Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wooster Group and REDCAT

I just got this update from Culture Monster:

Fans of experimental theater can look forward to more Brechtian multimedia madness and robotic androgyny in the next few years.

The famed New York-based Wooster Group is embarking on a four-year partnership with REDCAT that will bring more of the avant-garde troupe's offerings to Los Angeles.

The project begins in June with the West Coast premiere of "La Didone," the Wooster Group's deconstruction of the 17th century Francesco Cavalli opera. The production will run June 11-21 at REDCAT in downtown L.A.

In February, the group will present the U.S. premiere of its adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Vieux Carré," the playwright's seldomly produced drama set in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
During its four-year collaboration with REDCAT, the Wooster Group intends to participate in a series of residencies of two weeks or more, during which time it may present works in progress as well as installation art. It will also interact with CalArts faculty and students through in-person talks and Web-based activities.

Greenberg in LAWeekly, etc.

Steven Leigh Morris has a nice article about Richard Greenberg's new play, Our Mother's Brief Affair, that's part of SCR's Pacific Playwrights Festival.

I liked this bit the best:

Greenberg says he survived as a playwright by “catering to the most neurotic aspect of my personality; I resisted the most maligned aspects of the developmental process. When I went to [Yale] drama school, everyone there would have to comment on what you’d done. I had three years of that, and I thought, ‘I’m done with that now.’ It seems that the hurdle you have to jump over is everyone’s informed opinion. When you’re a young playwright, you’re probably too precarious in your own technique to understand that when these seemingly informed opinions are contradicting each other, it becomes this paralyzing monolith.”

Greenberg says he’s seen plays wrecked by too much development. “When a consensus does emerge, a play becomes the average of one experience. The best parts of a play can be its flaws.”
In other LAWeekly news, El Conquistador is apparently a "contemporary gay bar." And the play I wrote that's set there involves an "encounter" "between two friends." Oh, and the marriage proposal in my play is "indignantly rejected." All news to me, but good to know for future reference.

But hey, at least we're "mildly entertaining!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Company of Angels in Downtown News

It's a nice profile.

L.A. Views II opened on Friday and the show looks good! Come check us out. Buy tickets here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I just got back from

Salonen's last big night of Stravinsky at Disney Hall, with Oedipus text and rousing chorus and the stunning Viola Davis as Antigone. It was all very involving and satisfying, although having seen several of Peter Sellars' stagings now, every time his performers walk on stage I can't help but think of this Youtube classic....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Overheard at Lydia at the Taper

Old Pompous White Man: It's so nice to see a minority play that feels like HIGH theater, you know.  Some of these previous shows you've had are just so much LOW theater.  Only for the minorities, that sort of thing.  

Gracious Employee:  Glad you're enjoying it.

REALNESS

Thank you Mark Murphy and REDCAT for bringing Big Art Group back to L.A.! I loved SOS so much after seeing it on Saturday night that I wanted to go back and see it again on Sunday afternoon. I have to admit I thought really long and hard about canceling Easter dinner plans in order to do so.

The show's extremely hard to describe except that it goes at lightning speed and is such a tangled mess of language and ideas that it's kind of a sink-or-swim experience for the audience. The gentleman next to me sank somewhere around the 30-minute mark; I have to admit being a little worried for him after hearing him going on about the new West Side Story in New York. While I'm the kind of guy who could easily see this show in the afternoon and West Side Story in the evening and be exceedingly happy, I could tell that he was not.

Well needless to say I swam along happily, pleased as I was with the media overload, inspired drag and superb performances. I want to write a tour de force for Mikeah Ernest Jennings, but I'm afraid it wouldn't be good enough for him. He's so amazing I have to post a picture of him right now.



(Photo by Caden Manson from Big Art Group's House of No More; click on the pic for full effect.)

I could probably have had a conversation about this show afterwards if I wanted to, but it was such a sensory experience for me I don't really care about trying to add up all the ideas in the piece. Not that there wasn't a lot to think about; some things were pretty obvious and easily sorted out, some things a little baffling, but I was too busy just kind of sitting there, either with my mouth hanging open or laughing excitedly. I was content to just take it all in, leave all the formal, critical bs at the door and let it wash over me.

We were encouraged to take pictures with our cell phones, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, for some reason. I suppose I should've left that hang up at the door too. I did find some Youtube videos that I'll post below, though, along with this nice write-up from Culturebot of the show in New York.




Mena

I was sad to hear about the tornado that tore through my old hometown of Mena, Arkansas, last week. One of my earlier memories of there involves a lengthy tornado drill and kneeling against a wall in the hallway of Louise Durham Elementary School while Mrs. Landtroop, our third grade teacher, read to us until the storm passed. We were lucky that day.

I haven't been back to the town in ages. The day after the storm I spent some time online looking for familiar sights, but most of the damage seemed so severe I didn't recognize anything. I did find a shot of my (now condemned) middle school, windows blown out and debris all over the lawn. That was an odd sight. I can't seem to locate it again. It's just as well, I guess.

I'm going to give a little to Red Cross Disaster Relief. They're distributing to Mena and other affected areas. Check it out here.

And if anyone's looking for a more direct route, check this out--

A Mena/Polk County Disaster Relief Fund has been set up at Union Bank. Contributions to help storm victims can be mailed to Union Bank, P.O. Box 898, Mena, AR 71953. You can also call 479 394 2211. All funds will benefit those affected by last week's tornado.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Big Art Group is back!

I've been wishing and hoping that Big Art Group would make a reappearance in Los Angeles ever since I saw their show Flicker way back in 2005. I'd like to thank REDCAT for granting my wish and bringing them back this weekend. The show's called SOS; I'm seeing it this Saturday. Here's a little more info:
The always-provocative New York ensemble has won an international reputation for pushing the limits of performance and video art by lacing its original hall-of-mirrors multimedia stagecraft with flurries of livewire choreographed action. Its latest opus, SOS, employs nine performers, two musicians, a half-dozen projection surfaces and 22 live-edit cameras to mix the worlds of surveillance, cinema and live performance. Perfectly timed for Easter weekend, the production confronts themes of rebirth, sacrifice and ritual in a supersaturated, hyper-acquisitive society. Collaborators Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson draw on the primal themes of The Rite of Spring--the paradigm-shattering collaboration between Stravinsky and Nijinsky--to stage their own contemporary rite of rebirth through a panoptic "Real Time Film" technique, first seen at REDCAT in their acclaimed piece Flicker. Everyday rituals of renewal are abstracted and refracted in video, morphed into metaphors of war and environmental degradation--and set into a meditation on sustainability, survivalism, immolation and revolution.
Check out pics and ticket info here.

I'll be there stag on Saturday night; look for me at the bar if you get a ticket. Ellen, wanna go? I think it'll be a wild one. Can't wait.

Beth Ditto

I've finally realized that Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, is from Arkansas. She's apparently from Searcy, county seat of White County, site of my mother's birth and visits to my maternal grandmother until well past my college years. Kevin sent me this post by Lindsey Millar on The Arkansas Times' blog; it's a funny piece about Ditto's appearance on the upcoming May issue of Out Magazine:
Most of the story is devoted to Arkansas-related questions. There's definitely a "tells us about the backwoods" vibe to a lot of the Qs.

Here's the best bit:

Was George Michael a meaningful artist to you? You do such a beautiful version of his “Careless Whisper.”

Thanks! Yeah. When I was a kid in the early ’80s, MTV was outlawed in our town. They removed it from our cable option.

For being too obscene?

Yes, for being too obscene and too empowering, really. This Christian college in our town ran everything, still runs everything. When I lived there you had to ask for the gay magazines behind the counter, you couldn’t just grab them off the shelf. I’m almost positive they don’t even carry gay magazines today.

You mean they can’t read this interview in your hometown.

Right. I’m almost positive they won’t be able to read this.

So they’d be surprised to see you on the cover of Out?

The local newspaper ran a story that said I didn’t believe in God. That caused a bit of a ruckus. Other than that, no one is ever surprised. I think I’m exactly what they thought I would be.

Yes! Love the shout-outs to culture stifling in White County. Eat it Harding. Though, to be fair, I think the gazillion Baptist congregations in the county probably share some of the blame.
For those who don't know, Harding is a conservative university affiliated with the Church of Christ. And I echo the blogger's sentiments here. Eat it, indeed.

Incidentally, I love that I'm quoting a blog quoting an article. It's kind of like playing Telephone. Makes for challenging formatting, too.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


My 10-minute play, "El Conquistador," is being performed as part of L.A. Views II with Company of Angels downtown at The Alexandria, April 17-May 10. We have an special offer for $12 tickets through April 10. Go here and use code KW29 for the discount.

See below for details.

Company of Angels presents
LA VIEWS II – TALES OF PRESENT PAST

Luminaries of the Silent Era are the inspiration of contemporary Los Angeles playwrights in “LA Views II - TALES OF PRESENT PAST.” This moving and comic chronicle, set during the heydays and nowadays of Downtown Los Angeles’ Alexandria Hotel, shines a light on the parallel lives of those who have inhabited this building in its heyday and those who dwell in its present embodiment. This production examines lives once lived at their most celebrated, while contrasting the reality of current existence that approaches irrelevance and obscurity.

“LA Views II” is the second installment of the Company’s hugely popular Playwrights Group project, “LA Views,” which debuted in 2008. Among the inspirations for this show are Enrico Caruso, Sessue Hayakawa, Alla Nazimova, Pola Negri, Mabel Normand, Ramon Novarro, Mary Pickford, and Rudolph Valentino.

PLAYWRIGHTS:
DAMON CHUA / LEON MARTELL / JAMISON NEWLANDER
HENRY ONG / S. VASANTI SAXENA / LILLY THOMASSIAN
BRENDA VARDA / KYLE T. WILSON

DIRECTORS:
TONY GATTO / JAMISON NEWLANDER
LUI SANCHEZ / NURIT SIEGEL

ACTORS:
KAREN ANZOATEGUI / JUANITA CHASE / MAURICE COMPTE
MARISSA GARCIA / JESSICA KOCHU / CURTIS KRICK
JONATHON LAMER / JOSHUA LAMONT / JOYCE F. LIU
ERIC MARTIG / TOHORU MASAMUNE / XAVI MORENO
ONYAY PHEORI / MEL RODRIGUEZ / BRIAN ROHAN
SARAH ROSENBERG / TARTA SMITHEMAN / MARCO TAZIOLI

April 17 – May 10
Fridays and Saturdays 8pm
Sundays 3pm & 7pm


CoA inside The Black Box @ The Alexandria
501 S. Spring St. 3rd Floor
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013
(plenty of street parking available)

Tickets: $20 General, $15 Students & Seniors
Box office: 323-883-1717
Purchase tickets online at
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/59877
http://www.companyofangels.org

Monday, April 06, 2009

There's a nice article

in the New Yorker by Rebecca Mead about twin brothers who are both poets. It's one of those that requires registration to read online, so unfortunately I can't link to it, but it's worth picking up a copy for this article (and the fiction, incidentally, as well as the Talk of the Town piece about Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno series).

The twin poets are named Michael and Matthew Dickman, they're just about my age and they live in Portland, Oregon. A lot of things struck me about the article -- the ways they differ in their poetic voices, the ways they complement each other -- but of course I gravitate towards the dishy story about the time Matthew (the more Whitman-esque one) made out with Allen Ginsberg. I was going to type that whole story below, but it's a little long.

Instead I'm going to post something shorter that I think is just as nice. I just love that these guys are up-and-coming poets being profiled by the New Yorker and they're making about 10 bucks an hour in food prep jobs in Portland.
Matthew works at Whole Foods, behind the prepared-foods counter, where he earns eleven dollars an hour; Michael has a job as a prep cook at a restaurant across town, making nine-fifty an hour. The brothers got their first jobs the summer that they turned thirteen, working for a butcher in a local grocery store. "He would tell us how to clean the deboning knife with this machine, and he was also very interested in counselling us aboiut relationships with girls -- he would be spraying bits of body and blood, and explaining how you have sex," Matthew recalls. ("When you cry like that you sound like meat being tenderized by hand," Michael's poem "Ode" begins.) Ever since, through high school and college and beyond, the brothers have supported themselves with food-service jobs.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

E.M. Lewis

is a rockstar!

Congrats to Moving Arts as well. It's great to see L.A. theater on the national map, especially a world premiere by a local playwright! Hooray for EM and MA!