Tag Archives: Music

Art Orgasms

20 Nov

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Straight up: it is one a.m., as I start this.

…I waited until midnight for the Adele album to drop, like sci-fi nerds are waiting for Star Wars. Same experience. Same geek-factor. Same obsession.

…The digital download popped early, so I’m well of two-times into listening to one of our generation’s greatest storyteller’s “junior album.” And it plays like a fucking doctoral thesis.

…Cuz sometimes…a freak of talent is born unto us…who speaks an international language of art, so well…that even sounds before the words, punch you in the gut with real-talk. My instinct pulls heavily towards “All I Ask,” and “Million Years Ago.”

…The album as a whole is story-telling rich, has surprisingly eclectic genre-play, and (together with her vocal texture), is frankly balls-out magnificent. Totally worth the wait. But art speaks differently to different people, and for me (at the moment), these two songs are the repeat mini-set as I write this. Small, totally significant details that tickle, punch, and thrust. Together with the power of her instrument to tell the story…it’s like a master-class in being human and vulnerable.

…Which, after even a pretty fucking great rehearsal tonight, on a pretty fucking good play, with a pretty fucking stellar set of co-stars, makes me hungry to do more, and better…be braver, more naked, more “real.”

…Which is the drop-down gorgeous thing about “art.” The inspiration of one, on another…the combining of these words to the effect of chills or delight. The gut punch, of action or inarticulate sound, when words aren’t enough.

My god, how lucky…to have that damn desk job, so I can afford to go to a rehearsal, I’m not being paid for (this particular time), so I can speak words of art, debate and discuss interpretation with other artists, go home after a good night of hard work, wait til midnight for an album drop I’ve waited YEARS for, and have the leisure to stay up, with a couple fingers of expensive top drawer whiskey, reflecting about it until (let’s face it) two a.m. or better, before bed n’ work tomorrow.

Exhaustion is worth it. It always is. I would trade nothing past 4:30 p.m., for anything. Which means, I’ve got a pretty supremely blessed life, frankly.

…And sitting here, with this musical goddess of storytelling piped at full volume in my earbuds, it presses me forward…to work harder, do better, and hope that at least once in my career, I can slaughter a human heart with empathy, at least a tenth as well…as Miss Adele.

~D

Stupid Everythings

18 Jul

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I’ve been trying for an HOUR to upload music from my tablet to my damn phone and am now about three seconds from hurling them both across the room.

…Isn’t the whole POINT of current tech supposed to make all this shit super easy?!

…No matter what I do, the instructions have me going in circles, the usb port keeps denying passage like that fucking asshole munchkin guard at the Emerald City door, and all I want….ALL I WANT…is to flip a file of cocking mp3s from one android device to the other.

YOU’RE GIVING ME A PAIN IN MY ASS, STUPID, STUPID EVERYTHINGS!

…I think I’m gonna call it a day, pull up a documentary on the history of “The Fart” or something, on Netflix, and clock…out.

This has been a WEEK of it, my friends, and I am glad to see the ass end, as it walks away.

Good riddance.

~D

Contemplation Of Boredom And Stuff

15 Jul

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It’s the Monday night after a Sunday closing, and I already don’t know what to do with myself.

…Tonight I’ve experienced three alternate “post-work-day” scenarios to try and fill the time.

First home, I went for a walk.  Seemed like a good idea at the time. And it was.

…I took a different route, into a different neighborhood, attacked some hills, contemplated joining some kids on a swingset in the park, but then thought better of it, as that is exactly how you end up in jail on random kid-attack charges for something you never did while real sickos walk the streets, scoping out their next victims, while drooling.

…I am a bit of a hypochondriac about these kind of things, but current court cases have not risen my sense of confidence to the contrary in any way.

…So…instead of playing, I walked home.  Where I then delved into Empire Magazine while shoving as many rice krispy treats as humanly possible, into my face. You know, to counteract anything possibly healthy or invigorating about all the sweating I had just done.

…Then Mrs. Johnson showed up and it was all, “So, whatchu been up to?” and “How was the show?” and “Here, lemme sock you in the guts a little more…”

…Followed by a trip to help Ma with another load, moving into the new Town House.

…And now, after having a picnic on the futon (that I was too lazy to build back up into a couch, since Cecily last slept on it…Saturday night), I am laying on my tummy, listening to my landing neighbor toot about on their clarinet…actually, it’s not a “toot” so much as a “loldel.”  (A “loldel” is like a “yodel” minus the “yo”) It’s never a real song…but clearly played by a pro, as no squeaks or whines or honks ever jump out. To me, it sounds like they are forever composing a film underscore. Unlike in jazz free-form, it doesn’t seamlessly link, but alters randomly…with variations but no through-rhythm, going along for a bit before breaking up into a new slower, or higher, or lower piece, changing tempo, with frequent pauses in between. 

I like it. 

…Though it’s nothing you could do a chore or dance to.  It is meant just for their exercise, not as an interlude.  But it always makes me wonder what they are practicing for, the kind of music that they really play, and where.  And whether it is the same person, or another, who as the pianist in the flat, takes exercise in the same exact kind of way. 

…Either way, I like sharing the landing with musicians.  Good ones.  Classes up the building a bit.  And I like that I can justly refer to ours as the Arts Floor of the building.  It makes me feel more Bohemian. 

…Though my practices tend to more resemble schizophrenia, to the outside observer or listener, than any kind of art.  And based on the conversation content, prob’ly of a severely disturbed nature. 

In the past seven months of lines and character work alone, I’ve gone on Shakespearean rants, sobbed myself into a total breakdown-fueled suicide, gotten hauled off to a concentration camp, flirted in ridiculously rampant run-on sentence structure in period English, without end, and of late have hacked in nonstop German about spies and undergrounds, in between yodeling a ton of Scottish rolling “R’s” while blathering on about my “hoosband,” and running away from the London police, while accidentally handcuffed to a suspected murderer…with all the kind of once-sided conversations that naturally go with that.

…In fact…now that I think on it, that could be a small contributing reason to the fact that my landing neighbors seem to move quite frequently.  In fact, all of them do.  By far, I am the oldest tenant in the building…not in “age,” but in longevity.  Even now, there is a moving van across the way, and the “vacancy” sign has gone back up on the hanger bolts under our main title post.

…But I honestly think it can’t all be just me.  And anyway, the musicians in C1 have been around for at least nine months now.  And that says something.

…Even if only that, being musicans, they are too fucking poor to afford to move out and away from the psychotic freak schizo they are currently sharing the landing with.

…Who may, or may not be, alternately suplimenting her income by part-time prostitution, based on the vast numbers of people (of either sex) randomly spending the night, and/or leaving or arriving at three o’clock in the morning.

Such is life.

~D

The Heat & Some Tuneage

30 Jun

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Gwen and Cecily tag teamed some other badass dames, watching “The Heat” tonight, and laughed our asses off in some much welcomed air conditioning.

Listen, people: 90 degree weather doesn’t work well in the Pac NW.  We don’t know what to do with that shit.  And PERFORMING in it with a gillion watts of lights focused on us, in twelve layers before the corsets even hit…and suit jackets and silks and wigs and hats, was pretty much the human limit of human limits.

…It’s hard to be funny when your face is melting pancake and mascara in literal streaks down your face.  And it is hard to be genteel in that instance as well.

Gwendolen does not “wipe.”  She does not “itch.” She doesn’t even “blot.”  She just sits there and lets the sweat drop in lines down the back, off the neck, into the corset, soaking the armpits, as she sits, stands, launches herself at furniture and pretends to be delightful and cool as a cucumber throughout. 

…Nothing was cool.

Even the air conditioned theatre made no difference to us. Not when packed with bodies breathing hot air at us, as we bake under heat lamps. 

…And holding to what became the trend of the weekend, (after our phenomenal house on Thursday), the audiences across these past three days gave very little (and in some cases negative zero) help in energy throughout…whether they happened to be enjoying the performances or not.  Thus, forcing us to manufacture everything from scratch…and sometimes even dig ourselves out of the black hole vortex that they seemed to be sucking us into, in a sweaty, clinging mass of humanity.

Some blamed the heat.

…By today’s matinee, I had totally given up on any responsive expectations, and just went out there to tease and flirt and argue and reason with some characters I know. Played with the team with less feed-back expectation than an average rehearsal… so thus wasn’t thrown when that is what we got. 

…Then it was onto spraying down the drycleaning with vodka-water, laundry in the take-away bag…all the hats and jabots and cravats and cufflinks, earrings and watches, into our holding boxes…shoe-horned the shoes, aired out the corsets, wrote up our costume grievances, and beat it into an afternoon of heat waiting just outside the theatre doors that all but smacked us on our asses.

Gwen and Cecily solved the issue by taking refreshment of giant lemon ice-waters elsewhere, and following up with ice creams, before home and laying about like limp ragdolls until regrouping for movie times.

…A rest-time that included discovering a delightful new talent…her music happily floating from Naughty Girl’s speakers beside me.  A little Regina Spektor, meets Ingrid Michaelson, meets Lily Allen.

…A small collection of music.  She writes her own, and grabs studio time when she can.  I think she’s something pretty smile-worthy, and you might too.  Hear and grab her tunes if you wanna, here.  I’m pretty partial.

…And not just cuz she my Cecily 😉

~D

Then, Onto Serious Matters…

24 May

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Beethoven in the background.

…I’ve just finished beating the hell outta my giant pink-bubble-gum Pilates ball, (with some added Yoga), and am celebrating my efforts with a heavy-handed homemade margarita that tastes about 200 proof.

…I am not a greener, you guys.  If I’m expected to work out, there must be some give and take, here. 

Besides…I already did like a five mile beach walk today at Point Defiance.  Plus rehearsal.  Plus walked the mall.  So it’s not like I haven’t earned this five-stiff-drinks-in-one.

An excellent day off.

Slept until 10:30 (which is totally unheard of, especially where cramping is concerned.)

…Lazed about a bit, regrouped over coffee, motored to mall to get nails done while watching Streep be magnificent in “Devil Wears Prada” in the background.  Then: did some summer shirt-shopping, off to beach-walk, had a sandwich, did lines and scene work at rehearsal, and beat it over to Barnes and Noble, till they kicked me out.

Home to working out with the giant pink-bubble-gum ball…to the tunes of Glenn Miller.  (It totally works, and makes it all a lot less horrible.)

…Debated more De Profundis.  Decided to blog first. 

…Beethoven selected. 

After all that lightness and air and incidental flippancy, I want a little more  grounded heft. 

I like heft.

I love Beethoven.

I blame him (almost exclusively) for my total closet devotion to doomed unrequited love stories.

…Well, him and the Brontes.

…But, still.

Sometimes you just need some background yearning.

…He also makes me want to “make” something.  Mostly, write. He makes me want to push aside these trivial little blog posts I’ve been devoted to for nigh onto a year now, and make something really legitimate.  Something dark or irksome or  full of complications.  Not even in content, even just in sentence structure, and thought process.  Haven’t done that in so long, I’ve forgotten how.

…But then I’ll hear the beginning of a movement…and I’ll see the picture of thought he paints instantly in my brain.  And how immediate the feelings follow it, and how personal and intimate it becomes.  And I start to remember how much I loved writing like that.  As if it mattered.  Not just for a lark.

…Back when it was about “content” not just daily requirement.

Art comes in so many varieties.  And the influence of one on another, is like a waterfall affect with me. 

De Profundis…such a serious text and consideration on the responsibilities of what it means to be an “artist” and the accountability that comes with it, is obviously pushing me in that mindset as well.  Delving into Oscar by day, in all his ridiculous and delicious glory, then investing in his darker side at night, is this whole new combining experience that makes me want to explore the same in my own little creationary world.

…There is obviously room for both. 

So, tonight is Beethoven, and some prose maybe.

Supremely rusty on that bent, but it’ll come back to me.

One hopes.

Off for a try at least…

~D

Press Corruption

27 Feb

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This has nothing to do with buy-outs and palm-greasing of the Journalist trade, and everything to do with pimping out a product.

…Yesterday’s blog got high numbers of interest, so thought you might enjoy a little more on the the realm of Theatre PR.  It’s pretty basic in that you are trying to sell something that people don’t need, and make them pay money they often can’t afford, for something that lasts a maximum of three hours time.

…This is on the basics of course.  The cold, hard, sell-it-to-me facts. 

WE know that theatre is necessary and worth it, and lasts much longer than a fleeting instant, by the fact of how it commands your attention, and influences debates and conversations and emotions long after the curtain has gone down.  But before people get all emotionally invested in whatever it is they are about to see, you have to make them emotionally invested in what they are about to see.

…Yes. It’s sort of a “catch-22.”

Hollywood has been doing this with entertainment for over 100 years.  They found the best ways to corrupt your feelings and pocket book, and continue to tweak them infinitely in new combos and patterns and trends in order to keep up the good work.  It only makes sense for theatre to follow in their footsteps and do the same thing: so we do. 

…We slobber posters all over everything, invent catchy tag-lines, print out postcards and flood the market in bookstores, local businesses, and home addresses, flip out bookmarks, bulk-mail season flyers, tweet about rehearsals, FB “special deals, ” sell random tchotchkes, email campaign your inboxes, and stick ads on every theatre callboard, newspaper, community calendar, radio station, and even craigslist.  We are not too proud to do anything.  Hell, give us a sandwich board and a hot dog suit made of felt, and we’d use that too!

…The point is: theatre only works if you have people come to it.  Tickets are often upwards of twice the price of a Friday night trip to the movie theatre, and it is limited in the special effects and able-to-get-up-any-time-you-want-to-go-pee option. Also, a lot of time, you’re going out on a limb in content, by unrecognizable actors, and plots you’ve never heard of.

I’ll give you all that.

…But it is also my job to get your butt in the seat and watch it anyway. It’s my job as an Actor. It’s my job as a person of theatre. It’s my job as part of a PR team. So here is how I do my share: trailers.

Trailers are the sweet-spot of instant info and emotional investment you can use on unsuspecting patrons. In 2-4 minutes, you can give them history, plot, characters, emotional content, themes, a good cry when needed, and production dates, times, and ticket info. It’s short. The music will help set a perfect mood. And they can share it with others. When I go on a full-run campaign, I usually mix it up with an initial teaser with history of the show and content, to educate…followed by another trailer by Opening to light a flame under their asses more specifically, followed by a review quote-filled one telling them why they should all go buy tickets now because the damn this is just too goddamn amazing to miss…followed by a “one more week and you’ll have missed it, and then won’t YOU just feel like a schmo?” hit.

…And: it works.

People will talk about them. People will share them. It can go viral on FB, and be sent in newsletters and general emails…and it answers the question of WHY a person should buy a ticket, WHAT they are in for, and WHERE the show once came from. So here are a few as examples…just to wet your whistle:

***

First: The Teasers:

Opening Week:

Reviews:

~D

Dear Dennis

2 Dec

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Good morning, all.

…My fellow casties are prob’ly still well passed out at the hosting house of our cast party, which I spent all of fifteen minutes at before going home.  It was a choice I needed to make, and I know I missed out on everything, and it sucks, but sometimes being smart takes precedence.  Even in the theatre.

…And speaking of that…

…I would like to share with you a “present” we received from the Artistic Director before fight call last night.  Marty, who had already previewed it at rehearsal yesterday, was giddy with laughter, that it would be the absolute best part of our day, bringing endless joy and wonderment.

She was not far off.

…But before I launch on: let it be known that the theatre receives dozens and dozens of feedback comment, emails, facebooks, blogs and personal notes, for each show, indicating a positive reinforcement on the production, its cast, designers and crew.  And amongst those several dozen, they will also get a few negatives.  These are usually people disturbed by content: like too much kissing, or groping or foul language.  It is (most of the time) a matter of personal offence levels, and rarely has anything to do with the actual performances given.  But lets face it: people can be dicks, and are highly encouraged in this country to speak their mind whether asked their opinion or not, and anything that politically, emotionally, sexually, religiously or otherwise which offends them, means that we should all be shamed, and go to hell for it, purely because they say so. 

…Also, they seem (for some reason) to believe that it is their “divine purpose,” to tell us this.

But last night’s shared patron letter, gobsmacked us entirely because it was by all means in the negative column, but for “intellectual” purposes…blowing our minds three ways to Sunday.  Where does one even begin an answer to something like this without being smarmy about it?  I have no idea.  So I’ll let SWAL do it, instead. 

…First though, I take you back to last night:  We are assembled and chatting on stage, pre-show, while some do physical warm-ups and others: vocals.  Chatting is happening over in the front row seats by some members, others are swilling coffee or munching on popcorn, ripped from concessions. Several of us snerffle our noses and swap cold drugs like street dealers.  Then: Mr. Artistic Director calls for our attention, with his phone loading an email he received the night before.

…He “has a present to share with us, ” he tells us, with a serious face but twinkle in his eye…as Marty in the far seats on the side starts squirming with delight. “Oh my God you guys, it’s beautiful…I can’t even wait.  You will laugh so hard your faces will fall off.”

…And then, with a total straight face, Mr. Artistic Director reads:

Subject: Twelfth Night

I went to the play, Twelfth Night, Thursday night. I left early.

(we boo and hiss loyally)

I don’t understand Shakespearian or Elizabethian English. You have a Parental Advisory on your website for the play, but no advisory that the play is spoken in a language that is centuries old.

(general burst of laughter.)

The Twelfth Night was written in the mid 1590’s. Even the King James Bible, written in 1611, has been rewritten in modern English.”

( “Cliff Notes!” someone yells.)

So, I could not understand any bawdiness, if any was spoken.”

(another burst of laughter.)

I did see a male character’s hand on a female character’s breast, but without a funny dialog, it’s not funny.”

(A call-out to me: “Your boobs aren’t funny! They’re fired!”)

Looking at the, Setting, in your magazine size program, I’m not sure when I left. I did not see a kitchen. I did not see a street outside a house. I did not see a sea coast.”

(twitter laughter begins to build.)

Am I supposed to imagine that the players bringing into a room a large wooden chest was supposed to be on the coast? It looked like it was just being brought into another room in the same place as the other scenes.

(twitter grows to guffaws.)

What were your scenic designer and artist doing? Even your youth class could draw and color a short but long picture of sand and waves, to put in front of the stage, to depict a sea coast.

(every last one of us completely loses our shit.)

I left after two characters with swords in their belts exchanged words. Very disappointed.

(we try to breathe through the giggles.)

“Not interested to go to the [theatre name] for a long time.

~ Dennis

…At it’s completion we sat, stood and laid there on stage making fun of this letter for the next ten minutes…all insisting it be forwarded to us directly so we could pull it out at parties and blog about it to the general masses.

This is the kind of thing the Arts are up against, people…and it’s only gonna get worse.

With Hollywood and video games and cell phones and computers, an entire generation of children have grown up without ever once having to use their actual intellect, imaginations, or focus on something like conversation without fights, blood, wars and graphic porn-level humping in front of them. Give them anything less, challenge them in any way more than that…and they are now being bred to be incapable…actually incapable…to go with you on a journey played out for them…live…on a stage…with immediate response.

…They are just lost, poor bastards.

Completely and utterly lost.

…Our society and technology has brought them to this level, so how in the hell are we supposed to fix that? What does one answer a full grown man who can’t manage a simple game of make-believe that any of us could master at age three?

…This is why underfunding the Arts is so tragic, you guys.

If he had been TAUGHT these things, encouraged to engage in them as a young person, this would have been an entirely different story. How I know this is: the five schools of children packing out our theatre last Tuesday, caught every single sexual innuendo, dirty joke, insult, trick and love twist that we threw at them. Why? Because they had been immersed in the language, studying it for an entire semester, that’s why. They had been taught to appreciate all the wicked winks and plots that Shakespeare put there, and had no problem, AT ALL, following our characters and stories, on a set NOT built on a million-dollar budget with pyrotechnics, and NOT necessitating dummy cards produced on where we are, when to laugh, and when to applaud.

In a blog that started out wanting to smart-ass a whiplash reply right back at this guy, I sorta don’t have the heart to anymore. It’s almost like kicking a puppy. He just genuinely doesn’t understand the Art, or the History, or the Language. And sure, you can totally make fun of that…but it’s sort of more depressing to me than anything else, really. So instead of a saucy SWAL response, how about just a genuine one?

***

Dear Dennis,

I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the performance last Thursday. By your comments, it seems you were expecting a much different experience at the theatre than you were given, which happens sometimes, and we totally understand how you could be frustrated by that fact. In saying that, however, I wonder if you would be willing to do a little experiment for us…just a few moments of your time.

…We know you have a favorite jam, everybody does. Some song you really connect with…the one with your favorite guitar riff or base hit or whatever it is…one with no words in it. Just music. Put that bad boy on, would yuh? Earphones even, if yuh got ’em, and blast that shit as loud as you want!

…Now: turn out the lights. I’m not getting weird here, just trust me. Total pitch black.

…Just listen. Listen to the music…your song…and let your mind open up and trip all it wants to on wherever it goes: pictures of things, places you’ve been to, that one girl you knew once, the vacation you took that one time, roadtripping your senior year with all your buddies…whatever it is. Whatever makes you love this song should be comin’ at you right now from all different directions of your mind.

…And when the song is over, set it on repeat. Listen to it again. Pay attention to when you think of what…and who you think of at what place in the music itself. Lust. Sadness. Joy. Come on…you’re right there again, remember where you were, what it looked like, the weather, the color of the paint on the walls, the make and model of car, the way she did her hair. Remember the smells, and the textures as deeply and as specifically as you can. Got it?

End of experiment.

…It was just to prove you could actually go on the trip we were wanting to take you on in our performance last Thursday, but much like now: you have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibilities and use your imagination and memory.

Your music had no words you could understand, as you claim of our show: yet you understood the story it told, perfectly.

Your music had no sets or lights or costumes or props, but the ones which you provided yourself, in imagination and memory.

Your music had a bunch of separate scenes and characters and story plots, that ran together at the same time and still made total sense to you.

Your music made you feel things: lust, anger, passion, pain…with no special effects, or fight scenes, or sexual encounters aside from those that you yourself created.

…So it is with our job.

And we hope, at some point, you will be willing to come back, sit in a seat in this theatre, and as the lights go down: listen to our music with a willing ear, and open mind…and see if you can’t find something in there that means something to you.

…We just wanted to share our jam with you, man.

That’s all you have to think about, if you ever happen to want to come back.

Sincerely,

SWAL

~D

Hello, I Remember You

20 Nov

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Seems it’s time.

…Time to start down an old road, in search for some truth and hope.  Time to deal with happenings in the past, drag them out into the light and face them once again. 

In front of several hundred people.

…My head, already feeding on the script, I’ve started a companion album to the piece.  I do it a lot, when beginning work on a character.  Because music gets to the heart of the matter immediately…giving you a sort of soundtrack to play by. Something that can run in my head on the way to the theatre, and as I put on my makeup and set my hair every night. 

…Something playing as I watch my everyday face, literally disappear in the mirror in front of me…replaced by this new being who has a story they need to share with a couple hundred people out there.

Two of the songs on the list so far, are the launching pad of where I’m coming from, and what the character’s journey means to me.  We are sisters in a lot of ways, but I think her core of cores is one part love, and one part shame. 

…Themes you can’t escape no matter how hard you fight them. 

And I ought to know.

Welcome, Martha. 

I’ve got your back, kid.

~D

If Music Be…Play On

10 Nov

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Resting up for tonight’s performance. 

…Never quite got the extra punch of nerves like I usually do for Opening.  Kept waiting for it, but the ghost that visits us all, must have duped someone else in the cast on accident.  A smooth run, nothing of real consequence to note, or a moment that stood out any more than I thought it would.

Now: we are Open. 

Our greatest challenge is to keep up the energy,  (whether or not our audiences seem to understand the story that is happening before them), and to keep our eyes on the prize with consistency, intent, and joy.

…Based on our first two audiences, there is a very unfortunate pattern of wide-eyed blinking going on through much of the first half….wherein their brains do their best at processing what we are giving them, and they try to make some sense of it. 

It has been a long time since I last did a Shakespeare, and that was a drama…so obviously the “comedy” requires more of their participation.  And my mind is just blown with the truth we were told at the beginning: that we should expect very little feedback until well of 20-30 minutes into the show, as it takes that long for the audience to wrap their head around the lingo, period, and story plot.

…And I vehemently disagreed with this, based on the clarity of the performances being given up there…

…Until last night completely confirmed what Preview first handed to us.

Our comedy, which we have worked so hard on, is being blanketed with very thick quilts of silence as we struggle in our task not to over-sell or out-shout these moments to get SOME sort of response from the seating sections.  Quite deflating, actually, to just plug on in blind faith that at some point, it WILL click with them, they WILL suddenly have the (apparent) necessary breathrough of communication, and we WON’T look like idiots throughout the WHOLE of the performance.  Only one-quarter of it.

Here is where I struggle to concept the situation we find ourselves in:

Shakespeare is not new. 

…It is often done here…many times over…by many of our companies, some of whom specifically perform it solely.  Every season.  And someone fills those seats…time, after time, after time. And one presumes they are the same patrons who frequent other productions.  Enough, and at such a rate, as to keep the tickets selling, and the theatre’s continuing to mount more and more productions.  And I know that “math” has never been my particular forte, but even to ME, these audience reactions (or lack of) are not adding up.

…Which brings up another thought, based on a debate with The BFF (a highly educated, yet TOTAL anti-Shakespearean), on the relevance and necessity of keeping his works running in the theatres and classrooms. 

MY stance was that he (and ALL of the classics) will ALWAYS be relevant because they are about the human condition, and humanity never, fucking, changes. You will always relate to it because, sex and anger and love and despair and joy and pain, is like music to humanity’s bones…in that it has no language barrier, it has no class distinction, or rules, or regulations…it just IS and WILL BE, and we all understand it, because it is part of being human.

…HER stance was that they are dead stories, in un-relatable languages,  that are only done now because people think is it “the fashion” and want to appear smarter, so only go along with it because of a kind of glorified, “look at me: attending Shakespeare,” deal.

I cringe at the thought.

I can’t believe it.

…And if I don’t believe it, but am showed instances like these past two nights…how do I explain it?

How do they not understand? 

…They live these very lives themselves. 

…Is it an instance of trying to learn “Italian” in order to understand the “words” of the Opera they are watching? Do they not realize that the music itself and the emotion behind it, tells the story, and that if you surrender to it, it will carry you through and usher you where you need to go?  Is it because they have been taught not to “trust” it?  Is it because they were once told, “this is too far above you, you will never understand, it is for smarter people than you?”

…Because aside from the fact he was directly commissioned by the Queen of England to write his pieces, Shakespeare (a very modern man of his time) wrote his works primarily to and for the “Groundlings”…the stall owners…the pub keepers, the butchers and hayseed planters and brick layers and every “common” man out on the street.  These stories are THEIR stories, written for THEM.  Most of whom could neither read nor write.  And this language the plays were written in, was not a contemporary of their own, it was a heightened language even at the time.  It was (and is) poetry

…It is music.

…And they understood it, because Shakespeare was one of the most amazing composers in all of human existence.  The tune is pure: if you just listen.

…But how do you tell that to an audience, with furrowed brows facing you, whispering to one another in their seats: “What’s happening?  Who is this?  Why, that? I don’t understand…” 

Patience and it will come. 

Listen and we will tell you. 

We are doing the work FOR you. 

Just breathe. 

Don’t fight the words. 

Trust us. 

…We have this great, great thing to share with you…it’s been toured around the planet twice over-plus, the existence of this country.  If is was a bad “tune” it would have hit the top 40, and gone extinct a looooong time ago.  But it is still here!  Which means its a really GOOD fucking song.  You’ll like it.  I promise. 

Please, just come to the theatre and listen

The music will do the rest.

Signed,

A Disgruntled Player

~D

A Study On Textures (When You’re Tired)

14 Sep

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Just a little ditty.

The BFF is here, fixing Old Fashions. 

…With a spoon in a glass, she crushes sugar cubes. Crunch, crunch…grind, crunch…stainless steel meeting sweet grained sand.

…A sigh of relieved pressure and soda water is splashed in…fizzing like pop rocks as it meets the sides of the glass.

Glug, glug, glug…bourbon…golden, yellow-brown…clean-edged with no bubble or froth…and a stir. 

Suddenly: A circular orange slice jumps in.

…Citrus, the perfect circumference of the tumbler glass, floats on the top, gauging each sip with a kiss on your lips.

Spaghetti, homemade…the kind of left-overs you dream about while you’re still eating it the first night, hit the plates. Steaming.  Garlicy. Italian sausage like butter, melting in your mouth.

On the player: Miles Davis: Quiet Nights.  A souvenir of Vacation, and travel, and tonight.

…Sliding some butter on a french bread…so fresh it ceeds to the knife with every swipe.

Yummy noises, and noodle slurps resound.

I’m tired…the good kind.  From so muchness and doings.  The BFF too…from working and life.

We sit in silence as I finish this blog.

“Too tired to try tonight,” I say.  “It won’t be a long one.”

“Take your time,” she hums, taking in the vinyl liner notes from the back of her new toy.

…The music fits this.  It’s random.  It’s kind of never ending.  It sort of goes nowhere in particular.  I say this aloud.

“You know nothing about Miles Davis at all,” The BFF defends, staunchly.

“I saw this documentary once,” I throw out on reserve.  Like that orange slice.

“Okay, so maybe you do know some stuff.  But that doesn’t mean you understand his greatness.”

“I do not,”  I admit.

…Another swirl of spaghetti on the spoon…the red sauce spatters me at the corner of my lip.  I’m too lazy to do anything but leave it there, while I pocket the pasta in my cheek and munch on.

…Sweet, garlic…silver onion…spices I can’t pick out…al dente pasta.

Yes.

…Another sip of Old Fashioned.

“This is yay,” I comment .

“Yes,” The BFF confirms with a drink. “And later: a cigar.”

…I sit back from the table and inhale my guts to rest.

…Vacations.

Everyone should have them.

~D

Art And Its Wonders

1 Sep

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* A highly informal essay. Just because.

Gram was an art teacher for over twenty five years, and because of this had an entire art room set up in the house that was the wonder of our childhoods. 

…Eventually there would be thirteen grandkids who would pass in and out of it’s doors, gobsmacked with the infinity of possibilities it held.  Every pen, pencil, crayon, marker and craft item in existence, was housed within it’s closets, cabinets and shelves. The gigantic table could sit three butts deep on one side, easily…as we would all lean over our work with tongues poking out the side of our mouths in deep concentration, comparing creations.

It was a breaker of rules, that room.  Just passing it’s threshold, entered you into special “time laws,” that could suck away six or eight hours within the blink of an eye…so consuming and enticing it’s possibilities.  It should be no surprise then, that I would naturally want my own version at home, and after a couple of trial and errors, managed to finally create a serviceable mock-up.

Gutting my tiny bedroom closet…leaving only the naked light bulb on a string, and all my clothes crammed in the far corner…I inserted a mini fold-out table, squished in a kid-sized folding chair, and VOILA! My very own art studio, just like Gram’s.

…Only mine came without windows.

…Sure, I had to crawl in under the table and do a chin-up off the lip at a specific incline, just to ease myself up into the chair. But it had plenty of space for all my art-making stuff…arranged according to size, shape and color. And it had it’s own door that I could hang a sign on, indicating it was a real studio and whom it belonged to.

I spent hours and hours in that “room”…sweating my ass off and nearly passing out from lack of oxygen. Jackson Pollock might have had more manic creation fever than me at that time, but that’s about the only person I can think of. I was totally fanatic about it…even keeping to specific “studio times” where I would lock myself in, staring into the abyss, just waiting for the muse to reach out to me. (This was sometime circa age eight through ten, btw…just in case you were wondering how far back my little anal-retentions actually reach.)

…Every once in a while, Ma would come knock on the door and peek in, just to check on me. The door itself, I kept insisting, had to be kept closed for privacy…”so I could think and things.” Even though I was an only child, with an entire bedroom just on the other side of it, that stood completely empty. Had Ma not done these occasional check-ins (annoyingly always leaving the door cracked open when she left), I prob’ly would have died from asphyxiation.

…Which is prob’ly the only time in all of History that a coroner’s report would have come back, “death by complication of intense coloring.” I could totally have been famous and things. But then, I hear posthumous fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, lookit Van Gough, for instance.

Anyway…the point of this story was to ad more evidence to the fact that I am a highly disciplined person. Even when it comes to my creative work. But minus anything having to do with consuming food. I like it: taking stock of my creative self, holding me responsible to perform up to a certain standard, even if it isn’t really convenient, and I am the only person who ever knows about it or sees the results.

And even if that means literally shutting myself up in a closet in order to accomplish it.

It’s because of these kind of things that I think people often confuse “Artists” as freaks, hermits, irresponsible lushes, moody assholes, or just flighty scribes of bitchy wit. Possibly also, because we often “act” like it. But by and large, we are actually quite manic furies of creative energy, that occasionally just need to blow off steam after a long day of focus, concentration, and dedication. And, I think we’ve earned it. Look at the things we create and set free into the world:

Music is the only language without any barrier of class, race, age, political, religious or educational barriers, that has ever been invented…reaching literally every civilization the world has ever known.

Photography can speak in more silent words that haven’t even been invented yet, per square inch, than the whole of the Oxford Dictionary.

The written word has more power to change relationships, beliefs, theories, insights, affections, enticements…fuel anger, honor, regrets…infuse power, introduce change, and keep safe our History than any other artifact that a time capsule can possibly hold.

Performing Arts, are the lessons of our past, the hopes of our futures, the well-earned mini vacation after a long day. They are the window into our own personal souls, and the opportunity to share our cultures and experiences with one another. With heightened emotions, and physical intent, it empathises with our pains and pleasures. With immediacy and technique, it instantly shows all the limitless kinds of life journeys that exist around us and through all of time.

Culinary Arts, are built to experience every human sensory perception we own and explode them with the infinite possibilities of paired perfumes, textures, tastes, crunches, slurps, visual presentations, and new invented delights.

Architecture represents it’s people and time, with date stamps meant to last for the remainder of our existence…and whatever comes after. “We were here!” It will say in stone for thousands of years after we are all gone.

…And the collective of formal Fine Arts, bring us the ability to actually visualize our past, experience collective movements throughout history from the time they were recorded, see the dimple in stone, the stroke marks on canvas from another era made of berry pigment and indigo…burnt wood charcoal scratched on pulp from ancient trees, forming the yellowed paper where Michelangelo’s sketches cavort in various states of dress, work, love and play. And they give us the opportunity to record the “now,” for future generations to refer to.

…So sure, Artists are kinda “different” from the average guy.

We aren’t wired to accept the normal processes and aspirations of society as a main. We keep odd hours, dress different, think different, focus for far too long on minute details while totally ignoring the obvious. And, we can get depressed because, for whatever reason, we can’t re-create what’s in our head.

…Where a “good day” for a millionaire is making two more millions. A good day for an Artist is making a single perfected sentence that rings just right when spoken aloud. Even if it took twelve hours to accomplish it.

…A “normal person,” understands the concepts of corporate ladder climbing and building a decent 401(k). An Artist is an Artist until death…it isn’t a job description we can ever walk out on. It isn’t something you can “graduate” or “retire” from, just stopping one day and moving on with the rest of your life. When we try, it actually tortures us. When we “can’t,” we get drunk, fall into epic depressions, invent quests, become hermits, battle insanity, and in some extremes even kill ourselves.

Because, it is the only life we know.

…It is the greater part of who we are, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we believe in, and the sacrifices we have made for a life that could depress anyone who wasn’t in Holy Orders. It’s the whole reason that things like money and power and (sometimes self-respect) never seem to matter a damn to us.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying we are all on the same level, together. There are the wealthy of Hollywood, and Award-winners…there are the Intellectuals, and Politicians among our numbers as well. What I’m saying is: an Artist would do it even without the money, power and fame. Most of ’em do.

Here is what I think: An Artist is an idea in human form, birthed for the sheer purpose of inventing relatability, beauty, honesty, horror, hope and communion with one another, as a species. And it all starts with the passion of whatever the hell it is that you know you were put here on this earth to do. Because guess what? Art is everywhere. It’s in a prime number, a theorem, scientific invention, the planting of a garden…the technique of driving a race car, the swing of a golf club…the mixing of a really good Martini.

YOU are an Artist. Even if you don’t know it yet.

…Maybe not in the “conventional” way, (you rebel!) Maybe not with a box of Crayolas or a block of marble…but of something. I promise you. Whatever that “thing” is that makes life’s color seem a bit brighter to you…that is your Art. And you should make time in your life to dedicate to it.

If I learned only one thing so far, it’s this:

Art isn’t an “extravagance” in life. It is a necessity. And it has no “wrong answer,” because it’s expression is a representation from whatever time and circumstance in which it was created.

…From the first cave carvings, to your favorite movie…from architecture in Rome to an Olympian’s performance. From Betsy Ross to whoever sewed the flag that is flying right now on the face of the moon — Art is the only thing that links every human being to every other one…in some way, shape or form.

However you practice it, whatever strange disciplines it requires of you, however “inconvenient” it might sometimes be…make time for it.

Practice your Art.

Hell, practice all fifty of them!

Be brave and explore things.

It is the whole reason we’re even here.

~D

Gamer Rage

31 Aug

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It’s been a really long time since I did the “gamer” thing.  Back in the days of the old arcade Street Fighter and Nintendo…I was a winner…but now with all the 360 degree viewpoint and movement ability…getting me just to stay upright and not walk into walls is damn near impossible.  I’ve been away too long.  My brain isn’t equipped for that level of “awesome.”

…The BFF’s Fella knows this, however, and decided to go searching for something I could relate to.  And he found it. 

Wednesday night, for like two hours as The BFF made a chocolate souffle, The Fella and I beat the living crap out of each other…before finally devising a tag-team scenario in order to kill all the main Bosses and win the game. 

The strategy went like this: PUSH THE FUCKING BUTTONS AS HARD AS YOU CAN WHILE SCREAMING OBSCENITIES AT THE SCREEN LIKE A TOURETTES VICTIM.  Then, after you die, pass it to the other guy who will do much the same.  Until you win.  The end.

…I admit, it wasn’t the most elegantly plotted out plan of attack but we did what we could. And I learned some stuff while I was at it.

1) I should never own a game consul. They are too much fun.

2) Threatening your opponent and flinging an escalation of insults at them in psychological warfare, does in fact pay off.

3) Souffles don’t like yelling.

4) It is possible to hate a programmed Avatar more than Satan, and feel it’s perfectly reasonable to do so.

5) No one has actually ever won all the Bosses before, they just tell you they do. It’s a totally impossible feat and everyone knows it. Until you manage it. Then it’s absolutely real.

…Ultimately, video games are like a slip-stream of “uh-oh” for any person who has ever had any “anger management issues.” The frustration levels can get totally off the charts. At almost any moment you can be seen screaming at the television, pitching controllers across the room, and insisting that, “this sunofabitch is goin’ down!” Sure, you can “try” to add a bit of Patton-like reasoning to the plan of attack at first. You can set a course, and learn all the combos and pre-plan the journey. But eventually that all falls away to reveal a ten year old kid, hopped up on adrenalin, whose recently learned how to string all the cuss words they know into one long sentence.

…Like when Ralphy finally flips his shit in “A Christmas Story.”

“Rassuh-fraggin-frasta-massuh-fragga!” The ten year old “you” will say. (Only, not the PG version.)

…The moments are terrifying with intensity, sweat starts pourin’…and you become a virtual machine of gamer rage. It totally consumes you in no time at all. But, if you are savvy enough to take side view of it all, (once the night has ended), the entire thing makes total complete sense.

Just take a second and think about your day, for instance.

…That jerk upstairs who flashes you every morning with cold water because of how they time their shower, right in the middle of yours. The one asshole customer that nothing could appease, the fact the office is out of coffee again, the container loads are late, you banged your funny bone and the traffic home was total crap. Think about that wad of bills you just lifted from the mailbox, and the fact that your trash can is full but you’ve just remembered you’re all outta bags. And maybe you’ve gained a pound or two on total accident. Let all that junk swim around you in a hazy kind of cloud, that you can’t fight no matter how much you try, because it has no corporal form.

…Now lets pretend the power is suddenly granted you to assign all that irritation and anger toward something else. Something whose entire existence is in order to allow you to reclaim even one piece of your dignity back again. Something that’ll satisfy that craving to, “make the bastards pay!”…but with significantly less jail time.

…Go ahead. Put a controller in your hand. Push that little switch. Go through the next fifteen minutes of annoying selection and customization programming (I miss the days of just “off” and “on.”) Then open a Coke, turn down the volume, and pop on a super mix of kick-your-ass power tunes instead. Like this. Then GO AT IT! I DEFY you not to glory in the world of paybacks with zero consequence! You have EARNED this today!

Show all those bastards who is BOSS!

…Kill everything! And send those Alien’s packin’!

You are a WINNER!

A WINNER, I tell you!

…NO ONE is gooder than you! You just proved it! To God and everyone!

And just like that, it’s a beautiful world again.

~D

The Seduction Of Me

1 Jul

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Overcompensation is a large part of why people like me, become people like me. 

…I happen to be spending a great deal of time seducing myself lately, for instance. 

I don’t know why I do this.  I almost always sleep with me, end-of-the-night, regardless of whether any wining or dining has taken place to blur my better judgement. 

…As with nearly every habit I have accrued over the years, it must have happened slowly…bit by bit…like a time-release drug. I certainly don’t recall making a conscious-choice decision about it.  I’m not even sure how the entire routine even came together.  All I know is that one night, not many nights ago, I paused mid-sequence and realized I was having the most intense deja vu  imaginable.  It hit so hard, I actually paused mid-pour of alcohol, to really commune with the moment.

Now, the thing is…before her trip to CA, The BFF and I had just been talking about deja vu’s and what it is that they signify.  I don’t happen to believe in past-lives  (if I did, I was two generations older…and Jewish)…but still have always had an inkling that “time” must have something to do with it.  Maybe a burp in space, or a stutter in the plot sequence the Universe likes to watch…like a royally large and intricate soap opera on reality TV.  But BFF thinks it’s more a “linear existence colliding” kind of thing.  You know, multiple worlds wherein we live our lives unbeknownst to the fact that we are living the same exact existence,  one world over, simultaneously. Only in this one, the chair is green, and in that one: the chair is red.  Times infinity.

…Either way, you can’t deny the strangeness of the sensation when you’re having one.  A deja vu, I mean.  A little like the feeling of someone walking on your grave.  Privy to things you shouldn’t be.

…Well, I was standing there, pouring out a glass of Pinot Noir, when I realized that eery sensation of having lived that exact moment before.  So I stopped.  And with the previous BFF conversation in my head, gave it my full attention to soak up every aspect and clue that I could.

Turns out, on reflection, the deja vu, was considerably less intriguing than I originally thought.  Mostly because as I tried to trace its roots back to an original source, I realized it only reached to yesterday. 

…Or maybe the day before that.

…Or the day before…

…Or…

…Well, shit.

To the best I could compute while standing there with the wine bottle hovering over the glass, (and math has never been a strong suit, so it’s understandable that it took me a while to put it all together)…either I was living all the linear existences of The BFF’s theory (with the only change being the make of alcohol I was pouring out), OR I had to face the fact that I had formed an intricate habitual sequence whose end-game was to get me to bed every night, with a contented smile on my face.

…It goes deeper than that, but ultimately this is the hard fact.

Here is what I found out, using my best Sherlockian cross-examinations:

I’ve taken to routinely coming home from a long day at work, dropping my drawers soon as I pass the threshold in favor of something “more comfortable,” and proceeding to the kitchen to “gourmet” myself something sinful. Fetish viewing of garlics and butters and various meats searing in a pan, having the kind of slow-cooked-sex they put on HBO (usually featuring Vampires), then follows.  And as the smells of warm, caramelized deliciousness fills the apartment and  dusk falls…I begin the lighting of dozens of candles strewn about. Once the whole place looks like the bowels of the Paris Opera house during the Phantom’s reign, I move to the bar and pour out a glass of something that marries well with my dinner’s post-coitus rest from the pots and pans, set some music on  shuffle, and settle in for a candlelit dinner, for one.

…What is so unusual about this deal is that I am not one to cook foods “over time,” and let the meat and veg indulge in brine and sauce saunas.  Usually, the end-of-the-day signifies total exhaustion, where just scrambling an egg and throwing it in a tortilla is about all I can muster.  And usually, in these gray and rainy days of epic Seattle-proportions, I want LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT…in blinding wattage, from every outlet orifice.  And usually, I am merely a “social drinker”…certainly imbibing from time-to-time, solo, but nothing like what calculated to quite the bottle slaughter of late.

Naturally, this got me to thinking. 

Why?

How?

What does it all mean?

…Which brought me ultimately to: “Overcompensation.”

It’s why I do almost everything that is eccentric or bad for me. Either it is to compensate loss of power, loss of control, depression, angst, jealousy, worry or lust.  When you think about it, I suppose this is not outside of the norm.  If you feel shitty: you wanna fix it.  If you lose control: you wanna reclaim it.  If you have a highly stressful job, and no money: you wanna forget about it.  If your emotions tell you its time to start shopping for a significant other again, but  you really just don’t wanna deal with all the crap that goes with it: you wanna reaffirm that you are fantastic catch who needs NO ONE to wine and dine you and complement your ass.

…This is the conclusion that I have come to.

I am spending every evening courting myself into believing that having a crap job, being poor, worrying about waiting for the next shoe to drop, and that I am prob’ly going to die alone as a re-formed virgin because my junk wasn’t used so long it resealed itself up like a skin graft, isn’t my true reality.

…And I am doing this because my entire life is spinning out of my control, on a trajectory promising gross amounts of changes.  And soon. And I Fucking. Hate. Change.

I am doing this, because if you can’t have exactly what you want in this life, you go out and get the best compensation package that you can.

The ONE good realization in all of this, I suppose, is the fact that I now know at least three new things about myself:

1. I can cook. If I really want to.
2. Lessening alcohol units to “one” will save lots on the house bar tab. And my head the next morning.
3. I am a good date.  In case anyone wondered.

~D

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