Saturday, August 29, 2009

Treefall at Theatre/Theater

This show has been on my shortlist ever since Steven Leigh Morris' thoughtful rave a few weeks ago. I recommend it, although I almost left at intermission. Mostly because I hadn't quite settled into the piece yet and didn't really know what to make of it. Well, that and the fact that the show didn't need an intermission at all, although I wouldn't appreciate that until the curtain call.

I'm glad I didn't leave. The second act charges along with twice the intensity of the first. I especially like how the themes of gender and sexuality are woven into the script in the same way the cautionary ecological material is; nothing feels announced or didactic. Author Henry Murray is smart enough to let the setting, circumstances, and relationships speak for themselves. They're certainly urgent enough to do so.

Check it out. I think it's playing this weekend and next.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alison Mosshart

Just got back from seeing The Dead Weather at the Wiltern. Brandy and I found a ledge on the side of the floor section and perched up there, which made the whole thing much better. Before that I was just craning my neck and letting myself get irritated by all the people in front of me.

My legs went to sleep about halfway through but it was worth it to get a good look at Alison Mosshart and her mop of hair. She does a good job of prowling the stage; she pulled off this one cool move where either her mic cord got hung on some equipment or she just pretended that it did and then turned it into a kind of badass bit.

I like her best when she's still though, either perched on the speakers, legs crossed, balancing on the monitors with her gold shoes, or crouching, staring into faces in the front of the crowd while she sings, a touch of sex and menace in her glare. As JW's brother says, "She's a rockstar."

I love The Kills, but I always thought it'd be great to see her with a real band. I'm glad to see she's got one, especially with somebody like Jack White letting her have the spotlight. She deserves it.

Here's my favorite Kills video.

One thing

the internet makes me miss is actually reading the paper.

I used to take so much pleasure in flipping through magazines and free weeklies, but nowadays I find myself reading only what I want to online before moving onto the next thing. Of course one of the best things about periodicals is stumbling onto and reading things you might never have considered reading on its own.

I've recently returned to turning the pages on LAWeekly on a regular basis, which means I've started to enjoy pieces I never would've paid any attention to before. A great example of this is the recent Comedy issue, with a handful of very funny essays. Laura Kightlinger's is a particular highlight.

Taking Woodstock

Ang Lee has made another gay movie! Except....

I don't guess I'll write too much about this since it hasn't come out yet, but I saw a preview over the weekend and I have yet to see a mainstream movie with gay subject matter stumble the way this one does in its handling of its gay protagonist. It seems like they're going out of their way to embed the gay themes, as if to point out to the audience that the character's homosexuality can be just one part of his make-up, pat themselves on the back for making another semi-mainstream gay film that might have some crossover appeal to the masses, and move on to the next project.

The problem is that the protagonist's most obvious internal conflict is his sexual repression, and yet the entire movie was focused on a story about his familial obligation. Even with that at its center, the potential drama in the archetypal family coming-out cliche was barely handled at all.

I shouldn't be too hard on the film for all this, because it was problematic for a variety of reasons. It really was frustrating, though, because it was beautifully made and filled with lovely performances. I'm officially in love with Jonathan Groff, for example, and I have Taking Woodstock to thank. And we also must thank Liev Schreiber for his portrayal as an unapologetic trans beauty packing heat and baking hash brownies. Without him this movie's Queerness level might've gone undetected.

Okay, well there was also that hot carpenter. And the Judy Garland album. Right. Never mind. I take it all back.

I would usually

post a bunch of pictures of my annual Sunset Junction experience on these pages, but I skipped it this year. Hard to believe, I know, but I just couldn't muster up the energy. Instead, I spent all of Saturday evening reading a couple of things:

1. This article about southern politics and Atticus Finch. Malcolm Gladwell pokes a bunch of holes in the reverential treatment of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I rather appreciated. I haven't read the book since school, and while I have fond memories (and have always admired the movie), the ways people talk about that novel always surprise me. Was it really that good? Maybe, maybe not, but he's more interested in the limits of the southern liberalism it depicts:

Finch’s moral test comes at the end of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Bob Ewell has been humiliated by the Robinson trial. In revenge, he attacks Scout and her brother on Halloween night. Boo Radley, the reclusive neighbor of the Finches, comes to the children’s defense, and in the scuffle Radley kills Ewell. Sheriff Tate brings the news to Finch, and persuades him to lie about what actually happened; the story will be that Ewell inadvertently stabbed himself in the scuffle....

Atticus Finch is faced with jurors who have one set of standards for white people like the Ewells and another set for black folk like Tom Robinson. His response is to adopt one set of standards for respectable whites like Boo Radley and another for white trash like Bob Ewell. A book that we thought instructed us about the world tells us, instead, about the limitations of Jim Crow liberalism in Maycomb, Alabama.
2. Now all this business made me want to sit down and re-read the book, so I got through four chapters. Hopefully I'll get through the rest. I'm looking forward to getting through all the Jem/Scout/Dill preciousness and into the meatier stuff to see how Gladwell's arguments hold up.

Thank goodness

Project Runway
is back, but does Michael Kors have to start harping on the "taste level" of the token black female contestant in the first episode? Especially since he's spent the entire span of the series looking just shy of tangerine due to his spray-on tan?

Our blogger friend Meg has already addressed this somewhat, as she commented on the show's depictions of people of color after last season's hammering of Korto's and Jerell's wedding gowns because they weren't exactly made for pretty white girls here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm not gonna lie

to you. I'm finding writing anything these days a struggle.

And yet, still I struggle!

Finally finished 1st act of a 2nd draft of a new play I've been working on since last year. Or something resembling that. Three other projects await if I ever finish it.

I was going to slap up a bunch of different topics in this one post, but that seems a little defeatist, so just keep an eye on the blog and there will be a few new things going up shortly...mostly stuff I've been wanting to post for some time but never really getting around to.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stephen Adly Guirgis blogging from Ojai Playwrights Conference

Or, why Stephen Adly Guirgis wants to become a lesbian.

Oh, and there's this:

The truth is that everybody here is pretty brilliant and hot. Every guy up here who didn't fall in love with a lesbian seems to be not so secretly smitten with another amazing playwright -- Frances Ya-Chu. She's barely 26, and her boyfriend would be wise to bring a Louisville Slugger and some mace when he gets up here.

And this:

Here at [Helene Gordon's] 60-acre estate, complete with Olympic-size swimming pool, hot tub, tennis courts and an always-full fridge and bar, it's like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" for playwrights and interns.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Week Three of NOW Festival at REDCAT

I got to check this out last night and I recommend it. The last two performances of this weekend's program are tonight and tomorrow. I had wanted to get to the earlier weekends as well, but with the parents in town and all it proved kind of difficult. Three different pieces are presented, representing a wide variety of performance styles and, well, identity politics.

Lauren Weedman starts things off with OFF. She's someone I've always been curious about, so I was happy to check out her new one-woman/multi-charactered show. It's all about womanhood and middle-age and baby anxiety, and she moves in and out of characters with such quickness and distinction that I started to remember them as separate performers. My favorite was Virginia, the trembling tattoo artist, with the desperate lesbian mom screaming about yoga pants as a close second.

After an intermission we got this program: Zackary Drucker/Mariana Marroquin/Wu Ingrid Tsang: PIG. I didn't really know what to expect after Lauren Weedman, but when the lights came up on three trans performers onstage I was ready to stand up and cheer. Yay Queer Theater! The trio used a video made in advance to humorous effect, and their piece's description of their work in the program was so art-school/genderqueer I couldn't help but be charmed.

Meg Wolfe ended things with a solo dance piece she called watch her (not know it now). I rarely see dance, but I do enjoy getting lost in the kind of purity of it. Wolfe is a solid, powerful dancer with a shaved head and an androgyne cool that seems to shift fluidly between a bounding muscularity and feminine gracefulness.

The whole thing goes up again tonight and tomorrow, so check it out if you can.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

My parents

have been in town. I might have some pictures of our adventures to post here if I can carve out a little time to do so.

They just left on Tuesday, so it's back to the usual routines of too much to do and not enough time. However, if I can fit in some shows, here's what I'd like to see:

Stop Kiss by Diana Son at Theatre Theater, production by Rogue Machine.

Also by Rogue Machine is the world premiere of a show called Treefall, by Henry Murray. Sounds interesting.

The Hostage by Brendan Behan at Theatre Banshee.

Independent Shakespeare's summer productions, The Tempest and Henry V at Barnsdall Art Park.

And I'm going to the NOW Festival at REDCAT tomorrow, so I should have something to say about that on Friday.

E.M. Lewis interviewed

Fellow playwright blogger Adam Szymkowicz interviewed fellow playwright blogger E.M. Lewis on his blog. It's a nice little piece -- one of 32, in fact. Check it out here.