Tuesday, May 31, 2011

JW and I went to

Art in the Streets at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary on Monday, which was more or less a mob scene. It's a giant bombastic mess of a show and is often quite entertaining, too. I didn't really care much about all the reverential art museum seriousness of it; I just liked all the wild colors and the great photographs.

Most popular seemed the Banksy and Shepard Fairey installations. That was all well and good because it made more room for me to linger in the room full of Keith Haring subway chalk drawings, all faded and fragile and amazing.


Everybody was taking pictures so I joined in the fun. Aside from the chalk drawings these were my favorite objects in the show, presented unremarkably in a case in one of the first rooms of the vast space.


Enlarge this next one if you need to; you'll be able to make out Andy Warhol's phone number.


Christopher Knight wrote an interesting article in the LATimes about the show over the weekend. There's a lot to consider in it; check it out here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

100 Saints

There's a nice profile by Rob Weinert-Kendt in the LATimes on Kate Fodor today. It's on the occasion of a local production of her play, 100 Saints You Should Know. I saw a workshop of the play at Steppenwolf in 2006 and I'm hoping to see it out here as well. I really admire the script. Here's a nice quote from the article.
"The thing people always ask playwrights about any play is, 'What was the inspiration?'" Fodor says. She credited a playwriting colleague with providing a useful answer. "She said it's not so much a fact or a character — it's a shape, and then the facts of the play have to start to fill that shape or that form or that movement. It's spatial somehow. So this play was this movement of these two bodies: Theresa moving away from something, and Matthew moving away from something, and both moving toward what it seems to them the other person has."
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Multiple Choice

Pick one of the following:

A.


B.


C.


D.


For the correct answer, come check out Bedtime Stories this Saturday at Psychic Visions Theatre.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Avant-garde?

Playgoer turned me on to this Village Voice article asking several NYC theater folk about the current state of the avant-garde. My favorite quote is from Taylor Mac.
The rule and taboo to break is our egomaniacal desire to be thought of as new, our amnesia in regards to actual history, and our fear of theatricality.
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spending my Sunday

with Jonathan Richman. I love it when he starts to dance.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

I like this

quote from E. Hunter Spreen in her interview on Adam's blog. It's relevant in light of what I posted the other day.
There's this idea that if your talent or ability doesn't express itself when you're young - like in your twenties, then you are hosed. When I was in my twenties I could barely feed myself and make it through the day. I was a mess. But there's this idea about success and what that means and what it looks like and how it happens or doesn't and what that means for you and your artistic life if you're going to have one. And even though we don't see or hear as much about the exceptions, they are out there and they are making work. Have you heard about Marta Beckett? She's an actress/ballerina who runs the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction. She's out there in the middle of the desert making theater on her own terms. What she offers may not be your taste, but she has been performing and running that space since 1967. She's in her eighties now and still performing. She is such an inspiration.
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Such a

good read this is! Here's a good (but not the best) quote.
When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney [who played Roseanne Conner’s boss for the first season] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.

In which I'm reminded of This Recording

I love this blog, and started clicking around on some old posts. I found this from last fall, which features a Q&A with Faulkner and some Ole Miss students. It's lengthy and full of great pictures; below is what seems most relevant to me of late.
Q: How do you find time to write?

WF: You can always find time to write. Anybody who says he can't is living under false pretenses. To that extent depend on inspiration. Don't wait. When you have an inspiration put it down. Don't wait until later and when you have more time and then try to recapture the mood and add flourishes. You can never recapture the mood with the vividness of its first impression.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

WF: A hack writer can tell. As I Lay Dying took six weeks. The Sound and The Fury took three years.

Q: I understand you can keep two stories going at one time. If that is true, is it advisable?

WF: It's all right to keep two stories going at the same time. But don't write for deadlines. Write just as long as you have something to say.

Q: What is the best training for writing? Courses in writing? Or what?

WF: Read, read, read! Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad; see how they do it. When a carpenter learns his trade, he does so by observing. Read! You'll absorb it. Write. If it is good you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In regards to

SLM's writing in this week's LAWeekly, part of me feels like we've gone over all this before, as I mentioned in the earlier post. My perspective on it has changed somewhat, which is definitely something I can write about.

I think it's self-evident to anyone who follows trends in American playwriting that there's a very small, constantly shifting list of who's hot and who's getting all the grants/fellowships/commissions/premieres/awards. It's easy to find this frustrating as a playwright who is not in that lucky position, but it's also worth pointing out how few of these names there actually are at any given time. Some go on to Broadway and bigger awards, and some don't. It's just like any other creative industry, just with fewer powerhouses with the ability to help make these playwrights' careers. And with more than one company or development organization having last-minute fundraising drives to keep from shutting their doors, I wouldn't be surprised to see the number of commissioning theaters grow even smaller still.

And the older I get, the more I understand just how hard it is to be successful at a creative endeavor, at least in the sort of narrow way we view success as a culture. Let's face it, your average American can probably only name about five playwrights at all, living or dead, and being on that list requires a level of success that is reserved for our most canonically dead, white and male. Narrow the field of those surveyed to people who actually care about and see theater and you might get more informed answers -- maybe they know who Kushner or Suzan-Lori Parks are, or they saw a student production of a Christopher Durang play in college -- but you still are talking about major and majorly successful writers here.

And then you get people like me. I read Adam Szymkowicz's interviews to learn about playwrights I'm not yet familiar with; I actually know personally several living and working playwrights with varying degrees of success; I read and see a lot of plays and I am mildly obsessed with knowing who's doing the hot shit, who's overrated, and who may or may not be the next big thing. And it's obvious to me how successful all of these writers are.

Creative industries are stuck with this kind of unfair hierarchy -- we idolize the "greats" and assume no one else matters. L.A. is full of insanely talented actors working day jobs, and they deserve to be taken as seriously as the superstars on the covers of magazines. And think of all the filmmakers you've never heard of who have completed edgy movies that are making the rounds of film festivals across the globe. You may never even see their flicks, but how amazing is it that they pulled that off?

So yeah, maybe it is disappointing that I can count on one hand the number of hot playwrights getting all the grants by (possibly risk-averse) theater companies going with known quantities or maybe glomming on to who's already getting attention. But that's not the only way success should be measured.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm just starting

to get back in the swing of things and Blogger goes down! Rats. I'm still going to work on something in regards to that SLM article. Stay tuned.

Also, come see my show tonight and or tomorrow!
I'll be there! The whole evening is pretty funny. One of the plays is called "Anal Highway 3." Need I say more?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

SLM on Rajiv Joseph and new American plays

Steven Leigh Morris writes about Rajiv Joseph's new play at the Alley Theatre, The Monster at the Door, using it as a jumping-off point to discuss the realities of American new play development (something he does often and I've written about before -- here, for example).

His piece brings a lot to mind, beginning with my fond memories of going to the Alley back when I lived in Houston (and he gets at the theater scene later in the article). The most potent, challenging stuff is about how new work gets on major stages. I have more to say on this; for now, see below for the big quotes.
There's a small cadre of playwrights whose works, like salmon, swim along national byways through New York City and around the regions. They are The Selected, receiving a kind of Good Housekeeping seal of approval from sundry dramaturgs, most of whom graduated from the Yale School of Drama and other institutions of its ilk. And suddenly, their plays are being developed in the New Play fortresses such as the Sundance Theatre Institute and at South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwrights Festival and the Alley Theatre's New Play Initiative in Houston. Names from the latest generation of The Selected that roll off the tongue are Annie Baker, Sarah Ruhl and Rajiv Joseph.

These are good playwrights, worthy of support, and the mechanism for their support has been in place for decades. In Joseph's case, it resulted in a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, being premiered (via a $90,000 National Endowment for the Arts Outstanding New Play grant) by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009, before being reprised the following season by the same organization at the Mark Taper Forum, across the city.

[...]

All of which suggests that the new play development system in America's regional theaters involves a kind of collaboration among theaters and granting agencies to support playwrights, perhaps more than plays. That South Coast Rep, for example, not only presents new works by the same playwrights over and over, but also presents so many projects in its Pacific Playwrights Festival that were commissioned before they were written, further exemplifies this syndrome.

Fascinating plays occasionally do emerge from this systematic model of encouragement, and there's an argument to be made that a promising writer should be supported through thick and thin, as a university might invest in a brilliant scholar or inventor, or the way major movie studios used to invest in their stars. But there should be no illusions that the market for new works in the theater has an open door. It is, fundamentally, a kind of literary aristocracy, much in the way that financial services — and their extended industries, from debt services to home mortgages to default swaps — are run by the policies of an elite few.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In case anyone's curious,

here's what I've been doing for the past 5-6 weeks.

More on Justin Vivian Bond

I've written a little bit before about trans issues in media, which makes me appreciate Justin Vivian Bond's response about v's New York Magazine profile. If anyone's in a position to be heard calling people out on this sort of thing, it's Bond.
I’ve seen several comments in various places alluding to the misperception that I was upset with New York Magazine for not using my preferred pronoun (or as Carl put it in the article faux-noun) “v”. I was neither offended nor surprised. What I was offended by was the tone and what I consider to be extremely aggressive gender policing throughout the story. Within the first three sentences I was referred to as “he” seven times. The second paragraph flat out called me a “cross-dresser” and used buzzwords like “arch”, “grandeur’, “the gay condition”, and incorrectly stated that my audience consists of “mostly gay men”. It was like reading some sort of pulp gay exploitation fiction from another era. My “hyper-vigilant” hackles were up.

[...]

I know this is said quite often but as far as I’m concerned it can’t be said enough. If it weren’t for certain drag queens and other gender variant individuals lots of gay white middle-class asses would be lots less comfortable and the landscapes of their “inner lives”‘ might be even more dim.

[...]

[T]his was supposed to be about my professional life. Instead it became a sensationalistic profile in which a cisgendered gay man and his editor sought to put a transgendered person in their place, maintaining their position of patriarchal privilege, proclaiming to be “supportive” while presumptuously trying to explain me to people who are supposedly even more ignorant than they.
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The highlight

of my weekend was easily Mark Morris Dance Group's L'Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the Dorothy Chandler downtown. I sang in the tenor section for this piece in Houston about 11 or 12 years ago. To this date one of my few paid singing gigs. I wasn't really able to see much from the pit in rehearsals back then; singing it this afternoon had me all emotional throughout. Just gorgeous.



Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sorry

for the radio silence. I've been swamped lately. Mostly with good stuff. I'm directing a short play of mine called "Three A.M. in the Morning" at Psychic Visions Theatre in Culver City. Our evening of plays opens on Friday the 13 and I hope you all come and see it. Here's a link to more info, but see below for the details.

COMING SOON!
Our Impending Doom!

That's right - Psychic Visions Theatre is going to be bulldozed in the name of "Progress."
Sad as we are, we have gathered together a rag-tag group of artists to present our final play series before the bulldozer comes and levels our lovely little space.
Please join us for our last little show - your ticket sale will help us fund the arduous journey of finding a new home for our artistic endeavors.

Bedtime Stories
Opening Night Reception
Friday May 13th @ 8 pm
Saturdays @ 8 pm
May 14th - Bulldozing
$15

Location:
3447 Motor Ave, Ste A
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310.535.6007


10 sexy short plays
In a bed
15 sexy actors
In and around a bed


come get in bed with us!

THE STORYTELLERS: Eddie Alvarado, Elisabeth Blake, J. Boyer, John Bozeman, Jennifer Chun, Jennifer Erholm, Michael Geary, Jeffrey Johnson, Suzie Kane, Nathan Lucas, Caroline Marshall, Tracy Merrifield, Joseph O’Connor, James O’Leary, Marnie Olson, Frank Potter, Brian Rohan, Cory Saucier, Shane Savanapridi, Erin Treanor, and Kyle T. Wilson.