Monday, June 15, 2009

Art Brut x3

Excuse me while I beat this dead horse:

Why is live music so regularly more engaging and more honest than live theatre? I understand that there's a level of pretend in theatre that doesn't exist to the same degree in most other performance arts, but we're supposed to be able to pretend better than everybody else. We're supposed to be able to pretend at a level that makes people want to pay to watch us do it.

Can you phsyically move someone with your theatre? Can you engage someone so fully that they instinctually mimic your onstage actions? Can you make people cheer while they applaud? Can you make people wish they could do what you are doing, trade places with you, be in your shoes for just one hour, despite the fact that the only true benefit is the release of the thing? Can you make people forget themselves?

Will you please do it, then?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Regarding last week's one night only ICE performance of Iannis Xenakis' work at the MCA:

"Well, hello there! I would like to, on behalf of the neighborhood association, welcome you to the World of Sound, subdivision The Farther Reaches. Here, have a complimentary map. Oops, that one is now outdated. Here, have the latest version. Oh crap, now THAT one is outdated. Here, have the... you know, it actually might be best to skip the map all together. You'll find your way around alright. Besides, there's nothing here you haven't seen before and nothing the likes of which you'll find anywhere else. What's that? It's looks a little like Wonderland? Well, yes, but without the pesky metaphors, of course. Wackyland? A little bit, but even the dodos don't stay dodos for long here. No, we're talking about some real Norman McLaren shit in this stretch. You see, this here is Sound. Every structure here is built upon waves. Every surface here is mutable. We here at the neighborhood association recommend standing still for as long as possible. Allow us to explore around you -- that's where the real tour is. Here, you see the big black 'X' on the ground? That's for you. You are here. We promise. Everything else? Well, that's the real question, isn't it? Hang on, here we go! And don't worry, you'll be here when we get back. We promise."


Best performance of the year thus far. Fucking A, ICE. Fucking A, Xenakis. Fucking A. MCA for the win yet again. That's the season announcement I'm waiting for. And, as a side note, we need more people to start marketing with free/cheap pins. Not only will I back that whole heartedly, but there's a startling overlap in shows I love and shows which I leave with pins in hand. And, following that line, shows which I end up losing the pins for in a few months. Speaking of which, anybody got a Pavement Group Lipstick Traces pin they wouldn't mind parting with? I used to wear the shit outta that thing!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hedwig And The Angry Inch, pt. 1

There's a post about Rock 'N' Roll brewin' and a brewin', but while I try and sort those thoughts out, a quick sidetrack on ATC's Hedwig And The Angry Inch (more thoughts on which will join Rock 'N' Roll).

ATC's production of Hedwig ends with Nick Garrison, who has been slowly self-destructing in the lead role all evening, stage-cutting his chest with a broken bottle. The effect isn't achieved terribly well, but even so, I couldn't help thinking how unusually distracting it was. Unless it plays a vital part in the show, poorly done stage violence usually gets little more than a shrug from me, but this couple of seconds continued to stand out long after the show was over.

It got to rolling around in my head and I came to realize that one difference between this and typical stage violence is that this is an act that is familiar purely because it is performative -- because other artists, musicians in this case, actually have mutilated their bodies on stage. Rather than a stage fight, in which performers attempt to provide a realistic representation of an act uncreatable on stage, what we have here is a performer, on stage, attempting to provide a realistic representation of an act that dozens of performers have actually created on stage.

And it's not that I want to say I felt cheated, or that I think the only way this moment could work is with actual self-mutilation, or that actual violence on stage is at any point in time necessary. And yet, those of you who know me quite well know that I firmly believe that actual violence on stage can be used to great effect, that it's not a taboo, that there is at certain times and in certain performers a level of necessity so driven that the corporeal bounds are no more off limit than any others. And that I am fascinated by these performers, from the theatrics of Marilyn Manson and the disregard of G.G. Allin to the more intellectually and spiritually driven work of the Vienna Aktionists and Marina Abramovic.

It's half a fascination in what drives these artists and how far they can be driven, but it's also half a recognition that there are certain synapses that I share with them. Anyone who has had a chance to meet DADA [g]nimbus has seen those synapses firing on a very innocent level. I was discussing acting technique with a friend the other day, very intently discussing actually, and every point I made either came back to instinct and physicality or saw me contorting my body in an attempt to get the proper words out. I'm an actor that is familiar with that fucked up state of performance where character and performer are indiscernable from the inside as well as the out. And so, to a degree, I do understand what drives these artists. Would I cut myself with a broken bottle on stage? Well, umm.... no. (After all, my mom reads this blog, and she has a hard enough time seeing me on the receiving end of stage violence.) But the knowledge that certain artists would and not think twice about it makes me cringe horrendously at an obviously false portrayal. You can argue art imitating life and life imitating art all you want, but I'll tell you one thing: when art imitates art, all you get is a second-hand copy.