As it now plays, only the 20something’s will laugh—the older more sophisticated theatre patrons will cringe at this show.
-- Tom Williams of http://www.chicagocritic.com/, re: Gutenberg! The Musical!
I laughed at the Jewish jokes. I laughed at the feces jokes. I laughed -- and hard -- at the dead baby jokes. And you can take your 'sophistication' and shove it.
There was talk at Don's place yesterday of artist/audience relations and of artists taking interest in audience wants and needs. Scott, if you're reading, I ask you this: what are your thoughts on the occasions when it's not the self-involved artists who are the elitists, but the self-involved audience?
Friday, June 27, 2008
As it now plays, only the 20something’s will laugh—the older more sophisticated theatre patrons will cringe at this show.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 7:04 AM
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Are you fucking kidding me?
Jesus Christ, I am so goddamn excited for Walking With Dinosaurs you wouldn't believe it. I was that kid that dragged his parents to every fake dino exhibit in a three hour radius; who thought that Reptile Gardens was the ideal family vacation spot; who, when the other third graders were picking Brontosaurus or Triceratops as their favorite dino, was rooting for Ankylosaurus (who, by the way, is gonna! be! at! the! United! Center!). It's going to be me and a bunch of eight year olds. And we're all gonna be freaking out of our minds about dinosaurs! Awesome!
But... Seventy-five bucks is a lot of cash for some robots and, unlike most eight year olds, mi parentas will most definitely not be paying for my ticket, so I'm gonna go ahead and lay all my cards on the table: if you or someone you love just so randomly happen to have the inside track to United Center dino days tix that you aren't going to use, hook a poor brotha up. I literally spent much of last night imitating a T. Rex, I was so damn excited (these sort of things don't seem nearly as dopey at the time, y'know?). So if you happen to be married to the CEO of United or own the Bulls or some shit like that, drop me a line, eh?
So, it looks like Hedy has either answered or thrown a wrench in my Dead Man's Cell Phone/Mysterious Elephant equation. Am I surprised? To a fault. Convinced? Hardly. In agreement? By no means. (Playful ribbing, Hedy, playful ribbing, regardless of how consistently baffling your tastes are to me.) I stand by my pronouncement: as far as I'm concerned, The Mysterious Elephant is the best show currently running in Chicago. Lucky for them, they'll never have to compete with dinosaurs.
Ah, Rogers Park. It's my hood, you know. At least it is for another five days. And if the post-Jeff news is to be believed, I'm leaving just as everything is starting to rock and/or roll.
The Glenwood strip of Lifeline, Theo Ubique (at the No Exit Cafe), BoHo (at the Heartland Studio), and the side project took home a killer 11 awards (and I'm not even counting BoHo's Choreography win for The Life, one of their Theatre Building excursions). For those counting at home, of all the awards that were given out that evening, HALF of them went at least in part to one of these four companies, three of which work in playing spaces that are about the size of my bedroom (in fact, the side project utilize two spaces on Jarvis, both of which are sub-bedroom size). So what's the scoop? After Theo Ubique's Jacques Brel's Lonesome Losers of the Night this weekend, I've seen a little somethin' somethin' from each of the four, and as far as I can see it's just downright dedication.
Lifeline, of course, has their own thing going on. After twenty-five years, they have their claws bone deep in their subscriber base (though, the fact that said base was willing to play along with the ribald Dr. Moreau says a lot for them). But the other three are scrappers, through and through. They've hunkered down in spaces that have no right to call themselves theatres and, by gosh, turned them into real live theatres. They've each got their own special brand of something: the side project's ability to regularly tap the atmospheric power of intimacy; Theo Ubique's willing acknowledgement and embrace of their communal audience environment; and BoHo's (who I am least familiar with, I will admit) stunning disregard for what less creative eyes would see as hindrances in the Heartland Studio -- by far the least stage friendly, in my opinion.
Then there's the bottom line: the work itself. Maybe it's just an unusually talented group of people that have found themselves in Rogers, but I tend to think that, on top of that, ingenuity is also born of circumstances and that not only are we dealing with talented people, but talented people who have willingly placed themselves in less than ideal situations and in time have started to show the rest of the theatre community just how ideal 'less than ideal' can be.
Congrats, Rogers Park, I'll be sad to leave. ATC, as my new next-door neighbor, you've got big shoes to fill.
And tangentially, I give twice the props to the Theo Ubique crew for their dedication in not only performing in the No Exit Cafe but also for serving the dinner beforehand. After Sunday, I'm quite certain that my ninth level of hell is full of old people and rice pudding and it's my damnation to make sure they get to each other.
EDIT: I've snuck back in to change an oopsie. I did the whole Timeline/Lifeline switcheroo -- you know how it is. Thanks to the scholar and gentleman who brought this to my attention and apologies to e'erbody for my lack of editing skills. I also referred to myself as Paul Reek over on Rob K's blog earlier. It's been a rough day, apparently.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 6:47 AM
Monday, June 23, 2008
Whimsy's a weird word. I actually went back and dictionary.com'd it this weekend to make sure my definition was for real. It wasn't. Kind of wasn't. I was leaning towards the 'excessively playful' end of the spectrum, but when the bottom line is 'anything odd or fanciful', the whole concept really turns to mush for me.
Why all the fuss over whimsy? Because I came out of Dead Man's Cell Phone baffled as to all of the whimsy I supposedly missed. The one thing I've managed to pick up from all the Sarah Ruhl rumblings over the past few months is that she's whimsical, whimsical being used in that pejorative sense of a word that has transformed from complimentary quirk to velvet glove insult, i.e. 'twee' or 'hipster'. And I don't see it. And I see it all over the place in Strange Tree Group's The Mysterious Elephant or the Rest of the Really Long Title, which everyone seems to agree is three sorts of awesome. I don't really have a greater point here that I'm aware of. I'm just a little confused.
Personally? I didn't mind Dead Man's Cell Phone. It was, to hearken back to dictionary.com, odd. Not good odd or bad odd, just odd odd. Polly Noonan is some kinda nutty, and whoever she signed a pact with to make her the go-to gal for Sarah Ruhl is some kinda brilliant, for both Noonan and Ruhl's sake. I can't for the life of me divorce Noonan's three sheets to the wind autistic 13-year-old Renee Zellweger routine from Ruhl's writing; and the thing is, I'm fairly certain that it's not a routine, and that, as fucked up as it may seem, an autistic teen viewpoint is the best entry into this script. It took me a good half of the first act to figure the mood out, but managed to settle into it just in time for some extremely touching material. Dwight and Jean's stationary store tryst is a lovely moment and illuminates the tone of the show brilliantly: all of these characters are wonderful, lovely, quirky, beautiful individuals trying to find themselves in themselves and in others. Where Dead Man differs from other shows of this bent is in not letting us into Jean and Dwight's world. The best comparison I could come up with was Amelie from an outsider's perspective. Because let's face it, without the sympathetic exposition, that French chick would be pretty fucking weird.
But therein lies the rub. I get the feeling that it's not Ruhl keeping me at arm's length; I just can't break through whatever the hell it is that Noonan is doing up there. It's great for the show either way, forcing my hand at letting Jean be who Jean is, but it's coming from a place that Noonan seems to have little control over and effectively covers up a couple of the more banal tidbits of Ruhl's words. It seems to be the theatrical equivalent of two wrongs making a right.
And then comes the second act, which I will lovingly refer to as The Hot Mess. This is where Ruhl loses me, and then gets me back, and then shoos me away again. In my post-show mind, Act II consists of four very distinct parts: the Dead Man's Monologue, Jean in South Africa, Jean in Hell, and The Recap. The reason they're so distinct in my mind is that they are so completely discordant with each other that I had to reboot my audience sensibilities for each part -- like a puzzle with four identical square pieces, I can put them together however I want and call it whole, but that doesn't mean the picture will make sense. Each piece of Ruhl's puzzle thrusts itself headlong in a different direction to the point where she's guaranteed herself both a win and a loss. For me the win was in the Dead Man's Monologue and The Recap (even though Jessica Thebus' direction sputtered off into the sunset for this last section), but Jean in South Africa? Big, big loss. Jean in Hell worked to a degree, but only because of the counterbalance of Noonan and Marc Grapey, certainly not Ruhl's meandering. But it's such an odd (again) mix that what works and what doesn't is going to be entirely scattershot throughout any given audience. The lady sitting behind me was quite vocal about how "insultingly offensive" she found the last 20 minutes. My roommate, on the other hand, loved the show. (Random tangent: We and two other pairs sitting around us somehow ended up as the perverse cabal of laughers. I swear to god we were the only ones laughing throughout the show and there were more than a few moments that made us laugh far louder and longer than I think was thought proper. I could feel the hatred beaming from a couple of less enthused audience members.)
I applaud, always applaud, anything that can effectively be that divisive. I would absolutely recommend the show, because it's bound to get you going in one direction or the other, maybe both at times. Nonetheless, almost a week later, the only real taste I still have in my mouth is one of ambiguity. It's odd.
On the flip side, for one of the best second acts I've seen in recent memory, check out The Mysterious Elephant and So On and So Forth. Emily Schwartz and co. are quickly on their way to joining the ranks of capital-s Storefront Somebodies and I wish them well on it. There's something happening among the Strange Trees that isn't happening elsewhere in Chicago and that's about as high of a compliment as I think there is. It's a little bit Edward Gorey, a little bit Raggedy Ann, a little bit meta and a lotta bit hilarious. And if the first half teeters ever so slightly on wearing out its welcome, you couldn't tell from the second act, a flume ride of romance, intrigue, humor and corpses that stops just short in order to punch you in the heartstrings with a painfully gorgeous refrain of "Oh, Elephant". Honestly, Strange Trees, that's really all it took before my belly laughs transformed to welling tears. You've done something magical. Keep doing it.
Also, if you look to your right, you might notice that The Mysterious Elephant and Other Things, Too is the inaugural show in my new Best of the Best section. This is where I put the things that anyone with a heart and a brain, or even just a couple of capillaries, should see. I ain't messing around with no Paul recommends or what to see this week, either. Best of the Best means just that; look to that section for the theatre Chicago should be proud to call its own.
This week's tentative agenda is me continuing to try to pack everything in before the Iowa Excursion: Wednesday is Wicked (because I should see the behemoth once before she leaves), Thursday is Gutenberg! The Musical! at The Royal George, Friday is (finally!) Theater Oobleck's The Strangerer, and Saturday is a double bill of BoHo's Jekyll & Hyde and Blindfaith's Woody Guthrie's American Song.
Also to come: a thought or two on the quickly rising Rogers Park Row (that would be Lifeline, Theo Ubique, BoHo, and the side project for those not familiar), just in time for my departure from the beloved neighborhood. But I've done enough typing for one day.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 2:37 PM
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I think I have a new home, barring any unforeseen circumstances, which, after everything else, I'm totally not barring. Thanks to everyone who offered some ideas or kind words in the meantime. As a result of much of this, I'm going to be taking a ten day caudal autotomy back home to good ol' George, Iowa in mid-July. I'm lucky to be from one of the 16 counties in the state that has not been declared a disaster area, so I'm going to kick back and enjoy my first Iowa summer since I moved to the Windy City three years ago. It's going to kick much ass.
This also means I will be out of the city for two whole weekends, which is a bitch to schedule theatregoing around. I simply won't have enough time to see everything I want to see, which I suppose is a good problem to have. I've already lost A Taste of Honey to the chopping block and there's a couple of others ready to go if moving conflicts become too bad. Boo. Hiss.
Tentatively for this week: Dead Man's Cell Phone at Steppenwolf on Wednesday, Strange Tree Group's The Mysterious Elephant and the Terrible Tragedy of the Unlikely Addington Twins* (*Who Kill Him) on Thursday, Trap Door's Beholder on Saturday, and Theo Ubique's Jacques Brel's Lonesome Losers of the Night on Sunday.
What's happening Friday? Willie Nelson. Willie muthafuckin' Nelson.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 7:01 AM
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Let's talk Documentary Theatre.
Very little will put me on my guard quicker than some sort of pre-show announcement that the contents of the following piece were taken from honest-to-god interviews with honest-to-god people, the sort of announcement that proceeds Steep's production of Greensboro: A Requiem. (I don't recall if Raven's production of columbinus earlier this year had a similar warning, but much of what follows applied there as well, so it's worth noting for sake of example.) The implication seems to be that this is 'real' theatre, that the show holds a greater connection to the world because it was born of the world. These words are lauded because they came from Everyday People who are simply relaying an experience rather than a Writer who is trying to relay her reaction and understanding of the experience through a filter of theatrical effectivity.
It's a stance I'm muddled on, because, while it seems to cheapen the abilities of a writer, it does contain the insurmountable kernel of connectivity, that weird mish-mash of voyeurism and empathy that allows us to feel for people who didn't have an opportunity to plan these words. As muddled as I may be on the validity of the documentary play vs. the fictional play, however, I have an intensely difficult time seeing the value in documentary theatre. Let's say, even for a second, that we do accept the hypothetical position that the Writer cannot approach the same sense of truth as Everyday People; that the documentary play is able to connect us to a deeper sense of humanity through this truth. If so, how are we so willing to find faith of interpretation in the Actors, the same faith that we cannot find in the Writer?
My trouble with DocuTheatre comes down to this: with the emphasis that the genre necessarily places on reality, no performance, no matter how touching, can have the same effect as that of the original speaker. Documentary is an inherently audio/video genre, because they allow for the reality and the initial source to be recorded for future reference. Filmed dramatizations of actions and events for which a camera was not otherwise around to witness are a big enough bugaboo; now take your favorite documentary film and imagine all of the talking head interviews as dramatizations as well, with actors portraying the experts and the witnesses alike.
This is what we are left with in DocuTheatre: dramatizations of Real Words, words which are useless because in the focus on the reality of the piece, we fail to register that we cannot, no matter how Real the Words are, reclaim the Real Emotions -- not in the sense that we are burdening these pieces with. And so the actors are left stranded in no-win situation. No matter how affecting they are, they'll never be able to pluck these words from the same core of necessity as the original speakers. And the unaffecting ones only serve to cheapen the words through maudlin dramatic pauses and well-timed crying. If there is video or audio recording of These People saying These Things, shuffle us into a theatre and play that -- you'll never get anything better.
So there's that. Of course, Greensboro certainly didn't get any help from the fact that it was ridiculously unbalanced and agenda-driven. I know, I know, asking for a show about a conflict that left five dead at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan to be balanced is a hard bargain, and I had pretty much written it off as me tilting against windmills. That is until the end of the first act, which closes on the following line spoken by an anti-Klan activist (I may be paraphrasing a bit): "The biggest mistake we made after World War II was teaching our children that the Nazis were monsters. The Nazis weren't monsters; they were people. That's the problem." Great sentiment -- completely out of step with the rest of the show.
White supremacists, Nazis, skinheads, Klansmen -- all meld together in Greensboro in an almost nameless, faceless, meld of "Bad Guy". The one character from the pro-Klan side of the story who is given a chance to become recognizable finishes the show by asking the character representation of playwright/interviewer Emily Mann whether she got everything she needed from him. Her response is a smirk followed by an "absolutely" drenched in irony. In that one word, any sense of journalism or even interest in the human condition is demolished. It's a useless exchange, one that serves no purpose in the context of the script other than an easy way to undercut the words of a (Real) man that we spent a good chunk of the evening trying to get a grasp of. (The character of Mann, always on stage and almost always engaged, is a huge part of the show's problem. In this situation, I can't help but think that Mann herself is the root of much of this, but she is done no favors by the woman portraying her, with all of the head-nodding, pen-chewing and general emotional guideposting she gives us.)
It's one thing to present a play that is unapologetically one-sided and agenda-driven. I may not enjoy it, but that alone won't bring me to tilt any windmills. But to know better? To end your first act on a sentiment of humanism whose face you have and will continue to spit into? Emily Mann, that's shitty workmanship. Steep Theatre, that's shitty workmanship.
So why does the bioplay get a pass? I saw Pegasus Players' Golda's Balcony the next night, why am I not hanging Janet Ulrich Brooks out to dry because she'll never be the real Golda Meir? I don't know, because she does a great job? Because it's a very good production, anchored by Brooks as well as Tom Burch's kitchen/dining room thrust, set off from the audience by a moat of sand? (Although, Denise Karczewski's distracting and seemingly inane lighting cues about drove me batty until they calmed down thirty minutes or so into the piece.)
Really though, I think there is a reason for the difference. It certainly doesn't hurt that these plays rarely purport to be a direct transcription of the person's words, but in addition to that, these bioplays don't offend our notions of reality because the people they are based on aren't quite real. Whether it's Golda Meir, Danny Kaye or Ann Landers, the subject is already a bit of a character in our minds. Famous faces are a little subreal; we've already fictionalized their lives so it's not quite so much of a stretch to watch someone else be them for an evening. That's not the case with Everyman -- it registers as a triumph for an everyman to suddenly be recognized on stage, in film, or elsewhere for exactly who they are. So when we see them on stage, in film, or elsewhere, we want them to be exactly. who. they. are.
And theatre just can't do that. Theatre can't be Reality. It has to make its own.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 9:46 AM
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
A hearty congratulations to all nominees and winners at the Non-Eq Jeffs, but especially to one Stephen Ptacek and one Signal Ensemble Theatre. Y'all rock the most. And hey, Nick Keenan -- nice to meet ya!
Also: Lookingglass, I'll play your game. You've treated me pretty all right in the past, so I'm just gonna trust your instincts. I'll buy my ticket, I'll set aside The Hypocrites and David Cromer for a night, I'll give you a blank slate, and you won't hear a single "Friends" joke from me.
But don't fuck this up.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 8:48 AM
Monday, June 9, 2008
So I learned last Thursday that I no longer need to look for a new roommate. I now need to look for a new place to live. My landlords have decided that when my roommate moves out, they are going to stop renting out our flat completely. So both myself and my roommate will be relocating in July -- him to New York, me to god knows where (any ideas? suggestions? leads? please?). Two key differences: 1) He has been planning his move for over a year now; me for going on four days. 2) He wants to move; I had planned to stay at my current place of residence (a place of residence that I truly love) for years.
I have a lot of big decisions to be making right now. Which sucks on an immediate scale, but I can't help but be convinced that there is some sort of really amazing opportunity lying beneath all of this. My life on July 1st and my life on July 15th will look vastly different no matter what course I take. There's something immensely frightening and a little bit exciting about that.
I was going to spend this time writing about Die! Mommie, Die! and Beggars in the House of Plenty. You'll pardon me if I give the crib notes, I'm a little preoccupied.
Die! Mommie, Die!: I've got nothing groundbreaking to say, really. Camp only works if the performer really believes what they're doing while realizing deep down that it's ridiculous all the same. David Cerda has it d-o-w-n, down. Some of the other members of the cast, eh, not so much.
Beggars in the House of Plenty: I don't like John Patrick Shanley. There, it's out. That said, I was kind of taken aback at what Kevin Christopher Fox and his uniformly furious (in a good way) cast were able to do with Shanley's script. By mercilessly attacking these words at full-bore and with a distinct threat of everything falling off the rails at any time, the production manages to distill the horror and abstraction of Shanley's memory play and keep it at a pace that twists our neck just as we keep thinking we know what Shanley's deal is.
And then he hangs them out to dry at the very end with a bunch of introspection and monologuing. I don't see that Fox could have improved his staging; there's only so much you can do when your lead character decides to stop for ten minutes to hash out everything that we've just seen. Bravo, Mary-Arrchie. Tsk, John Patrick Shanley.
Like I said, crib notes. Pardon the lack of eloquence. This week's tentative schedule includes picking up a couple o' things before they close: Steep's Greensboro: A Requiem on Thursday, Pegasus Players' Golda's Balcony on Friday, Lifeline's The Mark of Zorro on Saturday, and City Lit's Pudd'nhead Wilson on Sunday.
Off to more apartment hunting...
EDIT: I'm really digging the meme Bilal's got going on over at his place:
1 - Go to Wikipedia Random Article.The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2 - Go to Random Quotations.The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album. (If you want to do this again, you'll hit refresh to generate new quotes, because clicking the quotes link again will just give you the same quotes over and over again.)
3 - Go to flickr's "explore the last seven days". Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. Put it all together, that's your debut album.
Here's my baby and today's latest hitmaker:
Hey, I kinda like that... I may just add one of these to posts at random. Until I tire of it, that is.
Posted by Paul Rekk at 10:04 AM
Sunday, June 1, 2008
...Chicago is the place to be if you know where to look. This weekend I started reading some Georges Perec thanks to the Harold Washington, took in some gigantic stainless steel balloon animal sculptures and basketballs in aquariums thanks to Jeff Koons and the MCA, saw the fantastic new Harmony Korine film and met the director thanks to the Music Box, and watched a rundown of 20th century Anti-Art that was a refreshing review on my opinions of What. Art. Is. For. thanks to Pavement Group's Lipstick Traces.
Everything has been hitting at once -- work issues (my temp contract is up in July -- anybody hiring?), roommate issues (I need to find a roommate starting in July -- anybody looking?), Per Diem issues (the show is going up in... August -- anybody got two extra months they can spare?), and all kinds of random other stuff -- but looking back on that first paragraph, I am able to stop and realize that, all in all, things is cool as long as I know where to keep my focus.
So, Lipstick Traces. Hells yeah. I mean, Pavement Group had an advantage starting out, as any show tracing the history of Dada, Lettrism/Situationism, and Punk and featuring Richard Huelsenbeck, Guy Debord, and Johnny Rotten as primary characters is going to be my thing. But, Jesus, they knocked it out of the park. I don't know if it was potential license troubles or what that led to the "private event/suggested donation/name on the list/go through the back door" rigamaroll, but it was a happy accident if so. From the (back) door, through the industrial stairs, the mid-construction hallway, the corner after corner, and then into the beautiful AV-aerie loft space, the whole thing had such a D.I.Y. party feel to it that by the time I got to my seat, it didn't seem like I was at the Theatre anymore. I was there to chill and see what was going on. I was there because there was the place for me to be.
It's hard to even talk about the show as an entity unto itself. There was a packed house, great music, a D.I.Y. (virgin) bar, and cast and crew members on occasion passing by -- looking to get somewhere or something but not at the expense of too much energy or blood pressure. It was an atmosphere. The place became an atmosphere which, as people started to sit, became a show, which, after a little over an hour, became a party. The show, while the impetus for the evening, wasn't an artifact, but a living, breathing being. Could I pick apart the technical aspects and the performances and all the other building blocks that make a show tick and mention how great they were? Yeah, but I'm not going to, because everything was great. And the stuff that wasn't great was great because it wasn't great. And when everyone cheered and whooped and hollered and applauded and then started dancing and drinking, it wasn't because Pavement Group had put on a Good Show, it was because everyone was having a great time, and after an hour of passively having a great time, it only seemed right that we actively have a great time as well. Congratulations, Pavement Group. This was top-notch work, not least because it never once felt like work.
And if I might allow myself to dig into the ideas of the piece for a moment: I also hit light bulb after light bulb about opinions and civility and art and the world which seem pertinent here.
As I watched these characters: Richard Huelsenbeck, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Guy Debord, The Sex Pistols, all figures whose work is of the highest influence to me, the constant throughline (bluntly pointed out in Lipstick Traces) is disgust. All of this work and these thoughts, the ones that I find the most inspiring in the last century and further, came about because these people were entirely disgusted with the world they saw around them and were completely open to that disgust. The work that I love came about because the people involved fucking hated what everyone else was doing and not only wanted to say so but wanted to say so in such a manner that it would denigrate what everyone else was doing. And this light bulb brought about two little light bulbs, one global and one personal.
First, the global: Wow, what the fuck happened? I posit that the world is not a shiny happy place and that things are not, on the whole, 'better'. And yet we're asking for more peace and civility? As artists? As artists, we have become this concerned with making sure that everything is (or at least looks) okay? That everyone has their equal chance to be heard? And if that's the case, where are the people shouting out, "Okay, it's my equal chance to be heard and X, Y, and Z fucking blow and should be put out of their god forsaken misery because that bullshit doesn't deserve its equal chance!"? How sanitized are we? How much do we care if other people like us and our work? How much do we care if we like us and our work? Are we really spending time trying to figure out the best way to be honest? What happened to passion? Why don't we combine honesty with passion and let god pick up the pieces, if he even cares to? Is it productive? Fuck productive. Productive implies a goal. An endgame. A mission. Fuck missions. What's going on right now? What are you thinking right now? That's art.
Second, the personal: I'm not entirely disgusted with the world I see around me. Which is partly true and partly my own fiction. I was raised a nice Iowa boy in today's sanitized society, so to a certain degree it's been part of my worldly upbringing to look for the good in everything. And I think that I tend to find it, as well. So how do I reconcile that with these influences and interests and beliefs that I hold? How do I reconcile the fact that I don't contain nearly the hatred required to justify the last paragraph? And I came to a sorta realization: I do have that kind of disgust somewhat regularly, but I let it pass because I know it will. And it doesn't emanate from my reaction to people or the world or anything so mundane. It comes through art. I often refer to it as me being overly critical or tough to please or being a perfectionist. That's kinda bullshit. What's the purpose of those self-critical terms? It's essentially me apologizing for having an opinion. Saying, "Well, I didn't like it, but don't worry about my opinion, I'm too tough a judge.", more or less. Well, fuck that. I'm not overly critical -- there's just a lot of shit in the world. My job as an artist is not only to create shit that counters that shit, but also to acknowledge to myself and anyone interested, listening, curious, whatever, what is and is not shit. Because giving shit a pass doesn't help anyone.
Of course, this is the part where I normally say something along the lines of, "Of course, anyone else should be willing to have the same views and blah blah about subjectivity and me being just as open for criticism", but fuck that. They can figure it out for themselves or they can't. I'm not here to teach, I'm here to speak.
But let's take it one step at a time. 'Cause vitriol is only partially my bag. There's that other part that does divorce people from their works and has no interest in tearing down the people as (or if) I tear down their work.
However, that first step at a time did come the very next day, in what may prove to be a trial by fire for my reignited sense of vigor. Because I went to Halcyon's Henry IV on Sunday and did something I had never done before in my life -- I left at intermission. Not that that implies that it was the worst show I've seen in my life, just that it happened to be the first bad show I've seen since said reignition. And it was pretty damn bad. It's a wordy, wordy, rough and tumble script. And a hurdle for a cast of any ability. That's an observation on my part -- not an excuse. Some fared better than others, but this entire cast generally just got beat bloody, black and blue by the Pirandello's text. In the case of a few of the actors, I'd question if they even know what exactly they are reciting, or if the amount of words coming out of their mouth is simply taking too much focus to worry about anything else but the next time they get to stop talking. And the thing is, it's a wordy script, but it's generally not heightened language. It may not be contemporary, but it's conversational English. And it has been taken and turned into a foreign language by a lack of connection on the speaker's part. I mentally skipped out on quite a bit towards the end of the first act, because it simply wasn't worth going through the effort to interpret what these people were overacting in what's supposed to be my native language.
So I left. And that's all I really have to say about that.
This week's tentative schedule? Insanely light for once! Finally making up Hell in a Handbag's Die! Mommie, Die! on Thursday, and... that's it!
Really, though, anyone hiring, looking for a well-priced swank-ass place to live, or have two extra months? If so, talk to me...
Posted by Paul Rekk at 6:12 PM