Sunday, April 24, 2011

this blog has moved!

You can find it here now.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Friends and Family Night Pics

These are some pics from the last LA Friends and Family Night, shot by the incomparable Eric Ulbrich:

(Click to see enlarged version)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Houses of Cards happen.

Especially when Yolanda Seabourne is building them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kylie's salty chocolate balls...

...are for sale at our Bake Sale tomorrow.

Did I happen to mention?

No, I don't think I did.

At our bake sale tomorrow: cupcakes from Crumbs in Larchmont, donated by Ron Ginsberg.

Also, Crumbs generously donated 24 bite-sized cupcakes:

Come sample our wares. Lots of homebaked goodness. Tomorrow, starting at 10 AM, Beverly and Gardner, between Fairfax and La Brea.

Check @UraniumMadhouse for any updates.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Bake Sale!!!

This Saturday we'll be peddling our delicious wares to raise money for our upcoming production. Please stop by and pick up some yellowcake or other delicacy. We'll have cookies, cupcakes, cake, and lots of other goodies.

We are planning to set up shop at the NE corner of Pan-Pacific Park, which is the SW corner of Beverly and Gardner, between La Brea and Fairfax. Check the @UraniumMadhouse twitter feed for any updates on the location.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

a rare opportunity for actors

If I were going to be in SF in May, I'd be there.

Naked Empire Bouffon Company

Artistic Director, Nathaniel Justiniano, is offering his weekend long
Bouffon Intensive May 13-15, 2011.


“The work of bouffon satisfies my greatest desires of the theatre. As
a performer it demands an intense athleticism and availability to
one’s wildest imagination. As audience to it I have found a way to
both laugh at myself and check my apathy at the door. As a citizen I
am consistently impressed by how much of the ‘unsayable’ the bouffon
is allowed to say and by how well people hear it. The space is
electrified by the presence of the bouffon, making each moment
potentially and hilariously explosive or deadly silent. No one is

This intensive is a crash course in bouffon performance with the only
company this side of the Mississippi exclusively dedicated to the
research and performance of bouffon.

What you’ll be learning and practicing:

* Finding your personal bouffon
* Entering into and creating within a state of ecstatic play
* Choral, movement-based improvization
* Mercurial acting techniques for shape-shifting between
characters of heightened text and grace to those of base, groveling
goblin prophets
* Audacious and confrontational status play with the audience
* Wielding stillness and silence like a scapel
* Parodying social maladies and hypocrisies
* Ramshackle techniques for on-the-fly costume creation

You do not need to have previous experience in this form of theatre,
nor in performance at all. This is, however, an athletic, intensely
physical form of theatre that demands the in-the-moment engagement of
your intellect and perverse imagination. If this resonates with you,
we would love to see you here.

Bouffon Intensive with Nathaniel Justiniano

Friday, May 13th 6p – 10p
Saturday, May 14th 10a – 10p
Sunday, May 15th 12p – 6p

Price: $175 (before May 1st), $200 (after May 1st)


Main Street Theatre
915 Cayuga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
(5 minutes from: Balboa Park BART, Muni J, K, 14, 49)

About the teacher:

Nathaniel Justiniano has been a professional actor and director for
over 10 years. In 2007 he co-created Pax Americana, a satire of war
as seen through the lens of United States history and EUOI!, a bouffon
experiment in ecstatic ritual, inspired by the research of
anthropologist, Barbara Ehrenreich. He has performed with The
Thrillpeddlers in their mega-hit, Pearls Over Shanghai, as well as
with the SF Buffoons in their productions of The Hasheesh Eater and
Spunk, a satire of gold rush-era San Francisco. In 2009 he led the
creation of Naked Empire's debut production, Shame! as a DIY Artist-in-
Residence at the recently-closed Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, formerly
one of San Francisco’s most popular centers for queer and activist
performance. His most recent work, Cousin Cruelty's Compulsion,
addresses violence in society and was the subject of a feature column
in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He teaches workshops in bouffon,
commedia dell’arte, and mask performance and serves as the Director of
Physical Comedy for the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival as well as a
guest teacher of physical theatre at Sacramento City College. He
holds an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte
International School of Physical Theatre.

Monday, March 28, 2011

NPR discovers the Alexander technique

All I can say is it's about time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Actors: Getting to Know You

Wherein I pretend to be a farm animal.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

from The Office to Torchwood

Mother of Inventioner and Uranium Madhouse Associate Artist Cris D'Annunzio knows how to hustle. Fresh off of his appearance on The Office, he is about to start shooting an episode of Torchwood. He will play a mob boss who the intrepid Captain Jack Harkness will have to tangle with. Right on Cris! Keep it coming!

Uranium Madhouse show is cast

We have emerged from our two week casting process with a trio of actors for Conversation Storm that I am incredibly excited about. Here they are:

Jeff DinnellJeff Dinnell (Alec)
Jeff Dinnell is a transplant from Santa Cruz, California, where he was a fixture of the local stage and television scene. For five years he hosted a live half-hour talk show covering the local arts. Favorite stage roles include DEFENDANT in David Mamet's ROMANCE and TOM in Adam Bock's FIVE FLIGHTS

Steve Robertson (Godfrey)
Steve Robertson is from St. Louis, Missouri and a graduate of the theater department at
the University of Missouri in Columbia. Some stage work includes the role of Jerry in
Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story and Vice Principal Panch in 25th Annual Putnam County
Spelling Bee
. He is thrilled to be working with the talented people of Uranium Madhouse.

John Ruby (Hugh)
John Ruby is from Pewaukee, Wisconsin and is a graduate of Northwestern University. His film credits include You, Me and Dupree, Ricky,and Touch. He has also made appearances on the television shows The Event, Cougar Town, and Perfect Couples. His theater credits include The Sting and Heaven Can Wait.

A big Uranium Madhouse welcome to all!

Jeff, Cesar, and John join my longtime student Yolanda Seabourne, who is the sole actor in Charles Mee's The House of Cards, which will play on a double bill with Conversation Storm.

Yolanda SeabourneYolanda Seabourne
By day, Yolanda watches funny home videos from a show you grew up watching. By night, she watches plays and studies acting with Andrew Utter. When actually acting and not watching, Yolanda has appeared in productions of Hay Fever, The Bald Soprano, and The House of Bernarda Alba.

Uranium Madhouse's Fantastic Four will ROCK YOU, this June, at Hollywood's El Centro theater. Brace yourself! RAWRRRR!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board #8-- Elena Faro

I am again proud to announce the latest addition to the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board, Elena Faro:

Elena Faro is a native New Yorker and has been a tax accountant for over twenty years. She has run her own business for the last thirteen years and serves a clientele who work as freelancers in the Arts and film industry. Ms. Faro has a bachelor’s degree in literature and classics from Hunter College of the City University of New York. In her spare time, she is the mother of two beautiful children.

Welcome Elena!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Honey, I've got an idea!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This is a really interesting piece, and helps make it clear why we have to constantly strive to think beyond "plot objectives" in thinking about what motivates characters.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Can You Resist?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"If' I'm gonna die for a word...'s gonna be MY word, and my word is...


(with apologies to Stanley Kubrick)

Uranium Madhouse is having a Balderdash Night benefit! Click the link below for details and information, and please join us!

Balderdash Game Night!
Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

auditions for Conversation Storm at Uranium Madhouse!

Uranium Madhouse announces auditions for Conversation Storm, by Rick Burkhardt. Burkhardt is the co-creator of Three Pianos, which recently ran to great acclaim at New York Theater Workshop.

Wall Street Journal Review of Three Pianos
New York Times Review of Three Pianos

Conversation Storm was awarded the Best New Play award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2007. Our production will be a Los Angeles premiere.

This will be the inaugural production of new LA theater company Uranium Madhouse. It will run for three weekends starting June 9 at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood. Directed by Andrew Utter, MFA, Yale School of Drama, Founder, Mother of Invention Acting School

Project Synopsis: Conversation Storm reunites three friends in a quiet café after a 20-year separation. The friends quickly resume their old custom of parry and riposte in an examination of the question of torture. As they talk, an intricate game evolves, entailing time loops and role-playing. They imagine the unimaginable, save Manhattan, fail Manhattan, conjure atrocities, salvage humanity and try to get a glass of water from an inattentive waiter, all while attempting to answer the question, “Are people fungible?”

3 males, mid-30?s.

Auditions will be held March 5 and 6 at the Cornerstone Theater in downtown LA.

The sides are here.

To submit for the roles, go to . The roles are Hugh, Godfrey and Alec.

If you are not on LA Casting and would like to submit, please email

the latest from Uranium Madhouse

Sunday, February 06, 2011

your entity theory is showing

In my post above all else, I raved about Josh Waitzkin's remarkable book The Art of Learning. I promised more posts on it, but with all I have been doing for Uranium Madhouse, I haven't gotten around to it. Now I'm getting around to it.

Before I go on, I'll mention that I have added The Art of Learning to my course syllabus, and my students are loving it as much as I did. I can't recommend it highly enough.

So one of the first important distinctions Waitzkin makes is between different theories of intelligence. We all have a theory of intelligence, that is, a picture of what our mind is and how it faces challenges. Here he is on the two types:

Children who are "entity theorists" -- that is, kids who have been influenced by their parents and teachers to think in this manner -- are prone to use language like "I am smart at this" and to attribute their success or failure to an ingrained and unalterable level of ability. They see their overall intelligence or skill level at a certain thing to be a fixed entity, a thing that cannot evolve. Incremental theorists, who have picked up a different modality of learning-- let's call them learning theorists -- are more prone to describe their results with sentences like "I got it because I worked very hard for it" or "I should have tried harder." A child with a learning theory of intelligence tends to sense that with hard work, difficult material can be grasped -- step by step, incrementally, the novice can become the master.

Waitzkin goes on to cite a study by developmental psychologists that beautifully illustrates the hold that these theories of intelligence has over the minds of learners:

a group of children was interviewed and then each child was noted as having either an entity or a learning theory of intelligence. All the children were then given a series of easy math problems, which they all solved correctly. Then, all the children were given some very hard problems to solve-- problems that were too difficult for them. It was clear that the learning theorists were excited by the challenge, while the entity theorists were dismayed. Comments would range from "Oh boy, now I'm really gonna have to try hard" to "I'm not smart enough for this." Everyone got those problems wrong-- but evidently the experience of being challenged had very different effects. What is most interesting is the third phase of this experiment: all the children were once again given easy problems to solve. Nearly all of the learning theorists breezed right through the easy material, but the entity theorists had been too dispirited by the inability to solve the hard problems that many of them foundered through the easy stuff. Their self-confidence had been destroyed.

Readers of this blog know that this is what I believe. I have said as much on more than one occasion, such as this one. So listen carefully actors: if you have ever asked anyone if you are "talented", you have an entity theory of learning to act. You think that acting ability is something innate, that you either "have" or you don't. You need to reconsider this. Learning to act really well is a long haul, I don't care who you are. It's like becoming a black belt in a martial art or an internationally competitive chess player. So you need to embrace an ethos that promotes resilience, as the rejections and the disappointments will come, to coin a phrase, not single spies, but in battalions.

So get your mind ready.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board Member #7-- Matthew McCray

I am very excited to announce the latest addition to the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board, Matthew McCray, artistic director of the acclaimed Son of Semele Ensemble here in Los Angeles.

Matthew McCray is the Founding Artistic Director of Son of Semele Ensemble. A multi-faceted artist in many theatrical disciplines, Matthew enjoys working professionally throughout the year as a producer, director, performer, musical director, composer and teacher of theatre. Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, he moved to California in 1994 to attend Chapman University. After earning a BFA in Theatre Performance and a minor in Vocal Music from Chapman in 1998, he moved to Los Angeles. He currently resides in Eagle Rock, California.

In 2004, Matthew was featured on the cover of American Theatre Magazine for his work with SOSE. As a director Matthew's work includes both original and published work. Most recently, his 2006 production of Iphigenia (A Rave Fable) received six LA Weekly Award nominations and Matthew received an award for his work as the Video Deisgner. Other directing work includes his own original plays A Few Moments Behind The Mask, Earthlings and Amended which premiered in REDCAT's Studio Festival, as well as Animal Farm, the west coast premiere of Back Story, a workshop production of What The Moon Saw by Stephanie Fleischmann and most recently a workshop production at CalArts of Lear's Wild Rose by Sibyl O’Malley. Matthew is currently collaborating with Center Theatre Group to assist in producing the yearlong festival of work by Suzan-Lori Parks called 365 Days / 365 Plays.

In 1999 Matthew created a theatre program for children in Newport Beach called Musical Theatre Playground (MTP) that produces reduced musicals and Shakespearean plays with child actors (K-6). As the program's sole producer, adaptor and director, Matthew has presented over 30 productions, inspiring countless children to become theatre-goers and theatre-makers. Now in his 8th year of producing and directing for MTP, Matthew's earlier MTP cast members have gone on to specialty high schools for the performing arts to continue their studies in the theatre.

Matthew has appeared on the stage, as well as in film, television and commercials. His credits include the experimental stage of REDCAT as well as nationally-recognized musical theatre organizations REPRISE! and Musical Theatre West. For Son of Semele Ensemble his acting credits include the role of Abraham in The Mysteries, the role of Boxer in the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award-nominated cast of Animal Farm, Jacob in the NAACP Theatre Award nominated cast of The Tower and Paul Antonelli in Film is Evil: Radio is Good. His television work includes the recurring role of Jasper on the Emmy Award-winning television show Will & Grace, Boston Legal and, most recently, a pilot called The Cure. He has also been seen and heard singing in a Discover Card commercial, and in 2003 he carried a supporting role in the independent film The Commission, starring Martin Sheen, Edward Asner and Martin Landau. Matthew is a member of Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.

Matthew has authored three plays: Amended which premiered at REDCAT's Studio Festival in 2004; Earthlings which Son of Semele Ensemble premiered in Los Angeles in 2001; and, A Few Moments Behind The Mask which premiered in 1998 at Chapman University. His musical writing includes choral work, musical scores and incidental music for the theatre. His two published choral works for voice and piano are When We Two Parted, published in 1995 with Twin Elm Publishing, and The Paper Reeds By The Brooks, published in 1998 with National Music Publishing. When We Two Parted was performed by The Choral Project in Santa Cruz and San Jose in 2004. In 1996 his musical anthology of Lewis Carroll poetry was added into a theatre work about Alice Liddell, subsequently performed at Chapman University. Additionally, in 1998 he directed a complete evening of his choral compositions, also at Chapman.

Matthew currently teaches Musical Theatre at Chapman University. Other teaching credits include a performance workshop at California Lutheran University, as well as private singing instruction at Pacific School of Music and the Arts. Last year Matthew was asked to join a panel at California Institute of the Arts to speak with students about the formation of ensemble theatre companies.

Welcome Matthew!

what Ari's been up to

Two-time Mother of Inventioner Ari Kanamori is winding up work on an indie feature, Falling Uphill, in which he played the starring role. The Kickstarter video below has some footage of Ari at work on the film. Congratulations Ari, looking forward to seeing it!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cris D'Annunzio on The Office tonight!

Mother of Inventioner Cris D'Annunzio taped an episode of The Office a couple months back, and the episode is airing tonight.

Congratulations Cris!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

and what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

Uranium Madhouse Presents Exerpts from "Conversation Storm" by Rick Burkhardt from Eric Ulbrich on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Word. Just, word.

I just came across this on a Facebook profile. It blows any and all other Facebook profile content, including mine, into another dimension:

on my honor, i promise to sharpen my wits on a dead man's skull, to worship the flaw, the mole on the belly of an exquisite whore; blood on the tv and thorozine brain cloud; to relish the terrible thrill of new loves on the blood covered ground; to struggle with diminished zeal, insolence, collapse and fright; to behold the age of murderers and embrace the vampire that watches over us; to exploit all circus freaks with pale dead fish skin and scorn the luxury of the lepers; slaves, let us not curse life, but stand proud like the bitch after the assault of dogs, licking her flank from which hangs a severed entrail...amen....

Mark Hoagland FTW

A Uranium Madhouse kindred spirit.

PS Comment if you caught the Patti Smith allusion, or any other allusions that I didn't catch.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Associate Artist: William Haugse

(cross-posted at )

I am very proud to announce the newest addition to the Uranium Madhouse Family: Oscar- and Emmy- nominated film editor, actor, director, writer and photographer William Haugse.

William Haugse An Oscar- and Emmy-nominated editor, William Haugse has edited a dozen feature documentaries including "Hoop Dreams," "Sunset Story," "Stevie," and "No Impact Man," and approximately 50 hours of network and cable documentaries. He was nominated for both an Oscar ("Hoop Dreams" Fineline) and an Emmy ("The Last Days of Kennedy and King" Turner), and received the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award among many other prizes. He has worked with Orson Welles and John Cassavetes, among others. His own film, "Breakfast in Bed," starring John Ritter, was "finely crafted" according to the Hollywood Reporter and received festival awards both here and in Europe. As a director of short documentaries he has won several national prizes including Chris Gold awards. Starting during his days as a student at UCLA School of Theater, Film and TV he has acted and directed in live theater, including works by Pinter ("crisp and tantalizing" Los Angeles Times) and Albee. In the 1990s, he was a professor at the USC Department of Cinema for five years. In recent years, another art form has come to the fore; Haugse has had two-man shows and group shows of photography in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Haugse has lived and worked principally in Los Angeles, but also in New York and Chicago, where he engaged not only in filmmaking but also wrote, acted, and directed live theater. He returned to Los Angeles in 1995, where he has been working ever since.

Welcome Bill!

for the first time in 6 years...

...since I founded Mother of Invention, I will not be teaching a class in San Francisco this spring.

As my regular readers know, I live in LA now. I have founded a theater company there, and I will be producing and directing our inaugural production there, to open in June. The demands on my time and psychic energy from this venture will be very high. Also, the business in Los Angeles is heating up. I had to turn away six students from the LA Essentials that started last week because it was full, so I have announced a second Essentials class to start shortly. Also, I am teaching the Advanced class in LA for the first time starting February. In light of this expansion and the demands of directing and producing, I have reluctantly faced the fact that weekly trips to SF for the period of April to June is just going to be too much.

However. Fear not!

I have not abandoned you SF! I have 4-1-5 tattooed on my neck, don't forget. I will be returning to the Bay area to catch the balmy summer, with a course starting in late June or early July. I love the Bay area I want to continue my presence there.

And you know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder.

So wish me well on my new exploits, and I will leave a little bit of my heart in San Francisco when I leave after the upcoming Friends and Family Night.

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mother of Invention blog greatest hits

This blog has been in existence since 2006. Here are what I take to be some of my best shots from the five years:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Blog launches

Check it out here.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Uranium Madhouse launches Indiegogo campaign

Uranium Madhouse is making use of the new crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise money for its upcoming production, Conversation Storm. Please visit the campaign page, make a donation, and use the Sharing tools there to pass the word. Sharing the campaign helps us a lot, as Indiegogo decides how aggressively to promote you in part based on how much noise people make about your campaign. So use those sharing tools and help us plaster Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere, and everywhere else!

Monday, January 03, 2011

notes on immersion

One of the thrills of great works of art is that they are big enough that you can lose yourself in them.

Which can inspire you to make your own works of art. You can also lose yourself in doing that.

This can be intensely rewarding.

However, there is no artist who walks the earth for whom it ALWAYS turns out well.

Talk all we want about how it's a process. We still like it when it turns out well, and we don't like it when it doesn't.

Creating great work requires immersion. Immersion can end in drowning. This is a fact. Once you've drowned, it's that much harder to immerse yourself.

Although, no lie, Confucius did say "It's easier to live if you're willing to die."

Try that one on for size.

As with art, it's possible to lose yourself in love.

This can also end in drowning.

As with art, that's not a reason not to let yourself be immersed, ultimately at least. But there's no question it becomes more challenging once you've been through the whole drowning thing.

Come to think of it, in thinking this through, I see the Christian rite of Baptism in a whole new light. It's like they're saying "This is what it's like. Get into it." DUNK!!!

In the last six years, I have arranged my creative life in such a way that I was actively engaged in my creative work for 3-6 hours a week. Most of the time, no more than that. I waded, I swam some laps, I bobbed and treaded water. But I pretty much stayed in the shallow end.

That, again, seems about to change.

I think I'm ready. Time will tell.

And wherein lies this readiness?


Experience, for one thing. Which, as Oscar Wilde famously quipped, is the name that other people give to their mistakes.

I've made plenty of those.

So that's one thing.

I think I also have a clearer picture of what it is to engage in a collaborative enterprise. As the captain of the ship, I can exert a lot of influence on said enterprise. But there are limits. To what I can do. Even I. Having bumped my head against those limits enough, I won't be tempted to pretend they don't exist. In times when things don't go as I had hoped, there may be some comfort in remembering those limits.

I have worked to acquire some decent interpersonal skills. There's always work to do on making those better, but I have some.

I have people around me who truly, truly, love me. No question.

And I feel like I get that it's a marathon, not a sprint. I'm probably a sprinter by nature (Aries), so that may well be what they call "the rub" in this particular instance.

But I have also discovered that I can actually be quite happy splashing around in the shallow end, if push were to come to shove. Sooner or later, the deep end would probably beckon again, but it's nice to know that the shallow end is always an option, at least for a while.

That Yeats may have overstated things at least a wee bit when he spoke of "perfection in the life or in the work."

I stand on the threshold.

Or, to quote the first play I ever directed:

"On the brink. On the beach. On the verge."

The bracing.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

the power of vulnerability

H/T Travis Shakespeare

Real Time Web Analytics Clicky Web Analytics