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!)


Theatre In Chicago covers the Mammals

Our write-up in

Big thanks to Benno as well as 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


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on Personal Apocalypse,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.


p.s. Anyone can weigh in, but I specifically want to know from the LOCT... define "Emerging theatre"... be specific.'s not a'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

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 -

...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

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.