Saturday, December 04, 2010

one reason why I don't care much for Tony Kushner

The self-important millenialist hoo-ha.

Or, as some guy puts it in a new book:

The desire to treat terrible events as the harbinger of the end of civilization itself also has roots in another human trait: vanity.

We all believe we live in an exceptional time, perhaps even a critical moment in the history of the species. Technology appears to have given us power over the atom, our genomes, the planet—with potentially dire consequences. This attitude may stem from nothing more than our desire to place ourselves at the center of the universe. “It’s part of the fundamental limited perspective of our species to believe that this moment is the critical one and critical in every way—for good, for bad, for the final end of humanity,” says Nicholas Christenfeld, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego. Imagining the end of the world is nigh makes us feel special.

New Yorkers: this show sounds very interesting

Emancipatory Politics :

Eric Bland is becoming the voice of his generation. Is it too big a stretch to compare him to John Osborne, whose "Angry Young Man" in Look Back in Anger seemed to crystallize the angst and anxiety of postwar Europe? Bland, both more poetical and more avant-garde in his inclinations than Osborne was, speaks brilliantly about this particular American cultural moment in his remarkable new play Emancipatory Politics, which is currently being presented by Incubator Arts Project under the auspices of Bland's company Old Kent Road Theater. People who are interested in the way the world is now, and the way the theatre of today and tomorrow is going to be, will want to see this show.

Explaining an Arts NonProfit


H/T Yolanda S

Uranium Madhouse Associate Artist: Rick Burkhardt

Composer, writer and theater artist Rick Burkhardt was living the Uranium Madhouse dream before it was a twinkle in my eye:

Rick Burkhardt studied music composition at Harvard University, the University of Illinois, and the University of California, San Diego, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2006. He has received commissions, grants, and performances from organizations and performers such as the U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture, the La Jolla Symphony, Ensemble Surplus, the Boswil Foundation, Janos Negyesy and Paivikki Nykter, Ensemble Ascolta, Red Fish Blue Fish, the NOISE quartet, the past(modern) duo, sfSound, Toca Loca, Mark Menzies, the Olympia Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Forum, and Ensemble Chronophonie. During the early 1990's, he toured the US, Germany, and Swtizerland performing new music and theater with the Performers' Workshop Ensemble. In 1997, he began studying music with Chaya Czernowin and took classes in poetry from Rae Armantrout. He spent the following years inventing idiosyncratic methods for producing critical interactions of oddly integrated music and text. His hobby, the satirical political cabaret duo the Prince Myshkins (with virtuoso guitarist, singer and lifelong collaborator Andy Gricevich), became a full-time job in 2002, once the "War on Terror" had provided an alarming overflow of material to satirize, and he began dividing his time between completing his studies and touring nationally, recording two CDs of his original political songs which have been covered and recorded by musicians across the US. He is a founding member of the Nonsense Company, an experimental music / theater trio dedicated to new works and new venues. The Nonsense Company has performed in over 30 US cities, presenting new music and theater in unexpected combinations for a wide range of audiences. Their concert in Darmstadt in 2004 was hailed as "one of the most solid, free, and critical aesthetic propositions... of the festival." Their 2008 performance in NYC's Frigid Theater Festival was reviewed as "the must see show of the festival" and won Best Show and Audience Choice awards. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Look for a Uranium Madhouse production of Rick's play Conversation Storm in the near future. Welcome Rick!

Flash Mob Gone Terribly Wrong by Tom Scott, Ep 77

acting on the razor's edge

One of my mentors at Yale, now a prominent New York director, once confided in me that it took ten years out of grad school before she got to the point where she didn't have to live in terror every day about what aspect of one actor's work in whatever show she was working on would deteriorate that day.

Ten years.

I knew that terror well. Helping an actor to develop a performance in which every word they say and everything they do issues from a visceral need is no mean feat. Many actors and directors never come anywhere close to this. But let me tell you, there is nothing more heartbreaking for a director than getting an actor to that point, where you actually see them do deep, compelling work, and then having to watch the show with an audience when the actor, for whatever reason, does not deliver that work that you have seen them do, that you helped midwife and that you KNOW they have in them. It is a very, very bitter pill.

Acting is a uniquely difficult pursuit in that if you are watching yourself do it, YOU'RE DOIN IT WRONG!!!! Sure, there will always be a part of the actor's awareness that is not totally absorbed in the scene, but ideally, most of the actor's faculties are involved in the world of the character. This fact about acting, that you can't successfully watch yourself do it, makes it difficult for the actor to have a real sense of how it's actually going. I have seen actors after a show in states of high elation over how it went, and then I have seen the same actors on different nights feeling badly about what they did, and often, I see very little difference. It's just the nature of the beast.

So it's important that actors work very, very hard at developing their skill. It's one thing to truly connect with the need at the core of the character, and to learn to play the scene from that place. But it's quite another to be able to do that consistently. It's a real tightrope act. On Friends and Family Night in the class, I am never really sure what I am going to see, because I am working with people who are learning the process. That's a big part of why I have them do the scenes that night for me once before the guests arrive: they can warm up the scene, and I can take an inventory of what they have managed to hold on to and what they need to be reminded of.

It's also the director's responsibility to create a safe, sane environment of support and encouragement that allows the actor to develop her work on the role in a way that promotes mental equilibrium and readiness. Directors who terrorize or bully are doing a disservice to everyone involved, and the actors can't be faulted for inconsistency under such circumstances.

Work hard, actors, and stay in trim. We need you to be able to renew us, inspire us, to bring us to life.

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