

BREED WITH ME is the first of three plays in a cycle entitled THE NOIR TRIPTYCH. Part Two was DEVILS DON'T FORGET, previously presented in Spring of 2009. Part Three, THE MEATLOCKER is currently targeted to premiere in spring of 2010.

To find out more go to the Mammals blog at themammals.blogspot.com

Cast: Ron Kroll, Don Hall, Sara Gorsky, Jim Hicks, Anthony Stamilio, Dennis Frymire, Meghann Tabor

Asst Director: Jesus Contreras
Costume Design: Adam Dodds

Performance Dates are as follows

Dec 4,5
Dec 11, 12
Dec 18, 19
Jan 8,9
Jan 16 (no show Jan 15th)
Jan 22, 23

Industry Night Monday Jan 18th

All performances are at 10pm – BYOB
Zoo Studio
4001 N. Ravenswood Ste B-1
Chicago, IL 60613

Performances From Dec 4th thru January 16th suggested donations $15.00. Jan 22nd and Jan 23 will be closing weekend fundraisers. Tickets for Jan 22nd and Jan 23rd are $15.00 (post show party and drinks included)

Reservations can be made by calling 866-593-4614

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

As the Mammals Theatre company get ready to open our new show BREED WITH ME, I am going to focus my FavoriteThings on some of my favorite genre websites, artists, etc




Aly Fell

Monday, November 30, 2009

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek

As the Mammals Theatre company get ready to open our new show BREED WITH ME, I am going to focus my FavoriteThings on some of my favorite genre websites, artists, etc



http://monstermoviemusic.blogspot.com/

This is a great site for discovering all kinds of retro genre outsider gems.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Do I Decide what to Direct/Produce with the Mammals?

I was asked the other day if I could ever conceive of directing plays other than my own. The answer was yes. "In fact, I did that this year, remember?"

He clarified, "I mean with your theatre company... the Mammals."

"Well, do adaptations of other's count? We did a production of Strindberg's Dream Play and adapted Emily Dickinson's Poetry into a American Vampire Gothic?"

He wasn't satisfied, "Not that, I mean plays by living playwrights. I just think it would very interesting for you and others to see how you would direct someone else's play."

Sure. However, if I have an odd half dozen projects I am currently striving to produce, then why would I suddenly bring that to a halt and instead directing my own work... direct someone else's?

I have limited time, energy, resource. I can only raise so much money specifically for projects that the Mammals do. I can't add onto that resource (at least not at this time) say another 2 thousand dollars to pay Sam Shepard for the rights to that production of Geography of a Horse Dreamer I have wanted to do since I was 19. It would be great, but now is not that time. If there is another company out there with folks who know and trust my style and abilities and are looking for a free lancer to direct their ensemble, well that would be wonderful.

But with the company that I founded, we have always been a DIY sort of company, and part of that DIY has been making/writing our own plays instead of paying outside artists to allow us access to their scripts.

Mostly I've done the writing in the past 7 years. One of the other co-founders has attempted a few projects that he then decided to table. Another co-founder (way back in the day) said that she wanted to the Mammals to do a musical (imagine a Mammals musical... well actually a Mammals musical would be cool, but I think she wanted us to do something else...something a little more BiC).

The company roster has changed a few times since then, and it will change again in the future. But to its current members and future members, I would say... if you have a project you are writing that fits our mission statement ...let's talk about it. If you have a published/royalty based play not in the public domain you want to produce under the Mammal banner, we can talk about that too (including how you plan to raise the extra money for the royalties). But, if you want to talk about me directing a published/royalty based show with the Mammals as well as me raising the funds for it... well understand that isn't really where I am at right now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I've been sick!

I've been out sick most the week. Food poisoning. I am getting back on my feet. Whereas we don't have a ton of new stuff here this week, there are new posts over at my theatre's blog. Meet Dennis and Sara!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This makes me happy!



This makes me happy! Chairs! Zoo Studio has new chairs!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You're Wrong About Dickens!!!

Confession time... I love Christmas Carol. There I said it. I love it. I adore the ghost story turned into holiday redemption. It is without a doubt the most important and most established tale of humanism told. If the planet were to blow up 2012 style, I could not excuse myself from forgetting to put a copy of Dicken's classic in the rocketship to the new world.

As universal narrative goes, it probably exceeds anything in the English language. Everyone has heard the name Shakespeare without necessarily knowing his works aside from the titles. Many a blue collar worker out there would rather witness a hate crime than sit through any production of one of the bard's plays. But, everyone... everyone knows Christmas Carol. If you ask someone who was Hamlet, you'd get everything from a well read intelligent response to a night on Jay Leno's show. Many many more people know who Scrooge is, who Tiny Tim is. Put on the little brit accent and say "God Bless us" in a crowded room. Someone will finish the quote.

My point, I think it is time for us as theatre makers to get over our own over exposure doldrums when it comes to a Christmas Carol. I say the more productions of Christmas Carol there are at this time of the year the better. In fact, I'd like to see dueling Christmas Carols. I'd like to see a flash mob production of Christmas Carol where hundreds of Ebenezer Scrooges are walking down Michigan avenue on Christmas morning each holding his (or her) own Tiny Tim or Tiny Tina up on shoulders making sure that every homeless person on the street has a piece of bread and something warm to drink.

I'd like to see Black Friday Carol, where they close the shops on the most important day of the year (according to the Markets) Where everyone refuses to shop and instead goes into the homes of the people they see everyday and exchange well wishes and embraces and introduce their children and extended families to each other. I would like to see people performing improvisational Black Friday Carols on the streets and in the parks that Friday morning and all through the night.

I would rather sit through a dozen sincere amateur productions of a Christmas Carol, in community centers across this country, then sit through one "sponsored" 5 to 6 figure production of a star studded Happy Shopping Day extravaganza.

Too many productions of a Christmas Carol? Wrong? Just too many of the same kinds of productions! I'd like to see every child in America watching a production of a Christmas Carol... But, I want us as artists to use these productions as a rehearsal for change. I want to see Reverend Billy's production of a Christmas Carol. I want to see the state of Connecticut create dozen of youtube versions of Christmas Carol where Ebenezer Lieberman wakes up Christmas morning and gives Tiny Tim a public opinion. I'd like to see a Blue Man Christmas Carol that inspires the audience to get up out of their seats regardless of what language they speak and to go out an do something for their fellow man before the evening wanes.

Let's stop chiding the greatest story ever given us to inspire humanitarianism. Lets use it. Lets use it in new ways!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Mammals new show - BREED WITH ME!

The Mammals Theatre Company presents

BREED WITH ME

written and directed by Bob Fisher

"I was alternately fascinated and terrified by the wonderfully perverse story" - Jack Helbig w/the Reader

Aliens, Ghosts, Noir... BREED WITH ME (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, Chicago Reader) is the Mammals' Hardboiled story of a man whose sexual appetites have forced him to run away from his past into the American desert where he falls into the clutches of the ultimate femme fatale.

BREED WITH ME is the first of three plays in a cycle entitled THE NOIR TRIPTYCH. Part Two was DEVILS DON'T FORGET, previously presented in Spring of 2009. Part Three, THE MEATLOCKER is currently targeted to premiere in spring of 2010.

To find out more go to the Mammals blog at themammals.blogspot.com

Cast: Ron Kroll, Don Hall, Sara Gorsky, Jim Hicks, Anthony Stamilio, Dennis Frymire, Meghann Tabor

Asst Director: Jesus Contreras
Costume Design: Adam Dodds

Performance Dates are as follows

Dec 4,5
Dec 11, 12
Dec 18, 19
Jan 8,9
Jan 16 (no show Jan 15th)
Jan 22, 23

Industry Night Monday Jan 18th

All performances are at 10pm – BYOB
Zoo Studio
4001 N. Ravenswood Ste B-1
Chicago, IL 60613

Performances From Dec 4th thru January 16th suggested donations $15.00. Jan 22nd and Jan 23 will be closing weekend fundraisers. Tickets for Jan 22nd and Jan 23rd are $15.00 (post show party and drinks included)

Reservations can be made by calling 866-593-4614

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where I've been... Where I'm going

The (edward) Hopper Project with WNEP
Well, Hopper starts rehearsing this week. I've had a couple of my scenes included. From here on out, I expect to participate solely from an advisory position. I am coming to the first few rehearsals to hear it all out loud. After that, I suspect I will disappear until much later... just get out of the way of the actors and director. Probably sometime closer to opening, I duck my head back in and see where things are. Don has asked me to be there to help with a rewrite of one of my scenes (maybe less a rewrite and more to play around with action with the actors there on their feet).

Storming Heaven with Greyzelda
All the contributing writers have read the material, and Greyzelda has assigned the books. I am going to be adapting the first of four parts. I am looking forward to this project. The story is incredible. And whereas, I don't get to tell it's most dramatic events (rising action you know means that the book's conflicts come closer to resolution) There is such a wealth of detail and poetry and beauty to the first book that I think if my co-writers arent jealous... they should be! There is a blog were we will all be writing about the process.

Personal Apocalypse with Tympanic Theatre's Bastards of Young Festival
This show closed this past weekend. They have had some great houses. I've had the good fortune to get a bit of positive mention for my piece. Any accolades have to be shared equally with the cast and director. They have done a great job.

Chicago Cryptozoological Tour with WNEP
More on this soon. However if you have read about it already and want to know more, drop me an email.

Breed With Me with the Chicago Mammals
Ahhh yes. Much more about this over the next few weeks here and at themammals.blogspot.com

Monday, November 09, 2009

From the Mammals Archive - BREED WITH ME



April Lynn Baker and Ron Kroll rehearsing for the premiere 2003 production BREED WITH ME

There is this post plus lots more about the Mammals remount of BREED WITH ME over at our blog themammals.blogspot.com

You can also check out of twitter feed at twitter.com/themammals

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Bragging!!!


Bastards of Young by my friends at Tympanic

Even more to brag about!

Sweet! 3 reviews... 3 positive mentions (My head is swelling!)

PERSONAL APOCALYPSE

Theatre In Chicago covers the Mammals

Our write-up in theatreinchicago.com

Big thanks to Benno as well as theatreinchicago.com for the write-up in their Storefrontal section!

For a little history on the Mammals check out the following archive!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WNEP write club! All are welcome!

November's write club is on Monday 11/2 at 7.

We'll be meeting at ZOO Studios (4001 N. Ravenswood, Suite B-1 (downstairs)).

Generating material

Below is the assignment for the Chicago Cryptozoological Tour Workshop/WNEP write club!

Please bring one or more of the following:

> 1) A scene to be performed on the street where one of
> the characters is a cryptozoological being (bigfoot,
> cupacabra)
>
> 2) A monologue to be performed by a tour guide as the
> bus drives past an area of paranormal or cryptozoological
> interest
>
> 3) A scene where two or more actor plants on the bus
> argue with each other about whether or not cryptozoology is
> real science and whether or not the whole tour is nothing
> but a scam
>

FavoriteThingsThisWeek

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on Personal Apocalypse



http://www.chicagotribune.com/topic/mmx-1023-fringe-days-to-comeoct21,0,6925182.story

To be fair, Sean and the cast added the pen clicks. I will however take credit for any Pinteresque menace to be had!

Various Odds/Ends of Questionable Consequence

Friends with shows up Right Brain Project's Modern Prometheus, New Leaf's Thursday, and Tympanic's Bastards of Young (Bastards BTW has short play by yours truly.)

Art currently in the oven, WNEP's (edward) Hopper Project, as well as Nighthawk Sandwich, The Chicago Cryptozoological Tour, Big Writing Project with Greyzelda

Also, my company the Mammals are getting ready for both Breed With Me and The Meatlocker, two parts of the Noir Triptych.

I keep thinking that this month is the month I am going to finally turn off the cable TV. I think November 1st I will. Just netflix, hulu, and whatever I can get for free out of the wall. Even now as I type that I am again full of doubt. My truest addiction is internet and cable TV.

This is the first year since 2006 that I will not be attempting the NaNoWriMo. I am just too busy with other projects to attempt to write a novel in the month of November. It is a good problem to have, but I am actually a little saddened by it. I really have enjoyed participating in the previous 3 years.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Summit - Coming at it a different way!!

Why is the momentum too important to let subside again?

Why the Chicago Storefront Summit must work!? Even though too often in the past such enterprises have stagnated?

1) We need to discuss and employ strategies for how to survive in an environment devoid of grants, devoid of subsidy. There is no hidden pot of gold. We need to figure out how to do what we do with less money. As grant money and other such sponsorships grow scarcer, I believe that ironically they end up going to the programs that ultimately need them the least of all of us.

2) We need to be prepared for the eventuality of losing performance venues. I remember hearing Richard Christensen speak at a book promotion about how the city always has and always will be in a cyclical fashion shuttering various venues. We are always, always in danger of losing or seeing compromised programs like the DCA, or Theatre on the Lake. All we need is one club fire or some such incident, and the city will shut down 15 spaces in one night.

3) We need to be able to communicate effectively, passionately, vehemently, and consistently. We have to find ways to disagree without viewing those who don't hold our views as Goliaths. If you think the other guy on the end of the blogosphere is making it too much about him or her, don't feed the beast. Just focus instead on what you really want to talk about. Also, if you don't see the kind of conversations on the blogosphere that you want to read, then fill the void.

4) We need to as a community, hold those accountable who have already or are in a position to have a real impact on how we create. The city, the League, the largest of the nonprofit theatres, and even (gulp) the press.

5) We need to find out whom within the theatre community are closest and most akin to ourselves. Fraternity is a great thing. If there are 250 companies out there, then there are certainly a number of missed opportunities when it comes to fellowship among out fellow artists that I'd like to capture.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tough week for blogging

the day job has me at convention all week.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Just what the heck is an emerging theatre roundtable?!

So if we are going to do this, then lets do it. Small bites first.

Deb Clapp responds to me yesterday with...

"we have a lot of great programs, the one you refer to is what we call our Emerging Theatre Roundtables. We have done seven over the past year on a variety of topics of interest to theatres with small budgets. "

Hmmmm... Seven so far... sounds interesting. I'd like to know about all seven, at the very least the subject matter covered, but perhaps even a paragraph about each and what value was gained by those emerging theatres in attendance.

Go!

p.s. Anyone can weigh in, but I specifically want to know from the LOCT... define "Emerging theatre"... be specific.

NO...it's not a trap...it's called communicating with me ;)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

If you could test drive League membership, would you?

Alright, the skies are buzzing with thoughts. Here's one for ya? What value does the League of Chicago Theatre's provide its smallest members (the members that need it the most)?

I follow Chicagoplays on twitter, and noticed that on a few occasions, Ben (I think it is Ben who admins that tweet) would post something like this...

Chicagoplays:Hosting an Emerging Theater Roundtable on PR tonight at our offices with Cathy Taylor. Should be a great event.

I wanted to know, if it is such a great event then why are we hearing about it just now? Quite quickly, I received tweets for folks who said that the events are announced on the members only email list serve.

Well, from my POV that doesn't work as a form of recruitment. I'm not paying to find out about the events you have. I might pay to participate in those events, but not to insure getting word of the events.

I'm willing to consider that the league might have lots of interesting stuff for its members other than hottix? But, how does LOCT inform non-members of what they are missing?

Here is something I'd like to see LOCT do in the next year. Offer a test drive to new companies with a budget under $50,000 for six months, with an option to buy. What do think about that Deb? Is it possible? Either that or the next time LOCT courts smaller theatres, I want to hear about something other than hottix.

Talk to me...tell me something

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Storefront Theater Summit?

So, some general thinking out loud about the Summit this weekend...

All and all I would say that this "summit" had humble beginnings. And maybe that's to it's credit.

1) At the end of the evening, I spoke to one of the guys who had helped set the parameters of the meeting. He said that it hadn't occurred to him that folks had previously tried for years to organize and maintain these sorts of collectives. Some of us who mentioned this fact on the blogosphere wondered if we would be heard. And I think we might have. The question was asked, "what were the obstacles/roadblocks to previous attempts?"

2) I was asked if I thought the evening was productive... I said I'd know in 30 days. The reason is that the evening's coordinator, Andrew Hobgood, said it would take him and his team that long to process the data they had collected, disseminate it back to us, and figure out the parameters of the next meeting.

Ambitious, but nobody ever got anything done, but not being ambitious.

3)The majority of the evening was spent attempting to discover what folks in the room needed/wanted. The theme of "communication" was the launching point, but with so wide a premise, the ideas and issues brought up were extensive. I'll stick primarily to the items exchanged at my table, but I reserve the right to jump on any idea that I fancy.

The notion of smaller/younger companies getting a big brother/mentor company was brought up. I wonder who out there has had any success with this sort of thing in an official and sustained capacity?

(Warning-I expect some folks to disagree with the following)

Some things to look out for if you are entertaining the notion of a mentor theatre company. You should make sure that your mentor isn't too successful yet. Why? Because day to day issues and tactics of a larger company aren't going to always work for a smaller company, and for alot of organizations once they reach a certain threshold, how they do business as a six figure theater company is exponentially different then how they did business as a five figure company. Finding someone who is maybe just a few seasons ahead of you (approximately 5 lets say) might actually produce more tangible instruction. Everything from house management, budget allocation, press interaction, marketing, etc... is going to be a little closer to home, a little more immediate, a little more meaningful.

Also, I am not sure who/which companies out there really have the time/energy to plan any sort of comprehensive mentorship. The folks who are succeeding don't suddenly have alot of free time on their hands to address another company's concerns. Actually, with success comes less time to consider another's plight.

I like the idea I call "Show Me a Page in Your Playbook". This idea might be in line with what others envisioned as "Best Practices". Rather than committing to any sort of standing big brother relationship to a single company, if there are participants at the summit that believe they have something valuable to share, then condense the lesson, and make it a powerpoint, or present it as ten minute talk. This could be anything from top 5 open source software apps that keep your company running, how to interview freelance technicians, how we sell tickets/fill houses without subscriptions, etc.

Another idea we talked about was using the "summit" to get as many theatres into the room as possible, but stop trying to find an all encompassing vision or goal that say all 25 companies would employ. Rather strive to find out who in the room would make part of a good subset of the summit. Find just two or three other companies that you have an affinity with that you believe is significant. Same size budgets, striving for a perceived similar audience, individual companies that are struggling in the same ways your company is. You don't need a "summit" to hunt out those people, but it doesn't hurt. Less city wide thinking and more attuned networking.

One thing I was very thankful that didn't come up (seriously thank you all for not going there) was the idea of rebranding Chicago Storefront Theatre. Whereas, I agree branding is essential for individual companies, engineering a city wide umbrella brand is in my opinion jumping out of the frying pan into the fire when it comes to accurately communicating to audiences what we do.

Not to throw the branding baby out with the bathwater...If we are going to focus branding efforts as a group, perhaps the thing to brand is the CTDB? Would a brand help get more people excited about this?

I have trepidation to adopting a code of ethics as an body of theatres. Ethics are essential, but they're either so established as to be not worthy of mention, or they start to get refined in a way that requires negotiating the various shades of grey to each others' principles. A code of ethics invites us to analyse not only ourselves but also each other in a way that is wasteful and distasteful. Any code of ethics that could be reached easily would, I fear, be tepid enough to be meaningless. Is this a bad idea... I will say that I think it a waste of our collective time together.

Other folks who were there... what other ideas did you find interesting, entertaining, bogus, promising? I think it is worth talking about. Give the folks who are running it time to collect their thoughts, but a little discussion can keep our momentum going.

Prop Co-ops
Hubs for communication
Other Ideas?

What is the Chicago Cryptozoological Tour?

The Chicago Cryptozoological Tour, is going to be an ensemble performance piece targeted for Halloween Season 2010. The concept is that WNEP will create a bus tour where we take audiences around Chicago to areas of our design that are of paranormal and cryptozoological interest. Our immediate goal is to generate sketches and material to be considered for inclusion in the final working script.
So, we are inviting you to become part of the process...

Our first writers' meeting is 10/12 at 7pm at the Zoo Studio located at 4001 N. Ravenswood Suite B-1 (Irving Park and Ravenswood by the Irving Park Brown Line stop)

All are welcome, but let us know you are coming!!! email me devilvet@gmail.com

Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals, but we are going to expand our focus to including anything hidden within Chicago.

Hidden people, history, places, gravesites, amusements, shipwrecks
Hidden panels in hidden bookshelves on hidden floors that can only be accessed by hidden buttons on hidden elevators...

So to start out, lets each bring something that would make a great element in a story about something hidden in Chicago, something hidden that our tour can uncover for the audience.

Bring in photos, articles, etc... feel free to write about some of the more popular Chicago points of interest like a hidden history of the stockyards, or Riverview amusement park, or Our lady of the overpass. Or feel equally free to generate something topical like a story about the Golem of Lakeview who has absconded with all the parking meters. During this first pass, the sky is limit so long as the story involves some(or all) of the following -

...Chicago
...History
...Something hidden
...Something paranormal

Comedy, tragedy, absurdism, saucy puppet shows... bring it all in.

These writing meetings are open to both WNEP members and non-WNEP artists who find the idea intriguing.

Anyone with questions can email me at devilvet@gmail.com.

Friday, October 02, 2009

So just what the hell are you doing?

Sometimes I do wonder what ever happened to the notion of a inexpensive life of leisure? Isn't the vision of sitting back and drinking a beer on the porch while digesting some sort of slow cooked meat and reading something intellectual but also entertaining...isn't that a nice image? Why then are you hell bent on filling every moment you can with some kind of art? Can you not take a moment to recline? Or do you think that there is no time? You'll have to settle on getting all the sleep you need when your dead?

Anyway, this week has been a heck of a crazy production one. I'll have a seat later...yes sometime comfortable before the big D, but now it is work work work!

Projects this past week -

Nighthawk Sandwich
The (edward) Hopper Project
Personal Apocalypse
Seven Snakes
Breed With Me

It has been a wonderful week. But, the price is for it is extreme drowsiness. The week started out heavy with WNEP and Edward Hopper. Monday and Tuesday were production meetings and staged readings respectively. There are two productions that will arise from the works of Hopper, Nighthawk Sandwich and the (edward) Hopper Project. I think that this is going to be one heck of a rewarding experience. A team of writers have been working on various scenes for over two years now. A vast number of those scenes are being curated into an evening of theatre that is inspired by the images and figures in the paintings and sketches of Edward Hopper (primarily his urban landscapes). I'm not sure what I can and cant say about this project, but I think I can say that there is the potential for this thing to become the perfect storm as storefront non equity theatre projects go. At any rate, I think that the calibre of writing that that the team has assembled happens to be exemplary.

Wednesday, I was able to visit a rehearsal of Personal Apocalypse, a short sketch I wrote that is being produced for Tympanic Theatre's Bastards of Youth festival. I am fascinated to see what they end up making of it. They are very talented group of people and the piece is still taking shape, so all I get to do now is sit back with breath baited (that's the expression right? breath baited?)

Thursday, I went to see Lorca in the Green Dress. A play written by Nilo Cruz, one of the most lyrical writers for the stage today.

Saturday I have a staged reading with beer chasers of a new play in development called Seven Snakes. I've been stealing away to my laptop ever chance I get to polish the scenes we have thus far. I have another fun and talented gang on board to help with this one. We wont be reading/performing the whole play, but rather just the first 24 or what will probably be a 30 scene play spread over 2 acts. The script experiments alot with direct address. One of the aims of the reading will be to see how much direct address is just right.

Sunday (and the following Wednesday) we have callbacks for the Mammals next full production Breed With Me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FTTW - Kristy Whiten




I haven't scientifically measured how many folks get added to my Favorite Things This Week Posts, but when I get smitten twice by the same artist without knowing, when I think this one is worth another look.

h/t to Juxtapoz

Previous FTTW Kristy Whiten Post

Sunday, September 27, 2009

FavoriteThingsThisWeek



Tim Roda

These are very DIY inspiring! Hey some of them ride the razor's edge of NFSW. Not like Maplethorpe but they could still raise some co-workers' eyebrows

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Auditions - Sept 27th

The Mammals are holding general auditions for our next two full productions.

Where:
Zoo Studios
4001 N. Ravenswood Ave Suite B-1

( Ravenswood and Irving Park - East Side of the Metra Tracks)
When: Sunday Sept 27th 12pm-5pm

To schedule a time call the Mammals at 866-593-4614 or email us at
themammals@gmail.com

What you'll need to bring -

Resume
Headshot
2 Prepared Contrasting Monologues/original 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 upcoming productions

The Noir Triptych

Breed With Me - Opening December 2009

Aliens, Ghosts, Noir…Breed With Me continues The Mammals’ Noir Triptych, a hardboiled story of a man whose appetites have forced him to flee from his past into the American desert where he falls into the clutches of the ultimate femme fatale. Garnering a 'Highly Recommended' review in the Chicago Reader, the original 2003 production was described by Jack Helbig, "for 50 minutes I was alternately fascinated and terrified by the wonderfully perverse story of a seductive woman who may or may not be a killer."

The Meatlocker - Opening April 2010

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Favorite Things This Week

Graphic Artists redrawing comic book covers! Love This!





Covered Blog

FTTW

via Twitter -

@chuckpalahniuk: "13 Writing Tips by Chuck Palahniuk" - http://bit.ly/zu8Hj

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

This is a tough looking guy!


Dennis Frymire as BUSTER

So, I am back to working with the images we captured for the DEVILS DONT FORGET graphic novel. I am settling on this sort of look for the comic.

Loving it. Now that I have the look. I think it is time to start back at the narrative.

Monday, August 31, 2009

NavelGazeInspiration - A Writing Exercise

Listening to Music Choice 80's channel today via my comcast cable.

On the Dark Side by John Cafferty

I must have been 11 or 12 when I first heard this song.

/On the Dark Side
//Eddie and the Cruisers
///Car Crash
////Mystery
/////Forbidden Television
//////Grandma's House
///////Chocolate Chip Cookies
////////Lip Sync
/////////A lie that tells the truth

Within a matter of two to three seconds, these were all the associations that ran through my mind. I had no chance to circumvent or redirect these images and ideas. They arrived immediately upon hearing the first lyric. I haven't heard this song in maybe a decade. Amazing how the mind locks up and then releases all this stuff.

Sure it is NavelGaze, but that can be a launching point, the initiation into narrative storytelling.

So here is an exercise. Listen to a radio station that plays songs from the decade of your childhood. Listen to five songs and write down brief phrases, images, memory prompts that enter your head.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What If..

What if there were no more theatre companies? Seriously. What if there were only theatre folk? What if there were a system or a place to go to do work and then randomly be assigned a team of artists to work on various projects?

How would that affect the art, the audience, the experience? Immediately and then over a longer period of time?

What if theatre spaces no long had names other than individual identifers, rather than Side Project, you when to 1439 Jarvis? or you didnt go to the Neo-Futurarium, you went to 5153 Ashland?

What if you performed scripted work similar to way jazz bands organize, arrange, and rearrange? I'm not talking about improv... I'm talking about new scripts, new productions of established works from the canon.

Would it be akin to various 24 hour projects, but instead more like 160 hour project?

Trust Question?

Who trusted Hunter S Thompson? Why? and What did they trust him to do, say, be..etc.

FavoriteThingsThisWeek








Dawn Black

h/t www.phantasmaphile.com/

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When it comes to what shows you'll produce, it can all start and stop with a chair.

"I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage...whilst someone else is watching."

But what sort of space is that watcher inhabiting? It all starts with an empty space, but then you usually have to get someone a chair.

Imagine you have an empty space, small, cozy, intimate... that can hold an audience of 40 comfortably. You are now preparing to turn this empty space into a bare stage where you will tell stories. But, the are no chairs.

Theatre X has a little money in the bank. They decide to go to Lowe's and buy 40 folding chairs. The chairs are functional, simple, and it cost just over a thousand dollars to purchase and have them delivered. They are basic black, sturdy, not particularly pleasing to the eye, but they get the job done.

Theatre Y has a little money too. They talk to their board, form a committee meant to raise funds to get chairs. They set a fundraising goal of nearly 5 figures, not quite. They use that same little bit of money they already have to organize a campaign. They get small yet significant contributions from dozens of philanthropists. They shop for the most comfort chairs they can get. They want the folks who contributed the money to feel like part of the process. They set up a online survey to query those folks what color the seats should be, and announce the color at a small party in honor of those who were generous. They get the names of people engraved onto the back of the chairs.

How these two theatre companies acquired their chairs will have a huge impact upon what sort of shows either company thinks it can successfully do.

The kind of chair you are sitting in and how it got there has an expectation. That expectation impacts who is willing to sit in those chairs because the type of chair speaks to what you think is appropriate or necessary when it comes to telling stories.

Theatre X will have much more freedom of choice about what sort of show they will do. The DIY approach enables them. It makes them more autonomous. There is no one too worry about whether or not these chairs were a good investment. They haven't established as wide a network of philanthropists as the other theatre company. But, if they live within their means, if they are committed to thrift and spend only when they have to and spent wisely, they are beholden to no one but themselves. The audiences they get are probably going to be like minded DIY folks. It may take a longer period of time for them to capture the attention of donors. But, if they have a dream project, what is to stop them from trying it and sometimes succeeding sometimes failing at the art.

Theatre Y has established a relationship with some moneyed folks now. Nothing wrong with that. But there is an expectation that the work should reflect the worldview of those sitting in the chairs. Challenging those expectations especially for a new company is now a risky enterprise. They can say expectations be damned, but probably would rather not. They enjoy the relationship that has thus far been created, they appreciate the community they have. But, there are certain boundaries to what that community finds acceptable to inhabit that empty space. When picking a season, theatre Y has to concern themselves with the desire of who bought those chairs.

It isn't that the choice of one path or the other is preferable. There are trade offs either way. But, the personalty, temperament, the focus, the priority of a company manifests in even the simplest decisions, like how to obtain chairs.

There are success stories that follow either path. But there is something about the actual art, the actual message, the ability each company has that has now been determined even if they both perform to the same number of patrons. Even if they perform to the same exact people.

Before you pick your path, know thyself. Then act with purpose, and damn any naysayer.

Katherine Swan as Girl Two

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summit talk

There is talk of organizing again. So, lets assume that there is a possibility of this one this time turning into something with longevity. If it is going to do achieve that, then how? why?

This is not talk to poopoo the possibilities. These are non-rhetorical (even if they are very general and vague) questions about the plan, the vision, the tactics that might turn the best of intentions into something tangible, something sustainable, something magnetic.

Why, how is it different this time?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reaction to Critics Encouraging Artists

Regarding Critics Somehow Encouraging Theatre By Somehow Stifling Their True Thoughts? UGH!

If Charles Foster Kane couldn't save his mistress' singing career, how are Chicago theater critics suppose to take on the responsibility of saving theater? The short answer is that they shouldn't. What critics write about shows they see should be honest and sincere appraisals of what they thought of what they saw.

I used to think that critics should be divergent in what they review. But, I am not sure that now I would even insist on that. As a consumer of art/theater, so long as I have access to a wide range of opinion on a vast array of performance, why would I insist that a critic come see a show that they, for whatever reason, didn't feel compelled to see? Why would I desire such a hostility be introduced into the process between art and audience?

We as artists should trust the intent of the reviewers who see the work, even if we don't agree with their assessment of the art.

I think the real question now is where and how best to start and maintain dialogue about theatre and specific productions rather than being too wrapped up in any individual critic's monologue regardless if it is 'good' or 'bad' press.

Form Spirit Mystery

"As the spirit wanes, the form appears"
-Charles Bukowski

I have noticed that as I focus more on form, more on structure...
I am less eveloped in the mystery.

There are of course obvious benefits to structure and form, but these elements can be obstacles to mystery.

There is nothing wrong with mystery. Sometimes you are captivated and you don't know why.

But even a mystery can be a meal that benefits from leaning, pruning...

How to prune the mystery as it remains elusive even to the artist?

Not sure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Seven Snakes - Some Thoughts

I've been working on the Seven Snakes script again.

I have developed an affection for the characters and new scenes and new ideas are starting to flow.

At the same time, I don't want to stagnate when it comes to the 'adaptation' part of the process. One of the reasons this thing has been sitting on the shelf for so long is that I generated over 100 pages of material all in prose form, all free flowing stream of consciousness. The original manuscript is riddled with typos, misuse of grammar, unintentional repetition, frequent revision, odd thoughts, meta writing, journaling about my doubts regarding the story, etc. etc... Editing this alone would be a beast of a task. Trying to morph it from prose into drama and dialogue sometimes just totally intimidates me.

One of the actresses involved asked me some questions about the process. How the piece was happening, where we were right now and the journey of the piece wasn't evident to her. I sometimes can forget that the process that seems so second nature to me, can be a far flung deviation from what a lot of folks are used to.

I like to workshop the script in parts. Usually over a number of weekends or for a period of say 2 weeks. Then present the script partially to an invited audience to view and comment.

There are a number of benefits to producing a workshop in this way. It is probably the closest thing to rushes or dailies that I can conceive of achieving.

I can see how the script is affecting a audience, usually a well read, theatrically savvy audience. I can question them about what they saw... what resonated for them... what struck them as insincere or awkward... what they were anticipating...

Also, It allows me time to play, to relish whatever mystery there may be within the images or phrasology or poetics in the piece without being blinded by the anxiety of a fixed opening night. When you are both playwright and director, sometimes you need to be able to leverage knowledge from a previous workshop against anxiety born out of the necessary risks essential to vitality. This sort of method can give you confidence (even if you are aimed completely in opposition to the river's current).

So, Once I have 80 pages... this is the process I will apply to Seven Snakes.

Answer This

Where do you want to make your impact?

What do you want to change? What do you want to celebrate?

What is the most important thing about the kind of work you strive to make?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FavoriteThingsThisWeek



Michael Cho

Never stop - aka THE FUTURE!

Things are moving pretty fast here for yours truly.

Right now, Right Brain Project is currently in the midst of a run of the show I wrote called PUT MY FINGER IN YOUR MOUTH. We've gotten some wonderful notice on this, and I am very proud of the piece. It runs though the end of the month

After that the nose really hits the grindstone (in a good way hopefully). I am reopening the Zoo Studios. The Original Zoo Studios was the playground/mad science laboratory for the Chicago Mammals from 2002-2005. I shut it all down during my first (hopefully last) mid-life crisis to move to Atlanta (actually the space was assumed by Greyzelda and they stayed there a number of years). Well... starting September 1st, the Chicago Mammals will once again have a home of our own. Workshops for new works will begin. Dreams will be fulfilled. Good times will be had by those who join in.

The first workshop will be for SEVEN SNAKES. The Mammals had originally planned to workshop this during the summer, but my commitment to completing the script for Right Brain Project put those plans on hold.

Tympanic Theatre is producing an evening of short one acts entitled BASTARDS OF YOUTH. I've got the good fortune of having one of my pieces included. It is entitled PERSONAL APOCALYPSE.

After that the Mammals will be producing a show this Fall/Winter currently TBA.

I am also currently participating in two projects with WNEP Theater. The first being THE HOPPER PROJECT, tentatively scheduled for production in January 2010. The second project conceived by yours truly is the CHICAGO CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL TOUR, a performance/tour investigating hidden animals, folk legends, and paranormal sites throughout Chicago's Neighborhoods.

And, the big big one for me personally will be the premiere of THE MEATLOCKER. I've been waiting for years to get the script ready and find the right situation and time. I believe that time to be April 2010.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I don't always succeed

I was asked, "Are you ready to accept your failure?"

I spun quickly to try to capture the the eyes of the one who asked.

But among the throngs there was no one who felt compelled to own those words. I turned back to my notebook and started scribbling again.

I was in the midst of my imagination when again I heard a voice. This one had a hint of righteous indignation. "How dare you assault the rest of us with this despicable vision?"

I grit my teeth in preparation for a fight, but again when I turned to see my adversary, there was a crowd of nameless faceless folks none of which seemed interested in conflict. So, confused and flustered I put pen to paper again and tried to shape something in my notes, letting the adrenaline ebb away.

Then, again it happened. This time I didn't turn. I just stopped for moment. And, I choose to disregard it. I stayed focused on my notes. Then again, and again... each time rather than turn and brace myself for a battle, I remained ambivalent or at the very least I would strive for it.

This isnt to say I never fought again. Conflict will happen. But, rather I try not bother with rebuttals to every dirty look, every negative retort.

I don't always succeed. But, this is what I attempt. And, sometimes... I do succeed.

My life is always better for it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

FavoriteThingsThisWeek


AJ Fosik

Fisher on FINGER 3

"Imagine the Kama Sutra as illusrated by Dr. Suess with Little Hello Kitty Stickers covering all the paisley shaped coitals."

Last weekend was a sell out. Get reservations now! check out www.therbp.org to find out how!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fisher on FINGER 2

'It's like Blacula if Blacula were about a couple of white chicks instead of a Black Dracula'

click here or goto www.therbp.org for all the info

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Another review for FINGER


click on image to enlarge

So someone out there made a little artwork of their thoughts for the show! We're flattered!

Robot Versus Dinosaur

Tickets are moving for this one. Great news for us! But, we want you to catch all the finger-y joy to be had. Check out www.therbp.org to make reservations!

Recent Graphic Novel/Script Reads

Just finished a bunch of reads... SLOTH by Gilbert Hernandez, TRAIN by Yuichi Yokoyama, and AMERICAN SLIGO by Adam Rapp.

Now, I am a Rapp fan. I enjoy the world and high stakes in most of his published work. Sometimes, it can be a little hard for me to glean the intent, the purpose, the why of some of his work. AMERICAN SLIGO is one of those instances. It never seems to fulfill its expectation in the same way I thought STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS did. His ear for dialogue and the characters he populates the play with are quite colorful, quite vibrant... but aside from a sort of side show blue collar/no collar portraiture, I just didnt get what the point of this piece was. Does the piece have to have a "why"? Maybe not, but after other pieces like STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS, FASTER, and ESSENTIAL SELF DEFENSE... I yearn/expect a little more from him. That being said, if you got an excellent cast doing this somewhere on a Chicago stage, I'd probably go to see if hearing outloud did more to illuminate it for me. Right now, I think it is colorful, humorous missed opportunity.

I never read LOVE & ROCKETS growing up. Being a lonely boy prone to the typical middle school dilemmas of shyness and bullies, I was always drawn to more traditional comic book fare. Given a chance to buy a Punisher or X-men book, I always would. But the covers to anything the Hernandez brothers did never drew me in. After reading Douglas Wolk's book on comics, I decided that I never gave the brothers a fair shake in my adolescence, and I decided last year to get familiar with their work. I am so glad I did. I tend to like Gilbert's art and stories more than Jamie, but these guys are both wonderful storytellers. SLOTH is a must read for me. One of the best graphic novel's I've read in a long time. This book as well as anything about the world of Palomar gets top recommendations from me.

More on Yokoyama's Train later.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fisher on FINGER 1

"It is like the first sip of whiskey Grandpa snuck to you when Mama wasn't looking"

click here or goto www.therbp.org for all the info

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More FINGER Reviews

Paul Rekk Reviews PUT MY FINGER IN YOUR MOUTH

But, if it's not children's theatre (which I understand some might peg Rose & The Rime as), what does the adult extension of these tropes look like? With Put My Finger In Your Mouth, playwright Bob Fisher and director Nathan Robbel make a compelling case for the exploitation film as contemporary fairy tale...

....the fight scenes are fast, furious and proudly sloppy; the dialogue is studded with one-liners each inducing a large groan or guffaw than the last; the emotions are ridiculously high and defiantly manipulative; and the humor is just plain silly. And I laughed my ass off and had a brilliant time.

...it's oddly stitched together, no doubt, but I know there are plenty of you out there that don't necessarily consider that a bad thing. Nor should you.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Put My Finger In Your Mouth - The Reviews start to come in

Timeout Reviews

2 out 5 stars....but...

Fisher’s new play poses a question for the ages: Is it better to compulsively do housework while mourning an absent mother or to frequent gothy punk clubs where you suck life-juice from the finger of a lascivious snail? Put My Finger ends up rejecting the question in favor of celebrating sisterhood. If the wisest character in Fisher’s fractured world is the old guy who pushes hallucinogens while living out of a box, well, at least no one can accuse the playwright of turning overly didactic. Discerning what exactly the play is up to presents a significant challenge in the first act, which pivots dizzyingly from Furry assaults upon the nightclub owned by Snailman (Mark) to cell-phone-enabled visitations by Mama upon her diametrically opposed daughters Birdy (Orr) and Turtle (Hauenstein).

As the plot settles down and the Snail’s true colors begin to emerge, the piece becomes more compelling, if never exactly clearheaded. Right Brain’s youthful performers play exuberantly; the space takes on the air of a basement den hosting a peculiar, and innocently illicit, sleepover. The production is at its best when it’s in motion, offering Jacksonesque group choreography to “Tainted Love” or stage combat between Box-Man and the Snail’s minions. It has a dreamlike quality: obscure and a little embarrassing in the daylight, but possessing a daffy charm nonetheless.


Chicago Reader reviews


Recommended/Short List

As inviting yet elusive as "a slice of ghost meringue pie," the sinister Snail's delectable finger obsesses young Birdy. So, too, Bob Fisher's new work for the Right Brain Project haunts and compels without any discernible substance. Birdy's straitlaced sister Turtle struggles to save her from Snail's club-kid minions, who swirl in a tightening orbit around the girls' fragile relationship, beckoning Birdy with their goth-burlesque fashion sense and discerning taste in electropop. Nathan Robbel's direction and a strong ensemble cast embellish this mythpunk fairy tale's flat plot with a lush visual absurdity and surreality that leave the mouth watering for just one more taste.

Friday, July 31, 2009

FINGER happened!

Well we did it! PUT MY FINGER IN YOUR MOUTH opened this weekend! Major kudos to Nathan Robbel and everyone who worked to put up this fun little fairy tale! I've told them all, and now I'll tell you... I am very proud of these folks!

The reviews will start pouring in soon I am sure... I just hope that you all come on out... support Right Brain Project and have a good time! This one is fun... audiences are smiling and guffawing!

It you can make it, we'd love you to! I'll post the reviews when they start hitting the net (at least the good ones...wink!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The FINGER has arrived!


PUT MY FINGER IN YOUR MOUTH opens tomorrow. There are free seats for tonight's (7/30/09) press preview. Goto www.therbp.org for details!

Monday, July 27, 2009

FavoriteThingsThisWeek

While doing some investigating for a new short play entitled MOSQUITO OUROBOROS, I came across this...



Brilliant... Inspiring stuff... lots more at the link below

http://www.insectlabstudio.com/

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Note to self - webcomics

From the Eisners

Best Digital Comic
* Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw,www.dashshaw.com
* Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil, www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics/#/finder/
* The Lady’s Murder, by Eliza Frye, www.theladysmurder.elizafrye.com
* Speak No Evil, by Elan Trinidad, www.theoryofeverythingcomics.com/SNE/ Mirror Site
* Vs. by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari, www.smithmag.net/nextdoorneighbor/2008/12/08/story-18/


I think I will head over to Finder asap. I've been wanting to see this ever since reading about it in Doug Wolk's book.

Friday, July 24, 2009

David Cote, _ _ _ _ You!

5. Bloggers: Engage/enrage
This item will generate noise (and that’s the point): I wish bloggers would mix it up more. Does it take a Rachel Corrie fiasco to generate heat? The theater blogosphere has been dull, insular and quiet lately. We need more arguments, more dirt, more bloody knock-down-drag-out fights. Not just self-promotion, obscure manifestos and production diaries. And here’s hoping for a new breed of long-form critics worth reading.

I agree.

However also allow me to say Mr. Cote... _ _ _ _ you. Put up or shut up. What did you blog on July 17th, July 1st, etc. etc. etc.

So, unless you start engaging others in the manner you prescribe instead of informing us of how your opera is... well then you are asking others to take a risk that you yourself don't seem to be engaging in.

I for one, agree with you... and given the opportunity to raise my digital voice in regards to something I actually have an opinion about or at the very least an emotion... I will raise my voice...

But it seems that the grand old cat scratch fever days are long gone. Too many folks too concerned about how the tone of their posts will co relate to making money doing art. Too tepid.

So, David... I applaud your wish...now physician heal thyself. Mix it up or shut up.

And, quickly let me hit post before I worry if my response is good for my career.

UPDATE

Found some interesting stuff after a little deeper reading.
Cote fights back. I like how 99 seats sets up the whys of why no engagement here and here, especially the metaphor of bloggers as terrorists.

Personally I am not interested in poking a stick at Hunka or Walters or folks for the mere thrill of it. I enjoy hearty debate about topics rather than people, about actions rather than intent, and about theatre and art rather than ...well shit that just doesnt hook me as much.

Anyway, I am jumping back into the waters for more deeper reading.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PUT MY_ _ _ _ _ _ IN YOUR _ _ _ _ _

Just got back into Chicago from San Diego. Work had me doing a conference (no not that conference). I missed that conference by 24 hours. I would have stuck out the weekend at the hotel and taken in as much SDCC goodness as possible, but even if you are a VIP at an event like this, you have to drop some serious coin. And right now, all my coin is currently tied up. A great opportunity has arrisen, and it required me to choose between the con and the future. But, there will more about that a couple weeks from now.

What is happened now? As in right now? Well right now, I am recovering from 4 straight 14 hour days and some hard fun living in between. But tomorrow, I return to PUT MY FINGER IN YOUR MOUTH rehearsals. Between work and a flu bug, I've been away from rehearsals for a almost 2 weeks. We are entering the last week before tech, and so it is an exciting time. This one is a queer bird (if you couldn't already tell from the title). As I writer, if was my goal is risk alot on this one, to push myself in directions I have not recently or frequently taken.

The most obvious risk being that I am not directing. For me that is something very new. I've had a short piece or two directed by others before but nothing as big as this script.

The next risk was the material. I wanted to stretch and attempt to write something that was very specifically, identifiably my own, but at the same time drastically contrasting the work I've been doing most recently, specifically the Heavy Noir influenced stuff. I got to write for female protagonists (something I dont get to do quite often). In fact, I've been labelled in the past (by mostly the fairer sex) as not always writing the best characters for women. I don't know that I completely agree, but I am cognizant enough our of culture to understand why I've heard that. So, the goals were to do what I could to make sure that these protagonists (the sisters) were as genuine as I could make them on the page, avoid writing what I jokingly refer to as "just men with boobs", and at the same time (even if it is riding the razor's edge of criticism) keep the violent or confrontational, crazy edge to the characters that makes them interesting to me as people without completely relying on basic unflattering stereotypes/tropes.

Whether or not I succeed on any of these levels, you'll have to tell me when you see it. The show opens next weekend. Click here for the details or goto therbp.org.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

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Apparently, popular comic blogs have been getting this image, but aren't able to confirm who the artist is. I love this art though.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

But if that is what you want, the words are wrong?

-But isn't that in total contradiction to what the character says? The way the character says it?

-Characters like people are sometimes untrue to the words come out of their mouths. And even as they strive to be one thing, speak to that one thing, the character doesn't succeed. Emotion and desire make all sorts of hairpin turns around obstacles unexpected. So that even though they are speaking to the desire a moment a ago, swelling inside them is actually the makings of a very different desire.

-Are we are asking the actor to be two things are once?

-No, we are asking the character to attempt one thing, fail... and by failing, achieve a second seemingly contradictory thing. This sort of thing happens in life all the time. We say one thing expecting it to sound strong, but rather we end up exposing our weakness. The words we speak sometimes fail as indicators of what the moment actually is.

(And perhaps this might be why I fail as a playwright, solely a playwright... I trust that the situation will illuminate the inherit contradiction... because when I directed... I thought that was happening... but what really happened was that I was finishing the text in rehearsal room right there with the actors... using their voices and their bodies to hammer out the final keystrokes that would become the final draft ultimately)

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Christopher A Klein

Alright! Alright! Kittens?! Bob are you seriously posting art with kittens?!!! Yeah, but look at the weird shit he is doing with kittens.



Ann Nathan Gallery