A week of cleaning house (literally and figuratively), working on scripts, and thinking about what's next.
I thought I had my final director's draft for my August, 2009 production of A Little Piece of the Sun finished - I had made some minor cleaning changes and cuts here and there and had them approved by playwright Daniel McKleinfeld, and I was planning to send it out to the actors I'd like to have in the show, when I started doing some more research on what's gone on at Chernobyl since Daniel wrote it in 2000. ALPOTS is a documentary play, almost all found text, mixing the stories of the serial killer Andrei Chikatilo and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, so at the time it was written, the latter story was still ongoing - as it is today - as the Russian government continues to try and figure out what to do to keep containing the radioactive lava still inside the concrete sarcophagus built around Chernobyl Reactor Unit #4. Which is falling apart. They now have a plan for a new structure to go around it by 2012 that will last a hundred years. Which isn't as long as the radioactive lava will remain harmful, but they figure the Russians of 100 years hence will figure out what to do with it by then. Ha. Ha.
So I have to go into the ending of the show (where the cast sums up the post-Chernobyl situation) and add that fact and one or two others I've found that should be mentioned (Daniel had mentioned back when we first did the show that the evacuated and desolate area around the plant, including the ghost city of Pripyat, is known as "The Zone," partially in tribute to the similar area in the Tarkovsky film Stalker, but I didn't know that the full term for it is often translated as "The Zone of Alienation," which I have to get in there somewhere). And then have it re-approved by Daniel so I can send it out to actors.
Very little work on the Foreman play, George Battaile's Bathrobe. Some thinking about the "space opera" piece. I need a working title for that at least. I need some more input and inspiration for those pieces - they're yelling at me, but from a distance, and I can't quite make out what they're saying but I know it's important and must be dealt with right now.
I think, maybe, I'm just getting the sense, that the space opera piece - to be based around old Republic movie serials and Rocky Jones and other mid-20th-Century sci-fi trash - is about changing views of science and American anti-intellectualism in general, filtered through a world where science is only valued if it is flashy and dramatic to the point of hyperbole and impossibility. As Berit says sardonically, now that I've told her this, "Ah, another cheerful show."
Maybe it should be in chapters - with titles and cliffhangers and "period ads" between the episodes . . .
Those seem to be the three plays for August - ALPOTS, Bataille, and the space opera piece, which for the time being I will now refer to by stealing an old title from my friends Sean Rockoff and Jim Baker, Spacemen from Space - but I'm also now very interested again in doing Fassbinder's play Blood on the Cat's Neck. Though I always actually wanted to do that as part of a "FassbinderFest" of plays, which keeps being mentioned around The Brick apparently. I don't know if anything will come of that. Maybe I'll look into what the rights for the Fassbinder will cost me, and that will put an end to my production dreams.
Berit's working every day on the upcoming Lord Oxford Brings You the Second American Revolution, Live! by Robert Honeywell, directed by Moira Stone, which looks like a good production (I was hanging around during the first runthru). I also wound up shooting the video coda to the piece (a talk show taking place 5 years after the events of the play) for Moira, and, as always, it was nice being behind a camera again. I need to find an idea for something to do in film or video. Nothing comes to mind, except the short comedy-horror piece Berit and I want to make for one of Bryan Enk's Sinister Six yearly horror compilations. Well, that and novel adaptations where I'd never be able to get/afford the rights (Vurt by Jeff Noon is highest on the list). Ah, well. Sometime.
The new episode of Penny Dreadful plays tomorrow and the day after, lights and other tech stuff by me and Berit. We did our usual dry tech the other day, but didn't have time to finish the whole show, so we have to go into The Brick at 7.00 am (AARRRGH!) tomorrow to finish it before the actors come so we can have it all ready for the evening - we have to be out by noon (Lord Oxford is teching) so it's not a lot of time. This episode - the first of Penny's "Season Two" - looks to be up to the standard of all the others. I love doing this show.
I haven't posted since a week ago, the day after opening night of Nosedive's The Blood Brothers present... The Master of Horror. Opening night of that was, as I said, being tactful . . . rough. James Comtois has written about it accurately and a little less tact than I did, as he (as co-writer/producer) felt able to. He points to the reviews as well, one of which was pretty bad (attended opening night) and one was okay (attended later). I've gotten some nice personal comments about my lighting, though I'm sure the cues in "Nona" are still pretty hard to pull off (and even the good review notes the tech problems). James says the show's in much better shape now - and the acting always worked anyway - so if it sounds interesting to you, it will be, go and enjoy.
They did a photo call, and Aaron Epstein took some really great shots. I saved my favorites over on my Flickr site, and all of them can be seen at the Nosedive site, but here are my favorites of the favorites:
from "The Last Waltz #1":
from "Quitters, Inc.":
from "Paranoid: A Chant":
from "In the Deathroom":
from "The Last Waltz #5":
Nice shots. Glad to have 'em.
So, besides all the theatre, here's the regular music stuff. I'm still wedding out unnecessary songs from the iPod, which has gotten too packed for me to put it any more music that I really want in there. So here's a Random Ten with notes as to whether or not I can remove the songs . . .
1. "Shut Up" - The Monks - Black Monk Time
A favorite from a bunch of Americans playing loud simple garage rock in Germany in 1965, dressed as monks, with heavy use of organ and electrified banjo. Beautiful. Stays, of course.
2. "Dandy in the Underworld" - T.Rex - Dandy in the Underworld
I've eliminated some T.Rex from the iPod - I had SO much and not all of it is top-drawer - but this stays. I bought Electric Warrior and Dandy in the Summer of 1987, and they became my theme music for that fun age 19 Summer in NYC, studying film all day and, um, doing other things at night.
This song brings back those days instantly, as well as always being, in my head, about my dear friend and roommate from that time who introduced me to T.Rex and so much of the music that means so much to me now. "Gypsy explorer of the New Jersey heights . . ."
3. "Blazing Saddles" - Frankie Laine - Blazing Saddles soundtrack
Just too funny and unlikely to drop. Stays. The iPod is throwing up too many good things I have to keep today.
4. "Jailhouse Rock" - Elvis Presley - The Complete 50's Masters
Okay, come ON, iPod! Give me something I can eliminate!
This is one of my "25 Favorite Recordings of All Time." I consciously know Elvis did "better" songs, maybe even some "better" performances, but he never made a better record than this. Nothing on earth sounds like this record does.
Written and (uncredited) produced by Leiber & Stoller. Piano by Mike Stoller.
5. "Looking for the Magic" - Phil Seymour - Phil Seymour
Who? What? Ah, this got on when I didn't think I'd use up 80 gigs on the iPod and I was putting on all kinds of pop music I was finding for "variety" in random shuffles, and to surprise myself with songs I really didn't know.
Nice new wavey-pop trash, but not good enough. This one gets removed.
6. "Willie and the Hand Jive" - Johnny Otis - Back to the 50s 05
The Bo Diddley beat is co-opted by a white Greek cat passing as a Black man into yet another classic (so it stays, of course). Damn, Johnny's still alive and cookin'. Good for him.
7. "Uala Ualal" - Jorge Ben - Samba Esquema Novo
Huh? Okay - my liking of lounge music and "Space-Age Bachelor Pad"-style stuff led to a brief infatuation with sambas, as I recall. Nice now, but not needed. Gets dropped.
8. "Upa Neguino" - Augusto Martelli - Cinematica - Italian Soundtracks from the 60's and 70's
And in a similar vein, a pretty cool, but maybe not enough - no, not enough - Italian movie song. Yeah, pretty good, but I've got DOZENS of similar, but better ones. Drop.
9. "Satisfy" - Jonathan Richman - Surrender to Jonathan
And heresy! - here's a Richman song that I think will actually go. I love JoJo, but damn I have a lot, and I don't need all of it. Lots of better ones. This goes.
10. "Caught You in the Act" - Mel & Tim - Good Guys Only Win in the Movies
Some damn good soul that I don't know as well as a lot of bigger acts/songs, so I'm keeping it.
A site I read also does a Friday Random Ten, but the main blogger there has recently encouraged people to put up their lists as made by the new Apple iTunes 8 "Genius" function, which can make up some interestingly odd lists (as long as you feed it something of just the right level of obscurity - if you feed it anything remotely "classic" - even a Punk "classic" - you'll get a playlist of other "classics"). I've enjoyed feeding Genius some strange songs and seeing what the various algorithms in it decide should go with that song (and I wonder how it knows to pull certain songs that come from bootlegs or mix disks made for me by friends). Here's the first ten from the most recent Genius playlist of 25 I made up (by accident, actually, just slipping and hitting the button while the first song was playing):
1. "About Her" - Malcolm McLaren - Kill Bill, Vol. 2
2. "I'm Not There (1956)" - Bob Dylan & The Band - A Tree With Roots
3. "You Are My Sunshine" - Norman Blake - Rato's Nostalgia Collection 26
4. "Caravan" - Puccio Roelens - Phase Six Superstereo
5. "Il Triello" - Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
6. "Within You" - David Bowie - Magic Dance 12"
7. "Teen Horniness Is Not A Crime" - Sarah Michelle Gellar, Abbey McBride & ClarKent - Southland Tales
8. "Long Time Woman" - Pam Grier - Jackie Brown
9. "Philadelphia" - Neil Young - Philadelphia
10. "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" - Pink Floyd - The Pop Side of The Floyd 1967-1972
That is one odd group of songs (and the full playlist gets weirder - it stops by soundtrack pieces from the original Star Trek, Dark Shadows, and Man from U.N.C.L.E., then Fire Walk With Me and Black Snake Moan, and then ends with The Brady Bunch doing "Time To Change"). I think it's bringing some of these together because they are from soundtrack albums or at least have been featured in films (all but 3 and 4, as far as I know, fit this category). Odder still is the fact that the damn thing actually works and flows. Berit thinks, since iTunes does keep info on how many beats-per-second a song runs at, that it tries to match tempo/speed, which it does seems to do.
Okay - long catchup post, stuff to do now. I have a cat demanding attention, and jumping and drooling all over me (Hooker actually, yes, drools when he is ultra-happy and getting attention, which is both sweet and icky), and I need some breakfast.
And remember, The Crimson Ghost sez . . .
SCIENCE will defeat you fools and save the WORLD!