Friday, November 19, 2010

I just downloaded

Girl Talk's new CD, All Day. You can do so too here. It's been released it with a Creative Commons license, so it's free and you're free to make it into something new if you want. My favorite mash-up so far has been "Hey Ladies" and "Lust for Life." Throwing in Fugazi's "Waiting Room" was a fun surprise; I think that was mixed with Rihanna if I'm remembering correctly.

Greg Gillis' repurposing spirit has extended onto Youtube with countless mash-up fan videos. This one is the best. Just check the title for confirmation.



Here's a clip of him covering Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice."



Here's a nice one of Gillis talking about how he constructs a new track.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My page at Fell Swoop

is finally updated, for anyone curious. My new bio and a synopsis for Bumblefuck, AR are online. You can check it out here. All that's left is adding a picture that isn't at least 5 years old.

There is one thing

I wanted to fit into the last post but couldn't find a place for.

The more I read blogs the more I admire the personal, specific, and thoughtful in others. Pages that don't sacrifice point-of-view in favor of constant updating. Pages that aren't afraid of long-form writing. Pages like Meg's Xoom, or my friend Brad, who writes Criticlasm, or Malachy's, which is why I'm glad he's posting again. Also E. Hunter Spreen; her reference to my page a few months ago on Ghost Light had me more excited about linkage than I had been in some time.

I've made

several attempts in the past to write about the theater blogosphere, but I always back off of publishing anything, feeling self-conscious about it or worrying about how it'll be perceived. Malachy at LitDept posted something the other day about the subject that made me want to take another crack at it.

Here's a sample quote from his post--
[T]here seems to be less back and forth [in the theater blogosphere] than I remember. I mean, maybe it's just me, but following a burst of screaming and yelling at the publication of OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, everyone seems to have gone back to their corners and stayed there. Partly, this may be due to the reluctant realization (on my part?) that people understood that they just weren't going to convince each other of anything: That everyone is stuck in their own little world and no matter how much they shout, they aren't going to pop anyone else's bubble. And, maybe more important, they're tired of yelling, being insulted and having trollers come by, drop an anonymous smart-ass comment and move on without really contributing thoughtful to the conversation. I don't know. It certainly seems toned-down.
When I started writing FWL almost 6 years ago, I did so mainly to give myself a writing outlet, but also to try to generate opportunities for myself and give myself an online presence. Discovering that a loose-knit network of theater professionals was emerging online at the same time only added to the excitement of the page. The internet is seductive, and for a while it was thrilling to be picked up by other blogs, watching my hit count go up, and having my thoughts seriously regarded by professionals I either knew of and admired or professionals I was happy to get to know.

Somewhere along the way I did get tired, like Malachy mentions above. After so many online arguments I either witnessed or let myself get dragged into, I switched from commenting to lurking. The whole notion of a "blogosphere," "community," or "dialogue" started to seem like so much hot air, or at the very least, far less communal and optimistic than others wanted to make it out to be. Maybe that's the way of all communal movements, but then I just read a play about Orwell, so that's on my mind, I guess.

Speaking of "dialogue," I remember a big dust-up between two of the more outspoken bloggers at the time that prompted me to write what I called an "I get it" email to an offended party. I never sent the note but I didn't delete it either; see below for a pertinent passage.
Even the most collegial of bloggers are out to further an agenda of their choosing, and they will happily distort, misrepresent, or condescend to my statements in order to do so. Sometimes they do it and I don't think they even realize they're doing it. These people don't know me, so I can't really expect them to do otherwise.
I'm sure the above is true of me as well, if not through the pretense of "dialogue," then likely the pretense of "commentary," or "criticism," or, what the hell, how about "prose?"

So clearly my original intention with this page has shifted. I quit trying to build a reputation, to grow a brand, to engage in discussions, to create opportunities for myself. The opportunities were rare and never amounted to much; the thrill of linkage or finding myself on Google faded. Spheres started to look like cliques -- cliques with clear hierarchies, demagogues to bow to or knock down. I've found myself, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, retreating from the constant updating, the quick tidbit. All that marketing, all those pleas for attention -- I don't reject it all entirely, of course, but I do count myself among the many who frequently find it exhausting.

And just when I think of shutting down the page entirely, someone new will complain to me about how it's been too long since I've updated it, or a theater colleague will discover that I'm FWL and will tell me how much she likes it. That's what's kept me writing, however erratically.

I've actually been enjoying the page a lot more in the past few months. I suspect that's because my shifted intentions have resulted in writing from a more earnest, more genuine place, which in turn led to my genuinely responding to those readers who appreciate the page. Readers I already have. I may not be getting Perez Hilton numbers, and I don't know how much I've innovated the form, but I know I write what I want to, for my readers and for myself. I like to think I've made this viable for the stage I've chosen to place it on. It's a small house, I guess, and maybe a little shabby, but hopefully reliable, occasionally challenging, yet still warm and inviting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on the Wasserstein Prize

Time Out New York digs a little deeper in an interview with the Theatre Development Fund's Victoria Bailey. Sample quote:
Obviously there may be people who think you have to give a prize no matter what. But if people are looking for a funder to commit to a prize no matter what, then you put that grant in jeopardy, because there’s not a foundation in the world that would do that. That wouldn’t be responsible.
Read the rest here.

Also, Alexis Soloski writes more in the Guardian--
I polled some directors, producers, playwrights, and foundation heads. Most of them could supply a short list of eligible playwrights, though they then admitted that most of the writers on it were women they saw as particularly promising and authors of very good plays, though perhaps not yet of "truly outstanding" ones. (Bekah Brunstetter and Janine Nabers were mentioned multiple times, as well as several recent University of Iowa graduates.) Eliminating one or more of TDF's conditions, particularly the age limit, the list grew much, much longer. Why need an emerging playwright be necessarily young?
Read that one here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

William Eggleston at LACMA

I walked to LACMA on Sunday afternoon to check out the new Resnick Pavilion, but it's not the main reason to go to LACMA right now, no matter what the banners and the hype are telling you. The William Eggleston retrospective in the BCAM is gorgeous; it's varied and fascinating and full of arresting images.

There are humor and surrealism in a lot of his photos, but real sadness too. They evoked a nostalgic melancholy in me, at the very least, particularly his shots of the rural south, many of which are simple, desolate landscapes.

Here are some of my favorites.






One room of the exhibit is devoted to some handheld movies he shot out in bars on a simple black-and-white camera that he edited into something called Stranded in Canton. I wandered in to find a drunken middle-aged southern man flirting with a girl in his lap, trying to get his mouth underneath her blouse. I stood and watched the rambling footage for several minutes, and lucked into what I imagine must be one of the best quotes in the whole piece. Just before pushing the camera away, a guy looks at the photographer and says--
You're a posing asshole, Eggleston. A mirror'd be better.
I don't know whether or not he's correct about the first sentence, but this show disproves the second.

Good playwright news

to be found here.

From the NYTimes Arts Beat Blog--
Mounting criticism and attention over word that the $25,000 Wendy Wasserstein Prize for playwriting would not be awarded this year because no script by a young female writer was deemed worthy has led to a turnaround. The administrator of the prize announced on Monday that the selection process would be refined and done over in hopes of finding a winner.

A mini-firestorm erupted among writers, teachers and theater artists as word spread last week from some of 19 award nominees that there would be no 2010 recipient of the prize, one of the most financially meaningful to young playwrights. More than 800 people have signed an online petition to the prize committee and the administrator, the Theater Development Fund, asking for reconsideration of the decision. The playwright Michael Lew (“Roanoke”) also wrote a letter of protest to the fund.

“This decision can only be interpreted as a blanket indictment on the quality of female emerging writers and their work, and is insulting not only to the finalists but also to the many theater professionals who nominated these writers and deemed their plays prize-worthy,” Mr. Lew wrote. “This decision perpetuates the pattern of gender bias outlined in Julia Jordan and Emily Glassberg Sands’s study on women in theater, and the message it sends to the theater community generally is that there aren’t any young female playwrights worth investigating.”

[...]

Victoria Bailey, executive director of the Theater Development Fund, a nonprofit group that runs TKTS and a variety of arts education programs, said on Monday that 19 nominees would be reconsidered in a new process that would probably involve evaluation based on several plays by each instead of just one apiece.
Of course now someone's going to get the distinction of winning the prize the year the plays "weren't good enough," but I guess the 25K will mitigate that distinction somewhat.

Lohengrin

is upon us. I have a special interest in this production, as it marks the LAOpera directorial debut of young visionary and friend of FWL, Lydia Steier. Seeing this week; can't wait. See below for some preview links.

1. Here's an LAT profile of Ben Heppner, who's performing the title role.

2. Just did a little extra googling, and found this this bit from a site called COMMANDOpera, which include some costume sketches and lots of superlatives in all caps. Thanks to those we'll forgive the dated "Miss" instead of "Ms."

3. I like this bit in Bunker Hill Magazine:
The production is directed by international opera and theater innovator, Lydia Steier, in her first LA Opera production.
4. Here's another good one, from a blog called Out West Arts:
Steier is a rapidly rising young American who has worked under Achim Freyer during L.A. Opera’s recent Ring cycle and has had a number of her own important new stagings throughout Europe. I’m told this new Lohengrin will have a look more firmly rooted in the WWI era of the early 20th Century and will not be a show you’ve seen here before or elsewhere.

On gay desire

Yesterday's LATimes has a lengthy feature on a new show called Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., showcasing gay artists, gay themes, and homoeroticism in American art.

Here's my favorite bit--
[T]he curators relate two works of art to each other, one by Rauschenberg, the other by Johns. The two artists lived with each other from 1953 onward for almost a decade, and the relationship helped launch the younger Johns' career as a celebrated painter of flags, targets and numbers.

The final years and the breakup were painful, an emotion reflected in their art. In his 1959 lithograph, "Canto XIV" (from his series illustrating the cantos of Dante's "Inferno"), Rauschenberg conjures his version of the scene in which Dante's teacher is forced to join other sodomites in running barefoot over hell's hot sands eternally. Rauschenberg puts down an outline of his own bare foot and includes as well little bare feet that lead to what seems like the edge of an American flag — a hint of one of Johns' most famous paintings.

Johns' 1961 painting, "In Memory of My Feelings — Frank O'Hara," probably reflects the breakup as well. The title comes from a poem by a well-known gay writer who dwells on his breakup with a lover. In the view of Katz, "The image [of the painting] as a whole is a gray negative of Johns' first painting of the American flag, the key image with which he inaugurated his relationship with Rauschenberg." Johns originally placed a skull and the words "Dead Man" on the right side of the canvas but then changed his mind and painted them over.
The link is here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

God bless

Courtney Love. Kevin sent me this article today and it's so choice. I don't know which passage I like better, this one--
Shortly after 8 p.m., Ms. Love burst into the room with the Marchesa dress slung on one arm and the noted German Neo-Expressionist artist Anselm Kiefer on the other. She was entirely naked and leaning on Mr. Kiefer for support. She made one lap around the room, walking in front of a photographer, an assistant, a hairstylist and me. She pulled over her head a transparent lace dress that covered up nothing, and demanded my assistance — “Not you,” she said to Mr. Kiefer, who was bent over trying to help her — to stuff her feet into a pair of black Givenchy heels that were zipped up the back and tied with delicate laces in the front. Then she applied a slash of red lipstick in the vicinity of her mouth.

“I really must get out of here,” Mr. Kiefer said.
Or this one--
The day before our first meeting, Ms. Love, a Buddhist, had chanted for several hours, taking breaks for cigarettes and text messages.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Past is a Grotesque Animal

I've been a little obsessed with this song since I saw of Montreal at the Palladium last weekend. After 90 minutes of Kevin Barnes jumping and flailing around the stage, he stood still behind a microphone and bawled out this monster of a pop song as the only encore, delivering the best performance of the whole evening. It was a knock-out. I thought I'd post some clips.

Here's a portion of the song sung by Barnes while covered in shaving cream.



Here's a short portion of him performing it in a leather bustier. With some other weird shit going on.



This isn't Barnes, but a guitarist who toured with him called The Late BP Helium (I think that's also him in the wings in the clip above). I just liked this clip.



And for the truly brave among you, here's Barnes performing the whole song solo with an acoustic guitar.