Thursday, January 28, 2010

it's about story

A couple of nights ago a bunch of friends came over and we spent 2+ hours talking about the kinds of moments that turned our heads, made our hearts and/or brains swell, and stuck with us. We talked about the final moment from The Office (British edition) Christmas Special, parts of Young Jean Lee's Lear, Cromer's Our Town, or bits from dance, music, books, poems, etc. We are theater artists trying to define our interests and focus as we form a company-- but we were also just re-counting great moments of storytelling. Moments that balanced humor and depth, sincerity and imagination, and carried that favorite of mine-- the element of surprise. Moments that felt totally true, but were somehow also more than true, more than just 'normal,' 'regular' kitchen-sink life-- because they were theatrical. Kate talked about the cultural day when she was visiting the middle school with the other sixth-graders in Kansas-- and the Swedish woman performing the African dance had lost her top. Her breasts kept popping out-- and no one had known how to respond-- and there was this giant gulf between people's impulses and behaviors and teachers were trying to be adult and the kids didn't know if it was a cultural thing or what... And how interesting that was. I'm sure I've gotten some of the details wrong but it was very funny and also precisely the kind of thing that I find fascinating and entertaining.

This afternoon, as a little gift to myself I listened to the podcast of last week's This American Life. It is a great one. Three brilliant acts, Mike Birbiglia, transgender children (and I'm just finishing Middlesex), and love. I strongly recommend it. The whole thing.
This American Life
374: Somewhere Out There

Of all the 6 and a half billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? Stories from people who know they’ve beat the odds, and the lengths they’ve gone to do it—including an American professor who sings Chinese opera for anyone who'll listen, to get one step closer to his mate, and two kids who travel halfway around the country to find each other and become best friends.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

computer diary

If I had a computer diary and this was it I might write about how
there are a lot of different kinds of obsession, and a few different meanings too.
There's the kind of Obsession Calvin Klein sent Mario Sorrenti off with Kate Moss (his gf at the time) to capture in photograph form. The kind of photograph that would sell perfume of course.
Or there's the kind of obsession I sense when I see something really spectacular, like a great stage show or movie, or the fromagerie at Whole Foods. Like-- "wow, somebody cares so much about THIS EXACT ONE THING and they have dedicated a ton of time to the pursuit of this near-perfection," I think to myself. They might have come up against some obstacles and naysayers, but they kept right on. Because, maybe... they were/are obsessed.
It can be a very healthy/effective thing, and it can also result in some real tragedies. Ballet dancers are so obsessed with getting a variation right in rehearsal or class that they will dance even after their toes have started to bleed through their pretty pink pointe shoes. Football players, hockey players, soccer players, gymnasts-- they all push through incredible pain and physical barriers to achieve that elusive perfection.
It's late, I'm tired, I'm off on a tangent. What I really wanted to say was that sometimes when I start walking, I can't stop. I feel like I can understand what made Forrest Gump keep going. I derive a lot of different things from walking, and it also gets me places.
This evening I walked from Brooklyn Heights to DUMBO, across the Manhattan Bridge (the F wasn't running), to the Lower East Side and the Pig Iron show at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, then up to Houston, to Whole Foods (hence the thoughts of cheese), through Washington Square Park, and up to the West Village. Not so far, but I swear, if I wasn't carrying groceries and didn't have to get up early tomorrow morning-- I might have kept right on walking. I overheard fascinating sound bites:
"Of course Smooky is a disaster, she's the tragic hero"
countered with
"I bet she's not really a disaster, I bet she's really together and they just make her act like that cuz it's tv."

I also heard a 60-something year-old man say to a slightly younger-looking woman,
"What am I supposed to do, we never consummated the marriage! It's been three years already!"

I swear. True story.
I get a lot of thinking done while I walk. I also started to get a blister that is bleeding now though.

Alright, I'l leave you with this. Makes me smile every time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

me and the Suicide Girls

I am directing a play right now where I thought it might be useful to use the Suicide Girls as a point of reference in talking to the playwright, actors and designers. In my research I came across one interview today where some SGs discuss how they used to feel like freaks but now that they ‘know there are others like them, they feel better.’ These characters are also sort of politically-minded post-feminists, but I was reminded of what the SG in the interview said when I was reading Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone tonight. About finding your social/intellectual/spiritual brethren.
I have been meaning to read it for a couple of years—I devoured all of her other plays—and I read this one in one sitting… and this thing happens that happens often when I read her plays, or books by certain people (Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer, Paul Auster, Sophie Calle, Annie Baker), or watch certain movies/tv shows (The Office, Me and You and Everyone We Know) – where I literally feel like I have had an identical experience/thought/conversation/longing/image/string of words in my head.
In this play it was: the cellphone ballet (eavesdropping/stolen moments), the Hopper sequences, the semi-vegetarianism. But it has happened with all of Ruhl’s plays that I have read. I used to want to perform in them—though in a way that feels a little redundant since I already feel like I LIVE in them… now, I can’t wait to DIRECT them.
I also think to myself, the whole thing is sort of strange though.
And there are two ways to go from here…
1) Well, how about that, maybe it’s true… nothing is original…
2) How absolutely wonderful. There are others like me. I am not so alone. And thank god these people write and make plays and movies and tv shows and I can read/watch them and laugh and cry and make sense of it all much more because I am not the protagonist in these stories.

Anyway, when I was thirteen I actually believed that my friends invented graffiti. So, there is a long history of having an inflated sense of my own life.
I’m sure it’s just the same for the Suicide Girls.

Monday, January 4, 2010

happy new decade

I hope we all leap into the adventures ahead like this cat. (Cat, in the sense of-- man.)

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.