Friday, June 29, 2007

Ioway? A-okay!

I'm heading back to Iowa (A-okay!) this weekend to visit to take in the Riverside Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City with two of my housemates. That's where the three of us met and parted ways three years ago. And after three years of occasional contact and lots of life on all three of our parts, we have wound up together again in a meeting of the cosmos, aligning of the planets, or some shit like that.

Those three years are open fodder for a future blog, but right now I'm just ready to have a notebook to fill on the drive down. I had recently resolved to see more theatre, because I was really slacking, and I'm following through quite well, but it's eating up a lot of time, too.

I had been spending most of my writing time on a segmented prose project that, still in its early stages, is teaching me a lot about my process, but is also miring me down for that reason (also probably a near future blog). I hope to set that aside this weekend and play around with a couple of idealings that have been floating around recently -- especially a half radio/half intimately staged piece about an astronaut. Hopefully I'll have a progress report when I return.

Don't go too nuts on the comments, you crazy kids...


Domo Arigato

It took until closing weekend to do, but I finally made it to Collaboraction's The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, and I've got but one question. Am I the only person in the city who doesn't see the appeal? Aside from Tom Williams, that is (insert ellipses for effect). Last night's performance got close to half of a standing ovation from a near sell out crowd, and I just sat there, baffled, and even moreso because I had been really looking forward to this one.

Rolin Jones' play seems to be from the school of thought that if you have a clever concept and can write a few witty non-sequiters and character moments, you're all set and simply need to sprinkle in a few paint-by-numbers emotional scenes (also peppered with witty character nudges) to fill the show out a bit. The bitch of the whole thing is that because we're dealing with well-proven stock emotional situations, a play can work despite a lack of any insight as long as there's a good cast propelling it. But I didn't even get that in Jenny Chow.

Jennifer Shin had a lot to do in the lead role and handled the load well, and when left to her own devices (which was much of the time) was quite engaging. But the moment she began to interact with others (especially Laura T. Fisher as her adoptive mother), the honesty seemed to fly out the window conveniently placed back center. Meanwhile, the supporting cast struggled, although valiantly, to make good of the late 90s humor they were there to provide. (I'm certain there are still hilarious jokes about Mormons, stoners, and premature ejaculation, but it seems to me we should be coming to a point where you have to do a little more than mention them to make people laugh.) Towards the end of the show -- which, by the way, couldn't resolve itself out of a wet paper bag -- I was starting to wonder if maybe the part of my brain that judges quality wasn't just having a wonky night, when Ian Forrester, in his last scene as the quasi-boyfriend, pulled himself out of his affected Cali stoner doldrums and broke my heart. Which made it that much harder to forgive the rest of the show.

For me, at least. The ladies to my left, who stood almost immediately, might have a different story to tell.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Jackson Pollock of Sandwich Artists

That's who I get at Subway, every damned time...

It's a busy ass Subway and there's always at least half a dozen people making sandwiches, so you'd think the odds would be on my side. But without fail, every time I get to the front of the line, there she is: all goofy grin and slightly crossed eyes, just aching to get a dollop of mayonnaise half on my sub and half in the container of black olives. I wouldn't complain if the reason I couldn't close my sandwich properly was that she put way too goddamned much stuff on there, but that's just not the case. I watch her top my sub and I watch the guy next to her top the guy next to mine's and the quantity that these people deal in is precise. But somehow, this lady has perfected (I can only imagine it took years of intense training) the architectural stylings of putting shit on a sub exactly wrong and I'm stuck playing a game of Dodge The Falling Mustard-Drenched Banana Peppers Because You Don't Have Time To Go Home And Get A Change Of Pants.

I've already got the high score and I dare a motherfucker to step up and challenge. I'll even provide the quarters...


Final Score: Blasphemy 1, Broadway 0

I saw Jerry Springer: The Opera at Bailiwick last night. I'll admit that I tend to shy away from musical theatre, attending only once in a blue moon, but I'm beginning to think that may be directly related to the relative lack of shows that encourage me to shout "three-nippled cousin fucker" with the cast. Just something to keep in mind if anyone out there is conducting a marketing survey. Also on the list of things that would get me to your show: a Ku Klux Klan chorus line, the Immaculate Conception referred to as 'raped by an angel', a band of hellions breaking into a rousing chorus of "Jesus Is Gay"

Someone keeping tabs on this?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Dead Playwright Could Beat Up Your Dead Playwright.

Interesting stuff going on over at Parabasis re: the most influential play of the last hunnerd years (or so). The Beckett/Chekov lines have been drawn, the winner itchin' to take on Ibsen.

I tossed Ubu Roi into the hat and, despite it's utter lack of reception and disqualification by date, I stand by it. I don't know that I'd want to put him up against either of the big guns, but Mamet, Kushner, Williams, and Miller? I'd set Jarry at least at their level of influence, and definitely above in a few cases.

But it seems that the discussion at hand is more concerned with influence on future playwrights, and I'm willing to cede that Jarry's influence was much stronger on other literary forms and even visual art than it was on theatre.

Eh, semantics -- merdre, I say!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes

I attended TUTA's industry night performance of Tracks last night and amidst the dystopia of war, murder, rape, and all out nihilism that was laid bare in front of me, the most frightening part was the structure. Aside from a brief coda, Milena Markovic has denied the audience any sense of rising or falling action or even climax. Each scene is as urgent (or, for these teens, sadistically banal) as the last, because there's nothing to rise towards anyway. In a hopeless society, you do what you have to and you do what you want to and it's all the same either way you slice it. Harrowing stuff, indeed.

Kudos to TUTA for an engrossing production (especially the smooth, thus jarring, transitions into the musical numbers) and very especially to Keith D. Gallagher, who will be receiving much notice for the innate unrealized despair of his Hero.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Thumb Puns: Surprisingly Hard To Come By

I, too, was present at the soon to be infamous -- or at least kinda neat -- opening of The Factory Theater's Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago. You know, the opening of Siskel and Ebert Save Chicago that was attended by Mr. Roger Ebert himself?

Ebert was the last person to sneak in right before the show began, but that didn't stop the expected audience murmur -- it was possibly a matter of two or three minutes before the entire audience was hushing each other and not-so-casually glancing over shoulders. It didn't seem to hurt audience response at all, though. Ebert jokes were laughed at just as readily as Oprah, Roeper, and Mancow jokes, and while I was sitting a few rows ahead of the man himself and didn't see his reaction, I heard from numerous sources that Ebert was also just as readily laughing at Ebert jokes (and perhaps a little more readily at Roeper's?).

I had some friends in the cast, so I stuck around post-show for a little while, and when the buzz (quickly) spread through the cast that Ebert had been their, they rushed outside to catch sight of him. They got there just in time to see him and his wife driving off, and as they went wild with applause, Ebert rolled down his window and stuck out the famous thumb. It was pointed towards the sky, of course. Very rarely have I seen a cast in such ecstasy -- Ebert was a hero of the day, both onstage and off.

I have no delusions of Oprah leaving her fortress to see the show, but what say you, Roeper? Up for a little playful ribbing?


The Only Thing

This morning as I was walking from the train to work, a woman who looked to be a once-upon-a-soccer mom now in her mid 50s, as she passed me on my left, leaned in and said in a slightly hushed voice, "Your wallet pocket is open." I thanked her out of confusion, because thanking people is disarming nowadays, and if she were in fact a Russian spy attempting to use code words to arm a bio-weapon that I had unwittingly allowed to be implanted into my skull, disarming her seemed to be the appropriate choice. She nodded and kept walking. I reached for my wallet and understood. The pants I am wearing today [ed. - if I had a nickel for every time I started a sentence that way...] have cargo pockets in the back, and I guess the woman wanted me to be aware that the one holding my wallet was unbuttoned, lest I fall victim to an act of thievery.

I really don't want slap thoughtfulness in the face here, but it was about that time I wanted the lady to come back so that I could explain to her that, yes, my wallet pocket was open, because that's where I keep my wallet. And my wallet is where I keep my CTA card and my credit cards and various membership cards and my library card, etc. And I use that shit quite frequently. And cargo pockets are a pain in the neck to open and close without the assistance of sight. And, disappointing as it is, I can't really see my own ass all that well. And, more importantly, what would she have said had I been wearing jeans? "You have no way of sealing your wallet pocket"? Ok, so my thoughts weren't quite as sarcastic, but I've had some time to dwell on the situation and it's all very silly, but a little unsettling as well. Has it really become an accepted fact that wallet pockets should be closed?

Some expository information: My day job is in the Medical District, a few blocks from Cook County Hospital. In the two years that I have been working there, I have heard a rare report or two of crime in the couple of blocks between the train and my workplace, but it's not a dangerous place. Not always a cheerful place (it's a bunch of hospitals and treatment clinics, for chrissakes), but not dangerous. But this lady still felt concerned enough for the vulnerability of my back pocket to warn me. Which was very kind of her, and I feel a twinge of shame for ragging on the effort -- but only a twinge. Because this sort of fear of society is a crippling force and it's hurting rather than helping.

This is a big fucking city. True. Crime is inevitable. True. But if you're aware of your surroundings and aren't acting like a dumbass (which would be good advice even in a mystical crime vacuum), odds are you're going to be fine. And if you are aware of your surroundings and aren't acting like a dumbass and you still wind up the victim of a crime, odds are it was going to happen regardless. Anything above and beyond that is a lot of added stress for minimal added protection. Not to mention an entire blog's worth of implications in the Nietzschean philosophy of the creation of an enemy through the preparation for one.

(Sidebar example: This weekend I was crossing the river on Michigan Avenue and a tourist in front of me slowed down, struggling with a map. As I slid past, I brushed against her arm on the shoulder that was holding her purse. At the same time that I was turning to excuse myself, she whipped her purse to her chest, guarding it, and stared at me wide-eyed with fright. I said excuse me and she didn't move a muscle. I walked on but couldn't help but wish that I had taken her purse, if only so that her effort wouldn't have gone to such a waste.)

Fear has become a currency these days, as special studies and focus groups and interested third parties trade potential threats back and forth like so many baseball cards, being sure to keep the media in the loop so we threatened masses can protect ourselves from the latest impending doom. Meanwhile, as Giuliani cleans up New York, as politicians begin to protect us from our own ingestion of trans fats, as the Bucket Boys get kicked off Michigan Avenue to protect the ears and sanity of the Nouveau Haute in Water Tower Place, we get a step closer to utopia. And lose a bit of the grit that gives the world its flavor. And still tourists walk down Michigan Avenue taking in the false frontispiece of the city, but always a tad uneasy because that man with no teeth and greasy hair is jingling his change cup at them.

Not that there isn't a time and a place for fear -- I had been in Chicago (from small town Iowa, mind you) for all of a month when I absurdly found myself (a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white boy) alone in Englewood at ten o'clock on a Friday night. That was the one time in the city that I have been truly frightened. (I got mugged on the Green Line a few months ago and even that was more of an annoyance than anything.) And, as I was making my way back to the train and out of Englewood, I kept repeating a simple mantra: "You're supposed to be here." Because fear is more than just visible; it's almost tactile. And, while not foolproof by any means, you're much less of a target when you're not frightened. Or at least when you don't let it show.

Watching politicians, public figures, and everyday humans on a daily basis, I see a lot of fear. I see the attempt to create an antiseptic world to ease worried minds. And I see worried minds that will never be appeased. And while most of these changes are, yes, positive overall, a piece of me can't help but mourn the flavor of life that comes from living in a spectrum as opposed to a flat wash.

Yes, ma'am, my wallet pocket is open. That's where I keep my wallet.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Oh my, a meme!

Don Hall hit me with my very first meme yesterday, which was an entirely new concept to me until I realized it's just a chain letter without the threat of bad luck. Well hell, now that there are no fates to tempt, I might as well give 'er a go. (Even if Don turned my last name into a sea demon of some kind in the process!)

Name your area of expertise/interest:
Theatre; namely acting, writing, and directing (in order of experience)

How did you become interested in it?
I was (am?) one of those quiet, observant types when I was young -- the ones who actually want all of the attention, but will only take it on their terms. I suppose theatre at first was a way to turn heads without actually having to open up more than I felt necessary. My high school drama department was on the far side of pitiful (one show per year and all wasted on stuff like Cheaper by the Dozen), so I focused on individual competitive speech, where I had complete artistic control. This is also where my up the punk rebellious streak started to be nutured.

When I got to college, I was amazed at all of the new options (note of hindsight: My college was pretty damn small, but anything would have been freaking huge compared to my home town.), so I leapt into TV and radio production because, hey, I could! I learned the basics of both, got bored and took an Acting 101 class the spring of my sophomore year. By the time the class was through, I had switched over to a theatre major and didn't really turn back.

The summer after my junior year I got an internship at a Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City. This is where I learned what good acting actually looked like. After college I moved to Chicago because no grad programs would take me (note of hindsight: thank god!) and because it was the closest to home of the Big Three (note of hindsight: thank god!). This is where I learned what a show with passionate, talented people across the boards can do and where I am learning what good acting feels like.

Writing was always a project on the side, but I never realized I could actually do anything with it until a Lit and Film class in college where I loosely adapted Poe's "Annabel Lee" into a screenplay set in the afterlife in which a damned soul and an angel fall in love (an idea I haven't completely given up on, but haven't touched in years). My interest in writing as more than a hobby didn't take off until Chicago, where I discovered that realism, contrary to the beliefs of Heartland, America, is not the only solution.

Directing? Shit, I'm still figuring that out. There's a lot of ideas upstairs; some of them can't work on the page.

How did you learn to do it?
That's assuming I've actually learned something at this point. Sometimes it seems like the breadth of my knowledge is so limited that it's actually quite quaint. Which I suppose is a good thing for someone my age (I'm a whopping 24. And you see that open window over there? That's where all my blogosphere credibility just went.), but at the same time, it's daunting as hell.

I'm a real pain in the ass to teach, because the first thing I do is try and find as many solutions as I can other than the one you want to see (oddly enough, I'm the opposite with directors -- I take direction almost to a fault). Even worse, I won't let you know that's what I'm doing, so no one ever calls me on it, because I seem like a perfectly diligent student.

I learn much better from example, and not example for my benefit, but actual life experience example. Watching someone create and discover and work passionately gets me to reflect on how I do all of those things and what the style/technique/method at hand might have to offer my process. It really is just the same old how to succeed advice: I surround myself with people that are better at what they do than I am.

Who has been your biggest influence?
Well, any one of those people that I surround myself with, but they are legion.

Actually, and I always used to avoid this answer because it seemed cliche, but probably my mother, unwittingly. She isn't an artistic person in the least, but I can trace my damn the man leanings right back to her. Live and let live, unless someone encroaches upon that. Then go for the jugular. And if she reads this, she'll deny every bit of it.

What would you teach people about it?
Read what Bob Fisher has to say about young people and experience in his meme. He's right; I'm there right now.

I don't really know that I'm in any position to do any teaching -- but if I'm throwing in my two cents (and I do... a lot): Art is first and foremost for yourself; there's just no pleasing everyone and there's very little to be gained from it anyway.

This is the part where I tell five people to fill this bitch out. Except that I don't necessarily know if five people even check this blog on a regular basis, and I'm not gonna send out "you've been memed" messages. Here's five people who's responses I'd like to see, we'll see if any of them stick: Tony Adams, RebeccaZ (who's got a head start with a great post from a few days ago), and Trevor, Bil, and Devon, all at Tip Your Waiter.

...and GO!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Required Viewing

I just caught Jacques Rivette's La Belle Noiseuse at the Siskel Film Center, and every artist of any walk owes it to themselves to see this film.

The film perfectly realizes Art's ability to tear the skin off of life, revealing all of the disgusting pieces underneath and the majesty of how they all fit together. But then, in a move befitting a master, Rivette applies the same process to Art itself, distilling the passion and the purity that come as a result, but also, and just as important, the callousness and the detachment. It's a four hour work that I hesitate to even call a narrative as opposed to a dissection. And I was hooked in for every minute. Not to mention Michel Piccoli as the artist at the center of it all gives a stunning performance.

With the caveat that it's still fresh on my mind, this may very well be the greatest film about capital-A Art that I have ever seen. You should all do the same.


But then again...

There was a little boy about the same age on my commute this morning who, judging from the tenacity of his pee-pee dance, was seconds away from his very own trouser puddle. Maybe it's an epidemic.

I have to say, it's a lot less profound the second time. And when the train is crowded. And at eight in the morning. Play your Gameboy and stop squirming, kid.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An Attempt At Explanation

Today there was some brief discussion on Kris Vire's blog that made me take a second look at what I wrote yesterday, which raised an urge to isolate what I think is the basis of what I was trying to say and elaborate upon that:

Yes, expansion and innovation are important, but they aren't the only issues on our plate, nor are they higher-ranking than whatever it is that has attracted our current audience base.
So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

No really, though. I, like any artist, want as many people as possible to see my work. And if there is a way to alter the image of theatre to get Joe Q. Public to buy more tickets, then I'm all for it. But not at the expense of those audience members that have been loyal to us. Nor at the expense of the work that we are actually offering. My question to the image-modifiers out there is who exactly you're gunning for: the (as I not-so-eloquently put it on Storefront Rebellion) Sopranos crowd or the American Idol crowd?

Now watch as I try to ride this line without falling on the elitist side...

Because there is a difference in the two: The Sopranos requires more intellectual engagement (for better or for worse) than American Idol, which, on the other hand, emphasizes the malleability and immediacy -- and I'm going to go ahead and say visceral experience -- of the medium (also for better or for worse). Both are hugely popular, and there is bound to be an overlap in the audiences, but at the same time there is going to be a very divergent selection of viewers for each as well.

Transferred over to the theatre world, and playing no biases, the strictly Idol crowd will more often than not tend to line up with the world of Broadway and other large scale shows for their sensory focus (as well as other spectacles on a smaller scale -- Redmoon, for instance). Low rent storefront theatre, when unable to build the spectacle, will usually push the level of mental engagement required from an audience, be it dramatically or comedically. That's not to say that non-spectacle theatre is always smarter, just that it's quite often a game of listening rather than watching. Or listening as much as watching.

All of this background disclaimer for what? For the fact that I am working from the side of small storefront "listening" theatre, and so my preferred crowd is the Sopranos crowd, which needs to be pulled in through marketing, no doubt, but not through a major image change, because they're already into the (extremely) broad style of work that I'm trying to provide. New marketing image? Pish! Find out why the people who like what you do like what you do. Then hone in on that: it is your appeal, after all. By all means, sell that in innovative ways, but don't act like it's something it's not. If you try to sell The Sopranos to an American Idol crowd (to belabor a metaphor), you're going to end up with one of two options: a crowd that is unhappy when you don't deliver what you've promised or a show that, despite the title card, looks suspiciously like American Idol (or vice versa) -- which runs risk of alienating your current audience, the most faithful barometer of what you're doing well.


I have some good vibes that need to be sent.

To the seven or eight year old girl sitting directly in front of me on the Red Line who wet her pants:

You may never know how terribly sorry I am. Had I known what had happened and that I was the only person between you and your sister, I would have gotten off and waited for the next train so you could take care of things without having to feel any more embarrassed than you already were. I pretended not to notice when I did get off, because I know that's what you wanted, but all I wanted to do was tell you that everything was perfectly alright. Mistakes happen. You had no reason to feel ashamed; most especially not because some random stranger was witness to your accident. Because, sweetie, I was the only random stranger around and you can rest assured that I'm not gonna hold it against you. This too will pass, darling. I hope your sister was caring enough to say what I could only think.


I was working through a lot of self-doubt shit this afternoon -- I'm the guy who technically falls under the 'young, upstart punk' heading of theatre taxonomy, which I realize is a role in which it is hard to be taken seriously sometimes. And I started to think a thought rare for the young, upstart punk role: what if there's a reason for that? What if I'm just plain wrong because I haven't had as much experience and opportunity as the rest (or the majority of the rest) of the blogosphere? And I was pretty sincerely down on myself for not being able to recognize this, for going about flaunting it regardless, and worst of all, for not being able to fix it, when an incident on the Red Line showed me in an instant how useless and debilitating shame and embarrassment can be. And it took a seven year old to teach me.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Eyes on the Prize

In the Tonys/Sopranos fallout, much has been made of theatre's waning image and innovative ways to revitalize our audiences, to the point where I have to ask: what exactly are we expecting?

Certainly it's good to shoot for the stars; I am just as big of a proponent of high hopes as the next guy, but let's not lose sight of what we do have [slash] are able to currently achieve. So Broadway can't compete with David Chase -- here's a little tidbit: neither can the rest of the world. Chase is on the top of his game right now and as such is riding high on the hog of media consumption. It's like trying to fuck with Pete Jackson cruising on LoTR in 2002 or (dare I say it?) Jonathan Larson in 1996. Wanting theatre as a form to match the numbers of the shining star of cable television history is beyond unfeasible; it's a guaranteed failure. Let's keep in mind that the Tonys did still average six and a quarter million viewers. Hey, that beats the hell out of UPN.

No, Broadway's doing fine. (Commercially speaking, that is. Now, artistically? This is neither the time nor the place, Paul. Ok, maybe the place, but definitely not the time.) So what to, oh what to do about the nitty gritty? The stuff that makes my life go 'round -- small beans Chicago storefront theatre. How do we divert the Chicago Shakes patrons from the Pier to Live Bait? Pull the Steppenwolf crowd out to the Chopin? How do we pack these houses night in and night out?

Short answer? We don't. Don't mean we can't try. But 95% of the time, we end up somewhere on the spectrum from slightly to sorely disappointed. But that doesn't necessarily mean we're failing for the form, allowing it to die a slow and protracted death. Say what you will about the Art vs. Entertainment argument or the Highbrow Alienation Effect (also not the time) -- theatre is an art form. With no pretension or judgment of other media/cultural outlets, I say it again: Theatre is an Art Form. This simple fact is enough to guarantee that we are always going to be left wanting more as far as audiences are concerned. Art is a niche market in today's society, and theatre is but a niche of a niche. At what point do we pinch ourselves, wake up, and stop counting empty seats while overlooking the seats that do have asses in them? Selling out a five week run: a nice dream to have. Raising a house average from twenty to twenty-five: a major fucking success.

By all means, we need to strive to have every couch potato in America repent their ways and come to love the inherent joys of theatre (and more tomorrow on how that has more to do with American Idol than The Sopranos). But bitching about small houses t'ain't helpful. At best, it's ungracious. At worst (lest the audiences actually find out exactly what words are exchanged upon these Internets), it's going to alienate what we do have. There is a support base that is happy being challenged by 'by the bootstraps' theatre. But we gotta show them love to expect more in return. The last thing they want is to be relegated to the B team as we discover bigger and better ways to attract a bigger and better audience. Yes, expansion and innovation are important, but they aren't the only issues on our plate, nor are they higher-ranking than whatever it is that has attracted our current audience base. Besides, I'm sure that current base has friends worth co-opting. Exponentiality is the name of the game. That and baby steps.

There's much more I meant to include here and much more I mean to include tomorrow but as Monday has long ago rolled into Tuesday, so has my brain rolled into a coma state. There's your cautionary message -- if I got some 'splaining to do, you'll get it soon.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rise of the Machines

Now that I have my very own extra-special blog to call my very own, let's get the requisite self-referential post in which I deal with the fact that I now have a blog out of the way. Because I now have a blog. And I don't really how to wield it.

It's not that I'm technologically impaired or anything of the sort; I can usually figure my way around a piece of equipment or software if given half an hour and permission for it to not come back in one piece. But I am quite blissfully unaware of the new e-world. We're talking about a man who has never owned an iPod here (or an iAnything, really). And trust me, I would use the shit out of an iPod if I had one.

No, in a perversely glorious combination of selective frugality and down home rural America upbringing, I choose my luxuries carefully. Which isn't to say I'm not indulgent, because that would be silly. And a lie. I just indulge randomly, and e-technology wound up on the wrong side of the fence. But we're nearing a decade into the 21st century, and it's about time that I show up -- loud, proud, and dawdling around (but now on the web!)

And I'll be damned if there ain't a whole dadgum little community here -- I've been catching up on my "theatrosphere" (a word which I vow never to use again) the last few days, and here's what I've discovered:

1. There's a shit-ton of intelligent, passionate, downright good people here. And everyone's leaving (sort of).

2. I'm not special, after all. It turns out the entire theatre world hates the state of the entire theatre world. They also hate the fact that the entire theatre world is doing nothing but bitching about that fact. This is easily resolved by bitching about the fact that the entire theatre world is wasting good art time bitching. It seems a little convoluted at first, but I've been taking notes, so I think we're all good.

3. Theatre < Television

4. Television < Theatre

5. Many a pun can be made using an ironic name quip involving Tony Soprano and Tony the award.

6. New York and Chicago can play nice, but it's the sort of nice you play with that cousin that you don't really like all that much who kinda smells and has a stupid, loud, ugly dog that always bites you but Mom said that if you behave and are a super good boy you'll get a surprise later. I don't know what that surprise is, but I'm assuming it relates to No. 2 somehow.

7. Everything relates to No. 2 somehow.

I was gonna go for ten. I didn't. Pity, huh?

Regardless of all snarkiness on my part, I am happy that I've leapt this technological bound. New faces are always a joy.

Being responsible for the aesthetics of my blog, on the other hand... This will be my downfall. Please, bear with me (and give me reassuring words, if you feel so inclined), for I realize that my blog, visually speaking, is a massive pile of suck. If there's one thing I am not, it's a visual person, and, while I know how to get all this purdy fancy things on my blog, it's the what/where/why that baffles. There will be more things on the side. There will be some sort of actual format. Hell, there may even be a picture! But for now? You get a massive pile of suck.

And you know what? I can deal with that for the time being.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now that that's out of the way...

Well then...

You'll have to pardon the pretentious prose of the last blog. My own personal guiding light or something along those lines. Proper introductions (as I am fairly certain that my brief time spent in the Chicago theatre scene does not precede me): I'm Paul Rekk. I do theatre shit. Add as many entendres to that as you feel necessary.

I'm starting this blog for a number of reasons while all the while turning a blind eye to the largest reason not to: Jesus H., there's a lot of bloggers out there. Why add to the glut? Good fekkin' question. I'd like to think it's because I have something interesting to say. And really, as far as I'm concerned, I do. Alas and alack, that's an opinion that I don't know is really held by all that many others. Which is why I'm packing backup reasons, because I'm that damn thoughtful.

Along with my self-proclaimed status as a writer, actor, etc., see the description on the side, I'm also a big ol' lazy procrastinator. Really, my follow-through sucks -- hard. This tends to be a negative influence on my artistic output, as procrastination is wont to do. But in some whacked out recess of my mind, it makes perfect sense to take writing time away to maintain this blog in order to convince me to spend the remaining writing time actually, y'know, writing. Don't question it, just play along.

Thirdly -- are we at thirdly yet? -- is largely due to all (well, at least some) of those Jesus H. bloggers out there. I've recently began keeping an eye on a core of Chicago theatre bloggers. It's an inspiring group who are passionate about their art, and, which is even more exciting, are passionate about their art as it relates to Chicago.

But perhaps the best part is how apparent the diversity of the Chicago theatre scene can be made from just a scant few members. There are blogs that regular hit all the right chords (with me, that is), and there are blogs with which I can't seem to find a whole lot of anything to agree on (ed: look at me, making friends already...). But they know what they want and they know what they think and they're willing to state it. And most, most, most importantly: they're participating in an active dialogue. These are the people most responsible for the evolution of Chicago theatre, not only because of their active participation, but because of the constant transmission of ideas amongst one another.

Don Hall's recent 'revolutionary' blog (which was largely responsible for me continuing this blog beyond the manifesto of sorts that began it), is inspiring in its call to arms for the rebels (individuals?) to come out and play, but I would add that the most important quality an individual as such can possess is that rare ability to do their own thing while holding court with those that oppose.

The idea that either everyone is right or no one is right and no matter which, I am as right (or as wrong) as everyone else is the paradox from which the beauty of the artistic process emerges. Ego indeed can be productive, but only when it's willing to play.

But there I go on the pretentious side again (I warn you, it's a personality hazard. If you plan to visit regularly, you may have to brace yourself).

The greater point here is an unabashed dedication to a circle who has no idea of my awareness into which I am about to thrust myself regardless. Consider it a pre-apology as well.