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
/////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.


Dawn Black


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


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


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 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 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 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 for all the info

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More FINGER Reviews


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.'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.