Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Party Of One/The Ox-Herder's Tale

Kinda got a good news/bad news thing going on today...

It's good to know there's balance in the universe, I suppose. I keep finding things I feel confident in putting in my Best of the Best section, but at the same time, it seems to be a landmark year for unapologetically bad theatre as well, to the point where it's almost tempting to keep a running Hall of Shame going for all the shit-ass work that I keep seeing.

The latest on the list is Noel Williams' Party Of One, which luckily enough closed on Monday night. It's a one-woman clown show, which is an instant draw for me thanks to the really inspiring lessons I've taken from the little bit of clown training and work that I have done. Unfortunately, I tend to forget that, much like the improv world, good clown work is hidden deep beneath a bunch of yahoos who throw on a red nose and expect people to automatically pony up some cash to listen to their jokes or attempts there at. Noel Williams is apparently a Pochinko trained clown, which I was unfamiliar with, but after some quick research, it would appear that the Pochinko technique is not laid out as 'talk really fast and move your hands a lot', so I'd question how much of the training stuck.

Williams has created a piece about love. The finding and losing of it, the uncomfortable points in between, the whole kit and caboodle. It's a piece begging to be filled with vulnerability, and there's no vulnerability like clown vulnerability. But instead, every human self-defense mechanism Williams would ideally be commenting on through reveal she ends up using as a performer as well. Not as much laughter as you expected? Repeat, repeat, repeat! And try it faster! Oh, and if you move really fast too, everyone will assume you're entertaining them! But it's not enough that Williams runs through every 'look at me' trick in the book (hint: it's a one-woman show, you don't have to get our attention, only keep it). This also happens to be a show with audience interaction! And it's the most one-sided audience interaction I've ever seen. There could have been two dozen hat stands sitting there instead of us and Williams would have treated them the same. If you ask an audience member a question, rhetorical or not, Yes it absolutely does matter how they respond. Choose the script over the reality at your own peril.

This was never better illustrated than during an utterly random religious interlude in which she shamed the audience for being uncomfortable around the idea of Christianity on stage. The idea of Christianity on stage being her repeating "Jesus Bible" over and over until it is 'funny' (a word losing its meaning more rapidly as the minutes tick by). 'Cept we weren't uncomfortable. A third of the audience was laughing with her and I can only assume the rest were, like me, trying to figure out how the hell she segued into this from a midgetized non-sequitur version of Gone With The Wind, a bit (and nothing more, believe me) that she also pulled out of an increasingly puzzling nowhere that was beginning to look startlingly close to stand-up comedy. But we weren't uncomfortable. I say that confidently because I don't remember the last time I've met someone who took offence at the utterance of the words 'Jesus Bible'. No commentary on them, just the words themselves -- it's the Not Even Trying technique of clowning. Williams' response? "JesusBibleJesusBibleJesusBibleJesusBible", laugh, and bewilderingly move on.

But I knew the show was dead, buried and rotting for me when she Williams chose to up and tackle my biggest dealbreaker: shitty music design. Keep in mind, this is a show with a sound design that consisted of nothing more than train noises in the first five minutes and an onstage fan that irritatingly remained on without being used for the last third of the show, providing a taunting, sleep-inducing white noise. And suddenly, ten or fifteen minutes from the end, Williams begins some sort of equally uninduced crypto-religious flying/death/love/heaven segment, and who fades in? Get ready for a ride on the Obvious Express: David Bowie. Space Oddity. Yes, she totally went there. And it wasn't even curtain music, which is an equally bad, but understandable choice. This was apparently just the one segment of the show that needed accompaniment -- you know, just in case the ball peen hammer she was using to drive the imagery into your head wasn't quite heavy enough.

Nothing. I have nothing good to say about this show. Her suitcases put in a decent performance. I suppose I didn't have an epiliptic fit at any point. Is that positive? It's about the best I can come up with.


Now, to redeem myself in the eyes of those who are faint of heart at negativity, a good show!

I've seen two shows by Blair Thomas & Co. in the last month or so, and they've got a helluva track record so far. The Ox-Herder's Tale revealed itself to me much the same way as Cabaret Of Desire. I'm not a big puppetry guy -- it's a fascinating art form and I'm in awe at those who do it well (as Blair Thomas as well as Co. do), but I tend to have an initial reaction (as I did with both Cabaret and Ox-Herder's) of questioning the purpose. When the goal is realism with the puppets, how is it any more than a parlor trick -- you certainly won't get more expression from a puppet than a human and only the best even approach equal amounts, so what drives the decision to use puppetry, other than a sense of Look What I Can Do? I understand Henson and the Muppets and other forms that bring the fantastical or otherwise unrealizable into the picture (it's also why I was a little quicker to get into the surreal Cabaret than the contemplative Ox-Herder's), but I have occasional difficulty with the reasoning behind having puppets do what humans could be doing just as well.

And yet, as a huge credit to Thomas, after 15-20 minutes, I'm completely hooked, at one point watching a puppet sit alone in the lotus position on stage with a mix of fear and desire that it's going to stand up by itself. The show revolves around an extended dance/movement piece between the bunrakued titular puppet and a stiltwalker dressed as an ox. A dance/movement piece that did to me for stilts what Cirque de Soleil did for the Wheel of Death, i.e. "I could totally do that! I wanna do that! Why am I not doing that?" And then, just as it seemed the show was going to go for a whole lotta spectacle with a little bit of meditative thematic content (which I would have been fine with), it sat down and went utterly Zen -- ending on a ten minute or so meditation on a sky blue to blood red back screen to the hypnotic improvised drumming of Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang. Depending on who you ask, it was either transcendent or torture. Count me among the former.


As I mentioned, tonight is SITI's Radio Macbeth at Court. As for this weekend, I'm DADAing up on Friday night (Come meet [g]nimbus, he hasn't been known to bite. Yet.) and then hitting Trap Door's The Unconquered on Saturday and TUTA's Romeo and Juliet on Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Six Degrees Of Separation

Duality's the name of the game in Six Degrees. It's an obvious thematic thread -- the double-sided Kandinsky, the two (plus) faces of Paul -- the whole show revolves around people putting on airs. To mount this show successfully requires an almost two-faced approach: a Side A/Side B contrast that doesn't exist to comment on itself, but to provide the piece with a commonality to Paul, a link between us and him. Because Paul does not succeed at being a con man -- he gets very little money and spends it almost instantly, he returns to the same 'victims' repeatedly, he hasn't much desire to actually get away with anything. No, Paul is only a con man by definition. What he (and the same went for his real life counterpart) succeeds at so well is being an intrigue, which is his bottom line goal. To be among people who put stars in your eyes and to have them all wanting to look only at you -- if that's not a cornerstone of the American Dream, I don't know what is. Paul's seemingly unorthodox method is to put on a different persona to wow whoever needs wowing. This, of course, is actually quite standard issue, a literalization of the palm greasing we each do on a daily basis. And the strongest way to open this direct line to the audience to me seems to be an equally multi-fac(et)ed experience -- a show that provides multiple things for multiple people, if at the expense of a core One Truth to stand on.

There are any number of ways this multiplicity could be approached, and I think Signal's hooked onto something good in their caged-in dancefloor of a stage in the round. The in the round approach, complemented by a box seats setup, slightly raised stage, and low clearance lighting, places the performers on the defensive, trapped in our sights try to intrigue their own way to acceptance. It's one level of duality -- fourth wall vs. no. When speaking to us, the cast (and particularly Jon Steinhagen and Susie Griffith as the Kittredges) aren't relaying events, they are telling a story: embellishing at points, making jokes -- at times at the expense of the other, a bevy of tactics intended to wow us, the mute and judging witnesses. Build that fourth wall back up and the show becomes Paul's game, a man so far on the defensive that it works all the way back around again to offensive. Or perhaps more fittingly, Paul is playing the game so much more vigorously than anyone else that they don't even recognize it. But we do -- even if we don't see the meta- in our place as the Kittredges of the larger scale.

The other big duality pulled out by director Ronan Marra is the level of intimacy. This particular production feeds on a lifeblood of minimalism. The soft moments -- Eric Lindahl's Trent having true human contact pried from him and then, in rapid succession, denied again; the silence in Steinhagen's eyes after he uncharacteristically lashes out at his wife; most any of the hushed light, pacing animal monologues -- are the theatrical equivalent of hook, line, and sinker. It's the maximal moments that become a little sloppy. Not that they certainly aren't a true counterpoint, but compared to the knife's edge precision of the little moments, the big ones (a three family parent/child powwow; the opening bumrush of snap snap snap exposition) seem to stumble over their own feet a little. Which is unfortunate, because the one moment where they collide -- Aaron Snook's monologue as Rick, which starts without a fourth wall and builds one up brick by desolate brick -- shows just how much power is contained in the match.

And yet, when I look back, the line that truly, truly sticks with me is one that could easily become a throwaway in other hands. After being harangued by his ex-wife by way of his son, Dr. Fine turns to the audience and says, good-natured but with a sense of lost hope, "There are two sides to every story." It's the line I'm most interested in because it's the side I never get to hear. And it's what makes the show (Guare's and Signal's) work -- the most intriguing story is the one you don't know, the one you only know of. In Six Degrees, even the characters we know most about, the ones who try their hardest to explain themselves to us, only explain away the things they think we want to hear. And for us, as it is with Paul for them, the most interesting part is that we may never know the most interesting part.


P.S. the Goodman chick lied to me -- O'Neill Festival tickets are on sale now. But thanks to my obssesive compulsive internet tendencies, I uncovered this info sooner than later. I've got my O'Neill Explorer pass, when are you getting yours? I don't care whether or not you support the Goodman, but let's support the Goodman supporting experimental theatre, eh?


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Brothers Karamazov/Gatz

If you had told me months ago that two of the best theatre experiences I would have thus far this season would be epic literary adaptations (of Dostoevsky and Fitzgerald, no less), I would have told you that you obviously didn't know where my tastes lie. Consider my hypothetical foot firmly in my hypothetical mouth. Last week I spent close to 11 hours in two shows within one block of each other right off Michigan Ave., and never once checked my watch.

I can't think of a more fittingly named/themed company than Lookingglass. Not to belabor the allusion, but the place truly is a wonderland, and one of their biggest strengths as a company is the ability to use the theatre and its surprises judiciously. Whereas other spectacular companies build shows up to the big gravity-defying cliche of a flying climax, Lookingglass (and in this particular case, adapter/director Heidi Stillman) moves ahead with pared down, black box, minimalism punctuated by pitch perfect head-turning moments of surprise -- little things: characters climbing ladders to nowhere, honest to god grave sites, a dog -- that in the grand scheme of things aren't all that tremendously high-tech, but wow all that much more because we didn't imagine them going into the moment.

The Brothers Karamazov is a perfectly executed example of this. I'll warn you now that I have no idea how this production compares to the novel or to Dostoevsky as a whole because (here's where I show my cultural pygmy side) I've never read any of his works. It's part of the reason I was not expecting to terribly enjoy the show -- I've always attached Russian lit. and 'boring' at the hip, perhaps unfairly, but nonetheless...

What I can tell you is that this thing blisters. Starting with the Gogol Bordello-esque (Was it Gogol, anyone? I'm not familiar enough to know.) pre-show music, part of Ray Nardelli's evocative music design, the show tilts between action a little too big for its britches and silence with tension of the high-wire variety. The reason it works so well is not because the show rides that fence, but that it regularly hops on either side. Joe Sikora's Dmitri is a little too high stakes, Philip R. Smith's Ivan a little too sarcastically smarm, and Doug Hara's Alyosha a little too unflappable, all three of which set us up perfectly for the Act Three inversion. But then, by the same token, the reenactment of the Grand Inquisitor dream and the Ivan/Alyosha philosophical discussion leading up to it were breathless -- a marvelous example of Still Theatre that maintains a tight audience grip.

And in the end, it's the little tweaks that make the whole big ol' thing worthwhile. Be it a revolving house or a ringing bell or a sparky supporting turn (Eva Barr, Lawrence Grimm, and Steve Key in particular), the whole thing adds up to three plus hours surprisingly quickly.

Nothing quite compares to seven and a half hours, though, to which my invisible hat goes off to Elevator Repair Service for transforming a reading of the Great American Novel into the Great American Reenactment. Because, as much of a maven as I am for the experimental and the avant-garde, the reason Gatz works for almost an entire workday is not the concept or the individuality. This is damn well-executed theatre right down to the meat and potatoes of it. I'm not even going to attempting the hopeless task of singling out any one particular aspect; every last inch of heart that went into every inch of this show is completely visible. If every show could uphold that level interest on the part of the performers (on and back and prestage) for even an hour and a half, we wouldn't have to worry about running anybody out of town, high noon or otherwise. When artists are able to recognize that what happens onstage can't hold a candle to the idea that it really is happening to those involved, that's when the magic happens. That's when things really are the Best of the Best, and both of these shows very much belong there.

This week it was Signal's Six Degrees Of Separation on Thursday and then opening a muthafucking DADA soiree! Thank god for short work weeks -- I'm gonna need one after this. Also, leading into the T-giving, I'm filling my plate as full as I can (get it?). Monday is Noel Williams' Party Of One, Tuesday is Blair Thomas & Co.'s The Ox-Herder's Tale and Wednesday is SITI Company's Radio Macbeth. And then a lot of eatin's. Hooray!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh, snap!

So, there's a very interesting conversation at Tony's place about content with asides as to how content-driven discussion begs for honesty over beating around the bush. And in the midst of that talk, I stumbled across Randy Hardwick's review of La Costa's The Devil's Daughter. It's one of the rarely seen Not Recommended reviews (the show has been taking a hit elsewhere as well), and it closes with this sentence:

"[Director Jonathan] Hymen, who is also La Costa’s artistic director, has taken this once promising, now struggling company a giant leap further down the role [sic] to hell with this choice."

Oh, damn! Randy went there! $64,000 question: Is that striking, honest criticism or just a dagger in La Costa's side?

The caveats: 1) I make it no secret that I take issue with, Tom Williams' little compendium of Why I Liked This Show, from time to time. However, Hardwick is far and away the best contributor to the site, so I'm approaching this review as actual, credible criticism.

2) I have never been to a La Costa production, largely because their programming is the sort that makes me want to never go to a La Costa production. True story: upon reading the promo material for Stuck, their last show (Six people! One subway car! Stuck! Now they sing and dance!), I turned to my roommate and requested that he shoot me in the face if I ever wrote or conceived anything even remotely similar. I'm holding him to that. The Devil's Daughter, if the reviews are to be believed (personal aside: I'm believing them), is a half-assed magic show with a quarter-assed script crumpled up and tossed on top.

So, here's the conversation starter: Should bad theatre be run out of town at high noon? If we are to improve as an artistic community, do we build or do we burn or can we do both? Do we owe it to each other as fellow artists and humans to find the silver lining so that our own silver lining will hopefully be seen on our lesser days? Is it our responsibility to call out bad theatre or do we let the audiences learn for themselves at the risk of losing a couple?

I'm a rabblerouser, I'm sure it's no surprise where I stand. But I am curious to see the if we can make the content discussion already happening a little more content-based.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Kinda disappointed with Arrangements. (I saw a preview performance. Don't know what that's worth to you, I just know that people like being told about these things.) As is probably evident from the number of mentions it's received on this blog, Pavement Group's Lipstick Traces secured them a high spot on my 'companies to watch' list. Unfortunately, my second go 'round with them wasn't nearly so fruitful. Another experience that left me with very little to think about after, thus, very little to talk about here. Part of the problem was Ken Weitzman's script, which revolves around five intertwined folk who live out their extreme neuroses in some sort of vacuum-sealed bizarro Charlie Brown world (aside from an unresolved red herring of a homeless man, any ancillary characters are piped in from offstage like so many Peanuts adults). These characters saunter between platitudes and sitcom dialogue in relationships that make sense only to the extent of that's how Weitzman wrote it, so deal.

The only way I can see this play even remotely landing is through absurdity, absurdity, absurdity. And that's where I thought director Meghan Beals McCarthy was going when Heidi Koling came out in a fat suit to portray the morbidly obese Donna. But no sirree, she emoted right through that thing, as did everyone else in a production full of silence and emotional pause for characters that for the most part are so out there that we can only wonder at whether they truly feel anything.

Which makes me wonder the reason for the fat suit. I don't remember Weitzman calling for it in the script (but please, correct me if I'm wrong), and if it's not to be used as a distancing device, only a couple of other options pop in my mind immediately: either there's some sort of moral behind it (which, if so, was entirely lost on me -- I'd also pin some of that on Weitzman's jerky structuring) or it's a way to allow an actress to play a part she's not the right size for (which, with major ongoing conversations on gender and race equality on stage and behind the scenes, seems to be a somewhat foolhardy choice in today's society of everybody gets some). Plus, it's a fat suit in a small non-eq production. While it was well-achieved, this isn't a Big Momma's House budget we're talking; everyone's gonna know and be focused on the fact that it is, in fact, a suit. Much the same way I've spent so much time talking about it -- it's what stands out, sucking focus from everything else.

Eddie Murphy has done for the fat suit what Mike Myers did for bad British accents, but can anyone think of any straight-laced dramatic uses of the fat suit that were worthwhile? I'm not saying there aren't any, just that I sure can't think of them.


This week is Lookingglass' The Brothers Karamazov on Wednesday, Elevator Repair Service's Gatz on Friday and Factory's Bustin' Out Of The Hell on Saturday. How's that for a mix? Also, Signal Ensemble opens John Guare's Six Degrees Of Separation next Monday. I sat in for their first run-through a week or two back, and if that's any indication, you're in for a treat. As usual, if this is the first you've heard about it, you're probably too late for opening night tix, but that's all the more reason to grab tickets for another performance now before someone else grabs 'em for you.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obligatory Post-Election Post

Actually, I'm gonna try and kill as many birds as possible with one blog entry, but we'll start with the political angle.

Through a number of conversations with friends this week I discovered that I was a little off the mark with my views of how the political process has become disheveled. I also came to understand a little better exactly why it is I am a non-voter.

I take back all I may have said online or off about the election becoming a spectator sport and the equivalent to a college football rivalry. The media coverage of the event most certainly has regressed into that sort of loyalty-baiting, crashing helmets imagery, but, from what I witnessed Tuesday night, this sort of branding has not been able to infect the greater public. What I witnessed as the night went on and in the days after was, for the most part, not reactionary, bragging rights-driven competition for the sake of beating the other guy. Granted, there are a few idiots out there who get swept up in the excitement of it all and can't see past the red state/blue state map and percentage reporting signs, but you're gonna have those people anywhere. And yeah, the next day, there were a few morons out there who couldn't help but start every conversation with, "Boy, I wonder how the Republicans feel right now", but those people are bound to show up to the party, too. What I mostly saw was, for a word that has been tossed around offhandedly for the last few months, genuine hope.

I am very much an individualist. Mixed in with that individualism is a healthy dose of idealism. This results in an unerring sense of 'it'll all work out', but with a lot more immediacy than that mindset usually presents. The idealist side of me is convinced that things will be okay, and the individualist side knows that things will be okay because if they are not, I will do what I need to do to make them so. For the record, I also stand by the fact that, to this point, the view has completely worked. I'm in a very happy place right now because of the sometimes very large and less than certain decisions that I have made while in situations that were much less happy. And to me, this is an approach that is universally appropriate. No matter the sociopolitical landscape, my ability to enjoy the world that I live in is far and away most directly connected to the choices I make for myself. It's in the realization and taking charge of that fact that I place myself in the observer role in the political process. As I said to a friend on Tuesday night, the man in the Oval Office has no effect on what I achieve; only on how I go about achieving it.

But something sunk in while I watched footage of thousands and thousands of tear-streaked Americans in Grant Park on Tuesday night. For most of these people, Obama was the only possibility for hope they had in this thing. That, rather than "it'll all work out", for millions of Americans, Obama in office was the only representation they could find for the faith that they had lost in the potential for true optimism for our society. That, for many of my friends and for hundreds of thousands of people who flocked downtown just to be near this singular happening, President-Elect Obama was the signifier that things can be okay. And while this makes no effect in my decision to be a non-voter -- in my vision, it is in my power to make things some sort of okay for myself no matter the man in office -- it does rekindle the awareness that to a lot of people, and a growing number at that, the election and the President who emerges is not (as the media coverage would have me believe) just another contest, another opportunity to gloat over your fellow man. For a massive number of people, our President-Elect is the hinge on which their future lies, which isn't a mindset I am able to tap into necessarily, but it certainly is a beautiful thing to watch.

McCain in office would have had the potential to present many more obstacles to my contentment, but by the same token, I appreciate little more than a good challenge. However, as much beauty can be found in hardship and necessity and people working through them, there nothing that quite compares to seeing the people I love and cherish truly happy. I was in a room full of them on Tuesday night, and as much as I could have reacted equally to the cold, hard results of the election either way, there was only one direction I wanted the warmth and fraternity of the atmosphere to take, and that was cheering, tears of joy, wide grins, and a crashing tide of hope.

I did not vote. I still have no desire to have cast a ballot in this election or to do so in the future. Things would have worked out and the world would have moved on either way, as it was bound to do, and I would much rather observe. But I am tremendously glad that Obama won, for the sake of those I hold dear.


It's pretty safe to say that the Edward II/Cabaret Of Desire entry has been lost to other topics. Here's the short version that may come up in other conversations or future entries:

I really enjoyed Edward, but it got me thinking a lot about the promenade style and how it is most effective. There seemed to be two schools of thought running parallel in one show: the Hypocrites/Sean Graney 'bring the audience into the play' self-awareness and the Chicago Shakes/Jeffrey Carlson 'create a new 360 degree fourth wall' traditionalism. Both work (though not perhaps at the same time), but there are a lot of interesting questions about how, when, and why each approach works. I tend to think the fourth wall approach works a little better in this situation, in which the audience is still very removed from the period and language presented. It's also, I believe, why The Hypocrites' Miss Julie didn't quite work for me. I love the execution, but there's a certain distance from the actual events taking place that make it really hard for an audience to feel as though they are truly implicit in the work. There has to be either an entry point of familiarity for us or a conceit, such as As Told By The Vivian Girls' paper doll masks, to assist us in bridging the gap.

As you can tell by its standing over in The Best of The Best, I really enjoyed Cabaret Of Desire. Blair Thomas & Co. have truly embraced the surrealism of Lorca's work and have presented it as is, rather than trying to imbue explanation. It's a gorgeous work and it got me thinking about the fine line between dada and surrealism and how much of it boils down not to symbology or meaning so much as the idea behind whether or not such symbology is present. Whereas dada freely exercises the fact that there is no meaning, surrealism thrives not on the meaning itself, but the notion that somewhere, deep inside, some idea of meaning is lying dormant. The show closes this weekend, so get out and see it.

Also interesting was my decision to list Cabaret but not Edward in The Best of The Best. My enjoyment of them was about the same, and I hemmed and hawed about whether I was going to include Edward as well, but in the end it came down to the fact that, while I enjoyed Edward in execution despite a few theoretical glitches, I enjoyed Cabaret in execution despite a few performance glitches (Chimera, one of the first pieces, really had me worried that I was in for a long evening). I guess that means I hold theoretical achievement a little higher than technical achievement. What that means in a wider scale, I have no idea, but it struck me as an observation worth acknowledging.


Best news of the week:

The calendar for Goodman's O'Neill Festival is officially set, and, despite the fact that I will be rehearsing/teching/opening ...And They Put Handcuffs On The Flowers with The Right Brain Project during that time and also the fact that some of these productions are running as few as three performances, I will be able to make it to all seven of the visiting shows. Ironically, I'm still undecided if I'm actually going to take in the Goodman production of the Festival. There is very, very little that I have been as excited for this year as this line-up. Tickets go on sale December 5th, and you better believe I will be one of the first to have some.

Also, I received a flyer for Chicago Shakes' World's Stage shows and they seem to be continuing the tradition of a slate of shows that sound mostly interesting but not much more capped by a piece that looks to blow my socks off. This, my friends, is going to rock.


And last but certainly not least, D-Hall tagged me for a meme (EDIT: Laura got me, too!), so I may as well play along.

Seven random and/or weird facts about myself:

1. I am a Christmas baby. I was born on December 23rd, and yes, it sucks. However, you are all invited plenty in advance to my 34th birthday blowout bash from Dec. 23-25, 2016. In honor of surviving longer than Jesus, I will be postponing our annual birthday competition and celebrating only my birth with three days of debauchery. And gifts. Birthday gifts. Not Christmas gifts and definitely not one gift to celebrate both occasions. We hate that shit.

2. I will eat pretty much anything you place in front of me. The only three foods that really give me pause are pumpkin pie, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. Thanksgiving is not my holiday.

3. My mother was in the army before I was born. She acheived a Sharpshooter rating with a rifle and an Expert rating with a hand grenade. It's an unsettling feeling to occasionally have to remind yourself that your mother could efficiently end your life with a number of implements of destruction.

4. Among the places I have been streaking: Homecoming at the University of Northern Iowa, a haunted house, for a full half-mile down a rural Iowa highway, and across Lake Shore Drive at Belmont on a relatively traffic heavy Friday night.

5. Despite my apparent propensity for being au natural, I have never been nude on stage. This is about to change in February with ...And They Put Handcuffs On The Flowers, which, for those of you not familiar with the play is kind of what people mean when they say, "If you're going to go, go all out." I expect all of you to be clamoring for tickets if only for a chance to view the P.Rekk goodies.

6. We used to play a game in Northwest Iowa called Blotting. I'm not supposed to tell you what Blotting is until you are preparing to play it with me, but since I doubt I will ever play in Chicago, what the hell. In Blotting, every player is given some sort of small processed snack cake, usually Twinkies, but I have also played with Hostess Fruit Pies. We would then find a street that wasn't particularly busy (maybe a car every minute or two) and place our Twinkies on the street where we felt they were in the line of traffic. As cars would pass by, we would keep adjusting the Twinkies until everyone's had finally been run over. After the last person's Twinkie had been smashed, everyone rushed out into the street and had to eat their Twinkie without using their hands. The first person to finish wins. There are pictures in existence of me eating a squished Twinkie off of asphalt.

7. I have become typecast as mute. I don't know how this happened exactly, but for three shows running I have played a mute or silent character in some aspect. The frightening part is how accustomed I have become to communicating on stage without words, to the point where DADA [g]nimbus has to actively remind himself to speak sometimes.

Yeah, I'm not tagging anyone. It's there if you want it. Call me the Scrooge of memes.


There! Look at all the topics I addressed! It's a light, light week this week -- just Pavement Group's Arrangements on Friday night -- so hopefully I can stay on track. But a light, light week typically means a week so heavy elsewhere that I can't squeeze any more theatre in, so I make no promises. Nor should you believe me if I ever do.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obligatory Election Day Post

I'm not gonna go all Rex Winsome on you and tell you that you shouldn't vote, I'm just going to say this:

As everyone is demanding that you go cast your ballot today, don't forget that choosing not to vote is exactly that: a choice. If you have considered the issues and the candidates and the political landscape and for whatever reason have made the decision not to vote, do so with as much confidence as any McCain or Obama supporter. Anyone, from either side, who places less importance on your decision than their own is part of the problem.

I'll be watching with everyone else tonight, eager to see what goes down. I will not have made myself complicit in it.