collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Well, back here for a moment from Facebook to post a promo for the new show... if you want to know more about this one in its past incarnations, click the "world gone wrong" tag and you'll get plenty about this show and noir in general...

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NECROPOLIS 1&2:
World Gone Wrong/Worth Gun Willed

Gemini CollisionWorks

December 1 – 18, 2012

created by Ian W. Hill
assisted by Berit Johnson

performed by Gyda Arber, Olivia Baseman*, Gita Borovsky, Josephine Cashman*, TJ Clark, Melissa DeLancey, V. Orion Delwaterman, Samantha Dena, Adam Files, Stacia French, Matt Gray, Ian W. Hill, Gavin Starr Kendall, Roger Nasser, Nicholas Miles Newton, Amy Overman, Amy Beth Sherman*, Ken Simon*, Adam Swiderski, Debbie Troché, and Art Wallace.
*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association

A world where the leaders lie, cheat, steal and murder. A world where Art and Science and Beauty and Reason are no longer valued. A world where survival means selling out, and trying to do the “right thing” means failure as a human being. A familiar place? Yes, of course, it is the
fictional, 1940’s world of film noir, nothing like our own present world at all, right? Right? Or has noir come true, and we’re all living in a world gone wrong?

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Combining a cast of 21 in precision choreography with slides and an entirely pre-recorded collage soundtrack to which the actors perform as if “dubbed,” World Gone Wrong is a celebration of the ability to stay true to, and fight for, one’s own convictions in a land where “moral values” is just a mask that hides greed, hatred, fear, backstabbing, and lies. World Gone Wrong is a film noir pastiche-play consisting of dialogue from over 150 noirs, as well as quotes from a recent U.S. Administration and other pertinent sources, combined into an original spellbinding, semiabstract, dreamlike tale of corruption, betrayal, and revenge as two men (who many be one man) travel through their own dreams in a city (which may be two cities) where day never comes, to avenge their own deaths in a landscape of iconic film noir figures.


“The sheer size, scope and ambition of Ian W. Hill’s vision in World Gone Wrong dazzles and boggles. . . . laugh-out-loud hilarious, the way the first episodes of Twin Peaks were . . . theatre that delights and challenges and jolts even as it prods and pokes at its audience . . . a theatrical experience as dense as it is unique.”—Martin Denton, nytheatre.com


“Against the constantly changing backdrop of projected black-and-white stills, the cryptic mix of wisecracking wordplay, melodramatic excess and metaphysical world-weariness achieves a breathtaking effect, amplified by moments of recognition . . . stunning style and tour-de-force text . . .” —Jessica Branch, Time Out New York


“Excellent acting and intelligent pastiche.” — Jonathan Kalb, New York Times

1 hour 45 minutes

Sat Dec 1 @ 3pm
Wed Dec 5 @ 8pm
Fri Dec 7 @ 7:30pm
Sat Dec 8 @ 3pm
Wed Dec 12 @ 8pm
Fri Dec 14 @ 8pm
Tue Dec 18 @ 8pm

$15

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collisionwork: (Default)
A quick update as I have to get out the door and to The Brick ASAP.

Tonight we have a year-end party at the theatre for our community, and the installation of some more of the super-secret Master Masons of The Brick (so secret, it cannot be talked about, merely written about on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and in program bios). As Master Tyler of The Brick, it will be my duty, as always, to cleanse the sacred brick. Berit, as Sister Bailiff, will ensure order in the sacred ceremonies. But now, I've said too much...

So here's the weekly Random Ten again (with associated videos), from the 8,439 as-yet-unplayed songs in my iPod . . .

1. "You're Under Arrest" - Serge Gainsbourg - de Serge Gainsbourg a gainsbarre
2. "The Body" - Sister Charmaine - 500% Dynamite!
3. "A Song for Europe" - Roxy Music - Stranded
4. "Can't Escape from You" - Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs
5. "Fuck Christmas, I Got the Blues" - The Legendary Tiger Man - Fuck Christmas, I Got the Blues
6. "Barnabas Theme from 'Dark Shadows'" - The First Theremin Era - Dark Shadows - The 30th Anniversary Soundtrack
7. "Swinging A-Go-Go" - Stiv Bators - Disconnected
8. "Adult Books" - X - Wild Gift
9. "Farewell to Today and Tomorrow" - The Fewdle Lords - Psychedelic States: Florida in the 60s
10. "Bucket Rider" - Polyrock - Polyrock

A mixed bag today -- classic, loved tracks from Roxy Music, X, and Polyrock, some pleasant ones I didn't know from known and unknown artists, a really great local garage track I didn't know (The Fewdle Lords one), and a truly horrific Serge Gainsbourg piece including some rap parts. Ugh. Here's the playlist:



Now to quickly make a party playlist for tonight (someone on staff already has one made, but it harms none to have a second ready) and get ready for the "sacred ceremony."

collisionwork: (prisoner)
Missed a week's update while working on other matters -- both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and some personal things. Berit and I now have two large, lovely cabinets in our living room and have to rearrange our whole apartment around them. The apartment needed it anyway (and has needed it for the past 7 years), so it's a good move.

Today I had a good time over at 3 Legged Dog, where Androids is going up, helping out by setting up the sound system -- the show uses 7 wireless mics, so I had to get the mix board, the receivers, and the mics all in order and arranged. Certainly a pleasure to work with the VERY nice equipment at 3LD.

Androids unfortunately does appear to be keeping me away from seeing, at least this week, work from one of my favorite theatre companies FINALLY happening at my home base, The Brick, as Target Margin brings their lab series -- which I got to help make happen at NADA a couple of years in the late '90s -- to the space. This week, it's a play by Kandinsky, next week Mozart, the week after that, Clyde Fitch. Maybe I'll get to the Fitch . . .

And today, a Random Ten from the as-yet-unplayed playlist in the iPod -- now down to only being 6.1 days long!

1. "69 Année Erotique" - Serge Gainsbourg - De Serge Gainsbourg A Gainsbarre
2. "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" - Dusty Springfield - One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found
3. "Bongo City" - Slim Gaillard - Laughing In Rhythm, #4 - Opera in Vout
4. "Our Drab Ways" - Jonathan Richman - Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild
5. "Coca-Cola Commercial 1969 #2" - Ray Charles & Aretha Franklin - Coca-Cola Commercials
6. "Below The Belt" - Minutemen - Post-Mersh, Vol. 3
7. "Shall We Take Ourselves Seriously?" - Frank Zappa - Buffalo
8. "Time Will Show The Wiser" - Fairport Convention - (Guitar, Vocal)
9. "Did You See His Name?" - The Kinks - Club Au-Go-Go 10
10. "Street In The City" - Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane - Rough Mix

And here's the full video playlist of the songs above, or as close as I could get to them . . . (as always, if on Facebook, check the original post on LiveJournal to see the video):



And now back to catching up on a suddenly full inbox of email (I'm beginning to have to work with companies for the December FightFest at The Brick).

collisionwork: (doritos)
Oh god, this became long and rambly . . . sorry, had to get it all out . . .

So here I am in Maine, trying to work on the scripts for my three planned shows this year -- Spacemen from Space, The Devils (of Loudon), and, most importantly, The Wedding of Ian W. Hill & Berit Johnson: A Theatrical Study -- and getting far too distracted from my work by something that I'm realizing has less and less application to me and that work: the theatrical blogosphere's ongoing discussion of Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, a book from TDF (the Theatre Development Fund), which outlines the sorry state of American Theater . . . or at least, the sorry state at certain levels of American Theater as it exists now. I have not read the book, and as, from what I'm reading, it doesn't apply to my work as it stands, I probably won't.

The most central locale for discussion on this is at Isaac Butler's Parabasis, in both the posts and, maybe more importantly, in the comments. Isaac has organized a blog-thru with 8 bloggers going through the book chapter-by-chapter and discussing it. Other bloggers have joined in and are having their say. Besides the discussion at Isaac's, the most interesting thoughts, in posts and comments, are at J. Holtham's 99 Seats. Several other bloggers have had fewer posts, but been quite enlightening, including Garrett Eisler, August Schulenburg, and Travis Bedard.

A secondary, but connected, discussion regarding some figures from TCG (Theatre Communications Group) on the most produced plays of the past 10 years has also been going on, and is somewhat interesting -- purely theoretical, again, to me, as these plays have little to do with where I work or what I'm interested in; perhaps this discussion is most interesting in having revealed some nauseating attitudes from Mainstream Theater Critics, who say that not enough classical plays are being done, and that this is because Modern American Actors can't handle them. Aw, Jesus fuck a bagpipe, I'm not goin' there.

However, the blogger dealing with all of these discussions who is basically saying everything I would is fellow Indie Traveler Matthew Freeman (also, while not part of this discussion, James Comtois's series of posts, "Little Jimmy's Guide to Self-Producing," dovetails nicely with it; Josh Conkel also has a similar opinion to Matt's and mine, stated briefly, and noting his appropriate concern with some more truly important things in this world). Basically, for some of us theatre artists, the Institutional Theatre World being discussed in these studies is at a level above that connects with us barely at all. This level is, it would seem, IN TROUBLE.

Now, anything that means TROUBLE to Theatre in any way hurts. I've had people who wanted me to snicker with them when a theatre space whose management I despised would go under, but the loss of ANY theatre space is a stab in the heart to me, and I won't celebrate the closing of one. The Troubles being discussed now, however (and go to the other blogs to see what they are in real detail, please), are the same ones we've been hearing about for years -- now with some good organization and data and a nice binding to back up the anecdotes -- and, again, ones that touch my Indie Theatre world barely a whit. Professor Scott Walters, in response to Matthew saying something similar, refers to this as an "I Got Mine" attitude -- I see it as a "We worked for it and continue to work to barely KEEP it, and hell, we SHARE it, gladly, and you could too if you paid attention" attitude. Scott has many many good and useful things to say on the Art, but he continually harps on things that, to his knowledge, don't exist or that theatre artists should be doing that are old hat to many of us who have been doing this for years (and it has been 20 years now for me since my first Indie NYC shows).

I worked at (and lived in the basement of) NADA on Ludlow Street for almost 4 years during a time that went from boom to bust for the space. The boom period was responsible for creating FringeNYC, the bust for the scattering of the Lower East Side theatre scene that had built up from around 1988-2000. Indie Theatre will probably never have as strong a united front in NYC as it did at that period, when there was such a strong geographical center to it, but -- and in a strange way possibly BECAUSE of the splintering of that Indie scene -- the past 10 years have certainly seen a slow regrouping, with stronger spaces, more exciting and diverse new work, and (most importantly for the survival of the spaces and the art) audiences and media more aware and respectful of our existence. Indie Theatre NYC is in a GOOD place right now. Not a GREAT one, no, things could always be better, and while awareness of us is better we are still not as much part of the City's landscape as we deserve to be. It's improving steadily, though, maybe not even so much because we're getting so rapidly better at our work, but because the more institutionalized branch of it isn't.

Apparently, Institutional Theatre is growing more stale, more inbred, more interested in development than production, is losing its audience as the current one dies off and no younger one is replacing it, is a place where being daring is discouraged, no one is doing the kind of work they WANT to be doing, and no one can make a decent living. Apart from the last item in that list, the opposite is true in the Indie Theatre world that I live in along with several hundred people that I know personally, and many thousands I don't.

Sure, many many MANY of the people in this world want and/or expect (and certainly deserve) to be getting by financially from their Theatre work, will never be able to, and won't be (or, to get other things important to them in this world, CAN'T be) satisfied with that. I've seen several dozen exceptionally talented actors, playwrights, and directors realize they were never going to make the living they wanted to in Theatre, and leave it. Yes, it can be heartbreaking.

Basically, in Theatre, as Matt Freeman pretty much says, you can either do what you want to, and almost certainly not make a living at it, or you can try to do something that might make you a living (but probably won't) that you very likely won't be happy with and may not even wind up in front of an audience. If you're lucky, you're able to get a job or series of gigs in the latter category that allows you the time, energy, and freedom to do the former. More and more of my friends have been able to do this (I need to get on the bandwagon myself and be more organized in getting more craft/skill gigs to pay for my Art work).

So if working in Theatre is going to be a financially-unrewarding struggle at any level you work in (unless you win the lottery with a real success -- as Arthur Miller said, "You can't make a living in Theatre but you can make a killing"), why not do the work you want to in an area that is uncalcified and, at least where I and my collaborators are, growing? The discussion just makes me feel like I'm in a good place right now.

And I don't just mean a good place in my career, but a very literal good place: The Brick, a home for my work, where, as Technical Director, I can also pursue the calling I found at NADA of making sure as much worthwhile theatre work by other artists is produced at as professional a level as I can. Like all non-profit theatres, we could use more grants, donations, ticket sales -- basically, money -- not so much even to grow or be more secure (though that would be nice) but just to keep the physical space and equipment in good working order. However, we're doing better and better in that regard -- 2009 was our best year yet, financially, by far.

And -- looking at some numbers -- what kind of work gave us this very good year? 51 productions (ranging from multi-week runs to one-night events) of which 44 were brand-new, premiere works. Of the rest, there were 4 adaptations of Classical Texts (Greeks through Chekhov -- three of which were so "adapted" as to be almost brand-new plays) and 3 later 20th-Century revivals (all ones I directed). Besides the four productions I created, I was privileged to work closely on 12 other shows, including doing light design for 10 of them (and as Tech Director, I had to work with ALL of them in some way). In fact, at least one of the "productions" I'm listing was an evening of 7 fully-produced one-acts, so the real number is a bit bigger. And we had audiences. We could have more, of course (my own four shows, which did "very well," still had less than 50% of the possible seats filled in total on all but one), but we definitely seem to be on an upward swing.

And this past year, in our little theatre, I've been lucky enough to work with and see plays premiered from contemporaries I know and admire like Bryan Enk & Matt Gray (Third Lows), Eric Bland (Old Kent Road), Richard Lovejoy (Sneaky Snake), Audrey Crabtree & Lynn Berg (Ten Directions), Matthew Freeman (Blue Coyote), James Comtois & Pete Boisvert (Nosedive), Gyda Arber & Aaron Baker (Fifth Wall), Tim Cusack & Jason Jacobs with Stan Richardson (Theatre Askew), Eddie Kim, David Finkelstein (Lake Ivan), Happy Hour, Horse Trade, Frank Cwiklik & Michele Schlossberg (DMTheatrics), Hope Cartelli & Jeff Lewonczyk (Piper McKenzie), Michael Gardner (The Brick, itself), and fight choreography from Qui Nguyen (Vampire Cowboys).

AND . . . I got to know and admire artists I hadn't known previously, like Anna Q. Jones (Bone Orchard), Nick Jones, Rachel Shukert & Peter J. Cook (Terrible Baby), Leah Winkler & Emily Baines (Everywhere Theatre Group), Marc Bovino & Joe Curnutte (The Mad Ones), Youngblood, Patrick Harrison (Depth Charge), and Cat Fight Productions.

PHEW!

And this is just mentioning the creators who worked this year in our place -- not even mentioning the dozens of terrific actors I've seen or directed in these shows (nor any great Indie Theatre I've seen elsewhere this year -- Tom X. Chao, Stolen Chair, whatever). And I'm sure I'm leaving some out. Oh, right, I directed a fun farce by Trav S.D. at Theatre for the New City as well -- a bit outside the real Indie Theatre community, somewhat, but still part of the style.

So . . . honestly, a theatrical community that includes, in one year, all of the above (and, for that matter, my OWN work), is not one I feel is exactly unhealthy, at least creatively. No, none of the above are making a living from their work -- that may be a crime, it may not; I wish we all were. I don't think very many of these artists, as successful as some shows might be, are exactly going to create work that will cross over to a mass audience and sell the tickets that make the profits (though one can always stumble upon the right show in the right place at the right time and find yourself with a Urinetown, but you can't predict or plan that, despite the many groups that try every year at FringeNYC).

Still, I wouldn't be surprised in the least, actually, if Freeman or Comtois or Bland or Lovejoy or Nguyen, or Mac Rogers for that matter (and I wish we had something of HIS at The Brick!), stumbled upon the play that crossed over and had that kind of success -- but I sure don't think it would happen for Matt or James or Eric or Richard or Qui or Mac by TRYING to play the game and go the Institutional route. If it happens it will be because they are working and pushing things forward in the Indie world, and the "right person" sees it and is able to help it in the other.

In any case, one of my projects for the coming year is to try and find some grant money that can't go towards play production, but could possibly go towards publishing, as I really, really want to create a GCW imprint that could put out a series of anthologies: Plays from The Brick, featuring work by many of the above artists (all shows that premiered at the space). Published texts aren't plays, of course (as a symphony conductor said of a Mahler score -- as opposed to an actual performance -- "It's a theory"), but it would be a Good Thing if we could share some of what we do at The Brick with a world outside NYC Indie Theatre.

Okay -- been working on this too long, and am too tired and rambling. I will be following the discussion of Outrageous Fortune with some interest -- as I'm following the whole Leno/O'Brien thing, despite not watching or having any interest in either of their shows, because the discussion of the conflict is more interesting to me than the business-as-usual. But probably, if I feel like joining in, it will just be a sign to close the browser and re-open Word and go back to getting my own shows written.

Some people may see their "fortune" as cursed, as in the stars, and bemoan it, and some people just choose to ignore the prophets, roll up their sleeves, and go ahead. The work is all.

collisionwork: (goya)
The Fight Fest is in full swing at The Brick, and is now what is taking up much of Berit's and my time, though now that it's open, the time is a bit more spread out, as the techs are mostly over, so usually B and I just have either one show to run or one house managing shift every day. I have to be here (and HERE at The Brick is where I am right now) tomorrow morning for a tech, but I think that (apart from a cabaret) that's the last tech of the Fest to be supervised.

Today, I'm here because a school in Greenpoint has rented the space out from 9 am to 3 pm so that several classes of 9th-grade students who have been creating scenes in class can come in and present them to each other in an actual theatrical setting. So I'm here as space monitor, which is fine (I get paid), except for not getting to sleep until 3 am last night (after opening Ninja Cherry Orchard, which was a lot of fun). Very tired. Nice to see the kids doing this theatre work -- granted, maybe only a third of them are at all interested, but they're doing it.

I am fighting to stay awake right now, so I can be a good monitor, and I could use some loud music in my ears, so here's another week's Random Ten out of 25,239 in the iPod, with links to some of the songs/artists:

1. "Eye Know" -- De La Soul -- 3 Feet High and Rising
2. "So Much (1967 version)" - Night Shadows -- The Psychedelic Years
3. "319" -- Prince -- The Dawn - Act 2
4. "You! Me! Dancing!" -- Los Campesinos! -- Hold On Now Youngster
5. "Will She Meet the Train in the Rain?" -- Greg Perry -- One for the Road
6. "Exile" - Enya -- Watermark
7. "Sun Kissed Chicks" -- Jean-Jacques Debout -- The Music Library by Jonny Trunk
8. "Cool" - TOKIO -- News
9. "Need a Little Lovin'" -- Dean Carter -- Pebbles volume 6 - Chicago 1
10. "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" -- Bob Dylan -- John Wesley Harding

Still no new cat photos due to stolen camera, but here's a few videos of recent interest (if you're seeing this on Facebook, you'll have to go back to the original post to see them.

Here, old friend Art Wallace premieres his new online reality show, Spirit Seekers:


Some clips of Cleveland horror host Ghoulardi:


Woolworth record commercials from 1971 and 1980:



And finally, a little inexplicable adaptation of Star Trek: The Next Generation:



Ah, after rehearsing all morning, the kids are now doing their scenes for their teachers, other classes and parents/guests. They're doing their best -- many of them are shy and reading quietly from scripts, hating being on stage completely, but a few are more natural performers, and watching them get into it when they get audience reaction for the first time, and what it does for them, is very heartening. Maybe one or two of them will want to keep with it, at least part time. I hope so.

collisionwork: (sleep)
Well, here I am at The Brick again, crammed in the humid dressing room while a show in The Antidepressant Festival techs in the space. They were supposed to stop about a half-hour ago, but as the theatre is free until 6.00 pm, and I have no other real plans for the rest of the afternoon, apart from going home and getting some more rest before seeing Doctors Jane & Alexander tonight in The Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas at Theater Three, and the group here could use the time to get this show teched right, I feel I should stay here and let them keep working.

This year's Festival is, as far as all of here can see, a rather fine fine superfine group of shows, and I feel especially responsible to go an extra mile over the usual extra miles to make every single show shine like a polished jewel, if I can.

(this show is, as I now write, at an HOUR past scheduled time however, and I'm beginning to get a tad antsy, as it doesn't sound all that close to wrapping up . . . {sigh})

As for the shows I designed light for, Infectious Opportunity was altogether quite excellent, and ...and the fear cracked open (which I'm also running the board for) was pretty, sweet and painful. I haven't yet been able to see a final performance of Adventure Quest or The Tale of the Good Whistleblower of Chaillot's Caucasian Mother and Her Other Children of a Lesser Marriage Chalk Circle yet, but will get to them next week.

People are enjoying the shows, and thus far we're doing good with the reviews at nytheatre.com, which has 5 positive reviews for the 5 shows reviewed thus far (and I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing the well-reviewed Samuel & Alisdair: A Personal History of the Robot War -- I was here for most of their tech, and what I saw and heard there completely blew me away).

Otherwise, yesterday I participated in a test runthru of Suspicious Package: RX, which went fairly well (some tech problems to be sorted out; the reason for the test run), then I participated in a reading of a new, crazy play by Marc Spitz going up at The Kraine sometime soon (a lot of fun - I showed up thinking I'd be reading a small part, and was given a much larger and funnier one as an actor didn't show up - I think I did okay, though I can't really do a Russian accent all that well). And last night we rehearsed Blood on the Cat's Neck with some efficiency and productiveness, though I have now lost two actresses from the cast to better-paying gigs, another couldn't show up due to work, and another was sick, so the four actors I had left and I did what we could, which was enough.

I was going to go on up to New England tomorrow for a family gathering, but it's been called off, so instead a kinda get my first full day off in a while, which I'll spend going to the big yearly Daniel McKleinfeld/Maggie Cino birthday bash for those of us with June birthdays. I intend to kick back, drink and eat heartily, and play a lot of Rock Band.

Then I have nine hours of rehearsing two different shows on Sunday.

As for now, they're clearing out of the theatre, and I have to be sure everything's going back in place correctly. I'll have to do the Random Ten from home later, too, as I have no player of any kind here. Back in a while . . .

collisionwork: (welcome)
Tonight, The Granduncle Quadrilogy opened with a fine show and a great, appreciative audience at The Brick.

It was followed by the announcement of the theme for our 2009 Summer Festival, coming June 5-28.

Michael Gardner created a Powerpoint presentation we projected on the screen, which has been going around the Brick staff this week, and here it is as a movie (which for some reason messes up the transitions a bit, but whatever), the 2009 Festival Theme . . .



I won't be doing anything for this Festival, but I will be presenting my own Gemini CollisionWorks festival once again soon after - this year from July 31-August 23.

Appropriately, as a corrective to the above Festival, my four weeks of (I hope - rights, energy, and money depending) four shows is tentatively known as The Bummer Festival, and comprises:

A Little Piece of the Sun, by Daniel McKleinfeld, a documentary play (nuclear disaster and serial killing!)

George Bataille's Bathrobe, by Richard Foreman (political prisoners and impending death!)

Blood on the Cat's Neck, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (symbolic and literal vampirism!)

and Spacemen from Space, by Ian W. Hill (space opera as metaphor for anti-intellectualism!)

Fun for the whole family!

UPDATED 12/9/08: Better version of the video embedded - shorter, with punchier timing.

Rzzzzz!

Sep. 14th, 2008 10:22 am
collisionwork: (comic)
Ben Model gave a terrific talk yesterday at The Brick on the use of undercranking in silent film, especially silent comedy - pretty much all silent films were not shot at any standard frame-per-second speed, and most were shot at lower frame rates so they'd feel "punchier" when projected (as well as filmmakers getting around exhibitors who were speeding up projectors to fit in an extra screening every day).

So Ben showed examples from films by Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton, both at the speed they were supposed to be projected at, and also at the speed at which they were shot, which was fascinating (at least for a film tech-head like me, who's actually shot some hand-cranked/undercranked 16mm film myself on a Bolex for my NYU senior film, Deep Night). You could really see, slowed down, the care and craft (and safety measures) that went into the slapstick.

And that was yesterday at The Brick. Today, B & I have nothing except an afternoon backyard BBQ with Theatre friends, and a late night tech run of Penny Dreadful episode #6.5 after the last show at the space - unfortunately, as of last night at least, the show that we'll be following is running about 15 minutes over, so we'll get an even later start. Tomorrow is the Penny Dreadful fundraiser, where we'll do the mini-episode and have a nice party.

Meanwhile, I've finally seen and grabbed the mens' magazine cover that inspired the title (and final cover image) of Frank Zappa's album Weasels Ripped My Flesh. I wasn't sure that anything could be more silly and funny in a disturbing way than the final cover art by Neon Park, but despite Zappa showing him this original cover and apparently saying, "what can you do that's worse than this?", I think Park didn't quite live up to the glory of the original image:

Weasels Ripped My Flesh!

And finally, for those who may have ever wondered what it looks like on my end while I'm blogging, here it is:

Where He Wants To Be

Yep, most of the time, I'm trying to do this one-handed, while dealing with a kitty who demands to be held or he'll wander around the apartment, yowling, and then start knocking things over or climbing where he's not supposed to until he gets the hugs he wants. Little lovey bastard (at least he's asleep on the sofa right now so I don't have to deal with this).

While checking out the "Photo Booth" program on the iMac so I could take that picture, I found one of my favorite shots of B & I, taken right after the computer was delivered and we hooked it up and had it take us through the setup process, which included taking a shot of its owners:

First Photo Booth Picture

Which makes me also realize it's time to grow the beard back . . .

Clown Town

Sep. 5th, 2008 10:51 am
collisionwork: (crazy)
What, has it been a week since I was here?

Jeez, yeah.

Sorry - been busy getting The Brick ready for the third annual New York Clown Theater Festival.

B & I have spent the lion's share of every day since Saturday over at the space cleaning it up, rearranging things, and fixing things, since, for once, we had the time to do it. The place looks really good now and the tech is in much better shape. We started teching clown shows on Wednesday and all is going well and the shows look to be really good this year.

Today are the opening ceremonies - a Clown Parade stating at 4.30 pm in Union Square (red noses will be handed out for those who don't have them), which will travel by subway to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, then march through the streets to The Brick, where we will have our big big pie fight in an immense plastic tent constructed in the theatre to avoid destroying the place (many fights, in fact - we do them in shifts, with some themed groups - ladies only, children, "fast skate" - then we get the pie-covered people outside the theatre to hose them off).

I've also had the fun duty of creating the mix of music to be played during the fights. I've kept many of the great selections Devon Ludlow used in the past - lots of bombastic classical favorites mixed with some driving rock - and added a few of my own that I hope will amuse while being good pie-fight scoring. Won't name them now, as I'm looking to surprise people who will be there, and who I know read this blog.

Anyway, B & I need to get moving fairly soon to get there and check in and help with setup, so I'll just go on to the normal Friday Random Ten now, from out of the 26,103 still there in the iPod (I have more to add now, but I can't until I drop some of the useless tracks there) . . .

1. "Chocolate Pope" - Electric Six - Switzerland
2. "Let The Sun Shine Down" - Hardy Boys - Bubblegum Classics volume 5
3. "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down (live)" - Johnny Cash - Legend
4. "Get It Jerk" - Frankie Coe & The Mighty Soul Messengers - the Git Down!
5. "Satumaa (Finnish Tango)" - Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 2
6. "I Move Around" - Nancy Sinatra - Boots
7. "Should Have Known Better" - Richard Lloyd - Alchemy
8. "She Weaves A Tender Trap" - The Chocolate Watchband - 44
9. "Lucifer Airlines" - Electric Six - I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master
10. "Lonesome Cowboy Burt (Swaggart Version - live)" - Frank Zappa - The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life

I'll be back more regularly again once the ClownFest is really under way . . .

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

SPELL - postcard front
SPELL - postcard reverse

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


The Brick Theater, Inc.
presents
a Gemini CollisionWorks production of

Spell

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


at
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
www.bricktheater.com

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


(ERROR ON POSTCARD ABOVE AND ELSEWHERE:
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 theatermania.com
(212-352-3101 or toll-free: 1-866-811-4111)

*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
So, Harry in Love: A Manic Vaudeville and Spell have opened and had two shows each. The third Gemini CollisionWorks show for the month of August opens the day after tomorrow. Actually tomorrow, now as I write this.

The postcards are on the way, and will be at The Brick late tomorrow or early the next day.

Here's the card and the promo announcement:

EVERYTHING MUST GO - postcard front
EVERYTHING MUST GO - postcard reverse

Opening TOMORROW, August 6 -
the third and final in the trio of August 2008 productions
from Gemini CollisionWorks at The Brick:

The Brick Theater, Inc.
presents
a Gemini CollisionWorks production of

Everything Must Go

a new play in dance and speeches

created by Ian W. Hill
assisted by Berit Johnson


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.

Everything Must Go - subtitled (Invisible Republic #2) - is a constantly shifting dance-theatre piece in which anything that matters must have a price, anyone is corruptible, and everything must go.

Everything Must Go (Invisible Republic #2)
is performed and choreographed by
Gyda Arber, David Arthur Bachrach*, Becky Byers, Patrick Cann,
Maggie Cino, Tory Dube, Sarah Engelke*, Ian W. Hill,
Dina Rose*, Ariana Seigel, and Julia Sun.


at
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
www.bricktheater.com

August 6, 9, 13, 15, 16, 21, and 23 at 8.00 pm
August 17 at 4.00 pm


approximately 95 minutes with no intermission

All tickets $15.00

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

*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

Reactions

Jun. 9th, 2008 08:00 am
collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
People, for the most part, are enjoying Ambersons. Some are really digging it on its own as a theatre piece and experience, some are somewhat enjoying it for the historical recreation value, and some are rather intellectually enjoying it from a distance as (it was put to me by one person) an "experiment" - and he seemed to very much mean that in the test-tubes-and-bunsen-burner way, which is indeed how I see some of my theatre anyway (not so much this one, but whatever).

No expressions of dislike to my face as yet - like you get those too often - and very few reactions that sounded like someone trying to be polite who didn't like it (which I can pretty well suss by this point).

Two reviews as yet (and probably ultimately altogether) - a GIGANTIC SLAM from Backstage, and a PRETTY SERIOUS RAVE from nytheatre.com (no links - find 'em yourself if interested). And the slam is kinda stupid and missing-the-point (he seems to want a theatrical copy of cinematic techniques that just doesn't work in theatre - you can do it, but it looks stupid, has nothing to do with theatre, and at best comes off as a trick). Martin Denton's rave is nice and he pretty well gets it - and it's not like I haven't gotten raves that made me feel odd and unhappy because the reviewer liked the show but obviously didn't get it at all; Martin "got" this one. So that's all fine and good.

The Film Festival: A Theater Festival is also the Pick of the Week on nytheatre.com, which is nice, and is illustrated with a publicity still from Ambersons.

Damned hot weekend, much of which I spent at The Brick, even after Friday night's Ambersons. Saturday I was on duty for six hours for a tech for Tod & I, which opened yesterday for one of two performances (I probably won't get to see it, but it looked gorgeous, and Hope & Jeff (on duty for the show itself) told me the story was lovely. No one showed up for the 4 pm screening at the space which I was supervising, so I went home and spent the rest of the day and night fading in and out of sleep, anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour at a time up or down. Sometime late, while barely awake, I got word from Berit, who had Michael from The Brick on the phone, that the lights at the space were blacking out and flickering during a show, which usually means that the dimmers are overheated and/or needing cleaning (which I should indeed have done before the Festival). I agreed to go over yesterday morning and clean them before the first show.

So I did, but the problem still existed. Everything was clean, and I now had a fan blowing on the dimmers, but no go, they kept going off and on at about 10-second intervals. This began some panic, as a show was coming in and setting up, and there was basically no lighting (and the show REQUIRES it - it's mostly shadow-puppets). Todd, the LD/operator for Tod & I came up to help me out, and we spent some time trying to find the problem - mainly, we were able to eliminate all the things that weren't causing it, while getting no closer to a solution (he put in a call to a friend of his for advice and I called ETC in the meantime). Todd, somewhat by chance, then held the fan up to the tiny vent on the control module on the dimmer pack, and the problem stopped. We tried it off and on for a bit, and it was clear that this was the source. The control module was dirty and/or overheating, so we pulled it out (after another call for advice on just how to do that, as it isn't obvious), hit it with the compressed air, replaced it, and all was well again (though we kept the fan going on it as well, just in case).

So this was a new one on me - I knew the dimmers needed to be cleaned with some regularity, but never knew about the control module. Now I do, and all is good - though I didn't feel all that good after being silly and using that much canned compressed air in the tiny space of The Brick's tech booth without regular breaks for fresh air (it's not good for you, and it says so on the label, if I'd been smart enough to look - mainly, it just left an awful metallic taste in my mouth that wouldn't go away).

Which leads me to my current source of nervousness - at some point yesterday, after going to The Brick for Stolen Chair's Kill Me Like You Mean It last night, the interior of the car began to REEK of spray paint. It didn't on the way over, but it did when I got something out of the car before the show (I didn't quite catch that it was coming from the car), and when I got in to drive home, it was overpowering.

So there's probably a can of spray paint in the car that got overheated and sprung a leak.

In the car. With the costumes and props for Ambersons. Underneath all of them where I can't get to it.

Silver spray paint, Berit says, as she ran out of the one other color she had been using. I've twice gone through what I can get to in the car to see if I can find it, but after taking everything out that can be easily grabbed, it's not there - all that's left is the immense pile of costumes that I can't take out because I have no place to pile them when I'm not at the theatre. And the smell, when trying to look for the can in a stationary car, without wind blowing through windows, is overpowering and nauseating and I can't keep looking for all that long.

So, I'll go over to the space a couple of hours early today to get all the stuff out carefully and try and find the problem element, and hope that none of the rented costumes were hit - the spray paint would have been inside a plastic bag, maybe even two bags, so that should help, but who knows how much. I hope the costumes don't wind up reeking too much of it - maybe some serious Febreezing will be in order . . .

{sigh}

So there's the day and week. Show tomorrow and Thursday (and that's IT for this show - no way I can extend it, as I can't afford the costume rental again), then focus more on the Festival in general and the August shows in particular as I can. Should get back to writing this week on Spell and Everything Must Go and recast the actress I lost from the former of those.

Okay, back to the needed relaxing before the back to work . . .

collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
Shows that are up or coming or upcoming from collaborators and friends that you should see and they will be fun and relatively cheap and then you can smile and have a good time and then have maybe some cookies or something and a nice glass of something tasty and then we can have world peace or something:

Matt Freeman's When Is a Clock? has opened. The last two pieces I saw of his at The Brick were terrific and hysterical (An Interview With The Author and Trayf) and I plan on seeing this one . . . whenever the hell I can. If, unlike me, you're not rehearsing, like, six shows right now and have some free time, see the damned thing. Runs April 15 through May 10 at Access Theater.

More info is HERE; tickets are available HERE.

James Comtois' Colorful World opens at 78th Street Theatre Lab on May 8th and runs to the 31st. I think they were rehearsing next door to us at Battle Ranch last night -- Michael Gardner asked, "Did I hear Jessi Gotta's laugh?" Apparently so, as a big mess o'cards got left there afterwards. It's a riff on superheroes in a recognizable, real world in the vein of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Again, hope I get to see it.

If you can, tickets and info are HERE.

Coming up at CSV-Milagro shortly is the new entry in Stolen Chair's "Cinetheatre Tetrology," The Accidental Patriot: The Lamentable Tragedy of the Pirate Desmond Connelly, Irish by Birth, English by Blood, and American by Inclination, created by Jon Stancato & Co., which combines Errol Flynn swashbuckling films with Greek Tragedy. Really. April 25-May 17.

Info HERE, tickets HERE.

And at the home territory of The Brick . . .

The season finale of Penny Dreadful - Episode 6: "The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned" - will play this Saturday at 10.30 pm and Sunday at 2.00 pm. I'm lighting this one with Berit, as always, and also acting in this one as George Westinghouse (a comment on my usual position as supplier of power to the show?). It's a corker of an episode to end the season with, and will have people eagerly awaiting the return in September.

Tickets are HERE.

Finally, Babylon Babylon has a final preview tonight and opens tomorrow (with big party to follow).

I've been describing this one plenty (as I've also lit this, though it still has another name on the homepage . . .), so I needn't say much more, but the show has really turned out well, and it's quite exciting to see so many good actors (31!) all working together at the same time on the same stage.

Here's a photo from production photographer Ken Stein, taken at the first preview:

Babylon Babylon - The High Priestess 2

I have a bunch more nice shots from the show, but I'll put them all behind a cut here for easier loading . . .

Hail Ishtar! - photos from final dress and first preview )



This show runs from April 18 to May 10. Blog is HERE, tickets are HERE.

That's all for now. More tomorrow. See some theatre.

collisionwork: (lost highway)
Luckily, it wasn't MY car.

I've been working 13-hour days getting the lights ready for Babylon Babylon - it's taken me a LOT longer than I expected to get them ready, as always happens when I have to do a considerable rehang on my own (I need to always multiply my estimated time x2 when a solo rehang is involved). Yesterday, I had to finish cabling, then focus all 28 lights being used in the show, which involved bringing up a light individually, running down the ladder from the booth, up the 12-foot ladder to the grid to focus (sometimes up and down several times as I adjusted my lighting "standins" - two extended mic stands with paper taped to the top) then back up the ladder to the booth. Repeat x 28. Big fun.

I probably looked pretty silly, too, as I had brought and was wearing my pyjama pants to work in, but no one else was going to be there, and it made it a lot more comfortable.

The show itself is still coming together, and is almost there. There are previews tomorrow night (which will be rough, but it needs an audience to move forward) and next Thursday (which should be fine and slick) before opening a week from tonight. I still have to go in and finish writing the cues, and make the fixes from what I saw last night. I'll try and take some pictures of the run tonight to share.

Oh, right, pictures! That's what I started the story about. So anyway, I was up on the ladder, focusing, when there was a car horn honking out in front that got more and more insistent, then just held down and wouldn't stop. I stomped down the ladder, and for some reason had the idea that it was our landlord honking - he's never done that, so I don't know why I thought this, but when I'm parked in the "free" space in front of The Brick sometimes (it's a former driveway, so there's no meter there, and you can stay there all day without paying or getting a ticket), he will come in and order me to move so he can have "his" spot for his big green Expedition - Berit always gets angry about this ("It's NOT his spot!"), and it's a pain, but well, he's the landlord. Best to stay friendly.

So I open the front door of The Brick and find myself looking at the landlord's car right in front, the alarm going off, with constant honk, lights flashing, and wipers going, and a GIANT plume of fire coming through a hole in the hood that it has obviously burned through. Impressive.

So I ran back inside and to the rear of the theatre (I know that, Hollywood notwithstanding, cars generally don't blow up, but seeing that much fire coming from one is unnerving) and called the FDNY. Someone probably got them before me, because almost immediately after, I could hear the hoses going, and thought it was safe to grab my camera . . .

Burning Car - Medium

Wish I'd gotten some with the actual fire, but oh well . . .
Burning Car - Close

I feel bad for the landlord, but at the same time there's that evil part of me with the tiny inward grin remembering all the times I was in the middle of a good rehearsal process and was interrupted with the yell that I had to move my vehicle, NOW! I told a couple of people about the past incidents and they shrugged and said "Karma."

(Berit, with a big "comic" take, called it "car-ma." ugh.)

So, back to the theatre, but first, todays random ten and cats - from the iPod today:

1. "Weird Nightmare" - Elvis Costello et al. - Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus
2. "Where the Wolf Bane Blooms" - The Nomads - Children of Nuggets: Original ARTyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era - 1976-1996
3. "Tear It On Down" - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Black Magic
4. "Brick Is Red" - Pixies - Surfer Rosa
5. "Life of Crime" - The Flatmates - Love and Death (The Flatmates 86-89)
6. "Ambiguity Song" - Camper Van Beethoven - Telephone Free Landslide Victory
7. "Power" - John Oswald (Deep Zen Pill with Brother Bam Shock) - 69 Plunderphonics 96
8. "Nice 'n' Easy" - Frank Sinatra - The Capitol Collectors Series
9. "Oil Gusher" - The Raymond Scott Project - Powerhouse volume 1
10. "Sexy Trash" - Electric Six - I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master

Wasn't able to take any new cat pictures with everything going on this week, but I have a couple sitting around that weren't the best from past weeks. Here's a nice pudgy Hooker-cat on a shelf, wishing I'd stop bothering him:

Hooker the Pudgepot

And with Moni on a chair, almost in their Yin-Yang Kitty pose:
Yin-Yang Kitties

Tomorrow morning, we have the first meeting/work session for Spell. Sunday, rehearsal for Penny Dreadful in the early morning and The Magnificent Ambersons in the evening.

I'm tired, but it's a GOOD tired.

collisionwork: (Great Director)
Openings coming up at The Brick . . .

This Friday, Michael Gardner's acclaimed production of Notes from Underground (previously done in two LES spaces years ago) opens - follow the link for more details.

We keep it legal and on the up-and-up at The Brick -- here, co-founder/co-artistic director of the space (and star of Notes) Robert Honeywell applies fireproofing solution to an important prop . . .

Robert Fireproofs

Behind him is the large wall that has been built (by good ol' Art Wallace) towards what would normally be the rear of the stage - basically, right around where the back curtains usually are. This play will take place entirely in this small area, with the audience entering by going up and down seemingly rickety stairs and across a tight passage on platforms. Nice.

The show has always been popular, and there is limited and uncomfortable seating available, so get your tickets now!

Coming up on Saturday, Episode 4 of Bryan Enk and Matt Gray's ongoing monthly Penny Dreadful saga, "Battlin' Bob Ford: Pugilist from the Future!"

Adam Swiderski makes his directorial debut with this episode, and from what I saw at a runthru on Sunday, has done a cracking good job of it. Once again, I'm lighting the thing.

The problem there is . . . we're doing this is the same small walled-off area that Notes is in - but with actual (somewhat) comfortable chairs in there - which is not set up for stage lighting, as Notes is done entirely with practicals. Okay, fine, it's easy enough to hang and cable the lights and get them where I need - since I've always had to work with the house plot or another setup on the other episodes, it actually means I'll have real control over the light for the first time on Penny.

Unfortunately, with the wall and set where it is, it means that there's no way for Berit, operating the tech, to actually see the show. Not a bit of it. Hopefully, all cues can be taken off the dialogue. Even if I put the board on the extension cables, it still won't make it near the stage (and then we'd have to rig something special with the sound, too). We'll probably have to work out some way to actually call the show - like in a real theatre! (ha. ha.) - instead of our normal routine. I've been considering an ingenious system of mirrors. Probably we'll just hook up a video monitor, which always winds up barely working right, with the camera always being in a place to not pick up the visual cues. {sigh} Great.

For those not yet following the Penny Dreadful saga, as always, the synopses and videos of the previous episodes are online. Episode 3, "The Great Switcheroo," is now up HERE. As always, if you're going to watch the video, don't read the synopsis - it's complete and gives away everything. If you're coming to a new episode and haven't seen any of the others, and don't have time for the videos, THEN read the synopses.

I am personally really looking forward to directing Episode 5 in the Penny Dreadful saga. I have no idea what the plot of it is yet - the script isn't finished and I haven't seen a word of it; I will apparently be given a final copy of it at the Episode 4 performance. I've been given a list of characters I will need to cast, though (William Randolph Hearst? Who the hell can I get for that?), and this promotional illustration:

Penny Dreadful #5

. . . which DOES fill me with delight, I must say. At least, having seen a run of Episode 4 now, I know who the "Deb of Destruction" is.

And at some point I will be acting in one of these shows too - Bryan and Matt are apparently still arguing over whether I will be playing George Westinghouse or Admiral Byrd -- or was it Admiral Perry? I thought that's what they said, but it doesn't make sense with the timeline of the show, unless they're doing a flashback of 50 years . . . which is entirely possible -- but wait, Byrd would have been really young at the time of the script. What the hell Admiral were they talking about? Waitaminit, I think they meant Robert Peary. That makes more sense.

Today, we'll be driving around in the rain getting more props for the UTC#61 shows. Also, some people have emailed and called back on my four shows - some are in, some are out - more casting to do there . . .

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 nytheatre.com). 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: (Great Director)
For the record.

The one and only review of the "Marys" program in the Baby Jesus One-Act Jubilee has been from Li Cornfeld at offoffionline.com. Some nice things are said about my production of Marshmallow World, namely:

A Christmas Carol is followed by Marc Spitz’s Marshmallow World, which brings a literal return to the craziness. Set in a support group, the play features a collection of colorful oddballs all suffering from “sonic” addiction. Victor (Brick Technical Director Ian Hill, who also directs, in addition to serving as marathon light designer and tech director) is among the group’s more senior members and seems strangely sweet given his criminal record, substance abuse, and obsession with NPR’s Terry Gross. Meanwhile, Angel (Alyssa Simon) yearns for a better sense of aesthetics as she tries to move beyond her love of bad music at intimate moments, while Ray (Aaron Baker) fears a particular infamous string of notes. All three deliver comedic performances that embrace their characters’ quirks while resisting the urge to play them as simply insane.

From the beginning, however, audience attention is drawn to Boris (Jason Liebman), who sits alone in a corner hiding in a black hoodie and looking as though he wants to disappear. Fortunately, he instead reveals why he has come: he’s a religious Jew obsessed with Christmas music. As Boris, Liebman is at once deeply distraught and charmingly amusing. Elsewhere in the program, Liebman is engaging as anachronistic Biblical thugs, and it’s fun to see him succeed here at something different.



Pleasant enough. Yup, I'm "strangely sweet." That does seem to be something I can pull out easily onstage.

I kinda specialize in playing Brutes, Intellectuals, or Fops, or any combination thereof (wanna see a brutish fop? I've done it a couple of times; good at it). And I can throw "strangely sweet" on top of any of them.

I actually - to my own surprise as well as others' - turned out to be really good at light romantic comic leads the couple of times I was cast that way, but I'm gettin' long-in-the-tooth for that, and I was never the right physical type anyway.

The big thing I can't do well at all, at least as far as I'm concerned: dumb people. Big limitation as an actor, but one I got. Can't do dumb people well. A friend of mine who got cast as dumb people frequently (and I never believed him in those parts either, but maybe that was 'cause I knew him) always said, "Oh, it's easy - just make your eyes wide and your jaw slack," but it never seemed to work for me.

Well, at least I'm good at "thinking."

collisionwork: (tired)
So . . .

Our performance at The Brick's Quinquennial Party went over like gangbusters. Sometime soon, I'll see if I can cut the video down to 10 minutes (it's about 11 now), put it up on YouTube and embed it here, though it was really completed by Berit's and my live performance in front of it - and Berit appearing live on stage, performing (something she has continually vowed she will never do) was a stunning surprise for many of the friends and collaborators present. It was meant as a nice special gift from Gemini CollisionWorks for The Brick, to have both of us up there doing the piece. Now, of course, everyone's trying to convince Berit to make another stage appearance (Bryan Enk is determined she'll act in a Penny Dreadful episode at some point), but she's adamant about staying off stage, and I'm not going to help anyone try and convince her otherwise (in any case, who'd be running the board if she's on stage?). We are appearing together in non-speaking roles together in Carolyn Raship/Daniel McKleinfeld's piece in the Baby Jesus Jubilee, so Berit will take to the stage briefly again in the next few weeks (her rules seem to be that she'll appear on stage in silent roles or vocally over the booth mic - she won't be on stage and speak at the same time).

In brief, our piece consisted of alternating voiceovers as Berit read smarmily from Isherwood's piece in the Times about "what to do in NYC while Broadway is mostly shut down" -- she describes her (excellent, I'd say) vocal performance as "NPR crossed with Crow T. Robot's description of his day-trip to Chicago" -- and I read quotes on Theatre from Brecht, Foreman, Clurman, Wellman, and Mamet as well as some supposed Gemini CollisionWorks "rules for making theatre" (eg; "Rule #1: If you lived here, you'd be home by now.") The video was just titles identifying the quotes for the most part - Berit did a great job in creating them, as I requested, to look as much like the titles in Godard's Tout Va Bien as possible. On stage were sixteen chairs in three rows, and as our quotes played, we knocked them over one by one, until the end, when something different happens. It worked. People dug it. David Cote and I wound up having another in our continuing series of talks (which feel like one ongoing talk, broken up) regarding Off-Off-Broadway and the NYC press, and Berit had to keep assuring people who hadn't read the Isherwood article that it was indeed a real article by a real theatre critic in the real New York Times.

The whole party was great, and the other performances were quite good. A lot of it was very in-jokey for "The Brick Regulars," but that's only appropriate - Trav S.D. and Art Wallace showed a film (which we shot last Tuesday) of spurious "forgotten shows from The Brick's past," mainly parodying the styles of some of the Regulars - I contributed Ian W. Hill's Death of a Salesman starring myself and Moira Stone. Best of all, Lynn Berg and Audrey Crabtree performed a wonderfully nasty clown piece detailing "The History of The Brick" in which they did lovingly vicious parodies of all of us who run the space -- I spent most of it wondering what they were going to do to Berit and I, and was not disappointed as they enacted one of our typical lighting-tech squabbles ("Give me some ambers, Berit!" "Those are amber, Ian!" "No, those are green, Berit!" "Ian, you're colorblind!").

Unfortunately, a lovely night was capped by returning home after 13 hours at The Brick and finding that the cats had got into a sewing bag of Berit's that they shouldn't have, and Hooker was obviously in distress, having chewed on a piece of foam that B uses for a pin cushion. A trip to the 24-hour emergency vet, a couple of hours, and several examinations later, and, yup, there was a needle lodged in his throat. They sedated him, removed it, and kept him under observation until the following afternoon. Lucky little bastard - it could have been so much worse (needle in the stomach = surgery), and now he gets soft food for a week, like he's getting rewarded for misbehaving (as is Moni, as we know damned well that she's the one who got up on Berit's workdesk and pulled down the sewing materials).

So that was two nights running we didn't get to bed until 4.30 am, and last night I wound up falling asleep at a really early hour for me, and now I've been up and edgy since 4.00 this morning. Grrr. At least the snow outside has been kinda pretty as it appeared to me during the sunrise.

The good news in the middle of the whole magilla yesterday was that we finally got the play I'm directing for the Baby Jesus Jubilee fully cast as of 11 am yesterday, and were able to actually rehearse with the full cast in the afternoon. So, Jason Liebman has joined Alyssa Simon, Aaron Baker, and myself in Marc Spitz's Marshmallow World, and he's perfect in the part, as I thought he would be. I had neglected contacting him before yesterday, as he's already acting in another show on the bill (Qui Nguyen's Action Jesus, as Jesus), but once again I've learned not to assume anything, and "nothing ventured, nothing gained" (well, I've been given another example; considering that this keeps happening to me, I have no doubt I haven't learned anything). He read the script and jumped right in. Jason was the other Hamlet in The Pretentious Festival this year (in Q1: The Bad Hamlet) and we have an odd bond as a result (do actors who've played Hamlet have this in general?) - though there have been jokes from the rest of the company about us being "matter and anti-matter" and whether having the two of us acting together will result in some kind of cosmic instability. Judging from how well yesterday's rehearsal went, there's nothing to worry about. So, THAT's set.

Oh, and the theme for The Brick's 2008 Summer Festival was announced in a special video trailer at the party:

The Film Festival: A Theater Festival.

And I think this means I finally go forward with my longtime dream of presenting a stage adaptation of Orson Welles' film of The Magnificent Ambersons as Welles originally finished it, before the studio reshoots and recutting.

Oh boy, oh boy, this will be interesting . . .

collisionwork: (vile foamy liquids)
Berit and I decided we really, really HAD to do something for The Brick's Quinquennial Party tonight, so we stayed up until 4.30 am making the video for our performance piece tonight - which, by the way, is called What Are You Looking At? OR: Where Do We Stand Now? OR: Where Do YOU Stand (motherfucker)?

Now we have to be at The Brick at noon to finish the light focus and then dress all the cables and get the place presentable for the party tonight. And also work out the live performance component of our piece. Other groups performing tonight start coming in to tech at 5.00 pm, so we should have enough time to do what we need to. Maybe. Possibly.

So, with some microwaved day-old coffee, an averagely tepid shower (that is, either scalding or freezing), and a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist, here's the Random Ten to wake me up this morning:

1. "One Hit to the Body" - The Rolling Stones - Dirty Work
2. "Does Your Mama Know About Me?" - Bobby Taylor - Hitsville U.S.A., The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971
3. "Crying Is for Writers" - July - July
4. "The Lonely King of Rock 'n' Roll" - Don Reed & His Orchestra - 7" single
5. "Flying Jelly Attack" - Shonen Knife - Let's Knife!
6. "Tweedlee Dee" - Wanda Jackson - All the Hits and More
7. "Out of Left Field" - Percy Sledge - Essential Collection
8. "Powerhouse Pop" - Keith Mansfield - The Sound Gallery Volume Two
9. "Mesopotamia" - The B-52s - Mesopotamia
10. "US Plus: Pork" - The Firesign Theatre - Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death

Ah, well, this last reminds me of the nice thing waiting for me here at home yesterday -- For years I've been looking for copies of the (apparently) rare couple of books that The Firesign Theatre put out in 1972 and 1974, The Firesign Theatre's Big Book of Plays and The Firesign Theatre's Big Mystery Joke Book, but whenever I saw them it was at prices too dear for even a devoted Firehead like me to go for ($75.00 and up). Found them online for less than $20.00 each last week and (though ordered from two different sellers) both were sitting at my door when we got back from the space. No time to look at them yet, but they're waiting for me. 20 years I've been trying to get these. Finally.

Okay, time to wake Berit up and go where the Bozos go - big day today. And I still have to finish casting the damned Spitz short. Which we have to start rehearsing tomorrow. {sigh}

Shoes for Industry, compadres . . .

collisionwork: (sign)
Back from away. Happy cats. Won't leave us alone.

We were going to spend Tuesday at The Brick fully restoring the house plot for the December shows coming up (the last two shows almost completely rehung and recabled and due to some changes in who was supposed to do what when, Berit and I got stuck with the last third-or-so of the restore), but I had too much email business built up to take care of - invoicing for money owed on shows directed or teched (I get WAY too lackadaisical about this until I NEED THE CASH NOW!), answering questions from people coming into the space shortly, casting the Spitz short that is coming up fast, etc. So Tuesday was spent on that.

Yesterday, Berit and I went over to The Brick to work and we should have started much earlier - fixing the patch (her job - she handles the lightboard) and recabling the lights (my job - I handle the hardware) wound up being more of a pain than expected. After two shows in recabling things up there, there's now a giant mess of unnecessary jumpers all over the grid. And I had to add a few more to get things working ASAP.

After the January show (Frank Cwiklik's Bitch Macbeth, which I acted in in both the previous versions - 2001 at Access, 2003 at The Kraine), I should have a chance to tear everything down and start from scratch and make it clean and efficient again. Maybe then we'll also finally be able to add the top border pieces Berit and I have wanted to do for some time now, to clean up the line there.

So today we have three hours (between a class and a rehearsal) to go in and focus the lights and dress the cables, which probably won't be enough, so I'll have to finish during the day tomorrow, as we get set up for The Brick's Quinquennial Party. Berit and I were going to have a video/performance piece for this, but between the extra time going into the house plot and the Spitz play, it ain't gonna happen. Pity. It was rather specific for the event, so it just goes into the hopper of unrealized paper projects - a couple hundred by now, probably.

Well, while I have about 5-8 unrealized projects for every one I get done, it's not like I'm not overburdened anyway, and I usually wind up cannibalizing the good bits anyway of the paper projects anyway - the "post-apocalyptic acting company" framework I placed around my original production of Ten Nights in a Bar-Room was nicked from an unrealized combined re-construction/collision of The Wild Duck, The Pelican, and The Seagull (to be called Bird/BRAINS) that David LM Mcintyre and I were going to do after Even the Jungle.

I just spent some time typing out a description of what tomorrow's piece was going to be and it got me so excited about trying to do it again that I'm going to wait and see if there's ANY way I can get it done today/tonight. If I can't, I'll post the description tomorrow.

The problem is that besides the immediate work at The Brick, I'm still dealing with casting for the Marc Spitz short. I had three out of four cast, with two possibilities for the fourth, when one of the cast had to pull out as he hadn't looked closely enough at the schedule and turned out to have conflicts. So now it's just me and Alyssa Simon in the show. It's less than 10 minutes long, and not-at-all staging heavy, but I'd like a good 10 hours of rehearsal work on it at least, and time is getting short (we tech the individual show on Monday, have a tech with the whole program on Wednesday, and open on Thursday).

I have one actor still checking schedule to see if he can do it who can play either of the roles, and another who can do it, and is perfect for one of the roles, but can't make a lot of rehearsal time, or either of the techs (but works FAST and gets things right, right away). And now I have emails out to several other actors, and am waiting for responses.

Not a great time of year to try and cast something, especially when the last performance is on December 22. It seems like everyone's leaving town on the 20th or 21st. One of the roles can be played by many different types of actors, but the other has certain specific demands that make it more difficult to cast. We HAVE to rehearse on Saturday.

Ah, the joys of casting. I'll be happy when I have everything set, cast-wise at least, for all my 2008 shows by the end of January. At least that's the plan . . .

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