Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I had a nice experience

of museum continuity on Saturday when I went to the new show at LACMA's BCAM, Art of Two Germanys: Cold War Cultures. To explain, I have to tell you about the Andy Warhol show at the Arkansas Arts Center.

I went with some friends over my Christmas holiday to the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock to see their Andy Warhol show, curated in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. When I was in grad school at CMU, I went to the Warhol Museum more than once, so I wasn't prepared to be blown away by any fresh insights. Still, it was a pretty thorough representation of the evolution and depth of Warhol's ideas and his art, and a great show for Little Rock to get. Plus, they had a re-creation of the Cloud Room, which was a definite highlight.

One of the things I carried away with me from the show at the Arkansas Arts Center was Warhol's admiration for Joseph Beuys. There was at least one silkscreen of Beuys in the show, along with some detail about Beuys' history, including his flying planes in the Luftwaffe. In 1944 he was shot down and recovered from the crash by Tartar tribesmen, who wrapped him in felt and animal fat and nursed him back to health. Or so he says. The story's grandness is apparently a bit of artistic mythmaking, as he describes it as the source of his artistic identity. Anyway, all very interesting.

So long story short, Beuys is all over the show at BCAM. I kept seeing his name and trying to figure out where I'd heard of him. Finally the plane crash was mentioned in the wall text for one of his pieces, along with his recurring use of felt and animal fat in his work, and it jarred my memory. I love connections like this -- such a small component of an Arkansas stop on a tour of a pop show about a pop artist got carried all the way into a huge show in Los Angeles about four decades of art and countless artists from another country on another continent. I'll probably forget half of the artists in that German show, but I'll definitely remember Beuys.

Even if I'd rather look at Anselm Kiefer.

Just as a footnote, here's a picture of the Arkansas Arts Center, home to some gorgeous art--


and waterfoul!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More links

Rude Guerrilla: It looks like this was originally posted on their Culture Monster column on 1/13, but they've got it in the print edition this morning.

Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?It seems like this is common practice, as the review of this play was first published online on 1/15. It's in the print edition today.

Sylvia at Hermosa Beach: This one was published online yesterday and is in the print edition today. Guess I better read Culture Monster more often!

World premiere at Company of Angels

Also in the LAT is a feature about Oliver Mayer's new play, directed by Luis Alfaro. It's at one of my favorite companies (especially since they let me in their writer's group), Company of Angels, and it's called Dias y Flores. Here's a sample quote:
Flowers with a card, a surprise pair of plane tickets, a lovingly crafted mix tape -- these are among the time-honored tools of courtship available to the average mortal.

But how about a darkly comic two-act play about tensions and flirtations among succeeding generations of urban immigrants? That's what Oliver Mayer sent to Marlene Forte within a few months of meeting her at a theater retreat in upstate New York in 2003. "We had three days together there, and I was just fascinated with her," recalled Mayer, 43, of a LAByrinth Theatre Company intensive where he met Forte. "I said at the end, 'I'm going to write you a play.' I think she took that to mean, 'I want to get in your pants,' which of course is true too. But I said, 'No, I'm really going to do this.' " Mayer's unconventional romantic gesture must have done the trick: Not only is Forte now his wife, she's also starring in the play, "Dias y Flores," in its world premiere by Company of Angels, under the direction of Luis Alfaro.
The article is here.

Danny Hoch in the LAT

The Times is teeming with theater coverage today. I'm impressed. So far I've gotten through the Danny Hoch feature, written in advance of his new show at the Kirk Douglas. He and Reed Johnson play "Spot the Hipsters" in Echo Park in an effort to relate his very New York show about gentrifying Williamsburg to us Angelenos. Sample quote:

"The indignant people on the left fail to realize that they can be teaching in a school and volunteering and voting for Obama and contributing to their neighborhood and kicking people out on their faces at the same time," he says. "People fail to realize that they can be a housing activist or a gay-rights activist or any kind of activist and be causing police brutality at the same time."....

The problem, he says, is that nowadays "I feel like I'm a tourist in my own city and in my own neighborhood," because he can't walk half a block without tripping over privileged arrivistes who know little and care less about his hometown as anything other than a kind of Coolness theme park.

"I think I really made this show for my own mental health, so that I wouldn't assassinate my new neighbors," he says, making it clear (sort of) that he's only half-serious.

"And they've done nothing wrong. They're nice to me, we like each other, we get along. But I'm going to murder them. Because I feel like I can't live at home anymore."
The whole story is here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Il Bidone was nominated

for five LAWeekly Theater awards! I worked on this show so I'm quite proud and happy it was recognized. Check out the list here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Note to Hollywood

Jim Carrey's starring in a new movie that's playing Sundance right now called I Love You, Phillip Morris. It's main character is a gay man who falls in love with an inmate in prison. Carrey's quoted in an article by Rachel Abramowitz in the LATimes, saying that--
"A lot of people concentrate on the gay things.... I don't think the movie is about gay people."
Look, I know you mean well, but for future reference, if you're playing the lead in a film and your character is gay, and your love interest in the film is another man who is also gay, YOUR MOVIE IS ABOUT GAY PEOPLE.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arkansas in the Washington Post

A friend of mine on Facebook turned me on to an article by Anne Hull in yesterday's Post about rural Arkansas's reaction to Obama's election. Here's a sample:
Brinkley is halfway between Little Rock and Memphis. Few things break the quiet -- the sound of geese, the 18-wheelers winding by on I-40 or a train whistle blowing from the tracks that run through downtown.

These Delta lowlands are perfect for duck and deer hunting and for growing rice, which Loewer farms just as his father did.

But the "rural way of life" that [farmer Wayne] Loewer describes has its problems: In Brinkley, they include closed-up storefronts, a population that has shrunk to 3,300, a poor education system and meager income levels. Locals say the recession hitting the nation is felt less here because there was no housing or job boom to begin with.

In a presidential election in which the country went solidly Democratic, Arkansas turned a deeper shade of red. Obama didn't campaign in the state, which may partially explain his loss here to McCain by 20 points, but the defeat also reveals the complexities of the country he inherits, particularly in Appalachia and the upland South.

Eleven counties in Arkansas switched their allegiance from the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 to the Republican in 2008. This includes Monroe County, where, even with an African American population of 40 percent, McCain beat Obama by three points.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Year-end leftovers - theater

Favorite L.A. theater in 2008 (just a sampling -- some shows I wrote about, some I didn't):

Wooster Group Hamlet

Il Bidone (I worked on this one)

No Child....

Sissy

Coffee Will Make you Black
I'm linking to the LAWeekly review by Steven Mikulan; I love this review because it's not really a recommendation but it's such a generous and earnest review I had to go see it, and as flawed as I thought the show was, I had a great time at it.

He Asked for It and Hillary Agonistes
They're not related in any way except I wrote about both in the same post so I thought I'd couple them up here.

The Lost Plays of Tennessee Williams

March On, Dream Normal

Of Equal Measure

Cold Coffee and Turtle Soup

The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928)

The Chalk Boy
In part because I had fun hanging out with the actors after. They were all so nice!

Song of Extinction

Julie White and her white dress and heels in The Little Dog Laughed
Scroll down on that link for the costume in question. Also check out Brian Henderson for further eye-candy. If I had to choose based solely on scripts, I'd rather see the Douglas Carter Beane's earlier play, As Bees in Honey Drown, but White looked so good in that dress I saw The Little Dog Laughed twice!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Funny quote

I'm reading Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman. It's been sitting on the stack of books on my nightstand for about a year now, and I finally packed it for my trip home to AR over the holidays and got a good start of it. It's both queer, coming-of-age, and a big critic's choice in 2007, so I figured it should prove to be at least pleasant airplane reading. It's certainly well-written and readable enough, but I can't help but catch a whiff of BS off the whole thing. Here's the best example yet, after the brilliant, obsessed 17-year-old narrator has finally consumated his obsession with the twentysomething stud boarding in his house:
He was not allowing me to forget him. I was reminded of a married chatelaine, who, after sleeping with a young vassal one night, had him seized by the palace guards the next morning and summarily executed in a dungeon on trumped-up charges, not only to eliminate all evidence of their adulterous night together and to prevent her young lover from becoming a nuisance now that he thought he was entitled to her favors, but to stem the temptation to seek him out on the following evening. Was he becoming a nuisance going after me? And what was I to do -- tell my mother?
I suppose this is intended to be comic, but still, my only response to this is, "Really?"

Steven Leigh Morris

has some good sentiments about local theater in his LAWeekly thank-you note here. He also name-drops me, which is most appreciated, especially considering the light posting on here lately. It's even jump-started me to slap up a bunch of things I've been thinking of posting for quite some time.

If this were sometime in 2005, this news would've been all over FWL the minute I saw it, but I've been lax in noting that Mr. Morris was let go as LAWeekly's Theater Editor due to budgetary concerns, and will now be freelancing on the theater beat going forward. It's all detailed in his post I link to above. It's really a shame -- just as shameful as them dropping Alan Rich some time back. But Morris is right, the coverage will continue. As for Alan, I like to think that we have Alan's new blog, created after his tenure with the paper ended, to thank for my reading his hot and cold review of Antony and the Johnsons at the LAPhil last fall. A review I was surprised to find myself agreeing with. As long as they keep on writing, I'll keep reading, wherever it shows up.

So thanks again for your coverage, Steven. Hopefully next time I see you in a theater lobby I'll say hi and not be all weird and avoidy like I can get sometimes.

A couple of new links

Colin of Bitter Lemons posted a comment in an earlier post, and I've been looking at his blog for some time but since mine's been dormant for a while I haven't been really big on updating my blogroll. Thanks for the note, Colin; it's your comment and Mr. Morris that have me posting again. We'll see how long it will last.

I'm not sure what kind of boost your stat count will get from me, but I've added you. If anybody wants to check the blog out now, go here.

Also, I just linked to Pam's House Blend in the previous post and then checked my blogroll and couldn't believe it wasn't there. It's an essential blog for GLBT news and I look at it every day. I think you should too. Check it out here.

In case anyone was wondering

I'm super-glad that Bishop Robinson was asked to be involved in the Inaugurational events, but I wouldn't have been satisfied unless he replaced Warren. And not just because Warren's anti-gay and sexist, but also because he represents just about everything I find embarrassing about modern-day Christianity. To paraphrase a friend of mine, I refuse to accept that he's even a legitimate theologian, something I think Bishop Robinson could claim on his worst day with ease.

Click here for some more thorough writing on the matter.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Save Magic Theatre

I've been looking for an excuse to write a new post, and looks like I found one.

I occasionally get requests for money from theaters, and I made a little personal rule that if I had sent a query or a script to that theater and had gotten no response, I ignored the request. Call me fickle, but I figure there are plenty of ways I can spread money around, so there. If you want my donation, send me my rejection letter. Thanks.

Magic Theatre apparently got the memo, because not only did they reply to my query, they asked for and read a script by me. That's as far as it got, but they responded! Twice! I'll take that. So I'm going to spread a little money around to them and I think you should too.

Here's the text of the email I got in my inbox this morning:

Magic Theatre Must Raise $110,000 By Friday:

Please Help Magic Reach Its $350,000 Goal

Please donate now to save this treasure of American Theatre.

San Francisco's nationally acclaimed new plays theatre, MAGIC THEATRE, has raised $240,000 since its initial appeal seven days ago. With the funds raised, we began rehearsals for our next production—Tough Titty by Oni Faida Lampley—slated for previews beginning January 24th. Our staff, furloughed for two weeks, is back at work with pay. In order to continue the 43rd season beyond Tough Titty and stay open, MAGIC must raise a total of $350,000 by January 9, 2009. The funds will allow us to retain staff, continue the season, and remain responsible to our creditors.

In a world where more and more theaters are eliminating the challenging and risky work of mounting new plays altogether, please help us fulfill our commitment to new work. We're $110,000 short of our goal. You can make a difference. Please donate now.

Our core value of risk over commercial gain makes MAGIC a challenging endeavor in any economy, and going forward, MAGIC is committed to a new model of financial stability for a new world—without compromising our mission. Today however, MAGIC's accumulated debt of $600,000, combined with sharp declines in earned and contributed revenue due to the global economy, place us in imminent peril of shutting our doors in March.

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel explains the importance of Magic's mission in this letter of support. Please click here to read A Message from Paula Vogel.

For 42 years, San Francisco 's MAGIC THEATRE has been central to the cultural life of the Bay Area and beyond, giving life to some of the most important, diverse, and powerful voices of contemporary American artists, including four Pulitzer Prize winners. From its humble beginnings in a Berkeley bar, MAGIC has emerged as one of the crown jewels of American Theatre. For those of you who have sent us money, large amounts and small, we are grateful. If you have waited, please donate now.

In an attempt to close the gap between MAGIC's expenses and revenue lost as a result of the recession, the Board, in concert with the staff, raised additional funds and cut the $2 million budget by over $300,000. The closing of MAGIC THEATRE would be a great loss for artists and audiences here and across the country. The second largest theatre in San Francisco , MAGIC employs 200 artists annually and touches the lives of tens of thousands of people. We need to keep our artists and our work on the stage!

Artistically, MAGIC is thriving, building upon its rich legacy under the artistic direction of Loretta Greco, who joined the theatre last spring. The critical success of the first two productions of this season demonstrate the rigor to which MAGIC adheres in each aspect of new play production—and the hoped for excitement, awe, and wonder that come from watching great art play out for audiences.

Save the Magic video

We need your help to raise $110,000 by January 9, 2009. Please help us keep our doors open by making a donation today of $15.00 or more. Please give whatever you can to save MAGIC THEATRE. No amount is too small or too large. Each of you can make a difference.

Please share this message widely with your friends and colleagues.

DONATE NOW ONLINE


OR MAIL US A CHECK:

MAGIC THEATRE

Development Department

Building D, Fort Mason Center

San Francisco, CA 94123

Thank you for your support. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible as allowed by law. Magic Theatre's Federal Tax ID number is 94-1733420.