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

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