Friday, April 28, 2006

Reasons to check Onion A.V. Club

Reason #1: SAVAGE LOVE, of course. Every week I learn of a new fetish or three-way dilemma. The possibilities truly are endless, and thank you Dan Savage for your weekly dose of vulgar-no-nonsense-sex-advice-column joy!

Reason #2:The "Commentary Tracks of the Damned" column, which, in this week's analysis of the commentary track for the film starring Keira Knightley's eye make-up, Domino, provides us with the following quote from director Tony Scott:

"My movies are like paintings, and I always try to take something from the last painting and bring it to the next one. Before Domino, I made an commercial."
Reason #3: Even if he doesn't love The Fiery Furnaces' Bitter Tea as much as I do, music critic Keith Phipps gets it. Here's a quote:
[W]hat initially sounds like randomly spliced bits of third-generation new-wave mix-tapes gets more intriguing with each listen, largely because beneath the air of general weirdness, there's a perverse pop sensibility. "Benton Harbor Blues" begins with a lot of percussive electronic drum-clicks and malfunctioning computer noises, but it eventually gives way to Eleanor Friedberger's romantic vocals, which would give St. Etienne's Sarah Cracknell pause. Elsewhere, "The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry" fashions a strange hook out of a telephone number, and "Oh Sweet Woods" finds room for some disco gestures between the dissonant beats, backward vocals, and gentle acoustic guitars. It's all quite odd, but even its most eccentric, unpleasant moments prove as hard to forget as they are to ignore.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I have fallen for

The Fiery Furnaces.

I sold some of JW's VHS to Amoeba for 15 bucks worth of store credit and got their new CD, Bitter Tea. Incidentally, do you know how many VHS I had to sell to get 15 bucks worth of store credit? A lot. JW's pissed; he gets dibs on all future Amoeba store credits.

Okay, just so you don't think I'm a bad bf, here's the thing; I left the apt too early on Sunday and had thirty minutes to kill before going to the first of Unknown Theater's three brand new radio shows -- which, by the way, are riotously funny and continue tomorrow night and Sunday at 7:30 (mine's Sunday) and feature loads of great animal noises, among other things -- and Amoeba is so close to Unknown Theater's kickass space in Hollywood so I thought I'd just dart in since I had a bunch of loot in my trunk I've been meaning to unload on the nice Amoeba buyers. I was going to use my store credit on something for the JW, HONESTLY I was, but I didn't have a lot of time and the only thing I found that I thought he'd go for was a solo album of all Mozart from that cute little Barbara Bonney who was so adorable as Susanna in Marriage of Figaro, and I was just unsatisfied with that choice, and if I'm going to get something for the bf it's gotta feel right, right? So I was heading out of the store and passed the new releases and I just grabbed the new Dresden Dolls, but while I like some of that first album, that Amanda Palmer's voice is just a little too out-of-control for commute-listening; I feel like I need to see their live show more than I need to buy their albums. So I put that down and picked up Bitter Tea and seriously had about 10 minutes before the show started so I rushed to check-out and high-tailed it for the Arclight parking structure.

I've been a little uncertain about this band ever since listening instore to Rehearsing My Choir when it came out and thinking, "I don't know if I'm ready for this", and yes, I've done the research, I know nobody else was either, apparently, and I guess some of the critics are saying this one's even weirder, but I don't care about any of that because now I want to go back to Amoeba and get all the other discs too because I love Bitter Tea. Even the crazy backwards vocals. Nevermind the fact that it seems a little endlessly long; yesterday I was whistling that "I'm in no Mood" all day. And there's something about a low alto register in pop music that does me in, starting with Karen C. and moving to Fiona and now the lovely Ms. Friedberger....

I'd love to see these folks live, but they're playing the Fonda the same night the JW's got tickets to La Traviata. JW, trade those tickets for another night, quick! I've got a bizarro experimental rock act to see! And if you think you're getting any future Amoeba store credit out of me...well, come on, let's not kid ourselves....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Workshop - Week 4

Not much to report about this week. The highlight was a delightful little writing exercise that I chose to base on E.T.

Still, it makes me want to go back to school! I've been fantasizing about PhD programs all day today. Yeah, that'll pay off my credit card debt.

Monday, April 24, 2006

So much to report!

I've been holding back, my friends. Okay, I'm always holding back a little, but today I've meant to write so much more than I have. Things like...

How much I enjoyed iWitness by Joshua Sobol at the Taper! I have a couple of small issues with the production -- and the weird rap interlude in the script -- but it's mostly really compelling. And the lead, Gareth Saxe, is excellent. And to think I didn't even want to see this one!

And how much fun the first of Unknown Theater's radio plays was last night. Come to the next one this Thursday at 7:30. Check the website for more details. Mine's this Sunday at 7:30!

And then there's the fact that I'm apparently rewriting my thesis play, which I haven't touched in close to four years....

Not a major overhaul, but I'm still surprised I'm bothering. But heck, I started reformatting it for Final Draft to get the page count down (it was way overlong in Word) and I saw this one scene in act two that just needs to go! And of course if I cut that scene I have to fix the one that follows. And then I want to solve that damn typewriter problem once and for all. And I may do some more surgery before it's all said and done. We'll see.

The JW on Deborah Voigt

I sent JW an article in the NYTimes about Deborah Voigt in Tosca, which you can find here. He replied, responding to the following quote --

"she leapt to a slicing high C that shook the house as she sang of thrusting the knife into his heart, then plunged two octaves to an earthy low C."
-- with this:

What fun, though he doesn't explain why she can't be a "Tosca of our time" and "she will not be everyone's idea of a Tosca." Isn't there a little bit of Tosca in all of us?
Absolutely, JW!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tanya Barfield in the LATimes

There's a nice profile of Tanya Barfield in the Sunday Times in anticipation of her new play, Blue Door, which premieres soon at South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa. The article is here. I picked out a quote from the article for a couple of reasons: 1) it's relevant in this whole theater blogosphere "role of the critic" convo that's been bouncing around, and 2) I just like how the playwright makes a choice out of pure pragmatism that becomes exactly what the play is about. Here's the quote:
Tim Sanford, artistic director at Playwrights Horizons, says he was struck by writing with "so much disarming honesty and disarming humor and such musicality, but also a real brain functioning." Rather than premiere "Blue Door," Sanford's theater will present it in the fall, after South Coast has given it a first run; he thinks critics covering regional theaters understand the often fluid and evolving nature of new plays better than their New York counterparts.

Barfield says one reason she first envisioned "Blue Door" as a two-actor, single-set play was to minimize production costs and thus maximize the likelihood that bean-counting theaters would do it. (Indeed, Seattle Repertory has announced it for next season, giving her a trifecta of major acceptances before the show has premiered.) But along the way, she decided that having the actors channel an assortment of ancestors and other characters enhanced the play's theme of how ancestry can hinder and heal the living.

"Someone in the theater with a huge reputation said, 'You need to make it more actors and have each person be a character,' " she recalls. "But you could pay me to bring in more actors and I wouldn't want to."
I read Pecan Tan a little while ago and enjoyed it, but this one sounds like it's going to take her to a new level. Maybe I'll have to jet down to SCR and check it out.

I was going to try to add a cute picture of her, but Blogger's giving me fits this morning. So instead, here's a fun little interview with several Julliard alums, Barfield included. She's a little ways down the page. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Seeing Millenium Approaches in Little Rock, AR

That's right; the Arkansas Repertory Theater staged Angels in America. It must've been 1995 or 1996. I was a sophomore in college and dating a lovely young red-haired woman and, gentleman that I am, I thought a night of theater would be a nice date. I got us two tickets to see Millenium Approaches at the Arkansas Rep in Little Rock. In the third row. So the scenes of rough trade and rectal bleeding were almost close enough to touch. Great for a third date with a closet-case, no?

Or was that our second date? I think Fargo was our third, and she was horrified, and doubly so because I thought the movie was so damn funny. But I digress.

I saw the second play, Perestroika, after returning from my studies abroad in London, where I'd been seeing major, excellently executed plays about three or four days a week, so this production was a bit less of an event for me. I'd already begun to feel that urge to write plays; I'd been astonished by Pinter, Albee, McDonaugh. Still, I recall being equal parts moved and confounded by the script and the production. Surely it stayed in my head for days afterwards.

Okay, that's it. I could write more, but I'm keeping it to myself. Happy Sunday!

My favorite AIA speech...

Here's that speech I was talking about the other day from Angels in America: Perestroika. Belize is describing his vision of Heaven to Roy, and it looks a lot like San Francisco:

Big city, overgrown with weeds, but flowering weeds. On every corner a wrecking crew and something new and crooked going up catty-corner to that. Windows missing in every edifice like broken teeth, fierce gusts of gritty wind, and a gray high sky full of ravens.... Prophet birds, Roy. Piles of trash, but lapidary like rubies and obsidian, and diamond-colored cowspit streamers in the wind. And voting booths.... And everyone in Balenciaga gowns with red corsages, and big dance palaces full of music and lights and racial impurity and gender confusion. And all the deities are creole, mulatto, brown as the mouths of rivers. Race, taste and history finally overcome.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm having an Angels In America week

I've been thinking a lot about it since this Monday's Queer Exchange workshop, and last night after dinner I pulled out my DVDs and scanned through it looking for my favorite speech in the play.

Our assignment for this week from our instructor was to find a movie or TV clip that is interesting from a Queer perspective, and that would mirror some of our explorations in the workshop. I had already been thinking about Angels while working on a writing exercise the instructor had given us, so it seemed like a natural first place to look.

My favorite speech actually comes in the 2nd play, and it's Belize's description of Heaven as told to an AIDS-stricken, delusional Roy Cohn. If I had the text with me I'd type it up for you; I'll try to remember to do that tonight. Anyway, It's stunning, and I had to watch large chunks of the mini-series to get to it due to the fact that you can only skip to the next hour-long segment rather than the next scene...irritating...anyway....

This had me jumping around in the text -- I had my copy of the script out just for kicks -- and I was reminded of how much I continue to be moved by this thing's very existence. Last night I was being incredibly grandiose and deciding it's the best and most important thing to come out of the American theater; I'm totally backing off that statement today, of course, but I do think it's pretty high up there. The richness of language, imagery, the challenge of the narrative, the size of its canvas, both story-wise and thematically -- it overwhelms me every time I see or read it.

And last night I was specifically moved by just how unrepentantly gay the work is. I got into a quibble the other day in the comments of another blog about the suggestion that minority work must "transcend" its minority themes in order to be considered universal -- an idea I find just a touch offensive. I'd love to hear Kushner's response if one were to suggest that of these plays. How could anyone suggest that of this work? And how wonderful is it that this play, which is so aggressively Out in its stories, themes, and sensibility, is so widely embraced as one of the major events of 20th-century theater?

And then there's viewing it as a culmination of sorts -- the millenial fantasia, the evolution of gay-themed work, of AIDS-themed work, the successful merging of the human and the political, of the real with the fantastical.... When else in history could a play have been produced that was this massive, this ambitious, this full of equal-parts reverence and skepticism for religion and the role it has played in this country?

And what a triumph for play development! Support the arts, people! Stuff like this doesn't happen in a vaccuum!

I'll post more later about this -- probably about how it's one of the two or three plays that's shaped my ideas about theater. Oh! And I'll try to remember that Belize speech, too!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Note to Karen O

Don't take this the wrong way. "Phenomena" is my favorite song on the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs CD, but I just want to help you out with something.

Phenomenon is a singular noun.
Phenomena is a plural noun.

Okay, thanks! Tell Spike I said hi!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Workshop - week 3

If you need to catch up, check here and here.

I felt much better about things heading into this week's workshop. I think I committed really well to all the exercises, even getting some surprised laughter out of the instructor at one point.

The funny thing is, I commit to these things in a different way than a lot of the really enthusiastic actors in the room. Big, exuberant gestures or really deep, intense, serious concentration isn't (always) my first response; I think that has something to do with why I was so reticent in the first week. I don't know if I was intimidated by that, or just unused to it, or what. Anyway, allowing room for all the various reactions to the instructor's directions -- including my own -- was something I tried to focus on during the evening.

One of the interesting developments is this increasing awareness about my personal narrative -- when I say that, I'm referring more to the kind of essential conflict that fuels me creatively than my life story or anything like that. After three of these workshops and a lot of the introspection that goes along with it, I'm already starting to get tired of it. This week we focused on a moment from our past and wrote it out as a story, perhaps stylizing or abstracting it. I turned mine into a fairy tale, complete with Kings and Princes and wild dogs and bolts of lightning and mythic stories, and the allegory SCREAMED at me. It's basically a thematic variation on every important play (to me, anyway) I've ever written. I don't mind being self-aware, but I usually don't feel completely confronted by such things until at least the first rewrite. I hope I don't start getting hip to my subconscious in the outline stages!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mine's on April 30!

The Unknown Play Project Presents

The Adventures of
Daisy Roots
& Her Cat Boots
(A Series of Live Radio Plays)

Join the Unknown Play Project & the Unknown Theater Company ,
as we introduce you to the world of...Daisy Roots & Her Cat Boots.

Featuring the Live Foley Artistry of Joel Spence!
And the Live Music of David Permenter!

Come join Daisy, Boots, & the gang for three thrilling adventures…

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006 at 7:30PM
Episode 1: Boots & the Case of the Missing Booty
(by Ernessa T. Carter, Henry Ong, Dave Patterson, Brenda Varda, Brett Webster)

Thursday, April 27th, 2006 at 7:30PM
Episode 2: Daisy's Escapade with the Lesbian Zombie Superspooks
(by Johnna Adams, Bradley Jefferson, Rachel Parker, Brett Webster)

Sunday, April 30th, 2006 at 7:30PM
Episode 3: Daisy Undoes World Domination
(by Susan C. Hunter, Brett Webster, Kyle T. Wilson, Kim Yaged)

Unknown Theater
1110 N. Seward Street, Los Angeles, just north of Santa Monica Blvd, between Highland and Vine

Only $10!

(323) 466-7781 or

No Drama Pulitzer!

It's too bad The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow didn't make it past finalist status, but it's an honor just to be nominated, right?

In other Pulitzer news, I was kinda jazzed to see that I heard the premiere of one of the finalists in the music category. It was "Neruda Songs" by Peter Lieberson, sung by his wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at the LAPhil. It was gorgeous, too!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday in Silver Lake

Parked the car up the street from the 99-Cent Store.
It's always such a joy to park the car.
Walked down Sunset and stepped into antique stores,
then through a hip accessories place to a gallery in the back
Full of chandeliers out of gummi bears and
affordable artwork I couldn't afford.
Still, I wanted to look on this rare day
of just enjoying the day.
Found a box of handpainted notecards--
wild, childlike things, bright and comic
and just in the budget.
On up the street past Millie's and Madame Matisse
and the cellphones and fauxhawks,
the strutting Latino with the day's first foamy beer.
Into, for kicks, the Silver Lake Cheese Shop.
A gruffly pleasant gray-haired clerk cuts
a parmesean stand-in for Jeffrey, and
who knew those Chimay monks made cheese, too?
He'll like that.
Back through the slight chill, the warming spring.
There are times when I love this city, like now,
walking through my favorite neighborhood,
anticipating the summer, the Sunset Junction.
I pass a growing skeleton
of upscale lofts and pray
its coming flesh and flab
won't ruin all this.
Finally back to the car.
The pungent cheese saturates
the stale, stuffy air.
I roll down windows,
adjust the volume of the CD player
and speed past all this.

Friday, April 14, 2006

New Season at the Ahmanson

I know that, as JW reminded me this morning over breakfast, the just-announced season is really boring and safe and whatnot, but let's be honest's THE AHMANSON. Dame Edna's finishing up a stint there. And also, I'm just looking out for my chance to see shows I didn't get to see in NYC. So here's why I'm excited about Michael Ritchie's boring new season at the Ahmanson:

1. I'm just curious enough about Light in the Piazza and Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands to check those out.

2. Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Isn't it funny to consider this play a safe choice, incidentally?

3. Cherry Jones and Cherry Jones and Cherry Jones in Doubt!Yea for Cherry Jones and I love Cherry Jones and thank you Michael Ritchie for Cherry Jones now just put some cool new plays in the Taper and the Kirk Douglas! Thanks!

I've updated my links....

Just added a few blogs I've been enjoying over the past few weeks. Check them out!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

So my friend Glenn told me he was watching that O'Neill docu on PBS the other day and he thought I had popped up onscreen for an interview when he realized it was Tony Kushner.... He said it was the voice as much as the looks, but Tony Kushner? That's a new one.

Check here to look for yourself. Or you can check here -- And while you're there, read one of my plays; just don't forget to scroll down.

When I was a kid people used to say I reminded them of Fred Savage.

When Six Feet Under was on I used to get Michael C. Hall.

That's a funny story, actually; a secretary at an office where I had just started temping said, "Uhm...don't take this the wrong way, but do you watch Six Feet Under?"

My response was something like, "Oh honey, now why why would I take that the wrong way?"

But now Kushner?

Was it the voice? Must've been that. Maybe a faint southern accent? He is from Louisiana, after all. Does he have a faint southern accent? I've heard him speak, but I can't recall.

Anyway, I'm happy to look AND sound like him, but I'd be happiest to take just a tiny little portion of his career. Just a smidge, seriously! Thanks.

Did anyone get up early enough

to see the moon this morning? It was gorgeous.

I watched it speeding towards the horizon as I drove to Santa Monica for my Thursday morning run with Jimmy, Glenn, and Scott. We got out of our cars, greeted each other, and got ready to jog as the moon dipped down into the Pacific.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Speaking of American Idol....

Stereogum turned me on to this great interview on Pitchfork Media with solo artist/New Pornographers member Neko Case. She's rather charmingly foul-mouthed and I'm tickled by the auto-tune ranting, which begins with the following back and forth:

Pitchfork: You seem like somebody who would be especially annoyed by the "American Idol"-ization of modern pop.

Case: You mean the horrible singing?

Pitchfork: Yes.
There's more, though. She talks a lot about being a member of my most favoritest smart-ass-rock-geek-powerpop-supergroup, The New Pornographers:

Case: I love that band, it's like rock 'n' roll Six Flags, like jumpin' on the bed and looking in the mirror with your hairbrush or like singing along with Cheap Trick on the radio. It's that teenage feeling for me....

Pitchfork: [P]eople shouldn't believe some of the rumors about there being dissension within the group?

Case: I think that those things came from the fact that we're incredibly boring. None of us are drug addicts or alcoholics. All we do is work. I'm sorry that we're not the Rolling Stones getting busted at the border for heroin. People just fill in the blanks.... It makes you feel bad when you read things in the press where people are saying you and your band don't get along and you're like, "Yes, we do." For a long time, when Dan wouldn't come on tour with us people would say one of Dan's albums was all about the New Pornographers and how he hated us and we were like, "He wrote those songs before we even put out Mass Romantic." Dan would find it hilarious so we would feed it too. We would talk shit about Dan onstage, just making shit up. It was funny. But at the same time it's not helpful.

American Idol conversations in the workplace

are funny.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Gospel of Kevbo

Here's a Holy Week instant message from my favorite Jersey City non-believer:

zenokb: Well aparently the Book of Judas has a few bombshells. Jesus was still alive on Saturday -- the ordeal the day before was just a ruse to keep the press away -- and he feasted with his inner circle on a meal of garlic roasted baby-red potatoes, a portabella and blue cheese fritatta, and a basket of buffalo wings.
zenokb: During this feast, the big J, at least according to Judas, had a few Bloody Mary's and told everyone that despite appearances, he really did ask to be betrayed. That his relationship with Judas was really complicated, and a lot of shit went down, but he knew deep down he deserved what he got.
zenokb: "I have never been pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough. . . ."
zenokb: Also, when he cast the merchants out of the temple he was, according to Judas, shrieking, "All these pretty things I can't afford on an ASSISTANT'S SALARY!"
zenokb: So now we know why so many gays gravitate to the church. He was fucking dying for a big nice house.
zenokb: OK, I have this feeling that my mom knows I am typing this and it creeps me out. No more blasphemy for today.

It's okay, honey! He gave his life for just this sort of thing!

Performance workshop -- week two

I think I did a little better last night than I did last week.

This week I was determined to commit more fully. And I still have a little ways to go, but I definitely did participate with fewer reservations. I was also reminded how much I love and miss school! I think I'm going to look into extension courses after this is all over. Or finding a friggin teaching job. Or something....

So I'm still kind of riffing in my head on this whole notion of the toll that living takes on people. I don't mean that in any sort of doomsday way...but it is interesting to me that one can work so hard to break down that closet door only to construct a bunch of walls around oneself. So I'm trying to see this all as an experiment on overcoming some of that, uhm, construction, if you will....

We did this exercise that involves focusing on a crucial moment in your past and giving a color and a gesture to it. A lot of people singled out really angry or scary moments, which was totally valid -- my thoughts even lingered over a couple of those -- but for some reason I settled on a very abstract moment of clarity that I had in Pittsburgh. I just remember feeling really open and sunny and relaxed and clear-headed -- the colors I gave to the memory were vast and nuanced, so I just very simply named the whole thing, "possibility."

There did seem to be so many possibilities back then, and of course there still do, but then along comes that post-epiphany cooldown (and it's all a post-epiphany cooldown, isn't it?), the construction of that pesky gay identity and how that is in itself a kind of closet.

I actually wrote about this in a little play called The Rendezvous, but I was too in the thick of it really to apply any perspective to the situation. I still like the play and think it's solid, but it's a very specific portrait of a young man (not me, but someone like me -- and no, his name is not Tom) just discovering these things. I've lived with them for a few years now, and I'm mostly okay with them -- I mean, we all construct all kinds of identities around our family life, our work, our interests, our sexuality, and on and on.... But the nice thing I'm feeling about this workshop is it's already reminding me to be more open, less rigid, less needlessly protective....

I wrote more about all this, but I deleted it. In theory I did so because I was afraid the post was getting too long and incoherent, but I was probably just being protective.

Oh well, if we both benefit, it can't be a bad thing, right?

I got the nicest rejection letter yesterday!

It's hanging on my fridge.

It's about my new short play, "Smoke Gets in your Ears", which you can read here (scroll down). This particular theater company said that they really liked it but don't have resources to do every play, etc. Understandable explanation, and sweet of them to say that they liked it. They even said they hoped I'd keep submitting, which of course I will.

Seriously, any response at all is so welcome to me at this point. I can't tell you how many companies I've submitted to that have yet to respond in any way after an extremely lengthy waiting period. And don't get me wrong, I'm terribly sympathetic to how strapped a lot of literary mangers are with time and resources -- as a result I just try to send things out and forget about them -- so when I get a letter back I'm usually encouraged and grateful, even if it's a rejection.

But this rejection was complimentary! So sweet. It was a good validation, too, because I'm really fond of that particular play and I haven't gotten a lot of feedback on it.

The one odd thing was in the final paragraph of the letter; the literary associate who signed the letter was under the impression that I'd had my writing staged at their theater before. Of course, in my insecurity, I let it throw all the niceties into question -- was he just using an old draft to somebody who actually gets produced and forgot to delete half the letter? Did he absent-mindedly click on the wrong file, insert the name of my play, print and sign without even reading that it wasn't their stock form letter?

Let's just assume he was mistaken about that detail, but the rest was genuine. I'm going to go check out their website and see what else I should send to them!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The button

I always try to find a good button for a scene -- that great last line that nails it all. And then sometimes, usually when I have trouble coming up with that great last line, I get irritated that it seems so necessary to me. Can't I just move on? Doesn't that kind of perfect line thing seem false? Why do I have to have some big quippy or declarative or cliff-hangerish line uttered before I shift to a new scene? Or can't I just bring the lights down with stunned silence at the end? This is where closing with a gunshot helps, by the way.

I have discovered the importance of the button in office conversation. If you know me, you know I'm a chatter, and you know I'm inclined to digress and meander in my conversation with the best of 'em. Sometimes I attribute this to being just another in the tradition of colorful southern storytellers; sometimes I just wish I'd shut up sooner.

I usually find myself wishing this in the office. Sometimes I linger too long, sometimes I'm unsure when it's time to take my leave and return to my desk without appearing rude or abrupt. Going forward, I've decided that if, during the course of any conversation, I'm always in search of that great button line, I'll never go wrong. For example:

Office friend says, "Yeah, I know, she's always CCing your boss when she wants to make a point."

"Next time we'll just have to do it for her!" I say, replying with a smile and a turn of the heel.
See how easy that is? Here's another one:

Office friend says, "I wish people would stop bringing sweets into the kitchen. I can't stop eating all the chocolate!"

"Oh, sorry. I'll stop doing that," I say, providing properly awkward revelation to drop my head and turn, moving hurriedly back to the cubicle.
Or how bout this?

Office friend says, "Don't tell anyone, but I'm starting to revise my resume. I just think it might be a good idea to keep my options open, you know?"

"Definitely," I say, continuing without thinking, "especially since I was just told in confidence that you're about to be fired." I then cover my mouth with my hand and run.
There, back at home-base for more call-rolling and Outlook wrangling, free of awkward segues into weekend plans and halting-yet-still-confessional monologues about ex-boyfriends and unsuccessful weight-loss regimes!

The Marriage of Figaro

I remember my friend Lydia saying that if Mozart had continued living and composing the world would have to stop spinning because he would've done everything worth doing and there would be no reason to continue.

Okay, that was a particularly HORRIBLE paraphrase, but I think she has a point. The JW and I saw the LAOpera's Marriage of Figaro and I am officially an avid Figaro-lover of the first degree. It's one of those things that I know well enough to anticipate with great pleasure..."Oh, here comes the chair bit! Oh, here comes the closet bit! Oh, and here's the gardner with the big flowerpot!"

The nice thing about knowing it that well is that now I'm able to really listen to the music, which made things really nice. There were lots of things to write about -- there's a Susanna/Countess duet that made me want to get out my CDs and find and listen to over and over. I can't remember where it is now, of course. I think it's Act II. And then there's the great overture, and the "scurrying around music", as JW calls it. It's just all so boisterous and joyous and celebratory. There were tons of teenagers at this production, which was just great; this is a lovely opera to introduce the art form with. The lightness of the farce, the bounce of the music, the playful sexiness of it all.... Don't be scared of this one, folks! It's sublime!

Anyway, about the production...Barbara Bonney is adorable as Susanna. And I LOVE CHERUBINO. I don't think it would even matter who played him. But Lucy Schaufer playing him works just fine; she's adorable.

All that said, WHY do I always fall asleep in Act IV? This is the third time I've seen the opera, and no matter how much coffee, Red Bull, sugar, intermissions spent out in the chilly night air, etc., Act IV comes along and the lights dim for the dashing about in the garden and my eyelids get so damn heavy! Saturday night I succumbed, but luckily the JW nudged me just in time for the Count to sing his apology.

JW's right, though; the set is hideous, although it's so stupidly ugly in act IV that I began to find it charming. And then I started to nod.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Weekly Destroyer Quote

"Don't worry about her, she's been known to appreciate the elegance of an empty room."

From the title track of Rubies. Of course it's followed by the line, "Look I made you this broom," which makes for a rather strange couplet, but that's part of Mr. Bejar's charm, I suppose.

Regardless, I was misting up on the way to work this morning listening to this song. That line above is striking, but then there's this one:

"You disrupt the world's disorder just by virtue of your grace, you know..."

Am I the only one who gets weepy at brilliantly cryptic rock lyrics?

Really ambitious playwrights and bloggers

Not necessarily me, mind you....

So yesterday's post was perhaps the least articulate in the blogosphere about Isherwood's outrageous claims in the NYTimes. I'm still finding them all.... But check here and here and here and here to read more.

I'm not used to dragging this ol' rag into all the theater debate going on on this crazy world wide web. Today may be the day, though!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Jason already tackled this much more reasonably, but I gotta sound off here....

Arrgh. Isherwood's take on Humana strikes me as acceptable (for not having seen the plays, anyway) until the last paragraph. In writing about a group of new plays he believes to be ambitious failures, he writes the following:

There's not much point in aiming high if you can't hit your target. And is it really necessary for playwrights to dream up new worlds?

I can't believe a critic would write something like this. Okay, I can; of course I can. But I can't believe a critic who actually LIKES THEATER would.

Guess what, Chuck -- when it comes right down to it, NONE OF US CAN EVER HIT OUR TARGETS. You and Theresa Rebeck included. Should we all just quit now?


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm doing this performance workshop....

I told you about it last month, remember?

I expressed interest to the facilitator a couple of months ago in a fit of excitement which was triggered by the fun I had writing and performing my own monologue. It's also a part of my "apply for everything" initiative that I'm trying (with varying degrees of success) to implement. So last week, when I got the email from the instructor asking for confirmation, I froze. I just started to imagine all the movement exercises and vocal warm-ups and improvs we used to do in theater in college and thought to myself, "okay, it was fun when I was 19, but do I really feel like doing that kind of thing again?"

I got to the workshop and met the instructor and sat in a circle with all these strangers -- a majority of whom were college students and/or experienced performers -- and all the introductions and review of the details of the course sounded interesting enough. Eventually, though, the "exploration" began.

As we walked around the room vocalizing, I thought to myself, "I used to do this stuff rather well. I used to jump and wiggle and shake and shout and pass imaginary balls with the best of them. Why do I feel so tense and weird now? It must just be the sitting at-a-desk-all-day thing. Or maybe this was just a terrible idea. That's it. I'm over this kind of thing. I'm a writer; I'm not an actor. That whole actor's sweet; I admire it, but it's not for me."

Then I looked at the clock and wondered how the hell I was going to make it through 2.5 more hours of this. This was right around the time we were standing in a circle with our eyes closed recalling the last shower we had and naming the puddle of water at our feet. I was about half-involved with this exercise; the other half of me was thinking, "I should just go home and email the instructor and tell her I'd like to resign. I'm sure she's got some kind of waiting-list. I just don't feel the need to really do this like I used to, you know? Yeah, I think I'll just do that. Better now than later, right? Yeah, that's what I'll do."

Then the shower part of the exercise was completed and I was just involved enough to be able to respond to instruction and continue. I looked at the clock. 2.25 hours left? God.

There was some downtime and a little discussion time during the workshop -- the focus of it is on Queer culture -- and it gave me time to think of the way I've traveled through life in the past decade since I was doing all that performance in college.... I was pretty deeply closeted at the time, but I really did do a lot of this stuff with so much more ease; perhaps I just welcomed all that performance as some kind of outlet; I don't know. Of course, since then I've endured about three really destructive work environments. And then there's the struggling with the whole coming-out thing, which for me was such a gradual, occasionally agonizing process; the deciding to date guys and tell my friends and write about it happened in a bizarre rush of a spring and summer epiphany; it was head-spinning, but mainly felt good. All the rest of it was a little trickier -- there's the family, and then the dealing with it at work -- it can all be rather exhausting.

I felt so stiff, so bound up for so much of last night, and I started to wonder how much of that is just built-up residue from all of the stuff of these past ten years. All the living. Of course it is, but I start to think of all of it and it becomes kind of staggering. The awfulness of Teach For America, the difficulties of the graduate program (and they were legion), the exciting but treacherous journey that coming out has been, the challenge of compartmentalizing my education and true vocation to nights and weekends so that I can get executives' phones and make their travel arrangements. Day-to-day it just seems like living, but once I start doing an inventory, it starts to feel like LIFE. And this shit is hard, yo!

So gradually over the course of the evening, as I was trying to deal with all this anxiety I was feeling, I allowed myself to acknowledge how willful I was being about all of these exercises. I knew what I was doing; it was just flat-out resistance. I remembered my acting and directing professor in college talking about her years of dealing with students who resisted her instruction by either lack of commitment, lack of participation, making a mockery of the whole ordeal, or insisting on having things their own way. I knew that I was doing that, and I knew I had the ability to stop. I finally decided, "you are going to be miserable for the rest of the evening unless you just try to commit and participate. So stop with the distant-and-superior thing you're doing to mask your self-consciousness, stop dwelling on all of the backstory and just Be Here Now."

And of course I did better. And I enjoyed myself. And I came pretty close to 100% commitment by the end of the evening. I won't say I was completely there, and I don't know if I'll get there. Heck, I don't know for sure if I'll stick it out for the whole thing, but I'll check it out again next week.

And incidentally, you can all blame this post on all the diary-style blogs I've been reading lately. And an avoidance of a writing assignment on my lunch break. Thanks.