Archive for February, 2015

philadelphia you sexy thing

February 20, 2015

mes amis–

where oh where to begin?

february isn’t even over and yet the wheels spin like the fires in my heart…! change is afoot in kippy-land but so it goes. i am pleased to announce many upcoming incredible things. (vagueries are the keynotes of self-promotion!) but for now i must rue the thing i shall miss this weekend, philadelphia and other stories, produced by the intrepid chip rodgers.

philadelphia and other stories played at the bushwick starr in december for all-too-brief a moment and it’s returned to walker space this month. and rightly so! for it received critical acclaim its first go round (the curators at the starr being a savvy bunch). but once again the time is never enough and this kippy shall miss it this weekend, which is why i wanted to catch up with les artistes.

before i introduce paul rome and roarke menzies to vous (the respective writer and composer of philadelphia and other stories) i want to take a moment to recall my first encounter with mr. rodgers (chip, that is!)

i was running late for a half straddle meeting at the new museum when i spotted rodgers clad in the most adorable preppy outfit in the world. it was late summer so i was in saffron sirong but chip had on a nice collared shirt with tiny whales on it and salmon toned bermuda shorts. “ms. winston? are you here for half straddle?” and thus was the start of mutual fandome b/w chip and kip. c’est vrais. he is as polite as he is an unfailing wit and i’m glad to know him.

its no wonder he’s helping bring to life what sounds like a lovely and love-filled evening of radio-inspired theatre. but before i wax on let’s here from the artists menzies and rome themselves.

a show that i hope occurs again

a show that i hope occurs again

What sparked the idea of this show for you?


PR: I was interested in exploring the interstitials of love, to capture love, or potential love, in that moment of transition, when everything feels open, as yet undetermined, but where there’s simultaneously an awareness of one’s options, of how the romance might play out, or not. Road trips or train rides, as different narrator’s in Philadelphia and Other Stories recount, parallel this state of flux: should I go left or right? East or West? Or perhaps stay where I am? I was also just drawn to the purely blissful feeling inspired by travel, the pleasure of moving, the way a song on the radio hits you when driving along an open road.


RM: Musically, I was interested in all the pop music referenced in Paul’s stories. I wanted to use the tools of contemporary pop music to create long form pieces that really allow you to settle in and get comfortable in the sonic spaces created.


I do love a montage of memory and modern love .. tell me do you have a favorite tale?


PR: For me, it’s probably the title story, “Philadelphia.”


RM: One of the standouts for me is a story Paul reads called “The Rash.”


I’m already scratching!
Tell me, what is the reduction sauce version of that tale in three sentences?


PR: Two brooklyn transplants wake up next to each other. They’ve been casually seeing each other off and on for the past two or three months. It’s New Year’s Day and they decide to drive to Philadelphia to see a 19th century automaton, a mechanical boy who draws pictures and writes poetry. They have a really lovely day together. Could it be they’re falling in love?


RM: A guy has this weird thing on his skin that neither he, nor his friends, family, or multiple doctors can identify. Is it allegic? Is it psychosomatic? Is he dying? Is he just making it up somehow? Is he losing his mind? Health issues get moralized in weird ways in our society. People often, weirdly, have sort of a ‘blame the victim’ mentality. As though, because you have this thing you somehow deserved it or brought on yourself through an irresponsible or immoral lifestyle or just plain hubris; that it’s somehow a reflection of your character. “The Rash” is a fun, and funny, very honest exploration of those subjects.


Would love to hear a freestyle riff on the Cheesesteak and other peculiarities about the city of brotherly love.


RM: The cheesesteak is one of the great sandwiches in existence. An instant classic, from the first bite. I’ve only been to Philly a couple of times and never even had an ‘authentic’ one, but it’s my sandwich of choice from most New York bodegas.


RM: The last time I was in Philly I was completing a score for a ballet company called BalletX. They have a theatre district on one of the main streets where a lot of the major performing arts institutions are — University of the Arts, the Kimmel Center, the Wilma Theater (that’s where we were working). There aren’t many cities in America with bones as old as Philadelphia’s. I grew up on the West Coast where most of the cities, and their attendant architectural DNAs, are much younger than Philadelphia’s. You see it immediately in the materials used — cobblestone streets, old growth wood, brick, etc. — as well as the styles. It’s a very handsome city. The main branch of the post office there and Penn Station are just like the ones in New York (although, in what can only be seen as a horrible call, New York demolished the original Penn Station and put up the impeccably drab non-thing that exists there now).


Philadelphia has its own life, its own stories and subjectivities.  But in my life, it feels a bit like an attractive stranger you’ve bumped into here and there, but only ever exchanged a few words with.

Aye, perhaps a man in uniform! A man who knows how to fix things and uses his hands.

did i see you driving in the city of the cheesesteak?

did i see you driving in the city of the cheesesteak?

PR: I waited in line for “real” cheesesteak in Philly. It was delicious.

mon ami, i have waited in line for a real cheesesteak too! and though i have paid for it later i have never regretted a cheesesteak in my life.

a sandwich that is as disgusting as it is delicious !

a sandwich that is as disgusting as it is delicious !

tell me, what is your secret guilty pleasure inspiration?


RM: Whiskey. Although, I guess I’m not very guilty about it.


PR: Movies in the daytime and buying cassettes for my boombox.

Fine pleasures to indulge in!! Oh I really am sad to miss this show. I hope it goes marvelously well and that it plays again soon.



quit yer harpin’! (a record of paul’s experience)

February 7, 2015
mes amis
far too long has passed since our last communique! where to start? a year has come and gone. a pair of snoopy pants has debuted in the kitchen and in the forum. most importantly perhaps i have been reminded of the importance / indulgence of going somewhere warm in the cold winter months. a dose of sunshine from an archipelago does a body good! not that i ever get too much soleil, mind you. they don’t make an SPF high enough for this kippy!
is this enough protection?

is this enough protection?

anyhoo, we are here to talk about a one paul ketchum. there are many things to say about paul.
he is tall.
he has a beard. (one sense he would sport one regardless of current fashions.)
he bakes bread.
he is famously a virgo.


the sixth sign

most of all paul is a thoughtful and hilarious human and friend which is in part what makes him a fabulous playwright. i recall a time when paul showed some of us hooligans pages of a new piece that were absolutely beyond my comprehension. i believe they were an adaptation of something greek. paul is that level smart.

i mean, duh.

i mean, duh.

his latest piece, the harper’s play, is (perhaps not surprisingly) an adaptation of an issue of harper’s magazine. now go back and read that sentence again! the show premieres at jack this month. ketchum and i caught up over gmail to discuss the show’s origins and other important matters. here’s what we wrote.

what prompted this theatrical adaptation? pourquoi harper’s and not .. let us say .. the atlantic or the economist or — gasp! — the new yorker? did you ever consider, for example, harper’s bazaar? (har har)
Too many people think that the Harper’s Play actually is about Harper’s Bazaar. Maybe some day Kippy. Maybe someday.
we can hope!
Truly, I don’t read many magazines. Harper’s is pretty much it. I remember reading an issue of the New Yorker from the 1940s for a report I did for a freshman comp course while I was in college. When asked what the New Yorker was like in the 1940s, I said it seemed like it was written by a stuffy boy’s club who think their inside jokes are really funny. The professor said that not much has changed.
So, that’s why Harper’s. In the March 2013 issue, there’s an excerpt from a guide to playing the video game Dwarf Fortress. It’s an incredible piece of writing that actually started this whole idea. Allow me to just excerpt a part of it: “Finally, dead dwarves who aren’t appropriately respected by their surviving brethren will come back as ghosts and haunt your fortress. We can avoid these problems by building coffins at a Mason’s Workshop in which to place our dead dwarves, and installing the coffins somewhere convenient. Once this is done, you will probably also want to toggle “Allow Pets” to “(N)” so that your coffins aren’t filled with dead cats.” Amazing! There’s an entire play right there just waiting to be written!
you are an optimist i take it! well then. might you tell us a bit about your process? how did you go about making your adaptation?
I knew that I wanted to get at least one piece from each page of the magazine. I read through the magazine a dozen times, writing new adaptations of each part each time. At the end, I put together the parts that were the most interesting. There’s a lot in the play that isn’t in the magazine. Sometimes, the text veers into my own opinions on what I’m reading. There are places that are linguistic adaptations of the pictures. There are even parts that have nothing to do with the magazine at all. It’s really more of a record of my experience reading the magazine.
ah ha. a fine and fascinating distinction! i recall a short viewing presented at prelude festival .. what new bits does this iteration include?
All of the bites from Prelude are returning! Oh yes! Favorite new parts include a romp through the first annual Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, a mash up of public speaker extraordinaire Dale Carnegie and mega-rich mega-church pastor Creflo Dollar (that’s his real name), and lots of punctuating with forked sausages.
i cannot imagine what that means…
you went to brooklyn college with the greats (wellman and courtney) of our day .. can you tell me a couple of your fave mac-isms? i understand you and le sitko kept a running tab of mac koans, c’est vrais?
This one I really took to heart:
It is good to write stuff that worries the reader about the writer’s sanity.
oh yes
Mac describing exactly how I felt about Les Mis the first time I saw it:
This is a normal play: “I’m the important emotions of this play, the other emotions are not important, and my shoes look good.”
i recall one of the best naps of my life while enduring that one, why did they never stop singing?!
And when it comes to talking about and understanding plays:
Talk about plays on your own terms. If you employ others’ language you will become part of their system. You don’t invest in a play. It’s not a fucking bank.

i reference that one a lot .. so true.
what is your secret inspiration and guilty pleasure?
I really really really love video games. Can’t help it. Not really the shoot em up ones so much. The ones with deep worlds and loose narratives that let you create as you play. I have no doubt that playing video games developed my ability to be creative within well-defined and unbreakable constraints, which is very important when I am writing plays.
My secret inspiration remains Buster Keaton. What pacing. Such flailing limbs. So good.
ma che c'e buster?

ma che c’e buster?

mmm he and i had a love affair back in the day…
what do you when you’re not changing the face of the american theatre?
Am I doing that? Well, I usually am walking my dogs and cooking food for Alaina. Except when Erin Courtney demands that I bake bread for her. You don’t say no Erin Courtney. Have you seen her plays? Horrifying.

i have never felt more dread than when watching a one map of virtue, simple marvelous!
back to you, after the grand success of your play .. what is next for you?
Maybe I’ll become an attorney.
But before that, I’ll be acting in William Burke’s Comfort Dogs, also at JACK. So go see that.
I most certainly shall.
a bientot,
The Harper’s Play runs through Feb. 14 at JACK.
pretty cute toots

pretty cute toots