Thursday, November 1, 2012

after the storm

I just watched this video and I really liked it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si..."

This piece premiered in Wuppertal in June 2009. It was the final piece Pina Bausch created.

I remember feeling so much grief when Pina passed away (also in 2009). I wrote on here about it, it was the same week Dorrit Hoffleit (astronomer) passed. Tonight I saw Danztheater Wuppertal perform Pina's final piece at BAM. It was revelatory. It was the most minimal set of any of her work that I've seen live, though of course the design was very considered and simple and powerful. (It was a vast white floor that periodically, surreptitiously, broke apart like land masses turning to islands. Plate tectonics. Swaths of splintered darkness amidst the light.) Also, her sense of humor. She makes me laugh so much.
And the most beautiful women. In gowns but with their hair down-- and all that that suggests.
The piece began and ended with a woman on all fours. Down stage right at a 45 degree angle. Her hair cascading over the back of her head and falling on the floor. Men came and lifted her, working together they maintained her exact position even as she was over their heads. The only difference was whenever they lifted her she would bark like a dog. When she returned to the floor, she was silent and placid again. Pina consistently achieves my favorite possibilities of performance:
- evoking giant themes (the need for love, for intimacy, for emotional security, for freedom) with the lightest touch
- the sense of 'losing' your mind, of elevating the body, the spirit, the animal above the cerebral, the psychological
- humor in the most imaginative constructions
- communion/community

Thank you Pina. Always and forever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

clear tuesday morning

This day is many things to many people. It's crazy how so many of the past 11 years it has felt similarly crisp and suddenly fall-like. Blues skies and the tiniest nip to the air. Scarves for the first time. In 2001, it was the first day of school of my senior year in college. Ever since then, it has been a memorial day.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

silent movie

Since I'm in California film is even more on my mind than usual. The 2-dimensional spectacle afforded by the car window speeding along freeways or winding through canyons and parks (one of the most common surnames for neighborhoods in LA) or even just stopped in traffic at all of these intersections of abutting and wildly divergent paths and populations-- it's no wonder so many people feel like filmmakers here. We are all gathered at the fountain of inspiration and every standstill is a potential frame in a future story. I love being in different cities because the physical geography of the place lays out like a map in my brain and my brain in turn shifts its own patterns and processes to mimic the shape of the city itself. I feel like my coding mechanisms shift from vertical orientations to wide and flat sprawls of information and memories and thoughts with pockets of room around them to breathe in. I sit in large rooms in large houses or hike in canyons with vistas stretching from mountains to the sea and without another human being in sight and the thoughts in my head un-stack each other too and the little thoughts that might have been towards the bottom of the pile, or maybe just kept being piled on top of, those thoughts can suddenly stretch out and unpack their insides and exist with all the space they need again. It feels expansive here. I feel expansive. Two of my film-world heroes passed away recently and I want to share a few details about them here. Chris Marker was an 'experimental' filmmaker-- experimental in the sense that he tried things that no one had ever tried before to marvelous and powerful effect and was a major force in modern cinema-- passed away yesterday in Paris. He was 91. His full obituary is here but my favorite part is at the end: "Mr. Marker gave one of his final interviews-- in 2008 to the French magazing Les Inrockuptibles-- through the virtual medium of Second Life. In response to a question about pseudonyms as masks, he said: "I'm much more pragmatic than that. I chose a pseudonym, Chris Marker, pronounceable in most languages, because I was very intent on traveling. No need to delve further." (He was 87 at the time of this quote.) His objective as an artist was to: "capture life in the process of becoming history." Another hero of mine, Andrew Sarris, passed away in June at the age of 83. I had the pleasure of taking Sarris' Modern Film class at Columbia where every Friday 10 or so of us would gather in the screening room at Dodge and make our way through great and sometimes obscure films from the likes of Bunuel, Rohmer, Resnais, Kurosawa, Varda and Godard. Each viewing would be followed by an animated conversation and we were tasked with writing a paper in response as well. Sarris was one of the first professors to offer encouragement about my attention to detail, or maybe his attention just made me feel more special than other professors because I admired him so much. He loved to provoke contentious debate in the class-- and was just as happy to hear how much somebody hated a film as how much they liked it. Like many of my favorite teachers and artists-- he seemed nostalgic for the late 50s - early 70s, when, I get the sense anyway, art mattered so much more to people. [From his NYT obituary:] “We were so gloriously contentious, everyone bitching at everyone,” Mr. Sarris recalled in a 2009 interview with The New York Times. “We all said some stupid things, but film seemed to matter so much. “Urgency” — his smile on this point was wistful — “seemed unavoidable.”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

buffalo cherry

I love traveling. I'm sitting in the Buffalo airport, which is, you know... pretty glamourous. It feels exotic though. It feels like an Alexander Payne movie. As we were landing I was staring out the window and I was struck by all the windmills. Is that really what they're called? It seems so 'Don Quixote' and old-fashioned of a word. Anyway, the woman sitting next to me on the airplane must have noticed my intrigue because she said, "Wow, lot of 'em. Huh? Must be Wyoming County." I nodded, "Must be." It sounds right. Then she told me that she read somewhere the 20% of the wind in the world could power everything we need today in the whole world. That sounds interesting and good too. It might even be true. Anyway, this airport is called Buffalo/Niagara Falls and I was really hoping to see the falls from the plane. No dice on that front though. Just a lot of windmills. Tonight I go to a picnic in Chautauqua at the theater where I'm doing a play in July. Tomorrow is casting and then back to NYC for a couple weeks. I'm listening to this great song by Crystal Arnette's band Ladybird and looking at these images and feeling good and open and full. Once the musicians' instruments arrive on the carousel we will get in a van and make a road-trip and at the end of it there'll be hotdogs. Great day. Also, Erica had her twins since my last post. Congratulations Erica and Gabriel. And Milo and Katherine. You are going to have the best lives.

Monday, May 21, 2012

rainy monday

I just went for a great run in the rain.I know for a fact I've said this before but since it's still true-- sometimes running in the rain is a good time for a cry. That's okay. Crying is okay. It's good to feel things. Life is really incredible sometimes. And people. Like this girl. And her basil plants. And her big, big heart. You have to sort of lean in because she's really quiet. But it's worth it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

only skin

I'm obsessed with this song right now. The band is called Spring Standards and I saw them play at Ars Nova on Monday night. I really love them and Heather's voice epsecially. I want to work with them. Or just play this song again and again and again. I have a little free time today, and the past couple days, and whenever that happens I feel compelled to do three things: 1. Reach out to friends I've been out of touch with 2. Read the books I've been meaning to read and watch the movies I've been meaning to watch. 3. Write a great script. The third one is the hardest of course. For me writing is often a way to try to put into words something I've experienced or am trying to remember. The act of describing it, trying to be as specific and truthful as possible, is a way of getting closer to the thing itself. Or the time and place. Or the person. Even though I really love words and feel like a 'verbal' person, I really do think more in images and movement. When I can't think of the word for something I can usually see the thing happening (in my mind's eye, as Hunter would say), and my body moves into it's idea of the expression or quality of that word. I can also see some of the letters. The same thing happens on a larger scale when I'm trying to tell a story. Like in a play. I see what it should look like (to me) and how people should move before I hear how the words sound. I guess that makes me a 'visual' person. I also love when storytelling happens 'non-verbally.' Like in transitions or in dance or at a rock show. Or a silent meditation probably. There are probably all kinds of stories being told at silent rituals. Even though I love improvising and generating dialogue out loud, when I try to write scripts they are often really full of descriptions of what the camera or the audience sees. I think that is not so good. When I try to write dialogue, I feel like I'm subconsciously playing some sort of memory game where I'm trying to get down what happened once, between me and some other person. I might do something really crazy like switch the genders or the time period or something, but it's not completely original either. Not at all. Alright, enough jibber jabber. I'm going to stop making excuses and try to write now. Right now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

jump jump jump

The past week and a half have afforded me a bunch of extremely wonderful and one truly horrible occasion to reflect on life and death and babies and peanuts and growing up and expressing oneself. Colt Coeur did our (2nd annual!) free play-making workshop with Brooklyn middle school students and over the course of a week 18 original plays were created... and all kinds of other magic that can be quantified occurred too. The other thing is too sad to talk about and there's no silver lining so I'm not going to try and slap one on there. When in Boston I also got to visit with 6-week old Carys and 4 year-old Callum though. They are my "bee's knees" ... even though I don't know what that means exactly. Callum is doing a lot of counting and some basic addition and he kept pointing out that Carys "isn't even 1 yet... she's just zero." My sister likes to say how much Carys likes this or that outfit, or this or that 'jumping' activity, which I find really funny and endearing. Carys can't talk yet but she does look really happy in all the outfits and when my sister lifts her up quickly and says, "Jump jump jump." She has already changed so much since she was born. Callum was also asking me how old I would be when he is 40 and if we would ever be the same age. I said no because I didn't want to confuse him. The he said "I'm going to have a bigger life than you," which, when pressed, seemed to mean that he is going to live longer because he is younger than me. He explained, "not everybody dies at the same time... that's silly." When I started to look a little sad thinking about how old I'll be when he will be 40, he immediately offered, "We'll still have a long life together." Which is so true. And for that I am grateful. Steven Levenson sent me this today and I love it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

crazy kids

I love how free-spirited these kids are and I hope they won't feel like they have to stifle or censor themselves as they get older.
I also hope their classes get more diverse!
I also really like this band. I had never heard them before.
Thanks for sharing, Will.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

two messages I believe in.

watch this:

That made my eyes tear up. For me, sixth grade was the worst. I felt really, really alone and weird and like there was something wrong with me. The boy in the trailer breaks my heart because I just know he is going to the best and coolest kind of person ever if he can just get through the next 5-7 years. I wish he could know that I care about him. And think he's so much cooler than the a-holes behind him on the bus. I wish he could know that everything really is going to get better.

Around the time I was in 6th grade (really from 2nd grade through 6th grade) I loved to listen to a storybook on tape every night as I was falling asleep. I listened to the same one over and over. Which was also the book that was the first book I read aloud but I'm not going to say what the title of it was because you might become distracted from the point I'm really trying to make, about how wonderful it is to listen to someone tell a story in the dark. I listened to this as I was falling asleep the other night and I recommend it highly. Will has a great voice, a sort of ambiguously regional but extremely local-feeling radio station voice, and also a great voice in the other sense. listen here. (I especially recommend the interview/play that starts a little over 18 minutes in.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I don't know what to say.

I've been taking a lot of pictures lately. That is one thing I love about traveling. Or even just the sensation of traveling. (I'm here working, and theoretically my days are not so different in their component parts than my days in NYC, however, it all feels different. Either because I'm different or the environment is different or as is most likely the case, both.)
The problem is I forgot the cord that moves the pictures from my camera to my computer. So they are stuck there. Silent.
It's been a big day. I went to Berkeley for the first time in my life after at least 14 years of anticipation and excitement. (I liked the way Jennifer Egan wrote about it and what it felt like to be there in The Invisible Circus; and I also thought Anna Godberson and her black eyeline and hoop earrings were pretty cool in college.) I walked around the Cal campus which I loved, though it did remind me of Santa's Village. I think that's good on both the Cal groundskeepers and the Santa's Village designers. I loved all the 'wooded paths,' wooden bridges over creeks, and nettles on the ground. I wonder what my life would have been life if I'd gone there. Like Sam Glickman. (There's a name from the past!)
I also visited Berkeley Rep which was gorgeous and growing in a rather mind-blowing way. Beth Garfield generously connected me to her old friend Marjorie Randolph who's the Board Chair there and she showed me around and we got to talk and meet people and Les Waters (who I really admire). I also ate an excellent Yellow Curry at the Thai Restaurant and had a feeling the whole time I was there that I'd be back. A good feeling.
The rest of the day and evening were somewhat more complicated and I think I am still processing them. Flu Season is going well but not easily. More on that as it becomes available.
I should try to rest now. Tech at 9am tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tree of Life

by Terrence Malick.
I just watched it and loved it.
For many reasons but the chief of which is it's economy of words. It is a rich and beautifully-told story about a boy, his dad, their family, and the evolution of the universe, the Earth, animals, etc. In that spirit, less is more words-wise tonight.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

my biggest fears and Walgreens

I saw a little of Tilda Swinton's interview on The Daily Show last night and she was talking about how she couldn't direct because she has kids and that made me really scared/sad. Or she said she couldn't imagine how anyone could do both-- be a mom and direct because they both required so much. I know I'm only directing a small production of a play right now and some days it too feels all-encompassing. Especially because I find it so important to find the points of intersection not just intellectually but emotionally. This play I'm working on right now 'brings up a lot of stuff for me.' As the kids say.
I think it is about that guilt, about hurting someone, and also about wanting two conflicting things at the same time. We have all been there. We know what that feels like.

There are two things that probably tie for being most scary for me.

1) Trusting someone enough to fall in love
2) the part of directing up until tech starts

I love being in love and I love directing-- but they still scare the hell out of me. The thing I love about tech (and the thing that takes the fear away) is the intuitive part. I feel like I'm getting to conduct or choreograph sound and lights and movement and haze and fog and the audience's attention-- and I get to just ask for what I want, what I see, because I feel it. I don't have to explain it at all. (One of the key differences between talking to actors and talking to designers in my experience-- but it also makes sense-- putting a light cue in a certain place is not a psychological effort for a designer, whereas expressing a line of dialogue or bit of blocking has to make sense for the actor in order for him to understand why his character would do it.) I love words, and sentences, (as the playwright Richard Manley likes to say), but sometimes I feel how something goes much sooner than I know how to explain it. We aren't in tech right now. We're in the talking-a-lot-and-figuring-it-out phase. Which is hard but full of possibility still.
Sometimes I just want things to be simple though.
There are more Walgreens in San Francisco than I have ever seen anywhere else. I see them on almost every corner and I love them. Their bright lights and colors and big yellow price stickers. Their displays look like something out of The Price is Right. Special like that. A special occasion display, but there on every other corner and something I can count on. They are clean and well-ordered and consistent. Not emotional. Not heady.
This is what a Walgreens looks like today in San Francisco.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later"

I didn't write that. Daniel Kitson wrote that. That is why it's in quotes. (Today is the day that websites like Google and Wikipedia are protesting the proposed legislation to censor and monetize the sharing of information online. Like many bills, these bills make it sound like you are a bad person if you oppose them (i.e. No Child Left Behind... no ones wants to leave a child behind). In fact, the titles of the bills don't fully do them justice: Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House. Since today is a day of awareness re: these bills I thought it was important that I use the quotes. Also, I believe in giving credit.
(My nephew Callum loves pirates which I was an eensy bit worried about until we went to see Peter Pan and I saw that in the version he was familiar with Smee rejects the violent and scary traditional life of a pirate for life in London with the Darlings.)
Right now I want to give Daniel Kitson a whole lot of credit. I saw his show of that title last night at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn and laughed and cried and thought about so many, many things. Despite the fact that it is one man speaking alone on a stage (albeit a stage brought to life with simple, beautiful bulbs hanging from varying lengths of red string (?)) telling the stories of two individual lives-- it was extremely theatrical. It was not a love story. He told us that up front. And the life 'stories' were not told from beginning to end nor imbued with too strong a point of view. Instead, Mr. Kitson described the ordinary and extraordinary events that make up a life. There was one point of intersection between the two of them-- but it was not a major event in either of their lives. They each fell in love, had children, had some struggles, and passed on. Their names were William and Caroline and I wept when Mr. Kitson described the moment each of them died. In fact, I felt that massive bowling ball heaving in my chest feeling at one moment, the love I had for Caroline had grown so big, and so full, and here it was being snuffed out. I really, really recommend you go see this show. It is very, very special.
Also, Daniel Kitson's present-ness throughout was exquisite and rare. When one older patron got up towards the beginning of the 4th quarter Daniel interrupted his story to say, "Oh, well, that's a shame." He was looking at the man but since the man was walking up the stairway and had his back to the stage and was probably trying to disappear anyway... he didn't respond. The front ofthe house then made a 'sad sack' kind of "awwww" sound, like they felt badly for Daniel. To which he promptly responded, "well, that's not the right sound." He went on to say he was feeling shame for calling out the poor guy who was leaving and he was mad at himself for doing so. It was very interesting how different Daniel seemed in his speech when he was performing very talking to us, for example, about the 'necessary bits of admin' at the top of the show. Outside of the story, or in moments of hiccup within the stories, he stutters. In the story, he speaks fluidly and perfectly. Last night he stumbled on the word 'father' (to which he commented, 'hmm, never had trouble with the word father before) and "ladybird/ladybug." Though he may have said something to suggest that that one was written in. Not entirely sure. And not sure I need to know either. Ahh, the great expanse of unknowing.
Will Eno told me this show was his recommendation of the year and I agree with him in the play category. My favorite musical of the year is Once. Which is opening on Broadway in March I think. Go see that too. It too is revelatory.
Also, thank you to Stella, Katya, Caleb, Jonathan Fielding, Michelle Stern, Ray Levin, Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, and Melissa Wells for sharing the experience. It felt good to share it with you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the joy of quiet.

Very little is better on a Sunday morning than sitting in a country house, drinking tea, and reading the paper.
This article made me think of the many times I've been so lucky to go to some rural place, unplug, and recharge. I also so enjoy reading in print about something that feels right and true to me.