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An Oak Tree
Theater Schmeater Nov - Dec 2009
Tim Crouch, a British writer/performer, received an Obie Special Citation award when An Oak Tree played off-Broadway. Crouch questions the very nature of theater and performance in a fully scripted play for 2 actors, one of whom has never seen the play or read the script. Theater Schmeater Artistic Director David Gassner plays Crouch's original role of a stage hypnotist who has lost his mojo. He teams with a new actor every night to tell this compelling story. Yours truly directs.
MID FACTUM 03NO09 9:06AM The guest-actor list is confirmed: Terri Weagant, Ryan Higgins, Aimee Bruneau, Mary Machala, Keith Dahlgren, Ray Tagavilla, Andrew Litzky, Peggy Gannon, Jonah Von Spreecken, and Marty Mukhalian. What a marvelous bunch who are in for a beautiful ride.
MID FACTUM 12NO09 11:00AM I'm addicted to this show. Never have I directed a show where I desired to go to every performance until now. I've learned more from acting watching this than anywhere. Every choice every actor has made in this piece is completely unique and dynamic. SPOILER WARNING. Jose's emotional breakdown by the pillar, Karen Jo's playing a man--you must understand, she was a man, Stacey's seizing the 'sweet spot', Terri's seamless fed monologue, Ryan's endearing denial, Aimee's hand-signals... I could go on and on. Oh, and the audience reaction is precious--unconscious frustrated head-shaking, and subtle nodding when 'cued'. I simply can't get enough.
12 Minutes Max
On The Boards 22, 23 Nov 2009
Since I first moved to Seattle I've dreamed of curating this showcase for new experimental work. Auditions are Nov 1 if you have something. Contact me or OTB.
MID FACTUM 03NO09 9:06AM Here's the lineup: Choreographer Gabriel Bruya teams up with the dancers of NW Dance Syndrome in Bake You A Cake, a work about the many steps that go into celebrating the people in our lives. Longtime Seattle actor Jose Amador shares a personal travelogue inspired by a return trip to Puerto Rico following a 22 year absence. Dancer/ choreographer Tamer Abdo shares his struggle of living the cultural differences between the East and West. The solo dance looks at the mental pressures of growing up in the Palestine contrasted against living the 'free' life in the US. Mike Pham, video artist and performer, uses a video/audio collage, body bags and movement inspired by figure skating to take a conceptual look at death, duality and dissociative disorders in I Love You, I Hate You. Puppet artist Heidi Pendergast and Twig Theater introduce Little Man Monk to the Studio Theater. A sacred figure in the form of a 4-foot tall Tibetan Monk regards the audience and dances his sacred ditty. Karin Stevens Dance, with local composer Dave Chapaitis, brings a piece for 4 dancers that mixes meditations on nature, time, constancy and change. Charles Smith returns to 12MM with a hilarious satire of a graduation speech. This is part 1 of a 4-part upcoming solo show, My Arm is Up in the Air. There were several more pieces we'd have loved to be part of the showing. That's a mind-breaker, having to turn down good art for other good art. Alas, it becomes about structuring an evening. Next time perhaps they'll let me curate an epic, six-hour 12MM? Oh, thanks Danny Herter, my cohort in curation. Great guy.
Book-It Repertory Theatre Winter 2009
Again to be a troubadour in schools, libraries, and wherever they'll let us display our traveling box of children's theater. Three stories by Gerlad McDermott: Raven, Jabuti, Coyote. See if I can break the record 74 performances I had with Stinky Cheese Man. Also in the cast: Sara Mountjoy-Pepka and Matthew Gilbert. Directed by Annie Lareau.
META Performing Arts Camps
Conway Muse 13 - 25 Jul 2009
MID FACTUM 19JU09 7:06PM Once upon a time there was a city with skyscrapers taller than any before built. Beneath the tallest of the tallest skyscrapers lived two tiny snails who where sisters. One day, weary of a meager life at the bottom of it all, these snail sisters decided to get jobs. Slithering down the crowded city streets on their way to the placement service, they passed an ice cream shop. Wouldn't it be nice if there happened to be job openings in the ice cream service industry? They entered the cool, colorful ice cream shop. An incredibly old man behind the counter offered one snail sister vanilla-berry ice cream and the other chocolate-rhubarb ice cream with red licorice sprinkles, both on sugar cones. The snail sisters accepted the delectable treats and asked for work. Smiling the biggest smile you've ever seen, the incredibly old man hired them. The next day, the snail sisters' first day of labor, a bubbly little girl with bouncing pigtails entered the shop and ordered a triple-decker cone (peachparfait, hazlenut and vanillacream). One of the sister-snails stacked the cone high. Not realizing, she accidentally scooped her sister between the top two scoops. Before she or the incredibly old man realized, the bubbly little girl with bouncing pigtails skipped out the door and raced home to her abnormally tall brother before the ice cream could melt, because she wanted to share. Her brother took one long, grateful lick with his abnormally long tongue, swiping the snail sister, who transformed into a beautiful princess because of his magic spit. The princess and the brother returned to the ice cream shop, but sister-snail and the old man were gone. In panic and grief, they had set out in search of the accidental ice cream cone. The two search duos combed the earth looking for one another. Finally, one year later, in the antarctic, the princess and brother came upon the incredibly old man and snail-sister nearly frozen; even though the old man had brought fourteen coats to keep them warm. The sisters hugged and the very tall brother reached down with his abnormally large tongue to lick the other snail sister into a princess, but she gracefully declined. THE END. (Story written and performed with my 8 - 10 year old class.) I also fondly remember the entrances/exits game in the teen class when Gold shot Curly in the veterinary clinic. Panic ensued, but not nearly as much as you'd expect -- very hysterical. All in all a challenging week with many highs and lows. Kids really are getting bigger, but mental stages are the same which throws me for a loop.
POST FACTUM 27JU09 7:06PM Some memorable lines from week two: "Beware my evil underpants" "I can't throw, but I can throw up" (spoken during a game of SPUD). This week went smoother, though the huge age range in the teen class -- 11 through 17 -- made for a challenge. Thanks to Zoe, Nathan and Annie for their amazing talent and assistance. Check out their improv group in Mount Vernon if you're in their hood.
My Body Lies Over The Ocean
On The Boards 5 - 7 Jun 2009
H E L S I N K I . S Y N D R O M E @ Northwest New Works. Transatlantic, non-linear performance that blueprints the emotional distance from Seattle to London via YouTube, Soft Rock, and Skype.
LiveGirls! Theatre 10 - 25 Apr 2009
It's the tenth anniversary season of LG and Quickies, their short theater festival. I'm directing The Education of Macoloco, an award-winning play about a son's strict tutelage by his mother, and the one piece of information she cannot bear to divulge -- the details of his absent father. Authored by Jen Silverman, a brilliant up-and-coming playwright currently based in Iowa City. The stellar cast is as follows: Trick Danneker, Jason Harber and Shawnmarie Stanton.
The True Story of The Three Little Pigs & The Stinky Cheese Man
Book It Theatre 26 - 29 Mar 2009
Portland wanted some stinky cheeze. We'll be smearing it all over the libraries. Email me if you want to know exactly where and when. I'm very excited to reprise the roles of the Rabbit, Goldilocks, the Smart Pig, Jack and the Giant, and the Stinky Cheese Man. Rumor has it Mr. Scieszka will be there! POST FACTUM 09JA09 3:04AM Here's a slide show of the trip:
This is a shot is the ceiling of the hotel lobby. It was an historic building and quite confusing -- the elevator went to the lobby, but the stairs led to a restaurant. Perhaps they figured you must be hungry after the walk.
This is the view from my hotel suite. And my coffee.
And another of trick eating cereal in the room.
This is an eerie hallway behind the school auditorium we performed our first show.
Lastly, cast compatriots Trick and Kate.
Spin The Bottle
Annex Theatre 6 Mar 2009
The lowdown on the late-night hoedown: A celebration of June Carter Cash, featuring Becky Poole, Erin Stewart, Jenna Bean Veatch, Joanna Horowitz, Meghan Arnette and I! Manly material from Ritualistic Performance Ensemble! Epic filmmaking in ten minutes from Sue Corcoran! The twang of The Half Brothers! Swiveling hips and furry costumes from Hands of Kali! Round, firm, and fully packed -- it's Keira McDonald! Simple yet strange storytelling from Gude/Laurance! All held together by the first breath of spring, host Bruce Hall!
A Contemporary Theatre Jan 8-9, 2009
Do I have to go over all this again? Okay: the world's quickest theater festival -- 14 plays conceived, written, designed, scored, rehearsed and performed in 48 hours! Mr. Paul Shipp and I are writing together again. Nuns? Music? We'll see.
POST FACTUM 14JA09 10:08AM Following is my part of an e-versation with Becky (Hellyer) Bruhn, writer in charge of the official 14/48 blog.
POST FACTUM 09JA09 3:04AM The night went fairly well for the writing team of Paul Shipp and K. Brian Neel. First, we wandered around downtown, riffing on the theme, looking like crazy men as we acted out ideas on the sparsely populated streets of Seattle. What really hit us about the theme was the word 'neutralizing' -- not killing or destroying, but neutralizing a threat. After moving around a handful of ideas on the proverbial table, we decided on a non-war, low-key, twilight-zoneesque concept. We outlined it and titled it: The Courtyard. Then we drove to Paul's apartment and took to the keyboard, which flowed smoothly until about three quarters of the way through when two prominent concepts didn't take hold. We wrestled with them, pinning em down a couple times, but ended up scrapping them. Sounded prudent and wise, except it's two in the morning and essencing is not a word. As usual, we wait for the light of day to find out if it worked. Right now, as I fade away, I just miss that doll's head. (I know it could have worked.)
POST FACTUM 09JA09 11:53AM The 14/48 Goddesses have smiled upon us. Our play is reading quite strong, in small part due to the luck of those late-night rewrites flowing quite well, and in no small part thanks to drawing a dream team: Brian Faker, director, latched onto the concepts and ran the distance. One can only hope to be as freakin' creative in the director's seat. Mazen Award well earned. Now for the goose bumps, check out this cast: Chuck Leggett! Peggy Gannon! Juniper Berolzheimer! Andrew McMasters! Scene stealers and ensemblers, the lot. I will sleep peacefully all day (I hope), assured and smiling. I don't miss the doll's head any more.
POST FACTUM 09JA09 11:32PM THIS JUST IN: The team of Neel, Shipp separated. Neel lost his keys, realizing just after Shipp dropped him at his car. Neel bussed home. Shipp is wandering who knows were, mobile phoneless.
POST FACTUM 10JA09 04:59AM So... Paulie and I were separated. On my bus ride, I sketched out a crap-load of ideas from the initial concept we decided upon on our downtown walk. Paulie, in his cold car waiting for me (unbeknownst of my situation) also wrote up a storm. I don't remember how we finally got back together (I think the mafia and a pixy-sprite were involved). We shoved our material together and discovered that Mr. Neel forgot to include the fifth actor. Hurdle number one. Patched that, but had to sacrifice our main concept. Persevering, we weaved more of what we consider funny into it and may have wounded it with too many esoteric stabs. The real kicker was, after we finished the damn thing, it occurred to me the key relationship change that would make our original concept work in tact. No time for a second draft. In the end we remain no more confident tonight than last. Plus, we are two and a half hours later into the morning. Take heed: do not seek perspective in the blur of creativity at four in the morning. (Our picture shows our turmoil. My God, we've been through a war!) (So proud of our magical non-theater play last night.)
POST FACTUM 10JA09 07:50PM Never worked with Opal Peachy before, but I like the cut of her jib. She began the morning read with an evocative metaphor to inform the actors. Great reads -- so many possible casting permutations. I have no idea which they settled with. Their initial reaction was quiet and pondering, not the smiles and bright looks that yesterday's piece invoked after the first reading. Second day weariness? Sizing up their place with the script? Readying for the long day ahead? I had to jar myself out of there so I'll have more surprises tonight. It feels at this stage in the 14/48 process that the writers are forgotten. (Except maybe the cast cursing our names.) I'm not saying this to call for attention. There's safety in anonymity. Don't worry, if our show rocks, I'll make sure I get attention! Paulie and I went for a midday drink to celebrate the theme. For me, last night was the most learning experience since the first time I wrote alone two years ago. Despite the farce that our night became -- being separated and running across town like chickens with our heads cut off, which was apropos and informing to the play I'm sure -- it was mostly challenging because we chose to write in two theatrical styles neither of us had any experience with. Ballsy? Sure! Idiocy? Oh, yea! So much for write what you know. Last night at this time I was at ease, excited to see our words blossom in front of my eyes. Tonight I feel saturated with flashes of all the flaws in the writing, and those re-writes. I can see the play reaching it's potential with four more re-write hours. Hopefully brilliant performances and direction will sell it. I'm not upset about all this. I'm proud of what we have and smile at my little secret. In the end, ChaseHer is baking all day in the oven. The timer will go off very soon and we'll have a taste. Going to see the late show tonight only. Love that closing night energy!
POST FACTUM 11JA09 04:07AM Thanks so much for the compliments, Becky. In many ways the show wasn't what we wrote, but what we wrote wasn't clear begin with, so it's a wash. They kept the essence and it was entertaining as hell. I'm satisfied with that. In general, the evening was a pretty typical, huh? A super-amped wonderfest. I tend to like the odd, low key, risky-writing nights; but I'm thankful of the umpteenth belly laughs tonight that's for sure. Particularly liked Mr. Mullen's and Anita's pieces (hers on both nights!). My first reaction to our piece was joy. Well acted, hysterical cacophony, sexy ladies. They replaced the farce we wrote with a sort of 60's, Peter Sellers, What's New Pussycat type, zany romp. A fun suprise. Then, the more I thought about it, the more disappointed I became that they didn't use the comedy bits we wrote (spent a lot of time on those lazzos). Ultimately, I understand why they went this way and in the end they tell me the cast had a great day. That's most important. I'm glad you think it was a bit demanding. (That means it's art, right.) Whether the whole thing gelled, I'm not sure. What does it matter? It is 14/48! Thanks for reading my blatherings.
Doing It Alone: The In's and Out's of Solo Theater Performance - A Panel Discussion
Theater Off Jackson 14 Oct 2008
POST FACTUM 28OC08: Cooked up by the Unicycle Collective and Theater Puget Sound as part of Live Theater Week. Nancy Guppy served tantalizing questions at the feast which included Allen Johnson the four-star chili kicker, Keira McDonald the potato marshmallow salad, Suzanne Morrison the sweet cinnamon apple pie, Matt Smith the hearty peasant bread, Mary Purdy the string green beans in butter and sea salt, John Kazanjian the chef, and myself the gravy. Fun hearing the stories, process similarities and differings, and the fact that our shows universally write us, not the other way around.
The June Carter Cash Project
Live Girls Theatre 26, 27 Sep 2008
POST FACTUM 28OC08: Each weekend of the run LG chose guest musical hosts to transition between three one-act plays based on themes from June's life. Meghan Arnette and I duetted four songs: Keep on the Sunny Side on uke was deceptively simple for me. One of those songs I played better early in rehearsals if that makes sense. Meghan's voice, always a sweet anchor, particularly soared in our slow, pining version of Loosin' You, countered with me singing lead on the quirky You'll Be Alright, meant for uke by the way. At the end we sent off with a barreling runaway train version of Ring of Fire. I love being a musician.
Live! Theater! Mash-Up!
ACT Theatre 4 Sep 2008
Seven of the most exciting and innovative ensembles and solo artists will come together for one rollercoaster of a show to celebrate the Western Arts Alliance Annual Conference. Served up by my alter-ego, Cecil B. DeUkulele, the performances will range from subversive to thrilling: Awesome, Circus Contraption, Hand2Mouth, Marya Sea Kaminski, theater simple and UMO Ensemble." That's a good combo in the Bullitt Cabaret @ ACT. Open to the public.
Big Night Out
Seattle Channel 2 Jul 2008
Seattle's TV variety show filmed in front a live studio audience at the Columbia City Theater. This month features Jason Webley, Macha Monkey, Steffon Moody, the Valone Sisters, KT Niehoff and more. Hosted by the irrepressible Kevin Joyce.
Ontological-Hysteric Theater 18-22 Jun 2008
Set in the arctic landscape, TRUE NORTH is a non-linear performance that explores obsession and isolation, including: the sounds that things make when you break them, Cole Porter songs, the constellations, recycled stuffed animal skins, hundreds of paper snowflakes, blood, glitter, and polar bears. Day and Night, Night and Day, You are the One. Part of Ontological-Hysteric's Incubator series.
POST FACTUM 25JU08:
POST FACTUM 27JU08: culturebot
Piccolo Spoleto 27 may - 1 jun 2008
Performing in Lance Hall as part of the Theatre Series (duh), hosted by the gracious folks at PURE THEATRE
MID FACTUM 22MY08: The bad news: Sunday's press preview is most likely going to be cancelled due to space issues. The good news: Our first press write-ups are in. A lovely advance article in the Charleston City Paper (3 stars is as high as it goes!), and a recommendation in the Post & Courier. (See if you can find the glitch.) I don't know yet news: the show will be performed in arena seating. Freaks me out, but who knows, I may never go back to proscenium again.
MID FACTUM 24MY08: Bronte and I arrived in Charleston late last night. After grabbing a Checkered burger on the go, we got lost on our way to our producers' house on James Island. Rodney and Sharon of PURE THEATRE are giving us their abode for the week and we plan on trashing it. I've learned that's how to make a good impression. And by good impression, I mean, a rock-n-roll impression. Today started off mellow. The cold I've been fighting for a couple weeks hit me full square in the chest day before yesterday and I'm coughing up science experiments. After coffee and a pastry, we thrift-stored two costume coats to replace the one's I forgot to bring. Then we drove into the center of the quaint and amazing town of Charleston, met Rodney, and toured the space -- a modest hall behind the Circular Congregational Church right in the center of town. The building reminded Bronte and I of the Bedlam Theater where we performed in Edinburgh. The performance space is is long, thin, and surrounded by windows, which may not get covered. But I think the seating rising off each side of the stage is going to work. I anticipate some scenes are going to be more amazing than ever, and some are going to be a challenge (feet puppets!). Then we headed to lunch, then off to poster the heck outa town, then to rest, then to our first show of the festival: Eurydice. Performed in a naval warehouse, audience facing two open garage doors, events surrounding the audience, it still managed to be intimate and affecting. Great first show of the tour. Giddy up.
MID FACTUM 25MY08: Charleston is like Bangkok in exactly two ways: property boundaries are flexible and the people are very friendly. Friendly in that they treat boundaries with flexibility, wandering through yards and into buildings as though they are public property. There are so many historic buildings and churches and quaint (there's that word again) alleys and graveyards--so many graveyards--that people must feel that every door may hide a magnificent educational and/or scenic opportunity. It's really neat. On another note: there's a sign on the vent hood at the Waffle house that reads: "After the last customer, put out the flame, and get into the game." The signs at Kinkos weren't as clever, but we had chores there. And a handful of cheerful spectators appeared for the "preview performance" which was cancelled through official channels; luckily the word on the street is stronger than the email. I was questionably prepared in costume and played a handful of songs from the show and a couple from without. Then we chatted for a bit. I promised to buy each and every one of them a drink later in the week. Then, Bronte and I re-staged the show and rehearsed until famished, then wandered the streets in search of Justine's restaurant. Oh, we found it. By this time it was too late to see anything that was on our A-list. We were going to see some improv, but we saw a young woman get hit by a car and then exhaustion brainwashed us to the cineplex where we saw the newest installment of the numbing Indiana Jones. I do love visiting movie theaters on tour. No regrets.
MID FACTUM 26MY08: Had to cancel plans to see the "monkey" show because I'm weak, feverish, congested. Must take it easy for first big show tomorrow.
MID FACTUM 27MY08: The theater was built in the afternoon, with a slight alley, sort of v-shaped. I think some of the show is brilliant in this setting, but it's weird not having a vaudeville proscenium. We've stolen this pretty cool effect from Rodney Rogers who'se doing a show called The Tragedian, about Edwin Booth, one of the greatest American actors of all time, and incidentally the brother of John Wilkes. Anyway, the effect is using this three-mirror vanity for the gypsy song, Madame Flora. That way the audience views me through the mirror. Wild. On a lesser note, I feel incredibly ill. At 3:00 today, I spaced two of the physical scenes and literally collapsed on the front row, laying in the seats for an hour before recovering. We almost cancelled the show. Bronte, bless her, was a trouper. And Jennifer had the patience of a saint, calming me over the phone, whilst layovered in Atlanta on her way here. We decided to give it until 6:30 to make the call. In the end, I chose the show must go on option. My voice was bizarre--able to reach some mighty low lows, like in La Ci. But it was touch and go for a bit, I tell ya. Dizziness came over me in Vulcano, so I stopped singing for a bit before resuming. In the end I think I pulled it off. There were two reviewers in the house. One, Elizabeth Pandolfi who did the preview article in the City Paper, came up after and said she loved the show. Then Bronte and I drove to the airport to pick up Jennifer and Rowan at the airport. And then to Tbonz for chow and more hacking.
MID FACTUM 28MY08: And more hacking, more sickly day. But the reviews are in from last night! City Paper: "Vaud Rats, Neel's one-man ukelele operetta which he wrote and stars in, is dynamic, engrossing, funny, heartbreaking, poignant, unique -- all those things that make a night at the theater the thrillingly consuming experience that only a couple shows in a hundred can create." Post and Courier: "...This ambitious one-man-show deserved a full house. ...Neel channeled Robert Downey Jr. playing Charlie Chaplin. He had all the comedic moves, pantomine, facial expressions, and voices... This handsome young entertainer literally sweated up a storm to entertain us." Oh, and my favorite from the same review: "...comfortable seats..."
MID FACTUM 28MY08: I still felt like gick going into the second show, and my voice feels worse from continuous coughing and wheezing. Poor, poor me. Again, the show went on. Again, it went well. Though for some reason, Vulcano seems to be the screw up. I actually went into audience participation mode to get through it. What could have been devastating became a highlight. And... I just found a very complimentary write-up that was just writ on the City Paper blog (by the arts editor of the paper!): "I've never been touched by the sight of a grown man singing to his foot, but indeed I got all vaklempt during Vaud Rats tonight..."
MID FACTUM 29MY08: Jennifer and I saw Taylor Mac perform. He's this audacious New York based performer whose show is a combination stand-up comedy, political ukulele, dramatic scenes, spoken word and audience interaction, all taking place while wearing dizzyingly gaudy woman's clothes and colorful sequins pasted over his face. The content speaks of his experiences being viewed by "normal" folk around the world in said outfits. It was touching at times, very fun, and a bit dated. The Charleston crowd, I think, was more stretched viewing the exposed/frank gay content than Jennifer and I, mostly because we have friends who are like this on a daily basis. Still, he had some great humor and poignant moments. (Can I make it sound any more dry? It actually wasn't.) During the day we visited Boone Plantation. I chose it because the slave quarters were well-excavated and there was a presentation in Gullah. Very interesting.
MID FACTUM 30MY08: Audiences have been modest but responsive. But tonight's was absolutely tough, like Shreveport. There was this one couple, stone-faced through the entire thing, then at the end told Jennifer they loved the show. "Laughed the whole time," they said. Goes to show, you can never read em. I would have liked the laughs to be external though. The highlight of the day was floating in the ocean water all afternoon. Bronte has caught my cold, so chose to mellow in the house. The rest of us let the warm waves badger us about like pale giddy schoolgirls. Rowan is such a water baby. And I missed Bronte shouting "Rrrrr" out the car window at all the pirate tour groups.
MID FACTUM 01MY08: The City Paper review is finally up: "A Piccolo Must See! A+."
POST FACTUM 02MY08: We're packing for the flight home right now. I'm gonna miss this huge house. Yesterday we met Rodney and Sharon for brunch at the Fat Hen off Maybank Highway on one of the many islands around here. All the food here has been deliciously Southern. Greasy mounds of gullet-filling satisfaction. My delicate Pacific Northwest digestive system is the only part of me looking forward to returning home. My taste buds have turned Republican. Conversation with PURE folk is so wonderful--we're simpatico in our theatrical tastes and have gleaned much off each other's experiences living and producing our art. Also at brunch we met Marshall, David's kid. David is the associate artistic director of PURE. Marshall is the coolest kid ever. He knows about all the old Vaudeville greats, mostly from the Muppet Show. It was clear his dynamism when the waitresses surrounded him like he was a star. Then, Bronte and I tried again to get into the Monkey show, but due to Spoleto box office miss-management our hopes were shattered. Well, not shattered, because frankly the hugely ballooned hype was souring our excitement. Oh, and Last night's VAUD show was the best ever! Audience clapping and cheering, savoring. Great end to the run. Then J-Girl and I daiquiried our brains in celebration at the first place Andrew and Lyssa of theater simple took me my first day in Charleston in 2001. Awe, memories of 190 proof booze! Y'all. Ciao Charleston.
The True Story of The Three Little Pigs & The Stinky Cheese Man
Book It Theatre Jan-May 2008
John Scieszka's classics in schools, libraries, and theaters all over the region. Directed by Andy Jensen. You can't catch me...
MID FACTUM 4DE07: Best directoral note I've ever been given, while reading the character of the Stinky Cheeze Man: Make it more Herbie Hancock, less Thelonious Monk. MID FACTUM 10JA08:The preview public show has been confirmed: 26 January 2008, 11:00 am at the Ballard Library, 5614 - 22nd Ave. N.W. Run, Run, Run...
MID FACTUM 27JA08: Ballard Library Show: At 10:45 am Don, Samara and I set up the backdrop between the large print and the unregistered free-exchange stacks. We put out the props and pondered Samara's mirky bottled water while two families with younger-than-recommended-age children settled into the front row. Over the next forty five minutes many chairs were added to accommodate the arriving hordes, reaching all the way back to the cd and video isles. The show started with the boom of our syncopated voices: "Introduction!" and we were off... ...then, forty minutes later we were done. They had laughed a lot, and only a few had cried. See, there are two sections in the epic show when characters die: the stinky cheese man falls apart in the water, and the wolf eats two pigs. Hey, we didn't make this stuff up. But we did stage the moments in an hysterically gruesome way. But the kids ate it up -- the whole meal. Even those in the younger-than-recommended age group. Reports are two young children cried due to natural causes and were escorted away by responsible parties; and the boy Don accidentally smacked with the river was okay too. And he didn't cry. Can't wait to perform in a bigger space.
MID FACTUM 21MA08: In fifteen minutes I'll be on my way to the Ronald McDonald House to perform a Friday supper-time performance in the cafeteria. We've done about half the shows so far booked, though I'm told more will surely be added. The experience has ranged the gambit -- from performing in dilapidated venues to well-designed, audacious venues in affluent neighborhoods (I swear we did a show at Hogwarts in Tacoma!); workshops with clever, inspiring children, and workshops with frustratingly difficult little $#^%*. Though sometimes the desire to run away is palpable (ah, to lounge in front of the tele chillin' with BSG season three). By the time I appear in front of the crowd as the first dumb pig pummeled and skewered by straw-house fragments, it never fails to be joyous. The only disappointment is loosing our staggeringly talented compatriot, Don Darryl Rivera, who leaves us today for other creative pastures. Cheers and Ciao.
POST FACTUM 11JU08: Cancelled my part in my scheduled last show today due to pneumonia. (See: Charleston tour.) All in all I performed 73 shows out of 110 total booked. This is remarkable, right? I mean, they anticipated scheduling 40, and their average outreach show books 30. So 110 is impressive. The highlights of the tour were performing in Astoria, Oregon (where Goonies was filmed) at the magnificent Liberty Theater, which was once part of vaudeville of course. Our three shows there had audiences upwards of 600 and we rocked em.
Also, the Omak Arts Council Eastern WA tour was fun. Well, the tour itself was rocky, beginning with a Zip Car debacle at five in the morning, debilitated performance facilities, aka: crappy gyms, long three-show days. But the resort they put us up in made up for it all -- gorgeous rooms, hot tub on the top of a mountain, stellar taxidermy. We learned that French Brandy isn't the liquor you want to drink in quantity, no matter how clear the stars are or how warm the jacuzzi waters flow. Through the course of six months, I have photo-snippets of memories in my head: the autistic boy disappointed because we'd messed up a few lines from the book, telling us we should actually read the books next time. The garlic burgers in Maple Valley. The first performance when I couldn't calm the kids down from me for railroading the other two actors during Little Red Running Short. On a personal, teary-eyed note, it's been an honor performing with Samara Lehrman, Trick Danneker, Don Darryl Rivera and Kate Jaeger. Trick's homosexual cow. Kate's rock'n'roll second pig. Samara's sneezing wolf. Don's little dinosaur-dancing wolf. All are performers par excellence. You're family now, so get me a beer from the fridge and fix me turkey pot pie!
SPF:2 - Sweatproof!
Theatre Off Jackson 29 Feb, 7 Mar 2008
Solo Performance Festival, year two! Part of the Unicycle Collective of solo performers Friday nights of shorts called MonoLodge 4. Confused? Attendance will remedy that. I got ten minutes of Russian cold war moon landing alongside Keith Hitchcock's hip hop 80's rock tribute, Jennifer Jasper's horse girl, Troy Mink's Kentuckian uncle, Becky Poole's six year old subconscious romp, Mary Purdy's whimsical Twilight Zone-esque seaweed search, Mark Siano's stealing, and more. Still confused? Good. I urge attendance for clarity and/or otherwise.
MID FACTUM 1MAR08: This is how I interpret appreciation of my work: after a show, if a person looks in my eyes, they probably liked it; if they avoid looking at me, they probably didn't like it. Weigh the statistics of responses. Find the median of appreciation. Seems an accurate system. Simple. Scientific. Over the years I've discovered a recurring theme in the appreciation of my solo work: audiences, a.k.a. "real" people, love it, industry people don't so much. I'm okay with this. (I mean, if everyone bowed at my feet in praise... well, frankly I'd most likely still be complaining about something.) Now, in a situation like last night, I can't rely on these statistics. Think about it: a backstage full of solo performers. Too many factors to rely on eye contact as litmus, my insecurity not in the least. Een so, post-show in the lobby found wondrous responses to the content of my short piece. It's more politically pertinent than had occurred to me. How does one resolve oneself to blind patriotism? Russia during the cold war vs. the U.S. today? Next week in class be prepared to discuss these issues. As for the whole SPF:2 Unicycle MonoLodge shorts night: it's a dynamic, entertaining evening. All the work is consistently well done and made stronger in gestalt of the well-constructed running order. Troy's delusional character piece is worth the price of admission. Brilliant.
Re-bar 29 Jan 2008
Oh my gosh, it's back! That shining ray of tropicalia to brighten these dark Winter days. Kate Jaeger (giggle) is emceeing. Performances by the likes of the astonishing Cody Rivers Show and yours truly (another gipsy song... no way). Auction items galore.
POST FACTUM 31JA08: Best lineup yet! Becky Poole's saw-bow rendition of Rainbow Connection was erie and yet somehow made that sweet song even sweeter. Linda Severt proved her ukulele prowess in an awesome instrumental display of finger-picking, and then yanked the rug from under us with a jolly original kid's tune. Cody Rivers altered reality with humor that actually cracked a fissure in the space-time continuum that is at this moment still hovering above the Re-bar stage. And Carmaig de Forest is my new hero. He uses his super punk ukulele powers for chaotic neutral. Welcome to Seattle, Carmaig. And what can be said of good friend Scot Augustson's work that hasn't already. See the film we saw, Lethal Cotillion, which won the national 48 Hour Film Festival shootout, and is about to play the Cannes Film Festival. The small yet robust crowd had obviously learned this is the event to get massive deals: the auction blew the roof off. If you didn't make it this year, as a fan, player and board member, I highly recommend you don't make the same mistake next time around. Oh yeah, Meghan and I shook em up with with a uke adaptation of a Joan Jett song, and my new solo creation Humpty Dumpty was well received. Thanks for asking
Capitol Hill Arts Center Jan 4-5, 2008
The world's quickest theater festival -- 14 plays conceived, written, designed, scored, rehearsed and performed in 48 hours! This will be my second time playwrighting -- teaming up with my old writing buddy, Paul Shipp. Scroll down if you'd like to hear about my previous experience in July 07 and read the two plays that arose from my deliriously pressurized brain. Wonder how the cookie will crumble this time... POST FACTUM 7JA08:Paul and I have written together on several projects in the past, so we have the give-and-take thing down. Our process this weekend went expectedly swell. In general, some things were easier and some harder by collaborating: The grasp for an initial concept was more harried, but less freaked out, if that makes sense. (Fridays show concept was essentially my idea, while Saturday's was mostly Paul's.) The writing itself took longer with two people because of the back and forth, and the tight overnight time-frame is harried enough without this stress. On the good side, the checks-and-balances of being able to weigh ideas off another person is a great advantage. We had no re-writes either morning. As for the performances... Alan Bryce directed Friday night's piece titled Look of Love, based on the theme Ancient Knowledge. He chose to make it a full fledged musical, which was a bit harried in the first performance, but more sold in the second. We scored with a solid cast: Morgan Rowe as the love-torture victim, Erin Kraft as the love-torturer, and James Weidman as the love-patsy/redeemer. Second night's theme was Reason to Believe, so we went with nuns at a pancake breakfast of course: Only to Penny. I felt a tad guilty that we supplied our randomly picked director and old friend, Kibby MacKinnon, with a piece very similar to a play of ours we'd written a couple years back that she'd also directed, The Devil's Mile. She did a marvelous job. I got chills hearing the band sing the opening hymnal (composed earlier that afternoon), and a warm, syrupy feeling dripped over my heart seeing the piping-hot pancakes (complete with chocolate chip crosses) delivered to the audience. Kate Jaeger sold the innocent, blessed nun with bittersweet solemnity; Juniper Berolzheimer, who's becoming one of my favorite local actors, barreled out Mother Superior with comedic timing you-know-who would be proud of; and Audrey Bates and Cory Herndon were brash and divine. Oh, and over 200 pancakes were grilled at the cast party. Very special. (Yes, I know I used the word "harried" a bunch.)