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You Are Dead

18 Apr

Just got back from a wonderful time in Chapel Hill with director Joseph Megel and media designer Jared Mezzocchi, working with local actors and crew on a two week workshop of You Are Dead. You Are. Here.

It’s a play I’m writing, working collaboratively with Joseph and Jared in the room, that takes as inspiration and starting point the use of video game and V.R. technologies in military training and rehab. Skip Rizzo, designer of Virtual Iraq, generously gave us access to the software which we’re using in the performance. It began life as part of the Collaborations in Humanities and Technology (CHAT) Festival at UNC last year, and Joseph, Jared and I decided to continue work on the (then) 15 minute piece to develop it into a full-length work for eventual production and touring.

Jared did amazing work with this previously unknown software and live and pre-recorded video to create an immersive world ranging from the V.R. therapy room to the cyber-space from which a young girl blogs from Fallujah. The two worlds–the veteran and his therapist, and the young Iraqi girl’s–are joined through the etheric membrane of cyberspace, where the material shock of war trauma resonates, replays and eventually connects in the present.

After the workshop and audience response, I think I can say: this one has legs. We were thrilled to have veterans in the audience and to hear their encouragement, and were heartened by the wide range of people who responded strongly to the work.

Looking forward to developing it at HERE arts center in NY, where we have a 3 year residency as the Virtual Performance Factory. Photos etc. to come!

Show opening at Warwick

6 Mar

Trojan Barbie had a great opening night on Friday at Playbox. And we sold out of the Samuel French edition of the play in 10 minutes! The promenade staging really works well for this play–great choice Stewart! It was interesting to see what the pressure of an audience swirling around and through did to the world of the play. In a way, it made more sense of the collage, collision structure of the world—it felt like being in a camp where events piled on top of one another, and the audience having to move to see the next events felt very organic—that their energy was a part of what was going on. Playbox have some beautiful photos— I’ll post them when/ if I can get copies.

And I was so proud of the young performers! Continue reading

Trojan Barbie in Warwick

26 Feb

Very jetlagged on arriving in a rainy Warwick, UK– welcomed by Stewart and Mary, directors of the theatre, and got to see the lovely Dream Factory and the theatre where very soon, the seats will be gone and the space will be transformed into a raw, muddy holding pen for women at war! The young performers in Trojan Barbie are blogging about their rehearsal process, and you can read their responses to hurtling into a fictional war-zone here:

Everyone is very curious to see how this works–the staging idea is bold– a containment center with “promenade” audience, walking through the destroyed world of Troy along with the performers. There are hundreds if not thousands of broken dolls littering the space too. There’s something in this design concept that channels Anselm Kiefer for me–his huge, bleak installations that return again and again to Troy, filtered through the catastrophe of WW2. I remember seeing the huge rebar “wave” he created in MassMOCA and feeling I was in a landscape I knew intimately–the landscape of aftermath.


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.

Writing again

4 Aug

I’m drunk and in love. (Well, in a lateral way…) Just spend 48 hours or a little less at the NACL (National American Cultural Laboratory) writing in Erik Ehn’s workshop... a cross between a playwriting bootcamp and a monk’s retreat wherein we all prayed for a play! I was so happy that it was a silent retreat. Being in the company of other writers but not having to engage the chatter-schmooze-who’s whooo’s brain was wonderful. As is the place, a lovely old house in the Catskills with a theater/ rehearsal space next door. The workshop was a great mix of silence and time with intervals of group focus where Erik would offer new prompts and exercises.

I have a new term for my writing battles: the “noontime devil”. Continue reading

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

Postcard from LAX

31 Dec

I’m en route to Australia, via a 24 hour forced stay in LA. United Air bungled the flight connection so I’m in an unbelievably shabby motel (Motel 6, don’t go there people!) in a small wasteland of freeway overpasses, roaming cars, shuttle buses, Golden Arches and many much nicer hotels. There is no coffee, tea or food in this hotel, can you imagine? It looks like the kind of place prostitutes bring their clients, and I felt a little out of place in the check-in line at 1 in the morning amongst some of the more amorous clientele.  I think I’m the only person here with a full set of teeth.

Wandering up the freeway in search of sustenance this morning, I felt adrift in a Raymond Chandler short story. Yet my skin and spirit love the softer air, the light–the West Coast is just that many hours closer to Australia than North-eastern USA. One day I’ll live in San Francisco, when the money angel magically comes up with the rent and a job there. Continue reading

Two play-readings tomorrow

28 Jul

My director Maya Roth and I sat in a Cajun cafe in the French Quarter tonigh and ate blackened catfish, then went through the Trojan Barbie script in preparation for tomorrow’s Jane Chambers reading–great far-ranging conversation from war to aesthetics. It is hard to be in the ringing echo of disaster here. It’s also wonderful to be in a play world, working on a play, again.

Tomorrow is a big day: two readings of two different plays of mine! Both on the theme of war. Continue reading

A t-shirt

28 Jul

…that someone was wearing: read FEMA EVACUATION PLAN: Run, bitch, run. Continue reading

from the window

27 Jul

there is only rain… I’m on the 41st floor of the Sheraton of New Orleans, was going to take a walking tour (very cool project by UT Austin Performance Practice students—a downloadable tour of NOLA narrated by artists from this city, speaking of their own memories and lives in certain neighborhoods). But there is just the heavy rain. In a way that evokes the flood for me… I imagine the rain just falling, and falling, and not stopping, and the trees and phone wires falling. Last night was a cabaret by local artists (including Kathy Randels who performed an awesome MC as Mama Nola) and Playback theatre and others. They are still here, still here, still here.

The message loud and clear from the folks here is, please come. Continue reading