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Virtual Iraq – YouTube

25 Nov

Skip Rizzo is the creator of Virtual Iraq, the program he’s generously shared with us for use in our multimedia theatre piece, You Are Dead. You Are Here., coming up in CultureMart at HERE, NY. Check out some of the amazing work they’re doing with virtual reality therapy–and meet the visual world we’re working with in our piece. This video shows the program in action.

AlbertSkipRizzo's Channel – YouTube.

Space and performance

22 Nov

In talking with Erik Ehn this morning, I’m reminded again of the centrality of space–and the way we conceive of it–to theatre.

This is Erik, writing on the Soulographie blog: “Conversation comes up again and again around the idea of space… I have just about no understanding of Hegel and Heidegger, but I think I’m more on the side that space is more important a ground of being than time. Our experiments have a handle on duration – we’re steaming ahead there. But the political, economic and architectural spaces of theater, while also finding reform, are begging for a radical break. Our body is breaking down, our meme is weakening to the point where it can no longer include death, and without death (mortality, mourning) we ain’t live, and sure aren’t performance.” Continue reading


12 Jul

I was cleaning up my digital debris the other day (is it clutter when it’s on your laptop?) and discovered some long-buried poems. Here’s one from my first, disoriented days in the U.S., where the tricky and subtle gaps between Australian and U.S. English (and manners, New England style) kept tripping me up.

There’s something stuck in my mouth.

It tastes like feathers.
It tastes like a foreign language.
It’s stuck to my tongue, and I can’t get it off.

I think it’s my accent.

There’s a bird in my mouth.
There’s a bird built a nest in my mouth
out of old gum wrappers and string, and bits of:

see you Tuesday yeah no sweat
-alright but the steel don’t connect

and bits of:

I said call me. Call me. I said, I said call me.

There’s a bird laid an egg in my mouth.
I’m running and I trip

–on Empire St.
-outside Perishable Theatre

and I trip and the egg breaks in my mouth

-near the locked door of the Citizens’ bank
-up from the library

and my mouth floods with


my mouth floods

a story fills my mouth

I swallow.
I spit.
I swallow.

Moon Prayer

26 Mar

White to white
bone to bone
the moon exhales our dust and blood

She turns away from us
back to the black-blown glass
of night.

Earth, fill our lungs with ash
our eyes with clay
stop the blood beating its drum
in our ears
reddening the moon

Leave us alone
To cool down.

And after the half-lives
Half-lived, of dying flowers—
White phosphorus, spent uranium—
Have died away–
After the red dries to rust
After the buildings forget
Our ebbs and eddies
Through sagging lintels
And broken windows
After the wind returns
To knit a sparrow’s bones

In the night’s empty mind
One moonless night
Breathe us anew.

Talkback: a Play About Talkbacks

11 Jan

Finally, a really good use for the verbatim research technique in theatre (OK, that’s 2 posts in a row from Flux, but this one is laugh-out-loud funny for any playwright who’s waded through the muddy swamp of development). By the very witty and talented Liz Duffy Adams: TalkBack: A Play About Talkbacks

19 Jan

Guantánamo, again. The back-stage, behind-the-scenes gruesome theater of the US war on terror continues to cast its long dirty shadow.

This is a Harper’s article about the faking (as suicides) of the deaths prisoners who, it appears, were instead tortured then murdered by their US captors or interrogators. It’s well researched and argued and well worth reading.

“How the Future Force Warrior Will Work”

25 Nov

HowStuffWorks “How the Future Force Warrior Will Work”.

I’m fascinated by the interface of war and virtual reality–the moral questions it embeds as war becomes more possible to conduct at a distance (from the US anyway), and the ways in which video games and war are working together to create virtual environments in which real people get killed.

Here’s a little sample of the article (linked above) which describes the next generation of technologically-augmented US warriors, to be unleashed in battle within 10 years:

“Soldiers will utilize a voice-activated, drop-down screen in the helmet to access information without having to put down their weapons. Embedded in a pair of transparent glasses, the display will appear to the soldier as a 17-inch screen. This screen can display maps and real-time video provided by a forward-positioned scout team, satellite or aircraft. According to DeGay, “We are working to have the graphic user interface inside the computer systems to either replicate computer graphic user interfaces or even Playstation 2/Xbox graphic user interfaces,” because most of today’s soldiers are already familiar with how those systems work.”

So Playstation 2 and XBox become the screen model for actual war fare. Among other unforgettable phrases in this article (from the HowStuffWorks site):
“Imagine a platoon of soldiers wearing suits that turn an ordinary person into a real, live superhero.”

I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of young guys playing a sort of war-adapted XBox while able to leap tall buildings and crush living enemies to death kind of terrifying.

So, this is nominally a blog to do with theatre. What do virtual warfare and robotic soldiering have to do with theatre? I think the answer is something to do with the troubled notion of liveness–of co-presence. Historically the “live” aspect is at the ontological core of theatre, but increasingly, as the theatres empty and cyberspace fills up, as the country wages war with no end-game in sight but we see nary a body—there’s no “there” there. We are shifting radically away from what “presence” used to mean–cohabiting physical space, but the hunger for co-presence, and new ways of achieving it, haven’t gone away (here i am typing into the white-space of the screen after all, dear reader).

I’m interested in how theatre can deal with this, create spaces of witnessing and co-presence that acknowledge that live and virtual are no longer separate categories but commingled in almost every aspect of everyday life.

Will Ferrel’s health insurance video

24 Sep

OK, everyone has already posted this.. but that’s because it’s really good!

And, while we’re at it, there’s also this which is even funnier: (No. 37… yep, that’s a big number.)

Coming from a country with a public option (we call it, er, Medicare) I can attest that most people actually quite like it. It’s not very exciting and dramatic or character-forming to be able to break a tooth without risking bankruptcy and eviction, but there you have it. People get used to it. All sorts of people, mostly not left-wing politically active types. Although I’ve always wondered about librarians… and bus drivers… and nannies…


7 Aug

I’m at MacDowell, such a beautiful artists’ colony. So far, I’ve slept the most incredible amount. Combination of fresh air, quiet (REALLY quiet), no internet in my studio, did I mention quiet…. and arriving after a busy and tiring visit to London and a summer cold. I am amazed that I can sleep 9 hours a night AND nap during the day… hopefully soon I’ll bounce into gear and actually write something.

Homeland Guantanamo

7 Jun

Homeland Guantanamo.

This is an amazing site. It’s set up as an interactive memorial and activism site to honor the memories of those who’ve died in US immigration detention. It’s counter-writing in that it writes back in what’s been erased or stone-walled by the official record.

Connects to what I’ve been thinking about ways to stretch theatre to interact with audiences in new ways– and my long-standing concern with detention and refugee rights (Slow Falling Bird and other plays).

What is a memorial? The word suggests materiality, place, mossy overgrown stones.  An internet memorial?  Maybe the internet is the perfect non-place, space to honor ghosts. inter