collisionwork: (doritos)
Well, the Wedding proceeds apace. Yesterday, we got the license. Last night, we had a proper rehearsal and staged the show. Today, we drop off our clothes for some minor tailoring. Finishing up our little checklist bit by bit.

It looks to be a good show. A fun wedding as such, and an okay piece of theatre. It'll "work" as both -- I was worried it wouldn't do for either, in it's attempt to serve two masters, but it'll serve them okay. I wanted to have it feel like one of my regular shows, which means that I can't avoid having a little "creepy" stuff that isn't really normal for a wedding, but whatever, it's one of my shows, so it has to be what it should be (though I'm a HAIR worried by having to win the audience back after some oddness at the start, but as Berit says . . . well, maybe I'll leave out what Berit says).

There's one section that might offend some family members, but it's necessary for it to be in there to be honest to ourselves. There's another section that will be DEFINITELY offensive to some family members, and we . . . won't be doing that bit at the wedding our families will be attending. We don't mind going a certain distance if we have to be true to ourselves, but the latter section is crossing a line just because we find it funny. The families get a couple of extra special bits in the show they'll see, so it all evens out.

Berit asked me yesterday what "this show" was "about." Since it IS a show, and therefore should have something going on underneath it. I guess if it's about anything other than getting us wed and sharing it with family, friends, and audiences, it's an "alternate look at romance, from among the non-romantic," or to generalize more, "there ARE other ways of doing these things." My productions more and more seem to be dealing with "the person who says no" as central, often-heroic figure -- the person or people who looks the status quo in the face and says, "I won't do that" (sometimes the shows are actually about the people who DO just go with the flow and are swept away in the tide to destruction, or at least stasis). I don't think this show is about it as some kind of heroic act, as it was with Ned Daley in World Gone Wrong or Grandier in the upcoming Devils, just one more restatement of the theme, "there ARE other ways."

Meanwhile, more and more of the cast I wanted to do Devils and Spacemen from Space can't do it, and I'm going to have to hold major auditions to fill those shows. {sigh} NOT what I wanted for these productions -- they will be MUCH harder to do with people I haven't worked with before, and will take me more time to get the actors in the tone I need. Oh, well, so it goes.

And here's this week's Random Ten from the 2,981 in the "Brandnew Bag" playlist of unheard songs in the iPod (with associated video links):

1. "Laser Love" - T.Rex - History of T.Rex—The Singles Collection
2. "Smokestack Lightning (live 1964)" - The Yardbirds - Five Live
3. "Up In Her Room" - The Seeds - A Web Of Sound
4. "Rio Grande" - Brian Wilson - Brian Wilson
5. "The King & Queen Of America" - Eurythmics - Greatest Hits
6. "The End" - The Doors - The Doors
7. "Introduction" - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Cannibals-A-Go-Go!
8. "Can't Say Anything Nice" - The Ramones - Unreleased Tracks
9. "Did You See Me Coming?" - Pet Shop Boys - Yes
10. "Goldfinger" - Magazine - Maybe It's Right To Be Nervous Now: Real Life/Secondhand Daylight Era

And here's the full video playlist for the above songs (with only a substitution for the Brian Wilson track):

Don't have much in the way of good pix of the cats today, just this one of them on the couch . . .
H&M Couch Cuddle again

But here's a favorite video from yesterday, of a tiny orange kitten scaring itself . . .

Yesterday, we took care of some of the bureaucracy we had to before next week's activities . . .
City Clerk sign 1

And we spent a few hours in downtown Brooklyn. it would have gone a lot faster, but apparently someone else named "Ian Hill" once applied for a marriage license, so they had to send a fax to another department and get one back be sure it wasn't me (does this happen to people with MUCH more common names?).
Marriage Bureau

I was rather tired by the time we got back to the subway station, but it felt like a damned big step -- we have the document, now we just need to sign it with our officiant and witnesses and . . . that's it . . . we will be married.
Just Licensed

collisionwork: (Default)
Late on the usual post because I've been finishing up a heavy week's work lighting two shows.

Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury reopened at The Brick last week, but I had to relight the first two performances to work with a different plot, so I went back and spent two days reconstituting the normal Brick setup and re-relighting the show to bring it back to the original look I had for it in December (which I was quite happy with) along with some of the slight improvements I had made in version 2. I saw it again last night and it worked quite well.

Tonight, Rudolf II opened at Bohemian National Hall, and went quite well. It was a bit of a pain to light, given the layout of the show and what I had to work with, but it wound up being fine. It's by no means the first time I've had to light a show that plays on a thin long strip with the audience on both sides, but I still struggle to accomplish anything that makes me happy in that setup. There's still some rough edges -- most I can correct, but some not so much. Oh, well, it happens.

Tomorrow I get a day off, but the four or five things I want to fix in Craven Monkey are still nagging at me, so I may take a ride over to The Brick tomorrow to do that if I'm up for it. But I could use the rest.

It's been an odd week -- the work was long and tiring, yes, but more often obstacles would arise from someone or some organization doing something silly that made my job harder, but as I would be getting a good anger on, the problem would either vanish or a solution would appear that would be much better than any original plan, which was great, but would leave me with a big ball of unresolved anger and no place to put it. And having all that anger riding on you gets exhausting.

But all that's pretty much done, and it's on to the other work.

Meanwhile, back in the iPod, a Random Ten from out of 25,443 (with links to hear and/or see most of them on YouTube):

1. "The Art Of Everyday Communication Part 1" - The Light Footwork - One State Two State
2. "Man With A Gun" - Jerry Harrison - Casual Gods
3. "No One Knows My Plan" - They Might Be Giants - John Henry
4. "Lucky Day" - Tom Waits - The Black Rider
5. "Story Of Isaac" - Leonard Cohen - Songs From A Room
6. "Monster Man" - Soul Coughing - Mix Disk - Dad
7. "Skippy Is A Sissy" - Roy Gaines - Sin Alley, Vol. 1: Red Hot Rockabilly 1955 - 1962
8. "Got Love If You Want It (live 1964)" - The Yardbirds - Five Live
9. "Return Of The Rat" - Wipers - Wipers Box Set: Is This Real?
10. "Delia's Gone (original)" - Johnny Cash - Legend

And I have nothing new in the way of photos, but as for videos -- in honor of the recent announcement that Shout! Factory will be releasing the wonderful 1987 Max Headroom TV series on DVD, here's Max with Art of Noise, back when he seemed to be popping up everywhere:

A bizarre little spot from IHOP in 1969:

A local commercial that Berit and I fell for while up in Maine (we love local TV ads):

And the classic Apocalypse Pooh:

Back to rest . . .

collisionwork: (Default)
Late on the usual post because I've been finishing up a heavy week's work lighting two shows.

Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury reopened at The Brick last week, but I had to relight the first two performances to work with a different plot, so I went back and spent two days reconstituting the normal Brick setup and re-relighting the show to bring it back to the original look I had for it in December (which I was quite happy with) along with some of the slight improvements I had made in version 2. I saw it again last night and it worked quite well.

Tonight, Rudolf II opened at Bohemian National Hall, and went quite well. It was a bit of a pain to light, given the layout of the show and what I had to work with, but it wound up being fine. It's by no means the first time I've had to light a show that plays on a thin long strip with the audience on both sides, but I still struggle to accomplish anything that makes me happy in that setup. There's still some rough edges -- most I can correct, but some not so much. Oh, well, it happens.

Tomorrow I get a day off, but the four or five things I want to fix in Craven Monkey are still nagging at me, so I may take a ride over to The Brick tomorrow to do that if I'm up for it. But I could use the rest.

It's been an odd week -- the work was long and tiring, yes, but more often obstacles would arise from someone or some organization doing something silly that made my job harder, but as I would be getting a good anger on, the problem would either vanish or a solution would appear that would be much better than any original plan, which was great, but would leave me with a big ball of unresolved anger and no place to put it. And having all that anger riding on you gets exhausting.

But all that's pretty much done, and it's on to the other work.

Meanwhile, back in the iPod, a Random Ten from out of 25,443 (with links to hear and/or see most of them on YouTube):

1. "The Art Of Everyday Communication Part 1" - The Light Footwork - One State Two State
2. "Man With A Gun" - Jerry Harrison - Casual Gods
3. "No One Knows My Plan" - They Might Be Giants - John Henry
4. "Lucky Day" - Tom Waits - The Black Rider
5. "Story Of Isaac" - Leonard Cohen - Songs From A Room
6. "Monster Man" - Soul Coughing - Mix Disk - Dad
7. "Skippy Is A Sissy" - Roy Gaines - Sin Alley, Vol. 1: Red Hot Rockabilly 1955 - 1962
8. "Got Love If You Want It (live 1964)" - The Yardbirds - Five Live
9. "Return Of The Rat" - Wipers - Wipers Box Set: Is This Real?
10. "Delia's Gone (original)" - Johnny Cash - Legend

And I have nothing new in the way of photos, but as for videos -- in honor of the recent announcement that Shout! Factory will be releasing the wonderful 1987 Max Headroom TV series on DVD, here's Max with Art of Noise, back when he seemed to be popping up everywhere:

A bizarre little spot from IHOP in 1969:

A local commercial that Berit and I fell for while up in Maine (we love local TV ads):

And the classic Apocalypse Pooh:

Back to rest . . .

collisionwork: (angry cat)
Feeling a bit burned-out this evening, so, my work pretty much done, I skipped out on tonight's first public preview performance of The Granduncle Quadrilogy: Tales from the Land of Ice to rest at home, fix my photos from Tuesday night's dress/tech in Photoshop, and write a post about more things going on in which I can also dump a bunch of videos and photos I've been looking at. Most of this has been taken care of, more slowly than anticipated as I've also had to spend time paying attention to a demanding and vocal pussycat (see icon photo). Little bastard.
Granduncle 1 - Kissel Forced Under the Ice

In any case, tomorrow will be the big opening night for the show, with a party at 10.00 pm afterwards which will also act as The Brick's year-end holiday party with the annual December ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SUMMER FESTIVAL THEME. A Summer festival to follow our previous ones: The Hell Festival, The Moral Values Festival, The $ellout Festival, The Pretentious Festival, and this year's The Film Festival.
Granduncle 2 - Walrus Ceremony

Yep, we'll party a bit, then we on The Brick's staff will play a little Powerpoint presentation that's been made up to announce next year's theme (it's a good one!), then we'll party some more.
Granduncle 3 - Not Asleep

So come on by to The Brick tomorrow for Granduncle at 8.00 pm (info at link above) and the party at 10.00 pm. Can't make the show tomorrow? Come by for the party and see the show later.
Granduncle 4 - Arriving in the Village

photos by me from Tuesday's dress/tech, with unfinished props & costumes - more of my shots HERE -- official production shots by Ken Stein are HERE

New York magazine had a nice mention of us recently in an article about independent theatre, "Big Ideas, Small Stages." We were very glad to be mentioned and put with some pretty august company, but were a hair taken aback to be described as primarily a "Festival Factory." I guess we are getting a bit heavy on the Festivals - we now have three yearly regular ones, the Summer Themed, the Tiny (which is really the Ontological's Fest but we're a co-producer now) and the Clown Theatre. We've also had two biennial Baby Jesus One-Act Festivals and been a venue for the Havel Festival. We have another potential themed festival coming for late next year . . . not to be mentioned as yet. So maybe the "Festival Factory" tag is indeed deserved. As someone at another theatre I once worked at told me, "New York responds to festivals."
The Brick

We put a lot of thought into our Summer festival - that is, coming up with the theme. Ideas start being tossed around for the next one immediately after one ends (actually, once one opens). Jeff Lewonczyk has posted a list of some of the festival theme possibilities that were put into play among the seven of us on the Brick staff HERE. Are these serious? You'd think not, but maybe you'll change your mind when you hear this year's final theme . . .

(and 11 of the 26 themes listed by Jeff come from Berit and myself - we have lots of ideas, many of them dubious; B&I had nothing to do with the final one chosen -- the others on staff are good at picking a good one from amongst the many losers)
Blitzer's Losers

Saturday night, as mentioned, I'm off doing Trav S.D.'s Beach Blanket Bluebeard - come see, it's FREE! - previous entry has info - but I'm hoping to soon get to the new Greg Kotis holiday play at The Kraine, The Truth About Santa, which stars Greg, Ayun Halliday - his wife and an amazing writer/performer as well, and their two kids, India and Milo Kotis, with others, including Bill Coelius, who, with Ayun and Greg, was part of the NY NeoFuturists group I hosted, knew, and loved so much at Nada back in 1996. I miss a lot about those great days of theatre overload on the LES, but especially watching Greg, Ayun, Bill, Rob Neill, and Rachelle Anthes knock so many great short plays out in that little space.

And on top of that, this play is directed by John Clancy. Info is HERE
Let My God Love You

(courtesy LP Cover Lover)

Lots of good things have shown up on YouTube recently, and here's some of them - a WHOLE BIG BUNCH of them - behind cuts for those of you who tell me videos make your browser go all wonky . . .

Four videos of Talking Heads as a trio - 1976 - at CBGB and The Kitchen )

David Byrne interviews Jeff Koons, Vito Acconci, Jeff Turtletaub, and Chris Frantz in his loft at 52 Bond Street, Summer, 1975 )

Slinky Cat and Tail-Chasing Cat )

Pete Drake invents the Golden Throat years before Frampton Came Alive )

The Thanksgiving Day Parade gets Rickrolled )

An Icelandic Cult is Joined by a Special New Member )

Who Does the Singer from LCD Soundsystem Vaguely Sound Like? )

There are so many things to be excited about!
Scary Face

(courtesy my favorite photo blog, the great [ profile] breadcamesliced)

collisionwork: (chiller)
Damn, but I'm tired, and there's work to do.

Though writing work is not as difficult as some when tired.

This weekend, rehearsing and writing, writing and rehearsing. Shows look good. We did a runthrough of Harry in Love on Saturday that was damned good. Three of the six of us in the cast are off-book and only rarely needed prompts. Another was off-book for all but one scene, and the other two (which included me) seem to know most of the lines but still need the script as a security blanket. Rhythms good. Show ran 2 hours 17 minutes including 10-minute intermission. I think 5-8 minutes will come off that (some of the company think more will, but we're actually already pretty well bookin', even with some of us still looking at scripts).

Worked two scenes from Harry again yesterday, and got them to a really great manic level. We all felt really good about them when we were finished, kinda looking around for a moment after the run of the last scene like, "Damn, we did that RIGHT." It was interesting, because we actually weren't as precise as we need to be, but we got to a level of energy and character and rhythm that was dead on. So, we now need the precision of lines (in particular) on top of that.

Spell also continues. Still behind in script (on that and Everything Must Go), but there was enough to work in rehearsal yesterday (including working in new cast member Samantha Mason). Next rehearsal for Spell is Friday and I expect to have the full script done before that (two weeks before we open, nice way to cut it close, Hill). Tomorrow, back to Everything Must Go after a bit off (with the way the casts' schedules are working this month, that's how it goes - three or four days mainly on one show and then it goes away for a week or so).

Spell looking good, but some of what I planned didn't work and I had to come up with okay solutions. I like the show, but it's definitely not the show I had in my head while writing, and writing gets harder as I try to figure out if I'm writing the show that was in my head or the show that's appearing in rehearsals now (which is better, I think, but hard to get a grip on). Also, we've lost another cast member, and one even harder to recast due to specialized abilities and qualities needed. We're workin' on it.

So, I have to get back to the writing of the shows now, but first, a bit of fun - I have a backlog of stuff to share. Here's some album covers from LP Cover Lover that I dug:

A Black Man Speaks from the Ghetto

Long Island Sound Polka

Pye Demo Disc

And inside the cut, NINE recent found videos of amusement for your dining and dancing pleasure:

Read more... )


collisionwork: (Default)
On a break right now from writing more depressing things for Spell.

I finally got around to fixing up the last of the photos from last August's shows in Photoshop and posting them up at my Flickr page. Recently I posted the better shots from NECROPOLIS 0&3: Kiss Me, Succubus/At the Mountains of Slumberland, and I posted the shots from the first part of NECROPOLIS 1&2: World Gone Wrong/Worth Gun Willed all the way back HERE in September of last year, before I figured out the best way to organize and fix up the shots and it took me much much longer.

So all that remained were the shots from Part Two - got to them today, and here's the best of them behind the cut . . .

Killing you is like killing myself, but you know, I'm pretty tired of both of us )

collisionwork: (welcome)
So, besides listening to songs titled after this day by X, Dave Alvin (well, the same song as the X one, in very different versions) and The Beach Boys, what else is there to do?

Well, I plan to spend most of it here indoors at home writing sections of my two plays that open in August.

One, Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic #2) is a follow up to Invisible Republic #1: That's What We're Here For (an american pageant), which was a look at how things may have not quite gone the way they should in the USA post-WWII, done as a trade-show patriotic revue. This new one is a dance-movement-speech-piece detailing a day in the life of an advertising agency, ultimately about selling and a country where everything has a price and the intrinsic value of anything is only equal to its market price.

The other show, Spell, is a cheery piece about a woman who regards herself an American patriot and has committed a terrible, murderous crime in, as she sees it, an act of revolution against a USA government that has become illegal and un-Constitutional and must be overthrown - she'd prefer a new Constitutional Convention, but feels that's even less likely than armed revolution.

So, appropriate work for this gloomy patriotic day, with the thunderheads coming in.

As should be noted and read this day, here are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Sheila O'Malley over at The Sheila Variations is always good for posts on American History, and I'm sure she'll have more today - she's already posted yesterday on John Adams' letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776, and today on July 4, 1826 (the day on which John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died).

In non-patriotic but glorious news for film buffs, a NEARLY-complete print of Fritz Lang's Metropolis has been FOUND! Over a quarter of the original cut of the film has been assumed lost forever for years, and now about 85% of that quarter has appeared in a newly discovered print.

The story is at GreenCine Daily.

In any case, no new cat pictures today, unfortunately, but along with the Friday Random Ten, I'll do another music-geek meme that appeared in a couple of blogs I read today:

Post a List of Your Favorite Albums of Every Year from the Year You Were Born to the Present.

Never thought of this list before, and I'm as list crazy as most music geeks (see: High Fidelity), so here's 40 years of the albums I prefer, behind a cut, because that's a long-enough list to want to hide (and I'm sure more than a few of you won't give a damn anyway). I list some runners-up as well, because it was nearly impossible to choose in some years - and there are plenty of top albums for me that aren't here, the "runners-up" are just for time when I really had to sit and choose between albums for the top spot. I also chose to limit this to "pop music" albums, so as not to wind up having to decide if I wanted to throw Einstein on the Beach or various albums by The Firesign Theatre into my mental competition.

40+ Albums of Some Quality )

Damn. If I'd have known how long making that list was going to take, I wouldn't have bothered starting . . . that took forEVER!

And back in the iPod, here's a Random 10 out of 26,130 tracks:

1. "Down In The Valley" - Johnny Cash - Legend
2. "Garner State Park Concert Spot - Houston TX" - radio promo, late '60s
3. "Big Business" - David Byrne - The Catherine Wheel
4. "This Land Is Your Land" - Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper - Root Hog or Die!
5. "Gonna Leave You Baby" - Sammy Lewis/Willie Johnson Combo - Sun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958 vol. 8
6. "Next In Line" - Johnny Cash - From the Vaults vol. 2
7. "You Can't Take It Away" - Tawney Reed - Backcombing
8. "New Special Squad" - Guido & Maruizio De Angelis - Beretta 70—Roaring Themes from Thrilling Italian Police Films
9. "Vacation in the Mountains" - The Cleftones - For Sentimental Reasons
10. "Girl in Tears" - Phluph - Phluph

Have a good 4th, friends . . . I'm now off, as always on this day, to watch 1776 again . . .

collisionwork: (lost highway)
Ambersons opened on Sunday. It went well. I'm still a bit tired, but I spent yesterday getting over most of it. More on that in a moment; first the obits/links:

Bo Diddley was . . . well, great. He was Bo Diddley. I keep discovering that I have acquired more of his work than I imagined even existed (much of it on vinyl, and thus currently untouchable, unfortunately), and I return to it with more joy than most of the rest of early rock and roll - I don't know why. He wasn't the songwriter Chuck Berry was, or quite the performer/personality many of the others were (though he still gave an amazing show when I saw him about 10 years ago), but Bo just makes me happy (and oh, hey, dad - I lost the tape with "Please Mr. Engineer" on it that I made at your place - could you slip me an mp3 of that one? - and the rest of you, if you've never heard that song/monologue - with one of the most amazing guitar sounds ever recorded - find it).

I wrote a little about Bo when he had a stroke last year, and included some videos, but they're all a no-go now. HERE's a link to a replacement for one of them, Bo in The Big T.N.T. Show, 1966. Damn.

Robert H. Justman was a producer, assistant director, and production manager who was best known for his work on the original Star Trek series, though he did much more than that. He worked for director Robert Aldrich for years, including on the film Kiss Me Deadly, one of my very favorites.

I note his passing because one of his in-house personal gags has become a Gemini CollisionWorks tradition - Justman was known for his humorous scene breakdowns that would be given to the crew of any production he was managing - you get these writeups the day before or the morning of a shoot to let you know what the plan is for the day, and Justman had a smart-ass way of doing it that made everyone on set smile right at the point when they needed it. I wish I could remember what book his breakdown of the apocalyptic final scene of Deadly is in - I just remember that he titled the scene "Let's Go Fission" - but he was famous for his use of the obvious abbreviation "F.O.'s" to mean "exits" in his breakdowns (though I suppose it should really be "F.'s O."). A scene breakdown handed to the crew on Trek might read "McCoy enters, bitches at Kirk for a while. Spock raises his eyebrow. Kirk tells McCoy to shut up, go back to the lab and figure out a solution, but not so fast as to be before the act break. McCoy effoes to sickbay."

So "F.O.," and the advanced verb form "effoe," have become the standard GCW way between Berit and I and the actors of indicating exits (as in, "Laertes then effoes down center").

I'm pleased that Justman's gag continues on, as I heard Adam Swiderski using the term casually when he directed his episode of Penny Dreadful, and, even better, the actors all knew what he meant right away.

Justman and production executive Herb Solow also wrote a great book about the making of Star Trek that's fascinating not just because of its connection to the series, but as a description of how a TV show was made in the 1960s, how Hollywood was changing at that time, and what it was like then at a small, struggling production company like Desilu which barely had the money and resources to produce, as they were doing, Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix on adjoining, decrepit old RKO Radio Pictures soundstages, while being mismanaged by the brand-new MBAs who were coming in and knew how you were supposed to sell abstract widgets, but knew nothing about the entertainment industry.

Also among the dead now are two other people best known from Trek, but with important work elsewhere: composer Alexander Courage, who composed the theme and some music for the series (before having a nasty falling out with Roddenberry over royalties), who was more notable perhaps as an arranger/conductor for other composers (primarily Jerry Goldsmith).

Joseph Pevney was best known as a director on the original Trek, including the very best episodes of the series (at least 6 of the top ten, in my opinion), but he was an actor for many years before, and gave notable performances in three classic film noirs, Body and Soul, Thieves' Highway, and Nocturne, which I've written about elsewhere. I was stunned to see in looking at his IMDb listing that these three films comprise a full half of his film work as actor - a pity, as he's terrific in all of them.

The year of my birth was a nasty one, and the Summer got VERY nasty indeed - if the previous year had been The Summer of Love, 1968 was The Summer of Hate. The month of my birth got off to a rousing opening forty years ago today when Andy Warhol had a very very bad day at the office. Meanwhile, Haskell Wexler was filming Medium Cool, mainly in Chicago, and Jean-Luc Godard was in London spending the month of June filming The Rolling Stones as they put together their new single, which at this point, 40 years ago, contained the line "I shouted out, who killed John Kennedy . . .". The lyric would change within the next week.

(I originally used the word "shooting" instead of "filming" twice above, but that wound up coming off a little wrong in describing the events of '68)

And in old show housecleaning, Ian W. Hill's Hamlet has been mentioned in a fine piece by Leonard Jacobs as to why he's not seeing the new Hamlet from The Public. He seems to have a positive thing to say about the production, but I'm not sure it was the point I was going for. Whatever.

So, The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage opened and worked out quite fine. Ran smooth. Not perfect, of course. Most of the problems are things of mine or Berit's that need to be fixed (sound cues that run too short, light cues that need to be lengthened or put in slightly different places).

Some of the cast are still having problems with the immense number of costume changes, many of them quick changes. A couple of set changes weren't quite right (although at least one was improved in being slightly off, I think). I'll see what I can do to correct these through email.

I did a terrible job on my narration, unfortunately - as Michael Gardner noted, accurately assuming it was from exhaustion. I got better as I went on, but I was on auto-pilot for the opening, just doing the "sonorous narrator" tone that I, like so many honorary graduates of the Gary Owens Radio School for Big-Voiced Men, can just fall into if not thinking about it. I've worked very hard on the tone I want in the narration, a very subtle one (as did Welles, though I've taken pains to be as different from Welles as I can, except for a couple of line readings I can't improve upon), and I just didn't have it until after the long, long break where the narrator reappears after an hour or so. I'll keep working on it for Friday.

I'm typing up my notes at the same time as writing this - which is why it's been four hours since I opened both the email to send to the cast and this posting window - and my big repeated notes are "CUES!", "CUES AND LINES!", and "QUIET BACKSTAGE, DAMMIT!" The first and last being the biggest problems (the lines were pretty much all there and right). Though I may be wrong about some of the backstage noise, as I'm seated onstage directly below the window with the A.C. in it, and I can hear EVERYTHING going on across the alley in several homes and businesses.

It all came right together when it needed to. Berit and I spent an all-nighter getting everything set Saturday/Sunday - after attending Matt Gray and Dina Rose Rivera's (lovely) marriage and reception in Fort Greene and DUMBO, I dropped Berit off at The Brick at 10.30 pm to finish the set/prop build, and went home to finish the sound/projection design (and send notes to the cast on Saturday's run-thru). We kept in touch every couple of hours by cel, and both stayed fairly cheery all night, until Berit finished at 6.30 am and I showed up at 7 to go over the sound levels and other cues with her. It took us two hours of crankiness to get that done (Aaron Baker showed up around 8 to load the projections into his laptop for use in the show, and he said Berit sounded drunk - she was falling asleep at the board while setting sound levels; luckily, she could read most of her writing during the show). Once we got home, Berit got to sleep for several hours while I kept at work making up the program, getting it copied, and getting some last props for the show. I got two hours of sleep myself and then we went back to The Brick to get set up.

And it was all there and worked out just fine. First time I've felt that way in a long time on an opening night. Now to make it better for Friday. Back to the notes . . .

(And a great big CollisionWorks thank you to the current donors to our season: Luana Josvold, Daniel McKleinfeld, and Edward Einhorn! your names will be in the Ambersons programs as soon as I run out of the supply I've made already . . .)

collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
First reading of The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage on Saturday (nice full title, huh? well, I'm trying to be accurate). Went very well. As always, not all good actors are great readers, so it goes, and some actors just got the parts out of the gate, while some will need some more directorial attention before the characters are there. I played the full Herrmann score behind the appropriate scenes, and it sounded lovely.

We talked a bit after the reading about what was done to Welles' original 131-minute cut (which we'd basically just read the transcript of) to turn it into the 88-minute release version - I think the cast was a bit horrified to hear the details, including how it went from being planned as RKO's big 1942 Easter release, premiering in Radio City Music Hall, to winding up instead snuck-out on a double bill in June, 1942 with Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost (and an email this morning from actor Bill Weeden, who's playing Major Amberson, informs me that Ambersons was the bottom half of the double-bill, supporting the Lupe Velez vehicle!).

I was then asked by cast members about when was I going to stage the restored director's cut version of Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost? Now I want to get my hands on a copy of that film so I can use excerpts from it for either our pre-or postshow ("We hope you enjoyed The Magnificent Ambersons, please remain seated for our main feature, Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost, starring Lupe Velez!"). Unfortunately, the Mexican Spitfire series remains woefully unreleased on home video, though Mr. Weeden notes all the films were shown on TCM but a few weeks ago, so maybe they'll show up again - if anyone sees them coming, let me know . . .

Berit and I saw Notes from Underground at The Brick on Saturday night (it was great) and hung out for some time afterwards. We were getting ready to go when a brief question from Moira Stone's mother, Myrna, on what my next project was wound up starting me off on probably something like a 45-minute lecture on Welles, as I can be wont to do (I hope I didn't bore her too much, but she seemed interested and kept asking the questions that kept me going).

Hm. Every now and then it strikes me, with a strange mix of pride, embarrassment, and seething anger, that I know and can expound upon a ridiculous number of useless things accurately and fully. I'm fairly sure that if it was suddenly demanded of me, I could probably deliver a three-hour lecture on the life and work of Orson Welles off the top of my head, with great accuracy, attention to detail, and a fine number of interesting anecdotes and facts, including a few that only I seem to know or have figured out.

(Okay, for example? There's a brief shot of a fake octopus in the newsreel at the start of Citizen Kane. This is THE SAME fake octopus that Ed Wood used, badly, in his film Bride of the Monster. It also showed up in the John Wayne film Wake of the Red Witch, and I've read separately about the Kane/Red Witch and Bride/Red Witch connections, but nobody else seems to have caught the Ed Wood/Orson Welles link here otherwise. Or, probably, cares about it.)

I know enough about Welles (and other film/music subjects, but Welles is a good example) that I can't now read much on the subject without getting irritated that I know more than the writer does. I tried to listen to both the Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich commentaries on the Citizen Kane DVD when it came out, but had to shut both off after 10-15 minutes when I got fed up with the factual inaccuracies both of them were spitting out -- Ebert in particular lost a lost of respect from me when he points to Joseph Cotten in the group of people in the screening room near the beginning and says "There's Alan Ladd as a bit player in one of his first films" (!!!). It's JOE COTTEN, for crissakes! The more interesting story is how this scene was the first filmed scene for Kane (in an actual RKO screening room; wonder if it still exists on the Paramount lot?), done as a supposed "test" before actual filming was to begin (at Gregg Toland's suggestion), and that's why you have actors in there from Welles' Mercury Players who also play other characters in the the film (besides Cotten, you can see Erskine Sanford in there, and supposedly writer Herman J. Mankewicz is in the group, too).

(Alan Ladd is the reporter with the pipe talking to Thompson at the end in Xanadu -- another fun fact: the reporter interviewing Kane in the first dialogue scene in the film - in the newsreel - is cinematographer Gregg Toland himself, which makes for a nice in-joke as Welles, onscreen as elderly Kane, keeps talking down to his offscreen mentor as "young fella")

Somehow it seems like I should be able to make a living from knowing all this crap. When I know more about Citizen Kane than Roger Ebert and Peter Freakin Bogdanovich?

Well, in any case, it's useful as long as it feeds my own work in some way, which it does.

So anyway, going through Wellesmania as I work on Ambersons has led to a couple of YouTube finds which I share below the cut here.

First is his 90-minute documentary Filming Othello. Well, not exactly a documentary . . . as Welles put it:

With F For Fake, I thought I had discovered a new kind of movie, and it was the kind of movie I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. The failure of F For Fake, in America and also in England, was one of the big shocks of my life. I really thought I was onto something. As a form, [F For Fake] is a personal essay film, as opposed to a documentary. It's quite different -- it's not a documentary at all.

This film, Welles' last completed one, was created for German television as a companion to a showing of his film of Othello. I first (and last, until right now) saw it at the original Film Forum down on Watts Street in February of 1987 (somewhere there's an embarrassing cassette tape recorded by friend and roommate Sean Rockoff of me coming home from the screening and raving about the film to him, getting drunker and drunker on a bottle of peppermint schnapps as I do so - hey, I was 18, man!). I've been talking up this film to people for years, and have been extremely frustrated that since that screening it seems to have vanished from all outlets of distribution.

Well, now it's up at YouTube, in 10 pieces (which I've stitched together here in a playlist for you). If you have 90 minutes free, and the inclination to sit at a computer and watch an essay-film by Orson Welles, knock yourself out. There's more info about it HERE in the Films section of the Wellesnet site (which seems to be impossible to access from the front page, for some reason).

If you don't want to spend that much time, I've also put together the three pieces of Welles' 1958 half-hour television film The Fountain of Youth. Not his best work, but rare and interesting - I nice slice of his Mr. Arkadin-period editorial style.

And finally, for those of you who haven't seen it . . . a piece of the embarrassing side of Mr. Welles: The famous (and sad) rushes of the Paul Masson wine commercial where it appears Orson has been enjoying the product a little too much prior to filming. Oh my.

Filming Othello / The Fountain of Youth / AH, the French! )

Well now I'm having a mad posh to see Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show again, which pays homage to Ambersons quite a bit at times -- Bogdanovich says he prefers that film (and Touch of Evil) to Kane, so it's no surprise that he grabs a lot from it for his film of a similar mood -- the entrance to the Christmas dance is an amazing replica of Eugene and Lucy's entrance to the ball in Ambersons, and the ending of Last Picture Show even takes an idea from the original, cut ending to the Welles film, playing a period comedy record underneath a quiet, sad scene of two people sitting near each other, unable to discuss their true feelings.

(Welles' personal contribution to the Bogdanovich film was, after PB had told him the plot of the film, remarking, "You're going to shoot it in black-and-white, of course?" Thanks, Orson.)

Amazing that I don't own a copy. I wonder how cheap I can find it for on Amazon? $11.50 including shipping? That's mine!

Oh, that reminds me . . . I never posted the answers for the films in my quote quiz that weren't correctly guessed. Here they are:

2. The Age of Innocence by Martin Scorsese
3. Bad Timing by Nicolas Roeg
6. Duck Amuck by Chuck Jones
9. How I Won the War by Richard Lester
12. Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard
14. THX-1138 by George Lucas and Walter Murch

9 out of 15 guessed correctly. Not bad, folks.

collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
Tomorrow we start work on the Gemini CollisionWorks shows for 2008. First reading of Ambersons. We will have 15 people out of the 18 people cast (and 21 people that we need) there. That's pretty good, considering how difficult it is to get everyone together with conflicts as they are (I'm going to have the Ambersons cast together in full a total of five times before we open).

Today I have to go get scripts copied and do some sound editing (since I'd like to play the Herrmann score under the reading, and some of the tracks run together in ways that won't work so well for that).

The scheduling seems to be working better than I'd anticipated. A couple of big problems have come up for a couple people, but mostly I'm getting responses back with either "Oh, here's a couple of conflicts that have come up since my last email" or "All looks good. Great!"

Of course, I've only got back 18 responses from the 43 actors cast in the four shows as yet, so I might be looking ahead to big problems, but for now I won't "borrow trouble," as Berit always reminds me.

Currently in the iPod, 25,512 songs. Here's what comes up this morning:

1. "Cha Cha Heels" - Eartha Kitt - downloaded from somewhere, god knows where, probably the WFMU website
2. "Ingen Visjoner" - Haerverk - Stengt pga av haerverk 7" EP
3. "Batucada Erotica" - Michel Colombier - Bananatico: European Airlines to Rio
4. "Sofa #2" - Frank Zappa - The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life
5. "Repetition" - The Au Pairs - mix disk from Daniel McKleinfeld
6. "Burn Bridges Burn" - The Fugs - The Fugs Final CD (Part 1)
7. "Rene" - The Small Faces - Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake
8. "Stake Out" - The Negatives - Stake Out / Love Is Not Real 7"
9. "Picture of Dorian Gray" - The Futureheads - 1-2-3-Nul!
10. "Pick It Up (And Put It In Your Pocket)" - Stan Ridgway - The Big Heat

And this week's kitty photos -- here's Moni on the bed:
Moni and Paw

And with Hooker on Berit's suitcase:
Moni Lurks, Hooker Sleeps

And since I've still got a backlog of videos to share, behind the cut are three live performances from Mr. Iggy Pop. First, a 1977 rendition of "The Passenger" in Manchester, England (unfortunately it kinda peters out at the end as it cuts off with the transition to the next song). Then, a short and sweet performance of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" from a 1979 Old Grey Whistle Test.

And finally, Iggy & The Stooges from their performance at this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions. Oh, no, they weren't inducted, yet again. However, that fine Detroit girl Madonna was, and she herself requested (apparently in protest at them being ignored again) that her hometown boys be the ones to perform her songs at the ceremony. So The Stooges performed "Burning Up" and "Ray of Light" for an obviously pleased Madonna and some confused-looking record company weasels (though there seems to be enough fans in the audience to give them a pretty good ovation at the end). The Stooges and Madonna. Below.

I'm So Messed Up, I Want You Here )


collisionwork: (comic)
I am in the midst of trying to work out a schedule for my four shows -- The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage (June and maybe July), Harry in Love: A Manic Vaudeville by Richard Foreman (August), Spell (August), and Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic #2) (August).

There are currently 18 people cast (out of 21 I think I'll need) on Ambersons, a full cast of 13 on Everything (though I'm seeing if someone else can join us), a full cast of 12 on Spell, and a full cast of 6 (the easy one) on Harry in Love. 43 total actors currently (there are a few cast overlaps).

Trying to arrange a rehearsal schedule where I can get enough actors from any one show together to make having a rehearsal at all useful is mindbending -- Berit was a bit worried for me last night I think, as I would just sit for long periods of time looking at the Excel spreadsheets where I have potential rehearsal dates matched with conflicts and softly giggling to myself. When I'm faced with day after day of anywhere from one to sixteen actors unavailable, never leaving me with a good rehearsal group, I get a bit crazy.

That said, I worked a schedule out. I'm still "in the midst" of it all as I now have to type it out and send it to the casts and double-check to see that it works. And if I get enough new conflicts back the whole thing collapses like a furshlugginer house of cards and I have to start from scratch.

I need a break before embarking on the next stage of collating and typing and emailing the schedule info.

So to relax, I watch a Three Stooges short. And not just any Stooges short, but the one that's generally regarded in Stoogedom as the worst one they ever made. But I enjoy it, for a few reasons of my own:

1. It features Shemp Howard, not Curly Howard. I don't like Curly all that much (or any of the other third Stooges that joined Moe and Larry apart from Shemp, especially Joe DeRita, who lacked subtlety). I'll watch Shemp in anything.

2. It features a drunk Shemp hallucinating and seeing an immense cheesy pantomime bird.

3. It features the great Larry Fine in a rare central role, and not only that, he appears to be trying to parody (for no good reason) Marlon Brando. His lack of success in this impersonation instead creates a strange Brando/Fine collision unlike anything I've ever seen. Interestingly, this short was released only a few months after the film of Streetcar, so one wonders if Larry and/or the others saw Brando on stage, or were they just really churning these shorts out that fast (I suspect the latter).

4. My Junior-year film at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts - created in Reynold Weidenaar's excellent Experimental Workshop class - was titled "How Did You Manage To Steal a Car from a Rolling Train?" after a line of Moe's from this film (my film was written, co-produced, sound designed, and titled by my friend Sean Rockoff, a Stoogeaholic).

The director Christopher Carter Sanderson, when I told him where the title came from, and the response to the question from Larry, thereafter always seemed to regard the question and answer as some bizarre zen-ish "key" to my own psyche and personality. Make of that what you will.

I dedicated my film to Moe Howard and Andrei Tarkovsky. That's probably much more of a key to my inner life.

So here's the whole short behind the cut . . .


And in other "humor," I greatly enjoyed this account of the 12-hour deposition of Mr. Aron Wider, CEO of HTFC, an independent mortgage investor whose company is being sued by GMAC Bank for allegedly selling loans that weren't properly underwritten. The fine behavior of Mr. Wider, as seen in excerpts from the transcript, is a fine reflection of the upright and honorable behavior that has made the financial structure of this country so strong and unassailable. There is a drier account (that does feature a few more fine fine superfine quotes) in a law journal HERE.

In non-humor, Paul Scofield died. I loved his work, but I never feel I saw him in anything as good as he was (even Brook's film of Lear, which seems hobbled by its stage origins) - from all accounts his real greatness was on the stage, and I regret never seeing him there.

Back to work. Excelsior!

collisionwork: (red room)
So Episode 5 of Penny Dreadful, "The Deb of Destruction," which I directed and designed, went by on Saturday and Sunday and went over quite well. I was really pleased with how it came out. We had good houses both shows, and it's a good thing we've now added the extra matinee for this monthly series - it was getting to the point of having to turn people away from the one Saturday night show, which we probably would have had to do this weekend without the extra show.
PD Title Projection

I really enjoyed doing this script, which had a bit of a Lynchian-Twin Peaks feel to it (one cast member called it Penny Dreadful: Fire Walk With Me) - good broad melodrama, scored with big loud Bernard Herrmann music from Hangover Square, White Witch Doctor, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, and Citizen Kane (used most often for the scenes involving William Randolph Hearst, of course).

I was busy up in the booth running the show most of the time, so I didn't get to shoot many pictures of the show, but my camera was passed around on the floor (mainly in the hands of Matt Gray, I think), and a few shots came out okay.

Becky Byers was quite impressive as Abigail Pierce, the Deb of Destruction herself:
PD#5 The Deb of Destruction Thinks

The dialogue-free, tense dinner scene (which I scored with the aria from Citizen Kane) was, as expected, the highlight of the show . . .
PD#5 The Deb of Destruction Destroys

Unfortunately, we didn't get any shots of it from runthrus where it was done full-out to its VERY bloody conclusion.
PD#5 End of the Pierce Family

Apart from that, I wound up with just a few behind the scenes shots, like this of Christiaan and Bryan planning something . . .
PD#5 Christiaan & Bryan Plan

. . . this of our William Randolph Hearst and Abigail Pierce relaxing before cue-to-cue . . .
PD#5 Hearst and Abigail Relax

. . . and what I think is a self-portrait by Matt as Leslie Caldwell, Detective of the Supernatural . . .
PD#5 Matt as Leslie Caldwell

Apart from that, the UTC#61 shows at Walkerspace went down, and I got to see Cat's Cradle at least, and we ended the six-episode run of the sitcom for the stage 3800 Elizabeth at The Battle Ranch.

Now, Berit and I can move onward properly to our shows for the rest of the year: The Magnificent Ambersons, Spell, Everything Must Go, and Harry in Love.

Of course, I also have a sizable role in next month's Penny Dreadful, as it turns out. {sigh}

PS As mentioned in the previous post, I've been getting complaints from some friends and family about this page taking forever to load, not loading completely, or just plain crashing the browser (usually Firefox, it appears). I think this has something to do with the amount of photos and videos I've been posting. I've started putting the videos behind LJ cuts, and if that's not enough, I'll do that more with posts containing lots of photos. Let me know in comments if there's any improvement already. Thanks.

collisionwork: (escape)
So now I wait. Besides the 11 actors already "in" for my four shows this year, I've contacted another 26 for 38 parts, and thus far received back 10 "Yes" answers, 4 "No" answers, and 3 "Maybe, let's talk" answers, from 16 people (one person I asked to be in two shows said yes to one and no to the other). I need more answers before I can move on. I have most of the people for Spell, it seems - I could maybe start work on that, but I'm still short a reply from two people who would be crucial to the show, so . . . no go.

Ambersons, the earliest show coming up (June), is the problem, of course. I did the breakdown and discovered there was no way to do the show with fewer than 20 actors (plus myself narrating). That's 4 more than I'd hoped, but it just won't work out any other way (and I wound up needing more men than I thought, always a pain). I have four people set, as mentioned before, and I've gotten only one "Yes" and two "Maybes" thus far on the positive side. And I've gotten three "No" responses too, in parts where I don't have many good options for casting among the tribe I work with, if any. If I don't get it cast soon and get some first things done before the end of the month, with some of the conflicts coming up on the people already cast, I won't be able to start real work on this until maybe April. I want a cast and first reading by the end of THIS month, dammit (I WANTED it by the end of January, but that didn't happen).

I have plenty to do for other people to fill time, but I want to be working on these shows, now. This week, Berit and I spent some time driving around getting props for the UTC#61 shows, which was alternately fun and annoying (I had to circle several blocks in Midtown for over an hour - the place in the world I like driving least). I have to schlep some video equipment around for a shoot for one of those shows the next two days. There looks to maybe be a cleanup day at The Brick tomorrow, which I should go and help at. Sunday, if the video schlepping doesn't get in the way, I should go and see a runthru of Penny Dreadful episode 4 at The Brick, as it's going to be a pain to light with the current setup and I'm going to have to do a lot more specifically for this one instead of just using the house plot.

Today, I'm interviewing Jon Stancato of Stolen Chair Theatre Company for a 30-minute radio profile on WPS1 Art Radio (taped for later "airing" - I'll let you know when it's up). Jon asked me if I'd do this, as he preferred the idea of the interview being more of a discussion between two theatre artists rather than the normal Q&A, despite my only knowing Stolen Chair's work from Kill Me Like You Mean It (which I loved), and reading the script for The Man Who Laughs (ditto) in one of Martin Denton's collections. This should be an enjoyable time, if a hair nerve-inducing.

So, in the meantime, let's check out the first random 10 from the iPod's 23,414:

1. "Batman Pows The Penguin - or - (Aha, My Fine Feathered Finks!)" - Nelson Riddle - Batman - Exclusive Original Television Soundtrack Album
2. "Sound and Vision" - David Bowie - Low
3. "Speed Car" - Claude Perraudin - Patchwork Library Addendum
4. "Elube" - De Ndirande Pitch Crooners - Culture Shock: Doug Schulkind's 2004 Marathon Premium
5. "Driving Me Crazy" - The Sleepless Knights - Trip in Tyme volume 1
6. "Newspapers" - Stan Ridgway - Mosquitos
7. "I Can't Sleep" - Quik - Psychedalia: Rare Blooms from the English Summer of Love
8. "Scene Pathétique" - Bernard Herrmann - The Magnificent Ambersons: Bernard Herrmann Anthology Volume 1
9. "Rock & Roll" - The Singing Dogs - Las Vegas Grind! - Volume 1
10. "My Heart Gets All the Breaks" - Wanda Jackson - You'll Always Have My Love

Hooker went to the vet twice this week because he was acting odd. Once we'd gone, of course, he started acting fine again. He may have simply been constipated and gassy, we're told. They love him at the vet's, but he was badly behaved this time (which was also suspicious, as he usually doesn't mind going, and he hissed and growled which he NEVER does - he was apparently just uncomfortable). They had to sedate him so they could get a clean x-ray, and he was quite adorable as he was stoned out of his gourd, just a big floppy lump. When we got him home, it hadn't quite worn off, and it was sadly cute to watch him stumble around with his back legs not quite working yet. He's already acting cheerier, and they gave us some kitty laxative.

In any case, here's the little bastard a couple of weeks ago:

Hooker Looks Up

And Moni has been preferring to drink from the faucet these days . . .
Moni and the Faucet

Maybe more later . . . I have other things to handle during the brief time I have on this computer -- oh, that's right, did I mention that the computer I usually use has died? It was an old nasty PC that could barely do much anyway (it was a gift from someone otherwise throwing it away, and much appreciated), but now the only working computer in the house is B's iMac, which has to be . . . shared. So instead of having a computer always on and ready to answer emails, etc., I'm on for a few hours in the morning, and another hour in the evening. Great.

I have lots of links and videos saved up to share, but . . . later . . .

collisionwork: (goya)
And a day off . . .

Crazy last few days. Got Merry Mount up and running just fine in the Hawthornicopia at Metropolitan Playhouse. Berit made up the maypole for it on Thursday and Friday before we opened Friday evening (so we had it mostly finished for Thursday night's final rehearsal). It became far more elaborate than I had anticipated - B got into it with her usual prop-making fervor and did something quite grand with it. But it did take two afternoons to make rather than one. We spent Thursday working on it at The Brick, toted it to The Battle Ranch for rehearsal, then kept it overnight in Petey Plymouth (I tell you, I don't know if I'll ever be able to not have a vehicle that can carry something 10' long inside it - it comes in really handy). Then we schlepped it over to Metropolitan Playhouse early afternoon Friday, and B went back to work finishing it in their lobby . . .

Merry Mount - Berit Builds a May Pole

(while wearing my 1988 Devo tour shirt - which has been through a lot by now and still holds up!)

We weren't sure if we would need more flowers for the maypole or not, so we didn't get any that morning at the 99-cent store near us that we knew had them. B figured there were places close to the theatre where we could get them if we needed them.

There weren't.

I spent 90 minutes trudging around looking for the fake flowers B needed to finish the maypole (and an hour before that getting the props I had expected to get), finally taking the L train to Williamsburg and getting them there. I was not in a good mood when I returned, and my feet were blistered up pretty good actually (my current shoes seem to be great except for long walks). I was also nervous, as I had expected to have more time to go over my lines -- I had to understudy one of the speaking parts on opening night. So I did what I could with some help supplied by one of the actors in the show, Liz Toft, who works for a certain beverage company . . .

Merry Mount - An Actor/Director Prepares

So, fueled by nerves and Red Bull, I did an acceptable job and the show went well. Went even better last night. Two more to go.

I got home from Friday night's show, sighing, thinking "Thank god I can sleep in tomorrow!" Then I remembered - B & I had to tech the new Penny Dreadful episode the next morning at 9.00 am. Oh, great (B wasn't happy either when I reminded her).

So we got up and did that. I didn't get to see the final performance last night, unfortunately (I was still stuck cleaning up after Merry Mount, but I got to see a semi-runthru at tech, and I got a few nice pictures:

Penny Dreadful 3 - Mister E Checks the House

The Magical Mister E (Clive Dobbs) checks the house before performing "The Great Switcheroo" for the first-(and last-) ever time.

Penny Dreadful 3 - Matt as Leslie

Co-writer Matt Gray as Pinkerton detective Leslie Caldwell, Detective of the Supernatural (as seen in Hearst newspapers!).

Penny Dreadful 3 - Penny & Mister E

Jessica Savage as Penny, magician's assistant, argues with her boss and lover, The Magical Mister E.

Penny Dreadful 3 - Houdini, Viernik, and Caldwell

Harry Houdini (Patrick Pizzolorusso) is consulted by The Amazing Viernik (Fred Backus) and Caldwell in their search for The Magical Mister E (and, tangentially, a vampire).

Penny Dreadful 3 - Jessica as Penny

Jessica Savage as Penny.

Penny Dreadful 3 - Aaron as Bob Ford

Aaron Baker as Bob Ford, Pinkerton agent, apparent time traveler trying to get home, and vampire victim.

Penny Dreadful 3 Penny, Mister E, and Director

Penny and Mister E argue again as director Christiaan Koop takes notes at tech.

I heard it went well last night. I wish I'd been able to light it better - it was okay, but I was really happy with my lighting of the first two episodes, and for this one, as expected, I had to use the lighting plot currently up for Bitch Macbeth, which is great for that show, but not for much else in the radically rearranged Brick at the moment (the seating platforms are gone and a large acting platform is in their place, with the light/sound boards in front of it, and the audience seated in two rows facing each other against the brick walls, with playing area up the middle). I did okay.

If you haven't seen any of the episodes of Penny Dreadful, you can check out the videos and synopses at the link above. It's worth it. I'm looking forward to directing the March episode.

Bitch Macbeth seems to be doing pretty damned well, too - I think the Time Out review helped (as well as We were going to see it tonight, but, for various reasons, I think we're going to wait now until next week (hope we can get seats . . .).

I've started doing some research for the graphic design of the postcards for the Gemini CollisionWorks shows coming this year (The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles, Spell, Harry In Love, Invisible Republic) - I want the cards to look like great dust jacket designs from various eras of publishing (Harry should look very 1960s - Catch-22 or Portnoy's Complaint, maybe; Ambersons very 1900s), so I've been reading up on these designs. And as you can see here, Hooker and Moni are helping with the research . . .

H & M Help Do Research


I got a call this morning from my mom to tell me that my uncle John, her brother, had died. I hadn't seen or spoken to Johnny in years, for a number of good reasons, but we were close, he, his late brother David, and I, when I was growing up, and I have many fond memories of those times, all of which are seeming to come back today. So, not a cheery day.

I was more unhappy for my grandfather, who has lost both of his sons and a stepson who was very close to him (two in the past year). I talked to him and his wife, Jennie, for a bit earlier, and they're hanging on, but it's not easy, I'm sure.

I haven't thought very well of my uncle for a long time, but, yes, all those memories are coming back today, and I'm glad that those good times seem a lot more vibrant and real to me now than anything that has happened since.

It's much better that way.

collisionwork: (tired)
In the midst of one of those wait-until-you-have-to-rush times as Berit and I prepare for regular running of Tanya Khordoc and Barry Weil's Secrets History Remembered at The Brick - Berit's running lights and sound, I'm running powerpoint/video. Berit's a lot more busy right now as she's sewing some costumes for it as well. Rehearsal tomorrow, tech begins Sunday for a coupel of days. The show looks to be great.

I went and saw a so-so show last night as part of my New York Innovative Theatre Awards judging responsibilities - can't say which, of course. More of an annoying show -- most of it not bad, not good, kinda average, with scattered moments of both incredible beauty/brilliance and incredible clumsiness/obviousness. Which makes it hard to judge many of the elements on a scale of 1-100, as I had to. I'd like to try and remember and be kind just to those fine moments of the show, but . . . it doesn't work that way. The two lead actors were excellent and had incredible chemistry, so I did well by them, I think.

Berit looks to have been up most of the night working, and has left a note for me to wake her up at noon, so I guess she still has a lot of work to do (I see an unfinished Red Bull in the fridge). I'm waiting for word from Barry and Tanya about going and buying them a monitor for the show, and just beginning to prepare for the show I'm directing in The Baby Jesus One-Act Festival. I'm doing a play by Marc Spitz that is very very funny (of course) and involves obscure music geekery (double of course) called "Marshmallow World," and to say anything more than that would be spoilerrific.

And speaking of obscure music geekery, my 80GB iPod now has 20,876 songs in it and is down to 10MB left in it - maybe 2 songs worth of storage. Every morning I cut more unnecessary stuff from it, and then add more "necessary" stuff. Here's 10 of what seems necessary, randomly, this morning:

1. "A Drunk in My Past" - X - More Fun In The New World
2. "Song X" - Sand in the Face - Sand In The Face
3. "I'll Give It Five" - Janice Nicholls - Beat of the Pops 07
4. "Best Days" - The Svengalis
5. "I'm Paying Taxes, What Am I Buying" - Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s - James Brown's Funky People (part 2)
6. "King Ink" - The Birthday Party - Prayers on Fire
7. "Beautiful" - Elvis Costello - House M.D. soundtrack
8. "Oh My Soul" - Johnny Otis - Let's Live It Up
9. "Get It Together" - James Brown - Star Time
10. "I Want to Wake Up" - Pet Shop Boys - Actually

I've been organizing things for The Brick with these companies going in and out, but I've been avoiding the place maybe more than I should this past week - I needed a little more time away between the clowns and Secrets, I think, than I was getting. I didn't see the Pig Iron show there last weekend, and I still don't know if I'm going to see The Debate Society's show there tonight or tomorrow. I should.

Actor-collaborator Walter Brandes ribbed me a bit when he came to see Bryan Enk's The Crow: Final, about my lighting that show and simultaneously working on the Clown Fest and directing Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, saying that he knew I couldn't actually take the rest of the year off from theatre and rest as I said I would (I guess I said it here, or maybe personally to Walter) after August. I actually had seen these varied gigs as a "rest" and "taking some time off" after the whammy of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet and the four August shows. A collection of amuses-bouche prior to digging into a big meal in 2008. However, too many of these little morsels can fill the stomach and ruin the appetite. So, some rest. Take it easy. More big things in 2008.


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