Don Hall said something to me about Metaluna after the show on Saturday that took a few days to sink in properly: (apologies Don, I'm paraphrasing) "It's like a send-up of everything WNEP does." As I reflect on Metaluna and the last Soiree DADA and try to get myself in the mindset of the Christmas Soiree, that begins to make sense. Where does DADA end and absurdism begin? Throughout Metaluna, despite having a blast or maybe because I was having a blast, I couldn't help but wonder where it was all leading. Not that the endgame was important so much as the fact that the show seemed to be leading somewhere, anywhere, with a whole lot of pit stops on the way. Fun pit stops. Whimsical pit stops. Relatively inconsequential pit stops.
There's a temptation here to lead this into yet another What Is DADA discussion. To say, "It was fun, but perhaps it wasn't DADA." I'm trying to steer clear from that, half because it's a fruitless discussion, and half because I'm aware of just how beside the point that statement is. It was fun. That's really all I need to say from that standpoint; after all, I don't demand that everything (or even much) that I enjoy be DADA, why force Metaluna into that heading?
The reason that this still seems somewhat pertinent, though, is the preparation for the next Soiree DADA. Because tides seem to be changing -- WNEP has crafted (is crafting) the art of the DADA into quite a fashionable little Chicago underground subsect. Which:
a) is awesome.
DADA has become acceptable enough for the DCA, a division of the City government, to be eager for it to return -- which seems to demand action. My personal brand of DADA is far from political: it certainly works entirely separate from any notion of Government. But it is very much anti-government (i.e. refuses to be governed). DADA is what shouldn't be. DADA is shift. DADA is not necessarily offense, but can overstep that line at the jump of a hat. DADA is that tickly feeling sucking at my entrails when you do things you shouldn't because that alone means you should. DADA is not audience interaction. DADA is audience interaction. DADA is audience revulsion and audience immersion and audience division and audience revolution and audience sublification and interspartification and bioemulsion and deoxyspasmordiosis. DADA will eat your children and spit out the bones and then tell their future based on how they lie. DADA will shit on your childhood pet. DADA will love you forever. DADA is what I want it to be and what I want it to be is whatever you don't.
So look, I made this into a what is DADA rant anyway.... To which I have to say:
b)Fuck you anyway.
...depending on the hour and the tidal/lunar pull. I'm just getting in tune. Right in tune.
Those weren't even the Steps Forward I had intended to write about -- that was just unexpected riffing. The Steps Forward are the very basic reveal of that big old project I had mentioned a while back. You see, I have been building the foundation for a nine play cycle to begin in May of 2010 and last 2 1/2 years (1 show per quarter and the finale six months after). These are mostly old scripts, with a couple -- 2 1/2 -- of my own mixed in. But it is all new work: if the words aren't new, the conceptualizations or adaptations most certainly are. There are two strong ideas at work behind the piece, and in today's tradition of providing two options, they are:
a) the idea of Theatre as Art, not Business; and
b) the questioning and reanswering of what makes theatre theatre: what we can and cannot include and disclude in the form and what both audiences and artists will and will not accept as a (part of) theatrical production
The former seems simple, and it is, but perhaps not readily so. You see, this is not a project aligned with any theatre company, and I even hesitate to refer to it as self-produced. It's self-induced. This is one large scale, long-term event consisting of nine smaller, shorter-term, stand-alone events. This is not self-sustaining, this is neither for profit or not for profit, this is nine shows and done, never to be done again. Simply a creation of temporary reality. This will be funded by whatever means possible (believe me, one mean possible will involve you hearing from me in the future), with the goal, in an ideal world, of arriving back at zero, as if nothing ever happened. Most importantly, this will not be a pay-per-view event(s): the ticket policy is most decidedly Pay What You Want (not Pay What You Can) for all seats for all shows.
The latter is where things get really fun. This is where I will delve much further in future discussions (or even more immediately if you want to know more -- feel free to contact me at any time with further inquiries about anything), but let's start by saying the process is very much part and parcel with the title of the overarching work:
It's one rendition I've found, I'm sure there will be multiple incarnations of the greek cross, primarily of this particular hue. That's the official title, though you'll hear me refer to it just as frequently as The Nine. Why the greek cross? A number of reasons -- the one I want to start with is that each of the shows aligns with a section of the cross. Divide the cross into eight portions (the four arms, and the center cube quartered on the diagonals), with the ninth spot as the center point. The cycle of shows will begin on the uppermost arm, cycle the arms clockwise, spiral into the uppermost center section, cycle the inner cube clockwise, and finish at the center. Each pairing (up, down, left and right) of the cross is representative of a different aspect of the theatrical form which the two shows on that branch will bring into focus. Naturally, as we spiral inward, the shows will become more and more challenging of the assumptions about how they relate to theatre. Very basically, four aspects approached will be (starting from the top and working clockwise) setting, sound, character, and plot, with the ninth piece a full-bore attack on what the conventions of theatre artistry must and may be. I'm loathe to relay exactly what all nine shows will be (although they are all nine in the far advanced stages of planning already), but I will go so far as to share that One is a restaging of Eric Bogosian's SubUrbia and Two is a selection of radio-themed one acts: Samuel Beckett's Words and Music, my own Peculiar Way, and Jean Cocteau's The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party. I can also say that The Nine will run the gamut from Shakespeare to Jarry to yours truly and many points in between.
SubUrbia will open May 21st, 2010. The goal is to spend the rest of this year and all of next finishing my outlining and pre-planning process and raising funds. My intended budget for the project is $50,000. I know that $50,000 for nine full-sized productions in Chicago is quite a low goal, but I am sticking to my guns on Theatre as Art and forcing myself to be creative. I also feel that I can stick with such a low budget because I will not solely be asking for funds -- my marketing and development campaign, which I will be kicking off in the next month or so, will also be formulated to gather support in other ways: talent, time, space, creativity, as well as funding.
Consider this the official first announcement. I will be setting up separate accounts and the like for The Nine immediately, but for the next week or two, I encourage everyone reading this to contact me at p.rekk(at)hotmail(dot)com -- hopefully, you will have questions and be looking for more specified information (which I might gladly provide). Even more hopefully, you will be offering your support: even if it is nothing solidified at this time, simply a note saying, "Hey Paul, I'm interested, feel free to tap me as a resource as the project gains legs." is helpful. Anything solidified would be drop dead amazing -- money (all funds will go to the shows, any profits from a show will go back into the next shows, any profits left from the final show will be given to a theatrically aligned charity to be chosen soon), time (while I don't have spaces confirmed, I do have timelines that will be met come hell or high water, so I can give you dates as far ahead as June of 2012, when the final show opens), space (this will be perhaps the biggest help -- if you have or are associated with a rehearsal or performance space that you are willing to let me use for a discounted rate or even free, let's compare calendars), or even creativity (I will be looking for good minds to bounce things off of as this thing gets going) are more than welcome.
The big question is, naturally, why. And there is no mission statement, no outline of goals, no wishy-washy funder-baiting crap that I will be providing. This is art. This is art that does not exist in Chicago, very likely not elsewhere either. This is art that whether it changes the world or not, will exist for a very short time -- 2 1/2 years to be exact -- and will then disappear, except in the minds of those who took part, where it will live forever and then beyond that. This is art that, like all art, must exist, simply because the alternative is it not existing. Be a part of that.
Again, this is a call to everyone reading this. Not just the bloggers, not just the theatre people, not just the artists, and finally, not just the vocal ones. Everyone, whether we've met or not, whether I know you or you know me or not. We will, and this is how.