Archive | December, 2015

Some Early Sorkin

24 Dec

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I am festing “Sports Night.”

…It is my first night off for the Holiday, we start tech for “Arcadia” on Monday, which is, (coincidentally), when Corporate takes up residence in my office lobby again for a week, and top brass shows up the next. Just in time for Opening.

…I’m saying: this is the last breath before I suffocate under a mountain of stress, but even knowing that…I’m cool. Cuz I’m sipping on Christmas whiskey (as in ” a present” not “vintage” or “flavor”), and am watching one of my favorite writers, with a newly favorite cast, hinting at shadows of what is to come in all our futures.

I’ve always loved Sorkin, but it’s been a complicated relationship. Like many of his characters, he is an elitest, Ivy-League-educated, smarmy, asshole. But I can’t help liking him. Cuz talent is fucking sexy.

…Just so happens,  I have read and seen his plays, his master television works are quotable yearly fested go-tos,”American President” is one of the first of five DVDs I ever owned, and I have had countless conversations on character trait shares and cross indexing ‘tween all his works.

…’Cept this one.

…Because his Freshman effort is the last I have seen, and only, which I don’t own. Which is strange, and inexcusable, but “fact.” I know that whether I like sports or not, I would still be intrigued, cuz: it’s his. But for whatever reason, it has stayed an illusive missing piece, until my newly anointed Theatre Hubby and I got talking the other day (as we constantly do) and I mentioned my egregious error.

…So, he’s fixed it.

…I am blazing through his complete collection copy, like a house on fire…acknowledging the nods which will be addressed in Sorkin’s latter works, enjoying his spin this round on his particular formulas…and (possibly due to the math and patterns of “Arcadia”), really picking up on the specific algorithms of his life’s writing…like a thesis. You see how “this” character here, would later inspire “that”…his ever evolving ensemble troop of actors, is already well mixed and (though younger), well seasoned. The themes he will continue to deal with, the moments of contrast he will continue to play with, the dude-chick in upper-middle management power, the surly but lovable asshole…the liberal-with-a-cause, the unrequited love angle, the massive missunderstandings and false suspecting. The witty, nerdy, sexy, neurotic. The lion-hearted patriarch. It’s all there…even from the beginning.

…Which blows my mind…because even in its infancy, this was a cut above all the rest. Even the death of the unfortunate (but period-consistent) live audience laughter, was put to rest, well before say, M*A*S*H’s was. Because this wasn’t a comedic sitcom. It was not…even in the 90’s king of comedy years of “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and the rest…to be labeled as such. This was “theatre”… on television. And it seems that once they “got” that…all worked in it’s smooth, undulating, quirky way.

…Which is why it keeps getting canceled as well…because it doesn’t fit the “box demographic.” Sorkin requires you to listen, participate, and think. These are not (sadly) the things a television audience wants to do at the end of the day. They want to be “entertained.” And because Sorkin is a playwright, who makes film and television, his audience base is unfortunately the people who can’t tune in and up the ratings. Cuz we’re busy creating our own, on show days.

…So when we HAVE time, we fest. We feed, like thirsty vampires, on his creative blood.

…And it is delicious. And heartbreaking.

…Because we cannot seem to keep his work solvent and Prime Time , alone anymore. Which is a giant fucking shame. Because his gifts from politics to art to humanity to romance, are fucking brilliant. He’s that guy I’d love to antagonistically fight with and make love to, for like eternity. And in this: I am not alone.

…But the point is: to KNOW his work so intimately, yet be introduced to it’s beginnings at the end, it like a timewarp in evolution of art and politics of our time. He was so forward-thinking, yet so constructively challenging. He knew what we needed, but not how we’d get there. He built archetypes not within boxes, but hovering just outside them, and like Tennessee Williams, has spent his career perfecting the through-line of imperfection, within these archetypes.

…But, in the beginning it was different. It was younger, fresher, less “loaded” with bogged down realworld, shit.

…Which is almost heartbreaking. Because nearly every episode begins with an establishing shot of two buildings in New York, which we had always (until now) taken for granted.

My God, how much has changed for all of us, since then…

…Anyway, this is all to say, “Thanks, Bernard, for the brain and emo toys.”

Love,

That Hannah Chick.

~D

The **Non-Spoiler** Blog About [that one movie]

22 Dec

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In an effort not to be assholes, (or get shanked by pain-of-death warning alerts put into human form), this week’s vaguebooking on [certain movie] on the Facebooks, has taken a whole new turn in self-denial social media. It’s like parental blocking, only for nerds, and proves that it is actually possible to go through life as oblivious as one wants to, and yet still somehow actively participate.

…I’d say we’ve come a long way from the whole tester “Game of Thrones” spoiler debacle. I don’t even watch that damn show and even I knew what happened with whats-his-face and her in that one scene.

…Which is good. I mean, IF you’re gonna fuck something like that up, best NOT to be the “Holy Grail” from childhood.

…Because, even if you don’t consider yourself a giant [certain movie] fan…it still packs a punch in your gut, if for nothing else than that this was a formative moment in our youth…in two generations (and now three) of it.

…Even if you hated [three certain movies], and loved, or were indifferent to the others, they were still very much there…in the landscape of your adolescent consciousness.

…And even if [character name] wasn’t your first crush, or a poster of [character name] didn’t hang on your wall, or you didn’t have the entire [place] in Leggo form, a [prop] in identical replication on your bookcase, the entire [collection] in hardbound, or [character name] wasn’t responsible for your first [uncontrollable anatomical purge]…every morning…for four years…you STILL were landblasted by the commercials, trailers, toys, and general everywhereness of media about it.

So, let’s be real: it does matter to you.

…[certain movie] is a sort of time capsule, in a way. Its theme song is as powerful as that breakup song you bawled through on 24 hour loop repeat, in nineth grade. Its characters are like looking back at yearbooks from High School. The signature [stuff], the constancy of [other thing]…it all comes wooshing back the absolute second the lights go out and [that one guy’s] trumpet blare blow begins the [sound] and the [feeling] of the thing until it sorta makes you wanna bawl like a three year old child.

…Which is why, if you haven’t, you should “GET YOUR DAMN ASS TO THE THEATRE AND SEE IT ALREADY! SOME OF US GOT SHIT TO TALK ABOUT, AND YOU’RE KILLIN’ OUR OBSESSIVE BOOK-ON-FB-POST-JOY!”

…Yes, I’m talking to you: [that one guy]!

~D

Weird Shit Actors Say

18 Dec

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The current theatre I’m working at is one of my home base hubs…and so are the places we go to in the area after rehearsal and performances. We have become known…(because, frankly, how do you miss us)…at these places, not necessarily by name but by vocation. To the bartenders and waitstaff, we are those theatre weirdos, who pop in, take over the place, drink too much, over tip, eat whole meals at 11 pm, and go along our merry way.

…They know the “regulars,” and track us from show to show…some sincerely not giving a shit, but earning their tip by asking after “how it’s going,” some who have actually been inclined to attend, “Holy shit, that part where you walk off and blow your own head in…that’s freakin intense!”…Some just nod at you and bring your usual with no comment, and know enough not to ask if you want another round…it just appears as if by magic.

…Then, occasionally, you get the guy or gal who hasn’t yet worked our table before…and I imagine what must go through their heads when they are indoctrinated…hearing our conversations for the first time. We are only on the surface, “normal people.” Its not like they haven’t served nuts before, but we are a special brand of them.

Because of things like this:

Normal People (Meeting someone new): “Hi, hi — nice to meet you — where you from, what’s your wife’s name…oh, you’ve got kids?”

Theatre People (Meeting someone new): “…But then Dad was an alcoholic mess, so naturally, I did jokes and funny voices to make mom laugh…and people would be like, ‘oh Anne, he’s so funny, I bet he turns out to be a comedian or something…'”

**

Theatre People (Ordering food): “I don’t do meat, or animal byproduct, or gluten, or nuts. So, I’ll have the house salad with no dressing or croutons, or almonds. And a double Vodka on the rocks.”

Normal People (Ordering food): “Steak. Beer.”

**

Theatre People (Talking politics): “…No but it’s a classic case that Freud would wet-dream over. He’s obviously got some serious mother issues to work out, so is taking his total lack of control in that relationship to like the zenith level, by making all women pay by taking away their own basic rights, so he can feel empowered over the fact that she started dating after Daddy left or whatever, and he didn’t like the fact that mommy was gettin it on with Mr. Frick, across the street. ‘How do I stop her? By stopping all of them,’ he thinks…penance for ‘slutiness,’ paid in full…”

Normal People (Talking politics): “Well…I like my shot-gun, so: I’m voting for that guy.”

**

Normal People (Talking about the Holidays): “…And Suzy had that bronchial thing that was going around, so we had to stay home. I did a ham…baked a bit, but..it was a quiet Christmas.”

Theatre People (Talking about the Holidays): “We had a double header on the 23rd, then the 24th, came back for a pick-up rehearsal for the other show on the 26th, then musical work for that special New Years gig, on Wednesday and Thursday. I haven’t actually been home except to sleep in like a week. Also, I think my fish died, but I don’t have time to deal with that, so am just avoiding the living room in general right now…”

**

Normal People (On finances): “So we are working the budget really closely with our accountant, because we’ve decided that maybe we’ll refinance next year, and use that capital to roll back into the kitchen revamp and finishing the basement into a fourth bedroom…”

Theatre People (On finances): “….Yeah, I knew I’d over-draft by Tuesday, so I did the whole, ‘go take out $200 from the versateller before it hits so I only get feed once’ deal…like yuh do. Anyway, this round’s on me.”

**

Theatre People (Regarding job interviews): “And so then he asked me what I was, and I’m all like, ‘what do you mean?’ And he’s like, ‘well I can’t decide if you’re some kinda exotic ethnic thing or just like…part black?’ And I’m like, ‘dude, I’m whatever the part needs me to be. In fact, I can be taller, shorter, blond, even Cajun…if that’s what you want…”

Normal People (Regarding job interviews): “…And then this middle aged white guy walked in. So, that was over.”

**

Normal People (Talking relationships): “I dunno, it’s just so complicated and unnecessarily chaotic. If we love each other, why can’t the other stuff just figure itself out?”

Theatre People (Talking relationships): “No! NO! No! That’s just too simple. I mean, sure, you can play it that way…if you want to, but there’s like 150 layers under that basic set up…so much more ‘complication’ to mine there…I mean, I love you, but am like obsessed with her for some reason…which I mean obviously goes back to that time in the third scene where she slaps me…but my devotion and love for you is different…calmer, like. See I think I idolize you, and deep down I realize I just don’t deserve you, so I go with the gut reaction of the mirrored image of myself: her. The ‘wandering whore,’ so to speak. It’s nothing against you personally.…”

***

Normal People (At the end of a long night): “Whelp, that’s me: done in. Off home to do the husband/wife/mom/dad stuff…maybe night cap with a bath…”

Theatre People (At the end of a long night): “So…the after party is at yours then? I’ll grab a bottle and some bread or something on the way…oh, and hey, can I just crash on your couch or whatever? If I have to wake up to someone else’s early morning sexing in the next room one more time, I swear to God — P.S. I love how you’re single. We should get drunker and fool around. Think about it…”

…And so it goes. Entertainment and intrigue on and off the stage.

…You’re welcome, server “Mary Beth.”

You, are welcome.

~D

Stoppard Stasis

11 Dec

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You know how Hamlet is this doomed Prince? And you know how he had these semi insignificant University pals who show up a couple of times to cock his life up further? And you know how Stoppard took those dudes and wrote an entire play about what happens to them, during their “off stage” down-time? And you know how it’s patterned after “Waiting For Godot,” and nothing “real” ever happens per sey, you just watch two idiots waste time and space, waiting for life to “happen” to them, instead of going out and actually verbing “life” into an active state of achieved fulfillment?

…And you know how fucking confusing that show is, with it’s death and life, in boxes? But you still kinda love it anyway? Because somehow, the “watching life pass” bit, and the “waiting” bit, and the, “what is our purpose” bit, and the “fucking shit up despite all your best intentions” bit, sorta rings home…but at least now it’s happening to someone else, so it’s easier to laugh at it?

Stoppard has a way of freeze-framing characters and time and events into crazy broken shards of life, then piecing them back together with bits of string and Scotch tape, so you can chart their journey (often in screwed up time or perspective) to one another AND a variety of themes, spider-webbing to, from, through, and across each other like one of those theory boards made of stick pins and yarn that obsessive detectives always use in complicated murder mysteries.

….The bastard is SO smart, though, he ups the stakes by making sure you can’t find all the answers and connect on just a 2D charting field. He takes that shit sideways, and at diagnals, so you have to mentally pop the whole thing out into 3D to even begin to get to the bottom of things. Character relationships across 300 years of time and space, theories spun from the Greeks, then thrown into math algorithms. Clever word-play, comparing the change of meaning in language over time, class, education…and yet (much like Shakespeare), with all that fancy head play, can still cover the essentials of human existence on desire, sex, jealousy, hate, and frustration enough to satisfy even the most unread, lazy, gutter-thinker in the audience.

…In other words: Stoppard is fucking magical.

This is my second show of his I’ve worked on– “Arcadia,” far in my preference to “R&G.” Maybe because I sincerely click with this character, and the cast, and the three or four particular themes we’ve (thus far), uncovered in our massive 3D pin board of string-followings.

…I love History. I love hard work, and research and investigating. I love books and theories and lives who’ve come before us, paving our way. I love the basics of proof-searching, of accountability and the infection of wanting to know more. I completely understand learning-obsession, talent-crushing, head-against-brickwall-beating, and a sense of there always being more and more and more to know…about EVERYTHING.

…So…I “get” Hannah. However, being as she is a Stoppard character, I know there will always be more layers to dig under in more directions, than I would be able to exhaust in even a full six months of playing her. Because I already get this, my plan of attack at grid-reliefing her in excavation, (like an archaeologist), is my best bet to chasing her down. Which, even she would approve of.

…”This” finding, which leads us to “that,” connects “here,” and at last you have: why she writes instead of teaches. “This” piece, followed by “that,” minus a very distinctly missing other bit, explains why she has no significant other in her life. Control issues. Distrust. Obsession. Sex-antagonism. Anti-Romanticism. Science vs Faith. She’s left more broken shards of her-pieces buried all throughout this show, to keep me digging for ages. I’ll never find it all. But with each new piece I uncover and try to plug into that chart of her-theories, the more I understand not only what a hell of a job I’ve got ahead of me each rehearsal and performance, but also an affirmation of what I already knew before…and yet, am still surprisingly gobsmacked over…

Which is:

No matter how much I learn, there is more to find, regardless of how many hundred times I pluck through this script which never changes and yet with each new discovery, somehow seems to.

…And also:

Fucking sonofabitch, Stoppard is a goddamn brilliant playwright.

~D

Dance Lust

4 Dec

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Every time I see a movie with dancing in it, I get a screaming itch to throw a bunch of money (that I don’t have) at that studio downtown…and do a totally unrealistic montage-sequence jump to basically: a professional ballroom goddess, overnight.

…I don’t give a right shit about “clubbing.” Screw crunking and all that crap. I wanna salsa and tango like a mutherfucking champ! I wanna waltz like a floating cloud, with someone who can actually hold a posture and take the lead. I wanna put 40,000 cha-cha steps on my Fitbit in a single night.

…It’s actually like a sorta starving-hungry-eating-your-guts sensation. I want it that much.

…Course, schedules and funds being what they are, it’s totally unrealistic. (Unlike my overnight, award-winning-prob’ly competition-level success.) But surely, somewhere there’s a place I can go on the odd night, to “fake it til I make it?” Some version of a ballroom club for a cover fee, who provides dancing partners, with? Surely, in a major Metro area like Seattle, there must be such a thing?

…The obsession, once reignited, will haunt me for days now…wondering how and where such a place might exist…and what it might be like, if I could get over social awkward terrors enough to dance with total strangers so incredibly intimately, and how kick-ass it would be…to dress up all fancy, doll up the face-parts, and live for at least one night, like all those supremely perfect dancing women in films, always do.

…I could prob’ly pull it off, for a time. I mean, I have for shows, across two hours or more. Why not grow the suspension of disbelief further…stretch it to the mark…milk a whole Cinderella-at-the-ball kinda thing outta it?

…Which is just one of the the several supremely strange “feminine” eccentricities I do actually possess.

…When it comes to music and a dance floor, the dude-chick dies, almost instantly. Sentimentality and sensuality completely takes over. That “wine me and dine me” gene suddenly pops out from the burried graveyard of lady-dust, and materializes…solid as a brick wall. Where it goes in between, I dunno…

…I mean in “life,” just TRY and dominate me…I’d ball-vice you before you’d finish your first sentence, or get fully in the room.

…But play a tango or throw Gene Kelly up there, or Fred n’ Ginger…or you know…Cyd Charisse and her 7-mile legs, and I’m instantly all about putting on a dress with a slit up to here and some supremely uncomfortable strappy heels…ready to be guided damn-near anywhere. Never in the rest of real life does that happen.

…Like a secret Achilles Heel, deal, or something…

…Which, if you were a dude on a non-rehearsal, non-show Friday night, wearing a suit n’ tie, who happened to know of such fairyland places, and wanted to use it against me sometime…?

…I am so totally good with that.

Just, you know.

FYI.

~D

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