collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
And here are the last three parts of the series I wrote for The Brick's blog.

A big thanks to Jeff Lewonczyk for editing these things for over at that blog, and all at The Brick for their assistance in making these shows happen.

Part 5: On HARRY IN LOVE )

Part 6: On HARRY, Some More )

Part 7: Postscript )

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Now that the three shows are over, for those who didn't bother to click over and read the seven pieces I wrote about them, Berit, and myself at The Brick's blog, B(rick)log, to promote the shows through that outlet, I might as well reprint the whole series here for your dining and dancing pleasure..

Some of them are pretty long, so I'll put them each behind their own cut, and you can look at them as you please and at your leisure.

Here's the first four - an intro to the company, and pieces about Everything Must Go and Spell:




Part 4: On SPELL )

collisionwork: (spaghetti cat)
The last two nights have contained the penultimate show of Everything Must Go and the antepenultimate show of Spell. Tonight, the penultimate Harry in Love.

(I was friends with a Classics teacher at Northfield Mount Hermon - I never studied Greek or Latin but I was interested in it and we had interesting "language" talks - who was VERY firm, correctly, on the proper use of "penultimate," and the word and its variants have been stuck in my head, to be used far too often, ever since)

Nice houses, in both size and reaction, mostly. Spell is a hard show to get right on both sides of the text - performers and audience - and if you imagine, as I do, the actual "work," what the play is, what we're striving to accomplish, the connection, the communication, as an abstracted straight line with arrows at either end hanging in the air between stage and house, essentially connecting work and auditors, then Wednesday's Spell was a bit more as if that line broke apart and forked off into multiple smaller lines with arrows at the ends of them shooting off at stage and house - some hitting the performers and perceivers, some shooting off around them into walls, ceiling, and everywhere else.

The more I do this, the more it all boils down into purely technical things - the internal, "emotional" stuff will take care of itself, the text will take care of itself, if the rhythm and cadences, pace, focus, diction, projection, intensity, blocking, and light are all given the proper attention.

(and, yes, there's been some snippiness recently from playwrights - appropriately - on some blogs recently about directors using the word "text" when they mean "play," but I often do use "texts" rather than "plays" - not sure what the difference is exactly, but I know it when I see it - Spell and Harry in Love are "plays," EMG and the NECROPOLIS shows are "texts")

Especially focus. Everything else is almost a subset of that. I joke about it in Everything Must Go, but it's all about focus, focus, focus. Too many distractions going on too much of the time these days. Not enough focus. I'm getting old and crotchety here.

(hell, I always was - once I was at breakfast in my boarding school dorm, and the aforementioned Classics teacher, Scot Hicks - who of course had to have been in his mid-20s or so at this time - came in to the cafeteria, saw me, sat down at the table with a big grin on his face, and announced, "Ian, I've figured out what you are! You're a CURMUDGEON!" - I was 17 and I guess it's only gotten worse . . .)

In any case, Harry tonight. I am completely at a point of looking forward to the shows themselves, but dreading everything I have to do around them. I SO don't want to go and put up the Harry set, but . . . well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I really need to figure out a proper photo call for each show, too.

Meanwhile, this morning, what does the iPod come up with as the first Random Ten from 26,103 tracks?

1. "Come On Down Maryann" - Ohio Express - Bubblegum Classics Vol. 5
2. "When the Record Goes Around" - The Playmates - Playmates Golden Classics
3. "Little Palaces" - Elvis Costello & The Costello Show - King of America
4. "Reject" - Green Day - Nimrod
5. "Watcha Gonna Do?" - The Evil - The Montells/The Evil LP
6. "Fingertips (banjo)" - They Might Be Giants - Apollo 18
7. "It's a Monsters' Holiday" - Buck Owens - (It's a) Monsters' Holiday
8. "Heart of Gold" - Johnny Cash - Unearthed
9. "Johnny Lee's Mood" - John Lee Hooker - Alternative Boogie 1948-1952
10. "Freak Trim (Kim Outs a Big Idea) - The Mothers of Invention - the MOFO project/object

Oh, hey, I got some new cat photos, too - most just from the last half hour, though Berit took this one a few days ago . . .
Moni Hug on Couch

I went around trying to get a good photo of Hooker this morning, but for once, he was pulling the Moni act and not holding still for a moment:
Fuzzy Hooker

And that's the best I could get. I went looking for Moni, figuring she'd be somewhere near the sleeping Berit, which she was, but it was hard to find her . . .
Moni and Berit's Foot

Hey, there she is, on the dirty clothes pile at the end of the bed, just above Berit's foot . . .
Moni on Dirty Clothes

Okay, off to finish the other blog post and get over to The Brick early so I can get the place set up and then actually relax for a while so I'm ready to do the show . . .

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
The next installment of my notes on the three shows I have currently up at The Brick is now up at The Brick's blog, HERE.
The Devils - poster
Oliver Reed - The Devils

That is all.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Here's the final promo email which I just sent out to the GCW list.

Anyone out there want to be on the mailing list and isn't getting these? Let me know - some of you may be getting them bounced because a) they're sent by BCC; b) they're sent from AOL; c) both of the above.


You're getting this because you are on the GEMINI COLLISIONWORKS/Ian W. Hill/Berit Johnson email list - if you wish to be taken off it, please reply with REMOVE in the subject line.


Oh, and -- if you've seen any of these plays, or plan to, please be aware that all three are registered with


and 25% of the judging for the awards is based on audience reaction. If you've seen the shows (or once you have seen them) PLEASE go to the site listed above to register and vote for our shows!





SPELL - postcard front


a play by Ian W. Hill

" . . . like a wall-sized Brueghel painting, a sight to contemplate."
- Ellen Wernecke, EDGE


Wednesday, August 20 at 8.00 pm
Saturday, August 23 at 4.00 pm
Sunday, August 24 at 8.00 pm

The story of a woman in trouble. Locked inside a cell (which might, or might as well, be her mind), an American woman who has committed a horrible, murderous act for what she considers patriotic reasons, but which she can only vaguely remember, is interrogated by military and medical figures as the voices in her head try to defend or attack her. A meditation on - among other things - whether violence can ever be justified, and if so, what limits are there?

with Olivia Baseman *, Fred Backus, Gavin Starr Kendall, Samantha Mason, Iracel Rivero, Alyssa Simon*, Moira Stone*, Liz Toft, Jeanie Tse, Rasmus Max Wirth, and Rasha Zamamiri.

EVERYTHING MUST GO - postcard front

Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic #2)

a play in dance and speeches by Ian W. Hill


Thursday, August 21 at 8.00 pm
Saturday, August 23 at 8.00 pm

A play in dance and fragmented businesspeak. A day in the life of 11 people working in an advertising agency as they toil on a major new automobile account, interspersed with backbiting, backstabbing, coffee breaks, office romances, motivational lectures, afternoon slumps, and a Mephistophelian boss who has his eye on a beautiful female Faust of an intern. The day is comprised of endless awful business jargon interspersed with outbreaks of the musical-theatre inner life of the characters to a bizarre mix of musical styles and artists from the 1920s to the present

performed and choreographed by Gyda Arber, David Arthur Bachrach*, Becky Byers, Patrick Cann, Maggie Cino, Tory Dube, Sarah Malinda Engelke*, Ian W. Hill, Dina Rose*, Ariana Seigel, and Julia Sun.

HARRY IN LOVE - postcard front

Harry in Love
A Manic Vaudeville

a comedy by Richard Foreman
"In terms of skill and command, Hill and his company are in peak form here. I'm not sure that you'll ever see a Foreman play so successfully and accessibly mounted outside the Ontological Theatre."
- Martin Denton,


Friday, August 22 at 7.30 pm
Sunday, August 24 at 4.00 pm

Harry Rosenfeld is a big, neurotic, unnerved and unnerving man who believes his wife, Hild a, is planning to cheat on him (and he seems to be right). His response: drug her coffee and keep her knocked out until her paramour goes away. The plan works about as well as should be expected and, over several days, a number of people – the paramour, a doctor, Hilda’s brother, and an "innocent” bystander - are sucked into Harry's manic, snowballing energy as it becomes an eventual avalanche of (hysterically funny) psychosis. Who wrote this crazed farce? Well, before he became known as the writer-director-designer of his groundbreaking and legendary abstract stage spectacles, Richard Foreman was seen as a promising playwright in a more, shall we say, traditional mode, writing “normal” plays with standard structures, characters, settings, and events, unlike those that he was to become known for from 1968 onward.

with Walter Brandes*, Josephine Cashman*, Ian W. Hill, Tom Reid, Ken Simon*, and Darius Stone*.



designed and directed by Ian W. Hill
assisted by Berit Johnson

The Brick
575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L Train / Metropolitan-Grand stop of the G Train

All tickets $15.00

Tickets available at the door
or through
(212-352-3101 or toll-free: 1-866-811-4111)
Want to see all three shows for the price of two? Preorder them here:

* Appears Courtesy of Actors Equity Association


hope to see you at the shows, and thanks for your continued support,

Ian W. Hill, arts
Berit Johnson, crafts
Gemini CollisionWorks

Gemini CollisionWorks is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Gemini CollisionWorks may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


Ian W. Hill/Gemini CollisionWorks online:


collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
My third entry on The Brick's blog, B(rick)log, concerning some of the inspirations and connections for and between Spell and Everything Must Go, is up, HERE.

Among the influences discussed:

Richard Hamilton - Today's Homes
John Heartfield - Butter

Today, rest. Three more performances of Spell, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday; two more of Everything Must Go, Thursday and Saturday; and two more of Harry in Love, Friday and Sunday.

SPELL - Ann & The Janes

Moira Stone, Fred Backus, and Alyssa Simon in Spell, from the tech booth, a couple of performances ago.

collisionwork: (Great Director)
Really good shows of Everything Must Go on Wednesday and Harry in Love last night. Not the most sizable houses for either, but large enough to feel good performing to, and both of them very responsive in all the right ways. Fun and rewarding.

We had the AC off during Harry for the first time last night, and while I have absolutely no way of proving if the sonic reduction affected things for the better or not (we got more laughs, certainly, than ever before but it could have simply been a friendlier house), I know it made my own performance subtler, more shaded, and more responsive to the vibes I felt coming off of the audience, and I felt like I was able to "play" them better. Fun.

Spell is off for this entire weekend (I miss it), so, as I may have mentioned, we're alternating EMG and Harry, which is a strain, as they're both physically demanding shows on me.

When I planned doing these three shows, I was only going to be acting in Harry, but then someone dropped out of EMG and rather than look to strangers in recasting, which I am always far too nervous about, and having no one else I knew appropriate for the part, I took it on myself. Not smart. I'm doing it okay, but I wish I was only acting in one show. I tried to diet and exercise to be more ready for doing both, but, unlike Hamlet last year, where I got it together pretty much as I wanted, I wasn't as ready as I'd hoped for these two. I can pull it off, but I suffer more the rest of the days when I'm not doing it.

Ah, well, just have to keep myself together, at least through this weekend - the next two days I'm looking at doing BOTH shows each day, matinee and evening, plus having to deal with striking and setting up the sets. Oy. Won't be doing anything like this again.

Spell got a nice little notice from Ellen Wernecke online at Edge, which was rewarding to see. Mixed to positive, really, without much in the way of pull quotes, except for this one, which may be my favorite one I've ever got:

" . . . Spell is, like a wall-sized Brueghel painting, a sight to contemplate."

We should be getting another notice for Spell, but really late in the run. I think we've got all we're going to for Harry. No apparent interest in Everything Must Go critically, unfortunately. Damn.

This morning, as I type this, here's the first Random Ten that comes from the 26,103 tracks on the iPod:

1. "You're Everything to Me" - The Orchids - A Taste of Doo Wop Vol.1
2. "Tiny Sick Tears" - Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 4
3. "Damn Good Times" - They Might Be Giants - The Spine
4. "So Come On" - Les Fleur De Lys - Jimmy's Back Pages...The Early Years
5. "She's Looking Good" - Rodger Collins - Soulin' Vol 3
6. "At Night" - The Killjoys - Raw Records - The Punk Singles Collection
7. "Homesick" - Homesick James & Johnny Shines - Chicago Slide Guitar Masters From Tampa Red To Elmore James
8. "Little Boxes" - Teenage Head - Teenage Head
9. "Is Anyone Out There?" - Altered States - Return of the Batcave volume 2
10. "California Dreamin'" - The Mamas & The Papas - Rock Archives - 60's, 70's, 80's

Sorry I have no new cat photos; I can't seem to get the camera and the cable that connects it to the computer in the same place at the same time.

Okay, more paperwork to deal with. Back to it . . .

collisionwork: (red room)
Okay, so now that I DON'T have to be getting up at 6.00 am every morning, and I'm trying to relax, get more sleep, and be rested for actually performing the shows, why does my body decide to start getting me up earlier and earlier?

To wit, this morning, at 4.11 am?

And then, just NOT want to go back to sleep?

Well, maybe, like yesterday, I'll get back to sleep for a couple of hours in a little bit.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first double-header day for us in our trio of shows running in rep at The Brick, but only two people showed up for Spell, so we called the show. I hate doing this, no matter how many people are in the audience, but it's a hard show to go through for at least one performer, and when I put it to the cast, some didn't care one way or the other, and several did, in the way of "love the show, but don't want to go through it for two people." The audience was very cool with it and agreed to come back (to the point of saying we could keep their money and they'd definitely be back) and I told them I'd comp in a guest for each of them if them wanted to bring anyone else (Robert Honeywell did this when he called two performances of Greed and it was a nice thing to do).

We had a house for the evening's Everything Must Go, performance #2 - which is going okay, but needs to be more focused and tight in the non-musical number sequences. I wondered, when staging the numbers, if any would get applause afterwards, and was self-conscious about not staging any kind of "button" moments or holds after the numbers to account for any response. We got some clapping last night after "Dry Bones," but no where else, I think. Not sure if there should be clapping encouraged after the songs or not . . . My feeling is mostly "not," but it's always odd to end a big dance number and just . . . move on to talking. Of course, it's not really a musical, it's a play with dances, but it does share some characteristics with musicals -- Gyda Arber solved a structural problem early on by noting that Becky Byers' "I Wish" dance number (as its come to be known in musicals) was placed WAY too late in the show compared to where it would be in a musical, and moving it back fixed a lot of problems (and gave us a light, comedic scene right where we needed one).

Hope people show up today. It's damned depressing calling shows . . . It happens, and probably we'll wind up filling the house repeatedly at the end of the run, but I hate this period in a month's run where you just can't seem to get anyone in. Berit says the original shows are "hard sells." Yeah, probably. Some might say going up against FringeNYC might have something to do with it, but I did as well in Augusts 2005 and 2007 at the same time as The Fringe as I've done any other time - but there I had World Gone Wrong, and noir is an easy sell . . .

So now, here I am, wishing I had more sleep so I can relax before the demanding task of playing Harry Rosenfeld in Harry in Love at 4.00 pm. Maybe in a bit.

So I'm playing around with the iTunes as I reload The Brick's iPod shuffle with songs to play in between shows at The Clown Festival instead of the ones that were on there for The Film Festival. I took a look at the "Top 25 Most Played" playlist, as I do often to see - since we usually play the iTunes on random - what the random iTunes brain likes to play the most. I had thought of posting a list of these "most played" songs last week, but at that point, the list was full of all the songs from the shows that I had to play over and over as I arranged them on CDs and/or edited them into different forms, so it was rather un-random.

Berit must be playing it a lot, as all of those songs are now gone from the list - even Regina Spektor's "Back of a Truck," which has been in the top 5 for over a year since I went through a spate of playing it over and over and over a while back.

Which is how B & I both listen to music at times - we get fixated on one song and then play it over and over and over and over again, many MANY times in a row. Here for example is the list of the 24 most played on our iTunes at the moment (from out of 53,229 tracks), and I'm POSITIVE the top 4, maybe even 5, songs are up there from B playing them on repeat . . .

1. "Candidate (1973 alternate version) - David Bowie - Diamond Dogs - 42 plays
2. "Showtime" - Electric Six - I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master - 38 plays
3. "Carlotta Valdez" - Harvey Danger - Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? - 32 plays
4. "New Killer Star" - David Bowie - Reality - 28 plays
5. "Cracked Actor" - David Bowie - Aladdin Sane - 25 plays
6. "Starman" - David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - 25 plays
7. "All Together" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play More Little Rascals Music - On to the Show! - 22 plays
8. "Black and White" - Bellevue Cadillac - Swing This, Baby! - 22 plays
9. "Think" - The Siegel-Schwall Band - ...Where We Walked - 22 plays
10. "Bells" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play "Little Rascals" Music - 21 plays
11. "Ah! 'Tis Love" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play "Little Rascals" Music - 21 plays
12. "Dog Song" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play "Little Rascals" Music - 21 plays
13. "Intermezzo" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play More Little Rascals Music - On to the Show! - 21 plays
14. "Life on Mars?" - David Bowie - Hunky Dory - 21 plays
15. "Beloved Movie Star (Billie Wilder Mix) - Stan Ridgway - Holiday in Dirt - 21 plays
16. "Experimental Film" - They Might Be Giants - The Spine - 21 plays
17. "Rajah" - The Beau Hunks - The Beau Hunks Play More Little Rascals Music - On to the Show! - 20 plays
18. "Dial 'O' for Bigelow" - Fred Lane - Car Radio Jerome - 20 plays
19. "Hollywood Swinging" - Kool & The Gang - Wild and Peaceful - 20 plays
20. "I Just Want to Be a Movie Star" - Lester Bangs & The Delinquents - Jook Savages On The Brazos - 20 plays
21. "I'm in Love with a German Film Star" - The Passions - Thirty Thousand Feet Over China - 20 plays
22. "Dinner and a Movie" - Phish - Junta - 20 plays
23. "Hollywood Cat" - Trig Williams - Wowsville! - 20 plays
24. "Love and Death (radio spot) - Woody Allen - 20 plays

Okay, so who's the favorite artist in this household?

No, not The Beau Hunks, those are actually all random. Our Beloved Mister Bowie, as usual, is all over this list.

"Carlotta Valdez" however is the song of the moment, and usually winds up being the first song played in the car on the way home from The Brick each night. It's a musical retelling of Hitchcock's Vertigo, and I've kept meaning to put the film on when we got home for a while. Finally did last night and stayed awake for about 2/3rds of it (not the first 2/3rds either, I was up and down the whole time). Good song - I don't know where the hell I got it from, but I should look into that band some more . . .

Okay, I'm off to deal with box office worker issues and go over Harry lines again before getting some more rest.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
And the final promo of the three:

SPELL - postcard front
SPELL - postcard reverse

the second in the trio of August 2008 productions
from Gemini CollisionWorks at The Brick:

The Brick Theater, Inc.
a Gemini CollisionWorks production of


a new play

written, designed and directed by Ian W. Hill
assisted by Berit Johnson

A meditation on—among other things—whether violence can ever be justified, and if so, what limits are there and where does it end?

An American woman who considers herself a patriot has committed a horrible, murderous, terrorist act on US soil as an act of protest and, she hopes, revolution against the United States Government, which she believes no longer represents the law, people, and Constitution of the USA. She finds herself in a room where she is questioned for days by a man and a woman—who may, in fact be the same person and who could be either a medical doctor or a military general. As she is interrogated, her mind, which may or may not be sane, reinterprets her surroundings into a chorus of voices—witches, revolutionaries, bossmen, old boyfriends, fragments of herself—arguing over the validity of her violent actions while at the same time trying to deny that the monstrous act has ever occurred, or that she could be capable of such a thing, and trying to reveal her beliefs while at the same time keeping her true self a deep secret.

Spell. A play for this time of many frustrating questions with no good answers. A story for those who want to want peace but have violence in their hearts. A patriotic scream. An examination of a serious mental disorder. An incantation. A length of time.

The cast of this production is
Olivia Baseman*, Fred Backus, Gavin Starr Kendall,
Samantha Mason, Iracel Rivero, Alyssa Simon*, Moira Stone*,
Liz Toft, Jeanie Tse, Rasmus Max Wirth, and Rasha Zamamiri

The Brick
575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L Train
or Metropolitan-Grand stop of the G Train

August 7, 10, 20 and 24 at 8.00 pm
August 9, 23 at 4.00 pm

there is NO August 17 performance of Spell at 4.00 pm,
and there IS an August 9 performance at that time)

approximately 2 hours long (including one intermission)

All tickets $15.00

Tickets available at the door or through
(212-352-3101 or toll-free: 1-866-811-4111)

*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association


Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:40 am
collisionwork: (sleep)
I'm here, and so's Berit. The first weekend of our crazy August schedule is almost over. Spell and Harry in Love have opened. Harry, as mentioned, had a rocky first show but went well last night. Spell had a damned good first show and goes up again tonight.

This afternoon, and the following two afternoons and evenings, we get Everything Must Go ready to open on Wednesday. Then we're running, and it's just about maintenance and (hopefully) enjoying ourselves.

Learned a lot from this. Mainly about what I can't do anymore. The shows are fine, but I can't take doing this like I did back at NADA ten years ago. Especially with actually creating two of the shows I'm doing at the same time. A more coordinated plan of attack will be developed for next year. Two shows in August, probably - one extant script, one original - and also probably no Summer Festival show at The Brick. B & I will just deal with running the space for the Festival, and getting our August shows together. Maybe other director gigs here and there for others if asked, but . . . hmmn. Just two GCW productions in a year? Seems sparse.

No. Maybe it's just reasonable.

So when this is over, it's time for us to manage the tech for the 3rd Annual International Clown Theater Festival for a month, then we have to hang for a couple of weeks to deal with the October Penny Dreadful tech, then we get to go up to Maine for a few weeks and pull ourselves together, surf the zeitgeist, and consider what we should be doing for next year. Nice time to be in New England.

So, here we are. I'm about to wake B up to go off to The Brick to strike the Harry set and work EMG, but first, behind the cut, recent videos I've enjoyed . . .

Muppets (shilling coffee and rapping), a cat & a fan, and the Electric Six )

And off we go. Enjoy.


Aug. 1st, 2008 07:15 am
collisionwork: (chiller)
One of those early mornings where nothing seems right with the world or the work.

I hate these mornings.

Just have to get up and go about things anyway as if you were happy while feeling you're expending a lot of effort on stuff that isn't what you or anyone else wants. Woke up suddenly with the feeling of "something's wrong and I have to take care of it now." then realized it was hours before I could do anything, but couldn't get back to sleep.

I'll be better when I'm working. That's when I see how it all works. It's the in-between times that get intolerable.

I only feel sane when rehearsing or performing. The rest of the time I'm a mess. I mentioned that to the cast of Everything Must Go the other day and it was commented that this was obviously why I overcommit myself to too many projects at once - I'm just trying to fill as much time with the work that makes me feel good.

So, speaking of the work that makes everything good . . . (and ain't this a fine fine superfine way to open a post on the morning after my big BIG season of three shows has just opened at The Brick last night?)

Yup, Harry in Love opened last night. Spell opens tonight (for a "preview performance" as it is now being called).

Harry was mostly good, and where it wasn't, the house wouldn't know so much. We did it, it was rockier as it went along for reasons best left unsaid here, and we saw it could play. We had but three people in the house, however, so laughs were near nonexistent (the show needs lots of laughers to build through).

Berit and I also still think leaving the air conditioner on in the space kills humor (and Berit says it definitely does from sitting in the house during rehearsals where we've been leaving it on to practice) but we're alone in the company in that regard, so it's on and acting like a piece of wet felt placed over the show. I think you need to hear your voice slap back from the walls and ceiling to time things properly - I also think some of my current vocal problems - I've lost a lot of my voice - come from not being able to judge exactly how loud I have to scream during the screaming sections of the show, and just going full out without restraint (at the same time, I like the huskiness that has developed for Harry's voice). I've gone along with it because I am on the line about whether the audience being potentially overheated is just as bad as the sound of the AC (comedy usually plays better at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit - people are cold, but the sharpness encourages laughing, supposedly).

Six-of-one, half-a-dozen of the other, I guess.

So, it played, and okay, but not nearly as well as we could do. I wasn't at my best, but I was better than I feared I might be - I had been determined to get rest before opening no matter what, and . . . I got some, but not as much as I wanted. My lines got shakier as the show went on (why, I don't know, I've studied them all the same - actually even more for the late scenes) and I lost a few that I KNOW early in the show just from opening night nerves. And I wasn't alone, accounting for the severe ricketiness in the last scene.

But I pulled off the demanding role just fine. The other actors were often in what I think of as "opening night" mode, which I've never found a way around - everything just a little TOO intense and oversold a bit. First audiences will do that. At least, when you have an opening night like this - okay, but not in the highest percentile - you don't run the risk of what ALWAYS happens (in my shows at least) when you have a GREAT opening performance - and which I've also never found a way around - the Sophomore Slump where everyone is so overconfident with one good one under their belt they are all full of unfocused, random energy spitting everywhere that the second show becomes an energetic mess. Never found a cure for that yet. Maybe some day.

Got some photos from last night, requested for press purposes. Here, Harry steams while Wasselman gloats:
HARRY IN LOVE - Wasselman gloats, Harry Steams

Which turns bad as Harry winds up with the only liftable chair in the room:
HARRY IN LOVE - Wasselman & Harry

Later, Dr. Meyers gives "medical attention" to Paul, while Harry threatens to open Hilda's eyes by force:
HARRY IN LOVE - medical attention

And eventually, Harry carries Hilda around for some time, not believing that she wants him to kiss her:
HARRY IN LOVE - Hilda & Harry

So Berit and I spent the other night building the Harry set, which was a surprising jump for us in set terms the way Ambersons was in terms of costumes (though far less expensive).

It still wasn't fully done for last night - the trim wasn't painted, and we couldn't get the - rather bad - paintings that we acquired up in time, but that will be there on Saturday. Here are some stages of our all-night construction binge (with Berit slightly visible here and there, painting):

HARRY - set building 1

HARRY - set building 2

HARRY - set building 3

HARRY - set building 4

HARRY - set near final

No, not exactly big budget - a bit high-schoolly perhaps - but needed for the show, not something we generally do, and certainly not something seen too often in The Brick (or most Indie Theatre). There's something great about standing backstage behind actual flats that gives a certain kind of theatrical rush. Really nice.

And tonight, Spell, which is stressful in that, hey, it's an original two-act play. By me. My first, really (the others have been mostly collage, which is it's own art form, so this feels different). It's less stressful in that, thankfully, I'm not acting in it. So I can deal with other things right now.

So, B& I are about to go through our day and plan out what we need to do for the show tonight.

At a time like this, I need to hear some happy music, something like this . . .

Xmas a Go Go

But since I don't have the dulcet tones of Xmas-a-Go-Go, I'll deal with what's coming from the iPod this morning . . .

1. "WAOG Promo" - radio spot - Rock'n'Roll - The Untold Story Vol. 6: The Jivin' Novelty Party Record
2. "Traits and Traitors" - Sky Larkin
3. "Colour of Dream" - Knights of the Road - Diggin' For Gold - Vol. 9 A Collection of Demented 60's R&B/Punk & Mesmerizing 60's Pop
4. "Mr. Woman" - Electric Six - Switzerland
5. "Snake in the Grass" - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - All The Hits
6. "Dumbness" - Art Objects - Bagpipe Music
7. "Sunny" - Dusty Springfield - Dusty volume 2
8. "To Be Happy Is The Real Thing" - Intruders - Save The Children
9. "Old Man" - Bari & The Breakaways - Oceanic Odyssey Volume 09
10. "Here Come the Martian Martians" - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - The Best of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

Now B & I have to run off and finish things for Spell tonight. There's not really a comparative lot of them, but they involve going all over the place and more work than such simple things should take. I'm worried about having to buy boots for castmembers - I'm not exactly "Mr. Clothes." of course (B & I, as we often mention, do EVERYTHING in theatre except costumes, makeup, and hair - we're at a loss on those almost completely). I also have to do the program and fix some sound/projection issues. And take down and put away the Harry set from last night.

At a time like this, I need the affection of my cats. Will Moni help . . ?

Moni Eats

Hmmn, apparently not. Well, I can always count on my big boy Hooker for some affection when I need it . . .

Hooker Wants Attention

That's better. And so am I. Took me three hours to write this in the background while I worked on other things and I'm feel a lot better now. Okay, back to work. That's what makes all of this worth it . . .

Batman Teaches Robin the Facts of Life

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Up with a bit of sorta insomnia, but about to try and get some more sleep. Then there's more writing to do in the morning before going off to a marathon Spell rehearsal today where we work at putting the whole damned thing together as best we can.

In the meantime, however, the postcards are on the way here for the first two shows. We'll get them sometime Monday-Wednesday, I guess (I don't entirely know how days are counted on this with a weekend in the middle).

Here are the designs by Berit and I, accomplished by Berit (though I went and redid the Harry in Love back as Berit had done it in a way that wouldn't allow for mailing labels/stamps - I know it's probably not necessary in this day and age, most people use the cards just to hand out, emailing info to everyone else, but still, it's always good to leave the cast the option of doing an actual mailing if they like).

Harry in Love, front and reverse:

HARRY IN LOVE - postcard front
HARRY IN LOVE - postcard reverse

And Spell:

SPELL - postcard front
SPELL - postcard reverse

Back to bed. Or at least, at this hour, couch.

collisionwork: (swinging)
Once again, something told my inner workings to get me up at 6.00 am, so here I am. Five hours of sleep. Cloudy eyes and brain. At least the coffee is fresh and the milk isn't spoiled.

Spell Act II looked good last night, but needs - as actress Moira Stone pointed out when I didn't think of it - another run on its own before running the whole furshlugginer thing again - we've worked it less as it was still being written later in the process.

Also, there is one bit of writing in there, a speech of Moira's, that just won't do and must be re-written. I'm happy with everything else in the play now - various levels of happiness, but happy - but this speech just makes me cringe and shrivel up inside. It's anything I ever learned from Paddy Cheyefsky at his worst, when a character just becomes the mouthpiece for the writer - or as my friend Sean always used to say, imitating Eric Idle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail whenever a piece of drama did this, "Message coming in for you, sir!"

It's a pain, because the character really does have to make the points she's making at this moment in the play - and it's not like there isn't a "message"-quality to the whole work - and the speech drives the dialogue to a good place by the end . . . but it's just TOO much. I'll figure it out. Everything Must Go will get my attention this morning, Harry in Love this afternoon and evening, and I'll rewrite the speech late tonight or early tomorrow.

(of course now, everyone's going to look at all the other times in the play that Moira is spouting her beliefs and figure one of them is the speech I must have rewritten . . .)

Okay, I have to write some more, so let's get the Friday Random Ten done with and I can get back to that . . . here's 10 out of 26,096 in the iPod this morning:

1. "Nightclubbing" - Iggy Pop - The Idiot
2. "It's Going To Happen" - The Undertones - Life in the European Theatre
3. "Promo #1—The Luminous One #1" - Hoyt Curtain with Keye Luke - Battle of the Planets soundtrack
4. "I'm Bad Like jesse James" - John Lee Hooker - The Ultimate Collection: 1948-1990
5. "We'll Bring You Flowers" - Rabble - Rabble
6. "Spider Baby Main Title" - Ronald Stein - Not Of This Earth! The Film Music Of Ronald Stein
7. "Now Who's Good Enough" - Elite UFO - Back from the Grave 8
8. "Party Sequence" - Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill - Angel, Angel, Down We Go soundtrack
9. "I Will Go (demo)" - The Beau Brummels - San Fran Sessions (1964-66)
10. "Sticks and Stones" - Manfred Mann - The Best of the EMI Years

No new cat photos today, sorry. I can assure you, the two of them are adorable.

Oh, hey - that last song reminds me -- I'm quite pleased to discover that - once all my shows are open and there's something like personal time again - a film I've been wanting to see for over 30 years is finally becoming available on DVD next week, Peter Watkins' Privilege, from 1966 (released in the USA in '67), starring Paul Jones (lead singer of Manfred Mann, a group I've wound up becoming quite fond of in the past year, to my surprise - didn't know they were so good) and one time "it"-girl Jean Shrimpton.

I first became familiar with this film when I saw stills from it in a book about science-fiction films that I had when I was pretty small, and the images were quite striking and evocative. Later, in my early teens as I really got into The Patti Smith Group, my father pointed out that she covered "Set Me Free" from the film on the Easter album, and mentioned that - I think I'm right about this, correct me if I'm wrong, dad - one of his teachers at Philadelphia College of Art had recommended it to his students for the production design.

It's about a rising youth rebellion in England that is diverted by Them-As-Has-The-Power (primarily the Church of England) into becoming a nationalist-religious movement, with the use of an immensely popular messianic pop star as "leader." The film has had no distribution since the 60s, and Universal Pictures, which has had the rights to it, has rebuffed all attempts at release. The director's own battered 35mm print has been the only one available for occasional screenings.

So now it's on video. I saw the trailer on Amazon, and it turns out that, of course, there is another trailer and several clips on YouTube. And . . . well, it looks like something to watch alright, but it also looks a bit like a lot of the art that was innovative and happening and coming from from Swinging London in, say, 1966-67 does now - um, rather dated. A particular whiff of the English documentary/kitchen sink/angry young man-style (which was already being viciously parodied by SCTV in the late 70s in "Look Back in a Bloody Rage") comes through, the whole Ken Loach/Mike Leigh thing (the Brits are my favorite filmmakers when they go all stylized and perverse - Nic Roeg, Ken Russell, Michael Powell, Peter Greenaway, Dennis Potter, Alex Cox, hell, Alfred Hitchcock for that matter - but they always wind up getting shoved aside for the ever-faithful kitchen-sink drama tradition over there).

Well, I still want to see it - it looks like a cross between the realistic and stylized English film traditions, and it's been many MANY years of dreaming about it.

Here's six related videos from YouTube, inside the cut:

And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England's mountains green? )

Okay, off to solve writing issues . . .

collisionwork: (lost highway)
I know I'm started off with this before, but . . .

I am tired, I am weary, I could sleep for a thousand years . . .

Except, apparently, I can't. As, even with an alarm set to get me up at 8.00 am (6 1/2 hours sleep), my body decided that 6.00 am and 4.5 hours was enough. Why, I don't know. My brain does not agree. Neither does my upset stomach.

So, here I am, drinking microwaved leftover coffee from yesterday - massively over-sweetened with Splenda to make up for the lack of milk, as the carton in the fridge has turned (which accounts for the leftover coffee from yesterday, when I discovered the spoilage after two or three sips) - and wishing my body had let me have those extra two hours.

The shows proceed and take up almost every moment of our waking hours (sorry for no communication, family & friends).

We're behind in some things and on top of others. Generally ahead of where we've been on most of our shows this past two years at this point, but more behind in other ways.

I'm still writing Everything Must Go for chrissakes, which opens in two weeks (of course, I also just finished writing Spell two days ago which opens in a week and a day). Most of what is supposed to be my writing time has been taken up with jobs I wasn't supposed to have to do, like recasting difficult roles at the last minute. I had five full days of show work ruined in the casting search for someone to take over a role in Spell. After my last note on the subject, I got someone, who came in, did great, took the part, came to one rehearsal, and also (like the original actor) got another (well-paying) job, he says. This really didn't help anything.

However, we finally got someone - Rasmus Max Wirth, and thanks again Max - and he joined us last night and we did a stumble-run of Act I of Spell that made me very very happy indeed. Yes, "Act I" - what was supposed to be a one-act of 90 minutes has become two acts, about 50 and 45 minutes, respectively, with an intermission - the cast really pushed for this, over my objections, but after a really good way to end "Act I" appeared in rehearsal the other night I was sold. So this is my first original two-act play. I like it. I was unsure for a day or two there if I was happy with the play itself, but after the last couple of runs I'm happy.

The first full one on Monday showed me where I had to cut and rewrite things (big discussion with the cast afterward about what works for them and what doesn't - some of the "doesn't" being things that were wonky as a viewer and which I have changed, and some of them being things that were terrific from the house and I just have to get that across to the company).

Last night's half-run made me a lot more confident in my work - Berit and I were sneaking pleased glances through a lot of it at each other. We'll see how Act II fares tonight.

Everything Must Go need to have its "book" finished, but the musical numbers are all coming into shape nicely. Two nights ago I tackled one of the "harder" numbers and it came together much differently (and better) than I imagined. Sunday we have a long rehearsal by which time we'll have the full script (I swear) and can finish the whole damn show - then we actually have some extra time to put the thing together, comparatively.

Harry in Love hasn't been touched in days and was fine when I left it. Tomorrow we do a full runthrough. Everyone else has been pretty much off-book. I am now 90% there, so I'm taking the whole of tomorrow, daytime, to get 100%. I'd like to be writing, but that will have to wait until the evening.

Today is to be taken up with a drive out to the warehouse of Materials for the Arts in Long Island City, and Berit and I grabbing whatever we may find that will serve us for the shows, so we don't have to buy or build EVERYTHING. Of course, the weather is crappy (though better now than when I awoke), so loading and unloading lots of stuff from there and at The Brick will be FUN. Then I meet an actress from Everything Must Go to catch her up on the choreography she missed from missing a few rehearsals. Then more Spell tonight.

Update interlude over. Back to writing. More tomorrow with pictures and random iPod ten . . .

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... )



Jul. 9th, 2008 09:10 am
collisionwork: (swinging)
The three shows proceed.

Harry in Love is rehearsing very smoothly, which is to be expected for this already fully-written, cut, cast well, traditional comedy. The biggest hangup I've had was when I had to go over an incredibly tiny moment over and over last night - it's a gag I love and the timing needed to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for it to work at all.

The structure of the moment is that two people are yelling at each other heatedly and a third suddenly comes out with a pertinent but unexpected piece of information - there needs to be a brief beat of silence, and then the other three people in the room look at the person who's suddenly spoken up. So the brief beat and the look have to be timed just right, and, even more importantly, fall together with one "bump" like a period, to make the laugh work. It was getting the bump right - if anyone's movement trailed off rather than just fell into place, the moment didn't work, and it took a while to get everyone on the same page with the movement - if Ken Simon (the person I'm yelling with in the scene) made a double gesture (arm, then head) it didn't work (arm and head together worked); if Tom Reid, the person interrupting us, moved his head around, looking at us, during the beat and look to him, it didn't work.

So about 10 or 12 minutes were spent on this tiny moment, which seems like a lot, but then 10 minutes of play can go by in rehearsal without me needing to fix anything, so it all works out - there's a very specific rhythm to the play, a comic give and take that resembles, at various points, the timing of Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Edgar Kennedy with Harpo & Chico Marx in Duck Soup, and Zero Mostel & Gene Wilder in the second scene of The Producers. So when we all get the groove going and get that rhythm, the play really takes care of itself. But we have to get that groove, which gets easier and easier the more we do it.

Spell and Everything Must Go are okay except I need to finish the scripts, dammit, which is proving much harder than expected. I keep saying that, and then I have a day where everything just COMES to me on one script or the other, for one scene or another, and I think, "Now I'm on a ROLL!" And then I finish that bit and the next one . . . doesn't happen. I have a schedule of pages set for myself now which, if I can stick to it, will have Spell done before this coming Sunday's rehearsal and EMG before next Tuesday's. I have some new pieces of Spell for tonight, luckily, but not as much as I'd like.

I also had to recast a role in each show (besides the recent addition of Tory to EMG), so Samantha Mason is now in Spell and Sarah Engelke is now in EMG, which are good additions to the groups.

Spell looks good and I feel good about it, as long as I can keep the writing at the same quality I've had. Still, it's a bigger work than I imagined - I guess wider is the more appropriate term; it's about more than I thought, and as comments/thoughts come in from this very smart and thoughtful cast, I have to deal with the issues that are raised, which is daunting and the writing problem at this point. And I've been putting off the six hardest scenes for last (out of 32 scenes in the play), hoping I can get a better intellectual grip on the material I have to deal with before setting them down (in brief, Cuba, Palestine, the Peoples' Republic of China).

I think there's a good reason I've never dealt with serious political material in my work before except on the very metaphoric level. In the past I've always said of political art that generally that I wasn't fond of it because generally it meant that either the politics or the art suffered from being combined with the other. And I'd rather see great art with shallow politics than the other way around (there is SO much lousy art whose politics I agree with, but that is SO annoying - I hate hearing something like my own point-of-view being espoused by Bad Art). It has been this current Administration of the USA that has made me feel I had to say SOMETHING about this country in my work (leading to World Gone Wrong, That's What We're Here For, and the staging of my versions of Hamlet and Foreman's Symphony of Rats).

So . . . {sigh} . . . maybe the trick is to just let go of the idea of dealing with some of this in Spell at the level I've been getting to in my head. Just letting the Art go where it needs to and use the material within it, not force the play to take in more than it wants to.

Everything Must Go doesn't worry me as much as it did briefly. I had a momentary loss-of-faith in my abilities for this one, but got over it. Great rehearsal the other night, in which two dance sequences came together - one to "Slug" by Passengers, the other to "Handsome Man" by Barbara Pittman. Really nice, and I'm VERY happy with them. I think I got to the point of figuring out how to work with the dancers of the company and choreograph in collaboration with them, and use their varied abilities and styles.

Unfortunately, during the rehearsal at Champions Studios, big clumsy me, working with my shoes off, kicked a radiator nice and hard, resulting in my right little toe turning several rather spectacular shades of purple - which has continued for two days now, with pain that comes and goes in odd ways (sometimes just the toe hurts if I put pressure on it, sometimes that's fine but it hurts if I curl it, sometimes there's no specific pain in the toe but the whole front of the foot aches).

In this cut, a picture of my toe as it was last night - I'd generally not hide this, but maybe some people don't want to see my injured, mottled toe . . .

Maybe I'll Do a Photo a Day and Show the Progress . . . )

In the other world, the great film collagist and eccentric Bruce Conner has died at the age of 74. I was going to link to a whole bunch of videos of his work, but the fine fine superfine folks at Movie City Indie have already handled that better than I could, doing two wonderful posts about Conner HERE and HERE.

Excellent postings, those, and the first contains eight of Conner's films embedded in it, including his landmark A Movie (1958) and his videos for Byrne & Eno's "America Is Waiting" and Devo's "Mongoloid" - and a surprising collaboration with Toni Basil (or "Antonia Christina Basilotta" as she's credited here), "Breakaway," which features original footage of Basil dancing (most of Conner's work is made up of found footage) that gets into some NSFW territory (oh, just saw it's from 1966! so this was immediately post-Village of the Giants and pre-Head for Basil . . .).

Worth watching, all those films - though I can't say I've gotten through all of them yet myself. And here's A Movie inside a cut, as I'd like to have this handy and give you a taste of Conner's work, right here and now . . .

A MOVIE by Bruce Conner )

Now I have to get back to not only my writing of the shows, but getting out the next section of press releases for them, which takes time as well. I also have to deal today with finishing up some business with The Costume Collection and separate matters with Fractured Atlas. And Berit and I need to have a proper sit-down about the postcard designs for the three shows and making up prop/set/costume/sound/special lights/projection lists of what we will need for each show.

Just a couple of weeks of GETTING STUFF DONE every waking moment, and it'll all be fine . . .

collisionwork: (goya)
Work continues on the three August shows, at different levels and paces and amounts of stress.

Harry In Love: A Manic Vaudeville is staged and we did a book-in-hand (mostly, some people are nicely off-book for bits and pieces already) stumble-thru and fix-thru that went well enough to show we're in good shape. There is much work to be done, but we have the time to do that work, easily. It's going to be a serious laff-riot, really.

Spell is proceeding well, though I need to write faster on it - the text is coming, but not as I'd like (speedwise, I mean, I've wound up very happy and even surprised with what's come out for this one). The cast is good, though still incomplete - we lost an actress, as I mentioned, and the one I asked to replace her hasn't returned my contact, so I'll move on to asking another. Thank goodness the cast on this show is so cheery to work with - the show itself is pretty bleak and uncomfortable (yeah, I'm great at talking up my own shows - "Bleak and Uncomfortable!" - now that's an ad line for ya . . .).

Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic #2) has had more time off than I'd like, but there were cast conflicts with other shows, and marriages, and so forth. There is a lot to do on this one and not enough time scheduled - I need to find more time to dedicate to this show. Also, I'm behind in the writing on this one too - which is a surprise, as this is the kind of language that normally comes naturally and easily to me (as it did on what is now Invisible Republic #1, That's What We're Here For (an american pageant)). Next rehearsal for this one is tomorrow, and I have to have more text and choreography ready for that, so today is the writing day (mostly for EMG, I hope, and some for Spell), and tomorrow I'll schlep over to The Brick as early as I can and start really getting the choreography down.

I'm still getting over my shyness in choreographing dance on other peoples' bodies; That's What We're Here For was a big step for me, but there I had the one "real" dance for (and by) Maggie Cino and me, and the rest were mainly stylistic pastiches, and worked out a lot with the cast, while this one is mostly me doing actual personal, non-parodic work, with better dancers than I am. Nerve-wracking.

Last night was the end of The Brick's The Film Festival: A Theater Festival (except for some extensions of really good shows that you should all go and see), and we had the closing-night ceremonies and awards ceremonies. This is the second year of this post-fest party, which is on its way to being a tradition, as awards ranging from the semi-serious to outright ridiculous are given, with every piece in the fest winning at least one award (the Special Olympics of Indie Theatre, if you will), with a focus on in-jokes funny (maybe) only to festival participants, or more usually to about 10 regular members of The Brick crowd. Bottomless amounts of alcoholic beverages are served. Lisa Levy, lovely in a gorgeous dress, forces everyone entering the theatre to be interviewed as if on the red carpet as a camera broadcasts the uncomfortable results on the gigantic screen inside. Jeff Lewonczyk, "America's Funnyman," hosts and everyone groans at what he thinks is funny, as Lawrence Krauser tickles the ivories beautifully, giving an inappropriate air of an actual planned show to the whole evening. Private grievances are aired, friends and reputations are insulted, Audrey Crabtree presents awards as a character both disturbing and endearing (supposedly the "special" 13-year-old love child of one of the Brick artistic directors), I stumble around imitating a drunken Orson Welles, technical matters go awry. And it all ends in chaos. Then we drink some more. I blast some Motown over the PA. And some of the theatre-film geeks (me, Lewonczyk, Danny Bowes, James Comtois, and others) play trivia games for way too long. A good evening all around.

Last night, for the second year in a row, I received the award for "Most Misunderstood" show. In a vaguely-drunken, vaguely-Wellesian tone I pointed out that while Ian W. Hill's Hamlet was definitely misunderstood, especially by the critics - and I flinched a bit when I realized that one of the critics I was talking about was sitting right in front of me, oh well - there was no good reason why such a straightforward show as Ambersons should be misunderstood, but that the Backstage critic had managed to do it anyway. I promised to continue to aim to receive that same award EVERY year from now on in the Brick summer festivals (and I shall, oh yes, I SHALL).

Later, to my surprise, the "Ian W. Hill Lifetime Achievement Award for Lifetime Achievement" was given to my old Nada coeval Mr. Art Wallace. 40 years old now and I gots me a lifetime achievement award named for me . . . {sigh}

Oh, and there was another great party the evening before at the McKleinfeld's where grasshoppers were consumed (the drink, that is), many things were grilled and deep-fried (deep-fried Oreos! deep-fried Hershey bars!), and a lot of Rock Band was played. I now need a rest from this intensive relaxation schedule.

So, other things found online for your dining and dancing pleasure . . .

Three images from the always-wonderful Modern Mechanix site, the first announcing a new breakthrough in air travel:
Flying Whirligig Is Newest Aircraft

A theme which continues with this important question:
Will Autogiro Banish Present Plane?

Which leads to a sinister second question . . .
What About Those . . . Secret Weapons?

Anyone who knows me probably knows of my David Bowie fanaticism. Well, if you're like me, and I know I am, there's an article that will interest you more than it probably should in The Daily Mail online: He's made up and is releasing a comp of 12 of his own favorite songs of his - not exactly hits that would have shown up on the Changesbowie collections - and he's written liner notes about each song which the Mail has printed HERE. For those interested, the songs are "Life On Mars," "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)," "The Bewlay Brothers," "Lady Grinning Soul," "Win," "Some Are," "Teenage Wildlife," "Repetition," "Fantastic Voyage," "Loving The Alien," "Time Will Crawl," and "Hang On To Yourself (live in Santa Monica)."

Now I have to go make a playlist of those and see what it's like, though I'm both pleased and pissed to discover that Bowie, happy with the songs on the underrated Never Let Ne Down but, correctly, unhappy with the 80s-era production/arrangement, has gone in and rerecorded instruments and rearranged and remixed "Time Will Crawl." The song, a favorite of mine, deserves it. Now, of course, I have to buy the whole damned thing for the one track (unless I can just find the track online).

(huh . . . and of course I discover to my surprise that I don't even HAVE four of those tracks in my iTunes, as I was sure I would . . . damn)

We now have some waterfalls in NYC - to be precise, we have Olafur Eliasson's The New York City Waterfalls - four towers in the area of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges cycling out East River water in a continuous fall all day and some of the night (technically, as has been noted, a fountain, actually). There has been an air of disappointment from some quarters about how they turned out - they looked great in the computer renderings, but most of the time, from most angles, they look . . . pretty pathetic. And I've been a bit pissed off about the fact that traffic on a stretch of the BQE under the Brooklyn Heights (which I generally drive at least twice a day) has become completely slowed, if not even jammed, during waterfall operation due to the slow-down of people taking a gander at the damned one that's right there next to the road, which looks terrible from that angle anyway.

(side note - I nearly went back and fixed this, but what the hell - I have, as a result of reading too many "period" books about earlier centuries in NYC, taken to referring to that area with a now-dropped article, as "THE Brooklyn Heights" - such as "The British are massing on the Brooklyn Heights to attack Washington's troops," or "I have to drive under the Brooklyn Heights twice a damn day," or "Fuck, I wish I could afford a townhouse in the Brooklyn Heights" - I've decided to just go with this and not give a damn anymore; luckily my brief habit, gained the same way, of calling the center of Manhattan "the central park" didn't stick the same way)

Anyway, held up again in traffic last night on my way home from the Brick, and seeing that one lit up after nightfall (and from a bad angle), I began to change my opinion. Jerry Saltz, at New York, HERE sums up pretty well what I think of them now, with a photo of the best of the falls at the best time and angle.

And finally, behind the cut, two of the better humor videos I've seen in a long time - commercials for the ersatz power-drink, POWERTHIRST!


Enjoy. I'm back to writing (I hope, rather than sitting at a computer screen unhappily staring and shaking nervously).

collisionwork: (swinging)
Here I am, still in Maine - took longer to deal with the car inspection than I figured, they had to order parts - about to drive off in an hour or so, but I might as well get the Random Ten for the day done. Won't be able to do any cat stuff until much later - probably tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I left my nice headphones back in Brooklyn, so I have to listen on some old ones I found lying around in Mom's house, which are incredibly tinny and make everything sound like I'm listening to everything with my ear up against an old AM mono transistor radio.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing - I know that the finest recording studios used to keep (maybe still do) a crappy mono car or radio speaker patched into the board to pump mixes through, the idea being that a song should be able to sound great on the best and worst audio delivery systems. In practice, I've found this to be more true than not.

So here's ten from 25,559 in the iPod, tinny and reduced:

1. "See You in the Boneyard" - The Flesh Eaters - A Minute To Pray A Second To Die
2. "The Riddler" - Frank Gorshin - 7" single
3. "Space Monkey" - Patti Smith Group - Easter
4. "Chills & Fever - The Serfmen - Garage Punk Unknowns vol. 8
5. "Willie Moore" - Richard Burnett & Leon Rutherford - Anthology of American Folk Music, volume 1: Ballads
6. "RIP" - Alien Sex Fiend - Return of the Batcave volume 1
7. "Guess Things Happen This Way" - Johnny Cash - Best of Sun Records Volume One
8. "Bull Dog" - The Shangri-Las - Myrmidons of Melodrama
9. "Before You Accuse Me" - Bo Diddley - The Chess Box
10. "Let's Twist Again" - Chubby Checker - Beat of the Pops 01

Yup, all sounded good in the crappy headphones. Of course it makes sense for all the pre-1970s singles up there - 7 out of the 10.

Got some good writing done on Spell while up here. More work needed on Everything Must Go - Berit sent me some notes of things that had gone on at the last work session for EMG that would have helped me get some work done, but I got them too late one evening to get to work on it, and by that point I was on a roll with Spell and didn't want to break it.

The more I research some of the political history that has to go into Spell the more I am daunted by trying to deal with it all - trying to sum up sides of massive, decades- (or centuries-) old arguments in a few minutes of conversation that's meant to serve the play in other ways anyway. I'll find it - I was just starting to - but research leads to more research more often than it leads to solutional writing.

I'll crack it. Just . . . daunting . . . right now.

More Steps

May. 13th, 2008 09:50 am
collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
Since Friday, only one rehearsal for one show, which is going well, but not as fast as I'd like. I had to cancel a rehearsal on Sunday for one show and another last night for another (which was only theoretical anyway, if I could get enough actors together to make it worth it, which I couldn't).

There's a debate going on in some blogs and comments about how to, or even whether or not to, blog about the process while you're creating a play (at Isaac Butler's Parabasis and Mac Rogers' SlowLearner). My attitude, and part of the reason for this blog, is a qualified "Yes." I started the blog as a response to theatre blogs that I felt were all head and art-talk, to talk about the day-to-day nuts and bolts of making a show.

At the same time, I rapidly discovered I couldn't talk about everything, or even as much as I wanted to, when it came to the rehearsal process. It's just instinctual - there are some things that can be shared, and some things that can't, and not just when it comes to the work of the actors, but even for myself. I wouldn't mind throwing up some of a work-in-progress, but just some bare notes? No. And that is the state some of these shows are still at.

Again, though, it's all instinctual. I usually mention to the actors on any of my projects now (though I think I forgot it with some of the current ones) that I have this blog and unless they say otherwise everything is open game for me to write about, and I've gotten polite responses making it clear where the line is (one actress was very good in her emails back and forth, as we discussed her character for a show last year, in noting "THIS IS NOT FOR THE BLOG" when she didn't want something shared outside the two of us).

So I don't write about it as much as I'd like, because when I remove what I can't write about, what's left becomes "We had a good rehearsal last night" or "last night's rehearsal was harder than I thought, and we didn't get as much done as I wanted," and that just gets boring. I'll try to find new ways to write accounts of these things that aren't just that, promise.

Saturday we worked on Spell, which I've been writing more and more as it's been coming to me. The previous day I had written a difficult little piece, where I needed to have the Three Witches of the play, in the third scene, predict where the rest of the 32 scenes of the play would go, in abstracted rhyming couplets (which, I decided, should also never repeat a rhyme and all had to mention the scene number in some way). First then, I had to figure out what all the scenes of the play were actually going to be, which still had been up in the air, and once I had that, hacked away at the scene, which took the afternoon (the couplets falling into an anapest pattern, which is what I normally fall into if I'm not trying to do something else), and may need some revising, but worked well when spoken, and will do for now:

Scene 3: The Witches Predict the Rest of the Show )

Sunday night I went out in the car to pick up some dinner for Berit and I, and as I was making a right-hand turn I suddenly had a big "Eureka" moment that solved how I was going to write a scene between THE MAN and FRAGMENT 1 that had been driving me nuts - literally right in the time that I had the steering wheel turned. I never get sudden ideas like this plopping right into my head, and it so stunned me I missed my next turn and had to keep circling around, still nodding to myself, "Oh my god, yeah, that's it exactly, that's exactly how that scene needs to work!" I wish I had more moments like that, like a clear white light shooting into my brain; most of the time, it's pounding away hard at the words until the right ones become clear. I still haven't written the scene, but it's there in my head, waiting and ready. It's exciting, and I'm almost nervous about setting it down - but it solves several potential expositional problems with the play, and opens it up on one more meta-level.

In other nuts-and-bolts work, I've been dealing with all the Equity forms for all the shows, writing the Ambersons press release, revising schedules as more conflicts come in, and sending out emails for info that I need or reminders to the casts. And writing lists of what still needs to be done on Ambersons before we open on June 1, which is suddenly not very far away at all. Two weeks and five days. Yeesh.

In the rest of the world, Robert Rauschenberg is dead. The Times obit HERE calls him a "Titan" in the headline, and I couldn't think of a better word. Another obit, from the Chicago Tribune is HERE. I've always had a mixed reaction to RR - either he really hits it and I just LOVE a piece, or it's just "meh." Never really disliked anything I saw, I don't think.

I once got the freelance job of mounting the slides he'd created for a Trisha Brown dance piece at White Oak. They had been doing the dance for years with just RR's original slides, and had finally decided to make copies of them to use, and put the original slides away in storage. So they were delivered to me from the lab that made the copies, but I was surprised to have the original RR slides delivered to my little office in The Piano Store theatre on the LES, as well as the roll of copies, and I had to give my dad and stepmom a kind of hysterically giggly call about how I had a box of Rauschenberg originals sitting next to my foot in my crappy little office. I kept them very safe for the week or so that I had them.

Back to work now on forms I need to fill out for the AEA Showcase. More rehearsals tonight and every night for a while. More here when I get to it.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
This just went out to the GCW email list - figured it belonged here, too:


Friends of Gemini CollisionWorks,

2008 continues GCWs' happy residency at The Brick in Williamsburg, where we act as the theatre's technical directors, as well as assisting in the management of the many festivals at the space, and, of course, producing our own work.

Coming up for us this year at The Brick, a show in The Film Festival: A Theater Festival in June - The Magnificent Ambersons - and three shows in August - two originals: Spell and Everything Must Go, as well as Richard Foreman's hysterical and barely-known 1966 comedy Harry in Love.

So we've been able to keep up a pretty hectic pace of creating numerous shows each year, but it's been harder and harder as resources have been getting far more expensive rather quickly (especially rehearsal space) and while we've been known to work wonders on a low (or nearly non-existent) budget, as our work gets more ambitious, it gets harder to do this at the out-of-our-own-pocket level we've been working at for 11 years, especially as - with small theatres and low ticket prices on top of high expenses - we lose money on every show we do. As we have had no way to offer our supporters anything in return for donations, we haven't asked for them.

Until now. Gemini CollisionWorks is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts organization, and donations to GCW (made payable to Fractured Atlas) are now tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. For more information on contributing through Fractured Atlas, see or the directions below for how to donate specifically to us.

We hope you'll consider helping us out - our shows this year could use it (coming up soon in June, a show involving 20 actors with multiple 1880s-1910s costumes each! we need two overhead projectors!). We can't offer much in return, but it'll feel good, be worthwhile, the money'll all be there on the stage, and you get listed in our programs for the whole season (categories below). And it's tax-deductible.

Here is some more info on how to donate, and on this year's shows:


1. If you wish to donate by check, they MUST be made out to "Fractured Atlas," with "Gemini CollisionWorks" in the memo line (and nowhere else), and should be given to us personally or sent to us for processing at:

Gemini CollisionWorks
c/o Hill-Johnson
367 Avenue S #1B
Brooklyn, NY 11223

2. You can also donate directly online securely by credit card at

or by clicking this handy link:

Donate now!

(please double-check to be sure you're at the "Gemini CollisionWorks" donation page)

All donors will be listed in all our programs for the 2008 season under the following categories:

$0-25 - BONDO
$26-50 - RAT RODS
$51-75 - CHROME
$76-100 - LOW RIDERS
$101-250 - CANDY FLAKE
$251-500 - FLAME JOBS
$501-1000 - T-BUCKETS
$1001-2500 - SUPERCHARGERS
$2501-5000 - KUSTOMIZERS
over $5000 - BIG DADDIES


The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage

adapted, designed, directed and narrated by Ian W. Hill
June 1, 6, 10, 12 at 8.00 pm - $15.00

In 1942, Orson Welles' second feature film, and probable masterpiece, was mutilated by RKO Radio Pictures. 43 minutes were cut, and several scenes were reshot in an attempt to make Welles' dark, Chekhovian adaptation of Booth Tarkington's story of a family and town swallowed up in the Industrial Revolution a happier and more commercial experience. It didn't work. The film was buried by the studio, both in the marketplace and physically - all unused footage from the film was destroyed - and Welles' version is gone forever, one of the great mythologized films of Hollywood.

In this show we attempt to reconstruct, as well as we can from the documents and photos that still exist, a theatrical interpretation of Welles' cinematic take on Tarkington's novel. It's not the movie, but it's as close as you're ever likely to see.

with David Arthur Bachrach, Aaron Baker, Linda Blackstock, Walter Brandes, Rebecca Collins, Ivanna Cullinan, Sarah Malinda Engelke, Larry Floyd, Stephen Heskett, Justin R.G. Holcomb, Amy Lizska, Roger Nasser, Vince Phillip, Maire-Rose Pike, Shelley Ray, Timothy McCown Reynolds, Bill Weeden, Natalie Wilder, Scot Lee Williams

Harry in Love: A Manic Vaudeville
by Richard Foreman - directed by Ian W. Hill
9 performances - July 31-August 21 - $15.00

Harry Rosenfeld is a big, neurotic, unnerved and unnerving man who believes his wife is planning to cheat on him. His response: drug her and keep her knocked out until her paramour goes away. The plan works about as well as should be expected and, over several days, a number of people are sucked into Harry's manic, snowballing energy as it becomes an eventual avalanche of (hysterically funny) psychosis.

Before embarking on his great career directing his own groundbreaking avant-garde plays, Richard Foreman briefly entertained the possibility of being a commercial Broadway playwright. This 1966 boulevard comedy (which Foreman has compared accurately to the plays of Murray Schisgal) nearly made it to Broadway, which very well might have meant a very different career for Foreman. It's not what you probably know from him, but it's as funny as his best work, and any line from it, out of context, would not sound out of place in one of his later plays. Really.

with Walter Brandes, Josephine Cashman, Ian W. Hill, Tom Reid, Ken Simon, Darius Stone

written, designed, and directed by Ian W. Hill
9 performances - August 1-August 24 - $12.00

An American woman who considers herself a patriot has committed a horrible terrorist act as an act of protest and, she hopes, revolution against the government, which she believes no longer represents the law, people, and Constitution of the USA.

As she is interrogated, her mind reinterprets her surroundings into a chorus of voices - witches, revolutionaries, doctors, generals, bossmen, old boyfriends, fragments of herself - arguing over the validity of her violent actions while at the same time trying to deny that the monstrous act has ever occurred, or that she could be capable of such a thing. A meditation on - among other things - whether violence can ever be truly justified, and if so, what limits are there and where does it end?

with Fred Backus, Olivia Baseman, Jorge Cordova, Gavin Starr Kendall, Iracel Rivero, Alyssa Simon, Moira Stone, Liz Toft, Sammy Tunis, Jeanie Tse, Rasha Zamamiri

Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic 2)
text, design, direction and choreography by Ian W. Hill with the company
9 performances - August 2-August 24 - $12.00

A play in dance and fragmented businesspeak. A day in the life of an advertising agency as they work on a major new account, interspersed with backbiting, backstabbing, coffee breaks, office romances, motivational lectures, afternoon slumps, and a Mephistophelian boss who has his eye on a beautiful female Faust of an intern.

A constantly shifting dance-theatre piece in which anything that matters must have a price, anyone is corruptible, and everything must go.

with Gyda Arber, David Arthur Bachrach, Becky Byers, Patrick Cann, Maggie Cino, Ian W. Hill, Amy Lizska, Brandi Robinson, Dina Rose, Ariana Siegel, Julia C. Sun

All shows will be at

The Brick - 575 Metropolitan Avenue - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
right by the L Train stop at Lorimer - G Train stop at Metropolitan/Grand

Advance tickets for all shows will be available at - there will be special discounts for seeing two or three of the August shows. More info as it happens . . .

hope to see you at our shows, and thanks for your continued support,

Ian W. Hill, arts
Berit Johnson, crafts
Gemini CollisionWorks

Gemini CollisionWorks is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Gemini CollisionWorks may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


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