Archive for August, 2012

you in japan / we all look like jerks (artlog #9)

August 27, 2012

amici miei–

the summer runs out but artistic happenings are afoot all over the place! there’s never a moment to bucharest … ! i heard recently that my pal you nakai (see beaucoup des choses artlog #3) will be premiering with no collective concertos no.4 at the national museum of modern art in tokyo on the evening of august 29. according to an email “it will be music for the blind, the blinded, plus a number of personalized audiences.” and it is gratis. mama mia!

my japanese is rusty but make of this what you will

don’t strain your brain!

speaking of adventurous programming… i hope everyone has seen this doozy of a trailer. it is a whopping 17 minutes and 58 seconds! ok, ok. i suppose the abundant programming of this year’s incubator arts project season justifies the loquacious length and such candid whoppers as “we all look like jerks.” a truer statement as never been uttered (!).  what bold and adventurous programming, bravi to the curators! i must admit, i greatly enjoyed the casual and self conscious (and perhaps at times a tad boastful!) ponderings of these cute artists.


i hope to see each and every show! i await with particular baited breath both gas, that old brechtian double doozy and the frank boudreaux penned very-long-title-of-intrigue-and-importance (ie, everything that is the case for two young women on the eve of the great war among other elegant lies…ahem…you couldn’t make this stuff up!)

oh and to be entirely clear: i use “doozy” and “whopper” in their most positive and happy mealesque iterations, associations and connotations. let us reclaim la langue anglaise, mes amis!

ciao for now,


finger on the counterpulse (artlog #8)

August 22, 2012

mes amis—

It’s always a treat to watch a play by someone you don’t know and then meet that person and discover that he or she is as much a delight as the play that she or he has written. Such was the case with Andrea Hart whose play ricochet I saw years ago at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in dear sweet Omaha, Nebraska. (They don’t call it “the theatre corn basket” for nothing! I do love a good gluten-free dough.)

It’s fun to have far flung friends and talented yet down-to-earth ones too. Andrea fits that dollar bill to a tree. I recall enjoying a most heart healthy meal with her back in San Fransisco where she resides a year ago and chatting about the trials and tribulations of our respective professions (for her that’s theatre … for me it’s full-time tooting!).

It was with great excitement that Andrea emailed me a few months ago with news about her acceptance to a very cool sounding residency between CounterPULSE, a SF-based gruppo teatrale, the University of Chimichanga—er Chichester—in England and a British theatrical duo called Action Hero (capes optional.) At Andrea’s suggestion I had an e-chat recently with CounterPULSE program director Julie Phelps to learn more about the program and the presentation that will result, Stranger in a Strange Land, on Aug. 27.

everyone should go to chimichanga u after they graduate from pizza–i mean pitzer–college

So Julie, I’ve read the press release… and want to be sure I am understanding correctly: Action Hero is British duo Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse and they work with U. Chichester… and CounterPULSE is working in collaboration with these groups and bringing in American artists, like Andrea Hart, to work in a three-week residency program. C’est vrais…?
Yes, this is correct. CounterPULSE has partnered with the University of Chichester to do “cultural exchanges”—bringing Action Hero to CounterPULSE is the first (hopefully) of these exchanges. The model is that the two orgs exchange artists who then work with local artists onsite to build a performance.

Very nice. I love cultural exchange esp. b/w orgs!
This is the first of what hopes to be a series of exchanges. Conversations and program development have been underway for approximately one year.

Très bien. Can you tell me a bit about how the residency operates? Are the American artists making their own individual work or is it more collectively done?
The workshop residency is really designed to investigate collaboration and exchange as a root inquiry—the particular themes that the artists bring will change (in the case of Action Hero they are looking at Americana and nostalgia).  In the spirit of investigating collaboration the artists are coming together and generating a group working environment, working in some version of collaboration—however that might look for the group. So at its core the artists are not “building their own work” but working together to build a collective expression of this particular collaborative experiment.

Mama mia. In addition to Americana and nostalgia—two of my own favourite topics!— can you tell me more specifically what the artists have been riffing on the past few weeks?
I think this would be a much better question for the artists directly.  I would be glad to put you in to direct contact with Action Hero and the other artists involved in the project as needed. Please let me know when/if this introduction should take place. As an anecdote, the artists dressed in costume and tailgated at the recent Raiders game.

I didn’t know that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” had banded into a sports team! Perhaps the artists can tell readers more about their progetti in the “Comments” portion below when they have a momentino.
What can audiences expect to see at the event on the 27th? Will the Americans go to England at some point?
That is hard to predict since the spirit of the project is really about allowing for the content to arise out of process and collaboration, so there has been no clear “end goal” that the group articulated at the onset. Again, I think this would be an interesting conversation for you to take up with the artists.

Noted. Might I add that “end goals” are for footballers… not for les artistes!
CounterPULSE is committed to invigorating and elevating the Bay Area artistic community. Stranger in a Strange Land will be the first of a series of exchanges of art and artists nationally and internationally. We believe that the quality of art produced by emerging artists locally will be strengthened by a robust dialogue with national and international peers. We also hope to significantly expand CounterPULSE’s work for social change by partnering with artists and organizations doing similar work in other places. Thank again for your interest in CounterPULSE and this program!

All thanks to you Julie! Now then… les artistes (I’m looking at you Andrea Hart, Elizabeth McSurdy, Ernesto Sopprani, Laura Arrington, Richie Israel, and Xandra Ibarra…!) I hope you find a time to chime in with your own thoughts and ruminations about the process thus far.

a bientot!

and the banned plays on! (artlog #7)

August 21, 2012

amici miei—

it was with great pleasure i took in the recent weasel festival. mama mia. what a joy.  i have long had connections to the brooklyn college coterie. i attended the school briefly as a lass in the ancient 90s… pte
(pre tibet era).
((if you don’t know about the time i spent in tibet and nepal–not to mention my amorous relations with a certain salvador dali llama!–you will have to ask me about it at my next live conference in geneva.))
(((yes my friends, i have been invited to attend the davos conference in 2013 (!) i can hardly believe it … its about time!)))

1. weasel festival

anyway, the weasel festival offered four ruminations on maurizio malaparte’s writings by playwrights Paul Ketchum, LaShea Delaney, Megan Murtha and Mark Sitko with direction by Jose Zayas. Each playwright was more pugnacious and punctilious than the last (in the best of ways, mind you!) and the evening had a surprisingly coherent air to it—despite the tricky nature of presenting 4 short pieces on a theme.

I was most taken with the fellow playing malaparte. though his Italian accent was not of the real life sumptuous kind, it also was not dreadful or offensive to those who speak la lingua del bel paese. it was—to put a word on it—passable. and I say this as a complimento totale! so many who take on an accent for a role do so to absurd effects forcing listeners to bypass the content of the speech and focus solely on the character of delivery. hmph! this malaparte, on the other hand, gave a proper blend or rolled rs and understandable vowels. a suggestion of an accent that placed viewers in the land of la dolce vita but reminded us to listen and pay attention to what we were hearing and now how it was being said.

allora! a nazi party, young women sneaking into a nazi party, poetic whores and wounded men from battle were the backdrops to this most pleasurable evening. I should say fascism has always held a certain fascination for me so it was no surprise i enjoyed myself. and having insight into the stellar team of artists made me enjoy it all the more (I understand they rehearsed for a mere two weeks … che miracolo!)

props must also go to producers Amina Henry and Dennis Allen: Bravi!

2. the banned and brecht

now then .. about the banned, i mean band. i recently took in sara farrington’s untitled play about brecht’s girlfriends & boyfriend & wife at foxy films, a fine brooklyn establishment that might be mistaken for a black box apartment. while the play was a bold and impressive undertaking, i found myself most swept away with the musings of les musiciennes, a band (!) of cute toots (johnny gasper, gavin price and jack frederick) who retreated up to a quivering loft and played strange tunes from things like TK and TK. their quiet sounds were of a most curious nature and transported the audience back in old weimar germ. though there were no nazis in this spettacolo, i certainly felt the nefarious presence of fascism. bravi a tutti. the two main gal actresses megan emery gaffney and erin mallon were quite fine in what were challenging roles and i look forward to seeing this play grow and expand in other venues.

his head floats!

(i should mention in my younger and more vulnerable years i often confused brecht with beckett. be warned: the two are not the same!)

3. other banneds 

while speaking of the banned i must mention this fine feathered fellow who has been–you guessed it–banned from his native country!

quel domage. for gangnam style is indeed a most delicious fashion and should be sported the world over! i cannot say the same for the excellent horse-like lady, which to my ears sounds like propaganda with a capital kim jong un! if i may offer a suggestion to the young leader, take a cue from your southern better half and squirt some gangnam style into your excellent horse like lady tunes. hmph!

my friends–c’est tout for now. but a word to the wise. when you go on a little sojourn or vacanza try to take the tranquility with you as you know you won’t find it on a herky jerky manhattan bounding bus sans internet!

restively yours,

baals to the wall (artlog #6)

August 2, 2012

my friends and fellow world citizens–

there is much to discuss regarding the mysteries of art, silence, and speech. allow me to work backwards in time.

1. putting the rigor back in sigor rós

tuesday evening i attended un certo concerto given by icelandic band sigur rós. for many years it was a dream of mine to hear them play. (i recall a cousin’s description of seeing them strum their sounds…she had a near religious experience!) in fact, i have often considered marking down sigur rós as my religion on various forms and faxes. (the impudence to even ask a person’s religion!)

i recall first hearing the group’s mystical music at a collective sleep over in dear cape cod. ooh those salad days of late nights and early risings! it felt transcendent hearing this music–and very cool. i was amazed years later when i had the good fortune to travel to island not once but twice. the music made so much more sense seeing the other worldly moonscape of that country.

not the most moonlike of scapes but hopefully you get the drift

and the joys of introducing lovers and friends to the find sounds of sigur rós is a gift that keeps on giving…

anyhow, it was a delight to hear them play. to me, their music is about possibility. possibility of another world to live in. i imagine the elves of dear old island living in a kind of world that is unimpeded by such foolishness as gender dichotomies, class struggles, ethnic turmoils and dreary old capitalism. not to mention war and killing! hmmph! rather, i imagine a space–a universe, even–where the soul–and a searing one at that–is put to the forefront! where everyone can just exist in bliss. perhaps i wax on too much but it is the truth. that is what this kippy hears when i hear those specifically amorphous tunes.

che possibilita!

leave it to a bystander to burst the bubble of my reverie. the young woman (specimen, really) had a kind of “california voice.” you know the kind. it pieces the ear (and the air) with vapid comments and an up talk tick, not to mention an overly confident vocal fry. “i don’t know why i’m even here?” she droned. “i don’t know any songs of their except the famous one. ohmyg-d, is it starting? this is it, right? omg this is it”

ugh. i have never wanted to shhh someone so much! and yet i felt it would not have been in the kindly elfin spirit of sigur rós. so i bit my tongue.

2. baals to the wall

there was no tongue biting at hoi polloi‘s baal–only teeth gnashing! what a marvelous experience it was. everyone should go. and everyone can afford to: it is pay-what-you-can. (and you even put the $ in a can!) one can even do the can-can pre-show in the smartly decored newly minted jack space.

che spazio!

i don’t think i’ve even seen such a crazy play that “breaks all the rules” actually staged (and staged in such a manner that was similarly of an enfant terrible nature!) what a refreshing wind of misogyny that ruffled my feathers. it was almost sweet and quaint to see his treatment of les femmes  (and consider modern dramatists like mr. rapp who aren’t so far from the brechtian apple tree). let us remind these auteurs that misogyny rhymes with gynecology. hmph! go to baal to see a crazy play with similarly terrified participants. the actors careen through the space and there are many of arresting images and sounds. (not to mention a taiko drummer who thrums throughout).

one of the most deliscious moments came during a quieter scene (sadly, these ears managed to hear probably only 60% of the play’s text–but the acting and design were so good it didn’t matter) in it, the characters are in a bar having a quotidian chat and one could detect from a tiny radio operated  by an actor the sounds of a pop song.

the tune was this:

the first time i heard this ditty i was in the back seat of a cab en toot (i mean, route) to omaha, nebraska. one of my many international homelands. it was early in the morning and as the cab driver and i whizzed past hideous brooklyn billboards in the early grey morning light these words caressed my ears: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! … could it be nietzsche’s anthem applied to pop?! how horrifying and meraviglioso all at once! i wanted to burst from a brain jam. then i wanted to tap my foot.

whoever chose this song during baal is a genie.

i will write more on silence and the last 13P play in a following post. for now i am off to see the girl of the golden west.

a bien-toot!

ps. look how i have been noted on jack’s website… grazie tutti!