Tag Archives: theatre

Art and War in NY

14 Dec

We’ve started rehearsals at HERE for our CultureMart show, You Are Dead. You Are Here. . It’s exciting to see other artistic responses to war in NY right now that also eschew the earnest and journalistic approach that often frames theatre about “real things”.

One is Haroun Farocki’s show at MOMA, Images of War (At A Distance)
and the other is Pure War/ The Madness of the Day at TheaterLab (just til Saturday this week).

Dates for performance

22 Nov

I’m looking forward to the next step in building YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE. with my collaborators Joseph Megel and Jared Mezzocchi. We’ll be putting up the first act of the show, with full media, at HERE’s CultureMart in January 24th and 25th, 8:30 p.m.–more on that soon. Here’s our teaser trailer:

New Teaser: You Are Dead. You Are Here. from JaredMezzocchi on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, check out media designer Jared’s work and process in his blog, where he writes about his recent design process on A Child Shall Lead Them: The Night of the Hunter.

Working with the ICT, home of Virtual Iraq

21 Sep

We had an amazing visit with the 3 of us taking YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE. to the Institute of Creative Technology in L.A. These are the guys that designed Virtual Iraq and are inventing other therapeutic uses for virtual technologies. YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE. is repurposing Virtual Iraq to theatrical, multi-media narrative (away from its primary use as a therapy tool) and there’s much to learn from the collaboration with the designers and therapists. Here’s their take on our visit, from the ICT blog:

Red Fern show- final week!

17 Mar

OK, I finally got to NY to see my short play FISH BOWL in the evening of seven plays that Red Fern commissioned under the rubric +30NYC. (The brief: Imagine NY in 30 years’ time.)

And I thought the evening was great overall– You know how in an evening of short plays there are usually one or two duds? There really weren’t, and some of them were knock-out funny, imaginative, creepy, poignant… I still have the image of a cryogenically frozen head, resurrected from a foul-mouthed frozen relative, on a stick (“No, a stem” said the smarmy salesman).

I was proud to be in the company of these writers and creative time and hope you can go see it. I’m also still processing the amazing inverse relationship I’ve experienced in the past week between production bucks and size of venue, and talent and smarts in what’s on stage. It’s almost Swiftian material for satire.

I’ll write about this more fully another day, but (referring back to some thoughts in an old post, Fear, Bad Teeth and Comedy) I think it’s to do with WHERE the fear is located in the theatre. When the terror is of biting the hand that feeds (the patrons, the donors, the subscribers) because then the entire pack of cards would collapse, then all fear, uncertainty, anxiety, darkness and ambiguity must be surgically excised from what appears on stage. Instead it circulates in the dark, in the smiling unctuous tone of the solicited “talkback”, in the lobby, and in the office computers where the Excel spread sheets crunch the numbers, as little cancerous particles of free floating dread.

Interview with Mac Rogers

15 Jan

Mac Rogers is a Brooklyn-based playwright (there are other locale-based playwrights, but they do seem to be particularly thick on the ground in Brooklyn.) I particularly like his observation on the weirdness of theatre blogging, and the advice for new playwrights: the interview is here on Adam Szymkowicz’s website. It’s part of Adam’s regular series of interviews with playwrights– well worth a visit!

Study Focuses on the Care and Feeding of Playwrights – NYTimes.com

14 Jan

There’s some great discussion in the blogosphere regarding this:

Study Focuses on the Care and Feeding of Playwrights – NYTimes.com.

Curious: That NY Times headline could just as well substitute “Giant Pandas” for “Playwrights”… and the playwright-in-residence solution parallels the zoo or conservation park.

The same logic pertains: the problem for both endangered species (playwrights and pandas) is that the environment to which they’re adapted has changed and no longer supports them. Pandas can’t do much about it but maybe playwrights can. Form companies. Self-publish.

Or maybe it’s time to find the other door in the wall.  Maybe I”ll write fantasy novels or work for a video game company designing games for teenage girls where they don’t have to blow up the world in a muscle suit to have an absorbing adventure.  Any other suggestions?

Virtual Performance Factory, cont’d.

3 Aug

I am having the best time as a writer I’ve had for ages, figuring out the puzzle-ring that’s my part of the collaborative project, the Virtual Performance Factory. Curated and directed by Joseph Megel as part of the CHAT Festival (Collaborations in Art and Technology) at UNC Chapel Hill, we’re a team of writers creating “rooms” which combine live performance and virtual/ game elements. The game design will be created by Icarus, a Chapel Hill based video game production company.

The brief has challenged me to think about several things:
1. interactivity: how to make the experience something that involves the audience. As individuals? As a group? As fictions within the world of the performance?

2. use of media. My commonest complaint about often-dazzling new media work is the shallowness of content and “illustrative” functions of video, projection etc. So the question for me has been: what world am I making where these virtual elements are integral to the story?
As it turns out— a Limbo between live and virtual selves severed by traumatic memory in a returned veteran’s haunted Underpass.

As well as these wonderful formal challenges, given the sorry trajectory of Development Hell which most of us peon playwrights wade through en route to production, it’s also been a great joy to write something that I KNOW will be designed and produced. I write something and people talk about how to make it happen on screen, in the room… It’s like hearing music aloud again after hours of silently looking at dots on a stave.

Landscape of the theater

2 Aug

I finally read John Guare’s play, Landscape of the Body. I loved it–a dream of flesh and song made of “what if . . .” and grounded in a gritty time in his city. (I was curious because someone told me that my writing reminded them of his… Ah, I said sagely—then decided I’d better catch up!)

However I note the following about this play, to measure the distance between 1977 and 2009’s production landscape:
1. It has a cast of 11
2. In the preface, the author wrote this:
“I finished the play. I wrote the title page. I wrote a page dedicating it to Adele. I was exhausted. I was thirsty. I put the phone back on the hook. Bill finished reading the play a few pages after I finished typing. He said, “I’ll produce it.” “When?” “It’s May. Let’s do it in July.”

Guardian piece on female playwrights

17 Jul

Finally–from Max Stafford-Clark, writing in the Guardian– an intelligent and thoughtful piece about gender and playwriting. 
Looking for the next bright young female playwright? | Max Stafford-Clark | Stage | guardian.co.uk.
Notable in this piece and absent from recent American articles is a sense of history–he points out the many excellent female writers (in the UK) who have been breathlessly sensationalized as “the next hot young thing” and then discarded and forgotten.

I’m so glad to read this. The breathy American valorization of the “hot new thing” which infects every level of the theatre, not just the media, is another obstacle on the formidably difficult path of building a body of work and a career in the theatre. It’s product oriented, not art-oriented, and certainly not artist-oriented. If everyone constantly demands world premieres from 22 year olds (for “workshops” or perhaps one world premiere, then the scrap heap) the theatre will look like, well— what it does. Callow, shallow and undercooked in the “development” fringes, and hoary, old and conservative in the regional dinosaurs.

Fear, bad teeth and comedy

22 May

Just had a lovely evening with a playwright friend, talking about the drive towards “uplifiting’ comedies in the theatre at the moment. The conventional wisdom seems to be that in grim times, people want to laugh. But when people tell you that a play is “too dark”–what are they saying? Too dark for whom? (And what would Toni Morrison make of the “dark/ light” poetics of cheer vs. gloom here?) There’s always a ring of fear behind this assertion of the need for comedy. Now, I like to laugh too, but I don’t like ONLY to laugh in the theatre. I want to feel connection, and truth, and for the world to look different afterwards because my perception has been re-aligned by the force of another vision of the world. Continue reading