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Ubu film

17 May

Here’s an amazing online archive of avant-garde film and sound.
Thanks to papertheatre.org for pointing me towards this.

Found objects

30 Jun

I’ve written semi-regularly about my fascination with found objects as triggers for writing and inventing, and about Tadeusz Kantor as an inspiration. Jeff Jones just posted this on his blog– an interview with Rauschenberg along similar themes. (David Hancock’s work is also inspiring in this respect–his faux flea markets and Airstream trailer museums).

If angels were scientists

4 Apr

I went with my partner (also a playwright & musician) to MASSMoCA in North Adams, Massachussetts for a couple days last week. There was still snow on the ground. North Adams is a hard-scrabble, beautiful old mill town in Western Mass. It hasn’t had the B&B makeover of the Berkshire pretty towns but it has MASSMoCA, an art gallery/ museum housed in an astonishingly huge old mill, originally a textile mill then an electronics factory and now an art gallery.

We saw Spencer Finch’s exhibition and also Anselm Kiefer’s. Such different work and so inspiring. Finch’s work was light, joyful and in close dialogue with the natural world and scientific processes. Much of it recreated certain light conditions– a huge blue cellophane folded cloud, hung before a painstakingly constructed panel of fluorescent lights of different shades, re-created the light in Emily Dickinson’s garden one summer afternoon. It made me look at the room and the light in it differently—to feel light as a palpable, passing entity. If angels were scientists, I picture them doing this kind of work. Continue reading

Tagged!

22 Sep

Yikes! Marisela tagged me with a meme. It goes like this:
“Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It’s not really bragging, it’s an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you’d like to see share their strengths.”

Hmm…. I’m going to rephrase the question to, what things work for you in a writing practice?
I don’t think I can claim these as strengths all the time, but they are my hard-won guidelines.

1. Persistence. (in all honesty this is most of it) It means having a practice, and persisting with that practice even when there is no inspiration, the negative voices are loud, etc. Showing up at the page every day.
2. Having the courage to dream a world before forcing a shape or an outcome on it.
3. Revising. A lot.
4. Separating revision from creation.
5. Following my nose towards two things: what really scares me, and what makes me curious?

As I gear up to teach again, this question really made me think about my own practice, when it supports me and when it doesn’t. putting judgement aside and writing every day is really key, and so is a more subtle practice— which I’d call attention, or noticing, or listening. Paying attention to the world and its voices and to what connects with my inner music. Somewhere between these two things, I believe, is what’s called “voice” in a writer.
I hae faith in swinging the magnet of my attention over the random matter of the world and noticing what sticks. Where are the charged particles for me, and what pattern do they make?

Another thing i’ve learned as a playwright is that the nice play I WANT to write may in fact not at all be the play I’m compelled to write. This fact is horrible for the vanity but probably good for the nascent play. Case in point: Slow Falling Bird (probably my best play) I was driven to write by rage and deep pain at what my country was doing to refugees. Yet I generally hate worthy political theatre. The tension between the need to testify, to speak back, and my own aesthetic which tends towards the Adornian view of the autonomy of the work of art, was a very productive one and forced me to find a new way of writing that could accomodate both a kind of dream-vision of the inner worlds of my characters, and a gritty realism that spoke to current events. Material dreams. . .

And now I need to think of who to tag myself! To be continued….

Done for real!

11 Aug

So, it is finally all over and I am truly rooly a doctor– Now I”m going to sleep for a week. Or at least half of tomorrow. Or maybe it’s time for margaritas and table dancing instead. Already I can feel my brain unclenching, and little tendrils starting to uncurl and want to explore the world outside again… and dreams unhemmed by citation…and writing plays again…

Sea-change

9 Aug

On Monday we have call-backs for Perishable’s casting of Weightless. I’m excited to be heading into rehearsals again soon with the wonderful Vanessa Gilbert, who’ll be directing (she’s Perishable’s AD). There is so much going on right now—last bits of editing and formatting before filing my dissertation; Weightless coming up; my sweetheart just moved in with me (we weave our way through boxes that no-one’s had time to unpack) and next week I’m going to London for a workshop at the Young Vic on Slow Falling Bird. Then I start my new job. I feel kind of dazed, in the middle of many gear-changes. Continue reading

I am a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

24 Jul

You can tell the state of my brain because I’m taking online quizzes–arrived at via David William’s website… according to this multiple-choice test, I’m Love in the time of Cholera



You’re Love in the Time of Cholera!
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Defense

24 Jul

So– I passed my dissertation defense on July 19…. I’m emotionally and mentally completely wrung out by the experience. However, I received some truly useful and excellent comments and advice, much of it “for the book”–which makes me feel excited, through the haze of exhaustion, about the book-to-come. And my advisor said very nice things about my work and presence in the program, so that is something I will treasure.

I have some small revisions to attend to and I’ll turn those in on Aug 5. After that–and once I’ve filed–I’ll feel like a “real” doctor and perhaps then will feel some sense of relief and accomplishment. Til then I feel in a strange twilight zone which only active writing will metabolize into energy and forward movement. Continue reading

Trojan Barbie

8 Jul

A friend of mine says “The best things happen at the worst time”. There’s something in that, I think. I defend my dissertation on July 19 (Art, War and Objects) and I just found out recently that my play Trojan Barbie won this year’s Jane Chambers playwriting award. So I’ll be getting on a plane to New Orleans right after the defense to go collect my prize!!! I hope I’m not expected to say anything intelligent. I can barely remember where my car keys are right now. I lost them the other day while I was actually holding them.

My plan for August is to sleep.

And then some time after that I might actually write about theatre on this blog again. Meanwhile, check out Rebecca Novick’s new website. Rebecca directed my play Slow Falling Bird for Crowded Fire and did a stellar job. (She’s the founding artistic director of that company and has recently left to pursue a freelance career.) There are some gorgeous photos of the production on her website. She’s also championed new plays and writers for over ten years, and has produced world premieres of Dominic Orlando, Liz Duffy Adams, Erik Ehn and Sheila Callaghan among others.

behind your eyes

21 Feb

What can appear in this space?

more and more that’s the question that fascinates me–what are the rules of appearance? IN theatre, yes, but also in the spectacular and theatrical arena of everyday war, the public sphere with its visible superbowl stadiums and hidden returning coffins, its jivin’ mardi-gras balls and (shockingly hidden in plain sight) third world city on the Levee, its everywhere ROTC units and hidden iraqi dead.

michael herr, in Dispatches from Vietnam :
You are as responsible for everything you see as you were for everything you did. The trouble was, you often didn’t know what it was you were seeing til years later, it just stayed stored behind your eyes.

I love this. I don’t think it means I CAUSED everything I see but that untangling its meanings, and the invisibility hidden behind appearance, is my job– to not just stay hypnotized by appearance. (And more and more, by non-appearance— by what’s missing from the picture.) One of the things that’s in the picture, if I’m there looking— is me. It may not seem like it at the time. When we look, we sometimes forget that we are there looking, organizing or holding that picture in place. Why else do charities publish pictures of adorable orphans from war zones?

what can appear in this space– what is the organizing matrix, the ruling system, of what is before us? and how does it “make us look”— in both senses of “make us look” —
how does theatre (and mediated war) fictionalize its audience and or involve our own fiction and meaning-making machinery?