collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
There is a geography in my mind as real as that around me -- a geography based in film. In locations, real, created, or recreated in film and television - a fictional landscape that also makes sense to me. Maybe more sense than the real world.

In all the noir study I did for World Gone Wrong I mapped out the city of Los Angeles in my head from the dozens and dozens of films I watched that were shot in that city from 1941-1958. There is a very real L.A. in my head that is stuck in a endless 1947-1953, where Edmund O'Brien is forever shooting a man on a high floor of the Bradbury Building, while Lon Chaney Jr. tosses a man to his death from a higher floor, then escapes by going up the funicular railway - Angels Flight - by the Third Street tunnel a couple of blocks away.

At the top of the railway, Chaney exits the car and goes into a cheap hotel (the "Hillside"), where we've also seen Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer go (from the exact same camera angle) to question Fortunio Bonanova as a failed opera singer living under the name Carmen Trivago -- but did he have to take this name after failing as an opera coach, then called Signor Matiste, for a pretty but hopelessly untalented young blonde named Susan Alexander? Did Charlie Kane never forgive him for his inability to remove the quotes from around the word "SINGER," and use the power of all his Inquirer papers to prevent him from getting a good job again?

Does his incessant playing of old opera 78s bother the group of men next door who are planning an intricate heist? Probably not. They work all day and night, with the Angels Flight railway cars going by their window in an endless rear-projected loop.

They don't even notice when Lon Chaney Jr. kills the man below their window. The man who, despite his crutches, chose not to wait for the railway but took the stairs up Bunker Hill on the other side of the tunnel, meeting his doom at the top.

On his way up that hill he walks briefly by a small set of stairs. About a dozen years later, in lousy, low-budget color, a young man named Jerry walks past them the other way, as a man sits on the step, listening to the radio. Jerry stops as a news report comes over the air, a bulletin about a murder. Jerry is the murderer, which he's only beginning to realize, as he was hypnotized by a carnival gypsy into doing her bidding. He will return that night to the amusement park in Long Beach to confront her. It won't go well.

Outside of town, more things are happening in a connected series of caves in the Bronson Canyon section of Griffith Park than I could possibly go into here.

Further out, at Vasquez Rocks, there's a boulder that Jack Black stands on as "Jeepers Creepers, Semi-Star" for a Mr. Show sketch, and I wonder if he ever realized, as I did a few months ago, that it's probably the same boulder Harvey Korman stands on to address his troops near the end of Blazing Saddles. And in the area below Korman, where Slim Pickens and the other Western-parody bad guys listen, Captain James Tiberius Kirk fought a Gorn a few years back. Further back in time and you can see Buster Keaton wandering here. Further ahead, and it's Bruce Campbell.

Sometimes I want to go to L.A. and look for these places, but most of them are gone now. Just part of an L.A. of the mind. And you can see these overlaps elsewhere, too. There is a villa somewhere near Rome where the American movie producer Jeremy Prokosch lives and makes a play for the wife of the French screenwriter he is bringing in to script-doctor Frtiz Lang's film of The Odyssey. In the main room of the villa the screenwriter briefly strokes the strings of an out-of-tune harp. A few years later, the harp is in tune when a serial killer brushes it just before committing the second murder of the night in that house.

I was thinking of these connections tonight as I saw a picture of a house. Not this first picture. This is a screencapture from an early shot in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, a film of no small importance to me this year. This is, in the film, the home of Mrs. Johnson, though we're never specifically told that -- we are shown and told at separate times that this house is across the street from the Amberson mansion and that Mrs. Johnson lives across the street from the Ambersons (and the screenplay indicates that it is Mrs. Johnson calling to a streetcar earlier from a window).

The Amberson Mansion exterior barely existed - just a door piece and portico and a little bit else; most of it was a matte painting. But Mrs. Johnson's house was a real, full-sized piece, built on the RKO Encino ranch lot. I don't know if it was a previously-existing structure redressed for the Welles film or if it was a false front built especially for Orson's folly. For years, because of the way it was photographed, I thought it was also mostly a painting, but the behind-the-scenes photos make it clear this wasn't the case. It was there:

Magnificent Ambersons - Opening Montage

When Ambersons tanked, RKO spent years repurposing all its expensive, detailed sets in the many low-budget films created to make up for the money lost on Welles. The staircase of the Amberson mansion shows up in at least three Val Lewton horror films in the next few years, and sometimes doors and props that once belonged to the Ambersons appear elsewhere in those films, in backlot locales ranging from New York to the West Indies to Victorian London.

But that was in Hollywood, in the soundstages -- the very same stages where, in 20 years, now owned by Lucille Ball (who had once been rejected by RKO as the the female lead in an Orson Welles project for being too lightweight), they'd be shooting Star Trek and Mission: Impossible and Mannix.

On the Encino backlot, Mrs. Johnson's house stood and waited. Waited maybe for George Bailey and his future wife Mary to walk on by:

It's a Wonderful Life - A Familiar House

I saw this house, which George and Mary of course wind up making their own - a major fixer-upper - and, even with the slight redress, recognized it as Mrs. Johnson's old place, and this started me thinking.

In the film of Ambersons, we never learn the name of the small Midland town that grows and spreads into a city. Perhaps it is indeed Bedford Falls, and George and Mary have in fact taken over Mrs. Johnson's decrepit old place in a now unfashionable part of town. If George and Mary looked over their shoulders, there it would be, the Amberson mansion, now owned by the slumlord Mr. Potter, who never liked Major Amberson anyway and was more than happy to use his political juice to get the family thrown out so he could take over not only the houses the Major had built on his property, but the great mansion itself, which he chopped up into small dingy apartments with their "kitchenettes."

Was George Bailey named for that fine citizen George Amberson Minifer? Unlikely, as when George Bailey was born, George Minifer was still hated, or forgotten. Maybe the one person who existed in both films would know, but probably not -- he was a policeman with a couple of brief lines in 1915 and doesn't even rate being credited in 1946.

Did Bailey grow up knowing Minifer? Was the reformed Minifer a friend or mentor to Bailey? Did Mr. Gower take over the drugstore where Lucy Morgan once had a fainting spell?

Or would the real future of that Midland city of the Ambersons be what we see in George Bailey's vision of "Potterville?" That seems more likely . . .

Just another imaginary landscape, and also long gone, as gone as the full cut of Welles' film, as the Encino lot was torn down in 1950. But now I want to see as many RKO films as I can from that period, and see what new landscapes and connections they offer me.

collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
And, as Berit said very early this morning when we were walking through the parking garage below our home from the car to the apartment, "Well, that's another kid put to bed."

The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage went down last night with an incredible performance where the actors just owned the piece from start to finish, everything went pretty smoothly with the pace (some transitions were still making me wince, though), and the audience was terrific and seemed on the same page as us the whole time - laughing, chucking, gasping, and falling deathly silent right when they were supposed to. Lot of friends out there, and a lot of strangers out there (we were sold out and over and had people sitting on the riser edges and on mats on the floor in front), and they were all pretty effusive about it, although I again got comments asking why I turned the AC off during the show - no one believes me, but there are very few shows where the sound of the AC going during it is not a problem - it's worse for comedies, where punchlines are blunted even when fully audible -- people laugh more when they're cool, but even less when there's white noise going on in the room -- but it throws a wet blanket over everything when it's on.

I saw one performance of Robert Honeywell's Every Play Ever Written, which I saw four times, DESTROYED by the AC, which Robert rode off and on during all the shows, but mostly on for this one, and I could feel the gags (wonderfully performed by the company as always) trapped inside wet felt.

We kept it on during all the NECROPOLIS shows last August, as the entire sound for all those is pre-recorded and can be easily pumped over the AC tone, but the revivals didn't go over nearly as well with audiences, reactionwise, as the originals had. I just felt that AC sound lying across the shows, muffling them.

So we were all hot - not as bad as Tuesday, marrone!, but sweaty enough.

Oh, someone on the Wellesnet forums, someone who KNOWS his Welles, as I can tell from his postings, saw the show last night, and loved it, and said nice things about it, and I wrote a response just now, which is here, with the nice quote that made me respond:

I feel like I now know how Welles' uncut Ambersons would have played.

Wow, thanks so very very much for the complement - that's about the best I could hope for, really. The more I worked on it, the more I got that feeling myself - I had originally no "illusions" about this being any kind of true reconstruction, because of the basic differences in media between film and theatre, but I did eventually feel like I knew how especially the last act of the film would have felt, and while I don't excuse the butchers one frame of their work, I grew to have even more of an understanding of why they were so unnerved by the film - I couldn't just sneer at them simply and say, "Oh, they were scared by how DARK it was, whoa!" - I don't think it's because it was "dark," as we normally think of that, it's because of the feeling of . . . a "pained mournfulness" is about as close as I can come (an entire film that feels like Aggie Moorehead's face looks at the end of Wilbur's funeral).

There were times when we would be running scenes that were ultimately reshot, butchered, or dropped, and I would think to myself, "Dear God, Orson actually thought this would get onscreen in 1942?" There's something that changes in the whole piece when Major Amberson's monologue tips over into the metaphysical (mostly gone in the release print) that turns the whole story into something Other, and hangs over the rest of it - my favorite piece to perform as narrator of the show is the uncut intro to that speech (in a close race with the cut section of the "walk home" narration about "If space has memory . . ."). When the show worked (which, being theatre, it did at varied levels from performance to performance, last night being all around the best), everything CHANGED from that moment, and you could feel it change in the audience (being in an interesting position, seated between the actors and the audience - an uncomfortably open and vulnerable spot for me - I could really feel the interplay between the two).

In any case, thanks, and yes, I hope to do it again sometime, when I can afford to rent the costumes again, and once I'm able to under Actors Equity codes (because of the code I had to produce this under, I can't do it again at the same level for at least 13 months, but several of the actors are already pushing me to jump right back into it when that time is up).

Okay, enough Ambersons for now - I have to get this all together to post and get back to The Brick to supervise a tech.

Meanwhile, as I write this, back in the iPod:

1. "Sans Raison (I Love You For Sentimental Reasons)" - Les Chats Sauvages - Foreign Language Fun, vol. 4
2. "August Mademoiselle" - Children of the Mushroom - Pebbles Volume 9 - Southern California 2
3. "Hot Promotions" - Johnson & Johnson - Sundown
4. "Gotta Hear The Beat" - Animal Jack - Ear-Piercing Punk
5. "Beautiful Dream" - World Party - Egyptology
6. "Hold Me Baby" - Albert Washington - MOJO: Raw Soul
7. "Crazy Things" - The Quid - Pebbles volume 4
8. "Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War" - Paul Simon - Hearts and Bones
9. "Love You 'Till The Day I Die" - The Heartbreakers - Dangerous Doo-Wop 3
10. "A Fine, Fine Boy" - Darlene Love - Phil Spector - Back to Mono (1958-1969)

So, a couple of recent cat photos . . . what's Hooker looking at with that silly look?

What's Hooker Looking At?

Oh, it's the whip prop Berit's making for Ambersons, dangling here at top of frame (with Hooker on the painting tarp that has been a favorite nap spot recently):

Oh, That's What Hooker's Looking At

And so as to not overload this too much with images, behind the cut are 12 favorites from last night's photo call after the show - there are other good ones, but these were the ones that caught my eye immediately this morning . . .

The Magnificence of this production ended last night . . . )

But I will include some final shots from Berit's and my cleanup after the show last night, which took us a couple of hours . . .

It was obvious that there was no point in us trying to keep the breakaway bass prop Berit made for the show . . .
Berit and Her Fake Breakaway Bass

It's just too big to store - and maybe we'll do the show again, but it'd be over a year and a half away, and what would we do with this in the meantime? Berit shows off the pre-broken back for just a moment . . .
Berit Shows the Pre-Broken Side

And then, a moment later, shows just how we'll fit in in a trash bag to go out with The Brick's garbage:
Breaking the Breakaway

A pretty sad end for the prop, seen here with Berit's feet in midair coming down for one more smash . . .
Smashy Smashy Smashy

Damn, we should have considered we'd be doing this before the show, and let Timothy go full out on it during this last performance . . . shoot. Oh, well.

Okay, time to let this lie and run off to The Brick again

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Oh, and I'm "gloomy" currently (as defined in LiveJournal emotions) because The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage closes tonight, and I would have liked to do it some more.

There was originally the hope that we'd maybe get some more shows in - a small extension in July or something - which I thought was probably unlikely, but at least possible, given the difficulty in getting together all 20 members of the cast at one time. Unfortunately, the expense of renting the costumes has made it impossible - there's no way we could spend the money for them again right now.

Ambersons has wound up the most expensive show I've ever done - close to double the nearest ones in the history of GCW (Ian W. Hill's Hamlet and Temptation). There the expenses were mainly for rehearsal space, here it was for the costumes. I keep feeling odd about spending the money, but the show needed those costumes, and we had the money, and (as both Berit and Timothy Reynolds have reminded me) the money is GCW money - from our new credit line and donations - and can't be spent on anything other than our shows, so it's not like it used to be, where it was B & I's funds, and spending too much on a show meant having our phone shut off, or almost no money for food, or not having necessary dental work or car repair (which has almost always been the case anyway, even on that cheaper level - if we had any cash, it went into the show). As it is, GCW owes B & I money now that we put into the project from our own pockets rather than the company's.

Wish we got to do it more . . . Tuesday night was beautiful, just beautiful. The show was good to start with, just gets better. Maybe in another year and a half when AEA Showcase Code regs allow me to bring it back, I will. I'd like to do it more now, but this was a kinda long-standing dream project of mine, a folly that The Film Festival "allowed" me to indulge, and once this run ends, I wonder if I'll ever have the same passion and drive to get it done as I did now. I'll have other, newer shows on my plate then, I'm sure . . .

Ah well, yes, next shows. Three in August to get back to full-time now. Though I still have to wait a bit as I pick up the pieces of Ambersons - I have to return the costumes and do the books on the show (more immediately, formally, and properly than I once would) - and deal with whatever I have to do this upcoming birthday weekend (I have to take the car in for some minor repair, go to an audition for a special "movie trivia" week on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? - yes, really - and figure out whether I'm going to have to drive up to Maine or not for a few days to deal with getting my driver's license renewed and re-registering the car).

And now it's time to get going on the Ambersons part of the day - programs to print, disposable props to buy - fixes to make (even now) . . .

Back tomorrow.


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 (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, 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 . . .


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

collisionwork: (Selector)
The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage opens the day after tomorrow. Berit and I are goin' nuts getting it all together, but it seems to somehow be happening fine anyway.

We have some wonderful costumes from the TDF Costume Collection, and I've paid significantly more for the rental of them than I've ever spent on the entirety of a single show - thank heavens for the new Gemini CollisionWorks credit card and the donations already received to the company so I can pay off that card in full already - we've spent a lot, but we're not in debt. And it's worth it for this show.

I've been getting about three hours of sleep a night for a while now, but I'm doing okay. I'll collapse on Monday. Last night we were in tech until 2.30 am or so, and I then had to do some work on The Film Festival in general (I had to fill the Festival iPod with "movie-related" songs and transfer several trailers for shows in the Fest to one DVD). Then back for the last of the costumes at 10 this morning.

There's a big opening night party for the Fest going on right now. B & I have to work here at home. So it goes.

Right now, my job is to finish the sound design for the show to have at our 10 am rehearsal tomorrow. So as I prepare my SFX files, a background evening Random 10 from my own iPod:

1. "Three Small Words" - Josie & The Pussycats (90s version) - Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack
2. "Famous Blue Raincoat" - Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat
3. "Spanish Kiss" - Dick Dale - Surfer's Guitar
4. "Nature" - Bobby Callendar - Rainbow
5. "Skidoo/Commercials" - Harry Nilsson - Skidoo soundtrack
6. "The Love of a Bird" - Sevens - WorldBeaters 1
7. "Stephen Foster Medley" - Chet Atkins - Chet Atkins and His Guitar
8. "Acelia Dulfin" - Sunshine Reigns - Garagepunk: This Side Up
9. "The Wanderer" - Johnny Cash & U2 - Zooropa
10. "Debbie Harry" - Family Fodder - Rough Trade Shops: Post Punk 01

And don't forget, if you don't like any of the choices out there in the coming election, you can always kneel before Zod!

Oh, and posted before remembering to include the postcard I cobbled together on another near-all-nighter earlier this week. Not the best work from GCW, but it gets the job done. Here's the front and back:

AMBERSONS postcard

AMBERSONS postcard back

collisionwork: (Great Director)
The Magnificent Ambersons is going both well and with great difficulty. The show proper - story, acting - is working well. I have to keep tweaking, but it's mostly there. The stuff around this is now the big concern, and the show really relies on these elements: sound, lights, costumes, projections, complex set movements.

The actors have been trying to stay on top of the latter of these, but we have to keep going over and over the moves - especially as we never have everyone there (last night we had 18 out of 20 actors, a record). We lost an actor this week, and I had to split his part up between four other actors. We gained our last actor (FINALLY!) last night, Josh Hartung, who stepped in quickly and got right to it, even with being thrown all of the "now you move the screen, now you move the box" directions.

We had two 6-hour rehearsals on Saturday and Sunday to try and get all the movement down. Berit had her game board next to her to keep track of the people who weren't there.

This is the setup for the start of the immense ball scene (22 pages out of a 104-page script; took us three hours on Saturday to work out):

Game Board - Start of the Ball

Here, Berit is either listening to a question from an actor or is watching someone screw up the blocking and is about to jump in to fix it (at rear, Roger Nasser, Timothy McCown Reynolds, Scot Lee Williams):

AMBERSONS - Berit Plans

Perhaps Stephen Heskett (George) has a question about the placement of the screens (built, but without fabric yet) or the seating boxes (not built when the photo was taken, built yesterday) for the vigil scene in the hallway outside Isabel's room. Walter Brandes (Jack) also is interested, while at rear, Sarah Engelke (Isabel) goes over her deathbed lines:

AMBERSONS - rehearsal - Walter, Sarah, and Stephen

So Berit tells them what to do (fortified by Diet Mountain Dew, dried fruit, jelly bellies, and some kind of icy beverage):

AMBERSONS - Berit Assistant Directs

(for years, there has been a joke - I think started by Maggie Cino - that in 80 years time Berit will be the subject of a feminist theatre scholar's Master's thesis, which will put forth the idea that B was the true brains behind much of the creative work of myself, Edward Einhorn, Daniel Kleinfeld, and Frank Cwiklik - the above photo will be Exhibit #1 in the text of Berit Johnson: The Squelched Voice)

Here's the actual director, as he looks toward the end of a rehearsal (Berit, my stylist, also mussed my hair up more to make me look even more harried):

Ian Is a Tired Director

Still to do for Ambersons:

Fabric in the screens.
Paint the set boxes.
Get or build props.
Get costumes.
Make the projections.
Make the sound disks (with edits, etc.).
Build light cues.
Send out email blast.

We open Sunday. Whee.

Also, as Brick TDs, B & I have to go over and get the whole space ready for techs and the Film Festival itself. And we're supposed to go down to the Kings County Clerk's Office today to get our dba for Gemini CollisionWorks taken care of.

So I have to get the hell out of here now . . .

collisionwork: (tired)
This has been a crazy busy week, and it ain't over.

Ambersons rehearsals - trying to keep other shows in play - fixing up The Brick - teching the six Tiny Theater Festival shows the last two nights, trying to get all the set pieces for Ambersons built by tomorrow. And a parental unit is coming to visit us overnight. Oy.

We were up cleaning the apartment (which had reached a condition that could be described, with no hyperbole, as "squalor") until 4.30 am. I woke up at 6, got back to sleep by 6.30, then up again for good at 8. I think the 10 or so Red Bulls I drank last night may have something to do with it (an actress in one of my plays works for the company, and had a free case dropped off at The Brick - this is dangerous . . .).

And we still have hours ahead of cleaning the home and The Brick.

Berit may have cracked - she's created the Magnificent Ambersons board game:

AMBERSONS - The Board Game!

"You're the spoiled scion of a wealthy Midwestern family at the turn of the 20th Century! Roll the dice! Watch your path as the board spreads and darkens into a city! Pick a Morgan card - your invention flourishes and you move four spaces - uh, oh! You've landed on the Minifer chute, and you lose all your money in a headlamp company that fails! Can you avoid the boarding house path, and wind up in your new Romanesque mansion? Hey, you're hit by a car, and your old girlfriend's rich father decides to take care of you for the rest of your life! You're MAGNIFICENT!"

This is, of course, actually the scale model built by Berit so we could work out the complicated blocking of 20 actors and 16 set pieces for the show in advance (not quite scale - all the people are 4' tall, but that was necessary - and I'm just a two-dimensional outline on the floor near the lower right). I think it looks like Stratego. It wound up not working for us as we'd hoped (just too distant a system to actually block with; I need real bodies), but I think we'll have it on Berit's table tomorrow as we work everything out with the actual actors - since we'll keep being short of people at every rehearsal before we open, it'll help us remember where everyone is supposed to be, backstage, onstage, or off downstage.

From the 25,578 songs on the iPod this morning:

1. "Times About" - Dick Kent - MSR Madness 5: I Like Yellow Things
2. "He's Got The Knack" - Graffiti - Turds On A Bum Ride volume 3
3. "Hey Nonny Nonny" - Violent Femmes - Why Do Birds Sing?
4. "Give It Up Or Turnit Loose" - James Brown - Star Time
5. "The Wayward Wind" - Patsy Cline - The Legendary Patsy Cline
6. "Flashin' Red" - The Esquires - Pebbles Volume 4 - Surf'n Tunes!
7. "Help Me Rhonda" - The Beach Boys - Greatest Hits
8. "I Don't Understand" - George Jackson - Lost Deep Soul Treasures 3
9. "Road Runner" - The Music Explosion - Mindrocker 60's USA Punk Anthology Vol 5
10. "Grand Slam" - David Lindner - Soundsational Sampler

(I am punchy enough that a typo briefly in the above - "Pasty Cline" - makes me laugh WAY too damn much)

Okay, have to get back to cleaning and running around. Here's a kitty photo . . .

Hooker About To Go Nuts

And here's another . . .

Moni's Fuzzy Belly

My duties here are discharged for the week, I'm outta here . . .

collisionwork: (Great Director)
Long rehearsal last night for The Magnificent Ambersons. I wanted to get through the whole play, but we didn't quite make it. Had to end the stumble-run at 10 pm to work a problem scene (a problem only because it's complicated and I never could take the time to deal with it before) where I won't have the actors for a week. As they had been sitting around for hours (the scene's at the start of the show and they barely appear in it after that), they had worked out most of the problems themselves and brought it to me mostly ready, which was great.

We had 14 of the cast of 21, which is pretty good for a rehearsal of this show, but still hard to work a full run with. It was wonky, and the pace was all over the place (now too fast, now too slow, now just right), but you could see the show in there a bit - we did the stumble under stage lights, a quick general wash as best as Berit could make with the Babylon Babylon plot, and that helped make it seem a show. It made B and I step back and consider how much we might or might not actually need for the rest of the show, as far as shadow puppets and projections are concerned. We probably don't need nearly as much as we thought - acting, sound, and light will take care of most of it. I'd like to eliminate projections entirely, but there are two bits that absolutely need them, so they have to stay.

We started the stumble at around 7.40 pm, after taking photos for a while, and then a (longer than intended) break. We needed to get some kind of publicity photos - as requests are expected - though we don't have any costumes yet, so we worked with what the cast had, and shadowy lighting.

So, here I am (as The Narrator), with some of the company:
AMBERSONS - Ian & Company 2

Jack Amberson (Walter Brandes) warns his old friend Eugene Morgan (Timothy McCown Reynolds) about his nephew, George:
AMBERSONS - Jack and Eugene

George Amberson Minifer (Stephen Heskett) courts Eugene's daughter, Lucy Morgan (Shelley Ray):
AMBERSONS - George and Lucy

Major Amberson (Bill Weeden), confronts his own mortality:
AMBERSONS - Major Amberson

Eugene and Lucy discuss George's bad temper:
AMBERSONS - Eugene and Lucy

Aunt Fanny Minifer (Ivanna Cullinan) tries to stop George from interfering in his mother's affairs:
AMBERSONS - Fanny and George

Eugene and Isabel Amberson Minifer (Sarah Malinda Engelke), old sweethearts falling in love again, are watched by her son, George:
AMBERSONS - Eugene, Isabel, and George

Those will work for what we need now.

This week will be a killer, and without any full rehearsals of our shows until Saturday. Today we have to go do the whole restore on The Brick to have it ready for the Tiny Theater Festival this weekend - the lights need to be rehung to the house plot, curtains need to be hung, the whole space needs to be straightened up (I was going to have a rehearsal for Spell tonight, but the new movie screens are getting installed in the space, so no go).

And Berit and I have to try to get that all done today - tomorrow we need to spend cleaning up our home for an impending parental visit we weren't expecting, and the place needs about a week's worth of work it ain't gonna get. And we only have the daytime - tomorrow night we're teching a piece for Tiny Theater.

(ah, the glamour of theatre! here's a recent behind the scenes shot at The Brick featuring an associate artistic director (Jeff), a co-founder of the theatre and artistic director (Michael), and a technical director (me) doing what theatre seems most often to be about, figuring out where and how to move cumbersome heavy shit around - in this case, our seating risers, jammed in the loft and not wanting to come out again:)
The Glamour of Theatre

(this is what theatre is much more about for me than the shots above, most of the time)

Thursday we're meeting some of the Ambersons cast for scene work during the day, and at the same time, we have to get the set pieces for Ambersons built - six seating boxes and four rolling screens, and I wanted to make a table, but I don't think it'll happen . . . Then in the evening, tech for the rest of the Tiny Theater shows.

Friday, we have the visit from a parent, so we're assuming the day will be spent on that. In the evening, we run the Tiny Theatre program. Oh, and sometime by this point, Berit and I need to sit down and work out charts of scene changes and other movement, and plan out the tech. Sometime. When we have a few extra hours. Oh, right, and find a last actor, too - the one I thought I'd have on board turned out to have a conflict with a show date.

Then, we're into a crazy weekend of marathon Ambersons rehearsals in the day to whip the show into proper shape, with Tiny Theatre on Saturday night and probably a makeup rehearsal for another show on Sunday night.

If I get to Friday night's show with everything else done, it'll all be fine.

Now I need to figure out why the bank has made a check deposit we need desperately vanish from our account after sitting there several days waiting to clear . . .

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
The following went out in the last few days to the press list, we'll see if it does anything. There is already a call for production photos, which are a pain to deal with without having the proper period costumes as yet. I've worked it out and we'll take the shots on Monday. I was worried briefly about having the time to pull this show together, but after the last two rehearsals, I'm not worried anymore.


For Immediate Release, please list under Off-Off Broadway
Critics are invited to all performances
June 1, 6, 10, 12 at 8:00 pm
Contact: Karen Greco
Karen Greco Entertainment,
XXX-XXX-XXXX (phone), XXX-XXX-XXXX (fax)

The Brick Theater, Inc.
a Gemini CollisionWorks production

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

as part of The Film Festival: A Theater Festival

In 1942, Orson Welles completed his second feature film, the follow-up to his masterpiece Citizen Kane, which had been critically lauded but a financial disaster for the studio, RKO Radio Pictures. The Magnificent Ambersons was a 131-minute epic retelling of Booth Tarkington’s classic novel of the destruction of a rich and powerful family by the Industrial Revolution, and Welles thought it an even better film than Kane. Welles then immediately had to leave the country on an assignment to make a documentary at the request of the US Government as part of the war effort. His film was left in the hands of Welles’ collaborators and the studio, who previewed the film – with disastrous results – and decided it needed to be “fixed” before a general release.

With Welles attempting to curtail or at least work with them in their efforts by telegram, phone, and letter (he had lost final cut on the film in a contract renegotiation after the failure of Kane), RKO cut 45 minutes from Welles’ version and reshot several scenes to give the film a less dark and moody tone. Eventually, an 88-minute version was dumped in theatres as the second feature behind Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost. All the remaining footage that had been cut, and all prints of the longer version of the film, were destroyed by the studio. Welles’ career never really recovered from the blow.

This production is a live theatrical reconstruction of Welles’ original cut of the film, as much as can be reconstructed from the transcripts, photos, and documents that we have. In this version, the story of the Amberson family is expanded back into the epic tragedy Welles intended, with a cast of 20 recreating Welles’ cinematic brilliance in the language of live theatre. Also using Bernard Herrmann’s entire great original score (Herrmann took his name off the final film after his score was partially replaced), this reconstruction tells the entire story, not just the star-crossed love story that RKO wanted it to be, of the failure of the land-owning Ambersons and the rise of their friend Eugene Morgan, an inventor of the very automobile that makes the Amberson land worthless, set from the 1880s to 1910s, in a small, midwestern town as it spreads and darkens into a large industrial city.

It isn’t the Welles film, certainly, but it may be as close a version of it as you’ll ever see.

Ian W. Hill, adaptor, designer, director and narrator of this project, has created 55 stage productions since 1997 with his company Gemini CollisionWorks, including works by Richard Foreman, T.S. Eliot, Clive Barker, Mac Wellman, Ronald Tavel, Jeff Goode, Mark Spitz, and Edward D. Wood, Jr., as well as the original plays World Gone Wrong; Kiss Me, Succubus; At the Mountains of Slumberland; and Even the Jungle (slight return). As a designer (light, sound, projections, sets) and technical/artistic consultant he has worked with many other stage artists and theatres for almost 20 years, and he is currently technical director of The Brick.

The cast of this play includes 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*, and Scot Lee Williams

The Brick
575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L train -
June 1, 6, 10, 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm
approximately 2 hours long
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

collisionwork: (Selector)
A happy, productive, tiring week.

Rehearsals have been going very well. Good productive work. Generally I feel in a damned good mood about everything. I had a bad depressive period in the afternoon the other day, the black cloud taking over, but that's just screwed-up brain chemistry coming out as it does, and I rode it out into the evening, when I could use rehearsal to direct me away from it until it faded away, unnoticed.

Last night I didn't call the full cast of Ambersons (or, rather, as much of them as I could get, which would have been maybe 11 out of 20) as I had planned, but just called the members of the central families who were available. There was more than enough work to do with just the six I had: Stephen (George Amberson Minifer), Ivanna (Fanny Minifer), Vince (Wilbur Minifer), Bill (Major Amberson), Walter (Jack Amberson), and Shelley (Lucy Morgan) - I couldn't even get to some of the scenes I'd planned on. We did the big ball scene twice (it's 22 pages out of a 104-page script, so a lot gets done when we plunge into that), as well as the post-ball hallway scene, and onward with various configurations so I could gradually let more actors go as we went later, and wound up ending with the Lucy and George duo scenes. I have to find some time to go over the Aunt Fanny/George scenes some more . . .

Ambersons has a wide range of actors in terms of the ways I need to direct, maybe wider all around than usual, even with such a big cast. I have the actors who need to talk a lot about intention, and the ones who just want words like "faster," "slower," "more," "less." I have the ones who will keep coming up with more and more interesting options each time we do a scene, and the ones who will get it ABSOLUTELY PERFECT the first time in, who I have to hold back to doing it that way over and over from then on without getting bored and keeping it new and fresh. And there are the ones who are get a scene about 85% "right" immediately, and getting that last 15% is like adjusting a watch very delicately with very fine tools. And the ones who have absolutely nothing right the first time they do a scene, and you wonder at first why you cast this person, but with some simple directions and several runthrus (and sometimes just by getting off book), they're right on the money.

I put a lot of trust in my instincts when casting, more than what I see in a reading or monologue. I just want to know if they can speak clearly and with intention, and the rest is whether I just think the actor can handle the part. I got a big education in this when doing a show back at NADA in 1996 - at the first script reading, the lead actress, who I'd never met before, was such a bad reader you'd have thought that not only was there no way she could act, but that she could barely comprehend the English language. I know the playwright was concerned, as I certainly was since most of my scenes were two-handers with her. Turned out she was just a stultifyingly bad reader, and, once off book and on her feet, one of the most amazing, incandescent performers it's ever been my joy to work with. I directed her in a couple of shows later, and she remained a terrible, TERRIBLE reader, and amazing onstage.

So I don't trust cold readings or first script readings too much, but they can give you a good idea of what kind of actor you have and what you'll need to work on with them. This week has reached the point where it's getting more fun because you can see you show beginning to come through the work. The work is still there on top, but it's getting more and more translucent. By June 1, it has to be transparent.

Anyway, today's rainy day fun Random 10, out of 25,557 in the iPod:

1. "Missione Segreta" - Ennio Morricone & Bruno Nicolai - O.K. Connery
2. "Solomon Grundie" - Eric Morris - Intensified! Original Ska 1962-1966
3. "The People In Me" - The Music Machine - Turn On
4. "I Walk On Guilded Splinters" - Dr. John - Mos' Scocious: The Dr. John Anthology
5. "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango" - Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti
6. "Something In Love" - Art Zoyd - Lost Sixties Delights Vol. 1
7. "All Men Are Liars" - Nick Lowe - Party of One

I'd never heard this song before, I think -- some lyrics that caused me to have to stifle a big laugh (Berit is sleeping), made funnier with the recent RickRolling fad:

Well, do you remember Rick Astley?

He had a big fat hit, it was ghastly

He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down

Well, I’m here to tell ya that Dick’s a clown

Though he was just a boy when he made that vow

I’d bet it all that he knows by now

(chorus) All men, all men are liars

Their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires

Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth

All men are liars and that’s the truth

8. "Necromancy/Grave In The Desert" - trailer soundtrack/Sebastian Peabody - Wavy Gravy: Four Hairy Policemen
9. "Tropical Hot Dog Night (live 1978)" - Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - I'm Going To Do What I Want To
10. "Bullet Proof Lover" - Rich Kids - Ghosts of Princes in Towers

Well, on this cheery day (he said sarcastically, looking at and listening to the dreary rainfall out the window), we could all look on the bright side of life with Darth Vader and his son . . .

Darth Vader Got The Blues So Bad )

And here are the best cat shots from this week - first a nice closeup of Moni, asleep on the couch next to Berit:

Sleepy Moni Face

And Berit crept in while I was taking a nap the other day, and had been joined by Hooker, so she could get a shot of "her boys:"

IWH and Hooker Have a Nap

And Michael Gardner showed me this at The Brick yesterday - one of the most impressive bits of animation I've seen in a while. It's all over the web this morning, but if you haven't seen it, here it is - seven and a half minutes of impressiveness:

MUTO by Blu )

Enjoy. Back to work here . . .

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.

collisionwork: (Selector)
Oy, what a tiring, but fun weekend. Pretty much going all the time from the last post to Sunday night.

Friday - finished that post, went to The Brick, wrote light cues for Penny Dreadful episode 6 for several hours (I hadn't seen a few scenes for the show, so I had to guess on where to light from what I'd been told).

Then make some fixes on Babylon Babylon lights before opening night. The show was looking pretty good, and I think it looks better now - a couple more images from Ken Stein here, featuring Michele Carlo and Marguerite French:
Babylon Babylon - Michele Carlo

Michele is seen in the "Descent of Ishtar" ceremony.
Babylon Babylon - Marguerite French

Marguerite kicks major ass as Fred Backus looks on, confused (and, at rear, Roger Nasser tries to hold his guts in).

Then we had the opening night show and party (all great - audience was maybe a hair too friendly . . . sometime you get too many laughs, and not always in the right places). I played the aforementioned "Babylon" mix at the party, after a similar, but shorter one that Jeff Lewonczyk had made up - though his had a few songs I hadn't thought of as I only did a search on he iPod for "Babylon." He had thought to include "Mesopotamia" by The B-52s, "The Mesopotamians" by They Might Be Giants, and "River Euphrates" by Pixies, so I've now thrown them into my mix in case it ever gets used again.

I left the party earlier than I'd have liked to, as I had to be back at 9 am the next day for tech, and I wanted to shave my beard (which I've been trying to grow out for weeks) into the style as worn by George Westinghouse before going to bed.

So I got home and shaved the beard:

Westinghouse Beard 2

Which, from what I read, was slightly eccentric even when GW was wearing it (and lord I hate how my deflicted left eye looks in photos - I swear it's getting worse . . .). I got no photos from the show otherwise, so I don't have what it looked like when I whitened up the whole beard and hair - I aged several decades and became a somewhat Scandinavian-looking George Westinghouse (the pure white just brought out every bit of Swede there). I'm sure Bryan and Matt - who got photos of the show and me in costume and makeup - can share some with me sometime.

I figured I'd be taking the whole beard off Sunday night, but people have been digging the new look so much I decided to keep it a few more days. Berit said "It's a pity it's so unfashionable, it really suits you," but Roger Nasser (and others) basically said "Fuck fashion, go for it," so I'll give it a spin for a while.

Berit wanted me to go into the Kellogg Diner (which is closed right now anyway) in full Westinghouse hair and 3-piece suit period costume and walking stick, walk up to the counter, and ask for a "phosphate."

I liked Berit's other idea better (but still wouldn't do it), which was to behave like it was "Act Like a Time Traveler Day," and wander up and down Metropolitan Avenue as if I'd fallen through some time warp in the past and wound up in present-day Brooklyn. Eventually, when enough people were paying attention, I'd have to notice an airplane (since The Brick is almost right under traffic into LaGuardia, this isn't hard), scream "EEEYAH! IRON BIRD!" and run off screaming. No, I don't quite have the nerve to do that . . . though someday I'd like to pretend to be a time traveler from a dystopian future, running up to people and asking them the date - "The YEAR, man, WHAT'S THE YEAR?" - and, once getting it, mumbling "Then there's still time . . ." and handing them a small vial filled with liquid (olive oil, I think) and telling them that they'd "know what to do with this when the time came . . . thank you Mr. Preside- sorry! Thank you, sir."

So we teched the very difficult Penny Dreadful episode for much of Saturday - went home to rest a bit, then came back for the show, which was rough as hell, but I think somehow better for it in some ways. It's funny, I think I understand how some of the actors felt on the episode I directed last month - Aaron and Becky both said they felt the show was much better in the slightly rougher evening performance rather than the much more "together" matinee the next day. It's a difference between being a director and being an actor - the director wants to see the whole show work smoothly as a unit, the actor prefers the show where all the performances connect in a way that may be rougher and raw, but works for them.

Oh, Mac Rogers wrote a nice piece of common sense on actors and directors HERE that reflects my own feelings, and how I try to behave as an actor, exactly. Luckily, I pretty much never have to say anything like that to actors I direct - I seem to be good at casting people who are always willing to listen and try things they may not agree with - but I sometimes wind up acting in other shows with actors who want to question every direction from the word go, which is annoying as it usually just winds up wasting a LOT of productive time.

Anyway, pretty good show Saturday night - Sunday morning, I auditioned two good people for Ambersons who I'm going to ask to be in the show (wait, one reads this blog . . . well, maybe he'll get an email before he reads it here).

Another side note - I hadn't done very many auditions for years, but I had to for my August shows last year, and have had to since for Merry Mount and now Ambersons. And I have to say, out of the many many people I've seen, there has only been ONE clunker. It used to be with auditioners, a third would be pretty bad, a third OK, and the last third split between (mostly) really quite good and (a tiny sliver) un-fucking-believably good. All I've seen this last year are almost all in the "really quite good" category with a few "OK"s and the usual number of UFB good. Are actors getting better in general? Or have I just been lucky this last run?

So, matinee of PD and then Ambersons rehearsal all night with the "principals" - the members of the Amberson, Minifer, and Morgan clans. We've now staged over half the show. Looking good. Tonight I just work on the Lucy Morgan/George Minifer sections.

Yesterday, some actual rest during the day (and watching episodes of C.S.I. borrowed from my brother David in Maine) and rehearsal for Everything Must Go last night, which was good. The show isn't exactly moving forward, but is widening, expanding laterally, which it needs to before moving forward any more. I have to go away again for a few days, and I always (for whatever reason) write better outside of NYC, so I'm going to try and get as much as I can done on EMG and Spell while I'm gone.

So, a little more fun today before rehearsal and journey. I've got a ton of backed up video I've been wanting to share, but I'll get to that later, except this one piece right now, William Shatner, Joe Jackson, Ben Folds and friends performing Pulp's "Common People" (the album version's a bit better - The Shat is trying to "sell" it too much in this live performance):

Well, what else could I do? )



Apr. 14th, 2008 10:31 am
collisionwork: (tired)
I am so damned tired.

I have been on the go almost constantly since last Sunday, when I was up bright and early to record a podcast, followed by about five hours of observing Babylon Babylon rehearsal to figure out the lights, followed by six hours of driving to Maine. The following day was mostly relaxing, true, with a dentist appointment in the middle of it (and I couldn't get the work I wanted done - I need an oral surgeon - but I got prescriptions and some other minor help that will handle the problem until the work proper can be done).

Tuesday, another six hour drive from Maine right to The Brick to continue observing the show.

Then, Wednesday through Sunday have all been work days at The Brick of at least 13 hours each day (and up to 16). Mostly, it's been getting the lights all set for BB, with a first rehearsal for Spell early Saturday morning, and one for Penny Dreadful yesterday from 9 am to 4 pm followed by an Ambersons rehearsal from 6.30-10.30 pm. And I wound up having to run the lights for BB at the opening preview when Lindsay, the (excellent) stage manager got seriously ill.

The good things were that the time has been tiring, but almost entirely enjoyable, surrounded by fine people doing hard worthwhile work and having a good time at it, and also I got in a new shipment of contact lenses on Friday and have been enjoying some glasses-free time again.

So, today I ain't doing much of anything. I have to arrange some rehearsal space, but apart from that, nothing much else. I will watch some movies. We should clean our home (um, it's actually getting kinda smelly, and not just from the cat box), but I'll hold out on that for another day.

But, to expand a bit more on bits of the above:

The podcast was recorded for New York Theatre Experience's, and featured myself, Jeff Lewonczyk, and Jon Stancato in a conversation about theatre that is in some way influenced by/connected to cinema, moderated by Trav S.D. It came out well, I think (the tech is a little dicey - they're not used to dealing with four people at once, really), and can be accessed HERE.

Babylon Babylon had its first open preview performance on Saturday, and it went pretty well. There are still a few elements missing that will be in for next week, and I have a handful of little fixes and additions to make. Went well, though the first audience didn't find it nearly as funny as I did, and I don't know why (well, maybe I do - it doesn't really start funny, and there are very few "clues" to let you know it's supposed to be funny, thankfully - and, also, it gets really dark and unfunny here and there as well).

It's a good show, and worth your time and money. See it. The website with info is HERE - though, um, it still lists the original light designer instead of me . . . have to remind someone to change that . . .

The next episode of Bryan Enk & Matt Gray's Penny Dreadful plays this Saturday and Sunday at The Brick - it's the "season finale," and we'll be on hiatus with that show until September (though there might be a one-off, standalone episode sometime this Summer). This episode is "The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned" and is mostly set around the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It features myself as George Westinghouse, Tom Reid as Thomas Edison, Bob Laine as J.P. Morgan, and Roger Nasser as William Howard Taft, with Joseph Ryan and Randall Eliot in several roles, and . . . well, you'll have to see. This one is directed by Brick co-founder Michael Gardner, and Berit and I, as always, are handling the light design and some other technical matters.

The Brick's page for the show (with ticket info) is HERE; the general Penny Dreadful site, with information about the series and synopses/videos of past episodes is HERE.

First meeting for my original show Spell, which will be going up in August, on Saturday. All but one of the 12-person cast was present, and we talked about the show and the issues that have come up in its creation. I played some of the music that was inspirational for the show. New avenues of approach were raised and discussed. Characters were slightly more defined. I laid out the set and put the cast on it in patterns that seemed "right," had movement happen, and scenes appeared from this start. The ending to the show appeared and was vaguely staged (to Brian Eno's song "Just Another Day"). Now I have a scene to work towards and have to earn.

The original intent of the show was to be a look inside the splitting mind of someone who has done a terrible, destructive, murderous thing, and then attempt to understand what makes someone do something so horrible. It has now moved, though, towards being more about The Violent Act that has been committed and a debate over whether there is ever any possible excuse for such actions. This is a continuing debate I have in myself, so I'm trying to settle it in some way through a splitting of myself into these characters.

It is now a more delicate and dangerous show than I anticipated, as there is more chance for failing in the task set out - I can't let it be shallow and pat, and yet it has to be theatrically compelling and go somewhere, and feel satisfying at the close, though there is no way of truly achieving closure with this story.

The cast is terrific - Moira Stone, Fred Backus, Alyssa Simon, Jorge Cordova, Iracel Rivero, Rasha Zamamiri, Jeanie Tse, Gavin Starr Kendall, Olivia Baseman, Sammy Tunis, and Liz Toft - and game. It'll be a joy to work with them. I hope I live up to it.

And a second blocking session for the June Ambersons production last night. I was scheduled to do just a few sections of the big "Ball" scene (and a few other little bits), but I decided to just go ahead and set the blocking for the whole damned difficult scene, at least for the principals in the sequence (as the entire rest of the cast is constantly flowing in and out during the sequence as party guests and servants, and I have to set the main line of flow before I can add in the additional eddies).

So we went ahead and damn if we didn't get through the whole sequence, which is 22 pages long - 1/5th of the entire script! So that was a nice chunk. I also blocked two simple scenes, with very little movement - Jack and George's argument in the bathroom and Eugene and Isabel sitting in the garden. I hope this keeps moving as quickly, with as much fun - this is one of the jokiest casts I've ever had, with suggestions for anachronistic behavior coming in constantly (which never gets old).

This week, more Ambersons and Penny Dreadful, but first, a day of rest. Pardon me, I must get started on that . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Still casting the shows. Glad I'm working this far in advance, as it's taking a while.

As mentioned previously, the August production of Harry in Love: A Manic Vaudeville (by Richard Foreman) has been fully cast.

Spell (original play to be created in collaboration with the company, also to go up in August) is mostly cast. Currently in: Moira Stone, Fred Backus, Alyssa Simon, Iracel Rivero, Rasha Zamamiri, Jorge Cordova, Olivia Baseman, Sammy Tunis, Jeanie Tse, and Liz Toft. I still need another woman who speaks a non-English language fluently - and it has to be a language that comes from a country with some kind of revolutionary movement in its past (I've gone through actresses that spoke Russian and German). Also waiting for a man I've asked to say yes or no. I may want another woman in it as well.

Most recent description of the show sent out to the last people I was asking to do the show:

It's about an American woman (Moira) who has apparently done some kind of horrible, murderous terrorist action in the USA, and is being interrogated, or maybe examined by doctors, to find out why she did it, and we watch her attempt at justifying her action in light of other "revolutionary" movements of the past. We're seeing it all inside her fragmented mind, however, so things are changing and sliding around all the time. She keeps changing the "Military Interrogator" back and forth to a "Doctor" in her head, and also keeps changing the sex of this person (Fred & Alyssa). She also keeps imagining herself as a man, a romantic, handsome young revolutionary, who comes out to defend her actions (Jorge). She is also haunted by three witches who seem to be out of Macbeth, but also maybe are the Three Fates, and also represent revolutionary activity of the past as they speak mainly in non-English languages - the witches are Cuban (Iracel), Palestinian (Rasha), and To-Be-Decided (actress-to-be-cast). She also has "flashbacks" to her life before terror, where she's always tormented by men in control of her life (all played by the same man to be cast), and sees herself as a number of different women of different kinds (Olivia, Sammy, Liz, Jeannie, and maybe another).

I've watched a few movies recently that have had some kind of inspiration for where this is going: Godard's Tout Va Bien, Ken Russell's The Devils, some Greenaway, and I'll get to INLAND EMPIRE again sometime soon.

This image seems inspirational for this show as well - John Heartfield's Hurrah, the Butter Is Finished! from 1935:

John Heartfield - Butter

(quote at bottom) Goering: "Iron has always made a nation strong, butter and lard have only made the people fat."

Songs that are in the playlist for Spell right now: "Children Go Where I Send Thee" - traditional, performed by Ralph Stanley; "Monkey Gone to Heaven" by Pixies; "Highway 61 Revisited" performed by PJ Harvey; "The Red Telephone" by Love; "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" - traditional, unknown performer; and "Just Another Day" by Brian Eno. And somewhat tangentially, "Folk Song" by Bongwater and "High Water" by Bob Dylan.

The other original August show is now being called Everything Must Go - previously the working title was Invisible Republic, but I always figured that would be a subtitle. It's now become apparent that Invisible Republic has become a "series title" for me like NECROPOLIS, with That's What We're Here For as the first part of the series.

Now in Everything Must Go are: Jai Catalano, Dina Rose Rivera, Gyda Arber, Maggie Cino, Jay Liebman, Amy Liszka, Patrick Cann, Julia C. Sun, Brandi Robinson, and Doua Moua. I'd like another two men in the company - I've asked one, and I'm going to audition another.

Most recent description sent out to cast about this one:

It's about the USA, capitalism, and advertising/selling. It takes place in an advertising agency, over the course of a day . . . and that's most of what I know about it. Jai plays The Big Boss, and everyone else works under him, from VPs down to clerks. I'm going to create the dialogue and movement around the actors I get - I'm asking certain people I want who feels right for the world of the show, who I think can move well - there will be a mix of actual dancers of various kinds and people who just move well, or who I know can move "right" - and we'll see how it goes. And that's probably all I can say about it right now. I have music in mind, and dances and movement, and a bit of structure, but I can't do anything else until I have the performers.

Songs to probably be used in the show: "Jimmy Carter" by Electric Six; "Slug" by Passengers; "Down at McDonnellz" by Electric Six; "Dry Bones" performed by The Four Lads; "Transylvanian Concubine" by Rasputina; "Laughing" by Pere Ubu; "Not Yet Remembered" by Harold Budd & Brian Eno; "The Coo Coo Bird" performed by Clarence "Tom" Ashley; "Episode of Blonde" by Elvis Costello; "Theme One" by George Martin; and "Back of a Truck" by Regina Spector.

I've watched a couple of inspirational movies here, too -- Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, All That Jazz, and in some strange way Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 all had something to give.

Oh, and this show also has a particularly inspirational collage image, Richard Hamilton's work from 1956 (though the authorship is disputed), Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?:

Richard Hamilton - Today's Homes

And that's the August shows. Now as to the June show, The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles: A Reconstruction for the Stage . . . this is a casting pain!

I've got nine people set (besides myself) for this one, and still need another 11. I'll be auditioning four people I know of now, and I've asked another person who hasn't answered, but that leaves a lot more to look for. Hard to get people for this it seems.

Currently in: Timothy McCown Reynolds, Stephen Heskett, Shelley Ray, Walter Brandes, Ivanna Cullinan, Rebecca Collins, Amy Liszka, Linda Blackstock, and Aaron Baker.

In the morning, I'll send an email out to the people already cast in all shows asking for suggestions of people they know, like, and trust I should meet for the remaining parts - I usually wind up getting good people that way.

And that's it for the shows for today. Tomorrow, a little work on them in the morning, then over to The Brick to prepare for Penny Dreadful and the opening night party for Notes from Underground. Another day.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Merry Mount is down and over and now I'm on to the rest of the year's shows: My four for June and August, and directing Bryan Enk and Matt Gray's Penny Dreadful episode for March, which I can't do anything on just yet, until I get the script from the guys.

I will also be the main point-person for The Brick, most likely, in the management/running of the Tiny Theatre Festival in May and the Clown Theatre Festival, which I guess will be in October again. And Berit and I will have plenty to do in our duties as co-TDs of the space for The Film Festival: A Theater Festival in May/June. I don't know if the Baby Jesus Festival will now continue as a yearly thing or remain Biennial, but if it's up this year, that's December taken.

Berit is busy with props and other things for Cat's Cradle and Hiroshima for UTC#61, as well as stage managing Aaron Baker's 3800 Elizabeth. I will be coming in to set up the video system for the UTC shows, and as Berit will be house managing those, I'll be taking over for her on the management of Aaron's show (and the running of Penny Dreadful) when those conflict.

But the primary concerns in the home of Gemini CollisionWorks are our shows for the year. An update on current status, since that's what the blog is supposed to be about:

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

(performing June, in The Film Festival at The Brick, with, I hope, a few more performances in July - because of one performer's schedule, we can't do any shows in June after the 15th, which is fine by me, but better if we get a July extension)

The script is all together, and we're currently casting and discussing design. We need an actual costume designer on this besides Berit & I. I'll ask the two I know, like, and trust. Apart from that, B & I are in a good starting place.

Needs a cast of at least 16, though the more I look at the script, the more I worry I need a couple more to fill out the stage at one point, which is a pain, because then it gives everyone in the "chorus" parts less to do in the double-casting. I need to really look at the ballroom scene and plan it out on paper to see if I can stage it workably with the 16-person plan.

A lot to be done with shadow puppets. Must start playing with that. I have to do some sound editing on the music cues - I have the complete Herrmann score now, but many of the cues on the CD are linked together as mini-"suites" and I need to cut them up into discrete cues. We're going to have to rehearse with the music behind us, so I should have it ready. Powerpoint projections, too. Whee.

Must set up a first reading ASAP as soon as I have a cast. Currently cast: Timothy McCown Reynolds as Eugene Morgan, Stephen Heskett as George Amberson Minifer, Shelley Ray as Lucy Morgan, Walter Brandes as Jack Amberson (and myself as narrator). I've offered the roles of Fanny Minifer and Isabel Amberson Minifer to two actresses, but haven't heard back from them yet. Must email them today. Stephen introduced me to an older actor he takes class with who would seem perfect for Major Amberson, and who found the concept interesting, so I'll email him as well to see about meeting and reading. I have to get the nine "primary" roles set before filling out the rest of the cast, but I have a list of the actors I'd like to round out the cast, if I can get them. Also, while I think I can do it with these people, I need to go over the script and figure out the double-casting exactly to be sure. At the same time, there are issues of the casting kind that are exactly the ones I have a completely unreasonable discomfort in dealing with:

First, there are a couple of actors I know who are great, and would be great in certain roles in this show, but the roles are really good ones that are also really REALLY small, and I'm always unhappy with asking actors I don't know all that well personally, and who generally are cast in big, showy parts (and deservedly), to come in for one or two scenes in a show where they'll be sitting around a lot of the time (or moving scenery).

Second, there are two "small boys" needed for one scene in the show, and the best way to deal with this is to cast two diminutive actresses I've worked with before who could play both small boys and older women quite well. Again, in my unreasonable but quite real shyness, I'm having trouble emailing them to ask about their interest, as though there's something insulting about me asking them to play the boys, though both of them have played a small boy for me before.

Finally, the Ambersons, in an accurate-enough piece of period detail, have a black butler, Sam, who is a presence throughout much of the play, though he's not a huge part either. But he's important, and I can't imagine doing the play without him. At the same time, I am uncomfortable with putting out a casting notice looking for a black man to come in and be a rich white family's butler (over the years 1885-1910), who also can't really double in any other parts in the show (except in a crowd scene at the end), let alone asking the black actors I know to take it on. There is, of course, probably no good reason for my discomfort (as Berit noted, and I paraphrase, "Why are you uncomfortable? He's not written as some shambling offensive stereotype. He's a black servant to a family that in that time and place would have accurately had one.").

And in terms of asking the actors I know, it comes more under the heading of a regular problem I have that I touched on above -- once I've cast an actor in some big showy role in a show, I have trouble casting them in a smaller, supporting role, even if they're perfect for it, as I feel like I'm insulting them or something. I also get uncomfortable with certain actors I keep casting in smaller roles in show after show after show, who I know could give an amazing lead performance if I had the show with the role, but I never do. So I wind up feeling bad about continuing to ask them to come in and be, yet again, another great utility infielder of a performer.

Berit tries to help get me over this by asking me if I feel at all bad about how, having played a number of grand, wonderful, major roles on stage, I still get asked to come in and do a little supporting role here and there for someone (often non-speaking). And, no, I don't. I go and do the work where I'm needed if it's not interfering with my own. So if I'm fine with it, why should I assume it's an insult to other actors? I mean, yes, I've had 2 or 3 actors tell me, "I don't do small roles anymore," but with a simple informative politeness.

{sigh} I'm just paranoid. What else is new? This is why I always used to do real full ensemble productions most of the time, where there weren't any obvious "bigger" or "smaller" roles and it was all about everybody on stage all the time working together. Which, happily, is what two of my August shows will be like.

And . . . hmmn . . . after a little more thought, I've realized that I do know and have worked with an actor who could actually play Sam and multiple other characters in the show, I think . . . oh, yeah, that'd work. Okay, problem solved.


(performing August at The Brick)

I have fragments of script to start with on this one, but I'm building it around the specific actors I'm casting in it, and will create it through rehearsal, then go and write it and bring it back. Then repeat. Create all the design at the same time, so light, text, sound, costumes, set, props are all one integrated system from the start.

Moira Stone is cast in the "central" role, Ann, which is not so much a "lead" as the nucleus of an atom that everything else is spinning madly around. I know there are three witches who each speak a different, non-English language (I have actresses in mind for these who can do this, who've all expressed interest, but I have to confirm with them); a doctor who keeps switching from male to female (two actors in mind there, too); Ann's male alter-ego, Andy, who keeps switching places with her (several possibilities); and a chorus of figures you could think of either as revolutionaries or terrorists, and their bloodied casualties or victims. It seems to be breaking down naturally into 7 men and 7 women, which seems right for the piece.

So Moira is set - I have to contact the six others who have specifically expressed an interest in this show (and I've begun crafting parts around them). Another two people I'd like in this have expressed a general desire to be in one of this year's shows. And then there's another five I'd like in this I have to ask. This one's getting more and more alive for me, and it's really exciting.

This one is about terrorism, and my ongoing argument with myself about whether or not the use of terrible violence can be a potentially positive weapon for social change (if you're wondering who always wins that argument, well, I'm making theatre and not bombs, so it should be obvious, though I still sometimes wonder . . .).

Dance To That Which One Is Created For (Invisible Republic)

(possibly still a working title, but it'll do for now - performing in August at The Brick)

This one is both exciting and scary. I have a theme, a visual concept, some songs, an idea of mood, and a desired cast in mind, and nothing else. And it has to wind up being an actual play. With dances. This will be interesting, and I hope it won't frustrate the cast too much as we work to get there. I know it's about business and selling.

Gyda Arber (who I imagine tap dancing on a table to "Dry Bones") and Dina Rose Rivera (who, wonderfully, can dance en pointe as I was hoping - this will be an interesting new step in choreography for me) seem to be in on this one. I think this one will have four men and four women, and I have the others in mind already. I'm a little worried about eight people not being enough to displace enough air in the stage space for what I want, but any larger or smaller number seems really wrong.

So, emails to go out here, too.

Harry in Love: A Manic Vaudeville

(performing August at The Brick)

Richard Foreman's script is cut and ready. Mostly cast, 4 out of 6 at least - Josephine Cashman and I are playing Hilda and Harry Rosenfeld, Ken Simon is Karl Wasselman, and Walter Brandes is Paul Toothstein (aka "Hilda's-Brother").

Still to be cast are Doctor Meyers and Max Gelb - I've had an actor in mind for years to play the Doctor, and I just emailed him to see if he might be interested. I was stuck on anyone to play Max, but an actor I like that I didn't have any idea was interested in working with me emailed today out of the blue to say that he indeed was, and he's perfect for Max, so I sent him the script. So we'll see if I get these last two people, and if so, then we'll set up a reading and begin.

And that's it for now. And maybe for a few days until more actual things come up. I am strangely optimistic, an odd feeling for me . . .

collisionwork: (sign)
Or: Scene from the Life of a Director/Adaptor

IAN and BERIT at home, in the living room. BERIT is at one computer, playing a videogame. IAN is at another, typing in and adapting the transcript of Orson Welles' original cut of The Magnificent Ambersons into playscript form. He reaches a scene description in the book, and is thinking about how to transfer it into a stage direction, when he reads a footnote on the description. He frowns, and looks back and forth from the footnote to the scene description. Thinks a moment, turns around in his chair towards BERIT.

IAN: Hmmn.

BERIT: What?

IAN: Okay, so there’s an anachronism in Ambersons, and I don’t know whether to keep it in the script. I mean, it’s Welles’ anachronism, and somewhat deliberate.

BERIT: Yeah?

IAN: So there’s this scene where George and Lucy are walking down a street, and they pass a movie theatre where you can see several posters for early films playing there. And there’s an in-joke from Welles. One of the posters is for a Jack Holt western. Jack Holt was a silent movie star, and the father of Tim Holt, who’s walking past playing George Amberson Minifer. Thing is, the scene is supposed to take place in 1905, and none of the films you see the posters for would have been made yet. Actually it’s way too early for movies in those style to be advertised that way at all. One of them definitely wasn’t made until 1910 to 1912 – they mention it it the footnotes of the book here, but they don’t point out the anachronism.

(IAN checks later and also discovers that Jack Holt’s first film was made in 1914)

IAN: Oddly enough, I just found out in that Val Lewton documentary last night that Jack Holt was still around in the ‘40s and wound up appearing in a couple of those Lewton films that were made on the Ambersons set pieces the following few years, the ones that put RKO back in the black after Welles nearly bankrupted them, when they put “Showmanship Not Genius” on their corporate stationary as a "Fuck You" to Welles and brought Lewton in to make cheap horror films that would actually make money. Anyway, it’s Welles’ anachronism, and I’ve been sticking to Welles, even when he makes mistakes or does clumsy stuff, and I’ve always liked the touch of those posters in the scene and wanted to put it in the show . . . so . . . you think I should keep it?

BERIT is thinking – she smiles playfully.

BERIT: I don’t suppose anyone in our cast would be related to a silent movie star . . ?


IAN: Oh, yeah.

BERIT: ‘Cause then . . .

IAN: Oh god, right.

If you haven’t realized – since IAN and BERIT think the same way and aren’t having to say it out loud – they’ve decided that the perfect thing would be to have someone in the cast with a silent movie connection, and they would find a poster (preferably anachronistic) for a film with that connection.

BERIT: That would be seriously serving up some extra-nerdy with a side helping of geeksauce.

IAN: Yeah, but if there was I’d have to DO it.

BERIT: Well of COURSE! I mean this whole thing is an exercise in geekery.

IAN is amused by the conversation and starts asking BERIT to repeat some of what she said so he can take it down.

BERIT: I just want to point out that the geeky-ass idea of finding out if anyone in the cast was related to a silent movie star was MY geeky idea.

IAN: Yes, well, I had actually THOUGHT of it before you mentioned it, but I had discarded the possibility as too far-fetched, so I wasn’t even going to bring it up. Now of course I HAVE to.

BERIT: Yeah.

IAN turns back to the script, thinks a moment, then types the stage direction: “GEORGE and LUCY, at this point in their walk, pass a movie theatre – NOTE TO CAST: please let us know if you have any familial connection to anyone who acted in or made silent movies, we’ll want to use posters from those, if possible.”

Wish us luck on that idea . . .

collisionwork: (angry cat)
Whew. Kept meaning to post in the past week, but just got busy.

Directing Trav S.D.'s Hawthorne adaptation, Merry Mount, for Hawthornicopia has wound up being harder in some ways than anticipated. It's a short show - maybe 13 minutes - and I have a great cast of principals, and we're all set on the "actorial" stuff, if you get my drift (though we went down a wrong path at first - too serious - and had to go back and fix it - add some camp), but around all the acting are things that are necessary to the script that are a bit of a pain. Like period costumes (Colonial Massachusetts). A maypole that must function as a maypole, and also be breakaway (and set up and collapse in a small space without hitting anyone). A pagan song and dance (with 6-8 actors in small, non-speaking roles). Yeah, nice easy stuff.

All of this is pretty much taken care of now, but it wound up eating a lot more time than anticipated (and causing more stress). All good now, except I can never convince myself that all is good, of course, and I go around worrying about things that are either taken care of or I can't do anything about anyway. I'm a schmuck.

When not directing or worrying about Merry Mount, I'm working on things for the June/August shows, primarily the scripts for Harry in Love and The Magnificent Ambersons:

To the left is the book with the transcript of Welles' cut of Ambersons, to the right, a copy of Richard Foreman's typescript of Harry in Love. Both are long.

Since Ambersons has to be adapted to a playscript, I'm typing that in and trying to turn it into a functional "play" as I go. Harry just needs to be retyped into an electronic format that can be sent around to actors - and also edited down, as the play is just too damned long, so Berit is handling that. We did the full text in the original production of '99, and it was a boulevard comedy (Murray Schisgal/Bruce Jay Friedman-style) that ran 2 hours 50 minutes PLUS two intermissions (totaling another 15 minutes)! And we weren't poky about it, either. The first thing Richard said to me when he saw it, after thanking me for doing it in the first place and complementing my performance, was that it was too long and I should cut it if I did it again.

So I am. The original typescript is 159 pages long, and I would like to get 35 pages out of it, if I can without damaging it. Which may not be possible. The play is short on plot and long on character/funny lines, with a careful, rising-hysteria rhythm, so at a certain point it's the accumulation of insanity that makes everything work, and cutting too many of the beats to get there will eliminate any reason for the play's existence at all. I've already made my cuts in the first four scenes in my work copy - there's just one more scene in the play that B has to finish typing - and when the whole thing is in, I'll make these first cuts and see where we stand. I have some ideas for the second level of cuts that will pain me, but I can live with. Then I'll see if I can live with a third set of cuts, reaching into the "brutal" level. I want no more than 2 hrs. 15 min. plus one intermission. If possible.

Ambersons is, lengthwise, what it is. We're doing the Welles cut as we can. Probably 2 hrs. 10 min. Maybe a little less. With {sigh} no intermission - we're imitating a movie here; it just wouldn't work.

Meanwhile - back in de iPod - there are now 22,046 songs (hooray for better acceptable compression!), and this is what comes up this morning as I type:

1. "Love of My Life" - The Mothers of Invention - Crusin' with Ruben & The Jets
2. "Merry-Go-Round" - Wallace Collection - Laughing Cavalier
3. "Fiction Romance" - Buzzcocks -Operators Manual
4. "Baby Help Me" - Percy Sledge - Essential Collection
5. "Dirty Love" - Frank Zappa - Overnite Sensation
6. "Little Baby" - The Blue Rondos - Jimmy's Back Pages . . . The Early Years
7. "Whirlpool" - Steve Mancha - Northern Soul: The Cream of 60's Soul
8. "More Than a Feeling" - Boston - Greatest Hits of Boston
9. "The Lighter Side of Dating" - The Monochrome Set - Strange Boutique
10. "T.N.K. (Tomorrow Never Knows)" - 801 - Live

And as for the kitties, Berit and I continue in our attempt to get a really good photo of Moni by holding her, with mixed success:
Moni & Ian Shoulder

Especially as she likes to lick Berit's nose:
Moni & Berit Nose

But she and Hooker have been particularly sweet this week for some reason . . .

We'll see how long it lasts.

Some other excellent news has come up for Gemini CollisionWorks, but it appears I would have to check the exact language for legal reasons before I make a formal announcement. But maybe a few links would be acceptable . . ?


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